Beta appreciation notes for original: Kat, Chris and Shot. Beta appreciation notes for rewrite: Kat and Derby – thanks my precious, ever patient team.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. I don't own
these characters. This story is not meant to violate the rights held
by New Line, Tolkien Enterprises, nor any other licensee, nor is any
Boundaries Redefined - Chapter VII
It occurred to me, after Aragorn had taken my little brother back to camp, that perhaps I should have told him what Boromir had been assuming about us – that we had judged him harshly and withdrawn our affections accordingly. I began to imagine what could come out during the course of a conversation Aragorn might have with Boromir:
“Aragorn, I-I am sorry. I should have known better.”
“What do you mean, my fledgling?”
“I am sorry I thought so little of you.”
“Boromir, you are weary and you are not making sense. Shhhh.”
“But Legolas told me that you did not think less of me for what I had done, and that you still cared for me, even though I thought you were through with me, and--”
I shuddered many times during that last hour of my watch, conjuring all kinds of unfortunate repercussions for myself in the event of such a scene. Aragorn would be most unhappy that I had kept such a thing from him, and he would not view my reason as valid:
“I thought it best to tell you when we were alone and you could freely release your displeasure --”
“Do you decide when I should be told something, and what I should be told, my presumptuous elfling?”
“Uhhh . . . .”
Ohhhh, I could hear him now. Anxious to attend to whatever might be going on between my two warriors, I nearly raced back to camp several times, demanding that the dwarf take his watch early. But as I could offer that pesky creature no reason for my demand, Gimli would, no doubt, prove most happily uncooperative.
So there was little I could do but bide my time. I paced in the drizzle until, at last, he came stumping along in his graceless dwarfish clomp, then I charged past him, calling back that there was nothing worth reporting in this dismal country, and enduring his insulting, “’Tis but a little rain, y’ vain elf! No need to fall all over yourself on your way to shelter!”
All was quiet under the dry eaves of the cliff face. Gandalf and the little ones slept. I shed my cloak, approaching a gathering of boulders set off a bit from the others, where Aragorn lay upon his bedroll, holding Boromir. Aragorn was on his back, his head pillowed on his cloak, a sleeping Gondorian warrior half covering him. Boromir lay curled over Aragorn just as he had been curled over me earlier, his weight on his side and stomach, his bottom up. Aragorn smiled at me softly. I released a tense breath, knowing from Aragorn’s peaceful expression that Boromir had said nothing about his false beliefs.
“He made it back,” Aragorn said, watching me remove my weapons and drape my wet cloak over a boulder. “But he was too exhausted to talk much or make any sense.”
“Ah. I am not surprised.”
“Aye. He fell asleep within moments.”
Aragorn had laid Boromir’s bedroll out beside him, so I stretched out upon it, dragging my quiver under my head once more, then I lifted the edge of the blanket that covered my sleeping little brother, asking, “Did you --?” I smiled. Under the blanket was one positively glowing bottom and a pair of breeches shoved down to the knees.
“He would not settle properly until I pulled them down,” Aragorn said, returning my grin.
I kissed my Ranger gently then curled my body against Boromir’s and stroked my fingers through his hair. He did not stir. He lay solidly upon Aragorn’s shoulder, breathing peacefully. I watched him, then glanced at Aragorn, who was gazing at me with his quiet smile.
“You should sleep,” I told him.
“Aye,” he said. “And you should rest your mind.”
I smiled softly and covered his arm where it curled over Boromir. Aragorn watched me. I held his gaze. He often did this. He would study me until his eyelids grew heavy and finally drifted shut, sleep overtaking him.
“I find comfort in the quiet depths of your eyes, my pretty elfling,” he had told me long ago. “Watching you calms me.”
It pleased me to know that Aragorn found that comfort in my eyes. So it surprised me now when he murmured, “Do you plan to tell me what is troubling you, elfling mine, or shall we play a guessing game?”
I blinked, causing him to raise a brow at me. “It must be something that happened during my fledgling’s spanking,” he said.
All I could do was stare at him. Ah, the Dúnedain and their unnerving, eternal intuitiveness! Halbarad’s perceptive stare could reduce Gwin to a blithering simpleton within minutes. Unheard of for an elf. On several occasions Gwin had shattered beneath Halbarad’s lifted chin and his sternly uttered, “Gwinthorian. Perhaps there is something you wish to tell me.” Gwin would collapse and confess some perfectly harmless misdemeanor that he and I had committed, resulting with us both upended over our Rangers’ laps. Aragorn’s gifts were as finely honed as were his lieutenant’s. It was near inhuman, this Numenorean insight. It was also irksome.
“Well?” Aragorn probed.
I winced. “Uhhh . . . .”
“Come now, beloved. How bad can it be?”
