39. Chapter 39
“I’m going to miss it here,” Moira said, as they walked along the bank of The Water near the Bolger’s farm. “And I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you, too,” Eomer said, squeezing her hand. Tomorrow, they would be taking Moira home to Bree. Eomer sighed and glanced at Moira. Now he understood how Theo felt about Rose. Once they’d gotten to know each other better, his awkwardness had disappeared. They’d spent many hours just talking about things, and quite a bit of that time not talking at all. He’d learned that she was a bit of a romantic under her tomboy exterior. He’d brought her a bouquet of wildflowers for her room and she’d gotten all teary eyed and kissed him. He was grateful to Éowyn for suggesting the flowers. She had told him that even tomboys liked romance every once in a while. He got Éowyn a bouquet as well, to thank her.
Moira had fit right in with their group, as if she’d been friends with them all for years. She had a quick wit that could match Theo, and a terrific sense of humor. She rolled her eyes at Fari’s crude comments and could throw back some of her own. She’d become close with Rose and Goldi during her visit as well. It just felt to Eomer like she was supposed to be with them.
But now she was leaving and they were going to be separated until spring, and the thought made Eomer’s stomach hurt. He didn’t want to spend any time away from her. In fact, he was quite certain that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
He stopped walking. “Moira?”
She turned to look at him. “What is it?” Her brows furrowed. “Are you all right? You look a bit flushed.”
He took a deep breath, not quite believing he was actually going to do this. “I know we haven’t known each other very long, but...I feel like I’ve known you forever and...would you want to marry me?”
She raised her eyebrows. “Are you asking?”
“Yes. I mean...I know this is sudden and if you’re not ready to consider it, I completely understand--”
He got cut off by a kiss that he felt all the way to his toes.
“Aren’t you supposed to be heading to Bree?” Theo asked when they rushed in, a little breathless. The whole family was there, just finishing tea. Perfect.
“Yes, but...” Eomer grinned and took Moira’s hand. “I needed to tell you something first.” He smiled at Moira, then took a deep breath and turned back to his family. “I’ve asked Moira to marry me.”
The room went quiet, everyone staring at them in shock. Then Éowyn broke the silence. “Oh, Eomer! That’s wonderful!” The room came alive then, everyone talking at once. Rose and Goldi flew from their chairs to grab Moira in a hug that included a lot of giggling.
“I don’t believe it,” Theo said, still looking shocked. “You asked her to marry you already.”
Fari snickered. “We thought it’d take you a couple of years at least!”
Eomer shrugged. “I guess I had a sudden bout of courage.”
Theo laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “Well, we’re very happy for you. We love her very much and I’m glad you’re not going to make the poor lass wait until she’s forty before you asked.”
Fari laughed, but Eomer just rolled his eyes. Then he looked over to Moira. She was listening with amusement as Rose, Goldi and Éowyn were already making plans for the wedding. He caught Moira’s eye and smiled at her, then went over to sweep her up into a hug. “I love you,” he murmured in her ear.
“Love you, too,” she said and kissed him.
“This is so sweet,” Rose said, and she burst into tears.
“Oh, Rose.” Moira pulled away from Eomer to go hug her friend.
“I’m sorry,” Rose sobbed onto Moira’s shoulder, “I don’t know why I’m crying.”
“It’s all right, Rose,” said Éowyn. She patted Rose’s back. “Some women get very emotional while they’re pregnant.” Rose nodded, wiping unsuccessfully at tears that refused to stop.
Theo took Rose’s hand. “Here, love. Why don’t you go lie down for a while?” Rose nodded again, sniffling into a handkerchief, and let Theo lead her away to their room.
“She’ll be fine,” Éowyn said as the door closed behind them. “I think Theo’s got the worst of it.” She smiled. “I know Faramir never knew what to do with me when I’d cry over the strangest things.”
“An emotional Rohirrim woman?” Eomer’s dad asked. “Faramir really was one of the bravest men I’ve ever known!”
Éowyn gave him a glare, pursing her lips to fight off a smile. He just grinned at her, then turned to Eomer and Moira. “Well, I suppose I have some things to discuss with Mr. Underhill,” he said. He took Moira’s hand. “Tell your father we’ll come to Bree in a few days.” He leaned in and kissed her cheek. “I’m very happy for you both.”
Moira blushed and smiled. “Thank you, Master Brandybuck.”
“No, no,” he said. “Just Merry and Éowyn. No more formalities.”
Moira nodded and Eomer squeezed her hand. “Well, we should probably get to sleep. We promised Uncle Freddy we’d be back at the farm by sunrise.”
“Stay with me tonight, Moira!” Goldi said excitedly, grabbing her other hand. “We’ve got lots to talk about.”
“You’ll keep her up all night, Goldi,” Eomer complained. “We do have to leave early.”
“I know,” Goldi scoffed. “We won’t be up late. I promise.”
Moira gave a huge yawn as they waited by the wagon in Uncle Freddy’s barn.
“I knew she’d keep you up late,” said Eomer.
“Shush, you,” she said and tried unsuccessfully to stifle another yawn.
“So what did you talk about?”
Eomer furrowed his brow at the blush that appeared on her cheeks.”What kinds of things?” he asked warily.
Moira shrugged. “Girl things. You know...dresses and stuff.”
Eomer snorted. “Right. You and Goldi are the most un-girly girls I’ve ever met. So what did you really talk about?”
“Oh, some things.” She shrugged and the blush went a little deeper. “A bit about you.”
Eomer’s felt a thrill of panic on the back of his neck. “Um, like what?”
Moira glanced up at him. “We agreed you have a very talented tongue.”
He winced, his worries confirmed. “She told you about that?”
Moira shrugged and gave a crooked grin. “It came up.”
