A/N: This is the same story as was posted before, but I've made some improvements. Enjoy. ;-)

T.H.

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I was waiting for so long,

For a miracle to come.

Everyone told me to be strong,

Hold on, and don't shed a tear.

Through the darkness and good times,

I knew I'd make it through.

And the world thought I had it all,

But I was waiting for you.

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Sweat poured down his face as he scaled the mountain. His torn and bleeding fingers gripped the rocks attached to the treacherous mountain, some of them coming off in his hands and causing him to blink hard in order to keep from crying out in pain. The invisible hand pressed down hard on his back, trying to keep him from going any farther, but he gritted his teeth and pushed his small body up the mountain. Nothing was going to stop him. Granted, he was scared. Frightened even. It was as if he was facing all his fears as he climbed this mountain. A constant stream of words ran through his dizzy mind, some warning him to turn back, some urging him on.

Faces flashed across his mind's eye. Strider, Gimli, Legolas, Merry, Pippin. They all stood before him as he climbed. Instead of a boulder taller than his whole body put together, there stood Legolas, his fair face smiling and encouraging, reaching out his hand to him. He placed his hand against the outstretched one of the Elf and it turned back into the hard unfeeling rock.

Two small boulders sitting off to the side transformed into Merry and Pippin. They were hunched beside each other, biting into apples. As they crunched into them, their eyes ran across him and they waved cheerfully to him. Pippin took the time to drop his apple in his lap, cup his hands around his mouth and yell,

"Keep it up, Frodo! Almost there, lad!"

He smiled, but as he blinked, the encouraging voice and faces disappeared once more. A large peak ahead of him took on the face of Gandalf, his gentle smile stretched across his lined and worn face. He was forced to blink away a tear that fell from his blue eyes as he looked away, instead focusing on the next rock he had to grasp.

Oh Gandalf! I need you now! I so wish you were here. But don't worry, Frodo lad. Gandalf will always be with you in some way. You've got to keep it up.

His foot slipped on the many stones in his path, his nearly bare leg dragging across the silt of the mountain. He winced in pain, closed his eyes, then grasped for the rocks above him. The voices in his head became louder as he climbed, often times the encouraging ones becoming driven out by the evil ones.

Give up the half-fling, she-Elf!

Never put it on! The servants of the Dark Lord will be drawn to its power. Remember, the Ring is trying to get back to its master. It wants to be found.

They are calling for the precious. They are calling for the preciousssss.

So it is true. The Ring of power. The doom of man.

So... this is the answer to all the riddles. Here in the wild I have you. Two halflings and a host of men at my call. And the Ring of power within my grasp. A chance for Faramir, captain of Gondor, to show his quality.

Ash Nazg Durbatuluk! Ash Nazg Gimbatul! Ash Nazg Gimbatul! Ash Nazg Gimbatul!

Frodo screwed his eyes shut as he once more heard the voice of the Ring, the words it had spoken in the Council of Elrond. The words bit into his mind, twisting his vision. A red hot fire burned inside his chest and his fingers grasped protectively towards the Ring.

ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL.

He did not have to give it up. Why should he? It was his. Gandalf gave it to him. It was his to do with as he pleased.

It doesn't matter. Sauron will stop me before I get to the top anyhow. So why should I even try? The others have abandoned me to this task. They didn't care whether I lived or died. So why should I try? What do I owe them?

His own voice inside his head spoke bravely, a cruel sneer tinging his tone. But even as his fingers grasped the Ring, Strider's grim face came to his mind.

I would have gone with you to the end, into the very fires of Mordor.

Frodo's eyes opened and his fingers slipped from his chest. He blinked back the sorrowful tears that threatened to pour from his eyes. The Fellowship had not abandoned him. He had left of his own accord, to fulfill the task that had been appointed to him. As long as he had been with them, they had done their best to encourage him and keep up his spirits. Strider especially, for he knew what a burden the Ring was to him. He had come this far, he might as well finish what he started.

But what if Sauron catches you? Then what? This would have all been in vain. His mind sneered.

Frodo closed his eyes and grasped the rocks above him.

What will be will be. But for now, I'm going to at least try to finish this. His heart whispered.

