1. Over the Hill
A little piece of nonsense written for Doctor Gamgee's fortieth birthday.
What luck, thought Eowyn, that the royalty of Gondor and Rohan should come together for council at this time on this year. Knowing without asking that her brother would support her if he but heard, she began by explaining the basics of her plan to Faramir, who, of course, objected. Eowyn was used to that.
"Come now, my love," she wheedled, putting all her charm into it and looking about for Eomer. "It would be a wonderful experience, and moreover, a Rohirric tradition."
"Absolutely not," declared Faramir. "I am but forty years of age, and there is nothing about that age that is, as you put it, 'over the hill'."
"But Faramir," she continued, eyes wide and sincere, "you are quite old."
His spluttering was quite enjoyable, but she hid her smile.
"I am not old," he said. "Not a smidgen of it."
"Yes, you are," said Eomer, emerging from another group to join them. "Quite old. Why I am but one and thirty!"
"As I am but seven and twenty," answered Eowyn. "My love, you are old indeed."
Faramir said nothing, eying the two with scarcely hidden disapproval. He looked around the room, and called to his aid one whom he was sure would ally with him: "My lord! Elessar!"
The king, aged three and ninety, raised his eyebrows and said: "Yes?"
"Is it a reasonable situation to throw a celebration for a person turning forty, with the purpose of welcoming them to old age?"
Aragorn paused for a moment, seeing Faramir's almost pleading face, and Eomer and Eowyn's wickedly delighted ones. "Of course," he snorted. "It is tradition, Faramir."
"Your favorite thing," said Eomer with an evil look.
"Can no one understand that I only honor traditions worthy of it?" Faramir responded with a frustration born of long endurance with this subject.
"Such as the one that calls for the King to wear disgustingly embroidered robes to every Council meeting?" muttered Aragorn as he turned away.
"That was quite an honorable tradition," retorted Faramir. "And the word you are searching for is delicately, not disgustingly."
But Aragorn was gone, and Faramir turned to face his Rohirric relations again, cringing at the glee that shone from their faces. "For the last time, please, I beg you," he said, "I am not old."
But before another word could be said, Legolas slid up behind Faramir, putting an arm round his shoulder and smiling down upon brother and sister with a youthlike demeanor. "Of course you are not, Faramir. Why, you are but a child, scarcely older than these babes I see before me."
And with a flashing grin, he turned and whisked himself away, leaving the Steward of Gondor fairly smug, and the King of Rohan magnificently smoldering.
"As you can see," said Faramir smoothly, "holding this party now would be quite out of place. If you should choose to do so in, say, forty years, I should not make ruckus. But if nothing else is convincing, let you both know that if you declare me elderly at forty years of age, what would you call the Lady Galadriel?"
"Nothing that is not flattering, of course," growled Gimli, the latest eavesdropper.
As Faramir departed, triumphant, it was in Eomer's mind to call out the word 'ancient' in answer, defying the rhetoric nature of the question and Gimli at the same time, but Eowyn spotted his look, and spoke quickly: "Eomer, we must admit that have been outdone, by Gondorians and Elves no less. But think you for a moment of the benefits—if Faramir has it not done to him, neither shall it be done to us."
"So say you, oh happy resident of Gondor," murmured Eomer, sighing. "Elfhelm, despite his name, knows nothing of Elvish ways, and will not care what has been decided today. It will not matter how youthful I may be in nine years: it shall happen."
"Halig mearas, Eomer, are you envying Gondor?" queried Eowyn, eyes open wide.
"Of course not!" snorted Eomer. He wrapped one arm around Eowyn and leaned in, whispering: "Yes, in this matter, of course, but let it never be known."
Eowyn chuckled. "Of course. Worry not, my brother, I shall not even tell my quite elderly husband." And with a twinkle in her eye, she departed in search of Faramir again.
A/N: Halig mearas is Rohirric for "holy horses"