“Uhhh . . . .”
“Whatever it is, it cannot be as bad as the consequences that await a certain willful elfling for withholding information he doubtless should have made known at once.”
He frowned. “Legolas.”
“All right. Perhaps I forgot on purpose. But I only withheld what I knew because hearing it will upset you, and I thought it best to wait until we could be somewhere away from the others so that you could --”
“Is it your place to decide when I should be told something, and what I should be told, little one?”
I closed my eyes and groaned. Why? Why did I do these things?
I winced at his much too kindly tone.
“Look at me, elfling mine.”
Ah, how I loved that special endearment! I obeyed.
“Now. You shall tell me now.”
A sudden thought hit me. Of course! What better time for him to learn of this than now, when he was buried beneath his exhausted and well-spanked fledgling?
This would pain Aragorn deeply, as it had pained me, but when I had heard of it, my little brother himself had helped ease me back from my fury. Boromir, so worthy and in such need, trembling in my arms, holding me as though clinging to his only hope for grace, had tempered my passion and helped me remember that he was the focus of this grief, and that it was his suffering that needed eased. So, aye, this was the absolute best time to tell Aragorn of his fledgling’s anguish. That fledgling would kindle Aragorn’s restraint.
As gently as possible I told him of the ugly depths to which Boromir’s thoughts had plunged. He listened in silence, his eyes full of turmoil. I recalled the shock on my little brother’s face when he saw how I reacted to his misbeliefs. I must have looked as horrified then as Aragorn did now.
He closed his eyes when I had finished, his face unnaturally still as he struggled with his rage.
I understood what containing that rage was costing him, but, although mine had been profound, Aragorn’s would be worse. He knew firsthand what his fledgling had endured from Denethor. He knew what he had left that little boy to so many years ago, how Denethor had clearly treated Boromir in order to endow him with these dark sorrows. As for Faramir, the darkness could scarce be imagined.
Aragorn opened his eyes. They were glittering with smoldering lights. “I should not have made you tell me at this moment.”
“You were right to do so,” I said. “This was the best time for you to learn of it. You needed to be close to him, as I was, to feel your fledgling safely wrapped in your arms when you received such news.”
“I should have known he would have reacted as he did!”
“Nay,” I murmured, trying to calm him with my voice. “You could never have known.”
“I should have guessed! I knew Denethor for what he was! I should have realized that Boromir would --”
“You could ne’er have guessed nor possibly imagined him falling to such depths,” I said, more firmly now. “Please, beloved, na far.”
“Nay! That is not enough! I should have sensed it when he --”
“Daro si!” I said in a hushed, stern tone. “Estel! Daro si! I shall not allow you to take on that burden! Aye, your Dunedin blood gives you exceptional insight, but not even the most insightful Numenorean could have sensed this. It is too unimaginable, and my little brother cloaked it too well.”
“Aye,” he snarled, huffing, but easing back some in his passion. “He has had years of practice.”
“Just so. And he had to do it well, so his craft is perfected. It kept him whole, and I know you do not fault him for what he had to do. But neither can we fault ourselves for succumbing to his masterful skills of concealment.”
Aragorn knew I was right, but that was of little comfort to him. I watched the flurry of emotions ravage my Ranger’s face until, at last, sorrow entered his gaze. I longed to ease that grief for him, knowing I could not. Tears glistened in his eyes. He closed them and lowered a kiss to Boromir’s head, then he slowly rubbed his cheek against his fledgling’s hair. I moved closer and nuzzled Aragorn’s dark locks, then smoothed the backs of my curled fingers over his face, now wet with a few trickling tears.
“Ah, Legolas,” he said in a hushed, breaking tone. “What he has suffered!”
“I am so . . . I long to . . . Legolas, I long to . . . .”
He was still for a few minutes, then he muttered, “But my . . . my rage cannot serve him.”
“Nay, beloved,” I whispered, my lips against his hair. “I had to tell myself that as well. Your rage is justified, though. The need to seek retribution is powerful. Of course your first instinct is to avenge this man you love so dearly. I felt the same rage, and I had him over my knee at the time.”
I felt him slowly pull Boromir into a tight hug, then lighten his embrace again. “I would have been tempted to beat that darkness from him, rid him of it quickly, lest it continue to feed on him.”
“I was so tempted.”
Aragorn lifted his face, his eyes still glistening with tears. “But your anger could not serve him.”
“Nay. My anger could not. But my love did serve him. Just as your love has served him. Therein lies our victory, Aragorn. Therein will we triumph over the darkness that has tormented him. Not with our fury against the one who has wronged him, but with our love for Boromir himself.”
