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angora48

Your Turn, Then Mine - The Lord of the Rings, Sam (m)

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angora48   
angora48

I recently rewatched The Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time in YEARS and very happily fell in love with it all over again.  Sam is my unabashed favorite, and since the films feature him spending so much time taking care Frodo, I thought it'd be nice to flip the tables and have HIM be the one to need a little caretaking for once.

Set between The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.  It's been too long since I read the books to say for sure, but I may or may not be fudging the timeline a little - basically, I wanted Sam and Frodo on their own BEFORE they're joined by Gollum (I also wanted them to still have a little non-lembas-bread food left - I mean, they're hobbits, I've GOTTA talk food, right?)

I'm not quite finished writing the complete story yet, but I have enough of a head start that I should be able to manage daily updates without getting ahead of myself.  To that end, here's Part 1!

 

 

 

When this all began, it had seemed frightening but manageable.  In comparison with what it was to become, it was practically simple – get to Bree and wait for Gandalf.  Frodo could do that.  He of course didn’t know Bree as well or as fondly as he knew the Shire, but he knew where it was and set out with no doubt that he could get the Ring there safely, that Gandalf would take care of things from there.

But then it all went wrong and they couldn’t wait, and they were all fleeing across the country with Aragorn, but even then, it was get the Ring to Rivendell.  Get it to Rivendell and the elves would see to it.  But then the elves couldn’t and everyone was shouting and Frodo suddenly heard himself, cutting through the din, “I will take the Ring to Mordor.”  But still, there was the fellowship, others who knew about things like orcs and Nazgûl.  It was all right when Frodo didn’t know the path because they did.  They could guide, protect, advise.

It was all different now.  They were alone, just him and Sam, and neither of them knew anything.  They could do no more than find Mount Doom rising up in the distance, aim themselves at it, and hope a path would appear.  Over rocks and across wastelands – no villages now, no inns, no elvish hosts, no food but what Sam carried in the pack – on and on toward a mountain that never seemed to grow any closer.  It was now that Frodo truly felt despair.

The dark thoughts crept in all the time.  I cannot do this.  How could they ask this of me?  It’s too much.  We’ll never make it.  It won’t change anything.  Why didn’t Gandalf-?  That was where the thoughts always stopped, the image of Gandalf falling snagging in Frodo’s memory as if on a thorn and startling him out of his despondency.  He knew that much of it was down to the Ring itself – thinking, perhaps, that it could convince him to give up his quest, or even give in and bring it to Sauron – but that made the darkness no easier to bear.

Sam, good, loyal Sam who’d remained at his side since they left the Shire, tried to keep Frodo’s spirits up.  He would talk of simple pleasures back home or ask Frodo questions to distract him, speak sanguinely about their progress to encourage him, and tease their dwindling supplies into fine meals to tempt him.  Too often, Frodo found himself rewarding Sam’s kindness by being withdrawn or turning snappish at his friend.  They didn’t speak of it directly, that it was the Ring infecting Frodo’s demeanor, but Frodo was sure that Sam knew it, too.  When Frodo lost his temper and lashed at Sam, the dear fellow never recoiled but instead coaxed Frodo back to himself with his gentleness and simple understanding.

Now, as they picked their way down another outcrop one uncertain handhold after another, Sam called up to Frodo, “That wind is whipping something fierce!  Mr. Frodo, I don’t think we ought to try for the next pass.  If we make camp when we get to the bottom, I think we’ll be sheltered a bit.”

Frodo hesitated.  There was nearly an hour of sunlight left, and it wouldn’t take them that long to climb down the outcrop.  “I think we can make it further than that!” he replied.

“I know!” Sam conceded.  Frodo felt the elvish rope shudder a little in his hands as Sam shifted his weight below him.  “But if we keep on, we’ll likely end up in that jagged patch down there, and that’s no place to pass the night!”  Though his voice was still raised against the wind, something about it seemed a bit softer now.  “There’s a long way to go yet, and you’ve got to keep your strength up.”

Frodo let his eyes close.  Every day, the Ring was heavier.  Every day, it clawed deeper at his mind and his spirit.  “You may be right, Sam,” he called back down.

Sam’s voice was cheery as it traveled up to Frodo.  “It was bound to happen sooner or later!”  This even drew a smile, albeit a weary one, from Frodo.

Before long, they were on a small shelf of rock overlooking the endless stretch of wilderness that still lay between them and Mordor.  Frodo sank heavily to the ground, his back against the rock face, and pulled his elvish cloak more tightly around him.  Mutedly, he watched as Sam set about preparing their dinner.  Most of their meals these days consisted of no more than a bite of lembas bread – easier to get done with quickly as they traveled – but Sam always turned to the rest of their meager food stores at the start and end of the day, “to put a bit of fight in us,” he would explain.

“I do hope we come across something living soon,” Sam remarked as he set a pan on the newly-built fire.  “There’s no meat left except the sausage.  Still, should be able to last us close to another week, Mr. Frodo – plenty of time to find a few squirrels or some fish.”

Frodo could scarcely do more than half listen now.  The Ring was forever itching at the back of his mind, and no matter how hard he tried to heed his friend, it siphoned off his attention.  “Mmm,” he mumbled, the nearest he could make to a reply.

Sam’s words came but mutedly, but as he continued to cook, something in his manner cut through the fog around Frodo’s thoughts.  Something in the slowness of his movements, in the slight wince about his eyes.  Frodo forced himself to focus on his friend, and he was a little taken aback by how tired Sam appeared.

“Are you all right, Sam?” he asked.  “You look worn through.”

Sam looked up from the sizzling sausages, and his wan face adopted a lopsided smile.  “This climbing business is hard work, especially on an empty stomach!” he said brightly.  Turning his attention back to the pan, he carefully turned the sausages and continued, “Mind you, I shouldn’t complain.  I’ve only got the pack to carry!  You’ve got a much heavier load to bear, Mr. Frodo.”

Frodo couldn’t help the fond smile that pulled at the corner of his mouth.  Sam had every right to complain, naturally, but of course the dear fellow never would.  Even now, he hadn’t really been complaining – he’d been shrugging off Frodo’s concern.  Likely, that meant something was more wrong than he was letting on.  But if Frodo was patient, Sam would give it away in time; he was too earnest to keep anything secret for long.

“Here we are!” Sam said, dividing the sausages between two plates.  “And the last of the berries from the other day.  That was awful lucky to come across that bush, wasn’t it, Mr. Frodo?  And with just the right amount of berries, too – I don’t think, if we’d picked any more, they’d have kept beyond today anyway.”

“Wonderfully lucky,” Frodo agreed wearily, taking the plate and a knife and fork from Sam.

Sam kept up more than his share of the conversation at supper, as usual, but Frodo could see that something was undoubtedly wrong.  The tiredness was etched onto Sam’s face as plainly as anything, and every now and then, he’d come to a lull in his latest good-natured ramble and badly try to suppress a long sigh.

It was after Sam had scraped the last of the berry juice off his plate that he rested his elbow on his knee, rubbing his temple.  “What’s wrong, Sam?” Frodo asked.

That half-embarrassed smile again, Sam realizing he’d been caught out at something.  “Head’s a bit aching, that’s all,” he explained.  “Overtired, I expect.”

“Be sure you get plenty of rest tonight,” Frodo instructed.

This time, the smile was genuine – Frodo still didn’t know how Sam managed it, looking that happy in this desolate place.  If you only looked at him and not the rocks, you’d almost think you were back in the Shire!  “Why, you’re one to talk, ain’t you?” Sam joked.  “Speaking of, we’d best be bedding down, don’t you think, Mr. Frodo?  Another long day coming.”

Frodo closed his eyes.  They were all long days now.  “Splendid idea, Sam,” he replied.

He was convinced that Sam was troubled by more than the fatigue of their travels, but it wasn’t his to discover, not tonight.  Now that the sun was down and the fire was smoldering down to embers, the mountain was growing dark, and to Frodo, the only light seemed to come from the Ring.  He lay down, scarcely noticing the blanket Sam draped over him, and clutched at the chain around his neck, letting the Ring fill his thoughts.  No room for anything else in his head, not when the darkness came.

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VividBubbles!   
VividBubbles!

Wow, this is so good! I’ve always had such an affection for Sam and you’ve really done such a wonderful job capturing him in this. He was such a little ray of sunshine, even during the darkest times, and he deserves so much appreciation for that. Amazing job and I absolutely can’t wait to read more!

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Spoo   
Spoo

This is endearing and beautiful and so well written! I love these two Hobbits dearly, and it's nice to read a fic that captures their characterizations so brilliantly. The dialogue was fantastic - I could really hear their voices! - and ohhhhh Sam, bless him. :wub: 

6 hours ago, angora48 said:

Sam, good, loyal Sam who’d remained at his side since they left the Shire, tried to keep Frodo’s spirits up.  He would talk of simple pleasures back home or ask Frodo questions to distract him, speak sanguinely about their progress to encourage him, and tease their dwindling supplies into fine meals to tempt him.  Too often, Frodo found himself rewarding Sam’s kindness by being withdrawn or turning snappish at his friend.  They didn’t speak of it directly, that it was the Ring infecting Frodo’s demeanor, but Frodo was sure that Sam knew it, too.  When Frodo lost his temper and lashed at Sam, the dear fellow never recoiled but instead coaxed Frodo back to himself with his gentleness and simple understanding.

Everything about this paragraph is lovely; it's definitely my favorite from the first part. :D I can't wait to read more!

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Masking   
Masking

SAM!!!!! Oh, I am so excited for this. I've never seen a sneezefic specifically Sam-based and he deserves it so much.

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angora48   
angora48

Yay!  Glad we have some Sam fans here - I love him to bits.  Thanks for all the comments.  Spoo, thanks - right after rewatching something is a great time to work on fanfic, because the characters' voices are still so distinct in my head.

Here's Part 2 - pretty short, but we're still building up to the good stuff.  ;-)

 

 

 

Sam steadied himself against the side of the mountain as he stamped the embers out.  It was a shame.  A fire would’ve come in handy that night – the wind was cutting straight through to his bones, and he was awfully chilled.  Still, he knew better than to keep a fire lit at night.  He’d already tangled with those wraiths far more than he’d ever have liked, and he didn’t mean for the creatures to find them again.

