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Now and For Always  by Antane

Chapter Two: Healer

The next morning Sam woke and discovered he had developed a terrible cold. He sneezed several times in a row, waking Frodo up.

“Oh, my Sam, I’m that sorry!” the tween said, handing his friend several handkerchiefs. “I shouldn’t have been so restless yesterday and gotten you out.”

“It’s naught your fault, Mr. Frodo, that it rained,” the child tried to assure.

“But...well, I should...” He felt Sam’s forehead and rose out of bed alarmed. “You’ve got a fever! I’ll get Bilbo. He’ll know what to do. And now blow your nose and don’t you mind about using my handkerchiefs. There’s plenty more where those come from and I’ll run down to your mum or Bilbo will and get more of your own, if that would comfort you better.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, not feeling quite right about blowing into his future master’s fine linen, but obeying nonetheless.

“Don’t fret about it, my Sam, not one moment. Now sit you tight until I get Uncle.”

Frodo piled up the covers onto his friend, put more handkerchiefs nearby, and with one last worried look, fled out the door.

“Bilbo! Bilbo!” the tween cried, coming into the kitchen where the elder hobbit was just setting the kettle for morning tea.

Bilbo’s welcoming smile faded when he saw his nephew’s face. “What is it, my lad?”

“It’s Sam! He’s sick! He’s fevered!”

The elder hobbit was torn between concern for both Sam and his overwrought heartson. “Well, let’s take a look, shall we? We can take care of it and I’m sure Bell has remedies as well. Don’t fret, my lad, for he’ll be right as rain in no time.”

“But it was rain that made him sick!” the tween cried as he hurried alongside him down the hallway, too flustered to be calmed by his uncle’s proverbs.

Bilbo stopped and put his hands on Frodo’s shoulders. “Now, Frodo lad, Sam will be fine, but you will do him no favors, if you are so anxious that you will do him more harm, for he’ll fret about you when he should be thinking about getting well.”

Frodo tried to calm himself. “Yes, Uncle, but it’s my fault! If I hadn’t been so...”

“It’s not your fault, my boy. It’s no one’s fault. Now I know Sam will be in the best of care, since you will take care of him.”

“Of course I will, just like he and you take care of me.”

The elder hobbit smiled. “All right then. Now let’s go back and see what we can do.”

Bilbo came in and smiled at Sam who was wiping his nose yet again. “I’m that sorry, Mr. Bilbo.”

The elder hobbit shook his head. “No, Sam, there’s naught for you to be sorry for. Just rest you quiet while I feel your forehead.”

The child sat still as could be, almost not even daring to breathe. Frodo stood behind his uncle, fidgeting from one foot to another, but trying very hard to remain calm.

Bilbo took his hand away and Sam sneezed again. “Now, Sam lad, I am going to get mix some tea for you to help you with that fever. You’ll be just fine but you’ll need to rest and from the look of you for several days.”

Sam looked rather alarmed. “Days?!”

Frodo’s lip trembled and he looked to be on the brink of tears, but he tried very hard not to cry, when the young child looked up at him. “Now, don’t you fret, my Sam. You are going to stay right here, and Bilbo and I will take care of you, and you’ll be right as rain in no time.”

Bilbo smiled at the same use of words. “Frodo’s right, my boy. Just rest and that will get you better.”

The elder hobbit left to get the medicinal tea mixed he used when Frodo was ill, the same treatment that had been used in the Baggins family for generations.

Frodo came forward to Sam’s side and fluffed up the pillows to make sure his friend’s back was properly supported and pulled up the blankets to make sure he was covered well enough. He brought more handkerchiefs to the bedside and tried to think of everything Sam did for him when he was sick. “What else do you need, my Sam? Do you have a headache or a sore throat or a stomachache? Do you need to use the privy or shall I bring a pot? And don’t say you don’t need anything or don’t hurt anywhere, because I know you do!”

Sam would have minimized his symptoms, but now knew he couldn’t. “I could use the privy, Mr. Frodo, and my throat does hurt a bit and my head aches but it don’t hurt.”

The tween nearly broke into tears once more, but he bit down hard on his lower lip and reached his arms around his friend instead. “I’m so sorry, Sam. Let’s take of first things first and get you to the privy.”

The child drew back the covers and swayed a bit on his feet as he stood.

“Let me get a pot instead,” Frodo said. “Here, hold onto the bed post and I will back straightaway!”

He helped Sam to sit back on the edge of the bed, wrapped his small hand around the post and fled to get the pot. By the time Bilbo had brought back the tea, Sam was all covered up again and Frodo was flitting around his friend like a mother hen with a sick chick, just like Sam did when Frodo was sick. Bilbo watched the scene for a moment with a smile, then came forward.

“Here you go, Sam my lad, but let it steep and then cool off a bit before you try it. It has some hyssop, licorice root, thyme and yarrow in it.” He put it on a small table that Frodo brought closer to the bed.

“Thank you, Mr. Bilbo,” the child said. “I’m that sorry that you have make such a fuss.”

“It’s no fuss at all, my boy, and I’m happy to do it. Now, I’ll leave you two be for a bit, while I cook some breakfast. I think you should take naught but liquids and some chicken broth, until you get a bit better, though.”

Frodo and Sam both look alarmed at such thin rations. “It’ll be all right, Sam lad,” the tween assured, knowing from previous experience that was how it had to be. “I’ll not leave you and even here, in bed, we can have all sorts of adventures and dreams. We have to get you well so you’ll not be sick on your birthday!”

Frodo did not leave his friend’s side until Bilbo called him for breakfast, then he ate so quickly, it seemed he inhaled it, for he wanted to get back to Sam. Very carefully, he brought back a small bowl of broth for his friend and spooned it into him. He refilled the tea and brought a mug of clear, cool water also. “Drink up, my Sam, you need a lot of fluids to get better.”

