Ancalime's Hamster Cage: Fanfiction and other Random Fandom Stuff

Legacy : Ilness, extended  (PG-13)

Note: This is meant as a supplement to "Illness," not a replacement, as I tried very hard not to repeat material included in the original ficlet. Thus, they are best read as companions to one another, each containing details the other does not cover.

 

It was the pounding of Frodo's head that roused him in the wee hours of the morning and drove him to tossing and turning in trying to fall back to sleep. But he just couldn't get comfortable, and the drumming in his head was insistent, so he sat up to get some water, hoping a bit of cool liquid would quell the complaint. Sitting up, however, brought an entirely different feeling to the forefront, and he realized that a headache wasn't his only problem, and indeed, the headache was almost irrelevant compared to this new issue.

The cup of water seemed to help for the moment, so he took the time to glance at Bilbo, resting on the other side of the bed. The older hobbit slept peacefully, and had more color in his cheeks than he had during the day, which reassured him somewhat. At least Bilbo was recovering, though it seemed now he was falling ill. And he knew exactly what Elrond would have to say about it.

Groaning at that thought, he sat back against the headboard of the bed, clutching his refilled water cup and trying not to let the nausea come to its traditional result. He'd learned a few tricks when the babe had made his stomach uneasy, so he was able to keep it at bay for quite some time before finally needing to give in and locate a pot or basin, which were thankfully close at hand.

By the time he had shoved the partially full basin under the edge of the bed and drank enough water that he wouldn't be driven to throw up again just from the taste still in his mouth, the sky outside the windows was lightening as dawn approached. He turned his back on the windows and clenched his eyes shut, willing himself to sleep so that he wouldn't have to face Elrond as soon as the elf entered the room.

Unfortunately for him, his body did not want to cooperate with his mind, keeping him from crossing the line from waking to sleeping by the constant churning of his stomach, and after a while, the spinning of his head as well. These were not enough to cause him to stir from bed until the outdoors were bright -well, as bright as a winter morning could be- as day made its full appearance, and he lost control of the nausea again.

Waves of heat washed over him as he retched, only to be replaced by bone-chilling cold as he sat back up, wiping his mouth, and he cursed himself inwardly as he shivered. He stood shakily, reaching for his water cup to get rid of the taste in his mouth, then crouched again to spit into the pot. He slid the chamber pot next to the basin under the edge of the bed, musing wryly that as soon as he caught sight of the incriminating evidence, Elrond would know exactly what Frodo so dreaded him learning.

But for now he simply wanted to return to bed. In accordance with that aim, he carefully stood on the small wooden step and was about to heave his somewhat ungainly self onto the bed when the odd sensation coiling in his lower abdomen resolved itself into something else Frodo recognized. Speed being of the utmost importance, he stepped back onto the cool floor and hurriedly untied his underdrawers with one hand while lifting the lid of the step with the other hand.

Sitting down just in time, he was extremely grateful that Bilbo had thought to tell him the secret of the little wooden boxes, for they functioned not only as a means for a short being to climb onto a tall bed, but also as a privy for those too young to be accustomed to the use of a chamber pot. So the top flipped up to reveal a hole in the center of a seat, and in the compartment beneath the seat the chamber pot would sit directly beneath the hole. The two boxes in Bilbo's room had been, at least according to what Bilbo had told him, for the twins' use many ages ago when they were young elflings. Whatever their origin, Frodo was relieved at not having to squat over a chamber pot just now, as his legs were feeling rather rubbery and generally unreliable.

Distracting himself thus from his current state, he almost did not notice when Elrond silently swept into the room. Despite quickly rearranging his nightshirt to cover as much as possible, Frodo wished he were invisible when that ageless gaze came to rest on him.

"Forgive me for disturbing you, Frodo. I did not expect either of you to be awake at this hour," the elf lord apologized.

"I did not expect to be awake at this hour myself," Frodo replied cautiously, wincing and blushing furiously as his rear emitted some quite embarrassing noises that he was sure Elrond heard.

Elrond had gone to the other side of the bed to check on Bilbo, but soon returned and gracefully lowered himself to Frodo's eye level. "Am I correct in assuming that there is another ill hobbit now in my care?"

Frodo nodded contritely, ducking his head to avoid meeting Elrond's eyes. A large, soft hand gently felt his forehead, then the back of his neck, gauging his temperature; he wished to keep that cool touch on his warm skin, but it soon withdrew. He dreaded what the elf might say next, but that became immaterial only a few seconds after the thought crossed his mind. Eyes widening, Frodo clapped a hand over his mouth -he would absolutely die of humiliation if he soiled Elrond's robes!- and desperately fought back the urge that had caught him unprepared. But Elrond moved quickly, sliding a basin beneath the small chin just before Frodo was again sick. By the time he'd finished, Frodo wanted to weep his remorse for ever having defied Elrond's commands, but he resisted the impulse, knowing it would not aid him now.

