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Backwards in Time | Forwards in Time

Caged - Part 2

Title: Caged
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Rating: PG-13
Summary: ‘I’m sorry, Sam. I can’t do this. The closer I get to Mount Doom, the weaker my will becomes. He has me, Sam. He has all of me and I can’t ever escape!’ Frodo’s strength is failing, and Sam fears the Ring's Burden will be the death of his best friend. (Movie)
Disclaimer: I don’t own Lord of the Rings, neither book nor film versions. Love them, though.
Author’s Notes: Set in the ‘Movie’verse, during ‘Return of the King’. Told from two different points of view – hence the combination of normal text (Frodo) and italics (Sam).

This is my first LotR story, so constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated!

OoOoOoOoOoO

Part 2

I’m unsure as to whether or not I should be relieved that we’ve stopped.

My body suggests that I should be, that I shouldn’t punch a gift horse in the mouth when it stops at my feet bearing the sweetest of all gifts, and yet the circumstances surrounding this abrupt halt in movement mean I can feel nothing but frustrated concern.

I’m frustrated by my inability to help, and made restless by the feeling of complete and utter uselessness that is overwhelming me as I hold Mister Frodo close to my wheezing chest.

I’m concerned for the Ring-Bearer who’s life is no longer his own. I’m concerned for the Fellowship, broken and separated and, for all I know, hopeless.

And I soon realise I am, in fact, concerned for the whole of Middle Earth.

But at this particular moment, my fears are burning so passionately strong for one particular hobbit - as I gaze upon the one person who has been with my through the hardest year of my life - that he is the only one I can think clearly about.

It isn’t fair. He doesn’t deserve this. None of us deserve it! Not us, nor Pip or Merry, nor Aragorn or Gimli or Legolas, wherever they all are…

Oh, how I pray that they are safe. Safe and in far better health than Mister Frodo and I. I’d give anything to see them unharmed and healthy and happy, just one more time, even if it turns out to be the last time I ever see them…

But I can’t.

Not now.

Now, it’s too late. Far too late. We’re stuck here, Frodo and I, and there’s no going back, not even if we wanted to. The honest truth is we wouldn’t make it back.

I fear we wouldn’t even make it out of Mordor.

O---O---O---O---O

Another hour has passed in silence, and the sky above my head is almost black, now. Mister Frodo still has not stirred, and I am torn between feeling relief on his behalf that he is finally resting, and terror that this time, he may not wake up…

But I can’t think like that.

Instead, I turn to dwelling on the hours we are losing, just sitting here, which doesn’t truthfully help to lift my spirits even in the slightest.

We’re stuck here, with little food, even less water, and nowhere to hide from the ever watchful gaze of the great Eye that is sweeping like a torch beam through the darkness.

It torments me.

Its very presence is enough to suck all the joy and happiness out of my heart, to make me feel like I’ve never known such feelings. For so long, I’ve been fighting it, fearing that one day the strain will be too great, fearing that one day, I’ll give up completely.

But then I realise that that is what it wants me to feel, and so I fight all the harder, tapping into strength I thought I’d lost to chase away the shadows from the corners of my mind, clinging onto the faith I have in myself, in Frodo, in the Fellowship…

Well, that’s what I have taken to doing, at any rate. And I know that I must continue to do so for everybody’s sakes.

Because now I can see the truth.

Watching him closely - noting how his eyes shift restlessly beneath their lids, and how his fingers clench and unclench repeatedly, yearning to reach for the solace they think they can gain from touching the Ring - I see that Frodo’s strength is fading fast. He’s losing faith, has perhaps already lost it, and that thought is more terrifying to me than the prospect of this place being our final resting place.

If he loses faith, we die for nothing.

Nothing will change...

-----------------------------------------------------------

The whispers in my head have returned. They won’t leave me alone!

The very moment unconsciousness abandons me, I plead for it to claim me again, knowing full well that if I wake, the hurting will begin. I crave nothingness. I need it to drag me back under, to hide me from the real world, to smother the murmuring voices and drown the pain in blissful unawareness.

But it doesn’t.

It just laughs to itself and throws me back into a vague imitation of reality without a care for the agonies that await me there.

And I’m not ready to face them.

The world lurches, the blackness in my mind throbbing more now than it ever has done before - whether that’s down to the migraine I’ve had for weeks, or down to a lack of oxygen, a lack of that most precious commodity, the one that Gorgoroth has such sparse amounts of, I know not. All I know is that my head doesn’t feel like my own. And it hurts.

On some subconscious level, I know I’m gasping for a breath I can’t inhale. The sound is painful even to my own ears, and yet at the same time, it doesn’t feel like me. Everything is detached, everything is hazy and unfocussed. Everything except the darkness. No, that’s all too defined, all too detailed for my liking.

I tell myself that it will pass, that I need to pull myself together, that I need to finish what I started so long ago… but there is nothing in my heart, nothing in my mind or body, nothing in my soul left to fight with. Everything is dead, everything burns and screams and cries around me, each and every feeling scarring me that little bit deeper.

The pain, the despair… it’s overwhelming.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been forced to return to the land of the living since my journey began, nor how many times I’ve been swallowed up by the darkness only to be forced back at the last second, just to wish for it to take me again. But now I’m beginning to wonder how many more chances I have. Without food, without water, without protection or strength, dragging myself to the surface time and again is becoming less and less of an option. It’s too hard to keep fighting like this, and I can no longer see the point of prolonging the inevitable.

I haven’t died this time, but maybe next time… Just maybe my soul will give up at last, just maybe the darkness will claim me for the final time, and will hold me for an eternity where the pain, the voices and the horrors of reality will never ever be able to find me, ever again.

