“Can you spare a few moments for an Uncle, nephew?”
Theoan looked up into the surprisingly grave face of King Éomer Éadig and swallowed once before nodding. Sometimes, when they were at official functions or he had the look he did now, Theoan remembered that his Uncle was, in fact, a king. Other times, most of the time, he was just Uncle Éomer who had taught him to ride and teased him about spending too much time with his nose in a book.
As Éomer King led him to a quiet spot, just away from the large garden where Theoan’s birthday celebration was being conducted, Theoan tried to remember if he had done anything wrong lately. He could not think of anything and he knew if he had it was likely his father, or worse, his mother, would have been the one to have a few words with him, but the look his Uncle was wearing indicated that he was going to get a serious talk.
“It is not every day,” Éomer King began when they were away from the noise of the party, “that a boy becomes a young man and at fifteen you are now a man in the eyes of the law.”
Theoan swallowed but... he knew for certain he had not broken any laws! Well, unless... He had nicked an apple or two from an orchard a few months...
“This meant a bit more when I was a boy,” Éomer King continued, “for then we needed soldiers all the more.”
Theoan fought not to sigh in relief. Not about the apples then. Maybe Uncle Éomer wanted him to become a soldier? Theoan resisted the urge to squirm a bit. He knew there were those who were disappointed about his decision but he had no plans to become a soldier. He knew how to use a sword well enough, he supposed, but a soldier... it was not something he was inclined towards.
“All the same, it is time you received a proper weapon,” Éomer King told him and Theoan became aware, for the first time, that the sword his Uncle carried was not his own.
Éomer handed the sheathed sword to his nephew and Theoan took it uncertainly. Éomer smiled just slightly and very wistfully. “It belonged, once, to your namesake.”
Éomer smothered a chuckle at the look of bewilderment that crossed his nephew’s face. Well, Éomer supposed if the boy was unlikely to use it in battle at least he would, like his father, care for it in a... historical context.
“I thought it was buried with him,” Theoan murmured, looking with unshielded awe at the sword.
“For whatever reason it was not. It was brought back and has laid unused, gathering dust, for some time,” Éomer told him. “We thought, perhaps, to bury it with King Théoden but I decided such a thing was better kept.”
Theoan bit his lip, thinking for a moment. “Why? And why give it to me? I am no soldier, not really, not like Elboron.”
“Elboron is not his namesake,” Éomer told him. “And I think he will be inheriting enough
Theoan smiled, just briefly. He had never once envied his big brother for all the titles he would inherit. Theoan had been happy not having to think about filling the very large footsteps his father was leaving.
Still, a sword like this...
“It just seems that maybe it should have been sent with his father,” Theoan looked up at his Uncle. “Then, it is not much, it is not enough, but then he would have gotten a proper burial and been with his kin.”
“There is no greater honour than to be buried upon ground made sacred by your spilt blood nor kin so close as brothers-in-arms to be buried with,” Éomer told him gently. “We buried something else of Théodred’s with his father, so they might be joined in death, nephew, do not fret of that.”
Éomer wondered what his still young nephew would think of what they had buried with King Théoden. A cloth horse made by the hand of a loving, expectant mother, cherished and saved by a big-hearted Prince even when it lost an eye and had to be sewed by an inexpert hand to keep it from falling to pieces.
Éomer thought it mattered little. Both had earned their place in the halls of their ancestors and, as such, would have been reunited.
“I...” Theoan swallowed. “It is not that I am not glad to have it. I am. I am honoured to be
gifted such a thing but... I do not think it will find much use in my hand and perhaps... I am not sure I am worthy of it.”
Theoan blushed, looked down, and shifted uncomfortably. Éomer’s eyes softened and he rose the boy’s face to meet his gaze with a gentle hand.
“I think,” Éomer said truthfully, “my cousin would be very glad that there is not the need for you to use it as he did and I know that he would think you worthy of it. Men of peace are needed as much as men of war today, if not more, and given the choice I am wont to think Théodred would have liked to be a man of peace.”
Theoan flushed a nearly amusing shade of scarlet and, without warning, threw his arms about his Uncle as was not in his character. “Thank you, Uncle. I... I... It is a wonderful gift I am just sorry he is not still using it.”
