127. Chapter 126 - June 1447
Eomer sat by himself at Pippin’s birthday party. Theo and Fari had run off to try to sneak some ales, but he didn’t feel much like having fun today. His father and Éowyn were sitting together, each holding one of the twins. And they kept looking at each other...
Eomer ground his teeth. He’d considered what Theo had told him over a year ago, and at first he’d kept it in the back of his mind. There was still a chance that Éowyn would return to Rohan and there would nothing to worry over anymore. But then one day Theo had come to breakfast grinning, a wicked glint in his eyes, and whispered, “Dad wasn’t in his room again last night.”
The anger had come back again after that, at his Dad and Theo. Theo had told him that Mum would want Dad to be happy, but he was more inclined to think that Mum would want to be here and not be dead. But he’d kept his anger in check this time, and was pleasant to Éowyn when it was required, but he only wished she’d go away and leave them.
For a while, that wish had come true. Éowyn had gone to stay with Ivy when the twins were born, and had stayed nearly a whole year. His father had only seen her on visits to Great Smials and Eomer had hoped that maybe the separation would keep them apart, that no matter what had happened between them, Éowyn might go back to Rohan after all.
He scowled. But then she’d come back to Brandy Hall. And Dad hadn’t spent one night in his own room.
“Such a scowl on a happy day?” Eomer looked up. Granny Bolger smiled at him, then lowered herself to the bench next to him. She set her cane to the side and patted his knee. “Whatever is the matter, love?”
Eomer bowed his head and shrugged.
“You know you can tell your old gran anything. That’s what grans are for. For listening. We’re also good for comfortable laps, but I’m afraid you’re outgrowing mine, Eomer-lad. I think you grew a whole inch this year!”
Eomer blinked back sudden tears. He’d spent a lot of time on his gran’s lap after Mum died.
She combed her fingers through his curls. “Tell me what’s bothering you, lad,” she said softly.
“Dad. And...her.” He looked up at them. They were still smiling at each other.
“I see.” She slipped her arm around Eomer’s shoulder. “You know, before your mum went to Rohan she was terribly frightened. She knew your Dad still had feelings for Éowyn, seeing as they had Ivy together. And she thought that maybe your Dad wouldn’t love her as much after seeing her side by side with the brave Lady Éowyn of Rohan. But when she came back, she told me she’d had nothing to worry over. That though your father and Éowyn were still dear friends, that it was always her that your dad would smile at, and Éowyn was just as in love with her husband. She told me what a wonderful lass Éowyn was--they’d become such good friends in a short time. And I know, Eomer...” Her breath hitched slightly with emotion. “I know that if your father had the choice to make, he’d want Estella back with him. And I know Éowyn would wish the same, and wish to have her Faramir back with her. But that’s not to be. Estella and Faramir are gone. And I know Estella would be happy for your father. And she’d be happy for Éowyn.” She gave Eomer a squeeze. “And she’d wish for you to be happy for them, too.”
Eomer buried his face in his gran’s shoulder, his tears soaking her blouse. “I don’t know if I can.”
“Just give it some thought, lad.” She kissed his head, then pushed his chin up so he had to look in her eyes. “Now, I believe I saw your brother and Fari over by the casks trying to sneak an ale. It looked like they could use some help.” She smiled and winked at him.
Eomer nodded, then threw his arms around her and hugged her tight. “Thanks, Gran.”
She kissed his cheek, then pushed herself up with her cane. He watched her walk away, then turned back to his Dad and Éowyn. Would his mum want them to be together? His mum had certainly liked Éowyn. The two of them had been...embarrassing...during the visit for Ivy’s wedding. Giggling and whispering together like tweens. Like they were best friends. What if Gran was right? What if his mum would want his dad to be with Éowyn? He looked again at his father’s smiling face. His father had changed when Éowyn had come to the Shire. He smiled and laughed more, like he had when Mum was still alive...
He sighed and stood up. He’d do what Gran asked and think about it. Now, he might as well go see what Theo and Fari were up to. They’d need someone with brains to keep them out of trouble.
Éowyn walked down to the stables, humming to herself. Merry was busy today, with meetings and accounts, so she was on her own. He had apologized profusely for not having much time for her, seeing as she had just returned to Brandy Hall, until she reminded him that she had been wife to the Steward of Gondor and was quite used to responsibilities. He had given her a sheepish grin and told her to enjoy herself.
They had returned to Buckland after Pippin’s birthday. The twins were going to be a year old next month, and were old enough now that Ivy could manage on her own, or with occasional help from Pippin’s sisters. It had been Ivy who had convinced her to return.
Pippin had given Bori a practice sword as a birthday gift. Bori had been excited, Ari had been green with envy, and Ivy had hidden herself away the first time Pippin took his son out for a lesson. At least Ivy had finally agreed to it. Éowyn didn’t like the idea of having both her daughters angry with her, but she felt she would have had to say something if Ivy hadn’t changed her mind about sword lessons. Éowyn sided with Pippin: the boys--and the girls, too--needed to know how to defend themselves in case war came to The Shire again.
Every bit of news from the south were pointing to just that. It may be years before the first battle was fought, but it was looming on the horizon. She could understand Ivy’s fears--Éowyn feared for her sons, her brother, and her nephews every day--but she would not hide from it as her daughter sometimes did. Hobbits had a penchant for pretending the outside world didn’t exist, which frustrated her. Ivy frustrated her even more, because she had ties to that world. She’d been there. She’d seen the ruins on the outskirts of Osgiliath and the dark shell of Orodruin. There were still scars in The Shire--stumps of great trees and scars in the earth where the Men had hacked and dug. Ivy knew what could happen.