Elrond helped him clean himself up, then picked him up to place him back on the bed rather than relying on his shaky legs. Frodo was never so glad to be back under the warm covers, and quickly dropped into a doze.

~~~~

"He's looking rather pale this morning."

"He's not feeling well."

The voices drifted lazily into his awareness, as well as the feeling of an affectionate hand absent-mindedly playing with the curls on his forehead. He opened his eyes to see Bilbo and Elrond looking at him, and he realized Bilbo was the owner of the hand. Frodo closed his eyes again as the room began to cant to the side, a frown on his face. The hand patted his head soothingly. "There, there, my boy," Bilbo murmured. "Where will you care for him?"

Frodo was confused until Elrond answered the question. "That is to be decided. He can be taken back to his own room, or he can remain here with your leave."

Bilbo chuckled. "After all the effort to get here, it would be most inconsiderate to send him away now."

Frodo's hopes rose, but he assumed Elrond would insist he be returned to his own bed. To his surprise, Elrond concurred. "Having both of you in one place would be prudent."

Frodo opened his eyes and smiled a bit, grateful at not being forced to move from his warm cocoon. The smile faded, however, as he realized he needed to be sick again. He hauled himself upright and a basin appeared before him, thanks to the reflexes of a certain elf, and he hunched over it to retch once again. Not much came up, despite it feeling like his stomach itself was trying to appear, so at length he returned the basin and lay back down.

Much of the day passed in a similar manner, with periods of illness being interspersed with snatches of sleep, and Frodo grew weary of it very quickly. Elrond remained nearby, monitoring the frequency and severity of the bouts, along with keeping a close eye on the hobbit's climbing temperature.

For his part, Frodo tried to be cooperative at first, knowing full well he had only himself to blame, but as the day wore on, his agreeability wore thin. He did not appreciate being constantly monitored, wanting only to curl into a miserable ball and regret his existence, and he wished Elrond would cease trying to convince him to drink this bit of juice or have just a bit more of that soup. Thus, he welcomed sleep when he could find it amidst the throwing up and squatting over the chamber pot.

When evening arrived, Lord Elrond ordered a bath prepared. Frodo's fever had risen steadily through the day -as fevers often do- until it reached a level that the healer deemed unacceptable, in concern for both Frodo's health and that of the child. He hated to wake the hobbit from what little rest he was getting, but Frodo fortuitously woke with the need to be ill just after the bath water arrived.

Frodo resisted the idea of disrobing and bathing with so many others in the room, so Elrond dismissed all but himself and his patients. Having no other delaying tactics -Lord Elrond even turned his back while he undressed- Frodo grudgingly acquiesced, and enjoyed the bath more than he let on. He could have remained immersed for hours, but Lord Elrond deemed he ought to get out when he began to shiver from the cooling water.

When Frodo was returned to bed, clothed in a fresh, soft nightshirt, he felt comfortable for the first time all day. Nothing needed to come up, or go out, and he could finally relax and just sleep. So he did.

~~~~

It was the wee hours of the morning when Elrond entered the hobbits' room to check on its occupants. Unlike the previous times that night, he came across Frodo, again sitting on the wooden box, seemingly absorbed in feeling his stomach with both hands. The elf knelt beside the hobbit. "Frodo?" he inquired softly.

The hobbit looked at him with wide eyes. "Something's moving in there!" he whispered urgently.

Lord Elrond peered at him in consternation. Surely Frodo had not forgotten...? He casually slipped his hand onto Frodo's shoulder, and from there to the back of his neck. Very warm, almost worryingly so. The hobbit must be out of his head with fever; yes, that would explain it. "Frodo?" he gently prodded. "Are you finished?"

Frodo's brow furrowed as he tried to understand the question. He nodded hesitantly, glancing over for the elf's approval of his decision.

"Would you stand up for me?" Frodo did, but didn't stay that way long and nearly fell over. Elrond caught him easily, and directed the hobbit's arms around his neck; he served as the support while cleaning up. Frodo buried his face into the elf's shoulder, feeling woozy from standing and greatly desiring a return to bed.

Once matters below were addressed, Elrond rose easily with the hobbit in his arms and lowered him onto the bed. Frodo showed his thanks by nearly throwing up on Elrond's dressing gown, but he at least had the decency to appear apologetic. Elrond rescued both his clothing and Frodo's by a rapid retrieval of an awaiting basin, which Frodo used to full advantage.

