Login

Lost Password?

Create New Account

Us

Chapter 1: Us

by ZeeDrippyVessel

Us


His, Mine, and Ours


Part Five of Six



A/N: This is the fifth part of an on-going series – His, Mine, and Ours. It is STRONGLY suggested you read them first. They can be found here on this site, with the rest of my fiction.

Title: Us (part 5 of His, Mine, and Ours)
Author: ZeesMuse
Fandom: LOTR
Characters: Éomer, OCs
Beta:AlexCat
Rating: PG for language



Éomer
IV 58


There was a time, hours in the saddle were looked forward to.

Once.

There was a time the thunder of Rohan stormed our lands, joined with Gondor. The king of Rohan and the king of Gondor were great friends and when we came together with our equines, none dared stand against our combined might. What remained of the Orcs and Hadrians trembled at the sound of our hooves!

But it had been quiet for a long time. Orcs and the Oliphants were long gone. There was no need for thundering hooves.

For not the first time, I looked down on the settlement, the far flung farms, a healthy garrison, and if I looked beyond the ripe fields and the trees, I would see flashes of a sparkling river where I spent many hours with my former captain and my sons fishing. Many thought Éomer King of Rohan came to oversee the garrison and to spend the time with his former captain and long friend.

But that wasn't necessarily true.

“Sire, will you be staying in the village or the garrison?” Éothain sat by my side for many years and no amount of begging or cajoling from me or his wife and children would get him to leave it. This trip, I promised, this trip would be our last together. The Horselord had as hard a time getting into the saddle as his king. He had served his time. His wife and family were long overdue.

I continued to stare out across the plains. Rohan, a sea of wheat and grass...

“I do not know,” I admitted reluctantly. “I need to -” my voice drifted off.

Éothain nodded. He sensed my weariness long ago. He knew my secrets and he kept them, for that I was grateful. “I'll take this rabble,” he nodded to the twenty or so Rohirrim horsemen behind us, “on to the garrison then. We won't wait up.” This made me smile. “And don't stay out all night. Rohirrim!” And with that, he and the riders moved forward and towards the south, towards the garrison I built many years before. I waited and watched and they slowly moved down the hill, waited until they were long out of earshot and eyeshot.

Deep melancholy over took me.

I should turn around, go back. However, the reins of the country were firmly in the capable grip of my heir. There was no reason to ever go back. I could just turn and wander the Eastemnet as long as I wished, let no one know. My wishes for the end of my life were already dictated to a Gondorian scribe and made very clear to my children with Lothiriel. I made provisions for Edric and Wudurose.

The weight in my chest deepened.

With a sigh, I nudged Firefall down the hill. He was the last Mearas I would break, train, would ride. Enough was enough. Luckily enough for me, Firefall was tired as well, or he sensed my mood.

No more thundering for us.

For a short time, I thought to visit my son first, but I was in a keening mood, barely hanging on to my sanity and I did not believe he would know what to do with me.

But she would.

As I came down the hill, I looked over the giant spread. The main house now belonged to Edric; his wife of many years planted flora and climbing things around the porch and the fence into the fields. It was beautiful and had I not been of Rohan's royal lineage, I would have been happy there.

Would have. Would have.

There was an additional building off a ways. It was bigger than the barn, large and open. My eldest son was a blacksmith, and even from this distance, I could see the smoke rising from the great hole in the center. He would know I was here, sooner or later.

Off to the west, was another spread, Ánmédla's. She and my daughter had been close as rats the few times I brought the family to the garrison. Years and adulthood distanced them and, for that, I was sorry.

To the north was a smaller farm. Originally built for Gamling, it had passed hands many times as their family expanded and grew. Edric and his bride dwelt there for a year, before building a home in the village, next to the smithy. Her family had been stunned when I attended their wedding and insisted on being one of the three to catch them the following morning in his cloak. I think at some point, Edric told her who I was, not just king, but father. The first few years, I would catch her peaking at me, trying to decide. Their eldest son lived there now. That smithy was only used in times of need.

I turned my mount towards Gamling's original farm. Once, he regaled me with stories of its building, not enough seed, a pig running loose in the mud, his complete and total inability to understand what all was needed to homestead. He was a soldier, by Béma! Not a farmer.

But it had been his choice and I was so thankful for it.

There was a railing in front of the house and I pulled up to it, dismounting. My back ached and had ugly things to say about me. When had this happened? As I lowered myself down to the ground, the despicable reality that my riding days were close to an end became abundantly clear. Returning to Edoras or Aldburg anytime soon was not in my near future. For not the first time, I wondered if anyone would think I'd fallen on my head if I requested my son – or anyone for that matter – to allow me to purchase a small piece of property to build my own little homestead or perhaps, set up residence at the garrison.

