Hi there! Welcome to the story. This has been my little project that was begun years ago, and still it draws me back now and again to add to it, or tweak it, and hopefully, one day, finish it! There will be more chapters soon and it will be completed.

I am attempting to write between the lines of Tolkien's story, and explore the Fellowship's journey down the Anduin. I have wondered since I was a kid what Gollum was doing and how he managed to keep up with the companions. I want to end this tale at Amon Hen, and also give my version of what happened before Boromir's death, and the effect that the Ring had on all of them while they travelled with Frodo. Legolas and Gimli are going to be given the majority of my attention and, while this is not officially a prequel, it will certainly jive with my other story, 'When You Are With Me'. If you are fans of the Elf and the Dwarf, I hope you will be pleased. It has been said that out of all the members of the the Nine Walkers, they achieved the least. Given the history of their people and where they wound up together, I will always argue that they achieved the very most.

Credit is given to any sentences or passages that I have lifted from Tolkien's original writings to anchor my own. I hope you enjoy reading this! All feedback is welcome.

- Nimue.

Chapter 1: As Dark As Darkness

Deep night had fallen. Speed now was their concern as they followed Aragorn, moving unerringly along the winding way that passed between open spaces and ragged patches of fir trees, along the vale, dipped down towards the rushing streams running cold from the heights of the mountains, and back up from the riverbanks. There were many stars in the sky, but the fast-waning moon would not be seen till late. The Company was grateful for the concealing darkness, yet ill-at-ease because of it. They moved swiftly, hoping to outrun both the shadows and the need for shadows. There were no words spoken between them; they passed over the land with hurried steps and nervous rustlings, their ears ever straining for the sound of distant drums and evil cries chasing their trail as they fled from Moria.

The Dwarf and the hobbit were at the rear, walking quickly, softly. They craned their necks from time to time to listen for any sound upon the road behind. The hobbit halted often to look back, to peer into the brush and clumps of trees that lined the ragged track.

After another such pause, the Dwarf drew near to him and broke the silence with his rumbling voice. "Not a sound but the wind," he said. "There are no goblins near, or my ears are made of wood."

Gollum blinked, peering at them through the shadows of the trees, large eyes catching the shine of the Dwarf's mail and the gleam of the hilt of the hobbit's sword even in the dim light of that moonless night. He crept close to the ground, treading carefully between leaf and branch, watching.

He knew this group of travellers. He had journeyed with them through dark places. He knew them well. He kept watch over them during those nights, listened to their speech from where he crouched in concealed corners, closely distant. He watched their movements, knew their patterns and their deeds; he could have told them much about themselves that perhaps even they did not know from what he gleaned during those lonely vigils, so well had he listened, so carefully had he watched them. He longed for the warmth of their fire when they had stopped that day, even as he feared the red flames, as deep inside he longed for their company and yet feared them.

Yes, he knew them now and he hated them. He knew that the slightest misstep, the slightest noise would draw the cursed Elf's bright eyes to him or make the Tall Men with their weapons come back along the trail to nose about for his footprints and look for signs.

But tonight... tonight, they were suffering much and their patterns of caution and defense had been stirred and broken. They were not as careful as they were wont to be, not as wary; they fled in haste and thought themselves to be miles ahead of the enemy. They were heedless of any threat but the Orcs that followed from the deep mountain halls.

And so it was, he supposed, that the Dwarf came to be walking at the rear alone tonight with the hobbit. Baggins.

Gollum's slender fingers fidgeted, his hands twitching and rubbing together like two spiders tangling in a web. He could see the hobbit, could smell him, could feel... yessss. He could feel it calling to him, louder than it had for some time.

He had found them by chance, by merest chance, when he had been alone and lost and trapped in the dark. He padded along now, afraid, desperately afraid he would lose them. The worry was there with him at all times, and he could not sleep, could not close his eyes for a moment without this panic gnawing at him, always, always eating at his mind. Always the fear that he would fall asleep and they would be gone, vanished down the road upon paths he did not know, paths he could not find. And yet he knew he wouldn't lose them now, couldn't lose them, wouldn't lose them, couldn't... wouldn't.

"They did not see usss in the caveses," hissed Gollum in a low voice. "Did not see us there in the dark, did they? It is dark here too, it is, and the shivery light in the sky is sleeping. It does not seees us, does not spiesss on us tonight, no, precious. They go, they go, they go into the forestses, they do, where the nasssty Elveses hide and sneak, gollum. But not yet… no, they are not safe yet, and they do not sees usss now..."

He could creep, he could, and slide behind the little hobbit ere any of them would know, and his hands could be about his throat, squeezing until those blue eyes bulged. He would drag him from the path, and it could be his ere the Dwarf could reach for his cold steel, ere he could cry out to the Tall Men or the Elf. He knew they were weary, knew their guard was down, knew the hobbit was wounded. He knew they feared the Orcs and grieved a lost companion. The night was as bleak as their hearts and he could strike now, should strike now ere they disappeared into the eaves and left him behind. He couldn't let that happen. They would go where he could not follow, and then? And then? He quickened his step, weaving between the trees and shadows, inching forward, seeping slowly along the edge of the trail so close that he could hear the rustle of the hobbit's clothing, could hear the shuffle of the Dwarf's heavy boots and the creaking and clinking of his armour. Gollum swallowed and chortled quietly, desperately, so close, so near...

He was distracted, too eager, and he stepped where he shouldn't have stepped; he dislodged a stone from where it had been nestled for so very long amongst the dead wood and dry moss. It rolled, rolled and rattled from its groove in the dirt down the slope to the path to land with a clack amidst a scattering of pebbles to lie in a new resting place.

Gollum froze. He watched quietly as the hobbit turned toward the sound, looked down at the sword, and then looked back once more. Gollum held still, watching the hobbit puzzle and wonder, staring into the darkness.

Gollum squinched his eyes shut and scrabbled silently behind a rotting log, bitter disappointment nigh to drawing sobs from his thin throat. He swallowed and swallowed, trying not to make a sound, not to breathe.

"What is it?" asked the Dwarf.

"I don't know," answered the hobbit. "I thought I heard feet, and I thought I saw a light - like eyes. I have thought so often, since we entered Moria."

The two stood there on the path, listening, looking for him, until he thought they would turn and come back, surely call to the others and they would find him, find him and hurt him, hurt him as others had done. He swallowed sobs and gulped air, breathing in the heavy scent of moss and loam, trying to dig himself low into the soil, to become a part of the ground. He clenched his hands and cursed himself, cursed the hobbit... cursed it. He was tired of hiding, tired of cowering, and... tired. Just tired. They would find him. Perhaps it would end and he would have to hide and fear no more.

"I hear nothing but the night-speech of plant and stone," said the Dwarf after an interminable moment. "Come! Let us hurry! The others are out of sight."

The Dwarf put an arm over the hobbit protectively, pushing him forward, keeping him close now. They moved swiftly, aware of the darkness and their separation from the others, and they disappeared up ahead at a downward turn of the path.

The small, slinking shadow removed itself from the dark ground and darted forward.

"There will be more chancesss, precious, there will be. Patience! More chancesesss... they have far to go, precious, more dark nightses and dark pathseses, and we will be there, we will be waiting, yesss... and they will not see us. We will wait."