Author's Notes: Not mine. Never will be. Enough to make a girl cry.

Getting Into Hot Water

By Menel


Steam rose from under the door as Éomer approached. The soft glow of candlelight oozed out onto the corridor. He stood with his hand on the doorknob for some seconds. Dare he intrude? How would he feel? His hand decided for him, gripping the wooden latch tightly and turning.

He took a step into the room. The man in the bathtub did not move, nor did he open an eye, though Éomer knew he had heard him. Heard someone... He took another step into the room, and this time Aragorn inclined his head towards the sound.

"Legolas?" he opened his eyes.

"No," Éomer replied. "Sorry to disappoint you." He didn't know why he added that. "Why did you think I was him?"

"He would be the only one with the nerve to invade my bath without knocking first," Aragorn replied, sinking his shoulders back in the water and closing his eyes.

"Am I invading? I shall go."

"No, stay. I was only teasing." Aragorn smiled. "Stay. Talk to me. Silence is an alien noise to my ears after so many months of battle. Is that not why you sought my company?"

"Something like that," Éomer whispered, wondering what had happened to his voice.

"You know, I had almost forgotten how good a hot bath felt," Aragorn sighed, almost to himself.

Éomer glanced enviously at the water. "I have not found the time to indulge in one yet."

Steel gray eyes rose to meet his. "Then join me. There is easily enough room for two men in this tub."

Éomer detected a challenge in the tone of the other man and whatever doubts had clouded his mind soon vanished. As a Rider of the Mark, he was obliged to meet this challenge. Furthermore, he reasoned to himself, a bath would be pleasant, the company even more so.

Aware of Aragorn's intense gaze still upon him, the Horse Lord nodded and said, "Very well. I cannot resist the temptation."

Aragorn's lips curved in a slight smile at the choice of Éomer's words and he continued to watch with unabashed interest as the Horse Lord began to undress. There was no modesty about the young King of the Mark. Aragorn drank in the sight of Éomer; the broad chest and the smattering of golden hair that covered it; the hair disappearing as his eyes passed over the man's well-defined abdomen and the slight tapering of the waist only to reappear as a darker patch of burnished gold, crowning Éomer's well-endowed manhood. Aragorn's gray eyes lingered on the member before continuing their journey down the man's body as Éomer continued to pull off his breeches and heavy boots. The Horse Lord's legs were strong after years spent in the saddle, and Aragorn wondered whether the man had the flexibility and agility to match his evident strength. Then he began to speculate how to go about finding an answer to his own question.

Soon enough Éomer stood naked before him and Aragorn gestured with his hand to the inviting bath. Cocking his head to the right, the Horse Lord accepted the invitation and eased himself into the bath opposite the other man.

The bath was indeed roomy and though Éomer stretched himself out, allowing the warm water to wash over him, he only brushed Aragorn's calves once. Aragorn was sitting in the bath with his legs splayed against the marble sides, and it was no trouble for the Horse Lord to settle comfortably in between the other man's legs and generally avoid contact. It had been a good decision to have a bath. He closed his eyes and rubbed his upper arms under the water. When he opened them again, he noticed that Aragorn was still watching him and he remembered the man's desire for company and conversation.

"What is it you wish to discuss?" Éomer asked as he rested his head against the edge of the marble bath.

"Nothing in particular," Aragorn answered with a shake of his head. After a moment's pause he said, "What will you do, now that the War has ended?"

Though the question seemed obvious, the Horse Lord had not had time to dwell on it, primarily being concerned with battle strategy and simply staying alive to give much thought to the future. But the future had become the present and he realized with some surprise that he was now saddled with the responsibility of ruling a kingdom. Then he remembered how he had come to be in that position and a lump formed in his throat that he quickly swallowed. The price they had paid to defeat the Dark Lord had been high.

Aragorn sensed that his question had inadvertently upset his companion and he leaned forward to grasp Éomer's hand.

"You do not need to answer that," he said. "Let us just sit here and enjoy this bath."