Aragorn stared at me. He blinked, and a few more tears tumbled down his cheeks. I wiped them away and brushed back the wayward locks spilling over his brow, smiled quietly and went on:
“We have him now, you and I. That wretched influence is not here, save that it lives in his mind. But together, with our attention and our love, we can begin to purge that ugliness from him. And, even though they know it not, the others are all helping, too, those precious little ones and that blessed Istari and even that impossible dwarf, but especially the halflings, for their love is so open and pure and unconditional.
“Most of all, Aragorn, Boromir has you and me. He is a little brother now, and he is, once more, as he has always been, your fledgling, devoted to his Thorongil, following at your heels and drinking in each smile and word from you, studying your every manner and deed, still that little boy wanting nothing more than to belong to you, to please you, to have your notice, and your affection, and your respect and your discipline.
“So we are far from powerless against this thing that lives inside our little one. He already aches for what we long to give him. And we have him now! True, it will be a challenge to heal him. It will take time, for the poison infecting him runs deep. But we know of it now, and we can arm ourselves to battle it. And I know of no instance wherein darkness won out over love.”
Aragorn’s face relaxed as I spoke. He studied me with exquisite stillness, clearly finding truth in my words. I had the benefit of being several hours past this. Whilst Boromir slept in my arms, reason had calmed my soul. I had also been able to purge some of my feelings by spanking my little brother. I had not spanked him in anger, but there was something to be said for having his bottom over my knee when my desire to correct his misconceptions hit. Aragorn had hungered for a turn with Boromir over his knee before finding out the gravity of the situation. I imagined that longing would now deepen.
Finally, a soft hint of a smile whispered on his lips, then grew and he leaned in and kissed me, then murmured, “Ah, elfling mine, you are right. So right. So wise and so fair. How are you possible?”
I sniffed and blushed. “You were but a moment from that truth yourself,” I said with a wry smile. “I had more time to think on this.”
Aragorn’s praise often made me squirm. It entertained him when I became so affected, but it was something I had never been able to contain. So I dropped my gaze, and then I simply felt him watching me, knowing he was enjoying my sudden bashfulness. I vow I could hear his smile.
He leaned in again, kissing me longer this time, then drew back and murmured my name slowly, “Legolaaaaassss.”
I pretended to study each strand of my little brother’s hair. “What?”
Still not looking at him. “Hmmm?”
“Look at me, elfling mine.”
Ah, that endearment again! I sighed and glanced up. His eyes positively sparkled. “You have indeed had more time to think on this, but you are also right and wise and fair.”
Boromir stirred slightly. He whimpered a bit in his sleep, but in a few moments he was breathing easily again.
“I still wish he could tolerate a session over my knee,” Aragorn grumbled. “He put himself through much needless misery.”
“Aye. He did at that.”
“I shall speak with him this evening before we set out. He must hear from me what he heard from you. There shall be no more of this secrecy and no more self-punishment.”
“Aye. No more secrecy. No more withdrawal. No more stoic behavior.”
Aragorn shot me a shrewd look. “Are you attempting to say something, sir?”
“No, my lord.”
He narrowed his eyes at me with fetching fearsomeness. “You have a tiresome sense of humor, young bratling elf.”
“Aye, my lord.
“I know of a young bratling elf who sometimes vanishes so far behind a wall of angry silence that I must tan his lovely bottom in order to break down that wall.”
“How very unpleasant for the young bratling elf.”
“And, there is still a small matter of this same elfling deciding when he should tell me what he should tell me.”
I flinched inside. Oh. He had not forgotten that. “But, you said that I was right, and that I should have told you what you made me tell you.”
My better judgement had indeed vanished, however, there are times when beleaguering Aragorn is simply too delightful. His penetrating stare, my Ranger’s way of expressing surprise, was worth whatever my cheek might cost me. I knew the cost would not be dear, though, for he was enjoying my nettling. I checked my grin and returned his blank look.
Narrowing his eyes, he now said, “You spanked our little one so thoroughly, that I must now practice restraint with him. I am less than pleased with that situation, even more so in light of what you have told me.”
“That is understandable.”
“Good. Then I shall explain how this matter concerns you: Put plainly, sir, I have a thwarted desire to deliver a spanking roaring around within me.”
“Oh. That sounds painful, my lord.”
“It could very well prove to be so – for someone.”
“Ah. I see.”
“Do you, pen melui?”
“Most clearly, my lord,” I replied, smiling at his elvish, ‘sweet one’. “You make a sound argument for the wisdom of prudent speech.”
He grunted softly. “I thought so. As to the other matter --”
“The matter of withdrawal and secrecy and stoic behavior?”
“Indeed. I trust you are not trying to tell me that there is a comparison between what this fledgling of mine has done and what happened a week ago due to certain incidents involving soapings and flung swords.”
