Sign of Honor; Sign of Shame - Frodo the Nine-Fingered

His failure is always with him... as is the memory of the darkness that became a part of him.
"Sign of Honor; Sign of Shame"

After all that, things are never easy for Frodo, not after all he`s seen and experienced. Not easy at all. I can just see him at the Shire, after his return. He and Sam are at a birthday party (before he pulls away from everyone) and a Proudfoot asks him (they WOULD, you know)...

"Now then, Mr. Frodo Baggins, how did you lose that finger of yours? I heard some tale about a goblin and a Ring, but I told ole' Podgy Stuffbiter that he was full of ale and that you'd not worn a Ring a day of your life that I can remember. So, what was it? Did you lose it in a meat grinder? I had a cousin of mine who did that once." Another voice pipes in.

"That he did. It was young Harry Puffbottom that did that. But then he never was quite respectable, anyway."

Frodo is silent and the quietness creeps across the party. Sam waits for his answer, ready to jump in if anyone dares slight his master.

"What did he say?" The Gaffer's quavery voice sails out from the edge of the room.

"He didn't say anything." Merry's low voice is heard nearby. "But he should."

Frodo's eyes remain on the floor as his lips finally form the words. "It was... bitten off." Nobby Proudfoot raises his hoary eyebrows.

"Must have been a dog then. Old Farmer Maggot's, I'd guess. I hope you weren't out there stealing mushrooms again, young Frodo." Frodo smiles wanly.

"Stealing mushrooms!" pipes up Pippin. "I should say not! Frodo was trying to save the entire-"

"Thank you, Pippin." Frodo interrupts him. "I think I'll turn in for the night. Thank you all, but please continue on in celebrating Natty's birthday. Congratulations, Natty on your achievement."

Sam walks with Frodo outside as the happy chatter begins again. "Do you want me to go home with you, Mr. Frodo? I can fix you some tea." Frodo is quiet a moment more and Sam watches him with concern. "You could tell them, you know. They ought to know what you did. I want to tell them how much they owe-"

"You, Sam." Frodo interrupts and smiles at the stubborn look on his face. "They owe you a great deal, you know. But to tell them all about it would just diminish you in their eyes, seeing that you about doing such scandalous things as challenging Rangers to duels and slaying Orcs and large Spiders and carrying your half-dead Master into the very heart of evil itself."

"Not so, Mr. Frodo, not so." Confusion is all over Sam's kind face. "I only did what I ought to have, and only that because you couldn't do it for yourself."

Frodo nods slowly. "That's right, Sam. I couldn't do it." The sound of his voice is slowly dissolved in the night air that lays heavily about them. Sam notices the hand that is never far from a pocket, and the way it seems to shake before it neatly tucks itself away. The quiet voice speaks again. "It was a nice party, wasn't it?"

Sam watches him intently. "Don't you forget, Mr. Frodo. I know what happened; I was there. You did your part, and more than anyone should have asked of you."

Frodo lifts his eyes to Sam's for a moment. "Good night, Sam. Don't stay too late." And slowly Frodo pulls away. Sam's thoughts trouble him for a long time afterwards.

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