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Keep Him Secret, Keep Him Safe  by shirebound

Keep Him Secret, Keep Him Safe

Chapter Two: Safeguarded

[The Hobbits] stepped out of the beech-grove in which they had lain, and passed on to a long green lawn, glowing in sunshine, bordered by stately dark-leaved trees laden with scarlet blossom. ‘The Field of Cormallen’, The Return of the King

Frodo had only ridden a few miles when the skies opened up and a cold, hard rain began to fall.  Roheryn’s gait was smooth but relentless, and he held fiercely to the thick mane. Finally, the dark line of trees that gave the field of Cormallen its name came into view.  Frodo heard a shout from up ahead, and saw three riders galloping towards him.  One of them called out something in Sindarin, and to his relief Roheryn slowed, then halted.

“What has happened, Frodo?” Éomer asked urgently as he, Elladan, and Elrohir came abreast of him. All three wore cloaks, and were heavily armed. “It is past the time Aragorn said he would return; we were just setting out to find you.”

“I had to come get help,” Frodo said, wiping rain from his face.  “He grew terribly ill all of a sudden.”

“Where is he?” Elladan asked.

“I left him beside a stream about six miles north,” Frodo said.  “It’s near a field with many boulders.”

“We know the place,” Elladan said. “What has befallen him?  Did he eat something spoiled?”

“That can’t be it,” Frodo fretted.  “He didn’t eat anything all day.”

“We will bring him back,” Elrohir said, and his brother nodded.  “Éomer King, would you see Frodo to his tent?”  He gently untangled the small, cold hands from Roheryn’s mane, then lifted Frodo onto Firefoot, in front of Éomer.

“Aragorn can’t ride,” Frodo said urgently.  “He was weak and dizzy, and couldn’t even stand.  You’ll need a cart.”

“We will bring him, Frodo,” Elrohir repeated firmly.  “Once he in his own tent, we can--”

“Nay, you must not take him through camp,” Éomer said suddenly.  “Were it known that Aragorn is ill, the men might lose confidence.  It is too soon for their king to show weakness, or be thought vulnerable.”  He looked grim.  “When word spread that Théoden King was overcome by Gríma Wormtongue’s influence, his court dissolved into confusion and mistrust.”

“We’re wasting time,” Frodo said in frustration.  “Bring him to our tent.”  He referred to the enclosed shelter that the four hobbits now shared, near the spot where he and Sam had awakened.  “It’s secluded there, and no one will see him.  Just please... go!”

Without another word, the two brothers rode north into the storm.

Finally,” Frodo sighed. 

Éomer watched them go, wishing he was at their side. But that morning Aragorn had charged him with the safety of this camp, and everyone in it... most specifically, the hobbits.

“We need to get a fire going, and find the best healers,” Frodo said, bringing Éomer back to the matter at hand. “Who can be trusted?”

“As for fire, I suspect that Samwise has all in readiness, in anticipation of your return,” Éomer said.  He turned Firefoot towards the hobbits’ tent, and Roheryn followed.  “The best and most trusted healers in camp, Frodo, besides Aragorn, just left to find him.  The sons of Elrond are quite skilled; after the attack on Minas Tirith, they toiled beside Aragorn for many days tending the wounded.”

Frodo twisted around to peer back anxiously in the direction the two elves had gone.

“I hated to leave him alone, but he said the area is safe now.  Maybe I should have just sent Roheryn back here on his own.”

“You had to make a quick decision in a difficult situation,” Éomer reassured him.

“This rain is so cold,” Frodo fretted.  “I hope he’s all right.” He was grateful for the sudden warmth of Éomer’s cloak being wrapped about him.

“His brothers will see him back safely.” Éomer tried to sound confident, but he, too, was deeply concerned. Just then, Frodo shifted uncomfortably, and Éomer smiled knowingly. “Have you been riding all day? I am certain it was not easy to stay a-horse with no saddle.”

“It wasn’t,” Frodo admitted.

“Once we return to Minas Tirith, I will have ponies brought for you and your folk.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Just Éomer, please,” the young man said gently.  “I am not your king, Frodo.  I scarcely feel as if I am anyone’s king; but I will do my best, as will Aragorn.”

