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Dream With Hope: Chapter 11

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A twenty-two year old Frodo Baggins sat in the large entrance hall of the Great Smials, watching Paladin Took pace uncertainly in front of the stout oaken doors that lead into the residence of the Thain of the Tooks, muttering to himself and constantly looking at the locked doors. Within they could hear the small gasping voice of his wife Eglantine, accompanied by the steady cool voice of the doctor and midwife assisting in the birth of their forth child. Bilbo Baggins stood nearby, smoking a pipe of Old Toby and eyeing his anxious cousin with keen grey-blue eyes.

Dream With Hope
by Talisha Hibdon

RATING: G (future NC-17)

PAIRING: Frodo/Sam

DISCLAIMER: The disclaimer telling you that I don't own Frodo or Sam or any of Tolkien's world was trampled on by Ents. >=D

SUMMARY: A drama in the works. Frodo decides to return to Middle-earth to try and find new meaning for his life without the hope of ever having Sam's love. But is there really no hope?

NOTES: This fic may take a LONG time to write. I've no clue how many chapters there will be, but this fic WILL be long. Have patience and you will be rewarded! ^_^ All feedback welcome, especially as this fic is still in the drafting stages.

SPOILERS: If you have not read the Return of the King, or at least know how LOTR is going to end, you probably shouldn't read this fic, that is unless you peeps like spoilers, like I do. ^.~

Chapter 11

A twenty-two year old Frodo Baggins sat in the large entrance hall of the Great Smials, watching Paladin Took pace uncertainly in front of the stout oaken doors that lead into the residence of the Thain of the Tooks, muttering to himself and constantly looking at the locked doors. Within they could hear the small gasping voice of his wife Eglantine, accompanied by the steady cool voice of the doctor and midwife assisting in the birth of their forth child. Bilbo Baggins stood nearby, smoking a pipe of Old Toby and eyeing his anxious cousin with keen grey-blue eyes.

"Take deep breaths, Paladin," Bilbo uttered steadily. "She's going to be fine. Dr. North-Took is a fine physician."

"I know, Bilbo," Paladin replied in his thick Tookish accent, never taking his eyes off the tiled floor and his woolly feet striding across it. "It's only that we've been through this three times already, and-" He grabbed one bottle of rare scotch out of many that sat displayed on a small glass table nearby and poured himself a shot. "I told her, just one more time - I need a boy..." He downed the shot glass quickly and choked and coughed, wide eyes blinking rapidly and watering slightly. Bilbo chuckled good-naturedly as the hobbit continued to mutter to himself and pray fervently for a son, his words even less clear under the influence.

"Cousin Frodo?" Frodo was drawn away from watching his uncles' discussion and turned to look down at a little boy hobbit with sandy brown curls tumbling over curious hazel eyes. "Frodo, what do you think our new cousin will be like?"

"Well, Merry, if he or she is anything like us," Frodo grinned and tussled the lad's hair, "he or she will be rambunctious, hyper, a troublemaker, and too curious for his or her own good." The boy Meriadoc Brandybuck giggled and ducked out of the way of Frodo's hand.

will be a boy," Paladin inserted strongly from where he stood before the old grandfather clock and glared at it's non-functioning minute and hour hands.

"Yes sir," Frodo responded politely, causing Bilbo to laugh in amusement.

"Uncle Paladin will simply throw a fit if it is another girl again," Merry whispered a little to loudly into Frodo's ear.

"I heard that, boy," the Thain turned around to face them, his sweat covered, reddened face a priceless expression of indignation and nervousness. "Do ye think that I am somehow incapable of producing a-"

"Pal, he's only eight," Bilbo raised his eyebrows at his cousin, taking note of the rather confused, innocent look on the hobbit lad's face. "I think it would be best if we left explaining how babies are 'produced' to Esmeralda and Seradoc, don't you agree?" Paladin simply grumbled in response and continued to pace about the hall impatiently.

"This is taking forever!" Merry whined. "When are they-"

At that very moment they all heard a low moan that could have only come from the Mistress of the Great Smials, followed quickly after by exclamations from both the doctor and the midwife, and finally the glorious wailing cry of the newest member of the Took clan. Paladin let out a stout "hah!" and rushed up to the large door, staring at it expectantly as if he could open them by his thoughts alone.

A moment later the doors did open and out stepped the midwife with a little white bundle in her arms. "Is it??" Paladin demanded immediately, eyes wide and an eager look on his face.

