In the first version of Tolkien's LOTR-Epilogue, Sam's name is translated as 'Halfwise': makes you wonder why his parents picked such a peculiar name for him. -- Much thanks to Janet for a thorough beta-reading, and to VB for a most inspiring chat.
For Irene and Nick, with love.

A light from the shadows shall spring...

NamingDay Naming Day

Frodo rubbed his hands in the heat that crackled off the hearth. Large puffs of steam issued from the kettle when he finally remembered to draw it off the hook to prepare another pot of tea. The first had long turned cold. It was all he could do to keep himself from pacing the smials next to Sam and adding to his state of agitation. Or topping it, even. Amid the scattered dishes on the table sat a plate heaped with toasted oatcake and cheese. Frodo put the kettle down to clear away the remains of an untouched breakfast and paused again by the open window.

Fresh, mingled scents drifted in, and noonlight fell in a stark wash down the garden. The brightness was enough to sting Frodo's eyes, but he looked on without blinking. From every direction, sprays of crisp colour reached eagerly into spring. His arm and shoulder grew warm where daylight stretched across it in a broad stripe, and Frodo leaned into the tingle of pleasant sensations for a moment longer.

Less than two weeks ago, sunlight had been a pale mist that could not lighten the numbing pain or touch the frosts that coiled through his flesh. Against the strike of those blinding chills, the world shrank far into dimness, a sea of shadows. There had been moments when he thought that this time he would drown.

His hands had turned clammy again and Frodo chafed them together as he wandered back to the kitchen table. Tea, he reminded himself. He had just dropped a spoonful of the leaf into the pot when a new sound spilled through the quiet of Bag End.

A thin wail came from the direction of the bedchambers, pitched and remote like a bird's keening from a height of cloudless sky. A new life taking wing. The spoon struck the teapot with a clatter and bounced to the floor. Eyes closed tight, Frodo gave wordless thanks amid his wildly rushing pulse.

Footsteps came pounding towards the kitchen a moment later. Sam burst into the room, near skidding on the floor tiles, and Frodo almost dashed forward. He reached for a cup and saucer instead and realised that his hands were shaking.

"Sam?"

His cheeks were flushed, and the hair above his forehead stood up in savage tufts from pushing his fingers through it time and again. Surrounded in a glow of excitement, he said nothing, and Frodo couldn't take his eyes off him.

"It's -- oh, Mr. Frodo!" Sam raised both hands and spread them wide. "A little lass!" he breathed, half-choking.

Without much success, Frodo tried to strangle a noise in his throat that rose up on wonder and gratitude and a gripping ache. They stared at each other as if some entirely unexpected marvel had just come to pass.

"A maidchild," Sam repeated with dazzled awe, stepping forward only to pause again as if he'd suddenly lost track of himself. "So fine and fair I'll be afraid to touch her..." He glanced down into his hands. "Not but that I never stood a long chance, before the womenfolk shooed me out again."

Only the smallest part of his joy escaped into a breathless laugh. "Of course she's the fairest there ever was," Frodo said. "My dear Sam... I predicted that all along, as you will remember."

A bewildered smile settled on Sam's face, and he rounded the kitchen table to stop again by the window. His shoulders shook as he heaved a long, uncertain breath.

"I'm glad," Frodo said softly. "So very glad."

Sam dipped his head without speaking. He seemed so lost to amazement that Frodo moved closer, catching in profile the trembling start of a tear. When Sam glanced back over his shoulder and their eyes met, Frodo almost reached out. But that way lay unsure ground, and too much confusion welled through him. Another change was spreading long ripples through their lives.

"Have you thought of a name yet?" he asked.

Sam breathed deeply again and clasped his hands behind his back. "Well, Mr. Frodo, I'm in a bit of a fix," he said slowly. "Rose and me had settled to call him Frodo, with your leave, but now it's not him, it's her." He turned to search out Frodo's reaction with a thoughtful look. "As pretty a maidchild as any one could hope for, taking after Rose more than me, luckily. So we don't know what to do."

Frodo retreated to the kitchen table and picked up the spoon to stir the tea-leaves into a giddy swirl. "Well, Sam," he started, "what's wrong with the old customs? Choose a flower name like Rose. Half the maidchildren are called by such names, and what could be better?"

"I suppose you're right, Mr. Frodo..." Sam rubbed his thumb against his chin. "I've heard some beautiful names on my travels, but I suppose they're a bit too grand for daily wear and tear, as you might say. The Gaffer, he says: Make it short, and then you won't have to cut it short before you can use it." He swung a glance across the kitchen and round to the garden, then resumed his aimless wandering. "But if it's to be a flower-name, then I don't trouble about the length: it must be a beautiful flower, because, you see, I think she is very beautiful, and is going to be beautifuller still." His hands swept through emphatic gestures as he talked, and his voice rose with such elation it filled the entire room.