My family would think I had gone around the bend, so to speak, much like Elfhelm had the latter years of his life. In the end, he didn't know anyone, his wife, his children. It was a horrible passing for them, although I think they were relieved, in a way. One never knew when he would ride naked through his homestead, calling up the muster of Rohirrim; I daresay his children saw much more of him then they wished!

I straightened my back, pushing away unwanted thoughts. In my mind, Elfhelm was still the joyful Marshal who went to war with enthusiasm.

Clothed!

There was singing coming around the corner. My head jerked up and I pulled my helmet from my head.

I turned, recognizing the voice. Sure enough, Wudurose came around the porch, a basket of I suppose laundry on her hip. Her hair was no longer that Rohirrim shade of honey-blonde. Considering her age, she would still be considered slender. She stood tall as a reed.

“Wudurose?”

Her head shot up. “Éomer? What-”

“I need your advice.” It came out much stronger than I expected. I knew my bravado would not last long. I had been holding this in for almost two moons.

She slid the basket on the porch and taking my helmet, put it next to her laundry, reached for my hand. “Surely, but I have no idea how I could give you any advice. You have councilmen-” she led me up the steps and over to the long swing at the side. She sat, leaving me room to sink next to her.

“Not for this.” I took a deep breath and discovered I couldn't find the words. “Let me stand. I have been too long in the saddle.”

For many minutes, I looked over the fields, inspected them from afar. It would soon be harvest, to judge from the height of the wheat, the corn. Finally-

“How do you do it? When you lost Gamling, how did-”

“Oh, Éomer.” I could hear the pain in her voice. “We heard about Lothiriel last moon.”

“News travels slowly to the edges of my kingdom.”

“I'm so sorry. We are so sorry.” She reached over and took my hand.

My focus remained on the crops. “I don't know... what to feel. How to... cope. She was my everything.” I snapped my mouth shut. Many decades ago, the woman holding my hand was my everything. In some ways, she still was. “I'm sorry, I-”

“You're fine.” There was a gentleness there. “I understand. I'm glad you loved her. I'm glad she loved you back. I would hurt to think you spent so many years, married to a woman you didn't love or who didn't love you.” Her smile was sad. “Tell me.” Finally, we sank together in the swing.

My right hand became a claw. “I have a lump here,” I clutched my heart, “and here,” I clutched my throat. “There was the funeral, the singing, the planting of the simbelmynë. Everything went by so fast and then she was buried and gone and everyone returned to their lives. My children returned to their lives, their own children. I told myself I was strong for them and... and... and...”

“You've not grieved.”

“Grieve?” The statement shocked me. “How do I grieve? I don't know how!”

Both hands were now clasping my one. “When Gamling died, I wanted to crawl into the grave with him. It was horrible.” Gamling, my faithful captain, passed away fifteen years earlier. I - along with two of my sons - had been at the garrison when it happened, so I vividly remembered his funeral. Wudurose had been stalwart, sang him into Béma's arms, until everyone was gone, save me and the family. She collapsed on this very porch and I carried her to her bed. She removed one of her hands from mine. “I had that same lump here,” her hand hovered over her heart, “and here.” That same hand went to her throat. “Béma, I cried and cried and cried. I cried for days.”

“I don't know how to cry,” I whispered.

“Tell me about her.”

Still staring at the fields, I began to talk. I talked about our wedding, the foreignness of it. How some of her people stared at me, my people, as if we were strange. Heathen, I heard one servant say. 'Our beautiful princess is marrying a heathen!' I told her funny stories, her struggle to learn our language. Early on, some things that came out of her mouth were not what she intended. Her shock at the openness of horse breeding, the care we gave to our equine bloodlines.

I told her about the first time she watched a mating.

And when I wrapped her in my cloak that first night back in Edoras after our marriage.

I told her of Edric's first meeting with my queen. That initially Lothiriel was jealous because Edric was – in her words – carved from my rod and she hadn't been able to give me a son that looked so much like me.

I don't know how long I talked about my very gentle queen, with the backbone of mithril.

At some point, I was aware my face was wet. And when I couldn't talk anymore, I fell over with my head in Wudurose's lap.

