So...this would be my first Eomer fic...forgive me if it's not that great.

SUMMARY: Eomer reflects on the passing of Theoden during Theoden's funeral.

DISCLAIMER: Don't know anything of Tolkien's. Also, the song "The Old Man" belongs to Dylan McDermott of The Three Irish Tenors.

A/N: Any mentions of the Rohan traditions during burial are entirely speculations. Also, ff.net's format wasn't working for me...so there are supposed to be song lyrics dotted through out the chapter, they're pretty much the poetry like things in italics, sorry about the formatting problem!

Mourning Song

By Tiger

"The tears have all been shed now, We've said out last goodbye, His soul's been blessed, He's laid to rest And it's now I feel alone."

Eomer struggled to keep a hold on his tears as he watched Theoden's battle-worn body slowly slide into the tomb. He looked up into the sky, squinting as the brilliant sunlight hit his eyes. He took a deep breath, letting the breeze of fresh air flow over him. He looked around him, noting that it was the perfect day outside. Bright and warm, it was just the beginning of spring, the beginning of a new age. How his uncle would have loved to see this day! His heart choked at the realization that his uncle would never be outside with him again. All of a sudden, he realized that Eowyn was all that he had left in the world. The sky opened up before him, and he felt small, infinitesimal against the image of his uncle that loomed large in the back of his mind.

"He was more than just a father, A teacher, my best friend; He can be heard In the tunes we shared When I play them on my own."

His mind stopped wandering when Eowyn began to sing the mourning song, her deep melodic voice filling the air. This time, when he felt the tears rise into his eyes, he didn't fight them, the few that rolled down his cheeks. He didn't care who saw him as they fell. Let his people watch their king mourn as he never did since the death of his parents. Opening his mouth, he softly joined his sister, soft enough so that Eowyn was the only one who heard him, his deeper voice giving her the strength to continue on. As he sang, he caught her grateful gaze. He broke her gaze and continued to softly sing with her. A memory came upon him. A memory of preparing for his parent's funeral, after they had followed each other into the Halls of Mandos. He had been elven then, and Eowyn had only been seven...

//Flashback//

Eomer stood by the door outside the Golden Hall. Through the thick wooden doors, he could hear his uncle and his seven-year-old sister speak to each other in low tones. He could hear Eowyn's quiet sniffling as his uncle spoke. He felt a comforting hand squeeze his shoulder. Looking up and shaking away his hair, he saw that it was Theodred.

"What's taking them so long, Theodred?" Eomer worriedly asked. Theodred smiled a little at Eomer's natural protectiveness of his sister.

"She won't be long, Father is only teaching her the mourning song for your father. She is only seven, the song will take her longer to learn." Theodred replied in a comforting tone.

"How did you do it?" Eomer asked.

"How did I do what?" said Theodred, noting the forlorn expression on Eomer's face.

"How do you smile when your parents have gone away?" Eomer asked, more forcefully this time, desperately wanting his pain to go away. Theodred shrugged. It was silent for a moment, except for the winds blowing their loose hair across their faces.

"You only remember the good memories I suppose. I wasn't much older than you when mother died," Theodred said, closing his eyes. That particular day was not one that he wished to remember. "But," he continued, "I had father to turn to when she died. Perhaps he will be someone for you to turn to as well." Eomer was about to make a reply when the great wooden doors opened and Eowyn walked out. Her eyes were puffy and her cheeks were tearstained, but she held her head up high and proudly walked out of the hall.

"Uncle Theoden will see you now," she announced, her voiced choked with sadness. Eomer nodded and swallowed. He looked at the great doors for a moment before opening one of them. He stepped inside and let the door close behind him. He leaned against the door, unsure of what to do. He looked down at his feet.

"Come forward, Eomer," a gentle, somber voice spoke. Eomer started and took the long walk from the door to the throne. He felt a little uneasy, as the echoes of his footsteps bounced off the walls. Keeping hid head forward, he took in what he saw. The hall was empty, devoid of people, and dark, save for the sunlight from the tall windows and the candles that surrounded his uncle's throne. His eyes rested on his uncle, who, to him, seemed very strong at the moment. Strong, but sad too. It hurt him to see his uncle like that. When his parents were alive, he always seemed so happy. His uncle seemed more careworn than before, Eomer saw. Of course, the last time Eomer saw him was when he woke a sleeping Eomer and told him that his mother had died of the fever. "You are holding up well?" Theoden asked, scrutinizing his nephew. Eomer nodded. "I am truly sorry Eomer. You are much to young to bear this grief." Theoden said, talking Eomer into his arms.

