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Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FBoBE/"Febobe") (febobe on LJ)
Title: Aftermath
Rating: PG for angst (no sex, slash, violence, or profanity)
Theme: The Great Feast
Elements: cutlery
Author's Notes: Dedicated to R.P. ... I forgive you for not telling me what lay ahead. Thank you for doing your part to make sure that I was here to see it nonetheless.
Summary: Returning to Rivendell after the Quest, Frodo's pain grows increasingly intense...as do his frustrations at the lack of forewarning and acknowledgement from Elrond. But his pain has not gone altogether unnoticed....
Word Count: 3728



Frodo shivered in his cloak as they climbed the porch steps of the Last Homely House. He was glad to be off his pony, Strider, and glad that the elven grooms would care for the gentle creature, but weariness made his bones groan with every movement, and he longed for the comfort of his bed. But it was Bilbo's birthday, and Frodo wanted more than aught else to see him.

But what can I say? he wondered. How much I enjoyed my adventure? Enjoyed is hardly the word! And adventure? Torment is more like it!

And yet - the others, for all their trials, seemed cheery enough. Even during the dark nights camping along the road, when Frodo would wake from nightmares, they seemed concerned but did not understand.

"Doesn't the dark press in so, almost as if - as if it had eyes, and hands, and breath?" he had asked Pippin one night, when the youngest of their party had stirred and come to his side.

But Pippin's gaze clouded for only a moment, and then he shook his head. "The darkness holds not the terrors it did, cousin," he said soothingly, though Frodo was not assuaged. "The Riders are not there any longer."


How could Frodo explain the pain he felt? He had been astonished by the return of pain in his shoulder on their journey from Rivendell, and yet Gandalf informed him that Elrond had expected - expected! - it. How could he have expected it and told Frodo nothing? Yet in all their time in Minas Tirith after Elrond's coming, and all their journey home, more than two month, Frodo had not spoken of his frustration, swallowing his sorrows and his mounting distress as pains he thought gone forever returned, one upon another.

And now - now he must see Bilbo, and pretend all was well.

Frodo swallowed a gulp and turned down the hall toward Bilbo's apartment.

#

Bilbo's condition was alarming. His head kept sagging upon his breast as Frodo and the others began to recount events; he seemed even drowsier than he had some months ago. Frodo began simultaneously to despair of being able to leave before morning and of Bilbo remembering that they were even there. An ache spread through his own heart, mingled with guilt over his own need. But just then Bilbo's head popped up, and he eyed Frodo and the others.

"Well, what are you four doing hanging about in here with an old hobbit?" he demanded. "There's been quite the feast prepared for your homecoming, or so I've heard!"

Frodo's heart sank. After the exhausting journey, his own declining health, and the sight of Bilbo no longer as he once was, he was expected to - to - perform - for an audience? This was worse than the feast after his wound, when at least he had had some rest! Though he had been so ill before it, and had had to have an operation, his day had been quiet leading up to the feast. Elrond had come to see him often, always bringing a small amount of warm food - broth and milk and fruit juices at first, later nourishing soups, cinnamon applesauce, bone marrow custard with egg and heavy cream. And each time he had fed Frodo or given him medicines or examined the wound, even when he had sponge-bathed him, saying the wound ought not to be immersed in water, he would gather Frodo into his lap in a great arm-chair and cradle him as if Frodo were only a faunt in his arms. 'I know you are no child,' he had explained at first, 'but you are quite small in size, though not in courage. It is easier for me to tend you thus, if you will permit me.' As much as Frodo's blood felt at hot at the wonder of how someone could tend him so gently and yet hide from him a probable effect of his wound, he missed those days, the undivided attention, the quiet, the peace of their time together, Elrond's unhurried calm as he fed Frodo in such a manner that it seemed he had no other duties and all the time the world had ever known. That - that - was honour. Not a feast where he had to be on display.

But this was Elrond's home, and he was fortunate to be called an honoured guest. The least he could do was be gracious, as Bilbo had always taught him. The thought brought hot tears to his eyes, and he looked away.

"But what about you, sir?" asked Sam. "Surely you'd enjoy it too - "

"Oh, no, no, they'll bring me plenty here when I'm ready," urged Bilbo. Suddenly, with uncharacteristic alertness, he reached for Frodo's injured hand, and caressed it. Frodo looked at him, and Bilbo looked back with clear eyes. "I know you're tired, my lad," he said gently. "Get to your room and clean up a bit. I think you shall find that Hir Elrond has prepared a feast of especial suitability to your present tastes."

