When a Best Friend Kills by BlueberryMuffins76
Disclaimer: I don’t own any Tolkien characters and this is simply my interpretation of why a mere ring could cause so much strife between best friends (barring the fact that the Ring of Power was practically made to CAUSE strife). I did make up Griselda though. I am also extremely indebted to the writers of the portions on Sméagol in the encyclopaedia here in the Council of Elrond, as well as the writer of “The Small, Slimy Creature: A Closer Look at Gollum.” These sources helped me understand so much more about Gollum and his struggles against the Ring. Thank you and enjoy! If you have any comments or suggestions, I would love to hear them!
Living in the Stoor tribe near the River Gladden was not much different than the life of any other hobbit. The inhabitants enjoyed their food and merrymaking like those in the Shire, but these creatures had an understanding with the water and were not afraid of it, as most other hobbits are. Consequently, they enjoyed fishing and boating. Sméagol and Déagol were no different. These two young hobbits were distant cousins who had grown up together and were the best of friends. They enjoyed going out in a small boat and fishing from it, or even from the edge of the River Gladden and other nearby bodies of water.
As they reached the age of 33, which means adulthood in hobbit terms, they became more interested in the young lady hobbits. There was one girl in particular that they had both set their eyes on. Here name was Griselda and she was only a couple of years younger than Sméagol and Déagol. She was not the prettiest hobbit, but she was very kind and friendly. She did have a small mean streak that thankfully did not appear very often and would only come out if she was intensely angry. Both young hobbits loved this about her and were soon vying for her attention.
One day, they met on the way to her house, each carrying a hand-picked bouquet of wildflowers.
“Good day Sméagol! And where are you off to with that lovely bunch of weeds?” Déagol asked.
“Now is that really your business? I should be asking the same of you!” he replied evasively.
“I’m off to see Miss Griselda, of course! And I’d advise you to keep your nose out of our affairs. You know she likes ME better!”
“Ha! We’ll see about that!”
Thus a rift formed between the two best friends. Griselda liked both of them and would have a hard time choosing between them when the time came, so she was content to let both see her until she could decide. Plus she kind of enjoyed the thought of having two hobbits in a duel over her! She loved feeling so special and lovable. Her parents liked Déagol better; he was the more mild-mannered of the two. So her mother brought this up one day.
“Griselda, when will you decide who you might want to marry? You can’t keep on leading Sméagol and Déagol on without choosing one or the other.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Mother! I like both of them so much! They are always bringing me goodies and enjoy being with me. But Déagol is a little better looking, not to mention has a slightly more personable personality.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more! If you ask me, Déagol is definitely the better catch.”
Soon Griselda fully set her sights on Déagol, who began coming more regularly than Sméagol. However, she could not bear to send Sméagol away and whenever he dropped by she would allow him in, unless of course she was expecting Déagol. He lavished her with all sorts of gifts and often took her dancing, which they both thoroughly enjoyed. However, Sméagol became quite jealous. To him, there was no other woman and he hated that Déagol had won her over first. He tried to do the same things for Griselda. But as the months went by she began to accept his offers less and less, eventually dropping seeing him all together rather unceremoniously.
Déagol hated that he and Sméagol were fighting over a woman, so, being a kind-hearted sort of hobbit, he invited Sméagol to go fishing with him just like they used to do. They had stopped meeting when Griselda sparked their interest, and both hobbits found they missed their weekly ritual. This being the case, Sméagol accepted the offer to fish at their favourite spot at the crossing of the rivers Gladden and Anduin.
The men gathered early in the morning, fishing poles in tow. They set off toward the edge of Gladden Fields, a place which seemed to have the best and largest fish. The walk was spent in companionable silence. For Sméagol, this day was special because it was his birthday. Even though he would rather spend it with Griselda, he knew she was no longer interested in him and did not even bother to ask her to do something with him. He was tired of her rejection and refused to put himself through that pain any longer.
They arrived at the spot hardly before they realized it.
“Look, Sméagol!” Déagol cried. “Our favourite spot, still here the same as we left it. I’ve missed our fishing trips.”
“Me too!” replied Sméagol as he settled down.
Both fishing poles went into the water. Before long, Sméagol caught the first fish, a large specimen of his preferred type. Déagol was not far behind him, but got distracted at something shiny in the water. He laid aside his pole and waded in, scooping out the object. Once the dirt was rinsed off, he discovered it was a lovely golden ring. Immediately, his thoughts went to Griselda. “What a perfect ring for the finger of my bride!” he thought. He was not a wealthy hobbit and had supposed they would have to do without a ring because he could not afford one, yet fate had led him to this one.
