8. Samwise Gamgee
Before they leave Crickhollow, Sam makes certain the heaviest pots and pans are stowed in his own pack despite protests—albeit reluctant ones from Pippin; San still feels guilty over the part he played in spying on Frodo and views this penance as the least he can do to make amends.
Tom Bombadil says the blades they take from the Barrows were only knives for the men who fought the Dark Lord, but to Sam's eyes, they are a grim warning about the path he now walks and a constant reminder of what he has left behind.
The fact that Gandalf chose Barliman Butterbur of all people to deliver—or fail to deliver—an important letter makes Sam think twice about the fact that Gandalf's letter now recommends they trust this Strider.
"You're welcome to your own opinion, Mr. Pippin, but if my years as a gardener have taught me anything, it's to think twice before picking just any fruit off a bush for eating—especially that particular fruit."
It is in the Midgewater Marshes amid Pippin's loud grumbles, Merry's quiet curses, Frodo's weary sighs, and the constant clamor of Neekerbreekers that Sam vows to never again complain about mosquitoes.
After the attack on Weathertop, Frodo falls into a morning ritual of brave smiles and assurances that he feels ready for the day's journey; Sam doesn't know what worries him more: the fact that Frodo is lying or the fact that the rest of them are doing their very best to believe that lie.
It takes several weeks for Sam to notice, lost as he is in the peace of Elrond's home, but eventually, he begins to see the cost of that peace in the elven scouts atop the cliffs high above the valley, never once easing their sleepless vigil against an enemy lurking somewhere beyond the borders.
By the time the Fellowship leaves Rivendell, Samwise is accustomed to the elven flair for great feasts and grand finery; he is also accustomed to the growing certainty that he much prefers a simple meal and familiar surroundings and that he will find neither for some time to come.
He might grumble about Gimli's names for the mountains, but Sam refuses to let the vast distances and reckoning bother him; after all, his own quest isn't to reach Mount Doom—it's to do whatever needs doing for Mr. Frodo.
"I know you would prefer Bill, Master Gamgee," Boromir says as he hoists Sam high onto his broad back, "but I will have to serve as your pack animal today if we wish to descend this accursed mountain before another snowfall!"
Having carried his pots and pans for so long, Sam finds that shedding them in order to jump the gaps and crevices of Moria actually makes it more difficult, not less.
In the desperate flight from Moria, now eight where once they were nine, Sam's heart sinks with the thought that if the heroes of legend can come to life around him, so can the villains; indeed, he almost wishes the heroes he now knows—the elves and dwarves and wizards and kings—would turn back into legend if it means never having to lose one of the heroes to one of the villains.
Legolas never does translate the songs that fill Lothlórien as the elves mourn Gandalf, but when questioned, he informs Sam that no one has mentioned the wizard's fireworks; Sam can't help feeling the elves have missed something important.
Cramped and miserable in his boat, a distant rumble of thunder causes Sam to shiver at the thought of water both beneath and above the Fellowship; Strider murmurs that the storm is far to the east, but a glance at Boromir's boat—hovering close enough to see worried expressions from both Merry and Pippin—makes Sam think a different kind of storm is brewing within the Fellowship itself.
Like a moth to the flame, Frodo stumbles through the marshes after the lights of the dead, and Sam struggles to draw him back, seeing Frodo as he has never seen him before—waif thin and too exhausted resisting the call of the Ring to also resist the calls of the Dead.
They cower in the depths of their shallow hollow no more than a furlong from the Black Gate, and Sam feels a brief pang of sympathy for Gollum as he wonders how the other learned Sauron has but four fingers on one hand.
In a strange moment of insight prompted by too little food and too little sleep, Sam decides Gollum is like the kites he used to fly over Bag End as a child: Gollum is tied the Ring, but though tethered, he can bob and weave at will and—should the wind blow strong enough—pull them along into whatever approaching storm he desires.
Sam doesn't understand what is so humorous about his fighting stance when he faces down Captain Faramir; he also doesn't understand why Frodo later compares it to the time Sam caught Fatty Lumpkin in the orchard attempting to make "sauce," but if it serves to give his master a chuckle, it's a mystery he can live with.
The spider's great bulk poises above him, a bulging and sickly dome dripping of venom and webbing; thinking of the arc of every stone bridge over every babbling brook back in Hobbiton, Sam knows exactly where to strike.
When Sam's mother died in her sleep, the Gaffer drew a sheet over her head and then disappeared for several days, leaving Sam to watch over the body; he can't help but think of that now as he cuts through the thick, gray webbing wrapped around Frodo's body and searches vainly for either breath or the faint flutter of a still-beating heart.
Hobbits teach that courage is the ability to step forward and shoulder a heavy burden at need, but in the Tower of Cirith Ungol, Sam learns it takes even greater courage to release that burden to another, especially after feeling the true weight of the load; thus, returning the One Ring to Frodo is the bravest and most difficult thing Sam ever does in his life.
The clomp of iron-shod boots rings loud in his ears as Sam desperately clutches at a staggering Frodo and holds him upright amidst the thundering column of orcs, following the only option given them—run.
The clatter and clash of his pans disappearing down a Mordor ravine causes Sam to flinch, not so much for the noise but for the loss of the familiar weight that so firmly tethered him to home, happier times, and the hope of seeing both once more.
It is all well and good for Gondor to sing of Nine-Fingered Frodo and the Ring of Doom, but Sam is quick to escape in true hobbit fashion when the people start singing his own praises.
The night he returns from the Havens, Sam tucks Elanor into bed with a new toy: a small wooden oliphaunt carved by Frodo as a parting gift; someday, Sam will take Elanor to see real oliphaunts, for his role is still to do what needs doing for Frodo and that means making sure Elanor and the world don't forget what Frodo sacrificed for them.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.