He sank into a crouch as the fire went out, resting his arms on his knees and puffing.  He was so done in his head was swimming, but there was more to do yet.  Though there was no stream nearby and their water was too important to waste on anything but drinking, he could still clean the plates and silverware as best he could, and pack them up so they wouldn’t be laying about.  Wouldn’t do to fall off a cliff because he slipped on an old metal plate!  Without the fire, it was getting too dark to see properly (he hadn’t planned that very well,) and Sam strained to see as he set about scouring his plate.

Sam could feel his nose running a bit.  He sniffed and gave it a rub.  Now that Mr. Frodo was down for the night, he didn’t mind it so much.  It didn’t seem right, sniffling or yawning or complaining of a headache when he knew how much the Ring was making Mr. Frodo suffer.  No – not much call for fretting over himself.  Stick to what mattered.

Mr. Frodo was abed now, but he wasn’t sleeping, not likely anyway.  Sam had noticed it more and more, Mr. Frodo laying awake at night staring at that Ring.  He stroked it now and again, when he thought Sam wasn’t looking.  Sam did worry about him something awful.

Putting his own plate away and picking up Mr. Frodo’s, Sam stifled a small cough into the back of his hand.  Not sleeping, and not eating, either; Mr. Frodo hadn’t had more than a spoonful or two of berries, and only half a sausage.  Sam felt his eyes getting hot with tears threatening to spill over.  Sniffling again, he scrubbed his nose hard.  He tried to think something light, what’d he say to Mr. Frodo if he were up.  That’s all right, Mr. Frodo – it just means the sausage will last a little longer now.  Yes, those berries were getting on a bit, weren’t they?  I don’t blame you for not eating them.  But as he wrapped the leftover food in cloths to return them to the pack, he didn’t feel much heartened.  Mr. Frodo was wearing away, and Sam didn’t know what he could do about it.

Sam sank his chin into his hands.  His head didn’t half ache, and he thought that wind was getting colder.  Hurriedly, he finished cleaning Mr. Frodo’s plate and then saw to the cutlery.  He swallowed curiously, to see if the lump in the back of his throat had gotten any bigger – just a bit.

“Haaahhhh-shiiiyuuhhhh!”  The sneeze burst out of him suddenly, catching Sam off guard.  Using one hand to pull his cloak a little tighter, he rummaged in his pockets with the other until he found his handkerchief.  He dabbed at his nose, fearing he’d disturb Mr. Frodo if he made a racket blowing it.  Another short cough, a sigh.  He was tired down to the soles of his feet.

Sam finished packing up the dishes in a bit of a dreamy haze.  His head kept dipping, nodding, like when he had a few too many ales and his friends had to push him sleepily home to bed.  Thinking of the Shire, of the Green Dragon and his own cozy little hobbit hole, the lump in Sam’s throat seemed to squeeze itself.  He cleared his throat hastily, then wiped his eyes along with his nose.

Finally, he was ready to lie himself down.  His and Mr. Frodo’s blankets were both getting ratty from use in harsh country, and as he pulled his blanket up round his chin, it didn’t feel like more than a handful of threads covering him – not much to keep the wind back.  He curled up as tight as he could, like he could hug a bit of warmth and hold it to him, sniffling as he lay his aching head on the rocky ground and closed his tired eyes.

It was right, the two of them going on like they had.  Still, Sam worried about his friends.  Merry and Pippin couldn’t fight any better than he or Mr. Frodo could; had they managed to hide from the orcs, or had they been captured, or worse?  And Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli, and even Boromir – Mr. Frodo had told Sam about Boromir trying to take the Ring, so Sam figured he was something of an old villain, but even so, he’d been kind to them after poor Gandalf… after what had happened.  He couldn’t be all bad, then, and Sam hoped he hadn’t come to harm.

But these were worrisome thoughts that wouldn’t help him sleep.  Sam pulled the blanket over his mouth to muffle a quiet cough and tried to clear his head.  He liked to think he did well enough stay cheerful for Mr. Frodo’s sake, but he wasn’t quite so good at bucking himself up.

Shivering against the cold, Sam hoped against hope that things would seem brighter come morning.

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Spoo   
Spoo

Noooooo, poor Sam! :cry: My heart aches for him. He just wants what's best for Frodo, and he's always willing to put Frodo first. This bit right here

56 minutes ago, angora48 said:

He tried to think something light, what’d he say to Mr. Frodo if he were up.  That’s all right, Mr. Frodo – it just means the sausage will last a little longer now.  Yes, those berries were getting on a bit, weren’t they?  I don’t blame you for not eating them.  But as he wrapped the leftover food in cloths to return them to the pack, he didn’t feel much heartened.  Mr. Frodo was wearing away, and Sam didn’t know what he could do about it.

is so painfully Sam. I'm genuinely impressed by how well you have him down (especially with the way he talks and thinks). Great update! :thumbsup: 

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Masking   
Masking

Oh, Sam. <3 Class differences are stupid! Go to your Mr. Frodo! He'll take care of you!

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angora48   
angora48

I know - he's just too sweet, isn't he?  Thanks for the comments.  Here's Part 3:

 

 

 

As usual, Frodo was only dimly aware of the sunrise.  This close to Mordor, the light took on a sickly slant to it, and even under normal circumstances, one could be excused for missing the arrival of morning here.  But the rays of the brightest, warmest sun could’ve hardly reached him, not now.

The Ring was drinking him, consuming him.  Every day, it supped at whatever small strength he had, all the while robbing him of any desire to eat or sleep.  Everything was the Ring, and no sun’s light could compare.

Somewhere at the back of his mind, Frodo knew he wasn’t to let Sam know, but even now, with morning come upon them and a vague awareness of Sam rattling about the campsite, Frodo couldn’t bring himself to put the Ring away.  Not yet – just let him look at it, let him touch it…

“Hihhhh-SHIIOOOOO!”  The sound of the loud sneeze jerked Frodo somewhat out of his reverie, like the moment in a dream when you’re falling and you wake with a sense of hitting the ground.  He was laying on his side with his back to Sam, but he could hear.  Frodo lay, his head still fuzzy from the pull of the Ring, and he listened to Sam’s sniffling and muffled coughing.

“You’re not well, Sam,” he remarked.  He closed his fingers around the Ring, hiding it from his view, but its tendrils were still worming through the edges of his mind, making his own voice sound far away to him.

“Bister Frodo, you’re awake,” came Sam’s voice, stuffed-up and slightly froggy but as fond as ever.  Slowly, Frodo turned over and saw his friend hunched over the fire, plating cut-up chunks of sausage and apple mixed together.  “Did you get addy sleep?  I hope I wasn’t a bother.”

“I slept, Sam,” Frodo lied, sitting up heavily and taking the plate and cutlery Sam held out to him.  “Are you all right?”

“Oh, dod’t bind be,” Sam replied, with rather a sheepish smile.  “Bit of a cold id by nose is all.”  He produced his handkerchief from his pocket and gave his nose a hearty blow.  “See?” he said, his voice a little clearer.  “Nothing to worry over.”

Sam was too good and uncomplaining to be glum about having a cold, but Frodo felt a pang of sympathy on his friend’s behalf.  This journey was hard enough without being ill – Frodo hated to think of how Sam would brave the rough weather, the difficult terrain, the long days, and the sparse food and water when he wasn’t feeling well.

But if Sam’s demeanor was to be believed, such an idea couldn’t be further from his mind.  Throughout breakfast, he kept up a steady flow of conversation (from, “I thought it bight be worth trying to cook the apples id with the sausage, and I’d say it’s dot bad – the juices add a differedt flavor, would’t you say?” to “I wonder what by old Gaffer is up to dow, Bister Frodo.  Weeding, I expect – he doesn’t buch like it, so he’ll see to it first thing id the borning before the sud gets too high, add thed he cad spend the rest of the day od dicer things.”)  He was interrupted but undeterred every so often by a sneeze or a cough, and his nose saw a good deal of rubbing.  The only hint of him being at all bothered by being ill was a slight squint that Frodo took mean his headache from last night hadn’t gone anywhere.

When breakfast was finished – Sam did everything he could to entice Frodo to eat, but these days Frodo could never manage more than a few mouthfuls – Sam briskly set about packing up their things with an energy Frodo suspected he didn’t really have.  “I doh it still seems so far away, but we really are getting closer, Bister Frodo,” Sam assured him, rolling up Frodo’s blanket.  “Closer every day.”

“I know, Sam,” Frodo responded, forcing what passed for a smile.  It didn’t seem right that Sam should still concern himself with bolstering Frodo’s spirits when he wasn’t well.  If he was going to pick his way through this barren wasteland with an aching head and an itchy nose, surely he was at least entitled to be grim about it. 

“Now, hold on-” Frodo began as Sam hefted the heavy pack onto his back.

“It’s odly fair, Bister Frodo,” Sam replied.  “You’re the wud with the real burden.  The pack isn’t bad at all, really – id fact, I could certaidly stand it to be a bit heavier, baybe w- w…”  His eyes fuzzed over, and he raised his handkerchief to his face.  “ihhhhhh-SHOOOOOO-ehhhhh!”  Sniffling, and stifling a small cough, he finished, “…with a few taters or wild odions.”

There was no one like Sam for discovering edibles things out in the wilderness.  Since leaving the Shire, he’d found his way to apples, pears, onions, nuts, fish, berries, squirrels, rabbits, and carrots, and he was forever secreting away small amounts of wild-growing herbs that he came upon.  Before he and Frodo had left the rest of the fellowship, he’d even spotted a wild turkey that he entreated Legolas to shoot.  Food was scarcer out here, which was why they’d taken to relying more and more on the lembas bread, but Sam was ever hopeful.  The berry bush from a few days ago – a scrubby, scraggly-looking thing, but with sweet red berries clinging to its little branches – had renewed his confidence that there was sure to be more food they could find on the path to Mordor.  More for Sam’s sake than his own, Frodo hoped he was right.  But even though food in Frodo’s mouth was beginning to taste like dust compared to the Ring, there was something about the delight in Sam’s honest face when he stumbled across a fruit tree or a bit of game that was a sustenance of its own kind.

