Stories of Arda Home Page
About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search

Keep Him Secret, Keep Him Safe  by shirebound

Pippin’s injuries at the Black Gate are consistent with those in my short story “Shelter”.

Keep Him Secret, Keep Him Safe

Chapter Three: Sanctuary

In the darkness of Arda already the Dwarves wrought great works, for even from the first days of their Fathers they had marvellous skill with metals and with stone. ‘Of the Sindar’, The Silmarillion

Elladan and Elrohir galloped back along the trail as quickly as they dared.

“How did he endure this long?” Elrohir asked his brother.

Elladan just shook his head. It didn’t take a wizard, or even their father, to tell them what was wrong with their young brother; they could feel it. He thought back to what he and Elrohir had witnessed over the past weeks, and those things they had only been told…

Prompted by Gandalf and his own instincts, and concentrating a healing power that had never been so sorely tested, Aragorn had called back Frodo and Sam from the brink of death. As he tended their battered bodies, at the appropriate time he eased them both from unconsciousness into a healing sleep that needed to be renewed at intervals through song and sheer force of will. Therefore, although exhausted in body and mind, for nearly two weeks he rarely left their side for any reason -- save for urgent demands of the camp that he felt could not be left to Imrahil or Éomer, or for walks amongst the Men who needed to look upon their new king and be encouraged by speech with him.

Elladan and Elrohir had wished to help, but Aragorn asked that they devote their time to the wounded Men. They toiled alone for many days, after which healers who could be spared from the City arrived to work alongside them.

Gandalf felt that after enduring the barren and poisonous land of Mordor, Frodo and Sam would benefit greatly from constant sunshine (or starshine), green smells, and fresh, gentle breezes; therefore, their beds were kept out-of-doors during their recovery. Each evening, when the air cooled and the stars shone one by one, with his own hands Aragorn wrapped the two hobbits in soft coverings that would not abrade their healing cuts and burns. Touching the brow of each, he sang soft, ancient rhythms to ensure that their dreams were gentle, their spirits soothed.

And at last, the glad day came when Frodo awoke beneath the beech trees, as did Sam a few hours later, and the whole encampment celebrated their deeds and feasted their recovery. The Ring-bearers’ beds were moved next to those of Pippin and Merry, in a large tent, and thereafter, much laughter and earnest talk could be heard from the enclosure.

A glorious spring, full of hope and triumph, had arrived at last, but Aragorn grew pale and weary. His brothers had rejoiced when he and Frodo left the clamor of camp that morning for a few hours of leisure, but a day that had begun fine and warm grew dark and ominous as the afternoon wore on.  The hobbits worried about Frodo, especially when the cold rain began to fall; but Elladan had felt a strange foreboding concerning Aragorn, which he discovered that Elrohir shared.

He is spent, Elladan thought grimly, holding Aragorn’s unconscious form upright in front of him.  All that he did for Frodo and Samwise – however he did it – was only the final drain on his energies.  It is fortunate that he was not alone, and that Frodo was able to come for aid; the tides turn indeed.  It is now he who must accept help in healing... or those things for which he has worked and waited his whole life may never come to pass.


As Éomer and Legolas rode back to the main encampment, Frodo dashed up the gentle rise upon which the tent sat and wriggled through the flap, closed tightly against the driving rain. There was indeed a fire, and several large, steaming pots hanging above the hearth Gimli had built of river stones. On the tables thick candles were lit, and the whole place was so bright and full of hobbits, so warm and dry, that for a moment Frodo nearly forgot the urgency of what he needed to tell everyone.

“Mr. Frodo!” Sam said with relief. “Strider got you back all right?”

Pippin, sitting on one of the beds next to Merry, eyed Frodo curiously.

“You can’t seem to hang onto your own cloak, can you?” the young hobbit said teasingly. “Just how many times have you misplaced it now?”

“He hardly misplaced it, Mr. Pippin!” Sam burst out. “Those Orcs grabbed it. T’weren’t none of Mr. Frodo’s doing.”

“Frodo,” Merry frowned, “why are you wearing Éomer’s cloak?”

“He’s not exactly wearing it,” Pippin pointed out. “Frodo, we thought you were out exploring with Strider. Did Éomer go with you?”

Frodo opened his mouth, unsure whose question to answer first, but was distracted by Gimli rising from one of the sturdy chairs.

