This story is NC-17 Frodo/Eomer slash. This is very graphic compared to most of my LotR stories, so please be warned.

A million thanks to Hanarobi, who won't let me give her co-author credit on this beast, claiming she only betaed and acted as Special Kink Advisor, but it's a much better story thanks to her suggestions. Though, as usual, I've ignored some of her advice. Any errors or confusion remaining are due to my stubbornness.

by Laura Mason

Frodo found his mind wandering as yet another dignitary droned about the restoration of Minas Tirith and the friendship of Gondor. Even for a hobbit, used to lingering at the dinner table, the nightly hours of dining and speeches were exhausting. At least the focus had shifted from Frodo and Sam's part in the war.

It was early May, and months of healing under Aragorn's care were finally over and everyone seemed close to fully recovered. Sam, still thin and with his poor feet covered in scars, was much improved and able to move comfortably about the city. Pippin, who'd had broken ribs and internal injuries, could breathe deeply and was even standing guard duty with the other soldiers of Gondor. Merry's return to full health had seemed the most uncertain to Frodo, knowing the enemy he'd faced, but Merry's joy at Pip's recovery had sped his healing. Truly, everyone was fully healed. Save him, perhaps, but his wounds were not physical. His broken spirit would not be healed by applications of athelas.

Frodo glanced down the long table to where Merry and Pippin sat across from each other. Pippin was in a conversation with his neighbor, one of the knights of Rohan, if Frodo remembered their introduction correctly. The man's wheat-coloured hair seemed to confirm the guess.

He'd been introduced to hundreds of people, and while all of them remembered Frodo -- one of only four hobbits in Gondor -- he couldn't keep any of them straight in his mind. They were all men, big and tall, with odd accents and strange clothing. He'd have been completely lost without Merry and Pippin, but they saved him countless times, prompting him when he was approached by some mayor or councilman without any idea of who was speaking to him.

Frodo's gaze moved to Merry and froze there in surprise. Merry's eyes were fixed on Pippin with more than proud affection. It was suddenly as clear as if he'd spoken that Merry not only loved his Took cousin, but was in love with him. And when Pippin turned away from the man at his right to take a sip of wine, and his eyes met Merry's, it was plain the feelings were mutual. Frodo felt foolish -- he hadn't noticed their feelings until this moment. Yet there was nothing hesitant or shy about them. Their relationship must have changed some time ago.

The King stood to speak next, but even Aragorn's fine words couldn't keep Frodo's attention. Instead, his glance roved the room frantically, looking for other things he'd missed. He'd been blind, but now his eyes were open and he saw things as they truly were. A part of his mind must have known -- but he'd never accepted the knowledge.

Legolas and Gimli sat together on the other side of the honored guests, and Frodo knew they would be together the rest of their lives, no matter how much distance separated them. He honestly had no idea if they, too, were lovers -- he couldn't read either race as easily as his cousins. But they were a pair now, that was obvious even to him. Partners.

All the guests seemed paired in some fashion. Ambassadors with their wives and serving wenches winking at the butlers or unattached guests. Faramir made eyes at Eowyn while Merry passed the choicest desserts to Pippin. And though Frodo hadn't really questioned why Aragorn had asked them to remain in Minas Tirith, the answer was suddenly obvious -- he was waiting for the Lady Arwen to arrive. Part of a pair, even though she was not yet here.

And why shouldn't they all pair off and seek happiness? No one wanted to be alone. Few would be so by choice. Frodo felt overcome by fierce sadness. Being alone was not his choice, either.

Across the table, Sam gave him a searching look and Frodo smiled weakly to reassure him. It didn't work.

"Mister Frodo, are you tired?" he whispered, ignoring the shocked looks of the other guests. No one spoke while the King held the floor -- except his loyal Sam, quick to worry about Frodo's well-being.

But Sam couldn't help Frodo with this problem, and quite possibly couldn't even understand how alone Frodo felt. Sam had Rosie waiting for him at home, as lately it seemed he mentioned at least once a day. Though alone here in Gondor, Sam was also paired off, like the others.

Why was Frodo different?

He shook his head in response to Sam's question and improved his smile until those sharp eyes moved back to the King, who was still speaking. Frodo slumped back and looked down in his lap. Then he quickly looked away, tears in his eyes though he would not allow them to fall.

It wasn't enough to have a constant reminder of his failure in the ache of loss he still felt for the Ring. No, he had to wear the maimed hand so all could see his weakness. The happiness he'd felt upon first waking seemed far away. He was very glad the others had survived and that Gandalf had not been lost. But he still thought it would be best if he'd gone into the fire with Gollum and the damned Ring, and never had to confront any of those beloved faces again.

Gandalf's kindness couldn't hide his knowledge of Frodo's weakness. Nor could the love of Sam, Merry and Pippin hide the measuring looks behind their concern. Frodo felt more like "Mad Baggins" than he ever had in the Shire. He could probably get himself thrown in a dungeon even now by standing to lay claim to the throne of Gondor. Well, perhaps only thrown into a madhouse with keepers even more vigilant than Sam.

