A Time for Healing

by Lizmybit

“Twice you have born me, Gwaihir my friend,” said Gandalf.  “Thrice shall pay for all, if you are willing.  You will not find me a burden much greater than when you bore me from Zirak-zigil, where my old life burned away.”

“I would bear you,” answered Gwaihir, “wither you will, even if you were made of stone.”

“Then come, and let you brother go with us, and some of your other folk who is most swift!  For we have need of speed greater then any wind, outmatching the wings of the Nazgúl.”

“The north wind blows, but we shall out fly it,” said Gwaihir.  And he lifted up Gandalf and sped away south, and with him went Landroval, and Meneldor young and swift.  And they passed over Udûn and Gorgoroth and saw all the land in ruin, and tumult beneath them, and before Mount Doom blazing, pouring out its fire…

Gandalf sat upon the broad back of Gwaihir as they flew far above the land of Mordor, his eyes viewing massive destruction everywhere his gaze fell.  As they drew ever closer to the mountain he could see fire, and a rain of hot ash erupting high into the blackened sky.  The great mountain shook and rumbled as the hot molten lava poured from the now cavernous crack of Sammath Naur.  Gwaihir’s mighty wings were striking the foul air as they flew.  Gandalf was almost overcome by fumes, his lungs were burning and his eyes stinging.  He felt sick as he thought of Sam and Frodo, how had they endured this foul air for so many days?  He prayed that they would find them quickly and alive, but it was almost too much to hope for.

Gwaihir changed course and swiftly descended into the thick of the smoke, his keen eyes seeing what Gandalf could not.  As they grew ever closer Gandalf could make out two tiny bodies lying on the ground, hand in hand, face down in the ash.  He could not tell who was who from this distance. Meneldor swooped in and with his strong talons grasped ever so gently the first of the two.  Gandalf turned his gaze behind him just in time to see Landroval raising the second small figure from the ground.  Were they alive?  He could not tell, but he knew he could not wait until returning to the camp to discover their fate.  He looked to Landroval and said “place him here, in my lap.”  Landroval slowed his stride, and flew toward Gandalf, gently setting the crumpled, limp body into his lap.

 It was Sam, but this was not the Sam that Gandalf had known.  He looked older, and was much too thin.  He was so light Gandalf hardly noticed the weight of him in his lap.  Sam was barely breathing, and was unresponsive. His arms were limp and dangling at his side, his light brown hair was near black from the foul soot of Mount Doom.  There was a large open wound on his forehead that was bleeding severely.  Gandalf, placing his hand on the young hobbits chest could feel a faint heart beat.  Cradling the hobbit in his arms he drew Sam’s head into his chest began to weep. 

They had done it!  Something that was impossible for all the men and wizards of Middle Earth had been accomplished by these two, fair shire folk.  His heart welled with pride, and grief.  He released his hold on Sam to view his face again.  This face that had once been so jovial and tanned, now looked old, ashen and drawn. 

Yes, they had accomplished the impossible, but at what price?  What had been the cost to these two beautiful creatures?  His thoughts returned to that day in Bag End when he sent these two gentle hobbits on what now appeared to be a mission of death.  He looked at Sam’s dear face, how much it had changed from the sweet days of the shire.  What would become of them?  Gandalf was desperately trying to resist the urge to intervene and heal the young hobbit.  He had the power to do so, but could not.  He was simply a guide, a shepherd, he was forbidden to use his full power, even in healing, never had he felt so powerless!

Gandalf’s gaze fell forward to see Meneldor flying swiftly and far ahead of them, how was Frodo, he wondered?  Was he alive? He feared that Frodo did not have much of a chance, seeing how weak Sam was, and knowing he was the sturdier of the two.  Pleading under his breath for Meneldor to be careful with his precious cargo.  Gandalf pulled Sam closer to his breast  “hold on Sam” he whispered. 

As they broke through the thick clouds high into the air above Mordor, Gandalf urged Gwaihir on by saying, “Fly my friend, time is short, our passenger is fading!” 

Gwaihir steadily increased his speed flying westward toward the setting sun.  He set down just inside the camp.  Gandalf quickly and gingerly climbed down off the great eagle thanking him as he ran.