The sudden contact jolted Éomer out of his thoughts but he recovered quickly and gave Aragorn's hand a reassuring squeeze before pulling away.

"No," he protested. "I do not mind. I suppose I shall return to Rohan and begin the process of rebuilding. Many of our villages were burned, our crops destroyed, our livestock slaughtered. Families have been broken, many of our people slain. The task seems overwhelming from the outset." He glanced at Aragorn and added, "But I suppose you are in the same position."

Aragorn sighed. "Yes," he agreed. "There is much work to be done here as well." He could not help wondering how Éomer felt about assuming the throne of Rohan. Was he as conflicted as Aragorn at times found himself to be?

"Tell me, Éomer," he said in a low voice, "if you are inclined to do so, what are your feelings towards assuming the mantle of a King?"

"My feelings?" Éomer repeated. Aragorn was asking difficult questions. "I have never desired to rule," he said at last, "but this mantle, as you call it, has been bestowed upon me at my darkest hour. To be King is not a choice, it is something I must do, and I shall do it to the best of my ability. My people deserve at least that much."

Éomer's forceful response stirred something in Aragorn's heart and he was glad to have this man as his friend and ally.

"The history between Gondor and Rohan is rich," Aragorn stated. "Long have our people fought side by side in battle and strengthened our friendship in times of peace. I hope, Éomer, that the history between our two lands shall burn ever brighter in the days to come."

"We share a perpetual alliance, Aragorn," Éomer replied. "Rohan has not forgotten that our land was a gift from Cirion, the Steward of Gondor."

"A gift that was well-earned and hard-fought," Aragorn said. "Will you renew the Oath of Eorl?"

Before the Horse Lord could answer the door to the room opened again and a certain Elf stepped inside, closing the door softly behind him and swiftly appraising the situation with an arch of his golden eyebrow.

"I see you could not wait for me," Legolas said to Aragorn with the slightest hint of playful accusation. "Greetings, Éomer," he added as he passed by the bath.

"Legolas," Éomer acknowledged with a nod, suddenly worried what the Elf would think of him sharing a bath with Aragorn. Was this common among his people? He looked at Aragorn to see how he was handling the situation, but the man remained completely nonplussed. Éomer then realized with some surprise that Aragorn had been expecting the Elf's arrival all along.

"The water was becoming cold," Aragorn explained. "Surely you could appreciate that." In a more conspiratorial tone he said to Éomer, "He complains that I don't bathe enough for his liking."

"And when he does bathe," Legolas added, his keen hearing easily picking up Aragorn's words, "he does not always wash his hair."

Éomer chuckled at the look of annoyance that briefly flashed across Aragorn's face. Hygiene was an ongoing battle between the two friends, and judging by the Elf's ever-pristine appearance and his silken, tangle-free mane, Aragorn was clearly at the losing end of this particular battle.

"Is this the one area where the King of Gondor finds himself outmatched?" Éomer teased.

"Do not be so quick to judge," Aragorn warned him. "If you stay in Legolas' company for long enough, you will also become a victim of his grooming habits."

Éomer soon understood what the other man meant as the Elf appeared behind Aragorn carrying a silver basin and a bottle of liquid that the Horse Lord assumed to be shampoo, and settled himself on the wide marble ledge of the tub. While the two men had been speaking, Legolas had poured a basin of water from the large jug on a table by the wall, intent on using the water to wash Aragorn's hair.

Éomer watched as Legolas soaked Aragorn's hair and then poured a healthy amount of the scented shampoo into his hand - was that strawberries the Horse Lord smelled? - and began lathering it into the man's dark brown locks. Aragorn did not protest. On the contrary, he had closed his eyes and looked thoroughly relaxed. For all his carping before, the former ranger secretly enjoyed being fussed over by his beloved Elf.

