Part 85 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.

A/N: Have had this story in mind for a while, but was so wrapped up in Adv. of Theodred that I couldn't quite focus enough to get it written before this. Now that that story has been "laid to rest", I have been playing with several "other" stories that were pending (as well as more Esgalmir/Theodred stuff with them in Rohan – though I will likely do that all as one story and complete it before I start posting, and it may be more than one chapter). Also, several times people have asked me how I come up with names for my characters. Since I can't post websites in stories or review replies, I attempted doing it in my Profile and that worked. So, if you are interested in such, go to my Profile for some info on that. I don't update my Profile often (okay – "really infrequently" would be a more accurate description), but I do occasionally add a message there, so you might check every 3-6 months or so to see if there is anything worthwhile posted there! At least I date entries, so you can see when the last entry was made!

Heir

(Sep, 44 IV)

The small boy trudged determinedly up the many steps of Meduseld and came to a stop in front of the door guards. Though their mouths twitched, they sat calmly at attention, waiting to see what the child would do.

"I want to see my grandmother," he announced.

"Your grandmother?" one asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Yes. Theomund's mama," he answered firmly.

"The Queen," the other man identified, with no small amusement in his tone. His companion was fairly new, and likely did not recognize the boy as Theomund's adopted son, Eledher.

Moving to the door, he pushed it open and signaled for Eledher to come forward. Stooping down, he pointed toward the throne at the opposite end of the room where several men stood. "Go down there. One of those men is Brandir, the king's Doorward. He will help you find your grandmother."

"Thank you," Eledher told the man politely, setting off on the very long walk down the hall. Chuckling, the man pulled the door closed behind him.

Marching purposefully along, Eledher tried not to be distracted by the regular interesting sights of the hall. As usual, the Meduseld dogs rushed to see him, but after a cursory greeting, he forced his attention back to his reason for being here and continued on his course. By now he was more than halfway, and Brandir had glimpsed him, turning to smile at the boy. Offering a bow, he called, "What can we do for you today, Eledher?"

"I wish to see Grandmother. Please," he added as an afterthought, remembering his manners.

Grinning broadly, Brandir nodded. "Wait here, and I will see if she is available." He waved the boy to a bench, and Eledher plunked down, swinging his legs impatiently.

Several minutes passed before Brandir returned with the queen at his side. Immediately, Eledher hopped up and ran to fling his arms around her in a hug. Something in his actions was unnaturally tense, and after a moment, Lothiriel pulled free and took his hand, silently leading him off toward the nursery. There she closed the door and settled in the large, overstuffed chair, pulling him into her lap.

After their children were grown, Eomer had reclaimed this chair for their own bedchamber, but with the advent of grandchildren, it had returned to the nursery to be more readily available to any who had need of it. Now, quite often, it still found use, sometimes even from her adult children.

As Eledher snuggled into her embrace, she waited quietly for him to be ready to tell her what troubled him, and prompted this visit. He did not often venture alone up to the Golden Hall. Gently her hand stroked that glorious red hair, and finally he murmured, "Papa has forgotten about me now that Haldred has come." Several fat tears slipped down his cheeks, and he buried his face in her shoulder in embarrassment and misery.

Ah, yes. She might have known. Holding him close, she rocked him gently, humming softly until she felt some of the tension leave his little body.

Then quietly she offered an explanation. "You know how when you get a new toy, sometimes you forget about your old toys, even though you always loved them and enjoyed playing with them before?" Lothiriel asked.

Eledher nodded, and Lothiriel continued, "It is sort of like that with Haldred. Theomund does not love you any less, but Haldred is new and, for the moment, has caught all his attention. After awhile, he will notice that he misses his old toys and will go back to playing with them also, and find time to enjoy all of them, but right now he is only noticing the new one. He should not do it, especially when it is people instead of toys, who can be hurt by it, but so it is. We all do it, I fear. Will you try to understand, and forgive him until he comes to his senses, dearest?"

Eledher sniffed and wiped at a tear trickling down his cheek, then nodded. "You are sure that he…"

Lothiriel pressed a kiss to his head, saying, "I am very sure that he loves you very much, and that has not changed one bit! He is just distracted. He is being very silly, and I will tell him so!"

Eledher could not restrain a giggle at that, and snuggled closer into her arms.

