It seemed like forever for both Bilbo and Sam to reach Frodo. It had happened so quickly, that Sam was still in shock. Going
over the bridge, and hearing a sound that made his heart stand still. Hearing it, Frodo rushed to where Sam had been standing
and pushed him out of harms way. Bilbo, rooted to the spot, could do nothing but watch in astonishment the scene before him.
He hadn't heard the dreadful noise, but knew that Frodo had suddenly lost all attention to him, and was directed to someone
else. It was then that Bilbo saw Sam, coming over the bridge, stop in midstep. 'It was so fast,' Sam thought shuddering. The
bridge gave way, after years of rotting with decay. But Sam was safe. There was no sign of Frodo.
In an instant, Merry, who had been coming to see his dear cousin Frodo, plunged himself into the water at a gasp from Sam.
It was several moments, but Merry soon surfaced, and in his grasp, he held Frodo, who had his eyes shut. Merry dragged Frodo
along with him to the banks of the brige, and Bilbo and Sam reaching just in time, pulled him out. Bilbo took hold of Frodo's
unconcious from and held him close to his heart, willing him to try and open his eyes. And at several moments of coaxing that
was so full of love that Merry and Sam both had tears in their eyes, that Frodo gave a soft moan. His eyes fluttered open
and he smiled a little at Bilbo. His Uncle Bilbo...as he himself affectionately called him. He looked confused for a moment,
but in turning his head a little, he saw Sam and remembered. "Sam...?," he said suddenly throwing his arms around the younger
hobbit, "...You're allright Sam! I was so worried!" Sam returned the hug warmly, squeezing Frodo to him as he laughed a little
and said, "You were worried Mr. Frodo! I should say you gave me the fright of my life just now in not waking right away. Don't
frighten me like that sir! You saved my life...I surely would have been killed or drowned but for you."
Frodo's grip suddenly tightened on Sam. "Drowned! Gracious no my dear Sam! I could not have let that happen! I had to help
you Sam...you couldn't swim...and I couldn't let you...," buit words failed him suddenly, and he clutched at Sam with such
intentsity that Sam in his heart knew that Frodo had been thinking about his parents as well. His own answering grip was that
of complete understanding. They were there without sound from the others until a moment later Bilbo cleared his throat. "Well,
it seems to me like we've all had enough exitement for the day. We'll go back to BagEnd and let Frodo and Merry get into something
dry, and we can all take tea and some of the cake Sam brought this morning, shall we? Frodo lad, what a fright you gave me!
I think I rather lost 10 years to my life seeing you there so! And Merry! What a quick thinker you are! Had I not been standing
there without my wits around me, then this could have ended in tragedy." "Of course -Merry! I apologize profusely for my rude
behaviour. You saved my life, and I can't ever express my gratitude. You must stay twice as long as you intended now, for
I will have to spend that time pampering to your every whim!" Merry wiped from his eyes the tears that were falling and clung
to Frodo's hand with love. "Nonsense Frodo! And lets think not about it...it gives me the shivers to recall when I had found
you. But I'm glad I did cousin, because you are very dear to me. I would be at a loss now if you had not woken on your own
will. You've been there for me my whole life Frodo...to have you go now would have been dreadful indeed!"
Bilbo smiled again as the two hugged, or rather three because Frodo had not let go his hold of Sam. And Sam, in his complete
happiness at seeing Frodo alive, kissed Merry's hand in gratitude. "Do you think you can stand Frodo lad?," Bilbo asked, his
nerves shaking a little as he realized suddenly the danger that had come so close to his boy. "I think so...," Frodo said,
looking at both Sam and Merry. "Let me help you Mr. Frodo," said Sam, keeping his arm in Frodo's and helping him to his feet.
But Frodo turned alarmingly pale upon standing, so much that Merry came forward to also take his other arm. "Frodo? Are you
allright?" A moment passed before Frodo could answer. "Yes...I think so. I just got dizzy for a moment. It's passed now...but
I feel very....," he paused and looked down at his clothes, which were dripping from water, and forced slight laugh, "...very
wet." Bilbo laughed suddenly, and took off his coat and drapped it over Merry, and Sam did the same for Frodo, taking great
care not to let go of Frodo at all. But Frodo didn't mind. He seemed to lean on Sam just a little, and even a bit more when
Merry suddenly dropped his hold on Frodo's arm after a squeeze, and said, "Pippin! I almost forgot! He was supposed to meet
me at the Green Dragon. I'll go fetch him and won't be a moment. But you all go on ahead, just in case I have the need to
pry him off the stools. We'll catch up."
It wasn't a very long walk. Perhaps no more than 10 minutes. But they stopped often, seemingly at Sam's request to stop
and watch some flower or plant or the stars, which were just letting themselves be known in the sky. Frodo was very greatful
for these stops, for it gave him the chance to catch his breath. He was tired indeed, but did not want to worry Bilbo more
that night, so he said nothing. Sam seemed to notice how labored Frodo's breath was if Bilbo had not. But Bilbo was telling
them both of an elvish tale, and he did not hear. Sam threw anxious glances at Frodo when he knew the other was not looking.
And what he saw was that Frodo was very much paler than he usually was. Almost all the color had fled from his cheeks, and
he looked far too tired for Sam. It was at the moments when he felt Frodo's footsteps falter slightly, that Sam requested
them to stop.
Finally, they reached BagEnd. Sam, still holding Frodo's arm, led him to his room and told him to get out of his wet clothes
into something warm and dry. Then he added, "I'll go now and fix up that fire so you won't be cold, and make some nice apple
cider...how does that sound?" "It sounds perfect Sam," Frodo said quietly, watching him with a look that Sam had never seen
in his eyes before. But whatever it was, made his eyes bluer than Sam had ever seen before, so he made no complaint. He thought
Frodo was more beautiful than any lad or lass for that matter. To see his eyes so, made him seem almost...elvish. Sam came
forward a little and brought his hand to Frodo's cheek, touching softly. "I almost lost you Frodo...I can't bear it!" "And
I almost lost you Sam. And I couldn't bear that. You've been so much for me since I came here, and I want you to know that."
He took his hand and placed it over Sam's gently, "I care Sam...very much, and to lose you to means other than total happiness
would be the death of me." "Oh Frodo!," Sam said with passion and tears in his eyes. He buried his head in Frodo's chest,
his tears running down his cheeks as Frodo held onto him for dear life. His Sam. The thought of his eyes as he beheld what
would have been his fate, made Frodo cry as well. They were there several moments, until Sam and Frodo both regained themselves.
It had been a release of emotions, given to those that have come close with death and have grown closer because of it.
