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Eomer always looks cross. Even when he is in good spirits, he somehow looks cross.
“His father was the same way,” Aragorn once told me when I had shared my observation with him. “When Eomer was a little boy, he, too, had that glare, although on the face of a three year old, it looked more like a pout.”
That pout had grown into an adult scowl that intimidated even the stout of heart. Seeing it now head my way truly served to annoy me.
I had left the Rangers some time earlier, and for a while I simply rode around Pelennor observing the various camps, taking in the general mood of the warriors, and trying to keep from thinking too much about anything. Finally weary of this endless flat plain, I headed my mount for the far perimeter, where a decent stand of woodland might be found with comforting tall trees to lend me solace.
But now Eomer had hailed me, and I watched his approach with a scowl that surely matched his own. I had no wish to bear anyone’s company at present, nor did I care to explain what I was doing there alone at night. Indeed, I longed to urge my mount into a fast gallop to escape Eomer and his small patrol of Rohirrim, but I dared not. The horsemen would, no doubt, be inspired to stage a pursuit. My mount was a noble animal; however, he was no match for the exquisite horses of Edoras.
So now Eomer's dark frown bore down upon me, his mount drawing to a dancing halt before mine, and his men encircling me in the manner of the Rohirrim, as they had the day we had first encountered Eomer in the Riddermark with his band of exiles.
“What are you doing here, Legolas?” he demanded. “Are you alone? Where is Aragorn?”
Blunt confrontation was Eomer's way. It nearly earned him an arrow through his uncivil head when I first met him, and now, given my own dark mood, his lack of diplomacy did not sit well with me.
“If you are seeking Lord Aragorn, you will needs look elsewhere,” I replied with my finest elvish disdain. “For, as you can see, I am indeed unaccompanied, and my business here, sir, is my own.”
I suppose I also could have been more tactful. Eomer was, no doubt, still adjusting to a grievous loss and the weight of his new title in addition to his concern over his injured sister. To his credit, the warrior studied me with that fierce frown for a moment; then he suddenly looked thoughtful, eased back in his saddle and relaxed rather than answering my aggressive manner in kind.
“Pardon my abrupt tone,” he said, nodding to his men, who withdrew from their circle around me. “We are patrolling the borders for enemy stragglers.”
“Clearly, I am not one of those,” I said, still reproachful, watching Eomer’s men gather behind him. He murmured something to one of his Riders, who then nodded, spun his horse around, and headed off at a gallop.
“Nay, and please forgive our routine tactics,” Eomer said. “It is our practice to surround and contain.”
I raised my chin and grumbled, “If I may be allowed to continue on my way then?”
“Your business is indeed your own, sir,” Eomer went on. “However, I would ask your purpose and destination. You are nearing the perimeter, and Lord Aragorn has decreed that none are to leave the safety of this plain.”
I sighed and glanced off toward the tree line a mere mile away. So close.
Though a man of few words, Eomer noticed much. He now led his mount near to mine and said quietly, “Come. Ride patrol with us.” He said no more, and he asked for no further explanation from me, but his intent to see that I accompanied him was clear, so I nodded once, and we all moved off at a slow trot, my escape attempt now thwarted.
Slipping away from the Ranger camp had proven easy. Aragorn had been heavily engaged in much needed planning and conversation with his men. Only one had noticed my exit. Moments after I had mounted he approached me with the silent movements of a Ranger.
“Legolas, are you leaving?” Devon moved closer, gazing up at me, nearly as youthful looking as Gwin, a worried glint in his large grey eyes. Bother.
“I . . . I . . . .” And I could think of no excuse to offer him.
“Oh,” Devon said, his gaze suddenly clear with a unique comprehension that only another like Gwin or myself might share. He thought for a moment; then he cocked his head to one side and asked, “You are certain you wish to do this?”
I began to dismount. Involving Devon in my deed would surely land him over Garrick's knee for failing to report my actions to Aragorn.
“‘Tis all right. Go,” he quickly said. “No need to explain anything to me. I understand.”
I vow he did, yet I could not help shouldering some guilt for allowing him his sacrifice. It was doubtful that Garrick would find out about our encounter on his own, as there were no other witnesses to my escape. But I knew Devon, and I knew that he could no more keep something like this from Garrick than I could from Aragorn, so Devon’s silence would indeed earn him a sore backside. Bother again.
“There are trees within the city, you know,” Eomer now said. I glanced at his perfect profile. “Aye, they are not as tall as those in the woodlands, but they are at least safe. I wouldst not see Aragorn's beloved elf set upon by renegade orcs simply because that tree-elf was seeking peace in a familiar place.”
I felt a hot flush singe my cheeks. It is always unnerving to be so well deciphered, especially by one not even bearing the distinct insight of the Dúnedain. Fortunately, the darkness hid my blush, though it seemed from Eomer's cunning glance that he noticed my embarrassment nonetheless.
I could think of nothing to say in reply, so we simply rode on in silence, Eomer apparently satisfied that he had been right and that he had made his point and given me something to think about.
My deed had not been one of planned thought, though. Rationality had nothing to do with it. I had watched Gwin over the course of the day, knowing what he was feeling, the murmurings of those same feelings brewing within me as well. I had been able to stave it off, but it had come spilling forth when I left the Houses of Healing and made my way to where the others were dining.
Between Faramir, Merry and Pippin, my little brother and I had heard the marvelous tale of how Aragorn had first ended up over Halbarad's knee. I had never thought to ask for the tale, but it was a fascinating account, and I found myself thinking back on it while on my way to join the others.
I thought of Aragorn in those transitional years between child and man when I had been away from him in the service of my ada. I again thanked the Valar, as I had many times, for Halbarad's devotion. I smiled thinking of the tale I had heard . . . and I frowned thinking of it, of the wargs and of Aragorn’s impulsive youth and of how tenuous life
was . . . and somewhere on that short journey to the banquet hall, the shadows I had been holding back began to descend.
Gwin's darkest fears attacked him openly, hammering him at will, and he allowed those fears full rein. Mine grew steadily, covertly, murmuring to me from hidden places within, malevolent voices simmering until they boiled over, and when that darkness boiled over, it made itself known.
So I had entered the dining hall seething inside, ready to ignite, and as he so often did, Gwinthorian provided me with a splendid target. I sat down next to Aragorn, my blood pounding with barely controlled anxiousness, and I waited. With Gwin it was simply a matter of time before he said something or did something I could seize upon and use to my purpose. It would not take long.
Gwin was clearly in a sulky mood, the rest of his spanking now hanging over his head, so he had already started grumbling. I merely jumped upon the first opportunity to harass my kinsman, not to really harass him out of spite, but to release some of what needed releasing and to invite what needed inviting. My signal sent, Aragorn was quick to answer me with his predictable response, his lieutenant offering his equally predictable support. Nay, it had not taken long at all.
When Halbarad led a forlorn-looking Gwin from the hall, escorting his elfling off for what was bound to be a painful completion of the spanking begun earlier, my darkness surged forth with even more force.
I turned to Aragorn and scoffed, “I know you are not serious about a private talk, now or later.”
Aragorn's responding glance sent a shiver through me. “Oh?”
“Come now!” I sneered. “My small remark hardly warrants such a severe response.”
“That is not for you to decide.”
“Aragorn, surely you are not going to spank me for simply teasing Gwinthor --”
“Enough, sir!” Aragorn had leaned closer and turned his smoldering gaze upon me, saying, “You shall come with me while I speak with Damrod and the armorer and the others I must visit to check on their progress and readiness. Then we shall send for Halbarad and Gwin, and together we will ride to the Ranger encampment. When we have finished there, we will return to the city and see to our loved ones in the Houses of Healing before retiring to our room for the night. And there, elfling mine, I do indeed plan to take you over my knee and spank your pretty backside until it glows. Do I make myself clear?”
I stared at him, trying to keep from sputtering my protests, but not even allowed to voice a single one before he added, “I know what you are thinking. It is my fledgling's first night back, and we had both longed to pleasure him this night.”
Ai! More regret! I had failed to consider that possible consequence! Aragorn and I had thought that perhaps tonight we might convince Boromir to stay with us, all of us loving at the same time.
It had been difficult to bring my endearingly shy, apprehensive little brother into our intimate embrace, although he had clearly been most eager to comply with our desires. But Aragorn and I had managed it over time. We realized that while our amazingly unschooled young one could not bear the shocking complexities of the three of us loving in unison, he could, interestingly enough, handle the slightly less overwhelming adjustment of becoming intimate with us one at a time. And so Aragorn and I had adjusted as well, Boromir's needs in this matter meaning more to us than our own prodigious desires.
It had been glorious for us all, our arrangement working out better than Aragorn and I had anticipated. The intense closeness we had shared in Lothlorien especially helped heal us all in ways we found astounding.
