2. Chapter 2
“Indeed he did,” Frodo agreed, his eyes fixed on the patterned weave of the healer’s dress as she applied a salve to the stump of his finger.
“And the powers of athelas!” she continued, picking up a fresh bandage and beginning to wind it around his hand. “None of us had any idea! Thought it was a weed, we did. And yet it saved the Lady of Rohan, and our Steward, and your cousin … marvellous, indeed, marvellous. The Warden is speaking to that Elf, the Lord Elrond I mean, about getting some more supplies in.” She adjusted the bandage. “Now normally I wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about Elvish medicine, not knowing it well, but it seems they have all kinds of remedies for all our illnesses. What do you say to that?”
Frodo smiled, wishing that she would not talk so much, but he did not voice his thoughts. The healer tied the bandage in a neat knot and gathered her things, rising from the kneeling position she had been in to tend to his hand.
“There. Now be sure and return the day after tomorrow, Master Baggins, or there’ll be words.”
“Thank you, Ioreth,” Frodo said, and Ioreth curtsied briefly before hurrying out. There was a moment’s silence, and then he heard her voice greeting someone down the corridor.
He sighed, and stood up from the low stool he had been perched on. He put his injured hand in his pocket and left the room.
Outside it was a beautiful warm day, and Frodo grinned with something approaching pure happiness as he saw Sam sitting in the gardens swinging his legs contentedly, a thin wisp of smoke spiralling up into the air.
“Hullo, Sam,” he said, climbing on to the bench beside his friend.
“Morning, Mr Frodo,” Sam said softly. “How’s your poor hand?”
“Better,” Frodo replied, “at least it is healing.”
“I am glad,” Sam said. “I was afeared it wouldn’t, that that nasty Gollum had poisoned you or something. Master Gandalf said not to worry, but I couldn’t help it, somehow.”
“It was not Gollum who poisoned me, Sam,” Frodo said reassuringly. “He was poisoned by the same thing as I myself.” He put his hand up to his neck reflexively, and then brought it down again. “But that is gone – let us talk of happier things, eh?”
“I hope you’ll come to supper this evening,” said Sam. “Mr Strider – I mean the King – well, he said he would like to talk to you, and he’s that busy during the day it’d be best at supper.” His good-natured face took on a solid resolve. “Besides, I don’t think you’re eating enough.”
“There are always so many people,” Frodo sighed. “It is not Aragorn’s fault, for he cannot help it, but I much prefer peace and quiet. But if he wishes it, I shall come to eat with you all tonight, Sam.”
“Good,” Sam said, grinning. “What shall we do until then? Besides luncheon, I mean?”
“Let’s walk through the City, Sam,” Frodo suggested. “There is so much of it that we have not yet seen, and I shall feel bad if I cannot give Bilbo a full report – when we see him.”
“You’ll have such a lot to tell him,” Sam said, as they slid off the bench and began to stroll towards the gate. “All about Gollum, and the oliphaunt, and being rescued by the Eagles …”
“I think it will be for you to tell,” Frodo returned, folding his hands behind his back. “I am afraid I do not remember much, not very clearly. Until I woke and saw Gandalf, that is. From the field of Cormallen to now, it is all very clear.”
Sam said nothing, but put his head down.
They turned out of the Houses of Healing and went down towards the lower circles, passing as they did many of the City’s people, recently returned from exile. Women were hanging tapestries and cloths out of windows to air them; men were busy repainting doors and window-frames in clean, fresh colours. As Frodo and Sam walked by, those on the streets turned, and nudged each other, and called out greetings which Frodo acknowledged with a smile, and Sam with a blushing grin.
“I wish my Gaffer could see this,” he said to Frodo, as they passed a baker’s shop from which came tempting smells and a cry of, “Hail, little masters!”
“What would he say, do you think?” Frodo asked.
“Well,” Sam said slowly, “I hope he’d be pleased I got here all in one piece, though he’d probably not think much of these Big Folk. He’d want more gardens, too. Not many gardens in this City.”
Frodo paused as a boy pushing a barrow full of timber hurried by. “I know Legolas has promised Elves to help Aragorn rebuild the City, and fill it with green. You should offer your services too, Sam. Show them what a hobbit-garden can look like.”
Sam smiled. “Now you’re joking, Mr Frodo. What would Strider want with a hobbit-garden, and taters, when he can have an Elvish one? Not that taters aren’t good fare, but not for a King’s table.”
“I can’t see why not,” Frodo said seriously. “Kings and queens have to eat just like normal folk, Sam, and some of the Gaffer’s potatoes, or his carrots, would doubtless go down very well indeed. Aragorn never refused your cooking on the journey, at least not that I remember. You should send some seedlings, when we’re back home.”
“And shame the Lady’s flowers, that she brought from Lórien?” Sam asked. “Though now you’ve suggested it, Mr Frodo, I might see about sending a cutting of those roses that grow by the study window at Bag End. The white ones. The colour would be right, and they might look nice in one of the little gardens up in the Citadel.”
Frodo smiled, and patted Sam’s shoulder. “I think that would be an excellent idea.”
They paused outside a shop advertising pastries, and eyed the sign with interest.
“It’s gone eleven,” Sam said.
“I think I could eat a pie,” Frodo agreed. They pushed open the door and joined the short queue of people waiting to be served with the pies and pasties cooling on trays behind the counter.
“Mostly vegetable,” the shopkeeper was saying to his customers. “But there’s more meat coming in every day. These, now, are mutton, and excellent too. Two pasties, mistress?”
“What do you want, Sam?” Frodo asked, checking his pocket for pennies.
“I’d not say no to a pork pie,” Sam said.
The shopkeeper peered over his counter and down at them. “Good morrow, sirs!” he said. “It is an honour to welcome you. Did I hear a request for pork pie?”
“Only if you happen to have one,” Sam said. The man turned and wrapped a pie for Sam, passing it over the counter.
“And I would like a pasty, please,” Frodo added, and was shortly handed one, steaming in its paper wrapping. He held out some silver pennies, but the shopkeeper looked shocked, and shook his head.
“Nay, sir. I won’t take your money. Why, if it were not for you, then my shop would even now be in the hands of some foul Orc. Besides, you’re a friend of the King, or so they are saying. If you’ll thank him for getting the City back to rights so quickly, I will count that payment.”
“I’ll certainly tell him,” Frodo said. “And I thank you, sir, for your welcome.”
They exchanged nods, and Sam and Frodo slipped out clutching their food. “That was good of him,” Sam observed, as they went to find a place to sit and eat.
“Too good,” Frodo said, looking slightly uncomfortable. “Remind me to tell Aragorn, Sam. I think I shall certainly come to supper.”
They climbed up on a wall and set to their pies.
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.