1. A Proper Name
"Have regard for your name, since it will remain for you longer than a great store of gold." —Ecclesiasticus
When explanation was later requested, the two hobbits could not recall how they and their respective Rohirric and Gondorian friends somehow found themselves in a cellar in Minas Tirith, teaching a reluctant Eomer the fine art of smoking...
Merry leaned back in his chair, blowing smoke rings towards the ceiling. "Like this, Eomer."
Eomer leaned back hesitantly, ignoring the wry grin on Faramir's face as he did so. Bringing the pipe to his lips, he made as if to breathe. Then up went his feet and down went his head, and the chair fell crashing to the ground. Eomer leapt quickly up, righting the chair and sitting back down with reddened face.
Merry commented, his voice quaking but under control, "You're off to a good start."
Eomer glared at them all, especially Pippin who seemed to have contracted whooping cough at that moment, and said: "I cannot concentrate on learning a new task in such a precarious position!"
Merry sighed. "Well, you can try it sitting up straight if it makes you feel better."
"Thank you," said Eomer curtly. He took a long puff from his pipe, struggling not to cough. Across from him, Pippin had regained control and was solemnly making a cloud around his head, to which Faramir, on his right, would add a ring occasionally with a satisfied look, as if it was an artistic touch.
Merry breathed out happily. "Well, this is quite nice! If only Stri—Ar—Elessar were here, we could have a right proper group. Now there's a Man who can smoke!"
Eomer breathed out his smoke with a slightly pained look. "There is part of me that wonders how he can love it so much."
"Don't worry, Eomer, you'll grow accustomed to the flavor," assured Pippin. "Everyone does if they try long enough, and then they can't live without it. Well, except for Faramir."
Faramir grinned and blew a smoke ring that danced its way into Pippin's cloud.
"Ah yes, my brother in law, life's anomaly," said Eomer. "He appears to enjoy it, though."
"Oh he does," said Faramir. "He merely does not require it if he must be comfortable, unlike some others he knows."
"It appears that he also enjoys speaking of himself as if he were another person," muttered Eomer.
Faramir gave Eomer a grin, and Eomer grudgingly returned it. While the two men had grown fairly close to each other, if not deepest friends, there was a small and comfortable feud between them, manifested in ways much like what persisted between Legolas and Gimli.
Pippin paused from his smoke-puffing and nodded in Merry's direction. "We have done well, Merry. We have introduced smoking to both Gondor and Rohan."
Merry replied with an answering nod. "True, true, Pip. Hobbits are making their mark on the world in more ways than one."
"And the world can certainly use our help," answered Pippin. "For the next thing, we should import family names, and soon."
"Indeed," acknowledged Merry with fervor. "They would be most useful here, for I have found myself confused times innumerable for lack of them."
"Family names?" asked Eomer. "What mean you by that?"
"Oh, you know," began Pip, "we hobbits all have two names. You're just Eomer, but I'm Peregrin Took. And my whole family has Took as their second name, so Took is my 'family' name."
Merry added: "It's a way to keep track of relations."
Eomer frowned. "But Men have family names as well. I am Eomer Eomundsson."
"It's not quite the same," said Merry with a wrinkling of his nose. "Does everyone call you that?"
"No," admitted Eomer. "I am normally called Eomer."
"Or 'my lord'," added Faramir, emerging from his quiet blowing of smoke-rings for a moment.
"True," acknowledged Eomer.
"And besides, your children would be Eomersson not Eomundsson like you, so it's not a true family name," put in Pippin.
"Pardon my interference," asked Faramir, "but what might be the exact purpose of a family name?"
"To know who is related to whom, of course," said Merry.
"But," said Faramir, "you are Pippin's cousin, yet your family names are not even similar."
Merry frowned and did not answer, his mouth twitching as he thought about this, but Eomer responded: "It is obvious, Faramir, that hobbits count their lineage from father to son, as we do, so family names show only those who are in legal views part of the family."
Faramir nodded, but Pippin responded: "What does that all mean? Legal family members? That seems an awful bit of nonsense, as if Merry is less close to me because he's a Brandybuck."
"Well then, you must explain the other point a family name has, if it be not to keep track of the rightful heirs," said Faramir, somewhat confused.
The hobbits worked well as a team. Merry now put in: "Proper identification."
