A King's Blunder
by Laura Mason

"He's marrying WHO?"

The hobbits spoke as one, their faces full of outrage, and Eomer barely resisted the urge to turn and run from the room where the four had been resting together following the funeral.

Eomer reminded himself he was a warrior, planted his feet and stiffened his back. "My sister has accepted Lord Faramir's proposal. I will be announcing their betrothal after the banquet tonight."

Samwise's face was ruddy with anger -- his voice had been loudest. Meriadoc, red-nosed since the burial, seemed shocked out of his grief. He'd been leaning against Peregrin on the divan, but now both were upright and staring at Frodo. And Frodo, whose voice had been equally loud, now sat white-lipped and stunned, as though he'd fallen off his mount, all breath knocked from his lungs with the impact.

No accident had done Frodo this injury. No, Eomer had delivered the blow, though he had not intended to do so.

He'd been searching out Frodo's company for so many days now, never able to find the hobbit alone. Frodo seemed constantly surrounded by the Fellowship. Finding the hobbits alone in this sitting room enjoying a fire had seemed like great good luck.

He'd stood in the doorway, unnoticed, racking his brain for some way to begin a conversation. Eowyn's betrothal had seemed the perfect idea -- a way to introduce a happy topic, entrust the hobbits with a bit of harmless gossip before it was generally known, and perhaps assuage some measure of his own grief in lighthearted conversation. With any luck, it all might lead to more time spent with Frodo.

He'd blundered. Badly.

Now Frodo's eyes stared forward without sight, dazed, every line of his body tormented. His mind was far from Meduseld, and although Eomer didn't know where Frodo's thoughts roamed, he knew whom they sought. For the first time, he questioned his sister's choice of spouse.

Eomer dropped to his knees before the hobbit, forgetting that he was the proud new King of the Mark. "I humbly beg your pardon. I did not intend for my news to cause pain."

He was speaking to all, but staring at Frodo. He saw the hobbit's eyes clear and return to the present, focusing directly on Eomer's for the first time in their brief acquaintance.

"I didn't know--" Eomer began, before excuses failed him and he became caught in those far-seeing eyes. He'd long admired the hobbit's courage and endurance, but there was still more to Frodo. The hobbit was wise -- and stunningly beautiful. Desirable...

Eomer saw understanding touch Frodo's eyes, swiftly followed by forgiveness -- and then something more, a clear-sighted reading of the heart that made Eomer look away, as he had when he'd first met Queen Arwen.

"No apology is necessary, my lord. Please, sit with us," Frodo replied, his calm voice belying the pain that was still plain in his eyes. The other hobbits followed suit, brushing aside their anger and making room for Eomer in their midst.

Peregrin stammered "Congratulations. Your sister deserves every happiness." His formal language caused a snort from Meriadoc, and instantly the room felt lighter.

"She's worth twelve men, Pip, and we all know it." Then Meriadoc turned to Eomer and politely added, "I'm certain you will miss her very much when she settles in Ithilien."

"Indeed I will," Eomer admitted. "She has always been very dear to me."

"Can you tell us how she learned to wield a sword? Is that common knowledge for the ladies of Rohan?" Frodo sounded so smooth and polite that if Eomer hadn't seen the hobbit's shock, and had it confirmed by the reaction of the others, he might not have believed what his heart insisted was true.

He told them about Theodred's many tutors, and how he and Eowyn had first joined in their cousin's lessons to wear out the adults and, thus, win more free time for riding and play. He spun the story out, watching Frodo's reactions and exaggerating to make the hobbit smile. More than anything, Eomer wished to see Frodo laugh -- and forget whatever it was that Faramir had meant to him.

***

Eomer, wrapped in a robe, stared out the window at his realm. It was not the first night he would spend in the King's chamber, but it was the first leisure he'd found to truly consider all the changes in his life. With reflection came awareness of the weight of his duties. The future of his people now rested in his hands; he must ensure that they emerge from the recent wars stronger and unified, not weak and scattered as Saruman had wished. Despite their victories, there would be more enemies to face, and future threats to their land beyond his imagining.

"Eomer King."

