febobe: (I'm Fine)
[personal profile] febobe
It is now officially the anniversary of Frodo's wounding on Weathertop, and the day I'll attempt my bMRI again...and I want to mark the occasion with a recipefic. I hope you all enjoy. Links are fine as I'm putting this one on public lock.

-Febobe

Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FboBE/”Febobe”)
Title: Soup and Secrets (though I’m open to suggestions)
Rating: PG for mild angst – no sex, slash, violence, or profanity. Food detail warning (as in there’s plenty of it!)
Author's Notes: Written for the 2015 anniversary of Weathertop (and the day I’m supposed to make another attempt at a test I need for cancer staging)
Summary: When Frodo’s anniversary illness returns with the autumn chill, Rose summons her own gifts in an effort to call him back from the shadows….
Word Count: 3004 including recipe



Well, it was autumn sure enough, the air crisp enough to bite you, with occasional cool sunshine and sometimes gusts of wind, blustery days that sent the cold right through a body. And poor Mr. Frodo, I could tell he felt it worse than most, wrapping himself up in winter garments most days he went out, though those were getting fewer and fewer now. And I had half a notion why.

There’s things Mr. Frodo told me that he wouldn’t tell Sam, see, and so after that grim day in March, and certainly after I moved in, when Sam still had some running about to do all over the Shire, and after Mr. Frodo had turned the office of mayor back over to Will Whitfoot at the Free Fair, we began to talk over supper. His breakfast I took to his room on a tray, and let him alone till he come out to work on his book in his study, and then I’d go in and take back his dishes and whatever he hadn’t et, and made up his bed and did a bit of straightening. Come lunchtime, I’d take him summat to his study, and I wouldn’t go back to get that till he come out to lay down before tea. Tea he’d have in his room – oh, he’d tried to be sociable at first, but we soon enough figured out he had to lie down in quiet a while afore supper, and then he could talk.

And he told me about that place called Weathertop, and how ill he’d felt last year on its anniversary, on Winterfilth the sixth. And about everything else, about dark thoughts he said he hadn’t even told to Sam, about not feeling like eating and wishing to lie in bed instead o’going to all them celebrations and feasts – only he made himself get up and do it, for Sam. How he didn’t have the heart to tell Sam how he’d not felt really well for even an hour since their journey, or how he’d felt chilled ever since Weathertop.

And then in came Winterfilth, and poor Mr. Frodo, he was starting to look right peaked. Sam was busy with everyone after his gardening advice, and the autumn gardening at Bag End, and helping his Gaffer, so I couldn’t blame him for not seeming to notice. I don’t think Mr. Frodo did neither.

But I started making plans, I did.

“Get up extra early with me in the morning,” I said to Sam when he came to bed on the eve of Mr. Frodo’s anniversary. “I mean to get up long afore dawn, as early as I can manage.”

“Well, of course I will.” Sam snuggled in beside me and we spooned up together. “But what have you got in mind?”

“Mr. Frodo needs you to set with him. Never mind the garden, Jolly’s coming down to help us out for a day or two. And I’ll be in the kitchen, and with you two some.”

“But why…”

“Sam, tomorrow’s Winterfilth the sixth. When poor Mr. Frodo – “

I heard him suck in his breath. “When he was stabbed, sure enough. And you’re afraid it’s going to trouble him?”

“I think so.” I would not tell him how Mr. Frodo had expressed his fears to me. But I could remind him of the date, and of the possibility. “Now, just let’s sleep now. Tomorrow I’ve got big plans for his lunch.”

“When he’s so cold, it’s hard to get him to eat.” Sam’s voice wavered. “Rose, I don’t know how – “

“Hush. He’ll eat for me, and he’ll eat something good and nourishing. Now let’s close our eyes so we can be ready when he needs us.”

#

We had help getting up early, to be fair – Mr. Frodo cried out in the night, on past midnight, and Sam went to comfort him, and I got up and made him a hot drink, warm milk and sugar and white wine, and then I guessed I might as well start thinking about first breakfast, for I didn’t think I could go back to sleep after hearing that anguished cry. I figured poor Mr. Frodo might be best off with a bit of porridge thinned with milk and sweetened with honey. And then perhaps for second breakfast, he might let me try him with an egg and a bit of toast. And then I could start on luncheon, for I could count on Mr. Frodo not being willing to consider more than a cup of broth or some creamed mushrooms on toast for elevenses while feeling poorly.

