First – I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who reviewed Warrior Queen, my first foray into the world of LotR. (Rohan Nitpicker – thanks for the tip about names. Everyone who asked if there would be a sequel – possibly *g*)

Meanwhile, I hope you all enjoy this light-hearted look at the friendship between Eomer and Legolas. It was inspired by a rather silly conversation with a friend. Gem, this if for you. *g*

*****************************************

Eomer was back! And he alive!

Relieved to hear news of the king's return shouted through the Golden Hall, Legolas hurried from his chamber to greet the recently crowned King of Rohan. And to give him a piece of his mind.

What was the point of being an adviser to the king if said king took no notice of him? It was, of course, true that his role was unofficial – one he had undertaken both as a favour to Aragorn and because he counted himself a friend of the new king, as well as admiring the Eomer's bravery and skill on the field of battle. Nevertheless, it was frustrating to have his words ignored. And he had not appreciated the long hours of Eomer's absence during which he could do nothing but fear the young King would get himself killed.

He sighed heavily as he remembered the recent confrontation. Eomer, weary of council meetings and struggling to come to terms with a role he had not sought nor desired, had become animated on being told that a party of orcs that had been seen half a day's ride from Edoras.

"Saddle Firefoot," he'd ordered. "I shall ride out immediately."

"My Lord King," Legolas had said quietly. "You are no longer Third Marshal of the Mark."

Eomer had bristled. "Can a king not fight for his people as well as rule?"

Legolas had chosen his words carefully. "A King perhaps needs to choose his battles wisely." Stepping closer to Eomer he'd then whispered so only he could hear. "And Rohan needs a live king more than it needs dead orcs."

In response Eomer had given a curt nod and ordered Marshall Elfhelm to prepare his eorod. Legolas had congratulated himself on a job well done. Later that day, though, Eomer's frustration at being required to spend hours discussing grain yields had spilled over, resulting in a dawn departure with fifteen of his most trusted warriors. The new king clearly had much to learn about patience, and even more to learn about delegation. Eomer-King also needed to learn that there was a price to pay for scaring an elf half to death.

Ahead of him the door to the hall was open. Already his sensitive elven nose could detect the aroma of horse, sweat and blood - both orc and human. His footsteps silent, he entered the room and felt his stomach muscles twist as he laid eyes on Eomer. He had expected the dirt and mud that streaked Eomer's face and matted his long, blonde hair, but he was not prepared for the blood that was running freely from a gash just above Eomer's left eyebrow.

"You are hurt!" he said, his tone more accusation than sympathy.

"It is but a scratch," Eomer replied lightly, tossing his riding gloves onto a table. "It opened afresh when I removed my helmet." He reached up to touch the wound, but Legolas was too fast for him. He caught Eomer's hand in his own and frowned at the dirt encrusted beneath the king's nails.

"You would be wiser not to transfer the filth from your hands to an open wound, Eomer-King."

Eomer had the grace to look abashed. "Indeed. That was foolish of me."

"Perhaps your injury has addled your brain," Legolas suggested with acidic good-humour. "'Tis more than a scratch."

Eomer laughed softly. "Nothing ails me that will not be cured by a hot meal and a flagon of wine."

"And a bath," Legolas added, wrinkling his nose. He glanced around and saw that the healer was busy dealing with more serious injuries than that of the king. "Come to my chamber," he said. "I will see to your wound."

Reluctance showed on Eomer's face. "Am I right in thinking you will use the opportunity to chastise me for my recklessness?"

Legolas met his gaze calmly. "If you prefer I will speak now. I am sure your men will find my opinion of your behaviour to be an entertaining monologue worthy of much repeating."

Eomer sighed, then reluctantly turned and headed towards the door. Legolas' sharp ears caught a muttered comment that he would rather spend a night in the dungeons of the golden hall than submit to an Elven tongue lashing. He smiled to himself. By the time he was through, Eomer would, indeed, wish he'd had such a choice.

Some fifteen minutes later, Legolas was satisfied that Eomer's wound was clean and dressed and that he had said enough on the subjects of reckless campaigns and the responsibilities of kingship. Now, as he stood looking down at the young king's dirty and tangled hair his thoughts turned to more mundane practicalities.

"This is for you," he said, taking a covered pot from a shelf on the wall and handing it to Eomer.

Eomer removed the cover and sniffed at the contents, then, before Legolas could say anything, he stuck one finger into it, scooped out a helping of the sweet-smelling paste and stuck it into his mouth. Legolas roared with laughter as Eomer's expression changed to disgust and he desperately looked around for somewhere to spit.