“We are relieved you have returned, Frodo,” Gimli said, relief sparkling in his eyes. “Your companions have been quite concerned.”

“And so have you,” Pippin said. “You and Legolas didn’t fool us for a second. The two of you have never come to “visit” so heavily armed before. Did you think we believed that story about simply stopping by to chat?”

“We do appreciate it, though,” Sam said, unwrapping a long loaf of bread from a cloth.

“We didn’t need you to guard us, Gimli,” Merry added, “although it was awfully nice of you. Pippin and I are knights, you know.”

“Hmmph.” Gimli came up to Frodo, shaking his head in amusement, and clapped him on the shoulder. “I’ll be on my way. Where has the Elf gone? And just what was that irresponsible Ranger thinking? I thought he had a better sense of the weather.”

“He does. It’s my fault that…” Frodo took a deep breath. “Wait, don’t leave yet, Gimli. I have to tell all of you what’s happened.” He let the heavy cloak drop to the ground, shook the water out of his curls, then moved closer to the fire. “Aragorn’s sick, and they’re bringing him here. It’s a secret. We have to get things ready.”

“He’s what?” Pippin asked. “Are you joking?”

“I wish I were.”

“Why is it a secret?” Merry asked quickly.

“Éomer doesn’t want anyone to know. He thinks the Men will panic or something.”

“That’s good enough for me,” Merry said firmly, his faith in his shield-sister's brother unshakeable. He strode to where Éomer’s cloak lay crumpled on the ground, and spread it out to dry over one of the chairs.

Sam, who had been rummaging through one of the chests, pulled out some garments and handed them to Frodo.

“Put these on before you catch your death, sir,” he insisted, "and I’ve some blankets warming for you.  Gimli brought in lots of dry wood before the rain started.”

“Thank you, Sam,” Frodo said. “But save the blankets for Aragorn. He’ll need them more than I do.”

“What’s wrong with him, Mr. Frodo?”

“I don’t know,” Frodo said worriedly. “It came on really suddenly. He got very weak and dizzy.” He stepped behind one of the tall, empty crates at the back of the tent, behind which a gentlehobbit could change clothes in private. “Elladan and Elrohir are healers,” he called out. “They’re going to take care of him here, away from the rest of the camp. Legolas went to tell Gandalf.”

He emerged from behind the crate dressed in dry clothes. Even though he was shivering, he shook his head when Sam approached him with a blanket taken from those laid out on the table closest to the fire.

“There are more, sir,” Sam assured him. He ignored Frodo’s protests and wrapped the thick, warmed blanket around him. “Strider won’t go without.”

“Thank you,” Frodo smiled. “Whatever would I do without you, Sam?”

“Frodo,” Merry said, “Even if Strider being sick is kept secret, he can’t just disappear from camp for no reason.”

“Éomer is going to tell folks that he’s... well, tending to me for a few days, because I came back in need of some kind of care.”

“You do need care,” Pippin grinned, “or at least some liniment. We can see how stiffly you’re walking. You should have seen me when Gandalf and I reached Minas Tirith. We were on Shadowfax for so many days I felt like--”

“I can imagine,” Frodo smiled wryly, carefully sitting down at one of the tables.

“Sir,” Sam said slowly, “does that mean you can’t go anywhere while Strider is here? I mean, if folks think you’re sick or injured or something so bad that he has to stay with you...”

Frodo frowned. He hadn’t thought of that.

“Help me, Gimli,” Merry said, trying to push one of the heavy beds next to another. “If we put them all together, Strider should fit on them.”

“An excellent idea,” Gimli agreed, going quickly to Merry’s side. “And you four will need new beds. I will see to it.”

“We can sleep in bedrolls on the ground,” Frodo said.

“You will not sleep on the ground, Master Baggins, while I have anything to say about it,” Gimli declared. “At least, not after tonight.” He easily pushed the last bed into place, then left the tent -- rain or no rain – to inspect the pieces of lumber that remained piled at the dock.

“He likes to stay busy.” Pippin said.  “You should have seen him building all this stuff.”

