A Matter of Healing

by kaybaggins
(An Inkling About Tom Bombadil)

Gandalf watched as the four hobbits rode down the Road towards The Shire. He was certain they would find mischief afoot but he was also just as certain that his four friends would be capable of handling anything that might be amiss. He was worried about Frodo and the injuries he had sustained on his quest that would never fully heal. They had no sooner left Rivendell than Frodo had fallen ill. Sam had spoken to Gandalf about his concern for Frodo and Gandalf understood those concerns. It was for this reason that Gandalf wanted to talk to Tom Bombadil. Tom was not what he seemed with his great yellow boots, bright blue eyes and long brown beard. Gandalf knew that there was more to old Tom that met the eyes and he needed to seek him out for Frodo’s sake. Telling the hobbits that he had a great many things to discuss with Tom, he left the Road upon Shadowfax and began crossing the dike following a steep wall that had once been the boundary of an ancient kingdom from long ago. As he rode, he climbed steadily upward upon a mound and upon its peak he found it littered with golden objects of long ago. This must have been the former resting place of the Barrow-wights that the hobbits had stumbled across. If it had not been for the quick thinking of Frodo, the quest might have ended right then and there. Gandalf then continued across the rise and fall of hills and valleys when he came upon several ponies. One pony large in girth pricked forward its ears and looked steadily at Gandalf.

‘Hello Fatty Lumpkin,’ said Gandalf gaily. ‘I don’t have a juicy carrot for you but if you would tell old Tom I have come to pay a visit I would be much obliged.’

The pony immediately neighed, bobbed its head and trotted off. Gandalf continued to ride with Shadowfax along the rolling green walls of hillside and hillside and smelled the sweet scent of turf. Eventually, Gandalf heard a deep glad voice singing carelessly and happily.

Hey dol! Merry dol! A wizard Fatty found!
Ring a dong! hop along! To find him we are bound!
Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Tom came over the rise of the hillside wearing a blue coat and his great yellow boots riding Fatty Lumpkin. His eyes were sparking blue and his face was red as a ripe apple, but creased into a hundred wrinkles of laughter. Gandalf had dismounted and leaned on his white staff as he watched Tom approach and smiled.

‘Good morning Iarwain Ben-adar,’ said Gandalf cheerfully and bowed to Tom.

‘Gandalf and Shadowfax,’ said Tom. ‘I have been expecting you but please, I have not gone by that name in many long years. I have taken the name of Tom Bombadil and it suits me for this age. Come now and we will share a smoke.’

‘Pray tell who informed you of my coming,’ asked Gandalf as his eyes twinkled.

‘Gwaihir the Windlord and his Landroval his brother, of course,‘ said Tom merrily. ‘They have told me much of what has happened these past few months. Are the small folk with you?’

‘No Tom, they are not, but it is because of Frodo that I have come to seek your help,’ said Gandalf solemnly.

They mounted their horses and rode along and by and by came to even ground. The grass was well-tended and bordered with stone. It wound up on to the top of a grassy knoll, and above them on a further slope stood the home of Tom Bombadil and Goldberry. Smoke was rising from a chimney from the cottage before them. A yellow beam flowed out brightly from a door that was open and in the doorway stood Goldberry with her long yellow hair rippling down her shoulders wearing a blue gown shot with sapphire beads and her belt was enameled with pearl.

‘Lady Goldberry,’ said Gandalf as dismounted and bowed to the fair lady of the house of Tom Bombadil. ‘It has been a long time since I have had the pleasure of your company.’

‘Gandalf the White,’ said Goldberry smiling. ‘We have heard that your deeds surpassed all expectations and we are pleased.’

‘Thank you my Lady,’ smiled Gandalf as walked into the cottage and placed his staff in the corner of the home.

Tom gestured for Gandalf to sit down as he pulled out his pipe and implored Gandalf to do the same.

‘I am not sure how much Gwaihir told you of the perilous journey of Frodo and Sam,’ said Gandalf. ‘However, Frodo has suffered much both in spirit and in body and I am anxious for him.’

‘Gwaihir told me of the final battles and how the ring that Frodo bore was finally cast into the flames of Mt. Doom at a terrible cost to Frodo,’ said Tom sadly.

‘That is why I am here,’ sighed Gandalf. ‘After Frodo and the other hobbits left you, they met with Aragorn who is now King of Gondor and traveled toward Weathertop only to meet with the Witch King who pierced Frodo’s shoulder with a deadly blade. It was only through Lord Elrond’s diligent healing for many days that we were able to save Frodo early on in the quest.’