After a while, Legolas rinsed the foamy substance out of Aragorn's hair. Although the man looked like he had nodded off to sleep, Éomer knew his judgment to be mistaken when Legolas' hands began to knead the muscles at the back of his neck, eliciting a soft moan from him. Legolas continued his ministrations, working his way down to Aragorn's shoulders and then his upper arms. Apparently, a massage was an integral part of having one's hair washed. When Legolas' fingers began working on the man's chest in a rhythmic circling motion, paying particular attention to the brown nipples, Aragorn let out a much louder moan of contentment.

Éomer shifted restlessly. He was starting to feel somewhat neglected at his end of the tub, but when he lifted his eyes to look at the Elf's face, he knew instinctively that Legolas had been watching him the whole time, and there was a mischievous gleam in the Prince's eye that discomfited him.

"I think we're quite through," Legolas announced to Aragorn, prompting another moan from the man, this time one of disappointment. "It is Éomer's turn."

"What?" Éomer said, the register of his voice a tad higher than usual. "I don't think that's necessary," he objected. "I wouldn't want to trouble you."

"Nonsense!" Legolas brushed aside Éomer's poor excuse as he stood up with the dirty basin of water. "It's no trouble at all. Besides," he said, casting a fey glance back at Aragorn as he carelessly tossed the water out the open window, "washing hair is a special service I provide only to the Kings of Men."

Aragorn stifled a laugh and nodded his head gravely.

"Go on, Éomer," he encouraged. "How often will an Elven Prince wash your hair?"

Éomer had no answer but felt that he had little say in the matter. Legolas was already refilling the basin and in a matter of moments had settled behind him, shampoo bottle in hand.

"You need not be so tense, Éomer," the Elf teased him. "This won't hurt a bit. You might even enjoy it."

Éomer was thinking precisely the same thing as Legolas tilted his head and soaked his hair in the basin, combing through it with his slender fingers.

"You have a fine mane," Legolas complimented him, "much more luxurious than Aragorn's. Tis a pity it is always in tangles."

"He finds long, well-groomed hair attractive," Aragorn said and promptly received a warning glare from the Prince. Legolas, after all, was trying to get Éomer suitably relaxed and in the right frame of mind for other bathing activities he wished to pursue.

The Prince needn't have worried though, for the Horse Lord was fast melting under his touch. The Elf was doing more than washing his hair, he was massaging Éomer's scalp and the man could feel himself growing pleasantly light-headed. But it ended too quickly for Éomer's liking and before he knew it, Legolas had rinsed the shampoo out of his hair and had stood up with another dirty basin of water in hand. Wasn't he also entitled to a neck and shoulder massage?

"Well," the Elf declared, putting the basin and the bottle aside. "I suppose I should leave you two in peace."

"I was rather hoping you would join us," Aragorn said truthfully, "if sharing a bath with two men would not offend your delicate Elvish sensibilities too much."

Legolas pretended to dwell on the matter before replying, "I suppose I could make a sacrifice seeing as the company is exceptional."

Éomer did not turn around but could hear the Elf undressing behind him. He would see Legolas' fine form soon enough since he expected the Prince to join Aragon on his side of the bath. Therefore, he was most surprised when the Prince eased himself behind him. Nevertheless, Éomer instinctively moved forward to allow Legolas to settle comfortably but he did not lean back against the Elf. Legolas, however, had other ideas, and before the Horse Lord could move out of his range, he reached forward and pulled the man against his chest.

"I have not yet worked on your neck and shoulders," the Elf whispered in Éomer's ear, sending a shiver down the man's spine even though the temperature in the tub seemed to have risen.

Éomer did not protest as fingers returned to the back of his neck, mapping their way down to his shoulders and loosening whatever knots they encountered. He hardly noticed when the Elf planted a kiss at the point where his neck and right shoulder met, so content and relaxed had he become. But Aragorn noticed; for he had been intently watching the scene unfold before him, and now he deemed it the right time to resume his previous conversation with the Horse Lord.