“Ready, Bister Frodo?” Sam asked, offering Frodo a hand up.  He rubbed his nose, sniffled, and surveyed the terrain in front of them.  “Dowd this way, baybe?  Looks like there’s a sort of gully, add it b- b-” He gave a little gasp as his nose twitched.  Closing his eyes, he seized his handkerchief and let out a loud “HUHHHHH-CHIIIUOOOOO!”  “Bless be!” he exclaimed, snuffling a bit into the handkerchief before finishing, “It bight be easier to get through,” as though he’d not been interrupted at all.

Frodo’s smile was pained.  “Let’s try it,” he agreed, but as he and Sam set forth, he wasn’t feeling optimistic about his friend’s sorry state.

Edited by angora48

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Aliena H.   
Aliena H.

I don't usually read fanfictions in this fandom because most of the characters I like are too "pure", or too... I don't know, too "perfect" in my opinion to be put into a sneezefic (I love Aragorn and Legolas, but I can't read anything about them). But I'm completely OK with a sneezy Sam and you captured his voice and point of view so well! It's amazing. The relationship between him and Frodo at that point of the story is also very accurate and well described. The moment it takes place is also perfect, since the road to Emyn Muil isn't exactly cheerful, and it happens to be one of my favorite ones! And I'm a Sam fan too. :rolleyes: 

On 09/08/2017 at 3:03 PM, angora48 said:

I also wanted them to still have a little non-lembas-bread food left - I mean, they're hobbits, I've GOTTA talk food, right?

Yes! I 100% agree with you! :D Thank you for this story, I'm eager to read the next part.

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Masking   
Masking

I love how loud Sam's sneezes are. They're so him - loud and irresistible despite his wanting not to have them!

*waits eagerly*

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angora48   
angora48

I know, right, Masking?  Poor little guy just can't help it!  And Aliena H., I get what you mean.  Reading your post, I tried to imagine Aragorn sneezing and I couldn't even really picture it!

Here's Part 4:

 

 

Despite Sam’s claims of only a light cold – claims that Frodo didn’t believe to start with – the day didn’t pass very well for the dear fellow.  They’d been traveling for about four hours, and already, Sam seemed much worse than he had in the morning.  He coughed often, which was making his voice sound strained, and Frodo had given up blessing his sneezes after the first hour.  As they walked, Sam was puffing more and more.

It was actually Frodo’s handkerchief he was using now.  Earlier in the day, they’d come upon a small spring, and Sam had knelt down by the water to wash his own – which had already gotten soggy with use – not thinking about the fact that getting it wet would make it a misery to use.

“Here, take mine,” Frodo had said, removing the clean white square from his pocket and holding it out to Sam.

“That’s all right – it’s by owd fault,” Sam had insisted.  “I wasn’t thidkig.  Dot too worry, it’ll dry out sood edough an… aaa…” He’d cupped his hands over his face for a messy “Haaahhhh-SHOOOOO!” and looked sheepishly up at Frodo.

“You were saying?” Frodo had asked, smiling as he proffered the handkerchief once now.

So Sam had Frodo’s handkerchief in his pocket while his own was tied to the outside of the pack, fluttering in the breeze as it dried.  Ahead of Frodo, Sam paused, resting his hand against the side of a rock while he coughed into his fist.

“Drink some water,” Frodo suggested.

Sam nodded, little breathless (from the coughing or the exertion?  probably both,) and took his water satchel from the pack, tottering on ahead as he took a few gulps, wincing a little with each swallow.

They’d come upon the spring none too soon.  Before, with the fellowship, finding water was never very difficult, but here, as they drew closer to Mordor, it was a trial.  They came upon a small stream or spring perhaps once a day – they’d at first hoped to follow a river through to Mordor, keeping close to a water source, but each one they encountered flowed in the wrong direction and would’ve taken them away from Mount Doom, not closer to it.  They’d been fortunate so far, always coming across something before they got desperate, but Frodo didn’t like it.  It was eerie, shaking your water satchel and realizing there were only a few swallows left and no telling if you’d soon come to a place where you could refill it.  So naturally, they took full advantage of every chance they got.

For Sam, it was more than just water.  They hadn’t been able to take fishing poles with them when they left home – too unwieldy, and since they’d thought they’d only be going as far as Bree, impractical – but Sam had some line and a hook in the pack.  Whenever they came to a stream, even if it was barely more than a trickle, he brought out the line, holding it in his hand as he peered out over the water, searching the surface for any splashes of movement.  “I know we’ll spot some soon, Mr. Frodo,” he’d say.  “Any day now.”

Of course, that day, there’d been nothing – they’d not seen any fish since the first day they separated from the others.  But that didn’t stop Sam from looking or hoping.  “Just ibbagine it,” he’d said to Frodo, scrutinizing every shadow on the water.  “A pair of lovely trout sizzlig od the skillet…”

It had been some time since they’d been at the spring, and they hadn’t stopped for more than a couple of minutes since, just long enough to swallow a few bites of lembas bread, first for second breakfast, then elevensies.  As Sam’s coughing grew worse, Frodo had intimated more than once that he could do with a short rest, but Sam pushed away any notion of it.

Now, sneezing hard into Frodo’s handkerchief – “Hehhhhh-chiiuhhhh!  Ihhhh-huhhhh-CHUHHHHH!  Haahhhhh-chii-oooooo!” – it was clear that Sam needed a break, badly, but just as clear that he wouldn’t take one.  “I’be all right, Bister Frodo,” he would insist whenever Frodo suggested he get off his feet for a bit. 

So if Sam didn’t put much stock in looking after himself, what did he care about?  To Frodo, the answer appeared so plainly before him, it was a little embarrassing that he hadn’t thought of it earlier.  Making sure he was in Sam’s eye line, Frodo affected a slight stumble, reeling as though his vision were clouding.  “Sam,” he gasped out – when the Ring sank its claws into him, he was never fully aware of how he was acting, but he understood it was something rather like this.  “Sam, I need –”

Frodo planned to break off and then crumple forward onto his knees, but it wasn’t necessary.  Sam was at his elbow in an instant.  “Frodo!” he cried (that was how Frodo knew he’d done his job right; Sam only ever dropped the “Mr.” when he was worried.)  “What is it – what’s the batter?  Here, you just sit yourself dowd.”  Gently, he guided Frodo down to sit on a rock.

“Thank you…” Frodo mumbled, slurring a bit. 

“Are you all right?” Sam asked.  As he spoke, his voice cracked just a little.  “Wait – here.”  He took Frodo’s water satchel and held it out to Frodo.  “Dridk sobe, it- it’ll help.  Bister Frodo?”

“Th- thanks, Sam,” Frodo replied, reaching out from the water satchel and taking a few pitiful swallows.  “I’ll be all right.  I just… I need a minute… need to rest…”

“Of course!” Sam said.  He turned slightly away from Frodo to sneeze a strong “Haaahhhhh-ihhhhhh-SHOOOOOOOO!” into the handkerchief and then was back again.  “You-” he sniffled, “you just rest there, Bister Frodo.”  Another sniffle.  “Addythig you deed, just tell be add-” stifling a cough in the back of his throat, “add I’ll see to it.”

Frodo shook his head wearily.  “There’s nothing I need,” he told Sam.  “Just- I have to wait until my head clears.”  To illustrate the point, he rested his forehead in his hand.  He thought about clutching the Ring on the chain round his neck for good measure, but he decided against it.  He was tempting things enough by claiming that it was plaguing him when, for the moment, it wasn’t – better not try to take it too far.

Instead, he pressed on to his real aim.  “You may as well… sit and down and rest- yourself,” he suggested.  “As long as, we’ve stopped…”

Sam frowned, even as he wriggled his nose against another sneeze that was no doubt building.  Sure enough, Frodo could hear it in the catch of his breath as he said, “You’re- you’re sure you d- dod’t dee-eed…”

“I only need quiet,” Frodo replied, “and time.”  He tried not to smile to himself as he noticed that Sam took advantage of Frodo’s interruption by rubbing his nose with his finger, as though he could bully the sneeze back.

No avail – the sneeze won out, and Sam only just had time to raise Frodo’s handkerchief against the “hehhhhhhh-CHIUHHHHHH!  Ehhhhhhh… ihhhhh… uhhhhhhhh-SHOOOOO-ehhhhh!”  Swallowing a stuffed-up groan, he said, “Well, if you’re sure.  But I bead it, Bister Frodo, if you deed addything-”

“I’ll shout,” Frodo insisted.  “Really, Sam – it’s all right.”

Sam still looked unsure, but he trotted a few paces away and then sank down, sitting on his bottom and sort of leaning against the heavy pack, which kept him propped up.  His water satchel was stuffed into a side pocket, and he took it out for a long draught.  When he lowered it from his lips, more stifled coughs sputtered out of him, and closing his eyes heavily, he took another drink.

Frodo managed to keep Sam there for a good ten minutes.  As his friend grew nervous at their protracted rest, he began peppering Frodo again with entreaties to help, and Frodo decided they’d better continue on or Sam would get too worried over him.  “I… I think I’m ready,” he said at last.  “Help me up, would you, Sam?”

Sam, dear fellow, was clambering back to his feet in an instant, the pots and pans tied to the pack rattling as they banged against one another.  “There we are, Bister Frodo,” he said, giving Frodo a hand as he rose.  “Are you better dow?  Take by arb if you deed it.”

“No, I’m all right now,” Frodo said.  “Thank you.”  In the back of his mind, he was tucking away his now-proven method for getting Sam to take a rest when he needed one but said he didn’t.

They’d not gone more than 100 feet when Sam cried out, “Bister Frodo, look!”  He half-hopped, half-slid a short distance down the rocky slope.  Frodo followed after him and found Sam crouching down, unslinging the pack and looking for something.

“What is it?” Frodo asked.

Sam looked up at him, a warm grin on his tired face.  “Look!” he repeated, gesturing down by his feet.  There, nestled in a little cranny in the side of the rock, was a small cluster of mushrooms.

Having found his quarry – a clean cloth – Sam began carefully picking the mushrooms one by one.  “Just thidk of it, Bister Frodo,” he mused.  “Sobething growig here ih-ihhhhh-hihhhh-tchii-UHHHHH!”  He turned his head away, sneezing into his shoulder.  “-In this little patch,” he continued, no less buoyant.  “Right here, cligging to the side of this old rock.  We’ll eat good todight!”

