by Niphrandl

Part 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8

Chapter 1:  A Sad Farewell

The Ring has been destroyed. Gollum fell with it into the fires of Mt. Doom. Sam helped Frodo to his feet careful not to jostle his master's injured hand. "Mr. Frodo, are you able to walk?" a worried Sam asked.
"Yes Sam" replied Frodo. "I have some strength left in me." The two hobbits slowly walked out of Mt Doom. Sam stumbled as they begin the decent to the foot of the mountain. "Here Sam" said Frodo, "We will lean on each other." Sam smiled wearily as the continued their downward climb.

Suddenly the mountain groaned and bleched forth the fiery death for which it was known. Frodo and Sam were trapped on a small island of rock in the middle of a river of lava. "Well Mr. Frodo, this is it then." said Sam in despair.
"Yes Sam' replied Frodo. "We have fullfilled the quest. The Ring has been destroyed and now we must face this doom." Frodo turns to face his friend and companion, "My only regret is that you must share this doom with me."

"I would have it no other way Frodo" replied Sam.

As the heat and fumes become too much to bear the two friends embrace for what they fear is the last time. Choking on the fumes and with a final gasp Sam manages a weak "farewell" as he sinks to his knees. Frodo watches helplessly as Sam collapses at his feet. Soon Frodo, too, is overcome, "forgive me Sam" he says as he falls beside his friend. As the darkness takes him Frodo thinks he hears the cry of an eagle and then....Silence.

On the field of Cormallen things were looking up ofr Aragorn and his forces. the eagles had arrived and helped trun the tide against the forces of sauron. The men began to rejoice at the retreat of their enemies. for Gandalf, though, there was no joy. A feeling of dread had entered his heart and was steadily growing. All was not right. The Ring Bearer as in grave danger still. "Gwahir" Gandalf called out to the windlord, "I will need your help and that of two of your swiftest brothers."

Soon Gandalf and the eagles were bearing down on Mt Doom. Gandalf and Gwahir were ever watchfull for any signs of Sam and Frodo. The eagle lord spotted them first. Far below on a quickly disappearing island of rock lay two motionless figures. Galnalf saw them also and feared that he had come too late.

Gwahir called to his two companions who swooped down and lifted the small figures off the rock just as it was consumed by lava. As the eagles bore Gandalf and the two hobbits back toward Ithilien Gandalf said a silent prayer..

Chapter 2: Ithilien

Aragorn had seen Gandalf leave with the eagles. He knew immediately that Gandalf was headed to Mt. Doom. Frodo had fulfilled his quest and the Ring had been destroyed. But the Ringbearer was not yet out of danger.

“Harland” Aragorn called to one of the remaining Dunedain, “see to it that the wounded are cared for and the dead buried”. Harland bowed and Aragorn left to find the warden of the Houses of Healing. He had to make preparations should Frodo and Sam return alive. “There is much to be done before this victory can be celebrated” Aragorn said wearily to

As He approached the Houses of Healing Aragorns thoughts went to Frodo and Sam. He thought of the horrors they must have faced in Mordor and shuddered. He said a silent prayer to Illuvatar that the two hobbits would be all right.

Upon entering the Houses of Healing Aragorn found the Warden coming out of Merry’s room. Merry had been stricken with the Black Breath during his encounter with the Nazgul on the battlefield earlier in the war. “How is he doing?” Aragorn inquired. “He is mending well and should be able to leave in a day or two” replied Raytheon, the Warden.
“These little ones are a wonder of healing abilities”. Aragorn simply nodded, remembering Frodo's recovery from the Morgul blade wound.

“Raytheon, I need two beds prepared and set aside” stated Aragorn.
 “Forgive me lord but we have many wounded and little space to spare” replied Raytheon.
 “I understand that but these are for two very special Pheriannath” explained Aragorn, “Gandalf will be returning with them soon I think”.

“Ah!” exclaimed Raytheon, “like the little one in there?”

“Yes, one is his kin”

Raytheon bowed to Aragorn, “I will do my best my lord” he said and set about his appointed task.

