Title: Into the East

Author: Febobe (Frodo Baggins of Bag End)

Rating/Warnings: PG/K+ (graphic food descriptions, some occasionally graphic medical angst - NO CANON CHARACTER DEATH. I promise! It may seem at first that I'm headed that direction, but I absolutely guarantee, NO canon characters will be killed off in this fic!)

Summary: After the Quest, Frodo comes down with a serious illness, and journeys to Harad in search of better health. Told by Samwise.

Characters: Frodo, Sam, Elrond, Eowyn, Faramir, Merry, Pippin, an OC named Kalil (partly in tribute to Claudia's own Khalil), other supporting OCs, brief appearances by Aragorn and Gandalf. Others TBA, if any.

Disclaimer: I do not own and have not created any of J.R.R. Tolkien's work, neither characters nor world nor any of his concepts. I'm just playing in the sandbox, with no ill intent. Original characters, including (but not limited to) Kalil are my own creation, and I would appreciate it if they weren't used without asking. (Unlike Tolkien, I'm not dead!) This fic meets FrodoHealers standards and is free from profanity, sex, and slash.

Notes: Sam lovers, I think this is a fic you'll enjoy, as it strongly features his voice and viewpoint. Frodo lovers, this is definitely a fic you'll enjoy, especially if you're an old-school FrodoHealers fan. Faramir and Eowyn, Merry and Pippin will all have significant roles to play throughout this fic, though it takes a few chapters to get there. Also, please note that I have chosen Indian food for the predominant culinary culture of Harad. I realize that it may well be closer to Middle Eastern cookery, but I wanted to give it a distinctive tie and recognizable flavor, and I chose Indian. No ill will intended if you prefer a different interpretation; just know that this is my interpretation only and I realize it isn't the only potential take on Haradraic food out there. A word about Kalil and the Haradrim: I intend absolutely no disrespect to any culture or language. But the people of Harad would look and seem strange to Sam, Shire hobbit that he is, and more so than the fair-skinned elves and Big Folk he knew well. As for Kalil's language, I realize some people are fluent in multiple languages, but Kalil isn't as fluent as some people. I think he does pretty well myself!

CHAPTER ONE

Mr. Frodo just didn't seem right to me. Not right at all. Too thin and drawn he was, still, a full two month after we'd waked up after the Quest.

And that cough! I didn't like the sound o'that at all, no sir. Some time over the past fortnight, Mr. Frodo had come down with a bad cough - started with a cold, it did, that seemed to settle in his chest and never quite leave him. Oh, the drippy nose cleared up, but he still coughed and choked at all hours, and seemed to take a chill whatever the weather, and looked to me like he just wasn't feeling at all well.

"Sam? Sam!"

Well, that set me flying, and right glad I'd chose to sit up in Mr. Frodo's room 'stead o'going to my own that night. Sure enough, he was calling for me, sitting up in his bed all soaked to the skin with sweat.

"I hate to bother you...but I don't feel at all well, and I - I think I might need some help changing the sheets - "

I snorted. "Stuff you will! Let me get you set up in the chair by the fire, wrap you up good in blankets, and then I'll see about them sheets. Come now, easy does it."

I tried not to say much, but my stomach went right to my throat when he put his arm over my shoulders for support. I could feel his skin right through my clothes - soaked and burning up all at the same time, for all he was shaking like a leaf. Once I got him in the chair, one halting step at a time getting there, I tucked him up with soft, dry quilts and got him a cup o'hot tea, chamomile, from the pot on the hearth, and that seemed to settle him a bit. I left him long enough to change his bed, but while I worked, I got my nerve up to ask what I had to ask.

"Will you let me go get Strider? Or Lord Elrond?"

He sighed. "I don't know. I don't want to be a bother - "

"Beggin' pardon, sir, but you feel like you're burning up to me. Now, fevers can get right bad right fast if you don't do something about 'em. My feeling is we need somebody who knows how to take good care o'you."

"You do."

His smile didn't fool me. I knew sick when I saw it. "Thank you, sir, but I'd feel a sight better if you'd just let me go wake Lord Elrond up and bring him here."

"If you think it best, Sam. I shan't argue."

And that itself scared me good - because Mr. Frodo is usually so scared o'Lord Elrond's medicines, for all their nasty tastes, that he'll do right near anything to avoid having to take even one dose. But this time he didn't fight, just sat there all shivering and shaking in his blankets.

Something was bad wrong. I knew it in my bones.

-to be continued-