by Laura Mason
Sunshine, running water, and green grass. It feels like a miracle after days on the sharp rocks of Emyn Muir. Despite Gimli's warnings, Sam and Frodo were unprepared for the harshness of the approach to Mordor. Now that Gollum is leading them away from the Black Gate, to the more secret entrance he claims exists, they've entered a land that feels alive, not dead. And it's wonderful.
"Hey, stinker, don't get too far ahead," Sam calls, watching the creature splash through the water in search of fish.
"Why do you always do that?" Frodo asks, grief in his voice, and the sunshine of the day fades just a bit for Sam. "Why do you call him names, run him down?"
"Because that's what he is, Mr. Frodo," Sam begins. "There's naught left in him but lies and deceit. It's the Ring he wants; that's all he cares about."
"You have no idea what the Ring has done to him. What it's still doing..." Frodo looks away for just a moment, then back at Sam with pleading eyes. "I want to help him, Sam."
"Why?" Sam replies, pleading, wanting to understand. Frodo turns away, his voice dropping and becoming faint.
"Because I have to believe he could come back."
Sam immediately understands; it's as if Frodo's mind and heart are laid open to him.
"Of course we can save him, Frodo. He'll come back; there's still good in him and we've seen it, thanks to you." Frodo turns to Sam, his face alight with joy. "The Ring can't destroy him, or you."
Frodo reaches for him and pulls him into a warm embrace, tears of hope and gladness in his eyes.
"You're safe, Mr. Frodo. I'll never let you go. I understand now..."
"Sam. Sam, wake up!" Sam snaps awake, feeling Rosie's hand on his arm. "You were having a nightmare, my dearest, and crying. Wake up, Sam. You're safe now."
Samwise Gamgee, master of Bag End and Mayor of Hobbiton, rolls into his wife's comforting arms, sobbing.
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