Sobbing.

~~~...~~~


I do not know how long I cried and I do not believe it mattered. Not to Wudurose and certainly not to me. I do know that when I ran out of tears, I felt emptied and out of breath.

“Will I do this again?” I feared now that the gate was opened, this flood of emotion would hit anytime.

“More than likely, yes.” My heart fell. I could cry in front of this woman, but my children? Grandchildren? “It's cleansing. Women know this well. This first full seasonal cycle is hard. Birthdays, anniversaries, holy days. Death Days. Special days.” She was stroking my hair away from my face. “I remember the exact day Gamling asked me to marry him.” I sat up as she pointed to a rise above her original homestead. “Right there, after the sunset, we sat on that hill, wrapped in his cloak, talking. Edric,” she smiled, “had been quite rude.” I snorted at that. I could imagine my first born had been quite the handful, growing up. “He demanded Gamling make an honest woman of me. Mind you,” she shook her finger at me, “we had not shared a bed or coupled in the barn, but apparently the town was talking because that man was at my house every night for dinner. He asked and married me the next day.” She became quiet for a moment or two. “Every year, on the ninth new moon after the winter solstice, I used to go and sit in the same spot, wrapped in his cloak.” She gave a sad smile. “I don't think I will this year. I had a difficult time getting off the ground last year.”

I leaned over and whispered, “Gamling was a horrible cook.”

“I know that well!”

“No, you do not understand.” Humor was in my voice for the first time since Lothiriel caught the wasting sickness that took her from me. “When we were on campaign and riding the Riddermark, he was asked once to take a turn with the cooking pots. Many a man, including himself, took the galloping shits after eating his food. He was as bad as Éowyn! I warned Faramir. He did not believe me then. He does now.”

Wudurose was giggling. “And you?”

I was staring back out at the fields. “Once. Just once.” I nodded to the tall corn. “How long before you harvest?”

Wudurose shrugged. “We've cut the wheat twice and it will be ready for a third and final cutting in a little over a week. The corn and other vegetables will be ready to be harvested in a few days.” She snarled. “Reminds me I need to get the giant cooking pots, wood, jars, and honey ready for canning.” She patted me on the leg. “Are you hungry?”

For the first time since Lothiriel's death, I was starving. Wudurose didn't cook the fancy fare of my hall, but hardy food, made with such love. “Aye.” She stood up and held her hand out to me.

“I have enough pheasant for both of us to put on the spit.” I put my hand in hers and pulled up. “Carrots, potatoes.”

“Sounds wonderful.”

“I have bread rising and I made an apple pie this afternoon.”

I suspected I would be too fat to get on my horse anytime soon. And that was fine with me. I grabbed my helmet and her basket of clothes. “You cook, I'll fold these.”

She tilted her head sideways. “Do you know how to fold clothes?”

I gave her my most offended look. “I pack saddlebags, Wudurose.”

She led me into the abode, laughing.

~~~...~~~


Sitting at Wudurose's table was the finest dinner I had had in some years. The conversation was light, humorous, and filled with the occasional 'Do you remember when-'. She told me stories of Edric, his stubbornness and his protectiveness of her. The struggles between him and Gamling. Gamling was ever patient, never lost his temper. She told me of Gamling's time before he asked her to marry her; the first time Gamling showed up; a rainy evening with promises from a man she had not seen in some summers. I now understood why Edric disliked the man from the start, although it was no fault of his or my captain's own. Through the years, their relationship calmed, grew close. We discussed the things we learned from our spouses, our children.

I ate until I didn't think I could move from my chair. By the time I realized it was way past dark, it dawned on me I had no lamp or lantern to make my way to the garrison or the inn in the settlement.

“I believe I am in a predicament.”

Wudurose's eyebrows rose.

“I have over-stayed my visit.” I shrugged, something that made my back hurt. “It is dark and I have no lamp.” I took a breath. “I suppose I can sleep in the barn. Do you have an extra blanket?”

“No.” My former lover shook her head. “The barn isn't comfortable at our age. You are too long to sleep on my swing and I'll not have you on the floor.” She nodded into the corner where a very large bed sat. “The bed is more than enough for two. You will not bother me.” She shrugged, cutting off my retort. “Gamling hated riding in the dark the last few years of his life. He refused.” The smile she gave me was apologetic. “Truth be told, I cannot ride in the dark anymore, as well.”

I had been clearing the table and I found myself standing over her. “Wudurose,” I whispered. “I cannot,” I nodded back and forth. This was embarrassing. “I cannot... you know.”

She stood up and took the plates from me. “I didn't ask if you could. I would tell you no if you asked. This is not pity and I wouldn't have you think such.” She moved to the sidebar and put the dishes in a large bucket. “Grief hurts! No one can replace a loved one who is gone! It is an emptiness that doesn't go away and mindless coupling will not help what you are feeling! I would not do that to you! How long has it been since you have truly rested?” She didn't wait for me to answer. “Just like you haven't eaten and haven't grieved! Go put your horse in the barn and feed him and the others. You need rest and so does he.” With that, she picked up two large pails and exited before me to apparently pump water for the dishes. “Oh,” she spat in Wudurose-fashion, “you will wash your armpits and feet before you get in that bed!” She stopped and turned to face me. “Do you still snore?”