"Aye, Master Paladin," the female hobbit clucked. "Tis a fine healthy lad."

Paladin threw up his arms with a crow of elation, causing the baby boy to cry at the sudden loud noise. But that didn't bother the Thain in the least as he took his first and only son into his arms and showed him triumphantly to Bilbo. "There ye have it, ye old numpty! See, I am capable of making a son when I want ta, amn't I?"

"Oh, I should
never have doubted your male prowess, Pal," Bilbo shook his head and guffawed heartily.

"Lassies! Get in here and take a gander at your new wee brother!" Paladin trumpeted into the great hall.

"Oh! Lemme see, Uncle!" Merry pounced up and down. "Pwease? I wanna see first!" Paladin had no problem with that and knelt down to display his son to his nephews. Merry peered at the boy child in his arms with a look of wonder. The baby opened his eyes and looked upon his older cousin, and immediately calmed down, seeming to recover from his father's histrionics. "Aww.. he's so cute," the boy breathed, grinning at the babe and reaching to take his chubby little hand.

"Do you know what you are going to name him, Uncle Paladin?" Frodo asked while smiling down at the newborn.

"Hah, I've been preparing for this for years, laddy. How does Peregrin Took sound to ye?" Paladin grinned with pride.

"Oh, then we can call him Pippin!" Merry's face lit up and he shook the baby's hand. "Nice to meet you, Pip! I'm your cousin Merry!" At that moment the three daughters of Paladin and Eglantine bustled into the entrance hall, all chattering excitedly and demanding that they each get to hold the baby for a moment before returning him to his mother.

Frodo sauntered over towards his uncle Bilbo to lean against the wall with him. "Bless my soul, Bilbo, just look at them. They all seem so happy," the tweenager comment, smiling fondly at his relatives.

"As well they should be, Frodo my lad," Bilbo spoke softly with a look of admiration. "Bringing a child into the world is quiet possibly the greatest achievement anyone can make." He turned to gaze down at his nephew and smiled, taking him by the shoulders and hugging him to his side. "Just think, my lad. Someday you too will know that same joy that they share."

"Yes," Frodo said thoughtfully. "I think I would like that very much..."

Who would have known then that things would turn out so differently?

"All right, j-just don't panic now! Everyone remain calm," Robin Smallburrow tried to sound more composed than he looked with his sweat matted hair and his nervous roving eyes. The Gardner children were all huddled in a corner of the parlor of Bag End, watching with confused expressions as the adult males paced this way and that about the room. Elanor and Rose-lass had gone into the master bedroom room with their mother to help her with the contractions until Frodo-lad could bring the doctor and midwife.

So far the boy had been gone for thirty minutes and Samwise Gardner was growing concerned.

"He should've been back by now," the Mayor grumbled as he passed through the parlor, striding throughout the smial trying to busy himself with something, anything. A sudden loud cry rose up from the room and everyone stopped moving for an instant, their heads snapping up to listen. When no further sound was to be heard, everyone went back to their nervous prattle.

Frodo sat in a chair beside the hearth, his head resting in his hands and making his face unseen under the shadows of them. He felt a light tug on his sleeve and he looked up to meet the gaze of little Pippin Gardner, his grey eyes wide and shining.

"I'm scared, Mr. Baggins," he admitted softly, his lip trembling.

Frodo checked himself and banished the worried expression from his face to be replaced with a reassuring smile. "You don't need to be scared, lad," he soothed. "Your mum is just having a baby. She's strong and has done it many times already." He saw the bewildered worry in the boy's face and he opened his arms, which the child readily moved into, resting his curly head on the former Ringbearer's shoulder. "Everything is going to be fine, and before the long you'll have a brand new baby brother or sister."

"Eh, Sam?" Robin dashed to the entryway of the parlor to call out to wherever the gardener had disappeared to. "S-shouldn't your boy be back by now?"

"Yes! I know he's late, Rob!" Sam's voice snapped from the kitchen, while at the same time the tea kettle began to whistle. A moment later Sam was in the room with a tray full of tea, extra strength, knowing they'd probably need it for the night ahead of them. "We must've gone through this drill a hundred times already - don't know what's keepin' him..."

"Sam, try to relax," Frodo advised his friend. "You're son's a smart lad and he'll do what needs to be done."

"I hope so!" Robin put in anxiously.