Frodo looked at Bilbo curiously. For an instant there had seemed a merry twinkle in his beloved "uncle's" eye, but already it was gone, and Bilbo was beginning to blink drowsily once more.

He could do nothing here. But he would tell Hir Elrond that someone must call him at once if Bilbo wished for him, or had need - whatever the hour.

Now, though, he supposed he had better do as Bilbo said, as he had tried to since he was young ... even though every inch of his body groaned as he stood. Even though he had no inclination to celebrate accomplishments which had brought him more pain, outside and in, than he had ever dreamed possible. Even though he what he would have liked best was a bath, and a bed, and a plate of hot soup, especially if it were the house special tomato soup he had adored from his first taste - and perhaps a cup of chilled milk, and maybe something simple and sweet for dessert, like cinnamon applesauce. Maybe even with one of Rivendell's marvellous ginger-snaps.

He leaned over and kissed the top of Bilbo's head.

"I love you, uncle," he murmured. "I will come back at any moment, if you but have me called. And I will see you on the morrow."

#

"Well, bless me, sir, if they ain't run your bath already!" cried Sam as he peeked into the bathroom. "And it's hot still. Reckon you'd better hurry up and get in before it cools, though the water don't seem to cool so fast in baths here, does it?"

"No," murmured Frodo, forcing his fingers through the motions of undressing. But Sam seemed to notice his weariness.

"Here now, sir, I'll help," he said, and came close, unfastening the small gold buttons of Frodo's waistcoat and the pearl buttons of his shirt. Within short order, he had managed to divest Frodo of his garments and helped him into the bath, offering his strong shoulder for support. Frodo leaned back with a sigh and closed his eyes. He could hear Sam putting away his clothing, and he expected in a few moments Sam would return to help him bathe. He was glad of the help. Perhaps he could have a few minutes to rest in the arm-chair of his room until Sam was ready.

Soon, as he had expected, he felt someone taking his left arm and bathing it with a soaped cloth. But the touch was not Sam's - it felt smooth, though still familiar. At once Frodo opened his eyes.

It was Elrond. And yet, despite Frodo's astonished expression, he merely continued to bathe the left arm, paying special attention to the scarred shoulder. It felt so good, so very good - and yet at the same time Frodo felt heat inside his chest again. How could Elrond have denied him at least a warning?

"I cannot get ready any faster," he protested halfheartedly, a thickness in his throat and voice.

"There is no need for haste tonight, Frodo," Elrond replied, continuing in the same easy, careful fashion he had when bathing Frodo the morning after his operation. "You have nowhere you must go now. That time has passed."

Frodo blinked. "What of the feast? Bilbo said there was a feast prepared that we must attend."

Elrond smiled. "There is a feast prepared, but you need not leave your room. A suitable feast shall be delivered to you. If you desire, you may serve yourself, but I thought perhaps tonight, and for some days, you might prefer to be tended and fed, as you were after your wound."

It was exactly what Frodo had most longed for. But his anger at Elrond made him bristle. And he had never been offered such comforts in his time in Minas Tirith, though many times he had wished that Elrond would come visit him, tease out what troubled him and offer such measures of comfort as he could. But Frodo had felt unable to ask for what he needed, and it troubled him that the greatest healer in Middle-earth had apparently not noticed the depth of his pain - not even when he had examined Frodo at Aragorn's request, as a precaution. Nothing more had come of it. Life had gone on just as it had before Elrond's arrival, loud and crowded and far too busy.

"No one has cared for so long," Frodo said at last. "I thought you had - changed your mind - about me."

Elrond did not pause in his ministrations, moving from Frodo's right arm to his chest. "Why is that?"

Frodo sighed. What could he say? He hated to do anything which might turn away the attention lavished on him, but - his heart was full to bursting, and he had held it in for so long that now he could feel it spilling over, like a cistern overflowing.

"You didn't tell me," he complained. "About - my wound. When it began aching on Caradhras, on the descent toward Moria, Gandalf told me that you had suspected it might pain me again, and pain me always, and it does, and you didn't TELL me ANYTHING about it. And in Minas Tirith - you examined me then, at Aragorn's request, and heard all I had suffered, and not ONCE did you tell me that I might never get back to the way I was. I knew already. I had already been disappointed by the inadequacy of my - convalescence. But you - you touched every wound on my body, and heard from Sam and from me what had happened, and you never told me that it might not GET better!"

Elrond was quiet for a moment, though he continued to bathe Frodo tenderly.

