Lost in the Wind: Chapter 1 - Had the Quest not been completed . . .
Frodo struggled to pull himself awake. The Orc's poison had finally worn off. He saw before him a great chasm of fire, and Sam standing in front of him, holding the gleaming band to the light.
He remembered now.
Only half conscious himself, Sam had vowed to Frodo that they would reach the mountaintop together and alive. Frodo clinging to his neck, they had crawled toward the ominous gate. At that point Frodo could hold out no longer, and collapsed in a gasping heap as the dark shape of his betrayer slinked toward him. He remembered Sam clutching his hand, promising that in no way would Gollum hinder them in their Quest. Frodo smiled then, and fell gracefully to the ground, his eyes heavily lidded, a troublesome indication of his sheer exhaustion. Sam sighed, pulled Frodo into a quick embrace, and turned toward the looming and portentous cliff that would haunt them both for days to come.
Now Frodo attempted to stagger to the edge, to relieve Sam of the pain meant to be his own. Sam turned to him, a leering grin contorting his face as his eyes burned with a feverish glow, and said `Go back! You are of no use here! I take this prize upon myself, and none shall prevent me!'
Frodo threw himself upon the other Hobbit, wresting the Ring from his grasp. For Sam's safety, he threw him into a far wall, where he slumped to the stone, unconscious. Lurching toward the pit on unsteady legs, Frodo deftly pitched the Ring into the flames, watching it turn in its pendulum-like dance, admiring its ethereal yet poisonous beauty for the last time. Almost with regret, he turned from the spectacle to his companion, laying with bloodied brow on the ground. Lovingly he smoothed Sam's hair from the wounds, and bound the cuts with a strip of his own cloak. The sound of screeching birds reached his ears. Frodo mustered enough strength to drag Sam into the fading sunlight, then crumpled as well, feeling only Gandalf's hands gripping his shoulders, then nothing.
Sunlight pushed weakly through the colored windows that lined the walls. Frodo grinned as the light played over his eyelids. He loved the smell of Rivendell -- a mixture of earth, water, and fine wine. He opened his eyes and turned to face the bed lying next to his own. Sam lay, his breathing deep and undisturbed. The fever had nearly subsided, although a sheen of sweat still covered his face, chest, and arms. Quietly, Frodo stepped to the side of Sam's bed and grasped the fingers that lay upon the heavy covers. They were freezing. He hastily rubbed them against his palms, trying to bring the life back into that which mirrored his own calamity so many months before.
"Mr. Frodo! You're awake! . . . It's warm now! Your arm, I mean."
Kind Sam. Gentle Sam. If ever they made it home, Frodo would see to it that the Gaffer was promptly set up with a larger hole. Touching the icy fingers to his cheek once more, he set out to look for Gandalf.
The wizard was found gazing into a fountain, thoroughly engrossed in his work. He looked up with a startled expression as the Hobbit approached, and moved aside to allow him sight of the pool. As Frodo gazed into the unyielding depths, so much like the conjurors own eyes, Gandalf spoke. Not many words at all, but they were enough to drive his thoughts home:
"You miss Bag End, don't you?" he asked Frodo in a quiet voice.
The younger man looked up at his friend. Gandalf could always tell what he was thinking, even when he didn't feel that he was thinking about anything at all.
"I would like to go home. As soon as possible. I miss . . . " he sighed, and continued with the stern, steady voice that Sam so admired. "I miss . . . everything. I miss the Mill, and walking down to Michel Delving on Thursday mornings, and inviting the Gaffer and Sam over for tea when we'd pore over scrolls and maps and old books and tell stories. I miss living . . . truly living . . . not wandering around as I have been." he ran his fingers through his hair and struggled to suppress a sob.
"You haven't been wandering. You were sent on a Quest and you completed it. Not knowing where you are is not the same as not knowing what you're looking for. Not knowing what you're looking for is not the same as not knowing where you are headed. And not knowing where you are headed is not the same as not . . . knowing . . . Where. You. Are. Do you understand now?" Gandalf explained in his normal, quiet tone.
Frodo nodded as his tears mingled with the water of the well, forming rivulets of life and light. Sniffling, he walked back to his room with his head in his hands.