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Mine: 1. Mine
How annoying to be sick on his birthday, Sméagol thought. He'd even arranged that he would go fishing with his friend Déagol today, but he really shouldn't go out, he thought as he sneezed, the sneeze followed by a coughing fit that left him gasping for breath.
"I'm sorry, Déag, can we go fishing some other day? I'm feeling sick. I just want to stay in bed."
Déagol looked disappointed, but given how miserable Sméagol appeared, he couldn't argue. "And on your birthday, too…"
Sméagol grumbled in agreement as he accepted yet another cup of lemon tea from his sister.
"Trust me, this thing was washed to the Sea long ago," I said at the White Council, and – though I bore the Ring on a chain around my neck even as I spoke – while they doubted the wisdom of my words, they did not doubt my sincerity.
Now, neither Galadriel nor Elrond concern me, for Lothlórien burned with Smaug's flame, and Elrond has little influence beyond Imladris. Only his tame Dúnedain still heed his words, and they are of no relevance, even if, as I suspect, an heir of Isildur yet lives among them.
I let my fingers slide lightly over the smooth metal of the Ring again. Truly, though I have not yet claimed It as mine, It is precious to me. And now at last the time has come that I will claim It. I will not rush this, it is a moment to be savoured.
Alas that Olórin is not here to behold my victory. The fool! Had he but waited, we would have dealt with the dragon together; but no, he had to act alone... and now Smaug takes tribute from the Orc tribes in Wilderland, and has set himself up to rule like a lord from his mountain.
At least Rohan and its king look to me for guidance, and the proud Steward of Gondor has sent an envoy to me at last. Gondor is weakened by losing Pelargir to Umbar, and I do not know how long it will stand against Mordor; though at least, even if Denethor will not side with me, he will always oppose Sauron.
As ever, my greatest danger is Sauron, and I wonder how easily his – No! Not his, NEVER his... MY Ring. MINE – my Ring will submit to me once I claim It in full. Already It whispers to me of Power, of Rule, of Strength, and I croon softly to it soon, my Precious One, soon... It acquiesces. Sauron, too, will in the end submit.
I allow myself to be distracted in the memory of the moment that my servant broke the surface of Anduin bearing the Ring in his hand, and my realisation of what he had found. For nearly three thousand years the Ring had lain in the Great River, and at last It had been found again. I curl my lip in a sneer as I look towards the East. Found, but not by Its maker...
And now, as I reach for the chain and unclasp it to put the Ring on my finger at last, IT IS MINE.
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