Despite the Ring’s daily efforts to drag Frodo down, to pull him away from everything that mattered and become the only thing he cared about, he hung on as best he could to this life, and it was often Sam’s care, encouragement, or simple happiness in the middle of this dreary place that served as his best anchor.  “Yes,” Frodo replied, looking down fondly as his friend continued to gather up the mushrooms with the love that only a gardener can fully have for growing things picked by hand.  “Yes, we certainly will.”

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Masking   
Masking

Poor Sam. <3 I love how the ring has LESS pull over Frodo now that Sam's sick, but he's pretending it does anyway.

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Spoo   
Spoo

I watched The Fellowship of the Ring today, so it was nice to come here and read the updates you've posted (I feel like "Poor Sam" is going to be my go-to thought no matter what :lol:).  Loved Frodo being "extra" and getting Sam to rest, and I also agree with Masking: Loud, big sneezes fit Sam perfectly! :D 

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angora48   
angora48

Hehe.  Yeah, "poor Sam" is the definite theme here.  It's all H/C with these two.

Part 5!

 

 

The following morning came far sooner than Sam would’ve liked, but even though he opened his eyes and saw the pale sun already too long since risen, he lay there a bit longer.  He didn’t know why – it wasn’t as if the hard rock beneath him was anything like a bed, and his blanket did little to keep the cold off him.  Still, with the exception of blearily registering the handkerchief in his hand and bringing it up to wipe his running nose, he didn’t stir for a long minute.  He just lay there, his head pounding so hard he could practically hear it and his breath coming out wheezy.  He couldn’t do more than snuffle out of his nose, and it seemed it almost hurt to blink.

Look at you, Samwise Gamgee, he thought as his head grew a little less scattered and he could think in words instead of groans.  Lying here feeling sorry for yourself when I’ll bet poor Mr. Frodo hasn’t had a wink of sleep all night.  Mentally tsking himself, he somehow convinced his arms to shove him into an uneasy sitting position, where he had to stop again to cough into his handkerchief.

He tried to tell himself it was because he only just woke up, that he wouldn’t feel so out of sorts when he was up and moving, but the very idea of getting up and moving made him want to throw the blanket over his head again and not come out.  He had to get very stern with himself indeed, reminding himself that he’d slept too long already, that he was wasting the day and had best get up so he’d be ready for Mr. Frodo when his friend rose.

A sneeze decided to start tickling at him right as he staggered to his feet, and he half-stumbled forward into his handkerchief to muffle the hard “ehhhhhh-CHUHHHHHH!” bursting from him.  Sighing heavily, Sam sniffled, for a moment a little fuzzy on what he was doing, then trudged his way over to where the pack lay – mind you, he didn’t much relish the thought of carrying that on his back all day.

Coughing some more (but trying at least to be quiet about it, so as not to bother Mr. Frodo,) Sam fumbled with the flap on the pack, blinking dully as he peered inside and tried to make his brain think properly.  Somewhere in the back of his head was the reminder to get out a frying pan, but he couldn’t get that thought all the way down to his hands.

“Hiiihhhhhhh-ehhhhhh-shii-OOOOOO!”  Sam had been crouching in front of the pack, but the sneeze threw him off-balance enough that he dropped forward a bit, wincing as his knees came down hard on the rocky ground.

Shaking his head a little – slowly – Sam gave his cheek a light slap.  What was the matter with him this morning?  He didn’t think an old cold had ever given him so much trouble before.  Why couldn’t his head clear so he could get on with what he needed to do?

“Sam?”

At the sound of Mr. Frodo’s voice, something cut through the fog a bit.  At the very least, as Sam cleared his throat and turned round to his friend, he could focus on something more important than his cough or headache or dripping nose.  “Bister Frodo,” he said, swallowing a grimace at how gravelly he sounded.  “Didded’t doh you were up yet.  Are you all right?”

Mr. Frodo, propping himself up on his elbows, gave Sam a smile like he’d said something funny.  “I’d say that’s my question,” he pointed out.  As Sam rubbed his nose with his finger, Mr. Frodo looked about him.  “What time is it?”

“About bid-bording, I s’pose,” Sam replied, sniffling hard.  “Overslept,” he explained with an apologetic smile.

“I’m just as bad,” Mr. Frodo observed.  He was sitting all the way up now.  “And I don’t have your excuse.”

He could be so kind, Mr. Frodo, making Sam feel better about having muddled things even though that Ring was getting at him in ways far worse than any cold.  Seeing Mr. Frodo start to roll up his blanket, Sam realized he was still kneeling dumbly over the pack, not doing a blessed thing.  “Is lebbas bread all right for breakfast?” he asked, lifting up his handkerchief to cover a cough.

“Of course,” Mr. Frodo replied.  He stood up and walked over to Sam’s blanket, which Sam had left just lying there where he’d slept.

“I was g- goig to-oo…” Sam trailed off as his breath started hitching, and he caught a strong “Hehhhhhhh-shhiiii-UHHHHHHH!”, then a “hiihhhhhhh-tschiiuhhhhhhhh!  AHHHHHHHHH-shooooooo-ehhhhhh!”, in his handkerchief.  “-to do up the rest of the bushroobs,” he continued apologetically.  His thoughts were starting, gradually, to slide into place now – he recalled how he’d gone to sleep the night before thinking of mushrooms for breakfast.  “…But I had a bit of a sleepy start.”

“Don’t worry over it,” Mr. Frodo told him.  “Lembas bread is just fine, Sam – really.”  He came over to Sam, carrying the two blankets, which he exchanged with Sam for a piece of the leaf-wrapped elvish bread. 

Putting the blankets away, Sam took out a piece of the lembas bread for himself.  “We’ll have the bushroobs for supper todight,” he decided, and Mr. Frodo, giving Sam a tight smile, nodded his agreement.

“How are you?” Mr. Frodo asked as he sat down beside Sam, taking hardly a nibble of the bread (Sam knew Mr. Frodo wasn’t eating much of anything these days, but Sam couldn’t help but feel he might have eaten more had it been mushrooms.)

“Oh, dot so bad as all that,” Sam said, trying to sound more upbeat than he felt.  “Feelig it id by dose a little this bordig.”

Mr. Frodo smiled at that.  “Yes, I’d noticed,” he said, in a fond tone of voice.  He frowned, watching Sam, and Sam froze like he’d been caught out at something, though he wasn’t sure what.  “Is your throat terribly sore, Sam?” he asked.

Ah, that was it – he’d seen Sam grimacing as he swallowed.  “A little,” Sam admitted, rubbing his nose with a sniffle.  “Just stigs a bit whed I swallow.  Add the lebbas bread, you doh, that’s rather heartier, so…”

Mr. Frodo nodded.  “Takes a little more doing to swallow when your throat hurts, yes,” he remarked.

The elvish bread sure kept a fellow’s stomach full, and it didn’t taste half-bad, but it wasn’t much in the way of a meal.  That was partly why they ate it when they traveled during the day, because it filled you up quick.  However, it did nothing for sitting round a campsite enjoying friends and good food.  Sam and Mr. Frodo lapsed into silence, chewing two or three bites of the lembas before they were ready to be up and on their way – Sam didn’t imagine there’d ever be much call for lembas bread in the Shire.

“Add you’re all right, Bister Frodo?” Sam asked as they got set for another day of walking.  He’d got the pack at an awkward angle trying to heft it up, and Mr. Frodo helped him right it.

“As well as can be expected,” Mr. Frodo said, and he looked away.  His fist was balled at his side, and Sam knew he was thinking about the Ring and how he’d like to hold it, only he wouldn’t do it when Sam was watching.

“Are you sure?” Sam pressed, and Mr. Frodo frowned like he was puzzled.

“Yes, I’m all right,” he assured Sam.  Dusting off his clothes from the night spent laying on the ground, he asked, “Are you ready?”

Sam began to nod when a sneeze snuck up on him suddenly.  “Ahhhhh-hihhhhhh-SHOOOOOO-ehhhhhh!” he sneezed, burying his nose in his handkerchief.  He gave it a blow – gently, though, because his nose was starting to feel sore – and said, “Yes – let’s keep od, Bister Frodo.”

Although Bister Frodo said he was getting by all right and Sam would like to believe him, he wasn’t sure he could.  Bister Frodo was the cleverer of the two – they both knew that well enough – but that didn’t mean Sam couldn’t notice things, and he’d seen how poorly Mr. Frodo had been yesterday.  He’d had to stop and rest often, four or five times not counting meals, sometimes all but stumbling to a halt and leaning heavily on Sam as Sam helped him sit and rest his feet.

Sam had to admit, he hadn’t done as well as he’d liked yesterday.  Normally, he paid good attention to Mr. Frodo’s welfare and could tell right away when the Ring was weighing on him, though he tried to hide it.  But yesterday, Sam had gotten too distracted by being ill himself and that he hadn’t realized at first just how bad-off Mr. Frodo was.  It was nearly midday when Mr. Frodo had first asked to rest, and Sam, sneezing his fool head off, hadn’t even noticed anything was amiss until Mr. Frodo called out to him, his voice quavering and weak.

Despite Sam’s best efforts after that, he still couldn’t give poor Mr. Frodo his full attention.  He’d tried, and once, he’d caught when Mr. Frodo was faltering.  But far more often, he’d been too busy coughing into his handkerchief (no, not even his, Mr. Frodo’s – he remembered it now, the good fellow had lent his to Sam when Sam had made a mess of his own) or plodding along in time to the rhythmic ache in his temple, and he’d needed Mr. Frodo to tell Sam he needed a break.

Sam couldn’t tell if it was all down to the Ring making Mr. Frodo worse and worse, or if Mr. Frodo was coming down with a cold as well.  Both thoughts worried Sam.  If it was all the Ring, it was troubling to think it was getting at him so badly when they were still so far from Mordor – Sam didn’t like to think how bad-off Mr. Frodo would be by the time they finally reached Mount Doom.  But on the other hand, while the Ring was certainly working away on poor Mr. Frodo, there was no rule that said he couldn’t be getting ill on top of that, and that’d just be awful, having to deal with both at the same time.  Sam didn’t mind saying (to himself, anyway) that this cold was a right misery, and it would just be too unkind to have Mr. Frodo feeling as bad as that while still struggling against the Ring and all its evil powers.

(Not to mention, if Mr. Frodo was getting a cold, he’d have caught it off Sam.  The very thought of it gave Sam an awful pit in his stomach – the idea of doing anything to make things harder on Mr. Frodo was the last thing he wanted to do.)