When the unpleasantness ceased, Frodo was exhausted, and barely remained upright long enough for a brief drink of water. Then Elrond helped him lie back down on his side and tucked him in, rubbing his back until he drifted to sleep.

Lord Elrond remained beside the bed for some time, granting what comfort he could to the ailing hobbit, and watching the fever closely.

~~~~

When breakfast arrived for Bilbo, another bath arrived for Frodo. This time, Frodo was not aware enough to object to Elrond's assistance; that he was going to be in the nice water was enough reason to allow just about anything to be done to him. He closed his eyes and leaned against the cool side of the metal tub as he let himself drift. That is, until a tightening in his stomach and the feeling of something coming up made him sit up quickly and clap a hand over his mouth. Ever attentive, Elrond produced a freshly scrubbed basin for him, and held it while Frodo brought up what they'd gotten down him earlier that morning.

Frodo held on to the edge of the tub for dear life; he'd never thrown up while in the tub before, and found it a disconcerting and slippery experience. He shivered when he was done, and moved to immerse his cold arms back in the water, but Elrond grabbed his hands before he could do so. "Leave your hands here, Frodo. We need to get you out of the water."

Thoroughly confused, Frodo tried to understand why he was being taken from his bath. As Lord Elrond helped him stand and wrapped a large towel around him, he saw the water in the tub was cloudy. Was it cloudy before? Somehow, Frodo didn't think so. He was lifted from the water and wrapped in more towels, until he was little more than a mass of towels with a face. Elrond carried him and sat in a chair before the crackling fire in the fireplace, issuing commands in the melodic Elvish tongue, which Frodo did not even attempt to understand.

A pallet was brought and covered with blankets, then a layer of towels and absorbent padding, and placed in front of the hearth. Frodo found himself laying on this with his back to the fire as Elrond worked methodically to wipe him down one area at a time. The comforting feel of being taken care of lulled him into a sleepy haze despite the constant ache of every muscle in his body.

Thus, he was startled by a sudden warm feeling. He opened his eyes; Elrond was within sight, but not next to him, so what... oh. When he felt the towels wrapped around him growing soggy, he realized, and wished he hadn't. Surely he didn't...! No, he really did.

He closed his eyes and his face burned with embarrassment when Elrond crouched beside him to assess the damage before calling for another basin of water and some cloths, and he felt a tear slip down his cheek. Elrond's cool hand was there in an instant. "Frodo, do not fret. This is not unusual."

"If I recall correctly, I did it a few times, myself," added a familiar voice. Bilbo. Frodo looked to see Bilbo sitting down with a grunt by his head before reaching to pat Frodo's face reassuringly. "It's all right, my boy."

Frodo sighed at the familiar touch, closed his eyes, and let go of all thoughts. Apparently he appeared asleep, for Bilbo began asking many questions of Elrond about him; though he would have liked to hear the answers, he simply could not pull himself to awareness. So he let the flow of conversation ebb around him and wash over him, and he slept.

~~~~

He woke, feeling very cold. The swaddling towels had been replaced by blankets, and Bilbo still sat beside him, meditatively running his fingers through Frodo's curls. Bilbo noticed his open eyes and patted his cheek, then turned and gestured. Lord Elrond appeared, and Frodo inwardly groaned at the sight of a mug in the healer's hand.

But Elrond wasn't going to give him any chance for resistance. "Frodo, we have prepared another bath for you. I will take you to it once you drink this."

Frodo gaped at him for a moment, then nodded slowly. Elrond gave the mug to Bilbo, then gracefully sat and helped Frodo sit up. Frodo had to close his eyes against vertigo, but gradually the world settled around him and he was able to sip from the cup. It did not taste bad, and soothed his thirst, not that he would admit either.

As promised, once he finished, Elrond carefully lifted him and carried him back to the tub, where he was divested of the blanket, and placed into the water. He sat there a moment before realizing that something was terribly wrong. The water didn't feel nice. He felt he were in a bubble of warmth, and the cool water was kept outside the bubble while he was trapped inside.

He tried to move a bit, to see if he could make the water slosh into the bubble, but for all his effort, his arms barely moved. It seemed that movement required more energy than he was prepared to invest in the project. Elrond seemed to realize his predicament, as he appeared with a washcloth in hand and began wetting his back, his shoulders, his arms . . . by the time Elrond got 'round to his upper chest, he'd had enough. The first ministrations with the washcloth had utterly banished the bubble, and now he was so very cold. He shivered, and wished it weren't so much work to curl into a ball.

So he did the only thing he could do. He looked Elrond straight in the eye and said, "Out." Of course, he'd meant to be far more eloquent than a single word could afford, but there was something to be said for efficiency.

"Not yet, Frodo," Elrond smoothly answered his demand.