Eomer was at first surprised by the gentleness of his uncle's embrace. Theoden was such a strong man, he thought that his uncle would snap him in half. Instead, Theoden held him as he shook, struggling to hold in his tears, rubbing his hands soothingly in small circles on Eomer's back. "It's all right," he heard his uncle say. "Let them out, cage your tears no longer." Eomer did. It was as if a dam had broken. The walls that had struggled to hold in his grief for the sake of his sister crumbled with the unexpected kindness of his uncle, whom he had expected to be stern with him for Theoden was the King of the Riddermark.

No, Eomer realized. Theoden was not his king at the moment. Theoden was his uncle, one who cared for his nephew a great deal. The realization of it all made him cry into his uncle's shoulder even harder.

Theoden held the boy to him, letting Eomer pour his pent up grief out. When he was sure that Eomer had let out the most painful of his sorrow, Theoden pulled him away, gently wiping away some of the tears that still fell from Eomer's eyes with his thumb. "There now," he said to Eomer kindly. "It's good to let your tears out very once in a while isn't it?"

"Yes, sir," Eomer replied, wiping more of his tears away with his sleeve.

"Are you ready to learn the mourning song for your mother, sister- son?" Theoden asked. At Eomer's nod, he pulled a leather-bound book that sat on an armrest and opened it to a book-marked page. Verse by verse, with loving and tender care, Theoden helped Eomer to learn the mourning song.

//End Flashback//

"I never will forget him

For he made me what I am; Though he may be gone Memories linger on And I miss him, the old man."

Eowyn had finished singing the mourning song, the same one she sang for their father long ago. Eomer looked at her and realized that she was about to collapse from her own grief. He walked over to her, supporting her, as he always did. Even before his parents died, Theoden had made it clear to Eomer that his first duty was not to Rohan, but to his sister, for his sister was the embodiment of Rohan. He would be the one Eowyn turned to in times of joy and grief. It was Theoden's order to him and his love for Eowyn that he followed from that day on.

Eowyn put her arms around Eomer and put her head on his chest as brother and sister watched the door of the tomb slide shut. She held onto him tightly, not believing that the tomb had to be opened and closed twice in the space of a few months. The funeral procession started to march back towards the Golden Hall. Eomer and Eowyn were the last in the line of people marching back. They passed Rohan's natural wonders, wonders that Theoden delighted in showing to Eomer.

"As a boy, he'd take me walking

By mountain, field and stream And he'd how me things Not known to kings And secret between him and me; Like the colors on a pheasant As he rises in the dawn And how to fish And make a wish Beside a fairy tree."

//Flashback//

"Uncle!" Eomer shouted to the figure rapidly walking ahead of him. "Are we there yet?" he huffed and panted.

"Not yet my boy, but we'll be there soon!" Theoden shouted to Eomer. Eomer groaned, not really noticing anything except for how tired he was. It was the day of his fourteenth birthday, and it wasn't even really light out yet. It was quite dark, but Eomer could see the soft sprinkling colors across the sky that warned of dawn's approach. Eomer saw that his uncle stopped walking and quickly caught up to him.

"Look, Eomer," Theoden gestured to a large bird that he had never seen before. Near it was a small tree and a stream that ran near it. The bird noticed the pair and quickly took flight, taking refuge in the brilliant colors of the approaching dawn. Theoden grabbed Eomer's hand and led him down the mountain, to the small oasis.

"What is this place?" Eomer asked. He touched the tree and set his pack down. It had to be a dream. The place was too beautiful, too peaceful a small hideout to be anywhere near Edoras.

Theoden smiled. "You like this place don't you?" he said.

Eomer shrugged. "I guess so," he said nonchalantly.

"Your father and I found it when we were about your age, looking for a good hideout from our sisters. We planted the tree because we needed the shade from the harsh son," Theoden explain, smiling at the memory.

"What did you do here?" Eomer asked. He was curious now, to know more about his father, both of his fathers.