Something beautiful... well now, that was easy. "What about elanor, the sun-star?" Frodo suggested when Sam stopped in front of him. "You remember the little golden flower in the grass of Lothlórien?"

Like a wisp shaped from brilliant daylight, the shared memory rose between them, of Cerin Amroth sheltered in a sun-silvered quiet, and it brought on a smile from far away.

"You're right again, Mr. Frodo," Sam murmured. The recollecting had stirred a soft delight in his eyes. "That's what I wanted."

"Good. You had better ask Rosie's opinion too, though." Frodo firmed his smile and gestured towards the steaming pot. "Now, would you like some tea?"

"Oh, Rosie will be right pleased with such a fine name. Unusual though it may be..." Sam drifted off.

"Tea?" Frodo prompted again after a moment.

"Oh, I -- I don't think I could get anything down right now," Sam said with a flustered smile. "I feel like shouting and dancing for joy -- and if that wouldn't give little Elanor a proper scare, to hear her dad go on and yap like a ninny!"

Frodo chuckled. "Maybe we should go for a walk in the garden then. You'll be free to shout all you like."

"And I could use a breath of fresh air now," Sam agreed.

But when they walked out, past the brimming flowerbeds and across the lawn, Sam's mood slipped back into abstraction, and he cast about with a dazed look as if the wildest changes were about to spring forth from all directions. He clasped and unclasped his hands till Frodo decided that some conversation might help to settle him down.

"Sam, I'm curious..." he began. "You say your Gaffer doesn't hold with names that want shortening to be used -- but what about your name, then?"

"Well now, it had to be shortened some, I expect." Sam cleared his throat and gestured vaguely. "My folks took to it early, so I wouldn't get no sauce from such lads as will waste their time poking cruel fun at the littler ones, if you follow me."

"Oh, but they should know better!" Frodo said at once. "It's quite a rare name, and even though I haven't studied the old family trees as closely as Bilbo used to, I don't think there is any other Gamgee by that name, is there?"

Nor did the name show up in any of the other family lines whose records were kept at the Mayor's office; Frodo was quite sure of that. And indeed, while a kinder translation took Samwise to mean simplicity, a most valued quality at that, the more common understanding ran closer to half-wit.

And nothing, Frodo thought, could be farther from the truth.

"No, there isn't," Sam replied haltingly. The colour in his face had risen a little more.

Watching him, Frodo wondered at the memories his question had raised. "Do you know why your parents chose it?"

Sam scuffed his toe in the dirt and laughed low in his throat. "That were rather Mr. Bilbo's fault, in a manner of speaking."

"It was?" Frodo asked, surprised and instantly intrigued. "How so?"

"Well, you see, Mr. Bilbo came by our old little hole that day, and brought some sweet crab apples round to my mam, too," Sam answered. "Another lad, Master Hamfast?" he continued in a fair imitation of Bilbo's most jovial tones. "And born on the Elvish New Year, no less! That is a special blessing, and I shouldn't be surprised if there were fancy things in store for your lad."

Frodo's skin crawled suddenly, as if he'd been touched by that distant breath of foreknowledge. Ah, Bilbo, you don't know how right you were... And yet there'd been blessings, too, that no one could have anticipated.

Sam pulled up his shoulders. "He was speaking half in jest, I'll be bound, but it troubled my old dad some. He settled to call me simple so's I'd remember my place in life and not go about poking my head in the clouds."

"I see." Frodo could well picture the Gaffer's knotted frown and his resolve to place whatever protection he could against something unknowable. "But, simple--"

"Well, my Gaffer once said he thinks himself a bit of a fool, for being so bothered." Sam pushed both hands into his pockets. "And for choosing me such a funny name, though I suppose he were right all along."

"But, Sam, there's not a half-wise bone in your body!" Frodo shook his head, incredulous. "And you shouldn't need me to tell you that, either."

A doubtful look crossed Sam's face, and regret swept a long chill across Frodo's senses, spreading deep into the past. All the trials and hard choices I put you through, and you still think so little of yourself? Memories clustered thick between them as they held each other's gaze, strong enough to cast a cloudy spell across the day.

"If you say so, Mr. Frodo..." Sam ran unsteady fingers through his already tousled hair. "There's no skull as thick as can't learn some wisdom from life's bends and turns, as Mr. Bilbo used to say to me, and more than from study of the books, he would mostly add; though I reckon he were trying to cheer me there." He sent a dry chuckle after that last remark but it came out on a forced note.

"I think he was very right," Frodo answered seriously. "But there's a wisdom of the heart I hold dearer than any other."