But now the world teetered on the edge of a sword or, more to the fact, on the edge of a Ring. Our time with my little brother since his return to us had been blessed, but too brief, too fleeting, and now, tonight, we had thought to make the attempt to keep Boromir between us, all of us sharing one bed. To think that I had now spoiled that hope!
“Ah,” Aragorn had continued, noticing my regrets in the seconds I had taken to think them. “I see. You fear all is lost, our plans for my fledgling now ruined. Nay, beloved, I would not punish us all so. We shall proceed with the plan that you and I discussed over the past few nights. Boromir will share our bed tonight, all of us together. You will simply be enjoying your night with a sore bottom.”
“How fares my littlest Rider of Rohan?” I flinched at Eomer's question, turning a blank stare at him. “Have you seen Meriadoc?” he asked.
“Aye. We dined together in their room.” I went on to tell him of my afternoon and evening with the hobbits and what I knew of Merry's condition. He chuckled when I told him that the little one's bottom was worse for wear since Aragorn had disciplined him yesterday.
“He must be doing better ‘else Aragorn would not have risked spanking him,” Eomer said. “Soon young Merry will feel my hand on his little backside as well. He was ordered to stay behind. Both he and my sister shall answer to me for their disobedience.”
“He knows it,” I said, smiling at a sudden memory. “Pippin tried to console him this evening. He said, 'There, there now, Merry. Eomer's spankings are severe, but certainly no worse than Aragorn's or any other warrior's.' Then he cast Boromir and me an accusing look. So then Faramir chuckled and asked him, 'Just how many trips over Eomer's knee did it take for you to reach your determination?'
“One,” Pippin told him. Then Merry gave Faramir a tired glance and said, ‘He’d already made his determination that first time, so the endless other times Eomer spanked him don’t count.’ To which Pippin shot back, ‘Eomer did not spank me endless other times!’ He only spanked me twice.’”
Eomer was in full laugh now, somehow looking a little less cross. “He speaks truly, but the first time Pip met the flat of my hand was not quite a full spanking,” he said. “When we stopped for a brief rest on our way back to Edoras from Isengard, I caught sight of him poking around the bundles on Gandalf’s saddle. I knew he must be searching for the Palantir, so I came from behind him and snatched him up, covering his mouth with my palm, and I carried him off into the shrubbery. I told him at once that I knew what he was about and that unless he wanted everyone to know what I had seen, he would keep still.”
I laughed softly. “And, of course, he did.”
“Aye, but his small body went rigid, and as soon as I removed my hand, he began blathering hushed feeble excuses and denials nonstop. Once hidden in some dense foliage where I could deal with him privately and save him a bit of embarrassment, I flipped him around, tucked him under my arm, and delivered ten hearty swats to his writhing little backside, just enough to leave a warm reminder.”
“Ah.” I chuckled. “That was the first spanking then.”
“So he sees it. The second, now that was a goodly spanking, and he deserved it.”
“Aye, he did,” I agreed.
Not long after we had reached Edoras, during the commotion of our arrival and the preparations for the upcoming ceremony honoring the fallen, Pippin, unusually obsessed with the dangerous object he had found at Isengard, had nearly succeeded in stealing it away. Merry and King Theoden had struck up an immediate friendship, and Merry was off enjoying the king’s company and conversation, so with his cousin conveniently occupied elsewhere, Pippin had been dangerously free to explore where he would, and of course, such was an invitation to trouble.
“Pippin was not expecting me to still be watchful of him with so much else going on,” Eomer said. “I could scarce believe my eyes when I saw him trying it again.”
“Ah, poor wee Took. No one blunders with as much skill as our Pippin.” I winced, remembering Pippin’s squalls when Eomer had taken him off to a remote stable and thoroughly spanked him for again trying to get at the Palantir. After noticing Eomer leading Pippin away, I had followed at a discreet distance until I heard what was going on; then I left, knowing Pippin was in good hands. No one else knew what was happening; however, seeing a teary-eyed Pippin afterwards gave rise to questions which Eomer answered truthfully, much to Pippin’s chagrin. Merry had stayed close to his cousin after that, and we were all more mindful of Pippin’s whereabouts. Gandalf even slept holding the Palantir, although it did little good.
“Would that he had learned from that spanking.” Eomer sighed. “Perhaps that monstrous evil would not have had the opportunity to rape his innocent mind.”
“Aye.” A shudder coursed through me, remembering our terror as we hovered over a stricken Pippin that night.
We were nearly to the Rohirrim encampment, and I turned my gaze to Minas Tirith, thinking that it was time I headed back. This had been a senseless act. Aragorn knew I would always return to him. It seemed he had nearly finished his talks when I left him in the Ranger camp, so perhaps by now he had returned to the city.
We approached the Rohirrim camp from the rear, behind the few large tents where all was dark. Within the camp itself, the next party of Riders was assembling to begin another patrol of the perimeter. Shadows danced amongst the tents and the smoke from the many flickering fires, the dark shapes of men and horses in constant movement.
I was about to tell Eomer that I would continue on when all at once he turned his horse towards mine, cutting us off from the others and heading into the deeper shadows behind the tents. I thought he intended a private word with me, probably some tiresome advice about going back and facing Aragorn, when I suddenly felt the reins yanked from my hands.
My mount danced a few steps, and I flashed a glance to Eomer, stunned. It had happened so swiftly I had not seen him move. But Eomer was not holding my reins. I instantly felt another presence beside me and fired a look to my other side. My heart leapt.
Halbarad sat there in the shadows, my reins clutched in his great fist. At once I remembered the Rider Eomer had sent galloping off when we first met. Of course. I marveled at not seeing it until now. Although he had feigned surprise when finding me, Eomer had to have been alerted to watch for my unauthorized presence on the battleground in order to know to send his Rider for Halbarad.
Turning a furious glare at Eomer, I struggled with my urge to tell him what I thought about interfering horsemen. However, he might not be able to fathom my colorful elvish, while Halbarad, unfortunately, would understand each word. No matter. Eomer clearly found my glare amusing enough.
“The dark woods are no place for an elfling to wander when danger lies all about,” he said in a smug tone that made me itch to hurl myself at him. “So please forgive my small deceit. I have enjoyed your company, sir, but we encountered Aragorn earlier, and he requested that should we happen upon you in our patrol, we detain you as best we could and send word to this good lieutenant, that he might escort you safely back to the city.” Eomer bowed his head to Halbarad, who returned the gesture. I felt too humiliated to draw breath.
“Perhaps you would like a moment of privacy with this elf before departing, sir?” Eomer asked, raising an eyebrow to Halbarad.
“Indeed I would. I am most grateful, my lord,” Halbarad said. “Would you kindly tell Gwinthorian that he is to stay at your central fire until we join him? He is there now, entertaining some of your men.”
“Ah,” Eomer said, turning a look towards the glow of the firelight beyond the tents. “So it is his song I hear on the wind.”
“Aye,” Halbarad said. “And he is better off where he is while I have a word with his errant prince.”
“I shall convey your orders, sir.” Eomer nodded once more to Halbarad, then he cast me another self-satisfied grin, turned his mount, and headed off, leaving me alone in the shadows of the tents with one quite stern-looking Ranger.
Halbarad had, on occasion, seen fit to swat me. Such occurrences were rare, but each time he had done so, it made me determined to never again invite such treatment. Halbarad did not believe in usurping Aragorn's rights to blister my backside, but sadly, he could at times be inspired to express his own displeasure with something I had done by ‘warming me up for his captain,’ as he put it, making the most of the few spanks he seemed compelled to bestow upon my poor ill-fated bottom.
One look at Halbarad’s stormy visage now and I knew I was about to suffer his displeasure again.
“Well met, young runaway prince,” he said.
Gwin’s voice suddenly popped into my head – a remembered thought: “When I know I am doomed, that is when I let loose with my best cheek. If he is going to spank me silly, I might as well enjoy a moment of complete insubordination.”
Gwin’s reasoning often made me wonder how it was he had managed to live this long. It certainly made me wonder how he could walk after one of Halbarad’s spankings. Gwinthorian was clearly made of stronger stuff than I was.
But Gwin’s philosophy was just odd enough at this moment to hold some appeal. Lifting my chin, I again called forth my best elvish disdain, and said, “If you would be so kind, sir, may I have my reins back, please?”
It seemed a fair request, voiced in polite terms, but Halbarad for some strange reason took exception to it. He drew my mount a little closer, then reached out with his long, muscular arms, yanked me from my horse and hurled me face down and bottom up in front of him. I gasped at the swift, violent move, struggling for balance, and I felt him rip down my breeches, exposing my bottom to the warm night air. All I could think was, “Nooooo!”
“Was it not considerate of me to leave my saddle behind?” he remarked with dreadful nonchalance, placing a solid hand over my lower back to help steady me. “I felt we should have a private talk of our own before I return you to Aragorn.”