Realizing the boy needed some extra attention just then, Lothiriel kept him with her the rest of the day, sending someone to alert Frideswide and Fele of his whereabouts so they would not worry. She would have to find time to deal with that son of hers later. Men could be so thick sometimes!

xx

One thing was certain; Theomund of Rohan had given a whole new meaning to the words 'proud father'. For generations, the men of Rohan had gladly sired children, particularly sons, and first-time fathers were renown for showing off a bit – that was to be expected. And given that Theomund had married so late in life, past thirty years, his increased excitement might also not be unusual, but the entire town could not help chuckling at the sight of him. They were not sure the poor mother, Fele, got to ever hold the babe except when it wanted to be suckled, and only then because Theomund had not yet figured out a way to do it himself! Fortunately, she was a good-natured wife and took the whole thing well, tagging along at her husband's side, patiently awaiting her brief turn at holding her child.

Unfortunately, while the adults in the town found the humor in the situation, the children did not entirely understand it. In their experience, it was the mothers who primarily cared for the children, so for the father to show such great interest in a baby was very strange. Further complicating matters, were the circumstances surrounding Theomund and Fele's marriage. Fele had previously been married to another man who was abusive. Through him, she had borne a son named Eledher, whom Theomund loved dearly. This former husband had been killed during a murder attempt a few months after the birth of Theomund and Fele's son, Haldred.

Thus, though Theomund loved Eledher, everyone knew that the boy was not his own blood son as Haldred was. Surely he could not be expected to love the adopted son so well as the natural son. Likely some of the adults voiced that opinion when their children could hear, not realizing any attention was being paid to their words. But one day, as children will sometimes do, someone decided to make sure Eledher understood his position in the family.

Several boys had been playing together at a house near Theomund's. Very authoritatively, one eyed Eledher and said, "Now that Haldred is born, he will be the heir of your family."

Eledher didn't quite understand what the boy meant and said so, and the boy explained, "Usually it is the oldest boy in the family, but since you are not Theomund's true son, it will be Haldred. Your Papa will love him best and he will be the heir."

The other boys nodded their agreement to this as Eledher looked confused by their words. "But why?"

"Because, a man always loves his true son more than an adopted son. That is just the way it works. He likes you a great deal, but now that he has Haldred, he has an heir and does not need you so much."

Likely the boys did not intend to be cruel, and somewhat misunderstood how things worked, but to Eledher who absolutely adored Theomund, this was a crushing blow to his heart. Already he was worried about how much time Theomund spent with Haldred, and how he seemed forgotten. Despite what grandmother Lothiriel had said, Papa still only seemed to care about the 'new toy'. With tears welling in his eyes, he turned and fled for home.

Streaking into the house, he raced to his room and flung himself on his bed, weeping uncontrollably. Frideswide had not heard him come in, and so did not realize his anguish as she continued with what she was doing downstairs.

It was more than an hour later that Theomund and Fele returned home, Theomund finally tearing himself away from showing off his son to any who would admire the babe. Frideswide and Fele grinned at one another in amusement, struggling not to burst into laughter at him, for they both found him quite hilarious. Lothiriel had assured them she felt relatively certain he would eventually calm down and stop this nonsense, but so far there was no indication it was abating.

As it was almost suppertime, Theomund glanced around, asking, "Is Eledher home?"

Frideswide wrinkled her brow, saying, "I did not hear him come in, but perhaps he is upstairs."

"I will check," Theomund offered, heading for the stairs.

A moment later, he paused at the boy's door, surprised by the sound of sobbing. Lifting the latch, he hurried in. "Eledher? What is the matter? Are you unwell?"

The boy turned away from him; unusual in itself. As he was still holding Haldred, he glanced around for a moment, then pulled out a dresser drawer and set it on the floor. Laying the baby gently amid the clothes, he moved over to the bed to see to his son. Despite Eledher's resisting him, he pulled him close. "Tell me what troubles you, Eledher."

"Why do you care! You have Haldred now! You do not need me!"

Stunned, Theomund recoiled from the words. "What? Why would you think that?"

"They told me! I am not truly your son like Haldred is. Now that you have him, you will not want me anymore!" The boy let out a wail and fell to sobbing brokenheartedly once more, and Theomund gathered him against his chest.

"Shhh! That is not true! That could never be true! I will always want you, even if I have a thousand children! Shhh!"

Theomund tightened his hold, his own heart breaking that anyone would tell this small boy such a cruel thing. Could they not just let the child alone and allow him to be happy?