"Before you arrived, Legolas," Aragorn said, "Éomer and I were discussing the history between our two lands. Did you know that Cirion, the twelfth Ruling Steward of Gondor gave the province of Calenardhon to Eorl the Young in the year 2510 of the Third Age?"

"But of course," the Elf replied. "It was a reward for Eorl's swift aid to Gondor's besieged Northern Army at the Field of Celebrant. They had been cut off from the south and forced across the Limlight and were continually being pressed towards the Anduin. If Eorl and his riders had not arrived unexpectedly from the north, they surely would have perished."

The Elf's words had roused the Horse Lord from his relaxed state and he turned his head slightly to look at the Prince.

"Your knowledge of our history is commendable," he praised.

Legolas laughed and wrapped his arms comfortably around Éomer's waist. "I have always taken an interest in the affairs of Men," he said, casting another mischievous glance at his friend at the other end of the bath.

Éomer's breathing hitched; the implications of Legolas' words and the seduction in his voice could not be mistaken.

"Legolas has a keen interest in history," Aragorn agreed, his eyes locked with the Elf's, "although many would not know that."

"Legolas is now an important part of history," Éomer said, "since he is one of the Nine Walkers whose feats shall live on through the ages."

"You flatter me!" Legolas said playfully. "But Aragorn is correct," he went on. "I do have a keen interest in history, and I cannot help but wonder what history we three shall make today?"

"As a matter of fact," the King of Gondor said in all seriousness, "I had just asked Éomer if he would be willing to renew the Oath of Eorl before you walked in. He has not yet replied."

"Is that so?" the Prince asked, eyes immediately lighting up.

"There is no question that I will renew the Oath of Eorl," Éomer assured them.

"An oath is not something to be taken lightly," Legolas interrupted. "It is forever binding to the well as to the oath-breaker."

"Do you doubt my honor?" Éomer said, stiffening in the Elf's embrace. He was hotheaded and quick to temper, a facet of his personality that both his companions had been witness to.

"Not at all," Legolas replied in his most soothing tone, resting his chin on the Horse Lord's shoulder. "I was merely thinking that perhaps a test would be in order."

"A test?" Éomer repeated, his blood not cooling from the sting of the Elf's words.

"Yes," Legolas answered. "A test of your fortitude, your dedication, your...endurance."

By now Éomer's mind was completely focused on what the Prince was saying. He would be able to meet whatever challenge Legolas or Aragorn might come up with. He was prepared to be tested any time they were available. He did not give a second thought to what *kind* of test the Elf had in mind.

"I will take this test," the Horse Lord said confidently. "Just tell me the day, the hour and what sort of weapon you wish for me to bring."

"Then you shall be tested now, in this very bath with a weapon that you always carry with you even when you wear nothing at all," the Elf swiftly replied.

For a moment, Éomer was confused but when the Elf's hand closed around his limp member, he had a fairly good idea of what kind of test Legolas was alluding to. He looked up to see what sort of reaction Aragorn was having to his Elven friend's proposition but the King of Gondor was sitting regally at his end of the tub, arms resting on the marble ledges, thoroughly enjoying the situation.

"What say you, Éomer?" the Prince asked. "Will you rise to the challenge?"

"If this 'test,' as you call it," Éomer began, "should prove my worth before taking the Oath of Eorl, will the King of Gondor, to whom I shall swear this oath, not participate in its administration?"

Éomer was surprised by the boldness of his own words, but he had spoken them without thinking and he would not recant them now. Aragorn remained unfazed, contemplating the prospect as Legolas had done when the Elf had first been invited to join their company.

"I was prepared to judge the outcome of this test," Aragorn said at last, "but now I see no fault in sampling the fruits of this examination. What do you think, Legolas?"

"It sounds perfectly delicious to me," the Elf laughed.