Éomer hugged his nephew back tightly. For a moment he wondered what his cousin would think of all that had happened, of the days of peace they had thought, in scattered moments of despair, would never come. Looking down at the golden, Rohirric looking nephew of his, he smiled in great joy.
“Me also, nephew, but there are none I would want to carry it in his stead, save you,” Éomer told him. Theoan smiled shyly at him and pulled away. Éomer clamped a friendly hand on his shoulder. “Come, now is a day to be glad and we are missing a party!”
Éomer watched as Theoan rejoined his friends and his big brother slapped him heartily on the back and made a fuss over his new sword. Rohan’s King smiled to himself before slipping away again, this time into the house.
He bypassed the people mingling inside, mostly adults, leaving their children to their own party until the official business of the Steward’s son turning fifteen began. It would, hopefully, be brief, for Theoan hated the fuss. He still blushed around the King, especially when reminded that he had often escaped from the nursery in Minas Tirith without a stitch of clothing on and, as the King’s apartments were located closely to the Steward’s it was often the King of Gondor and Arnor to return him to his frazzled nurse.
He caught the eye of that same King. Elessar jerked his head in the direction of the stairs.
Éomer nodded in response.
He managed to make his way to the study without being drawn into a conversation with any of the clusters of nobles about. This was an easier task since he had been married as all the single women in the room no longer flocked about him like overeager pigs at the troth.
He found the Steward of Gondor reclining on the couch in his study, the curtains drawn and his brother by law’s face pale and weary. His eyes were closed when Éomer entered the room but as he made to leave, unwilling to disturb his friend if he had found some rest, the grey eyes opened.
“How are you feeling, brother?” Éomer asked, keeping his voice quiet.
Faramir sat slowly and rubbed a hand over his eyes, blinking owlishly for a moment. “Not as I should on such a happy day.”
“That is hardly your fault,” Éomer pointed out.
Faramir smiled thinly, his face pale. “Did he enjoy the present?”
Éomer looked at his brother by law with compassion. Faramir had been dreaming of late, as he had not for quite some time. Worry brought it on. Worry of another son being of the age to join the military, though Theoan had no desire to do so. Worry of his first son who would soon move from the White Guard, where he was relatively safe, to a company which often enough faced combat, even if it was not large scale combat.
And the approaching anniversary of Boromir’s death, exactly one week after Theoan’s birthday, did not help matters.
Theoan harboured no bitterness about his father’s less than well state on his birthday. He knew enough about the visions to know he was lucky, and very glad, not to have inherited that particular gift. And he certainly did not mind that the King’s attention was diverted away from him and onto the Steward for awhile.
It helped, too, that he adored his father very greatly.
“Yes, once the absolute awe dimmed a little,” Éomer replied carefully. Having a son of his own, having lost so much of his family to war, he understood Faramir’s fears and knew well it had to be for one who had never taken pleasure in the games of war as he had.
“Is it wrong of me to say I hope he never uses it and it does little more than gather dust in his room?” Faramir’s grey eyes looked intently at him and Éomer found himself hard pressed to meet that gaze.
He swallowed and shook his head. “I wish it now resided in the Meduseld, sitting beside the throne and gathering dust by King Théodred’s side.”
Faramir smiled sadly and rubbed a hand over his forehead. Very few knew that his second son was not named for King Théoden but Prince Théodred, who had died a day before Boromir, Heir to the Stewardship.
Elboron, born first, was named for the second. Éowyn had expressed the desire to name a
second son after her departed cousin, like to her a brother, when pregnant with their elder
daughter Morwen. That it could be a reminded of Théoden too was an after thought.
“May our children,” Faramir said quietly. “Lead quiet lives and die old, old men.”
“Not the toast your son is expecting, I believe,” Éomer told him.
Faramir chuckled, “No probably not.”
He rose and Éomer could see him visibly collect himself. Éomer frowned, wishing his brother by law had more time to rest.
“I shall have to work on a better one,” Faramir said with another slight smile. “Come, brother, else the hens shall begin to cluck of our absence!”
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.