Frodo knew he was sulking, yet he couldn't help himself. His eyes roved the Hall, resentment flashing at obliviously happy and self-involved people feasting and enjoying the evening. They all said fair words and pretended to honor him, but who truly thought about him? Only dear Sam, and even he didn't realize how very alone Frodo had always been, nor how likely it was that he would end his days the same.

He'd just reached the heights -- or depths -- of his self-pity when his glare landed back where this had all begun -- on Merry and Pippin, who were eating sugared fruits very suggestively between applauding the King's remarks.

He looked away, only to be caught by a pair of dark, knowing eyes. The man next to Pippin was staring at him with a look that implied he'd read all Frodo's thoughts over the last quarter-hour. Even as Aragorn concluded his remarks to the approval of the entire room, their eyes remained locked.

Finally Frodo tore his eyes away, wishing he could go home. Really home, not back to the pleasant house they all shared with Gandalf in this city of stone. The thought of the Shire was soothing, not least because he knew no one there would pay any attention to him. There wouldn't be feasts or honors for any of them upon their return, and Frodo wanted that peace right now, more than anything.

Almost anything.

For a moment he imagined himself returning home and finding a true life partner. It was only a dream; even before the Ring changed him his lovers had only been casual affairs. Yet simple physical comfort would be welcome after the loneliness he'd felt for so long. Galadriel told him wearing a ring of power would isolate him, but the Ring was gone forever now, though its torment remained. Why did Frodo have to face the overwhelming loss and pain in miserable isolation? He was sick of being alone with his endlessly spiraling thoughts.

So when the tall man of Rohan approached him as the dinner ended, Frodo stomped on his desire to flee and instead met his questioning look directly, letting want show clearly in his eyes. Then he followed the man out of the room without a word to anyone.


"Would it surprise you if I admitted to a great curiosity about your race?"

His hair was so fair, but his eyes and even his beard were dark. Frodo thought there was an aura of violence around this man, even more than the other warriors he'd met. He followed the man's stride, slowed for his shorter legs, down an unfamiliar corridor.

"No, I suppose that is natural. Most hobbits are not curious about other races, but I find Men quite interesting."

"Men? Do you indeed see us all as one race, Men, as if there were no differences between the Haradrim, these Sea Kings of Gondor, and the Rohirrim?"

"Oh." Frodo actually stopped walking for a moment in surprise. This knight not only had a long-limbed, well-formed body -- he was intelligent. Perhaps the upper classes of Rohan all attended school? His clothes were quite fine. But, no, hadn't Merry said they were like the hobbits, cherishing their horses and singing songs of lore but not reading books? "I believe I do tend to think that way about big people, although you are quite correct to point out how wrong such thinking is."

"Wrong, perhaps, but an easy trap in which to fall. I might have done the same with respect to halflings --hobbits -- were it not for the one honored by our late king."

"Meriadoc," Frodo said softly.

"Yes. Because of his time with us, I have learned a little of the Shire folks' lore. For example, I was told that hobbits love their fertile Shire land and enjoy their comforts."

"That is all quite true. But until we traveled, I know I did not truly appreciate the Shire and how fortunate we are to live so comfortably."

"Rohan, too, is a land of plenty, though constant vigilance is necessary to protect our people and keep our lands. We are a country of warriors," he said proudly, and Frodo felt small and useless as he replied.

"While hobbits live in peace and eat too much."

"I had heard that hobbits love food. Yet you had no appetite at the banquet." A searching look down, which Frodo avoided. "Perhaps men and hobbits are much the same, and you hunger instead for companionship. As I do." The man halted before a great carved wood door, his hand upon it. "You have not told me your name."

Frodo actually laughed. "Nor do I know yours. Perhaps names are not important this night."

"Will you enter my room now and share pleasure with me without a name?"

"That is my intent, Sir Knight, and has been since I left the dining hall with you," Frodo admitted.

"Are all hobbits so forward?" he asked, swinging the door open and entering.

"Are all men?" Frodo countered, not angry but unwilling to think any longer about the differences that made him such a misfit with his own people, and even here. A taper flared and the man began lighting lamps. "Did you expect something else when you brought me here?"

"Say rather I hoped nothing else," he replied, then motioned for Frodo to fully enter the room and closed the door behind him softly.

The room was fine but held no distinguishing items. Frodo supposed there were many such rooms in the King's hall for visitors who required brief lodging. There was one small, high window. A hearth, but no fire lit on this warm evening. Tapestries covered two of the chill stone walls and dark linens graced the large bed, including curtains that could engulf it when pulled closed.

But he truly had eyes only for the man, a warrior, his bearing proud and his body so hale. When he walked to the side table where glasses and a bottle of spirits rested beside a bowl of fruit, Frodo stared at his thighs and backside, admiring the way the muscles moved beneath his tight clothing.

The man turned to face him. "Would you like a drink?" he offered.

"The King's hospitality is impressive," Frodo remarked, pulling his gaze away and pretending to look at the room again.

"But not as tempting to me as you are," came the reply. The man stepped away from the table and toward Frodo, who suddenly felt very small. "Do you require conversation and drinks now, Mysterious Hobbit, or shall we attend our business?"

