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Of Fish and Feverish Hobbits  by Anso the Hobbit




The Fellowship walked on a little further, conversation kept to a minimum as the ground was treacherous and they had to concentrate on setting one foot in front of the others. To the Big Folk`s surprise the hobbits had managed remarkably well over the rough terrain so far on the journey, though they were forced to take two or three steps to one stride of the others, and this section of ground was even worse.


“We`ll rest here for today.” Aragorn said, seeing dawn drawing near, and spying a dimpled boulder that would serve as a washbasin for cooling Merry down. The rushing stream they had walked along for days now was easily accessible and Aragorn sent everyone except Gandalf, who carried Merry, and Pippin, who was instructed to build a fire, off to fill the water bottles and Sam`s pans with the chill water.


He cleaned the hollow, and Gandalf held Merry over it to see if the hobbit would indeed fit. Merry was a little too long for it, but it would have to do.


“He`s battling hard” Gandalf said in a low voice, knowing Pippin, struggling against the pervasive wind to get the fire going, would be anxiously trying to overhear all that was said.


“He is indeed,” Aragorn answered just as quietly, as he extracted various herbs from his pouch. “He`s very weak. Hopefully the water will cool him enough to ease his fever. I fear for him, and he might lose his valiant fight if he doesn`t get significantly better very soon.” Aragorn felt Merry`s brow again, looking at the pale face. The red spots that had been on his cheeks until recently were gone. The golden curls lay limp against his head, and his lips were cracked.


“I can not help but wonder if this is some trick of the Enemy, knowing as He does that it is a halfling that is important, and so He sets forth all His powers to harm any of them.”


“I`m not sure,” Gandalf said. “It is also possible that it was pure ill luck that Merry became ill now.”


“Maybe. But I have observed that he is the strongest of the cousins both in health, and in physical strength, is he not?”


“Yes he is. But by very token of his normal good health one could suppose that an illness is overdue. Merry has seldom been ill but he survived a serious illness when he was a young teenager, an illness similar to this one*. For now I would say that it was only unlucky for if it were a true design of the Enemy, Pippin would not have recovered so quickly. His health is the most tenuous of all the hobbits after all.”


“All right. I will not gainsay you Gandalf, I am only worried for his safety, and you know the hobbits better than I do. And the Enemy.”


“That I do, Aragorn. Ah, here the others come. Let`s see about getting Merry well again then, shall we?”


As the rest of the Fellowship entered the camp, Aragorn directed Sam to heat some of the water, and the others poured what they had brought into the depression, making several trips to the stream. When it was nearly full, Sam added his boiling water, leaving the improvised bath chill but not icy cold.




 When all was ready, Aragorn undressed the ill hobbit, Frodo, Pippin and Sam hovering as close as possible, with Gandalf and the rest of the Fellowship standing in a circle around the boulder holding up their blankets to try to cut the wind.


Taking a soft cloth each, Frodo and Pippin prepared to wash their cousin’s feverish body while Aragorn held Merry. It was just as well that he was held safe in strong arms, for as soon as Merry felt the cold water on his back he started struggling. Weak as he was the struggle soon ceased, but he gasped for air as the water sloshed over his sides, stomach and legs.


Pippin and Frodo reached up and gently ran the cloth over Merry’s face, neck, chest and arms, while Sam poured in more water.


They let Merry lie in the improvised tub for a while and when Aragorn deemed his skin cool enough and had checked his breathing and the sounds in his chest, they wrapped him up in several layers of warm clothes and blankets that had been warming by the fire.


All were silent for a while as the hobbits put Merry to bed and fussed about making his place as comfortable as possible, when Boromir perked up suddenly, a questioning glance at his face. “What is that?”






They all fell silent and listened intently for a few seconds before what they were hearing sunk in. The slow and rhythmic sound of snoring. The hobbits laughed in delight and relief and the others were no less relieved. Merry slept peacefully and the sounds of his struggling breaths were gone! Hobbit resilience indeed, Gandalf thought.


Before he could draw breath himself, Aragorn found himself on his back, three hobbits atop him and hugging him tight. “Thank you, Strider! Thank you! Thank you!”


Of course, having known the hobbits for a while, none of the other members of the Fellowship could hide their amusement and delight, and joyous laughter was heard all over the camp. Merry slumbered on, unaware of all of it and dreaming pleasantly of summer days full of sunshine.




“Hullo. How are you feeling?” A familiar and beloved face framed in dark curls looked down at him. “Do you want something to drink?”


“Fro?” It was barely a whisper.


“Strider! He`s awake!” Pippin rose from his spot beside Merry and hurried over to the Ranger. Merry had slept peacefully throughout the day, his temperature almost down to a normal level after being bathed that morning.


Frodo smiled at Merry. “Hello, dearest.”


Merry`s voice was raw and his lips was dry. “’lo. I`d like some water please?”


“Of course dearest.” Frodo lifted Merry`s head into his lap, holding the water bottle for him. Merry drank his fill and struggling with his blankets he tried to sit up.


“Sssh, sssh. Just lie still and rest, you`re still weak. The Big Folk can carry you for a little while longer. Even Gandalf has carried you.”


“Oh.” Merry couldn`t find anything else to say to that.


“Hullo Merry. You`re finally awake, and you`re going to be fine! You’ve been ill you know.” Pippin`s face came into view.


“Oh, Pip. You look exhausted.” Merry reached out and was enveloped in a careful hug.


“It`s hard work taking care of you, you know.” Pippin said half mockingly, locking Tookish green eyes with Brandybuck blue. “But you`re all better now.”


“It feels like I`ve slept for an age” Merry yawned and coughed a little “but I`m still tired. I’ve been ill? How long?”


“For a few days.”


“Hm… Anything exciting happen, then?” Merry said his eyes gleamed with mischief.


“No, nothing more than the excitement you`ve provided us with. Go to sleep now Merry-lad. We`ll talk more later.” Frodo hugged his cousin and wrapped him up snugly.


“Mmmm. G’night Fro.”


“Good night Merry. Sleep tight.”


“’Love you”


“I love you too Merry-lad. Just rest now.”


Frodo kissed Merry`s cheek and sat down to contentedly stroke his hair, knowing that it was all over for now. His Merry would be well.


Pippin came and sat down beside him, looking at his cousins. “He made it Frodo. I knew he would.”




“You know,” Aragorn said, after seeing for himself that Merry was indeed better, and watching the other hobbits fuss about him, “if the Enemy had something to do with this, then there still are some powers for good in the world.”


“Indeed. Indeed there is.” Gandalf said, chuckling while watching the four little people, and shaking his head while adding a little exasperated but amused: “Hobbits!”





*Heir To Buckland, found on Stories of Arda among other places.



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