Whatever was the matter, Sam resolved to do better, to keep a proper eye on Mr. Frodo and know when he was poorly.  What was he there for otherwise?  Pulling down on the straps of the pack as though the feel of it on his shoulders would wake him up a bit, Sam followed Mr. Frodo as they continued on their long, winding way.

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angora48   
angora48

Part 6:

 

 

Sam was worse than he’d been yesterday, that much was certain.  His voice was lower and a good deal more congested, and he was out of breath most of the time.  Unless he needed both hands – if, say, they came to an area where they had to climb rather than walk – he didn’t even bother putting Frodo’s handkerchief in his pocket.  Instead, he clutched it in his hand the whole time, ever ready for the next sneeze or cough, or just blowing or wiping his running nose.

Fortunately, Frodo’s little trick was just as effective, if not more so, than yesterday.  Sam had clearly caught on to Frodo’s apparently-weakened state and was watching him shrewdly for any sign that he needed to stop.  Frodo himself had only actually called for a break once so far today – the other two times, it had been Sam suddenly appearing at his side to say, “Are you all right, Bister Frodo?  Do you deed to stop for a bit?”  Frodo was perfectly happy to oblige.  (Of course, once Sam was well again, Frodo would need to come clean about what he’d done.  Otherwise the journey to Mordor would wind up taking twice as long, with Sam anxiously stopping Frodo every hour or so to rest, the dear fellow.)

Truth be told, Frodo was grateful for the extra rest on his own account as well as Sam’s.  The Ring felt heavy today, and Frodo could feel it scratching at the back of his mind.  Ten or fifteen minutes off his feet didn’t do much to take his mind off the beautiful, whispering Ring on its chain, but it at least gave his wearied body a chance to ready itself for the next bout.

No, if anything helped Frodo’s mind, it was thinking of Sam.  Watching his friend trudge ever forward, ready to tend to Frodo the moment Frodo needed him despite his own dreary state… It anchored Frodo, kept him where he was and quieted the seductive hiss of the Ring in his head.  With Sam to think of, Frodo could just about find his way.

A long, low booming came from overhead.  Frodo cast his eyes up – the clouds had been heavy and gray since he and Sam had set out that morning.  Neither of them had mentioned it, but Frodo had noticed Sam glancing toward the sky with trepidation as well.  So far, rain had held off, but he wasn’t sure how long that luck would hold.

Sam wasn’t talking as much as he had yesterday.  Oh, he mulled over which way they ought to go, and he checked with Frodo to see how he was, but he didn’t keep up that persistent stream of bright conversation.  Too tired?  Too dispirited?  Throat too sore?  Frodo wasn’t sure if it was better to just let him be or if Frodo ought to try and bring him round.

Well, walking in relative quiet hadn’t accomplished much so far; Frodo decided to try a different tack.  “Can you imagine what everyone at the Green Dragon will say when we all come home?” he asked.  Even as he spoke, the thought of it stung his eyes a little – every day, it grew harder to believe they’d ever see the Shire again.

Sniffling at Frodo’s side, Sam blotted at his red-tinged nostrils with the handkerchief.  “That’ll be sobethig,” he replied.  His voice was husky and sounded strained, but Frodo saw that he’d plucked up a bit of a smile.  “Just thidk of the look od by old Gaffer’s face whed we stride id.  We should go st-”  He broke off coughing, gasping for breath a little as he resumed talking.  “-Straight up to the bar add order a roud of ales like we’ve dot beed addywhere, like we saw everywud just last dight.”

Frodo found himself smiling – really smiling, not just pretending to – despite everything.  “They won’t know what to make of us!” he remarked.  “Great travelers and adventurers…”

“That’s right,” Sam agreed, brightening perhaps a little at the thought.  “Add Berry add Pippid-”  It wasn’t coughing that cut him off this time; he simply caught his tongue and held it, looking down glumly at his feet and sniffling hard.

Frodo put a hand on Sam’s shoulder and squeezed it.  “I’m sure they’re all right,” he said, in a tone that sounded far more reassuring than he truly felt.  “After all, we’re all right, aren’t we, and we don’t have a ranger, or an elf or a dwarf, to look after us!”

Sam, considering this, clearing his throat.  “I s’pose eeved Borobir will do right by theb, sidse deither of theb have got the Rig,” he mused.  Lifting the handkerchief to his nose, he sneezed a hard-sounding “AHHHHHHH-shehhhhhhhhhh!  Hihhhhhhhh-SHIIUUHHHHHHH!”

Thinking of Boromir, of his desire for the Ring and how it overtook his senses, unnerved Frodo, and he uneasily turned his thoughts back to their last subject.  “Did you ever hear about what happened to Bilbo when he returned after his adventure?” he asked, pressing on hurriedly.  “He traveled back all the way from the Lonely Mountain to Bag End, and there were all his neighbors having an auction of his things!”

The unspoken implication, that everyone had likely presumed the very real possibility that Bilbo was dead, lay beneath the image as an undercurrent – Frodo hadn’t thought through that very well.  Still, he forged ahead with it, concentrating on the absurdity of the scene.  “There he was, standing in his own front yard, trying to wrestle back his spoons from one of the Sackville-Bagginses!”

That did the trick – Sam’s smile was drowsy but genuine.  Wriggling his nose, he started to reply but stopped as the clouds finally pierced and the first drops of rain started splattering onto the ground.  Before Frodo could say anything, Sam had grabbed him by the arm.  “Cobe od, Bister Frodo,” he urged.  “We’d best get you out of this raid.”  Yes, between the two of them, Frodo was clearly the one most in need of someplace dry; Frodo could’ve laughed at that.

For the first few moments, Sam was unsure of what to do, pulling Frodo this way and that, pausing to sneeze – “Hehhhhhh-tschiiii-OOOOOO!” – into Frodo’s handkerchief.  Where do you shelter yourself when there’s no shelter?  At last, though, he exclaimed, “There!” and began trundling Frodo over to where a shelf of rock jutted out to form a sort of overhang.  There was just room enough for the two of them to sit after they crawled beneath the rock, though Sam got a bit hung up at first – he had to take off the pack, push it in ahead of him, and then crawl in after.

“How’s that?” Sam asked, sniffling, as he came to sit beside Frodo.  His hair was damp and his cloak was spotted with raindrops, but he seemed to pay them no mind.  “We cad rest here, dice add easy, till thi- till this le-ets u-uh… IHHHHHHHH-shiiuhhhhh!”  His hair fell into his eyes as he sneezed into the handkerchief.

“Here,” Frodo instructed as he began fiddling with the ornate leaf-shaped pin at the throat of his elven cloak.  He undid the fastening and removed the cloak, indicating for Sam to do the same.  Sam followed suit, sniffling wetly the whole time, though he wore a slightly-puzzled frown.

Sam wouldn’t have allowed Frodo to give up his cloak outright – Frodo knew that, and with the way the wind howled through the overhang, he wouldn’t have particularly liked to.  But two cloaks were still bound to be warmer than one, and so Frodo found a tidy solution to that little difficulty.  Scooting next to Sam, Frodo pulled first Sam’s cloak, then his own, up around both of them.  As long as they sat close to one another, they were covered up pretty well.

“Dot a surprise, I s’pose,” Sam remarked, peering out at the rain, which was beginning to fall in earnest now.  “The sky’s beed waitig for it all day.”  His hand holding the handkerchief emerged from beneath the cloaks and dabbed at his nose.

“Yes,” Frodo agreed.  “With the look of those clouds, it was only a matter of time.”

It wasn’t so much the rain itself, he realized, not now that they were beneath the overhang.  Rather, it was a matter of continuing on after it had stopped.  It was coming down hard enough that there were sure to be puddles and mud, and Frodo didn’t relish the idea of Sam getting his feet so cold and wet when he was this ill.  Maybe if they didn’t set out right away… Maybe, if they waited a while longer, the sun would come out to help dry the ground.

…No, it sounded ridiculous to Frodo as well.

Sam shifted a little, rustling the cloaks.  “You warb eduff, Bister Frodo?” he asked, stifling a cough.

Frodo nodded.  “What about you?”

“Oh, I’be well eduff,” Sam replied, with not a single notion of the irony that phrase carried when said in a hoarse, congested voice.  “Bide you, it is a bit…” He trailed off, but Frodo felt Sam shiver beside him.

Frodo put his arm round Sam and pulled him in a little tighter.  “It is,” he said.  Again, he found himself digging for optimism, trying to say what Sam would if he hadn’t had such a bad cold.  “I’m sure it will let up soon,” he observed.  “With storms like these sometimes, it’s almost as if the clouds get tired, like they throw everything they have into the first few minutes and then exhaust themselves.”

Sam laughed, then ducked his nose and mouth under the cloaks to cover his coughing.  When he reappeared, he started to say, “You h-” but quickly turned away to sneeze, clamping the handkerchief over his nose and mouth.  “Ehhhhhh… ehhhhhh-hiihhhhhh-CHIUHHHH!  You huggry, Bister Frodo?” he asked, clearing his throat.  “I reckod it’s a bit early for lucheod, but log as we’re here…”

“Not just now,” Frodo told him.  Time wouldn’t make any difference in his hunger – he was never hungry now – but if they waited to eat until the rain stopped, it would be a good excuse to stay beneath the overhang a bit longer, give Sam a real rest.  Who knew?  With the way Sam was nodding, he might even drop off to sleep if the rain kept up for very long.

For a long minute, they were quiet, the only sounds the falling rain and Sam’s sniffles.  “Did he get the spoods back?” Sam asked at last.  “Biste-er- hehhhhhh-ihhhhhh-SHUHHHHH!”  A little cough, then, sniffling, “Bister Bilbo, I bead?”

Frodo smiled.  “Of course he did,” he replied.  “You don’t think any Sackville-Baggins is a match for my uncle?”

“Doh,” Sam conceded.  Rubbing his nose as he sniffled, he let his head drop tiredly onto Frodo’s shoulder.  “After all, wudce you’ve seed a draggod, I cad’t ibbagid a Sackville-Baggids is too buch trouble.”

“Personally, I think he might have preferred the dragon,” Frodo replied, with a slightly conspiratorial air, and Sam chuckled until he started coughing again from the back of his throat; Frodo held a protective arm round his friend.

