Sam was so tired. His body was heavy like lead and his head as thick with cobwebs as the loft of the Cotton's old barn. Where was he? Was he home yet? This bed was so soft, much softer than his own bed. Perhaps he was at the Cotton's, and that was why he was thinking about their barn. Did they have soft beds? Sam liked soft beds. He liked this bed better than his own bed, but he wished he was home. He wanted to see the Shire again, all green rolling fields and neat hobbit holes with bright red doors. The sun would be shining, and he would run to the stream behind Tab Longleaf's and there would be water, clean clear water, enough for him and Mr. Frodo both –

Mr. Frodo. Where was Mr. Frodo? Was he here? Had they finished with that horrible quest and made it back to the Shire? Where was he? Where was Sam? Perhaps they were in Lothlorien, with elves, really, truly elves, the likes of which Sam'd always dreamt of, and they were resting in one of those treehouses, but that wasn't much of a price to pay for hot food and a soft bed. Oh, that would surely be nice. They hadn't been to Mordor yet, or met the Stinker or the Spider. The Fellowship was still whole and –

That wasn't right. That had already happened. They'd left the elves and Boromir had died but Sam had followed Mr. Frodo to Mordor, so that was all right, and they'd walked through marshes with dead people who seemed like to wake and grab you at any moment, and they'd climbed a mountain higher and blacker than any Sam had ever seen –

They'd climbed another mountain too. Later. That one was black and red, for blood and death, and all had seemed lost, and all had been lost, because Frodo had claimed the Ring

Sam was so tired. Where was he? His bed was soft, and he had piles of warm blankets, but he was too hot and too cold and his head was filled with cobwebs like the loft of the Cotton's old barn. Perhaps he was in Minas Tirith, and he was a hero, and people sang about him – him, Samwise Gamgee, all those lords bowing to him as if were any more than Mr. Frodo's gardener –

Mr. Frodo. Where was Mr. Frodo? Was he here in the white city too? He was the one they should be singin' songs about. He'd walked the whole way across Mordor, and up the slopes of Mount Doom, and what sort of name was that for a mountain? And Sam had followed, ever faithful Sam, how could he do anything else? Then they'd reached the top and Sam had thought it was over, all over, all done, but Frodo had failed. At the last, after walking a thousand million miles without a drop of water or a ray of sunlight, Frodo had failed, and Sam had wanted to scream and curse and weep. But he hadn't. He had stood and watched like he had no more brains than a lump of rock, and it had served him right when Stinker had clobbered him one and leapt at Mr. Frodo, who Sam couldn't even see now after following him the whole way across Middle Earth.

And they had fought. And they had fallen. And then there was the Ring

Sam was so tired. He didn't know where he was, but he didn't care because his head ached and his heart ached and Mr. Frodo was gone, fallen into the fire of Mount Doom, and Stinker was too though that was no tragedy, and the One Ring hadn't. And Sam had been angry, so terribly, terribly angry, that he had taken it. The Ring had sat there gleaming golden in the ash and smoke and Sam had picked it up and put it on.

Sam was so tired.

The Dark Lord had fallen, and the orcs and monsters and evil men had died, had burnt, and all Sam had been able to hear was Frodo's screams as he was burnt alive and there was nothing Sam could do to save him. Then the tower was falling and the gates were falling and the glory and the power and terribleness of it all made it want him weep, or maybe he was weeping because –

Why was he weeping? Where was he? Where were Mr. Merry and young Mr. Pippin, and Strider and good old Gandalf? No, no, Gandalf was dead. That had happened long ago. Strider, where was Strider? He would know what to do. He had seen Strider. Sam had been so angry, and the black gates had fallen and Sam had gone out, and he had seen Strider and Gandalf too, and they had fallen on their faces in terror and despair, and there had been screaming – No, that couldn't be right. Gandalf was dead. Sometimes Sam's memory played tricks on him these days.

But Strider. Where was Strider? Why hadn't he taken care of them? Or perhaps he had. Was he at Mount Doom? Perhaps he had fallen into the fire too. That sounded right. He remembered Strider screaming. It served him right. He hadn't saved Frodo. Why should he suffer any less? There had been a lot of fire, Sam remembered that. And Sam had been laughing –

Why had he been laughing? Perhaps Mr. Frodo had made a joke. That would be nice. Mr. Frodo hadn't been very happy for a long time. It was good that he was feeling better. Where was Mr. Frodo now? Sam couldn't for the life of him remember.

Perhaps it didn't matter so much. Just so long as he was all right. Sam was so tired. Settling back into his soft bed – where was he? His bed at home wasn't this soft – Sam curled his hand round the golden ring at his neck and began to drift off to sleep. Perhaps he would dream of the Shire tonight, and his old Gaffer. That would be nice.

Sam was always so tired these days. He wished he could remember why.