Title: Lady of the Sea

Genre: Romance

Rating: M (mild)

Pairing: Éomer/Lothíriel

Disclaimer: The Lord of The Rings and everything concerning it belongs to J. R. R. Tolkien. I own nothing and make no financial profit by writing this.

Summary: How the horselord first met the mermaid. Oneshot.

Author's Note: It appears that Éomer, Lothíriel and Lord of the Rings on the whole are making an assault back in to my mind. Here's something born out of too much coffee, not having anything exciting to do, and watching too many Éomer videos on Youtube.

The palace of Dol Amroth was quiet still when Éomer King of Rohan sneaked out early in the morning. In fact, it was much too early for anyone with common sense to be up and about, but he was again finding it more than just a little difficult to sleep restfully. It had been almost a year since the war had ended and the restoration of his kingdom was going much better than he had expected, but Éomer, the new Lord of the Mark, was not moving forwards.

He'd have been foolish not to know that was exactly the reason Éowyn had proposed this little journey in the first place. His sister knew him well – in truth, he often felt she knew him better than he did himself, even when she was far away. She must have known how the walls of Meduseld felt like falling over him, and how the faces of those who would not return seemed to haunt the corridors of what should be like a well-loved home.

Likely because of this, she had asked her to come and visit her and Faramir in Ithilien. As Éomer had rather missed his sister, he had eagerly accepted the invitation and ridden to meet them. Of course he should have been smart enough to see through it right away, but when Faramir had suggested that the young king might also want to see his friends who lived down in Dol Amroth, he had agreed it was a good idea. Imrahil and his family did have a special place in his heart, after all, and this was in no small part owed to the fact that it had been the Prince who had brought Éomer's beloved sister to the House of Healing. So, after spending a week with the happily wed couple, he had again jumped into saddle and sped south to enjoy the famed hospitality of Prince Imrahil.

Most of Imrahil's family was in residence, except for his heir Elphir who was currently in Minas Tirith, and the Prince's daughter and youngest child whose name the King of Rohan couldn't remember at the moment. Éomer vaguely recalled Éowyn speaking well of the young woman, who was only couple years younger than his sister. The princess was apparently visiting some family in Lossarnarch but would return in a day or two.

Amrothos had shown him the passage down to the beach, and that was the way Éomer used now as he exited the palace. On his way, he met no other soul and he was actually thankful for this chance for solitude. Ever since he had become the King of the Mark, it appeared that being alone was something that did not occur as often as one might hope. It was refreshing to listen to just only his own thoughts, the waves rolling to the shore, the cries of seagulls...

It was a beautiful place, he supposed: the great hill on which the palace had been built, the white sand that he'd likely keep finding from his clothes weeks after his visit, the rise and fall of the sea... but in the sea, no matter how beautiful, there was also treacherousness and danger. Princes Erchirion and Amrothos had spoken of a boat trip, but he was wondering if he could somehow refuse that offer; he didn't feel too comfortable thinking of all that ever-moving water just under his feet.

He had walked for some time lost in his thoughts and when he looked around again, he noticed he had ventured further away than he had intended. Heavy rain clouds were covering the horizon, hiding the sun that was only just rising up towards its zenith. Imrahil had spoken of how rain could so quickly appear here: you saw the sky getting cloudier, and five minutes after that, it was pouring with rain.

Éomer didn't mind bit of rain, as he was rather used to being outdoors in all kinds of weathers, but he decided to turn back nevertheless. Perhaps his host would be getting up soon and they could talk some business: he had hoped they might negotiate about establishing some trading relationship between the cities Edoras and Dol Amroth...

