Frodo jerked forward, not aware that he’d fallen asleep. For a brief moment he was caught in the disorientation common after a sudden awakening, but as soon as his eyes fell upon the shadowy form in the bed, he was back in the present.
“Frodo,” Pippin burst into the room, trying not to spill the pail in his hands. Sam was close behind him. “We got it.”
“Where?” Frodo asked, standing to inspect their spoils.
“Out at Hamstead Chubb’s farm,” Sam told him grimly as he lit a new candle where the old one had burnt down, “I think he may have seen us.”
“Let’s hope he didn’t get a very good look,” Frodo said, frowning at the blood.
Pippin saw the frown and panicked, “What’s wrong? Is it not the right kind?”
“No,” Frodo assured him, “It’s just...this all feels so wrong.”
“I know what you mean, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said sympathetically, “But it seems unavoidable.”
“Yes, I know,” Frodo said softly, then after a moment he gathered himself and spoke louder, “Pippin, see if you can’t get him to raise his head. Sam, we’ll need a cup and a ladle. I won’t have him drinking from the pail like a dog.”
Sam ran to the kitchen while Pippin moved to his cousin. Merry was sleeping for the moment, looking more or less peaceful. When Pippin tried to wake him, he only moaned and shifted position. So, Pippin crawled onto the bed and folded his legs under him so that he sat on his feet. He lifted Merry’s head and shoulders to rest on his lap, propping them up in a somewhat more erect position.
“Merry...Merry,” he said gently, trying to get the sick hobbit to wake. When he got no reaction, he continued, “It’s time to take your medicine.” He remembered Merry’s mother saying that to him when he took ill in their youth. It had worked then and he hoped it would work now.
Merry grumbled and blinked awake. He looked up at Pippin with hollow, bloodshot eyes. “I don’t want any medicine, Pippin,” he said with a weak smile. It’s exactly the reaction Pippin had wanted. When Merry responded like this it always meant he wasn’t too badly off. But Pippin was afraid he may just have been putting on a show so they wouldn’t worry so much.
“I know, Merry,” he answered with a smile, “but I think you may not find this medicine so bad.”
Sam came back in the room then, carrying one of the nicer glasses and a ladle used for serving punch. “I’m sorry, Mr. Frodo,” he said as Frodo took the things from him, “I didn’t want to get Mr. Bilbo’s nice glass, but all the other cups were dirty and I just didn’t know what else to do.”
“Don’t think on it, Sam,” Frodo told him in a calming voice, “It’s of no consequence.”
The eldest hobbit moved to kneel over the pail. With great care, he dipped the ladle in. The blood cascaded over the bowl of the ladle with a little splash and a sound of air being forced from it. He raised the utensil, full to the brim and dripping gore. It was a strange, terrible, mesmerizing beauty as each little red dropped fell from the metal and plopped into the pail, sending up even tinier drops and ripples in the blood.
As Frodo poured the stream of blood into the glass, he felt very odd. He wondered if this was something a hobbit had ever had to do before. And yet somehow it felt appropriate that so unpleasant a task had fallen on he and his friends. After what they’ve gone through, this was nothing.
He held the glass aloft and could see it sparkling in the candlelight with the dull shimmer of the blood inside.
“Here,” Pippin held out his hand, “Let me.”
Without a word, Frodo handed the glass over to his youngest cousin.
Merry’s eyes were closed again. He may have been sleeping, but they couldn’t be sure. Pippin didn’t try to wake him now. He just tilted Merry’s head back a bit and set the edge of the glass to his cold lips. With an ever-so-gentle raise of the glass, the liquid moved forward until it splashed against Merry’s closed mouth. Unconsciously, the lips parted, allowing the drink in.
The three hobbits watched in suspense as Pippin poured the deep red liquid into his cousin’s mouth. It seemed he would swallow, and he did, a bit. But when Pippin increased the flow a little, Merry gagged and sputtered, spitting the fluid out onto himself and the bedsheets. Instantly, Pippin pulled the glass away, but Merry continued to choke on what little was left in his mouth until he had spat it all out.
Sam and Frodo had jumped up by now and helped to raise Merry more into a sitting position. The coughing soon died down and Merry rested again, but his eyes never opened.
“What happened?” asked Sam.
“I don’t know,” Pippin said, his voice unnaturally high from desperation and the fear he felt for his cousin, “It’s like he physically couldn’t swallow it. But I didn’t give him that much! I don’t know what’s wrong!”
A shadow passed over Frodo’s face as he slid back into his seat. He was weary, and hated what he was about to say.
“His body can’t handle the animal blood,” he told them, “That’s why he had to take mine before.” The other two looked at him with uneasy expressions as to what this meant. Frodo had to continue. They had to hear it. “He’s a hobbit, you see. He must have hobbit blood.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.