In the End

A tale of the Fellowship of the Ring

All characters © J.R.R. Tolkien and whoever made the movie.



One: Duty



I thought, if I ran, perhaps I could make it there on time to block their progress and perhaps save him and the little ones before things went downhill from there. Heard the Horn of Gondor in the distance, there is no mistaking the sound it makes, rolling through the forest and back to us and signaling that he still lives, even if he alone. I thought, if I ran, I could surely confront whatever was plaguing him and the Halflings and together, what can possibly stop us? But I was a fool, and in the end, he paid the price of my overconfidence.

I thought, if I ran, if I try hard enough, if I hurried to his aid, that was all that was needed. Things could not go wrong if only we stood united, Orcs, Trolls, cruel nature, we would face it, as long as each of us is there for the other. Our group was not called a fellowship for nothing, I supposed, and wasn't even imagining it took more than teamwork. I was never optimistic, about the quest, about anything, but despair gives rise to confidence and confidence gives rise to complacency in its own time. There I was thinking daily that we were ready to face the challenges - have we not, for a long time now? - and even the Mines of Moria and all that happened could not have shaken that faith, all things considered. And there I was in front of all theses Orcs charging at us, a full army, hearing screams and trunks breaking, Gimli's cries of defiance and the whistling of Legolas' arrows, and I was not worried one moment. Until I heard the Horn blow and realized he wasn't with us. Then I was running, only I wasn't running fast enough.

It's been my duty to protect the whole unfortunate lot of them, more so it was my duty to protect him. I was his king in the end and that is what was expected of me. I was responsible for the others because of the quest, and that was heavy enough a burden. But the moment I first saw him and heard who he was and where he came from, things were different with him. To his life, I was responsible more than because we were both in the Company, but of a deep bond between Men, and between warrior and one who sends warriors into battle.

I never let him see it, because he would not want me to, but I cared for him more than I did for Legolas or even the Ring-Bearer. It was no friendship, no mission, it was a duty.

Duties define us. My duty was to lead, not merely trust in the strength of the group, to be first in the line and not merely a part of it. My duty was to protect him.

I thought, if I ran, and stand by him, my duty would be fulfilled.

He's dead now.



~*~



Two: Friendship



I cannot say I cared for him - indeed, why should I? Noble as Elves may present themselves to be we care not for the hordes of Men. They have their ways, we have ours, and scarcely do we mingle. Such is the way of things, which I believed to be for the best. I had no desire for his friendship and indeed gained it not.

I cannot say I cared for him, though we had seen hard times together in a manner that often brings people closer, or so it is told in the tales of the Elder Days. Defy death together with a stranger, and he is a stranger no more. I do not suppose I have been mistaken in not taking that idea to heart.

Thus, I cannot say I was worried or frightened when the Horn blew from afar - and if I was, it certainly was out of concern for the Ring-Bearer and his small friends. They concerned me; the mission I have set out on was to defend them, for though I respect the Ring-Bearer, he is ill fitting for defending himself. Hearing the Horn my mind was entirely on them, and I had almost forgotten, I daresay, of the one who blew the Horn. A warning registered in my mind, but not a cry for help.

So that I had taken my time hurrying there, unlike Aragorn, and do not think one can hold it against me. I do value my own skin over that of a Man, and objectively consider it to be more valuable, and had no wish to be stabbed in the back rushing to the help of one I have not befriended. They expect me to show grief and to my horror, I am unable. Yes, to my horror. I do not regret his death as much as they may think I ought to, but . . .

Alas, there is nothing more to be done for him. Whatever emotion I may have is wasted, and I had best banish it from my mind, for the quest is still long, and short by one more, we would have needs of my skill. Had I shared these thoughts with Aragorn, he would have chided me for thinking myself so much better than most of our company, but truthfully, some Halflings, a Dwarf, and a Man? Who of them can be compared to the Prince of the Elves of Mirkwood?

I cannot say I cared for him, and think one can easily understand why. He had done nothing to earn my respect. He had done nothing to earn my gratitude. He was one who walked by our side and at most times was nothing but trouble. I did not care for him, and it is not because of his death that I feel heavy and cold in my heart. I had done all I could, and was better holding my ground than rushing to the aid of one for whom I bore no respect, no liking, no friendship . . .

He's dead now.



~*~



Three: Hero



He did it for us.

