23. Chapter 23
Theo and Eomer did go to Great Smials later that summer, but unfortunately Rose and her family had gone to visit Elanor's new home in the Tower Hills. Ivy had given Theo a sad, sympathetic look when she'd broken the news to him, and Eomer had steeled himself for a month of Theo moping. But Theo decided that he wasn't going to mope--probably since Eomer and Fari were expecting him to. And he had nieces and nephews to distract him. All of the children were excited to have their uncles come stay with them. Ivy said it was because they spoiled the girls rotten. And the boys were happy to have someone to practice swords and go riding with besides Fari.
They took Bori and Ari on an adventure, camping in the forest south of Great Smials for a few days. They rode along a cart track into the area of forest known as Green Hill Country and set up camp next to a small brook. They hunted rabbits for their supper, then relaxed by a roaring campfire. It was then that Bori let the three in on a secret between him and Ari.
“We’re going to go south when we’re old enough,” said Bori.
Fari nearly choked on the apple he was eating. “You’re what?”
“We’re going south, to Rohan and Gondor,” said Ari. “We don’t fit in here, Fari, you know that. The Shire doesn’t have a place for soldiers.”
“Dad’s a soldier!” Fari looked back and forth between his brothers, as if hoping they were joking. Eomer thought they looked dead serious.
“No, he’s not.” Bori tossed another stick on the fire. “Dad fought when he had to, but he’s not a soldier. It’s not in him, like it is in Uncle Éomer or Uncle Elboron.” He shrugged. “We’re like Uncle Éomer, Fari. We’re not like Dad.”
“Do you know what it means,” asked Theo, “to go off to be a soldier. What you’ll be expected to do?”
Ari nodded. “We know. But it’s what we have to do. It’s in our blood.” He stared into the flames. “I couldn’t imagine what I would do if I stayed here. I couldn’t be a farmer or a merchant. But when I hold this...” He picked up his sword, shining brightly in the firelight from the polishing he had just given it. “When I hold this, I know who I am.”
Eomer just stared at his nephews, not believing this. And he was fairly certain they didn't know what they would be getting into. How could they, growing up here in the Shire?
Fari tipped his head back, eyes closed, and sighed. Then he looked back at his brothers. “You know what this will do to Dad and your mum.”
“Mum should understand, right?” said Bori. “Anyway, it might do her good to have us gone. So she’s not reminded what a disappointment we are.”
“Bori...” Fari started.
“We’re not stupid, Fari! We know she’s upset because we’re not ‘normal’.” There was a hint of anger and resentment on that last word. “We’ve tried our best to be good little hobbit lads around her, but it’s not who we are. It’s just an act for her benefit. But I’m not going to hide who I am forever. Maybe she’s embarrassed about who she is, but I’m not!” Bori threw another stick on the fire, making sparks fly. He got up and stomped off into the dark.
Eomer looked at his brother and cousins. He wondered if his face was just as shocked as Theo and Fari's. Then Theo got up. “I’ll go talk to him.” He walked off after Bori.
“When are you leaving?” Fari wouldn’t look up at his brother.
“Not for a while,” Ari said. “Not until we’re tweens. We’re hoping they’ll let us come of age early, like Mum. If not, we found another way. We got Bilbo to sneak us a law book from Uncle Sam--he doesn’t know why we needed it, by the way,” he said, glancing at Fari and Eomer. “But a hobbit can petition to become independent of his family after age 25 if he’s got just cause.”
“Gods, Ari!” Fari scowled at him. “What are you going to do, tell them Dad beats you or something!”
“No!” Ari looked genuinely hurt. “Do you really think we’d do that to Dad?” Fari met his gaze for a moment, then shook his head. “We won’t use anything against Dad or Mum. If we have to, we’ll use things against us. We’ll convince people we’re too dangerous to stay in the Shire or something.”
“That could get you banished,” Eomer mumbled, shaking his head.
“We’re hoping it won’t go that far, Uncle Eomer. But if it has to...” Ari turned back to his brother. “We’re hoping Mum and Dad will understand and just let us go.”
Fari just sat, head in hands. Eomer felt sorry for him, not even able to begin to imagine what he must be going through, hearing this from his brothers. But he could understand why Bori and Ari felt they had to do it, especially after seeing what his sister went through, trying to fit in.
“You won’t tell, right?” asked Ari. “Fari, please, you have to understand--”
“I know Ari.” Fari gave his brother a weak smile. “I...I understand. I won’t tell them. But if they ask...” he sighed. “I won’t lie to Dad, Ari.”
Ari nodded. “Thanks, Fari.”
Theo was glad Bori hadn’t gone far, because the firelight had destroyed his night vision. He had walked from the fire’s glow into a wall of darkness. But he heard the rustling of leaves that indicated Bori’s location and smirked. His nephew was certainly noisy like the Big Folk.
“Boromir?” he asked as he came upon his nephew. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, Theo saw that Bori was slumped against a tree.
“You come to yell at me, Uncle Theo?” he asked.
“No.” Theo sat next to him, leaning back against the tree. They sat quietly for a moment, then Theo spoke. “Your mum, she had a rough time as a child. She was different from everyone else and it was hard for her. The other children didn’t want to be around her. She was stuck playing with me and Eomer and Fari most of the time.”
“Poor girl,” said Bori, a hint of a smile in his voice.
“Hey!” Theo elbowed Bori. “Ungrateful nephews,” he muttered. “Anyway, besides us, and occasionally the Gamgees, she was pretty much alone. And then she went to Gondor and although she made a few friends there, she was still out of place and lonely.” He put a hand on Bori’s shoulder. “She’s not disappointed in you, Bori. She’s afraid. She didn’t want any of you to have to go through what she went through.”
“But we are going through it! And Grandad had to let her make her own decisions, right?” Bori said. “Even if it didn’t seem like the right ones?” Bori turned to face him. “I figured it out from something I heard Aunt Vinca and Aunt Nel say once. I know that she and Dad got together while he was still married to Fari’s mum. And I know Grandad wasn’t happy about it.”
Theo cringed. “First, if Fari ever hears you refer to Diamond as his 'mum', you probably won’t survive to make it to Gondor. And your mum and dad..." He sighed, trying to figure out how to explain it. "You have to understand that they were both hurting.”
“I’m not faulting them for it. I’m glad they did it! It means me and my brothers and sisters exist. And they did what they had to do to be happy.” Bori sat back and stared up into the treetops. “Now, Ari and I have to do what we have to do to be happy.”
Theo sighed. “You know there’s no guarantees you’ll even be accepted as soldiers in the south. Your dad and grandad were in pretty special circumstances. Your grandad had to sneak his way in with your gran.”
“But we’re not like them!” protested Bori. “We’re not like other hobbits. And I’ve trained with my uncles and I’ll train more once I get there. I know it’s not guaranteed, Uncle Theo. But we have to try.”
Theo sighed again. “All right, Bori.” He squeezed Bori’s shoulder. “Now, how about we get back to camp, before Ari comes stumbling out here looking for us and wakes up the entire forest. You Big Folk are noisy!”
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.