“Ai! Nooo!” I whispered, and I braced, and squeezed my eyes shut in anticipation of his first swat. But, as I had found in the past, no amount of bracing could prepare me for that first swat from Aragorn’s masterful lieutenant. Halbarad’s spanking style was shockingly forceful. In my opinion, it was matched only by Glorfindel. I always lost control quickly when over Glorfindel’s knee, jerking and crying out right from the start, stunned by the instant fierceness of it, and I now felt that same panic flood me at Halbarad’s first swat.
Aye, the lieutenant was unhappy with my behavior. He let me know it with each spank and with his continuous scolding: “Aragorn was concerned about you, bratling elf . . . It is not safe to leave these grounds, especially at night . . . You know that, little one . . . Even a clever elf can find himself waylaid should he ride too far from the campfires, and it is pure folly to ride alone . . . Can you imagine what a gang of savage renegade wild men would do to a pretty elfling like you? . . . Aye, you most assuredly need warming up after this naughtiness . . . .” And on and on and on he swatted.
But, of course, I had known all this, and I had not cared, and so in light of my careless behavior, Halbarad was justified in his displeasure. Should my little brother have undertaken such dangerous foolishness, I would have spanked him with just as much vigor, and certainly much longer. But then, I yet had Aragorn to face.
Halbarad delivered twelve swats in all before he stopped, leaving me gasping and weeping silent tears, hanging limp before him, my bottom throbbing. Twelve! He had never given me that many, never. Just a few sincere spanks from this man created a fiery burn on one’s bottom. Twelve was utterly breath taking.
I again marveled at Gwin’s endurance. Halbarad surely lessened the force of his blows when administering a long spanking to his elfling. What he had just given me were his most intense swats, those initial ‘getting your attention’ swats. Still, perhaps Gwin yelled like Pippin from the outset of a spanking for good reason.
Halbarad rubbed my back slowly. I hung there, hoping he had finished, and I suddenly realized that I was clinging to his leg, my arm grasping it the same way my little brother always curled his arm around my leg when I was spanking him. And my face had been pressed against Halbarad’s boot just below the knee, the soft leather now dampened by my tears. It struck me through to realize how comforting that was, holding onto him this way and to be permitted such an intimacy without mention of it from him.
“This was not like you, Legolas,” Halbarad now said, his voice low and warm. “You do not engage in such antics merely to gain attention. You are far more subtle, more discreet. Running off like this is behavior more worthy of my Gwin. Is that not so?”
I cringed and nodded, a few more tears slipping free.
“I shall leave it to Aragorn to settle this affair with you, little bratling elf. You now know my feelings on the matter. And you shall apologize to Aragorn for worrying him. See that you do.”
Despite the flood of embarrassment coursing through me, I had enough presence of mind to mutter, “Aye, sir.”
“Good,” he said, his tone softer. “Then breathe easier for now, young prince, for I am finished discussing this with you. For my part, this is over between us.”
I did let loose a breath of relief, but suddenly I heard the rapid approach of a light footstep I knew well. I groaned, and a second later, I heard Gwin’s gasp and his familiar, “Ulp.” Lifting my head, I saw him stopped short a few yards off, gazing at us with huge eyes.
“What did I tell you to do, Gwinthorian?” Halbarad asked him.
Gwin shifted from foot to foot. I could not bear to watch. I lowered my head with another groan and just listened.
“I . . . I became curious.”
“What did I tell you to do?”
“Wait for you by the central fire?”
“Did you misunderstand my orders?”
“Well . . . not . . . not exactly --”
“Then you deliberately disobeyed me.”
“Uhhh . . . .”
Halbarad grunted. “We shall discuss it later. Come. Mount up. Let us take this naughty princeling back to Aragorn.”
I was so mortified I released a soft sob. Halbarad pulled up my breeches; then he picked me up under the arms as if I weighed no more than a hobbit and said, “Straddle.”
Blushing furiously, I spread my legs and he swung me around and plunked me down before him, clearly intending that I ride back to the city in this humbling manner. I hissed and bit back a yelp, wiping at my teary cheeks with my sleeve, my bottom stinging too much to protest this indignity and perhaps risk another twelve. Gwin had meanwhile mounted my horse and sat ready, sulking up a storm. Halbarad tossed him my reins.
“Must I come, too?” Gwin grumbled. “My bottom is so very sore.”
I knew full well, as did Halbarad, that sore bottom notwithstanding, Gwin wouldst rather be nowhere else but at his Ranger’s side.
“Aye,” Halbarad answered him, leading the horses out from the shadows of the tents. “But your attitude reminds me that it has been several hours since your spanking, Gwinthorian. Perhaps you are ready for another.”
“Another!” Gwin released another ‘ulp.’ “No, thank you, sir.”
“Then hush,” Halbarad ordered, then he leaned close to my ear, and said, “Now, sir, you shall bid Eomer farewell and thank him for his hospitality and his company.”
I closed my eyes and seethed, drenched in humiliation, struggling to keep from imagining how this looked. Thankfully I had not been sobbing, but I feared an astute eye might see my no doubt reddened eyes. Indeed, when Eomer noticed us at the edge of his camp and made his way towards us, his stern visage was a bit less severe, his astute eye full of knowing lights. My face burned hotter than my backside.
“Ah. So you are off then, sir?” he asked, striding up to Halbarad's horse. “Your charge has been secured, I see.”
I looked away, struggling once again to keep from launching myself at Eomer and teaching him some manners.
“Aye, my lord. Thank you for sending a messenger that he had been found and for keeping him safely occupied until we arrived.”
“It was my pleasure.”
I kept staring off, trying to convince myself that I was not here, I was not here.
Halbarad nudged me. “Legolas has something to say to you.”
What I had to say to both of these insulting, insufferable warriors would have singed their ears, so I continued fighting my urge to follow my instincts, as it would certainly lead to further unhappy circumstances.
Halbarad nudged me a second time. I dropped a fierce glare to Eomer, who stood gazing up at me with poorly concealed amusement. In fact, he looked just short of giving way to laughter. I liked him better cross.
“Farewell,” I muttered.
“Excuse me?” Eomer said.
Halbarad slid his hand between us and pinched my bottom. I could not help jerking and gasping.
“Is something amiss?” Eomer asked.
“I believe Legolas just remembered the rest of what he needs to say to you,” Halbarad was most helpful to offer.
“Thank you,” I grated.
“Excuse me?” Eomer said.
“Thank you! For your . . . your hospitality and your company.”
“Again, it was my pleasure,” Eomer said with a nod.
All I wanted was to be gone from here. I wanted Aragorn. I felt a definite ‘State of Gwinthorian’ oozing through me, a state wherein my emotions ran rampant and my temper was somewhat less than mannerly.
At such times my elvish fury comes dangerously close to erupting. Why did I submit to these outrages? I was of a superior strength and a much greater age! I was of the elvish realms! I could easily vanquish these humans and do exactly as I pleased!
But a far more powerful imperative transformed those fleeting thoughts: I loved these humans. I loved their passions, their follies, their indomitable spirits and their endearing vulnerabilities. I loved their constant eagerness to try their best and to strive for higher good. More singularly, I loved one particular human as the little brother I never had, and I loved another human more than my life. Indeed, Aragorn was life to me, and nothing the elvish realms had to offer surpassed that love.
So I turned a softer glance down to Eomer and said, “Truly, my lord, my thanks.”
Eomer’s blinked, clearly surprised, and his intense expression relaxed. He smiled, a genuine kindly smile, and said, “Go in peace, Legolas. I do not envy you your reunion with Aragorn, but soon all will be well.”
Another blush warmed my cheeks, and Halbarad nudged his mount forward towards Minas Tirith.
It seemed like a very long journey. Gwinthorian and I were both uncomfortable with our situation, our bottoms aching thanks to the Ranger holding me before him as we rode through Pelennor. Several times Gwin muttered lowly under his breath in my direction, knowing I would hear him:
“Why did you not stay put? . . . Really, Legolas, you are the limit . . . Because of you, I now am stuck on horseback both to and from the city. At least you are only suffering one ride tonight. It hardly seems fair . . . I hope my Hal heated up your backside royally, my troublemaking prince, and I hope Aragorn spanks you so soundly that I hear your wailing when I am back at camp.”
“Gwinthorian,” Halbarad finally said. “Would you care to share your mutterings with me?”
“Uhhh . . . .”
“Then I had best hear no more whispers from your direction.”
Much to my dismay, instead of simply leaving me in the city, Halbarad saw fit to escort me all the way from the stables to Aragorn’s chambers. I felt this utterly unnecessary, and I protested:
“I know the way, sir. There is no need for you to . . . .”
