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3
Théoden

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognizable characters; I am only borrowing them for fun for a little while. They belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Many thanks to my wonderful Beta’s, Marsha and J.

Author’s Note: Raksha rightly pointed out that the people of Rohan did not refer to themselves as Rohirrim as that is a Sindarin word, but they called themselves Eorlingas. I have changed chapter one to reflect that and all future references will, of course, be Eorlingas. Thanks, Raksha.

This chapter is a little short, but it did what I needed it to do!


~~~

“Father, I found Éomer and Éowyn,” Théodred announced as he stopped in the open doorway of his father’s study. Théoden looked up from the ledger in which he was writing, his gaze shifting from his son to his nephew before coming to rest on his niece. He took in her tear stained face, the grass stained and dirty dress she was wearing, and the doll she was clutching tightly. A quick glance back at Éomer showed that his breeches were also stained but there was no evidence of tears, not that he particularly expected the boy to show his emotions that way. Théoden sighed inwardly; he should have expected something of this sort even though he didn’t know exactly what had happened. He simply had to find more time to spend with them. But for now he simply smiled kindly at the children and looked back at his son.

“Thank you. Come in, all of you and be seated.” Théoden stood, coming around his desk and ushering them to chairs around the hearth, though no fire was burning on the warm autumn day. It wasn’t until they walked into the room that Théoden realized Éowyn was holding tight to his son’s hand. As far as he knew, the two of them had barely spoken with each other since the two children had become members of his household and he wondered just what had happened in the short time Théodred had been gone. He, himself, did not know the children well, especially Éowyn, as there had been few occasions in the last few years for him to travel to Aldburg or for Théodwyn to bring the children to Edoras. And Théodred had met them only twice, one time being soon after Éowyn was born.

Éomer and Éowyn sat close together on a small couch near the hearth and, noticing their uneasiness, Théoden smiled again as he sat down across from them. Théodred took a chair next to the children. Deciding to wait and speak with his son later about whatever had happened outside, Théoden got right to the point.

“I’ve decided that it’s time to resume your lessons,” he said eyeing the two closely. They needed to have some sort of normalcy back in their lives and he hoped that daily lessons would help provide that.

“In swordplay?” Éomer asked cautiously, though he didn’t really believe his uncle meant that.

“Or riding?” Éowyn asked eagerly. “I was just telling Cousin Théodred about my horse,” she explained.

Théoden nodded, biting back a grin at her expression. He and Elfhild had always wanted many children and now it seemed at least he would have the joy and privilege of raising two more. He only wished the cost had not been so great. Pushing those thoughts aside he concentrated on the children once again. “Swordplay and riding will be a part of your lessons, but only a part,” he said firmly looking straight at Éomer who scowled and scuffed his feet on the floor. Éowyn simply nodded, waiting for her uncle to continue.

“I’ve arranged for a tutor to work with you in the mornings after breakfast. Éomer, you’ll be with him until an hour or so before lunch…”

“That long? Why?” the boy asked in dismay. He glanced beseechingly at his cousin who shook his head slightly and Éomer turned back to his uncle, crestfallen.

“Because I want you to learn Westron, Éomer… and you as well, Éowyn,” Théoden said glancing at the little girl who frowned.

“What’s Wes-Westron?” she asked.

“It’s the common language that most people of Middle-earth speak,” said Théodred. “If you learn it,” he continued, looking pointedly at Éomer, “then you’ll be able to speak with almost anyone that you’ll ever meet… any strangers that come to our lands. And, you’ll be most useful to our king – he can send you places as his envoy - places like Mundburg if that is his desire.” He hid a smile as Éomer’s eyes lit up.

“Oh. Papa didn’t make us learn it,” Éowyn said with another frown.

“He did not,” Théoden agreed with a small smile at the girl. He didn’t add that he did not know why his sister and her husband weren’t teaching their children to speak Westron, though he knew that most of the Eorlingas did not. However, he was surprised that his sister hadn’t done so. Perhaps there was no one in Aldburg who could teach them. Members of the royal household, however, were going to speak the language. “But Edoras is not like Aldburg, and you are likely to meet people here who do not speak our language.”

“And it takes all morning every day?” Éomer asked in disbelief.

“No, it does not,” he replied with a soft chuckle. “You will also continue your lessons in arithmetic, writing, and reading. But,” he added as the boy slumped down on the couch, “there will be plenty of time for you to practice your riding and sword work as well. I would not have you neglect those studies.” Théoden was suddenly reminded of similar discussions he’d had with Théodred when he’d been Éomer’s age and he glanced at his son briefly to find his eyes glimmering with suppressed mirth.

“Thank you, Uncle,” said the boy trying to muster up a smile and failing miserably. At home he’d never had to spend more than two hours on lessons and it didn’t seem fair to have to do so much more work here. At least he’d be able to do some of the things he loved. Perhaps Théodred could help him with his sword work and that would help make up for sitting inside doing lessons all morning. At least a little bit, Éomer thought glumly.

“Now, you two go and get cleaned up while I speak with Théodred. We’ll join you in the Hall for supper in fifteen minutes. I believe Blídhe has made something special.” His eyes narrowed briefly as he saw a flash of something – fear or loathing, perhaps – cross Éowyn’s face. However, she said nothing as she slid off the couch and headed to the door with Éomer quickly taking her hand and whispering words to her that Théoden could not hear. Her expression only confirmed what he’d been suspecting for the past week and he gave a small nod of satisfaction over the change he’d made earlier in the afternoon. He spoke just as they opened the door.

“Oh, and Éowyn? There’s a surprise waiting for you in your room. I think you’ll like it,” Théoden said smiling before turning to Théodred who gave him a questioning look. He shook his head slightly and waited until he heard the door click shut before telling his son what he’d done.

~~~

Author Note: Mundburg is the name of Minas Tirith used by the people of Rohan.


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