The days at Bag End were never silent. The birds chirped, Elanor burbled in her crib, Rosie sang while she cooked, the sounds of hobbits working in nearby fields carried up the hill. But among all the wonderful new sounds that set his heart aflame with love for his family, for nature, for the Shire, Sam Gamgee felt an absence. There was a moving silence in Bag End. The frenetic energy of a younger Frodo Baggins had been replaced by a cloud of melancholy that hovered so near, threatening to engulf them.

"Are you happy Mr. Frodo?"

"Sam." A single syllable admonishment for such a silly question, meant to sweep such insecurities away. It didn't work.

"Do you know you don't laugh anymore?"

"No," Frodo sighed, "I suppose I don't."

He stroked the fine hairs of the sleeping baby in his arms. So very like Sam his daughter was. Then he looked up and though he made no sound, though his eyes no longer twinkled, they shone and Sam felt his heart lift.

"But, I'm as happy as I can be."