In seven month's time, there would be a baby in Bag End. Frodo Baggins was pretty sure that he was almost more excited about it than the parents-to-be.
He was certainly less stunned. Samwise Gamgee hadn't moved for a long moment when his wife Rosie had announced that she was expecting.
He'd gotten over it fast enough, and Frodo had congratulated them both and left the room to the couple's happy smiles.
Now, Frodo paced back and forth in his own study, making plans. The bedroom across from Sam and Rosie's would be perfect as a nursery. It might need a little redecorating (Frodo seemed to remember that it was done in dark greens), but it'd be perfect.
Frodo smiled. The little one was going to be a welcome ray of sunlight in this household. Sam's son or daughter was going to be all that he had sacrificed for.
Sam knocked on the open door. "Mr. Frodo?" he asked.
Frodo looked up. "Sam, come in!" he said as his dearest friend entered the study.
Sam still looked stunned. "Mr. Frodo," he said quietly. "I don't know what to do!"
Frodo's grin widened. "What do you mean?"
"I can't…" Sam shook his head.
"Let me guess," Frodo said. "You're not sure you can raise a child. You're a gardener, not a caretaker. You're scared. Am I right?"
Sam looked down. "Yes, Mr. Frodo," he said.
Frodo nodded slowly. "You've faced wolves, right Sam?"
"Yes, Mr. Frodo, but I don't see…"
Frodo held up his good hand. "Just wait, Sam," he said. "You've faced wolves and orcs. You saw the Watcher in the Water, and a balrog. You and I passed through the Dead Marshes. You helped tame Gollum."
"Nasty little stinker," Sam muttered.
"You stood before the black gates," Frodo continued, ignoring Sam's mutter. "You stood up to Faramir. You killed Shelob. Sam, you managed to give the ring up!" Sam was turning red as he listened. "You traveled through Mordor. You stood before kings and lords, Sam. Why are you so scared of becoming a parent?"
"You're making it all sound so grand, Mr. Frodo," Sam said. "I wasn't that important."
Frodo sighed. "Sam, I would have been dead before I reached Rivendell without you."
Sam shook his head. "Oh, no, Mr. Frodo, you would have made it just fine!"
Frodo shook his head. "Sam, you're one of the greatest hobbits that ever lived. You'll be fine as a parent."
"Doing all that isn't great, Mr. Frodo. I just did what I needed to do."
"That's what makes it great, Sam," Frodo said. "But you just said that, and that means that you have the best hobbit-sense I've ever seen."
Sam looked to the side. "If you put it like that, then it sounds silly. It's just… I'm the youngest, Mr. Frodo. So's Rosie."
Frodo nodded. He was an only child, so Sam wasn't going to be expecting him to be able to help.
"You will be able to take care of the little one, I assure you, Sam," Frodo said. "And even if you don't know everything, you'll do fine. If you need help, I'll be able to help."
"You, Mr. Frodo?" Sam asked.
Frodo smiled. "I spent a lot of time in the nurseries at Brandybuck Hall, Sam, when I was younger. I don't remember everything, but I do know how to care for newborns."
Sam stared at him. "Did you really, Mr. Frodo?" he asked.
Frodo nodded. "I'll be happy to help with your new son or daughter," he said.
That seemed to calm Sam down, at least for now.
In her fifth month, Rosie took ill, and the midwife confined her to bed until she recovered.
Sam panicked. He didn't relax, even after Rosie recovered and wads allowed out of the bed.
Frodo joined her in the kitchen on afternoon. "Oh, Mr. Frodo, I didn't see you there," Rosie said as she turned around.
Frodo smiled. "Hello, Rosie. You're looking lovely, as always."
She laughed. She was dressed in her oldest and loosest dress, one that had belonged to her mother, and she was wet from doing the dishes.
Frodo smiled. "I'm taking Sam out tonight," Frodo said. "He needs to relax. Merry and Pippin will be joining us. Will you be alright by yourself?"
Rosie frowned at him. "Mr. Frodo. I am six months gone, not an invalid. I can easily handle myself for a few hours. I'd appreciate the quiet, honestly."
Frodo nodded. "Alright. We'll be at the Green Dragon if anything happens. If I take Sam any farther away, he won't relax."
Rosie laughed. "Poor Sam. He's like a mother hen with only one chick."
Frodo laughed. "That he is, Rosie," he said. "That he is."
"Thank you, Mr. Frodo, for taking such good care of him."
Sam entered the kitchen. "Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin are both here," he said. "Mr. Frodo, is something going on?"
Frodo smiled. "We're kidnapping you, Sam," he said.
Merry Brandybuck stuck his head in. "Hullo Rosie!" he declared. "Sorry about this, but we need Sam for a bit."
"I can't," Sam said. "What if something happens and I'm not here?"
Rosie smiled. "Go Sam, I'll be fine for a few hours. I'm still three months away from having this baby."
Pippin appeared behind Merry. "What's taking so long?" he asked. "I've been looking forward to the ale at the Green Dragon all day."
"Convincing Sam," Frodo said.
Pippin snorted. "No need to convince him, Merry and I'll just carry him there."
"Alright!" Sam declared. "It's another conspiracy, isn't it?"
"This time, you're the target," Frodo smiled.
Sam and Frodo grabbed their cloaks and headed out. Sam paused. "Rosie, if anything happens, my old Gaffer is right nearby. He can send someone to get me."
"Nothing will happen, Sam, go have fun!" Rosie said.
