DISCLAIMER: Of course. The characters don't belong to me, I just get to think about them day and night.
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AND THE HALFLING FORTH SHALL STAND

"Isildur's Bane shall waken, and the Halfling forth shall stand."

It is three days since the Council, and Boromir's words continue to ring in my ears.

I nearly died --- or worse. It was a close thing, so very close.  A matter of hours, Gandalf said.  Maybe I was *meant* to have the Ring, but I don't think I was necessarily *meant* to keep It.  I nearly died; I'm lucky to be here.  Just because the rhyme mentioned a Halfling, doesn't mean it was talking about me --- a hobbit, certainly, but not necessarily me.

If Elrond had not been able to cure me, I hope he would have killed me before… before I became… well, it doesn't bear thinking about.  What of the Ring, then?  Would they have given It to Sam?  Or Merry?  No, I don't think so.  Elrond and Gandalf would have brought It to the Council and waited for someone to volunteer, like I did.  Waited for one of the hobbits… a Halfling.

I think Sam may very well have taken It, full of grief and anger and a sense of duty to me. Sam is so strong --- much stronger than I am, although I doubt he realizes it --- and Gandalf somehow knew he should come with me, knew from the very beginning.  Sam, then, the rhyme may have meant my dear Sam, my best friend.

Or Merry, level-headed Merry, always full of plans and strategies and calm ideas.  What Ring could possibly influence him one way or the other?  He would make up his own mind.  But he knows Pippin would follow him to the Black Gate itself, and he might not have wanted to risk that; he might have felt obligated to get Pip back home safely.  And yet, he might have wanted to see it through.  Go with Sam, or take the Ring himself, and see it through.  For the Shire.  For me.

Funny that I hadn't considered Pippin as Ringbearer, but after all, why not?  Merry and Sam would protect him.  He's young, strong, eager, full of life and hope and optimism.  What could the Ring do to such a one?  Gandalf says It preys on ambition, arrogance, greed, a need to dominate --- it would find no hold on Peregrin Took.  He might do the right thing by accident, that one --- Pippin always seems to fall in the mud and come up covered with daisies.  He might volunteer, he just might.  For the Shire.  For me.

But it's all over and done.  I am still the Ringbearer.  I will go with Sam.  We both stood forth at the Council, so maybe the rhyme meant both of us.  We will stand together.

For the Shire.