WARNING: This chapter is R-rated because it follows the bride and groom into the bedroom. Please don't read if you're likely to be offended or you're under 17 years of age.

Chapter 34 – Two become one

The Golden Hall was bathed in late afternoon sunshine as Eomer, King of Rohan and Lothiriel, Princess of Dol Amroth stood before Aragorn, King of Gondor. Raucous cheering broke out as they finished making their pledges to one another and Eomer swept Lothiriel into his arms, kissing her with a thoroughness that met with the heartiest approval of his people, and had her father turning away in amused embarrassment.

Faramir leaned towards Prince Imrihil. "There is a Rohirric saying - the longer the kiss, the longer the marriage," he whispered.

Imrihil smiled as around him the Rohirrim continued to whoop with delight. "Clearly Eomer intends to be married to my daughter for several centuries."

When finally the newly wed King and Queen of Rohan separated, they led the way to the groaning tables of the wedding feast. As the sun disappeared below the horizon, candles were lit, giving the hall a magical glow as the Rohirrim and their guests celebrated with noisy exuberance.

Eomer savoured every moment. On a table to his left, Elfhelm and Erika were sitting in quiet contentment, soon to be a family. Eomer could not help but smile at the peace radiating from his normally gruff Marshall. After so much trouble, Elfhelm deserved his years of happiness with his new wife and their as yet unborn child. To Eomer's right sat, Aragorn and Arwen, the Gondorian queen also aglow with pregnancy. Sitting to his left were Eowyn and Faramir, clearly still desperately in love with one another. How different Eowyn looked now. It was hard to imagine her as the haunted young woman who had ridden out with the army of Rohan in search of death, and then who faced losing all in order to protect him. She glanced over, smiled happily, and then turned back to Faramir.

Ah, it was indeed a new age. One that had seen it fit to bless him with a wonderful wife. A wife that he very much wanted to be alone with. Climbing to his feet, he banged his tankard on the table until he had the attention of the raucous wedding guests. "My friends," he said. "I thank you for all your good wishes towards the Queen and myself." He could not help but grin at Lothiriel as he spoke. "We are honoured by your presence on this special day, and grateful for all the gifts you have given us - and most of all for your friendship. Now, however…" Heat rushed to his cheeks as he prepared to say the traditional words. "Now is the hour. Pledges have been spoken, and two must become one. My friends, my wife and I bid you goodnight and ask that you continue to enjoy the feast in our absence."

He held out his hand to Lothiriel. Her face was scarlet with embarrassment as she took it. The Rohirrim, well fuelled with ale, did what they always did at this stage of a wedding feast. They blessed the departing couple with cheers, hollers and bawdy remarks, the latter causing Prince Imrihil to cover his ears with his hands. "Much as I admire and respect your brother," he said to Eowyn, "There are some things a father prefers to pretend ignorance about."

At last they were alone. Eomer closed the door to the bedchamber and turned to his bride. She smiled at him, and for the first time since they'd met an air of shyness clung to her.

"Well," she said softly. "Your people left little to the imagination in their well wishes."

"I am afraid that the court of Rohan is somewhat more down to earth than that of Gondor and Dol Amroth. I'm sorry if you were…"

She crossed the room and pressed a finger to his lips. "Shush. Do not apologise. Your people are my people now. I will learn to love them every bit as much as I already love you."

He sighed with happiness. "I love you, Lothiriel of Rohan."

Her smile turned mischievous. "So you keep saying. However, I think there is a time for words, but also a time for action."

"Indeed." A shiver of anticipation raced through him, and he bent his head to kiss her. To his disappointment, she slipped free of his embrace, and moved a short distance away from him.

"Eomer," she said, her eyes lowered to the floor. "I have a confession to make."

His heart all but stopped. What could she possibly need to tell him at this point of their wedding day? He drew in a sharp breath and braced himself. Whatever it was, he would find it in his heart to forgive her. "Very well."

She looked up, holding her gaze with own. "When you were feverish, that time at Breda's farm, I…" Colour raced to her cheeks. "I saw you naked."

"Oh." He didn't quite know what to say. Didn't really understand the problem. "And was the sight of me… naked… was it somehow… unpleasant?" He felt a fool for asking, even more so when he saw the remorse on her face.

"No, no, of course. Quite the opposite," she said, the words almost tripping over one another in her haste to reassure him. She shot him a coy look. "I simply thought that you should know and that perhaps… that perhaps I should return the favour."