Aragorn was just returning from the battlefield when he heard a cry go up.  “The eagles are coming, the eagles are coming!” 

Aragorn looked up to see Meneldor approaching with a small figure clasped in his talons.  Is it possible, could it be Frodo or Sam? He thought to himself.  Aragorn ran toward the approaching eagle.  Meneldor placed the tiny figure on the ground.  A tower guard bent down and picked the small body up.  Aragorn approached him from behind and said “give him to me.”

The guard turned and placed the body in Aragorn’s outstretched arms.  His knees nearly buckled with grief and his face turned pale as he realized it was Frodo, and he did not appear to be breathing.  He took his hand and placed it gently against Frodo’s cheek.  He looked at the Guard, “Follow me, quickly.”

Aragorn turned and started running for the white tents behind him.  The guard yelling as they ran “Make way, make way for the King!”

“Aragorn, Aragorn!” Gandalf cried as he ran.  Trying not to jolt Sam.  When he reached the inner circle of the encampment one of the tower guards tried take Sam from Gandalf’s arms, “No! Don’t touch him, where is the King?”

The guard glanced toward a white tent behind him.  Gandalf reached the tent just in time to see Aragorn laying Frodo down on a cot.  “Aragorn, I have Sam,” said Gandalf.  “He is very near death I fear.” 

Aragorn looked up, noting the deep concern on Gandalf’s face, said  “Place him here,” gesturing to the cot next to where Frodo lie.  Gandalf walked over and gently placed Sam on top of the cot.  Immediately a woman came over and began to tend to Sam.  Gandalf turned to look upon Frodo and what he saw took his breath away!  Even seeing the condition of Sam had not prepared him for this.  His heart sank and tears began to fill his eyes.  What had happened to this fair being?

Aragorn leaned over Frodo’s tiny, frail, small body, unclasped the elven broach, untied the belt and removed the cloak.  Aragorn’s face turned white as he viewed Frodo’s condition.  This poor little body was changed much since the last time he saw him.  He was deathly pale, too thin, and badly bruised.  There were scratches covering his entire chest and scourge marks upon his back.  There was a large wound, much like a stab mark, on the left side of his neck.  His fragile right hand was bloody and missing the third finger.  Aragorn sighed in despair, and fought hard against the tears welling up in his eyes,  “there is no time to loose, we must drive the foul air of Mordor from their lungs.  Even now I fear it may be too late! We must draw it out quickly!”

Aragorn took his hands and gently placed them on either side of Frodo’s head, stroking his forehead with his thumbs.

“Lasto beth nîn. Tolo dan na ngalad, Frodo, Hold on Frodo”

Aragorn tilted Frodo’s head backward, then taking his mouth and placing it over Frodo’s began to draw the foul air from his lungs.  Frodo just lay on the cot limply, making no movements.  Aragorn did this several times; finally a long slow sigh began to escape Frodo’s lips.  He was at last breathing on his own.  Aragorn, again placing his hands on either side of the hobbit’s head, willed him into a deep sleep.  Taking his leave of Frodo, Aragorn turned to Sam and performed the same task, then willed Sam into sleep the same way.

Aragorn, completely drained of strength, collapsed into a chair that had been placed between the two cots.   He looked gravely at the faces of Sam and Frodo and said to Gandalf  “I have done my best, though I fear it is not enough.”

Gandalf walked over to Aragorn and placing his hand on his shoulder said,  “You are the greatest healer of Gondor. If you cannot save them no one can.” 

Aragorn looked up at Gandalf, fighting back tears once more, saying,  “They have become so dear to me Gandalf, I know I shall not be able to bear it if they die.”

“Yes, the victory shall be much less sweet if we should loose these two. They have had a rough time of it.”  Replied Gandalf.

At that moment several healers entered the tent.  Aragorn instructed them on what to do with the hobbits.  “Bring as much Athelas as we can find, I want to bathe both of them in the water, taking special care of their wounds.  These two are precious to me; make sure they are well taken care of.  After they are bathed they should be given water in very small doses.  They are in great need of water but I am not sure how much they can handle.  If they do well with the water I should like to try some broth.  They are both in need of nourishment.”  Several healers left to begin preparing the water for their baths.