As he continued to climb, memories besieged his mind. Memories of friends, of the green Shire, Gandalf, Bilbo. Their voices were clear in his memory as they spoke. But the darkness still managed to seep through, making him shiver from the memory. He tried to hold on, to grasp onto the good memories as they came, but they slipped from his fingers as small puffs of reassuring air, supplying him only with the strength he needed. He smiled as he remembered his meeting with Merry and Pippin in the cornfields near the Shire. Sam's shocked face as he realized where the vegetables they held had come from. Pippin's mischievous face as he showed off his bounty. Their frantic run from Farmer Maggot's sickle, their tumble down the hill. The Ringwraiths.

That Black Rider was looking for something... or someone. Frodo?

Merry's strong voice echoed in his mind, his face serious for that moment, when it was most needed. The darkness then faded as he remembered the Ringwraith chasing him down, trying to catch him before he reached the Ferry. The frightening emptiness he had felt in the Prancing Pony returned. He had felt lost, alone, unsure of himself due to Gandalf's absence. But from that emptiness, he had gained a new friend and protector. Strider. Without Strider, he might not have lived through his encounter with the Ringwraiths on the watchtower of Amon Sul. Once more, hesitant thoughts arose in his mind as his shoulder burned at the memory, but a calm and soothing voice entered his mind, a desperate voice.

What grace is given me, let it pass to him, let him be spared, save him.

His soul was then filled with peace as the words calmed his heart and soul. Then the face of Galadriel arose in his mind, her face still and beautiful, wiser than any other creature he had ever known. It was she who had strengthened his resolve to finish what he had started.

You are a ringbearer, Frodo. To bear a ring of power is to be alone. This task was appointed to you and if you do not find a way, no one will.

Then I know what I must do. It's just... I'm afraid to do it.

His own fearful words caused a pang to ring painfully in his heart. Galadriel must have thought him weak. Too weak to carry out the task when he spoke the words. She must have.

She must have known that the Fellowship would fail! She knew! She saw that we would fail!

The words were spoken harshly in his mind, but before he had a chance to believe them, Galadriel's voice rang through like a shot of light through the deepest night.

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

"Yes. Yes, I can make it through." Frodo whispered.

Galadriel's words echoed in his mind and heart long after they had first been spoken.

She knows that I can do this. I know that I can as well. I must succeed. She is counting on me.

His fingers grasped a rock above him, but it crumpled in his hand and he cried out as he slid backwards. He bit his lip as the rocks dug into his body, but frowned as he stopped mid-slide. He looked downwards and saw to his astonishment, Sam, leaning up against a boulder, his hands around Frodo's legs, holding him up with all the strength his small body could muster. Frodo's face softened and he quickly grasped a rock with which to pull himself up so he could relieve his friend's pain.

Even if all else fails, I've still got Sam. I'll always have Sam.

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Hush now!

I see a light in the sky.

Oh! Its almost blinding me.

I can't believe I've been touched

By an angel with love.

Let the rain come down,

And wash away my tears.

Let it fill my soul,

And drown my fears.

Let it shatter the wall,

For a new sun.

A new day has come.

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Frodo pushed himself onto a flat spot on the mountain and reached out his hand to his friend. Sam, breathing heavily, could barely reach it, but grunted and pushed himself up so that Frodo could pull him up beside him. They both sat there a moment, resting, panting with exertion.

"Well Mister Frodo, this sure is a hard climb, what?" Sam panted, brushing his hair from his eyes.

"That it is, Sam. How are you doing?" He asked gently.

Sam shrugged and looked him over carefully.

"You shouldn't be askin' me that, Mister Frodo. It's you I'm worried about. With that Ring an' all." Sam said seriously.

Frodo smiled wistfully and shook his head.

"I'm fine. Just a bit tired." He said, lying, not willing to trouble his friend with the truth.

Sam shook his head and leaned back, trying to catch his breath.

"Well Mister Frodo, if you need me to help you, don't hesitate on askin', 'cause I'll do it for sure." Sam said firmly.

Frodo smiled and nodded, leaning back and breathing deeply. The sky above him was dark and peppered with ash and flame from the mountain above him. For a moment, the words of the Ring re-entered his mind. Doubt, fear, anger, returned to his mind. Sam's image and good words suddenly twisted in his mind, becoming both sarcastic and mocking. His eyes narrowed and his fingers felt for the chain around his neck.

