27. Chapter 27
Theo took a deep breath and tried to remember exactly how many mugs of ale he’d downed. He’d lost count at...something...because Eomer and Fari were making sure he was never without a full one. He wasn't quite sure anymore if he appreciated that or not.
He looked around blearily. The sun had gone down and the garden was lit by strings of lanterns. Only a few guests were left for his coming-of-age birthday, finishing up the food and ale. He wanted to find Rose, but he seemed to remember something about her going off to bed a while ago. He hadn’t really seen much of her today. She had insisted on leaving him to have his fun, his last day to be a drunken idiot before he was expected to act like a grown hobbit.
The thought of Rose in her bed made him feel very warm. He’d like nothing better than to go crawl in with her, but he knew he’d get kicked right back out. Rose had made it quite clear there would be no bedding before her wedding night. He sighed. There were many times when he wondered if it were possible to die of frustration.
“Still with us, Theo?” asked Eomer. “More ale?”
Theo looked down at the mug. For the first time in his life, ale just didn’t sound very good. He shook his head, but quickly stopped because it made the world spin. “Think ’m done,” he mumbled.
“I think he’s nicely pickled,” Fari said from his other side.
Eomer patted his back. “Well, I think he’s done for tonight, then.”
Theo looked over at Eomer. He thought he was very lucky to have Eomer for a brother, because Eomer was always taking care of him, like when he was sad about Rose and when he got too drunk... “You are my favorite brother.”
“I’m your only brother, idiot,” said Eomer, shaking his head and laughing. Theo wished he wouldn’t shake his head, because watching him made the world spin again.
Fari giggled, which got Theo’s attention. He turned to his cousin. “And you’re my favorite cousin!” He grabbed Fari’s collar and pulled him over for a sloppy kiss on the cheek. Fari grimaced and pushed him away, laughing. “Urgh! Save it for Rose!”
“Rose won’t let me come to bed with her,” Theo said sadly. “She said we have to wait until we’re married.”
“How about we don’t talk about that in the middle of the garden,” Eomer said quietly into his ear. “I don’t think Rose would appreciate it.”
“No. She gets mad when I bring it up. I don’t know why, because she lets me put my hands...” He stopped, noticing that Fari was slumped over the table, head on his arms, his shoulders shaking. Was he crying? “Are you all right, Fari?”
Fari looked up, his face red, tears streaming down his cheeks, but he wasn’t crying. In fact, he was laughing so hard that he tumbled off the bench. He looked up at Theo. “Rose...would kill you...if she knew...you were telling us this,” he said between fits of laughter.
“Oh. Right.” It would probably be a good idea to keep his mouth shut. The ale seemed to making him a bit too talkative tonight.
“Not that it isn’t very educational,” Fari said, scrambling back up on the bench, “learning about what goes on with lads and lasses.”
“I know someone who’d like to teach you,” laughed Theo. He cringed when he received a sharp kick in the shin from Eomer. What had he just told himself about keeping his mouth shut?
Fari stopped laughing and narrowed his eyes. “Who?”
“All right,” said Eomer, standing up. “I think it’s time to put Master Theoden to bed.”
“But, what did you mean by that, Theo? Who wants to teach me what?”
“He’s just pulling your leg, Fari,” said Eomer, “He’s drunk, remember?”
“Yeah, just teasin’, Fari,” said Theo. He couldn’t believe he almost said something about Goldi. They had all agreed that they had to let Fari and Goldi work this out on their own. Others getting involved would surely just result in misunderstandings and someone getting hurt. Or more hurt, in Goldi’s case.
Fari shrugged, laughing it off, and took Theo’s other arm. Supported between his brother and his cousin, Theo stumbled inside. They met Ivy and his Dad talking inside the Hall. “You getting him to bed?” asked his Dad.
“Yeah, he’s done being an idiot. Starting tomorrow he’s got to be responsible,” Eomer said.
Ivy snorted a laugh. “Just like his father, right Dad?”
“What?” Theo’s dad was trying to look shocked.
“Oh, I’ve heard all about the things you got up to after your coming of age, when you were supposed to be responsible.” Ivy gave a sly wink to her brothers.
Their father crossed his arms and wrinkled his nose. “I think Pippin needs to quit telling stories.”
Ivy giggled and gave him a smug grin. “Who said it was all from Pippin? I’ve heard things from Gimli and Legolas and Aragorn and...”
“All right, all right!” their father laughed and Ivy hugged him.
“She got you, Dad!” crowed Eomer.
Theo smiled, happy to have his family here around him, but then he felt a pang in his heart. “I miss Mum.” It wasn’t until he noticed the laughter had stopped that he realized he had said it out loud.
“Oh, Theo.” His dad pulled him into an embrace and Theo had to work hard to fight the tears. He hadn't felt this way about losing his mum in a long time. “I know, son.” His father pulled back to look at him. “She’d be so proud of you, what a fine hobbit you’ve become. She’d be so happy you’ve found a wonderful lass and that you’re happy.”
Theo nodded. He felt the tears rolling down his cheeks, the ale making his emotions raw. His father pulled him close again, then Eomer was there, too, pressed next to Theo within their father’s arms. He rested his cheek on his dad's arm and through his tears he saw Ivy and Fari standing together, Ivy’s arm around Fari’s shoulders. They were both teary-eyed as well.
“Hey,” he said, pulling back from his father and brother. “She belongs to both of you as well. She was your mum, too.” He held his arm out, inviting Ivy and Fari into the circle.
Theo didn’t know how long they stood like that, in that tight little circle, but soon a voice brought them back to the world.
“What’s this then?” asked Pippin, coming in the garden doors with …owyn.
Theo wiped his eyes and shrugged. “I just...miss my mum.”
…owyn came over to him. “Theo,” she said and bent over to kiss his head. She touched his cheek. “I know how hard it is for you,” she said.
“I know. Thanks, …owyn.” …owyn had lost her mum--and her dad, too--when she was a girl. Theo laid his hand over hers, hoping to convey how much he loved and appreciated her through that touch, because he didn’t think he could put it into words right now.
Then he stepped back and looked around at his family. “Sorry to make everyone sad. I’m sure if Mum were here, she’d give me a good scolding about ruining the party for everyone!” He smiled, happy to see the others smile, too. “Now, I think I need to go to bed, because my brother and my cousin have been pouring ale into me all evening.”
“We had to hold him down and force it down his throat,” scoffed Fari, rolling his eyes. Everyone laughed, lifting the sadness that had fallen over them.
“All right,” Eomer said, “let’s get you off to bed.” He turned to the others. “And I’ll even make sure it’s his own bed,” he said.
That got more laughs and a raised eyebrow from his Dad. Theo blushed. “Thanks a lot, Eomer,” he groaned.
His brother smirked at him. “It’s the least I can do for my favorite brother.”
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.