A/N: I don't normally write love scenes, but I'm working on a novel that requires one and so I need the practice. Playing with Eomer and Lothiriel seemed as good a way to practice as any. This follows on from Warrior Queen and Swordplay, and occurs a few months further on in their marriage. However, you don't need to read the other stories as this stands on its own as just a one-off scene.

The pleasures of morning

Lothiriel didn't often wake before her husband. A lifetime of seeing to the needs of horses and men meant he was usually alert with the first rays of the sun. By the time breakfast was served in the Golden Hall, he would have completed more tasks than many men even contemplated in a day.

Not today, though. Today he was still soundly sleeping when she opened her eyes. She was not in the least bit surprised.

She had seen the exhaustion on his face the previous evening. He'd returned late from an arduous week-long fact-finding mission to the most northern parts of Rohan, where rumours of orcs were plentiful but apparently food and a decent night's sleep were not. Dirty and weary, he was barely out of the saddle before his advisors swooped with their endless list of tasks that urgently needed his attention. She allowed them to have their way with him until her patience could bear it no longer. Then, her temper barely reined, she had driven them from his presence and set about seeing that his belly was filled while a bath was being drawn for him.

Once she had been confident that his immediate hunger was sated, and that he had all he needed to wash the dust and grime of the journey from his skin, she had set about dealing with the last of the day's household duties. Her mind, however, had not been much on the trivialities of kitchen supplies. Rather she was anticipating the pleasant prospect of finally being alone with him in their bedchamber. A week without him had proven a much greater expanse of time than she'd expected. And it wasn't just his company she'd missed.

Prior to her marriage she had sometimes overheard women speaking of doing their wifely duty between the sheets. Their lack of enthusiasm had led her to believe the act of lovemaking was an arduous affair, akin to washing sheets or darning hose. She had been wrong. Or was it just that she had been fortunate in being married to a man who cared as much for her pleasure as he did his own. Whatever the reason, she could not help but feel a pang of disappointment when she found Eomer had succumbed to sleep before she'd had chance to join him in bed.

Now, though, she allowed herself the rare and simple pleasure of simply looking at him as he slept on his side, facing towards her. She was both blessed and cursed with a handsome man for a husband. Blessed because in quiet moments like these she could feast herself on his features - the dark line of his eyebrows, the straightness of his nose, the temptation of firm, generous lips framed with just the right amount of beard and moustache. But cursed too because she knew that there were many women in both Rohan and Gondor who would willing bed him even though they knew him to be hers. Indeed, there were many who saw that as spice to the challenge. She dragged her thoughts away from that particular area. This morning was about enjoying what was hers, not needless worries about those who sought to steal him from her.

Reaching out, she brushed a strand of hair from his face. Freshly washed, it was a tangle of gold against the cream linen of his pillow. She promised herself she would find time to comb the wind-tied knots from it before much more of the morning passed her by. The skin of his cheek was warm to her touch and she suddenly found herself desiring yet more tactile pleasures. She moved her hand to his shoulder, one finger tracing gently along the narrow silvery line of a scar. In the first weeks of their marriage it had both delighted and horrified her to become intimate with each mark on his body. This wound was from his youth - a shallow cut from a sword when he'd lost his concentration during a training session. Her hand trailed lower and she ran her thumb across the raised circle that marked where an arrow had once penetrated his flesh. The thought of him wounded and in pain made her shiver and, as she did each time her attention was drawn to this spot, she uttered a silent prayer of protection. Keep him safe. Keep him whole.

As though in response, he murmured something in his sleep and rolled onto his back, one arm now flung above his head. The mix of vulnerability and abandon in his pose sent a rush of desire through her. A warrior by birth and training he rarely dropped his guard, even with his most trusted friends. That he did so beside her each night was an honour that she did not treat lightly. There was more to her response than simply his relaxed pose though. He had not wasted time or effort in seeking out his nightclothes the previous evening, an omission for which she was grateful as she drank in the sight of his muscled chest with its light dusting of golden hair. Slowly her gaze moved down to the line of darker hair that tantalising led to parts of him that were currently beneath the sheet.

Unable to resist the temptation, she stroked the palm of her hand across the smooth plain of his stomach and then dipped lower into the warm darkness of the bedclothes. Surprised and delighted, she found her gentle touch had already stirred his body into partial readiness. She hesitated, the prospect of pleasuring him into full wakefulness vying with her concern that he should sleep his fill. Uncertain what to do she glanced up - and found him watching her, his gaze dark with desire and love.