A tower guard appeared saying that Aragorn’s assistance was needed elsewhere.  “Go on Aragorn, I will keep watch over our charges.” Said Gandalf. 

“I do not wish to leave them but I must.  They will sleep for several days so we don’t need to worry about them waking up.   I will be back as soon as I can Gandalf.”  Then Aragorn took his leave.

Gimli stood upon a small hill on the grey mounds viewing the wreckage and carnage of the battle.  The field was strewn with the bodies of orc’s, men, elves and trolls.  Many wounded soldiers were walking or being carried over the hill to the encampment to be treated.  Gimli espied Legolas on his horse and called to him  “Legolas, I am looking for Master Peregrin, have you seen him?”

“Alas, I have not seen him since the black gates opened and the battle began.” Replied Legolas as he dismounted his horse.  “Perhaps he has been carried over the hill to one of the healing tents.”

“I have checked there already, he is no where to be found.  I saw Beregond being carried into a tent he has not seen him either.  I am worried Legolas.”

“Come dear friend, we shall search for him together, we shall not rest till we find him.” replied Legolas.

Gimli and Legolas crested the small hill and descended into the chaos below looking for Pippin.  They spent many dreary hours searching through the carnage to no avail.  At last Gimli sat down in the grass and began to weep.  “I fear we have lost him for good, I feel like such a failure, I should have protected him!  I am sorry he did not stay in Minis Tirith with Merry!  To think that I shall never hear his sweet voice again, it would be a loss to great to bear!”

Legolas sat upon the grass cross-legged next to Gimli.  Wrapping his arm around the Dwarf’s shoulders said 

“Come now Master Gimli, we know nothing for sure yet, let us not loose hope.” 

Gimli raised his head to look upon Legolas, and something caught is eye.  There was a large troll laying dead a few feet away, Gimli caught sight of something familiar under the troll.  A tiny foot was stretched out from underneath the troll and a large pile of bodies.  Gimli jumped up, “Legolas look!  It’s a hobbit’s foot!  It must be, come help me!”  

Gimli and Legolas ran to the troll and pushed hard to free the body that was trapped underneath.  It was indeed Pippin, completely covered head to toe in the trolls black blood.  Gimli knelt beside the tiny frail body to feel for a pulse, he could feel none.  Overcome with grief he began to weep and tear at his beard!  He collected Pippin’s broken body in his arms and stood up. Legolas called for his horse and raised both dwarf and hobbit up, then mounted with them, and they quickly rode away over the hill.

Gandalf sat in a chair in the healing tent between Sam and Frodo.  They had both been bathed, treated with athelas and were resting comfortably, covered with woolen blankets.  Sam appeared to be regaining some color in his face but Frodo was still deathly pale.  Neither of them responded to any touch, or movement to their limbs.

Gandalf remained there for a long while quietly smoking his pipe, and staring into the distance, looking at visions of something far off.  The healers that traveled in and out of the tent, caring for Sam and Frodo, could hear him mumbling under his breath.  They did not understand what he was saying; he appeared to be in a trance.

Aragorn entered the tent, walked over to Sam and placed his hand on his forehead.  He was pleased at some of the color returning to Sam face, but he was still greatly worried.  He moved to Frodo’s bedside and touched his hand to his cheek.  Frodo was burning up with fever.  Aragorn called to a healer outside the tent  “quickly bring a tub filled with cool water!  He has spiked a high fever!”

Gandalf quickly stood and walked to Aragorn’s side. 

“What can I do Aragorn?”

“We must draw the fever down from his head!   I fear it is from the wound to his hand!  If we don’t do something quickly he shall surely die, he hasn’t the strength to fight this fever off!”

Aragorn threw back the woolen blanket covering Frodo and began to rub his feet and legs, hoping to draw the fever down from his head.  Three Healers entered the tent carrying a tub of cool water.  Aragorn gently lifted Frodo and placed him in the bath water.