Abruptly at that moment the very lad himself came back at a run, panting as if he had not been able to breathe for the past thirty minutes, his face red with effort. All three adults looked at him expectantly, but he brought no doctor or midwife with him.

"Dad!" Frodo-lad panted. "The doctor - I couldn't-"

"What? What is it?" Sam rushed up to his son and knelt down to his height. "Where's Dr. Wendlebrend?"

"Gone!" he gasped. "Another.. baby.. delivery.."

Sam's brow creased with growing worry. "And what of the midwife, Saphire Foxburr?"

"She's.. the one... having.. the baby!"

Sam stood up slowly and his eyes widened with the realization that they were alone this time and would have no help from anyone. Frodo stood up slowly, his entire stance betraying his tension and concern. Robin was practically having a heart attack. "W-what are we going to do then?" he asked in a shrill voice. "We d-don't know anythin' about deliverin' a babe!"

"Rose does," Sam murmured softly, as if to himself. "And Elanor had been there to help the midwife before. As long as the baby doesn't have any unusual problems, things should be all right."

No sooner had these words left his mouth that another scream from Rose ripped through the air. Some of the smaller children burst into tears and covered their ears while the others simply stood and stared open mouthed. A second later, Elanor had dashed into the room, her face pale and shinning with sweat.

"Merry! Get me something for mother to bite down on, double quick!" the teenager demanded, and no one watched as the boy rushed to obey. "Father, where's the doctor? We need him."

Sam was silent a moment. "He's not comin'... Neither is the midwife..."

Elanor paled further. "This is bad, Father. The baby is too big! Mother is-" Another cry of pain issued from the room and they all heard Rose-lass hollering for her sister. "I have to go back." Elanor spun on her heels and bolted back to the room.

All the adults in the room stared wide eyed after her, fear creeping into their hearts at the coming troubles the lass had alluded to. "Eru help us," Frodo whispered and dropped back into his chair.

The fresh cool of the evening air was a welcomed change as Frodo Baggins stepped outside. The inside of Bag End had become far too strange a place to him, and more time he spent inside, witnessing the changes of sights and sounds, the less at ease he felt there. It was almost as if that smial had never been his home at all, and the people within where unknown to him. That feeling caused his heart to sink, far more troubled by that than anything else had so far.

Frodo could still hear the noises going on from within as he stood in the middle of the path leading to the front gate. He could hear the whistling of hot water kettles, the slapping of running bare feet, the anxious murmuring of the children, and the more annoying ravings of Robin Smallburrow as he panicked over tea from within the dinning room. Occasionally the sound of a muffled cry with issue forth from deep within the smial and all other noises would cease for a moment. He would wince at this sound and look away down the Hill, feeling his worry coil up in his belly and causing him to shudder.

The waiting was always the hardest to bear, especially when it concerned Samwise's children. He could remember clearly how his heart had leapt repeatedly in his chest when Elanor was being born, and he fancied that he was probably just as nervous as Sam had been.

Which I'm not even sure is the right way to feel, Frodo thought with a tight frown at himself. They aren't my children after all. I'm just a bystander in all this... He then thought for a moment about it and realized slowly, Yes... They aren't mine, but they are Sam's... and that makes them very much important to me, even if.. if Rose is the mother...

Still, I have no place in all this. I'm not family. I'm not even that close a friend anymore... He closed his eyes tightly, suddenly feeling very alone and sorrowful because of it. But that's my fault... Only mine..

Suddenly he heard a clunk close by. The round door opened only a small amount and a curly head stuck out. It was Frodo-lad, and he looked quite stressed, his blue eyes darting and blinking repeated and his hair in a tussled mess of gold. "Mr. Baggins?"

Frodo blinked and turned about, surprised that anyone in the hole had remembered him at all considering the circumstances. "Oh, yes Frodo?" he asked quietly, wondering why he choosing to talk to him instead of busying himself helping his family.

"Right," the boy let out a puffing breath and licked his lip. "I- I thought maybe... Well my sister just yelled for some hot water, and towels... and Merry and I've got the hot water all by ourselves!" Frodo-lad flexed his arms proudly, opening the door all the way with his foot, and waving for his brother to take the other side of the steaming, sloshing kettle.

"And since we've got this, you can get towels!" stated the boy somewhat authoritatively as he hefted the hot water and began staggering with it toward the hall. Merry-lad was having some trouble keeping it balanced, so Frodo-lad tried to get underneath it a little more for stability.