“Very well,” I murmured, and I leaned in and kissed him again, deeply and for a nice long time; then I whispered against his slightly breathless mouth, “I shall not try to tell you that.”
He looked cheerfully contented. So much so that Pippin remarked on it:
“It seems a cold breakfast does not trouble you, Boromir,” he stated, a bit peevishly.
“A cold first breakfast is better than no first breakfast at all, my fine young Took,” my fledgling replied, his quiet smile firmly in place.
“Apparently. You seem positively sunny for such a dreary morning.”
“It’s evening, Pip,” Merry pointed out. “And leave the man alone. Clearly he didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bedroll. Which is more than I can say for some of us.”
“I didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bedroll!” Pip snapped back. “I simply made an observation. The man is standing there, looking unnaturally pleased, and I was just making note of that.”
Merry turned a slow, exacting stare on his cousin.
“Well . . . .” Pippin fidgeted. “I was.”
“We seem a bit waspish this eve,” Gimli noted, his bemused grin settling on Pippin. He cast Merry a wink. “Did we have trouble sleeping in the daylight?”
Merry heaved a long-suffering sigh. “No,” he said, firing a discerning look to the dwarf. “But ‘we’ may need a few days to adjust to this new schedule.”
Pippin predictably bristled at the ‘we’ references. He sulked for a moment, obviously rousing himself for a fine Tookish sauciness session, so now that the others had something entertaining to distract them, it seemed a good time to take my fledgling off alone for our little talk.
I moved to Boromir’s side, and stood there for a moment before he glanced my way, still grinning. I felt a twinge of regret in having to disturb his obvious delight. He had not looked this happy and relaxed in many days. But what I had to say could not wait. I had told the others we would leave within the hour, when darkness was near fully descended, so there was no time to delay this talk with Boromir.
I leaned close to him and said, “A word, my fledgling.” Then I turned and headed back to the watch point, knowing he would follow. The others went on with their fond wrangling, Pippin being in good form now and clearly ready to display some genial impertinence. Legolas had joined in, and he gave me a slight nod as I began leading Boromir away.
My inner roar had quieted after my elfling’s words of loving wisdom and the precious time I had spent buried beneath Boromir’s warm body. He felt good stretched out upon me, his arm wrapped across my stomach, his head lying above my heart and his hair tickling my neck.
I smiled, thinking of his diminished condition when arriving back at camp. Legolas had told me of how I lapsed into this same little-boy state after a difficult spanking. The thought made me squirm. But Boromir lost in that little-boyness was irresistible, and memories of him as an adorable child washed over me. Petulant from exhaustion, he had writhed and grumbled, trying to get comfortable and fussing when he could not.
“I can’t stop wiggling!” he had pouted in response to my order. “My bottom hurts too much to sleep!”
“If you do not settle down, little fledgling, I shall make it hurt more.”
“But-But --” he sputtered. “I’m trying!”
Finally I did what I should have to begin with. Grabbing my blanket, I covered him, then reached underneath and began pulling down his breeches. After an initial gasp of shock, my lad was all too eager to assist me. He wriggled as I tugged and within moments his bottom was once again bare. Heaving a sigh of relief, my fledgling burrowed his half-naked body against mine.
“Mmmm, tha’s betterrrr.” Suddenly he froze, thinking too much, decorum rearing its ugly head. He darted a shy glance at me.
“Th-This is all right?” he asked, his voice an ardent whisper. “You . . . don’t mind?”
And I immediately heard myself asking that same question of a certain lieutenant Ranger, while I lay enclosed in his arms and sequestered with him in that blessed cave so many years ago. I must have looked then as Boromir did now, trusting and vulnerable and consumed with wary hope. No wonder I had seen that astonishing wealth of affection in Halbarad’s eyes. I hoped my loving gaze now matched the one he had given to me.
Languishing in the warmth of my memories, I kissed Boromir gently and murmured, “Of course it is alright, little fledgling. I do not mind. You are exactly where I want you to be, where I need you to be. You feel good in my arms.”
“I do? Really?”
“Aye, you really do.” I smiled at his stunned expression, then kissed his forehead and pulled him closer, whispering, “I am sure.” Within the next heartbeat, he was asleep.
I lay in quiet contentment, my pleasure becoming complete when my resplendent elf arrived. Legolas had gazed down, exquisitely still and exquisitely beautiful, and when he joined us, stretching out and fitting his body to Boromir’s, then stroking his little brother’s hair, all I could do was watch in captivated silence, sealing that euphoric moment in my heart.
I had not understood the awful magnitude of what was troubling my elfling. I knew he was troubled, but I had simply assumed Legolas was feeling a little guilty, as he sometimes did when he thought he had over-enjoyed administering a spanking. I could never have imagined the real horror . . . .
