A/N: To everyone who's still reading, I am terribly sorry that it has been so long. I know I said that I would keep my Eomer group one chapter ahead, which I will probably still do, but I had forgotten I hadn't given you guys the second chapter yet and I don't have the third one ready. So I decided to play fair and give you guys this chapter. I'm finding myself with very little time this semester because school is consuming a lot of my time and most of the rest of my time is working so that I can pay my apartment rent and bills. I will finish this fic though, I promise all of you. I am dedicated to completing this fic, so please bare with me. I thank all of you for your patience, you guys have been awesome.
The sun fell twice more but saw no change in Eomer. Regretfully, Theoden could not stay at his nephew's side for most of those two days, as being king required him to see to other matters at hand. He had to force himself to concentrate fully on what was going on in the kingdom, although he found his mind often wandering back to his family.
Theodred spent as much time as possible overseeing his cousin's care down to the last detail. If he thought Eomer was a touch too cold or too hot he would call for a healer to have it attended to; Eothwyn was getting aggravated because the prince was constantly putting his hand to Eomer's head, checking his temperature.
Eowyn simply refused to leave her brother for any reason except to heed her calls of nature. She ate little and insisted on sleeping in the chair by Eomer's bed, even though she'd already sitting there for hours.
Theoden worried his son and niece would exhaust themselves quickly but gave no thought to the fact that he was doing so himself. Both evenings he joined his family and, while Theodred and Eowyn slept, stayed up sitting at next to Eomer, who still lay white and motionless, completely unaware of how sick with worry his family was for him.
Just before noon on the third day, as Theoden sat on his throne hearing about an Orc raid on one of the Rohan villages and how an eored had successfully driven them away to few deaths and injuries, Eowyn burst through the doors unceremoniously. The king cut off the marshall with a pointed look and looked to his niece.
"Eomer is awake, Uncle."
When they'd come back to Eomer's room, Eothwyn was huddled over the sixteen-year old, helping him drink a cup of water, which proved to be a painfully slow task. The king turned to his son.
"He hasn't spoken yet," Theodred informed him. "He's having a bit of trouble concentrating, but he understood both me and Eothwyn, so that must be good."
When Eothwyn turned away from her patient, Theoden saw Eomer; his eyes were closed again but he was breathing deeply, his jaw tensing as he exhaled. It seemed that merely lifting his head for some water had worn him out.
"Difficult to say, my Lord. But his hearing is fine, so we'll discuss it later." She turned back to her patient, who opened his eyes as if knowing she was going to speak to him. "Don't try to move around. Just get some rest."
Her look was stern but Theoden was under impression that Eomer couldn't have moved around much even if he'd wanted to.
Eothwyn pulled Theoden to the doorway and spoke in a low voice. "I'm not sure the danger is past yet, King Theoden. He could lose consciousness again, he's only barely awake. But you'll have to risk sending him to sleep soon, because he needs rest more than anything."
Theoden glanced back at Eomer and was startled to see the boy looking back at him. He was still lying flat on his back, the covers pulled down slightly. His head was turned just slightly, but his eyes were slightly dazed and unfocused. The expression he gave his uncle, however, was steady and he looked like he was waiting for something. Then, with a sigh that seemed to take all he had to give, he closed his eyes and slowly turned his head away.
When the next morning came, it took Theoden a few moments to awaken Eomer, but just as the king was about to panic, Eomer's eyes slid open. Theoden helped him with more water, noticing with a frown his nephew's every stiff, pain-filled movement. Again the simple act of raising his dead to drink nearly exhausted the poor boy. As Eomer looked at him, Theoden could clearly see the pain and anguish Eomer felt.
"It will be all right," the uncle assured, placing his palm at the top of the sixteen-year old's head. "I am here, and so is Eowyn and Theodred. They are asleep just on the other side of you."
A small, knowing smile crossed Eomer's face briefly as he turned to see his sister and cousin. When he turned back, Theoden's face was serious, almost grave.
