23. What the Banner Said
"Did Father show it to you?" He lifted his face to hers, a sly twinkle in his eyes.
"No. I didn’t know your father very well, then. The war had just ended." She paused and let her gaze wander toward the shadow of the eastern mountains and her heartbeat quickened, but not in fear. She leaned back against the tree and sighed. "When I first saw your father, he was standing among a cluster of golden haired warriors, but I saw only him. He looked fair and handsome, just like you, but something was amiss; I had to look twice to realize what it was: his shoulders were always taut and rigid, and his smile vague, wistful. Then I learned that his Uncle had died and he had found himself King of the Eorlingas. How my heart grieved!"
"Why? Weren’t you happy for him?"
"I could not be happy, then. The memory of my cousin’s face as he realized he was Steward was written in my heart, and I recognized in Éomer’s eyes the same odd flicker, the same set of his mouth, the tightened jaw, the shoulders... he was not happy, Elfwine. He was afraid.
"Afraid?" He sat upright. "Why would he be afraid? To be King was his job!"
"Aye, for it was, and he knew it all to well. A job which he had never expected to have, a duty that he thought was too grand for him, a position that should have been filled by another..." She closed her eyes, and only realized she was gripping her son’s arm too tightly when she felt him shift in her hold. "The first time I came to Edoras, I came to King Théoden’s funeral. The Mark was sad, but the white horse on green stood firm as did your father, your aunt, your people. So many sacrifices were made for us to have what we do now! So many precious lives were lost! Your father knew and regretted it, but I think he must have seen the banner too, for after that day he was a different man. His smile brightened again."
He squared his shoulders and looked toward the flag in front of the hall. "So, the banner reminded him of his heritage?"
"It did. The banner told him that this was his destiny, and he understood."
"What about you, mama? What about your destiny?"
"The second time I came to Edoras, your father did show me the banner, and it spoke to me."
"What did it say?"
She smiled. "It said that my destiny was here, too."
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.