1. As Dark as Darkness
"Unravelling the Tale" could be taken as a prequel to "When You Are With Me," but while it shall turn out to be another fic which dwells much upon Legolas and Gimli, it deals with other aspects of the novels than did my first story. Lots of the elf and dwarf, but no slash here, I'm afraid. Later, my dears, perhaps, but not in this tale. ; )
Ever wonder just where the hell Gollum IS during most of "The Fellowship of the Ring" and what he's up to? I remember trying to figure this one out myself when I was a kid. This is a Fellowship story which includes the somewhat dubious 10th traveller, that little charmer Smeagol himself. I give you the journey from Moria to Amon Hen, bits from Gollum's point of view, and a prolonged encounter along the Anduin between his precioussss and a certain elf we all know well.)
It was dark. Deep night had fallen. Speed now was their concern as they followed Aragorn, moving unerringly along the winding way which passed between open spaces and ragged patches of fir trees, along the vale, dipping down towards the rushing streams running cold from the heights of the mountains and back up from the riverbanks. There were many stars in the sky, but the fast-waning moon would not be seen till late. The Company was grateful for the concealing darkness, yet ill-at-ease because of it. They moved swiftly, hoping to outrun both the shadows and the need for shadows. There were no words spoken between them; they passed over the land with hurried steps, nervous rustlings, their ears ever straining for the sound of distant drums and evil cries chasing their trail.
The dwarf and the hobbit were at the rear, walking quickly, softly. They craned their necks from time to time to listen for any sound upon the road behind, and the hobbit halted often to look behind, to peer into the brush and clumps of trees which lined the ragged track.
After another such pause, the dwarf drew near to him and broke the silence with his rumbling voice. "Not a sound but the wind," he declared. "There are no goblins near, or my ears are made of wood."
Gollum blinked, peering at them through the shadows of the trees, large eyes catching the shine of the dwarf's mail and the gleam of the hilt of the hobbit's sword even in the dim light of that moonless night. He crept close to the ground, treading carefully between leaf and branch, watching.
He knew this group of travellers. He had journeyed long with them over field and mountain and through dark places. He knew them well. He kept watch over them during the nights as they camped, listened to their speech and witnessed their camaraderie from where he crouched, closely distant. He watched their movements, knew their patterns and their deeds; he could have told them much about themselves that perhaps even they did not know from what he gleaned from those lonely vigils, so long had he followed, so long had he watched them. During those nights he longed for the warmth of the fire even as he feared the red flames, as deep inside he longed for their companionship and yet feared them.
Yes, he knew each of them well and he hated them. He knew that the slightest misstep, the slightest noise would draw the cursed elf's bright eyes to him or make the tall men with the swords come back along the trail to nose about for his footprints and look for signs.
But tonight... tonight, they were suffering much and their patterns of caution and defense had been stirred and broken. Not as careful as they were wont to be, not as wary; they fled in haste and thought themselves to be miles ahead of the enemy they feared. They were heedless.
And so it was, he supposed, that the dwarf walked at the rear alone tonight with the hobbit.
Gollum's slender fingers fidgeted, his hands twitching and rubbing together like two spiders tangling in a web. He could see the hobbit, could smell him, could feel... yessss.
Could feel it calling to him, louder than it had for some time.
He padded along, afraid, always afraid he would lose them. The worry was there with him always, and he had not slept, had not closed his eyes for a moment without this panic gnawing at him, always, always eating at his mind. Always the fear that he would fall asleep and they would be gone, vanished down the road upon paths even he did not know, even he could not find... though he knew, he knew that he wouldn't lose them, couldn't lose them, wouldn't lose them, couldn't... wouldn't.
"They did not see usss in the caveses," he hissed in a low voice. "Did not see us in the dark pathses underground, did they? It is dark here too, it is, and the shivery light in the sky is sleeping, it is. It does not seees us, does not spiesss on us tonight, no, precious. They go, they go, they go into the forestses, they do, where the nasssty elveses hide and sneak, *gollum*, where it is we cannot follow. But not yet, not yet, they are not there yet, and they do not sees usss now...."
He could creep, he could, and slide behind the little hobbit before any of them would know, could know, and his hands could be about his throat, squeezing, dragging the hobbit off the path, and it could be his before the dwarf could reach for his cold steel, before he could cry out to the tall men or the elf. He knew they were weary, knew their guard was down, knew the hobbit was wounded, knew they feared the orcs and grieved a lost companion. The night was dark and shadowed as were their hearts, and he could strike now, should strike now before they disappeared into the eaves and left him behind. He mustn't, he shouldn't, he couldn't let that happen. They would go where he could not follow,and then? And then? He quickened his step, weaving between the trees and shadows, inching forward, seeping along the edge of the trail so close that he could hear the rustle of the hobbit's clothing, could hear the shuffle of the dwarf's heavy boots, the creaking of the leather of his armor. Gollum swallowed and chortled quietly, desperately, so close, so near....
He was distracted, too eager, and he stepped where he shouldn't, dislodging a stone from where it had been nestled for long, so very long, amongst the dead wood and dry moss, and it rolled, rolled from its groove in the dirt down the slope to the path to land with a clack amidst a scattering of pebbles to lie in a new resting place.
Gollum froze. He watched quietly as the hobbit turned, then looked down at his weapon, then looked back once more. Gollum held still, very still, watching the hobbit puzzle and wonder, peering into the darkness for another glimpse of the cold tiny gleams of light he thought he had seen.
Gollum squinched his eyes shut and scrabbled silently behind a rotting log, bitter disappointment nigh to drawing sobs from his thin throat. He swallowed and swallowed, trying not to make a sound, not to breathe.
"What is it?" he heard the dwarf's ask.
"I don't know," answered the hobbit. "I thought I heard feet, and I thought I saw a light -- like eyes. I have thought so often, since we entered Moria."
The two stood there on the path, listening, looking for him, until he thought they would surely turn and come back, surely call to the others and they would find him, find him and hurt him, hurt him as others had done. He swallowed sobs and gulped air, breathing in the heavy scent of moss and loam, trying to dig himself low into the soil, to become a part of the ground, his hands clenching and unclenching. He cursed himself, cursed the hobbit... cursed it. He was tired of hiding, tired of cowering, tired. Just tired. They would find him. Perhaps it would end and he would have to hide and fear no more.
"I hear nothing but the night-speech of plant and stone," the dwarf said after an interminable moment. "Come! Let us hurry! The others are out of sight."
The dwarf put an arm over the hobbit protectively, pushing him forward, keeping him guarded. They moved swiftly now, acutely aware of the darkness and their separation from the others , and they disappeared up ahead at a downward turn of the path.
The small, slinking shadow removed itself from the dark ground and darted forward.
"There will be more chancesss, precious, there will. More chancesesss... they have far to go, precious, more dark nightses and dark pathseses, and we will be there, we will be waiting, yesss... and they will not see us. We will wait."
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.