1. The Scouring of Bag End
"No, Sam!" said Frodo. "Do not kill him even now. For he has not hurt me. And in any case I do not wish him to be slain in this evil mood."
... Saruman rose to his feet, and stared at Frodo. There was a strange look in his eyes of mingled wonder and respect and hatred. "You have grown, Halfling," he said. "... You are wise, and cruel. You have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you! Well, I go and I will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither."
... He walked away, and the hobbits made a lane for him to pass; but their knuckles whitened as they gripped on their weapons. Wormtongue hesitated, and then followed his master. [J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King]
Samwise’s grip on his short sword tightened minutely as Saruman shuffled toward Frodo. He pursed his lips, shoulders tensing, his gray eyes never leaving the fallen wizard’s inky black ones as the wizard neared his master.
A tiny voice rang out in Sam’s mind, franticly warning, ‘Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.’ Dryly, Sam’s own voice answered back to himself, ‘Well, if this ain’t meddlin’ I don’t know what is.’ And his steady grip shifted in anticipation.
Saruman’s gaze narrowed as he lingeringly strode past Frodo, delighting at seeing the halfling’s lips part in momentary fear as the wizard’s rough robes slid over the hobbit’s feet. But the look disappeared quickly and the halfling’s eyes met the wizard’s evenly. ‘How dare he?’
A jagged, filthy knife shone momentarily in the Istari’s gnarled hand, then plunged toward the ring-bearer’s chest, snapping in two upon it. Though the concealed mithril turned aside the blade, the force still bore Frodo back and to the down with a pained cry. The hobbit collapsed to Bag End’s dirt-strewn floor, landing hard on his back, a small hole marring his shirt near the heart.
Dark remembrances of Moria ghosted Sam’s blazing memory. The cave troll, the thrusted spear, the similar gasped cry of his master, and, thank Elbereth!, the mithril-coat. He had spent an endless bleak night on the Anduin trying to patch an identical hole in his master’s shirt, the task taking more time than usual as fearful tears kept his sight blurred most of the night and his hands would not cease their trembling. That night he had promised himself, ‘Never again,’ and here in Bag End, of all the places to be cursed by such memories, the same act flaunted itself before the gardener.
With a cry torn from his very soul, Sam’s eyes glinted as cold as the steel meant for his master’s heart and he threw himself at the Istari. As dozens of hobbit arms seized the wizard to pull him down, Sam crashed hard into the villain’s stomach, bearing him to the ground. He straddled the wizard’s stunned form, a knee braced against his chest and his eyes burning rage.
As his glare finally focused on Saruman, Sam saw in the traitor’s eyes the same murderous look he had witnessed in the eyes of the cave troll in Moria, seconds before its attack on Frodo. In unrealized replication of his actions then, Sam drew his short sword, preparing to hack the wizard to pieces as he had done to the accursed spear that had pinned his master to the wall.
"No, Sam!" Fine, familiar hands wrapped themselves around the gardener’s upraised fist, gently trying to pry the sword from his shaking grasp. "Do not kill him even now."
‘When then, master?’ his mind answered. ‘When, if not now?’
"He has not hurt me."
‘It don’t mean he won’t. Villainous snake, he --’
"I do not wish him to be slain in this evil mood."
With a martyred sigh, Sam’s death-grip on his blade relaxed, and his arm fell to his side. He could feel Frodo’s strained breathing against his neck as it brushed lightly at his curls, then shattering against his skin. With Frodo’s hands still grasping his, Sam lifted himself off the broken wizard, taking care to push off mostly with the knee he held against the Istari’s chest.
Unshaken, Saruman drew himself to his feet, his fiery stare fixing itself, yet again, on the trembling ring-bearer. Frodo’s breath was yet to calm, and he held tight to Sam’s hand, leaning his weight partly on his friend’s arm. Sam gently shifted his hand to rest below Frodo’s elbow, supporting his weight and freeing his master’s hands.
His feet steady, Frodo’s gaze lifted to Saruman, and was meet by the wizard’s cruel smirk. "You have grown, Halfling," he said; and Sam’s head turned from Frodo to the wizard at his speaking. "You are wise, and cruel. You have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you!" At his final words, barely whispered through his clenched teeth, the Istari took an imposing step towards the ring-bearer, his eyes flashing murder again.
Sam’s stout form turned in defense, pulling his master behind him and thrusting himself out to meet the wizards challenge. Steel-gray eyes met Saruman’s in silent warning, and the wizard stepped back in grudging submission to the gardener.
"Well," he continued, a bittersweet smile on his lips, "I go and I will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life." At this, he leaned in once more, locking gazes with Frodo, and whispering to his enemy, "You will have neither."
Frodo flinched at the Istari’s words, earning a worried glance from Sam and a warning ebb of murmuring from the other hobbits. Course robes brushed Frodo’s feet anew, and the wizard turned from the ring-bearer to Bag End’s rusty door.
Wormtongue, too, crept from the shadows, following his master to the door. His glance fell momentarily on Frodo and Sam, and the gardener saw, for an instant what could only have been a look of envy... longing. Carefully, Sam changed his grip on Frodo’s arm and murmured softly to Saruman’s slave, "A servant’s only as good as his master, Worm. It don’t have to be him."
Wormtongue hesitated, trembling, his eyes shifting doubtfully between his master and Sam.
"Worm --" but Sam’s hushed plea was cut short. Wormtongue shook his head slightly, driving all reason from his mind, and followed his master.
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.