Gollum stared blankly into the inky night.
He could hear the shuffle-hiss of the two hobbits resting in the underbrush, and audible over their movement was the sound of crickets. But Gollum could hear another sound. It was the sound of the moon. His eyes cast mirrored reflections, twin moons in his own ghastly face, and he blinked, and for a moment, the blackness of night consumed the glade once again. But as fleeting of a motion as his blink was, the moment passed and the clearing basked in the moon shadows anew.
They loves us.
No.
He loves us.
No.
No?
They hates us.
No!
Smeagol shook his head vehemently. Master of the Precious was kind to Smeagol, told Smeagol he could join them. It was that other hobbit that did not like Smeagol. Master is good, Smeagol assured Gollum. His face contorted, and his lip rose in an inadvertent snarl.
He hates us.
No! Master was good, Master was kind, Master fed Smeagol and Gollum and cared for them. Master had the Ring.
Yes. . .he taked it from us. . .we hates Bagginses. . .we hates them. . .
Master protects the Ring the way Master protects us.
And Sam. He loves his Sam but not us. He feeds Sam first. . .
Smeagol bit his lip. He had lived with Gollum so long that Gollum's logic seemed infallible. Why did Master feed Sam first? Why did Master love Sam more than he loved Smeagol?
He plans to kill us.
No. Smeagol shook his head. Gollum was wrong. Master was full of love and kindness and warmth. . .enough for everybody. Smeagol wanted to feel that warmth, wanted to end this inner torment and scurry back to the warmth of his two other companions. He wanted to share the bond of love that the two others enjoyed. Yes, it would take longer for the other one to be good to Smeagol, but with Master's guidance, soon both hobbits would love Smeagol.
He hates us. He will betray us.
"No!" Smeagol spat, then quickly slapped his hand to his mouth. He glanced around anxiously, his eyes darting around the clearing, lingering on the two sleepers. If they heard him, they gave no sign. He dropped his voice to a soft whisper, "No, he loves us."
Well. . .maybe Master loves us. . .but Sam will poison his head and Sam will convince Master to kill us. Master's body is strong, but his mind is weak.
Weak with his love?
Yes, weak with his love, for Sam. . . and not for us. . .
No!
Smeagol rose swiftly to his feet and inched his way toward Frodo's peaceful, dreaming form. His feet landed silently on the soft dirt, and he paused when he could hear Frodo's even, smooth breathing. Sam and Frodo were sleeping side by side, one of Frodo's hands covered by Sam's. In sleep, both their faces were peaceful and unafraid; in dreams, they were able to escape from the perils and horrors of the road they traveled.
Smeagol fought the thought that rose in his mind and gazed almost affectionately at the sleeping Master. The innocent, delicate master.
With the weak mind. Kill him now before he kills you!
No! Smeagol promised to be very good to kind master, and he will be. Master will never hurt Smeagol, never ever. Good master, loves us both!
Wicked master hates us, keeps the Precious for himself. Kill him now, take the Precious from him! He stole it, and he's a Baggins! We hates Bagginses forever!!!
Not this Baggins! Smeagol had had enough of Gollum's arguments; he would no longer listen to any of his twin's urging. Go away!
What?! The thought came as a venomous hiss, unbelieving.
Go away.
You don't mean it.
I do. Go away! Never hurt kind Master.
You likes Sam and Master? We are Sam and Master. We are bound like Sam and Master. If I leave, you will die.
Master will care for us. I don't need you!
You do.
No! Go away!
I won't.
You will...Go away and NEVER come back!!!
This final outburst seemed to radiate from Smeagol's small, shivering form. A stunned silence filled the air in and outside of the mutated body. Even the crickets seemed to die down. Smeagol sat in the still evening, his hands pressed to his ears, but no sound ensued. It appeared that Gollum had truly left.
I'm free?
No voice answered.
Gollum has left me?
Indeed he had. A slow smile crept across Gollum's face, an unfamiliar moue that he welcomed with only the vaguest discomfort on his face. His teeth flashed in the darkness, his smile beaming across the glade. He traced his fingers down his cheeks and felt warm dampness there. What was this? Tears? Smeagol did not know tears, but he did recognize that they accompanied the overwhelming relief that flooded his system.
"Smeagol?"
Smeagol jumped at the sound of the tentative voice. For a frightened, fleeting instant, he pictured Gollum's ugly visage, but the voice was too soft and too gentle to align with the distaste that Gollum oozed.
"Master?"
"Are you cold?" Frodo's lake blue eyes seemed to match the paleness of the moon in the dim light. Smeagol paused, cocked his head at Master. "Are you cold? Join us."
Smeagol felt his heart would explode. What was this? Master asking him to join him and Sam? He glanced down at the hobbit, at the linked hands that joined the pair. His eyes trailed over those hands, that cue of inseparable and unbreakable friendship. Doubt echoed in the back of his mind with the gravelly voice of Gollum, but he shook it away with a full-body shudder.
"Smeagol will join Master," Smeagol said happily.
And thus it was.
~Fin & The End~