Disclaimer: AU Story. My second large fic because it gave me so much pleasure writing the last. I do not own any of the characters or places in this story- both belong to the genius, Tolkien. I know; I torture the characters but I will do my very best to save them. Hope you enjoy!

TrueFan: No, I am afraid that this is the ending. One chapter shorter than Lost in Moria. *sniff* It's so upsetting! Glad you like the choccies!

The Fellowship of the Nuts: She did, technically. Aragorn holds the heart of her granddaughter and she's a bit miffed that Arwen wants to stay behind in Middle-Earth with him. In the book, of course, he gets a nice sheath for his sword but, well, you know.....

Elf of Rivendell: Glad you liked Ch. 21! Maybe not a sequel but certainly another story quite soon.

Shirebound: Did I spell Rauros incorrectly? Oops! Thank you for pointing that out. I am very pleased you liked the phial. I thought that should be made quite special for Frodo, considering he's had a terrible time in Lórien.

Blue Jedi Hobbit 009: Wahay! *joins in the Happy Frodo Chicken Dance* Thank you for the comments! The fic goes ever on and on, down from the chap where it began, now far ahead the fic has gone and I must finish if I can. :-)

Lil*bee: Yay! Hello again! I missed you! But at least you got to see lots of TTT. Good for you! D'aw, don't mention it. Legolas is a nice guy and he deserves more credit than I give him in this story. Maybe in the next one, I will give him a more major role. Hmm, I think Frodo could easily compete with him on "hottest person on the planet."

A Elbereth: I am so happy that I was able to create a believable picture for you. Your comment made me feel all shiny!

Feline Deamon: ARG! *runs away from rubber mallet- hides behind rock* I'm safe enough now to thank you for your comments. Yes. NEVER EAT SUGAR AGAIN!

So here it stands. The last chapter for possibly my favourite LOTR fic. We've shared some angst. We've shared some, er, orcs. All your reviews (127!) have been so wonderful. They really made me feel like part of this story. In Lost in Moria I tried to focus on courage and strength of mind while in Trials of Lórien, I tried to get inside people's heads to see how they felt about going on and what lay behind. ---Lil*bee, I think, asked me about yet another story about Frodo and Leggy. That's on my Things to Do list. I do love completing a bit of homework and then being able to pack it all away before jumping onto the computer and immersing myself in Middle- Earth. Farewell! Thank you for being wonderful!

~ Chapter Twenty-Two ~

When Frodo reached the boats, he found the Fellowship waiting for him. They did not ask what his gift was but only bid him enter so that they could get on their way. Frodo joined Sam in Aragorn's boat and sat in silence, mulling over Galadriel's words. They pushed off from the shore and Frodo heard Sam let out a squeak of dismay behind him. He turned with a smile and rested a hand on his friend's knee.

"It's alright, Sam. I promise you nothing will happen. Trust me. Nothing- will-happen."

The hobbit looked up nervously. He trusted his master so completely. And it warmed his heart to see Frodo's strength returning. His doubts about the water melted somewhat. They would be alright.

"Frodo..Sam.. The Lady watches from the shore," Aragorn said softly as he forced the paddle through the water. The friends looked to the shore and they saw her. A shining figure cut out against the trees, her ageless face clear under the silver hood and cloak. She raised a hand reverently and bowed her head slightly as the company passed. Then, as if the intervening moments had been sliced out of existence, Galadriel was gone.

The elves, dressed in flowing grey robes, were singing their farewells. They lifted a hand ceremoniously to the Fellowship as they passed. The hobbits waved madly to them and the elves laughed quietly among themselves. Frodo was taking his final look at Lothlórien. Everything was bathed in a warm glow and the leaves dusted the banks like emeralds. The mallorns appeared to sway to and fro, the wind between their branches murmuring goodbyes. Even the birds settled along the fringes of the river to watch them pass. And then Lórien was suddenly behind them; a green and blue vision wavering before their eyes. The company saw the elves melt back behind the trees and the birdsong resumed. And it seemed to them that they had re-entered the real world again, filled with fear, doubt and war.


Night came swiftly and the boats pulled into a shallow cove to rest. Sam laid out the bedrolls under the shade of a gnarled tree and then delved into his pack to find some lembas. He looked up to see Frodo walking towards the water. He frowned and began to follow him. They reached the river edge and stopped. Frodo was gazing down, unmoving.

"Mister Frodo?" Sam asked gingerly. His master flinched and glanced over to his friend. There were tears in his eyes.