Sam stepped back slightly, steadying Frodo as he seemed to lose his balance slightly. "Are you certain you are well Frodo?,"
he asked as Frodo turned a bit more pale and shut his eyes for a moment. "Yes...fine. It's the water I think. I must have
swallowed more than I thought. I'm dizzy Sam." Sam held onto Frodo and noticed now that he was shivering and seemed to be
losing strength. He picked him up gently, noting that Frodo moaned slightly as he did so, and placed him on the bed. "You're
hurt Mr Frodo?," Sam asked in concern, leaning over him. "No Sam. Just tired is all, and cold." But his face betrayed him,
for he went as pale as the sheets and took a sharp intake of breath. "Oh Sam," he gasped as Sam took Frodo's hand in his.
"You are hurt! Why did you not say anything? Just a moment Frodo and I'll go for Mr. Bilbo," he said, letting go of Frodo's
hand and starting to walk away from the bedside. "NO! Don't leave me Sam!," Frodo said desperately, clutching Sam's cloak
with sudden strength. "It's allright Mr Frodo, I won't be gone but a moment, and then I'll come right back and stay with you."
Frodo looked at him slightly, his vision blurring as he reached out to pull Sam forward so that he could see him clearly.
"Do you promise?," he asked, his voice suddenly a whisper. "I promise Frodo me dear, now don't you be getting up now understand?"
Frodo nodded feebly, but suddenly his eyes shut in a grimace of pain. "Frodo!" Frodo's grip on Sam's cloak was intense for
a moment, but then he seemed to lose all stength he had ever, and his eyes rolled slightly as he fell back onto the pillow.
It took Sam, who was rooted to the spot, a moment to regain himself. But Frodo was hurting, and Mr. Bilbo had to know.
He left and came back with Bilbo in less than 5 minutes, to see that Frodo had not moved in the slightest. Bilbo felt a shiver
go through him watching him before he reached him. "Frodo?," he called to him, while picking him up in his arms gently. But
at no movement or motion, he grew anxious and worried. "Frodo lad...please answer me. It's Bilbo. Come on wake up." Frodo
was pale and motionless still, and Bilbo not knowing quite what he should do, felt Frodo's forehead. He frowned slightly,
realizing then then Frodo had aquired a slight fever. "Can I trust you Sam to run as quick as you can to fetch the doctor?"
But before Sam could answer, a voice intruded. "No, let Sam stay with Frodo Uncle Bilbo, I'll go as quick as lightning!" It
was Pippin, followed by Merry who came in without knocking as was their custom, and wandered down the hallway hearing Bilbo's
voice. "Pippin lad! Thank goodness Merry found you. Tell the doctor to please hurry and tell him about what happened before.
I fear that may be the cause of it." Pippin nodded and left without another word, and Bilbo turned back to Frodo. "Don't you
worry Frodo my boy...Pip went to get the Doctor...you'll be allright."
Frodo moaned slightly and his eyes wavered open. But he could not see very clearly, and things were like in a dream. He
heard voices at his side, but who the voices belonged to, he had no idea. He felt confused. Someone came to him and smiled
warmly, bringing a cloth to his forehead and speaking softly. It was someone he knew...and after a moment, Frodo remembered
that it was Bilbo. "Bilbo?," he said, his voice a whisper. Bilbo smiled at him, and took his hand and kissed it. "Frodo...I've
been worried about you my lad." "Im sorry...I should have told you that I didn't feel right," Frodo said. But suddenly things
became a blur again, and he gasped in pain. His side and stomach was hurting him everytime he inhaled for breath, but why
he didn't know. Past blended into present, and Frodo suddenly became very confused about where he was. "Where's Papa? He said
he would be here by now...," Frodo sobbed in a pitiful voice. "Frodo...lad...it's Bilbo. Don't you recognize me? I'm here
my boy." "Bilbo??," Frodo asked with a look of complete confusion. He shut his eyes but opened them immediately seeing Bilbo
sitting on the edge of his bed. "Bilbo...don't leave me! I'll be good I promise...," he sobbed. Bilbo was very alarmed indeed.
Placing his hand over Frodo's forehead, he realized that this was the cause of Frodo's confusion. The slight fever had
erupted like a sudden fire, and he was burning with heat. And his confusion meant that it had reached a dangerous level. He
picked up Frodo gently, and carried him and put him into the bath. Frodo was sobbing in protest for a while, but after about
5 minutes, with Bilbo comforting him and Sam humming softly nearby and Merry holding onto his hand for comfort, he fell into
sleep. He had been too weary to fight anymore. Finally, Bilbo took Frodo and wrapped him in a warm towel and carried him back
to bed. The fever had lowered, but it would not dissappear.
It was a short time later that Pip came back with the Doctor in front of him. And to their great suprise as well, Gandalf.
After anxious examination, which Frodo stayed in deep sleep, the doctor called Bilbo to him. "It is my fear that he is hurt
more than he seems. It is my strong recommendation that you take him to Annuminas." "Annuminas?" "Yes, there is a doctor there,
that may be able to help more than I can. His name is Dr Crandall Granger. He is a man of course, but he knows much more than
I, and will know much more about what this cause is. Fevers do not just come about...there is cause for them. And because
you tell me he was fine before, that makes me believe that it was because of that accident." "Why do you think Annuminas will
be better for him?" "Well...Annuminas is more advanced so to say than we are. Dr Granger has treated many cases. He's the
best I know. And because Frodo seems to be losing strength, its not healthy for him to stay in such pain." "When should we
leave?" "As soon as you can. Taking Mr Gandalf's cart would be swiftest. But you must keep him well covered and keep your
eyes on him closely. I'll give you a medicine to take with you. It'll take some of his pain away for a time, though it will
make him drowsy. It should help with the fever as well I hope."
Bilbo left the room to tell Gandalf the news, and then he whispered to him and left for a little while. Sam, Merry, and
Pip were beside themselves, so Merry and Pip ate, not knowing what else to do. Sam however, could not eat. His tears would
not stop falling, for he was so worried about Frodo. And so Gandalf went over to him and picked him up, his shaking form wrought
with grief about his master and friend. To try and distract his mind, Gandalf suggested they go out and make the cart ready
for the journey. Sam smiled a little, and went outside with Gandalf, but his tears were still falling. How he would ever live
without knowing how Frodo was or if he was well, he did not know. He was distraut, and vowed he would not sleep until Frodo
returned home safe and well. Meanwhile, he made the cart as comfortable as he possibly could. He threw in the softest hay
and grass he could find, and put plenty of blankets over that. His master would be comfortable on his way to Annuminas anyhow!
After they had finished, Bilbo returned, with a backpack in his hand. And to Sam's suprise, he realized it was his own.
"What's this Mr Bilbo?" "I thought perhaps you'd like to join us Sam. I know how worried you are, and knowing you for your
life as I've done, you've probably made a vow not to sleep or some such nonsense until Frodo came back." Sam blushed involuntarily,
and Bilbo smiled and handed the pack to him. "Besides, I know Frodo would want to have you there with him. He knows you're
worried." Sam threw his arms around Bilbo. "Oh Mr Bilbo! I can't ever thank you enough...," he sobbed.
