My Father, My King by Thalia Weaver

My father sits by the fire, pensive and thoughtful. He picks up the sword he had begun to polish and turns it over and over in his hands. The blade is called Guthwine, and it fits his hand perfectly still, its fighting edge undulled even by many years of peace. My father's hands caress the worn leather of the hilt, and I watch in fascination as he picks up the polishing cloth again. I know the look in his eyes- it tells me that he is remembering the days he rode as Eomer, Third Marshal of the Mark, enemy of Rohan's enemies, the greatest soldier the Riddermark had seen since Eorl the Young.

The sword glints in the firelight, and somehow in its thin silver blade is captured the vision of my father as I have seen him on the practice courts- Eomer, not King of Rohan as he is now, but Eomer warrior of the Mark, sharp and deadly, a blaze of silver sword and golden hair flying in the wind. I have not seen him go to the practice courts since my mother took ill.

My mother's name was Lothiriel of Dol Amroth, and my father loved her. She sickened after my youngest brother Theoden's birth, and I had watched her waste away. Since her death, my father walks the halls of Meduseld like a wraith, the light gone from his eyes.

My little brother Theoden wanders unsteadily into my father, the King of Rohan's lap, and I watch my father as he looks at his surroundings uncomprehendingly. More and more he has withdrawn into himself of late, speaking always of the past.

"Father?" Theoden inquires, looking up into Eomer's face. My father smiles at him, for Theoden is charming to a fault. Theoden picks up Guthwine, the sight oddly incongruous: the glittering blade, danger captured in swift-shining metal, looks out of place in his chubby toddler's hands. My father takes it from him, and again, as I have often done, I marvel at the beauty of the sword. My father's hands are the hands of a warrior, with calloused palms and scarred fingers.

"Father, tell me the story of your sword!" Theoden's voice is pleading.

"Again? It seems as though you will never tire of that tale, my son." My father shifts in his chair, finding a comfortable position, settling into the tale of the warrior maid Guthwine and her noble deeds.

~~

The fire has burnt down, and Theoden is asleep in my father's arms. His chest rises and falls, and his eyelids flutter; he stirs, restless, and I wonder what his dreams are. My father's hands drop again to his sword.

I feel tears pricking at the back of my eyes, though I know not why they come. Forcing a smile, though I fear it comes out bitter, I picked up Theoden softly, trying not to disturb his heavy sleep. He is heavy for such a small child, and I cannot supress a small grunt as I heft his weight.

At the door, I turn for one last glance at my father. The light of the embers glints off the back of his head, and for the first time I see the strands of grey amidst his blond hair. I suppose I did not look hard enough before. Now I realize it; he is old, my father. My King.

-The End-