"Do you remember what happened, Eomer?" he asked, hoping that his nephew could shed more light on how he had been injured.
"No, my Lord." Eomer whispered, his voice dry and cracked. "I tried to remember last night, but nothing came to me. What did happen to me?"
"You fell apparently. But that does not matter now. You get yourself well, do you understand? You are far too well liked here to leave us all."
Eomer nodded but suddenly looked troubled. Theoden, however, did not notice. "Do you think you could handle some food?"
"No," came the honest reply. "Just drinking water hurts too much." There was quick pause. "Just where did I fall from, Uncle? I feel like I've been trampled by a few horses."
"Well you were found in the alleyway behind the house, below the back staircase."
Eomer looked startled but questioned no further. In a few minutes time he was asleep again.
Over the next few days, several concerned well-wishers sent messages of love and hopes to see their young Lord again. Many of Eomer's friends came by to visit, most expressing shock as they left at how frail Eomer suddenly seemed to be.
Eoward, one of Eomer's closest friends and the one who had found him, seemed more shocked than anyone.
"Ever since we've met he was always the tallest, strongest one of us," he told Theodred when Eomer had drifted off to sleep. "I am relieved just to see him alive, though. When I first saw him in the alley I thought he was dead." Eoward looked sick at the memory, just as Theodred felt sick remembering that night as well.
Eomer mostly was silent no matter who was visiting. He was polite of course, nodding and smiling when necessary, but everyone who saw him realized it would take a long time for him to recover full strength.
He did not eat much, either. Usually when offered food he would say he was not hungry or that he did not have the energy for it. A stern look from Theoden was the only thing that could force him to eat, but Theoden was away much of the time attending to matters of the kingdom.
"Cousin, is everything all right?" Theodred asked him after a week had passed. Eomer shot him an unbelieving glare. "Aside from the obvious, I meant. Is there something else that troubles you?"
"I am all right, Theodred," Eomer answered in a completely unconvincing tone. Theodred sighed but did not press the matter.
In private, Theoden and Theodred fretted about the possibility that Eomer wouldn't be able to walk once he'd been given the okay to get out of bed. They also discussed what might be bothering the bed-ridden boy. The king was of the opinion that Eomer was so troubled because he could not get out of bed and was in too much pain to defy the order, and that he had to rely completely on everyone else.
"He's waiting until he can move around enough to do things on his own. Only now can he even eat and drink by himself. What will happen if he goes to stand up and finds he can't move his legs?"
It was of Theodred opinion, however, that Eomer might be so troubled because he'd already discovered that he couldn't feel his legs.
"I couldn't imagine having to face anyone with that. He is probably just as terrified at telling you as he is at facing a lifetime being paralyzed."
Both theories went untested, however, because Eomer kept insisting nothing more bothered him and Eothwyn forbade them from asking Eomer about his legs until he was stronger.
Two weeks after Eomer's fall, Grima Wormtongue came to visit. Eoward was there; he had been coming every day to keep his best friend company and to try and cheer him up.
Grima entered wearing a most concerned expression. Theodred, who sat in the corner of the room as usual, looked surprised to see his father's advisor come in but said nothing.
"That was quite a fall you took, Lord Eomer," he said gravely.
"I do not remember it," Eomer replied quietly.
"That is probably better for you. We are all glad you are recovering."
Grima bowed his head at Eomer and then at Theodred before taking his leave.
The room was filled with a startled silence. Eomer seemed a bit dazed from the visit; something was clawing at his mind, as if there was something he should remember but he could not quite reach it.
Something gnawed at the prince's mind, as well. Theodred watched as Grima met up with the king at the doorway. As Theoden graciously thanked his advisor for the visit, Theodred replayed in his mind Grima's words to Eomer. He could see from Eoward's bewildered expression that he had not imagined the disappointment and slight sarcasm in Grima's voice. Eomer too seemed puzzled about it. He watched Wormtongue until, feeling eyes upon him, Grima turned to look back. He looked a little fearful as he walked out of sight. Theodred decided that an eye must be kept on that man.
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