I went in with the porridge just a bit after sevenish and found Sam looking worried sick. Mr. Frodo lay huddled in blankets, sweating and shaking like he’d took fever, and Sam was holding his left hand and rubbing it ever so tenderly.

“How is he?” I asked softly, though I could see plain enough.

Sam shook his head. “It’s worse than I’ve ever seen him, since – since he was wounded, and in the Dark Land,” he murmured. “He hardly drank a few sups of that posset, and he’s been wandering in his mind. Lost in there, I reckon.”

“Let me try, then.” I handed Sam the tray and went around the bed to stroke Mr. Frodo’s brow. No fever – he felt awful cold to my touch, for all his skin felt so damp. “Mr. Frodo, sir, it’s Rose. I’ve made a bit of porridge for you, thinned down with milk, honey stirred in and all.”

A low moan, and Mr. Frodo turned his head my way – but his eyes did not open, and he only pulled at his covers fretfully, curling into a little ball on his side.

“Sir, you need to eat,” Sam urged gently. “Rose’s porridge is the best. And it’s good and hot.”

A faint flutter of the thick eyelashes, and Mr. Frodo’s eyes opened…but only for an instant. They closed all in an instant.

We went on like that for a good fifteen minutes, and by then I realized that, in the first place, the porridge was cooling so much it wouldn’t be nice no more, and in the second place we weren’t getting nowhere with him.

“I’ll try something else in a bit,” I murmured to Sam. Then, to Mr. Frodo, “I’ll come back later, sir, with summat else. But if there’s aught you wish for, aught you think you might fancy, you just tell Sam and he’ll holler for me. And I’ll make sure you get it, if it’s anything I can get or make or fix.”

#

Well, we went on like that all morning. I brought poor Mr. Frodo soft-scrambled egg and a small circle of buttered toast and a feeding-cup with hot spiced cider. He opened his eyes again, but he shut them just as quick, and though we could tell from his breathing he weren’t sleeping, he clearly wasn’t altogether present either. I fixed Sam’s meals and brought them down too, and though he didn’t want to eat I made him, telling him he wouldn’t be no good to poor Mr. Frodo plumb wore out, so I’d sit and hold Mr. Frodo’s poor cold hand while Sam ate a muffin and tea or eggs and bacon and toast and cider or what have you.

But come mid-morning, I set to work on my plan to get some real nourishment down Mr. Frodo at lunch.

I sliced and chopped up a small yellow onion and most of a head of celery, and set them aside. Then I peeled several large potatoes and cut them into smallish pieces – not as small as the celery and onion, not near, but smaller than I used for mashed taters (which Mr. Frodo was real fond of). And then I got out the broth I’d made and put into cold storage the day afore. Back home we’d never had cold storage like what Mr. Frodo had in Bag End, all comfy under the Hill. Here, I could make stock or broth the day afore I needed it, or a couple days early, and it would stay just as fresh! I put that broth and them vegetables in Mr. Frodo’s soup pot, and I set them cooking. While the vegetables were getting soft, I mixed up a paste, warming butter and adding in flour till I stirred it smooth…and then I used that to thicken the soup, once the taters got soft, and then I started adding in salt and pepper and milk and cream….

And at every step, I added my special secret ingredient.

I just had to hope it would be enough to reach him.

#

“It’s me, Mr. Frodo,” I said gently as I took the seat I’d had Sam pull up for me, on the right side of the bed. “I’ve brought summat new for you.”

No reaction.

“It’s soup this time,” I added temptingly.

The heavy eyelashes fluttered faintly. I took that for a sign of interest, and went on. “It’s taters, and celery, and onions…and it’s good and hot.”

This time, Mr. Frodo’s eyes opened. He didn’t smile. He didn’t moan, though, neither, and I guessed that had to be a good start.

