October 1, 2989
Meduseld’s great hall was full. Full of color, full of music and voices, and full of people. Garlands of red and gold leaves had been wound about the great columns of the hall, and sheaves of wheat and barley stood in the corners and along the walls. The fires were lit to both provide light and to ward off the chill of the autumn evening, and hundreds of people filled the hall. After all, it was not everyday that there was a wedding in the royal family, and all of Edoras wanted to celebrate the marriage of the king’s sister Théodwyn to Marshal Éomund.
Amid all the celebration and feasting, one boy sat alone on a hard wooden bench, leaning forward to rest his chin on his hands, which were pillowed on top of the table before him. His right foot swung in a steady rhythm, kicking the table leg with a dull thud. Théodred was clearly not celebrating, though it was his aunt’s wedding.
After a few minutes he changed positions, leaning his left elbow on the table and supporting his head on his fist while he traced the patterns of the grain in the boards that made up the table top with his right index finger. All the while his foot kept up the steady cadence of leather soled boot against the wooden table leg.
Théodwyn was going to be leaving Meduseld after today. Leaving him. She was married to Marshal Éomund now, and would be going to Aldburg in the morning.
She was his aunt, yes, but he’d always thought of her as more of an older sister. His mother had died when he was born, and it had always been Théodwyn that he had run to when he’d scraped his knees, or if he was sick. She had always been there for him when he needed her.
Who would look after him now? Who would mend his shirts, or sew him new ones when they got too small? She had always said that was a full occupation by itself! Who would remind him to polish his boots, or to smooth his hair before rushing to the dinner table? What would he do when he needed someone to talk to? Someone that wasn’t the king of all Rohan?
Théodred loved his father, and prized the time they got to spend together, but his father had so much that he was responsible for that Théodred did not want to take up his time with what would surely seem like petty concerns when compared to ruling a country.
To be honest, Father had never said this to him, and had always made time for him in the past, but surely the needs of the people should come before his own...
Théodred gave a sigh, and gave the table leg a more forceful kick to express his frustration.
Suddenly his father’s laugh carried over the sounds of the crowd and the music, and Théodred looked towards the sound. Théoden stood with his sister and her new husband, and had his goblet lifted to toast something that had just been said, though Théodred was too far away to hear what he was saying. Both Théodwyn and Éomund were laughing as well, and as he watched Éomund slid his arm around her waist and pulled her close to his side.
He knew that Théodwyn was happy to be marrying Éomund, and he liked Éomund well enough. He was a great rider, and all his men followed him gladly, or so it seemed. Maybe, when he was old enough, he would be assigned to train in Éomund’s eored. Then he would move to Aldburg himself!
This thought brought a smile to Théodred’s face. He would be twelve at the end of the month, and so it would be two more years before he would start his training as a squire, the first step of his training to to become a rider, but that wasn’t so very long a time after all.
He looked over at his father again, considering. Father had no one to remind him of things like polishing his boots or tidying his hair, and had no need for anyone to do so. Father’s chamber and study were always kept neat and orderly, and without anyone telling him to straighten them up. Perhaps he could show Father that he was ready to start training by starting to do things like that himself. He thought Théodwyn would be proud of him, too, if he did.
Slowly he became aware of a girl who was sitting on the bench that ran along the opposite side of his table. She was sitting a couple of feet further down the table as well, but she had turned her head to look at him, and she smiled when he looked up and saw her. She quickly turned her head back to look at the dancers that moved across the floor, but after a moment he could see that she was looking at him again from the corner of her eye.
He frowned slightly as he studied her, trying to figure out what she was doing at his table.
She turned her head to look at him again, and he quickly looked away. She gave a small toss of her pale gold hair then turned on the bench so that she faced him more fully. “Are you going to just sit there for the whole evening, or are you going to ask me to dance?”
Théodred blinked, then straightened as he considered her. She was pretty enough, he supposed, wearing a dress the color of moss which matched her eyes. Her nose was dusted with freckles, but he didn’t mind them. She blushed slightly as he looked at her, and dropped her eyes to a her hands, which were folded neatly in her lap.
With a small shrug he stood, then came around the table and offered his best imitation of the courtly bow his father had shown him once. “My lady, would you care to dance with me?”
She had looked up as he approached, and now giggled as she stood and gave a small curtsy. “I would be honored, my lord.”
Together they moved towards the dancers and slipped into the pattern, and Théodred never saw the small jerk of the chin that Éomund gave to direct Théoden and Théodwyn’s attention to them, nor their proud and approving smiles as they watched the boy starting to become a young man.