But that response wasn't satisfactory. "Cold," he stubbornly insisted, glaring at the elf. It was the only sign of displeasure he could manage, so he used it to its full advantage. And Elrond was . . . amused? Why would he be amused? It didn't make sense.

At last Elrond put aside the washcloth and draped a large towel across the back of the tub before reaching to help Frodo up and out. Frodo still shivered as he was dried off and dressed in another nightshirt, and even being returned to the bed and tucked under its quilts didn't seem to help him get warm. After a while of simply lying there and shaking, Elrond appeared, with another blasted mug of something.

"It is some warm tea, Frodo. That is all."

Well, the warm part was encouraging. He eyed the healer, waiting expectantly. What, was he supposed to manage lifting himself enough to face this newest imposition? Elrond should know better than that.

Frodo's cynicism was misplaced, however, since Elrond knew well what was needed. Soon enough he had the pregnant hobbit leaning against his chest, and carefully began giving him the tea. It took a while for Frodo to manage swallowing the entire cupfull, as his throat was rather raw from regurgitation, and he was quite weak in general. By the time he finished, he was quite happy to remain leaning against Elrond's chest -the elf was, after all, warm- but he was allowed to slip bonelessly back onto the mattress and tucked under the quilts again.

He was warmer now, and was content to simply be left alone. And it seemed Elrond was willing to comply with the unspoken request, once Frodo's limbs were arranged in the most comfortable position possible. Frodo, for his part, was ambivalent about the project, and allowed himself to be manipulated at will. He felt a presence at his back once Elrond covered him with a quilt or two and left him be; he immediately recognized it as Bilbo when his uncle soothingly brushed the hair from his face.

The warm feeling was rising again and swept him helplessly along to heated dreams and fevered imaginings.

~~~~

Frodo had not been resting long when a whimper drew Elrond to the bedside. Bilbo was slumped against the headboard, fast asleep, with his hand still resting reassuringly on Frodo's head. Frodo also seemingly slept, though his brow was creased in perturbation. Elrond touched his hand to his patient's face, it remained as warm as before. Then he lifted the blankets to ascertain the cause of Frodo's agitation and found it -the hobbit had a bit of an accident. While Elrond firmly believed that intervention was not always the best course, Frodo's symptoms were proving problematic enough that measures should now be taken.

So Elrond matter-of-factly picked up a clean towel, tucked it around Frodo's waist, and lifted him into his arms. He carried him back to the pallet before the fire, while those assisting him stepped in to remove the soiled linen. After spending more time than absolutely necessary in wiping down the overheated skin -the fever was still a concern, so he availed himself of the opportunity to help in the cooling process- Elrond left Frodo sleeping beneath a sheet while he went to his herbal chest. He spent several minutes working busily before returning with a small bowl and a phial of oil.

Elrond had left Frodo lying on his side, so he was able to work unhindered. After coating the fingers of one hand with the oil, he slid that hand between Frodo's buttocks, watching carefully for any reaction from Frodo. Seeing none, he picked up a small, capsule-shaped portion from the bowl and carefully slid it in. Then he cleaned his hands and wiped the area down again, this time daubing a soothing cream on skin that was beginning to look rather raw and sore. To guard against further accidents that may occur in spite of the medicine, he folded and fastened a soft, absorbent cloth around the hobbit's hips, much in the way a mother swaddles her babe. A new nightshirt finally completed the procedure.

An assistant came to collect the dirty nightshirt and towels, and spoke briefly to the elf lord before leaving the room. Elrond watched him go, then returned his attention to Frodo. Placing his hands gently on the hobbit, he spent long minutes probing first into Frodo's mind, then into the condition of the babe. Frodo was sleeping the inconsistent slumber of the fevered, and his babe also seemed quiet, though that quiet was sinister in nature. The child was beginning to suffer due to its bearer's illness, and would soon be ill-affected if conditions did not change for the better. Elrond was determined not to let harm come to either of them.

The assistant returned with a covered tray; Elrond bade him stay a moment while he gathered Frodo in a quilt and into his arms and sat in one of the chairs before the fire. He was handed a feeding-cup, filled with warm broth as he'd requested. The assistant departed, his duties fulfilled, and the healer began the long process of feeding his patient. Encouragingly, Frodo swallowed the liquid readily, though he could only manage very small amounts.

Glorfindel, who had charge of the household when Elrond was with the hobbits, entered while Elrond was thus engaged, and sat opposite to speak with him. After discussing a few small matters, he asked, "How is he? Much of the household has been asking after his health."

Since they were conversing in Elvish, Elrond did not hesitate to speak plainly, and even allowed some of his concern to seep into his voice. "His condition leaves much room for improvement. If he does not begin to recover soon, it will bode ill for the child and perhaps for him, as well."

Glorfindel frowned. "Can nothing be done?"

"I have but recently administered a tonic, though its effectiveness remains to be seen."

Glorfindel sighed and nodded as he stood to leave. "If anything is needed, you have only to ask. Most of Rivendell would gladly do anything for the hobbits." He quirked a smile. "They have a charming way about them that endears them to all."

"They do, indeed. I shall keep you informed." After Glorfindel left, Elrond returned to feeding Frodo, one careful sip at a time.

