Author: Pearl Took
Written for: Matty
Requested: I would like a story that involves Frodo angst, during the quest. Basically, I just want Frodo to be hurt or sick and Aragorn and the others (but especially Aragorn) to get him better again. It can be as long and draw out as the writer likes.
Setting: Minas Tirith
Characters: The Fellowship
Summary: Frodo is wanting to do for himself instead of being the pampered Ringbearer, but when his efforts go awry, the rest of the Company of the Ring jump to conclusions.
Frodo stood looking at the large blank expanse of the the east wall of the dining room in the house he and the others of the Company of the Ring shared in Minas Tirith. It was the perfect place to hang the painting he had purchased in the artists’ market in the fourth circle of the city. He looked at the painting which was sitting on the floor, leaning against the east wall, and sighed. In it gentle waves curled then broke on a beach of pristine, pale golden sand. The sea was a blue-green-grey color he had never seen before. The curls of the waves glowed as green as Strider’s elfstone with lacy swirls of white foam on their surface; the edges were a bubbling froth like the head on a mug of good beer, only pure white. Delicate shells lay half exposed in the sand. Mare’s tail clouds swished across the blue of the sky and two sea birds hovered on the breeze.
He sighed again. How the sea calmed yet taunted him. “Will I ever behold the sea?” He asked the painting. “And if I do, what will the circumstances be that lead me there?” Frodo stared at the painting a moment longer then shook himself. “This isn’t getting you hung up, is it? I think this spot here is where you need to be.”
He moved the step stool into place, picked up the nail and hammer and stepped up. Frodo had gone from the artists’ market straight to the smithy’s lane to find and purchase the proper sort of nail. Hobbit holes were not made of stone and it was easy to find somewhere to hang a painting and most any nail would do the trick, but, as there were already a few paintings on the walls of the house, he knew there had to be some way to do it. He learned there were nails that were strong enough to penetrate the mortar between the stones and in that fashion things could be hung upon the walls.
Carefully Frodo positioned the nail where he wished, drew back the hammer and swung.
Nail and hammer fell to the floor as the Ringbearer shook his thumb then stuck it into his mouth.
“Drat!” he mumbled around the throbbing digit.
He stepped down, retrieved the tools, remounted the stool, gingerly held the nail in place between his forefinger and his slowly swelling thumb, drew back the hammer and proceeded to hit the stone wall. His hand slipped upwards along the handle as the hammer came to a more sudden stop than had been anticipated.
He dropped the hammer and nail.
“Ow! Bloody hell! Shouldn’t swear, Frodo Baggins. Drat! Bloody stupid hammer!”
At first his hand stung but that faded as a sharp pain shot through his palm. Frodo looked at his hand. There was a quarter inch sliver of hammer-handle wood driven into the pad at the base of his thumb.
“I’ll tend to you later, you bloody rude splinter. I’m going to hang this painting while the others are out and about or they will insist on doing it for me and I am getting fed up with them all wanting to help me.”
He stepped down, angrily grabbed up the nail and hammer, stepped up on the stool, reared his arm back and swung.
The hammer connected with the nail, driving it into the mortar half an inch, but the force of the impact made Frodo’s thumb ache, it drove the splinter more deeply into his hand, and threw him off balance. He wobbled. He flailed. The stool shot out from under him, skidding sideways to end up resting upright on its legs under a tall table which stood against the wall. Frodo toppled backwards, landing hard on his back. His head bounced once off of the stone floor as the hammer bounced from his hand to skitter away, coming to rest under a low chair.
Frodo groaned. Everything had gone dusky with tiny golden lights flickering along the edges of each object.
“Pretty,” was his last thought before swooning.
“I think he’s coming around!”
Sam sounded anxious, Frodo thought. Why, would Sam be sounding anxious?
“Yes, Sam. Empty out the bowl and pour in fresh hot water, please.”
Strider? What was the new King of Gondor doing here? Frodo heard someone moving about then the aroma of fresh athelas cast into steaming water pleasantly filled his nose. He opened his eyes.
“He doesn’t look too bad! How many fingers am I holding up, Frodo?” Pippin waggled three fingers in front of his cousin’s eyes.
Frodo batted them away. “Quit, Pippin! They all blur together when you waggle them so fast.” He drew a slow, deep breath. The back of his head felt cold and achey. “You were holding up three fingers.” He tried to sit up but the King wouldn’t let him, so he settled for glaring at the circle of friends around his bed. “Why am I in bed and why are you all staring at me?”
“I found ya laying on the floor in the dining room, Mr. Frodo. Laying there out cold as the boxer who lost the match, so I fetched Strider and Mr. Pippin was on duty, so he came with Strider and Merry met up with us part way as he was coming of honor guard duty. Then we met Mr. Gandalf and Legolas heading up toward the Citadel as they had come home and found you and were coming to fetch Strider themselves. Gimli had stayed here with you.”
Frodo looked at Sam’s worried expression and sighed.
“I was . . .”