Frodo shook his head in reply. He did not need any preliminaries with those dark eyes burning him with intense lust. He moved a step closer to the man, pulling off his waistcoat and dropping it to the floor. The man came to him then and he was roughly grasped, pulled into a deep kiss that drove all memories away. There was no past nor any future in this man's strong arms, only sword-calloused fingers pulling at his buttons and a hot, demanding mouth plundering his own. Frodo buried his hands in the bright locks and gave himself to pleasure and forgetfulness.

He was lifted easily and laid on the wide bed, where he watched as the man stripped off his tunic and leggings. His body was lean and muscular, not at all marred by the few scars silvered across chest and arms. Frodo hoped his own wounds didn't cause questions or pause, so he bit back any words and merely opened his arms to the magnificent beast now nude before him.

But the man stood still a few moments longer, his breathing heavy as his gaze lingered on Frodo. For his part, Frodo felt the look as a caress and actually writhed a little, not from modesty but to show his answering arousal. For the man's member was hardening as he stood staring, grown to a size that delighted Frodo. He fiercely wanted to be touched and taken, and made part of life again.

"Please," he said, and the warrior came to him at last, covering him with his heavier body, holding him down for long kisses and bites to his neck and chest. Frodo touched his own lips to the scars on the broad chest while the man moved to nuzzle his shoulder. Then he pulled away for a moment, his eyes mirroring Frodo's arousal, but also full of playfulness. With a lascivious lick of his own lips the man moved downward, and Frodo felt his member licked and teased by a clever tongue, then engulfed by a hot mouth.

To Frodo's great joy, he found his body able to respond appropriately. He'd feared such arousal was forever burned away by the Ring, but he was hardening under the assault of hands, mouth and tongue. He could still be physically aroused, not merely mentally distracted. The knowledge brought tears to his eyes.

He couldn't reach the man, but he pushed up on his elbows to watch the bright head moving on him. As if he'd called out, dark eyes rose to meet his even as that mouth continued to suck at him. Frodo moaned and fell back. He felt unable to control himself at the sight of such lust. Could that hunger truly be for him? But the tongue stopped its play and he was released to cool air, and he lay panting, calming, as hands caressed down his legs.

"Hobbits do not seem so very different from men," the man said with a smile. "But their feet, these certainly are unique." He picked up Frodo's right foot and ran his fingers through the curls atop it. Then he grasped it with both hands and rubbed hard at the thick sole, digging in his thumbs to massage it. Frodo groaned, writhing, until the man released him. Frodo lay panting, watching as he stood and moved to the washbasin, turning with a wicked smile to bring a wet towel to the bed.

Frodo's arousal calmed as the man gently washed his feet with the lukewarm cloth. He watched the long face, so serious as he carefully cleaned the right foot, circling each toe, dipping between them, then wiping at the dusty hair. Then the left foot was raised and the motions repeated.

"That feels wonderful," Frodo said softly, feeling cherished, even though this gentleness was not what he sought.

"I can think of something that may feel even better," the man chuckled, and he raised the newly-clean foot toward his mouth. His tongue flashed out, swiping at the first toe, then dipping into the space between them. Frodo gasped in surprise, then laughed as the man kissed his toes, one by one. But the laughter turned into a moan as the warm tongue once again swirled around his first toe. The man's mouth opened, soft and wet and inviting, pulling his toe inside. Then he sucked it hard, his tongue still moving..

Frodo squealed with delight, laughing as his whole body arched off the bed for an instant, tingling and amazingly close to release. With another kiss to the toe the man pulled away, squeezing Frodo's foot. Kisses were dropped on the toes of his other foot, Frodo unable to control the twitching and little cries of arousal. Then the man prowled up his body, his big hands still warm as they stroked up, finding new places to arouse.

Finally he was in reach, kissing Frodo again, and the hobbit let his own hands clutch at him as they shared long meeting of tongues and lips that left both gasping for air.

The man pulled back, his eyes intense as he spoke.

"May I take you, my mysterious hobbit? May I give you pleasure in this manner, or is that alien to your race?"

"I wish to feel you inside me."

"You have laid with males before?"

"Only hobbits, but I am familiar -- oh!" Frodo broke off with a gasp as the large hand brushed his nipple, but then the bed shifted and he realized the man had stood and moved away. He was rummaging in a pack, and pulled out a small bottle with a triumphant look.

"Oil for treating my weapons," he explained, and Frodo laughed again.

"I'll treat your weapon tonight, sir." He took the bottle and enjoyed the man's gasps and groans as he coated him with the oil. But when he finished and lay back, the man did not move to mount him. Instead, he took the bottle and poured oil onto his own hand, then moved to touch Frodo.

"We must both be prepared, I think," he said to the hobbit's questioning look. "I want you to enjoy this as much as I know I shall."

Frodo felt an oil-coated finger tease at the entrance to his body, then slip inside. It was not unpleasant, and he could feel the man moving his finger within him, relaxing and opening him. He reached his arms over his head with a happy sigh and arched his back.

"More, please." The request brought a smile to the man's serious face.

"As you wish." A kiss landed on Frodo's nose, and now there was another intruder, and some slight discomfort. But the man's free hand came up to grasp Frodo's member with oil-slicked warmth, then moved slowly up and down, drawing his attention from the fingers still moving carefully inside him. Frodo groaned as the dueling sensations set fire to him again.

"You are beautiful," the man husked softly. "You set me aflame, halfling. I will have you now."