~~~~

Frodo was hurting and hot and desperately uncomfortable, though he didn't know why. He just wanted it to stop. His dreams were bad enough, but to wake and find himself in a nightmare of a different kind? That was too much.

Unless he wasn't actually awake. That might explain a few things, though he could swear the voices of those around him couldn't possibly be a dream. Or he could just be imagining it all. Didn't he have a fever or something? That's enough to make one imagine all sorts of things -he knew that from past experience. Well, whatever the case, he felt abominable.

And he felt himself being lifted, carried, set down again. It was too much effort to open his eyes, but he thought he recognized the feel of that pallet. Yes, that must be it. His mind drifted away from his surroundings for a time, only to come back with a jolt when he felt something cold and soothing being rubbed on some very sore skin. Ah, that felt nice. He dozed under the calming touch.

When Frodo next surfaced from the sea of sleep, he was being held and given something warm to swallow. For once, his stomach seemed relatively relaxed, so he took it without complaint, and was nearly ready to nod off again when he sensed another's presence and heard a vaguely familiar voice.

That voice, and the voice from near his head, talked for a while in their melodic tongue. Frodo almost wanted to protest, because the flow of liquid ceased completely, but he was too drowsy to really care. He listened to the conversation without really hearing it, until the voice near his head took on a distinct note of worry.

Frodo was confused. Why would Elrond -for the one holding him had to be Elrond- be worried? Could Elrond be worried? He'd never seen Elrond so concerned as to actually sound worried. It disturbed him greatly. Was the worry about him? He didn't want to cause any trouble . . .

When the other left and the flow of liquid recommenced, Frodo stopped trying to solve the puzzle and allowed himself drift back into his hazy world of unawareness.

~~~~

For the moment, Elrond was pleased. His patient had eventually consumed all of the broth offered to him and showed no sign of returning the liquid the way it came. And he seemed to be resting easier now than before -perhaps the reassurance of being held made the difference, as strange as that may seem to the more aloof Elven kind. Whatever the reason, Elrond was not about to change anything that might disrupt the poor hobbit's rest.

Frodo, for his part, was sleeping comfortably -it seemed that Elrond could make the perfect pillow for a hobbit. His head rested just below the elf lord's shoulder, his body was settled just so in Elrond's lap, and his entirety was wrapped in a light sheet that protected him from drafts while not letting him get too warm. If there were any way to save the feeling of the moment, he would've loved to keep it for later... particularly since this tricky illness seemed determined not to let him rest in peace for any length of time.

Elrond was in the midst of consideration on whether or not to trust Frodo's stomach's ability to endure more feeding without unpleasant repercussions when the hobbit tensed in his arms and stifled a whimper. The pale brow was furrowed as Frodo tried to bury his misery in his caretaker's shoulder, but Elrond did not allow him to complete the motion and instead moved the hobbit back to the pallet to be cared for properly.

Frodo could not help tensing in dread anticipation when he felt his insides twist and churn yet again, and felt himself being moved as a result. It was almost a relief to just allow nature to take its course, despite his chagrin at being dealt with like a babe, since it usually meant that would not happen again for at least a little while. But this time the torment seemed to have no end.

Elrond could sense Frodo's rising panic as the flow continued for what undoubtedly seemed an eternity to the hobbit. The healer strove to reassure his patient with a comforting touch, and when that did not avail him, he also soothed the hobbit's mind with assurance that it would soon end and he would feel better for it. It was a portion of the tonic's effects, after all, and therefore not unexpected.

Despite Elrond's attempts at comfort, Frodo refused to believe it would be all right until it finally stopped. Tired as he was, he was indifferent to the indignity of cleaning up that followed, though he did not really relax until he was settled once again in Lord Elrond's lap.

As he arranged himself and his precious burden into the fireside chair, Elrond sent an assistant for some tea. He felt confident enough in Frodo's progress in the recent span of time to attempt administering more sustenance. For while this past bout was more lengthy than usual, Frodo had lasted longer between occurrences than anytime since he'd fallen ill. With the second dose of tonic just administered -seemingly without Frodo's notice, which Elrond attributed to the hobbit's absolute exhaustion- he was reasonably certain that this particular symptom would soon trouble Frodo no more.