He opened his mouth to respond, but words failed him as he saw her hands move to the laces at the front of her dress. He dragged his eyes back up to her face and saw the mix of emotions there - uncertainty, hope, desire, mischievousness. What a woman she was. And how fortunate he was that she was his. His breath caught in his throat as she slowly began to untie the first knot, but then he realised her hands were shaking. He crossed to her and caught her hands in his own. "You seem a little nervous."

She flushed slightly, and then nodded. "No doubt you have been with many women, whereas I… I have never been with a man. Not only was I a member of the royal house of Dol Amroth, but I had a number of protective brothers and… well, you know my father." Her flush deepened. "I do not wish to disappoint you, Eomer."

He leaned forward and brushed her lips with his own. "Such a thing is impossible. It is true that, as nephew of the king, I received many offers. And, being only human, there were occasions when I accepted what was offered. But you have to understand, Lothiriel, that while I may have shared my body, I have never shared my heart with anyone but you. And I give you my most solemn oath that from this day on, both my heart and my body belongs only to you." He drew her hands away from the laces, and then wrapped the top lace around his own forefinger. "May I?" he asked, holding her gaze. She nodded and he slowly unlaced the bodice of her dress, and then gently pushed it back from her shoulders. It surrendered easily, forming a pool of silk around her feet. Beneath the dress was a sleeveless white linen shift. "You have beautiful skin," he murmured as he began to dust her bare shoulders with feather-light kisses. A shiver of pleasure rippled through her, and she caught his face in her hands, drawing his lips back to hers.

"I want you," she said huskily.

His body hummed with anticipation at her words. Swiftly he scooped her into his arms, carried her to the bed and gently laid her on the thick fur covers. He felt the heat of her gaze as he stripped down to his own undergarments, and then joined her on the bed. She reached for him immediately, but he caught her hands in his own and leaned close to nip at an ear lob. "Let me give you pleasure first," he said. "My wedding gift to you."

For a moment Lothiriel was puzzled, but then Eomer's hand brushed over her breast, his fingers gently rolled her nipple, and a spark of heat shot straight to her groin. "Oh," she said, taken completely by surprise and too stunned to feel in the least bit embarrassed as he smoothly removed her shift. He smiled and then dipped his head, engulfing her breast in the heat of his mouth while his hand slid smoothly down her body, caressing every inch until at last it reached that most private place between her legs. All ability to think ceased as her new husband took her to the peak of ecstasy, laughing with delight as her muscles spasmed with a pleasure that left her gasping for breath and clinging to him in case she might float from her body.

When finally she could find air to speak, she reached for him, kissed him tenderly and then said. "Thank you." The words seemed completely inadequate. "You must allow me to gift you in return," she said, running her hands down the smooth muscles of his chest until her fingers met with the waistband of his hose. "You are still partially clothed. I may be innocent in the ways of men but I believe our union requires you to be otherwise."

He rolled away from her, shed the offending item and then took her in his arms once again. Slowly he aroused her senses again, his mouth trailing hot kisses over her skin, his fingers slipping between her legs once more until finally he positioned himself over her. Slowly and gently he began to enter her.

"Is it alright," he asked, his voice strained with control. "I do not wish to hurt you."

"I want this," she murmured in reply, relaxing herself with a deep breath. "I want you. All of you."

She slid her hands down his back and clutched at his hips, encouraging him to go deeper. When finally they were one, she arched beneath him, and surrendered herself to him as he began to set a rhythm. To her surprise, the discomfort she'd been warned about had already faded, and she found her body beginning to tense around him. Was it possible to enjoy such pleasure again? She suddenly realised he was looking at her, his eyes dark and intense. A slight shift of his hips stole coherent thought from her. She threw her head back, her own body rising to meet the next thrust. As her muscles once again contracted into the sweetest of tensions, she saw him smile and then, with three hard thrusts he collapsed against her, his breathing ragged and his heart pounding.

For a long while they simply lay together, bodies entwined, enjoying the afterglow of their union. Eventually, though, Eomer propped himself up on one elbow and looked down at his new wife. He reached out and traced a finger gently along the red marks on her neck. She reached up and caught at his hand.

"Don't," she said. "Galwyn has no place here tonight. Or any other night."

He blew out a long breath. "I'm going to keep you safe, Lothiriel. I promise."

"And I you," she replied. "I think we have had adventure enough. Right now I am looking forward to days and days of peace and domesticity."

He chuckled at the thought. "You do know we have a kingdom to run, right?"

"Yes. And I know too that you will do such a good job one day soon your people will call you Eomer Eadig."

"Eomer the Blessed?" He dipped his head to steal a kiss from her. "I am already blessed because I have you. I love you, Lothiriel, with all my heart."

"And I you, Eomer of Rohan. Now and forever."

the end