Unfinished Theoden/Denethor Piece

Author's notes: This story was eventually never finished due to how horribly I'd messed up their ages. Theoden is actually fifteen years younger than Denethor, not three years younger. Who knew? Not me, apparently. But I still like a lot of this story so I decided to put it up.
Disclaimer: Not mine, Tolkien's.

It had rained earlier in the morning so the ground was just the right sort of mud to stick to your feet and never let go no matter how hard you tried. Everywhere was the sound of people getting things finished and children making sure that it would take even longer to get them done. Denethor resisted the urge to flatten himself against the wall to hide and then make his escape. He had to stay and question the blond barbarian what he’d done to his friend, first.

"Why do you keep looking at me like that," Théoden asked as he tried to rub some mud off his foot with a rock.

"No reason. Why aren’t you wearing shoes?"

Théoden shrugged and tossed the rock at a post. "Too much mud. Now. What parts of lovely scenic Rohan do I have left to show you?"

"Well, there are your sisters," Denethor said before ducking just in time to miss a clot of mud. "Jealous?"

"Quiet, you."

They’d been touring Meduseld since a bit after the rain stopped and so far Denethor hadn’t seen why Théoden hadn’t just stormed back into Minas Tirith like he said he was going to, when he, his mother and his sisters went to Rohan to join his father. If Denethor squinted, it even looked like Théoden liked the place.

Denethor had been here for a few days and he still had not adjusted to what Théoden looked like now. It had only been a year or so since he’d left, but his curly hair had been allowed to grow out into a semi-straight blond mop and he’d grown a little. Not much, but just enough to surprise Denethor.

"You’re staring at me again. Do you need a drink or something?" Théoden looked down from where he’d begun to climb a hitching post.

"No, and get down from there. What I need is out of the sun and for you to stay still and actually talk to me for five minutes. You’ve been racing me around since I got here."

Théoden looked blank.

"Just. Inside. I’ll explain when I’m not afraid I’m going to be run down by the small beasts you call children," said Denethor.

"You used to call me a beast too. Back when you were of the wise old age of ten and I was a mere stripling of six," Théoden said mournfully. "The vastness of experience stretching between us—"

"Be quiet. I stopped that."



Denethor was honest, in the end. He’d come over to drag Théoden back to Gondor. If Thengel had managed to stay there on his own at the same age as Théoden, Denethor was positive the son could too. And it was all for Théoden’s benefit, of course. He couldn’t possibly be happy here. Where it was too muddy to wear shoes and the most powerful possession was a horse. There were better things, Denethor was sure.

And he told Théoden as much.

He was now sitting outside a locked door demanding that Théoden let him in. Théoden’s older sister had come past a few minutes ago with some food for Denethor which he hadn’t touched but had tried to use as a bribe to get Théoden out of his damned room.

"Stop sulking and get out here!" yelled Denethor, hitting the door again.

The door seemed to glare at him. He glared back.

After a bit of this, the door creaked open and Théoden poked his head out. "I’m not sulking."

"Yes you are. You’re sulking because I dared say something against this lot of barbarians you seem to have adopted."

"I am one of those ‘barbarians’."

"You are not. You’re a man of Gondor. Boy of Gondor. Something." Denethor thought for a moment. "You’re only half and half, anyway. There’s hope."

"Do you ever listen to yourself?"

The door shut again.

Denethor cursed and tried to make himself comfortable on the floor. Teenagers, he couldn’t stand them.


"Still here?"

Denethor looked up and shrugged. Nóniel, Théoden’s sister, had shown up with more food. Setting it down in front of him, she slid down to sit.

"Théoden must be lucky to have a friend who comes miles and miles just to tell him his home is filled with unwashed...barbarians, I think he said," she said with a smirk. At Denethor’s raised eyebrow, she continued. "There’s another door inside. He’s been in the kitchen for most of this. Keeps asking me to make sure you get fed."

Denethor blinked.

After a moment, he laughed and let his head fall back on the door. "And has he been getting reports from you?"

Nóniel nodded. "Someone had to. He kept flittering around trying to guess what you were thinking. You feel sorry yet?"

"I have no idea what I’ve done."

"Good enough." Nóniel picked herself up and dusted off her skirt. Leaving Denethor to his food, she walked back off, presumably to give her brother an update.


"You’ve been here all day," commented Théoden as he came back to open the door, this time from the right side. "I would have thought you’d come down to the kitchens to find me."

"It’s easier to sit here then chase after a headstrong boy," Denethor answered.


"You could have just complained like a normal person instead of storming off and locking your door."

Théoden blushed. Turning his head away, he waved Denethor into his room. "You were acting like a prat all day. I was sick of it."

"Better. See? No door slamming," Denethor glanced down the hall then leaned closer to Théoden. "Besides, it’s not becoming of a prince to throw tantrums just because his country is fit only for horses, not people." He ducked barely in time to avoid Théoden’s hand.

"You stop doing that. Now."


Denethor hid a smile as Théoden groaned in frustration. Sliding his arms around Théoden’s shoulders, he spoke.

"Fine. I’m sorry. No more teasing, as right as I am," he said as he rested his chin in the crook of Théoden’s shoulder and neck. "It’s boring in Minas Tirith without you. I still want you to ask your father if you can go back to at least finish the lessons you’d started there. It would be nice for Rohan to have a ruler that can at least read."

Théoden shrugged Denethor off, looking uncomfortable. "They can read. And you’re doing it again."

"So sorry," Denethor frowned and tried to collect Théoden up in his arms again. Once again, the prince moved just out of reach.

"Fine. I have to send some letters out. I will see you later," Denethor gave a fake bow and stormed out of Théoden’s room.