However, Sméagol noticed Déagol’s find.
“What’s that?” he inquired.
“’Tis a ring! Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Yes it is! Give it to me; you know it’s my birthday today and I want it!”
“No! My present to you is taking you fishing here when I could be courting my Griselda. I am going to give her this ring when we wed, so you cannot have it!”
Sméagol was not happy with this reply. He tried to grab the ring, but Déagol held away. Then he lunged for it, and Déagol ran along the riverbank. However, Sméagol was slightly leaner and lither than his friend and soon caught up to him, grabbing him from behind and throwing him to the ground.
“The ring shall me mine! Give it to me now!” he cried.
So Sméagol put his hands around Déagol’s throat, sitting on him and pinning his arms so he was unable to move. After a couple of minutes struggling, Déagol’s body soon lost its life.
Sméagol had no qualms about killing his best friend and took the ring from his fingers as soon as he knew Déagol was dead. He did not even think of Griselda and the heartbreak she would suffer when she learned of his death. That is because this was not an ordinary ring. In fact, it was the most special and deadly ring in the entire world: the One Ring, the Ring of Power. It had lain in the water for centuries after betraying Isildur to his death, awaiting the arrival of a chosen personage. As soon as Sméagol caught sight of this magic ring, its power seized him and he did not resist, willing to go through anything to have “his precious.” It likely did not help matters that he was already upset with Déagol for stealing “his” girl.
After examining his “birthday present,” Sméagol decided to go home and make a huge deal of Déagol’s death, claiming he fell into the river and drowned before he could be rescued. Griselda was heartbroken at this news and spent several days sobbing in her room. Sméagol was already being conquered by the Ring and did not bother to go and try to comfort her; for a normal hobbit, this would have been the perfect time to woo a helpless damsel in distress (if a bit questionable for taking advantage of someone’s sorrow), yet Sméagol now cared for only one thing: the Ring.
Sméagol had no idea about the magic properties of the Ring. One day, he put it on and was walking around the village when he noticed the hobbits were overlooking him, like he was invisible. Thus he decided to play a little trick to see if he really was invisible: he saw Griselda’s mother shopping for some fruit and thought making it talk to her would be great fun. He casually sidled up to the stand and made the apple she was holding speak: “Please take me home! I am scrumptious and want you to eat me!”
“Yikes!” She screamed, dropped the apple, and ran away shrieking, “Help! Help! The fruit is talking to me!”
Sméagol had to leave before he gave away himself from laughing too much. He now knew he had a special, magic Ring. He used it to cause much mischief in Gladden Fields. Unfortunately for him, several weeks later his invisibility was discovered. The Ring does not make its wearer completely invisible, but rather in the bright sun a thin and murky shadow can be barely seen. A shopkeeper saw this type of shadow one day when Sméagol was stealing some fruit.
“Hey you!” the business man shouted. “Come out and admit your crime!”
Sméagol was terrified and on its own accord the Ring slipped off his finger, betraying his presence.
“You!” the shopkeeper accused. “You have been stealing my fruit for weeks now! I demand restitution!”
By this time a crowd had gathered, and many others realized some of the mischief Sméagol had been making among them. He was not his usual, mostly amiable self and the others were quite unhappy with the change. They did the only thing they could do: force him out of their town. He ran for miles and miles and became a nomad.
Over a period of ten years, he wandered into the Misty Mountains. He discovered the giant cave system where goblins dwelled and made his home among them; it was such a large place that he could easily hide in the deepest part, and he now knew he could disappear with his Precious whenever he felt afraid. And so he lived there for years, shrinking into a despised, wretched creature as the Ring completely consumed him. He survived much longer than a normal hobbit because the Ring elongates life in a sense. As the bearer grew closer to the dark forces of evil that gripped this jewel, he became thinner and closer to darkness, very similar to the Ringwraiths.
Sméagol even took to eating his food raw after several centuries. Additionally, dwelling underground so long led to a hatred of the sun and all other forms of light, including fire, which made cooking food scary.
So now you know the details of Sméagol and the Ring. In case you are wondering, Griselda did find true love about two years after her ex-suitor was run out of town. She and her husband had a wonderful marriage which lasted years and years until they both died of old age within a few days of each other.