It was during this time that Frodo woke again. He smiled a little at seeing the Doctor, and the Doctor softly explained
to him what was going to happen. "What's wrong with me?," he asked, when the Doctor fell silent. "I'm not certain exactly
Frodo, and that is my reason for sending you to Annuminas. You've gotten hurt it seems, but how exactly I'm not certain. You
may need surgery Frodo." "Surgery?," Frodo asked, his eyes going wide. "Don't worry Frodo lad. Dr Granger will decide for
certain. But he's done many before, so be confident that whatever he decides will be for the best. I have faith in your recovery
Frodo." "Won't you come as well?" "I regret that I cannot, as much as I would like to. Mrs Bracegirdle was in sad condition
yesterday, and I must stay here in case something may happen." "Oh how terrible. Give her my wishes for her recovery will
you? I knew she'd been very upset over her son's death, but had no idea how much until she grew ill." "I'm certain she would
appreciate that Frodo. She's very fond of you, you know, ever since you started bringing her flowers to cheer her up when
her husband had died last winter. She always speaks fondly of you whenever I see her." "I'm glad, for I am fond of her as
well. She's always been kind, to myself and Sam or whoever else she may see. She's never had an unkind word about anyone as
far as I know, not even dear Lobelia, who has never said anything nice to her. You may tell her that I will come and see her
as soon as I am able if I may, and I'll sing her anything she'd like." The Doctor smiled warmly. "I'm certain she would like
that Frodo. I'll pass on your message to her. In the meantime, I want you to stay covered on that journey, and don't move
around too much if you can help it. I fear you would hurt more if you did. And I'm sending this elixer," he said smiling when
he saw Frodo's obvious hesitation in looking at it. "...which I must insist you take Frodo. It will help you I promise, though
I'll admit the taste is to be desired."
Frodo's nose wrinkled a little in looking at the horrible liquid. It was dark purple, with swilrs of green running through
it, and it looked thick and horrible. The Doctor laughed a little, and took Frodo's hand. "Don't worry Frodo, it's not THAT
bad. I'll even send you some peppermints to eat afterwards if you're up to it." Frodo's eyes brightened at this prospect.
"Peppermints? Lots of them?" Doctor laughed again, "Yes lots. But you must not eat them all at once you know. Doctor Granger
would look down on me if I sent you with a stomachache as well. It shall be our secret all right?" Frodo smiled and nodded,
and then closed his eyes, suddenly weary from conversation. But he opened them again when he heard the door fly open and Sam
rush into the room. "Guess what Mr Frodo? I'm coming with you!" "Are you Sam? I'm so glad. But how did you manage it?" "Mr
Bilbo managed it. Isn't that wonderful? He went over and asked my Gaffer. And he said yes Frodo!" He went over to the bed
and took Frodo's hand and kissed it. "Now we won't have to be seperated. I'll stay with you, whether they say yay or nay."
"Dear Sam. What would I do without you? At least I'll feel better knowing that you will be sleeping...which I know you would
not have if your dear Gaffer would have not let you come along." The Doctor gave a stern look to Sam in wondering whether
Frodo had been serious, but Frodo and Sam both looked at each other and smiled. Merry and Pippin cautiously popped their heads
in, but smiled and went in seeing that Frodo was awake. "We're coming along too Frodo." "That's right cousin! We shant leave
you to go off to Annuminas without us." "That's wonderful. Now I won't be lonely at all with the three of you coming along
with me." "And what am I then?" "Gandalf! They didn't tell me you were here!" "I suspect not. Whose cart did you think you
were going in?" "I didn't think. But I'm glad it's yours. And it's so good to see you!"
Gandalf smiled and went over to the bed to stand closer to Frodo. "I only wish it could have been under better circumstances."
A sound makes them all look towards the door. "Sorry, but I think it's time to go lads," Bilbo said, shifting a bit uncomfortably
on his feet at the door. "Yes by all means. Take care Frodo, and I shall await anxiously until you return." "Thank you...but
don't worry about me too much. You'll get wrinkles after all, and I wouldn't want to be the cause of that," Frodo said with
a sad sort of smile on his face. The doctor understood, with an understanding that they alone shared, and cleared his throat,
blinking away tears. "A word with you Samwise if I may?" "Of course sir," said Sam smiling as they both left the room together
to go into another.
"See if you can take hold around my neck Frodo, and I'll carry you to the cart," Gandalf said, in a voice that said there
was no deciding on the matter that Frodo was not allowed to walk there. Frodo sighed a little, but was greatful. He didn't
feel up to walking much, and even the effort it took to put his arms around Gandalf's neck was exhausting. And to Gandalf's
keen eyes, he did not fail to notice that Frodo grew pale as he lifted him, even though the movement itself was slight. He
cast anxious glances at Frodo when the hobbit shut his eyes tightly and could not fail to let out a weak sort of groan. Gandalf
layed him carefully amid the blankets and pillows in the cart, and adjusted the pillow behind his head slightly. "All right
there Frodo?" "Yes," Frodo gasped out, a little out of breath and suddenly tired. "But where's Sam?" "I'm right here Mr. Frodo
sir," Sam said, getting into the cart and settling himself right next to Frodo. Frodo smiled a little watching him, especially
when he took hold of his hand and gave it a soft squeeze. "Are you warm enough Frodo?," he asked, laying himself down beside
him and fussing over covers to make certain he was covered. "Yes, I'm fine," Frodo said softly. Sam looked over at Merry and
Pippin, who were too busy throwing hay at each other to notice his glance. Then, smiling a wicked smile, Sam leaned over and
whispered into Frodo's ear, which at first made Frodo blush slightly, but then it changed into laughter.
The laughter didn't last long however. The pain that had grown into a dull ache, suddenly came back at full force. He stopped
mid laugh and tried to gasp for any breath that wasn't painful. Sam immediately noticed something was amiss however. "Oh Frodo!
I'm sorry...I'm sorry...I didn't mean...," he said before he fell onto Frodo's shoulder sobbing and shaking. Oblivion had
started to take over Frodo, but in hearing Sam's agonizing heartbreak, he brought himself back from it. "No...Sam...it's allright.
Hush now....," he comforted, putting his arms around the other. In response, Sam threw his arms around Frodo's neck. "It's
my fault Frodo...it's my fault," he sobbed holding as tightly as he dared. "No Sam...it's not your fault. It could have happened
at any moment Sam. If it would not have been you, it would have been Bilbo or Merry or anyone else who walks by that bridge.
Even me Sam. I'll not have you take the blame for this. You didn't make that bridge did you?" Sam shook his head, but could
find no words. "Did you tamper with it?" Again, Sam shook his head. "All right then. Since you didn't make it, nor did you
tamper with it, it was the bridge itself that holds the blame aside from fate. Not you. Unless you hold fate in your hand
Sam, then it wasn't your fault. You don't do you?" Sam shook his head. "Well then, that settles it. And after all, some good
has come of it. It's shown me how much your presence means to me. It was in that moment, when I saw your eyes, that I knew
my life would seem rather empty without you in it." "Oh Frodo...," Sam started to say, but Frodo put a finger to his lips.