The voice from outside his door was respectful, and soft enough that if he'd been sleeping, Eomer might not have been disturbed. But he was not yet asleep, though it was late after a long day full of grief. Theoden son of Thengel was properly at rest with his fathers and beloved son, and his deeds were already being sung in all corners of the Mark.

"Enter," he replied, turning from the window.

"Sire, one of the holbytlan has asked to see you. Since they are honored guests, I did not wish to turn him away."

"No, you were correct. Please send him in."

The door warden left, and Eomer was not surprised when it was Frodo who entered a moment later, his footsteps quiet on the smooth floor and his eyes wide in the semi-darkness. The hobbit looked around the room and Eomer wondered what he saw. A King's chamber, where gold leaf covered the carved wood, the furniture was richly upholstered, and thick furs covered the floor -- and the bed. That was where Frodo's eyes lingered longest before returning to Eomer and deliberately raking him from head to toe.

Eomer knew he was flushing under that frank stare, and spoke rather gruffly. "Ring-bearer. Do you require my service?"

"I do, your majesty." Frodo was wrapped in a robe, one of many courtesies Eowyn had thought to provide for their guests. The dark fur that lined the rich fabric spilled over at the neck and cuffs, so if not for his stature, Frodo would appear to be one of the kings of old, barbarous and beautiful. His eyes locked on Eomer's in challenge as he continued, "And I believe you may desire mine."

Eomer's knees went weak with lust at the hunger in those eyes. Frodo had read his heart, and for some reason the hobbit was offering him what he'd only named to himself this afternoon. Eomer sank to the floor, his arms open, and Frodo dropped his robe and moved to him, naked and glowing under the lamps. Eomer found those generous lips with his own and was lost to coherent thought.

There was sweetness, like honeycomb from the forests in the early Spring, as he drank from Frodo's mouth. Small, strong hands burrowed under his robe and found flesh, setting it ablaze with a heat hotter than the smithy's forge. This fire, like the enemy's sorcery at Minas Tirith, could devour even stone.

Eomer's mouth and hands roamed, exploring every inch of smooth ivory, and felt his own scars traced by a hot tongue before being kissed into beauty. He longed to move them to the bed, but barely managed to pull Frodo to where the furs spilled to the floor before he had to return to kissing him, nuzzling his neck, and caressing him into warmth and life. When Frodo pulled back and Eomer saw brilliant color in those always-pale cheeks, he felt as victorious as he had in any battle. The red marks of his hands on the hobbit's shoulders and hips were like the sound of their horns before battle, heralding his determination to claim Frodo's body.

Eomer knew of hobbit valour; he'd heard tales of all their deeds. But now Frodo taught him their truest strength, the passion for living that exceeded that of any race of Men. Frodo's hungry kisses continued, nipping at his lips, while his hands roamed until one closed on Eomer's arousal. He moaned and bucked upwards, and Frodo pushed him down, lust making him stronger even as it drained Eomer's power. He lay watching as those kiss-swollen lips closed over the tip of his member, fallen into a heart-stopping pleasure. Frodo's eyes stayed on his face, drinking in his gasps and cries, as his mouth and hands played and brought Eomer to the brink of release.

And then Frodo moved away, his eyes roaming. "Oil?" he said, and just the thought of what he desired nearly pushed Eomer over the brink, untouched. Frodo rose gracefully and found the vials by the wash basin, and returned to Eomer with a wicked smile.

"Well, my lord Eomer? Is there nothing you desire?" he taunted, crossing his arms. Eomer moved quickly, an arm shooting out to pull Frodo to the floor and relieve him of the vial in his hand, then shifting to bite at his neck as the hobbit squirmed and laughed. He continued the assault until Frodo's mirth turned to moans of pleasure as Eomer stroked and fondled him in turn, one hand holding those slender wrists pinned to the floor, watching the hobbit's lithe body twist with arousal.

"Now, holbytla, you may prepare yourself for me." He dropped the oil on Frodo's belly and moved away, sitting back to watch. Frodo looked at him, then at the vial, before the daze of pleasure cleared enough for him to understand. He took up the oil, coated the fingers of his right hand, and with his eyes locked on Eomer began to stretch and oil himself to receive him.