And it was that horror I now summoned to mind as I led Boromir back to the large boulders where I had found him with Legolas earlier today. I pushed away the sweetness of that scene, my elf and my fledgling, nestled together, Boromir’s firm backside glowing, ethereal Legolas, his eyes soft and brilliantly blue, his liquid hair spilling around him in a bright pool, a long lock of it clutched in his little brother’s fist . . . .
No! I would not think on that. I would stay focused on what I needed to say. I had much to say. Legolas had already gone over all this with his beloved little brother, and my elf was ever thorough. The color of Boromir’s bottom was testimony to that.
But it was my turn now, and I planned to repeat the points Legolas had made in my own words. Would that I could impress them on Boromir’s sore behind as well! Feeling frustrated, I was practically stomping by the time I reached the boulder beneath the scraggly tree.
“You are angry.”
His quiet statement surprised me. I whirled on him, and the sight of my fledgling, standing there, so calmly waiting to be chastised, so willing to accept my wrath, tore the anger from my heart, leaving only compassion for this young man I had loved since his childhood.
I closed the space between us in long strides, opening my arms wide, and I pulled him to me, enfolding him against me. He returned my fierce embrace, releasing a small whimpered gasp at the back of my neck, burying his face in my hair. His trembling quieted every remaining trace of my ire.
I wanted to be wrong about why he trembled so. But, as Legolas had said, we were alerted to that darkness within him now, and I knew I was not mistaken. I could almost feel him, spinning another web of false blame within himself, presuming the wrong he had committed against us. So, when he began to speak, muttering his apologies in a small, defeated voice, the misperceptions that poured from him grieved me, but his behavior came as no surprise.
“Forgive me, my lord, please, forgive me! I-I should have apologized earlier, before I slept, but please, let me beg your forgiveness now.”
I could scarce bear to listen further, but he seemed almost desperate to keep on, so I squeezed my eyes shut and gripped him harder and let him continue.
“It was unjust of me to think so little of you and Legolas. I have wronged you both, assuming that you would think as Denethor thinks, or act as he does. I’m sorry, so sorry! I should have known better. I have insulted you and insulted Legolas. You have done nothing to deserve my evil assumptions. You have, in fact, treated me with extraordinary kindness.”
His voice began to break and quiver. I felt a few tears tumble down my cheeks, and it was all I could do to simply hold on to him tightly and let him purge this poison. How easily he slipped into that outrageous sense of shame! How instantly willing he was to assume guilt for something he feared he might have done! And so soon after Legolas had spoken to him of this. Of course, in begging my forgiveness, he was doing the very thing he was begging forgiveness for – he was assuming I disapproved of his behavior. Were it not so tragic, it would be humorous.
Ah, Legolas was right. Healing Boromir would take time and diligence. My poor fledgling stood there, shaking in my arms, his bottom sore, and yet again making the same mistaken assumptions he had made before, and doing it so easily that he clearly had no awareness of it. I saw no point in interrupting his diatribe. Best he rid himself of it. So I let him struggle on, rambling, as he had been:
“I especially owe you an apology, my lord. You told me, the first time you sp-spanked me, that-that you would not judge me, no more than you would judge a hobbit or an elf, and that you were p-proud of me. You told me that! And you said I did not disappoint you, and-and that I was deserving of your attention, just as Faramir deserved mine.
“I-I can never thank you enough, for all-all that you and Legolas . . . you have included me . . . cared about me. I cannot tell you how much that has meant to me . . . never, ever expected it, but I love it, Thorongil. I do! And Legolas even calls me ‘little brother’. . . and now he says I am his little brother! And-And I returned your kindness to me with cruel judgement, wrongful mistaken beliefs.
“I-I know you have already forgiven me in your heart, and that Legolas has as well, but I must do this for myself, express my regret and ask your forgiveness.” He pressed his face against my shoulder, murmuring, “Sorry, Th'rongil, biggest sorry.”
His last words shattered me. He was that sweet four-year-old once more, using the exact words he had said to me long ago, using my old name. The hot pain that had been building within me during his heartbreaking speech burst and flooded my chest like molten iron. I shuddered. Clearly he had slipped into a state so removed he did not realize what he was saying. I heard that little boy in Boromir’s inadvertent words, and a ferocious bitterness towards Denethor exploded within me.
And, suddenly, the soft voice of my elf played again through my mind: “But my love did serve him. Just as your love has served him. Therein lies our victory, Aragorn. Therein will we triumph over the darkness that has tormented him. Not with our fury against the one who has wronged him, but with our love for Boromir himself.”
Of course. My thoughts of Denethor fell away. All I knew was Boromir. He stood trembling in my embrace, his arms wrapped tightly around me, as though he needed to hold fast lest the ravaging gales of his own inner storms battered him into another bleak, lonely darkness.