“Just thidk of it…” Sam mumbled in a drowsy tone.  “A draggod…”

“Yes,” Frodo replied, resting his own head against Sam’s.  Together they sat, huddled beneath the cloaks, and watched the rain.

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frenchposie   
frenchposie

OMG - so sweet!!

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Spoo   
Spoo

Frodo telling Sam the story of Bilbo coming home after his journey (the Sackville-Bagginses, omg :lol:) was brilliant! Loved them getting cozy under the overhang with their cloaks, and leaning their heads together. Guhhhh. :wub: 

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Aliena H.   
Aliena H.

I love the fact that Sam's cold is getting gradually worse in these last parts. I agree with what's already been said: Sam's loud sneezes are perfect for him. And his congested voice, oh my God! :blushing: One of the things I really like in a fanfic are the references to the canon, so you can imagine how glad I was when I read about Bilbo's tale and the Sackville Bagginses! 

23 hours ago, angora48 said:

Again, he found himself digging for optimism, trying to say what Sam would if he hadn’t had such a bad cold.  “I’m sure it will let up soon,” he observed.

Frodo trying to mimic Sam's optimism... Awwww.

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angora48   
angora48

Yep, you heard it here first:  Sackville-Bagginses are worse than dragons.  ;-)  Thanks for the comments, everybody - I appreciate it!

Here's Part 7 (warning - H/C approaching critical levels):

 

 

Despite Frodo’s hopes that Sam would be able to asleep, the rain only lasted half an hour.  Though he’d certainly been weary enough to nod off in that time, his nose and his cough had been bothering him too much for him to settle properly, and when the rain had stopped, they’d only stayed long enough to eat a bit more lembas bread.  Or rather, Sam ate, Frodo held the bread his mouth and mimed chewing.  The clouds had remained after the rain was gone, and the sky stayed dark; beneath the overpass, the Ring had seemed to Frodo like it was glowing.

More of the same all the rest of that day – they all bled into another, and it was only by concentrating on Sam that Frodo could keep any real sense of what was happening around him.  No more rain, but puddles, and Sam naturally was more concerned with keeping Frodo clear of them than avoiding them himself.  Almost level ground for a long stretch, but that meant more places for rainwater to pool.  Then climbing again – not steep enough to need the rope, just enough to require two hands.  Sam tensing as he held tight to the side of the rock, coughing deeply from his chest.  Finding a small spring at last, shortly before nightfall.  Filling their water satchels.  At Frodo’s suggestion, Sam washing Frodo’s handkerchief and exchanging it for his own.

Camping for the night.  Sausages and, as Sam had promised, the rest of the mushrooms.  Sam’s glum face when he sneezed hard and a bit of his food spilled off his plate into the dirt.  Frodo offering Sam some of his and Sam refusing on the grounds that Frodo needed it more when they both knew that, regardless of who needed it, Frodo wasn’t eating it.  “Dod’t worry about be, Bister Frodo,” he joked, slapping a hand onto his belly.  “I’ve got eduff id reserves yet.”  Lying awake listening to Sam’s sneezes and sniffles.

Sam up early in the morning, as though to make up for missing breakfast the day before (from his restlessness in the night, Frodo knew he hadn’t slept well, his cold keeping him up.)  Bowls of porridge.  Then again walking, climbing, walking.

Today, Sam was only speaking when he needed to.  Frodo, having heard from Sam’s voice in the morning how sore his throat was, didn’t press him about it.  His friend was breathing hard, despite numerous stops for “Frodo” to rest, and now, in the afternoon, he’d actually fallen behind Frodo a bit.  That wasn’t something that normally happened.  Sam was usually close.  He always knew, it seemed, when Frodo would need someone in front to give him a hand up and when Frodo would need someone right behind to catch him when he stumbled.  Say what you like about knowledge and learning; that was the sort of thing that Sam knew.

But now he was lagging.  Sniffling, too – nothing novel about that, of course, as he’d been sniffling for three days, but he’d been sniffling solidly for at least the last minute.  Frodo turned round, about to tell Sam to blow his nose, but stopped short when he saw the fat tears dropping onto his friend’s face.

“Sam!” he exclaimed, hurrying back to the poor fellow and putting his hand on Sam’s shoulder.  “What’s wrong?”

“I’be all right, hoddest, Bister Frodo,” Sam insisted, though he was clearly anything but.

“Here,” Frodo urged, “sit down.”  Taking both of Sam’s shoulders now, Frodo guided him down to the ground.  Sam’s breaths came in crying shudders.  “Now, what is it?”

“I just- I dod’t doh!” Sam admitted wretchedly.  He sniffed hard, wiping his running nose on the back of his hand.  “I just, I got to thidkig about poor Bister Gaddalf, add- add what a log way dowd that was to fall, add how frighted he bust’ve beed.”  His voice came out strangled and pained.

Frodo’s heart could have broken wide open.  “Dear Sam,” he murmured, putting a hand on his friend’s flushed, tearstained cheek.  He suddenly registered the heavy pack that Sam was still wearing – why hadn’t Frodo taken it from him ages ago?  “Here – let’s get this off of you,” he said, quiet, soothing.  He shifted round so he could get to the straps on Sam’s shoulders and pull the pack off of him.  “Where’s your water?”

“Th-there,” Sam gasped out, pointing.  “R- hiihhhhh-ehhhhh-SHUUHHHHHH!  Roud the side.”

Frodo found the small water satchel, half hanging out of a side pocket.  He took it out and pressed it into Sam’s hands.  “Get your breath back, and then try and drink some,” he instructed gently.  Sam replied with a miserable nod.

“Dod’t bide by blubbig, really,” he told Frodo, coughing into the back of his hand.  “I’be just beig silly.”

“No – not at all,” Frodo said, gently, massaging Sam’s temple with a light touch.  Sam was so unhappy, so ill.  What could Frodo do for him?  “Look,” he continued.  “When we’re ill, and tired, and… threadbare, everything gets felt much stronger.  Even small things can overwhelm us, and we’ve not been dealing with anything small for quite some time.  It’s perfectly understandable.”  Skimming Sam’s cheek with the side of his thumb, he leaned in, adding with a fond smile, “You ‘blub’ as long as you need to.”

Somehow, Frodo’s words seemed to give Sam the permission he’d been waiting for.  His tears up until now had been start-and-stop, like he was trying to hold them back.  Not out of embarrassment or self-consciousness – rather, Frodo imagined, out of not wanting Frodo to worry over him.  But, having been told by Frodo that it was all right to cry, Sam fairly sobbed, interrupted by the occasional fit of coughing or messy sneeze into his handkerchief.  Frodo sat beside the dear fellow, rubbing his back.

While he’d shrugged off any earlier suggestion that Frodo should check his temperature, poor Sam was now too distressed to even notice Frodo’s hand on his forehead.  Given the state that Sam was in, it certainly wasn’t a surprise to learn that he had a fever, but Frodo was still a little startled at just how hot his friend’s brow was.

In time, Sam started to calm down a bit – still crying, his nose still running terribly, but without the wracking sobs that had been making him cough so badly.  “HAAHHHHHH-ihhhhh-shhuhhhhhh!  Hehhhhhhh… uhhhhhhhh-CHOOOOO-ehhhhh!” he sneezed into the handkerchief and then, sniffling, lifted his water satchel to take a few tentative swallows.  Frodo wrapped an arm tightly round Sam and gave his shoulder a squeeze.

“I’ll be all right sood,” Sam told him.  He sniffled again and had another swallow of water.  “Just give be a bidit or two for these old fool tears to dry up, add- add we’ll keep od.”

Frodo wasn’t about to laugh at Sam when he was feeling so badly, but at that suggestion, Frodo had to work had not to at least smile in amusement.  “Sam,” he said, an edge of incredulity in his voice, “we’re not going any further today.”

“But it’s still daylight out!” Sam started to argue.

“You’re in no condition to travel,” Frodo told him, half sternly and half kindly.  “I’m sorry – I should have seen it sooner.”

“It’s dot so bad as all that, really,” Sam insisted, his voice cracking, scarcely noticing that tears were still running down his dirty cheeks.  “I- I doh I’be a bit- well, right dow, but I- I… hihhhhhh-ehhhh-TCHIIUHHHHHH!”

“You have a fever, Sam,” Frodo explained gently, brushing Sam’s fringe away from his forehead.  “We have to stay here.”

Sam didn’t start crying in earnest again, but he looked thoroughly unhappy at this news.  “I’be sorry,” he mumbled in a quavering voice.

“You’ve nothing to be sorry for,” Frodo told him sincerely.

Sam stifled another sob, pressing the heel of his hand to his temple.  “By head’s just id such a buddle…”

“I know,” Frodo replied soothingly; he held Sam’s cheek in his hand.  “Why don’t you lie down, all right?”  He smiled.  “Rest that head of yours.”  Sam looked up, and by the sheepish smile he wore despite his tears, Frodo knew he agreed.

Sam took a drink of water as Frodo turned to the pack to retrieve Sam’s blanket.  “I’ll fix us something to eat,” Frodo added.

The effect on Sam was instantaneous.  “I cad do it-!” he started to protest.

“I know,” Frodo said firmly, “but I don’t want you to.”  Bringing the blanket to Sam, he continued, “You’ve been taking care of me since we left the Shire, Sam.  It’s my turn to take care of you now.”

Sam gave a long, shuddery sigh.  “All right,” he conceded, sniffling as he stifled a cough.

Frodo helped Sam lie down upon the ground and draped the blanket carefully over him.  As Frodo began to build a cooking fire, he listened to Sam.  The dear fellow spent the first several minutes fairly miserable, Frodo could tell – coughing and sniffling as he continued to cry softly.  In the end, though, Sam’s sheer exhaustion won out over everything else, and his shuddering breaths gave way to quiet, congested snores.

You sleep, Sam, Frodo thought to himself.  I’ve got you.

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Spoo   
Spoo

:bawl::bawl::bawl: <---- Literally Sam AND myself after reading this update. 

He finally reached his breaking point, the poor thing. I had a feeling it was going to happen and he was just going to fall apart. Having to push himself when he's feeling awful is so, so harddddd. The affectionate bits of Frodo being kind and soothing Sam, and when he cradled his cheek?? Omg, I could barely contain my squees. :lol: 

I'm so happy Frodo is taking care of him now. :wub: 

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Masking   
Masking

Oh, Sam. <3 Poor, poor thing. COMFORT TIME! His feverish crying is adorable, but I feel so bad for him. And the messy sneezes because he just doesn't care anymore!