And then I’ll be able to sleep.

Then, the Ring won’t be my problem, anymore.

Oh, would that it had happened this time around. I don’t think my mind, body or soul can handle trying to start moving again, now that I’ve stopped.

And the whispering voices inside my head are making it impossible to think.

I do wish they’d leave me alone.

O---O---O---O---O

There is silence in my mind for a moment...

But it is enough.

That single moment's silence is the very moment I needed to be able to force myself to return to the surface.

Because of that, my soul is prepared to try continuing, even despite the fact that I've stopped.

After a few seconds, the whispering voices are back, but it doesn't matter. My determination has returned as well, and even if it's but for a second, I have strength enough to move on a little further...

But perhaps I should tackle making it out of the darkness and back to reality, first of all...

-----------------------------------------------------------

I must have zoned out, because the abrupt sound startles me so badly I jump in surprise. Glancing at the bundle in my arms, it is painful to realise that the unearthly sound is of Frodo’s making. He clutches weakly at my cloak as he struggles to control his breathing.

I grip his hand and run the pad of my free thumb across his clammy cheek, mentally willing him to calm down, to breathe normally, to come back to me.

Mister Frodo,” I whisper, reluctant to shock him, preferring instead to pose as little a threat as I can while he is struggling so. It wouldn’t do to make things worse, not when we’re so close to ending this nightmare once and for all.

After a few moments that seem to stretch on for an age, his distant, pain-filled gaze finally lifts to my face, and I find myself forcing a smile in spite of the situation. It takes him a moment to recognise me, I realise, but there is that spark in his eyes when he finally does – the one that only I can see. I nearly laugh out loud in relief.

Holding in my joy for a more opportune moment, I choose instead to squeeze his hand in reassurance and pull him into a more upright position against my chest. His movements are slow and uncoordinated, and I worry for a second that his body has given up the fight entirely, but after a few moments, the harsh, rattling breaths lower to something that vaguely imitates normality, and I too can breathe a little easier as he straightens up.

He still hasn’t spoken, though.

His eyes slide shut in exhaustion, but I know he will not sleep again. Instead, he muffles a cough with a trembling hand, before pulling away from me as though burned. I wince as he staggers to his feet, keeping my eyes trained on him, arms outstretched to steady him if he needs it.

You need rest, Sir,” I try to plead, but my argument is a weak one. I already know that he won’t heed my warnings, and must do what I can to support his wishes, even if I think he is being a very foolish hobbit. He shakes his head a fraction, as I knew he would, but it troubles me that the movement is so sluggish and clumsy. His balance falters, and I’m on my feet in a heartbeat, a steadying hand on his arm.

Careful, Mister Frodo,” I murmur, heart pounding in my chest. “I got you.”

It takes him a full minute to find his feet. He pulls away from me, awarding me a tiny, almost indistinguishable smile of gratitude, before his expression shifts into one of silent suffering.

And again, I find myself cursing this land, cursing Sauron and his armies. And – above all else - cursing the Ring.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Sam is here!

I can see him, watching me, holding me, willing me to return to him, pulling me away from the blackness in a way that only he can…

Yes, Sam will help me. As much as it pains him to see me like this, he will do whatever he can to help me. And I can’t even begin to thank him for everything he has done, for all the times he’s saved me.

The worst thing about this whole ordeal is that I can barely recognise my best friend, these days. It’s so hard to see the hobbit he once was beyond the darkness that is manipulating everything I once knew. I know not if that’s due to him changing after seeing all he has seen, or if it’s simply because my memory of him is slowly fading into blackness. The Ring is consuming everything, bit by bit. Even my dear Sam…

He weeps for me. I see it day by day, or at least, during those few sparse moments when my mind is my own. He weeps for the Shire, and for the family he has left behind – not only the Old Gaffer, but the family he could have had with Rosie. Though no tears ever fall from his eyes, he silently weeps for our friends, for Merry and Pippin, for Gimli and Legolas and Aragorn. And he weeps for Boromir and Gandalf, even though they are the lucky ones – the ones at peace.

Dear Sam weeps for everyone.

There is so much he has given up to follow me. He has sacrificed his own happiness, his own life just to help me, and now his only outlet is to weep for the people he has left or lost.

But me?

No, I cannot weep.

Not anymore.

My eyes have long since wept themselves dry. There is nothing left for me to cry for.

O---O---O---O---O

The darkness is endless, timeless, unforgiving, but there is the smallest dot of light amidst the black waters in my mind that is clinging to me in sheer desperation. It’s Sam’s faith in me.

He thinks I can still do this.

Poor, innocent, naïve Sam. I can’t help but smile softly at him as he offers his weight to me when my legs refuse to support my own. I want to rid him of the ridiculous notion he seems to have of me, that I’m going to make it through this and be whole at the end of it.

But to remove his innocence would be like removing a leg. He wouldn’t be Sam, if I took away his faith.

And it’s reassuring, I suppose, deep down, that at least one of us still knows what we’re fighting for. Because I can’t for the life of me recall why I am here.

It doesn’t matter, though. Sam recalls for the both of us. I just carry the burden.

And I’ll carry it as far as I can, which admittedly at the moment doesn’t feel like a great distance, but all the same...

Sam can be the one to hope and wish for success, the one who will be happy and proud and whole when we come to the end of all things.

It’s too late for me, but if I could make sure Sam got through this relatively unscathed, I would gladly give up my life. If I could keep Samwise safe from the blackness, my sacrifice would be worth it.

Now, if only I could make him understand that…

-----------------------------------------------------------

Blessed Be!

Hugsies,
xXx MissHaun
ed-MoonLigh xXx

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