Attention Admins: The song here is entirely written by me. Rosie uses it with my kind permission.

1. With Much Love, From Your Sam

It was September again in Hobbiton, and frost was on the windowpanes of Bag End. It was late in the evening, and all the children were in bed. Sam's Rose was still awake. Even from the doorway of the study, Sam could still hear her clear voice as she sang the youngest of them off to sleep.

Go to sleep, my little babes,

Close your weary eyes,

Master Moon is watching, from out the darkening skies,

And the bright stars are all a-peeping,

to see if you are sleeping,

So to sleep, my babes, off to sleep,


Sam smiled to hear it. He listened a while longer, then sat himself down at the old writing desk, pulled out a sheet of crisp paper, picked up a quill and began to write.

Happiest of birthdays to you, dear Master Frodo...

It was Rosie that started it, that very first year after Frodo had gone. There had still been a grand party for Frodo's birthday organized by Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin, (though not quite as grand as the ones Frodo and Old Mr. Bilbo had put on, and no fireworks, neither,) but there had been feasting, and dancing, and song, and Frodo would have been delighted to know that they celebrated in his memory. But still, all Sam could think of was the unfairness of Frodo not being there to share it with them, and it weighed heavy on his heart. Rose had come to him afterwards as he was sitting with little Elanor asleep in his arms, and she put her hand on his shoulder. "Why don't you write to him, Sam?" she said. "Tell him everything you wish you could say to him tonight, though he's not with us to hear it. It can't hurt, and it might do you good." And she was right, his Rose. It was almost like sitting down with Mr. Frodo and having a good long talk, though he still missed him something fierce, and he reckoned he would for always.

I hope this finds you well, Mr. Frodo. We are all well and safe and happy here in the Shire. Little Elanor grows more beautiful every day, and you know, her hair never has turned brown, like I thought it would. You told me it would stay just as golden as ripe corn, and you were right. You should have seen her dancing at your birthday party tonight, Mr. Frodo! A fair sight she was, with her cheeks red, and her yellow curls flying out behind her. My little lass...well, not so little now, I reckon, as she is drawing on to eleven years old. Has it really been that long? It seems like just yesterday she was a wee thing, holding on tight to your finger with her little fist, and you saying her name like it was a treasure that was slipping through your hands.

Sam had to pause at that point. His eyes stung a bit, and he wiped them with the back of his hand. "Crying won't mend nothing," Sam muttered. He wiped the nib of the quill carefully on the lip of the inkwell, then went on,

I'm learning Frodo-lad his letters and sums now, though he'd rather spend his time out-of-doors with me, bless him. Little Rosie-lass is already hot on his heels, too, for all that she is only six, she is as smart as a whip. My Merry and Pippin-lad are well, though Pippin-lad has had a bit of a cold since Merry dropped him in the washtub last week. ( I sent Merry-lad to bed without his supper for it, but I didn't have the heart to thrash him, he was that upset, though there was no real harm done. "I thought he would float," is all he kept saying. Sometimes I reckon I might have bit off more than I could chew, giving the lads those particular names. )

Sam kept the tone of his letter light and busy, full of the weather, and small doings and gossip and general health of neighbors and relatives: Little Faramir Took's first tooth, Mr. Merry's wedding to Estella Bolger, the prospects for crops. He wished he could add the hush of the new snow at Yule, the light of Elanor's smile, or the smell of the newly-turned earth in spring, but that was beyond the skill of any hobbit to put within a letter.

There was a knock on the door frame, and Sam looked up to see Rosie standing there with a cup of tea. "A cup before bed, Sam dear?"

"Thank you, love," Sam said. "Are all the children abed?"

Rose came forward, sat the tea on the desk, then slipped an arm around his shoulders. She smiled and patted her well-rounded stomach. "All but one."

Sam leaned forward and gave the bump a sound kiss, then laughed to feel the flutter of life under his hand. "Feel her dancing! Our Goldilocks is eager to be out and about."

Rose laughed, too. "Ah, but it might be a lad-baby again, you know. He certainly kicks like he's playing at ball."

"Well, take him and yourself off to bed," Sam said. "I'll just finish up writing and be along as quick as I can."

Rose put her arms around Sam, and kissed him. "Give him my love, Sam."

"I will."

She turned away, but stopped suddenly and pressed her fingers to her lips, then gently touched the letter. "Bless him," she said softly, her face sad. "Dear Mr. Frodo! I miss him, too."

Sam watched her leave the room, and his hand was only a little unsteady as he set quill to paper once more: Rose is expecting again and I liked to have busted the buttons off my waistcoat when she told me. It shouldn't be too long now before the new little one greets the world. I have a feeling it's going to be a girl-child, but if it turns out not we'll name him Hamfast, after my old Gaffer.

So here is a kiss from Rose, and a red oak leaf from Frodo-lad and my Merry, and a lock of Elanor's hair, and one from Rosie-lass, and Pippin-lad as well. (His first haircut, and didn't Rosie cry to see his baby curls fall in the dust, poor lass.)

Again, many happy returns of the day, Mr. Frodo. Take care of yourself and Old Master Bilbo, and give my greetings to the fine folk there, and tell Mr. Gandalf we miss his fireworks. We still miss you, Mr. Frodo, so very much. A hobbit couldn't have asked for a finer master or a better friend. Bravest, wisest, kindest and best, that's what you were, and are, to me-to all of us-and I won't never forget it.

Perhaps it's daft to be writing to you like this every year, but it eases my heart. And someday...someday, Master dear, if what I hope comes true, I'll bring all these birthday greetings to you and put them before your feet like a casket of jewels. We'll sit in the sunshine of that far place and read them together, and I'll hear you laugh, and may be 'twill be like all the birthdays you never got to spend with us will be yours again, as if you never had to leave us.

Sam sighed and sat back, then reached under the desk and pulled out a brass-bound box. Old Bilbo had brought it back from his travels long before Frodo was born, and Sam not even a thought, and once it had held a burglar's share of bright coins from a dragon's hoard, (although Sam did not know that.) Now it was full of treasure of a different sort: Bundles of letters, all the love, and good wishes, and longing of years, tied up with ribbon and string. Sam dipped the quill one last time and wrote: With much love, from your Sam. Then he breathed gently on the ink to dry it and folded the paper over, holding it in his hands for a long time before he let it go.

The End

(But more ficlets to come, so watch this space, so to speak.)

This was written for Marigold Cotton's 11th story challenge at her very fine website. (The link can be found on my bio page.) Please do check it out, as all the previous challenge stories are archived there and still available to be read, and there are fresh, hobbity fan fiction recommendations posted every Friday.