“Aragorn?”, it was Merry, “Is everything OK? I heard you talking to the warden.”
Aragorn turned and saw the worry on his friends face. “I’m not sure Merry, I’ll know more when Gandalf returns.”
Merry fumbled nervously with the buttons on his coat. “It's Frodo isn’t it? And Sam? Something dreadful has happened hasn’t it?” Merry asked with tears welling up in his eyes.
Drawing a ragged breath Aragorn Placed his hands on Merry’s shoulders and leaned down to look Merry straight in the eyes. Aragorn knew it would be wrong to deceive Merry. “I honestly don’t know Merry” Aragorn said then quickly added “we must be strong. Get things ready for their return, but” Aragorn looked away, “we must also prepare for the worst.”
A single tear escaped down Merry’s face and he angrily wiped it away. “They’ll be all right Aragorn, I know they will!”

“Yes Merry, I’m sure you're right. Now please return to your room, you still need rest. I will let you know as soon as I hear something.” Merry simply nodded and turned to enter his room. Aragorn watched sadly and, though he did not know it, he mirrored Gandalf’s fear that it was too late.

Chapter 3

From Gwahir's back, Gandalf looked worriedly from one hobbit to the next trying to detect any signs that either one was still alive as the eagles lifted them from the rock. His heart skipped a beat when he thought he saw Frodo stir. But Gandalf allowed himself no joy in this. The movement was so slight that it may simply have been caused by the eagles wings.

Frodo felt himself being lifted up. He thought to himself "This is it then, I have died and my spirit is leaving Middle Earth". But as the air around him cooled and the toxic black smoke gave way to fresh clean air, Frodo knew that he had survived and was somehow being carried away from Mordor.

Just then a single word entered his mind. Sam. Frodo tried to look around. He had to know if Sam had survived. But Frodo was too weak and in too much pain to lift his head. His throat was dry and scratchy as sandpaper, his arms and legs felt like they were on fire and every breath he took felt like the stab of a knife. As darkness built around him one word escaped Frodo's lips, "Sam", and Frodo welcomed the numbing blankness of unconsciousness.

Sam found himself lost in a dream. He was flying through blue summer skies. Below him was his home, The Shire. He could see the green hills and deep blue lakes and rivers. He espied his house at #3 Bagshot Row. His gaffer was in the garden, as usual, tending his beloved flowers and vegetables. White fluffy clouds floated by as Sam drifted along. Suddenly, Sam became aware that they weren't clouds but thick black smoke and the land passing below him was not the green hills of the Shire, but the charred wastelands of Mordor. Sams mind screamed in agony and a searing pain shot through his body. And then there was nothing.

Back in Ithilien, Aragorn had sent scouts out to watch the sky for any signs of Gandalf and the eagles. Aragorn was growing anxious, He felt that time may be growing short.

Chapter 4 : Houses of Healing

Aragorn was helping Ioreth, one of the Healers assistants, make final preparations in the room they were setting up for Frodo and Sam. He had gone out and collected some herbs and plants that the Healer lacked in his own stores. Pippin watches as Aragorn arranged them on a table with the healers own remedies. Pippin had recently recovered from his own wounds and was eager for Frodo and Sam to return. Suddenly there was a shout from outside and the call was picked up by many voices. One of the scouts had spotted the eagles. Aragorn headed for the door, Pippin was close behind. Aragorn turned and stopped Pippin with a hand on his shoulder. “No Pippin, I think it would be best for you to remain inside. At least until we know what condition they are in. Go and be with Merry. I will send word as soon as I can”. Pippin, too shocked with fear and grief to argue, simply turned towards Merry’s room.

Aragorn met the healer outside in a small garden. He looked up and saw the three eagles approaching. His heart sank and hope all but died when he saw his two friends hanging limply in the eagles’ talons.

The eagles gently laid Frodo and Sam on the ground then drew away. Aragorn and the healer were at the unconscious hobbits sides instantly assessing their condition. Both hobbits were covered in soot and ash though there no obvious wounds on either one. Sam’s breathing was shallow but regular. Frodo, on the other hand, was having some difficulty breathing. His breaths were coming in short raspy gasps.

Gwahir landed nearby to let Gandalf off his back. As Gandalf ran towards the small group, he called out to Aragorn. “Are they...” he stopped when Aragorn held up his hand.
 “Raytheon”, Aragorn said to the healer, “get them inside and cleaned up immediately”.
“Right away” Raytheon replied. As the healer was giving instructions to his assistants Aragorn turned to Gandalf.
 “They live.” Aragorn said. “though I don’t know for how long. Sam’s breaths are too shallow and Frodo struggles for every one he
 “May Elbereth help them.” Gandalf prayed as he watched Frodo and Sam being carried into the Houses of healing. As Aragorn turned to follow he saw Pippin watching from the window of Merry’s room, A tear silently slipped down Pippin’s cheek.