Théoden and Denethor spent the course of the supper avoiding talking to each other.


It wasn’t raining the next day, but the sky hung low with a threat. Théoden had finally found Denethor in the stables, apparently having a staring contest with his father’s horse.

Denethor didn’t bother to look up.

"This has been a wasted trip."

"Look, I’m sorry."


"I don’t know," said Théoden miserably. "But I am."

"You acted like I was carrying a plague," Denethor grumbled. "Which I’m not, just to assure you."

Théoden didn’t answer, but rested on the railing beside Denethor.

"You know. I came here to see you. And I was surprised by a lot of things. Your hair, for one," he waved his hand at Théoden’s shoulder-length hair. "Braids my arse. Your parents just wanted another girl to go with the army they’ve already amassed."

Théoden tucked his hair behind his ears and avoided meeting Denethor’s eyes.

"See, someone gave me a very pretty speech right before they left Minas Tirith. And I was hoping he would stick to what he said instead of suddenly changing his mind without giving me the slightest reason. Is that why you’ve been running me ragged? Yesterday was the first time I’d managed to get you alone," said Denethor. "Well?"


Denethor sighed and went back to staring at the horse. By this point he was beginning to believe he could see sparks of intelligence in it. More so then the people around him, in any case.

"Well?" he asked again.

Théoden leaned forward to pet the horse’s nose. "This is my father’s, you know. He’s named Starrunner. I always thought it was a silly name."

"Just answer the question because I doubt you can come up with a story with an even remotely applicable ending."

"Fine. I don’t know what changed, but I’m not that interested anymore. It feels…odd. I answered. Happy?" snapped Théoden, before he ducked back at Denethor’s glare.

"No, I’m not. How does someone go from satisfied to odd?" said Denethor, twisting some straw in his hands. "And you could have told me before I wasted my time coming here."

"I wasn’t sure!"

"Of course not. You weren’t to begin with and I had to put up with you changing your mind every few weeks before you declared everything with a promise. Great promise."

A long silence.

"Maybe we shouldn’t be talking about this where anyone can come in," Théoden said, finally.

"If you trust me in your bedroom, that should be private enough."

"Don’t be like that," Théoden pleaded.

Denethor only shrugged and walked off in the direction of the living quarters.


"You actually told your father."

"Um. Yes."

"It didn’t occur to you how dangerous that could have been?"

Théoden shrugged weakly. "He’s my father. He wouldn’t have done anything bad."

"To you. But what about me? He could have came after me calling me a rapist of all things for touching his son and gaah. And apparently he did do something bad. Talk to you so long you lost track of what were your own thoughts!" Denethor stormed around Théoden’s room, resisting the urge to throw something. Possibly at Théoden.

"He had a point. What were you planning, anyway? Come here and sweep me off my feet right back to Gondor and you? How long could something like that last!" Théoden yelled back.

"It could have! I would have found a way. Some people actually think."

"If I can’t think, can’t decide, hell, apparently can’t read or pass as a civilized human being why do you want it to?"

"Because you could! I don’t know what this place did to you, but I don’t like it."

"It didn’t do anything to me. I just grew up a little."

Denethor bit back a reply and settled for glaring.

"I did," said Théoden insistently.


"How angry are you?"

"Goodbye, Théoden."

Denethor ignored Théoden’s further apologies as he went down to see how long it would take to be ready to leave.


Théoden had tried to find him for a talk several times in the next day and each time Denethor had rebuffed it, getting a little satisfaction in showing Théoden what it had been like. He knew he was being petty but what Theoden had said was sticking with him, not the least the bit where he’d asked how Denethor would have made it last.

Denethor had been thinking on it since Theoden had first yelled it, thinking that if he could present a plan, a clear one, maybe Theoden would change his mind. He felt he was allowed a bit of optimism.


The door slammed shut.

"Finally. You can’t get out without going through me, Denethor," said Theoden, spread-eagling himself on the door.

"What do you want?" sighed Denethor. "Changed your mind again?"

Theoden shook his head. "No. But I came to apologize."

"You’ve already apologized. Repeatedly. I didn’t accept any of them."

"Still going to keep trying until you do."

"I won’t accept anything, Theoden. Just go," Denethor turned his head and returned to his packing, trusting the prince to leave.

Instead he suddenly had an armful of Theoden who was making a beeline for his mouth. Denethor pulled his head back.

"This isn’t an apology, Theoden."

"You said you wasted your trip. I’m trying to make up for that." A kiss on his shoulder, then Theoden’s mouth moved up to his neck.

"That isn’t what I wanted out of this."

"Then what did you want?" Theoden said in a plaintive voice.

"Not this as an apology, definitely. Now get off," Denethor glared. He remembered to let go of Theoden's wrist in time to actually allow the prince to stand up.

"Fine. I apologized, I tried to explain and now you've shot the only I could think of out of the water. Just tell me what you do want."

Denethor didn't know what to answer, and then he couldn't. Theoden was standing in front of him fists clenched, his long hair mussed and a frustrated look on his face.

Final Notes
This is where I found out my age problem and where I never wrote another line. But this is how it was meant to have ended.

First off, the scene cut off right before they were going to have sex. It figures I'd chicken out around that point. Theoden was going to run off in guilt after and Thengel was going to very firmly ask Denethor to leave.

Denethor leaves, declaring a dislike for Rohan as a whole and the story ends with Thengel trying to make his son stop thinking about Denethor and mentioning a local noble's daughter, Elfhild, in passing.

The moral of the story was 'sometimes teenage romances just don't work out'. But since I found out the problem, I haven't been able to write more so you'll have to do with this epilogue. Ah well.





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