“You really ought to get over your fear of dogs,” said Merry, rather self-righteously. “They’re not all like Farmer Maggot’s, you know, and even those are friendly enough, once they get to know you.”
Frodo had made a non-committal gesture, and Pippin had launched into some wild rambling about the ways the Old Took used to train his mushroom-finding dogs; but Sam quietly stored away the comment in his head, as he was so used to doing. These odd bits of knowledge had often proved invaluable to Frodo and himself during their Quest, and now they were on their way home. He found himself musing on this new idea as they rode along, turning it over in his mind. Perhaps…there might be some way of finding a young dog for his master. Raising a dog from puppyhood was the surest way to become its best friend, and a lifelong friend of all canines–he knew that from experience, the younger members of the Gamgee clan always having the odd mongrel or two at their heels. And it might be just what his master needed–though the Ring was destroyed and Frodo was finally freed of its horrific torture, he still seemed downcast and listless. Whenever we get to Rivendell, I’m going to have a talk with Lord Elrond, Sam thought to himself. If anyone knows where to get a good one, it’s him.

Far away, in the euphoric refuge of Imladris, a sleek grey elf-hound panted heavily. Her time had come to whelp, but something was wrong. Hiruan, the Elf charged with her care watched worriedly, his brow knitted. He had hoped to be able to present a fine, healthy litter to Elrond when he returned from the coronation in Minas Tirith, but it didn’t look good. If the dam delivered soon, there was a chance the pups would survive, but if too much more time passed…he shook his head.

She was too small, the grey one. Too finely boned and delicate. The other breeding females were more robust, with more room for a developing litter, but none had quite the exquisite beauty of this, his especial favorite.

Bred from the famous, carefully preserved line descending directly from Huan himself–hence her mystical grey color. It varied all over her body, from smoky-hued along her back and withers, shading to a shadowy silver on her head, flanks and legs. Built for speed, her slender limbs were perfectly proportioned to her lithe, agile body. Her delicate head was long and finely chiseled, as though by a master sculptor’s careful fingers; the eyes exceptionally large and dark, filled with light, as though the stars of heaven were mirrored in them. Long curving, slender ears, set high on her head, tapered to graceful points: alertly erect when they caught a distant sound, folded back against her head when she slept. Her slim neck arched proudly when she stood; in chase it extended like a horse’s, allowing her to bound like a gazelle over rock and plain on her small, sure-footed paws.

She had been a gift to Elrond’s wife from Thranduil. Celebrian had admired the swift grey hounds of Mirkwood on a visit once, and about two months later, the king had sent a messenger to Rivendell, a small female puppy frisking along with him. She soon grew to lovely adulthood, as shapely and graceful as a woodland deer. She gave her wholehearted allegiance to her Elven mistress, and was nearly as distraught as Elrond himself the day Celebrian departed for the Grey Havens. Certainly she understood her bereavement far less than he; she ceased to run the craggy mountain trails with the other hounds and would spend long evenings by the hearth in Elrond’s study, gazing up mournfully at him.

When the time had come for her to be bred, Elrond’s choice had laid with the Lothlórien strain. Tall, powerful and fleet they were, as golden as the Mallorn trees in autumn. The stern nobility in their keen eyes, and their mighty hunting prowess had earned them a reputation equaled only by the sleek, stealthy Mirkwood kind. It had taken little thought to choose the particular dog for such an alliance–Mallos, the pride of the hunt masters of Lórien was a hound whose commanding majesty and lordly bearing recalled the immortal, Valinorean-born hunting dogs of Lord Oromë himself.

Long were the lives of the Elven-hounds, nigh on to the span of Men. Long, too, was the appointed time for the carrying of their young. Full twelve months of waiting had passed, and now the long-awaited day had finally come. Such a blending of the two lines was destined to breed utter perfection, but if the pups were not whelped quickly, it would all be in vain. Hiruan knelt by the side of the struggling dog, stroking her silky flanks, then stood and walked away to fetch her a cool drink. When he returned, the sight that met his eyes brought a smile to his face and smoothed the troubled creases on his brow. The grey one’s struggles were ended–there she lay, licking a single white puppy, the tiniest atom of hound-dom that the Elf had ever seen.

Now uttering tiny squeaks and whimpers, the pup crawled closer to her dam and snuggled to her side. Hiruan watched, marveling at the infinitesimal body, as perfectly formed as the star-like niphredil sprinkled amidst the grass. It occurred to him that it was a perfect name for this small white newcomer. But upon closer examination, his keen eyes discerned that the puppy was not white at all, but a delicate silvery-cream, with traces of pale gold gracing the tips of her ears and tail, and rippling like a silken thread down her back. Ah, thought the Elf. Her golden sire’s influence. He walked away with a deep sense of satisfaction, and called for the tired hound to be served a light meal.

