3. Too Many Secrets
Too Many Secrets
There's been too many secrets in this hole, too many eating at hearts and minds and souls. For sixty years old Mr. Bilbo tried to keep the secret of that Ring of his, that cursed thing as took us away from the Shire and almost killed us all, that destroyed the happiness in my Mr. Frodo. And for another seventeen Mr. Frodo hid it, keeping it secret, keeping it safe, the way old Gandalf told him to do.
Then there were all the years that Mr. Bilbo would insist that Mr. Frodo wasn't to do anything that would, as he kept putting it, eat the heart away of Frodo. He'd always say it that way, "You can't let it eat your heart away, my dear boy." Neither of us understood why he put it that way. He didn't say it like that to others when they was upset or troubled--just to Frodo. I didn't find out why he said it that way until Mr. Merry began working on organizing the records in Brandy Hall for his dad over the winter, and he found one old letter from the healer from when Frodo was just a lad there, after his mum and dad died, drowning in the river the way they did. Mr. Merry just showed up on the doorstep one day, this paper in his pocket, his face pale, his eyes solemn; and he handed it to me, saying, "You'll want to read this." And when I was done reading it, I looked up at him, and he looked at me, and he nodded. I think I nodded, too. Made too much sense.
So I checked with Drolan Chubbs, the healer here in Hobbiton, to see if his gammer, who was the healer who used to see to Mr. Bilbo and Frodo when he first came here, had left any records on her patients. Took a few weeks of going through boxes of old papers stowed in one of the disused storerooms in the place--half smial, half house--where Drolan's parents and gammer and he have worked from for three generations. But we found it. Gammer Laurel always wrote down what she did, what she found out about her patients, what medicines or treatments worked and what didn't; but she'd write it down in a sort of code. With Drolan helping us, we figured it out, Mr. Merry, Mr. Pippin, and me. And it fit, too. More heartening, what she wrote, but it fit--helped explain. Then we had a long talk with Mr. Freddy's healer, that Budgie Smallfoot, and got the last of it. Well, almost the last of it--I'm going to badger even Strider about it, quiet like, when he comes north. Doubt he'll be able or willing to tell me much, but suspect if he cracks he'll just confirm what we already know, if I can get him to talk at all. But then, maybe he didn't notice. I mean, he learned healing from Elrond, in Rivendell. That's Elvish medicine. Oh, he knows how to work on wounds, to stitch a deep cut, to wash a burn, to bind cracked ribs, to splint a broken limb, to amputate a foot that's going into putrefaction, to call someone back from the doors of death, even. He can deal with broken bodies and, in part, at least, with broken spirits as well.
But does he understand about just mortal problems? Do Elves understand-- really understand--how things grow strange in parts of a mortal's body for no reason we can understand, how blood starts moving slower, how stomachs can stop accepting food, how hearts can sicken in their beating?
And then there were the three of us, me, my Rosie, and Frodo, all trying to keep the secret from one another--and from ourselves. At least, I was working right hard at keeping it from myself--Mr. Frodo was fading, was close to dying. I didn't want to believe it, you know. How could he be fading? He was so young, not even fifty-five. He seemed to be doing so very good once we woke up in Ithilien. Oh, he'd get sad and withdrawn sometimes, but then the Ring ate at his soul so. Of course he'd not be just as he'd been. There was not a serious sign things were bad for him all the way home--well, except for when we left Rivendell and he started going funny at the Ford and stayed that way till we got past Weathertop. That were the first real sign as he wasn't as well as he seemed to be. But even then he seemed to be so much better afterwards. Budgie tried to explain, but I'm not sure I have the right of it to this day.
Secrets can eat the heart out of you as bad as being troubled, I think. Too many secrets, too much trying to protect others--it just scoops the insides right out of you. And my heart feels so hollow....
But I'm skipping through this part too much.
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.