The alarming gleam in Halbarad’s eyes silenced me at once. I winced and fell into step behind him, following his long-legged stride up the cobblestone streets, wondering how many more degradations this infuriating lieutenant planned to heap upon me. Nothing surprised me where Halbarad was concerned. Perhaps he planned to stay and make sure Aragorn spanked me well enough to suit him. Perhaps he felt that Gwin would benefit from seeing what happened to willful elflings who disappeared into the night, worrying others with their careless behavior – as if there would be any question in Gwin’s mind as to what Aragorn planned to do to me.
But Aragorn’s chamber was empty when we arrived.
“He is probably still in the Houses of Healing,” I said. “There is no need for you to wait.”
I said it knowing that nothing would induce Halbarad to leave until he had personally delivered his ‘parcel’ to his captain. And, sure enough, the Ranger simply gave a small polite chuckle and said, “Nay, ‘tis no trouble to keep you company until Aragorn returns; is it, Gwinthorian?”
Gwin merely fired me a scowl. I sighed, understanding his displeasure all too well. I had forced an uncomfortable ride upon him, and now, because of my antics, he was missing out on precious private time with his Ranger.
Halbarad cast Gwin a gentle smile and said, “Ah, my poor put-upon elfling. Behave in a civil manner and cease glaring at your doomed kinsman, and we shall spare your sore bottom another ride and stay here in our chamber tonight. What say you, little one?”
Gwin’s sweet face brightened. “Really?” he said, charmingly breathless.
“Aye,” Halbarad said, his grin widening.
And so we waited, but we did not need to wait long.
At first I saw only Legolas. I had pushed open the door to my chamber but halfway, and there he was, leaning against the wall near the window seat, one foot braced up, his arms crossed over his chest and a glorious pout on his pretty face.
Opening the door the rest of the way, I moved inside and saw Halbarad and Gwin close to the hearth, Halbarad sitting in a chair with Gwin perched on the chair’s arm, swinging one foot. Ah. So my elfling had been escorted back. I closed the door, raised a brow at Halbarad, and said, “May I assume Legolas has good reason for choosing to stand?”
My lieutenant’s eyes sparkled. “You may.”
Halbarad rose and gave me a brief account of how the three of them came to be there; then he said, “Gwinthorian and I shall be staying tonight, my lord.”
I nodded, glancing at Legolas, who had not moved since I had entered but still stood silently watching us. “Aye, it is late,” I said. “No need to leave the city when your chamber stands empty and ready.”
“So I thought. I told Thayer we would not be back tonight.”
Gwin made a small sound, drawing our attention. He was frowning, a flash of innocent confusion on his face. “You told him that before we left?” he asked Halbarad.
“Aye. You were seeing to our horse.”
“But . . . but you said we would stay only if I behaved,” Gwin sputtered. “You said we could stay in the city tonight if I stopped glaring at Legolas and behaved civilly while we waited.”
Halbarad turned to Legolas. “Is that what I said, sir?”
Legolas dropped his gaze and sulkily replied, “Nay.”
“What did I say?”
“You said, ‘Behave in a civil manner and cease glaring at your doomed kinsman, and we shall spare your sore bottom another ride and stay here in our chamber tonight.’”
Gwinthorian made a small strangled sound, but I flashed Halbarad a grin. He had not lied. He had delivered an order followed by a course of action. How like my lieutenant to wrangle good behavior from a clearly impatient Gwin in such a manner. And how many times had he used a similar strategy on me! All Gwin could do was realize the truth and huff his frustration, which he did. Alas! So much good moping time lost!
Halbarad smiled gently at his glowering elf and said, “Gwinthorian, you and I will needs have a short discussion about you disobeying my orders in the Rohirrim camp. Beyond that, I felt it best to spare your tender bottom any further ordeal tonight. You have indeed held your tongue and your temper while waiting, but I vow you could not have done so without my methods. Do you not agree, my petulant elfling?”
Gwin had paled when Halbarad mentioned the ‘discussion’ they would need to have. Now he sighed deeply, accepted his defeat, and muttered, “I agree. But . . . but . . . .” Gwin heaved another forceful sigh of frustration.
“Gwinthorian, daro si.”
It really was better that Gwin stop, and he knew it, and he softened his gaze and said, “Aye, Halbarad.”
“Come,” my lieutenant said. “Let us leave Aragorn and your sulky kinsman to their business and retire to our chamber for a night of solitude.”
Gwinthorian’s eyes lit up, his pretty, shameless grin returning. “As you wish, sir.”
They headed for the door. I opened it for them, stepped back, and turned to Legolas, who had withdrawn from all this. “Legolas, you have not yet thanked your escort for giving you safe conduct back.”
Halbarad and Gwin paused and turned to him. We waited, but in truth, there was little mystery as to how Legolas would respond. He had been very still, and I knew, as I was certain my lieutenant knew, what to expect. Halbarad had just gone through this with Gwin, and he still was to some degree. Now it was my turn to deal with my elfling.
Halbarad and I had recently discovered this need in our elves, this simple need for reassurance before entering into a seemingly impossible conflict. It was not that they feared warfare itself. Legolas and Gwin were savage in battle, destroying the enemy around them with astonishing speed and savagery.
But these massive campaigns in which we had been engaged, one after another, had taken an odd toll on Legolas and Gwin. To their way of thinking, death seemed to come more swiftly in a huge chaotic battle. They had less control over the outcome than they did in smaller skirmishes. The unthinkable could happen, and had happened. Legolas had been stunned by Haldir’s death at Helm’s Deep, and he grieved bitterly, telling me afterwards:
“He was a far better warrior than I, Estel. I learned much from Haldir. I cannot believe he is gone. If one such as he can be slain by something as savage and mindless as a common orc . . . .” He had finished his thought with a shake of his head and a sigh.
Haldir’s loss, indeed the staggering losses of both men and elves at Helm’s Deep, seemed to shatter something within my beloved elf. I came to realize, as Halbarad had found out a long time ago with Gwinthorian, that mortality had suddenly become far too real for Legolas. Because death was not a concept elves faced as a condition of their existence, both Gwin and Legolas faltered when it came to fashioning a defense against their fear of it.
But they did not fear their own death – they feared the possible deaths of those they loved, so these huge battles ignited a vulnerability within them that shook them to the core. They were warrior elves! This was simply fear! They could not stomach what they saw as such a craven weakness.
So they sought out the safest place they knew, a place to feel comforted and accepted despite their ‘cowardly’ fears. They sought the sweet feeling of worth that followed a spanking, that overwhelming love unlike any other. And, simple as it seemed, that was all our troubled immortals required. Attention. Reassurance. Both Gwin and Legolas just needed their gut-wrenching anguish noticed and comforted and tended to. They needed to be told what they already knew.
Bolstered once more with the reassurance that they were loved and worthy and that nothing could destroy that, they were again able to quiet their fear and feel those solid truths within, and when the battle came, Legolas and Gwin would once more be those competent warrior elves.
But they needed to be moved through this with care, and Halbarad and I were more than happy to do so. Legolas was once more lost in that abyss. Gwin had been simmering inside it, too, but unlike Legolas, it took time for Gwin to calm down and feel safe again after the battle. His fear of losing Halbarad lingered, creating a fierce need to be near his beloved Ranger, something Halbarad had been used to from the beginning with his Gwin and a fact I had forgotten about when I had thoughtlessly sent Gwin to Osgiliath.
But he had hidden his real anguish, covering it up with the kind of impudence that would land him where he longed to be, and once over Halbarad’s knee, Gwin began to receive what he needed. It was now my elfling’s turn.
“Thank you for escorting me back,” Legolas said, his voice hollow, his eyes still downcast.
Halbarad glanced at me, clearly sharing my feeling that I need not bother calling Legolas on his discourtesy. He had been abrupt due to his daze of withdrawal, not as a means of gaining attention.
“You are most welcome,” my lieutenant said. “Remember what I told you, young prince.” He then took Gwin’s arm, murmuring, “Come, Gwinling.”
But Halbarad paused before leaving, and he turned to me. He cupped his palm around the back of my head, leaned down, and touched his forehead to mine. Then he eased back, his gaze full of quiet assurance. Nodding once, Halbarad took his elf and left, closing the door behind them.
I turned to Legolas. How beautiful he looked standing there. How sad and strangely fragile, yet how beautiful. There was nothing I could say to him that he had not already heard from me before, nothing new I could tell him that he did not already know. But all those simple truths needed to be said again. Legolas had not forgotten them, but he needed to hear them. He had to feel them spanked into him. He needed to have restored to him what he had never really lost – his blind trust in tomorrow.
I moved slowly towards him, knowing that Legolas could not bear to appear lacking or fearful. The surface premise had to be preserved, at least for now, as we began. He had been purposely discourteous to Gwin and he had ridden off into the night without so much as a by your leave. Legolas was going to be spanked for this naughty behavior.
