Part 37 of the Elfwine Chronicles. The Elfwine Chronicles are a series of one-shots built around the family group of Eomer, Lothiriel and Elfwine. The total number will depend on how many ideas I get for new vignettes.
(Nov, 24 IV)
If King Eomer had not made my father his Doorward, I do not know if I would ever have been much acquainted with the royal family. My father was a good soldier and is a fine man, but he did not necessarily socialize with the royals. He had served King Theoden along with Hama, who was then the Doorward but who died in the War of the Ring.
After the One Ring had been destroyed and a modicum of peace restored to Middle Earth, my father returned to Edoras and married my mother. They had courted quite awhile, but he had not wanted to leave her a widow and so had hesitated to make her his wife until life was more certain. I was born in the last year of the Third Age, as the first of three sons.
When the King married that same year, it turned out he and his wife produced an heir the following year – the beginning of the Fourth Age. Because we were only a year apart, we played together as children and became almost as brothers. Often we were teased about the similarity of our names, and some of our other friends would occasionally drop the –wine part off and just call us Frea and Elf.
For a long time, Elfwine was an only child, possibly the reason we became so close. Not until he was seven did his mother bear another child, this time a daughter they named Theodwyn. Despite the age difference, Elfwine was very fond of his sister and did not mind her tagging along most of the time. I had no sisters, but I accepted Elfwine's family as my own and treated Theodwyn in much the same way that he did.
I do not know if it was the influence of running around and playing with two older boys or something else, but Theodwyn grew up acting quite boyish. She decided at a young age that she would be a shieldmaiden of Rohan, and sought to emulate her aunt Eowyn, who had fought and shown great valor during the War, defeating the Witch King of Angmar. Elfwine and I found her antics rather amusing, but made no effort to dissuade her from her goal. Elfwine was even the first one to give her lessons with a sword. I do not know if his parents ever found out about that or not. I am not sure Queen Lothiriel would have approved.
Theodwyn was followed by Theomund, and even though they were only two years apart in age, they had not the closeness she shared with Elfwine. Theomund was a little surprising. I think everyone expected him to be another Elfwine. Elfwine was good-looking, athletic and skilled at riding and fighting. Theomund, however, was less so. He could use a sword, but did not show as much inclination to hone his skill as his brother had. In some respects he was a bit clumsy, though that was mainly due to his carelessness. Rather than being bothered by it, he always found it amusing if he tripped over his own feet, and he had such a winning manner that usually everyone laughed with him rather than at him. He was infinitely curious about everything, and pestered all around him with questions about how things worked and why things were the way they were. It was not unusual to find something dismantled that he had taken apart to explore its inner workings. Though, to give him proper credit, he was equally adept at putting those things back together in working order, even before he turned ten years of age.
After Theomund came Morwen, a proper little lady. She was the cleanest child you could ever imagine. She did not like getting dirty in any way, and she was never happier than when following girlish pursuits. She liked sewing and cooking and embroidery. She loved new clothes and only her parents' restraint kept her from a much larger wardrobe than she already had. To make Morwen happy you need do nothing more than give her a gift of clothing, hair ribbons or a fragrant scent to wear. She was very much on the shy side, and avoided interacting with a lot of people, but she eventually found her own little group of friends and they spent hours together, talking about who knows what.
The last to be born was Theodred, named after his deceased cousin. He did not join the family until Elfwine was already grown and married. But he was just as loved as the previous four and was welcomed into the family with much rejoicing. Even so, Morwen was already nine when he was born, which meant he had little in common with any of his siblings. Still, Morwen took great delight in treating him as if he were 'her baby' and she would change his clothes a lot as if he were one of her dolls. Queen Lothiriel and Theodred's nurse did not lack for 'help' with the baby.
Though I was acquainted with all five of the royal children, it was mainly Elfwine and Theodwyn with whom I had very many dealings. When Elfwine and I were finally of age to join an eored, I think Theodwyn missed us greatly. More of our time was spent in soldierly pursuits, and this time she could not tag along and join in our activities. But any chance she got, she begged us to share with her any new thing we had learned, and to spar with her to help improve her swordsmanship.