I ducked my head. “Horribly,” I mumbled.

She sighed. “Well, Gamling was worse.” The door swung as she strode to the pump.

~~~...~~~


The smell of strong caffe woke me the next morning. I rolled over to see Wudurose with her back to me, singing softly under her breath. As I pulled on my clothes and tied them together, I could also smell pig strips. I mumbled morning greetings.

“How did you sleep?”

I stretched my back, listening to it crack like tree branches in a harsh storm. It dawned on me I had slept long and hard; dreamlessly. Better than I had in many moons; since my Queen's illness and death. “Very well.” I began to look for a private chamber before mentally kicking myself. This was one room.

“If you will feed the animals and release them into the grazing pasture, not the kitchen garden, you will find a small privy behind the barn. You'll feel better and you can come back and break your fast. How do you like your eggs and how many do you wish?”

Eggs were a delicacy when out in the saddle for a long time. The kitchens in Edoras and Aldburg served up fancy things that became tiring after a while and the way I liked my eggs were often 'tsked' at. Oft times I heard whispers of how that was how children ate their eggs, so I stopped and resigned myself to 'grown-up' eggs I didn't like. Poached or barely cooked. I decided as long as I was here, I would eat my eggs as I liked, childish or no! “Three. Scrambled.” Wudurose grinned and smiled. She waved to the door, reminding me the animals were past due their morning oats.

The first place I sought out was the privy. Sometimes, it is a rush to get to the chamber or bush. After I finished with that business, I let the animals into the field, making sure it wasn't a garden of any sorts and filled the feed and water troughs. As I returned from the barn, a crazy idea came upon me. “Wudurose,” I shouted loudly. “What say you and I get married? We get along, we work well together, I want to help you with your harvest! I wanted to marry you before the war!” I came around the side of the house “Besides, it would shock the children! I can just imagine the look-”

“Really?”

My head jerked up to see Edric, Éothain, and what seemed to be several of Edric's grandsons behind them.

Edric's smile was forced. “I thought this man was insane when he showed up at my home and told me the King of Rohan left his company yesterday eve and thought he was with me or at the inn. And now I not only find you at my mother's homestead, but you proposing marriage?” He gritted his teeth in a forced smile. “A bit late for that, isn't it?”

I heard the door open. “He came by to give me greetings. We had dinner and talked late into the night, so he spent the night here.” The young men began to snicker, but quickly hushed when Wudurose scolded them. “Neither the King of Rohan or I answer to you!” The young Riders straitened up immediately, upon realizing they were laughing at their sovereign. She jutted her chin towards the barn. “Mind your manners! Have you broken your fast? Even if you did, you have hollow legs. Grab the basket on the end of the porch and go to the barn to gather some eggs. Grab a portion of sliced pork for all of you as well.” The teens hooted and tying their horses to the railing, jumped from their saddles and ambled towards the barn. Edric had the decency to wait until they were out of earshot and in the barn.

“Mother-”

“I don't answer to you, either. He and I have been friends for a very long time-”

“It was a crazy thought and I am grieving,” I interrupted. “It is a hurt I would not wish on anyone and I came for advice from the one person I trusted to give it. If it saves you from worrying, I will go into the village tonight and find a bed.” I rubbed my back. “The barracks at the garrison are for young Riders.”

Edric shook his head. “No. Our home has empty rooms. And I daresay, the beds in our guest rooms are more comfortable than the ones in the inn or garrison.”

Éothain had come down from his saddle and tied his horse to the rail. He nodded to Wudurose. “I am glad he has you to talk to.” He leaned forward. “He looks better this morning than he has in many moons.”

“Good food and a willing ear.”

Edric relaxed.

The boys made much noise coming from the barn. As they approached the rest of us, one began to speak. “Sire-”

“No,” Edric interrupted with a sigh, “You do not call him that.”

Everyone's eyes, with the exception of Wudurose, became wide. “What do we call you?”

“Is it alright?”

For the first time since I discovered he walked the earth, my smile reached from ear to ear. “I have waited for this day for many seasons.”

I noticed Edric's shoulders relaxed. “You call him,” he said softly, “ealdfæder.”

~~~...~~~

fini

~~~...~~~


ealdfæder – grandfather


Started - 08/20/2020
Finished – 04/03/2021



Éomer Éadig or The Blessed, King of Rohan, died in IV63 when he was 93 and was succeeded by his son Elfwine. He was 5 or 6 years older then Lothiriel