The Men just stared, and so did Pippin, waiting for more. Merry gave it: "You see, Eomer, if someone talked to you about 'Eowyn', who would you assume they were talking about?"
"My sister," said Eomer slowly. "Who else?"
"Ah, but isn't it possible that someone else could have been named Eowyn?" asked Merry with a satisfied look.
"It is possible, I suppose," said Eomer. "But really—"
"No, Eomer, there is reason to be found in that point," said Faramir. "There are only so many names. I am the second Faramir in history, just as my brother and father also shared names with ancestors. Even Aragorn is the second of that name."
"Why, thank you, Faramir," said Merry with a nod. "You see, having two names makes it less easy to have the same name as someone else. So if Sam named his daughter Eowyn, and I named mine Eowyn, it wouldn't matter because we could tell them apart, because one would be Eowyn Gamgee and one would be Eowyn Brandybuck. But what would we call your sister, Eomer?"
"Eowyn of the Shield-Arm," said Eomer smugly.
"There is no need for family names when worthy men and women collect epithets, eh?" said Faramir with an equally smug look.
The hobbits looked at each other despairingly, and the Men shook hands, obviously believing they had the upper hand. But the Shire was not about to give up.
"Really," said Merry, "you are missing the point. If Elessar did not tell everyone, how would they know he was Isildur's Heir? They wouldn't. His name does not show it."
"Which one? He has ten that I have heard of," said Faramir in an aside to Eomer, who nodded in appreciation.
Merry ignored it, continuing: "But, if Isildur's family name had been Boffin, everyone would know as soon as Aragorn introduced himself as 'Mr. Aragorn Boffin' whose heir he was."
The looks on Eomer and Faramir's faces at that answer made Pippin add quickly: "Not that his family name would be Boffin, of course."
"So not only do you know who you are directly related to with a family name, your name will also be unique. We hobbits could all name our sons Aragorn and their letters would never be mixed up in the post, because of the different family names," finished Merry.
Eomer nodded at this, clearly agreeing that there was some point to be made in this case. But Faramir had not been paying attention to this last part, and said rather abruptly: "If Elessar's family name would not be Boffin, what would it be?"
Merry blinked. "Well, some family names are related to occupations. Some men in Bree have a family name of Smith because the first to choose a second name was a blacksmith. Some family names don't make sense any more, like Baggins. Others are related to obvious things, but no one knows why now, like Heathertoes. And others are related to whoever founded the family, like the Tooks. The first "Took" was named Took, so his family took on his name after that."
"So Elessar's second name would be Elendil, because he is of the House of Elendil?" mused Faramir.
"Mr. Elessar Elendil, King of Gondor," said Pippin with an utterly straight face. "Very likely."
"And Eomer is of the House of Eorl."
"Mr. Eomer Eorl, King of Rohan."
"And I am of the House of Hurin."
"Mr. Faramir Hurin, Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien."
"It is not displeasing, I suppose," concluded Faramir. "Especially if it would mean never again having to introduce myself as Faramir-son-of-Denethor. A bit wearisome after a while, to tell the truth."
"What does 'Mister' mean?" asked Eomer curiously.
"Master," answered Pippin. "In your cases, Lord would probably be more proper, but we don't really have lords in the Shire."
"One last question," said Faramir. "When two people marry, what family name do they take?"
"The woman takes the man's, as far as I know," said Merry.
"Maintaining the legality of the male line, of course," murmured Faramir to himself.
"I still don't know what that means," said Pippin, but Faramir did not answer.
"So what do you think, Eomer?" asked Merry.
"I think it has some merit," said Eomer. "I have noticed a fair amount of babes being named Eomer, and it might be confusing later in life."
"'Eomer has wet his diaper! No, the baby, not the King'," said Pippin in a falsetto. He and Merry dissolved into giggles, but Eomer appeared unamused.
At this point the door opened and Aragorn walked in, and began to cough at the excessive amounts of smoke in the room.
Faramir looked up: "Good afternoon, Mr. Elendil."
Eomer blinked. The two hobbits choked. Aragorn stared.
"It might take some time to convince people, Pip," said Merry with a sigh.
A/N: Just so things are clear, I do not approve of the smoking (or alcohol consumption, for that matter) that Tolkien characters indulge in...however, when writing fanfiction, I do not believe it is acceptable to change the universe simply for a personal belief, so I include even smoking.
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.