“Don’t speak too much right now, Frodo.” the healer-king soothed with his best bedside manner. “You have had a fainting spell of some sort, hitting the back of your head when you fell to the floor. Have you eaten properly today?”
“Yes. I was just . . .”
“Eaten a sufficient amount? Had enough to drink?”
“Yes, yes. I was only . . .”
“No need to get irritable, Frodo.” Aragorn paused. “Or have you been feeling irritable of late? That could be a symptom.”
“He has been restless and irritable, now that you mention it, Strider.” Merry put in.
“Hmm. I see.” Aragorn slowly nodded. “I’m thinking we should perhaps move you to the Houses of Healing for observa . . .”
“No! No, I don’t need to go to the Houses.” Frodo looked around at his friends, his gaze coming to a stop on the wizard. His old friend’s eyes sparkled with mischief and the hobbit grasped at a meaning in the look.
“Gandalf! Gandalf, you know, don’t you. You know I don’t need the healers. Will you make Strider listen to me?”
The wizard smiled. “I think I can manage that.” He turned to the King. “Let the lad speak, Aragorn.”
Sufficiently chided, Strider blushed. “Ah, yes. What is it you wish to say, Frodo?”
Frodo was still looking into Gandalf’s eyes. “I want to hear what Gandalf knows.”
“I may be able to shed some light on our dear, valiant Ringbearer’s condition.” Gandalf winked at Frodo before clasping his hands behind his back like a school boy getting ready to recite.
“When we returned to the house, after meeting Sam and the others on their way here from the Citadel, we hurried to the dining room to minister to Frodo. I happened to notice a painting of a beautiful seascape leaning up against the wall. That painting had not been there this morning before we all left for the day’s activities. Why, I wondered, was that painting there? An idea occurred to me and a glance further up the wall confirmed my suspicions. There was a nail partially driven into the mortar. Someone had been attempting to hang the picture, but if that someone were Frodo, the nail was too high for him to reach.”
The members of the Company stood staring at the wizard, their attention captured as though he were telling some magical tale.
“I looked around the room more carefully. One of the small stepping stools the hobbits use in the kitchen was sitting under the small serving table against that same wall and, by bending down I was able to find a hammer under a chair across the room.”
Gandalf smiled at Frodo who was nodding enthusiastically at his recitation.
“You will correct me if I am wrong, Frodo, but I think I know what happened. You purchased the painting at one of the markets in the city. I know the sea has special meaning for you even though you have never seen it. You wished to hang it yourself as you are getting exasperated with everyone doting on you because of your missing finger and because you are the Ringbearer. Why, even your cousins have been overly solicitous of late.”
He turned to look at Strider. “Have you examined more than your patient’s head, Aragorn?”
“Much to my shame, I have to admit that I have not.”
“Can you think of any injuries hanging a painting might cause?”
The healer-king’s expression brightened. “Show me your hands Frodo.”
The hobbit held out his hands. “Finally!”
The examination was brief. “I see a bruised and swollen left thumb and a sizable splinter in the pad of the right thumb.”
“Frodo? Would you care to fill in the details I could not?” Gandalf asked.
“You are amazing, Gandalf. I was trying to hang the painting and I am very weary of everyone doting on me. I had purchased the proper type of nail to set into the mortar, I fetched the stool and got to work. I hit my thumb first. I ah . . .”
A guilty expression came to his face as he looked at his cousins and Sam.
“I lost my temper.”
“Ah!” Merry’s eyebrows rose in a smirk. “Not so much the ‘gentle Ringbearer’ all the Gondorians keep on about after all, eh?”
Red crept up Frodo’s face. “Ah, no. I picked up the hammer and nail, got back up on the stool and gave it a good wack. I was still rather irate. I missed the nail altogether. The hammer hit the stone wall, stung my hand which slipped up the handle and I got the splinter in my hand. I dropped everything again and was quite upset . . .”
“Well, there goes the ‘sweet Ringbearer, meek and mild’,” Pippin interrupted. He winked at Merry and everyone chuckled.
“Yes,” Frodo continued as everyone quieted. “Although I’m glad no one was around to hear me.”
“Using ‘bloody’ again, sir?”
“Ahem! Yes, I did, Sam. Well,” Frodo hurried on, “I was by then quite determined to get the job done. I placed the nail and really reared back to strike it, which from what Gandalf said, I did. The blow was so hard that it made my thumb ache, it hurt my right hand where the sliver is and worst, it knocked me off balance. I remember the stool moving out from under me and I remember falling and seeing pretty golden sparkles around everything. Then I woke up in here with all of you staring at me.”
There was a moment of silence before Aragorn spoke.
“Sam, if you will make up a cold compress for Frodo’s thumb and Pippin if you will fetch some tweezers I should be able to fix all that is amiss with the gentle, meek Ringbearer. Then I will retire to my chambers with a novice level book of instruction in doing proper examinations of patients.”
The two hobbits ran to get the requested items. Frodo leaned back with a grin and a contented sigh.
“I had better not find that painting hung up for me when I get out of bed.”was all he said.