"What any normal adolescent boys would have done with such a place," Theoden replied. "We talked, fished, wrestled, and pretended that the tree was a good luck tree and made many wishes on it."

"Why are you showing this place to me and not to Theodred?"

"Ah, that is an easy one to answer." Theoden sat down beside Eomer, rummaging through his pack for his fishing pole and bait. Glancing sideways, he saw that Eomer was doing the same. "Long ago, your father and I agreed that when our sons came of age, we would show them this place, so that they would have a place to run away to, should the need to run arise." He put the bait on his hook.

"I see," Eomer said as he baited his own hoot and cast the line into the stream, making a small wish to the tree. It was silent for awhile. Then, Eomer felt a tug on his line. "Uncle!" he exclaimed. "I've caught something!"

"So you have!" Theoden laughed, helping Eomer pull the fish in. Beaming, Theoden showed Eomer how to clean and cook the fish.

"Your wish came true then?" Theoden asked between bites. Eomer flushed a little, was he really that transparent? Theoden chuckled at the look on Eomer's face. "No, I cannot read your thought."

"Then how do you know what I wished for?"

"Well, if I were the one wishing with the King of the Mark, I would want to be able to catch a fish, wouldn't you?" Theoden merrily said.

"I did!" chirped Eomer.

"Yes, you did." Said Theoden, clapping a proud hand on Eomer's shoulder. "Happy birthday, my son." It was then that Eomer saw what his uncle gave him, a day from his busy life, and a place to go away to, with all the love in the world.

//End Flashback//

"I thought he'd live forever, He seemed so big and strong, But the minutes fly, And the years go by For a father and a son."

Walking back to Edoras with Eowyn, Eomer pushed the memories away. He didn't want to remember the small oasis, but the memories came anyways. Memories of more fishing and talking, precious moments with Uncle Theoden, the man for whom he cared for as a son would a father. Suddenly, the sky seemed to close in upon him, as did the memories. He needed space, he needed to breathe. His breath came to him in quick, ragged bursts.

"Eomer, are you all right?" Eowyn asked him. He couldn't reply as he looked at her with panic-stricken eyes. "Eomer?" she asked again, stopping her walk, and putting a hand on his arm.

"I-I need to go," Eomer struggled to get out. "I will be back in the morn tomorrow, do not worry dear sister." He gave her a kind, reassuring smile before breaking from Eowyn's grip and dashed off.

Eowyn sighed as she watched her brother take off to only Eru knew where. "The King!" one of the guards exclaimed and began to run after Eomer. Eowyn held her arm out in from on him, stopping the young man from going any further. "Milady, what are you doing? He can't run off by himself!"

"Leave him be," she softly ordered the young guard. "If he wishes to be alone, he will be alone. If nothing else, at least grant him that small reprieve from his grief." The young guard nodded. Eowyn looked back at her brother's disappearing form before turning around. "Well, what are you standing around for?" she asked sharply. "Do you all have no business back in Edoras?" she heard their muttered "No Lady" as they came back to life, marching back towards home. "Come home soon, Eomer" she said to herself.

Eomer ran. It was as if someone had jolted him awake and gave him the energy to run. Panting, he ran along the hills, past the mountains, past the grazing animals. He stopped only for a quick breath, but kept on running at the urge of his heart until he reached the small oasis. He stopped running when he saw the tree. Slowly, he walked towards it. He placed a hand on the bark of the tree, marveling how in thirteen years, the oasis remained as it had been the first day he laid eyes on it with his uncle. His eyes misted at the thought of Theoden.

"And suddenly when it happened, There was so much left unsaid; No second chance To tell him thanks For everything he'd done."

He sat there, leaning against the tree, exhausted from his tears and running. He looked into the sky and already the sun was beginning to lower in the sky. He would have to leave soon. He splashed the cool water from the stream onto his face and prepared to go home. He turned to leave and found that he couldn't.

"Why don't I want to leave?" he asked himself. He tried to make his feet go, but they were rooted tot he ground. He was afraid of going home, of going back. Though Theoden had faltered then regained his strength in the past few years, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that he had been a great king in both peacetime and wartime. I have proven myself during a time of war. Can I, he asked himself, prove myself in a time of peace?