"Oh, yes," Frodo responded, and immediately the fingers withdrew, but as they did they brushed something inside him that shot incredible pleasure through him, sudden as fireworks. Frodo cried out again, then repeated "Yes!"

Those warm lips covered his again and strong arms pushed his legs to his chest. Hot hardness pressed into him, feeling enormous, too large to endure. And with his legs pressed so, and his mouth sealed, Frodo felt a moment of panic. He was unable to breathe! He moved frantically as the relentless push continued, burning, then suddenly something within him relaxed, and the man slid fully inside him, fast and hard. That incandescent pleasure bloomed again in his loins. Frodo's cry was caught in the other's mouth, and met by a deep groan from the man.

He broke their kiss then, and as Frodo drew a deep breath the man gasped "So tight..." and withdrew, then pushed again, and Frodo's long moan was answered by a deeper exclamation. When he pulled back again, Frodo pushed up to meet his thrust, and they found a rhythm. Frodo demanded more, and was met with a pace and a force that he never could have imagined, brutal and satisfying.

There was nothing but the straining, sweaty body above him and Frodo's own pleasure, beating in his ears and filling him. The room around them seemed to vanish and they were no longer in Minas Tirith, civilized city of Men, but in some timeless place where beasts could rut mindlessly in heart-stopping pleasure.

Frodo never wanted it to stop, the push and slam, the way the man's muscled arms held him down or pulled him up to meet his assault. The way his body sang sharper each moment, exhaustion only fueling the pleasure to a new level of flame.

"Ahh!" The man froze, shaking, and Frodo realized he'd reached completion. A few short thrusts, the long face screwed up as if in pain, and he pulled out of Frodo and threw himself beside him on the bed, panting. But one large hand immediately reached straight to Frodo's needy arousal, and with only a few strokes he was caught in the ecstasy of release, his body shaking as he came at last.

The man's hand came to rest on Frodo's thigh and he covered it with his own hand. They lay side by side, silent, while the moon appeared in the small window and climbed across it and out of sight.

Frodo turned to his side, then reached over and began stroking the man, bringing him back to readiness.

"So hobbits are as insatiable as I'd heard -- and not just for food."

"I am insatiable because of you," Frodo replied, kissing his shoulder, then his neck, whispering "I wish to ride you," before kissing the full red lips.

"I am yours to command, my halfling prince."

Frodo froze. "Why do you call me that?"

The man reached a rough hand to his face and stroked it gently. "Because you are a prince to me, ruler of my heart."

Frodo pulled back, shaking his head. "No, I would not be your sovereign. Tonight we give pleasure and receive it in return. But it is only for tonight."

The man nodded, his face expressionless, and kissed Frodo tenderly. Then he lay back as Frodo climbed atop him. Frodo stroked the man's member again, dropping a kiss on the head and watching the blood fill it. Then he sat up, using one hand to hold the hardened rod steady, and bent forward to kiss the man before slowly moving down, rocking and sinking onto the hot flesh. The man groaned and kneaded the sheets beside him, keeping his hands away from Frodo though his eyes pleaded for more. But he let Frodo set the pace and the hobbit kept moving, adjusting to the man's length, finding his way until he was fully impaled. He rested for a moment, watching the face beneath him break out in sweat as the man bit his lip to control himself, his eyes never leaving Frodo's face.

Then he began to move at last, teasing with shallow strokes, enjoying his control of the big man and wanting to prolong their pleasure this time. He worked his legs, pulling himself up off the hard rod inside him, then slowly moving back down on it. When he finally sped up, sinking down fully and pulling a gasp from the man, Frodo giggled.

"The Rohirrim are horse masters, are they not? Yet I am the one riding a stallion tonight." He pulled himself up again, teasing once more.

The man grunted, "Then ride me, damn you," and Frodo began moving more rhythmically, pleased when the man was struck speechless and reduced to moans. Then he found the angle that shot pleasure into him, and Frodo began rocking crazily, maddened with pleasure. Both were crying out curses and pleas to continue and to move faster. The man's broad hands landed on Frodo's hips and began pulling him down harder, and Frodo released with a shriek, his essence spurting onto the man's belly. The relentless push and pull continued until the man's hands clamped down hard, holding Frodo to him, his larger body convulsing, and Frodo knew he'd found his completion.

They lay still joined, Frodo's weight not seeming to impair the man's deep breaths, and so they slept a time in each other's arms.

Once more before morning they joined, the man first putting his mouth on Frodo and drinking his pleasure. Then he took him again, from behind, his thrusts even deeper. Frodo was so relaxed that this rougher assault seemed right. He was willing to endure bruises, and even pain would not have stopped him, for he knew this would be their last joining.

The knight would return to Rohan and his duties, and Frodo would never see him again. But he would remember this searing pleasure, the strength that took him, for the rest of his days. Thanks to this man's generous sensuality, Frodo knew that his great loss and loneliness could be forgotten -- at least, for a brief time. Frodo lowered his head to his arms and felt himself rocked forward again by another mighty thrust.

"You are mine, halfling," the man gasped. "I have claimed you. Others will want you, but you are mine now." Each breathless word was punctuated with a thrust, and Frodo felt himself grow aroused again from the sensation and his words. "No other man shall have you -- say it! You are mine."