“ . . . I know of no instance wherein darkness won out over love.”
Of course! Wise, fair elfling mine! It all made sense now. I understood why Boromir had said all that he did, and I understood what needed doing.
I wiped my tears, kissed my fledgling’s neck, then drew back from him and took his hand, leading him to the boulder where Legolas had no doubt spanked him earlier. I sat, pulling him before me to stand between my spread legs, and I began undoing his belt and removing his sword.
Boromir released a series of soft shudders. He stood unmoving as I tended to him. He could not, however, keep quiet.
“Please, no! Oh, oh, please, Thor . . . Ar'-g-gorn! I-I cannot bear another span – no more! Please! Don’t spank me!”
I worked quickly, ignoring his continuing sputtered pleas, easing his breeches carefully down over his sore behind. “Hush. That is enough, little fledgling,” I scolded lightly. “You have no say in this.” Tugging him to my side, I turned him over my lap in one quick move that left him gasping.
Boromir had already begun to softly weep. I lifted his layers of clothing until his backside was exposed, triggering fresh tears from him. His bottom still glowed of course. Legolas had done his usual thorough job. Such a pretty sight. I could not help gliding my palm over the silky skin, admiring the view. An odd comparison between bottoms suddenly flashed through my mind again – little bouncy hobbit bottoms, a perfectly curved and creamy elvish bottom, and my fledgling’s bottom, strongly built, smooth and currently a lovely shade of crimson. But it was perhaps a bit unseemly to entertain such thoughts at such a time, even for just a few lovely seconds.
I reached into the pocket of my duster and pulled out the pouch of salve. Holding it down where he could see it, I said, “Here, little one. Would you be so kind as to hold this for me?”
He sucked a sharp breath and froze, staring at the pouch. A few quick gasps burst from him and he said, “S-Salve? You-You . . . I – I . . . You b-brought me here to-to . . . I am o-over your knee to-to . . . Salve?”
I wiggled the pouch, and when he finally took it with slow disbelief, I said, “You look to be in need of it. All little ones have need of my salve after an elvish spanking, or any spanking for that matter. But first, my sweet fledgling, we shall talk. Or rather, I shall talk, and you shall listen. For I think perhaps you have said enough for now.” And I ended my words with a solid spank.
“AHHHH!” He arched up and his legs shot out stiffly. “AHHHH! Please!” I answered him with another swat and Boromir immediately burst into a fresh flow of tears.
“Shhhh,” I said, rubbing the hot skin again. “I shall not be overly hard on you. But I do intend to make my points in a memorable fashion.”
“Noooo! Ar-Ar’gorn! Don’t! N-Nooo! AHHHH!”
“Did you say ‘no’ to me?”
“Noooo! I-I- AHHHH!”
“You said it again.”
“No! I-I mean . . . I will remememem-ber-ber all you say without a spank-AHHHH!”
“Thank you for sharing your opinion on the matter. However, I am a better judge of such things than you are, little one. Do you not agree?”
I slid my hand under his clothes to rub his back, and rested my palm on his bottom, patting it lightly, letting him feel me there. I had not intended to spank him when coming out here. But, before he knew what I had intended to say or do, Boromir began condemning his false beliefs and begging my pardon, silently telling me that he needed something from me, and making those needs clear in a way that I doubt he himself understood or acknowledged. Yet, his words revealed much:
“I know you have already forgiven me in your heart, and that Legolas has as well, but I must do this for myself, express my regret and ask your forgiveness.”
He knew that we did not disapprove of him for his thoughts or his muddy adventure. He knew that he had been disciplined for his dangerous self-punishing. So my clever fledgling had found another way to find fault with himself, another reason to beg forgiveness, all to suit his real purpose.
At this moment he required something more than just talk. Aye, he needed the talk as well, and he would indeed hear from me all the truths Legolas had taught him – that he was loved unconditionally, never judged harshly or denounced or despised for any perceived failure, that he would never be turned from our affections, and that he would never again be permitted to harm himself with self-punishment. He longed to hear that once more, but from me this time. Boromir would need to be told those truths often to counteract the damage within.
But right now my fledgling also yearned for the same physical reassurance from me that he had received from Legolas. He longed to be exactly where he was, safe over my knee. He did not need another full spanking. Indeed, he would not have been able to tolerate it, and he trusted me to know that. But he needed this closeness, this care, this love, this . . . solace.
Solace. I smiled quietly, the memory of a light, young voice echoing in my mind. I recalled a small hobbit hand touching my cheek, little fingers smoothing along my beard, and a sweet lilting accent:
"It is a strange thing, Aragorn. To be forgiven is grand, to get a second chance, lovely. Both bring a sort of relief and solace. But we need more than that to soothe the dark places inside, don’t we? Only a special kind of attention brings solace of the heart."