He let the heavy feeling rest in his heart, for it had been there since he had found Theoden and Eowyn lying on the battlefield. He never had the chance to tell his uncle how sorry he was, for acting so rashly and leaving his side. He sat down and touched the tree again, remembering what his uncle told him all those years ago.

...We pretended that the tree was good luck and made wishes on it...

Maybe, just maybe this time, the tree was really good luck, and whatever wish he made would come true. Closing his eyes, touching his hand to the bark "I wish to speak to him again, to say all of the things I left unsaid," he whispered. He felt a gentle stirring in the air and tried to open his eyes, but couldn't.

"Sleep, young Eomer," a familiar voice in the breeze whispered. "Sleep." Eomer blinked his eyes a little and leaned his head against the tree.

When he opened his eyes, it was daylight again. He smelled fish cooking, which was impossible because he had been sleeping, not catching fish. He looked around. Everything looked the same.

"If you think that you're up and about, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but you are not. It's only a dream, a bridge between Arda and the Halls of Mandos," came a voice. Eomer whirled around, eyes wide in shock at the voice. In front of him, cooking a fish over a campfire was his uncle. Theoden smiled. "This was what you wished for wasn't it? A second chance, a chance to say goodbye for a very long time?" Eomer opened his mouth, but no words came out. Dream or not, this was real. His wish had come true.

"Uncle," he said, smiling through his tears. He closed the gap between them and embraced Theoden. "I have missed you."

"And I, you." Theoden said.

"How is this possible?"

"The Valar allows the souls of the dead to visit their loved ones, the ones they know will be hurt the most by their death. Your father and mother came to visit you and me when they died, although you perhaps do not remember, you were young then." Theoden's eyes looked sad. "I feel your pain Eomer, your regrets, and your wishes. I know that you wish to apologize for your actions before you were banished."

"I am sorry Uncle, I did not wish to leave your side." Eomer hung his head. Theoden clasped a hand on Eomer's shoulder, sending waves of calm reassurance through him. "What is there to be sorry for? You were only doing your duty to Rohan, and to Eowyn, you were only following my orders."

"Still, I am sorry all the same." Eomer insisted. Theoden nodded.

"It is almost time for us to part," he reluctantly said "You were the last person I needed to visit, for I have already seen Eowyn. But let us not talk of dark things such as parting. Have your found yourself a wife yet?" His eyes sparkled.

"Uncle!" Eomer exclaimed.

"What? I am quite curious." Theoden innocently said.

"As a matter of fact, no I haven't. The war is barely over, I have not the time for such things." Eomer replied, flushing a little. Not yet anyways. If things progressed with Faramir's cousin, he might have the time.

"You mean you have not the time yet, for I see someone coming to you, or perhaps she already has?" Theoden teased. Eomer's jaw dropped. Theoden laughed, a sound that Eomer hadn't heard in years, not since Wormtoungue corrupted Theoden's mind. "Come now, Lothiriel always had her eye upon you, and yours upon hers, something had to come out of it."

"Of course it did," wryly said Eomer. They spoke for awhile longer, enjoying the clear air and fish. But all too soon, morning for Eomer approached again, and it was time for Theoden to leave for Mandos.

The parting was not filled with tears, like Eomer expected, but with quiet acceptance, and the belief that they would see each other again. Theoden once again held Eomer with an embrace.

"Goodbye my son, sister-son, we will meet again." Theoden whispered.

"Goodbye, father, uncle. Indeed we shall, and when we meet again, all of us will be together, riding upon horses, following the winds." Eomer whispered back. "I love you Uncle, I'll miss you dearly." Theoden nodded his love and smiled. He stepped back from Eomer and faded into the light. Slowly, all the things around Eomer began to fade.

Eomer woke up under the tree with a breath. He looked into the sky. Dawn was coming again, the same dawn that he faced every single day. He stood up and brushed himself off, and prepared to leave. He began to walk away from the stream and then stopped. He couldn't go yet; there was one last thing he needed to do. He turned around and faced the sunrise. He was no longer afraid to face a new beginning without his uncle; he was stronger than that. But before he went home to face it, he had to thank his uncle. Opening his mouth, he sang the mourning song his Uncle taught him years ago. He sang with all of his heart, he sang for his uncle.

~Finis