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Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this story for my own enjoyment.
Note: This chapter mercifully updated on 11/07/2012.
Bag End, 1435 Shire Reckoning
Sam awoke late the following morning to find that.the sun was already high in the sky. From the open window he could hear the noise of Bagshot Row’s other inhabitants as they went about their daily lives. He winced as he stretched, unable to remember the last time he’d had such a peaceful slumber.
This is how it should be, he thought. Nothing like a good night’s rest, except waking up next to Rosie.
Come to think of it, where was his Rosie?
He looked around the room, searching for his wife, but instead found a tall, dark-haired, grey-eyed Elf sitting in a snug hobbit chair and gazing at him with a soft smile on his face.
“Good morning, Master Gamgee,” said the graceful Elf in greeting.
Somewhat thrown by the unexpected visitor, it was a few seconds before he recalled the elf had been there earlier, watching over him when he first awoke.
He sat up hurriedly, which made his head spin and drew the concerned elf toward the bed.
“Well I never!” declared the bemused gardener, as his companion helped him to sit upright. “A Rivendell Lord in me own bedroom.”
The elf laughed, a pleasant tinkling sound, before returning to in his tiny chair.
Sam blushed. “Forgive me, my Lord. I’m just not used to waking up in such grand company, except that of my Rose of course.” He blushed again, aware the indelicate remark may have caused his guest some discomfort.
But his elegant companion did not seem to be offended. “That your beloved Rose is the first face you see each day is as it should be, my Lord Hobbit.”
The ‘Lord Hobbit’ shook his head at the formality. “Seeing as you are here, in my bedroom, and me all dressed up in my nightclothes and such, you might as well call me Sam. None o’ this ‘Lord’ or ‘Master Gamgee’ business. Plain old ‘Sam’s’ good enough for me.”
“Sam is certainly good enough for us all, perhaps too good. I am honoured that you grace me with such an intimate informality. Allow me to return the gesture and insist that you address me as Elladan.”
The curly-haired gardener mulled this over. “Well, I can try,” he finally announced. “But you’ll have to forgive me if I slip up now and then and call you Mr Elladan or something, as I’m not used to being so friendly-like with such grand folk.” He paused: there was something a little odd about that statement, wasn't there? Elladan’s raised eyebrow confirmed it.
“Oh no! I didn’t mean I wouldn’t want to be friendly with a great lord like yourself, I meant that I’m not used to my betters taking such an interest in what I myself call ’em.” He sighed. “It seems I’m running out of feet to stick in my mouth, we hobbits only have two you know,” he said shrugging in apology.
“Do not allow my brother to vex you so, mellon nin, he knows exactly what you mean,” announced Elrohir, who walked into the room and stopped at the edge of the bed. He wore an expression of stifled merriment. “He takes delight in teasing the unsuspecting and is therefore not your ‘better‘ - a fact your good friend Aragorn would attest to, Master Gamgee.”
“Sam,” chorused the others, and all three laughed in unison.
“And Aragorn is hardly unsuspecting, muindor nin.”
“Very well, Sam.” Elrohir bowed at him slightly in acknowledgement and ignored his twin‘s attempt to correct him regarding their foster brother. “How are you feeling on this happy morning?”
“Not too bad all things considering, Mr Elrohir, sir. A bit weak and wobbly perhaps, but I’m sort of sitting down just now so that’s not much of a worry.”
Elrohir nodded in understanding. “It may take a few days for you to recover your strength, but I believe that you will mend in time, given the appropriate care. You will need to eat plenty of that good hobbit food my brother and I have partaken of this day, and drink plenty of fluids.” So saying, he poured a glass of deliciously cool water and passed it to Sam, watching carefully to be certain his orders were heeded.
“Thank you kindly, sir. That did some good!” said Sam, sighing with relief as the soothing liquid ran down his raw throat. “You haven’t seen my Rosie by any chance, have you?”
Elladan answered for his twin. “Mistress Rose has been at your side all night and most of the morning. As your fever has now broken and you were resting comfortably, we deemed it fitting for her to lay down awhile. My brother was only able to coax her away ten minutes ago to ensure she took uninterrupted rest of her own. It would not do for her to overexert herself in her condition.”
“That was the right thing to do then, thank you. I hate to be such a bother to folk and to her - especially when she’s carrying the little ’un.”
Elrohir took a seat by the bed and enfolded Sam's hand in his own. “You are not a bother to Rose or anyone else Sam, do not think such things. It was our pleasure to care for you when you needed it most and we should do so again, if it were necessary.”
“Indeed,” confirmed Elladan. “What are family and friends for but to render aid when it is needed by their loved ones? It would not have been possible for you to recover from this illness alone, and all who are here needed to be in order to allay their own fears and see you returned to health. You would do the same, would you not?”