"My dear friend," he said, as Eomer finally made it to the window and deposited the vile-tasting mouthful outside. "Have you not learnt that not everything that smells of honey is honey?"

"I'm half-starved!" Eomer complained bitterly, his face still screwed up in disgust. "What is this foul stuff since it is clearly not food?"

"It is a cleansing lotion for hair." Legolas opened the door to his chamber and bowed as he gestured Eomer to depart. "And now, friend, I believe you have an appointment with a bath."

"Elves!" Eomer snorted. He put the lid back on the pot and headed out the door, then paused in the hallway. "Thank you, Legolas. For both the lotion and your friendship."

Legolas inclined his head graciously. "You are welcome."

*****

Legolas woke early the next morning and discovered the sun was rising on a perfect day for riding. He had clearly spent too much time around the Rohirrim if he was having such thoughts, but nevertheless headed for the stables, intent on exercising Hasufel.

As usual the stable was fragrant with clean hay and straw. The horses of Rohan were well cared for – indeed, the women of Rohan frequently complained they came second to their husbands' steeds. This morning, though, Legolas picked up a different aroma in the air. The scent of honey.

He smiled to himself, knowing who would be carrying such an aroma.

"Eomer?" he called, as he moved towards Hasufel's stall. "I'm surprised you are up at such an early hour." He tilted his head when no reply was forthcoming. "Eomer?" He turned towards Firefoot's stall. "I know you're here."

Still no reply. Alarm coiled tight in the pit of his stomach as he recalled the nasty gash he'd dressed on the king's forehead the previous evening. What if Eomer had come down to the stables to check on his horse and passed out? The night had been bitterly cold, and the stable was no place for an injured man.

"Eomer?!" Legolas yanked the door to Firefoot's stall open. His mouth fell open. "Oh, Eomer," he said softly as he took in the sight before him. Clearly his role of advisor to the king was far more challenging than he had imagined if this was the result of his previous day's work.

He stepped into the stall and pressed his forehead against the horse's warm neck in despair. The rich scent of honey filled his nostrils, and when he ran his hand through the horse's mane, he found the hair as soft as silk. The horse was immaculate from the top of his ears to the tip of his tail.

"Firefoot thanks you for the gift," a deep voice said from behind him.

Legolas spun round and found himself looking at the king, who was now dressed in soft leather britches and a loose woollen shirt.

"It was meant for you," he chastised gently, taking in the wild state of the king's hair. Eomer had obviously bathed the previous evening, but time spent with a comb was sadly lacking. "Tell me you did not use it all on your horse."

"Of course not." Eomer was indignant. "I have set some aside to send to my sister. I am sure Eowyn will be most grateful, although you may be nagged into parting with the recipe when next you meet her."

Legolas shook his head and laughed. "Perhaps I should set up a stall in the market."

"Perhaps you should," Eomer agreed. He turned to Firefoot and patted the horse on the neck, then he glanced at Legolas, his eyes twinkling. "So, will you ride with me this fine morning? Or are you afraid of the wind spoiling those pretty braids of yours if we do more than trot?"

So this was to be Eomer's revenge for the chastisement he'd submitted to the previous evening. Legolas smiled and met the challenge head on. "You may have Rohirrim blood in your veins, my friend, but you clearly have no brain between your ears. Long have elves and horses roamed these lands together, and Hasufel and I can best you and your Firefoot any day."

Eomer merely grinned. "A race it is then. Shall we say the first one to Mare's Head Hill wins."

"If we race, we must also wager," Legolas countered.

"Very well, what do you propose?"

"First say what you would have from me if I lose," Legolas replied.

Eomer considered for a moment, then ran his hand lovingly through Firefoot's mane. "The recipe for your honey-scented lotion."

Legolas inclined his head. "Very well, although you should know that not all the ingredients are easy to come by."

Eomer nodded his acceptance. "And what would you have from me?"

Legolas didn't hesitate. "The word of the king that he will wear braids in his hair at the next royal banquet."

"Braids?!" Eomer spluttered. Legolas raised one eyebrow, daring him to continue. In response, Eomer choked back whatever he was going to say. "Very well. You have my word."

With a smile, Legolas turned away and began to saddle Hasufel, whispering magical elvish words into the horse's ear. Eomer really needed to learn not to mess with an elf. Long would the next royal banquet be remembered.

The end