Chapter 5: Loving Care

Ioreth and her fellow assistants were attending to Frodo and Sam, carefully removing their soiled clothing and gently washing them. Ioreth noticed something and grew concerned. She left the bedside and approached Aragorn and Gandalf at the back of the room where they were watching silently.

“Pardon me my lord” Ioreth said to Aragorn “but the Pheriannath appear to have been burned. I think you should come and check it out.” With a questioning look at Gandalf, Aragorn followed Ioreth to Sam's side.

Aragorn checked Sams’ arms and legs. He gently lifted one of his arms off the bed. Sam let out a yelp that startled everyone in the room. Aragorn leaned close to Sam's ear.
“Sam, Can you hear me?” asked Aragorn.
 “Gaffer?” Sam whispered weakly.
 “No Sam, it's Strider. Can you tell me where it hurts?”
 “Its hot” replied Sam “so hot...can’t breathe....”
And Sam slipped back into darkness.

Aragorn turned to Frodo carefully checking his arms and legs. It was true. Both hobbits had been burned. The skin was red and blistered in spots. It appeared to be only on the skin that was exposed. The skin that was protected by their clothing was OK. It was only then that Aragorn noticed the finger missing from Frodo’s hand. “By Elbereth!!” Aragorn exclaimed, “What happened?” Aragorn instructed Ioreth to thourly clean and dress the wounded hand.

Aragorn looked up at Gandalf. “Where did you find them?” Aragorn asked the Wizard.

“At the foot of Mt. Doom. The mountain had exploded and they were on a small rock surrounded by fire.” Gandalf told Aragorn.

“Elbereth help them.” Aragorn prayed. “their injuries may be more than on the surface. If the air was hot enough to blister their skin then I’m afraid it may also have burned their throats and lungs.

Turning to Ioreth Aragorn said, “ Place both hobbits into one bed and make a tent of linen over it then bring me two large pots of boiling water."
 “Yes my lord, right away.” Ioreth replied and she and the other assistants got busy.

Walking to the table which contained the plants and herbs he had gathered, Aragorn chose Athelas and Aloe Plants. “What do you intend to do Aragorn?” Gandalf asked from behind him. Aragorn turned
 “The aloe will soothe the burned and protect the skin. the boiling water will produce steam to keep their throats moist and the athelas, I hope, will ease their breathing.” Raytheon spoke up, “Pardon me my lord, but, wouldn’t Eucalyptus oil be better for that purpose?” “We may still need to use that” Aragorn replied “but I fear that it may be too harsh on their burned throats and only make breathing more difficult.”
Raytheon simply nodded in agreement.

As Aragorn Looked at his two friends lying on the beds he said a silent prayer that he would be able to help them. He knew he would have to draw on all he knew about burns if Frodo and Sam were to survive.

Chapter 6: Nightmares

After settling Sam into a larger bed the assistants went to get Frodo. As he was lifted from the bed Frodo cried out in pain and fear. He was locked in a nightmare. The wraiths had found him and were taking him back to Mordor. Back to the firey Mt. Doom. "You have destroyed the ring" screached the Witch King "now we will destroy you!"

"NO!!" gasped Frodo. His breaths coming in short harsh gasps. "I won't go back there, I won't!" He flailed his arms and kicked his feet. His blue eyes were wide, yet unseeing, with fright. No one could get near him.

"Move away from the bed" Aragorn told everyone. Don't try to restrain him, you will do harm to the burns." Frodo watched in fear as the wraiths, Ioreth and the others, backed away from the bed. Then Frodo's eyes went wide with horror as the Witch King approached him.
 "Frodo," Aragorn said "lasto beth nin, we are here to help you."
Frodo became confused. It looked like a wraith but sounded like..."A...Aragorn?" Frodo wheezed, his vision clearing "Aragorn I....the wraiths...." Frodo fell back against the pillows exhausted. His breathing becoming more labored.
Aragorn reached out and gently placed a hand on Frodo's shoulder. "Its all right little one, you are safe now. The wraiths are gone forever."