But even as he did so, it seemed as though a grace washed over his soul, filling it with a tender peace. A light cast through the darkness. His fingers slipped from the chain to his breast pocket, tentativly touching the object hidden there. His fingers touched delicate glass and warmth. He drew out the object, holding it in the palm of his hand.

"Earendil." He murmured, remembering the one who had bestowed it upon him.

He remembered the gentle kiss that had been given to him, just before he had left Lothlorien. A gentle wind blew across his face and it seemed to him that with it, came the scent of earth and the forests. As it fanned across his flushed face, it seemed to linger, bestowing another reassuring kiss upon his face.

"Galadriel." He whispered, for a moment seeing her face before him, reassuring and hopeful. Once more, he heard her voice, spurring him on, encouraging him.

May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.

He opened his eyes once more to the darkness around him, but now it didn't seem so horrible and forbidding. The light from the vial wasn't very bright, but it was enough to keep him moving. He looked to Sam, who was eyeing him worriedly.

"You alright, Mister Frodo? You looked awfully tired a minute ago there." He asked quietly.

"I'm fine, Sam. And you know what? I think that things are going to be alright. I think we'll get to the top." Frodo said firmly.

"Of course we will, Mister Frodo. Everyone would be mighty sad if we didn't and also, I don't much want to spend any time with that Dark Lord there." Sam said, eyeing the mountaintop above him with a shudder.

Frodo smiled and placed his hand on Sam's arm.

"Don't worry, Sam. We'll make it. We will."

And with that said, Frodo placed the vial gently in Sam's hand and turned to begin his ascent once more, though the weariness once more began to try his soul.

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Where it was dark,

Now there's light.

Where there was pain,

Now there's joy.

Where there was weakness,

I found my strength,

All in the eyes of a boy.


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Sam sat alone in the darkness. Virtually alone, for Frodo's head lay across his legs, his eyes closed in sleep. It was fitful sleep, Sam imagined, for he had heard Frodo cry out more than once. Unfortunately, he was right, for Frodo dreamed of all the evils he had encountered in his journey. He knew that they were almost to the top and it was this knowledge that caused the great debate now going on in his mind.

His mind was fixed on keeping the Ring, but his heart quietly insisted otherwise. He thought of Smeagol, Gollum, whose mind and attitude had changed so often, for the worse when he, Frodo, had allowed him to be captured by Faramir and his guard. Smeagol had disappeared, Gollum had returned and had stayed. He would never forgive Frodo for that injury. Never. It was that hurt that Frodo had inflicted upon him, that had influenced his decision in taking them to Shelob's cave. Frodo could see that now, now that he stepped back to look at all the details. In Shelob's cave, he had been Gollum through and through. As far as Frodo knew, he was still Gollum. He didn't think Smeagol could possibly return after what he had done.

Was that what was happening to him now? Was his very mind splitting in two over the Ring? What would the others call him if this happened? Frodo and then what? What would he be if he gave in to the call of the Ring?

Frodo debated this in his mind even as he slept, but it was soon interrupted by the gentle voice of Sam rousing him. He found he had barely enough strength to open his eyes. No comforting breeze came to console him on the desolate mountaintop. No gentle memories helped his will. He had nothing. Nothing but Sam.

He finally managed to open his eyes weakly. He looked up at Sam, trying to move his legs so as to rise, but found he could not. Sam watched him from where he stood, his hazel eyes troubled as he watched Frodo struggle. It seemed that he could see all the worries in Frodo's wide blue eyes that were fixed upon him pitifully. Frodo barely heard Sam as he spoke strongly, but the words filled him with comfort.

"Come, Mister Frodo! I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mister Frodo! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go and he'll go."

Frodo smiled gently and weakly stretched his arms around his friend's neck.

"Good old Sam." He murmured wistfully.

Sam took a deep breath and lifted Frodo to his back, proceeding up the mountain. Frodo was jostled slightly by Sam as he stumbled along the road, but he barely noticed. The debate that had not left him alone even in sleep, began again. It was a battle between his heart and his mind, and both pressed for an advantage.

I must destroy Ring! It is the only way of saving everyone from Sauron!