But first I simply had to gather him in my arms and hold him for a moment, just hold my unhappy, beloved elfling while he trembled. His arms came around me, and he lowered his head to my shoulder, a sweet gesture that tugged at my heart. He had been through a disquieting evening. Riding off as he had done was so unlike him. Legolas surely felt embarrassed by his obvious bid for attention, and he clearly felt badly about it now. Yet, at the time, he no doubt had been unable to stop himself. Aye, disquieting indeed to feel so alien from oneself.
“There, there now, little one,” I said. “Come. Let us deal with your naughty behavior.”
His eyes remained lowered and his face grew rosy, but he offered no protest as I took his hand and led him to our bed. I sat and drew him down over my lap, and he remained compliant, but what I felt emanating from him was that same anxious pulse, that sad feeling of being so removed from himself that he was drifting in a limbo of foreboding.
I held him there over my lap for several long minutes, just holding him down, making him feel his position. I rubbed his back, settling him even more, then I lifted his tunic and began to pull down his breeches, my movements slow and careful so that he felt every inch of cloth descending over each silky curve of his skin. I pulled them down, down until I reached mid-thigh. Pausing there, I lifted each leg, yanked off his boots, then removed his breeches completely.
Feeling him quiver, I slid my palm languidly up his smooth legs towards his backside, saying, “Settle down, elfling mine. Shhh, no need for your bothersome clothing. After I have heated your precious bottom, I shall keep you with me in our bed until morning. So, no fussing.”
My words made him quiver even more, and I grinned, but then I quickly sobered, my gaze settling on that precious bottom I was about to heat. I took my first real look at my elfling’s backside, raising my brows at the dark pink skin. Halbarad had most definitely warmed Legolas up for me.
“It looks as though my lieutenant was less than pleased with your behavior, my sweet brat,” I said. “Did you provoke Halbarad or fight him?”
“No, my lord,” Legolas replied, still withdrawn and further distancing himself with unnecessary formality. “I did nothing to provoke him, nor did I fight him.”
“Legolas, your pretty bottom is quite colorful. Did Halbarad turn you over his knee and give you a full spanking?”
“No, Halbarad did not turn me over his knee.”
“But he gave you a full spanking?”
“Nay, my lord. Not . . . not exactly.”
“This is the result of a simple swatting?”
“Aye . . . I mean, nay, my lord . . . I mean . . . .”
I sighed. “Tell me what happened.”
This truly was the best course. Making Legolas recount what Halbarad had done to him would serve to take him back into it again. I refused to let him hide behind his protective wall of detachment, and revisiting the scene would likely make him squirm. Besides, I was curious as to what had gone on between Legolas and my lieutenant.
“He . . . he pulled me from my horse onto his, draping me in front of him.”
I delivered my first spank, making him hiss and jump. He had not expected it, and I had not wanted him to. Enjoying his story thus far, I went back to rubbing his bottom and said, “Go on.”
“Then he . . . he swatted me.”
“He swatted you.”
“Aye, my lord.”
“Halbarad merely swatted you.”
“Well . . . aye, my lord.”
I gave him another spank and said, “So you were bottom side up, lying in front of Halbarad, draped over his horse. Is that right?”
“Aye, my lord.”
“And this glow on your lovely backside is the result of one swat?”
Legolas paused, then said, “More than one.”
I felt we were in for a long night. Growling a low ‘hmmm’ in my throat, I pulled his slender body closer, pressed my arm down more firmly over his back, and said, “I feel you can be more forthcoming than you are, my tight-lipped bratling. Perhaps you need to consider your responses more carefully.”
I began fully spanking Legolas using sharp, steady blows that made him immediately squirm. “Take your time,” I said. “I shall keep warming your bottom to help you think. No need to speak until I give you permission. For now, just be quiet and consider the best way to answer my questions.”
I knew he longed to hold still and remain unresponsive, but Legolas was already far too sore to keep from writhing under my hand. I simply spanked him for a while, knowing that soon he would be all too willing to respond readily. Gasping repeated explosions of breath, Legolas arched up, his hands balling into fists and his legs stiffening out straight as if trying to pull his bottom away from my assault, all tactics I knew well, all of them useless.
Eventually, I sensed that he was feeling more responsive, so I said, “Very well. Let us try this again. Tell . . . me . . . what . . . happened.”
“He . . . he pulled down my breeches, and he . . . he swatted me!” Legolas blurted out with no hesitation. “Halbarad swatted me. It was not a spanking, not a real spanking. N-Not over his knee. But he swatted me h-hard. Very, very h-hard swats. Twelve. Tw-Twelve very, very hard s-swats, my lord!”
“Ah. Well,” I said, spanking determinedly. “That would likely sting.”
“Aye! It – it did, my lord.”
“Twelve of them, you said?”
“Yes, indeed. That would sting. And they were hard swats, not light swats?”
“Hard! Very h-hard! They were very, very hard!”
“Very, very hard.” I ‘tsk-tsked.’ “Ahhh, my poor little elfling. Twelve hard swats from Halbarad on your sweet bare bottom. Oh, how that must have hurt! I imagine his spanking brought tears to your pretty eyes.”
Legolas writhed and gasped, clearly trying to escape what my voice and my increasingly juvenile choice of words and my spanking were doing to him. “Aye, it – it did, my lord. But --”
“Did you weep, little one? Did you cry when Halbarad spanked you?”
Something akin to another whimper broke from him; then he huffed and sucked it in again and shot back, “Aye! I – I did! But – But it was not a spank-spanking! I told y-you! Not a spanking! Not!”
I gave him several extra fast and hard smacks that made him arch and cry out.
“Stop that. Stop that impertinent tone,” I scolded, resuming my normal blows. “You will address me civilly, bratling mine, or your well-deserved spanking will intensify to the level you just felt.”
“Aiii! Nooooo! P-Please, Aragorn! No!”
In truth I had smiled at his outburst. I had, after all, provoked it. He was certainly no longer detached. But he was still struggling to hold back his tears, still fighting me. Ah, my stubborn elf! We would needs go on like this for a little while longer. “Very well then,” I said. “Would you like to apologize for your tone?”
“Aye, s-sir,” he said quickly. “P-Please forgive m-me.”
“Of course,” I replied, watching him twist the coverlet mercilessly in his fists. Amazing, his level of endurance.
“As for your claim that what Halbarad did to you was not a spanking,” I went on, “you were in spanking position, your breeches were pulled down and your bottom was bare, Halbarad’s big, wide hand was forcefully applied to your lovely backside a number of times – twelve, to be exact – and you were crying. To me that sounds like a spanking. In fact, it was a spanking. So, what did Halbarad do to you, my obstinate elfling?”
“H-He spanked meeee!” Legolas cried out.
“Ah. So he did.”
To my shock, Legolas had more to say. “But – But he should not have done so!”
I was so startled I nearly broke the rhythm of my spanking. I looked at him, but his face was turned away from me, so I could not see his expression. His voice was unmistakably angry, though. More show of his fiery temper, and so soon. Ah, my hot-headed elf!
“What did you say?” I asked.
“He had no right! Hal-Halbarad should not have spanked me like th-that!”
Questioning Halbarad’s authority? This was something new. But nothing should have surprised me when Legolas was in this state, so I took his exclamation as he most likely intended it – a display of presumptuous sass, coupled with a deeper plea to be shown that nothing had, nor would change despite anything now or in the future. Good. Now we could move on. I proceeded to tell him some facts that he already knew.
“I feel certain you do not mean that, little one,” I said, increasing the strength of my spanks. “Halbarad had no right? If he had given you twice that amount, he would have been well within his rights. Halbarad is my trusted lieutenant, and he did what he felt was best for you at the time. He represents my interests and my desires when I am not present, and he would never abuse his position or his power. Halbarad’s authority is my authority. Are you really questioning that, elfling brat?”
“Nooooooooo!” Legolas cried, arching up again and squirming at my harder swats. And suddenly he surprised me by reaching back to cover his burning bottom. I tipped up my leg, exposing his tender undercurve, but he gasped and snatched his hand away before I could deliver a single spank to the area. I grinned and lowered my leg again.
“Good,” I said, resuming my steady spanking. “And now I think you should apologize for voicing such defiance.”
Legolas gasped and quivered, but he spat out, “I am sorry, my l-lord.” Suddenly he sucked a sharp breath and went rigid. “Sorry . . . Ai! I – I . . . .”
I paused in my spanking. “What is it?”
“I – I need to say that I am sorry, Aragorn!” he exclaimed. “I nearly forgot! I need to apologize to you! I am s-s-sorry. Sorry for riding off and making you worry.”
I smiled quietly. “Ah. Did Halbarad tell you to apologize to me? Is that what he meant by, ‘Remember what I told you, young prince’?”
He nodded rapidly. “Aye.”
“Then it is well you did remember,” I said. “He will ask you if you apologized as he told you to. And if he does not ask you, he will ask me.”