Mustering up a pleasant smile, Frodo came walking back up the path to the front porch, "It's very fine of you lads to be helping your sisters, but are you sure you can handle it? If you need an extra pair of hands, I'd be just as happy to help carrying the water instead."

"Erf," said the burdened hobbit boy. "Yes sir, if you don't mind, you can take Merry's place..." he winced with a sharp glare at his brother, "and HE can get towels!" At this, Merry loosened his grip a little and stood back to let Mr. Baggins in, the sudden lose of support making the elder lad groan with effort.

Frodo rushed in just as it seemed that Frodo-lad was going to lose his grip and dump all the contents onto the floor. He was soon in Merry-lad's place, taking hold of the side and holding it with greater ease than the children had. "Easy now, lad. Won't do to go spilling all your mother's hot water down the hall."

"Hah!" exclaimed Merry in a nervous, high-pitched tone. "That'd mean we'd be in hot water for sure!"

Frodo-lad shot him another glare. "Don't fool around Merry. Just get towels!" Frodo-lad bravely took his side of the hot water and continued, trying not to show Mr. Baggins how heavy it felt. They slowly headed down the hall, and Merry arrived panting behind them with all the towels he could hold.

Less than a minute later the three neared the back of the smial and the master bedroom. Just as they reached the door, a shout of pain shot through the air like an arrow through the head and Frodo nearly halted. The Hobbit grimaced as they neared that bedroom, the very same that had once been his own and Bilbo's before him. He doubted much that those walls had ever seen such a display as was taking place inside right at that moment.

Frodo-lad noticed that Mr. Baggins appeared worried and a little distracted, like he were thinking about what to do. "C'mon Mr. Baggins," urged Frodo-lad with surprising calm, gradually lowing the rim of the oversized hot water kettle and giving the door a short knock. His heart pounded in his chest with excitement, but he was glad to have something to do anyway. The boy had been there for his mother through many births, and although he was worried just a little, he knew everything would turn out all right. It seemed to him that adults worried too much in general, especially his Dad.

The door opened after a moment and Rose-lass poked her head in, looking very nervous but not too much worse for wear. "Push it in," she said curtly, stepping aside and opening the door a bit further to allow the males to do so.

Frodo-lad actually hopped over it into the room, studiously keeping his back to the bedroom and pulling it in. Frodo, however, was able to see inside just the same and saw Rose laying in the middle of the bed, sweat making her face glisten, and her mouth opened as she let out a stream of rhythmic deep breaths. Frodo averted his eyes after a second's glance, suddenly feeling like he really shouldn't be there. He took a step back, as if trying to fade into the shadows of the hall.

Frodo-lad didn't take any notice, though, as he finished pulling the water container inside. Just as brother and sister exchanged glances, they could hear their mother over their shoulders. Rose called out, very short of breath, "Th... thanks dears... just... ah... Ahhh..." Her words dissolved into deep groans, and Elanor ran over to grab the supplies with a quick "thank you" on her lips.

Frodo-lad hopped back out of the room nimbly, and grabbed Merry by the shoulders. "See now...let's leave quick....she'll be okay!" Merry-lad looked shocked and didn't move, just staring at the doorway. Unnoticed by all save the eldest Gardner boy, the door across the hall had opened a few inches and he could see his father leaning up against it with a sobbing Daisy on his slumped shoulder.

The door closed to quickly, casting the three hobbits into the full shadow of the unlit hall. The two boys made their way down the hall, Merry running away from the scary scene fast. Frodo-lad however looked repeatedly over his shoulder at Mr. Baggins, wondering what he was doing. He looks so out of sorts, he thought to himself. I hope he's all right. Larks, grown ups really do worry far too much.

Frodo didn't quite notice what was happening around him as he seemed to draw into himself. He had never felt so utterly like an outsider and intruder as he did at that moment looking at Rose in quite possibly the most vulnerable position of her life. It felt wrong, all wrong.

Sam bounced up and down gently, and tried to stop little Daisy from crying. But apparently, the toddler didn't like two things: one being awake at this hour, and two hearing her mummy yell. Sam silently cursed his excellent hearing; apparently his daughter had inherited it and could hear her mummy through two walls and a hallway. He could never get used to hearing his wife make those sounds, as if they were coming from someone else, like from some animal.