What did everyone do for you? The Ring was given to you. You now own it. You can do as you will. No one can stop you!

Everyone is counting on me. Galadriel, Gandalf, everyone!

Gandalf is DEAD! He does not care either way! His thoughts rest with his body in the pit of Moria! And Galadriel!! HA! That witch is SO powerful, but she didn't come herself!! Why? Because she knew it was doomed to failure. What did she say when you first arrived? "The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail to the ruin of all." Even she knew.

But you forget what she said afterwards! "Yet hope remains while the company is true."

But the Company was NOT true! Boromir tried to take YOUR Ring from YOU! He failed! It is all ruined and doomed to ruin.

Strider is depending on me. You cannot say that he was not true. Nor of Gimli, Merry, Pippin, Legolas and Sam! Sam is still here!

Strider. He thought himself so powerful, but even he abandoned you to go to Mordor alone! Only Sam came with you. The weakest of all the Fellowship. None of the Fellowship followed you to the boats. They didn't care. They were too busy saving their own skins.

I, I cannot believe that!

But you must. For it is the truth. They did not come for you till after you left. Then, only then, did they think it important to go after you. What have they done for you during this entire quest? Nothing. Tried to boost your spirits a bit, but what good has THAT done you, for they are not here now to reinforce it.

Sam encourages me.

Only to reassure himself.

I will destroy the Ring.

You do, and it will be your downfall.

Frodo closed his eyes as Sam, panting, gently lay him down among the silt of the mountain. He opened his eyes and looked pityingly at Sam, who sat still, hunched over, his breathing labored.

"Thank you Sam. How far is there to go?" He asked weakly.

This final debate had sapped away at his energy and his will, making not only his soul weak, but his body as well. He felt as though he had run a million races and had lost every single one of them. Sam raised his flushed face, then looked wearily up the mountain.

"I don't know, Mister Frodo. Because I don't know where we're going." He said with a sheepish smile.

Frodo nodded, then winced as his mind interjected bitterly.

Stupid fool! You're entrusting this mission to HIM? Oh, 'he doesn't know where we're going'! Fool!

Frodo shook his head silently, ignoring it. Sam would not fail him and he would not fail Sam by listening to the words. Sam shook his head, his grubby hand resting on his neck, caressing it gently, then turned to Frodo.

"There's a path we might take. If we can get there that is." He murmured, wincing as he lay down on the ground beside Frodo.

For a time they were silent, before Frodo chuckled slightly. Sam started at the sound. He had not heard Frodo laugh for ever so long, not since they had been in the Shire at Bilbo's birthday party. Now that seemed like years ago.

"Sam, do you remember when Merry and Pippin tried to raid Farmer Maggots' crop for the first time?"

Sam chuckled as a glimmer of the memory beseiged his conscience. Bright, vivid colors seeped into his vision, clouding the grays and browns of the landscape around him.

"Oh yes, Mister Frodo! They got their arms full o'stuff because they hadn't heard a thing an' thought they could get away with it." Sam said ruefully.

"Yes. They thought they were so smart because they hadn't heard the dogs or Farmer Maggot. Little did they know." Frodo said, smiling wistfully as he spoke.

"An' then Farmer Maggot stuck 'em in the behinds with his pitchfork 'cause he had snuck up behind 'em!" Sam finished, a broad smile stretched across his face.

Frodo shook his head in rememberance. Merry's face had been twisted in pain as he told the story to his cousin, while Pippin was silent and emotionless, till a moment later when he cried out in anguish,

"WE LEFT THE MUSHROOMS!"

After that outburst, he had been inconsolable, because in his opinion, 'they were the biggest, juiciest mushrooms in the Shire!' and he had known because he'd eaten, 'two or three, maybe five.'

"Those were good times, 'eh Mister Frodo?" Sam said softly, watching sadly as the bright green of the Shire once more faded from his vision.

"Yes, they were Sam. Very good times." Frodo answered, his eyes watching the dark sky, trying to focus on the memory, trying to hold onto it for as long as possible.

"I wish I was in the Shire right now, with the old Gaffer, trimmin' Mister Bilbo's hedges. An' I'd love to see everyone again. Mister Merry and Pippin, the Cottons, and even Rosie." Sam's voice faltered as he spoke the names. "Oh, I even wish I could see grouchy Mrs. Bulge again! Even if she does make fun of me an' the Gaffer. I'd give anythin' to be back home again, Mister Frodo." Sam whispered, his voice dying out.

