Elijah Wood made comments about Frodo's need to save Gollum to prove to himself that he can escape the Ring's influence. This simmered out of those thoughts.

by Laura Mason

"Mr. Frodo." You see the pain in his eyes. "Frodo, please. Eat something."

But Rosie's good food is ashes in your mouth. You don't deserve her kindness or Sam's care, or the sunshine on the green hills of the Shire.

"I'm sorry, Sam. Maybe later." You walk away, flee, to your study where neither of them will disturb you. They don't know you haven't written anything for weeks now. You sit at Bilbo's desk and stare out the window, seeing only shadow and flame. When you've tried to hold a pen in your maimed hand, you see bony fingers gnarled by time and torture.

Sam knocks at ten, reminding you of the hour, but he doesn't enter and you breathe easier once he's gone off to bed with her. Sam deserves a warm, soft bed and the comfort of a warm, loving mate beside him. Sam didn't fail.

Oh, Sam is changed. So are Merry and Pippin, for that matter, and the hobbits of the Shire comment on it, surprised. But they didn't lose themselves utterly, didn't lose their souls. They didn't betray those who depended on them. They didn't betray the one they loved.

No, Sam did everything right. Except, perhaps, for pulling you away from the Cracks of Doom and out into the open air, where Gandalf could save you.

You saved no one. You weren't strong enough, brave enough, or good enough to carry out the task appointed to you.

The world was saved, not by you, but by Gollum -- the creature you failed to redeem, the being you used, betrayed, and ultimately killed. The Ring destroyed him, but you insisted he could be saved. Fool. You saved no one.

When dawn light comes through the window you finally move, stiff and cold, and wrap yourself in a blanket as you lay on the floor. The stone is cold, hard -- no more than you deserve. Bilbo's feather beds belong to Sam now, though he doesn't know it yet. Bag End will pass on, not to a Baggins as Bilbo dreamed, but to Sam and his family. You see it all clearly, Sam and Rosie's growing family, full of love and life. You know it has already begun, though Rosie hasn't told you yet that she's pregnant.

You imagine Sam happy, free from worrying about you. It will happen, once he realizes you aren't worth caring for. Sam didn't fail; he deserves a reward. Deserves happiness and long life. He will have them once you leave Bag End, and if Sam is too kindly to throw you out you will banish yourself.

You lie on the floor, shaking with cold, hunger, exhaustion. And it's not enough. You deserve more punishment, though no one else will give it to you. You could seek death, but death would be too easy. No, you'll live. You'll force food into your body at breakfast, and drag through another day.

You'll even write more of the story. It's the least you can do for Sam, to make a record of his heroism -- and your failure -- for his children to read. It will hurt, as it always does. You deserve the pain.

You hear Elrond's voice again, whispering of sailing West. You see Arwen's eyes as she offered you the stone that is locked in the desk drawer. They know the whole story; Gandalf learned everything that had happened. You wonder that any of them, powerful and wise as they are, could think you deserve comfort or healing.

You didn't save Smeagol, and no one will save you. You won't let them.


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