Written for the '75' challenge at the lotr_community on Livejournal.

Challenge: In honor of the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, write a story including the number '75'. You must also use an assigned line from The Hobbit. My assigned line is: The next morning was a midsummer's morning as fair and fresh as could be dreamed: blue sky and never a cloud and the sun dancing on the water.

Author Note: Slightly AU, as I've included five Gamgee children in this trip to Gondor, instead of just Elanor.

DISCLAIMER: The Professor's wonderful characters don't belong to me; I just get to think about them day and night.



S.R. 1442 Master Samwise and his wife and Elanor ride to Gondor and stay there for a year.
The Return of the King, Appendix B

Two horse-drawn carts of excited hobbits came to a stop at the fresh, green glade east of the City which had been restored by Legolas and his untiring helpers. The King and Queen, mounted on fine horses of their own, had chosen this lovely place for a picnic. Elanor supervised Frodo-lad, Rose-lass, Merry, and Pippin as they quickly unloaded the blankets, sun-hats, and small boats and toys 'Uncle Gimli' had carved for them, while the King lifted down heavy baskets brimming with food. The Queen led the horses to the newly-cleared stream which rushed and sparkled through the young trees, and spoke softly to them as they drank.

Sam helped Rosie down from the cart very carefully, then looked about in approval. A more beautiful day could not be imagined. The day before dark clouds had threatened, and the children had gone to bed distressed that the promised picnic might have to be postponed. But the next morning was a midsummer's morning as fair and fresh as could be dreamed: blue sky and never a cloud and the sun dancing on the water.

Sam helped King Elessar spread the blankets, and was happy to see the King and his lady seat themselves amongst the children, informal and at ease away from their duties at court. Rosie filled mugs of juice for the children, and goblets of wine for the adults.

"Before we eat, I have an Announcement to make," Sam spoke, raising his goblet, "or rather, two very happy Announcements." The children quickly quieted, their bright faces turned expectantly to their father.

"As you all know, King Elessar and Queen Arwen are celebrating their wedding anniversary this week." Sam looked fondly at his friends. "Mr. Frodo and I remember the wonderful day you wed, and – speaking for us both, if I may be so bold – we wish you every happiness for always and always."

"We thank you, Sam," Elessar said, and Arwen smiled warmly at their treasured friend.

"Long live the King, long live the Queen!" Sam toasted, and everyone drank to the health of their monarchs.

"What's the other Announcement, Dad?" Merry asked, impatient for luncheon to begin, and everyone laughed. Merry's impulsiveness continued to remind everyone of Uncle Pippin, while young Pippin displayed the calm and methodical personality of Uncle Merry.

Sam glanced at Rosie, who smiled and nodded.

"Your Ma and I are expecting another little one in the family this autumn," Sam told them, fairly bursting with joy.

"Ma!" Elanor ran over to Rosie and embraced her, followed by a beaming Frodo-lad. Rose-lass, Merry, and Pippin leaped up with a joyous shout, hugged their parents, then started a dance.

"Congratulations, Rosie," Elessar said. "Such wonderful news!"

"It is," Rosie agreed with a happy smile. "The babe is due sometime in October." She looked up at the King impishly. "I suppose being born here will make him - or her - a Gondorian citizen, my lord?"

"You are all citizens of Gondor, and ever will be," Elessar assured her.

"You have such a beautiful family," Arwen said, looking about her at the children.

"Thank you. We're so proud of 'em," Sam said with a contented sigh. "It wasn't easy leaving the little 'uns back in the Shire with family when we came south, but hopefully we'll be able to bring them all to visit you someday."

"Will you winter with us?" Arwen asked Rosie, thinking about the long trip back to the Shire. "I do not like the idea of you riding north until you are well rested from the birth, and you and the babe are ready to travel."

"Sam and I discussed it, and we would very much appreciate that," Rosie said gratefully.

"Can we eat now, Dad" Pippin asked hopefully.

"Indeed we can, my lad," Sam said with a laugh, and the children immediately dove into the baskets, bringing forth covered platters and pots, crusty loaves, and bags of fruit from the marketplace. Luncheon was delicious, and full of talk and laughter.

"Ma, sit over here with us!" Rose-lass called out after awhile, and Rosie obligingly moved to where the children were whispering together.

"Thirteen children, who would have thought such a thing!" Sam marveled. "Perhaps this one will be born on Mr. Frodo's birthday. Strider, did I ever tell you that he knew all about the children afore Frodo-lad was even born? I'm so blessed, I hate to think of him in that far place, all alone."

"He is well and happy, Samwise, and surrounded by many who care for him," Arwen said, and the confidence in her words brought a great peace to Sam's heart. She lowered her voice so no one else would hear. "Perhaps, someday, you will see for yourself."

"Perhaps," Sam said thoughtfully. "Mr. Frodo will be 75 next year, you know. I want to have a big party to celebrate." He looked up at the King. "Strider, is something wrong?"

"What are those words?" Elessar asked. "Arwen, listen!"

The children were standing now, holding hands in a circle around their mother. They had begun to dance in a circle, raising and then lowering their arms, singing in rhyme.

"Dancin' round the cow shed,
Pockets full of Elf bread.
Ashes, ashes,
The Tower falls down!

Ring around the mountain,
Dancin' by the fountain.
Eagles, Eagles,
The hobbits are found!"

"So that is how the Great Tale is told in the Shire," Arwen marveled.

"Aye," Sam said with a laugh. "Elanor and Frodo-lad understand what we did, but the others still think it a rather fanciful tale. Someday they'll read from the Book themselves, and understand. But in the meantime..." He grinned. "This'll do. What's important is that for them, and for all the Shire, it's a happy ending, with children free to sing and grow up strong."

Elessar stood up, and extended his hand down to his wife.

"Beloved, would you care to dance?"

"I would indeed," Arwen agreed, rising gracefully to her feet. Elanor ran up and drew them into the circle of hobbit children while Sam watched, his eyes full of joy.

"You knew about 'em all, didn't you, Mr. Frodo?" he asked softly, raising his goblet in the air. "I wonder if you saw this very day." He sat for a moment in silence, then drank deeply before setting down the goblet and joining his loved ones at their dance.

** END **