"I know what you would say Sam, so I'm stopping you there. You bring so much with you Sam. It shows in your heart and blossoms
for all to see. I won't let you talk down of yourself. You may not think you are an amazing creature, but I do. I do Sam."
"And I think you are Frodo. There's so much of you that people don't get to see regular if you understand me, and I think
that's quite terrible for them. I feel sorry for those that can't see you for the amazing being that you are. And I feel truely
blessed that I can see it. I would follow anywhere, just to be able to be near you Frodo," he said with a sigh and a yawn,
burying himself into Frodo's shoulder.
"Let's just start with Annuminas shall we Sam? And the rest we can talk about later," Frodo said softly, heading into sleep.
Sam thought for a moment, and then with great exitement added, "Do you suppose we may see some Elves Mr. Frodo?" "I don't
know Sam," Frodo said sleepily, unable to keep his eyes open any longer. "But if we do, then I don't believe any of them would
be as good or kind or loyal as you are. You're such a good friend Sam," he added falling into sleep. "Oh now Mr. Frodo, I'm
certain they would be much more than - ," but he stopped midsentence, in looking at Frodo and realizing he had fallen asleep.
A smile came to his face, and he leaned forward to plant a soft kiss on Frodo's cheek. Then he touched his face softly, tracing
a line to his jawline and said, "So are you Frodo me dear," before again putting his head buried in Frodo's arm and falling
into sleep himself.
And just ahead of them, Bilbo looked back at them and smiled a warm smile. Then he turned back to Gandalf wiping his eyes,
and said, "You know something Gandalf?" "What's that?" "There's only one thing grander than friendship in this great world
of ours. And when it takes the place of friendship or any other emotion, I don't think any of us are priveledged enough to
know it. It just happens." "And that is?" "Love," he said sighing happily. Gandalf smiled and nodded. "When Frodo came into
my life, I knew then what it was to be loved by another. He was one of the first ones to love me totally and without question.
He seems to bring that feeling with him somehow. I'm glad that he and Sam have found that." "So am I. Its quite amazing to
watch them together. There seems to be no difference in their ages at all. Time has no meaning for those two. And their friendship
has been of help to both of them, if I may say." "Ill agree with that Gandalf. I remember little Sam when he was a shy little
lad. Since Frodo came, he's blossomed like a great flower." "And Frodo has become much more trusting, and calmer if I might
add, since he's known Sam." "That's it exactly. I couldn't quite figure that change out," Bilbo said laughing a little. He
had quite a hard time believing it was all real for him for a long while. I think Sam helped him believe in that." "You're
quite right Bilbo. Sam is very solid and whole that's for certain. But it seems to be even more so when he's around Frodo,
and its like they've never been apart in their lives."
The journey was a difficult one. Frodo seemed to be losing more strength by the hour, and it left him worn and pale, and
shivering despite the fever that remained. And as time passed, they all seemed to become more anxious, watching Frodo go between
sleep and awake and in between with dreadful agony. At the last of it, Sam was the only one who was able to give him the elixer,
and it in turn helped for a while. But with each time he took it, his time without pain seemed to last for less time. It was
agonizing for Sam to see Frodo like that. He seemed to be vanishing in front of his eyes, so he kept close and held onto him
in hopes that he wouldn't. "I'm right here Frodo, it'll be allright...just a while longer," he whispered close to Frodo's
ear. And Frodo sighed a little, and seemed to sleep easier for a short while.
"How much longer Mr. Gandalf?" "Not too much more Sam. Perhaps about 10 minutes I'm hoping, or less if we can manage it."
Sam cast another anxious glance as Frodo groaned softly, and noticed that sweat was dripping from his forehead as his hands
clutched at something unseen in the air around him. "No Frodo...it's allright...," said Sam in soothing tones, taking both
of Frodo's hands in his own and kissing them. Frodo moaned again, his body shivering in the warm sunlight that had come to
be daylight, and his eyes wavered open to come to rest on Sam who was laying at his side. "It hurts Sam...it hurts...," Sam
adjusted himself so that he was more holding Frodo's body, and comforted, "I know Frodo...I know. Not too much longer now,
Mr. Gandalf said so. You'll be allright as soon as Dr. Granger takes a look at you. Then you'll be as right as the sunshine
after a rainy day. Just wait a bit more Frodo, wait with your Sam." Frodo grew more pale and his breath started coming in
light gasps. Sam worried worse than ever, and as he watched, Frodo became almost gray with paleness, and under his eyes looked
like dark bruises. "Frodo? Come on Frodo...stay with me...don't go where I can't follow you," said Sam with tears forming
in his eyes.
Frodo was starting to feel very confused. Where he was or where he had been became as uncertain as whether it was day or
night. Light was fading from his eyes, and his grip on Sam's hand was losing strength. His lungs ached with every breath he
would take, and the pain in his side felt like it would engulf him completely. He opened his eyes to try and focus on Sam,
steady loyal Sam, who had seemed to have been with him from the moment he stepped out of the darkness of his past and into
new life, filling it with so much love that at times he had been almost afraid of it. He was almost shocked to see tears in
Sam's eyes. When had he started crying? Frodo reached his hand to try and brush the tears away. So exhausting that little
movement. It ended as more of a caress than a brush, and Sam felt like they were the only two left in the world. Everyone
else in the cart had not noticed that Frodo was in danger at all. Sam blocked out everyone else but Frodo. He took Frodo's
hand in his own, and caressed it softly. He kissed it and kept it close to his face, so that Frodo would know he was still
there for him.
Frodo attempted a smile, telling Sam that he'd be allright and he knew he was there, but became so tired that he could
no longer see quite everything in front of him. His eyes drifted closed and his voice became a soft whisper, "Where are you
Sam? I can't see you...I can't see you. It's gotten so cold...please hold onto me. Promise you won't let go...promise..."
he said. Sam felt Frodo's hand suddenly go limp in his grasp and dropped, and he looked at him closely. "I'd die first Frodo
me dear. I'll stay with you no matter what. All right Frodo??" At no response, Sam became quite panicked. "FRODO! Frodo don't
you leave me...," he sobbed in a whisper with all the voice that was left to him. And it seemed to Sam that he could hear
nothing but the dull beating of his own heart. Frodo's own pulse was feather-light and fleeting. Poor Sam could not even hear
the cart, or the sound of the horses hoofs against the dirt road.