"There, now, seedling..." crooned Samwise from the doorway. He had given up and had opened the door a touch, curious himself about how things were going with his wife. He had hoped to catch a bit of talk between people at the door. But surprisingly, no one was there now except for ... Mr. Frodo.

With his sleeves were rolled up, his shirt was untucked, and sheen of perspiration on his forehead, Sam's tanned face looked older than Frodo had ever seen it. The gardener turned to look at him without a sound, except a low hum which apparently worked to calm his little daughter, who had stopped wriggling. The gentlehobbit simply stared back and said nothing. What could he possibly say? Sam looked so different from the lad he used to know, and he knew that he too must have appeared just as strange to the younger male. Once again he questioned himself for staying.

Sam twisted his head around, trying to get a look at Daisy's eyelids to see if they were closed. He opened his mouth to speak, leaning in close to Frodo, which was too close for the elder hobbit's comfort. He whispered to him then in a voice that was barely audible, "Is she asleep?" His eyebrows raised hopefully at his friend before turning himself around a little so that Frodo could see Daisy's face. Unfortunately, the toddler's eyes were wide open, but momentarily calm.

Frodo sighed and shook his head. "No, she only seems to have quitted for the moment." He took another look at his friend and frowned at the little wrinkles worry and weariness seemed to have added to his face. "Sam, you look all in. I think you could use some more food in you and a breath of fresh air. You can go ahead and I can take Daisy-lass and make sure she's put to sleep properly."

But as soon as the words left his mouth, he flinched and looked away quickly, biting his lip until he tasted blood. Of all the idiotic times to let his mouth run away with him! "Of course, if you'd rather not.. I mean, I'd understand if you wouldn't..." Me being practically a stranger to you nowadays, he added silently.

Sam watched his friend carefully, resuming a light bounce to keep Daisy in check. He seemed to be warming up to me, he thought, then... he backed away. What kind of-

Both their thoughts were interrupted at once by a low unearthly moan from behind the door. "Mum!" they heard Rose-lass shout from within. Sam grabbed his daughter tightly, and buried his cheek up against her, staring at the door. Frodo's head snapped up, his blue eyes wide and his jaw standing out rigidly as he clenched his teeth behind his lips to keep himself from saying anything else he would regret.

Yes indeed, the waiting was always the hardest to bear...

Hours passed. The cries of birthpangs were coming more frequently now. Frodo-lad and Merry-lad were busy hustling about the smial, fetching whatever Elanor demanded from the master bedroom. Sam was trying to busy himself by calming down the children, singing them snatches of lullabies, playing little games. Anything to help block out the noises deeper within the smial. He never felt so helpless before.

Robin was in a terrible state. He sat in the corner of the parlor with his forehead gripped between his trembling hands. "She'll be fine, she's fine. N-not like anything would happen to her..." he muttered repeatedly, unable to finish the thought without his shaking increasing. Frodo stood against the wall, gazing out the window. This waiting was terrible. He never felt so out of place in all his life. He would have left if he didn't somehow feel obligated to stay in case help was needed. He could only pray that it wouldn't be.

"Daddy!" Rose-lass's voice called, causing Sam to leap to his feet as if he had been sitting on hot coals. "More hot water!" Samwise needed no further prompting as he readily rushed off to the kitchen to grab a fresh kettle for his daughter.

Frodo-lad plunked down in a chair, Merry-lad following suit, looking pale and tired. "I hope they won't be needin' my help again for at least a few minutes," Frodo-lad gasped. "Larks! I can hardly breathe in this stuffy air."

"Crack a window, somebody!" Merry-lad demanded in turn.

"Towels!" Elanor's voice shouted. "More towels!"

"I'll get them," both Frodo and Robin responded at the same time, both moving as one towards the closet in the hall. They were nearly bumping into each other in their haste. As they moved down the hall, they nearly collided with Sam as he hefted a rather large basin of steaming water from the washroom. They said nothing to each other but instead moved in single file down the hall to the master bedroom.

Frodo knocked on the door once and it opened an instant later to reveal a disheveled little Rose, her sleeves rolled up and her hair in an untidy bun. The door was only open just enough to grab the towels from Robin and Frodo. As Sam moved to slid the heavy basin in, knowing that it was against proper tradition to enter the room himself as he was male, unless of course if he was the doctor, the door was forced open even further.

What they saw was more shocking that anything they expected to see.