Seeing the sense in his words, Sam nodded. “I wouldn‘t have been able to stay away I suppose. If one of mine had to go through that ...”
Shivering slightly, he regarded them with clear brown eyes. “Did it really happen? I mean -” Sam paused to collect his thoughts cautiously “- I remember going to bed at the Floating Log in Frogmorton, and then all I know is that I was stuck in Mordor and it was after me - the Ring, that is. It was saying such awful things, showing me awful things. I thought I was going mad!”
“Alas, mellon nin, but it did happen.” Regret was heavy on Elrohir's face. “We would not have wished you to experience such a thing, yet I am afraid it was beyond the power of all to prevent. Had we realised there was such a danger to you, we would have ensured that aid came to you long before now in order to limit its severity.”
“Now don’t you be blaming yourselves! I don’t see’s how anyone could have realised there was a chance of a memory trying to hurt me so. I didn’t and I should know better than most - what with havin’ had care of Mr Frodo after the Quest and all!”
“Perhaps. But watching a friend struggle through such trials, and recognising the symptoms in oneself, is not as easy as you may think.” Elrohir retained his grip on Sam's hand as he asked: “What do you remember of your time in that dreaded place?”
As unwilling as he was to recall anything, Sam found that he couldn’t stop the memories from flooding back to him in all their dark glory. He pressed his eyes tightly closed and swallowed thickly, his throat protesting at the action. However, the gentle squeeze of his hand reminded him that he must no longer suffer in solitude.
Taking a cleansing breath, he opened his eyes.
“When the dream started, I found myself outside the lair of the great spider at Cirith Ungol holding Frodo’s dead body. I heard some orcs and found us a hideaway afore they arrived; after that I knew I had to take the Ring, seeing as Mr Frodo was dead – leastways I thought he was. I put it on and slipped passed the Tower, crossed into the Black Lands. Next came nearly two weeks walking over the Gorgoroth, all the while mourning my poor dead Master. But it wasn’t two weeks, was it?”
The Elven brothers shook their heads.
“Funny how dreams work. It felt like two weeks. I remember what the Ring was saying all those days. I remember every hard rock on my foot, every filthy puddle I had to drink from, the heat off the mountain and the pain of loss …”
“Do not dwell on that now, Sam,” said Elladan firmly but kindly. “It is but a memory that never occurred.”
“You’re right; I shouldn’t dwell on what never was. Anyway, I was just a few days from the mountain itself, or so it seemed, and the Ring had been trying like mad to make me put it on, so‘s it could find its way back to its Master and all. I wouldn’t do it. But I was so tired and sore and thirsty. One day I just fell and couldn’t get back up and it ... it ...”
Elladan now joined him on the other side of the bed. “If this is too much for you, mellon nin, we may talk of it later.”
Shaking his head, Sam composed himself quickly. “No, it’s best I get this over with and lighten my mind. The sun’ll never shine through storm clouds, me old Gaffer used to say, and he knew a thing or two or my name‘s not Sam Gamgee! Though, some folks call me Gardner now, but you know what I mean.” His friends smiled before encouraged him to continue. Taking a deep breath, he did just that.
“Well, there I was trying to get the energy to pick myself up and make myself go on, when the Ring pops up again. But this time things’re different. Its not trying to make me put it on anymore - its trying to tell me that I as good as killed Frodo because I left him. Said he was found by orcs who tortured him to death. It showed me a vision of him in a right terrible state, all whipped and bleeding-like, and said that Mr Frodo died hating me for leaving him and stealing the Ring” It was a difficult memory, and Sam had to swipe away the tears before they ran down his face.
“At the time I didn’t realise I was dreaming: I believed what it said. It kept going on about how I betrayed Frodo. I was so upset! Then I cried out in Elvish and suddenly I saw things how they really happened - how Mr Frodo’d survived and came back to the Shire with me. But then I remembered that he’d had to leave the Shire or else he’d’ve died and I was upset again, thinking I’d failed him after all. Oh, I know now it's not true an' all, but after that the Ring just kept attacking me, saying as that everyone hated me and that I was no good; that Merry and Pippin thought I was trying to take Mr Frodo’s place and that everyone’d rather have him instead o’ me. An’ I wouldn’t blame them if they did! I’d rather he was here, too!”
Sam cried in earnest now, missing his hobbit friends' entry until they were almost upon him.
“Don’t say that!” exclaimed Merry, wounded. “You never hurt us. Why would you think such an awful thing? We’ve never thought it! You might not be Frodo, but he’s not you either. We'd be lost without you! We’re your friends aren’t we? We wouldn’t lie to you about that!”