Frodo relaxed a little. "Ioreth" Aragorn called without losing eye contact with Frodo, "Bring me a cup of tea." Ioreth handed Aragorn the tea. He sprinkled some Athelas into it and tested it to make sure it was not hot. He offered the tea to Frodo. Holding the cup to Frodo's lips. "Here Frodo, drink this. It will help you relax." Frodo accepted a few sips from the cup then closed his eyes and with a sigh slipped back into unconsciousness.

Aragorn quickly gathered Frodo up in his arms and turned to place him in the bed next to Sam. He stopped breifly when he saw Merry and Pippin in the doorway. The worry was evident on their faces.
 "We heard Frodo scream" said Merry. "Is he going to be ok?"
"I don't know Merry," Aragorn replied sadly "I don't know."

As Aragorn laid Frodo next to Sam, Ioreth and her helpers placed a linen tent over the bed. Turning to Ioreth Aragorn gave her the aloe plants he had gathered. "Put the gel from these plants on their burns while I prepare the athelas." Turning toward Merry and Pippin Aragorn said "You two can help. Gather up as many pillows as you can and prop Frodo and Sam up in bed so they are almost sitting." Happy to be able to help Merry and Pippin did what Aragorn asked.

Aragorn placed the two large pots of boiling water, one on each side of the bed, so that the steam gathered under the linen tent. He then spoke an Elvish healers chant and put the Athelas leaves into both pots. All they could do now was wait.

Chapter 7: Stories from Home

As the athelas vapors filled the makeshift tent over the bed, Merry and Pippin pulled chairs over to the bedside. Merry on the side with Frodo and Pippin on the side with Sam.
 “And  just what do you two think you are doing?” asked Aragorn.
 “We mean to stay with them until we know they are all right.” Merry stated flatly. “And there will be no denying us!”
Pippin added. Aragorn smiled and shook his head slowly. “Very will then but don’t  interfere with their care.” Merry turned with a smile to Pippin and winked at him. Pippin smiled back.

“How long will the pheriannath need to be treated thus?” asked Ioreth.
“Through the  night at least” answered Aragorn. “we will see what the morning brings. Be sure to refresh the boiling water every couple of hours to keep the steam up. It is important to  keep the air they breath moist.”

“They also must be watched carefully for signs of pneumonia and infection” Aragorn added. “Its going to be a long night!!” Just then a wave of dizziness washed over him and he had to grab the table to steady himself. Gandalf had seen Aragorn pale and was at his  side in an instant.
 “You need some rest my friend” he said. “Why don’t you go and get some sleep?”
 “No” Aragorn protested “I am needed here. Frodo and Sam need to be watched closely.”
 “Beggin’ your pardon Aragorn,” Merry piped in. “Pippin and I are very capable of keeping watch over them, We will send for you if anything happens.”
Aragorn smiled wearily and bowed to Merry. “Forgive me. You are right of course, who better to  keep watch over them then the two of you?” Aragorn turned to Gandalf “Perhaps I will take some rest” Aragorn started to leave, he glanced back at Merry “You let me know the minute anything happens.” Merry nodded and Aragorn left. Gandalf excused himself as well stating that he had some business to take care of and followed Aragorn out the door.

Merry took hold of Frodo's uninjured hand and patted it gently. After a few minutes Pippin spoke up, “What now Merry? If we just sit here staring at them all night I shall fall asleep!”
“Well” Merry stated settling back in his chair. “I was just thinking about The Shire.”
 “I miss it too.” said Pippin. “Do you think we will be able to go home soon?”
“I expect as soon as Frodo and Sam get better we will” Merry said.
 “They are going to get better aren’t they Merry?”
“ ‘course they are Pippin! Don’t you go thinking otherwise!” Merry replied with anger.
Pippin hung his head “I’m sorry Merry, its just....” Pippin looked sadly at the bed where his two friends lay.

Merry decided to change the subject. “Pippin, you remember that time we filtched them mushrooms from Farmer Maggots fields?” Pippins face brightened. “Yes! he almost caught us” Pippin said “sent them dogs of his after us.”
 “And” Merry added “if we hadn’t jumped that fence when we did...”
 “We’d be dog food” Pippin finished and they both laughed. “That fence wasn’t much kinder to you if I remember right Merry.” Pippin laughed. “When we got home and your mum saw the tear in your breeches......”
 “Ok ok,” Merry said turning red. “I would rather forget about that part thank you very much!”
Merry squirmed in the chair remembering the lashing he had received when his dad heard the story. A soft moan from the bed brought them back to the present. Merry and Pippin looked down and saw Frodo stir a little. They thought they could see a small smile on
Frodo’s face. “It would seem that Frodo remembers it too” Pippin said and both hobbits laughed.

