They kept to this practice for the next several nights and Frodo continued to improve. By two weeks later, he had almost fully recovered.
“Good morning, Sam,” he said cheerfully as he walked, feet sliding along the floor, into the kitchen.
“Oh, Mr. Frodo,” Sam turned from where he was cooking some eggs, “You don’t need to get up. I can bring your breakfast to you.”
“I know you can,” Frodo laughed, “but there is no longer a need. I am well enough to eat with the living. I have grown tired of lurking in the shadows of my room”
“Speaking of which,” Pippin said from the corner and Frodo finally noticed him there, “Has anyone untied Merry yet?”
They looked at each other, none taking responsibility for this. Pippin set his cup down and moved to the hall, stretching as he went.
As he opened the door to the silent room, he expected to see Merry still sleeping. But his cousin was not asleep. Nor did he seem to be awake. He appeared in a state that was half of each. He lay flat, as he was tied, shivering, eyes staring at the ceiling, but half-closed.
Suddenly aware of this strange state, Pippin ran the few steps to the bed, which he noticed seemed to be vibrating from Merry’s convulsions.
“Merry, are you all right?” he asked as he worked to untie the bonds. As each cord was released, the limb was curled in tight to the body, as if retracting in on itself, but no sound other than a faint moaning came from Merry’s lips. “It’s morning, Merry, time to get up,” Pippin said, trying to sound cheerful, still hoping nothing was really wrong.
When he was free, Merry curled into a fetal position and wrapped the blankets tight around himself. “Oh, Merry, what’s happened to you?” Pippin asked softly as he stroked the sweat-matted hair away from Merry’s eyes. His cousin seemed not to register anything that was happening. His eyes remain unfocused.
Pippin left for a moment, but quickly returned with Sam and Frodo.
“One well just as the other takes ill,” Sam muttered up on inspection, “That’s a mean trick of fate.”
“I do not think this is fate, Sam,” Frodo said as he sat on the bed and looked at Merry’s twitching face, “Nor do I think he is merely ill. His color is very strange.”
It was true. Almost all color had gone from Merry’s face. Even his fingernails were completely clear.
“I’ll go find the healer,” Pippin resolved, “Maybe she can do something for him.”
Before anyone could discuss it, Pippin was gone. Frodo turned concerned eyes to Sam, “Get some water. Let’s see if we can get him to drink.”
Pippin returned within the hour with Daisy Proudfoot in tow. Literally.
“Release me, Master Took,” she said indignantly, tearing her arm away from his grasp, “I’m coming. Just give me time.”
“We don’t have time,” Pippin said, just as irate, “Now hurry.”
They were met at the door by Sam, who quickly updated them on Frodo’s condition as they rushed in. “No change, I’m afraid.”
“Hello, Samwise,” Daisy said cheerfully as Pippin dragged her by.
“Oh, hello, Mrs. Proudfoot,” Sam replied, not feeling especially chatty.
Entering Merry’s room, she went straight to work. First, she shooed the others away from the bed, then she inspected the patient. She looked at him for several seconds, sizing him up, ‘hmm’ing and playing with a curl that hung down from her temple. She put a hand on Merry’s forehead, then quickly pulled it back.
“Strange,” she said, then gave no explanation, and for a moment Pippin was reminded of Treebeard.
The hobbits stood in rapt attention. Finally, Pippin said, “Yes?”
“He has no fever,” she said, moving suddenly, “With the way he’s sweating and shivering, I would expect a fever, but there is none.”
“What does that mean?” asked Sam.
“It means I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” she replied, then turned and walked out the door.
They followed her in astonishment. “What?” Pippin asked, “That’s it? You’re not even going to try?”
“Yes, that’s it,” she told them, stopping at the threshold, “I don’t know what to do about it.”
“But couldn’t you try something?” Frodo implored.
“I could – if you wanted me to make him worse,” she was getting defensive, “I suggest you take care of him, let him get some rest, plenty of liquids. And if he doesn’t get better...,” she stopped again.
Pippin didn’t want to see how long this pause would last, so he blurted out, “Yes?”
She met his eyes, “Find a better healer.”
With that, she departed, and the three hobbits were left wallowing in frustration.
“Do you think he’s hungry?” Pippin asked as they were all gathered around Merry’s bed, watching him. There’d been no improvement all day. “Maybe he’s malnourished.”
“He’d been eating regular right up ‘til today,” Sam answered.
“Maybe he got some bad food,” suggested Pippin.
“He’s been eating the same food as the rest of us,” Sam told him.
Frodo leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees, “I’m afraid he may be thirsty.” Pippin picked up the glass of water beside the bed and moved to give Merry some. Frodo stopped him with a look. “Not for water, Pippin.”
Pippin set the water down and slid back to his seat. “Oh.”
“So what do we do?” Sam asked.
“You know what we have to do, Sam,” Frodo told him, his head hung in thought, “We have to find Merry some 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.