"Yours!" Frodo cried and a large hand reached under him and closed over his arousal. He came again at the touch, though he hadn't believed it possible. The hand tightened and the man froze with a guttural cry of triumph. Frodo was his, claimed and owned.

And still, they would never see each other again.


Months passed and the hobbits lingered in Minas Tirith. Frodo watched the King's happiness blossom with his bride, saw Merry and Pippin's love deepening with each passing day, and noted when the weekly post left, carrying letters from Faramir to Eowyn in Rohan.

She had gone because the War had damaged so much of that kingdom, and Frodo knew his knight would be busy, too, with many duties. Too busy to brood about their night together as much as Frodo still did.

He remained alone, though there were chances for other casual nights with the women and men of the city. Frodo smiled and spoke with them, even drank with them, but went to his bed alone each night. Alone with the deep voice echoing in his memory: "No other."

"Frodo!" Pippin called as he and Merry hurried over to where Frodo sat with Sam, lingering over tea in the bright morning sun. "Hullo, Sam."

"Still at breakfast? You should come down to the Gates with us," Merry scolded. "Eomer and the knights of Rohan have returned to the city."

"I'll go down with you," Frodo said, rising and hastily wiping at his mouth with a cloth.

"We both will," Sam corrected, quickly standing. Even so many months later, Sam was not happy when Frodo was out of his sight.

The four of them trooped down through the city, chattering amiably. But Frodo noticed Merry grew quieter as they progressed, his eyes far away.

"They've returned for Merry's friend, King Theoden," Pippin explained quietly. "He is to be carried home at last for a proper funeral. Aragorn laid him with the kings of Gondor to honor him, but now his people claim him."

Frodo nodded. "Then the time has come that we shall be leaving for home. Aragorn told me he will ride along to honor Theoden."

Sam looked happy at the thought, but Pip's eyes went back to Merry, and he moved to take his cousin's hand gently, smiling when Merry looked at him.

When they reached the Gates, the Rohirrim were already dismounting. Frodo and Sam stayed back as Merry went forward to greet Eowyn and others he knew. Frodo saw the man, his man, almost immediately, for he was beside her in a place of honor. So his guess had been correct and the man was from a high born family. It explained his lodging within the palace and his fine clothes, as well as his quick intelligence.

The man bent to greet Merry courteously, and also Pippin. Then he straightened, taller than those around him, and his eyes swept the crowds of well-wishers, scanning -- until they lighted on Frodo where he stood staring back. He nodded just once, without smiling, and Frodo did the same. Then the man was swept with the rest of the king's knights into the city, up toward the higher circles.

"Frodo? Are you unwell?" Sam, looking very concerned, was shaking his arm. "I've been calling you."

"I'm fine, Sam. I merely was distracted." He let Sam pull him along behind the crowd, back up into the city proper. "The men of Rohan are akin to some of those in Bree, did you know? Gandalf says they are descended from the Beornings, the same race as those of Esgaroth."

"No, I didn't know that, though it's plain they're not like Strider and his folk. Still, it seems as men should just be men."

"Ah -- and a rose and a peony should just be flowers? Or a Stoor and a Fallohide should just be hobbits, no differences between them?"

"Well, to these men they're the same, ain't they? We're all just halflings to them, and they think I'm as gentle born as you or your cousins. Princes, they call us all."

Frodo laughed at that, though he felt more like crying, memories tugging at him. He'd been the one to say they could have only that one night -- it was his choice. He had no right to feel so miserable.


There was a formal dinner that evening to welcome the new king of Rohan and his sister. Of course. For once, Frodo was looking forward to another such event. When he arrived with Sam, though, the room was crowded and he couldn't really see faces very well from his height. He tried to be patient until the assembly began taking their seats. Sam found them places near Pippin, sitting alone since Merry was with the king's party.

Frodo scanned the room, looking for him. Surely he would be here tonight. Aragorn and Arwen took their seats at the head, with Eowyn and Faramir to their left. And directly on their right, in the place of honor, was his knight, attired in white and green with a golden diadem in his shining hair. His eyes were happy and proud.

Frodo stared at him stupidly, refusing to believe his own reasoning. It could not be -- but Merry was seated beside him, wearing the colors of Rohan, and an array of men -- obviously of lesser rank -- sat further down the table.

"Pippin," he hissed across the table, "who is that on Aragorn's right? You sat with him some months ago..."

Pippin's surprise would have been comical were not Frodo so distressed. "That is Eomer," he whispered back. "Don't you remember? Eowyn's brother, the new king of Rohan."

Frodo nodded and sat back to find Sam's eyes on him. He turned his attention to the meal but couldn't eat much, even with Sam watching and piling his favorites on the plate. His eyes kept returning to him -- Eomer, not some anonymous swordsman of Rohan. The king, who had claimed him that unforgettable night.

How could he have been so stupid? He'd told himself the man didn't know who he was, willfully forgetting that he was one of only four hobbits in the realm, and the only one missing a finger. Had he truly believed the man would think he'd lost it chopping wood? He'd been so foolish, and worse, he'd been so disrespectful, not even recognizing him.

He could never face the man again. Yet they would be traveling with him for days -- Merry had to attend Theoden's funeral and they all should pay full honor to the fallen king.

