Disclaimer: I don't own LotR or anything to do with it. -sigh- Ah well, there's always tomorrow...

A/N: This was written to combat writer's block. It's also my first LotR fic, and has a couple of references to the book.

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Fade Away

Years upon years after Sauron's downfall, he rose again. And if that wasn't scary enough, the One Ring was found.

The One Ring. I've heard all those stories, the stories of the Ring of Power, and how Isildur cut it from the hand of Sauron himself. And then he went and lost it, didn't he? Before it could be destroyed...

I heard Isildur refused to destroy it. After all that, all those lives lost because of Sauron, the fool Isildur couldn't- or wouldn't- destroy a terrible object full of Sauron's power.

Then all these years later, it's been found. Then it's been taken to Rivendell- Imladris, if you're an Elf- for safekeeping.

But they couldn't keep it there, oh no. 'It must be destroyed', we heard. It must be destroyed. Taken to the very fires of Mount Doom- Orodruin- in Mordor and cast in.

Mordor. Ah, the very name of that land sends shivers up my spine. Everyone knows about Mordor. It's his realm, you know. Sauron's. The very molecules in the air are forsaken. The whole place is barren, a wasteland, black as death and red as fire and blood. To go there is suicide!

I heard that they held a council. Lots of 'important' people attended. Well, I suppose it was an important decision they had to make...

And, rather than one of the Elves, Men, and even Dwarves, a Hobbit was chosen! To carry the Ring! A Hobbit!

I heard that Frodo Baggins volunteered himself. But really, that can't be true... if it is then the guy's either very brave or very foolish.

They chose 8 other people to go with him. The 'Fellowship', altogether they were called. Later to be known as 'the Nine Walkers'.

The fate of Middle-Earth was in Frodo Baggins' hands. He bore the Ring, and even though he had his Fellowship with him I think he knew deep down that he was alone, utterly alone.

And I kept asking to myself: why? Why did fate choose him? I mean, Frodo was just like us. Like me. I met him, you know, once. He was a nice respectable chap. A Hobbit with meagre cares and worries, living his life in peace in the Shire like the rest of us. Well, he had a reputation to be a tad eccentric, but he probably got that off his cousin, Bilbo. Now he was an oddball. But a nice one at that.

I met the other three folk as well, once or twice. Merry Brandybuck. Lived up to his nickname, alright. Pippin Took...great too, if a little young? Sam Gamgee, the Gaffer's son...now he was a respectable Hobbit if you ever saw one. Frodo's Gardener too, if I remember correctly. Those four, they were just ordinary folk. And I always noticed about Merry and Pippin, they had this childlike approach about life which I liked. But my oh my, what did the four of you get yourselves into this time?

But you did it. By Valar, you did it, Frodo Baggins, and Sam Gamgee helped you too!

I heard all of you had quite the adventures...

It seemed like you were gone for ages, a lot of people doubted you'd come back.

But you did come back. All four of you. First thing you all did was get rid of that oaf Sharkey, thank goodness.

I remember when I first saw you all, just after the Scouring of the Shire. You were all on Horses. I didn't recognise you all at first!

Merry, Merry Brandybuck. All dressed up in strange armour (which you later told me was from Rohan, and that you were an esquire...an esquire? Good grief!), carrying a sword, commanding and leading. I remember you blowing that strange horn a couple of times, too. What happened to you! You'd grown up. You reminded me so much of those army leaders from old tales right then. One of your arms didn't look quite right either...I heard later you'd help slay a Witch King- one of those frightening Black Riders I saw a few months back. Then when you dismounted, my, you were tall! Probably one of the tallest in the whole Shire. Now that was a shock.

Then Pippin, Pippin Took. In fancy armour too, though different to Merry's. Carrying a sword as well. I swore they looked Gondorian. I was right, as well. I heard you were an esquire also, though to Gondor and not to Rohan. You were commanding and leading right next to Merry. As tall as him, too. A sudden sad realisation hit me then. You lost your innocence. That innocence I always loved. Who took that away from you?

I spotted Sam after that. You were garbed in nothing special, and I noticed you'd lost a lot of weight. Good for you, but what did you go through that made you lose all that, I wonder? I heard you accompanied Frodo, right to the very end. And I don't doubt that. Loyal Samwise, I've heard you being called...I agree. Ever the gardener, when you got back, you set about restoring the plantlife that that Sharkey and his servants destroyed. I'm sure that box of soil you used was magic...

And Frodo. Frodo Baggins. You kept to yourself when you got back. You were quiet. That Ring did something to you, something that I don't know will ever heal.

It seemed to me that all of you got something happy out of all this: Merry, all grown up, tall and an esquire. Pippin, tall and an esquire, later becoming a Thain. Sam, married his love Rosie Cotton, settled down and became Mayor. You were all recognised as some sort of heroes.

Except you, Frodo. You carried the fate of the world, the Ring, right to the barren, forsaken Mordor and the fiery Mount Doom. You destroyed it when Isidur couldn't, you bore it when no one else could, you were never tempted (well, at the end you were, I heard, but that doesn't count!) when people of more noble bloodline were...everywhere would have been shrouded in darkness if you had failed...

It just seems like you were just forgotten, you were never recognised properly for what you did by your own people. That saddens me. But I didn't and never will raise the point up. I know you never wanted me to, or anyone else for that matter. You just wanted to live the rest of your life in peace.

But you couldn't, could you? Not in the Shire. You didn't fit in anymore, after all you'd done, all you'd been through. You stayed for a few years, then you left...and was never seen again.

Well, wherever you are now, Frodo Baggins, I hope you've found healing, and the peace you deserve.

Old Soldiers never die, they simply fade away.

END

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A/N: Well, there it is. Please tell me what you think of it. No flames please, but constructive critism is very much welcome. I'm not entirely sure if I've interpreted the saying at the end in the right way. Oh well.