(Have I mentioned I ship Frodo and Sam? :D)

Edited by Masking

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angora48   
angora48

Yeah, the poor thing just couldn't keep going.  8-(  It's all right, Sam - Frodo's here!  (BTW, Spoo, I love your new pic and signature!  Needless to say, I approve.)

Part 8:

 

 

“Sam?”

The voice came dimly, like it was echoing down a tunnel.  Gradually, Sam became aware of a hand shaking him gently by the shoulder.  “Sam?”

Mr. Frodo’s voice.  Clumsily pulling his blanket over his face to cough, Sam pushed his heavy eyelids open and poked his groggy head out to see Mr. Frodo peering down at him.

“Can you sit up?” Mr. Frodo asked.  “I have our dinner.”

Sam tried to fumble up onto his elbows, but his head was swimming.  “Here,” Mr. Frodo said, taking Sam’s hand in one of his own and slipping the other behind Sam’s back to help him up.

“Thadks,” Sam said, his voice coming out in a stuffy rasp.

He moved to clamber up, but Mr. Frodo told him, “Stay there – I’ll bring the food to you.”  As he turned to pad back to the fire, he called, “Water, Sam!” over his shoulder.

It was like Sam’s head was underwater – no, not that exactly.  It was like the way you moved underwater, everything slower and more plodding.  That’s what his thinking was like.  But Mr. Frodo was right, he supposed; his lips felt dry.  He reached for his water satchel and took a long draught that ended in a sputtering cough.

Coughing hard into his shoulder, Sam gasped to catch his breath.  When the irritation in his throat died down, he had another sip, more carefully this time, and rubbed his nose.  “Ahhhhhh… hihhhhhhh-uhhhhhh-CHOOOOOO!” he sneezed, forgetting about the handkerchief in his pocket and sneezing into the back of his hand.

When Mr. Frodo returned with two steaming plates, Sam was awkwardly trying to pull his blanket up round his shoulders.  “Let me,” Mr. Frodo instructed.  Setting the plates on the ground beside them, he bent down and wrapped the blanket around Sam.  “Better?” he asked.

Sam, whose head felt hot but whose hands and feet felt cold, nodded.  “Here, Bister Frodo,” he said, unfolding the blanket on one side so his friend could cozy inside it as well.

Mr. Frodo smiled, and as he sat down cross-legged next to Sam, he took that end of the blanket and hung it over himself.  He picked up the plates again and handed one to Sam, cut-up sausages and apples.  “You liked it with the apples bixed id?” Sam asked, feeling a bit pleased despite everything.

“Yes, I thought that was rather a good one,” Mr. Frodo replied fondly.  “Mind you, I dare say yours was better.  I put the apples in right away, and I think I overcooked them.  Yours still had some snap to them.”

Sam nodded.  “I added th- theb id… Hehhhhhhhh…” He turned away from Mr. Frodo, dropping his plate in his lap so the “EHHHHHHHH-shiii-uuhhhhhhhh!” that burst from him wouldn’t scatter his dinner all over the campsite.  “…Later,” he finished with slightly-sheepish sniff.

Mr. Frodo, kind fellow that he was, gave Sam’s shoulder a squeeze.  “Still,” he remarked, “with your sore throat, softer might be better – easier to swallow.”

“I thidk you bay be right about that,” Sam confessed.  “I do have sobethig-” he sniffled, “-of a sore throat.”

“I know,” Mr. Frodo said with a wince of sympathy.  “You sound awful.”

If he sounded awful, Sam suspected he felt worse.  He was both hot and chilled, his throat stung terribly – his voice could only come out weakly – his nose was sore from wiping it so often, and he ached in his bones.  What was worse, Sam hadn’t meant for Mr. Frodo to put their journey on hold for his sake, but that was what they were doing.  Three or four daylight hours at least they’d wasted on Sam’s account.  He’d meant to bear up much better than he had.

But bless Mr. Frodo, he didn’t complain or blame Sam about it.  Instead, he was very attentive, checking that Sam was warm enough, keeping at him to drink more water, and making sure he had enough to eat.  Sam had noticed – only just through the haze of what he figured must be his fever, but he still noticed – that his serving was much larger than Mr. Frodo’s, and yet there was Mr. Frodo asking after him!

As bad as he felt, though, about being such a bother to Mr. Frodo, Sam had to admit that stopping had done him wonders.  He’d felt so awfully rotten when Mr. Frodo had made him go to bed, but once he’d fallen asleep, he’d slept better than he had in days, lovely and deep.  And he’d woken up hungry, so each forkful of sausage and apples (which couldn’t have tasted better, no matter what Mr. Frodo said) made him perk up a bit more.  Oh, he still sneezed and coughed his way through near about every minute, and he had a strange sickly feeling that made it seem as though his head were far away from the rest of him, but by the time he swallowed his last mouthful, Sam felt closer to himself than he had all day.

“How’s that?” Mr. Frodo asked.  “Any better?”

Sam nodded, sleepily but no less earnest for it.  “Buch better,” he replied.

Mr. Frodo suppressed a chuckle.  “I very much doubt that,” he told Sam, “but we’re getting there.”  He wrapped his arm comfortably around Sam.  “Good sleep and good food – that’s what you need.  Being ill is hard work, and you’d been working hard enough already.”

Sam rubbed his nose, sniffling lazily.  “What about you?” he mumbled, then turned away to cough into his handkerchief.

“What do you mean?” Mr. Frodo asked.

“Are you all right?” Sam went on.  “The Rig, add…”

“Yes,” Mr. Frodo told him.  “Yes, I’m all right.  Just worried about you.”

Sam didn’t like the thought of Mr. Frodo worrying over him.  “Dod’t- dod’t you worry,” he replied; he could feel his eyelids starting to blink closed.  “I’be all… all right… ihhhhhhhh-SHHHHHHHH!”  His head felt funny, and he only just had enough presence of mind to cover his mouth with his handkerchief.

Sam’s empty plate was lifted off his lap, and he felt gentle hands on his shoulders.  “Come on,” Mr. Frodo was saying.  “Let’s get you back to bed.”

Although Sam want to argue – wanted to say that, if Mr. Frodo had made the dinner, the least Sam could do was clean up – he was interrupted by another sneeze.  “Ahhhhhhh-hihhhhhhhhhh-SHIIOOOOOOOO!”  By the time he finished mopping up his nose, he found, to his rather groggy surprise, that he was lying on the ground again.

Mr. Frodo must have known what Sam was thinking, because, resting a hand on Sam’s shoulder, he said, “If you want to help, rest.  Concentrate on getting well – that’s what I need from you right now.”

“All right,” Sam mumbled, only half aware of what he was saying, or even of Mr. Frodo at his side.  “Just… rest by eyes… a bit…”  Vaguely, Sam felt Mr. Frodo tucking his blanket round his chin, and then the world melted away.

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AngelEyes   
AngelEyes

This is brilliant! I literally just finished reading the books with my niece on our vacation Monday. Then I come home to this. Your writing style, the tone, it was totally like reading Tolkien himself. You have Sam and Frodo's characters so perfect! Their voices and their thoughts and their mannerisms are just spot on! Love it! Sam's the best. I love Sam!

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angora48   
angora48

Thanks, AngelEyes!  Glad to have you!  I love Sam, too - obviously.  ;-)

Here's Part 9.

 

 

Frodo took another careful bite of lembas bread.  He wasn’t at all hungry, but he knew that Sam, if he were awake, would pester him to eat. 

At first, Sam had slept just as deeply as he had when Frodo had made them stop in the afternoon (which, by Frodo’s reckoning, had likely been the best sleep Sam had had since before Moria – it seemed that crying himself into exhaustion, forcing him at last to stop and take care of himself, had been the best thing for him.)  Frodo had lain awake listening to Sam’s sniffles, the quiet coughs in his sleep.  But during the night, the poor fellow’s fever had risen and he’d tossed and turned on the rocky ground, murmuring from what sounded like disorienting dreams.  Frodo had sat up beside him, taken the blanket off Sam and pulled him up so his head was in Frodo’s lap, that he wouldn’t crack it against the rock.  Frodo had found a cloth in the pack and wet it from his water satchel, bathing Sam’s flushed face and trying to cool him as he stirred fitfully in and out of sleep.

He’d started to improve a little before dawn, enough that Frodo could finally leave him to sleep.  Not sleeping as well as he had yesterday, but it was genuine sleep, not the restless wakefulness that had plagued him in the night.  Frodo had lain down himself – not to sleep, not properly, but to get as near to it as he could these days. 

The sun had risen long ago.  Frodo, looking for its wan shadow hiding behind the clouds, guessed it to be going on midday.  He’d gotten up a few hours earlier, checking that Sam was still sleeping fast – while Sam’s fever had gone down a little, it hadn’t left him – and then just sitting, looking out at the landscape.  At the expanse before them, at the mountain that never seemed to grow any closer.

The Ring hung about level with Frodo’s chest, and it felt as though it were pressing itself into him, as if it were searing through his skin and muscle and sinking down inside him.  Frodo seized it, holding it tightly in his fist, and his vision seemed to flash gold.  Its whispers caressed his mind, and even with his eyes closed, the Ring’s inscription burned in the darkness before him.  He-

“Hehhhhhhhhh… ihhhhhhh-tschiiuuhhhhhh!  Ehhhhh-SHUHHHHHHH!”

Frodo’s eyes snapped open, gasping as he returned to himself.  Half-bewildered, he looked about him and saw Sam rubbing his nose with a long groan.  “S-Sam,” he stammered, trying vainly to push the Ring out of his head.

Sam sniffled, wiping his nose with the side of his hand.  As Frodo moved to him, bringing his hand to Sam’s cheek, Sam looked blearily about them.  “What tibe is it?” he asked, low.  After his difficult spell yesterday, he’d started losing his voice, and it had yet to come back.

“Coming up on midday,” Frodo told him.  Sam started clumsily pushing himself up, sputtering protests, but Frodo eased him back down, replying, “I didn’t wake you because I know you’d say you were fine to go on, but you’re not.  We have to wait until you start getting better.”