The way that opened before Frodo was strange indeed. Winding slopes and ranges of mountains on either side of him. And
he seemed to hear a distant singing coming from far away. It had a beautiful, and yet somehow haunting melody to it. The sound
of it sent shivers up his spine in fear, but he didn't know the reason why. He looked around him and was confused. Where had
everyone gone? Where was he? The breeze felt like ice as it blew through his thin shirt. He shivered and realized that he
wasn't wearing a cloak or coat at all. Strange indeed, considering what the conditions were like. He shook his head a little,
dissapointed with himself for not remembering how he had come to be here. He thought he remembered looking for something...or
something that he needed to do...but what? His head ached, and he gripped his side in a sudden spasm of pain. He lay for a
few moments, trying to remember, and trying to gain strength at the same time. After a moment, he took his hand away, lifting
his shirt a little trying to find out why. But he saw to his horror, that there was a great dark bruise covering his side.
And it seemed to be growing. He winced, and was about to lay back down and wait, but a strange light appeared in the distance.
It seemed to beckon to him, and so he knew he must go to it. The journey seemed like it would take him a while to get to,
but he knew he had to try. Someone was waiting for him there...they had to be.
He walked onwards, stopping often because he couldn't catch his breath. And as time passed slowly, it seemed he was having
a harder time of it. His head now felt like it was pounding with each step he took. He tried drinking cool water from a stream
that ran near the path, but it didn't seem to help at all. His throat became scratchy and his body ached. Miserably he went
forward, being even more drained as time went on. His vision became blurred and his lungs felt like fire. He stumbled a few
times, but eventually, he got up and went onwards. The singing grew at last louder, and when it seemed like he could go no
further, he looked up and saw the light almost directly in front of him. He shut his eyes for the brightness for a moment,
but curiosity overcame his feeling of nausea and tiredness. Voices! He heard voices...soft and yet familiar somehow. A feeling
of great warmth came to him at last, the feeling of loved ones and comfort. They were searching for him. All he had to do...was
step over the light. But it wasn't as comforting as it had been on his journey here. Now it seemed to erupt like a great fire
in front of him, and he had to resist the urge to back away from it. The soft wind dissapeared into a freakish howl, and the
sky became dark and thunder erupted from the sky, making him jump involuntarily. He laughed a little as himself in the sudden
darkness, despite a quiet fear. But laughter left his lips as he felt pain engulf his side. He gasped as much as he could,
and fell to the ground on his knees, gripping tightly. He opened his eyes and stretched his hand towards the light. And as
the tips of his fingers touched it, they started to glow with light. He had the brief sensation of someone holding his hand,
and he closed his eyes in the complete comfort of having someone by him at long last. The darkness fell like a blanket in
front of his eyes, and he fell into sleep.
Frodo woke slowly, in a room he did not recognize. But it seemed to be a place of comfort. He heard soft voices outside
the closed doorway, and felt very warm and relaxed. His eyes fell closed again, only to open a while later. The voices had
moved, but remained outside the doorway. He felt a slight stir against his arm, and turned to notice Sam, who had fallen asleep
in a chair beside the bed. He was leaning forward, and his head was resting softly on the bed, and his arms were draped softly
across Frodo's, holding onto his hand in a soft grip. Frodo smiled, and he knew then that he didn't need Sam to tell him that
he had not left his side for a moment. He moved his hand only slightly, and Sam sighed and squeezed Frodo's hand a bit before
finally opening his eyes. "Mr. Frodo...you're awake. How are you feeling?" Frodo took a breath and answered, "I'm feeling
much better Sam. What happened? I can't recall anything really." Sam looked at Frodo and was amazed that he was actually awake
at last. It had been a long wait. They had gotten there only to find that Frodo would no longer wake at all. And in fact,
his breath had slowed so much that it could hardly be detected. The surgery was long, and Sam would not leave his Master's
side. He stayed at the head of the bed, and stroked his hair softly, humming a song he'd made up, throughout the most of it.
He wiped the perspiration from Frodo's brow and did his best to break his fever.
After what seemed like forever to Sam, listening half-heartedly to words he didn't understand, it was over. But if he was
exhausted, he knew by looking at Frodo's pale face how drained he was. So he had stayed, asking questions as to why and wherefore
and what his master was being given. "I'm sorry Mr. Frodo...I must have fallen asleep after they came round the last time."
"Don't be sorry Sam. You've been with me all this time. That's more than anyone could ask for." Sam smiled and worry left
him at the sight of Frodo awake and seemingly well. "May I bring you anything Frodo?" "Not just yet Sam. Go back to sleep
if you will. I don't mind." "Sleep! Frodo as if I could sleep when you are awake! Awake! I was so worried...and poor Mr. Bilbo
and the others didn't know what to make of it." "Bilbo! Dear Bilbo. He shall always be Uncle, even though I know he isn't
really." Frodo thought for a moment with his eyes closed. Sam watched, thinking that Frodo was still far too pale and that
perhaps he should suggest some food or tea. "Sam...," "Yes Mr Frodo?" "I should like to see them. To let them know everything's
allright. I know they probably didn't sleep much better than you did." "Of course Mr Frodo sir! I'll be back in half a moment,
so don't you move sir if you beg my pardon for telling you so." he said, first kissing Frodo's fingers and smiling from ear
Sam left the room, and Frodo closed his eyes again. He was getting tired. More so than he realized, for by the time Sam
came back with Bilbo following closely at his heels, he had fallen into a deep and peaceful sleep. Sam was dumbfounded. "But...he
was awake...," he said looking at Bilbo helplessly. Bilbo smiled and patted Sam on the shoulder. "I know he was Sam-lad. But
my Frodo is always a bit more tired than he lets on. He never seems to tell he is tired at all until I have to be a bit stern
at times for it," He went over, and softly put his hand against Frodo's face, caressing it softly. "It's a Baggins trait I'm
afraid. But I wouldn't change a bit of him. I love him like he is, my Frodo lad." Sam smiled at the scene before him, and
then left the room quietly with tears in his eyes. He was hungry finally, knowing now that Frodo was being carefully watched
and loved by Bilbo. Merry and Pippin were both very relieved to find that Frodo had been awake, and ate with better concience
than they had in the last day.
The day passed into another, and yet another. Frodo was still rather pale, and not much hungry for the most part, preferring
to look outside at the scenery more than eat. The lake of Annuminas was a transfixing sight, and the way the sunlight danced
across the water made Frodo feel very peaceful when he watched it. There was always something about water that facinated him,
but was also a painful reminder of his parents drowning. It was a bittersweet feeling almost...something he loved as
well as hated but never could explain why. Sam stayed with Frodo almost always. He left only to take baths or to let
Frodo bathe and he would even bring his own food so that Frodo would never be lonely and have to eat by himself. Dr. Granger
spent quite some time with Frodo as well, checking to make certain he was healing properly and that he was in good spirits.
It was a wait and see time, to make certain that Frodo would not need more surgery. Dr Granger chided Frodo just a little
when he did not eat as he should. From Merry and Pippin's almost constant exploits to the kitchens, he knew how much food
hobbits should be eating. And Merry, Pippin, and Bilbo knew which foods Frodo liked best and would eat. "The lands will be
there tomorrow Frodo...even a few moments from now. Food however, will spoil eventually. Just try and eat a bit more before
it does, allright?" Frodo would always smile a bit, and take a bit more of the food that they brought for him. It wasn't bad
at all, quite good in fact, but he just wasn't hungry. If he was honest with himself, he was still feeling out of sorts, but
to everyone else, he was just fine.