"I had hoped you might escape it," he said at last. "Hobbits continue to surprise me. I had not thought that anyone could survive such a wound for so long, and yet - though you reached me in grave condition - you yet lived, and when I fed you cordial you nursed, and you cried out in pain when you were touched, and despite facing the Nine at the Ford - the Nine together, no less - you held fast to life and refrained from putting the Ring on again. I marvelled so at your strength, and when you woke I found you just as delightful as Bilbo had described to me for many years. And then - in truth, though I hoped you could return, I could not see how, and yet beyond all hope you did. Hobbits - especially you - seem to awaken a hope I seldom otherwise feel. Erroneously I allowed it to cloud my judgment, and so I hoped you might escape the aftereffects I expected. Forgive me. I have done you wrong, and I cannot undo it. I am sorry to have hurt you. I am sorry I could not prevent it, and that I failed to prepare you. I should have done more." *

Frodo blinked. Swallowed against a thick throat. Blinked again. He had prepared to unleash his full frustration at his caregiver, had braced himself to shout and complain and vent his anger heartily - but what he had just heard shocked him beyond speech for a moment. At last he opened his mouth, but only a choked sob escaped, growing into a long wail. It was then that Elrond ceased bathing him, and gathered him close, and held Frodo against his chest as the little hobbit wept and wept, as if Elrond's words had unleashed a flood of the same force as the Master of Imladris himself had unleashed upon the Nine at the Ford last October. Frodo wept and wept and wept, and it seemed to him as if drops of trapped poison flowed out with every tear. And Elrond did not try to coax him to stop, only held him close and stroked his curls.

#

When Frodo was at last spent, Elrond finished bathing him and washed his hair, then lifted the Ringbearer into his lap to dry him in an enormous, fluffy, warm towel. Frodo expected then to be put to bed, but to his surprise, once the elven lord had dressed him in a soft silken night-shirt and wrapped him in a warmed blanket, he found himself carried to the chair in which Elrond used to feed him last October. And there he discovered a table set with covered dishes, and Elrond sat in the chair, and cradled Frodo in his lap as if he held one of his own sons.

"If this does not suit, there are other dishes our chefs can offer," he said gently, lifting the lids with his free hand. "Or something can be prepared to order, if you prefer, tithen min."

Frodo could have sobbed afresh, such a relief it was to be thus called, save for the astonishment which overtook him at the sight of his meal. There was a large soup-plate, and in it a creamy reddish-orange coloured soup - the creamy tomato soup he had so fallen in love with the autumn before, the dish he had requested more than any other, and surrounding it on the plate holding his soup-dish was a ring of crisp salted crackers. There was a tumbler of chilled milk with a small pitcher - no doubt more milk, and iced-water, with a decanter holding more of that. There was a small dish of cinnamon applesauce, and it was surrounded on its lower plate by ginger-snaps. Beside it sat a sliced pear, not the least bit browned anywhere.

"It's perfect," he murmured. "It's just what I wanted."

Elrond smiled. "Let us get you fed, then. Rest now, and enjoy your meal, for though I cannot undo what suffering I have caused you, this small kindness I can offer." With these words, he crumbled a few crackers into the soup, one-handed, then mixed them in with the spoon, just the way Frodo always did when feeding himself.

It was then that Frodo noticed the spoon.

There was a spoon which had been used to feed him on his first day after surgery, and it was part of a set of fine cutlery, he soon learned, which had been used by Elrond's children when they were small. Every hobbit-sized piece had something of a dragon about it - the head atop, the tail wrapped round the base, just above the mouthpiece, as did the spoon, or a claw clutching the handle of the knife. It had reminded Frodo so of Bilbo's tales of Smaug that he had expressed a great love for it, and to his delight it was then sent to his room with every tray, no matter how simple ... whether it was only soup and applesauce he asked for, or whether he might be enjoying a full dinner with soup, salad, meat, vegetables, bread, dessert, and wine. He had suspected even then that Hir Elrond was behind it. Sometimes, as his departure approached, he had taken to asking for meals in his room rather than with company more and more often - partly because he felt the need for solitude, but partly also because the little dragons reminded him that there was yet beauty and whimsy to be found even in grave danger. The cutlery dragons gave him something special which was difficult to find in those dark days - hope.

Elrond spooned a mouthful of creamy tomato soup into his mouth, complete with crushed crackers, and Frodo savoured it. The tiny bits of cooked onion had been blended in tonight; sometimes the cooks did not, and he liked it that way too, but this way was astonishingly smooth. The crackers, softening in the sweet liquid, provided enough to chew without proving too tiring. Sometimes tomato soup could be so acidic, but somehow the elven chefs softened the bite with cane sugar and a special kind of milk, both of which they had shown Frodo one day during a visit to the kitchen. This tasted bright and flavorful, of summer tomatoes cooked into a sauce and canned for use at a later date. It tasted of happiness.