Mrs. Gardner lay on her back in the customary position, legs up with feet braced against the bed posts. Sweat covered her reddened face as her eyes stared up blindly at the ceiling with teeth and fists clenched. Elanor sat straddling her mother's abdomen, facing towards her feet, and pushing with both hands on her womb.

Robin promptly fainted. Sam let out a cry of dismay and Frodo simply stared open mouthed at the display. The door was shut a second later, leaving them in the almost perpetual darkness of the hall. Sam was near ready to break down the door, proper tradition be damned, but as he moved forward to open the door, Frodo reached out and grabbed his arm, holding him back.

Sam glanced back at Frodo pleadingly, somehow believing that he could make things right, as he had so many times in the past. Frodo said nothing, but the volumes of unmasked concern were words enough. The gardener then proceeded to burst into tears and bend his head over Frodo's shoulder. He was more grateful than anything when Frodo did not move away and instead wrapped his arms about him in a gesture of comfort and nothing more.

"Mr. Frodo," he wept. "I don't know what to do..." He felt his former master's arms tighten around him. "If anythin' happens to her and the baby, I... I just - I can't..."

Frodo closed his eyes and stroked his damp golden hair. "Shhh...It'll be all right, my lad," he whispered, soothing him as best he could, even though he wasn't at all sure that it would be.

"Daddy?" a small voice uttered just beside them. The two hobbits started and broke apart at the unexpected noise and looked down to see Goldilocks staring up at them with wide hazel eyes. "Why are you crying, Daddy?" she asked worriedly, a hint of fear at her father's outburst.

Sam immediately checked himself and rubbed his nose hastily on his sleeve before stooping to pick up his daughter. "Don't you worry about your ol' Dad, Goldy dear. He just gets a might emotional every now and then."

"Were you crying 'cause of Mummy?" Goldilocks ventured timidly, looking into his eyes.

Sam blinked rapidly, trying to stop another onset of tears from flooding his eyes and he glanced quickly at Frodo. The gentlehobbit was stooped beside Robin, trying to revive the Shirriff, and he lifted his eyes momentarily to meet his. That little bit of reassurance in his face was all he needed to keep a harness on his emotions. "Don't you worry about Mum now, my little blossom. She's going to be just fine. The baby too."

"I know that, Daddy," Goldilocks allowed herself a small smile and Samwise felt his heart fill to bursting with love for his child.

"Of course you do, me dear," he kissed her cheek and set her down on the floor once more. "Now go off and play with your brothers, and mind that you don't disturb Primrose, Daisy, and Hamfast. I've only just managed to get them to sleep."

Sam watched as the little hobbit lass scampered off back down the hall from wince she came. Upon hearing a gasp behind him, he turned around to see Frodo lifting a still unconscious Robin with his limp arm draped over his shoulders. "Oh turds! Let me help you with 'im, Mr. Frodo," the master of Bag End immediately moved into action and helped to lift the sturdy hobbit from his other side.

"Thank you, Sam," Frodo huffed. Sam motioned to head into the room which Robin had been using during his stay, which was only a couple of doors down. Once inside and having placed the Shirriff in his bed, Frodo let out a long breath and plunked down on the mattress.

"He'll be all right, I think," Frodo murmured, laying his hand upon the younger hobbit's brow, checking for a temperature and finding none. "He's just in shock, apparently."

"I should've been right there on the floor with 'im," Sam grounded out as he began to pace about the room anxiously, "if I hadn't a been through this nine times already. Great oliphaunts! I-I've never seen it before, Mr. Frodo. My Gaffer raised me proper and he told me a lad had no business in a birthing, gettin' in the way of the ladyfolk. I swear, I - I - I never knew it'd be so - so-" He trailed off, letting the sentence hang unfinished in the air.

"I have seen once, when cousin Pippin was born," Frodo inserted, his lips forming a tight line of his face. "It's not supposed to normally happen this way."

"Damn right it's not!" Sam bellowed suddenly, feeling his anger at the situation rise suddenly in full force. "That blasted doctor should be in there with her helpin'!"

"Sam, please," Frodo frowned with growing anxiety. "Try to calm down."

"Ye can say that, but that's not your kid being born in there," Sam uttered before he knew what he was saying. He instantly regretted his thoughtless words as he saw Frodo's expression become tight and closed up, pain sparkling in his sapphire eyes.

