20. The King's Bedchamber
Éomer took Lothíriel by the arm. "Come, let us go back inside, or do you prefer to sulk the rest of the night away under the stars and catch a chill," he said. His words were scolding, but his voice fell tender and contrite upon her ear, his breath soft upon her neck. She could not resist the urge to smile, as he propelled her toward and through the large door, yet vague anxiety still haunted her.
"You confuse me with another," she said, trying to make a joke, but then, gripped by a sudden fear of being misunderstood, she quickly added, "…perhaps your stubborn sister. You often warn me that I press strongly on your forbearance. Are you beginning to wonder if mine may have its limits as well?"
"Perhaps," Éomer said, appearing thoughtfully to agree, but he immediately, contradicted himself. "No. I never entirely understand what motivates you, but neither have I tried to keep anything from you. This whole situation today surprised me as much as you."
"I doubt that," she said. She felt tired. She wondered if the whole easy trust and camaraderie that they had shared had vanished in an instant earlier that day in the sunshine on the steps of the Meduseld.
"Lothíriel." He shrugged and sighed. His usual straightforward smile did not light his eyes. "This is not how I hoped your first experience in my home would be."
"What? I know. I am sorry," she said. Éomer's face softened into a wistful smile, as he chuckled softly at her words.
"No. I do not want you to apologize for being distressed, but I certainly hope you will bear with me through these complications. With you I feel I can do anything; without you I am lost."
By the time they returned to the head table, the noise in the hall had dropped to a lower level. Music and conversation drifted across the open space rather than crowding it as it had earlier. Some members of the household or guests who would sleep in the main room of the great hall shifted off toward corners to claim a favored spot. Many of the torches had burned out and not been relit, leaving a heavy, smoky scent in the hazy air and the light dimmer. Others flickered and sputtered before completely extinguishing themselves.
Elladan, Elrohir, and two handsome rangers of the Grey Company engaged Éowyn in lively conversation. Éomer did not take his tall chair in the center of the table, but scooted onto the end of a bench until he was next to Elrohir. He pulled Lothíriel along side of him, sliding his strong arms around her, holding her close to him. The gesture seemed to her a physical manifestation of his determination not to let her go.
Without making eye contact or even turning in their direction Elrohir pushed a tray holding clean tankards and a pitcher of ale toward them. Éomer murmured his thanks, not releasing his hold on Lothíriel. He filled one tankard, using his free hand, and then raised his eyebrows questioningly at Lothíriel, as he poured only a little into the other.
"What?" she asked him.
"You feel cold to me." She saw concern and anxiety in his expression.
"I am never cold. You know that." Yet she was puzzled that she did indeed feel chilled, an unfamiliar but not completely unknown sensation.
"But you are cold now. You are shivering. You may have stayed outside too long without a wrap of any sort."
"Éomer, it's nearly summer," she responded. Why am I arguing about this?
"In the south of Gondor, but not here yet. There is still a chill in the evening air. Or perhaps you are ill."
"I have never been ill, nor have my brothers, and my father rarely," Lothíriel answered, annoyed with herself at her own snappish tone.
"How very Elvish of you, Lothíriel," Elrohir interjected, with a light laugh but looking questioningly at her as he leaned toward her studying her face carefully. "Perhaps you are distressed. It is not uncommon for an Elf to feel chilled when something is troubling them. Perhaps it is the same for you with your Elven blood."
Elladan surprised Lothíriel by speaking. "It may be that she is simply tired from her trip." She bristled with irritation at what she had to admit, to herself at least, could be interpreted as an entirely innocuous remark. His use of the third person in speaking of her in her presence drove her wild. His bland tone of voice could just as easily indicate utter boredom with any discussion of which she was the subject as interest in her well-being.
She looked at his haughty, handsome face. No alteration in his expression met her gaze except the slight flutter of dark, thick lashes against the perfect skin of his cheeks, flushed from too much ale and illuminated so entrancingly by the golden light of the fire and muted torches. Blinking to avoid eye contact? Curse you, Elladan. Keep your own counsel.
"I am well." The clipped, irritated sound of her own voice infuriated her. "I just want to retire. It has been a long day. Good night, Éowyn. Good night, Elrohir. Rest well."
She struggled to stand, inhibited by the firm grip of Éomer's arm around her waist, and swung one leg over the bench where she sat trapped between Éomer and Elrohir. The lack of the encumbrance of a heavy, full skirt, but only a lightweight gown of Elvish cut, made the maneuver possible but deprived it of elegance or any marginal measure of grace. He always makes me act and sound a fool.