“Bring me some towels and a fresh change of clothes.  He will not be able to stay in this water long, I am afraid he will catch his death.”  A healer that stood nearby left to fulfill the king’s request.

After they had bathed him for a while they dressed Frodo and placed him back in bed.  He never once made a movement or stirred.  Aragorn and Gandalf sat quietly watching Sam and Frodo sleep.  Frodo’s fever was down some, but was still in grave danger.  Gandalf spoke after a long while.  “I have had the chance to examine their thoughts this afternoon.  My Dear Lord Aragorn, It is a wonder they survived!  I am not sure I would have survived the horrors they endured.  Especially Frodo, I fear that if he pulls through he shall never be the same.”

Just then they heard shouting from outside the tent.

“Aragorn!  Aragorn!”

“Sir you can’t go in there, the king is busy!”  Came a sharp voice in reply.

“ I have an injured soldier here who need the Kings help and I’ll go where I please!”

Aragorn looked at Gandalf with a wink and a smile as he recognized Gimli’s gruff voice. 

Gimli entered the tent, carrying Pippin, his arms dangling at his side and his head was lolled back.  Gimli was weeping,  “I fear he is dead.  He hasn’t moved or spoken since we found him!”

Aragorn stood up, a look of horror crossed over his face.  He reached out and took Pippin from Gimli’s arms.

“What happened?” asked Aragorn

“We found him trapped under a troll, He had slain the mighty beast but I fear has paid for it with his very life!”

Gimli then sank to his knees sobbing.  Legolas placed his hand on Gimli’s shoulder great was their grief!

As Aragron, was laying Pippin’s broken body down on a cot, Pippin made a slight cry of pain.  Gimli’s head shot upward.  “He’s alive?”  He jumped up and ran to Aragorn’s side.   “Please Aragron say he is alive!”

Yes Gimli, much to the relief of us all.   I do detect a faint heartbeat.  I am not sure how extensive his injury, but he is alive!  You have done well Gimli to have brought him to me.”

Aragorn then leaned over and began to examine Pippin.  Feeling along the young Hobbits limbs to check for injuries.  A few times Pippin weakly cried out in pain.  Aragorn stroked Pippin’s brow and said “easy Pippin, You’re going to be all right.”  Then Aragorn called for yet another tub and athelas to be brought, this time with warm water.  “I shall need to bathe him to find out which bloody areas are his and which are from the troll.  Why don’t you wait outside Gimli, I shall call you when I am finished.”

As Gilmi and Legolas turned to go they noticed Sam and Frodo.  “How are they Aragorn, will they live?” Asked Legolas.

“ I am not sure yet, cannot yet see their fate.  They have made it this far and that is a good sign.” Replied Aragorn

“Such magnificent and wonderful people they are, these hobbits.  The whole of Middle Earth should pay them homage for the great work they accomplished.  I am glad to call them my friends!”  Said Gimli with tears in his eyes.  Then they turned to go, great sorrow was in their hearts.

Sometime later the tent flap opened and Aragorn stepped outside.  “You may go in now. He has several broken ribs, and some head injuries.  I am afraid there might have been some internal bleeding but I think it has stopped.  It is a wonder that he has survived at all!  I have placed a sleep upon him, knowing Master Peregrin he would have wanted to be up in an hour walking around.” 

“So he is going to live then?” asked Gimli.

“Yes Gimli, I think he will be just fine in time, he just needs some rest and time to heal.” 

Gimli quietly entered the tent, took a chair and placed it next to Pippin’s bed.  He sat down and took Pippin’s hand in his own and began to stroke the small, fragile fingers.  Gimli did not leave that spot for many days.  The only people he would allow near Pippin were Gandalf and Aragorn.

The next morning Aragron approached Gandalf saying, “the camp is getting ready to move to Ithilien.   It will be a more permanent location and safer it think.  I  will need to lead the camp.  I am hoping you will ride with Frodo, Sam and Pippin.”

“Of course” Gandalf replied.  “Do you think they are ready for such a journey?”

“I think that Sam and Pippin will be fine, my greatest fear is for Frodo.  We will make him as comfortable as possible.  You must take great care that he is not moved too much Gandalf.  His fever is greatly reduced but he is still very weak.”