"You're right, Samwise..." he said hoarsely. "Of course it's not. Forgive me..."

"M- Mr. Frodo!" Sam gasped in horror, wishing he could justly punch himself in the mouth at that moment. "I- I didn't mean to-"

"Urrrghhh..." Robin decided that right then was a good time to wake up. Frodo stood up and away from the bed, refusing to look at anything now except his own feet. The Shirriff groaned yet again and turned on his side, reaching up to rub his aching temples before opening his eyes. "Sam? What-" Then he seemed to remember where he was and what had happened, for his eyes shot wide and jerked up into a sitting position. "Rosie! Sam, what in earth's bowels is happening?? Why was Elanor-"

"Elanor mentioned about the baby being too big," Frodo inserted briskly without any emotion in his voice. "Mrs. Gardner may be having a problem trying to push it out. I can imagine the only way to help with that is to have someone help her push."

"T-this is not right!" Robin fairly shouted. "Why? Why is this happening to Rosie?"

Frodo said nothing more and simply left the room. Sam stared after him with heartbreak in his brown eyes, blinking rapid to try and stop yet another onslaught of tears, but Robin's frantic ramblings where quick to draw him out of his self berating thoughts. "Rob, snap out of it!" he bit out, taking his friend by the shoulders and giving him a firm shake and squeeze. "Ye aren't doing anythin' for Rosie ranting like a mad hobbit. Mr. Frodo says we ought to calm down, and I agree."

Robin shook for a moment, looking like he was about to have a complete nervous breakdown, but the stern note in his old friend's voice managed to pierce the haze of fear in his mind enough to settle down. "Sam... I never had anyone close to me in trouble before," he choked out softly. "I'm sorry, I - I just..."

"I know, Robin," Sam closed his eyes and released him. "I know."

"All right, ready?" Elanor asked from her kneeling position and hastily brushed away from her eyes a stray lock of hair that had come loose from its bun, seeming to direct the question to both her mother and to her younger sister. She saw Rose-lass look up with wide eyes and nod, not looking ready at all. But there was nothing for it. "Okay, Mother, now push."

Rosie strained for a moment as she tried to force the baby out of her birth canal while her eldest daughter pushed at her womb from above her. "Aaarrrraaagh!" the lady hobbit cried out, tilting her head back and leaving her mouth hanging open. Her hands were balled up into the bed sheets below her and she held onto them like a lifeline in a raging sea.

"Push," the teen urged. "Push now.. that's it.. Rose, do you see it?"

"N-no," the eleven year old responded in a high pitch tone. "No, wait! I think-"

"Push, Mother," Elanor prompted. Rosie tensed her entire body and she could feel the agony expand suddenly through her veins and tear her heaving flesh. She screamed and thrashed from side to side, feeling as if she were ready to burst at any moment.

"Yes, there's the head!" Rose-lass squeaked with a mixture of excitement and fear.

"One more, Mother," Elanor readied to push down hard. "One last gasp. Now push!"

Rose let out a tortured wail and gave a terrific heave. White burst into her vision and a blast deafened her ears as she felt something slip away. With a gasp of relief and loss she fell back into the bed. Somewhere beyond her pain numbed senses she was aware of her firstborn's weight lifting from her body and hitting the floor soundly, and voices rattling from what seemed like a great distance.

But one thing she did not hear was a newborn's cry.


There was absolutely no question about entering the room now as the three males raced to the master bedroom and flung the door open. Rose-lass knelt with her head bent over a little bundle, her eyes as big as saucers and terror screaming from them.

"D-Daddy! It - it's not breathin'!" Rose-lass gasped. "I don't know what to do!" Sam stood stock still for a split second, frozen in horror, but Frodo came busting into the room without hesitation, not giving him time to react.

Rose-lass shook as she handed the bundle to Frodo, not even questioning what he intended to do and simply repeating over and over, "Not breathin' - don't know what to do!..." Sam watched as one paralyzed as Frodo took the silent child in his arms and turned him over. He raised his hand without pause and delivered a sound slap on the baby's back.

The triumphant wail of the child was like a gift from Illuvitar Himself. Miss Rose, who had been too exhausted to react properly at first, opened her eyes at last and saw Mr. Frodo Baggins cradling the tiny figure in his hands though larger than most hobbit babies, it's hair matted against it's pink head, and it's crying sound in fact very healthy indeed. "Congratulations, Sam, Rose," Frodo uttered and the smile on his face was pure and joyous. "It's a boy."

