118. Chapter 117 - August 1444
Theo glanced over at his brother, debating whether to say something. Eomer had been in a foul mood ever since they left the Smials that morning. Actually, he seemed to have been in a foul mood for quite a while now. He’d been short with Fari nearly the whole visit and he’d almost started a fight with Frodo last week when Frodo had playfully pushed him into The Water down by the mill. Considering Eomer had pushed Frodo in last year, and laughed about it for days, there had to be something wrong.
He brought his pony up next to Eomer’s. “You want to tell me what’s been bothering you?”
“Right.” Theo leaned over and started poking at his brother’s arm. “Tell me.”
Eomer batted his hand away and threw him a dark look. “Stop!” He nudged his pony out of Theo’s reach. “That might work on Ivy, but not on me.” He turned away, ignoring Theo.
Theo pondered Eomer for a moment. Maybe if he got him angry, he’d spill something.
“So why were you being such an ass to Fari?”
“He’s annoying,” Eomer snapped.
Theo snorted. “Oh, and you were never annoying?”
Eomer turned in his saddle. “Sorry, I don’t have the patience you have for your little shadow!” He kicked his pony into a trot, moving a ways up the road from Theo, then settled back into a walk.
Theo let him go. He obviously wasn’t going to get anything out of him now. He’d wait until he got home. Then he could tackle Eomer and sit on him until he let out what was bothering him. He didn’t think it was really Fari or Frodo.
His eyes narrowed when he saw Eomer turn off the Stock Road, onto the road that led up to Bridgefields. Towards Uncle Freddy’s farm.
“Hey!” He kicked Narsil into a gallop to catch up with his brother. “Where are you going?” he asked as he pulled Narsil up.
“I’m going to the farm. Where does it look like I’m going.”
“Don’t you think you should go see Dad first? We haven’t been home in weeks.”
“I’m sure Dad is busy with his guest. He probably won’t even notice.”
Ah! Theo heard the bitterness in Eomer’s voice. He was most definitely getting close to the problem. And he suspected that problem was Éowyn.
“Oh, come now, Eomer. Dad’s not that young anymore. I’m sure he has to take frequent breaks from bedding her and you can see him then.”
Theo was startled by the look on Eomer’s face. His brother went from pale white to dark red, his jaw so tight he could see the muscles twitching.
“How can you say something like that?” Eomer ground out the words between clenched teeth. He was seething. Theo suspected that he may have pushed things too far.
“What’s the problem? I was only joking. I don’t think he’s really bedding her.” Theo shrugged. “Not yet, anyway.”
Eomer jerked his pony to a halt. “Don’t you care? Don’t you care that he’s with her? What about our mother?”
Theo cocked an eyebrow. “Uh... Mum’s dead, Eomer. That doesn’t mean Dad is, too.”
Eomer kicked his pony into a gallop.
“Eomer!” Theo called after him, but his brother wasn’t stopping.
Theo pulled Narsil around, cursing at himself the whole time, and headed back towards Brandy Hall.
Theo was still in a bad mood when he arrived home. Did Eomer expect their father to quit living? It’s not like their dad getting married again would be too much of a surprise to anyone. It seemed like every eligible lass in the Shire had been paraded by him at some point since his mother’s death. And if his dad was going to marry anyone, it might as well be Ivy’s mum. Theo liked Éowyn and was happy to see his dad happy with her. If Eomer wanted to sulk, let him! For someone who considered Fari annoying, Eomer could certainly be annoying and childish himself.
Theo went directly to his father’s study. His father and Éowyn were sitting together, discussing his dad’s book.
“The heir has returned, back from the wilds of the Tookland!” Theo announced, putting on a cheeky grin. He took Éowyn’s hand and kissed it. “And how is our lovely guest?”
Éowyn smiled at him and bowed her head. “I am doing quite well, young Master Brandybuck.”
“Don’t encourage him,” his dad muttered, shaking his head.
Theo grinned and plopped into the chair across from them.
“Where’s Eomer?” his dad asked. He retrieved the bottle of brandy to refill his and Éowyn’s glasses. Theo swiped a glass from the side table and held it out. “You’re only twenty!” his father said.
Theo smirked. “From what I hear, you were sneaking wine out of Bag End’s cellars when you were only seventeen.”
“Pippin needs to keep his mouth shut,” his dad said, but he poured a small amount of the amber liquid into Theo’s glass. Theo raised it with a nod and took a sip. “My brother, by the way, has gotten himself into a snit and has gone off to the farm to sulk.”