"I can offer you no sufficient recompense for what you have endured," Elrond said quietly, as they worked their way through the meal. "But such as I can I wish to tender. Have you given thought to where you wish to live now?"

"Live?" Frodo had defaulted to what seemed the only choice, which was to return to the Shire and attempt to make some sort of a life there. He was not quite sure how he would manage to do so, but he had to try. And Arwen's gift was always in his mind. He knew already that he would need to sail if he wanted more time. Even then he would not be assured of getting it, but Arwen had gathered him close and told him of her "ami," how Celebrian would love him, and he wanted to believe her, believe that no matter how long he had, sailing would ensure that he would at least be made comfortable. But in the meantime ....

"Yes. I know you may wish to return to your own kind, and that is but natural - whether for a time, or whether for the remainder of your life. Your companions love you, and will do what they can to help you find a place there again, no doubt." Elrond spooned up a little more soup and cracker. "But if you wish, there will always be a place for you ... while I am here, and after I depart ... and if you choose to sail West, there will always be a place for you in my house."

Live in Rivendell? Frodo had not even considered it. But it sounded more appealing than he could ever have imagined.

"I could ... go home, and ... come back here?" he asked.

"Yes," came the gentle reply. "And though I know at times you wish for independence, when you feel a longing for care, you have only to tell me. I will ensure that you may get messages to me at any time, no matter what else is happening, and I will come to you as soon as I may. After all you have endured ... " He paused; as Frodo looked up, it almost seemed the elven lord was searching for words. "It is all I can do for you now," Elrond finished at last. "Would that it were more."

Frodo accepted the next spoonful of soup, the perfect blend of salty and sweet and savoury mingling on his tongue.

"That is all I could ask," he said softly. "I never blamed you for letting me go. There was no choice. I know that. If I had not endured it, we all might be dead, or enslaved. All I wanted was to be cared for, and - " He swallowed against a tight throat. "I wanted - what you said earlier. I wanted to know someone - someone ­- understood how it hurt me. To know that someone among the Wise cared what happened to me - "

"Ai, tithen min, I have always cared." Elrond caught Frodo's injured hand in his and caressed it. "I have not shown my caring enough, and for that I am sorry. I should have given the time to you that I did not in Minas Tirith. I hoped you would be well, and I ignored what was before me."

"I forgive you." Frodo swallowed and looked up into Elrond's face. There he found only warmth and kindness ... and regret. He had feared Elrond would be angered by his outburst. But there was no anger here. "You had the best intentions."

"I forgot many things," Elrond replied, offering another taste of the thick soup. "I should have remembered that one may have many needs for care after such hurts."

"But you remembered one thing I thought no one would remember." Frodo gestured to the spoon. "You had them send my favorite cutlery again. You did remember. I thought they would be packed off to Minas Tirith with Arwen, now that she will have her own children."

Elrond smiled. "They are yours, tithen min, and have been since last autumn. There are heirlooms enough which went with her. These are for you."

Frodo sighed comfortably. He was beginning to feel pleasantly full, and though his body and heart ached, Elrond's lap was such a soothing place to rest. He tried to keep his eyes open, but it was so difficult. "Thank you," he murmured at last, and nestled against Elrond's chest, curling up as Elrond's arm closed around him, holding him tenderly. After all his journeys, he felt safe at last.

*Textual note: A tiny portion of the marked dialogue section uses material quoted from Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, both book and animated Rankin-Bass film. I intend no plagiarism in its use. If you enjoyed this passage, I hope you will find both book and film and enjoy them both. They're splendid works of fantasy fiction and film. :)

Recipe: House Special Creamy Tomato Soup from Imladris (AKA King Arthur Flour's Creamy Tomato Soup) - sorry for forgetting to include this last night!

Source: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/creamy-tomato-soup-recipe

creamy tomato soup

This is so much better than the off-the-shelf creamed tomato soup that you'll never want to go back to that old childhood staple again! The complex flavor and creamy yet very slightly grainy texture make this soup particularly enticing. And the combination of baking soda and sugar completely eliminates the tomatoes' acidity, allowing their rich flavor to shine through.

Follow our step-by-step photos for making this soup at 
our blog, Flourish. 