The meal seemed to drag on for hours, each course sticking in Frodo's throat. He managed to eat enough to satisfy Sam, or so he thought until his friend suggested an early departure and a day of bed rest for Frodo.

"You look right flushed. Like enough it's a fever starting," he concluded.

"No, I'm fine," Frodo insisted.

"Pardon my saying so, but that just ain't true. You weren't well earlier today, and you've been either pale or red throughout this here feast with no real appetite, neither. If you won't listen to me I'll ask Strider--"

Frodo cut him off, horrified. "Sam, you wouldn't! The King has too many duties to be bothered just because I'm not very hungry tonight."

Sam was only momentarily stymied. "Lord Elrond, then. He and Gandalf can figure out what's wrong with you."

"Nothing is wrong, Sam, except that my best friend is treating me as if I were a willful child." Frodo rose with his most aloof manner and continued, "I'll find my own way home, Sam, and retire as you suggest. Stay here and finish your meal." Sam looked very unhappy, but Pippin put a hand on his arm and he stayed put.

Frodo was at the door when Aragorn silenced the room to toast the friendship of Gondor and Rohan. Then Eomer stood to speak and Frodo lingered a moment longer, just to hear the deep voice and accent he remembered so well. But when Eomer's eyes seemed to move in his direction, Frodo fled. He was sick in the street, and one of the guard helped Frodo back to his house.


"You certainly have Sam in a state, Frodo. He says you've never willingly stayed in bed a whole day before."

Frodo blushed but couldn't stammer an intelligent reply, stunned that Aragorn and Arwen had left their many duties to come here and see him. "I need to have a talk with Sam," is what came out when he opened his mouth, and Aragorn laughed but Arwen looked surprised.

"You are not ill?"

"Not seriously ill -- I didn't mean to cause anyone alarm," Frodo began, but Arwen put a cool hand on his face, silencing him.

"You are a little feverish," she said. "But it does not seem serious enough to keep you off your feet. Perhaps some time outside the city in the fresh air is all you require to recover fully from your indisposition at the banquet."

Frodo let them bundle him into a coat and lead him outside, where the other hobbits waited in a waggon. They were all smiles when they saw him, and Pippin took great pride in pointing out the size of the picnic baskets they'd personally assembled and the many bottles stowed under the seat.

"Here, Frodo." Aragorn helped him up next to Merry, who held the reins. "Now relax and enjoy your day, please. I expect to hear that you are soon fully recovered."

"He will be," Pippin called back as they moved away. "He just needs a hobbity day."

It was a beautiful day. Merry drove them out of the City, far enough to escape the scars of war and battle on the landscape as well as the noise of so many men. Then they ate and talked and slept in the fresh warm air, the sun warming their toes.

But when they woke and began tidying up and reloading the waggon, Sam and Pippin started discussing their return to the Shire. Both Merry and Frodo grew silent, but Frodo realized that the subject was more distressing to Merry. His grief outweighed Frodo's embarrassment.

He felt terrible about inconveniencing Aragorn and worrying his friends, and vowed to control himself henceforth. Frodo put an arm around Merry and called for an old song, turning the talk to cheerier subjects until Merry was himself again.


Frodo's resolve lasted several days, through discussions and preparations for their journey home via Rohan. He even attended what he sincerely hoped would be his final banquet for many years to come, a farewell to the Khandian delegation. Since Aragorn was about to leave Minas Tirith for many days, the visiting diplomats were returning to their own homes as well.

Eomer was there, of course, but Frodo managed to keep his eyes to himself after the initial greeting to King Elessar and his party. Eomer looked marvelous and every glimpse of his mesmerizing eyes and those powerful hands made Frodo weak with arousal, but he kept his face neutral and his eyes averted as much as possible. He did steal a few glances while dinner was being served, being only mortal.

Frodo left the room early, not even dessert tempting him to stay and torture himself with further glimpses of Eomer. Sam went with him, admitting that he, too, was tired of state dinners and meals that involved so much speechifying. They walked the long, wide hallway, past milling guests socializing, and were waiting for the guards to open the outside doors for them when a well-remembered voice called.

"Frodo! May I have a word with you?" He turned and knew his face was white. Sam actually grasped his arm in support, but Frodo quickly composed himself as Eomer approached. "I had a question, if you can give me a moment of time."

"Certainly." He smiled falsely at the tall man, then turned to Sam. "You go ahead, I'll be along soon." Sam looked at him hard for a moment, but Frodo's calm mask was secure. He nodded politely to Eomer and moved through the grand wooden doors while Frodo walked back into the crowd with Eomer.

He led Frodo through to a side door, covered by a heavy tapestry. It led to a narrow, winding corridor and a long flight of steps. Eomer didn't speak again, just led Frodo up the steps and through a few turns, until he recognized a familiar door. Still wordless, he followed the man into his room again, his eyes seeing both past and present in every fitting and corner.

When Eomer closed the door and opened his arms, Frodo went to him willingly.


Fifteen days of leisurely travel flew by, Frodo in such a blissful state he was amazed he didn't fall off his mount every time he caught a glimpse of Eomer. Of course, the public image of the king did not compare to his memories of the real man: warrior, knight, and lover. Eomer showed more of himself with each claiming, and their nights in his tent were filled with conversations about their parents and what it meant to be orphaned, their people and the customs of their lands, and the greater events of the Age.