His look sent another jolt of anticipated pleasure through her. Despite her fears about the women of the court, she knew that she was the only one that awoke such passion in him. Sometimes she would catch his gaze across a crowded hall and she would see desire flare in his eyes. It was intoxicating. Wondrous. Frightening.

"I didn't mean to wake you," she said apologetically.

Amusement sparked in the green of his eyes. "Did you think, then, to simply have your way with me while I slept?" he asked.

She felt heat flush her cheeks as she realised her hand was still intimately positioned against his rapidly growing manhood. She had absolutely no idea how to respond to his question. Fortunately he saved her from the need by suddenly tangling his legs with her own and, with one smooth movement, rolling over so she was pinned beneath him.

"What makes you think I have not already done so?" she replied playfully, finally finding the right words. "You leave me alone for a week and then return to our marriage bed too exhausted to even kiss me good night. I could not be blamed if I took advantage of you while you slept."

He was totally unperturbed by her teasing. "Whatever you enjoyed while I slept, my Lady, I am sure it was nothing compared to what I can offer you now I'm awake."

"Such fine arrogance," she said with a soft laugh. "But words are cheap, my Lord."

"Then let us not waste our time with them," he murmured, covering her mouth with his own.

She opened to him eagerly, savouring the taste of him and welcoming the teasing tickle of his moustache and beard against her skin. For several moments they simply enjoyed the communion of a kiss, but then she felt his left hand caress a path from her shoulder to her breast and then down to her hip. He shifted his weight slightly and a shiver of pleasure shot through her as he slid a finger between her legs, expertly finding exactly the right spot.

He broke the kiss so he could look down at her, triumph in his eyes. "Now do you believe me when I say there are certain things that I cannot do while sleeping?"

Before she could retort, he dropped his head and mercilessly set about arousing her every sense. His mouth closed over her right breast and his fingers stroked in and out, their rhythm quickly making her body thrum with anticipation as the sweetest of tensions built within her. Closing her eyes she gave herself up to his ministrations. Her breath quickened. Her pulse raced. Arching her hips, she clutched desperately at the bedclothes as her body prepared to explode.

And then suddenly he stopped.

"Eomer!" she choked. Her eyes flew open and she saw his face hovering over her. His eyes were dark with desire, but also crinkled with mischeviousness.

"Your eyes were closed," he said huskily. "I thought perhaps you had fallen asleep. Unlike you, I would not be so unchivalrous as to take pleasure while you did not."

She knew he was teasing her. No, she thought. He was tormenting her, the scoundrel. She tried to growl at him, but he swooped down to kiss her again, and she felt his body realigning with hers. Moments later she was overwhelmed by the sensation of him filling her. After that she was lost in him. Taking most of his weight on his arms, he picked up the rhythm he had used so effectively before. This time she kept her eyes open, holding his gaze, letting the visual stimulus play its part in bonding them together. In moments the tension was back. Every nerve ending seemed centred on the single spot that he was expertly stroking with each thrust. She gasped his name as she felt herself tighten further, and then she was flying on the crest of the wave, her muscles spasming around him.

With a loud exhalation he joined her in ecstasy. She felt his orgasm shudder through him and his strength race from his muscles as its pleasure jolted through him. His shoulders quivered with the tension of keeping his weight from crushing her, but his gaze never left her face, and even more overwhelming than the physical release was the naked love that burned in his eyes. Reaching up she caught his face in her hands and drew him to her, crushing his lips with her own. Then finally they parted, lying sated and content in a tangle of sweat-burnished limbs.

It was several minutes before either of them moved.

"Your advisors will be waiting," she said softly. "They'll be worried you are unwell, lying so late in bed."

He sighed. "Perhaps I should issue an edict that, in future, I will not be present in the Great Hall until after the Queen has ensured that I am properly awake."

She rolled onto her side and smiled down at him. "I would be delighted to add such a task to my royal duties, but I fear the needs of Rohan may frequently outweigh our own."

"Sadly I believe you are right." Eomer pushed himself off the bed and began to pull on his clothes. He looked back at her lovingly. "Tonight, however, I promise I will remain awake until you come to bed."

"Is that all you will promise me?" she said seductively.

Eomer smiled. "No, my dear wife. I promise you my heart, my soul and my body - as always."

It was so much more than the playful answer she had expected that for a moment she could not speak. When finally she found her voice there was only one thing she could say.

"I love you, my husband and my king."

"And I you, my wife and my queen."

A warm glow flooded through her, and with it the knowledge that it was going to be another very long day.