~~~~

Frodo still rested peacefully several hours after finishing his tea. Elrond did not wish to disturb him, but even Elves could grow stiff when holding the same position for a length of time. Rising and trodding carefully, he carried the hobbit back to the bed and laid him down gently. When his charge did not stir, Elrond deemed it acceptable to leave the bedside for a time. He departed in search of Glorfindel, to discuss matters of the household and supplies.

~~~~

Something had changed, Frodo could tell that much, but he could not tell what exactly was different. He was far too warm, and his stomach churned uneasily, but he didn't think that's what he was noticing. When he shifted his head restlessly and overheated skin met cool pillowslip, he knew what bothered him so. He was no longer being held, and he just could not seem to get comfortable as a result.

He sighed. As tired as he was, it seemingly shouldn't matter where or how he was, but it did matter, and that would have frustrated him more if he weren't feeling so wretched.

He tried to readjust himself to find a more comfortable position, but his extra bulk and his wobbly limbs conspired against him. So he moved all that he could -his head- and tried to sleep.

Soon enough he fell into feverish dreams, the intensity and rapidity of which were dizzying and not a little nauseating. Eventually the impressions -all he could really tell of the images were the feelings they evoked- settled into a familiar sensation, one he knew all too well from his recent trials.

He was being chased. He urges the horse forward, faster, but his pursuers drew ever nearer -he could hear their harsh cries, almost feel their breathing on the back of his neck.

Finally he reaches the Ford, panting and gasping. He prods the horse across, turning to face his predators, and is momentarily baffled. Lurking on the other side of the water was... dinner? Roast beef, string beans, a steaming baked potato with a pat of butter on top.. no Nine Riders were these. At the moment, they were far more intimidating.

As the food smell assaulted his nose and sent his stomach heaving in revulsion, Frodo roused enough to realize two things: the smells were real, and he was going to be sick. He managed to move onto his side before being violently ill, and as he retched, he could dimly hear footsteps and voices calling urgently. Soon he felt Elrond's distinctive touch on his shoulder, gently supplying strength to finish what had begun. When he was picked up and moved to be cleaned up, Frodo recognized the smells as Bilbo's dinner, now sitting forgotten as his former guardian watched the proceedings worriedly.

The clean-up routine passed hazily by for Frodo, who nonetheless did notice when he was sat in a bath and wiped down by gentle hands. The water offered none of its previous enjoyment, though Frodo had to admit it felt nice to be a bit cleaner. And he was relieved that, once dried and dressed, he was not immediately returned to bed, but rather was situated supportively on Elrond's lap.

Whatever equilibrium had been reached that afternoon, it was disturbed and utterly destroyed by that bout, which led to another and another, late into the night. Despite the hobbit's continuing misery, Elrond was heartened to see that his tonic remained effective and there was no resumption of symptoms at the other end. If that had not been the case, even he may have had to admit the hope for Frodo's recovery -or at the very least, the chance of the babe surviving- was grim indeed. But now... Frodo had a chance of overcoming this, if he only continued to fight.

~~~~

When he awoke soon after dawn, the first thing Bilbo did was lean over to check on Frodo, who slept restlessly next to him. Frodo stirred under the scrutiny and cracked open his eyes to peer confusedly at the hobbit studying him. Bilbo caressed his nephew's face with a shaking hand, whispering, "Oh, Frodo."

Frodo closed his eyes and sighed a little, but did not answer.

Bilbo shook his head in resignation. "My dear boy," he murmured. "If you don't get better soon, you'll miss Yule. You can't miss your favourite holiday..."

"A Happy Yule to you, my friend," Elrond said smoothly as he swept into the room.

"It would be happier if Frodo would just wake up," Bilbo replied glumly, not in the mood to have the proper Yuletide spirit of good cheer.

Elrond cast him a sympathetic glance. "Indeed it would," he allowed. Briefly he checked Frodo's temperature and appearance. "He will need another bath, to keep his fever down. Once he can keep some liquids down, he will be well on his way to recovering."