A sniffle sounded at his shoulder and then a murmured question followed, "But he will be your heir, will he not? He is your own blood and I am not. That is what they said, and that is true."

Yes, that was true, and not so easily denied. Though his heart claimed Eledher as his own, the law did not necessarily concur.

At length, all he could promise was, "Whether he is my heir or not in the eyes of the law, Eledher, it will not make me love you any less. I cannot change the fact that you do not carry my blood in your veins, but I will always bear love for you in my heart. I swear it."

The small boy drew back and wiped at his face, pondering this for a moment, then nodded his acceptance. He could not expect more than that. Throwing his arms around Theomund's neck, he hugged him tightly, "I will always love you, too, Papa."

xx

Eomer moved to seat himself at the desk in his study, then looked at the small group gathered there. Theomund had asked for certain people specifically to join them: Eomer, Lothiriel, Elfwine and Eomer's two Chief Advisers. With Theomund were Fele, Frideswide, Eledher and Haldred.

"So, Theomund, what is this all about?" Eomer asked.

"My lord," he formally phrased, "I have a matter to bring up that is largely a family matter, but may have some points that require counsel from your Advisers. I wish to name Eledher as my lawful heir, with all the rights and privileges that attend that position."

Eomer blinked in surprise, not expecting this, but Lothiriel smiled. The two Advisers were momentarily stunned, and then broke into frantic whispering between the two of them. Finally, Eomer raised a hand to silence the two men and asked, "You are certain about this? You have thought it through carefully?"

"Yes, Father. I love him as dearly as if he were flesh of my flesh. It is merely a formality, but I would have all know the esteem he is held in our family and in my heart. I would have him responsible for my land and property, for my family, should anything happen to me. I will be responsible for explaining this to Haldred as he grows older so he understands why I chose to do this."

"My lord," one Adviser ventured, "he is not of the house of Eorl..."

Eomer caught the implication and nodded. Turning back to Theomund and his family, he signaled to Eledher to come to him. When the boy came forward, he lifted him up into his lap. "Eledher, do you know what the house of Eorl is?"

When the boy shook his head no, Eomer continued, "It is the blood line of the kings of Rohan. Each of the kings has been from that line for generations. Normally it comes down through the male line, from son to son, but on occasion it comes down through the female line through a daughter, as it did with me, when no sons are living to rule. When I die, Elfwine will be the next king of Rohan, and after him will come Arawine. But that assumes that everything goes the way that it should. If something very unusual were to happen, it is possible that the kingship might come to Theomund instead, and that eventually it could fall to one of Theomund's sons to rule Rohan. All of Theomund's sons would be of the blood line of the house of Eorl – all of them except for you. As king of Rohan, I can make you Theomund's lawful heir, but I cannot make you of the blood line of Eorl, and so I cannot make it possible for you to rule Rohan. Do you see that?"

Eledher thought for a moment and then nodded.

Eomer added, "It does not mean that I or Theomund does not love you, but that is simply something that we cannot give you, and the law says that you must have it if you are to rule Rohan. So, I will grant what Theomund asks – I will make you Theomund's lawful heir, with the one exception that you will not be his heir to the throne of Rohan. Haldred will retain that right, should it ever become necessary."

With that Eomer kissed the boy's head, and grinned at his son. "You do like to keep an old man on his toes, do you not? Do you lie awake at night thinking of new and interesting ways to challenge me?"

All in the room broke up with laughter, save Eledher, who did not understand what was said, and the Advisers who did not have much of a sense of humor to begin with.

There was a side benefit to the whole matter, however. Theomund was now more aware of what he was doing, and realized that his excessive focus on his new son had been misconstrued by Eledher. He was more careful to include Eledher and not appear to show favorites, thus allowing Fele more time to enjoy her new baby, which suited the new mother just fine.

THE END

7-4-06

Eledher is 6-7

A/N2: I haven't done a story about it, but Gamling began relinquishing his duties and training his replacement in May, 44 IV. Since Eomer has been absent more and more frequently, and turning more and more responsibility over to Elfwine, he left it to his son to select the new Doorward. Elfwine chose Brandir, son of Eothain, to be his Doorward. At this point, Gamling is still around, but Brandir largely does the footwork while Gamling mostly just advises him.

End note: It is best that you read the Elfwine Chronicles in the order they were written. 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, but you can read them in posting order or number order since those few won't be affected in the story content.