Four days passed, and though Frodo loved Annuminas, he missed the Shire. All he wanted to do was to be able to sleep in
his own bed, and see the view of the garden just outside of it. He sighed just a little as he looked again at the untouched
food before him, and pushed it away. And as if by instinct, one of the nurses tending to him came into the room. She was one
of Frodo's favorites, a sweet, caring hobbit lass, named Bramblerose. "I see we aren't very hungry today Frodo?," she asked,
calling him that because he asked her to, and taking the tray in her hands and placing it on the table beside the bed. "No...not
much I'm afraid. It looks wonderful...but...," "What's the matter Frodo? You look a bit lonely. Where's Samwise?" "Merry and
Pippin took him outside for a few hours. They came to me last night and asked if they may." "I see." "I'm glad though. Sam
was looking rather pale from not being in the sunlight. He needed to get out." "And what about you Frodo? You seem...I don't
know...sad. Is there something I can do?" "No. I'm just...I miss home. And it doesn't seem like I'm getting better at all.
I do feel much better than I did when I got here, but...I don't know. I'm tired...restless." "You look rather pale yourself
Frodo. Are you certain it's just tiredness?" "What do you mean?" "I mean, are you certain you feel allright other than being
tired? You're not eating properly Frodo, and you need to eat in order to gain the strength you lost from surgery. The doctor
is quite worried, and so am I. You aren't in pain are you?" "No," Frodo said, ignoring the pain that was throbbing in his
side. He wished it would just go away so he could go home and be able to do the things he liked.
"I can make a very good tea Frodo that may help you feel better. It's got cinnamon among other healing extracts, and it
tastes rather good if I do say so myself, unlike some of the other teas the doctor brings to you. It's my own recipe in fact.
Would you like me to bring you some?" "I'd love that actually." "Allright then, just give me about 10 minutes, and I'll be
right back with it." "Wonderful. I'll wait for you." She smiled at him, and left the tray purposely on the table with a smile,
and was about to leave the room, but Frodo called after her. "Bramblerose?" "Yes Frodo?" He blushed a little and lowered his
eyes, "I don't suppose you ever make it to The Shire much do you?" "Occasionally...I have family there. I go for vacations
when I get them sometimes. Why do you ask?" "Well, I was just wondering if perhaps I'd be able to get some of your tea sometime.
There aren't many lasses that can make tea the way I like it especially. Besides, I like your company...its comforting. You
remind me of being home for some reason...perhaps you would like to come and visit me or something when you go to visit your
family..." She smiled and came back into the room. Her brown locks fell soft and even to the mid of her back. It wasn't curly
really, Frodo thought, but more swirly. She certainly didn't look like the usual hobbit lass. He looked up to see her bright
green eyes with specs of blue in them staring into his own. She took his hand and squeezed it, bending over and planting a
soft kiss on his cheek. "Mr. Baggins, the next time I am in Hobbiton, it would be an honor for me to recieve a visit from
you. I stay with my father, who is a Doctor there." "A doctor?" "Yes, Dr. Hardbottle. Do you know him?" "Know him! He's the
one who recommended me here." She smiled, and let go of his hand, blushing slightly when she realized she still held onto
it. But he hadn't minded. She again started to walk out of the room, but turned back to face him. "You see Frodo? Home is
not always as far away as you might think. You bring it with you, whereever you may go. I'll be back in a while." Frodo smiled
as she left, thinking about it.
It was several hours later, and there was the remains of a nearly empty pot of tea, as well as a tray with a good of the
food gone from it. Frodo had felt better when he had drank the tea. It was very much to his liking, and had actually made
him feel more energized than he had in a while. He even had the energy to eat more, which made Bilbo quite happy. But as the
hours had passed on, he felt all the energy he had gained leaving him. He was weary, and had fallen asleep for a while while
Bilbo had been there. Now waking, Bilbo was gone, having left him to rest in silence. The room spun occasionally as he tried
to keep his eyes open. He was feeling out of sorts again, and uncomfortable. He couldn't decide whether he was hot or cold,
and it was making him slightly irritated. He adjusted his pillows a little, so that he was sitting up slightly when Sam came
back into the room. "Mr. Frodo! I didn't know we'd be gone that long! I'm sorry!" "Don't be sorry Sam. Did you have a good
time with Merry and Pippin?" Sam jolted a bit. "You mean you knew they were going to take me away?" "Yes Sam. Merry came to
me last night when you were asleep." "I see."
Sam was silent for a moment, looking at the ground. Frodo wondered about it in silence, watching him play absently with
the end of the sheet. "Frodo?" "Yes?" "Did you want me to go?" Frodo smiled and shook his head a little. So that was it! Sam
had thought it was HIS idea. 'Well I didn't say no to it. It seemed for the best.' "No Sam. I like having you here of course.
But Merry and Pip thought you needed to get out and see the sunshine. Didn't you have a good time?" Sam was silent again for
a moment, but he answered quietly, still looking down at the floor. "The land itself is beautiful Frodo. Very green and lush,
with the lake being so large you could hardly see the other side of it. And the flowers were beautiful, but...," "But what
Sam?" Sam looked up finally, and Frodo was shocked to see tears in his eyes. "Oh Frodo...," Sam said, suddenly wrapping his
arms around Frodo's neck and burying his head into his shoulder. "Sam...what is it? Tell me...what's the matter?" Frodo put
his arms around Sam, comforting and soothing while Sam could find no words for a time. "I didn't want to be there without
you Frodo...I didn't. I was missing you...,"
"Oh Sam...it's allright. I'm sorry, I didn't think. I wanted you to be able to have a good day out is all. You were looking
rather washed of your color. I thought you needed to get out." "No Frodo...no...I couldn't stand being there without you.
Pip and Merry are wonderful folks, and I love them dearly in their own way, but they aren't you. They don't bring the light
that you do, if you understand me sir. I just like being here with you." "I know Sam. And I do understand. You're worried
for me, and you care about me. I know that. But I'm always with you in your heart Sam...just like you are in mine. How could
I not be allright when I'm surrounded by such love?" Frodo's eyes closed, and he fell into sleep a moment later, still with
his arms around Sam. But Sam just smiled and kept his arms around Frodo. He felt so comforted and peaceful when they were
like that, because he knew then that Frodo was nearby and would never want for anything as long as he was there. So Sam fell
asleep for a while as well, content to lie beside Frodo and keep him from feeling alone.
It was dark to the point of being almost daylight, and Frodo was in restless sleep. He was dreaming, but his dreams were
not pleasant ones. There were dark shapes around him, and he kept shivering between hot and cold. He was trying to reach something,
but it was always out of grasp, and he felt frusterated that he could not get to it. Then suddenly he saw what he was seeking.