"A boy," Sam breathed, finally being able to work his muscles again enough to speak at all. Frodo walked round to the bedside and presented their new son to his mother. Taking no notice of how Elanor and Rose-lass hurried to clean up the mess, all the lady hobbit's focus, or whatever was left of it after such an ordeal, was now wholly bent on the sight of her son and she reached out with weak arms to receive him.

"Oh," Rose murmured softly, cradling the babe gently in her arms. "He's... He's so beautiful..."

Sam did not move forward for many a moment and simply stared at the sight of his wife holding his newborn, both faces flushed and peaceful, his former master standing by and actually beaming. "Come on then, Samwise," Frodo prompted the gardener out of his stupor. "Come meet your new son."

Sam walked as if in a daze towards the bedside, Frodo moving aside to make way for him as he knelt beside mother and child. Rose grinned tiredly and held out the baby boy to him, and he took him as gently to his arms as if he were made of thin glass. "Eh, lad," he murmured tenderly, tears falling down his cheeks as he memorized the face of his son. "Dear.. lad..."

Robin had been standing in the hallway and burst into tears when he saw that Rosie was all right. Frodo simply smiled and said nothing, feeling a deep gladness in his heart that those people most important to Samwise's life where unharmed. He tried to ignore the small stab of wistful regret, that himself could never truly understand the joy Sam must have been feeling at that moment. He took several backwards steps, feeling that maybe now would be the right time to let the family be.

"I told ye he'd be a boy!" Merry-lad's voice was heard exclaiming from behind them and he looked over his shoulder to see Frodo-lad, Merry-lad, Pippin-lad, and Goldilocks crowding the doorway beside Robin and peering in with excited expressions. Goldilocks, who had wanted a girl, shot her older brother an annoyed look but said nothing. Pippin-lad was hopping up and down, giggling gleefully, and Frodo-lad had a strangely quite look of brotherly pride.

"We got to think of a good name for him," Elanor reminded her parents and she neared the bed and gazed upon her new brother.

"Aye, I've already thought of that," Sam murmured softly without looking up. Rose blinked twice and shifted, remembering that the matter of the child's name had been under great debate for many months. Sam had his heart set on one name and one name only, but Rose had never quite approved, using the excuse that it would cause a lot of teasing later in life. Now, looking at her husband holding her son with happiness sparkling in his warm brown eyes, she wasn't sure that she could protest. Then, looking up at Frodo, this same hobbit who had helped to save their son, she wasn't quite sure she wanted to anymore.

"Well?" Robin prompted after wiping his eyes and regaining control of his emotions. "What's his name going to be?"

"Why, Bilbo, of course," Sam sighed and kissed his child's forehead. "Isn't that right, Bilbo me lad?"

Frodo, who had been quietly heading for the door, froze in midstep and whirled back around, his eyes like swirling pools of deep emotion and shock. He heard them aright? Was Sam truly thinking of naming his son after his own uncle Bilbo? The possibility had never crossed his mind before that they were even considering the name. His hand fell limply to his sides and his mouth remained parted in a silent exclamation of stunned amazement.

"That's great!" Frodo-lad piped up from behind him. "We'll be able to role play Riddles in the Dark right and proper now, once he's old enough."

"As long as I'm not Gollum again," Rose-lass inserted, fixing her muddled hair self consciously.

Samwise looked up at everyone around him, feeling such joy in his soul as he was sure he had not felt in a long time. His twinkling eyes at last settled on Mr. Frodo and his gaze turned both hopeful and wistful. "What do you say, Mr. Frodo? Do you think Mr. Bilbo would have approved?"

Frodo felt a hitch in his throat and he breathed quickly. From the almost sad note in his tone, the gentlehobbit could have sworn Sam knew about Bilbo's recent death. Do he actually know? Is that why... Now, as he neared the bed to get a closer look at the newborn lad, and the child's eyes opened for the first time, he could swear they even appeared to be the old hobbit's eyes staring up at him, only with a sweet newness he had never seen in his uncle.

This joy... is this somewhat how it must feel like to...

The former Ringbearer blinked rapidly against the rush of tears in his eyes and he nodded quickly. "Y-yes, Sam," he managed with a quiver in his voice. "Yes, I'm sure he would have..."
Para is feeling:
hungry hungry
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