“But I ab better!” Sam insisted, and between the thick congestion and the rasp of his voice, he must have realized how preposterous that sounded.  “Better thad last dight, I bead,” he corrected hastily.  Turning onto his side to prop himself up by an elbow, he added, “I ab.  By headache’s dot half as bad as it was, add it doesed’t hurt so buch whed I cough.”  As if on cue, he turned his head downward to cough into his handkerchief.

Frodo picked up Sam’s water satchel off the ground and held it out to him, waiting.  When he finished coughing, Sam took it and had a long drink.  “…See?” he said weakly, sniffling, but from his sheepish smile, he clearly knew Frodo had him beat.

“That’s good,” Frodo said kindly.  “I’m glad you’re better than last night.”

“What if we go slow?” Sam suggested.  “Dice add slow, with lots of rest, add I- I wod’t ove- overd-do ih…”  As the sneeze got the better of him – “AHHHHHHH-shhuhhhhhhh!  Hehhhhhh-iiiuuhhhhhh-CHOOOOOO!” – he rolled onto his back again, cupping his hands over his mouth to sneeze and then reaching for his handkerchief with an exhausted air.

“If we leave now,” Frodo explained, “even going slowly, you’ll just wind up feeling like you did yesterday and we’ll need to stop again anyway.  Better to stay put now and work on getting you well.”

Wiping his nose with the handkerchief, Sam let out a long sigh.  “But that’ll be days!” he protested.  Glumly, he looked up at Frodo.  “You’ve carried it log eduff as it is – I dod’t wadt you carryig it addy logger od by accoudt.”

For a moment, Frodo felt frozen, pinned down, the Ring sitting on his chest again, keeping his very heart from thumping.  Sam saw it, Frodo could tell, and he tried to scramble up to a sitting position once more.  “We-” Frodo began, fighting to get the words out.  He clenched the Ring in his fist, feeling as though it was burning its imprint into his palm.  The moment passed, and he could breathe again.  “We at least have to wait until your fever goes down,” he finally said. 

“Tomorrow, maybe,” he went on, doing his best to ignore what had happened, “or the next day.  That’s not so long.”

“I didd’t bead to be such a bother,” Sam confessed, his voice small and strained.

The poor fellow sounded so bereft and unhappy that it brought Frodo more fully back to himself.  “It’s no bother at all, really,” he insisted, resting his hand lightly on Sam’s chest and rubbing it with his thumb.  “I dare say you haven’t complained once, and it’s an honest pleasure to look after you.  After all you’ve done for me, it’s the least I can do.”

They were quiet after that, save for Sam’s sniffles, and Frodo felt assured that Sam had accepted the idea that they needed to stay where they were.  “Are you hungry?” Frodo asked, finally breaking the silence.  “I cooked some sausages for you this morning.  They’re cold now – I wasn’t sure when you’d wake up – but I could start the fire again and heat them up.”  Sam nodded, and Frodo got up, moving busily to the embers.

“…Bister Frodo?” Sam ventured while Frodo saw to his breakfast (well, more like elevensies now.)

“Hmm?” Frodo replied, not looking up from the fire.

“The odly thig is,” Sam went on, “I’be dot sure our water will last til toborrow or the dext day.”

Frodo let his eyes fall closed, silently cursing himself for not thinking of it.  Sam was right; they’d not found a stream since the evening before last, and they would have a hard time ridding Sam of his fever if they ran out of water.  “You’re right,” Frodo said.  Almost mechanically, he unhooked the skillet from the pack and began reheating the sausages as he turned the problem over in his mind.

“We’ll go very, very slow,” Sam suggested, “odly till we fide a streab or sprig.  I’ll take it real easy, Bister Frodo.”

There was merit in it.  It would be handy to be near a water source – Sam would need plenty.  But then, there was no telling what sort of surroundings they’d find when they came to one.  Here, they had a nice patch of level ground with mountain at their backs for a bit of shelter from the wind.  If they pressed on, they might wind up camping on uneven ground, somewhere open and windswept, perhaps nowhere decent to camp at all.  And then what?  Go forward even more until they found somewhere suitable, or backtrack?

Frodo felt the Ring’s tendrils snaking through his mind; he closed his eyes tightly against them, not opening his eyes until Sam’s next loud “HAHHHHHHH-shiiuhhhhh!” jarred him from it.  And Frodo knew it wasn’t feasible.  No matter how slowly they went, in Sam’s state, he would need help if they went any further than 100 feet.  And Frodo wouldn’t be able to give it to him, not with the Ring bleeding into his thoughts and robbing him of his own strength. 

So, he said, “No – no, you stay here.  I’ll go.”

Frodo could hear Sam rustling behind him, and when he turned back from the fire, he saw that his friend had gotten himself up to a sitting position.  “Dot without be, you’re dot,” Sam told him.

Seeing how ill Sam was, the notion was almost comical (how could Frodo have thought, for even a moment, that Sam might have gone?)  Frodo looked again to the fire, putting Sam’s sausages on a plate and then rising to bring them over to the dear fellow.  “You’re not well enough,” Frodo explained to him.  “Besides, we don’t know how far it might be.” 

“I cad do it!” Sam insisted, barely taking notice as Frodo pressed the plate into his hands.  “I- hehhhhhhhh… ehhhhhh-SHUHHHHHHH!”  He only just had time to lift the handkerchief to his nose before the sneeze burst out of him.

“Look at you,” Frodo said gently, sitting down beside him and putting a hand on his shoulder.  “Your hands are shaking; you can’t go, Sam.”

“But what about you?” Sam countered.

Frodo frowned.  “What about me?” he said.  “I’m not ill.”

“Doh, but-” Sam started, then broke off coughing.  When he had his breath back, he sniffled and resumed, “-but you’re still dot all right.  It’s the Rig, Bister Frodo, and-”

“I can bear it,” Frodo said, interrupting him.  “It’s- I can manage it.”

“You cad’t, though!” Sam pressed.  “You cad’t hide it frob be, Bister Frodo – I’ve seed it!  These last few days, you’ve beed right poorly, add you doh it.  Dow, I- I… ehhhhhhhhhh… hihhhhhhh-TCHIIUUUHHHHHHHH!”  He clamped the handkerchief over his nose and mouth.  Then, sniffling, “I’be dot about to let you go off od your ode whed you could collapse or walk straight off a cliff or- or- o-or- hehhhhhhhhhhhh-ihhhhhhhhhhh-SHOOOOOOOOO!  Huhhhhhhhhhh-SHUHHHHHHH!”  Poor Sam swallowed a groan and wiped his nose.  “…Or I dod’t doh what,” he finished anticlimactically.

Frodo suddenly understood, why this was more than just Sam’s usual tendency to want to look after and protect him.  Oh dear, he had made a mess of things.  Of course Sam would worry – why hadn’t Frodo thought of that when he had that foolish idea?  “This is my fault…” he started to say.

“Doh, Bister Frodo, you bussed’t blabe yourself,” Sam urged, giving his nose a hasty wipe on the back of his hand.  Sniffling hard, he said, “The Rig add all – you cad’t help it!”

They were words Sam could do well to apply to himself and his cold, but now wasn’t the moment to point that out.  “No, you don’t understand,” Frodo replied.  “I – there’s something I need to tell you.”

Explaining it all, it seemed silly – pretending to be affected by the Ring so Sam would stop and rest.  For his part, Sam puzzled over what Frodo told him.  Frodo didn’t blame him for looking perplexed.  After all, saying it aloud, it seemed absurd enough, and that was before you also considered Sam’s fever and headache confusing his thoughts. 

“By,” Sam finally murmured.  “You are clever.  Had be fooled all right.”  His breath hitching, he lifted the handkerchief and sneezed a “hihhhhhhhh-ehhhhhh-SHOOOOOOOO!  Ihhhhhh-CHUHHHHHHH!”

Frodo, sitting beside him, gave Sam’s shoulder a good-natured squeeze.  “I’m sorry,” he confessed.  “Honestly, it was all I could think of.  You’d take care of me, but not yourself.”

“Wellll…” Sam drawled, smiling sheepishly as he stifled a cough.  When it subsided, he looked carefully at Frodo.  “So it’s really dot as bad as it seebs?” he asked.

“Not nearly,” Frodo assured him.

“But… just a bidit ago,” Sam pointed out.  “That w- ehhhhh-hihhhhhh-CHIIUUUHHHHHH!”  He turned away to catch the sneeze in his shoulder.  “That wasd’t a put-od, was it?”

Frodo felt an involuntary tremble go through him; somehow, it seemed as though saying it aloud would make it more real, give it more power.  “It’s growing no easier to carry,” he admitted at last, “but I am all right.  Really.  I can manage the journey on my own for a while.”

Sam considered this, frowning thoughtfully as he wiped his nose with an absentminded air.  “You’ll go slow,” he said, “add have lots of rest alog the way?”

“As much as I need,” Frodo promised.

“Add if there’s addy probleb, you’ll cobe back to be straightaway,” Sam added.  “It doesd’t batter so buch about the water if there’s sobethig serious.”

Frodo nodded.  “I will,” he said.  He glanced down at Sam’s plate of sausages, which he imagined they’d both forgotten about.  “Now, you.  Eat, then rest.  I’ll be back as soon as I can- but still taking my time and being careful,” he added hastily as he saw Sam about to argue again.

“All right,” Sam conceded.  He sighed, and Frodo saw the exhaustion run down his face.  “I wish I could go with you, to keep ad-” he coughed into his handkerchief, “-ad eye od thigs.”

“I know,” Frodo replied, smiling softly.  There was scarcely anything in his life truer than that.  Where he went, Sam wanted to follow, to look after him (stepping without hesitation into a river when he couldn’t even swim, the dear fellow.)  And when circumstances were such that Sam couldn’t come along, he would wait anxiously until Frodo made his way back to him.  There was no question of it, nothing to debate or argue – it was just true, and nothing anyone said could ever convince Frodo otherwise.

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Aliena H.   
Aliena H.
32 minutes ago, angora48 said:

“…Or I dod’t doh what,” he finished anticlimactically.

I enjoyed that part. It sounds really like Sam. The charcters are so well-written! I like to have Frodo's point of view, trying to help Sam as he had helped him so far, and at the same time having difficulties controlling the Ring. And the part when Sam's been crying...:cry: Poor Sam, he's having a really bad time. He couldn't know when he was cutting the grass (and spying) at Bag-End that it would lead him here... Thank you for this amazing story!

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