“Uh oh,” Frodo murmured. They were approaching the large tent shared by the four hobbits, aglow with light from a large fire burning in the hearth-circle at its center. Through the fabric they could see several forms within, and one who paced back and forth in front of the fire.

“Samwise will soon be too busy to chide you for worrying him.” Éomer assured him. “Come, we have much to do.”


Aragorn found himself actually clutching the grass in an effort to assure himself that his head was what was spinning, not the very earth on which he lay.  He heard Roheryn gallop away, and immediately began berating himself for not thinking of simply sending the horse back to camp alone.  If Frodo fell from such a height, at such a speed...

What is wrong with me?  Aragorn found he had barely the strength to lift his head.  I have not felt this drained since challenging Sauron in the Seeing Stone.  But even then I was able to stand, with Halbarad's help.  His heart ached for his fallen cousin, for the family that did not yet know of the battle, or their loss.

The rain fell in torrents, the small cloak tucked about him flapping wildly in the wind.  He couldn't tell if a short or long time had passed, but suddenly felt a vibration in the ground that spoke to him of horses approaching.  Even had the guard on southern Ithilien been less vigilant, he knew that an enemy would be more stealthy, would not gallop through such a storm.

Estel.”  A familiar voice spoke close to Aragorn's ear, and he felt himself being lifted from the sodden ground.  He heard soft voices, alike in tone and concern, and he was placed on the back of a horse that was kneeling low to the ground.  The horse suddenly got to its feet, and Aragorn swayed dizzily.  But before he could fall someone mounted behind him, two arms wrapping about his chest, holding him as securely as he had held Frodo earlier in the day.

“Elladan?” he whispered.

“Yes, Estel,” came a soft voice.  “Do not fear.  You will be warm and dry soon.”  Aragorn felt a gentle hand on his brow.  “I do not sense that you are in pain.  What ails you, my brother?”

Aragorn just shook his head, without even energy to speak.  He leaned back with a sigh as he felt Elladan's horse begin to move forward, and his thoughts drifted until they spun into nothingness.


When Frodo and Aragorn were late returning, Éomer had asked Legolas and Gimli to safeguard the hobbits while he and the sons of Elrond prepared to search for them. Under the guise of bringing supper, the elf and dwarf lingered with Sam, Merry, and Pippin in their tent, lending tales and songs to distract the hobbits from their growing concern. Finally Legolas heard the soft sound of horses, and cautioned Gimli and the hobbits to remain inside the tent until advised that all was well. Slipping through the entrance, his strung bow in one hand and several arrows in the other, Legolas was relieved to see that the rider was Éomer himself, with Frodo seated in front of him.

Éomer halted Firefoot and handed Frodo down to the elf, who set him on the ground.

“Where is Aragorn?” Legolas frowned, seeing that Roheryn’s back was empty.

“Out there,” Frodo said, freeing one hand from Éomer's cloak to point north. “He got very sick, and I had to come back for help. Elladan and Elrohir have gone to get him.”

“Legolas,” Éomer said quietly, “they are bringing him here, to the beech-grove. I do not wish the camp to learn of his illness.  I need to think of something that will explain his absence, but not alarm anyone.”

“That will not be difficult,” Legolas said. He knelt down to face Frodo. “Are you all right? Your companions have a fire waiting, and… I believe they saved you some supper,” he ended with a smile.

“I’m fine,” Frodo said. “Are you going to make up a story about where Aragorn is?” he asked curiously. “What will you tell everyone?”

“I always prefer truth over falsehood,” Legolas said.  “And it is the truth that the Ring-bearer returned chilled and in need of care, and that the King will be spending some days with the brave Halfling.”

“But that isn’t--”

“Are you not cold and hungry? Will not Aragorn be quartered here?”


Éomer smiled. “Between the two of us, this ‘story’ should spread quickly.”

Legolas clasped Frodo’s shoulder gently.

“Go inside and get warm.  But tell me, what is wrong with Aragorn?”

“I wish I knew.”

Legolas nodded, then got to his feet and leaped lightly onto Roheryn’s back.

“Frodo, we will tell Gandalf what is happening, and return with supplies,” Éomer said.

“Wait a moment.” Frodo reached up his hand, and Roheryn dipped his nose down to nuzzle it.

“Thank you,” Frodo whispered.

** TBC **

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