Bilbo nodded, then changed the subject in hobbit fashion. "So, when's breakfast?"

~~~~

As with the day before, the bath arrived with the breakfast, but this time it was a strategic move -having Frodo in the bath while Bilbo was eating breakfast should eliminate any possibility of the food aromas triggering a repeat of last night's effects. That part, at least, worked according to plan, for Frodo did not need to be ill. This time, however, the bath made Frodo shiver uncontrollably, even when he had been taken out, dried, and wrapped in several blankets. It wasn't until the blanket-clad Frodo had been curled in Elrond's lap for nearly half an hour that the shaking subsided.

Naturally, when it wasn't one thing, it was another. In the course of attempting to halt the shivering, Elrond had fed Frodo some warm broth and tea. Now, however, Frodo's stomach took exception to this, and the pattern continued for much of the day: Frodo would submit to having some broth or tea or even applesauce, and a short time later his stomach would send the food back.

Frodo grew quite impatient with this pattern. He knew Elrond was doing all he could possibly do to make it stop, from making sure he was mostly upright (so gravity would help keep the liquids where they belonged) to dosing him with everything imaginable that was supposed to calm an upset stomach, but inevitably it all came to the same result. And he was so very tired of that same result.

Thus, when it dragged on toward late afternoon and the latest bit of lightly salted chicken broth appeared to be staying put, Frodo was nearly ready to weep in gratitude. And it seemed he was not the only one -even Elrond began to appear visibly relieved as the minutes dragged by and nothing happened. After an hour and a half of blissful nothingness, Lord Elrond had Frodo drink some tea as well, for it was best to take advantage of the lull as much as possible.

Dinnertime came and went -Bilbo ventured to the dining hall for dinner, so his food would not upset his nephew's stomach- and everything remained normal. As the time wore on, Frodo grew suspicious and cynically wondered how soon the reprieve would end.

Not too long after that thought crossed his mind, alas. He cursed himself roundly for ever entertaining the notion as he resumed the all-too-familiar hunch over the basin while all of what he'd thought was down to stay came up to say hello. And in mockery of his misery, he felt this bout in all his muscles and joints, as if the break from the effort only made the next instance that much worse.

When the spasms eased, he collapsed back onto his pillows and closed his eyes, ready to sleep some more. Then another pain, sharp, insistent, different. It was agonizing, and he didn't know what it was. So he curled up and cried out in pain, and longed to just be put out of his suffering. Elrond's hands abruptly appeared, trying to calm him and discern the problem, though Frodo was not of a mind to either assist or prevent, as he was just trying to survive the pain.

A pause, then the pain began again, the pattern bringing one primary concern to the front of his mind: the babe. Isn't this how they say babies are born? But it's too early... he can't do it while still so ill... jumbled thoughts raced through his head and he began to panic. Then Elrond's voice from above, "It will be all right."

Only one response came to mind. "Will I lose it?" He sounded afraid, and who could blame him?

"No, no. The babe is still fine." That was the only part that really registered. Elrond continued with something about practicing, but Frodo was beyond where he could comprehend anything beyond basic yes-no answers. He was so weary...

The pain at last showed mercy and relented, and Frodo was asleep before he could wonder if it was going to happen again.

~~~~

Frodo's temperature rose steadily as the evening waned into night, soaring skyward until Elrond again deemed that something must be done. He moved Frodo back to the fireside pallet -so as to allow Bilbo to rest undisturbed- and had water prepared for a spongebath. While an immersion bath would be far more effective in bringing the temperature down, Elrond did not wish to have the morning's shivering recur, since it would unduly tax Frodo's strength. The hobbit could ill afford any such mistakes now.

When the water was ready, Elrond soaked several large towels and carefully laid them over Frodo, watching closely for any sign of distress. He left the towels until they grew warm from body heat, then replaced them with fresh ones. It continued thus for well nigh an hour before Elrond discerned enough cooling to be satisfied, so he exchanged the damp towels for dry ones and covered Frodo so he could rest comfortably.

But Frodo's fever would not be so easily defeated. Within the hour the unnatural heat returned; Elrond wetted a cloth and painstakingly bathed Frodo's skin with cool water, paying particular attention to chest and stomach. Even this was not enough, and the towels had to be brought forth again. The elven lord also sent for shaved ice and iced cream that had just a hint of strawberry to make it appealing without overtaxing the sensitive stomach. Now if Frodo could just keep these down, the cooling could be effected from without and from within.

Through the dead of the night, they achieved an uneasy balance, a sort of routine. First came the cold towels, left tucked tightly around the hobbit until they grew warm. Then Elrond watched over Frodo as he rested, bathing him with a smaller cloth as it was necessary, and after about an hour had passed, it was time for the towels again. Elrond steadfastly hoped for further improvement, but if he could only maintain the status quo, it would have to do.

Frodo's sleep was disturbed by fever-ridden dreams. It seemed his mind took him back a few short months to the torment of weariness, thirst, and hopelessness. Elrond kept watch over him, diverting the thoughts to matters less distressing as he could, and he kept a cool cloth on Frodo's forehead, to drive away the feeling of heat.