Eomer blew out a breath. “I’m sorry, Moira. I didn’t mean for anything to happen with her. It’s just--”
She took his hand and shook her head. “Eomer, there was nothing between us at the time. You don’t have to explain. And she said it resulted in you coming to talk to me, so I’m glad it happened.”
He sighed. “I still feel guilty about it.”
“Well, I don’t mind. Goldi said Fari doesn’t mind. There’s nothing to feel bad about.” She pulled him around to kiss him. They were interrupted by a cough.
“All right, lovebirds, time to go,” Uncle Freddy chuckled.
By the time they crossed the Brandywine, Moira was fast asleep, cuddled under Eomer’s arm, her head resting on his shoulder. Eomer’s cheek rested on the top of her head. This was nice. He could do this the whole way to Bree.
Uncle Freddy leaned forward to look at him around Moira. “Remember last year’s trip, when you and Fari scoffed at getting married and I told you I’d be dancing at your weddings?”
Eomer smiled. “I guess you were right about us both.”
Uncle Freddy chuckled, then leaned back in his seat, quietly humming a traditional Shire wedding song.
“We’ll clean up from lunch,” Mr. Underhill said, nodding towards Hugh. “You two go have a walk.” He beamed at them. Ardal Underhill had been ecstatic to learn that Eomer had proposed to his daughter. Then he directed Freddy into the parlor to relax and set about cleaning up the table.
Eomer turned to Moira once they were out on the road through Bree. “Most fathers would like to send armed warriors as chaperones and we don’t even get an elderly aunt.”
Moira rolled her eyes. “He’s just happy a lad wants his tomboy daughter. And he trusts you. He really likes you, Eomer, and not just because you’re taking me off his hands.”
Eomer scowled. “I thought you and your Dad got on pretty well.”
“We do. It’s just...” She sighed. “Sometimes he forgets to hide that he thinks I’m a bit odd.”
“I don’t think you’re odd,” Eomer said, squeezing her hand.
“You’re the only one, then,” Moira said, her voice just a little bitter.
Eomer pulled her to a stop and looked in her eyes. “My family doesn’t think you’re odd, Moira.”
Her face softened from the scowl she’d been wearing. “Your family includes the King of Rohan’s sister. For hobbits, you’re pretty odd yourselves.”
Eomer shrugged. He supposed that was true. “Well, that just means you’ll fit right in then.” She smiled and squeezed his hand. Eomer squeezed back and they continued on their walk through Bree.
She sighed. “I can’t wait until I can move to the Shire and get out of Bree,” she said. She looked up at him suddenly. “That’s not why I’m with you, though,” she said. “I’d be with you even if we were staying here. I’m just glad you’re going to be taking me away from here.”
“Why?” He’d suspected she didn’t like her home very much. She didn’t talk much about Bree besides her family, always managing to turn the conversation back to her friends in the Shire.
“No one likes me here. Because I wear trousers at the mill and cut my hair.” She stopped and turned to him. “None of the lasses here want anything to do with me, unless it’s to tease me.”
“Rose and Goldi are your friends. And Clara and Chloe.”
“I know. They’re all so sweet. They make me feel so at home. Rose even helped me figure out what to do with my hair while I grew it back out.” She touched the light blue ribbon that held her curls back and out of her face. “It’s like having my own sisters.”
“Rose really will be your sister,” said Eomer, “when we get married.”
Her cheeks tinged pink. “You sure you want an odd lass like me?”
“Why would I want a boring, ordinary lass when I could have you?” he said. She smiled at him, her blue eyes lighting up. He leaned over and kissed her.
“Oh, look. Moira’s actually got herself a lad,” a voice said.
Eomer looked up. Three hobbit lasses were standing in their path.
“How much did your father have to pay him?” asked another. She looked Eomer up and down. “He must be desperate for the money to accept it.”
Moira tugged Eomer’s hand. “Let’s go,” she said.
“I don’t know you,” said the first lass. “Mr. Underhill must have had to go pretty far to find a lad willing to take her.” The girl sidled up to him. “You’re cute, though. Maybe you’d be willing to change your mind?”
Eomer glared at her in disgust. “I wouldn’t lower myself that far,” he said.
“Huh. Some pathetic farmer’s son thinks he can talk to me like that.” She leaned towards him with a sneer. “I’ll have you know my father runs the largest trading post in Bree and my uncle is the Mayor!”
“My father,” said Eomer, glaring at the girl, “is the Master of Buckland. My sister’s husband is the Thain. They are very dear friends of your King and the King of Rohan. My step-brother is the Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien.” He shrugged. “Got any other names you want to drop on me?”
The girls all stared at him. “Oh,” said the first, “well...” She fidgeted a bit. “I...”
But Eomer was already turning away from them. “Come on, Moira. I’m sure there’s a much better part of town to walk through.”
They left the girls behind them, the other lasses chiding the first. “How could you say those things to the Master’s son? Your father better not find out!”
They got out of earshot of the girls and Eomer turned to Moira. “I’m sorry. I sounded like a snob back there.”
Moira squeezed his hand. “It’s the only way to fight a snob,” she said. “Lavender’s always going on about how her father is the richest hobbit in Bree.” Moira grinned. “The look on her face, though, when you started naming your connections.” She giggled. “That was worth all the insults I’ve ever gotten from her.” She gave him a quick kiss. “And I know you’re not a snob. Those kings really are your father’s friends. Your dad was telling me some about the King and he’d always call him just plain ‘Strider’.” Moira sighed. “Now you know why I want to leave, though?” she said.
“I don’t know,” said Eomer. “Now that they know who you’re marrying, they might want to be your best friends.” He gave her a wink.
“Ugh!” Moira rolled her eyes. “I’d rather make friends with a troll!”
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.