Chapter 8: Reunion

Merry and Pippin’s voices invaded Frodos mind pushing away the dark shadows that had been there for so long. Slowly, memories of a happier time and place showed themselves.

Frodo watch as Merry and Pippin walked up the road toward BagEnd. Frodo’s brow furrowed when he saw Merry was going slow and seemed to be in some discomfort.
“Welcome Cousins!” Frodo greeted them. “Sit down and rest a while.” Pippin smiled and sat down looking up at Merry.
 “Uh, no thank you, I’ll just stand if you don’t mind.” he said.
Frodo grinned, beginning to suspect the source of Merry’s discomfort. “Whatever is wrong dear cousin?” Frodo asked mockingly. Merry blushed and turned aside to stare off down the road.

“Well,” laughed Pippin, “if he won’t tell you I will!” Pippin proceeded to relate the events of the previous day. As Frodo and Pippin laughed.
 Merry blushed even deeper. “I’m glad you two find my discomfort laughable!” he said in a huff.
“Aw, don’t be mad Merry.” Pippin said still snickering, “I got in trouble too! Took most of the night to clean out that pantry it did!”
A small smile broke through Merry’s frown “ We did have fun though didn’t we Pip?” All three of them collapsed laughing.

A coughing spasm brought Frodo back to the present. merry quickly sat Frodo forward as Pippin came around the bed and patted him on the back. “Easy Frodo” Merry said. “slow easy breaths now.” When the spasm subsided and Frodo relaxed Merry leaned him back against the pillows.
Frodo looked up, “Hello Merry! Hello Pippin!”
 “Hello Frodo” they said in unison.
 “How are you feeling Frodo?” Merry asked.
"Tired, Sore and Hungry!” Frodo replied.
 “Hungry!” Cried Pippin. “I should say so! You have not had anything to eat since you arrived here. And I suspect Sam will be hungry too when he wakes up!”

At the mention of Sam Frodo’s eyes went wide and filled with tears. “Sam's here? He..He’s OK?”
 “Been right beside you all along he has” said Pippin. Frodo turned his head and for the first time since Mordor saw Sam. He was pale and quite a bit thinner than Frodo ever remembered him being. The tears spilled over and streamed down Frodo’s cheeks.
“I’m so sorry Sam” he said as he reached for his friend. Frodo stopped short when he saw the bandage on his hand. Nausea assailed him as memories flooded back to him. He withdrew his hand and hid it under the blankets. Merry took notice of this action but said nothing, He knew the story would be told when Frodo was ready.
“Would you like some broth Frodo?” he asked.
 “” Frodo replied shakily as the nausea passed. “I’m too tired right now, think I’ll just close my eyes and rest a little.”
Merry and Pippin looked at each other but said nothing. Merry made sure Frodo was comfortable and tucked the blankets around his shoulders. “Sleep well Frodo” he said.
“Um hum...” was the reply as Frodo snuggled down and was soon fast asleep.

“Merry, do you think we should tell Aragorn? You did say that you would tell him if anything happened.”

“No Pippin. Just let him rest, he has been up with Frodo and Sam for several days now. We will tell him when he wakes up.” Pippin nodded and went back to his chair.

Raytheon entered the room just as Frodo fell back asleep. “How are things going here, is there any change...”
Merry shushed him quickly and filled him in on the last several minutes. “Frodo just now fell asleep again.” Merry finished.

“It is just as well, they need their rest. The cough concerns me though.” Merry nodded, it concerned him too. Raytheon walked over to the table that held the medicines. He selected a bottle and gave it to Merry. “This elixir will calm a cough. If either one wakes
up again coughing give them 1 tablespoon of it.” Merry and Pippin both nodded. Raytheon then placed his hand on Frodo’s and Sam’s foreheads checking for fever. Finding none he smiled, nodded at the two hobbits standing next to him and excused
himself from the room.

Raytheon met Gandalf just outside the room where he had been waiting. “You were right, it was Frodo. He was awake for a short while. Masters Merry and Peregrine handled it nicely.”
“Um, I knew they would” Gandalf said nodding. “Those two and their reminiscing of home are the best medicine for Frodo and Sam right now.” Raytheon nodded as he and Gandalf headed quietly down the hall leaving the four friends in peace.