"Good night, Elladan." That awful tone of voice again.
"I'll come with you," Éomer said. "Good night, everyone. We will see you in the morning." She could not see his face, but wondered if he had dared to give one of his characteristic, good-natured winks or grins behind her back at her all too obvious ill temper.
As they moved away from the table, Éomer wound an arm around her waist pulling her against him. Then he bent suddenly, grabbing her with his other arm behind her knees, and lifted her aloft. She no longer laughed or squealed when he pulled such stunts, but the familiar action pleased and comforted her. You are still my beautiful horse lord and I am always safe with you. Lothíriel's head now pointed in the direction of the table. Éowyn and Elrohir smiled, nodding at her with a bemused amiability, mildly annoying to her. Elladan's eyes met hers directly for the first time that evening, his expression indecipherable and his face cool as the moon. Ancient Elven eyes. Maddeningly superior and alien.
Éomer's arms felt strong and secure around her. He smelled of sunlight. His heart beat steady against her chest. She threw her arms loosely about his neck, curling her fingers in his weighty, golden hair, and arched back a bit to look up into his eyes. Even in the waning torchlight their color sparked a brilliant blue, not the Elven-Númenórean silver grey, to which she was so accustomed--a much richer, darker blue than even the sea or any midsummer sky. More in a fit of pique than desire or affection, although affection bloomed strongly within her at that moment, she kissed him on the mouth, aware of Elladan's eyes upon them. Finally, Éomer broke off the kiss.
"Your kisses don't fool me. You are in one of those fey moods of yours. Should I regret that I am not armed?" he said, teasingly, yet sighing deeply. He caught her in another open-mouthed kiss. His lips were silken soft, yet firm and full. She remembered their dark rose color, which caused them to stand out even against his sun-browned face. She shivered at the picture in her mind and sought, aware of all the eyes upon them, to slow down her increasing response to him. Noldor silver eyes, snapping with arrogant disdain. That will kill yearning—except perhaps for their owner. When they reached the bottom of the staircase Éomer released the kiss, lowering her toward the floor. "Get down now. You are not a child. You can climb the stairs on your own."
Lothíriel looked into his open face and grimaced internally at the lack of privacy that her rush to share her thoughts with him so early in their relationship had brought her. She caught a bright flash of amusement and annoyance from him.
"Do not forget that you brought my dark mood upon yourself," she said.
"Ai, that I did, but unknowingly, if you recall." She sensed no remaining ill feeling or even petulance in his answer. "I have not the skill to shut out your thoughts, Lothíriel. You can close your mind to me, you know." Perhaps a hint of sadness, now? she wondered.
"That would only make it worse," she answered. "And I promised you I would not."
As they climbed up the stairs he moved closer and pushed gently up against her buttocks with one hand. She slapped the offending hand away.
“No one cares what we do here. This is not Minas Tirith, love. Anyway, I am the king here, am I not?” His voice suffused with mirth; he sounded ready to laugh aloud. She bristled.
"I care. This may not be Minas Tirith, but you are the king and should comport yourself with some dignity."
"Fine then. I will follow your ever dignified example," he said, releasing the chuckle he had so obviously been holding back.
The doors to king's chamber and the bedroom next to it stood open. Éomer waved in the general direction of both and said, "Shall we use your room or would you prefer to initiate the illustrious bedstead of the King of the Mark?"
His eyes sparkled with ill-concealed mischief. Clearly these rooms held none of the ghosts for him that Éowyn had found here. He gently nudged her in the direction of the royal bedchamber.
She glanced inside, curious but still hesitant. A spacious chamber stretched out before them. Against one wall stood an oversized bed, laid with overlapping coverlets quilted in satin and velvet in jewel tones of green, red, and blue, embroidered in threads of gold. The bed had been turned down on one side to reveal snowy sheets, and four large pillows arranged against a massive headboard of polished dark wood. Thick rugs of various colors covered most of a gleaming wooden floor. In front of a large fireplace lay a rug made of lambskin. Unlit makings for a fire had been arranged carefully on the grate.
The scent of newly applied floor wax and freshly cut wood permeated the room. On the far side of the chamber a half-open door revealed the darkened corner of another room beyond this one. Several lamps, lit but turned down low, hung suspended from the ceiling on polished brass chains. The overall effect was one both regal and rustically welcoming.
"I should think that it has long since been initiated."
