How did I end up being the bad-guy in all this?! What went wrong? Where did I lose my way?
I never used to be this over-protective; once upon a time I found all the adventure romantic; the polished steel, the shapely armour, the high stepping destriers and the horse-hair plumes catching in the wind. I realise now that it was all the fantasies of a foolish young girl caught up in the beauty of the moment, with no realisation of the truly horrific reality of war. I don't think any of us really did, back then.
Except my husband, and I guess now I must confess Grimthain also. I always thought it would be enough to be loving and caring, fiercely protective of my loved ones and supportive of their endeavours, but somehow somewhere along the way this wasn't enough. When I fell in love with Éodred, and when he fell in love with me, I thought I fully comprehended the scars that he carried from the defence at Helm's Deep. I thought I understood him better than anyone ever had; I wanted to protect and nurture of the hero of Sceornbeorg when everyone else was looking to his for guidance and leadership, putting him on a pedestal no mortal man could live up to. I comforted him those dark nights when his nightmares of the past came, I offered him gentleness and compassion when all anyone else ever expected of his was courage and honour. I hoped that would be enough, oh why was it never enough?!
I always understood his initial desire to continue his father’s legacy in the cavalry after he died at Helm’s Deep, and I always had respect for the desire of young men to serve their nation and prove themselves in the military. But after the war of the ring was done I hoped his service might be in safer duties and not on the front lines; let the battlefield be a place for those who do not have no family to return to or people to provide for, no wives of children waiting back home, like Grimthain. Oh, I well know how selfish and bitter and shallow and cruel that makes me sound, but when I was younger that's always how I thought it would be. I didn't realise that marrying Éodred would lead to this. I don't regret marrying him, not for a second, or having Éomund. But I... just wish the world were different, Bema dammit.
I always thought that when he became a parent Éodred would remember the loss of his own father and try to avoid putting himself at risk. I thought that when Éomund was born, he might retire from the cavalry and settle down with me. Even now I don't really understand why he couldn't do that. Oh sure, it would have been duty and honour and all those ridiculous ideals that Grimthain has brainwashed into Éomund, those damn same ideals that got his father killed on foreign soil; but what are they anyway? When it comes down to it, what are duty and honour really worth? They don't put food on the table or wood in the hearth. You being awarded the posthumous honours for your actions in the Southern Storm and Northern Wind campaign did not bring you back to us. They're just stupid words for stupid people. Why should a man give his life in duty and service to a man who sits on the Throne only because he was lucky to be born the son of the last King? What gives royalty more right to determine who rides to war and who stays behind to tend the fields; what makes them any more special than the farmer or the carpenter or the smith anyway? A real warrior would tremble only at the voice of the Valar and their servants the Maiar; all men are mortal, and both Kings and knaves have to wipe their arses.
And here I am once again, the angry widow spitting angry words at people I will likely never meet. What happened to me? If only we had both just stopped and looked at the world we were in then, at what we had together, at how lucky we were to be alive back then. We survived the war, unlike so many who fell; why could we both not just be satisfied with what we had together.
Oh Éodred, how I miss you. I'm sorry that those last months we spent together were so tense, with you wanting to continue your service in the military, and me begging you to retire from the cavalry and accept the life of a simple farmer, and be happy as my husband. I realise now that you would never have been satisfied with such a humble life, with only me as your wife and no days of glory and danger. I could never be enough for the hero of Sceornbeorg, and I'm sorry for that too.
I still remember that dreadful night, that horrible prophetic nightmare of you falling from your horse mid-charge into enemy lines, never to rise again. I knew it then for what it was, a premonition, a warning that if you rode out with the cavalry again, you would not return home, and your fate confirmed it to me. Oh how I wish you had listened; when we spoke and the tensions and invasions in the East were merely rumours, I begged you to stay home for the sake of our son, for Éomund, and you seemed minded; I thought you would stay!
