Goodnight, My Father; Goodnight, My Son
1. Good Night
The King Theoden laughed. “Alright, my son, I will tell you a story.” Theodred stopped pretending to be asleep and sat up to listen to his father’s tale. The King paused for a moment, then began speaking. “Once upon a time, there was a young Prince of Rohan who went to bed when his Father told him, got a good night’s rest, and went on to be the best king Rohan ever saw. The end.”
This time, it was Theodred’s turn to laugh. “I meant a real story, Father!” he said.
“That was a real story,” replied the King. “It had everything a story needs to have: a plot, a character, and a setting. And if you go to bed right now, who knows? Maybe we can make it a true story.”
Theodred paused. “Do you really think I’ll make a good king, Father? I don’t think I will. Or, at least, I’ll never be as good a king as you are.”
“I think you’ll do fine,” said Theoden, leaning in towards his son. “But you shouldn’t be worrying about that now. You’re still just a boy! Once you have your studies and your friendships and your chores under control, then we can talk about ruling the kingdom of Rohan.”
Theodred laughed again. “Tell me the story about the Ents, Father. You know that one’s my favorite.”
“You could tell it to me!” laughed Theoden. “You know it better than I!”
“But you don’t need a bedtime story,” said the young prince matter-of-factly. “You’re a grown-up!”
Theoden smiled wistfully at his son. “Yes, I am. But when you get to be my age, dear Theodred, you will long for childhood just as I do now.”
Theodred was puzzled by his Father’s words. “What do you mean, I will long for childhood? Why would I want to be a child, who has to worry about studies and chores, when I could be an adult? When I could be carefree?”
The King of Rohan laughed so hard at this that his son felt a little hurt. “That’s exactly what I mean, Father!” said Theodred. “No one takes children seriously! Every time I try to have a serious discussion with an adult, they laugh and say ‘Why don’t you go outside and play, Theodred?’ ‘Why don’t you leave this matter in the hands of us adults?’”
Theoden stopped laughing and merely smiled. “Mark my words, dear son of mine, the time will come when you wish people said that to you again.” The King yawned. “Now, I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired!”
“I’m not tired at all!” whined Theodred. “How can you be tired? You’re an adult! You’re not supposed to get tired.” Theodred shook his head. It seemed he knew more about adulthood than his father did!
“And little boys from Rohan aren’t supposed to feed their vegetables to their dogs,” said the King, his eyes twinkling.
Theodred forced a smile and said weakly, “It was hungry?”
Theoden laughed again. “I’m sure it was. But don’t worry, Theodred, I’m willing to keep this our little secret-”
Theodred’s smile broadened.
“-if you go to bed right now,” finished Theoden.
Theodred sighed in exasperation. “Fine,” he said, lying down and rolling over to his side. “I guess I am sort of tired.” The prince yawned and his eyes started to droop. “I guess.”
The King smiled at his son. “Good night, Theodred.”
“Good night, Father.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
As his father blew out the candle that was on the bedside and staggered out into the hallway, Theodred noticed that his Father did look tired.
‘Maybe being an adult is harder than I thought,’ thought Theodred as he rolled over, yawned again, and shut his eyes. ‘I mean, adults do have to worry about us children, and cook and clean for us, but that’s about it. I think Father lets on that being King is a lot easier than it actually is. He always seems tired, but all he does is boss people around and tuck me into bed at night.’ The young prince yawned again. ‘I can’t wait till I’m all grown up,’ was his final thought has he dropped off to sleep.
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.