Eomer stopped breathing, his eyes darting between the place where Frodo's fingers pushed and turned, and the pleasure chasing across Frodo's face, making his mouth fall open while his eyes still burned bright with desire. When Eomer finally gasped for air, it was merely to propel himself to the hobbit and thrust his own finger there, beside Frodo's, and swallow the surprised gasp by reclaiming Frodo's mouth.

The frantic kiss ended with Frodo covering Eomer's rock-hard arousal with more oil, then opening his legs to receive him. Eomer pushed, his hands spreading Frodo even further, his cock sinking inside the hot, tight flesh bit by bit. The pleasure made him shake and cry out as if he were the one being breached. Frodo's face glowed, for he seemed to exult in Eomer's desire. Though his mouth was open and panting, he remained silent, but there was no sign of pain. Eomer's thoughts fluttered; he must be too large to be taking the hobbit this way; must not move too fast. Then, suddenly, Frodo moaned and his body opened further than Eomer had dreamed it could. He sank deep within the sheath of living flesh and Frodo clutched him tightly.

They held still, joined, both overwhelmed with the sensations racing through their blood. Then Frodo shifted upwards to kiss Eomer's chin, and Eomer lowered his mouth to plunge inside the hobbit's mouth once more, devouring his need, his submission, and his pleasure.

Eomer pulled out and thrust back inside him, and Frodo met his thrusts with his own rocking motion, until they were caught up in a harsh rhythm that made them both breathless. The tight sheath was like a furnace which burned away Eomer's fear of hurting Frodo. He held him and pounded at him as he would with any partner of equal strength, and Frodo delighted in it, his own fingers digging channels into Eomer's flesh as he cried out his pleasure and demanded still more.

Eomer had been with partners of both sexes, although he'd never offered himself to be taken. None of his male partners had controlled their lovemaking, instead allowing him to be the one guiding their pleasure and deciding how much to give, for how long. But not with Frodo. Even while being taken, the hobbit exacted his own pleasure and directed Eomer's. His gasped commands were like those of a rider whose will alone guides the more powerful stallion.

When Frodo finally cried aloud and warm fluid splashed across his chest and belly, Eomer's own explosion came. With a hoarse cry like the battle call of victory, he plunged deep, shook, and filled the hobbit with his seed.

Then ecstasy seemed to wipe all awareness of time and place from Eomer's mind. He came back to himself to find Frodo curled against him on the thick fur, both of them wet with sweat and soiled by their pleasure, their breathing still rapid. He tightened the arm that held Frodo, and lifted his other hand to run fingers through the damp curls. His arm was weak, as if he'd wielded his sword for hours.

Only then did Eomer begin to question why Frodo had come to him. But as the Ring-bearer's breaths slowed against his side, he decided such questions could wait for a new day.

He would wish to have Frodo by his side forever, cherished as his lover -- and, hopefully, his friend. There was much more to Frodo than his passion, and Eomer wished to know and taste it all. Yet it seemed likely that he was merely a substitute for Faramir this night: a strong, larger body willing to give him pleasure and forgetfulness. If that were true, and the bliss he'd felt with Frodo would never be repeated, Eomer still counted himself fortunate.

He managed to pull his heavy robe over the two of them, then lay marveling at the way Frodo's face glowed with carefree beauty until the rising sun outshone the lamps still burning in his chamber.

***

There was no awkwardness when they woke, although both were quiet as they washed and donned their robes. Eomer remained in his until his man brought Frodo a fresh outfit from his room, then together they dressed to share the meal the servants brought them. The hobbit's appetite was small, but Eomer never ate much in the morning himself. Busy with plans for the day ahead, Eomer was content with Frodo's presence and his occasional smiles.

After three cups of tea, it seemed Frodo fully woke. He began speaking as he nibbled a sweet bread. "I hope someone else will eat this food we're wasting."

"I'm certain of it, for until the harvest our stores will remain low. King Elessar has agreed to share food from the south of Gondor, and his wagons are already on their way north."

