34. Chapter 34
“The Underhills send their regrets,” Uncle Freddy said to Theo. “There was some problems at the mill and they had to get it fixed.” He looked over at Eomer. “Sorry, lad.”
Eomer’s stomach dropped. After all the anticipation and waiting, he wasn’t going to see Moira today. Theo had talked him into trying again with her, but now that chance was lost. There wouldn’t be any reason to see her again until October.
Theo smiled sympathetically, but Eomoer didn’t wait around to hear consoling words from his brother or uncle. He just shrugged and walked away. He didn’t really feel like talking to anyone right now. Maybe it was for the best, really, that Moira didn’t come. Maybe it would be best if he forgot about her altogether. He’s just mess thing up anyway, always stuttering or saying stupid things.
He pushed his way through the celebrations for Theo’s birthday, intent on reaching the ale barrels. He filled a mug and looked around for somewhere to sit. He suddenly missed the old days, when it was just him and Theo and Fari, occasionally joined by Frodo, Mer and Pip. Now Theo and Frodo had their wives, Mer was courting a girl, and Pip was chasing every available lass he could find. Fari had seemingly given up on them all and was spending his time with his brothers now. Bori and Ari were still too young to be distracted by lasses, though Eomer was sure he’d caught Bori looking a few times. His nephews were most likely going to be somewhat like Ivy and mature early and practically overnight.
He decided to sit with Fari, Bori and Ari. At least they wouldn’t be talking about lasses, right?
“Where’s Moira?” Fari asked as he approached their table and Eomer very nearly turned around and left again. He didn’t want to get into it with them, especially since they wouldn’t understand.
“The Underhills weren’t able to come today,” he said.
Fari just shrugged. “Well, at least you won’t be moping around after her like at Theo’s wedding then.” Fari suddenly yelped and glared at his brothers. One of them must have kicked him under the table.
“You can sit with us, Uncle Eomer,” Bori said, nodding at the space across from Fari. Eomer sat next to Ari and concentrated on his ale while Fari and the boys discussed ponies. Eomer’s dad had let Ari help arrange the pony breeding this year and his nephew was looking forward to seeing the foals they would get. Eomer wished he had something like ponies to distract him from...other things.
He was surprised when Goldi approached their table a while later. She looked nervous. She closed her eyes for a moment, as if steeling herself, then took a deep breath. “Would you like to dance, Fari?” she asked.
Eomer nearly dropped his mug. Goldi was finally going to do something about Fari? He looked at his cousin. Fari was gaping at her. “What?” Fari shook his head. “Me? Dance? You know me better than that, Goldi!” He laughed. “Why don’t you ask Eomer. He’s being boring right now.”
Goldi just shook her head and Eomer saw her lip tremble a bit. She turned and hurried away.
Eomer plopped his mug down, slopping ale over his hand, angry that Fari would so casually brush off Goldi. Didn’t he realize how lucky he was? He wiped his hand on his handkerchief. “That wasn’t very nice, Fari,” he chided. “She just wanted a dance.”
Fari shrugged. “I don’t like to dance. Goldi knows that. She understands.”
Eomer shook his head. He didn’t think Goldi understood. Well, she understood, but she was hoping for something different. He felt sorry for her.
“That was still rude.” Eomer stood up. Fari just stared at him, seemingly clueless. Eomer shook his head and decided to leave. He didn’t want to start a row with Fari at Theo’s birthday.
He grabbed a bottle off a table and headed down to the stables to cool off.
A bottle of whiskey later, Eomer was definitely feeling no pain. He’d convinced himself it just wasn’t worth it, mooning over Moira. What chance did he have? He didn’t even see her that much. Theo had said that Moira liked him, but he was sure Theo had just misunderstood her. He supposed Moira did like him, in a friendly way, but not like that. Why would she?
He went back to the party. It was early evening now. Fari, Bori and Ari were still in their same spot, but he didn’t feel like joining them again. Theo, Rose, Frodo and Emerald were sitting together, but Eomer didn’t want to sit with them either. He didn’t think he could take the marital bliss.
He was surprised to see Goldi sitting by herself, away from everyone else, staring down into a mug of ale. He decided he’d go sit with her. Misery loves company.
“Hello, Goldi,” he said, sitting across from her. She looked up at him, her eyes unfocused, and he realized she was very drunk, probably even more than he was.
“Eomer,” she said. She sighed and looked back at her mug. “You going to scold me about my drinking, too?”
“No,” Eomer said. He couldn’t really scold her, when he was doing the same, drowning his problems in ale and whiskey.
Fari’s laugh rang out and he saw her look up in that direction. Then she clenched her fists and slammed them on the table. “I hate him!”
“No you don’t, Goldi.” Eomer moved around to sit next to her and rubbed her back. “Why don’t you just tell him how you feel?”
“So he can laugh at me?”
“Goldi.” Eomer sighed. “You’re not doing yourself any good sitting around and being miserable. Tell him.”
She snorted. “You’re one to talk about that!”
Eomer flinched. All right, she had him there.
Goldi sniffed, fighting back tears, and he saw her look over towards Fari again.
“I can’t do this anymore,” she said. “I’m just fooling myself. He’ll never notice me.” She got up, swaying from all the ale she’d had. She climbed over the bench and took off towards the Hall.