And then Maiar-blasted Grimthain turned up at our homestead later that day, and told you that that the formal summons had been called for the cavalry to muster for a campaign, and reminded you all about your oath to the King and duty as a cavalry officer, and you resolved to join the cavalry ride and my words could do nothing to dissuade you. I cursed Grimthain then and I still curse him now for dragging my husband from me; I knew I would never see you again, but I hoped - I desperately hoped - that I had been wrong. That it had just been a silly nightmare, like you said. Oh curse me for being right.
I should have know. Truth told I think I did. I knew who I married, but I relished being your wife. The fact that we survived the war was a miracle, our child was another, and I was happy and content with that and refused to see the truth of what would inevitably happen if you continued to pursue your dreams in the cavalry, of command. If only you had stayed alive, that would have been enough. I couldn't claim to know the challenges you were facing, the evils you erased with your blade and your bow, but you never really understood how afraid I was even then; I knew how I married, but I only asked that you come home at the end of the day, that would have been enough; oh why could you not manage that for me? For your son?
Éomund shares your mind, and your heart, he has your smile, and the world better look out because he has chosen to follow in your footsteps, despite my desperate attempts to turn him away from that path. I am so scared, Éodred. I am so afraid that I am going to lose him like I lost you. I expected him to flunk out of cavalry training - he was never as competent at you with a sword, and his dexterity was always so poor - I thought he would fail and return here full of remorse and learn to be content with the simple farm life that you rejected. But I fear he is too much your son, every day he grew and became more like you I could see it coming, like another dreaded premonition. Every day he does not return to me I realise I have pushed him too far and now I have pushed him away for good. He will surely have passed his training by now, and will be beginning his active service, if he has not already died in a field somewhere. Oh Éodred, our son is in the cavalry putting his life on the line for our nation, and I am not even there to protect him.
For the first time in years I am grateful to Grimthain. He is so damn stubbornly loyal that even I haven't been able to drive him away all these years, though curse Bema I have tried! I suspect he knew this day was coming and was trying to prepare Éomund and I for it; maybe he manufactured it, and this was all part of his grand plan? But as bitter and angry as I still am at him for causing your death, I don't believe he plot anything so cruel. This was Éomund's choice; your son made his decision to respect his father's legacy and not his mother's wishes. What the hell is a legacy anyway? Its just another stupid word to make people beholden to ridiculous ideals. Your son didn't need a legacy, Éodred; he needed a father! He needed you, and you failed him. You failed us both, and I failed you. I failed to offer you peace of mind; if you had only let me inside your heart, let our story together be the legacy that we passed onto our children; not the cavalry narrative of war and glory in battle. If only that narrative had ended in the chapter when you had decided to stay, with me, with Éomund, content to hang up your sword and become a farmer and a father for the rest of your days.
I guess I should be grateful that Éomund at least had one father-figure in his life, and one that you approved of who gave him some connection to you, and your own stupid ideals and notions. A man whose presence made you somehow more present, much as I resented him for that. Grimthain cares, dammit, I have to admit that he cares, and he tried to help so many times and all I ever gave him was cruel remarks and vicious words. I never even made him a cot to sleep in, Éodred; such a bitter, vile woman I have become without you that I would force him to sleep with the horses. And he never complained, not once, not of my treatment of him; he only ever raised his voice or got angry when the topic was Éomund; he wanted to raise your son the way you would have, and I hated him because I thought all he was going to achieve was stealing my son from me, like he stole my husband away all those years ago.
But I realise now it was my fault. Grimthain didn't drag Éomund away from me, and he didn't drag you away either. You both chose your own fate, so why am I so resentful of that? If anything, I drove my son to this, so once again it is my fault. Oh Éodred I wish you were here; I wish you could help me find a way out of this mess. I want to stop being bitter, I want to learn how to stop being the angry vicious widow and learn how to be the caring, sensitive, compassionate woman you feel in love with, but I don't know how? How do I leave the past behind me and move on, without you? How do I stop seeing our son as following your footsteps towards his own doom? How do I stop blaming Grimthain for losing you, or myself for letting you go?