Elladan tried to appease the agitated Master of Buckland. “Peace Merry! He does not speak of what he believes, only of the deceptions of the Ring.”
But Merry was not to be comforted and ploughed regardless. “You don’t really think that Sam, do you? You must know we love you as much as if you were our own dear cousin?” Big eyes beseeched the gardener imploringly.
Sam composed himself for the sake of his friends. He didn‘t want them to suffer any more than they already had, what with the fright he‘d given them recently.
“I’m sorry Merry. I didn’t mean to upset you. Of course I know you care - and if it’s half as much as I care about the two of you, then I’ll count myself blessed! Anyway, I couldn't ever leave my Rosie or the children.” This seemed to have a positive effect on the elder cousin, leaving Sam relieved that he’d managed to calm him somewhat.
His eyes found those of the Elves'. “I was alone with it for so long; I felt trapped and couldn’t find any way back to my family. I thought I would surely be there forever, trying to escape while it laughed at me.”
Pippin, who had been trying to calm Merry after his outburst, had to be soothed in turn by the Knight of Rohan. Sam continued.
“And then I wasn’t alone no more. You were there trying to talk to me, but I fought you. I’m sorry about that,” he apologised. “I didn’t know any better. Thought you were another cruel trick, see, for I’d seen so many already - false visions and such.”
Elrohir bade him to think no more of it. “The Ring was doing all in its power to deceive you because you would not succumb to it. You enraged it with your constant defiance and refusal to bow to its will.”
“Hah! I‘ve told you before that you were stubborn Sam! But you never believe me,” exclaimed Pippin.
Merry silenced his younger cousin. “Yes, Pip. You’re very clever. Now shut up and let them finish!”
“So,” resumed Elrohir, “It showed you false things in order to convince you that you had been abandoned by your friends. We knew this to be the case before we made the final attempt to retrieve you, and also that you may resist us because of this.”
“Well all I can say is that I’ve never been so happy to see two people in my life! At first it might not have seemed so,” he added sheepishly, "but you wouldn’t give up. You're are more stubborn than any Gamgee I’ve ever met!”
Pippin snorted in disbelief, then yelped as Merry promptly elbowed him in the stomach, but Sam ignored him.
“You didn‘t give me much choice but to believe you, and then when you came back Mr Elladan and brought that wonderful feeling with you ... I can‘t ever thank you both enough for what you‘ve done. All of you.”
Merry and Pippin puffed out their chests.
“It was our honour and our pleasure, Ring-bearer.” The elven brothers rose and bowed, making Sam blush yet again.
Not to be outdone, Merry added; “Well, it was nothing really. Got you away from the old in-laws, eh Pip?”
“Yes, thanks for that Sam! But maybe next time you could just invite me out for an ale instead of collapsing all over the place. I could’ve came up with a convincing excuse to leave the Great Smials instead of ripping up half the garden and leaving Diamond in such a panic! I am the Thain you know, I‘ve an image to preserve!”
Everyone laughed at the thought of Pippin tearing at his plants in a mad frenzy.
“Bet that’s the first time you’ve seen the garden this year,” said Merry knowingly.
“It is not! I’ll have you know I take strolls in it regularly to avoid … I mean to take a breath of fresh air.”
“To avoid whom? The in-laws? Have they really been that bad?” enquired Merry, sniggering at the Thain's rapidly flushing face.
“I believe Sam was expressing his thanks for our timely rescue,” said Pippin regally, turning from his cousin in affront. “It’s rude to interrupt someone when they’re trying to express their gratitude.”
Deciding it was probably best if he saved Pippin any further grief, Sam interceded. “Talking of gardens, Mr Elladan, I picked a lot of athelas to help me sleep better, but it didn’t seem to be working too well those last few weeks. In fact, it barely lasted me an hour or two in the end. Do you know why that was?”
“Tell me, Samwise Gamgee-sometimes-Gardner,” drawled Elladan, in a voice reminiscent of the father who’d chastised him as a naughty elfling. “How long exactly did you require such help?”
The gardener fidgeted uneasily with his bed sheets.
“Well, a few weeks perhaps.”
Elladan raised an eyebrow and Sam suddenly had a vision of Elrond berating Frodo for trying to get up out of bed too soon after his recovery in Rivendell. Elrohir wore a similar expression on his face, and even Merry and Pippin were watching him solemnly.
“Oh, all right then, a few months!”
“A few months! Samwise Gamgee, you foolish Hobbit! What on earth were you thinking to try to keep this from us all this time? Did you think we wouldn’t notice when you dropped at our feet in exhaustion? Do you think Rose and the children don’t deserve to know that their husband and father is poorly? You’re worse than a Baggins!” Merry paced the room, building up a fine head of steam and - Sam noted with some resentment - the others seemed to be happy to let him do so.