"Whatever's the matter, Frodo?" Sam cried, placing a hand on his shoulder. The hobbit frowned and looked away.

"I- I know it'll sound foolish, Sam. I know I've spent too much time dwelling on it. But.. ever since we left this morning, I can't get the thought of Gandalf out my head. It's like it's all come rushing back to me and it hurts just as much as before, when it first happened. Oh, Sam," he said, looking up, "It weighs so heavily. And we need him so much."

Frodo sagged and Sam thought he would cry himself his master looked so very worn. So tired. He had seen too much and it was going to hurt for such a long time.

"It's not going to go away, Mister Frodo," he said softly, "But.. there was something Pippin said. He said he didn't think Gandalf would have wanted us to be sad for him. I believe that. He'd want you to go on! I told you, sir, that it'd hurt for a long time. I still miss him. And I- I felt the same when we left Lórien. Like it all fell back on my mind, if you get my meaning. But we all have to go on for him. I know it might seem that all the world's against you and that there's nothing left in this world that's good. But if you really care about this quest, Frodo, then do it for him. Destroy the Ring for Gandalf. That's what he wanted more than anything. He was here to help Middle-Earth. And now it's up to you to help it. Save it, even! You've got to finish what Gandalf meant to do. It'll all come good in the end. Somehow. It'll all work out."

Frodo threw his arms round Sam's neck and clung on. He shut his eyes tight and held on, fearing that if he let go, he might lose his dearest friend as well. Sam was keeping faith for him. Always focusing on what had to be done. And he always knew what to say.

"You're not alone, Mister Frodo," whispered Sam, "Whatever anyone might say, you're not alone."


Frodo woke from a horrific nightmare. He was gasping for breath and there was a throbbing in his chest. He looked down to make sure that the blade from his dreams was not truly there. With a deep sigh, he climbed out from under his blankets and went to stand by the water. It flowed steadily onwards, unaware of any sorrow or pain that may occur along its path. It did not let anything bar its way to get to its destination.

"Maybe I should be like that. Harden my heart to everything but the quest," Frodo murmured to himself. 'But then,' he thought, 'I would become the Ring's tool. Letting It guide me.' His hand went instinctively to his neck and he played with the chain round his neck as he thought. Lórien was gone. He had found little healing there. Only time would somehow lessen the evil of the memory. He could not go on. How could he? How could he fight this terror every single day? It was too powerful. In the dark of the night, the Ring's call began whispering at his ear. Like shadows, pressing in on all sides. It grew stronger.


Frodo took a faltering step into the water.

Go on..

And another. The current began to tug at his legs.


He went deeper until the water swirled about his waist.


And suddenly he was underwater. Everything pressed down on him, forcing the breath from his lungs. He was tossed and tumbled along the riverbed amid a wash of stones and sand. They cut into his face and Frodo felt the life beginning to fail within him. The Ring started to slip from round his neck..

Legolas wrapped his arm round the hobbit's neck and struck out for the shore. He heard Frodo begin to cough and splutter behind him and he felt his heart slip back into the right place. His feet touched the bottom and he lifted Frodo free from the Anduin's waters. The river moved on, heedless of what it had almost done. Almost hiding the Ring for another Age.

Legolas laid Frodo out on the bank where he immediately bent double and choked up a lot of water. When it seemed to have finished he stayed with his head between his knees for a long time, breathing deeply. Legolas sat down beside him, exhausted. He was anxious to know what had happened.

"Frodo.. what happened?" he asked. Wide, scared eyes looked up from under the dark curls plastered to his forehead.

"I don't know. There was a voice telling me to go on and the next thing I know I'm in the water. It was so frightening!"

He reached convulsively out and his fingers caught tight hold of the elf's tunic. Legolas put his arm round him and rocked back and forth.

"It's alright. It's over now. You're safe."

"You saved my life, Legolas," Frodo said, as if it had just occurred to him. He pulled away and met his companion's eyes. "Thank you."

Legolas smiled at him.

"Telin le thaed."


When the sun was high in the sky, the light fell on an empty cove. The Fellowship had left. Silence reigned but for the soft running of the Anduin that had been there since the creation of the world. Now it ran on. From the mountains, through the woods and fields, coursing through hills, round mill wheels, under stone and over marsh to this little inlet. Now the company rode its back south. To Rauros. And beyond to Mordor. All that was left of their passing was a staff embedded in the stones under the tree. A piece of parchment had been left amid its woody fingers.

The Grey Pilgrim still wanders..