On the afternoon of September 22, about six weeks later, Samwise Gamgee was once again exploring the halls of Rivendell. Pausing now and then to exultantly take in the awesome vistas, he gradually made his way to Elrond’s study. As silently as his bare feet trod the stone, the Elf-lord was yet aware of his presence before Sam had quite reached the open doorway.
“Come in, Samwise,” Elrond called in his clear voice. Sam hesitated a moment on the threshold, then trotted into the spacious chamber.

“Beggin’ your pardon, Lord Elrond, but I wanted to ask you for your advice on a matter,” began Sam.

Elrond motioned for him to be seated, and Sam dropped onto a stool carved from polished dark wood, across the hearth from Elrond’s chair.

“Well, Master Gamgee, how may I be of service?”

Sam blushed at the idea but resolutely went on.

“It’s like this, sir: today is Mr. Frodo’s birthday, and I’d like very much to give him–give him a–a dog, sir, and I wondered if there was one to be had anywhere hereabouts; a good one of course, because he’s that afraid of big monstrous ones, if you take my meaning.”

Elrond was inclined to smile, but said gravely:

“Quite interesting, Sam, that you should ask; indeed I do know of one that you might have, and she has no equal for hundreds of miles around. I think you’ll find she’s a good match for Frodo.”

Elrond rose and went to the doorway, where a scarlet rope hung. Giving it a pull, he rang a clear silvery bell. Momentarily a tall Elf appeared at the door.

“Hiruan,” said Elrond. “Bring the Young One here; if she meets with Master Gamgee’s approval, she shall be his to present his master with.”

The Elf’s eyes widened in amazement, but he inclined his head respectfully and vanished. Sam could hardly believe his extraordinary luck; he waited, eyes dancing, swinging his feet from his perch on the stool. What seemed to him like hours passed, and then Hiruan returned. Striding in through the doorway, the Elf turned and drew gently at the slim grey cord he held.

To Sam’s everlasting delight, in galloped a small cream-colored puppy with golden ears, an exquisite creature that seemed to be made of silken fur, dancing paws, and an excitedly swaying tail. She, for her part, was having a glorious time. Glancing around the room, she took it all in. All her short life she’d known Hiruan, and Elrond she recognized on sight, but…suddenly the tiny hound’s sparkling eyes fell on Sam. She came to an alert stop, poised gracefully with head high. Sam didn’t dare to breathe, but simply gazed at her, such a minute promise of peerless beauty.
Step by step, she walked curiously towards Sam, and then sat on her haunches, tail curled around her, and gazed up at him wonderingly. All of a sudden she reared up on her slim hind legs and placed both front paws on his lap. Her tail, elegantly feathered in wisps of curling silk, clove the air ecstatically. Sam looked straight into her great dark eyes and saw there a being utterly devoid of fear, full of innocence and ancient dignity, as valiant and daring as her renowned ancestors of the Elder Days.

Sam stared at Elrond, wide-eyed and mouth agape, unable to force his voice to speak the thanks that overflowed his heart. Elrond waved his hand dismissively, and smiled at Sam.
“You needn’t thank me, Samwise; I’ve known for weeks your desire, and had already purposed her for Frodo. Now go and find him!”

Sam gulped, nodding wordlessly, and stooped to gather the enthralled puppy in his arms. Clutching his prize carefully, he left the room to find his master.

Hiruan watched him go and felt a trace of loss; he’d looked forward to watching her develop, fulfill the promise of her high lineage. He looked at Elrond inquiringly. The Elf-lord gazed back at him.
“It would have come to this, however it came about. We won’t be here much longer. Our time is spent.”
“But…I thought you said the Halfling–?”
“Yes. He too, but not yet. And she may bring him comfort until then. Such is my hope.”

Frodo was reading, curled up on a velvet-draped daybed, out on one of the many balconies. He turned the page, momentarily lifting his eyes to rest them on the surrounding panorama. He leaned his head against the cushions and tried not to think of the Shire. Not yet. He’d been fighting off homesickness for the past month, and so far had come off victorious, but it was getting harder. Soon, he knew, they’d have to leave Rivendell, but he hadn’t the heart to tell Sam, who was delighted to return to the Elven paradise.

“Mr. Frodo!” The call came echoing around the corner. Frodo sat up, eyes wide open. “Sam?” he called in answer. Sure enough, here came the familiar sound of Sam’s footsteps, sounding a bit labored. “Mr. Frodo, sir, shut your eyes, please!” shouted Sam. Frodo’s brows knit quizzically, but he obediently closed his eyes tight.
“What’s going on, Sam?”
“A moment, sir! Keep ’em shut!”
Sam tramped into the room, puffing slightly, the bewildered hound puppy tightly held in his arms. Depositing her in Frodo’s lap, he stepped back and exclaimed in triumph:
“There! For you, Mr. Frodo!”