"I wonder if we'll make it back again, Sam. I wonder." Frodo said quietly, closing his eyes in despair as the memory slipped from his grasp. He couldn't hold onto it. How could things go back to the way they were when so many bad things had happened? How could he think of the good times, when he was surrounded by nothing but evil?

Sam sat up and looked at Frodo. Frodo had opened his eyes and was gazing at the dark sky above him, but there was an unfamiliar look in that gaze. It was defeat. Sam's proud little hobbit-heart swelled and his eyes blazed with determination.

"Now, Mister Frodo, you just can't talk that way! Not now! Not when we're so close! You listen here. We're gonna get through this. We'll go all the way up that mountain, even if I hafta carry you all the way. No buts now, Mister Frodo! You leave the worryin' 'bout my back to me. We'll get up the mountain an' you'll throw that Ring in an' we'll go home. You an' me, Mister Frodo. We'll find the others an' go back home. I'll take you home to Bag End, Mister Frodo. An' I'll take care of you an' you won't hafta worry about anything else ever again because Sam Gamgee will be there for ya. But we've gotta make it. We can't give up." Sam finished firmly, his tone strong.

Frodo stared at Sam, his mouth slightly open. He had never seen Sam like this, so courageous and determined. It gave him a great comfort that he couldn't explain. Frodo smiled and placed a gentle hand on Sam's fingers.

"Well, if you're not giving up, Sam, I'm not giving up." He whispered, new-found strength re-entering his body. It wasn't much, but it was enough to change his feelings. All of a sudden, a warning shot through his head like lightning.


Now, now, or it will be too late!

Frodo's eyes opened wide and he struggled to his knees. Sam was also wild-eyed and he looked down to Frodo as he jumped to his feet.

"I'll crawl Sam." Frodo choked, attempting to stumble up the hill.

Sam nodded and got down to his knees to crawl alongside Frodo. Frodo slipped, his strength ebbing from his body. But when he felt Sam's gentle hand support his back, he tried harder and strained to push his small body up the mountain. Frodo's mind raced wildly as they crawled, faster and faster, trying to reach the road.

What a curious thing. Frodo thought. The voices have stopped.

Indeed, the voices of reason in his head had stopped their cacophony and were still and silent.

As if they were waiting for something. Frodo shivered. When they finally reached the path, Frodo collapsed upon it, panting.

Frodo Baggins.

Frodo frowned and turned weakly to the East, facing the great tower that stood there. His fingers began to tremble and his eyes began to widen as a flash of red exuded from it. The Eye. Instantly, Frodo's fingers leapt to his breast as he attempted to grasp the Ring. As if on cue, the voices began again, only shouting over them, were the ugly words of the Ring.

Ash Nazg Durbatuluk! Ash Nazg Gimbatul! Ash Nazg Gimbatul! Ash Nazg Gimbatul!

Frodo could not help himself. He had to have the Ring. But he knew he musn't, but he had no strength left to resist. Even as his fingers moved with a mind of their own towards the Ring, he felt Sam as he knelt down beside him. Summoning the last of his strength he gasped,

"Help me, Sam! Help me! Hold my hand! I can't stop it!"

Sam's hazel eyes took in his master sorrowfully and he gently took Frodo's hand from his chest and laid it together with his hand, palm to palm. Then he gently laid them between his own, waiting with Frodo for the attack to pass.

Sam was determined to help Frodo. He had felt useless all his life, a burden to many. He could not be useless now. He had to help his master. Frodo had always been kind to him, loving, caring, never letting any sneering comment about Sam's shyness pass him by without a sharp rebuke. Frodo had always been there in his most embarrassing moments. Sam had never seen his master weak, save when his sorrow for his lost parents overtook him. Now he seemed even weaker than he had then. He was physically fighting the urge to take hold of that Ring and leave him forever. Frodo had been there for Sam, so Sam would be there for Frodo, fighting the fight with him.

After all, I did take the Ring on myself when I thought Mister Frodo was dead. I would have taken it this far by myself just for Mister Frodo had I not found out that he was alive.