It couldn't last. Frodo knew this, yet he couldn't stop giving more and more of his heart to the beautiful man who brought him respite from existence as the failed Ringbearer.

When they came within sight of Edoras, citizens lined the road, all paying silent tribute to Theoden as his wain passed. Merry rode along as esquire, his face set and his body at attention, honoring his friend. Pippin watched him with sorrow and pride plain to read on his expressive face.

The war had changed them all, and Frodo wished it weren't so every time he saw the sadness in Merry and the too-old weariness in Pippin's eyes. Even Sam was different, more patient with others yet less willing to waste time himself. Once he was healed, he'd spent his time in Minas Tirith studying their plants and crops, learning all he could about their farming and gardening methods in the harsh, rocky lands surrounding the city. Aragorn's cooks had delighted in serving them all delicacies from lands further south, tart fruits and strange vegetables that they'd never experienced, and Sam had actually gone on a week's journey to see some of the farms and learn their methods for dealing with a lengthy dry season.

Frodo knew he'd spent months blinded by self-pity, not really seeing or understanding the changes in those he loved. He'd been too absorbed in his own pain until Eomer released him from the intense introspection in which the Ring's destruction had trapped him.

He gazed ahead to the straight back and proud head of his lover. A few more days until Theoden's funeral, and then they would be leaving for Rivendell and the Shire. How would he go on without that stern face before him, and the eyes that promised him bliss each night? For that matter, now that Eomer had returned to his kingdom, would he have time for Frodo? Could they spend their nights together as they'd been doing in the wilderness, or would that lead to gossip and trouble for Eomer?

Frodo put the questions out of his mind. Instead, he let his mind wander back to last night's meeting. He'd left his tent once Sam was snoring softly, knowing Merry and Pippin were still awake but wouldn't comment on his absence, since it gave them privacy. Eomer always dismissed his guards and walked outside his tent until Frodo arrived. Then they would go inside and have mulled wine and discuss their day, until neither could wait any longer to join lips and bodies. It was always the same, and always different. Eomer's eyes would soften or fill with lust. They would run to the bed, throwing off their clothes and laughing, or fall on each other where they sat with passionate kisses and hot, hasty coupling.

Or, like last night, they would lie together, still clothed, and kiss until Frodo was dizzy, just a slow sweet meeting of mouths and tongues and a lazy climb to arousal. Frodo loved that the most, for on such nights, it seemed they would have all the time they needed to explore each other's bodies and find their release. Frodo could pretend that he and Eomer had forever together.

They entered the gates of the capitol and began the ride up to Eomer's hall, where Theoden would lie in state for two days until the funeral. Frodo came back to reality quickly. Their time was coming to an end. It might already be over.


There was a feast for the guests, as Frodo should have expected. Did he think only Gondor honored visitors from other lands with endless meals? The longest birthday dinners in the Shire seemed brief by comparison, though he had to admit that the hobbits were more likely to have another lengthy meal scant hours later.

The Golden Hall of Edoras was very different from Minas Tirith's white stone banquet hall, yet the evening was similar. There were a few different customs -- no looking West for a moment of silence before the meal, as the people of Minas Tirith did. But there were songs of Theoden, mourning his death even as they celebrated his life and deeds. Merry stood behind Eomer, serving the new king as he would have served the old, his face tight though he seemed comforted by the music.

Sam nearly fell asleep in his plate, worn from days of the unfamiliar exercise of riding. It wasn't difficult to send him off to the finely-appointed bedroom the four hobbits shared. Pippin chased off after Merry as soon as he was released from his duties, and Frodo knew he would be making sure Merry got his share of the remnants of the feast, plus whatever Pip had saved for him from their table. Frodo felt confident neither hobbit would go to sleep hungry, no matter how long Merry had been forced to wait for his meal.

But once they were gone, Frodo felt self-conscious again, and wondered if Eomer thought he'd sent them all away. He didn't want to appear unwilling to see the king, but neither did he wish to force contact between them. Eomer had his duties now, and Frodo understood that things between them must change.

But the clear eyes watching him from across the room seemed unchanged, full of lust and promise. Frodo blushed, his breath taken away, then nodded and let his own desire flame in his returned stare. Eomer gestured to one of the servers and spoke to the man, who bowed and a few minutes later came to Frodo, bearing a goblet of wine.

"The King wishes to speak with you, sir. Will you accompany me?" Frodo followed him to a smaller room away from the noise of the Hall, where he was given a chair close to the fire and left the wine. He waited there for over an hour before Eomer appeared, his crown and fine garments removed. Now he wore only a long, soft-looking robe trimmed in fur and belted with fabric.

"I'm sorry to have been so long, Frodo." Eomer gave the fire attention first, adding "You should have rung for someone to attend this. You must be chilled."

"No, I'm fine."

He smiled at Frodo but obviously didn't believe the hobbit's remark. "Would you like more wine, or a brandy perhaps?" But Frodo couldn't answer, couldn't tell the man what he wanted were his arms and his lips, the force of his body searing Frodo's own flesh.

