Once outside the Steward's office and in the street, Aragorn stopped his father. "Ada." He whispered, "You noble fool! You did not need to do this! You could burst your sutures!" Aragorn looked around and spied a cart driver in conversation with a flower seller

Coming up to the driver, he said, "Sir my father needs to get to the Halls of Healing. He is injured and I do not want his condition to worsen any further.'

The cart driver turned at Aragorn's approach and stared at the man at his side. Nodding, the driver hopped down from his seat and help Aragorn get the elf lord situated.

As the driver clucked to his mare, Elrond said quietly, "Thank you my son, I am a little tired."

"Oh Ada!" Aragorn pulled is father against him. "Please promise me you will stay in bed. I will get the other healers to oversee the move."

He undid the veil around his father's face and felt his skin. Though a bit clammy, he did not feel any heat, signaling a fever. He father said nothing, but leaned against Aragorn.

A few minutes later, they reached the Halls of Healing. The minute the cart stopped, Aragorn carefully leaned his father against the cart side and then ran into the Halls to find an orderly to help him.

When they returned to the cart, his father had his eyes closed and he had slumped to the side. Anxious, Aragorn and the orderly quickly returned him to his private room and lay him back in the bed ad at Aragorn's direction, carefully undressed the healer. Thanking the orderly, Aragorn then un- bandaged his father and inspected his sutures. They had held, but the wound had begun to bleed. Getting a linen maid to fetch hot water, salve and fresh bandages, he carefully redressed the wound. Lifting up his limp form, he put a clean sleeping tunic on him and lay him back, pulling up the light blanket.

Brushing his father's hair off his face, he watched him sleep for a moment, then bent and kissed him on the brow.

As he went out into the main Hall to see the progress of the epidemic, he met Master Parnil with an armload of linen.

"Lord Aragorn!! I have you to thank I suspect, and perhaps Master Dolengil! We have just received notice we are to move the sick up to the palace so they can be isolated! Thanks my lord! I am sure this will be a boon in keeping the sickness from spreading!"

"Well, I am glad to see Master Berem can act quickly when he needs to! And Master Dolengil was instrumental in getting me involved in this. I will be very grateful if you see to his care, as I must return to my men beyond the walls. Will you have enough able bodies to help with the move?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact, Calla, a linen maid here, has sent word to her friends in the lower city to bring carts and men. The first group will probably be here shortly."

"I am relieved we will be able to nip this before it grows too far! If time and war permits, I will hope to return tomorrow to see how the evacuation has gone." He put a hand on the healer's shoulder. "Good luck, and please see to Master Dolengil, he tends to be rather pigheaded sometimes!"

"I will my lord! And thanks again for your help!" Parnil bowed slightly over his armload of linen and swept by Aragorn.

Before leaving the Halls, Aragorn checked in on Elrond one more time. He lay sleeping under a light blanket and his pulse felt smooth and even. Wishing he had control of the healing energy his father had, he contented himself with another quick kiss on the brow and a squeeze of his father's limp hand that lay on his chest.

"Sleep well Ada! And do not tax yourself!"

Aragorn turned and left, anxious to return to the field and the next skirmish from the Dark Lord.

Later that evening, most of the sick had been taken to the palace and only a few moans from the wounded sounded in the main hall.

Elrond awoke to find his room lit by a solitary candle at his bedside. He felt much better and smiled as he felt the bandage wrapped around his side. His son was a good healer.

Taking a deep breath he rose and fighting only a little vertigo, stood getting his bearings. He needed to see what was happening with the epidemic. Had Master Berem indeed started the evacuation? Looking down ruefully at the sleeping tunic he wore, he slipped out of his room and went into the main Hall. It was thankfully only a third full, and quickly assessing those that lay there, Elrond determined they were soldiers who had been brought in a few days ago. Elrond, also not sanguine about the lull in battle, was glad to see that at least the sick had been winnowed out from the injured.