“All these misplaced notions of sparing others feelings!” He swung round, waving a finger at Sam in accusation. “Don’t you realise you make it worse for us when we find you in the state we did two days ago? Do you know what poor Rosie and Elanor-lass went through when we brought you in here last night, all fevered and kicking and screaming like some mad thing? To say nothing of the shock I got when I found you lying on the floor back at the inn? You didn‘t spare our feelings much then, let me tell you!”
Sam was flooded with shame as he realised just what effect his reluctance to talk had had on his family and friends. “I’m sorry Merry, Pippin. Forgive me, Mr Elladan, Mr Elrohir, sirs. I didn’t mean to cause you all such worry. It's just, it was difficult to talk about my dreams back then. I had no idea it would all turn out this way. I’m truly sorry!”
“Do not distress yourself. All is well now, mellon nin,” Elladan assured him, and Elrohir nodded in agreement. Pippin even managed to calm his raging cousin; Merry now looked rather contrite after his outburst. Elladan rose to offer him his place, which Merry gratefully accepted.
“All right then, you stubborn old Gamgee,” said the Brandybuck. “Just don’t do such a silly thing again. I know it’s hard to talk about things sometimes, we both do - don’t we Pip?”
Pippin’s head bobbed in agreement. “What Merry’s trying to say is that we’re always here for you. It doesn’t matter if you think we‘ll worry; that‘s our right as your friends. We wouldn’t not want to hear your troubles. It’s never a bother to listen to a friend in need. Or do you wish us away when we talk about our bad times?”
“Of course not!” screeched Sam, mortified at the idea of treating his friends in such a way.
“Well then, that’s no different to how we feel. So what makes you think you have the right to spare our feelings when we know you’d want to hear our problems?”
Merry seemed impressed by this argument. “Very eloquent Pip.”
“Thank you, Mer. I have my moments.”
Sam looked at them with a mixture of fondness and embarrassment at how he had treated them. “All right. I promise that from now on I’ll talk to you - and Rosie - about what’s bothering me before I ever let it get this far again.”
“Excellent news!” announced Elrohir, sounding rather like Gandalf. “I am pleased that matter is settled. Returning to your query regarding the athelas, it is possible that the duration and strength of your nightmares, coupled with the lingering effects of the Ring, may have been hindering you from using it to full effect.”
“Thus speeding you towards the unfortunate confrontation with the Ring,” added Elladan, also in full Healer mode.
“Precisely!” finished Elrohir. He regarded the Mayor seriously. “I cannot impress upon you enough the importance of speaking with your family and friends if such a situation ever arises again. The chances of a second such encounter with the Ring ending so fortuitously cannot be guaranteed if you do not. Indeed, were it not for the fortunate visit of Radagast the Brown, we may have been too late to save you this time.”
“Radagast the Brown?” exclaimed Sam in disbelief.
“Certainly.” Elladan grinned at the look of delighted shock on his face. “It seems you have the ability to charm even the reclusive from their hiding places.” He explained the circumstances of the Wizard’s visit as Sam listened in wonder.
“By all the stars! Radagast the Brown and his birds … and old Mr Gandalf going out of his way like that to talk to him, just to keep a watch over me.” He blessed his good fortune, and promised the Elven lords that he would not be so lax in alerting his family and friends if he ever fell ill again, especially now that he knew of the danger he faced.
“Sam-dad! You’re awake again!” Elanor's happy cry drew everyone's attention, and all laughed in delight as she ran - skirts and golden curls flying - across the room to launch herself at her father.
“Ellie, me lass! Oh I’ve missed you, my little golden flower!”
The others slowly withdrew, leaving Sam and his Ellie-lass to their happy reunion.
Merry and Pippin departed to the kitchen to make Sam a sturdy hobbit meal while Elladan and Elrohir paused at the doorway to watch father and daughter talking and laughing as if there had never been any danger. It warmed their hearts to see such love.
After a moment more, they too left, determined to hunt down a missing tooth and help Sam keep the promise he made several years ago.
Mellon nin - My friend
Muindor nin - My brother
Author’s Note: I wanted to show the memory Ring's 'hatred' of Sam with this story. As it has no physical presence and has been confined to the mind of a major nemesis for 15 years, wallowing at its corporeal destruction, I wondered how it may have tormented/punished him. It couldn't realistically taunt him with visions of lost power (which Sam would shun anyway) or pose an actual bodily or psychological threat to his family or friends. This left me with one option - having it attempt to usurp his confidence in the status his loved ones held him.
I hope the story hasn't come across as being only about guilt, though, but concede the point if it does.
Next: Final chapter! Aragorn & Co. meet the Hobbits and the tying of a loose end.
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