BagEnd. But no matter how hard he tried to run to it, the distance from it never changed. He fell to the ground, exhausted,
but knew he must get up, keep trying.
Sam awoke when Frodo moaned beside him. He was a bit suprised to see that it was so late, but when he saw Frodo's face,
he sat upright immediately. "Frodo?" In looking at him, he saw that all the color he had gained, was gone. He was pale and
beads of sweat fell from his forehead. "Frodo are you allright?" Frodo opened his eyes slightly, and saw Sam dimly in the
lack of light. "Sam...I want to go home...please let's go home now?" Sam was worried. Frodo's voice seemed a little panicked,
like he didn't quite know where he was. He reached up to wipe Frodo's brow of sweat, only to find that Frodo's fever had come
back. He was burning hot, more than he had been even before they had left the Shire, and Sam was instantly alarmed. He thought
Frodo was getting better? But he hadn't been, and Sam felt he should have known. No, he corrected himself, he DID know. He
knew it. Frodo's eyes had told him that, every day of course...but he'd only been wishing too hard that he was getting better
to see it. He started to leave the bedside, but Frodo cried out and grabbed for his shirt. "No...no don't Sam...don't leave...don't
leave me!" Sam came back to him instantly, becomming more alarmed as he felt Frodo's terribly thin and warm body wrapped in
his arms. "Frodo...my dear Frodo...you're ill. I need to get Dr. Granger." "No Sam...just stay here with me...don't leave...please
stay. Why is it so cold?" Sam heard the weakness in Frodo's voice, felt him losing stength in his hold, and his heart dispaired.
"Frodo...please...you need the Doctor...I won't leave you but for a moment." "Oh Sam...what's happening to me? I can't...,"
Frodo said, but his eyes suddenly fell shut, and he let go of Sam and fell back against the pillows. "FRODO!"
The wait was a long one. Sam could not stop crying, even with Bilbo holding onto him. Another surgery, this one much longer
and more dangerous. And Sam was not allowed to be next to Frodo this time, not even when Sam begged them to let him stay.
It was almost at the end of the surgery Sam knew, when there was a sudden sense of rush in the room they had been in. Sam
felt his heart sink, hearing voices but not words. Even Bilbo seemed to hold onto his hand a bit tighter, and Merry and Pippin
held onto Gandalf, who had come back again after a short errand that the doctor asked him to run. The rush ended in complete
silence, which made Sam hold his breath until he heard some stirrings within. And an agoninzing half hour later, the doctor
finally emerged from the room. He looked pale himself, and worn out. Sam saw him sigh a little in weariness, and saw him walk
over to Bilbo and himself. He bent down and Sam heard him quietly say the words, "Mr. Baggins, there was a problem during
the surgery...," before Sam felt his heart stop and the world spin and he fell to the floor like his heart had suddenly
been ripped from him, and knew nothing.
Sam woke slowly, to find that he was on a bed wrapped in warm blankets. He at first didn't know what happened, but in turning
his head slightly, he saw Frodo, lying with his eyes closed, on the bed next to his. "Frodo?," Sam cried out. Bilbo came over
to him, and took his hand. "Sam...thank goodness you're awake. You've been out for a full 2 days now. We've been quite worried
about you." Sam said nothing, for he could not take his eyes off Frodo. How pale he was! Bilbo saw the direction of his gaze,
and his eyes grew a little sad. Sam took a breath, and with a small voice he asked, "Frodo...is he...I mean...he'll...," but
could not continue. Bilbo smiled sadly, saying in a soft voice, "He's asleep. But he's so deeply asleep, that he may not wake
from it at all. My poor boy was just too weak for surgery, though it could not have waited any longer. Once he's a bit stronger,
Dr. Granger says he may come home." "But he'll be alseep still won't he?" "Yes Sam. Until he finds the strength to wake on
his own, yes. But he'll be at home, which is better for healing wouldn't you say?" Sam nodded, his eyes still on Frodo.
Another week passed, and still Frodo did not wake. But his heartbeat was steady and even, though a bit weaker than it would
be normally. There was no sign of fever at all, and some of the color seemed to come back to him. At length, the day came
when he was allowed to go home with his family and friends. Gandalf carried his sleeping form and placed him in the cart next
to Sam, who would not have it otherwise. He refused now to leave Frodo at all, just in case he would wake up for even a moment
and want something. It was a somber ride home, with none of them saying much, and Merry and Pippin holding onto Frodo's limp
hand while Sam kept his arm around him to keep him from getting chilled and just in case he might move at all. He hadn't yet
on his own, but Sam still hoped he might. There was always hope.
Sam's Gaffer greeted them, along with Dr. Hardbottle. And when they heard the news, the Gaffer granted Sam permission to
stay with Frodo until he woke. Which Sam had already intented to do, even if he had to cry and beg Gaffer to let him do so,
or defy him if he did not. It wasn't that Sam wanted to disobey him, but he knew in his heart, Frodo was more important to
him than anything else. Even gardening brought him no joy when the Gaffer suggested they go out a bit and try. Always, Sam's
eyes wandered back to the room where he knew Frodo was sleeping. At length, the Gaffer sighed and patted Sam's shoulder. "Go
on Sam my lad. I know your mind is not out here. Go on lad. Stay with Mr. Frodo, for though the plants can wait to be cared
for, your Frodo can't." "Thank you Gaffer. You understand so much more than you let on." "It comes from having family Sam.
From loving and caring about people. People are like plants Sam. They need love and care, and sometimes, they need just a
bit more than you might think. There are those special plants Sam, that you need to constantly look after and make certain
they are blossoming and in good light. And from friendship and love Sam, comes the best light." Sam smiled and hugged Gaffer
very tightly before heading back inside to sit beside Frodo. And the Gaffer watched him, a little sad that Sam would have
so little time to spend with Frodo now. He was not getting any better, for anyone could see that, and he was wasting away
to nothing it seemed, even with the constant care of Bilbo and Sam, and Merry and Pippin, who were up to visit every week.
It was a quiet time, but Sam loved every moment he was able to spend with Frodo. The room was large enough so that there
could be an extra bed and a table and some comfortable chairs. Sam ate his meals with Bilbo in that room, so that they both
could watch Frodo while they ate. Bilbo himself offered to go to the market when they needed extra things, leaving Sam alone
with Frodo. And always, Sam would talk to Frodo, like he could hear and respond if he would. Often, hearing that he had fallen
ill, Mrs. Bracegirdle also forgot about being sad, and came to see them. She brought with her things that she knew Frodo liked
especially, mushrooms, and berries of all sorts, and for Sam she brought drawing paper, so he might pass the time in that
way. He drew often, and as a result became much better than he had thought he would be able to. He drew Frodo often as well,
or scenes he knew Frodo would like to see. He drew Annuminas for Frodo, as he knew that Frodo didn't get to see what he had.
But always, in his drawings of it, Frodo had been there with him. Lighter in color, but he was there just the same.