Then as Sam gently held Frodo's fingers close to him, a question entered his mind.

Why has Mister Frodo done this for you, Samwise Gamgee? It's not pity, nor is it weariness. Mister Frodo is my friend. That's it, Samwise. I'll be a true friend an' I'll help him get that Ring into that mountain, so help me, even if I'm shoved in myself.

And with that final determined thought, Samwise Gamgee clasped his Master's fingers to him, gently kissing them from time to time, willing even to fight his master to keep his beloved fingers away from the Ring, all for love of his Master.

Don't you lose him, Samwise Gamgee. I don't mean to, Gandalf. I don't mean to.

A flush seemed to pass over Frodo and he felt a faintness as one does in sickness. He drifted in and out of consciousness, once more seeing the faces of those he loved and dreaded. The yearning in their eyes as they stared through him, at the ring that hung from the chain, pressing hotly against his chest. Boromir's eyes flashed across his memory, Strider's, all those who the Ring had tested. Hot flashes shook his body as he struggled to keep his fingers from reaching for the Ring.

He barely noticed as Sam picked him up like a child and held him to his chest as he stumbled up the road, stumbled towards the top of the mountain. Frodo moaned, wishing he could shut out the voices that tried his soul. Even as he moaned, he gasped as he felt Sam fall, smote down by a great weight. He tumbled away from him and Frodo looked up into the cruel eyes of Gollum. He recoiled as he saw him, unable to move.

"Wicked masster! Wicked masster cheats us; cheats Smeagol, gollum. He musstn't go that way. He musstn't hurt Preciouss. Give it to Smeagol, yess, give it to uss! Give it to uss!"

Frodo cried out as Gollum fell upon him with a fury. It was then that two feelings entered his being. The strength and determination that Sam had given him was only part of it. The second feeling was a fiery indignation. Gollum was trying to take the Ring from him, the rightful owner. He fought Gollum, fought like he never had before. As he fought, the feelings changed. First, he was fighting because of Sam, protecting himself and Sam. Then it changed, and he was on fire with rage at Gollum for trying to take HIS Ring.

Either way, he flung the creature from him, panting, his fingers clasping the Ring to him. Gollum stared at him and the hurt and surprise in his eyes bewildered and astonished Frodo. A queer feeling rested in the pit of his stomach. He felt empty, but rejuvinated and filled with energy as he yelled at Gollum.

"Down, down! Down, you creeping thing and out of my path! Your time is at an end. You cannot betray me or slay me now!"

Gollum stared at him, his hunched figure moving slightly with unease, unwilling to back off, but unwilling to take Frodo on a second time. But the fire of desire still burned in his blue eyes and Frodo saw it.

"Begone and trouble me no more! If you ever touch me again you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom."

This sent Gollum backwards, fear re-entering his gaze, but his desire unquenchable. Sam cried out and jumped forward, ready to take on Gollum for Frodo. Frodo backed away from Gollum, his eyes still fixed with the creature's. Frodo knew he wouldn't stay back. He would come, but he would have fulfilled his task by then and it would be too late for Gollum. He smiled and looked up at Sam.

"Farewell Sam! This is the end at last. On Mount Doom doom shall fall. Farewell!" There he turned from Sam, filled with the determination that Sam had instilled in him, and as he walked away, his heart asked his mind,

So you say that Samwise Gamgee is the weakest of the Fellowship 'eh? Were it not for Sam, I would not be finishing this task now.

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Frodo grasped Sam's hand as his friend gently lead him down the mountain. Fire and ash raged from the top of the mountain, instilling the air with a deadly heat. Frodo breathed deeply, though it hurt his lungs to do so. He winced in pain as he limped down the mountain, but he would not fall, for Sam's reassuring arm was around him, guiding him to safety. The burden was gone, and with it, the voices. His mind was his own once more. Even now the Ring was melting into liquid gold in the fires of Mount Doom. Along with it, Gollum.

Frodo shuddered and winced once more as one of his fingers accidentally brushed against his wound. His middle finger, the one that had once held the Ring, was gone. All that was left was the hole, blood drying upon it and caking his hand. He glanced at it, then closed his eyes and looked away as bile trembled at the back of his throat. He could have failed had it not been for Gollum. Frodo shook his head.

