43. Chaper 43
They were packed into the finest dining room of The Prancing Pony, Big Folk and hobbits crowded around the remains of a feast, talking and laughing. Serving maids--and Mr. Butterbur himself--kept scurrying in and out of the room, removing plates and filling cups and on each trip they’d give a low curtsy--or bow--to the guests of honor, bumping into each other half the time. Eomer did his best not to chuckle at the flustered lasses and old Mr. Butterbur--it wasn’t every day you had the King and Queen of Gondor in for supper.
The couple was returning from a visit to Annúminas, the King’s seat in the north. The region was thriving since the return of the king, and the great city was being rebuilt. After a short visit, they would continue on to Rivendell, to spend the winter with the Queen’s grandfather and brothers.
Across the table from Eomer, the young princesses were whispering and giggling with his nieces. The twin girls, Celair and Celu, were now nineteen, but because of their Elvish blood they aged even slower than hobbits--they looked no older than thirteen-year-old Estella. Prince Eldarion was now eight, but was only just a year or so past being a “toddler” as far as humans were concerned. He was cuddled on his father’s lap, thumb in his mouth, glaring jealous daggers towards his mother.
The reason for Eldarion’s ire was in his mother’s arms. Arwen was holding little Saradoc and making quite a fuss over him. “He is such a beautiful little boy,” she cooed. She ran a finger through Sar’s sandy curls and kissed his tiny brow. Theo smiled proudly and slipped an arm around Rose’s shoulders. Eomer got a shiver--of fear or anticipation, he wasn’t quite sure. He’d be married next spring, and then he’d be making babies of his own to be proud of.
“He exists because of you,” Rose told the Queen. “Because of how you helped Theo and me. Which reminds me...” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small box. “I can return this to you now, my Lady. I am so grateful to you for letting Theo borrow it.”
Eomer saw Theo’s expression change, his lips pressed tight as he watched his wife hold the box out to Arwen. Eomer knew what was in there--it was the box that held the necklace that Theo had received from Arwen to give to Rose, to convince her of how much he loved her.
Arwen smiled and shook her head. “No, Rose. It belongs to you. I gave it to Theo to give to you.”
“But... It was your mum’s.”
Arwen lay her hand over Rose’s, the hand that held the box. “I do not have my father’s gift of foresight,” she said softly, bending forward to look into Rose’s eyes, “but something tells me the necklace is where it is supposed to be, and it will go where it is needed.”
Eomer saw Rose’s hand tighten around the box. From the look on her face, he guessed it had been a hard decision to offer the necklace to Arwen. The necklace had kept her connection to Theo during her courtship and near-betrothal to that other hobbit lad.
He sighed. His brother had come so close to losing Rose. He couldn’t imagine losing Moira like that. He looked down the table, suddenly needing to see her. Moira was sitting with her father, brother, and the lass that Hugh was betrothed to. He smiled. Elsa Stoneburrow was from Staddle, and though Moira liked the girl, she also thought Elsa was too ‘old-fashioned’. “She’s going to spoil them!” she had grumbled at Eomer during dinner, watching Elsa fill plates for her future husband and father-in-law.
Moira caught his eye and smiled at him. She leaned over to whisper something to her father, who nodded and patted her hand, then she got up and came back to Eomer. “Miss me?” she asked as she sat next to him.
“Always,” he said. He leaned over and gave her a peck on the cheek, then took her hand. He was going to miss her a lot. She would be staying in Bree when they returned home, until the spring when she came to the Shire for their wedding.
“We’re going out to see the horses,” Ari announced. He stood up, along with Bori, Barahir and Éomund. Their childhood playmates now towered over them. Barahir was of age now and Éomund would be the following year. Bori and Ari now looked at their cousins with awe. Eomer glanced at Ivy. He wondered if his sister suspected, that her sons were planning on going South someday. From the look on her face, eyes narrowed as the boys made their way to the door of the dining room, that she did.
“Can we come, too?” Willow asked suddenly. Her face went bright red when everyone looked at her. Next to her, her sisters and the princesses were still giggling. Eomer frowned. Since when was Willow interested in horses?
Ari snorted. “Why do you want to come with--?”
“Of course you can,” Barahir said, cutting off his cousin. He grinned at Éomund. The Rohirric lad suddenly looked like he wanted to be elsewhere. Eomer looked back at the girls, they were whispering, bent in close to each other, all of their eyes on...Éomund? Oh.
