Thankfully, baby Elanor was quiet in her mother's arms as Rosie crept into Frodo's room with utmost hobbit-care. Straining her eyes to adjust to the darkness of the room, she was pleased to see his chest rising and falling steadily in contented sleep. She smiled to herself mischievously and flung open the curtains with one hand, causing bright autumn sunlight to pour in through the round window. She then set Elanor gently on Frodo's bed, and as if on cue, the child scrambled to sit on the sleeping hobbit's warm belly.

"Oof." Frodo grunted sleepily at the sudden weight on his stomach. His eyelids fluttered open briefly, but quickly snapped shut again.

"Ah," he mumbled dryly, "I gather the larks are awake already on this bright and sunny morning!"

"Yes," Rosie replied, "And we have come to fetch a great grumpy owl, who happens to sleep in this room."

Frodo sighed and opened his eyes, smiling at Elanor. The baby grinned and cooed at him, clapping her hands together clumsily in delight. He picked her up gently and set her on the bed beside him so he was able sit up. Elanor grabbed his thumb in a tight fist as Frodo blinked groggily and yawned.

"Well!" Rosie exclaimed, "Happy Early Party Day, Master Sleepyhead Baggins!"

"And how early is it, exactly?" Frodo said with a mockingly cheerful tone.

"Early enough for you to be up in time for second breakfast!"

"I missed first on my party day? How unfortunate for me. And I can sense the remnants of lovely tomatoes and mushrooms!" He frowned as he sniffed the air, savouring the smell of the previous meal.

"I'm sure I could manage to cook you some more. Now out of bed with you and to the table, or you'll miss the entire day!" Rosie smiled at Frodo fondly and walked down the hall to slice some more mushrooms.

Frodo sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, smiling sadly as he bounced the baby hobbit gently on his knee. He picked Elanor up and wandered out of the room, still in his nightclothes. Keeping his footfalls silent as he walked down the hall, he managed to sneak quietly into the kitchen. He then presented the child to Sam, who was standing idly for once, trying to stay out of Rosie's way. Frodo winked at Sam, and the younger hobbit watched as a small butter cookie disappeared from the table by way of a sneaky pale hand. Sam proceeded to hold Elanor carefully with one arm as he silently stuck a finger into the sweet filling that had slightly overrun an apple pie.

"Great circling scavengers you two are!" Rosie sighed with mock exasperation. "Now, you can either help or get out. Take your pick! And I'll have you know," She said, glancing at Frodo, "There will be no hobbits in nightclothes served at the table to-day!"

"Oh, confusticate and bebother changing clothes. What's the use?" Frodo laughed as he walked back into his room to change in order to ensure a place at the breakfast table. When he emerged a few minutes later, he was dressed in short pants, a clean white shirt that was miraculously free of dreaded ink stains at the cuffs, and a handsome green vest, complete with shiny brass buttons. He was also carrying three painstakingly wrapped packages. Frodo sat in his usual chair at the old table, grey eyes glinting joyfully.although if one knew him well enough, they would see concealed sadness. He was having an early birthday party because he planned to leave on the twenty-second to see Bilbo. No one else knew yet that he intended never to return to the Shire. At least, so he thought-but hobbits could see much more than one would ever guess, and word always travelled fast to all the right people.

"Well! I am presentable now, your ladyship," Frodo rose from the table and bowed to Rosie.

"Mr. Frodo! If you don't stop your joking this instant-"

"Watch out, there'll be no second breakfast for you if you keep this up!" Sam cautioned gleefully.

"Honestly, you are as bad as a tween at times!" Rosie waved a hand and smiled. "But I'm just glad to see that you seem to be feeling well."

"So am I." Sam nodded.

"I don't know about that," Frodo sighed and grinned. "It shall be, after all, my fifty-second birthday; I think I am finally beginning to look and feel my age!"

"Nonsense!" said Sam. "You won't be feeling sorry for yourself today, Mr. Frodo. At least, not while we're in earshot."

"And besides," added Rosie, "You look more distinguished than ever. And I dare say that gallabanting off to the ends of the earth and back would make anyone feel a trifle aged."

"'Twasn't gallibanting, precisely, dear Rose-" Frodo said painfully, nonetheless choking back a laugh.

After second breakfast, Frodo's tone became serious. He set the packages on the table and addressed his dearest friends."Since I will not be here on my birthday, as you know, I have decided to give you the most special gifts now," He cleared his throat, and Rosie and Sam looked at each other before turning their attention back to Frodo. "Sam, you have saved my life more than once, and it is doubtful that any of this-"He gestured to the kitchen and cozy halls beyond, "Would exist if it were not for your courage and loyalty. Indeed, without you, Middle-earth might have been lost to shadow when I failed."

"Mr. Frodo!" Sam protested, but fell silent when Frodo held up his hand.

"To you I give this token of my gratitude and respect." Frodo handed a parchment-wrapped package to him; he opened it slowly as Frodo and Rosie watched and Elanor smiled a toothless baby-grin. Inside the paper, Sam found a book. It was bound with earth-brown leather; two trees, carefully drawn with special ink, graced its cover. One tree was of silver and the other gold.

Frodo smiled and Sam looked at him as the older hobbit spoke again. "This will be a book more important than the Red Book; to my mind, at least. On the first few pages, I have written some small stories of my life with this family; short tales of people I love here in this room and things that were very dear and happy. I intend you to write the rest, Sam. Write the most special things in this book when you can spare a little time. Write of your growing family, of Elanor and how lovely she shall be, and of wonderful things like summer picnics in a meadow. I have learned that history, though significant, is seldom beautiful like family or love is. I would give up my place in history in a heartbeat. I would never give up my family, even if I were very far away."

Sam's eyes shone until tears over spilled them. He stood up and embraced Frodo, only managing to choke out a whispered "Thank you." He was already dreading that Frodo would leave.

"And for you, Rosie-" Frodo began again, "You who have become more dear to me than a sister that I never had. You have taken care of me when I was ill, pulled me away from the Red Book while I was writing the most terrible parts of it so I would come and chat by the fire, and you somehow always manage to get those terrible ink stains off of my sleeves." At that, she laughed. "You have an honest and true heart, like Sam," He continued, "To you, I present this gift."