Okie, first off. None of these characters are mine except possibly that poor nurse. Tolkien owns the copyright on this lot. Well, did. I don't know who owns it now.
Secondly, thanks to my beta readers. Nani, Finabair, Fatima, Michelle and Kielle.
Heavy inspiration for bits and pieces of this courtesy of this article. Mostly the bit about Eomund being Elfhild's little brother.Inspiration of Galmod being a field marshall from Darkriver and his own Eomer/Theodred fic.
Okay, onto the fic.
Fell Deeds Awake
By John Harris/Rosencrantz
Théoden gazed at the mound. The funeral had been over for an hour now. He
felt that if he looked long enough, he could absorb the fact that Éomund was
not coming back. He was sure, on some level, that Éomund was gone for good.
That level was completely ignored by the rest of him, which was screaming
that they'd found the wrong soldier and buried it. That they'd made a
mistake. It still hadn't come up with a good reason why this unknown soldier
would be wearing Éomund's armor.
It hadn't been a great day. The weather had been terrible and he'd had to
spend it all outside being reminded repeatedly that there was a chance if
he'd just paid more attention, he could have stopped this death at least. If
Theoden had offered to give Éomund the extra riders he'd said he might need
to seek out the orcs he'd been convinced were stalking his lands. Instead
Theoden had told Eomund that it was merely paranoia and sent him on his way.
The last time they'd spoken hadn't been pleasant. It had been nearly
hostile, despite attempts on both sides to end the fight and just make up.
But Théoden had refused to admit that Éomund might not be
overestimating the orcs and Éomund had refused to back down on his
belief that Théoden was just refusing to acknowledge them. Each had hoped
the other would break before it was time for Éomund to leave again.
"You absolute great fool, Éomund," said Théoden, sitting down in the wet
grass. "You couldn't just let them run or wait until you had more forces to
back you up? You didn't consider that there might have been more?" He
glared at the mound, imagining Éomund defending himself.
"But they might have escaped if I had! And they'd taken some of our horses!
I told you I was right!" Éomund defended himself in Théoden's head, waving
his hands everywhere as he spoke like he always had.
"Was it worth dying? Just to prove you were right? Leaving your children
and wife behind? And me?" Théoden replied to it silently. He had noticed a
shadow behind him a bit ago and decided that maybe speaking to shades of dead
men was not the best way to inspire confidence in a ruler.
"Is that what all this is about?" Éomund glared, looking amazingly like
Elfhild in that moment. He and his sister had always closely resembled each
other with similar fair features and matching facial expressions. Théoden
had used to deliberately rile Elfhild up just to see her frown like that.
He'd done the same to Éomund. "I didn't die just to abandon you. This
wasn't about you."
Théoden looked up at the sky and banished Éomund from his mind. In that last
sentence Éomund's voice had changed to Théoden's and he wasn't going to allow
himself to fall into self-pity.
He had, as these things went, terrible luck. First had been Elfhild, a
beautiful creature he had killed. They had said she had been sickly
to begin with and that her pregnancy was solely responsible and it had not
been his fault that her body couldn't have handled it, but he knew he'd been
responsible for that. Then there had been Éomund, so much like his sister it
had hurt Théoden.
Éomund was dead now too and Théoden was sure there had been some way for him
to stop that.
Near Éomund's mound was that of Théoden's older sister, killed a month before
this when she had gone too close to the borders. Farther down was his
mother, who had finally given up on her illness a year earlier.
There were getting to be very few people left.
Behind him, Gríma coughed discreetly.
"You're going to catch your death out here, your majesty. At the rate we're
going through people, your son will be on the throne by next week." Théoden
didn't turn around to look but could nearly feel Gríma's crooked smile.
His advisor had yet to give up in his attempts to lighten the mood
that seemed to have settled on Edoras. Théoden was beginning to suspect a
slight madness on Gríma's part. He seemed to have decided that his
true calling in life was to be a jester. Théoden wished Gríma would just go
back to trying to teach Théodred to write properly. His son was more
interested in riding and fighting then learning the basics of anything, and
Gríma's new distractions weren't helping any.
"Hardly. Some days I feel I will be the only one left. I wish to stay a bit
longer. He was my kinsman," said Théoden, dismissing Gríma.
"Unfortunately, sir, you are needed. Your sister has had a relapse and
wishes to talk to you." Gríma bowed apologetically.
Théoden sighed and gave the mound one last look before getting up and walking
alongside Gríma back to where he'd tethered his horse.
Gríma talked excitedly of various things while they rode back, attempting to
keep Théoden's mind on different things. Gríma was a slight thing,
especially compared to Galmod, the giant of a field marshal who had been his
father and had died alongside Éomund. Théoden winced, having forgotten to
ask Gríma about that.
"Your sister," Gríma started, warming up to what had become his favourite
subject of late to complain about. Théoden knew he shouldn't indulge him in
this, but he couldn't see the harm in letting Gríma blow off a little steam.