Dawn at last approached, but brought no dramatic change with its bright welcome of the new day. As the household roused, Glorfindel came to inquire about how Frodo fared, and expressed concern that his lord appeared quite weary and drawn. He insisted that Elrond get some rest, since Frodo's condition seemed stable. Elrond relented only because he knew quite well he needed to recover some of his strength to continue aiding Frodo.

And Frodo was much the same when he returned as when he left. Bilbo was awake by then, and questioned Elrond closely about his nephew's condition. Elrond assured the elder hobbit that Frodo was doing better than he had been, since he'd kept everything down over the course of the night, with the only remaining source of concern being his continuing fever. Bilbo accepted this explanation and, after patting Frodo's head and murmuring a few reassuring words, returned to his bed and assumed his thoughtful mien for the remainder of the day. (Elrond knew Bilbo was as often sleeping as he was thinking, these days, but did not find it necessary to confront the old hobbit with that fact.)

The day passed much as the night had, with careful attention to the progress of Frodo's fever and periodic measures in an effort to bring that fever to an end. Frodo remained in confused dream almost the entire time, waking only a handful of times. Even then, the most he ever did while 'awake' was open his eyes, stare vacantly into space, and murmur, "Hot. So hot, Sam." Elrond had been in the midst of coaxing more iced cream down Frodo's throat when he'd spoken, and looked upon him with some concern.

Soon after, Elrond deemed it safe to attempt an immersion bath again, so the water was brought at about the same time as Bilbo's dinner. This time, Frodo did not shiver and shake as before, and he was noticeably cooler to the touch after being dried off, though he was not yet rid of the fever entirely. For his dinner, Frodo managed to consume a small dish of applesauce, a cup of chilled ginger tea, and a fairly sizeable portion of the dish of strawberry iced cream before he turned his head and wouldn't take any more.

Elrond returned Frodo to the pallet for observation after dinner -the elf had considered keeping the hobbit in his lap instead, but needed monitoring of Frodo’s fever demanded easy access for the fever stick, and that simply wasn’t possible when being held. Frodo’s fever remained constant well into the night, until Elrond decided he could be returned to the larger bed and allowed to sleep undisturbed for a time. It seemed there would be no dramatic breaking of the fever in this case, but rather a slow and steady decline, which was just as acceptable, so long as the fever continued its downward progression.

Bilbo stirred when Elrond brought Frodo back to the bed, but he did not awaken. Elrond laid Frodo down on his side -the hobbit seemed to prefer this position, no doubt because it made it easier to breathe and kept the weight of the babe mostly off him- and settled a few pillows to further ease his weight off what would likely be rather sore muscles once Frodo was aware enough to feel them. He thought it possible Frodo would truly wake on the morrow, but it was difficult to tell precisely when. Frodo was a wholly unpredictable individual, and any person with child is necessarily unpredictable, which added up to make the hobbit erratic, indeed.

Frodo slept soundly, despite being periodically coaxed to take some tea or broth, so Elrond was often out of the room to attend other matters. When he returned around the time of the hobbits’ second breakfast, Bilbo informed him cheerily, "Frodo’s awake!"

Frodo was indeed awake and fairly alert, though obviously weary and still suffering the lingering effects of the illness. Elrond took the opportunity afforded him by Bilbo retiring across the room for his meal to make clear to Frodo the chance he took in his disobedience. He noted that Frodo’s first reaction to being told there had been doubt about the outcome was to hunch protectively over his belly -and the babe within- as he asked if everything would be all right. This instinctive defensiveness of the one he carried was promising, considering Frodo’s earlier resistance, and it boded well for Frodo’s ability as a parent.

Also promising was Frodo’s unquestioning submission to the care that followed, in both the administration of fluids and the not-so-subtle prompting to rest. Frodo quickly drifted to sleep under Elrond’s light touch to his forehead -outwardly, the Elven lord was simply assessing his patient’s temperature, but he also nudged the hobbit’s mind toward rest, not that it needed much assistance on that count. Frodo would need to regain his strength rapidly, for the birth would soon approach and he must be ready. Two months, perhaps, which was little enough time with the severity of the illness, but Frodo's recuperative abilities were unmatched; the biggest question was how long Frodo's cooperative submission was going to last. Elrond suspected it wouldn't be long, but the hobbit had upset his expectations before, so he knew better than to wager on that outcome.

[Continued, as before, in "Recovery"]

A/N: The 'wooden boxes' are based on a picture -that I came across in a Google search for 'chamber pot' (yes, I really am that weird)- of a "Small pot for children in a basket, for trips to the countryside." While that example is wicker and most likely not intended as a step, I made mine wood due to durability and weight concerns (namely, I figured that the mass of a pregnant hobbit would collapse a wicker box). The site is sadly no longer where it used to be, so if I find the picture again, I'll add the link.