Calla, who had recovered from her bout of illness, came out of the shadows to speak to the healer. "Master Dolengil, let me get you a robe! Should you be up?"

"Calla! Oh, a robe is not necessary right now. I am mending well. Lord Aragorn made a bigger fuss than necessary over my wound. I shall be fine in a few days." Elrond approached the linen maid, looking at her clinically. "Are you certain you should be up?" He lay a hand on her forehead and was relieved to feel it was cool.

"I am a little weak, but the worst of it is over, I think. And I have been good about taking my medicine." She smiled at him. "It does go down better with a little honey!'

Elrond laughed, "I have heard that complaint before! As long as it works..."

Calla nodded. "They have removed those suspected of being sick with the city fever up to the palace." Calla chuckled as she walked slowly through the sleeping men. "Master Berem was not happy and spent a lot of time getting in the way, I heard."

"'City fever?'" Is that what they are calling it? It is as good a name as any I suppose."

"Well, they needed a name to tell it apart from other stomach complaints. I see we are here back at your room, Master Dolengil. Perhaps you should return to your slumbers?"

"And yourself Calla?" She laughed and smiled up at the tall healer. "Of course. I am feeling a bit tired and all seems quiet now. I can get a little sleep in the main examining room on the bench. I have done it many times."

"All right then." He put a hand on her shoulder his eyes warm as he looked down at her. "Do you ever think of pursuing a career as a healer? You have the most important skill of all: compassion. You would do very well."

She ducked her head and put a hand on his elbow. "Thank you Master. I have thought of it, but it is a little beyond my means at the moment."

"I shall speak to Master Parnil tomorrow, I am sure he can set you on the correct path. And I do not think the cost will prove a hindrance, either."

Smiling at what she assumed were kind words meant to soothe her, she squeezed his elbow and turned towards the main examining room.

Elrond watched her a moment and finding himself assailed by a wave of weakness gratefully returned to his bed and slept long and deep.

The next afternoon, Elrond was resting with the remains of his midday meal in the dining hall with Master Parnil and discussing Calla's future, when an orderly rushed in and said, "Sorry to disturb you Masters, but there is incoming wounded! The orcs and wargs have returned with an attack! From two flanks!'

Both healers stood and went across the courtyard to the Halls. Master Parnil looked at his colleague narrowly. "Are you sure you are up to this? We have a full complement of healers right now."

"Helping where I am needed always improves my outlook, Master Parnil." He paused a moment, to let two orderlies run past to fling open the gates wider to allow for carts. "I promise, if it gets to be too much, I shall rest."

Master Parnil put a hand on his shoulder. "As long as you give me your word."

"I do! Let us see to the wounded!"

And the two healers quickly entered the Halls.

It was late in the evening and the influx of patients had slowed down.

Elrond, having seen to the patients in his care, sat along the back wall in the shadows, resting. He hated to admit it, but he knew he would need to sleep for a few hours to regain his strength.

Sighing, he leaned his head against the cool stone, his thoughts drifting towards Aragorn, hoping that he had faced this new onslaught without injury. He smiled. He would undoubtedly be issuing orders from his pallet, if he were!

Rising slowly, he was just about to go into the supply room when he faintly heard the street door ring. The linen maid on duty was across the room, settling a young soldier, so Elrond made his way to the front.

Entering the main examining room, he carefully opened the door and saw a figure in a cloak, leaning against the doorframe, coughing hard. Placing an arm around the person, Elrond gently guided them onto a bench nearby. Pulling back the hood, Elrond could not help but swallow a smile: it was Master Berem and he had obviously caught a case of the "city fever."

Master Berem, still bent over by his coughing, did not look up as Elrond guided the healer into the smaller room used to examine the sick patients (versus the wounded) and rang a bell to signal the carter outside he had another to take to the palace.

Finally, as Elrond began his careful examination, Master Berem looked, up, eyes streaming from coughing and blanched as he stared a moment into the grey eyes of the elf.