5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) chopped onions (2 small-to-medium onions)
1 (one) 28-ounce can tomato purée or tomatoes in purée (Febobe's note: I buy Hunt's tomato sauce)
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
(Febobe's note: the previous two items are dried, or at least that's how I do them.)
a couple of shakes of black pepper
3 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 can (a scant 2 cups, 14 to 15 ounces) chicken broth (Febobe's note: I use boxed, usually Swanson, in the same amount.)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 to 3 tablespoons sugar, to taste (Febobe's note: Add a little and taste, but I usually use a full 3 tablespoons and sometimes a tad more. But then - I like my tomato soup sweet!)
1 (one) 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large saucepan (Febobe's note: I use a good-sized soup pot, though it's rather large for this - you want plenty of room), heat the butter and vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, thyme, and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the flour and broth, whisking till smooth, and add this mixture to the soup, stirring constantly. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If you've used diced tomatoes, purée the soup in a blender or food processor, or use a hand blender. If you've used tomato purée, there's no need to blend; the onion bits will give the soup a bit of body. Return the soup to the stove, and set it on a burner over low-to-medium heat. Stir in the baking soda (the soup will foam up briefly; don't worry, but be sure it's in a big enough pot), the sugar, the milk and the salt. Heat, stirring, to a bare simmer. Serve hot. Yield: about 8 cups, about 8 servings. (Febobe's note: This feeds my husband and I hearty servings for about two meals plus leftovers for one. He's smart enough not to fight me for the leftover mug. ;) We use hearty portions and often have seconds, so 8 cups is probably about right - but I wouldn't count on it feeding 8 for a meal, because it's so good people will want more! 8 as a starter or 4 with seconds. :) )

Nutrition information per serving (1 cup, 239g): 205 cal, 13.0g fat, 5g protein, 12g complex carbohydrates, 4g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 34mg cholesterol, 607mg sodium, 444mg potassium, 157RE vitamin A, 18mg vitamin C, 1mg iron, 166mg calcium, 142mg phosphorus.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
shirebound
Oct. 1st, 2015 05:16 pm (UTC)
It was then that Elrond ceased bathing him, and gathered him close, and held Frodo against his chest as the little hobbit wept and wept, as if Elrond's words had unleashed a flood of the same force as the Master of Imladris himself had unleashed upon the Nine at the Ford last October.


Oh my, this is the true healing that Frodo requires, body and spirit. I'm as warmed and calmed by your story as Frodo is in Elrond's arms.
febobe
Oct. 1st, 2015 07:20 pm (UTC)
Awwww, thank you so much, sweetie. <3 I'd forgotten to include the recipe, but it's there now! I so enjoyed writing this (esp the part where I made the soup again while writing it!).

This was just what I need right now. I had to find a way to forgive my radiation oncologist, whom I adored for most of my time with him...until I learned what he hadn't told me, and then I felt so betrayed, so hurt. The fic is dedicated to him b/c this is my only way to forgive him...through my writing. He's long ago retired and moved away, and I have no way to find him. This fic is a beginning to making peace with what's happening now. <3 Fic really can be therapeutic!
nessrealta
Oct. 1st, 2015 07:49 pm (UTC)
The soup sounds very yummy!
talullahred
Oct. 1st, 2015 08:38 pm (UTC)
Poor Frodo. I was happy that his wish came true and that he was, once again, properly and tenderly taken care of. He so deserves it. The tomato soup recipe is a must try.
mews1945
Oct. 1st, 2015 10:00 pm (UTC)
I'm glad Elrond saw his need and gave him the tender care he deserved. That soup sounds so good and nourishing.
addie71
Oct. 2nd, 2015 01:26 am (UTC)
Lovely.
lindahoyland
Oct. 2nd, 2015 03:50 am (UTC)
Poor Frodo. He deserves some TLC.
hours_gone_by
Oct. 2nd, 2015 02:55 pm (UTC)
Poor Frodo. Everyone did seem so concerned with the larger victory, and not what it actually cost him.

It was then that Elrond ceased bathing him, and gathered him close, and held Frodo against his chest as the little hobbit wept and wept, as if Elrond's words had unleashed a flood of the same force as the Master of Imladris himself had unleashed upon the Nine at the Ford last October.

This made me tear up. Wonderful!
dreamflower02
Oct. 2nd, 2015 05:48 pm (UTC)
I do love this story; poor Frodo can always use some more TLC!

And the recipe sounds really good. I'd probably make mine just a touch less sweet, but it seems like it would be really good.
blslarner
Oct. 9th, 2015 09:32 pm (UTC)
I, too, rejoice that Frodo receives now the caring he's wanted--and needed--so much. I adore the silverware, and am glad they are now Frodo's. And he knows he will ever have a place in Elrond's company. Wonderful!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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