Frodo opened his eyes in astonishment and was instantly covered in ecstatic puppy kisses. The little silver dog clambered up onto his shoulders, attempting to lick his face, and pushed him down onto the couch. Flat on his back, Frodo could do nothing but peer out at Sam from beneath the wiggling puppy and laugh.


Sam stopped dead and listened. The sound was so special, so rare now, that he stood absolutely still just to take it in. His master’s laugh–as musical as the voices of the Elves, it seldom rang out now, ever since…A tear sprang to the corner of Sam’s eye, but he furiously winked it away.

“She’s for you, Mr. Frodo, for your birthday today!”

Frodo sat up, still smiling, and looked at Sam in mild surprise.

“Is it today? Really?”
“Yes sir, September the 22nd–yours and Mr. Bilbo’s.”

Frodo nodded slowly, and was again forced to direct his attention to the puppy, now essaying mightily to tug him to the floor by the hem of his trousers. Dropping to the ground, Frodo stroked the puppy’s silky coat and tousled her ears. She wriggled in wordless delight and pranced in circles around him. Frodo looked up at his friend.

“Mine, Sam? I never had a dog, not even at Brandy Hall–they all had dogs…”
“I know, Mr. Frodo–that’s why I wanted you to have one.”

Sam too got down and spoke to the puppy playfully. She merely sniffed at him, and turned back to her new master. Sam was obviously old news now.

“Lord Elrond let me ‘ave her, seeing I wanted to give you a dog. He said as she’d be perfect for you, sir. But she doesn’t have a name yet. I knew you’d take care of that.”

Still prostrate, Frodo propped his chin on his hand and followed the pup with his eyes.

“She’s so lovely, Sam. I can’t think what to call her; none of the dogs’ names from the Shire seem right.”

“That’s a fact, sir, and she’ll get lovelier still. The Elf that took care of her showed me her mum, and sir! I never knew a dog could look like that. Seems like even the dogs of the Elves are special.”

Frodo rolled over on his back and put his hands beneath his head. The puppy took advantage of this and immediately climbed on top of him. Slowly gaining her balance, she stood and gazed down at Frodo’s face, her head cocked on one side comically. Frodo laughed some more and tickled her drooping velvet ears, silvery-cream edged in gold. He looked past her, up at the sky, where a large, snow-white cloud was drifting by.

Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear, O Queen beyond the Western Seas;
O Light to us that wander here, amid the world of woven trees;
Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!

The song of the Elves drifted through his head, much like the cloud above was drifting through the westering sky. He softly whistled snatches of it, as the puppy tilted her finely formed head this way and that, attempting to make sense of it all. Success eluding her, she snuggled down comfortably atop Frodo and shut her eyes.

Suddenly the sun broke free of the clouds in red-gold flame, already on its earthbound way, soon to disappear beneath the distant peaks. Sam shielded his eyes with his hand, his face alight with the tawny glow. Frodo absent-mindedly fingered the snoozing pup’s ears as he watched the fiery sunset gild the edges of the cloud. White with gold edges.

From his view, it was all too obvious.

“Look, Sam–see that cloud up there?” Frodo pointed skyward with his left hand. A lump caught in Sam’s throat at the sight of the missing finger, but he swallowed it and looked in the direction indicated.

“That big one, sir?”

“Yes. Does it remind you of anything?”

Sam was a bit baffled. “Reminds me…of–um, no sir, I don’t know.”

Frodo laughed. “What about its coloring?”

Sam stared at the cloud and thought hard. Looking down at his master, he saw Frodo raise one eyebrow, then glance down his nose at the sleeping hound puppy. The penny dropped.

“Why, sir, it’s just the same color as your pup, there! As like as if she’d been painted that way.”

Frodo nodded. “We may have our name, Sam. Now what’s the Elvish word for cloud?”

Both hobbits were suddenly startled by the approach of heavy footsteps. Sam jumped to his feet, and Frodo rose more slowly, cradling the dreaming puppy.

“Gandalf!” cried Sam, beaming with delight.

Fanya,” said Gandalf, cryptic as ever. “The word for cloud, Frodo.”
Frodo silently mouthed the word, and broke into a smile. “Perfect,” he said softly. Behind him Sam pursed his lips, then nodded approvingly. Short and distinct–exactly right for a dog’s name. Gandalf stooped to run an aged hand lightly over the warm bundle of fur in Frodo’s arms.

“I heard your whistling, Frodo–do you by any chance know how the hymn goes in Elvish?”
“A little–not all, though. Why?”
“Because ‘snow-white’ was translated from a name of Elbereth, Fanuilos. From the same word.”

Sam was tickled, both at the coincidence, and at the new word to add to his rather limited Elvish vocabulary. “You see, Mr. Frodo, it’s just like it was meant to be!” he cried.

Frodo looked down at the small Elven hound curled in his arms. Fanya was crooning softly in her sleep.

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