Éomer was too thrilled to be infuriated that his companions were speaking about him as though he were not there. His eyes remained focused on the King of Gondor as Aragorn moved slowly towards the pair, finally settling in front of the Horse Lord so that his legs were entwined with the Elf's and Éomer was trapped in between them. Legolas still gripped Éomer's member but had done nothing further to arouse him. Now that the Horse Lord's attention was fully captivated by the man in front of him, the Elf's long fingers began lazily moving up and down the man's shaft as his other hand worked its way up Éomer's chest. Legolas leaned in and inhaled the Horse Lord's rich scent. Éomer still smelled of the earth and the wind over the plains of Rohan even immersed in this bath, his natural scent now mingling with the strawberry shampoo Legolas had used. Delicious, the Elf thought, had been the right word to use.

Aragorn raised a hand and let the backs of his fingers graze Éomer's bearded cheek. "Tell me, Legolas," he said to the Elf, "how should we begin this test?"

"How we begin all tests," Legolas answered, now nibbling on Éomer's right shoulder, "by first assessing the qualities of the candidate. Do you not wish to taste, Aragorn?"

"Taste," Aragorn repeated, fingers tracing the curve of Éomer's jaw line until they came to rest under Éomer's chin. "Yes," he agreed, leaning forward to brush his lips against the Horse Lord's. "I would like a taste."

Éomer sighed at the contact. Aragorn's lips were softer than he would have imagined. But even from that brief touch he felt the man's strength and knew instantly that he wished to feel it again. This time he leaned forward and brought their lips together, demanding more. Legolas watched with an amused eye as the kiss deepened.

"I wonder," the Elf mused aloud, "who is administering the test now?"

Aragorn broke the kiss momentarily to give the Prince a sly smile before capturing the Horse Lord's lips again, hardly giving Éomer a chance to breathe. His hand traveled from Éomer's chin to his neck, holding him still while he seized control of the kiss. Éomer instinctively reached out to touch him, but with his free arm Aragorn brushed him aside and Éomer understood that one of the requirements of this test was for him to play the part of the passive recipient, at least, for now. With his other hand, Aragorn reached into the water and closed his fingers over the Elf's wrist, stilling Legolas' actions on Éomer's shaft. By now, Éomer was half-erect but the King of Gondor had set his sights on completing the task. Legolas was not one to argue, not when there were other tasks to be done, so he released Éomer's member to Aragorn's care and continued his ministrations elsewhere. Éomer was vaguely aware of hands moving over his body, so many hands that seemed to be everywhere at once, touching, feeling, stroking, heating his already heated skin. But the Horse Lord was consumed by Aragorn's kiss and the man's firm grip on his member. It was not until he felt a distinct hardness press against the small of his back did Éomer pull away from Aragorn to glance behind him.

"I have found the goods to be more than satisfactory," Legolas told him. "Should we continue?"

"If we continue," Éomer said, "for you have only assessed my 'qualities' as you put it, how shall this test be divided?"

"I will test your fortitude," the Elf answered, "while Aragorn will test your endurance."

Fortitude and endurance, Éomer thought, were qualities that he had often been praised for in the past. He was certain that the outcome of this test would be the same.

"I am ready," he said.

Legolas was delighted and Aragorn resumed his long strokes on Éomer's member, distracting the Horse Lord from what was to come. The Elf placed his hands on Éomer's hips, lifting the man to position himself before whispering into the his ear, "You do not need preparation, for the water has already softened your flesh. Relax Éomer, and I shall slide into you easily."

Éomer nodded as he felt the head of the Elf's arousal at the entrance to his opening. He gripped the marbles sides of the bath to give himself leverage as Legolas breached him. The slide was slow and Éomer's breathing became shallow as he tried to accommodate the length and girth of the Elf. It had been some time since his body had been used in this manner. When Legolas was fully sheathed, he stilled his actions, allowing the man some time to get accustomed to him. He wrapped his left arm Éomer's waist; while with his right hand he rubbed soothing circles on the inside of the man's thigh. Aragorn was now nibbling Éomer's jaw, working his way up to join their lips. Éomer responded eagerly, losing himself in the passion of Aragorn's kiss.