I resumed his spanking. His whole body jerked and tensed; then Legolas buried his face in the coverlet, and he let loose a long wrenching moan. “Aye, my l-lord,” he growled, his muffled voice starting to break at last.
“And now we shall discuss another sorry you owe to someone,” I said. “You will need to apologize to Gwinthorian for the sarcastic words you directed towards him earlier.”
Legolas snarled into the mattress, his arms stretching out to once again grasp at the bedding. He tightened his fists and twisted the poor coverlet as though he was angry at it; then my elfling gave forth his first kicks. I grinned. Of course he still had a fair measure of rebellion in him, but overall, this was going splendidly.
“Aragorn . . . I – I . . . Aragorn . . . .”
“I am here, little one.”
“A-Aragorn, I – I do not want to . . . .” He huffed and kicked with sharp fury and struggled to control himself. “Not to Gwin! P-Please. Not to G-Gwin. I – I do not think my offense was so g-great as to – to warrant an apo-apology!”
“Ah. Thank you for your counsel.”
“I do n-not!”
“I understood you.”
“But – But . . . it w-was not that b-bad!”
“So you have said. Three times now. Must I point out that you are in no position to object to my bidding even once, much less three times?”
“N-No, but to apologize just for a l-little harmless t-teasing! And to G-Gwin!”
His audacity tonight was astonishing. But Legolas was beginning to falter. He was showing poor judgement by daring to argue with me, a good start. A small incentive might help to break him down even further, so I yanked him more tightly against me, increased the strength of my hold, tipped my leg up, and started spanking the soft undercurve of his bottom. Legolas burst into howls, but he could not buck up or squirm away.
“AHHHHHHHHHHHH! Ar’gorn! Pleeease NOOO!”
“I do not like to be argued with, little one.”
“AHHH! I-I-I-ohhhhhhhh, please! I am sor --”
“And I will not tolerate such sass from an insolent elf.”
“OWWWWWWWWWW! Please,please,pleeeeeease! S-Stop!”
“It seems I am not making my point.”
I had a good hold on him, so all Legolas could do was kick. And he kicked and kicked and kicked. “AHHHHH! Ar’gor – plea – noooooo – AHHHHHH!”
“Gwinthorian deserves an apology. Do you not agree?”
“AYE! OH p-pleeeeease!”
“So you shall apologize to him for your teasing remark.”
How he had managed to hold back his tears until now was beyond me, but Legolas at last let fly a bursting sob and cried, “AYE! I will say s-sorry to – to G-Gwin!”
I eased my leg down at once, leaving the now quite rosy underside of his curvy cheeks and returning to his bottom, although Legolas broke into loud wails when I resumed spanking him there. Well, we had been at this for some time now. Every spot on his glowing behind was going to make him howl.
“Thank you for seeing my point, sweetling,” I said. “Do you admit that you were deliberately rude to Gwinthorian?”
Legolas buried his face in the crook of his elbow, sobbing now, still writhing and still uselessly trying to somehow save his bottom from the next spank. “Aye, s-sir.”
“Were you upset with Gwin?” I asked. “Had he done something to anger you?”
“Then why did you say what you did?” I pressed, knowing he was not yet ready to fashion an answer.
He merely cried miserable, repeated sobs and said in a small voice, “I do not kn-know.”
“Well then,” I said, “let us move on to your second naughty deed tonight.”
Legolas burst into fresh tears. “AHHHHHHHHH! Ar-gorn! N-Nooo! Pleeease!” He had slipped into his native Sindarin as he often did when pushed beyond his limits of endurance. He was clearly becoming muddled, his mind weakened from the intensity and length of his spanking. Oh, how well I understood!
“Ara-gorn, please! I-I already said s-s-sorry for th-that!”
I sighed, pressed my lips together tightly, and kept on. Spanking is not an easy task. It is difficult to intentionally cause another pain. And yet, to stop, to give in to their pleas, is to let them down in the most selfish manner. I did not like hearing Legolas cry, or my fledgling, or the little ones. I did not like knowing that I was the cause of their tears. But to desert them simply because they begged me to stop would be doing them a disservice. It would simply satisfy my need to feel better about myself, to end their tears and their suffering.
But they would then suffer on in silence, their need for absolution not met, and the pain of unresolved guilt is a far more destructive, long-lasting pain than the discomfort of a sore bottom. So I listen to their weeping, and I let them plead, and I keep on, carefully observing their condition and knowing better than they do what it is they want of me and what they need of me in that moment.
It is what I need from Legolas when our roles are reversed. It is what I needed from Halbarad in my youth, and what he still gave to me now, without hesitation, when he felt it necessary. And it was what made it possible for me to keep spanking my elfling’s colorful backside, even when I knew all too well what each new spank felt like to him.
“Aye, you apologized,” I replied in elvish. “But you were obeying an order from Halbarad. You knew that he would make certain you had done so, and you dared not risk disobeying him. True?”
“Aye, but I – I also . . . I meant it, Ara . . . I – I d-did! I r-really am s-sorry. I did n-not want to w-worry you, Ara . . .n-never, nev-ver want to wor-ry you!”
“No, elfling mine,” I murmured. “I do not think you meant to make me worry. But the fact remains that you did. And it is unlike you to so blatantly call attention to yourself. Of course I worried.”
“Ohhh, sorry . . . sorry, Arag-gor – I . . . I – I . . . sorry!” He paused to weep, then began again: “B-Biggest sorry!” he added, his Sindarin suddenly falling away. “Biggest s-sorry.”
I blinked, instantly knowing his words and where he had heard them. Then I smiled. It was too charming. Legolas was fast losing ground, his control all but gone now, his mind bouncing around erratically, and what should he call forth but my fledgling’s childish and unique expression of penitence.
I longed to gather him up and hold him, comfort him, soothe him in a hundred ways, but that was not what Legolas needed from me right now. And, deep inside, he knew that.
Once, when Boromir was lying between us, asleep in my elfling’s arms after his big brother had spanked him, Legolas slid his compassionate gaze to me and said, “There comes a point when his weeping is so heartrending I nearly start weeping myself. And I long to stop spanking him and pick him up and love away his tears. Sometimes it takes all my will to keep going on, because that is what he needs. He needs my strength, not my pity. ‘Tis as it is with you, so difficult!”
Oh, I knew. All too well. Indeed, I was profoundly tempted to gather Legolas to me now. He was exquisite when shattering over my lap, so fragile and alluring, his weeping just as he had described Boromir’s – heartrending. But, as Legolas himself had expressed it to me, he needed my strength, and I wouldst not put my desire to comfort him over his needs.
I did lighten the force of my spanks, though. His bottom was so sensitive by now that he would feel the lessening of intensity at once, and I knew from my experience on the receiving end of his discipline that even a little less force could help one focus.
“Aye, beloved,” I murmured. “I know you are sorry. Shhhhhhh, hush now. I hear you. And all is forgiven. All is well now. You were so brave, elfling mine, and I am so proud of you. Let that bad, nasty guilt go now. Your naughty deed is all gone, all gone.”
I spoke in soothing tones the kind of nonsense talk that meant so much to one who was thoroughly spanked and sore and growing exhausted. I could almost see my affectionate words soaking into him. I had wanted to quiet Legolas a bit, as the harder part was now coming. He did not fully relax, of course. He knew I was not finished with him – I was, after all, still spanking.
“But this is not fully ended, little one,” I said.
“We have the ‘why’ of your behavior to discuss, and you shall stay where you are until I am satisfied with your answer.”
A wrenching sob broke from him, and he cried, “P-Please, Aragorn! Please! No more!”
But I pressed on quickly. “Legolas, why? Why did you taunt Gwin? Why did you leave the Ranger camp?”
“I – I do not . . . know . . . I . . . Arag-gorn, I – I . . . do not!”
“I know this is difficult, sweetling, but you must try.”
“Try . . . aye, Ar’gorn . . . I – I . . . am trying . . . it just . . . hurts, it – it h-hurts so b-ig.”
“I know your bottom hurts, but --”
“N-No. H-Hurts to think! Hard and . . . and it h-hurts, but trying, Ar’gorn, t-trying.”
He truly was trying. He was no longer rebellious, and this was not defiance; it was simply difficult for him to think. He needed help.
“I know you are trying,” I said in a soft voice. “Let me help you, little one.”
“Oh, yes, please! P-Please help m-me!”
“Of course,” I said, slowing the pace of my swats. He still needed to feel the spanks, but also he needed to concentrate. “Before you came into the dining hall tonight, you were with Merry and Pippin and Boromir and Faramir. You and my fledgling heard Halbarad’s story. Remember?”
He nodded. “About-bout the wargs and your f-first spanking from Hal’brad.”
I cringed. Halbarad and his tale! “Aye, and after you ate and listened, you came to join us in the hall, and when you came in, you were in a cantankerous mood, were you not?"
He nodded again. “Aye.”
“Were you in a cantankerous mood at the Houses of Healing?”