“I shall hold him in my lap the entire way if necessary.” Said Gandalf.

Aragorn smiled and turned to go.  The rest of the morning was spent breaking camp and packing to wagons to move.  The wounded were the last to be loaded onto the wagons.  Frodo, Sam and Pippin were placed gently into the back of a wagon by the guards and Gandalf climbed aboard.  As Gimli stepped up to join Gandalf, a voice behind him said,  “Here now, that wagon is for the sick only, there is no room for you.”

Gimli turned toward the voice.  Took a deep breath, stuck out is chest, with fire in his eyes, and power in his voice replied 

“In this wagon rides the great warrior Peregrin Took of the shire!  I am his servant and I shall ride with him wherever he goes!  I have not left his side since he returned from battle and I don’t intend to now!  If you choose to challenge me I shall have to go find my ax that I laid aside after the last great battle,” 

Gimli prominently placed his hands upon his hips, slightly tilted his head and squinted his eyes to add reinforcement to his challenge.

The tower guard just stood there not knowing what to think of this dwarf.  Looked at Gandalf who simply nodded his head and smiled.  The guard looked to Gimli, bowed and simply said, “I did not realize, please forgive me.” Then turned and walked away.  Gimli climbed onto the wagon smiling, feeling very pleased with himself, and sat next to Pippin holding his hand.

The journey took the better part of two days.  When they reached to field of Cormallen the camp was already in place.  Those who had not carried the wounded had reached the field first and set up camp.  When the wagons with the injured arrived they laid Sam, Frodo and Pippin in a tent underneath a great tree.  Aragorn ordered that they be given more water and broth, as much as they were able to consume.

Several days passed and still the three were sleeping.  Sam and Pippin started to regain much of their color.  Gimli still had not yet left Pippins side.  He was sitting in a chair, his head resting on Pippins cot sound asleep.

Aragorn smiled as he thought about how gentle this dwarf really was, and how he pretended to be so gruff.

Aragorn moved to Frodo's bedside.  He was still greatly worried about him.

Frodo was still deathly pale, his skin was almost transparent.

Aragorn was afraid that Frodo was letting go.  He realized that somewhere along the way Frodo decided that he would not survive this journey.  He had resigned himself to dying.  Aragorn knew he must find a way to bring Frodo back from the precipice of death he was dangling on!  But how ?

Legolas entered the tent, looking at Aragorn said

“You are worried my friend, are you not?”

“Yes Legolas, I am worried, for Frodo, I fear he is losing the greatest battle of all.

I struggle with knowing if I want him to survive because it was good for him, or because I can’t bear to see him die?” 

A single tear rode down Aragorn’s cheek.  He looked at Legolas.

“Am I being selfish?”

“Legolas gently placing his arm around Aragorn said

“None of us want to see him die, he has become dear to us all, and I don’t think it is being selfish to want to bring him back.  I think we should do everything within our power to do so.”

Aragorn suddenly struck with an idea turned to leave the tent.

“I must find Gandalf.”

“Gandalf!  Gandalf!” Aragorn's voice rang out through the encampment.

Gandalf came out of his tent approaching Aragron with fear in his eyes.

“Has something happened?  How are Frodo, and the others?”

“They are fine, although I fear for Frodo greatly I think he is giving up his fight.

 I have an idea that I think will help to bring Frodo back.  Do you still have Shadowfax?”

“Yes, Why?” answered Gandalf.

“ I have an errand for you.  We are in great need of speed!”

The next morning the sun rose slowly, spraying rays of golden light everywhere it landed.  As Aragorn exited his tent he could smell the sweet fragrance of Ithlien filling his senses.  He felt a cool breeze upon his face and the birds were happily singing in the trees.  He noted that this was the first time he had heard the birds since the war started.  It gave him hope that everything would once again be as it should be, the birds had felt safe enough to return.  It was a crisp morning and he pulled his cloak tighter around his shoulders as he crested a small hill heading for the healing tents.  His thoughts turned to Gandalf and wondered if he had been successful in his mission.  He was hoping that Gandalf would arrive sometime tomorrow from his errand, with Shadowfax bearing him it might even be today.  Aragorn could only hope!

