Series Title: Sand-Pictures Vignette Title: Buying Time

Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FrodoAtBagEnd) E-mail:

Characters: Frodo, Rose, Sam

Rating: PG-13

Summary: A series of vignettes following the War of the Ring and the Ringbearer's return to the Shire: Sam, Rose, and Frodo settle into life together, sharing a loving home overshadowed by Frodo's failing health.

Feedback: Welcomed. Constructive only, please. . .no flaming.

Story Notes: Inspired by "Pretty Good Year" - just a series of vignettes based thereupon, with a debt to Mary Borsellino as the creator of the PGY fanfiction set. Pure angst-filled fluff written for its own sake. It's not intended to have a grand plot; it's not intended to be impressive, serious fanfic. Just a little set inspired by PGY and written episodically for the fun of it and nothing more. Lots of Frodo h/c in these, though, so if you like that, you'll enjoy this. If you don't. . .my apologies; to each her (or his) own taste. :)

DISCLAIMER: The characters, places, and story of The Lord of the Rings are the property of J.R.R. Tolkien and consequently of the Tolkien Estate, with select rights by Tolkien Enterprises. This piece appears purely as fanfiction and is not intended to claim ownership of Tolkien's work in any way. Please e-mail me if you have concerns. Furthermore, please do NOT consider any treatments or remedies within this story safe or effective for use: these are included as fictitious hobbit care, not real human medical practice, and while some can indeed be traced to actual therapeutic practices, could be dangerous. Please consult your health care professional before treating yourself or others for any condition or symptom.

Sand-Pictures: Buying Time

"Now there, Mr. Frodo. Sssshhh. Just you tell Rosie what's the matter."

Frodo sighed, attempting to steady a breath as he lay still on his side, Rose stroking his curls lightly, as though he were her baby chick. Feeling another wave of dizziness, he closed his eyes, shaking his head weakly. Her cool hand pressed lightly against his forehead.

"There now, if you don't still feel hot to the touch. . .do you think you could drink something for me? Nothing strong, just a bit o'broth that's good for sick folks. . .light on the stomach. . .the kind you like. You need to try and get something down."

He felt a cool cloth against his face. . .damp, smelling faintly of athelas. Bless Sam for teaching her how to prepare it, and bless Strider for sending so much of it. Enough that he could have it whenever he was ill, when it was more than a simple cold or sore throat. . .which was far too often these days. "I could try. Can't promise beyond that. . . ."

"Well, you have to take more than Elly, who's putting you to shame with eating already."

Frodo couldn't help smiling weakly. Only a few months old, Elanor was proving herself a hobbit-child in full despite her nearly elven beauty: when not sleeping, she was constantly eager for food, whether the soft snacks Rose had started her on or Rose's breast milk, still plentiful and all for her. "All right, then. . .I'll try."

"There's a good lad." Her voice soft, half-teasing, but half-worried, she rose, tucking the blankets over him more securely before disappearing into the hall. Frodo sighed, curling up within their warmth, shivering a little.

He loved sleeping with them in the largest feather-bed. Not only was it comfort from the nightmares which tormented him, but they could keep watch in other ways. Rose had woken during the night even before he himself did, applying compresses made with athelas to his feverish brow, tucking an extra blanket around him to ease the chills threatening to wrack his frame. She'd risen to fetch water for him, and later tea, which he'd refused, feeling too ill to drink more than a few sips of clear, cool water. Shortly afterward, Sam woke, so embarrassed at having slept while his Mr. Frodo was ill that Rose had to shoot him a glare that would have withered every plant in the garden to stop his flood of apologies. Not at all upset, Frodo had laughed a little. . .but he was feeling weaker, and had had to lie quietly while Sam propped pillows around his aching limbs, helping Rosie get him into a fresh night-shirt as the first became drenched with icy perspiration.

The warm scent of fresh chicken and herbs filled the room, a light fragrance as Rose bent over him with a mug, slipping her arm beneath his back carefully and lifting him, cradling him against her like an infant.

"There now. Drink up."

He sipped slowly, blinking in the afternoon sun that filtered through the heavy curtains in small rays. On days like this he felt too ill to get out of bed, and was grateful when Rose and Sam let him be, coming in only to care for or lie beside him, to offer what comfort they could.

"Good." Her voice was soothing, and he tried to take a bit more, to please her further. "I'll bring you your supper early this evening if you like."

He paused, shaking his head. "I'm not hungry, Rosie. . .thank you. . . ."

"Nonsense! I won't hear it, Frodo Baggins, just you be clear on that." Her voice softenened a little, as if perhaps she had not intended to sound quite so harsh. "It's just a little cup of mashed sweet potatoes, with bits of ham chopped and stirred in. . .some apple cobbler. . .nice mashed pumpkin. . . ."

Laughing weakly, Frodo sipped a little more of the warm soup. "I think you're feeding *me* the baby's food. No doubt Elly's chewing up mushrooms and sandwiches over there."

"If you'd eat anything else, I couldn't move quick enough to fix it for you." Her eyes darkening, Rose sighed. "You have only to say what you want."

"I know." She was right. He'd not been able to swallow more than soft foods for weeks now: even though he'd been up and about, managing well enough until last night's turn, nothing else would really go down and stay down. His throat felt tight.

"There, there." Rose cradled him, helping him take as much of the soup as he could before setting aside the mug, still holding him close. "You just need some rest and good food. That's all."

He knew it wasn't. He knew in his heart. . .in the ache of his shoulder, the pain at the back of his neck, the weariness in every inch of his frame. It merely bought time, and limited time at that. . . .

But it was something.

And for now, that would be enough.