That was what Éomer was thinking of when he saw her for the first time and truth be told, all thoughts of trading were quickly forgotten. And no wonder, for as she rose up from the waves, it was like the Sea Goddess herself had come to grace this white shore. A thin wet gown clung to her shapely form, and water had almost made it see-through – a fact that instantly brought him considerable discomfort. The gown, its colour that of pale blue, bared her shoulders and their creamy white skin that absolutely begged to be touched and caressed. Her hair was dark, which could be the trick of water, but he assumed it'd be the same colour as her perfectly arched eyebrows, which were midnight black. The colour of her eyes reminded him of the storm that was currently brewing over the sea, and her full lips were soft shade of pink. Her face was delicate, elegant... and though he had seen elves more beautiful than mortal man's imagination, this moment she was the fairest thing he had ever seen in his life.

What really got him, though, was not her overall appearance. It was the compilation of these three facts: 1) there was no other soul on the beach other than the two of them, 2) he was a complete stranger as far this Lady of the Sea was concerned, and 3) the thin wet gown clung to her body so that it was almost like she were naked, and yet her face was not scandalized but rather irritated and belligerent. Éomer was not a warrior for nothing: he knew the look of challenge for battle when he saw one. Nevertheless, he could not help but just stand there and stare.

"Do you often stand idly by like an imbecile and stare at half-naked people while they're minding their own business?" she asked in a loud, clear voice. Momentarily, Éomer felt taken aback and wasn't sure what to answer. But then he decided he'd be damned if he allowed some indecently clad, rude woman abash him like this.

"Oh, so it is forbidden in Dol Amroth to stand on a beach and be confused by something one didn't expect to see?" he asked back, cocking his head in mock confusion.

"You mean it is considered proper in your country to gape at a lady who is not presentable?" she inquired, stopping on the shoreline and placing her hands on her hips as if she were a formidable matron scolding an ill-behaving child.

"You made the choice to be unpresentable yourself. It is no fault of mine to have wandered upon your unpresentableness... and in my country, expressions of admiration are usually appreciated rather than scorned upon", he answered. Somewhere in the distance, a soft rumble of thunder sounded, but he barely even noticed. Éomer's attention was completely fixed on this strange, snappy woman.

His words made her lift her eyebrows, but her expression was a perfect mockery of being impressed.

"Oh? Admiration? So you admit that you were admiring the sights that were not meant for your eyes?" she asked.

"If they were not meant for my eyes, then I cannot understand why you are showing them off in such rampant way", he answered and offered her a charming smile and a long appreciative look. He was enjoying this much more than he should.

"I didn't expect there would be anyone else on the beach so early", she said, not even trying to hide her displeasure.

The rain took that moment to start and fall, but it was gentler and warmer than he'd have expected. Éomer hadn't thought rain could be like that, not here by the sea. No doubt he too would be dripping wet in a moment.

"Then perhaps you should have considered that possibility before coming here and ranting at every unfortunate fellow who comes across your near-naked state", he pointed out, crossing his arms on his chest. He felt a brief flash of childish satisfaction when he saw the frustrated look on her face, but then mentally scolded himself for such a petty emotion.

"I've come here for my morning swim for ten years now, and never before have I met anyone wandering about. The blame is hardly mine, dearest horselord", she said and looked at him sternly. "Now, if you would try and use your powers of observation a bit more and concentrate them on something else than my chest – perhaps you could even use them to notice my cloak, which you have decided to step on."

Éomer felt just slightly abashed when he noticed the pale garment by his feet. Well, in his defence, it was so pale that someone as lost in thought as he had been might have walked by and made no difference between the garment and the white sand.

The rain was pouring down harder now, making his own clothing cling to his body just as her gown clung to hers. It'd have been so hard to explain this scene to anyone had there been other people witnessing it. However, they were still alone and he didn't particularly feel like being done with this strange woman. So he just tilted his head and looked at her curiously.

"And what if I won't give you your cloak?" he asked jovially. If he had hoped that would stupefy her, he had been wrong. Rather, she lifted her eyebrows yet again with that unimpressed look on her face.

"Then I'll just have to take it, horselord", she informed him and started to slowly approach him... the King of Rohan was fairly certain she swayed her hips like that just to tease him.