Aragorn had chosen to delay his official entry into Minas Tirith until the wounded were tended and the Ring-bearers recovered, and to give Faramir a chance to make preparations as Steward. Therefore, an encampment was prepared in the fair fields of South Ithilien, where timber and fresh water were plentiful and there was easy proximity to the River. The injured were sheltered; various duties and patrols assigned; hunting parties sent out; and paddocks, privies, and kitchens set up. Within a matter of days, a well-run camp emerged. While Legolas led hunting parties to help feed the camp, Gimli bustled about with the exuberant energy of a Dwarf intent on creating great beauty and functionality out of raw materials. Assisted by some of the Dúnedain, he built shelters, dug pits for cooking, and crafted spits and tent poles from spears taken from the enemy.

When all that was most needful had been done, Gimli directed his attention to a wide, flat mound of earth near where Frodo and Sam slept. With Aragorn’s approval, here he raised the tent which would shelter the hobbits.  He then threw himself into the building of hobbit-sized beds, a stone hearth, tables, and even a few crude chairs. He tirelessly hauled in tubs which would be filled with water for cooking or bathing, and shamelessly appropriated for ‘his hobbits’ armloads of bedding, chests for storage, potters’ ware and cutlery, and even a few precious rugs and books from the mountains of supplies being unloaded from boats now sailing back and forth daily from Osgiliath.

This tent stood alone, its seclusion from the rest of the camp carefully planned to allow the Ring-bearers freedom to come and go without being constantly observed and whispered about. They could choose to visit with the Men, and roam about as they wished, but the beech-grove was off limits to all save the King’s Companions, and those to whom he gave special permission to enter.

After a worrisome few days, Pippin’s injuries were revealed to be not as dire as they first appeared, and to everyone’s delight, the young hobbit began to mend from his cracked ribs, dislocated shoulder, and concussion. When Pippin finally awoke, in pain but astonished and exhilarated to be alive, he was surprised to find himself lying in a fairly comfortable bed in a most sumptuously-appointed tent, a beaming Dwarf at his side.

“This is rather like a hobbit hole, isn’t it?" Pippin said, gazing around the tent.  He smiled suddenly at Frodo, then Sam.  "Merry and I couldn't wait for you two to wake up.  What took you so long?"

"Sorry Pip," Frodo chuckled.  "It was rather out of our hands."

“Here, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, ladling out stew into a bowl. “This’ll warm you up.”

"Thank you," Frodo said gratefully.

“Tell us everything,” Merry urged, sitting next to him. Soon all three hobbits were seated, tearing off hunks of bread and enjoying second portions of Sam’s stew. Frodo told them everything that had happened at the river, and his arrival back at camp.

“Why is it that every time I’m on a horse, it’s a wild, scary ride?” Frodo shook his head. “First Asfaloth, and now...” His eyes grew wide. “That’s where I heard those Elvish words before, the ones Aragorn said to me.” He swallowed hard. “I barely remember that ride on Glorfindel’s horse. That was --”

“That was an awful day,” Sam said quietly, “but it’s all over and done, Mr. Frodo. All over and done.”

“Thanks to you, Sam,” Frodo said quietly. “Thanks to you, and Aragorn, and everyone else.” He sneezed suddenly, then glared at Merry. “Get that look off your face, Meriadoc, I’m fine. People don’t get sick from being a little cold and wet; that’s just one of those old gammers’ tales.”

“Hobbits,” came a chuckle from outside the tent. “As stubborn as mules.”

“Come in, Gandalf,” Pippin called out. The tent flap parted, and the wizard entered, wringing water out of his beard.

“You’re wet,” Merry pointed out. Gandalf sighed in a long-suffering manner.

“Thank you, Merry, I hadn’t noticed.”

“You need another hat,” Pippin observed. “Maybe Gimli can make you one.”

“Gandalf, are they back yet?” Frodo asked the wizard anxiously.

The wizard nodded. “Aragorn’s brothers are bringing him; they should be here any moment. Legolas is gathering up spare clothing, extra food, and what medical supplies can be spared.” He noted with satisfaction the blazing fire, and large bed. “I fear your quiet sanctuary is no more, my friends, at least for awhile.”

“That doesn’t matter,” Pippin said firmly. He had taken off his livery hours before, but now determinedly opened the chest containing his sword and began to strap it on. Merry and Frodo watched him proudly. Their young cousin might be Gondor’s smallest knight, but he would do his duty and stand by his king, no matter the circumstance.

** TBC **


<< Back

Next >>

Leave Review
Home     Search     Chapter List