"That's very good." Frodo seemed uncomfortable, as if he'd just realized he was still in Eomer's room. He glanced about him, then stared at the table again. "Even your breakfast tray has horses on it -- if I didn't know better, I'd think the Rohirrim eat horses," Frodo said. His voice was softer as he continued musing, "I do know that's not true, though I've learned very little about this land."

"Frodo, I've been told that you are leaving three days from this morn."

"That is the King's plan."

"Do you need time today to prepare for your journey?"

Frodo laughed. "To tell the truth, I've never unpacked. Everything is provided for us."

Eomer smiled back at him. "Then how would you like to spend the day with me? I have a few duties I must discharge, but then I'd like to show you Edoras."

Frodo's happiness at the offer sustained Eomer once they left the privacy of his room to face the hobbit's friends. Eomer politely smiled at them, feeling their unspoken concern which only intensified when Frodo firmly refused their offers of companionship. "My lord Eomer has offered to show me the Golden Hall."

They spoke easily until they reached the throne room. There the hobbit listened to Eomer's histories, each brought to mind by the tapestry which illustrated it. Frodo shared tales, too, of the Shire-folk and their generous hearts. It seemed pride in their home and love for their people was another common bond between them.

Frodo even accompanied Eomer's inspection of the stables. He quickly showed an appreciation for fine horseflesh without wariness of the beasts, though they were large and stronge. Eomer smiled to see him confidently petting their most spirited horses, and realized that the previous night should have taught him that much about Frodo. His spirit was fearless.

After a quick stop to thoroughly wash Frodo's mucked up feet and scrape off Eomer's boots, they lunched together. Their appetites were roused to truly enjoy this meal, and they ate so heartily they needed to rest afterwards before enjoying the ride Eomer had planned. So they sat in a shady courtyard, quietly speaking on topics that wandered through time and all around Middle-earth. Frodo was clever and funny, and as he spoke Eomer knew the hobbit's heart was large enough to encompass love for all of Middle-earth. No doubt such love had been spurned as often as it had been accepted -- yet Eomer still felt anger toward Faramir.

When they finally set out, Frodo sat before Eomer in the saddle, tucked in his arms. Frodo leaned back into the embrace and Eomer's heart filled with pride. Somehow their physical closeness made easier for Eomer to confess his misgivings about ruling well in the hard years ahead, as his people rebuilt from the wars. Merely speaking of his apprehension was a relief, and Frodo's confidence in him was heartening.

"A king who never question his own wisdom would be as poor a ruler as one who always does so, my lord Eomer. Anyone who makes life and death choices must pause when possible to consider what he has done, and what other paths might have been taken. I feel certain your uncle would have confessed to such misgivings, if he'd had leisure to prepare you for the throne." Frodo twisted in the saddle to look at him as he added, "Even King Elessar, the wisest of men, had doubts when it fell on him to lead our Fellowship." Eomer looked into those earnest eyes and felt he was falling deeper in love with the hobbit by the moment. He tried to find casual words to thank Frodo, but could only smile gratefully at him.

They ended their ride in silence, Eomer deep in thought as he turned Deor for home. But all ease between them ended when they rode into the stable, for Eowyn was there, breaking away from Faramir's embrace with a rosy face and reddened lips. Frodo's gasp, and the way his body stiffened, told Eomer how much pain the sight still held.

Yet what could he do? The King would not turn his steed and ride out of his own stable.

He squeezed Frodo's shoulder with one hand as he reined to a halt just past the couple. Then he swung down, and helped Frodo down onto the clean wood flooring away from the stalls. "Courage," he whispered, but Frodo's lips were white and he couldn't seem to turn his eyes away from Faramir, who smiled at Eowyn before turning to greet them, utterly composed.

"My lord Eomer. Ring-bearer," Faramir said.

"Did you have a good ride?" Eowyn asked, her embarrassment giving way to confusion at Eomer's somber face. No doubt she'd expected to be teased for her indiscretion.

"Very pleasant. I was showing Frodo the countryside, and some of Freawyn's herd lands." Eomer resisted the urge to pull Frodo closer to him. The hobbit was now staring at his own feet.

Faramir responded, "I never knew hobbits enjoyed riding enough to do it for pleasure. I thought only the necessity of a long road made any of you riders."