Feeling Éomer relax around him, Legolas began to rock inside the man, gently stretching the tight passage with his movement. Éomer moaned into the kiss but did not break it. The rocking continued, gradually increasing in pace and intensity until Legolas withdrew almost completely before pushing back inside. Éomer broke the kiss as he sucked in his breath. Legolas was experimenting now, angling his thrusts in an effort to find Éomer's core. Éomer knew that the Elf was close and he gripped the edges of the bath painfully in anticipation. He leaned back to assist Legolas, and slant of his body coupled with the Elf's upward thrust ensured that Legolas brushed against the nub deep within him, making Éomer cry out at the contact. Legolas smiled as he maintained the angle, each thrust creating a wave through the water, mimicking the waves of pleasure that went through the man.

Éomer's arms had grown limp, though he feebly tried to hold on to the marble ledges of the bath. He was pushing back against the Elf, his head resting on Legolas' shoulder. So intent was he in matching the Elf's rhythm that he had almost forgotten about the man in front of him. But Aragorn soon reminded him when he renewed his efforts on Éomer's throbbing shaft. Éomer was being assaulted on two fronts now, each forward thrust of the Elf pushing him into Aragorn's waiting hand. The Horse Lord knew that his climax was approaching but Aragorn cruelly withheld it from him, bringing him near his peak before loosening his grip and starting the process again. Behind him Legolas sustained his pounding rhythm.

"It is too much," Éomer moaned into the crook of the Elf's neck. "Too much."

"No, Éomer," Legolas said breathlessly, "your endurance is great. Let us come together."

Aragorn watched the Elf's flushed face, how his blue eyes had become hazy and slightly unfocused, how his thrusts had become short and staccato, a sign that Aragorn was intimately familiar with Legolas' impending release. He redoubled his efforts on Éomer's shaft, no longer intent on holding the Horse Lord back. Éomer cried out as he spilled his seed into Aragorn's hand, feeling the same warm substance fill him as Legolas jerked and released himself into the man. Éomer lay back against the Elf, his breathing labored but gradually returning to normal. Legolas kissed him tenderly on his temple as he slowly withdrew from the man. He would have been content to hold the Horse Lord for a while; indeed he had even closed his eyes to rest when an urgent voice called him.


The Prince opened his eyes to see Aragorn now sitting against the side of the bath, legs spread and bent at the knee. Legolas eased the relaxed Horse Lord from his body and let Éomer rest at the end of the tub. Éomer watched as the Elf moved towards the other man and straddled him.

"Does the King of Gondor feel neglected?" Legolas asked, the playfulness returning to his tone.

"Unjustly so," Aragorn replied. "Now, if you would be so kind as to turn around," he continued, already grasping the Elf by his hips as though to swivel him.

"For a King," Legolas said in an equally facetious manner, "you show a remarkable lack of patience."

"I have been patient for long enough," Aragorn answered.

Legolas merely laughed as he turned around, his body fitting easily into the larger man's but his laugh ended in a long, contented sigh as Aragorn wasted no time in sheathing himself. The Elf draped himself on the man's chest, his right hand falling behind Aragorn's head to pull him down for a kiss. The angle was awkward but their lips met briefly before Aragorn began moving inside the Elf. He had indeed been patient for long enough and encased in the Elf's tight heat, his resistance left him completely. Legolas kept his hand behind Aragorn's head, combing his fingers through the man's hair until his hand came to rest on the back of Aragorn's neck. There it stayed as the Elf's body lay flush against the man's, rising and falling in time to Aragorn's rhythmic thrusts.

Legolas closed his eyes, his own body still spent from his exertions, but Aragorn had always been a skilful lover and it was not long before Legolas could feel himself hardening as Aragorn stroked his pleasure center with each thrust. However, Legolas decided not to relieve himself. Thus, he jerked in surprise when a hand closed over his member, for Aragorn's hands were firmly on his hips, guiding him as the man continued his relentless rhythm. Legolas opened his eyes to see Éomer leaning over him, the man's hand working diligently in the water.