Again, Pippin’s words brought tears to my eyes. Boromir needed this special kind of attention from me, this solace of the heart, and, unbeknownst even to himself, he had fashioned a way to receive what he needed. Clever young warrior.
Of course I would oblige him. I was happy to oblige him. He was deserving of all I had to give him, and there was solace for me in this as well. We both craved this closeness, this remarkable intimacy that was like no other. He felt warm and solid and comfortably heavy over my thighs, vibrantly alive and completely mine. And I knew what he felt as well, that delicious abandon, as I had described it earlier to Legolas. I pulled him tightly against my stomach, snuggling him to me, enjoying the lovely tremor rippling through his body.
“Ah, my fledgling, Valar help me, but I love to see you thus, stretched out as you are, over my lap, your pretty bottom under my hand.”
Boromir quivered, his face now buried in his arm. He released a low whimper, followed by a throaty purr, and he slid his arm down, wrapping it around my leg below my knee. A familiar feeling, a warm and endearing sensation.
“I shall no doubt see you here more often, little one. Legolas and I are keeping careful watch over you now.” I spanked down again, using less than my full blow, but enough to feel sincere. He cried out. “You have much to learn, and much to unlearn. But my fledgling always was a bright child, so willing to try something new, and so determined to master what he was taught.” Another spank, then rubbing. “We are going to go over what Legolas taught you this morning, sweetling, but first, as to this apology you just made, when you disappointed Denethor, he judged you and withdrew his affections, is that so?”
“He always did this, correct?”
“Then why would you expect anything different from another?”
Boromir sucked a quick breath and went still. I delivered a fresh spank. “Answer me.”
“AHHH! I . . . cannot a-answer!”
“Ah. You have known nothing else, and yet you admonish yourself for expecting from others what you have learned to expect. Is that fair, little one?”
“Using the measure which seems to ring most true, would you think less of anyone else who assumed the worst when they have been taught to always expect the worst?”
“AHHH! No! No, Ar’g-gorn!”
“Neither would I, my beloved fledgling. Nor would Legolas think less of his dear little brother.”
Boromir gasped and paused, then muttered, “Gwador thithen muin.”
I blinked in surprise and chuckled, “Ah, Boromir! It seems your big brother has been tutoring you in Sindarin. Indeed, my fledgling always was a bright child!”
"I’m telling you, he’s walking funny."
“Oh, not this again!”
“Merry, listen to me! Boromir is definitely walking funny. Look at him.”
“Will you please stop? First of all, it’s dark out here, in case you hadn’t noticed. And secondly, you think everyone walks funny. Last week it was Aragorn, now Boromir. Pippin, you have a tilted way of looking at people, especially big people.”
“I don’t either! Frodo, tell him that I don’t have a tilted way of looking at people.”
“Leave me out of this.”
“There. You see, Pip? Even Frodo agrees with me.”
“He did not agree with you!”
I had been grinning while listening to the pleasant squabbling and speculation going on between the hobbits, but Sam’s sneeze drew my attention. Frodo noticed as well. He turned and looked over his shoulder to where his servant was leading the pony. I moved up a little from the rear guard, watching Sam wipe at his nose with his sleeve.
Frodo slowed his steps, saying, “That’s the third time he’s sneezed.”
“I thought you said Sam never gets sick.”
“But he drank that nasty athelas tea Aragorn made us all drink a few nights ago, after we’d been in the cold water,” Pippin said.
“He did,” Merry added. “I saw him. He got your cup and his from Aragorn and he brought yours over to you, and then he stood there and drank his.”
“Aye,” Pippin added. “And he even said, ‘Be sure you drink all that down now, Mister Frodo. Wouldn’t want you catchin’ a nasty cold now, would we?’”
I smiled at Pippin’s Sam impersonation.
“Yes . . . I know,” Frodo said in a distracted voice. He cast another worried look over his shoulder. “I’m dropping back to walk with him again.”
“Let’s all drop back and join him. Then I can ask him if he thinks Boromir is walking funny.”
“You stay where you are, Pippin! I’m going back alone. Sam doesn’t need to be troubled by your silly question.”
“You see, Pip?”
“Or your bickering, Merry.”
Frodo stopped walking and waited for Sam and Bill, then he fell into step beside his servant. Sam did seem to be dragging. I cast a look behind us, scanning all around. Quiet night. So I moved up even closer to the pony and the two little ones. Sam and Frodo were silent, though, and all I ended up hearing was more of Merry and Pippin. They were both showing the strain of this new course of travel by night.
“Oh. Fine. Now see what you’ve done, Merry?”
“What I’ve done?”