“Will you let Sam set you up so I can feed you a little?” I offered gently.

“Yes.”

Sam and I looked at each other, astonished. Poor Mr. Frodo had hardly said anything since yesterday. As startled as we were, though, Sam moved to prop master up in bed, and I set the tray where I could reach it and have both hands free to feed him. I’d brought a mug of my tater soup, a little feeding-cup of hot spiced apple cider, some warm milk and honey, and a little dish of cinnamon applesauce warmed up good. I just hoped he’d eat some soup. It had milk and cream and good vegetables, though I hadn’t added cheese or bacon to it as I would have if he’d been his usual self. I didn’t want to give him food too rich for an invalid and upset his poor delicate stomach.

Cautiously I spooned up the first mouthful, as soon as Sam had spread out a large napkin over Mr. Frodo’s chest. And then I just touched it to his lips.

They opened.

And he ate it.

Sam and I fair held our breaths.

It took him a moment, but then – he opened his mouth again. I gave him a little more. And he ate that, too.

“You’re doing fine, Mr. Frodo,” I said gently as I spooned up a third mouthful. “You’re doing a real good job, sir. Just you do what you can.”

Mr. Frodo swallowed another mouthful. “It’s…good,” he said after I gave him a sip of cider. “The soup is…so…warming.”

Sam’s face fair lit up, and I reckon mine did too.

“You can eat as much of this as you like,” I said, “and there’s more in the kitchen. I can bring you more later if you don’t feel like too much now.”

Mr. Frodo smiled a little, then, and reached for Sam’s hand with his left one. “The memories…are dreadful,” he said after another spoonful. “And the…pain. But…perhaps…making a memory…could overpower…old memories…just for a few minutes?”

“Oh, sir, perhaps.” Sam cradled his hand and kissed it. “Sir, I reckon the three of us could try to make you all the new ones you want.”

#

Well, bless me if Mr. Frodo didn’t do just like I thought, and even better than I’d hoped! He et up all of the soup, and a few mouthfuls of applesauce, and most of the cider and milk, and then he said he might try to sleep, but that he’d like to have more of that soup for supper, please, if I could manage it, and then he went right off to sleep, as soon as Sam laid him back down, and this time he didn’t moan or cry out. He slept right on through tea, but we thought we ought to let him, seeing as how his sleep seemed deep and healing now, so I just brought Sam some sandwiches and cakes and tea and went back to work fixing summat to go with the soup for supper.

When Mr. Frodo woke, he asked for supper, and I was ready, it being close to six. I brought him more tater soup, some glazed carrots mashed up nice, little tidbits of roast chicken (I’d had Jolly bring me a chicken to roast from the market) in a mushroom gravy with sliced mushrooms all cut up in it, more cinnamon applesauce, and a warm pumpkin custard, along with more cider and milk, and this time I’d put just a little white wine in the milk too. I reckoned when he went back to sleep, he might sleep on till morning, and pass on through the rest of this terrible anniversary.

And he et again, and et good for me, all the soup and most of the rest, though he left a few mouthfuls here and there. Still, he got down some chicken and vegetables and fruit and milk, and I reckoned a body couldn’t do better’n that, especially with him feeling poorly.

After his supper, Mr. Frodo told Sam he’d like to wash up a bit with hot water, so we brought some for him, and towels and wash-cloths, and I left the two of them to it. And when I came back, Mr. Frodo was sound asleep, tucked into his bed, wrapped up warm the way Sam had kept him all day, with warm quilts and blanket-wrapped heated stones and a good fire going in his hearth.

I pressed Sam to trade out with me and go on to bed. The worst was likely behind us…for now. But next time, I’d know just what to do. I’d make another soup, creamy and soothing and filled with my secret ingredient.

#

“Rose…I must ask.”

I looked at Mr. Frodo, who was feeding himself breakfast while I picked up around the room. His colour looked better today, with a hint of good pink in his cheeks. I didn’t reckon a question would hurt him any, so I stopped what I was doing. “What is it, sir?”