He was not a man who easily gave up his ground, though.

"And how exactly do you plan to do that, mermaid?" he asked. "I am much larger than you are, if you did not happen to notice."

She was on the front of him then, and unfearingly and very boldly she placed her hands on his waist. Her face was most innocent when she spoke: "Then I will just have to show you what happens when the unmoving object meets the unstoppable force."

He was probably going to answer something very clever to that, but Éomer never got the chance. As it happened, a small but shapely and surprisingly strong leg swept about his feet, effectively tackling him on the soft, unstable surface of the sand. He lost his footing and fell back, but not before grabbing her with him, and she fell right on the top of him. That knocked out his breath for various reasons actually, and through his now wet shirt and her gown he could feel her body radiating with warmth. He felt desire stirring inside himself and he knew he'd embarrass himself very soon, unless he push her away. But he found he couldn't do that. All he managed was to stare up at her in bewilderment and – he had to admit it – admiration. One did not often encounter women like her.

"Well? Can I have my cloak back?" she asked, and her face was only several inches away from his. Wet strands of her hair tickled his face and Béma, did he suddenly want this strange woman. Surely she was a mermaid about to tempt him to follow her into the sea and drown him, like in those tales Amrothos had told him? What a fate it would have been for a landlubber like him!

"On one condition", he breathed, fighting back the desire to grab those hips and press her closer to his body. What a sight it would have been, the two of them rolling around on the shore! Yet if he understood anything at all about women, the glint in her eyes suggested she knew exactly what effect she was having on him, but didn't rue it.

"And what is that?" she asked softly, leaning down just a little bit. He could feel her breath now, brushing against his face.

"You give me your name, mermaid", he prompted, his voice more than just a little demanding. He could sound very authoritative when he wanted, and usually it worked its magic just fine... but she didn't seem terribly moved by his commanding tone. She smiled and looked at Éomer in a way that almost had him thinking she might kiss him. But she never did, and instead pulled back slightly.

"My name is Lothíriel", she said, her voice light, even cheerful.

"Just Lothíriel?" he asked. He had to know more of her... especially where he'd find her once they both were presentable again.

"Your condition has been met with, horselord", she said and smiled as she rose up. Oh, how cruel a woman could be!

He climbed up on his feet too, and as he rose, he grabbed her cloak. Once he had straightened up, he offered the garment to her.

"Your cloak, Lothíriel", he said solemnly.

"Thank you", she answered with a smile and draped it around herself. The cloak was wet and speckled with sand, but at least it didn't look like she was naked anymore (though he didn't know if he liked this development). She brushed hair away from her face and gave him yet another bright smile, "It's been a pleasure to talk with you, horselord. Perhaps I will catch you staring at me again some time soon."

"Perhaps", he agreed. Éomer wondered if she'd mind very much if he would do that... but then, if that idea was horrid for her, she wouldn't have mentioned it or smiled to him like that?

She curtsied at him and turned away, leaving him stare after her with some serious confusion. It was difficult to believe he had talked to an actual woman and not a mermaid. Her behaviour at least was more fit for the latter.

When there were couple of yards between them, he came back to his senses.

"It's Éomer", he called after her, and she looked over her shoulder at him. Suddenly, her smile that had reminded him of a self-satisfied cat, froze on her face.

"What?" she asked.

"My name is Éomer. In case you ever want to try your unstoppable force against my unmoving object again", he said. Now it was his turn to feel self-satisfaction... obviously, she knew the name.

However, this Lady of the Sea wasn't so easily conquered. She gave him a large smile and winked.

"We'll see about that, Lord of the Mark."

She continued walking and quickly disappeared behind some rocks, leaving behind only the memory of her smile and aching sensation of her thighs straddling his hips. The rain kept falling and Éomer allowed himself a smile – the first real one in a long time.

He would have to find out more about this Lothíriel.