As Aragorn entered the tent a healer stood the greet him, he motioned for her to sit down.  Gimli was seated in a chair next to Pippin snoring loudly!  He smiled to himself as he thought it is a wonder any of them are sleeping through that! 

He walked to examine each of his patients.  They had survived another night and that was a good sign.  He noticed that Pippin had regained a fair amount of color to his cheeks and a sense of relief crossed over him.  Pippin was a strong young hobbit and would probably recover the quickest of the three.  Sam was also looking rosier but still so thin.  It nearly broke Aragorn’s heart to see him so frail.  This was not the Sam the he met in Bree so long ago.  The Stout little hobbit seemed to have faded so much since then. 

Frodo’s fever was gone, but still did not show another sign of improvement.  He sat down in a chair his heart heavy with grief.   He had done all he could do, the rest was up to each hobbit.  They had to want to live!  He felt sure of Sam and Pippin’s recovery, it was Frodo that worried him the most. 

He turned to the healer to inquire about the last time they had had anything to eat or drink.

“I was just about to try to feed them again my Lord.  The little one here can consume the most broth.  The other two are still having difficulty keeping anything down but water.  I have not tried broth again since yesterday.”

Aragorn nodded and replied, “I should like to feed them this morning, will you please prepare the broth?  They must begin to have some nourishment.  They will fade away before too long.”

The healer bowed to Aragorn and left to heat the broth.

Aragorn could hear the wind softly whispering through the trees outside the tent.  This was his favorite part of the day.  No one was awake yet and he could be alone with his thoughts.  While waiting for her to return he closed his eyes, and began dream.  His thoughts drifted to golden land of Lothlórien and to the one he hoped to wed.

The sound of pounding hoofs jolted Aragorn from his sleep.  He looked up to Find Gandalf entering the tent.

“Gandalf, you are here much sooner that I expected!  Was your mission successful?”

“Yes King Elessar, I have brought the best medicine in the land of Gondor!” said Gandalf with a smile

Mr. Meriadoc Brandybuck entered the tent behind Gandalf.   Merry slowly walked to Pippin’s bed, tears welling up in his eyes, turned to Aragorn, “I have had nightmares about this many times since he left.  I tried to forget my dreams because I did not want them to be true.  When Gandalf came for me I was sure we would get here too late, will he live Aragorn?”

“Yes Master Merry I am quite sure that he will live.  He is getting stronger everyday.  I think it will do him good to hear your voice and to know you are near.  I am most worried about Frodo though.  He seems to have lost his will to survive -  he is dangling on the precipice of death.  You are the only person, other than Sam, that I felt could reach him where he is.  You must try to bring him back Merry.  I have done all I can do.  We shall leave you now so that you can have some privacy.”

Aragorn walked over to Gimli  placing his hand on his shoulder woke him up.  Gimli sat up focused his eyes and said with delight “Master Merry, you have arrived!  I have watched over our young Pippin for many days.  Now that you are here I will take my leave.”

“Thank you Gimli, you have done well, Pippin and I both appreciate you.” Said Merry with a smile.

Gimli then followed Aragorn and Gandalf out of the tent.  Merry bent down toward Pippin, stroked his cheek with his hand and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead.  “I love you Pippin, why did you go and do such a silly thing as this?   I have been worried sick about you since you left.  I have much to share with you, but it seems our dear Frodo needs my help first.  I’ll be back soon.”

Merry then walked to Frodo’s bed, placing a chair and his side sat down.  Merry took Frodo’s right hand in his own.  Noting the bandage and the missing finger, he felt hot tears springing up in his eyes.  His voice cracked as he started to speak.

