"He was the only parent I ever really had," Eowyn says softly. She stands with folded arms, staring out the window out at the wide expanse of sky from Edoras. It is nearing night, and the sun leaves streaks of gold and red flitting through the blue. It is a cool evening for this time of the year. "Eomer and I were brought to his court when I was but seven." She sighs. "I never imagined I would lose him so soon." Indeed she did not—she had always thought that her uncle would be there seated in the throne of Rohan for the rest of time itself, never to leave her or her brother. In all her time imagining battle, it had always been her who lost her life—never him.
"It is a hard finality to see the one you lost separated from you in the grave," Frodo agrees from where he is seated on the bed. His voice is barely a whisper, and holds a devastating understanding of what he has just said. Although his words were quiet, the wide expanse of silence surrounding the room allows her to hear them clearly.
She turns. Long blonde hair shimmers like fire in the dying light. "Who have you lost?"
There is no confusion in her question. Only a realization.
He meets her gaze fully. It is the first time he has done so. He never looks anyone fully in the eyes now. "My parents," he responds, and there is pain of a different kind in his voice now.
She does not speak. One of her hands gently clasps his smaller one—the right one, and she feels the gap of his missing finger. She does not shirk away.
"You must have been devastated."
"I was twelve."
For a long moment, neither speaks—but the air hums with this news. Finally there is something that they can completely understand about the other: the pain of being an orphan.
The pain of loss.
"Does the pain ever go away?"
It is a childish question, she knows, and her voice is small as she speaks. But she has no fear of judgment. Not from him.
He shakes his head. "It ebbs but it will never go away completely. You can only build up your life to cover it up."
The funeral of Theoden King was met with several hours of weeping. Merry, Frodo's kinsman, was even crying at the foot of his grave. But Eowyn had stood straight and tall the entire time, her face like stone. She had shed no tears then. Those were only for an empty room to see.
But she had been found by Frodo afterwards, and his concern for her warmed her heart. He had been like this since first meeting her at the Houses of Healing in Minis Tirith. He somehow always seemed to know when she needed someone to talk to.
And for now, thoughts of tears and sadness are walking away—only to the corner of the room, she knows, waiting, but gone nonetheless. It is not happiness she feels now, but something similar to contentment. She feels this often with him.
She allows herself a small smile as her uncle's words drift from a time only recent: "I would have you smile again. Not grieve for those whose time has come.
No more despair."
"Well, then, I suppose we'll have to help each other cover it up," she says quietly. She sits gently on the edge of the bed where he lays—he is having a day worse than others—and when she bends down and kisses him she can taste the faint sweetness of the chamomile tea he drank at Aragorn's bidding.
She loves him. She does not know what the future will bring to them both, she does not even know if he will be willing to stay with her, but she knows that the hobbit loves her as well.
She wonders what Eomor makes of them.
She wonders what her uncle would have made of them.
But she is living her life one day at a time, just as he wanted, and not grieving. She instead focuses on healing this small being, this one she grew to love while in the Houses, and helps him fight the memories of Darkness that still hound him.
She can only hope her uncle would have understood.
"Did I ever tell you of the time Eomer and I took our uncle's prize horse out on a ride without his permission?" she asks now, and his eyes light up with curiosity as he shakes his head.
"Well," she begins with a mischievous smile, "it was shortly after we first came to be under his care. Eomer was an excellent horseman at that point, and I was learning. We were bored one day…"
She would always miss Theoden, she knew—but remembering was more a gift than a curse.