“Nay.” He was calming a little, thinking now. “I – I . . . .”
I began rubbing his bottom between swats. “Go on, sweetling. What happened between the time you left the others and the time you joined us in the hall?”
“I was on my w-way to the h-hall, and . . . and I started thinking about the s-story, of you and the w-wargs and how glad I was that H-Halbarad cared for you s-so well . . . and I thought of how much I had m-missed those years with you, those years when w-we were apart . . . do you re-c-call?”
“Aye,” I murmured, the sadness in my voice sounding much like his. “We were apart for too long.”
Legolas rubbed his face against his forearm and wept a little, then said, “And – And I started thinking of you, that young R-Ranger, so bold and w-wild, and – and I longed to have b-been there, with you . . . .”
I was beginning to form a picture of what had set him off tonight, but I still wanted him to tell me, so I urged him on with a few swats, saying, “You are doing so well, pretty one. Go on.”
He flinched at the stinging spanks, but Legolas did go on, and it seemed that he, too, was beginning to understand more now. “It was like a veil coming d-down over me, a dark veil. I – I have seen that dark veil before . . . and it . . . it . . . .”
“It frightens you, does it not?”
“Aye. It is ugly and heavy, and it makes me . . . a-afraid.”
He said ‘afraid’ as though the word itself was frightening, as though it should not be spoken. Ah, this was exactly like what he had suffered before. “Afraid of what, beloved? It is all right to tell me.”
Again, my fragile elfling began to softly weep. “G-Gwin calls it the ‘biggest scared.’ B-Biggest scared. Aye. Good name . . . the biggest scared.”
“Ah,” I said, knowing what he spoke of. “Indeed it is a good name.”
“We have talked about it, Gwin and I. W-We have talked of that awful loss. He has his darkest bad dream, and I h-have mine.”
At my urging, he then told me of his nightmare. My poor Legolas. Harboring such fear and feeling ashamed of it.
“You are always near me in battle, my beloved warrior elfling,” I said. “If something begins to crush me, I know you will be there.”
“But that is just it, Aragorn!” he cried. “In the dark v-vision, I – I cannot get to you!”
“Shhhhhh, hush now, sweetling, hush. These are shadows of darkness only. They are not real. But I am glad you told me, and I am proud of you for speaking of it.”
“Thank y-you.” Legolas hiccuped and lay quietly, waiting, it seemed, for what would come next.
“So all this thinking upset my elfling, as indeed it would, and you came into the dining hall with that upset clinging to you, and you said something you should not have said to Gwin. We know what pushed you to it, and now we have come back to that question of ‘why?’ You had good reason to be upset, but why would you then turn on Gwin, and why would you ride away from the camp?”
Legolas moaned and writhed again. “Oh, please, p-please, Aragorn! I can think no more. Pleeeease, enough.”
“Ah, indeed,” I said. “It is difficult to think when you have been spanked long and hard and your bottom is throbbing. Devon had that problem as well.”
Legolas flinched; then he froze and raised his head and asked in a voice thick with tears, “D-Devon?”
“Aye.” I paused and rested my hand on his hot bottom and said, “Garrick gave him quite a long and sincere spanking, and soon Dev could not think why he had failed to tell anyone that he had seen you leaving.”
“Garrick had noticed him behaving oddly when I could not find you, so he crooked a finger at Dev, and when the lad joined us, Garrick gave him a stern look, and within moments --”
“Ohhhhhhhh, nooooooooooo,” Legolas groaned and dropped his head to the coverlet. “Ohhhhhhhh, p-poor Devon!”
“Aye,” I said. “Poor Devon indeed. Garrick clearly meant business. He had poor Devon kicking and squalling within minutes. I felt compassion for him.”
Legolas covered his head with his arms, still weeping softly, but he could hear me, and I wanted him to hear me; I wanted him to hear every detail. He had this last, critical barricade to breach, and I would use any method I could to help him succeed.
Delivering another small spank, I continued: “As I said, I had been casting about for you, and no one seemed to know where you had gone, but I suddenly noticed Garrick scowling, his fierce glare locked upon something over near the horses. Halbarad noticed, too, and we followed his stare straight to Devon. He was trying to appear busy, fussing with something on his saddle, but he kept firing quick glances our way.
“‘Ah, indeed, my friend,’ Halbarad muttered. ‘Your little one knows something.’ And that is when Garrick crooked his finger.
“After Devon had blurted out that he had seen you leaving, he claimed he had nothing else to tell us. Garrick nodded down at him, then said, ‘Very well, little boy. Let us see to your discipline right now. Perhaps while you are over my knee you will remember something else your Captain would benefit by knowing.’
“And he scooped Dev up under his muscled arm and headed for the nearest grouping of boulders, Halbarad and I following along. Thankfully, the nearest rocks were far enough from the others that the Rangers were spared having to witness Devon’s spanking, although they surely heard his wails. As you no doubt remember, Legolas, the lad is as loud as Gwin.”
I continued, embellishing with details that would paint a colorful scene for my elfling, narrating as if telling a saga in a Great Hall.
“Devon, as you well know, ever looks so youthful, with his long yellow locks and wide eyes, but he looked like a little boy stretched out over his warrior’s big, broad lap, and Garrick’s powerful arm kept falling and falling, and his wide palm kept spanking Dev’s small bottom . . . now that I think on it, Devon’s little bottom looked like a hobbit’s little bottom in comparison to Garrick’s enormous palm. Well, you remember, though. You have oft seen Garrick spank Devon.”
Legolas groaned, and thus encouraged, I went on:
“I winced for him. Clearly, Devon knew nothing else. Garrick asked him if he was sure there was not something he had forgotten to mention, perhaps some clue you had left, and though Dev was wailing and kicking, he yet managed to cry that there was nothing else to tell. Of course, we believed him, for no one would have continued to invite more of what Garrick was doing to poor Devon’s little backside. Nevertheless, Garrick continued on, for Devon had been very naughty to conceal such information from me.”
“Pleeease stop!” Legolas lifted his head and wailed. “Oh, pleeease, Ar’gorn! No m-more! My fault . . . my fault!”
“Shhh, nay, sweetling, not at all. It was Devon’s choice to keep silent,” I said, giving him another swat. “Hush now, and think. What do we both know of Devon?”
He did pause, and he grew quiet, then: “Devon is w-watchful of others.”
“Aye! Very good, my clever elfling,” I praised, along with another spank. “Devon notices everything. He observes quietly, and he sees the small things.”
“Aye . . . like G-Gwin.”
“Again, very good, little one! He is like Gwin, is he not? Although perhaps not quite as detailed, and he focuses on people, what they are doing and saying.” I paused and rubbed his bottom. “He focuses on elves, too, does he not, elfling mine?”
“Aye,” he said softly in a mesmerized tone.
Legolas barely flinched at my following spank, although I knew it stung mightily. But he was thinking now, linking things together, and I smiled, knowing how close he was. I just needed to take his hand and walk him through a little more.
“No one forced Devon to follow you tonight, my love. For all he knew, you were slipping off to seek some privacy. Something about your manner made him curious enough to follow you, but he could have just as easily turned away and minded his own affairs.
“Yet, he did become curious, and he did follow you, and in doing so he sealed his fate. He knew that. He knew what he was doing from the start. Devon chose to involve himself.”
Legolas lay still, braced up halfway on his arms, his head turned slightly in my direction. When concentrating fully, as he was at the moment, he went remarkably still. I gave him a light spank, keeping him aware of his place, but his bottom had become a brilliant scarlet hue, and I felt he had reached his limit of endurance. So I was now gently rubbing his hot backside more than I was spanking it.
“Legolas, why do you think Devon made that choice?” I asked him, and then I went still myself, and I watched my extraordinary elf struggling to work things out, but moving ever closer to that small voice of reason within him.
Why did Devon make that choice? Why? The answer was right before me, but my bottom hurt so big . . . so very big. Aragorn had spanked me too much! Too, too much. Now I could not think. And he kept giving me more spanks, littler ones, but no matter – they hurt.
Why did Devon . . . I narrowed my eyes . . . casting back . . . ahh, yes . . . .
It was dark back where the horses were, and I had just mounted, and I was about to leave. If Aragorn did not like that, well, what did it matter? He would most likely not notice, or care. He was busy. Talk, talk, talk, talk. I had sat next to him in counsel, proud to be at his side, happy to be with him, and I helped when I had something important to add – he liked that . . . .
But, enough! This was enough! Everything had been discussed that needed talked over. We could leave now! But, no. Aragorn kept on and on. I understood. We had ridden with these men for years. The Grey Company was home to us, these scruffy, courageous, humble, loyal Rangers our brothers. Of course Aragorn loved being amongst them. He had loved being with them since they joined us, back before the Paths of the Dead. And I understood. I did. I loved being with them, too. But would we never leave?
