Author's Note Long-time reader, first time poster. Just a quick one-shot type deal - I love Éomer and Lothíriel, and I started to wonder and we all know where that gentle, I'm still new

Just One Step

One more step, then through the great doors, and he was home.

The golden hall was practically empty now, the company's arrival being later than they had planned for. A lone serving boy lay on a bench near the fire. The fire had died down.

None of his advisors were waiting for him, and for that Éomer was thankful. The ride back from the Westfold had experienced it's share of difficulties but now, he was home.

The boy woke up as the door slammed behind Éomer, and, noticing his king, proceeded to rush towards him.

"My Lord, let me help with your armor!" he cried, and Éomer laughed.

"I fear it will weigh you down," he replied, but was happy that the boy would help him remove the pounds of mail and leather from his back. The armor had become like a second skin to Éomer over the years, yet it was a skin that he did not mind shedding.

"Is the Queen asleep?" he asked the boy, who nodded.

"She was waiting, but the baby was tired and so she went to sleep," the boy replied. Éomer nodded, pulling the mail over his head. Handing it to the boy, he started towards his bedroom door. If advisors lurked around the corners, they would have to wait until tomorrow. At the moment, he only wanted to see his family.

When they were first married, Lothíriel would wait most impatiently for him to return. She would run out to great him, racing down the steps while he raced up them. He would gather her in his arms, grateful to hold his love one more. Before the advisors could catch them, he'd have picked her up and carried her to the bedroom, where they would spend hours making up for the few days of lost time.

When she was with child, she would wait inside for him, always ready to greet him and thwart his advisors from bothering his tired mind with their tiring issues. She would lead him to their room, where a bath was drawn and food prepared. She would have his nightclothes laid out, and he would fall asleep in her arms, the love-making of their earlier days replaced by his hand on her ever-growing stomach.

Once their son was born, she was often too tired to meet him if the company returned late. Her days were spent with the baby, since she steadfastly refused to allow anyone else to care for the child.

"The women of Rohan do not have nurses to care for their children," she had said when Éomer suggested the idea. He was certain she would agree to it, since both Aragorn's Queen Arwen and his sister Éowyn had found it acceptable.

"I will not live an easier life than the women of Edoras," she said. "These women work hard all day, and yet still care for their children. I will not have my son banished from my sight so that I may have peace and quiet. I will bear this duty myself." She had smiled then, her conviction subsiding for a moment. "Though, I will expect you to help as well. It is partly your fault, after all."

And so, when Éomer opened the door to his chamber, he was not surprised to find his wife and son asleep in bed. Lothíriel curled herself around Elfwine instinctively, and the boy faced her, his tiny hand clutching a tendril of her hair.

Crossing the room to the fire, Éomer gazed at his family. The blond curls of his son seemed to blend into the now sun-brightened hair of his mother. Éomer knew that he had his mother's eyes as well.

"But he has your smile," Lothíriel would tease, bouncing the child on her lap as they watched him squeal and giggle. Her face would glow with the pride of motherhood. There was not one thing Lothíriel had missed throughout the past seven months – she had watched Elfwine laugh and smile, and had seen him roll over or hold up his head on his own. Éomer, too, had been most fortunate – she would always come rushing to him holding their child, eager to show every important development of their son so that he would not miss it.

He wondered if this would continue with the rest of the children they would have. He hoped they would have more children – motherhood seemed to suit Lothíriel, and he had to admit they both enjoined the process immensely.

"You're home."

He turned to see Lothíriel's grey eyes gazing at him across the room. Though sleepy, they shone with happiness.

"We just returned."

"Are you tired? Hungry? Would you like a bath? I can fetch the servants." Lothíriel sat up slowly, and Éomer watched as her gown revealed the barest hint of the curve of her breast. For a moment he forgot to breathe, desire flaring in his very core. But it was more than just her body. She was his lover, his wife, and the mother of his child. Their child.

She was his everything.

But he merely smiled and shook his head. "I was just admiring the view."

Lothíriel looked down at their son, and softly traced a hand across his back. He moved, and instinctively she reached down and picked him up, kissing the top of his head as she did.

"We have something to show Atar, do we not?" Lothíriel said to the baby, and Éomer watched as he reached forward to touch her face. His chest felt full with emotion as Lothíriel pulled back the sheet and slid out of bed. In her arms Elfwine moved, catching sight of his father. He smiled and made a few sounds, which made Lothíriel giggle.

"Come – now, Éomer, stand on the other end of the rug, but do not get close to the fire," she stated, moving a finger to directed him where to go. With a small smile, Éomer did as she stated.

"No – sit on the ground," Lothíriel said, herself kneeling with the baby in her arms. "Now..."

She placed Elfwine on the ground, and Éomer watched as he held himself up with his fat little arms. Lothíriel knelt beside him, and imitated his pose. Looking up at his mother, he turned his attention to his father and slowly started to crawl on all fours to him, a goofy smile on his face.

Éomer could not hold his enthusiasm, and began to laugh. His son! Crawling! Why, in no time he would be walking, then running, then riding! His son and heir!

As Elfwine approached, Éomer swept him up in his arms, a shout of joy ringing through the room.

"Indeed, most fantastic," he said, "My son can crawl!"

"I thought you would be amazed," Lothíriel said, sitting on the floor. She watched as her husband lifted their son up high, and the little boy giggled. Éomer turned back to her, a smile on his face.

"I am constantly amazed," he said, lowering the child and cradling him in his arms. "I am amazed I have a beautiful wife who I love dearly and who inspires me to passions I could not even imagine," he said, sitting down and leaning in to kiss Lothíriel. She placed a hand on his face, allowing the kiss to linger until a tiny hand swatted her cheek.

"And we have a beautiful, healthy son," Éomer said, looking at the tired young one in his arms. "He looks like his mother."

"He looks like his mother and his father," Lothíriel said, brushing a curl away from the child's forehead. "And it seems both my men are exhausted." Holding out her hands, she took Elfwine into her arms, and sniffed.

"So it is the child's father that smells..." she said, winking at Éomer. "This boy can go to bed now – you must bathe first."

Éomer groaned, and yet turned away. He must find a servant to fetch some water, and then he could lie down to sleep in his comfortable, appealing bed. With his family. His family. Such a wonderful thought to end a day.

He opened the door and took one step out into the hall.