Éowyn had to feel a little sorry for Pippin. Ivy had the stubborn mindset of a hobbit and the quick temper of the Rohirrim. It was no easy task to sway Ivy’s opinions. She smiled. She supposed the temper was her fault. Faramir had always teased her about her temper. Her husband had learned rather quickly that there was no use arguing with her. Instead, he had resorted to writing out his side of the argument in a letter to her, the only way, he claimed, that he could get a word in edgewise. She’d told Pippin to give it a try for any future arguments with Ivy. She chuckled to herself. Perhaps she would be kind and let Merry in on the secret as well?
She stopped with her hand on the latch to the paddock gate, realizing she was planning on future arguments with Merry. The kind of arguments that occur between husband and wife.
Ivy was right. She had missed Merry during her months at Great Smials and though she loved spending so much time with her daughter and grandchildren, she had been looking forward to returning to Brandy Hall. She had missed the conversations that lasted long into the night, she had missed the rides around Buckland, and she’d missed him in her bed. She hated sleeping alone. It was the most difficult thing she had to deal with after Faramir’s death--rolling over in her bed, sleepily expecting to cuddle, and touching an empty spot.
Merry had stayed in her room most every night, sneaking in after the boys had gone to bed. Things were better with Eomer--he didn’t seem to have so much hostility towards her anymore--but Merry didn’t want to risk upsetting him by staying with her openly. In the morning, he’d leave before the sun was up. She was a little put-out that she couldn’t have lazy mornings in bed, but she understood. He and Eomer were finally on good terms again, and Merry wanted to keep it that way. Unlike her own daughter. Wyn still refused to answer her letters.
She pushed those thoughts away. There was nothing she could do about Wyn right now. Elboron and Théodred had tried to talk to their sister, but she refused to listen. Éowyn knew she would have to return south now that Ivy no longer needed her help with the babies. Théodred would be getting married next summer. She’d return then to try to work things out with Wyn. And then... She wasn’t quite sure yet, if she’d return to Rohan or The Shire.
She spotted her horse, towering over the ponies out in the pasture, and whistled for her. The mare ambled over, seeming to frown at the interruption of her grazing. Éowyn patted her neck and ran a hand over her side. Brytta had grown fat on the rich grass of The Shire. She smiled. “You’re turning into a hobbit,” she murmured into the velvety ear.
She pulled open the gate and the horse obediently walked through and followed her into the stable, both of them remembering to duck their heads in the low doorway. Éowyn stopped short when she saw Eomer saddling his pony. He looked up and their eyes met.
She didn’t know Eomer all that well. Though he didn’t glare at her anymore, he still didn’t go out of his way to spend time with her, like Theo did. He spent a lot of time in Bridgefields with the Bolgers. Avoiding her, she was certain. It came as a bit of a shock when he smiled at her, a genuine, friendly smile.
“Hello, Éowyn,” he said, turning back to finish the buckle on the saddle.
“Hello, Eomer.” Éowyn sighed. She should really try to work things out with him, especially since his father was sharing her bed on a regular basis. “Eomer, I...” she started, but he cut her off.
“I’ve been awful to you and I’m sorry.” He leaned against the pony. “I was angry. I thought you were trying to take the place of my mum. I was angry at my dad for loving you. Theo... He’s been trying to convince me I was wrong.” His shoulders slumped. “And Granny Bolger talked to me last week. And she said...she said Mum would be happy that you and Dad have each other, after losing her and Faramir... “ He paused for just a moment, still not looking at her. “Theo and Gran are right. I know how happy my dad is with you. And I’m glad that you make him happy.”
Éowyn covered her mouth with her hand, blinking back tears. She hadn’t expected this. She went up to him and knelt so she could look into his eyes. He hesitated a moment, eyes on his feet, then looked at her. She pulled him into an embrace and he returned it. “Thank you,” she whispered. “This means so much to me.”
Eomer pulled back and nodded. “Theo told me about Ivy’s sister. I’m sorry. I hope she’ll realize she’s making a mistake, just like I did.”
Éowyn nodded sadly, then startled as a whinny interrupted them. “I think Brytta’s impatient to go,” she said, smiling through the tears.
“Would you like to come with me?” Eomer asked. “I was just going to take Guthwine out for some exercise. I don’t get to ride him much when I’m at the farm.”
Éowyn squeezed his hand. “I’d love to.”
“You’ll have to do this column again,” Merry said. “You’re off by twelve gold.”
Theo groaned and took the paper back. “Does it really matter? It’s only twelve gold.” Merry frowned at him. Theo huffed and picked up the pen, kicking his feet in frustration.
Merry felt some sympathy for his son. He’d always hated when his own father had made him work on the accounts, but it was something Theo had to learn. He would be Master someday and responsible for these things. Unfortunately, Eomer seemed to have gotten all the talent for numbers.
He left Theo working at the desk and went to his bookshelf. Might as well find something to read to pass the time. He would be without his desk for a while, as Theo still had four pages to go.
Voices in the hallway made him look up. Éowyn peeked in the door, Eomer behind her. They were laughing.
“We’re back,” she said cheefully. “Just going to go wash up before dinner.” They both left again, Eomer continuing to chatter away at Éowyn as they walked down the hall.
Merry looked over at Theo. He was sure the shocked look on his son’s face mirrored his own.
“I guess they’ve worked things out,” Theo said. He grinned and shrugged, then went back to his figures.
Merry turned back to his bookshelves, his cheeks already starting to ache from the huge smile on his face.
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.