Shortly after elevenses, Bilbo stuck his head in and saw both lads sleeping. Frodo was in a chair close to the bed, his hand in Sam’s. He closed the door partway and then went down to Number 3 to announce that Sam would be his guest until he recovered, named his symptoms and inquired with Mrs. Gamgee if she had anymore remedies that would be helpful. Bell was concerned, but knew if she could not care for her son, then he couldn’t be in better hands than he was, for she knew how much both Bagginses dotted on him and he on them.

She went into one of her kitchen cabinets and give over some herbs in small cloth sacks to her husband’s master which Bilbo needed both hands to carry. “I will come later, Mr. Bilbo, when someone can look over Marigold. Before then, you could make a poultice from echinacea root. You can also use blackthorn, fenugreek seed, feverfew, ginger and poke root. Peppermint tea would be good for clearing up his nose. Slippery elm and raspberry leaf would be good for the throat. You can also use some catnip tea with dandelion and...” Bell hesitated and Bilbo who had been listening quite attentively looked questioningly at her.

“And?”

“Lobelia, Mr. Bilbo. It’s good for fever and headache.”

Bilbo tried not to make a face, but wasn’t sure he was quite successful.

“Take a 1/2 teaspoon of extract or tincture every four hours, or 1/4 teaspoon, if it hurts his stomach.”

Bilbo bowed very deeply. “I will do so, Mrs. Gamgee, and I am very much in debt for your wonderful help, as always.”

Bell blushed. “You are most welcome, Mr. Bilbo, and tell Sammy that I will be there later.”

Bilbo bowed again and left. When he returned back to Bag End, he found Frodo in the kitchen, preparing another cup of tea.

“I have some more herbs from Mrs. Gamgee,” the elder hobbit announced.

“Wonderful! Sam’s sleeping now, but I want to be ready, when he wakes up. What is all of it?”

Bilbo told him and smiled to himself when Frodo wrinkled his nose at the mention of lobelia and made no pretense of hiding it. “But if it helps my Sam, then of course we will use it.”

“Of course.”

The tween spent the whole day with Sam, making sure he slept enough, which was not difficult since the fever made the child very sleepy. Frodo very faithfully made all the medicinal arrangements under Bilbo’s watchful eye and careful instructions. He made sure Sam drank enough, holding the cup up to his lips and encouraging him to drink all he could. For the rest of time, he read stories or made them up and Sam just looked and listened at his softly glowing friend and basked in the love that poured out of him. Bilbo looked in often, and was very proud of how lovingly attentive his nephew was.

“I don’t want you to get sick, Mr. Frodo,” he said when Frodo crawled into bed with him for the night. The tween was going to sleep on blankets on the floor, but Sam had grown so upset about turning his future master out of his own bed, that he nearly came down to sleep with him. To make them both happy, Frodo slipped in beside him, since he knew the child wasn’t going to get better if he wasn’t in bed.

“Well, Sam lad, if I do, then we’ll be sick together and that’ll be much more fun than being sick by yourself!”

The child looked much alarmed for he knew how easily his friend sickened at times, but Frodo was beaming.

“Don’t you fret, my Sam,” Frodo said. “This is the best way I can take care of you.” He gave his heartbrother a soft kiss to his brow. “See, I can feel your fever’s going down already. You’ll be well in no time.”

It took five days until Sam was recovered enough to be able to go home, and Bilbo continued to look in on them, with Bell coming every morning. They had little to do since Frodo made sure every need was taken care of, often reading to his friend, feeding him, singing to him, rubbing him down when cool cloths, making sure he had plenty to drink, emptied the chamber pot. Other times he was simply curled up in a chair, just wanting to be there while Sam slept, working at times on his Sindarin and sharing what he learned when his friend woke. He was able to tell how hot his brother’s brow was by kissing it as he did each night or brushing his curls. The fever did not last more than two days, but the congestion lingered. When Sam was strong enough to leave the bed to use the privy, Frodo helped him there. He was not even aware of the proud, fond, approving looks and smiles the elder hobbits gave for such loving, solicitous care, so wrapped he was in giving it. Bilbo spent a portion of each evening with them, telling them more tales. As miserable as Sam felt, he treasured the time with his masters more than he could ever say. Bilbo and Bell both thought and remarked to each other about how strongly Frodo’s light and Sam’s also glowed in the presence of the other. Frodo never did sicken himself.

They were able to celebrate Sam’s birthday and the Elven New Year as they wished, for it was warmer than usual and they slept in the woods, under the stars, wrapped up together in warm blankets, in the hope of seeing or even hearing Elves celebrate their day. And maybe, just maybe, they did hear something ethereal reaching up to the heavens that they hearkened to, barely even breathing, warmed by the joy of the shared experience and company.

“Happy birthday, my Sam,” Frodo murmured in his ear. “Thank you for your marvelous gift of being here with me.”

“Thank you for taking such good care of me, Mr. Frodo,” Sam whispered back as they at last fell asleep with the signing still in their delicate ears.

The tween kissed his head. “Just as you’ve taken care of me, my Sam, now and for always.”

A/N: The herbal remedies are mentioned in Prescription for Natural Healing, Second Edition. If you are going to use these, do so with caution! Some cannot be taken safely for more than a week, some should not be used during pregnancy, some should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Read up on them before taking. You have been warned!

 

A/N #2:  This would be a nice time to announce my new blog, Choose the Light, which is full of inspirational, cheerful, etc. sayings, some from LOTR, some from other sources.  And don't forget my other one, Moments of Grace in Middle-earth.  Enjoy!





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