I don't know how I can find my way home from this dark alone? Home is a lost dream, empty and scattered to the night skies. Without you by my side I feel so alone, I can't find the way. I wish you could be here with me; you promised yourself to me when we married, whenever I needed you, that you would be here for richer or poorer, in times of hope and strife. Where are you Éodred? Why have you not kept your oath?! Whenever I call your name you never answer. You are gone, you aren't anywhere any more. I'm trying so hard to keep going, to hold on to something light and positive, but all my dreams seem to keep falling apart whenever I touch them, like I am cursed to destroy everything that I touch. I just wish I could hear your voice one last time, just a word, one word will do. I need you to end this nightmare that I never woke from; the nightmare of you falling from your horse as blood spilt down your chest. Please, wake me up; I cannot bear this endless night-terror any longer.
And now here I sit, alone, forgotten, tending a farm I cannot possibly manage to keep without horse or son. I'm holding on, Éodred. For you, for your Bema-damned legacy, and for Éodred, thought I fear he does not need me any longer. I'm finding courage at least in the knowledge that your friend Grimthain is in the cavalry with our son, and he will try his best to keep him safe; maybe this time he will not fail you, or me. I try to be brave Éodred; I am brave, dammit. Whatever else I may have done in this life, I am still a proud shield-maiden of Rohan, and courage runs in my blood as surely as it did yours.
I have survived before, and I will survive again. I will try, but I realise now that it was my stubbornness and bitterness that has sustained me for so long that I don't know how I can let them go and still keep fighting. I don't even really know what I am fighting for, but Bema-blast it I am fighting. And I am going to try and let the anger go; all I have really achieved by being defensive and aggressive is driving away the only people who really, truly cared for me after you died. I'm sorry it has taken me this long - that it took Éomund defying my own orders and demands and leaving - before I realised what I had become. That I have left it this late to make a change, but I change I will make, and hope it is not too late to at least salvage some sort of relationship with our son, and with Grimthain. Because as annoying as that man is, he has kept his vow to you and continued to provide for your family and has determinedly withstood my worst tirades and angry words, and has always tried to do right by Éomund even if I didn't like. Now that Éomund has joined the cavalry, I have some solace in the fact that he persisted so much in training your son and thanks to him, Éomund is less likely to die through error or mishap. Its oddly ironic that the man I have hated and have been so cruel to through the years is now the one person who brings me comfort, though he probably does not know it.
I hope Grimthain can keep Éomund alive and safe long enough that I can find some way to repair the wrongs I have done to him, to them both. I don't know how, I will have to think carefully on it; I have lost many of my skills in diplomacy, and the farm needs tending before the harvest comes or I will have no food for the winter, and curse be to me but I will not arrive on the cavalry's doorstep begging for handouts. If I go to them... when
I go to them, it will be as a strong, independent woman who knows her faults, so that when I ask their forgiveness they do not feel compelled by my destitute state to offer it out of pity. Because if there is one thing I never wanted, even before I married you, it was pity. Compassion and empathy have a place in the world, but pity serves no-one, just as I have learned anger and bitterness do not.
It is late, and my words are turning in circles. Tomorrow is a new dawn, and I must rise before the sun to see to the new chickens I have purchased with the last of my coin reserve in the hopes I can settle them to lay eggs for the table. If I am lucky, mayhap I will have pleasant dreams of you Éodred, visions of when we were young and hopeful and the world did not seem such a cruel and dark place, that it might help me remember how to be that loving, caring woman again and shake off the vestiges of the bitter old cow I have become. I miss you Éodred, and I miss Éomund. Curse it, but I'm even missing Grimthain; I must have finally lost it! But for now I must go; the dreaded wildcat of Wilderwood is mewling for his supper and my bed is calling to me. Rest well, my love, and guide me on this new journey.
OOC (Inspired by the song 'That Would be Enough' from the musical 'Hamilton' and 'Endless Night' from the musical 'The Lion King'. Also, apologies to anyone who was rather hoping this would be an insight into Allacan's own mind; that post will come, in good time, but not this day.)