“The soup.” Mr. Frodo’s eyes were clear. “What in the world was in that soup, if I might be so bold as to ask? I don’t expect you to disclose your recipe, of course – but – it was the first time anything, food or aught else, has been able to cut through the fog, the chill, the pain. How did you manage it? Have you a secret ingredient?”

“Well, sir, I do, but I don’t reckon it’s that different than what your own mam must’ve used, rest her soul, or Mr. Bilbo, or Sam’s mam when she used to nurse you.”

Mr. Frodo blinked like he was about to fair die of curiousity. “What in the world is that?”

“Love, sir.” I smiled and turned back to my work. “The secret ingredient in my soup was love, and plenty of it.”

“Love.” Mr. Frodo sighed softly and returned to eating his breakfast. “I should have guessed. Rose, you are a wonder! Thank you.” He stopped again, his voice sounding suddenly thick. “Thank you for – for bringing me back from the darkness.”

I came over to him. I almost couldn’t speak myself, my heart was so full, so I put my arms around him and kissed the top of his head, the way Sam did sometimes when Mr. Frodo’s feelings seemed like to overwhelm him.

“You saved the only world I’ve ever known,” I whispered. “Just you be sure to stay here in it with us, just as long as you can. I’ll always call you home, back to us, back to where you belong.”

-the end-

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Potato Soup, adapted from http://www.food.com/recipe/old-fashioned-potato-soup-76754

Servings: Estimated 6 (it fed two of us hearty servings for almost three meals)

Ingredients:
8 cups chicken broth (I used boxed Swanson, regular, not lower sodium or organic; a regular size box usually has 4 cups)
6 cups potatoes (peeled and cut up pieces)
About 1 cup chopped celery
About 1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons sweet cream salted butter (I use Land O’Lakes)
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour (but regular all-purpose flour should work fine too!)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon white or black pepper (we used white, but added some black to taste after it was done, as we don’t mind black flecks in our creamy soup!)
1 cup half and half (or heavy cream, though we used half and half)
1 cup milk (I used 1%, but you could use whole or 2% - maybe skim, but you do want a little creaminess, mind!)

Directions:
1. In a large pot cook first four ingredients until potatoes are soft. (This may take a while. We got better progress when we turned our burner up a little above medium heat.)
2. Combine flour and butter and cook over medium-low heat until a smooth paste is formed (approx. 2 minutes). Thicken potato mixture with flour mixture.
3. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
4. Simmer until creamy, at least 30 minutes. (We went about 40-45 minutes.)
5. If you prefer enjoy a thicker soup, the original directions say you may double the flour and butter or add a 1/2 of the small cube of Velveeta at the final step. We were quite satisfied with a thinly creamy soup obtained by using an immersion blender on it for a bit, then mixing Sargento sharp cheddar fine shreds (we often use Great Value, but they were out!) into our mugs of hot soup.  We also added extra sea salt and black pepper to taste, and you can top with crumbled cooked bacon as well if you like. 
6. Don’t forget Rose’s special secret ingredient – lots and lots of love!

Date: 2015-10-06 03:41 pm (UTC)
lavendertook: (bounty)
From: [personal profile] lavendertook
OH, best of luck today! May you get through it. *sending strength and calm, and a darned MRI made wide enough for people to actually fit in with a well padded breast bone support bar* *hugs*

Date: 2015-10-07 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shirebound.livejournal.com
I have to type this one-fingered for now: I LOVE THIS.

Date: 2015-10-07 06:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mews1945.livejournal.com
Oh, I have tears in my eyes. This is so lovely and comforting. Rose is wise and brave and determined, all things that a good nurse needs to care for a patient who's suffering so much he can't eat. Her soup sounds wonderful, and I'm glad she added the secret ingredient.

Date: 2015-10-08 02:37 am (UTC)
dreamflower: gandalf at bag end (Default)
From: [personal profile] dreamflower
So glad to get a chance to FINALLY read this beautiful recipe!fic; it's so warm and gentle, and you have truly captured Rosie's wonderful personality and her voice in the POV.

The recipe sounds really good. I would probably need to cut it in half for us--but I will definitely be trying it. The DH LOVES potato soup.
Edited Date: 2015-10-08 02:37 am (UTC)

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