“Just Eomer being an idiot. I’ll tell you later.” His dad nodded, thankfully not pushing the subject. Theo didn’t want to talk about this in front of Éowyn.
“So how is everyone?” his dad asked. “And don’t bother about Fari. I’ve already had visits and messages from quite a number of hobbits letting me know what you two have been up to. We’ll discuss that later, as well.”
Theo grinned at Éowyn. “Me and Fari have a legacy to uphold, you know.” Éowyn laughed, but his father gave him a scowl. Theo ignored him and tipped his head in thought. “Let’s see, how is everyone... Ivy and Pippin still can’t keep their hands off each other. Bori and Willow locked some of their cousins into the pantry--on five separate occasions. They also let all the chickens out--twice. Ari keeps sneaking down to the stables to see the ponies. Éoleof is teething and she bit me.” He held up his abused finger. “Uncle Sam and Aunt Rosie say ‘hello’ and they’re hoping to come out for a visit soon. Elanor is sweet on a lad from Westmarch who’s been staying with his uncle in Hobbiton. Frodo’s getting quite the reputation as a gardener and he’s taken over some of Uncle Sam’s jobs. Rose let me kiss her. Mer and Pip brought two puppies home from their Uncle Nick’s and Aunt Rosie said they could keep them. Goldi’s mad at Fari because he put worms down the back of her dress. The rest of the them... I can’t keep track of anyway.” Theo sat back and sipped at his brandy.
“What’s this about Rose?” His father raised an eyebrow at him and Theo felt heat on his cheeks. “Does Sam know about this?”
“I’m still alive, aren’t I? And unless you want Eomer to be the next Master of Buckland, you probably shouldn’t say anything to Uncle Sam. You should see the looks he’s been giving that poor Fastred fellow that Elanor’s been making eyes at.”
Eomer finally came home after a few days at the farm. Theo had told his father about his confrontation with him. His father wasn’t surprised, but he was upset with Eomer for stewing over it. Theo knew his dad had talked to Uncle Freddy after that. Uncle Freddy must have made Eomer come home, because his brother didn’t look happy about it at all.
Theo invited Éowyn for a ride out along the Old Forest to give his Dad and Eomer time alone. He suspected there might be some yelling and knowing how angry Eomer was, he didn’t want Éowyn to hear any of it.
But he shouldn’t have worried, because Éowyn was a lot smarter than he gave her credit for. As soon as they were away from the Hall, she calmly asked, “Eomer’s angry about me being here, isn’t he?”
“Yes.” No use lying to her. “I think he feels like you’re replacing our mum.”
“Oh.” She turned to him. “That’s not my intention, Theo. I wouldn’t ever want to try replace Estella.”
Theo smiled. “I know that. You don’t have to worry about me. I know you’ve been Dad’s friend for a long time, and the fact Ivy exists proves there’s something more to it, right?” Éowyn nodded. “And Mum really liked you. She’d want Dad to be happy again. He’s been a lot happier since you arrived and I wish Eomer would see that.”
“Thank you, Theo. I’m glad you feel that way.” She smiled at him, looking relieved.
“So.” Theo fidgeted in the saddle, debating whether to bring it up, then decided just to come out with it. “Are you and Dad going to marry?”
She coughed. “Uh...” Theo bit his lip to keep back a chuckle as she stumbled over the words. “No. I mean.... maybe. We haven’t really gotten to that point yet. Haven’t discussed it. I mean...” She sighed.
“All right.” He grinned, keeping his eyes on the road ahead. With that reaction, he guessed something was going on between them. Or going to happen soon. They rode in silence for a while.
“I understand how Eomer feels,” Éowyn finally said. “Théodwyn feels the same way. She didn’t want me to come here. She believes I’m going to forget about her father if Merry and I...” She sighed. “We argued about it and she wouldn’t speak to me afterward. I wrote to her after I arrived, but I’m not expecting her to answer my letters.”
“I’m sorry.” Theo studied her face. She was obviously trying not to cry. “How about Elboron and Théodred?”
“They’re like you. They just wanted me to do whatever I needed to do to be happy.”
“Good. You should listen to us. We’re highly intelligent lads!” He smiled and was glad to see her smiling back. “I’m sure Théodwyn will come around. Eomer, too.” He snorted. “Although I may have to pound some sense into him first.”
Éowyn shook her head, laughing. “Don’t do that!”
Theo nodded. “You’re right. The Master’s heir shouldn’t pound on his only brother.” He gave her a wicked grin. “I’ll ask Frodo to do it.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.