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The next morning rose bright and fair, for those now on the western bank of the Brandywine. Frodo and Pippin met Sam and Rose with the baby, and Gimli as well, in the common room of The Golden Perch for first breakfast. Legolas was already out in the stables, seeing to Arod and the ponies.
And shortly afterwards they started the journey to Bag End, Sam and Rose and little Elanor in the pony trap, with Frodo and Pippin riding alongside on Strider and Sable, while Legolas and Gimli rode on the other side on Arod.
Frodo was glad to be going home once more. He’d scarcely had any time at Bag End before his journey to Rivendell. He realized now that it had been mostly Gandalf’s idea, but he could not find it in him to be cross at his old friend. It had been important to *know* that his healing went further than simply being home in the Shire: that the things which had happened to him on the Quest held no more power over him than that of memory. And he was happy to have had the time to spend with his cousins--it had been good for all of them. But he had missed Sam, and he had missed Rose and Elanor as well.
He glanced once more at Rose, and could not help smiling to himself.
They had eaten second breakfast as they traveled: pastries and apples and water; but they stopped for elevenses just shy of Whitfurrow, and made a picnic in a meadow, next to a copse of trees.
While Sam tended to watering the cart pony--not Bill, but a placid thing hired for the trip to Buckland--Frodo took out the picnic hamper to help Rose spread out the blanket and put out the food.
“When, Mr. Frodo?” Rose asked quietly.
“I beg your pardon, Rose?”
“You been giving me those same little smiles ever since you saw us in Buckland--the same kind of smiles as you gave me before I found out I was carrying Elanor. And Mr. Legolas has been trying to hide his smiles as well. So, when can I expect this little one to come along?”
Frodo chuckled quietly, and shook his head. “There’s no fooling you, Rose. Yes, you’ve quickened, though I daresay your body has not noticed it yet. Next spring. Probably late in Solmath or early in Rethe, sometime before Elanor’s next birthday.”
She grinned at him, and picked Elanor up. “Do you hear that, Elanor? You’ll have a little brother or sister--” she stopped and looked at Frodo’s face. “--brother next spring!” Elanor giggled, and reached for her mother’s hair.
Rose looked back at Frodo, who was watching in fond amusement. “Don’t let’s tell Sam yet. I should wait at least until I’d have known for myself.”
“Of course, Rose.” He began to unpack the hamper.
“I’m glad you are home.”
“I’m very glad too, Rose.”
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