Frodo's face was white when he looked up. "Do any of us understand what others find pleasure in, my lord Faramir?"

Faramir didn't have a response to that, but Eowyn laughed, still unaware of the tension between the others. "Indeed. I know none of you would find joy in that which delights my old nurse. She's already planning what I must wear for my wedding day."

Frodo's smile was thin, but he politely said, "As my dear companion Sam delights in planning a summer of gardening work to do when he reaches home at last."

"Exactly. So what do you think of the Mark, Frodo?" she asked, and Frodo moved to walk beside her.

"My lady. Your grasslands are even more beautiful when one is among them, yet they don't lose the feeling of stretching on endlessly which I've observed perched here in Edoras." As Frodo spoke, they went out the double doors toward the Hall. "And your horses are very noble animals. I now understand how their fame has carried to every corner of Middle-earth."

Faramir remained in his place, watching them, until Eomer moved up beside him. Then he turned with a little start, a smile beginning before he registered Eomer's rage.

"You are my sister's choice, man of Gondor, thus I won't break your neck so long as you keep to her path without grazing elsewhere." Eomer wanted to childishly shove Faramir to emphasize his words, but he kept his dignity.

Faramir's mouth opened, then closed. Then, as Eomer turned to walk away, he laughed. The short, mirthless bark didn't halt Eomer's steps, but his words did.

"Are you seriously angry? Frodo and I took pleasure together, as men will do. It meant nothing. There is no disrespect to your sister, no more than visiting a brothel would--"

"Dare you call the Ring-bearer a whore?" Eomer interrupted, his hands moving to fists before he noticed.

"I didn't--" Faramir shook his head as if to clear it, then ran a hand through his hair distractedly. "I'm forgetting how different it is in Rohan. Men of Gondor are often posted far from their home for long periods of time. In Ithilien, for instance, there is no place for women. These soldiers will give each other release, and no man thinks less of his companion for doing so."

Eomer's rage barely diminished, though he saw truth in Faramir's eyes, for he knew Frodo would still feel he'd been used. "He deserves better."

"Perhaps that is true. But Frodo did not seek more from me."

"How could you be with him and not know his heart?"

"I know enough to say that his heart is not mine." Faramir met Eomer's eyes with a challenge that seemed to add, 'nor is it yours.' "Frodo might have remained in Minas Tirith to be honored all his days. Yet he chose to return to his Shire."

Eomer turned away without words, the day's joy crumbling to dust. It was true that friendship -- for he dared not call it love -- would never dilute Frodo's feelings for his homeland, nor keep the hobbits from swiftly returning there.

***

"Eomer!" Frodo was atop him, his back bowed and his head thrown back as pleasure overwhelmed him. Eomer kept thrusting, all his muscles working, drinking in the sight and feeling powerful. His strength was keeping Frodo pinned, frozen in shuddering ecstasy, riding his pistoning cock.

It was their final night together. In the morning -- too soon, for the sky was lightening already -- the hobbits would move on in the host of elves and men heading north.

They'd been together every night since the funeral, and filled all their hours with repeated sessions of lovemaking so intense that every part of Frodo was burned into Eomer's memory. He knew that no matter how often he loved again, he'd never again experience such bliss. He hoped that Frodo felt the same.

When Frodo went limp above him Eomer rolled them so he could pound into the hobbit, who still gasped in the aftershocks of his orgasm but kept meeting his thrusts. The oversized bed shook as they took and gave, their bodies exhausted yet unwilling to be denied.

And because it was the last time, and he wanted to keep the warm, exhausted body that held him and the blazing spirit in Frodo's eyes beside him forever, Eomer spoke, forgetting the silence that had remained between them like a truce.

"I love you, Frodo. You are mine."

Eomer spoke, and though his words were grunted out between clenched teeth with the breathlessness of long exertion, he knew Frodo heard. The hobbit's eyes were startled, but then blazed with a fierce joy as Eomer drove into him yet again. Frodo arched beneath Eomer as he poured his essence into the hobbit, his eyes overflowing with startled tears. But Frodo glowed with bliss, no sadness marring his repletion.

