AN: This takes place right before the hobbits encounter Gollum for the first time.


"Is there a long way to go still?" he asked, his voice hoarse from the lack of water.

"No of course not Mr. Frodo, we'll be there before you know it," his companion replied heartily. "And then we'll soon be home in the Shire again."

Together they trudged, day and night through a miserable land, where all hope and life seemed to have disappeared. They had a cause, a mission, and a quest. A quest that had led them far away from home and that had already taken their friends from them. Nine they had been, when they first set out together from Rivendell. One had fallen into the shadowy depths of Moria, and one had been laid to rest in a boat taking him down the River Anduin on his final journey.

And yet there they were; two of the most unlikely creatures in the world to be chosen for such an important cause. There had never been much hope, and now that they were alone, their chances of reaching their destination seemed even smaller.

"I wish we were home Sam," Frodo spoke slowly. He had stretched out on the ground, breathing heavily. The burden hung around his neck, feeling as heavy as the sky would if one were to try and hold it. He closed his eyes as his companion searched for words. He wished for a great deal of things.

"I know," Samwise finally agreed, being at a loss for more words to speak. He let out a sigh of despair and tipped his head backwards. "Do you think they're looking up at the stars at home too?" he asked with a hint of sadness in his voice.

"I wish I knew," Frodo mumbled. "I wish I could remember how the food tastes like. Or the stories Bilbo used to tell me. I wish I could remember the feeling of lying in a bed, or how my sheets felt against my skin. I can't remember anything of home Sam."

Frodo's voice had cracked at the end, and Sam's heart sank. He would do anything to help his friend remember and to help him on his way. That's why he was there, to be Frodo's hope when he lost his own. To be his reason when it escaped him, and to never allow him to give up or stray from his path. With a final sigh, Frodo relaxed, and allowed sleep to snatch him away from his doom, even if just for a short period of time.

Morning came too quickly, and though it was as dark as when they fell asleep, they knew they had to start walking again. Sam helped Frodo to his feet after having packed their things. He allowed Frodo to sleep as much as possible, because his rest never seemed to be as rewarding as Sam's.

"Are you ready?" Sam asked, his voice as cheerful as ever. But he was far from cheerful. Truth was that hope was beginning to fade, as they just kept walking, without ever seeming to reach anything other than more gray mist and sharp rocks. Frodo didn't reply, he just nodded and turned to continue their journey.

Over the day they spoke very little; neither of them had much to say. Frodo tried his best to ignore the unnatural pull he had towards the weight around his neck, and Sam was making his best effort to see things from a lighter side. He thought of their friends in the fellowship, wondering where the remaining ones were. If they were still alive, and what battles they'd had to fight. He hoped that one day he would see them again, even though it seemed less and less likely the more they traveled. Even Samwise had started to believe they would never see the Shire again.

Suddenly Frodo fell to his knees, exhausted from walking and the crushing weight he was carrying. Sam was by his side with a cry, and helped him lie down.

"Mr. Frodo," Sam sobbed. "You have to keep going!"

"I can't do this Sam, it's too heavy, I'm too tired."

"Please get up!"

But Frodo didn't move. His eyes fell shut and his breathing came out in raspy huffs. Sam felt tears sting his eyes, and it didn't take long before tears were glimmering in his eyelashes. He took Frodo in his arms, and stroked his hair. Around them the gray mist that had been their companion for weeks laid heavy and thick, not allowing them to see anything besides rocks and dirt. Frodo would have given everything to sit in a meadow and hear the sound of running water.

"I'm with you Frodo, but you have to go on!"

"No Sam, I can't anymore. There is no hope, it's too heavy. This burden is too big for a hobbit to carry. My heart feels as if it's beating slower, and even breathing is hard. I can barely stay on my feet at all anymore. I'm sorry Sam, but I can't do this. I was wrong." Frodo opened his eyes to look at his friend. His companion, his gardener, and the only member of the fellowship he had left.

"But Frodo, you can do this!" Sam insisted hoarsely. "If you can't, then who will?"

Sam felt the first tear slide down his cheek, but he made no effort to wipe it away. For weeks he had seen Frodo crumble, and he'd seen him lose hope. Sam felt ashamed that he'd also lost his hope, when he'd promised himself so long ago never to give up. And he wasn't about to let Frodo give up either. Not now, not when it was so important that they keep going.

"A long time ago, I made a promise Mr. Frodo. A promise to Gandalf, to never leave you and I don't mean to. I also made a promise to myself, the same day that we left our friends behind on the other side of Anduin. I promised never to let you lose hope, to never allow you to give up. I don't mean to do that either."

Sam stopped for a second to let a sob out, as more tears streamed down his dirty cheeks.

"Of course it's hard. And we may not see the Shire again; you're right about that. But we can't stop or give up. One day Mr. Frodo, we may have to accept that there is no hope, and that there is nothing worth fighting for. But not today. Not today. Today Mr. Frodo, we must keep going, to show everyone home in the Shire what two small hobbits can do. That together they can walk to Mordor and destroy the One Ring. That together they can change the course of faith, and save all those who live in Middle Earth. And we'll do this Mr. Frodo, not so that we won't have to die; but so that we can live. As long as there's something worth fighting for, we have to go on! And we will see the Shire again, I know we will. Because I'm meant to marry Rose, I just know I am."

Frodo opened his eyes, and with the help of his friend he managed to fight his way to his feet. There weren't much hope, but Frodo knew he had to keep going. Giving up wasn't an option, not when such an important task had been given to him. Not when such a heavy load had been placed on his shoulders. He wasn't allowed to quit. The faith of all lay in his hands, and he couldn't fail.

"Thank you Sam," Frodo said as they slowly started their journey again. His voice was thick, but he didn't cry. His eyes held sincerity, because he was thanking Sam for much more than just getting him back on his feet. "I would be lost without you."

Sam smiled lightly, his mood having improved greatly since Frodo had gotten back on his feet. His tearstained cheeks glittered in the weak light, and he allowed himself a smile. A real smile – one that reached both his eyes and his heart.

"Even when it's at its darkest I'm here for you. And I will be here for you Mr. Frodo, until the end of all things."