“Frodo, it’s me Merry!  I’ve come all the way from Gondor to see you, Sam and Pippin.”  Merry softly stroked Frodo’s brow.  “Oh Frodo, you did it, you and Sam did it! I am so proud of you.  I had no idea that day we left Crickhollow what to expect on this journey, but I would do it all again for you!  Frodo, can you hear me?  You have to come back, I am not sure how I will live without you.  I have loved you for as long as I can remember.  You were my very first friend, the older brother I never had, and I can’t imagine my life with out you!  You are loved more than you can ever imagine!  I dream of the day that we can go home and go tramping all over the shire together like we once did.  I have visions of us growing old together, you Sam, Pip and I sitting in front of Bag End smoking Old Toby and watching the sunset.  Please Frodo don’t miss that, don’t you want to see Pippin old?  Don’t you wonder if he will still be as silly?  Dear ol’ Pip, he wouldn’t be able to survive with out you either.  And what of Sam?  How am I supposed to explain to Sam that you just didn’t care to stick around to see if he was alright.  You know he’s not doing so well, he needs your help Frodo if he is to get better.  Please Frodo, Come back to us, come back to Sam! We need you!”

Merry began to weep, his tears falling and making a muddy puddle at his feet.  Never had he felt such grief.  He felt so useless just sitting holding Frodo’s hand.  There must be something he could do, some way to reach Frodo.  He didn’t even know if Frodo could hear him.  Merry leaned over and gently kissed Frodo’s delicate hand, his tears washing his hand.  Suddenly Merry felt his hand being squeezed, he looked up at Frodo, there was no change in the expression on his face but he was definitely squeezing his hand!  

“Oh Frodo, is that you?  Are you there? Can you hear me?” 

The squeeze was a little stronger and Merry was sure that Frodo could hear him! 

“Oh Frodo, hold on, I’m going to get Aragorn!”

Merry jumped up from his chair knocking it over in his haste, and ran outside.  “Aragorn, he squeezed my hand, come and see!”

Aragorn and Gandalf quickly followed Merry inside.  Aragorn walked over to Frodo and placing his hands on either side of his head, began to stroke his forehead.  A look of relief came over his face.

“Master Merry I don’t know what you said to him but is has worked.  I felt that this healing was something that only the Shire could bring about and it seem I was right.  Well done master healer!”  Said Aragorn as he knelt down and embraced the young hobbit!

Aragorn then called for the healers to bring broth and attempt to feed to hobbits again.  Merry stayed for many days. Sitting at the bedside of his friends.  Spending many hours recounting for them all that had happened in the war of the ring, while they slept.  Everyday the three hobbits seemed to grow stronger and healthier!  The long arm of death had receded and the three hobbits looked better and color had returned to their cheeks.  On day thirteen of the New Year Merry sat at Pippins bedside talking about the slaying of the Witchking when suddenly Merry head a voice.  “Merry, I’m hungry”

Merry looked up and saw Pippins big brown eyes staring back at him and a huge smile on his face!

“Oh you great big fool of a Took!  How glad I am to see you awake!”  Merry jumped up and embraced his cousin in a bear hug!

Pippin winced a little and a cry of pain shot out!  “Oh Pip I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have hugged you so hard, I forgot you’re in pain.”

“That’s okay Merry, I’ll take the pain any day. It means I am alive!  But what has happened?  The last think I remember is Beregond and that huge troll.  Oh Merry you should have seen him, he was bigger than the one we met in Moria!  What happened to Beregond?  Merry tell me what happened,  did we win?”

“Yes little Pip we won, we surely won indeed!” replied Merry smiling joyously!

“And Frodo and Sam?  What has become of them Merry?  Did they destroy the ring?  Are they alive?”

“Yes Pip they destroyed the ring, and as to whether they are alive, see for yourself.”  Then Merry nodded his head in the direction of Frodo and Sam’s beds.  Pippin sat up and turned to look upon Sam and Frodo.

“Are they all right Merry?  Will they live?”

“Yes Pip they will be just fine, It didn’t look good for a while but Aragorn say’s they will be just fine now.  They need to rest a little still.”

Pippin turned to Merry, and with a sly smile on his face, “I guess it wasn’t to big for us after all huh Merry?”

