Chapter 4: Blessing

“This peace, this calm, cannot last.” Lord Elrond spoke gravely to Gandalf and Aragorn outside Frodo’s chamber. Gandalf nodded, and motioned sombrely to Merry and Pippin to come closer; the kinsmen’s loving concern could not be denied. “Frodo is uncommonly strong to have endured so long. But the wound is not yet clean, in spite of our efforts, and his resistance fades.”

Pippin protested, in alarm, “But you said he might awaken and that Sam could comfort him!” Merry patted his arm, trying to calm him.

Gandalf sighed and laid his hand on Pippin’s shoulder as Elrond responded, “That is so. Our arts provided a brief respite from fear and pain. Frodo may have been strengthened for what now lies before him. Nevertheless, the darkness will return, and soon. He hovers even now at the edge of the wraith world.”

Lord Elrond hesitated; he had little comfort to offer. “It is time to seek his healing again. One of you must bring Samwise away. He will not choose to leave his Master’s side, but it would be very difficult for him to remain.” The hobbits could not know what Gandalf and Aragorn both understood: if all did not go well, Frodo would wake to torment; and the Wise could offer help in ways that Sam might not understand.

“I shall do so; I will carry Sam out if necessary, and if I dare brave his wrath.” Aragorn smiled kindly at the hobbits.

Merry rejoined, “And Pippin and I both shall go with you. I understand that it was right that Sam be sent to him before, but we love Frodo, and would give him our blessing.”

“As I have given mine…”

“Bilbo!” Merry and Pippin turned, astonished, to greet the elderly hobbit. He was more aged than they remembered, though still hale; but his eyes were shadowed now with grief.

“You must have sneaked right past us, a skill for which you were well known!” Merry exclaimed.

Hugs were exchanged, and Bilbo said, “Yes, my dear cousins, I have slipped past several times as you rested, hoping for the news we all want. I was with him sometimes… as they worked on him…” Bilbo’s face paled at the memory. “But Frodo does not know that, nor that Gandalf is here. Our presence would raise questions for which he does not have strength to spare.” Bilbo took a deep breath. “You must kiss Frodo and bless him now, as I did earlier, for they will not allow you in again… until it is finished. And he is recovered.”

The hopeful words hung resolutely in the air as each of them recalled Frodo in health and wished desperately to see him so again. After a few moments, Aragorn spoke quietly to Merry and Pippin, “It is time to go in, and perhaps Samwise will leave Frodo’s side at your urging. I shall assist only as needed.” Aragorn held open the door from the antechamber for Merry and Pippin to step inside.

Their view of the room was not obscured by the bustle of elves as Sam’s had been, but it took a moment to absorb the sheer size of it. Both Frodo and Sam together took only a small portion of the bed centred in the room.

Not wishing to wake Frodo if he slept nor disturb quiet conversation if he were awake, they padded forward as quietly as hobbits could. Pippin was first to notice the mirror. He halted, grabbed Merry’s arm, and gestured to the sight revealed by the mirror before them, burying sudden tears in Merry’s shoulder. From the room side, they had seen that Sam and Frodo lay together, Frodo hidden on the far side of Sam’s stockier body. However, in the reflection, Merry saw that they were enfolded together in deep slumber with Sam’s arms wrapped securely around Frodo’s fragile, pale body. Their hands were linked tenderly, low over Frodo’s hips and the dark curls there, and it was clear that they had found comfort in the intimate embrace.

There was peace in Frodo’s face such as they had not seen since happier days in The Shire. His dark brows were no longer knit with the worry and pain of the last weeks; the deep lines of tension that had run from his straight nose to the corners of his lips had smoothed; and the greyed pallor was lessened, by the faintest blush on flawless skin. Sam, worn out by his painful vigil, finally slept, as he had not done for many restless days, his tanned face tucked into Frodo’s soft hair.

Merry felt a surge of protectiveness for the vulnerability lying before him. This was not a thing to be shared with men or elves; if Sam must be moved, then he, Merry, would protect their privacy. But he could not bear to disturb them, yet. Give them whatever moments they may have… Merry regarded his older cousin. Has Frodo always been so beautiful? He has always been so dear…

Merry smoothed back the tangled curls, and then, taking Pippin’s hand, together they laid their hands on Frodo’s forehead, and gave blessing to him. Merry first, and then Pippin, each leaned down to hold Frodo’s still face, and kiss the smooth brow.

And then, there was a need for haste, for even as they stood there, a mist wafted across Frodo’s body. Merry waved his hand to dissipate it, then clasped his hand to his chest, startled at the bone-chilling effect. The mist seemed to rise from Frodo’s wounded shoulder, and was increasing so rapidly that already it threatened to obscure the puckered scar from their sight. The cousins exchanged a look of alarm, and Pippin said, “I’ll tell Lord Elrond of the mist. Hurry, Merry…”

Merry added, “Ask Strider to carry Sam out sleeping. I’ll take care of…” Pippin nodded, with a last concerned glance toward the entangled pair, then hurried to the door, as Merry turned to Frodo, to help him the only way he could.

Merry gently lifted their intertwined hands, the golden and the fair. He placed Frodo’s lightly at his side, and rested Sam’s on Frodo’s chest, then discreetly re-arranged the silken drape over Frodo’s slender hips. He looked about and found a softly woven blanket folded nearby, floated it over Frodo’s body, and was relieved that the mist scattered a little. He stood back to assess his protective efforts, completed just as Strider came in. Merry shuddered, and leaned down through the chill haze to give Frodo a last kiss filled with love and hope, as Strider, with a look of deepest compassion for both Frodo and Sam, swept up the somnolent Samwise and bore him away from Frodo’s side.

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