Sam averted his face. "I've got a good pair of eyes on me, leastways, and I thank the stars for it." He chewed on his lip a moment, then breathed out forcefully. "Meaning no harm, Mr. Frodo, and I don't mean to pry neither, but you're none near as happy as you did ought to be--"

"Then for once your eyes are deceiving you!" Frodo broke in fast. "Do I look so unhappy to you? There hasn't been such a glad day as this one in a long time."

"Aye," Sam agreed in a heavy tone, his expression unchanged. "A long time."

And with those simple words, the shell of his best efforts was suddenly cracked open. Frodo turned away, a small shock running through him. Not now. Not today...

Slow footsteps rustled the grass and he could almost feel the gentle touch on his shoulder that did not come. Close behind him, Sam breathed out, and there was defeat in it, and a measure of lingering protest.

Frodo seized what composure he could muster. The past hours of waiting, both the worries and joy, had stripped away the protective habits that held their life at Bag End in balance. It was up to him to set it back to rights.

"I have said it before, Sam, and it's still true. There is nothing so healing to look upon as your happiness." When he turned back around, a bleak disbelief lay bare in Sam's eyes. His mouth moved with the start of a reply but then he seemed to swallow it back. "Don't let it trouble you," Frodo added. "Please."

Instead of an answer Sam grasped his hand -- the crippled hand, as always -- and pressed it briefly between both of his own. A small frown still hovered between his brows but it smoothed out gradually as they resumed their walk.

"There's always a bit of wishing in a name, I expect," he said as they passed under the flowering wild cherry, "though it can't mend such things as are meant to be."

Not quite sure how to take this remark, Frodo asked, "What is your wish for little Elanor then?"

Sam lifted his face up into the sunlight and the look of wonder returned in a scintillant wash. "Oh, all things good and bright that may be had in a life... And perhaps a bit of magic such as I've had the good luck to see myself."

"Elven magic," Frodo said, without a second thought. From where they stood now they could see the young mallorn in the party field, weaving keen gold glimmers into the breeze. "Sunshine and flowers that never fade, even in the middle of winter."

When Sam's glance returned to him, he knew they both recalled the same moment, and a place that lived on outside the tumbling currents of time, where all the colours flamed with a clear, cutting edge.

"Shall we ever see them again, d'you reckon?" Sam asked. "The flowers and the trees, and the Lady's light on all the land..."

A sharp pang struck through Frodo's chest at the unexpected question, and he needed a moment to frame his answer. "Maybe when Elanor is old enough, you can take her on a journey to Lórien and show her--"

A violent shake of Sam's head interrupted him. "Begging your pardon, Mr. Frodo, but I won't go on no such travel without you. Not... there, anyways."

"Don't say that, Sam. I wouldn't want you to--" But there he had almost said too much. "I'm not that important," Frodo amended.

Protest lit Sam's face, and those gentle eyes flashed him a dark glare. "If it weren't for you, there'd be no Elanor, no nothing. You know that!"

Sam stood very close to him, a rare challenge in his posture. "Yes, I do know that," Frodo answered, striving to make his voice as level as he could.

For another moment, Sam's eyes seemed to search his face, but his tone softened when he spoke again. "And I should be saying thanks for all the blessings such as we've had."

He stepped aside, and in passing brushed his fingers through the tips of a currant bush. Another breath eased the tightness in Frodo's chest. Watching Sam made him more aware of the lush grass under his feet and the earth beneath, yielding the last of a long frost to the sheer force of day.

They were walking back around Bag End when a baby's cry leapt into the air, curious and hungry and impatient for the world.

Even after the sound had long faded, Sam stood rooted to the spot. "I'm a father."

"And that's a blessing all by itself." With everything he had, Frodo hoped that it would make up for every loss, every scar and lingering grief in years to come.

"'Tis marvel enough to make the knees go weak," Sam confessed with a soft laugh. A fierce glow brimmed in his eyes when he faced Frodo. "And it sets me thinking that everything can start anew, you see."

A surprising start of tears pricked in Frodo's eyes. The blaze of Sam's joy could easily score to the heart; it wasn't in his power to resist.

"Yes, Sam. Given time, I suppose... it can." His voice had dropped to a near whisper and almost betrayed him.

Whatever darkened Sam's eyes remained unreadable, but a moment later Sam's arms wrapped about him.

They had not held each other so close in a long time, and it poured through Frodo with too much force of memory and a warmth that could scald if it ran any deeper. But when he tried to pull away, Sam only gripped him tighter.

"Her eyes are blue, Frodo." His lowered voice had grown rough with the sharing of a secret.

Frodo smiled into his shoulder and the clutching heat in his throat eased after all.

"I hope she takes after you, Samwise," he said finally -- and released him on the surge of another breath.

Sam's smile reached out with a sudden lightness of heart, a radiant edge of hope. "Well, now. However that may be... let's go in and look at her."

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