The girls got up, clasping each others’ hands like they’d been best friends for years. They pushed Willow to the front. Her face was still a bright shade of red, but she was giggling, too. They trotted out of the dining room after the boys.
“What was that about?” Pippin asked, his eyes on the doorway.
Ivy snorted. “Couldn’t you tell? Willow has an infatuation with Éomund.”
“All the girls do, I think,” Éowyn added.
“What?” Pippin gaped at his wife.
“An infatuation.” Ivy huffed and cocked her head at him. “Really, Pippin. You should know all about little girls and infatuations.” She smiled down the table at Arwen. “I asked Pippin to marry me when I was seven.”
Fari dropped his fork on his plate with a clatter. “What?” he asked, in a perfect imitation of his father. Goldi elbowed him in the side.
Ivy grinned. “I didn’t want him to get married, because then he wouldn’t have time to be my friend anymore. So I asked if he’d marry me instead.” She smiled at her husband. He raised his eyebrows at her over his mug of ale. Eomer shook his head. He gave them less than an hour before they’d disappear together. They always did when they looked at each other like that.
“Would you like to go for a walk?” he asked Moira. He wanted to spend as much time with her as possible their few days in Bree. Tomorrow his father, Pippin and Sam would have a private meeting with the king, as his northern counsellors. The day after that, the four of them would ride to Weathertop for Frodo Baggin’s birthday. The three hobbits still met for Frodo’s birthday every year, always in private. Eomer had asked his uncle about it once. Freddy suspected they remembered Frodo and reminisced about what had happened to them on their quest and in the war, things they really couldn’t talk to anyone else about. When the four returned returned from their trip, the king’s entourage would continue to Lothlorien and the hobbits (and Éowyn) would head back to the Shire. Then Eomer wouldn’t see Moira for eight months. He sighed. The only consolation was that after that, he’d be spending the rest of his life with her.
She nodded and they left the dining room, making their way down the hall to the noisy common room. It was packed, full of people wanting to get a glimpse of the King and Queen. Eomer kept a tight hold on Moira’s hand, not wanting to lose her amongst the sea of Big Folk legs. Near the door Eomer saw a table full of hobbits. He recognized Mr. Longhill, Bree’s mayor. Across from him sat his niece, Lavender, the girl who had teased Moira so much. The girl was glaring at Moira--obviously she knew that Moira had just had supper with the King and Queen. Eomer threw her a smug look as they went out the door.
In the stableyard, the boys were admiring Éomund’s horse. The girls were lined up along the fence, admiring Éomund. Eomer snickered. “I thought Pippin was going to have a heart attack when Ivy told him Willow has an infatuation with Éomund.”
“It’s adorable, isn’t it?” Moira giggled. “Éowyn’s right, though. All the girls have it.”
“Did you like any lads at that age?” Eomer asked.
“No. Not really.” Mora shrugged. “That’s about the time my mum died and...I just didn’t feel like it. I was too sad.”
“Me, too,” Eomer said with a sigh. “I missed Mum so much. And by the time I was getting over that, Éowyn had come to the Shire, and...” He rubbed his thumb over Moira’s hand. “I spent a lot of time being angry because Dad loved her, and I thought he was forgetting Mum. I hated her for that.”
“But you like her just fine now,” Moira said, squeezing his hand.
“Yes.” Eomer smiled. He couldn’t imagine life without Éowyn now. “She’s wonderful. She makes Dad happy. And it certainly wasn’t fair of me to be mad at him for marrying my sister’s mother.”
“You certainly do have an interesting family tree,” Moira giggled.
“Why? Because that tall fellow over there is my step-nephew?” he chuckled, nodding towards Barahir.
They laughed, and then Eomer wrapped his arms around her. “I’m going to miss you,” he whispered into her hair.
“Only eight months,” she whispered back. “And then you’re stuck with me.”
Eomer tugged on her hand, pulling her around the corner of the stable, away from everyone.
He didn’t give her a chance to finish. He pressed her up against the wall and kissed her quite thoroughly. When he pulled back--both of them pantings, his trousers too tight--he grinned at her. “I’m looking forward to being stuck with you very much, Miss Underhill.”
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.