The walk to the Green Dragon was fairly quiet. Sam kept glancing behind him, until Merry started walking right behind him. "Don't worry, Sam," he said. "Rosie is fine. You're the only one worrying about her."
"She's been ill, Mr. Merry," Sam said. "I don't know what to do if something happens to her."
Frodo gently grabbed Sam's arm. "Sam, she'll be fine." He dragged Sam into the inn.
He then proceeded to ply Sam with food and mug after mug of ale, until the other hobbit was spectacularly drunk.
Frodo knew Sam would have a headache in the morning, but he needed to forget for a few hours, to relax.
Frodo watched, laughing, as Merry and Pippin convinced Sam to join them in their favorite drinking songs, including the ones that Sam swore he didn't know.
Frodo sat back and watched, trying not to laugh. Sam was relaxed, very relaxed. Frodo was starting to wonder if he and his cousins were going to have to carry Sam back to Bag End.
Sam sat back down in his seat next to Frodo. "Nice singing," Frodo said wryly.
Sam frowned. "Don't tell Rosie I know that one," he said.
Frodo laughed. "Don't worry, Sam. She already knows, she's heard you sing it before."
"Oh, right," Sam said.
Sam smiled. "I'm going to name my son Frodo," he declared. "Rosie and I talked it over already, we want to name him after you."
Frodo blinked. "You do?" he asked.
Sam nodded. "Of course, Mr. Frodo," he said. "What else would I name him?"
Frodo refrained from mentioning that it might not be a boy. Sam was sure to have more then one child, so he could use the name later if need be.
Frodo was oddly touched by the gesture, though he wasn't sure why he was surprised. Sam was his truest friend, and he adored his "Mr. Frodo". Of course Sam would want to name a child after him.
For some reason, that meant more to Frodo then all the acclaim he'd received outside the Shire.
Sam paced back and forth along the hallway of Bag End. It was finally time. Rosie had gone into labor two hours before, and the midwife had just arrived.
Frodo had joined Sam in his vigil, watching from where he was leaning against the door to the nursery. Luckily, they'd finished everything in the nursery, including the crib that Sam and Frodo had built themselves just the week before.
"Sam, come on, let's go in the kitchen. The midwife said that she might need some hot water."
Sam nodded distractedly. "Do you think Rosie will be alright?"
Frodo nodded. "Rosie is as sturdy as a hobbit lass ever is," he said. "She'll be fine, and your little baby will be fine too.
Sam took a deep breath. "Are you sure, Mr. Frodo?"
Frodo nodded. "I am," he said. "Come on," he said.
Sam sighed and followed Frodo into the kitchen, where Frodo bustled around, setting the kettle and a pot of water over the fire. "I figure we might as well have some tea while we're waiting," Frodo said. He pulled out a loaf of bread and the butter. "You need to eat, you've been picking at your meals for two days now. I know you're worried, Sam, but really, Rosie is hardly the first hobbit lass to have a child."
Sam mumbled something.
"What was that?"
"It's our first, Mr. Frodo," he said.
Frodo smiled. "I'm well aware of that," he said. "And they'll be a healthy lad or lass, I promise you that. Probably will blonde hair, just like so many other lads and lasses born this year."
"Do you really think so?"
"Yes, Sam. Your child will be the most beautiful in the Shire. And they'll have your spirit, you know. They'll be everything we fought for."
Sam nodded slowly. "Yes, Mr. Frodo. It's just a shame- they won't know the Shire as it should be."
"Yes they will," Frodo said. "All those trees you've planted are growing fast. The Shire will be back to normal before the little one is out of their tweens." He put a mug of tea in front of Sam. "Plus, there's the mallorn party tree that's going to be even better then the old tree."
"That's true, Mr. Frodo," Sam said. "I'll just have to teach 'em to garden the way it should be done."
Frodo nodded. "That's it exactly," he said.
The midwife entered the room. They both looked up hopefully. She shook her head. "It'll be a while yet," she said. "I came in to see about getting her some tea."
Frodo nodded and fixed two mugs. "One's for you, Mrs. Proudfoot," he said.
Mrs. Proudfoot smiled and took them back with her. "Don't you worry, Mr. Gamgee," she said. "Mrs. Gamgee is healthy, and the babe is in a good position. It'll be fine," she said as she left.
"There," Frodo said. "Mrs. Proudfoot is an expert, and she's said everything will be fine. Now eat something. You're a hobbit, you should eat like a proper hobbit."
"Yes, Mr. Frodo," Sam said as he hesitantly picked up one of the pieces of toast Frodo set down in front of him.
Frodo watched silently, eating a piece or two to keep Sam company and drinking his tea. Once the toast was gone, Frodo made sandwiches using the roast left over from last night. He didn't say anything as he watched Sam eat.
Sam needed someone to just sit with him right now, someone he could confide his worries in, someone who would tell him how he's being silly.
Frodo would give Sam that.
The rest of the day passed silently, aside from the occasional sound from Sam and Rosie's room. Mrs. Proudfoot came out several times with updates, but she never let Sam in to see Rosie. She claimed that Sam had done his part in the affair and it was time for the women to do their work.
The babe was born healthy, in the early hours of the morning, already with a full head of curly golden hair. It was a girl. Sam and Rosie named her Elanor.
She quickly won both her father and Frodo over with her toothless smile and happy disposition.
Frodo knew that he'd been right all those months ago. Little Elanor was what he'd fought and sacrificed for. He smiled at the happy family.