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!
After that nice lunch, Mr. Frodo seemed better, a little stronger maybe for all the good food he'd eaten. And when Master Merry and Master Pippin took the trays back down, Kalil said he wanted to talk to us.
"I talked with the Lord and Lady," he said, "and they agree what I will tell you is best. So I would like little master to hear me out, consider what I advise."
I listened, but I was watching Mr. Frodo real close, in case Kalil might upset him. I weren't going to have nobody upsetting Mr. Frodo.
Kalil pulled up a little stool and sat down close to Mr. Frodo.
"We must first get your fever down," he said, "and that we do with different kinds of tea I will make. I think you know some. Peppermint. Ginger. Some you know less, maybe. Cinnamon. Cardamom. The chai from today. You take a cup with your meals, and milk drinks at night, and you rest. We give you cool baths to make you more comfortable."
Mr. Frodo nodded, and so did I; that sounded all right enough so far. Peppermint tea and ginger tea were right common back home, and I knew Mr. Frodo did just fine with either or both. And that chai stuff hadn't been half bad. Sort o'tasty, if you ask me.
"But," Kalil went on, "we expect little master to grow stronger, and as you grow stronger, we can only make you stronger by doing certain things. Making sure you eat plenty of good food. And getting you up and about."
At that, Mr. Frodo's eyes widened, and I reckon mine did too.
"He ain't strong enough to be up yet," I said. "Coming here was awful hard on him."
"But he will not get stronger lying in bed inside," said Kalil. "The fresh air and sunshine will help him. Tomorrow we carry him out to lie on the porch, the balcony. We keep him covered with blankets. But he needs sunshine and good air. Otherwise he never get well. He will get worse."
I bit my lip.
"Do you really think I could get up?" asked Mr. Frodo.
"Not by yourself yet," said Kalil, "but soon. Soon we will help you get up and walk a little. And - " He smiled. "There is something else. Something you have not seen. There is a swimming-pool outside, behind the house. It is private. Can little master swim? Or perhaps his friend?"
Well, I felt all the color drain right out o'me then.
Poor Mr. Frodo, whose parents drownded, swim?
But to my shock, Mr. Frodo nodded.
"I can," he said. "I learned when I was a child. Sam, though, has not learned."
Kalil grinned wide.
"You teach him!" he said, looking pleased as punch. "Little master teach his friend, when he feels stronger. We get little master in the water to exercise and grow strong, and we get little friend in there to learn. Swimming is very good for you. The water will carry your weight. It will not be so hard as on land."
"Begging your pardon, sir," I said, looking at Mr. Frodo, "but I ain't never had no luck with water. You remember the boat. When we went off on our own and all. What happened. If it hadn't been for you, sir - "
"Which is precisely why you need to learn!" said Mr. Frodo. "Sam, you will love the water once you get used to it. My parents had me taught. I only wish they had learned. If they had - " He swallowed suddenly, and I saw his eyes looked wet. "Sam, if my parents had learned, they might still be alive."
Well then. That settled it. I reached out and took his hand in both o'mine.
"I'll learn, sir. Whatever you care to teach me about it, I'll do my best, or my name ain't Samwise Gamgee."
"Good!" exclaimed Kalil. "Then we have something for you to work toward. And I bring new medicine for little master tomorrow. I have been working on it. It may help ease his chest and get him breathing better."
That sounded promising. At least I thought so. But Mr. Frodo wrinkled his nose.
"I hope it won't be bitter," he said dejectedly.
"Not so bad," said Kalil. "I sweeten it with honey and spices for you. We make it nice before you must drink it."
"I suppose that isn't so bad, then," said Mr. Frodo.
"Besides," Kalil said, with a gleam in his eye that amused even me, "if little master works at getting better, perhaps one day we take him to the market in a wheeled chair, wheel him through all the stalls so he can try new foods and see many wonderful things, smell delicious cooking, see the people of our country."
Well, now, that made Mr. Frodo's poor thin face light right up. He looked so excited I couldn't help smiling.
"I want to go," he said eagerly. "I will do whatever I must. I want to visit the market. I've never seen any place like this before."
"And oliphaunts!" Kalil added. "I have heard that little master and his friend saw their first oliphaunt not long ago, and were most impressed?" He looked at me with a merry grin. I couldn't help but stare.
"Are there oliphaunts here, sir?" I asked. "Are there any left? Since the - the War?"
"Oh, many!" said Kalil. "There are even some tame enough to ride. But little master must get stronger first."
Mr. Frodo laughed. It made him cough a little, but he got through it quick enough, and grinned at me.
"Just think, Sam!" he said. "What if you and I could ride an oliphaunt? Can you imagine?"
I could, all right, and that was the problem. But I didn't want to do anything to discourage Mr. Frodo. If he wanted us to ride an oliphaunt, then I reckoned we'd ride an oliphaunt. And that was that.
-to be continued-