At least, he sometimes thought he had found a reason but it scrambled out of
his thoughts as quickly as it would come. "Your sister," Gríma continued,
"thinks I am her maid. She thinks I am there to cater to her and make sure
her blankets are properly tucked. I would appreciate it if you told her she
was incorrect in this notion. Everytime I have tried I nearly lose an eye to
whatever she throws at me that time. I think by the time her time with us is
over there will not be a single breakable object left in all of Rohan because
it would have been flung at my skull and broken against the wall!"
Théoden carefully schooled his face into an expression of seriousness, trying
not to snigger at the look of pure annoyance that covered Gríma's face as he
related this news. If Gríma wasn't trying to be a clown he was slipping up
and showing how young he actually was. But Théoden had needed a trained
scribe and there Gríma had been and so far he hadn't turned out to be a
"It's just her way of showing affection. Unless you haven't been phrasing
your oh-so-reasonable requests as politely as you could?" said Théoden
with a tone of blissful curiousity.
"I am perfectly polite!" Gríma protested. "I wouldn't show disrespect! In
front of any of you, at least," he said, grinning crookedly once more.
Théoden pulled his horse just close enough to Gríma's to allow him to pat
Gríma on the knee. "She'll learn who the servants are and who my errand boys
are soon enough. Don't you worry."
"Errand boy?" Gríma glared and then yelped as his horse bolted from being too
close to Théoden's.
Théoden cantered behind at a polite distance, making a mental note to ask one
of the stablemasters to have a quick word with Gríma over how to properly
train a horse. Before he broke his neck at any rate.
Besides, it was easier to plan how he would face his sister properly without
Gríma nattering on in the background.
"The thing is, sir, she seems to have made a decision about something. It
doesn't seem like a pleasant one either," Gríma explained after they'd
finally arrived and re-tied their horses. "Of course, you're supposed to
already know this but you spent the entire day staring at a pile of dirt and
the former shell of lord Éomund..." Gríma trailed off, getting the sudden
hint he'd gone a bit further then he should.
"Don't you have my son to teach? Along with my sister-son and daughter while
they're here?" Théoden raised an eyebrow.
"So I do. Best of health to your sister." Gríma bowed quickly and
Théoden pushed open the door and poked his head in. A nurse tending to his
sister gave him a glare like he was an evil spirit come to take more of
Théodwyn's life. The nurse blanched when she realized who she'd been glaring
at. Théodwyn waved happily from the bed, looking to be in perfectly good
health except for the grey tones around the side of her face and an unsteady
hand as it waved.
"May I speak to my sister?" he asked the nurse politely.
The nurse scurried out without answering much beyond a squeak and a nod.
"Have I burned down her home or something?" asked Théoden, sitting himself
beside Théodwyn. "Because I'm sure I didn't do anything to get that
particular look of terror. Maybe I ran over her garden once."
Théodwyn grinned at him. "Or you had her put in the stockades for cold hands
"Entirely possible! Now," he said, grabbing her hand and ignoring the
various stabs of guilt screaming at him. "What did you want to see me about?"
"Éomer and Éowyn. I'm getting worse, as you should know unless you've been
under the fool impression I'm about to make a miraculous recovery. And with
Éomund gone I don't really feel I'll get better. He was..." She
trailed off and her face closed before she forced herself to continue. "When
I die, I'd like you to take them in. Our sister already volunteered, but I
wish for you to do it. You, unlike her, are not a scholar. I want my
children to be warriors."
Théoden blinked. "Both of them?"
"Yes. I would...appreciate it if you trained Éowyn as a shieldmaiden.
I'd already begun before I got too weak to continue. And Éomund had carried
it on a bit past that." Théodwyn ducked her head and examined her blanket.
"I wanted her to be like mother, you see. It would do us well to continue
that tradition, in any case. Please, Théoden? Will you take them and do as
Théoden remembered Éomund telling him about that once. A bright tale of his
pride over his children back when Théodwyn had first been bedridden. Théoden
quickly derailed his thoughts before he went to the conclusion of that
memory. He steadfastly refused to think of it in front of his sister. His
guilt when she spoke happily of Éomund was enough. He wanted to apologize to
But how do you apologize for bedding your sister's husband?
"Well, what's your answer?" Théodwyn said.
"Huh?" His head snapped up.
She rapped him on the head. "Will you take them in and train them or not? I
swear father was right some days. There really isn't a thought in there,"
she added teasingly.
"Ow. Yes. Like my own. Although it might do me well to pay them more
attention than that." He smiled. "Any other demands to make of me?"
"I'll come up with something. Now get me back my nurse. I hunger."
Théodwyn brushed her fair hair from her eyes. "And I can interrogate her to
find out just how many days you kept her in those stocks."
Théoden smiled and went off in search of the nurse and then Gríma. He had to
give Gríma the grand news that he'd be dealing with Théodwyn's children much
longer then he had previously thought. Already Gríma had started wearing
bandages over his hands from all the bites Éowyn was giving him. Whatever possessed her to do that to him was a mystery but Théoden was willing to
bet it was just the impulse most people felt upon meeting poor Gríma.
Gríma, he reflected, was going to have a fit when he found out. Watching his
reaction would prove to be an excellent distraction from his own
current mire of guilt. Besides, if he ignored it long enough it might go
He had a kingdom to run. He didn't have time for this sort of thing.