Tom continued to smoke on his pipe and nodded his head as he listened carefully to Gandalf’s words.

‘Frodo was also assailed by the wicked spider, Shelob in Cirith Ungol once he passed into Mordor by the treachery of another creature Gollum. Fortunately, Sam was able to stave off the spider and thereby save Frodo from an untimely end. The two hobbits traveled across the pits and filth of Mordor until they reached Mt. Doom. Once they reach the fiery chasm of Orodruin, the ring was cast into the pit only for Frodo to loose his finger to the wretched creature Gollum. I knew that Frodo had wounds that would never fully heal. The wound by the Witch King took place on the 6th of October and on the anniversary date of Frodo receiving that wound, he took ill. Elrond and myself no longer have the healing skills we once had now that the one ring has been destroyed. It was the price paid for its destruction. The elven rings’ power for healing has now diminished and we can no longer help Frodo as we once could. I fear that Frodo may also take ill on March 13th, which is the anniversary of his poisoning by the evil spider Shelob. Of that, I am not sure but for certain Frodo will be ill each October 6th.’

Tom thought for a long time about what Gandalf had just told him and after puffing on his pipe spoke softly to Gandalf.

‘I knew much about what you have told me already Gandalf. The fate of the three elven rings is not my concern. The rings were wrought long after I arrived in Middle Earth and have no control over me. In fact, Frodo thought he could disappear with the one ring but it had no effect on me and he was quite surprised to say the least,’ laughed Tom. ‘However, I am not sure what you would like me to do about Frodo. It seems that he is now safe and heading on his way back to the Shire. Since Sauron has been destroyed, what is your concern for Frodo?’

‘My concern is that Frodo’s illnesses will steadily become more difficult for him to bear and I will not always be around each time he is in need of healing,’ said Gandalf. ‘I need to ask you to help me Tom. I believe that in your valley there is a flowering plant that helps with a healing virtue called the poleria plant. I would like to gather some of the healing properties from that plant and take it with me so that Sam will have it on hand to help Frodo when he becomes ill during these times. He will be able to add it to Frodo’s tea and ease him during those times of darkness. Unfortunately, I do not know much about this plant or where it can be found so that is why I have come to you for your help.’

Tom looked at Gandalf with thoughtful eyes and nodded his head. ‘Of course I will help Frodo but this plant is not easy to find and only blooms once a year. You are lucky that you have come at the right time of year for it will be blooming shortly. I will gather what you need from the poleria plant. Gandalf remained with Tom and Goldberry for the next few weeks until it was time for the poleria plant to bloom. One evening, Gandalf traveled with Tom to the far reaches of his lands and found an exotic looking plant with six-pointed lavender flowers whose aroma was light and sweet as honey. The plant only bloomed at night once a year and Tom carefully cultivated the parts of the flowers that he needed to make the tonic that would help Frodo during his illnesses and when they were finished, they walked back to Tom’s cottage. After partaking of a late evening meal of yellow cream and honeycomb, white bread and butter, milk, cheese, and ripe berries, Gandalf bade Tom a good evening and slept for a night as he had not slept in a long time. When he woke, he spoke to Tom to see how he had fared with making the tonic for Frodo from the poleria plant.

‘I am almost finished blending the poleria plant and other herbs together,’ said Tom as he continued to mix in compounds. ‘The tonic for Frodo will be ready soon so that Sam can mix it with Frodo’s tea. I know that you are worried for Frodo but this should ease his discomfort.’

‘Thank you Tom,’ said Gandalf as he watched Tom finishing the mixture and placing it in a watertight canister. Now that the tonic was finished, he wanted to set off for the Shire as quickly as possible and give the mixture to Sam to use when Frodo became ill.

As Gandalf was getting ready to leave Tom walked over to Gandalf with a concerned look in his face and place his hand on Gandalf’s shoulder.

‘You realize that this tonic will only help Frodo temporarily Gandalf,’ said Tom with a sad look in his eyes. ‘From what you have told me, Frodo will never have true rest in Middle Earth and will one day need to travel to the Grey Havens.’

Gandalf slowly looked back at Tom and nodded his head with a pained look in his eyes. ‘I know Tom. I am bringing this mixture to Sam to give to Frodo to help ease the pain on the days when he needs it most. One day, he will travel in honor with the elves over the sea. Until then, as his friend, I will try to help him endure any pain he might still bear.’

Tom patted Gandalf’s back. ‘Then go in peace White Wizard and watch over the Ring Bearer.’

Gandalf placed his hand on Tom’s shoulder and smiled back. ‘Thank you Iarwain Ben-adar and may peace always be yours,’ as he rode off toward the Shire.