"I-I..Master Dolengil." He coughed again, his throat sore and rough. "I have run out of cough syrup.this is just a cold," He coughed again, inadvertently groaning in pain.

Elrond put a hand to the man's forehead and then felt the glands in his throat. Lifting a nearby lantern he got the healer to open his mouth wide so he could inspect his throat.

"Have you been nauseous Master Berem?"

"Just-just tonight." He bent over again.

"Tonight? How long have you been ill?" Elrond placed a hand on the older man's shoulder.

"A week, I think." Elrond arched an eyebrow at this admission. But really, was not all that surprised, considering with whom he was dealing.

"I am afraid Master, you have caught that insidious illness spreading through Minas Tirith. I believe it has now been called simply "city fever."

Master Berem slumped under Elrond's scrutiny and said in a whisper, "You were right. Go ahead and gloat Master Dolengil. You were right, this IS an epidemic."

Elrond stood silent a moment as it was not in his nature to.....gloat.

Putting a hand under the healer's elbow he got him to stand. "Come, let me make you comfortable in the cart outside. It will take you up to the palace."

He took the shivering man outside and helped him get into the cart, where he wrapped him in a clean blanket folded neatly inside.

"I shall get you something soothing for your throat." Quickly going to the supply room, Elrond measured out some of the syrup he and the other healers had worked late hours to produce. Smiling slightly as he brought the goblet out to Master Berem, he held it out.

About to take it, the healer bent over double with another bout of coughing. Waiting until it passed, Elrond put a hand behind the man's neck and brought the goblet to his lips, carefully regulating the amount the healer swallowed. Soon the goblet was empty, and Elrond lay Berem's head back gently against the cart side.

"I am sorry for this Master Berem. But rest assured they will take good care of you up at the palace. Thanks to your swift response to Lord Aragorn's requests."

The healer looked at Elrond a long moment, about to say something sarcastic. But, he realized suddenly, the elf lord was being sincere.

Closing his eyes tiredly, Berem nodded.

Just before the carter clucked to his horse, Berem lay a hand on Elrond's arm.

"I.well, thank you Master Dolengil. I do not know what we would have done without you here."

Elrond, smiling under his veil, bowed slightly and then paused a moment. It looked as if sleep had eluded Master Berem for many nights running now. Quickly, he leaned forward and lay a hand on the healer's forehead who slumped to the side unconscious. Adjusting him so would be comfortable, he lifted his hand to the carter to drive on.

As Elrond enter the Halls proper, Calla came up to him with a broad smile.

"I start lessons in herbology next week Master Dolengil!! And Master Sarin says I have you to thank for it!" She threw his arms around him.

Elrond only winced a little and patted her back. "I am glad Calla. I think you will make an excellent healer!" Elrond walked with the linen maid towards the supply room. "But who will replace you as linen maid?"

Calla smiled delightedly, and instead of the two entering the supply room, Calla led the healer to the linen room where a lone woman with a crutch was carefully folding clean sheets. She stumbled a little as she turned quickly, and Calla reached out to help her.

"Good evening, Master Dolengil!"

"Dahanna! What a pleasant surprise! Sit a moment and let me look at your leg."

Dahanna nodded, still smiling and Calla helped her to a chair, holding her crutch.

Elrond looked at the closed incision carefully and after manipulating the muscle gently to make sure there were no abscesses, placed a hand on it a moment to give the leg a little healing energy. Dahanna would need her strength. "Your leg is coming along well Dahanna. But do not hesitate to rest if you need to. It is usually quiet enough in the mid-watches of the night."

"Yes Master Dolengil, I will. I am looking forward to working here!"

Calla hugged her friend. "I am so glad you decided to join me! We can finally work together!!"

"Yes. And if nothing else, it is certainly cleaner here!"

All three laughed and with a pat on Dahanna shoulders, Elrond left the two women.

All had indeed, cleaned up well!