“No Pippin Not to big at all,” said Merry as he drew his cousin into a tight embrace.  “You know Pip, You owe Gimli a big thank you.  He didn’t leave you from the moment he found you under that troll till I arrived.  He was like a great watchdog!  He wouldn’t let anyone near you except Aragorn and Gandalf.  It seem he has a soft side for you my cousin.”  We have to make room for our warrior dwarf friend back in crickhollow!” laughed Merry

Pippin smiled, “I shall have to thank him then won’t I?” was all he could say.  Later that day, after a hearty meal, Pippin was up and roaming the encampment.  He saw Gimli and sincerely expressed his appreciation for Gimli’s help.  Gimli just shrugged it off by saying something about it being his job and turned and walked away.  Pippin, however, knew that he truly had  friend for life.

Frodo was being moved, he felt strong arms carrying him and then a soft surface supporting him.  He tried to open his eyes but they felt heavy, so heavy.  He heard a voice speaking, he did not understand the words.  Everything was foggy, there was a cloud around his head.  He was cold, but then suddenly warm again.  Was he dead?  He didn’t feel dead.  He smelled a sweet fragrance in the air.  It was a familiar scent but he couldn’t place it.  He opened his eyes, nothing looked familiar, and he saw a white tent and wide beechen boughs above it.  He tried to sit up but his head was dizzy.  He felt a sharp pain in his right hand and lifted it into view.  It was bandaged with a white cloth and Frodo felt a sudden loss for the missing finger.  His memory of that day in Mount Doom came flooding back and Frodo shuddered.

From behind him Frodo heard a voice speaking,

“I will say it from now until the day I leave Middle Earth, Hobbits really are amazing creatures! You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years, they can still surprise you.”

It was a voice that Frodo thought he would never hear again.  Frodo looked, in amazement toward the direction the voice had come, and there standing in the doorway of the tent, his robes shining in brilliant, white splendor stood Gandalf!

A transfiguration had taken over the old grey wizard and he stood there shining brighter than the morning sun.  Frodo fell backward in utter amazement! His mouth gaped open.

“Gandalf?!?!”  His voice was barely more than a whisper.  “How can this be?  I saw you fall?”

We wizards are amazing creatures as well my young hobbit, it is not wise to underestimate us either.” Replied Gandalf with a twinkle in his eye.  He approached Frodo and in one giant sweep captured the young hobbit in his arms as he had done so long ago on the day of Bilbo’s party!  “I am so glad you have come back to us, we were beginning to worry.”  Aragorn entered the tent and in great joy exclaimed, “Frodo! Oh Frodo you’re awake!”  There was such excitement and joy in Aragorn’s voice that Frodo couldn’t help but smile and laugh, then Aragorn knelt and drew him into a warm embrace.  Frodo had never seen Aragorn dressed so finely he was wearing a tunic of royal blue velvet and new boots donned his feet.  No longer was he the image of the ranger Frodo first met in Bree.

“I have been so worried about you, I thought that you were never going to join us.  Welcome back my friend!”

“I am glad to have been able to oblige you Lord Aragorn, but where is Sam?  Is he…?”

“He is just fine Frodo, He is alive and well.  He has not yet woken but will shortly I think”

Frodo was so full of questions, he wanted to know everything that had happened but he wanted to see Sam first.

Frodo gently rose from the cot taking care not to stand up to swiftly.  He went to Sam’s bed and sat at his side.  Tears began to fill Frodo’s eyes as he remembered all that had happened.  He turned to Aragorn and Gandalf saying

“I never would have made it without him!  Sam is the true hero!  Are you sure he will be all right Aragorn?  I couldn’t bear it if he didn’t make it.”

Gandalf walked up behind Frodo, placing his hands on his shoulders said

“He is going to be just fine Frodo.  I know that there are many adventures left in the life of our dear Samwise!”

Food was brought to Frodo.  Aragorn, Frodo and Gandalf sat for several hours discussing the events of the past few months.  After a while Frodo grew weary and asked to lie down.  Aragorn left to attend to business and Gandalf sat smoking his pipe, thinking of what the future might hold.  He had a feeling the adventure was not over yet, and there would be much that would need to be done still.

When Sam awoke, he found that he was lying on some soft bed, but over him gently swayed wide beechen boughs, and through their young leaves sunlight glimmered, green and gold.  All the air was full of a sweet mingled scent.