But the true answer must have shown on his face, for he was in Eomer's arms now, being held close, with warm hands on his back and wine-scented breath touching his neck.

"Frodo, will you stay with me this evening?" he whispered. "Can I love you again?"

"Please," Frodo whispered back before seeking the mouth he wanted so badly to taste again. Their mouths remained locked together as Eomer lifted him and took him out of the small sitting room, down many stairs and into a chamber truly furnished for a king. There were thick skins on the floor, sofas and fine polished wooden tables, and a bed that seemed large enough for a whole family of tall men, covered in soft white furs.

Frodo knew they were soft because Eomer laid him upon them, still kissing him, and pulled at Frodo's clothing until his naked flesh was being caressed by both the man and the fur bedcovering. He writhed with pleasure from the sensations and his anticipation as Eomer released him to pull off his own robe, revealing his magnificently aroused nude body. Frodo opened his arms and Eomer came to him, his weight pressing Frodo into the softness of the feather bed as he kissed down his body and murmured endearments.

For so many nights they'd tried to remain quiet and discreet, but tonight there was no muffling of their cries of pleasure. In Eomer's own palace he was master, and the king's pleasure was to hear his love and express his own joy. Frodo wondered if this loud and frantic lovemaking was part of the mourning process -- an affirmation of life, after so much loss. Theoden's body lay within this same building, and many of Eomer's friends and brothers in arms had been lost, including his beloved older cousin Theodred, who'd been so kind to him when he and Eowyn came to live with their uncle's family.

Whatever the reason, Frodo was happy to offer him the same forgetfulness and release he'd been given. He opened his body to be breached and taken, and let Eomer leave finger marks on his hips and arms without protest. For the first time, his own pleasure came more from seeing Eomer's bliss than from the physical sensations of their joining.

But it was pleasure, being owned and opened to Eomer's frantic thrusting and biting kisses. Frodo again felt as he had that first evening, claimed and wanted, and it gave him great joy to feel so desired, lifting him from his now-habitual melancholy. He tried to return that pleasure to Eomer, to fill his kisses and touches with the same transcendent ecstasy for the man. He wanted to pull Eomer away from his duties, memories, and losses and into peace.

When Eomer finally shouted his completion and stilled his frenzied movements, collapsing atop Frodo and remaining there, heedless of whether the hobbit was satisfied or not, Frodo knew he'd succeeded. It was the first time Eomer was so far outside himself that he'd been a less considerate partner.

"Now you're mine," Frodo whispered, shifting below Eomer to find a comfortable way to breathe as the man snored atop him. "Now I've claimed you, too."


Theoden's funeral was over and they'd been through the feast that followed it, watching as Faramir and Eowyn at last plighted their troth publicly with the approval of her brother and King Elessar.

The time had come to take leave of Rohan, and while everything was prepared, Frodo went to say goodbye to Eomer in the sitting room where he'd waited six nights earlier.

"Frodo..." Eomer seemed as incapable of finding words as Frodo himself felt. "You once told me we were merely seeking pleasure together, and that our parting was inevitable." The man rose and paced to the window, then returned to where Frodo sat feeling small and very wrong. "I must confess that despite your warning, my feelings for you are stronger than those of a casual partner."

Frodo looked up at him, his own eyes filled with tears at the thought of their parting, and saw understanding immediately grace Eomer's serious, loving face. He took Frodo into his arms one last time, pressing kisses into his hair.

"You must go to Rivendell and see Bilbo, and I know you wish to see your home again. Perhaps there you will forget our time together."

Frodo sobbed, "No, I shall always remember you, even if you no longer want me."

"Ah, but I do want you, Frodo. If your Shire is well, yet you still crave peace and forgetfulness, I want you to come back to me." Eomer pulled back for a moment and removed a golden coin from his belt pouch. "This is a very old coin of our realm, one that is no longer used by anyone save the King's household."

He rose and took the coin to the hearth, then picked up a sword that had been laid among the coals. With a heavy blow of the hot metal, he split the coin in two against the stone, and with two sharp twists of the blade's point he made holes in each piece. He used the hot blade to smooth the edges, and then Eomer returned to the desk by the window to retrieve two fine golden chains. He threaded one into each of the coins, and fastened the first about his neck. He held the other out to Frodo.

"If you will wear this in memory of me, know that it gives you freedom to enter the realm of Rohan, and will give you immediate admittance to me." At a nod from Frodo, he clasped the chain around the hobbit's neck. It was light, so light that Frodo had no discomfort despite the wounds and scars on his neck. The half-coin seemed to warm against his chest, and he found more comfort touching it than the cold white gem Arwen had given him.

"Thank you, Your Majesty." He bowed, but Eomer knelt before him, shaking his head.

"No, Frodo, I am not your king. Merely a lonely knight of Rohan whose heart you hold. With you, I can be Eomer."

"Then I thank you, Eomer. The road ahead of me is uncertain, but you have given me comfort and hope." Frodo smiled with a touch of mischief, suddenly not as heart-heavy at their parting. "I hold your heart, you say, but I hope you do not forget that you have claimed me when others would not. You hold all of me, Sir Knight."

Frodo carried Eomer's warm smile with him on the long road back to the Shire, a beacon to a place he could return when he needed to find comfort and love.



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