In truth, Theodwyn was actually quite good with a sword. Both her interest and frequent practice had improved her skill, and she had the advantage of being a tall girl, which better balanced her chances in sparring with a boy. Unfortunately, her desire to be a shieldmaiden did not inspire much admiration in the boys her age. Between her boyishness and her height, which left her several inches taller than most of them, they were disinclined to be around her, and certainly did not think of her in the same light as the other girls their age.
When she was ten years of age, she had her first stirrings of feeling for a young man, though I do not think she fully understood them. It was her misfortune to overhear him speaking with friends, and her feelings were hurt when she learned his, and their, opinion of her. I was the one who found and consoled her on that occasion, and a few days later I spent an entire evening dancing with her to put the boys in their place. I know the boys were surprised to see a Rider of the Mark dancing with her all evening, and certainly I endeared myself to Theodwyn. Her pleasure at being singled out and appreciated wiped all thoughts of hurt from her mind, and I was pleased to have been able to help her feel better.
After that incident, Theodwyn and I were subtly closer. Until then, though she accepted me as Elfwine's closest friend, I do not think she thought of me as her friend as well. Overnight, I seemed to become as a brother to her – my assistance had won me 'honorary' membership in her family. Occasionally, when I was available but Elfwine was not, she was content to spend time with just me, and though I had little experience with sisters, I found I enjoyed her company.
It was she who told me of Elfwine's injury, in which he lost his hand, and I held her while she wept with both sorrow for his loss and gratitude for his recovery. I had been away with my soldierly duties at the time, and did not return until a fortnight after he had departed Edoras for Minas Tirith. She told me all that had transpired, and of his going to ask for Dariel's hand in marriage. Always before, I had known Theodwyn felt a bit jealous of Dariel, considering her an outsider who was encroaching on her time with her brother. The two had little in common and Theodwyn rather resented her. Whenever she came to visit, Theodwyn would seek me out to vent her frustrations, and to have someone to spend time with and confide in. I was relieved to learn she had developed new regard for Dariel through this trying experience. But anyone who loved and stood by her brother in his trials, she considered worthy of her allegiance.
Even so, Elfwine's closer involvement with Dariel meant even less time for her, and it was clear Theodwyn welcomed me filling that void in her life. And I found I did not mind at all doing so.
I am not sure exactly when my feelings for Theodwyn changed. I cannot pinpoint an exact day or hour. But gradually I began to realize, coming home from patrol with my eored, that I looked forward to seeing and talking with her again. Each time I saw her, she seemed to have grown and matured a bit more, but she had not changed in essentials. She was still a warm, caring person who loved her family and friends fiercely.
There was only one problem. One evening, as we were talking in Queen Lothiriel's garden, I turned to look at her, sitting there in the moonlight, and I felt something I had never felt before. She was just fifteen at the time – still very young – but in a moment of almost blinding realization, I knew that I loved her. Not as a sister, but as a man loves a woman. From then on, it was difficult being around her, and I made more effort to avoid being too much alone with her lest I act on my feelings. I ached to take her in my arms and taste her lips. Knowing the fervor with which she lived life, I was certain her love would never be halfhearted and her kisses would be enthusiastic and exciting.
I chastized myself regularly for my inappropriate thoughts. I told myself I should avoid her, and not spend so much time with her. But I could not bring myself to do it. Though it hurt, I could force myself to keep a brotherly distance when we were together, but I could not bear to not be around her. A few years, that was all we needed. A few years and then I could tell her of my feelings. My greatest fear was that I would one day do so, and she would express dismay, but say they were not reciprocated.
Today we celebrated her sixteenth year of life. Only a little longer and then all can be revealed. Until then, I will welcome patrols that take me far away from her and occupy my mind with other things. But still, there will be many more lonely nights, staring up at the stars, hoping that one day the Valar will grant that she will come to see me as more than a friend. While I look forward to that day, I will just have to keep waiting for her to catch up.
End note: It is not essential that you read the Elfwine Chronicles in the order they were written, but there is an advantage to doing so. The more of them that I wrote, the more likely I was to make reference to one of the previous ones and something that happened there. If you want to read them in order, go to the top of this page and click on my name (Deandra). That will take you to my profile page. Scroll down and you will find all the stories I have written. The Elfwine Chronicles are in order from bottom to top since ffn shows them in the order they were posted. A few were posted out of number order (#15 came after #17, I think), but you can read them in posting order or number order since those few won't be affected in the story content.