A/N: I love going back to canon and getting bitten by plotbunnies. It’s so much fun. Of course, “canon” in this case was PJ’s version of such–I watched FotR a few weeks ago–because I haven’t actually read the books in a couple years, but I’ll take inspiration wherever it comes. Much thanks to council-of-elrond’s transcript of the extended edition. For those who can’t tell, this little scene takes place just after Frodo has discovered that Sauron is back and the Ringwraiths are hunting through the Shire for the Ring. Originally posted here.
I never really wanted an adventure, you know.
That was Bilbo, always–I suppose he forgot, for a while, before the Dwarves came and dragged him unwilling out into the world without his pocket-handkerchief. But ever after that, while I lived with him, I only heard his stories: grand, wonderful tales, of mountains and trolls, dragons and treasure, Orcs and wood-elves and Big Folk. I never did suspect–not until the years had grown me up a bit–that Bilbo might have embellished things a little, made them grander and more glorious than reality.
No matter; the truth was adventure enough, and I had my fill of it, sprawled before the fireplace some winter night, snowed into Bag End, watching the flames dance and leap as Bilbo’s pipeweed wafted upward and his voice weaved images in my half-dreaming mind. Maybe I longed to go out into the wide world too, but it was that wistful sort of ache, the kind you know is all the sweeter because it must always remain just a wish. No matter what I said otherwise, that was enough adventure for me.
I did not want a quest or a journey. I do not want it now. Do you hear me, Gandalf? I do not want this!
So the Ring has come to me through Bilbo’s adventures–I suspected, ages ago, that his past would catch up with me someday, but not like this, never like this–and I tell you I am the wrong Hobbit for the task. I know nothing about magic or evil or war or–any of these things that we Hobbits tend to ignore. I know nothing of this Ring but the silly tricks Bilbo so enjoyed with it! I would–lose it, or forget myself and put it on someday, or–no, this is all wholly beyond me–
“Take it, Gandalf!” I find myself crying, begging–the Ring already feels heavy in my hand, and I cannot decide whether it burns strangely hot or lies unnaturally cold in my palm, and somehow this frightens me all the more. “You must take it!”
He backs away. “You cannot offer me this Ring!”
“I’m giving it to you!” I say, panic welling up inside me.
“Do not–tempt me, Frodo!” he thunders, and I shrink back, staring. His voice softens, and weariness settles over his features. “I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe. Understand, Frodo, I would use this Ring from a desire to do good…but through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.”
Yes, it would.
My eyes flick to the Ring, still resting on my hand–how can this…this trinket hold so much evil?–and I wonder, uneasily, if I am already growing too attached to it, and think this very likely, and look back at the wizard standing hunched before me. I don’t know what he saw, moments ago, when he looked at this little gold thing, but I was looking at his eyes, and for the briefest of moments I did not see Gandalf there.
“But it cannot stay in the Shire,” I plead, grasping after one last chance.
“No,” he says, and I see the answer in his eyes. “No, it can’t.”
My hand draws back, and the Ring slides over my skin, and then–this may be fear, paranoia, imagination inflamed by old tales, or it may be something in the Ring itself–images pour into my mind, frenzied blurs of fire and smoke, death and pain–sobbing and screaming and blood and tears–a man’s once-kindly face twisted in greed and rage–Sam on his knees, sobbing over a body–the Shire ravaged–the walls of a proud white city crumbling–a great Eye of fire, and darkness, darkness, darkness–
And I believe.
It doesn’t matter anymore what Gandalf might have said, though I would trust him with my life. I know this Ring is evil. It must be destroyed. I know this as I’ve never known anything before. It must be destroyed, and I will do anything to see it done. This isn’t a decision, not even really a conscious thought–it is fact and that is all.
But I can’t keep my voice from trembling–just a little–as I close my hand over the Ring and whisper, “What must I do?”