Eomer sighed and got up to follow her. He knew it was probably pointless, but he’d try to talk her into talking to Fari. Anyway, if he stayed where he was he’d probably end up going over and punching Fari for being such an idiot.
He went to Goldi’s guest room and walked right in. Goldi was sitting on her bed, looking miserable.”Don’t you know how to knock?” she asked, wiping at her tears with her sleeve.
“Oh,” Eomer looked back at the door, his alcohol-addled brain briefly wondering if he should go back out and knock. He decided since he was already in the room, that he shouldn’t bother. He shut the door and went over to Goldi. “Goldi, you can’t give up on him. He might be an idiot, but I know he likes you. More than any other lass.”
“That’s not saying much, is it?” she sniffled. “We’re all nothing but trouble, remember.”
“Goldi, please.” He sat next to her. “You know how he is. You can’t expect him to figure this out on his own. You have to tell him outright.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “Maybe you should take your own advice, and you go tell Moira how you feel about her.”
Eomer shook his head. “It’s more complicated than that. But you’ve got a good chance with Fari. Tell him.”
“He wouldn’t even dance with me, Eomer,” she exclaimed. “Maybe he doesn’t want me.”
“He was just being an idiot about the dancing, that wasn’t about you.” Eomer sighed and shook his head. “He really likes you, Goldi. He just doesn’t realize it yet. Fari can be more than a bit clueless at times.”
Goldi glared at him. “How can you be so certain? Anyway, he could have any lass in the Shire.” She turned away from him. “Why would he want me? I’m just one of the lads, remember?”
“He likes you because you do all those things that other lasses don’t do, the climbing trees and the catching bugs.” He smiled at her. “You’re pretty and you’re smart and he’d be a fool to turn you down.”
Goldi gaped at him. “You think I’m pretty?” she asked, and tugged at her braid.
“Of course you are,” he said. He thought she was one of the prettiest lasses in the Shire, in fact. Without even thinking about it, he reached out to touch her cheek and that’s when everything went wrong. He didn’t know who moved first, but suddenly he was kissing Goldi. Her mouth was so soft and warm, she smelled of soap and violets and she tasted like ale. She rested her hand on his chest and a shock ran through him, down to his toes.
He’d never kissed a lass before, but his body seemed to know what to do. He opened his mouth and tried using his tongue, like Theo had told him about. Goldi responded, tentatively at first, then all thought left Eomer, his body acting on pure instinct. Now he knew why Theo liked it so much. He put his arms around her and pulled her closer.
Something was nagging at him, though, as they kissed, making him slow down though his body was quite enthusiastic about doing more. Goldi whimpered and he pulled back to look at her. When he saw her tears, he remembered why they were here. Fari. He couldn’t do this. Not to Fari. And he certainly wasn’t going to do this to Goldi.
“Goldi?” he asked softly, brushing at the tears on her cheeks.
“I love him, Eomer,” she sobbed, clutching at his shirt.
“I know.” He pulled her into a tight embrace. “It’s all right, Goldi,” he murmured to her as she wept. “It will be all right.” He gave her a whisper of a kiss on her cheek and then looked into her eyes. “Promise me. You’ll tell him you love him. Tomorrow, after you’ve slept off the ale.”
“I will, Eomer,” she said, her voice shaking. “I’ll tell him.” She laid a hand on his arm. “And you have to go tell Moira.”
He turned away, shaking his head. “There’s no point, Goldi.”
She tightened her grip on his arm and he looked at her. She was frowning at him. “Do you love her, Eomer?”
He bowed his head. “She won’t want me--”
“That’s not what I asked,” Goldi scolded. “Do you love her?”
He nodded. It may have been Goldi that he’d wanted just moments ago, but it was Moira whom he longed for, with her clever mind and her trousers and her beautiful blue eyes.
“Then go tell her,” Goldi said. “And if she’s got any sense at all, she won’t turn you down.”
He smiled at her and brushed more of her tears away. He’d like to believe that. For both of them. He only hoped Fari would have some sense tomorrow.
Goldi bit her lip and laid a hand over his. “Eomer,” she asked quietly, “This... I mean, what we were doing...?”
“It’s just...comfort from a friend, right?” he replied. She nodded. He took her hand and squeezed it, then stood up, pausing a moment to catch his balance because he was lightheaded from the whiskey and the kisses. “I’m going to leave now, and I think you should get some sleep. I think we both had a bit too much to drink.” She nodded again. He leaned over and lightly kissed her forehead. “Goodnight, Goldi.” He smiled. “And good luck with my idiot cousin tomorrow.”
A small smile tugged at her mouth. “Goodnight, Eomer,” she said. “Thank you.” He squeezed her hand again, then left.
He didn’t go back to the party. He went to his own room and collapsed on the bed. Great Eru, what had he done? He’d come near to trying to bed the girl who loved his cousin. A girl he was pretty sure his cousin loved back, if the idiot would ever wake up and realize it. He was angry with himself, but he was angry at Fari, too. It seemed as if Fari was trying not to see that Goldi liked him. Eomer regretted starting that whole bachelor business. Fari was so intent on being a bachelor, he couldn’t even see that there were other choices, that there was a girl who would give him a happy life.
Then he remembered what he’d promised Goldi and his anger was replaced by fear. He rolled over and stared at the ceiling, heart pounding. He’d have to face Moira and tell her how he felt. He sighed. Well, at least it would be over and done with tomorrow. After she turned him down, he wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.
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.