"Hmm. I suppose you are right," he said, grabbing her lower lip with his teeth as he so liked to do and knew well always affected her strongly. He was, she thought, trying hard to dispel the pervasive lack of ease and dissatisfaction that had overcome her since she became aware of his former lover and her unborn fatherless child. Despite all that I have seen and known in this past year--war, destruction, violence, bloodshed, and the fear of the end of all I have know--I still looked for a perfect, happy ending like those in silly tales for romantic girls. I cannot lay the burden of the shattering of my foolish, self-indulgent whims upon my brave lover.
"Shouldn't we wait to sleep there until we are wed?"
"That sounds nothing like my impetuous sweetheart," he said, stroking her cheek with a warm hand. His lips formed an exaggerated pout, but she sensed no criticism, only lightly controlled humor in his remarks, and, underlying all of that, the deliberate stoking of passion. He pulled her close, pressing his hardness against her. Desire flooded her, leaving her slightly dizzy and short of breath. Oh, Éomer.
"Were you thinking of starting without me?" she asked, amused and breathing heavily. She pulled herself away from him just enough so she could reach down to stroke him through his breeches. She could not resist the smile that she felt pulling at the corners of her mouth and reached up to run her tongue delicately across his lips.
"Let's try the big one. The bed, I mean," she said, laughing at herself. He had already begun backing her into the large chamber, refusing to let go of her, grasping her now with both hands on her behind. He kicked the door shut behind them. It closed with a sharp echoing crack, causing them both to startle and laugh.
It did not take long for him find the correct laces and ribbons to undo her simple gown and pull it over her head along with the shift she wore under it. She had accomplished little in the same amount of time, having only managed to loosen the ties at his waist and the front of his tunic. He sat on the edge of the bed and pulled off his tunic, while she wiggled her legs under the sheets. Toeing off his well-worn boots and losing his breeches took him but a moment longer. He crawled into the bed positioning himself over her, supporting himself on his elbows, spreading his fingers over her face, pushing her hair back away from her forehead, and then claiming her mouth again, alternating between nipping at her lips and exploring her with his tongue. She breathed in short rapid gasps, inhaling the familiar scent of him. Unable to think, only to feel, unable to speak, she wrenched her mouth away with an overwhelming compulsion to vocalize what she felt. "My love, my love, you are so beautiful."
"Shhh, shhh," he answered and moved his clever mouth down to her breast. He teased her nipple with his lips, his tongue, and softly with his teeth. Then in a quick, surprising movement, he thrust his hand between her legs. Involuntarily arching her back over the mattress, she continued to run her hands over the warm smooth skin of his powerful back and upper arms, moaning into his mouth.
"So slippery. So wet," he said. Just as unexpectedly he raised himself upon one arm, guided himself to her, plunging all the way into her with a single push.
"Oh, yes, yes," she said--both a plea and a demand--gripping him tightly with her legs. She delighted in being at his mercy, lying beneath him, feeling the heavy weight of him, her legs wrapped around him, meeting his every movement, and yet allowing him control. She reached up and grabbed his shoulder-length hair near his scalp, adoring the way the heavy, tangled, loose curls caught her fingers.
He moved slowly at first, controlling his urge to move harder and faster to bring them both to a higher level of bliss. Lost in his languorous rhythmic thrusts, she managed enough consciousness to thank the Valar for his skill, while realizing that she should also thank his past experience for the same. At last his need and desire overcame him. His strokes shortened, sped up. She heard herself express a sharp little cry as she came and tightened her grip on his hair. With a final deep shudder, he reached his release. The vision of the white brilliance of this act swept over her through her contact with his mind--a shared revelation of pleasure given and received. Collapsing heavy upon her, he held her until her own tremors stopped. Then he lifted himself on one elbow, reached up, and pried her still-clenched fingers out of his hair.
"Ouch," he said, grinning and shivering with gentle laughter.
"Oh, Éomer, I love you," she answered.
She wanted to say more. Words came into her head—I give my life and love to you, no matter what will come to us through all the ages of Arda. But she could not say them. Why? Instead she said, "Éomer, I give you my love and will stay by your side for as long you shall live." A single tear slid down her cheek. He breathed a soft, sad laugh, leaned over her, and licked the tear away.
"No tears, my love," he answered. "It is enough. And you will have all my love. You will always be safe here."
"I know am always safe in your arms," she whispered. Another tear rolled down her face and he brushed it briskly away.
"It is enough," he said again, his voice proud and strong. "I have never asked for more than you can give."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.