“Aye. You and your ruddy bickering.”
“What about you and your silliness about people walking funny? Honestly, Pip, sometimes you’re plain cracked.”
“What’s that you say?”
“I said sometimes you’re plain cracked!”
“I AM NOT PLAIN CRACKED!”
“YES YOU ARE!”
I broke into a run, racing past a startled Sam and Frodo and heading for the two younger hobbits who were now purely out of control. Up ahead I saw Boromir whirl around and storm back in their direction as well. We converged on Merry and Pip at the same time, and before they could squeak their surprise, I scooped up Pippin, planting him squarely on my hip while my little brother snatched up Merry and did the same.
“That is quite enough!” I said in a hushed voice.
“Have you two taken leave of your senses?” Boromir demanded. “Luckily for you, Aragorn and Gandalf are too far ahead to have heard that.”
I shook my head at my passenger and said, “Enough temper for tonight, little hothead. You shall come back and take the rear guard with me.” Pippin looked adorably sulky. I tousled his curls and said, “Dawn is but an hour off, and we are close to where Aragorn plans to camp, so you can ride for the rest of the way, my troublesome young Took.”
“As can you, Master Brandybuck,” Boromir announced. “No more tantrums or trouble tonight.” I watched my little brother study Merry’s stubborn pout for a moment, then he smiled at the halfling and kissed his brow.
I grinned and turned to drop back, but Boromir glanced at me suddenly, winked and said, “Before you go, Legolas, I have been meaning to share something new I discovered during my time in the mud. Did you know that you can spank a hobbit while standing?”
“Indeed?” I said with fascination, falling into step beside him.
Merry and Pippin exchanged worried glances.
“Aye. It worked beautifully with Frodo. There is nothing to it. Would you like a demonstration?”
Merry began to squirm. “Boromir--”
“I would, little brother!”
Pippin began to squirm. “Now just a moment--”
“Watch. Like this.” Boromir deftly flipped Merry around and tilted him upside down under his arm, his bottom and legs now hanging out in front. Merry gasped and kicked and sputtered, and a second later Pippin did the same when I followed Boromir’s move and flipped the squeaking Took under my arm, bottom up.
“Aye,” Boromir said. “That’s it. And now, you see, you have his little hobbit backside right where you need it.” He patted Merry’s bottom with decided vigor.
Merry kicked and squawked a hushed, “Ahh! Boromir!”
“Very convenient,” my little brother continued, spanking more and with a bit more vigor whilst ignoring Merry’s squirming protests.
“I should say so. We could spank them anytime they acted up on the march, like now,” I replied, swatting Pippin’s wriggling bottom just as vigorously.
Pippin squealed. “Stop that, y’ barbarous elf!”
“My, my.” Boromir ‘tsked’ with gusto. “He’s a cheeky little thing, considering his position.”
I sighed with exaggerated dismay. “I fear the position matters not, little brother. Just as the young one you are holding will instigate mischief regardless of the naughtiness.” Boromir groaned at that despised ‘n’ word, and I burst into chuckles. “Pardon.”
We grinned at each other shamelessly, and suddenly a small voice ventured forth from beneath my arm.
“They’re having a bit of fun with us, aren’t they?”
“Oh. Well. All right then. But I have to say, I don’t much care for being carted about ‘bottom up’ like this.”
Boromir could scarce contain himself. He was losing the battle with his laughter, and he was causing me to lose mine as well.
“What is it now?”
“Boromir is giggling.”
“Is he? I didn’t know warriors giggled.”
“A fair point. Perhaps he’s chuckling.”
“You can see him, can you?”
“Well, I can see the elf. And guess what?”
“He’s giggling, too?”
“So it seems.”
“We’re amusing them alright.”
“We are. But there are worse things, you know, Pippin.”
Boromir and I dissolved into soft laughter and righted our two passengers, settling them to sit astride our hips again. Merry and Pippin had, of course, been having just as fine a time as we had were, a fact made plain by their exchange of waggish little grins.
“Well, Legolas,” Merry said, “now you’ve learned a new way to wallop a halfling.”
“Don’t encourage them, Merry!” Pippin exclaimed. “These warriors don’t need to know new ways to wallop halflings! There are some things a body is better off not learning.”
“Nay, little one,” I said. “That is not true. It is always good to learn new things. And you never know from what unlikely source new knowledge might appear. As in this case, for instance.” I paused and turned a soft and loving smile to my little brother. “It is astounding, is it not, how much one can learn from playing in the mud?”
Boromir gazed at me, his eyes widening with comprehension. Then he glanced down and a warm grin spread across his face, his eyes crinkling sweetly at the corners. “Aye,” he murmured, glancing up at me again with his irresistible smile. “Astounding indeed.”