Had it not been for Gollum's obsession with the Ring, I would not have thrown it in the fire. I would have failed.

Finally, the hobbits could go no further. Sam collapsed with Frodo on a small hill of ash at the bottom of the mountain, breathing deeply, adrenaline and fear both wearing off. Quickly, the small hill became an island as the fire rushed down the mountain, surrounding them. Frodo gazed at Sam, who was peering all around him anxiously.

"Sam, I'm sorry."

Sam turned to him and eyed him sharply.

"For what, Mister Frodo?" He asked in surprise.

"I could have failed you. Failed everyone if Gollum had not come."

Sam's eyes widened and he breathed deeply as he looked at Frodo.

"Mister Frodo, it weren't your fault that you weren't gonna throw it in. It was the Ring talkin', not you." He said gently.

"I know, but I thought I was strong enough to get rid of it. I thought, I thought I'd be glad to be rid of it. But all these feelings came,"

Sam shook his head violently and interrupted Frodo strongly.

"No, Mister Frodo, no. You were strong enough. You're the strongest person I know." Sam said firmly.

"I would have killed you, Sam, if you had tried to stop me." Frodo said wistfully.

Sam eyed his master closely. His blue eyes were tired and weary, but now their former luster had been restored to them. A small smile rested upon his tired face, ashes coloring his face black, but he was still Frodo, the same Frodo that had defended him his many years in the Shire. He had defended him from the Bolger hobbits from Bree, gallantly denouncing their accusations of Sam being weak.

"Samwise Gamgee is anything but weak! Don't call him that! He's the bravest hobbit I know, and don't try to fight that!" Young Frodo had yelled at the top of his lungs.

But the Bree hobbits had decided to fight him and Frodo and Sam had come out of it badly, but Frodo still smiled his reassuring smile in Sam's direction.

"Don't worry about it, Sam. They don't know nothin'."

He had defended him that day and it had been that day that Sam had first realized how much he cared for Frodo. Frodo had defended him that day, and Sam would not let this insult against Frodo pass, especially since it was from his own lips.

"Then you would have killed me. But it's over now Mister Frodo. You didn't kill me. The Ring's good an' destroyed. You're safe. And we're together. This now, this is just a little problem. But we'll get out of it somehow." Sam said quietly, eyeing the lava slowly surrounding them.

Frodo stared at Sam in surprise and disbelief.

Even at the end, even now, after what I did, he still believes in me. He believed in me all along. He heard me back there. Heard me say that I would not throw the Ring in and now he defends me.

"Dear, dear Sam." Frodo choked.

Sam smiled gently and drew Frodo close to him. The two hobbits sat alone on the shrinking ash hill, their eyes growing weary with much needed sleep, the evil things of that place slowly vanishing.

They were remembering the Shire, its verdant pastures and flourishing trees. The smials, plopped here and there along the rough country roads, all the little hobbits inhabiting them, though loved or hated came into mind. They would make it home together. It didn't matter how.

Before Frodo drifted off to sleep, his curly head resting on Sam's shoulder, he wearily glanced into the sky. Through the clouds of fire and ash, he saw the sun slowly rising on the horizon. He smiled wistfully and closed his eyes. A brand new day was coming, a new age was born. He had fulfilled his quest. He was safe and he would get home. But he could not have gotten through without Sam. He had followed him even at the beginning, unwilling to leave him to travel the roads of Mordor alone. He had been his comfort, his strength, his companion, his friend. Even if he didn't believe it now, or never would believe it, Frodo still thought he was brave. One of the bravest people he knew.

'You left out one of the chief characters. Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam.'

Now Mr. Frodo, you shouldn't make fun. I was being serious.

So was I.

Frodo gently opened his eyes once more and glanced up at Sam, who was even now nodding off in sleep. No, he never would have gotten far without Sam. He smiled and closed his eyes once more in sleep, whispering,

"Sam, I'm glad you're with me."

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Hush now!

I see a light in the sky.

Oh! Its almost blinding me.

I can't believe I've been touched

By an angel with love.

Let the rain come down,

And wash away my tears.

Let it fill my soul,

And drown my fears.

Let it shatter the wall,

For a new sun.

A new day has come.

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