Eomer settled beside him and Frodo cuddled close, a hand moving to wipe the sweat away from Eomer's eyes, then rub at the tears on his cheeks.

"You really love me, then."

"Of course. Of course." Eomer pulled him closer still, and Frodo's arms squeezed back. "What did you think -- that I was amusing myself?" He tucked the hobbit's head under his chin. "I loved you before you came to me. Even before I knew it."

"You've been such a good friend to all of us, and are so kind..." Frodo's voice trailed off, and Eomer kept silent, caressing every part of him he could reach, wondering yet again at Frodo's pleasure in feeling such rough, calloused hands on that soft, silken skin. "I saw you desired me, so I came to you that night... I am ashamed of how I used you."

"You were hurt, I know. Yet the passion you shared with me was a great gift."

"But I was doing it to spite him, at first. Then you were so generous, the next morning. You didn't seem ashamed -- or want me to leave before your servants came."

"I never want you to leave," he had to say with a squeeze, and Frodo melted against him for a moment, radiating silent content.

"I thought perhaps you were merely being kind, gifting me with forgetfulness out of your great generosity."

"I see I shall have to revise my understanding of hobbit intelligence," Eomer said very seriously, rejoicing when Frodo giggled against his neck. "Thanks be to Wyrd for loosening my tongue at last. I would not have you leave without knowing how much I shall always love you, my holbytla." He kissed Frodo, and the tender exploration of his sweet mouth continued until they were both breathless.

They lay in silence for a while, and Eomer thought Frodo had fallen asleep. It seemed the hobbit thought the same, for he said very softly. "But I must leave, for there is no place for a hobbit in Rohan."

Eomer sat up at that, causing a surprised squeak from the hobbit. "I thought you wished to return to the Shire -- you speak of your home so often, and you've said you wish to see your cousin Bilbo again."

"I do. But --" Frodo looked away. "I want to see the Shire, and know that Sam is happy with his Rosie. I want to see Merry and Pippin once again preparing for their futures as Master and Thain. But ... I've never been completely content in the Shire. Even when I was at my happiest there, I would wonder where every road led..."

"I hope the roads will always lead here, then, for I need you at my side. But what about Faramir?"

"When you spoke that day, and I realized he'd seduced me while courting your sister, it shook me. But I begin to understand that he never meant for me to love him. I was ... an amusement."

Eomer pulled Frodo close and muttered, "I should have banished him that very day, and never allowed Eowyn's betrothal."

"No, my lord." Frodo's soft lips stopped his words. "Faramir didn't know. Our minds never met, for he never sought my friendship as you've done."

"He used you. All of Gondor was honoring your deeds, yet--"

"I'm 50 years old, Eomer, not some child. You mustn't blame Faramir for not seeing inside my heart. I'm sure he was honest with me, but men and hobbits are too different for perfect understanding. Just as a man of Gondor and one of the Mark may be as different as the moon is from the sun." Frodo kissed him again, a long exploration that made Eomer feel stirrings despite the hour and their many couplings.

"My sun," the hobbit murmured against his lips, and Eomer smiled. It seemed Frodo would never stop making him feel he was a conqueror greater than Eorl the Young.

A conqueror needed to boldly hold what he'd claimed. "As for your place here at Edoras -- do you believe that the King of the Mark cannot have his friend and advisor at his side, a constant part of his life? Or do you think I would offer you anything less than forever, if you would only remain?"

Those words brought tears to Frodo's eyes, where they glimmered unshed as he smiled and embraced Eomer.

"I must see Bilbo," he whispered. "I've missed him."

"Of course you must. You must see your Shire, too, and then you must return here, as swiftly as my best ponies can carry you. Every day you are gone will seem an age to me."

The kisses that followed moved from sweetness into hunger so swiftly that they were soon rubbing together yet again, their bodies fueled beyond reason by the joy and hope each felt. As the sun crested the horizon and they again shared rapture, their hearts spoke vows no one else witnessed.

Even unvoiced, those vows endured a lifetime. Their love lasted longer still.

It has long been a proverb in the Mark that some are born so lucky, even their blunders are fortunate ones.

 

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