THE UNVEILED HEART
It was you.
Dear Sam. Dear, simple Sam, "half-wise" named, but, I daresay, wiser than I.
What took me a journey beyond this world and back again to learn, Sam knew all along.
It was I.
Not the Ring. I.
All the agony, the dread I endured, the worst of it was not what the Ring did to me but what the Ring revealed in me.
Not only the shadow within. That was hard enough.
But more: It sharpened my perception of all that lies hidden, unspoken, within the human heart, including my own.
There was one thing which I did not wish to see, had spent half a lifetime avoiding seeing, couched in the life of a carefree bachelor, convincing myself that the affection I felt for the young gardener was but the patronization of a master toward a servant.
But then the Quest, and the roles of employer and employed gave way to friendship, to love...
Even then, I would not see.
It was not until he dashed my visions of a quiet, shared life together, just the two of us, in Bag End, that the truth was forced into my line of vision.
I loved him.
Not with the common affection of friend for friend, but as one was, I was told, supposed to love a wife.
I wanted to wake up again in his arms, every morning in his arms; I wanted him always at my side, my support, my strength, my last thread of hope for enduring the shadows of the past.
And with a few simple words -- "It's Rosie. Rose Cotton." -- the thread snapped.
How I mustered the smile, the easy laugh, the congenial tone, I still wonder. A fine performance, that wedding: my duty as Deputy Mayor, and as his dearest friend, for Sam could wish no other to witness his joy. I thought I had hid it well, the envy that clouded my heart; I should have known better. My Sam is not as simple as some think, more shrewd than many credit him for being.
But even he did not see that for me, the end had come.
Dear Sam. Forgive me. I tried to run, but there was no running from myself.
I swear to you, never again. Hold me fast, hold me lightly, never again shall I go anywhere without you. I do not know how we shall work it, you and I and your Rose, but I cannot go on living a lie. I pray it does not prove that we merely exchange one lie for another.