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47
Recovering from a Winter's Dip

For Febobe, Shelley, Arc5, and GamgeeFest for their birthdays.


~~~

Recovering from a Winter’s Dip



This tale takes place while Frodo, newly a tween, still lives in Brandy Hall, a year before Bilbo decides to take him to Bag End as his ward. The circumstances of the November flooding are told in the tale "Second Mum," to be found on the Stories of Arda, Henneth Annun Story Archive, FanFiction.net, Many Paths to Tread, and Tolkien FanFiction archive sites.

“Frodo?”

The young Baggins cracked his eye open to find his little cousin Merry standing by his cot. “What are you doing here in the infirmary, Merry mine?” he whispered.

“I came to see if you were beginning to feel better, and to bring you a sugar biscuit. I saved it from dinner.” He held out his offering for Frodo to take.

Frodo swallowed and noted how raw his throat still felt. “No, thank you,” he murmured. “Oh, I am feeling better, yes, but I couldn’t eat biscuits yet. The crumbs would hurt my throat. You eat it for me, and tell me how good it is.”

Merry brought the treasured cookie back to his chest. “I had three so far,” he admitted. “They are very good—Willow makes excellent sugar biscuits, you know. And she flavored them with spearmint this time.”

Frodo sighed. He loved it when Willow flavored her sugar biscuits with spearmint! He felt deprived.

Merry saw the disappointment in his beloved older cousin’s face. “Would you like some tea with mint? Mummy was making some, and I can make sure it has plenty of honey in it.”

Frodo gave him a pleased smile. “Yes, please,” he said raspily. “That would taste wonderful, and hopefully will help my throat feel better, too.”

Merry hurried off, but barely had the door closed after him before Cousin Gomez’s parents came in, bringing Frodo a cup of soup made from butternut squash, one of Marguerite’s specialties. Considering how Marguerite Sackville Brandybuck had always looked down on Frodo since his parents’ deaths, this was a pleasant change in attitude to contemplate as Frodo sat up to sip at the gift, finding warmth in his heart at the change Gomez’s mother had known since Frodo had plunged into the Withywindle to save her son. He couldn’t manage the full cup of soup as his throat was still too sore, but he could tell her honestly that he found it very good and hoped to enjoy more once he was feeling better.

Then it was young Boridoc, one of Gomez’s best friends, who came in with some chestnuts that had been roasted in butter and rolled in salt. Ordinarily Frodo would have loved to have these, but his one attempt to eat one had his throat burning and Frodo coughing terribly. At this Beldir, one of the Brandy Hall healers, came in and did his best both to reassure Bori that he’d done nothing wrong but also to let him know that there were certain foods that one did not offer to someone whose throat was as sore as was Frodo’s.

The young Baggins lay back in his bed and tried to fall back to sleep, only to have his rest disturbed again when Cousin Lavender came in with some pastilles from Sweetwater’s shop in Bucklebury to give him, and a vase of dried lavender sprays to set on the table by his pillow. After her arrived Brendi and Merilinde, who brought him a book to read and a bottle of ginger beer to enjoy, and then a group of smaller children with a plate of crumbly oatmeal scones and a pot of raspberry jam to spread on them, demanding that he tell them a story. Beldir soon had these sent on their way as well, disappointed for the moment but filled with the hope that within the next week Frodo would be able to spend a good hour or so fulfilling their own hunger for tales.

When Merry returned with his mother and a pot of mint tea with plenty of honey, Beldir threw up his hands. “This lad is never going to properly rest to recover from his chill and the subsequent sore throat if he’s not given some respite from this constant stream of visitors!” he declared. “And I can’t spend all my time guarding the door to the infirmary to protect him, what with all of those who were hurt or who’ve become ill in the wake of the storms and flooding Buckland has just experienced!”

Esmeralda examined Frodo’s face. His cheeks at least had some color to them again. She remembered how grey he’d looked when they brought him back from the old bothie where he, Gomez, and Dinodas had taken shelter after Frodo had rescued Gomez from the flooded Withywindle. But there was no question that Frodo appeared rather tired, and that sore throat of his didn’t appear to be getting any better with all the visitors he was reported to be receiving in the past two days. “I think,” she said thoughtfully, “that he might do better if we took him back to his own room in the Son’s quarters. It would be a good deal easier to allow him to rest with Sara and me screening his would-be well-wishers and accepting gifts to him on his behalf.”

Beldir’s expression cleared. “Would you really?” he asked. “Yes, I suspect that this is precisely what the lad needs! Being the hero of the moment is well enough, I suppose, but not when the notoriety doesn’t allow him sufficient rest to recover his proper strength once more. I’ll go find Markos, and we’ll see about getting him moved back to your quarters and his own bed. I suspect he’ll feel most comfortable there anyway.”

He was right, Frodo realized an hour later as he sipped at his cooled cup of mint tea and lay back against his own pillow, able to see the glass shelves in the window that held his collected treasures and the familiar gleam of candlelight reflected from the handle of his wardrobe that his father had carved with images of wizards and dragons for him. His own bed, only a few visitors to disturb his rest, and privacy so he could read that book lent him by Brendi and Merilinde in peace, once he awoke again. And he knew that Merry would be waiting on him hand and foot, and Aunt Esme had confided that Bilbo had sent word he was on his way from the Westfarthing.

As he yawned and rolled onto his side, Frodo Baggins had to admit this was indeed precisely how he wished to spend his time recovering from his November dip into the Withywindle. Now, if his throat would only just stop aching. Certainly the mint tea with honey was helping that. And as he drifted back off to sleep he was smiling softly, glad for the comfort of his own bed.

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