"I believe," the Horse Lord said, "that I am yet to pass my test of dedication."

"Dedication," Legolas repeated, eyes glazing with desire. "How will you prove your dedication?"

"Like this."

Without warning the man dived down and took the Elf completely in his mouth, the head of Legolas' arousal brushing against the back of his throat. Legolas jerked again as the warn cavern enclosed him. His own stamina was spent and Éomer's suction proved to be more than he could handle. It took only a few quick strokes of the man's tongue for the Elf to spill his seed, which Éomer instinctively swallowed, hardly tasting the substance as it slid down his throat. He resurfaced for air and was immediately seized by the Elf in a bruising kiss.

"Your dedication is admirable," Legolas congratulated him, his breathing shallow as Aragorn had not yet reached his peak. But the man came moments afterwards, wrapping his arms completely around the Elf's waist to pull Legolas in for one final thrust before resting his chin on the Elf's shoulder.

Éomer moved back to his end of the bath and he watched the pair to his right. Aragorn was lazily caressing Legolas' chest, finally lifting him so he could withdraw his softening member from the Elf's body. Legolas sighed and shifted in Aragorn's embrace so that he was snuggled against him, his head resting on the man's chest. Water covered the edges of the marble tub and ran down its smooth sides to gather in pools at the base of the bath. They had made quite a mess from their activities.

But Aragorn was not yet through. He placed his fingers under the Elf's chin as he had done to Éomer earlier and lifted Legolas' face to look him. Deep blue eyes met his and Legolas smiled, raising his hand to touch Aragorn's bearded cheek as he leaned forward to kiss him. Éomer watched fascinated, as the kiss drew itself out. He could feel their desire but there was tenderness too, and the Horse Lord understood for the first time how deep a bond these two friends shared and how well they had hidden it from others. He felt like he was watching a private moment between lovers and he coughed discreetly to remind his friends of his presence. Legolas smiled languidly at him as he settled back into Aragorn's embrace.

"Have I proven myself?" the Horse Lord asked.

"Above and beyond our expectations," Aragorn answered. "With Legolas, son of Thranduil of the woodland realm as our witness, I renew to you, Éomer, son of Éomund, the gift of Cirion that the land Calenardhon, long renamed by your people as the Mark of the Riders and known in Gondor as Rohan, to be a free land where the Rohirrim may live under their own sovereignty and under their own laws in perpetual alliance with Gondor. Will you take the Oath of Eorl?"

"I, Éomer, son of Éomund, swear my allegiance to you, King Elessar, ruler of Gondor and Arnor, to ride by your side in battle; to come to your aid in need; to foster goodwill and friendship among our people; to fight all forces of evil and maintain peace in our lands so long as I shall live."

"I accept your oath, Éomer, son of Éomund. May the dawn of the Fourth Age see that the friendship between Gondor and Rohan will only strengthen in the days to come."

A silence followed the proceedings as the two Kings reflected on the history they had just made, only to be broken by a sigh from the Elf.

"You do not approve?" Aragorn asked his lover.

"Oh, no," Legolas assured both men. "I am proud to have been a witness to such a momentous occasion."

"Then what is the matter?" Aragorn persisted.

Legolas sighed again and looked around him unhappily.

"This water," he said at last, "is filthy. We shall all need another bath."

Aragorn laughed and hugged the Elf tightly. "That can be arranged," he said. Then he looked at the Horse Lord and said, "Will the King of the Mark join us for another bath?"

"In the spirit of the Oath of Eorl," Éomer replied, "I believe another bath would strengthen the growing friendship between our two lands and perhaps," he continued, glancing at the Elf, "be the start of a valuable Elven alliance?"

"I see the merit in your words," Legolas said, "but I, too, have sworn my allegiance to the King of Gondor and Arnor. However," Legolas paused, gracing the Horse Lord with a fey smile, "with Aragorn's approval, we may always negotiate the matter."


~The End~

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