I know we've been nothing but trouble on this whole insane trip. So much is clear, I mean, what good were we ever to Frodo? Pippin and I, we're just common hobbits, we don't have fancy bows and swords and axes and magic things or armors or anything. We didn't even stick close to the poor lad through everything like good old Sam did. We're useless and we pretty much faced up to that. We're here because somebody needs to keep this Company with a smile on their faces. I guess that's all we're good for.

But he did it for us, broke out of them bushes with his huge sword like a figure from a legend and swung it at the Orcs like he's gone crazy, shouting at us to get our behinds someplace safe. And he's been at it for a long while and we just sat there, not good for anything but looking at him and wondering how anyone could have the courage to do what he did. And in a few moments, it was all over and there was nothing either of us could've done.

He fell slowly, took three arrows just to get him to stop waving that sword, and those were some arrows, now, they'd kill any hobbit on the spot. But he was fighting, and he was fighting for us. And we were too stupid to even stay hidden. We had to get out there and try to be heroes like he was, and got ourselves our own share of trouble. We did him no good.

That's what will haunt me about the whole thing. We did him no good. He died for nothing out there and we were captured anyway because we couldn't stop ourselves from being heroes.

Just when we saw him, Pippin and I, taking those three arrows to the chest and still fighting for us, that's when we had no choice but to really understand what being a hero was all about. Sure, we knew Frodo was a hero carrying the Ring, but he had no real choice, now. And we thought Strider was a hero protecting us and all, but he was protecting the Ring, really, and so were them all, Gimli, Legolas, even Gandalf, they were protecting the Ring. But him - he was protecting a stupid Took and a Brandybuck who should've known better, two hobbits who were really good for nothing. Just because they were alive, and he had some fun with him on the way and they shared food and stories and a fire and became some sort of friends. There wasn't the weight of the world out there, there was friendship, just friendship he had to hold up . . .

He's dead now.



~*~



Four: Choice



When Sam told me he was dead, I couldn't believe it.

Or to make it different, I suppose, I didn't want to believe him. After Gandalf . . . no, I don't want to think about it. I didn't want to believe anyone else was dead. Nobody else should have died. People died enough. Enough bad things happened. All that happened, I had adventures to spare for a lifetime, I've seen all I can see, been all I can be. I didn't want to believe that cursed thing I carry on a golden chain and hold close to my chest at night claimed more blood.

I yelled at dear Sam, even though it wasn't his fault and I knew it. I had to let it out on someone. I had to share it with someone. It became too heavy to bear alone. I suppose if it was anyone else who died . . .even Strider, even Merry or Pippin . . . I could have just wept like I did for Gandalf and go on, because the Ring must get to Mordor, no matter how many victims it must claim on the way. But it was not any of them, it was him.

It was not any of those who would willingly die for me, either lovingly, in friendship, for my sake, or boldly, for the Ring, for their homes and the whole of Middle-Earth. It wasn't anyone who would have taken death gladly, who knew from the very beginning that they might die and were willing to take that risk. It was the only one of the Company who was there not because of nobility or courage or any of the things I learned of in the way, but because . . . because . . . he had no choice, in the end.

He had no choice in coming along, and not in suffering through everything that befell us, and not in dying for something he never believed in. I knew he never believed in it.

He wanted the Ring to himself, he wanted to protect his home, the power to restore its glory, that was all he wanted. He tried to take all of it from me by force and I was angry, and hated him for a while. but perhaps part of that was the Ring.

The hatred came from the Ring, that is the excuse I've been clinging to. But we know it's not so, don't we, Frodo Baggins?

I hated him. He was perhaps the lesser of us. He was our least proficient fighter, what's with Strider, Legolas and Gimli around. He was the youngest of us, save perhaps Pippin and me. He was the least confident, courageous, and noble of us. He was the least trusted. He almost became a danger to the whole quest trying to take the Ring from me. I hated him.

But I can't hate him anymore. He had no choice.

It's so easy to be a hero when you have no choice. I understand that now. After all I've seen and done and been I understand it. It's easy to hold your ground when you have no choice, when there's something binding you to nobility. It's easy. It was easy for all of us. We were all so confident and certain and fancied ourselves so morally perfect. But what choice did we have? No, it was easy for us.

So can I blame him anymore? It's never been easy for him, now I see that.

It's never been easy for him. Of all of us, he alone had to fight, to struggle not to fall to the darkness and even drag us with him. He alone had to brave that storm. But in the end, now, the Ring still hangs around my neck and is still headed to Mordor and its destruction.

He's dead now.

And he died victorious.



~~~End~~~