Almost two weeks had passed since they came back to BagEnd. And still, Frodo remained deep in sleep. At the end of the
second week, when Sam tried feeding him with the broth Bilbo had made, Frodo did not take well to it. His mouth remained shut,
even with all Sam's coaxing. Frodo's mouth was a stubborn line, and he seemed to have a frown on his brows. When Sam called
Bilbo to help, he remained stubborn. Then, looking at Frodo, and stroking his hand, he looked at him closely. "Bilbo...did
you put anything in that broth?" "Why of course Sam...the ingredients the Doctor told me to mix in that may help." Sam sighed,
and took the broth away, leaving Bilbo with Frodo and a confused look on Bilbo's face. A short time later, Sam came back with
a bowl in his hand. But it wasn't the same broth as he had left with. With Bilbo helping Frodo sit up a little, Sam took the
spoon and held it to Frodo's mouth, and after only a moment, the stubborn line dissapeared. Sam smiled in relief, and Bilbo
made no comments until Frodo had finished the entire bowl. "How you knew that Sam...is beyond me." "He knew it had medicinals
in it...that's all. You know Mr.Frodo sir, he doesn't like it if he knows." He leaned over and whispered so that Frodo could
not hear if he tried to. "I just disguised it more if you take my meaning. Added some mushrooms to take away the taste of
it, understand?" Bilbo laughed a little, and nodded his head. "I understand Sam. Oh my Frodo lad! You've got the worst of
that stubborn Baggins trait I've ever seen," he laughed. And it seemed that Frodo smiled just a little.
Another few days passed, and Merry and Pippin came back to visit. Merry put on his best 'I'm the oldest and therefore I
know what's for the best' voice, and said to Sam, "Come on Sam. What do you say we go out for a while?" Sam looked honestly
shocked, but did not turn away from Frodo. "Leave Mr.Frodo? No thank you Merry, I'm fine right here." Merry glanced at Pippin,
who gave a shrug. He had told Merry as much on their way here. Sam would not leave Frodo, he'd already tried to get him out
several times but Sam would not hear of it. "Sam...he'll be here when we get back. He probably won't even know you're gone.
I doubt he knows you're here now...or that we are for that matter. I don't think you taking a small trip outside will do him
harm." Sam turned away from Frodo at last and glared at Merry. "He does know I'm here. He knows you're here. So I'll prefer
that you not talk as though he's not here and can't hear you saying those terrible things!" "Sam...I only meant...," Sam's
face softened a little, and he turned back to Frodo. "I know...I know you did Mr. Merry. But he knows, and I'll not have it
said otherwise. He's just...tired right now. He'll be fine." Pip looked at Frodo and thought otherwise. He looked very pale,
and was thinning despite being fed very carefully. He looked like he was getting worse really. Not better at all. "Sam...have
you thought maybe that he isn't getting well...or that he won't?" Sam stiffened suddenly, and looked at Pippin like he had
heard a voice he'd never heard before. "NO! He'll be fine. How could he not? Surrounded by those of us that love him and care
for him so?" "Look at him Sam! Look at him and be honest with yourself. He's not getting better. And you yourself are fading
away, just like he is. Come outside Sam...dear Sam. We only say these things because we care about you...both of you." "Don't
say such things! Frodo fading? I should think not! His whole blessed life is ahead of him! He's not fading...as much as I'm
"Will you three please stop fighting and let a tired hobbit sleep?" They all stopped and their voices left them. That voice!
Though weak and soft, the voice belonged to no other. Frodo. Sam turned, slowly, thinking that he might be dreaming. Merry
and Pippin were staring dumbfounded, and by the time Sam turned, they were both smiling. Sam beheld Frodo, the most beautiful
sight he had ever seen in his life. His blue eyes were open, and he was laying against the pillows with his body framed underneath
the covers by the sunlight coming through the window and landing on the bed. They all didn't move for a moment. But at the
movement of Frodo's hand, Sam ran over and fell over him, and from his eyes fell a stream of endless tears. He thought his
heart would burst in two for joy. Frodo said nothing, instead holding onto Sam like he knew Sam needed him to. Merry and Pippin
both came over to him as well, kissing his hair and then leaving the room quietly to tell Bilbo the news of his being awake.
They stayed there with Bilbo then, because he had the same sort of immensely relieved action that Sam had. He broke down in
tears and fell to the floor, until both Merry and Pippin coaxed him up enough to go to bed.
Several hours passed, and all Sam's tears were spent. He was lying exhausted, still against Frodo. But Frodo hadn't minded.
He felt warm and comfortable, more than he had since before he knew nothing but the sense of being lost. He remembered being
in the dark mostly, not knowing which way he should go. But always he heard voices, familiar and yet too far away to be of
help. At length, they started to grow closer to him, until finally he was able to recognize who the voices belonged to. And
he determined that he would get back to them. Finally, he was able to drag his eyes open to the argument he heard taking place.
He smiled a little, hearing Sam sigh happily. He opened his eyes and saw Sam watching him, his green eyes sparkling with unsurmountable
joy. "Frodo?" "Yes?" "I've missed you." "I've missed you too Sam." "You know something Frodo? I'd almost forgotten how blue
your eyes were...but I didn't forget Frodo. They're beautiful as always, just like you are." "Sam," Frodo said blushing slightly.
But Sam just smiled and hugged Frodo more. "I have things to show you Frodo, and they can't wait any longer. May I show you?"
"Of course Sam. I'd love it." Sam picked up his drawings from the table and put them in Frodo's hands. After a moment of looking
in awe, Frodo turned to Sam again. "Sam...they're beautiful. Is this Annuminas?" Sam smiled, and answered. "Yes. That's it.
I wanted to show you because you didn't quite get the chance to see for yourself. Do you like them?"
Frodo smiled, and hugged Sam close to him. "I love them Sam...and I love you for staying here with me always. Of all the
voices I kept hearing Sam...I heard yours always. And that means the world to me, knowing our friendship is that strong of
a thing. Before I met you Sam, I didn't really have that closeness with anyone else aside from Bilbo. Even with Merry
and Pippin, it was always...a different thing. Your presence has been very...special...to me Sam. You are a treasure
I didn't know I had. But now I know Sam, and I'll never forget it." Sam said nothing, just smiling and hugging Frodo close
to him. He adjusted the covers over them both, and taking Frodo's hand in his and kissing it lightly, he closed his eyes,
suddenly weary after all the nights of worried sleep he had. "You've always been special to me Frodo. From the time I first
heard your name mentioned, I knew you would be. I love you Frodo," he said quietly before falling into sleep. Frodo watched
him, and smiled when he fell asleep. "And I love you Sam...very much so." He leaned over and kissed Sam's cheek softly, and
in doing so, Sam took hold around his waist and would not let go. So Frodo fell asleep, a safe dreamless sleep, surrounded
by Sam's presence and the love that filled BagEnd like nowhere else. He was glad to be home.