I should not have been impatient. Aragorn was planning to spank me later. But my little brother – we had plans for tonight, plans for the three of us together, and . . . and what had Aragorn said before he started spanking me? Something about keeping me in our bed after --
“Are you still thinking over my question, sweetling?”
Wretched Dúnedain! Should my mind wander but a little, he knew. But his hand felt good rubbing my blazing backside after that overly hard spank.
“Aye!” I lied. “I am t-thinking.”
“I shall wait then, as long as your mind stays on the question at hand.”
“AH! Aye, A-Ar’gorn.”
Very well . . . why did Devon . . . ? I closed my eyes, trying to picture – ah! There he was! Devon, standing there in the dark off to one side, watching me with those wide Frodo eyes . . . aye, Devon’s eyes sometimes reminded me of Frodo’s. But I did not like him finding me there, and I knew he would have to tell the others of my leaving or face some painful consequences for his silence when that massive Ranger of his laid hands on him. But what had Devon said when he saw me beginning to dismount?
"‘Tis all right. Go. No need to explain anything to me. I understand."
So, why would Devon have said that? He had to know what Garrick would do to him when he found out . . . so, why . . . .
He had wanted to be spanked. Aye, that was it! And I said it out loud:
“Devon w-wanted to get caught. He-He wanted Garrick to s-spank him.”
“What?” Aragorn sounded horrified. “Devon wanted Garrick to spank him?”
“Uh-huh.” I knew I was right. “He d-did!”
“But why? Garrick is very large and Devon is half a head shorter than I am. And you say that Devon wanted Garrick to spank him?”
I listened to Aragorn’s voice and heard within it a shockingly bad attempt at playacting. And, though stretched out over his lap, my bottom in flames, I had to smile. A measure of clarity returned to my mind. Something about Aragorn’s willingness to play this game of ‘tell me what I already know’ in order to make his point touched me, as it had so many times before, drawing forth a sense of the familiar and helping clear my focus.
I lay my head down on the bed, the coverlet now wet beneath my cheek, and I called for order in the chaos of my thoughts. I felt I knew where Aragorn was leading me, but I still needed his hand to take me all the way. And it was only polite to keep following the path he had carefully laid out. I liked that he had laid it out for me, despite his sorry theatrics, so I took each step as it came without trying to see all the way to the end of the path.
“Uh-huh,” I said. “Devon invited that s-spanking.”
“That makes no sense, little one.”
“Ar’gorn,” I said, trying not to sound condescending when I was in no position to be so, “it makes perfect sense.”
“Ah,” he said. “How so?”
“Devon feels loved when Garrick cares enough about him to discipline him,” I said.
“So, he invited that spanking tonight because he needed to feel loved?”
“Then Garrick does not make him feel loved enough?”
I sighed. “I am certain he does. But, although it may simply be an elvish hunch, I am guessing that Devon’s need for a spanking tonight had nothing to do with a lack of feeling loved. It had to do with what he needed deep inside.”
“Ah, and what did he need deep inside, elfling mine?”
Of all the familiar names Aragorn had for me, ‘elfling mine’ was my favorite. It curled like a purring kitten around my heart, even when he was spanking me, and now it soothed that sore place within that had flamed up today when I left the Houses of Healing. I answered Aragorn with easy honesty:
“Devon needed to feel safe.”
“Aye, my wise elfling,” Aragorn said, his voice low and warm. “There is no shame in needing to feel safe. Devon seeks out that safety, whether there is a battle coming or not, because he simply needs to be reminded often that it is there. Gwin is the same way. Even your beloved little brother is sometimes this same way, is he not?”
I grinned. “Aye, indeed he is.”
“My fledgling can keep the two of us busy when he is troubled by something, can he not?” Aragorn said, a smile in his tone.
“Oh, indeed! As can Pippin.”
Aragorn both groaned and chuckled. “Aye, Merry bears it well, though.”
“Merry is suited to the task.”
“He is, beloved,” Aragorn said. “As are you, and as are many others. But many of us also have other needs, and they come upon us for good reasons. So there is no shame in suffering from a fear of losing what is precious to you. And there is no shame in seeking out reassurance that it will always be there . . . .”
He continued telling me what I already knew, what I could have very well been telling him were our positions reversed, but I lay quietly and listened nonetheless, and miraculously, as I always did, I found the words that I knew so well to be of comfort.
Some songs speak so perfectly to the heart that they are sung over and over. They are asked for each time the minstrel steps forward. And though we know the words, we still are enriched in hearing them yet again.
Aragorn’s song was like that to me. Tonight he added verses that spoke to my special aversions to fear, telling me, as he had before, that fear was not cowardice and that there was a difference between the fear of battle and the fear of loss due to battle.
I had to smile a little to myself when hearing that, remembering Gwin recently saying, “Halbarad tells me the most sensible things, such as, ‘There is a difference between the fear of battle and the fear of loss due to battle.”’ Aragorn and Halbarad speaking the same thoughts was delightful.
And so I lay resting over his lap, feeling the most profound sense of safety imaginable. Aragorn’s voice flowed over me, and his warm hands smoothed through my hair and caressed my back and rubbed my burning bottom, and that perfect peace that follows a spanking descended. How often I had lain here, in this moment, longing for it to last forever, yet knowing that it was precious, in part, because it was fleeting. I longed for more, but understood that there would be more and that tomorrow would indeed be there. A perfect song can make even the darkest thoughts vanish, and Aragorn’s voice was matchless.
“How quiet you are, elfling mine,” he finally said. “If you are sleeping, you are doing so with your eyes open.”
I grinned and said, “I am listening to every note.”
“Your words, how like music they are.”
I heard him sniff as he does when crooking his shy smile, and I longed to see him, so I braced myself up on my elbows and turned to look over my shoulder at him for the first time since going over his knee. Ah. My beloved Ranger, watching me with his gentle gaze and his quiet smile, flawless in his unusual beauty. I must have been staring at him hungrily because he blushed and gave me a swat that made my whole body go rigid.
“Stop that, you impudent elf,” he muttered in mock reproach, his blush deepening.
“I cannot help myself,” I said, smiling at his irresistible modesty. I twisted and scooted up, and he quickly embraced me so that I lay in his arms, gazing up at him. I winced, my scorched bottom resting between his spread legs, but his smile, soft and ardent, made it worth the position.
“I am indulging your impertinence only because you are such a pretty, well-spanked bratling,” he said, raising a brow with completely feigned vexation.
“I know, my lord. I am most grateful for your tolerance.”
I shuddered and reached up, playing with his thick hair, watching it slide through my fingers, and murmuring, “Ah, truly, I cannot help myself. You know this – this feeling after a spanking, when you understand fully what has been done to you and for you, that feeling is overwhelming, a rush of heat and need and hunger, a ferocious longing to pull it to yourself more and more, a feeling of both daring and safety and, above all, love.”
Aragorn stared directly down at me, plainly fascinated; then he leaned down and kissed me and said, “My words are not the only music being sung in this chamber tonight, elfling mine.”
Then, with easy movements and gentle strength, my Ranger shifted me and drew me up in our bed until we were lying together. I ended up on my stomach, half-draped over him as he himself, or my little brother, often lay half-draped over me. I rested in his arms, thinking of nothing, feeling the warm and solid comfort of his body, and I smiled softly, knowing that he had liked my words, my frail attempt to express what these moments after a spanking were like. Aragorn trailed his fingers through my hair, murmuring that he had something to tell me, and then he spoke of his visit to the Houses of Healing and said that my little brother would not be joining us tonight.
“He needed to be with Faramir, beloved,” he said, after explaining the situation. “I am sorry. But I felt it was for the best, as you and I had certain matters to work out.”
I sniffed. “Certain matters. I shudder to think what your fledgling would have said if he saw how savagely you thrashed his poor big brother.”
“He most likely would have cheered,” Aragorn replied. “Your little brother frowned mightily when he learned that you had left the Ranger camp with no word to anyone.”
I gasped and reared up. “You told him?”
My face burst into a warm blush. “You did not!”
“Of course I did. And Boromir was concerned. Though he winced when I told him that Halbarad said he would escort you back to the city should you return to camp.” Aragorn flashed me a roguish grin. “I think my fledgling felt that such a meeting would prove uncomfortable for his big brother.”
I groaned and buried my head against his chest, my cheeks once again growing as hot as my backside. “Ohhhhhhhhhhh!”
“As for me, I would have loved to have seen the look on your face when Halbarad snatched the reins from you.”
“Aragorn, enough!” I cried.
“Perhaps Eomer will tell me how you looked.”
I reared up again, crying, “Nooo!”
Chuckling wickedly, Aragorn pulled me back down against him and kissed me and said, “Settle down, bratling elf. You know I shall not pursue it.”
“Thank you, my lord.”
“Unless Eomer brings it up first.”
He yanked me to him and kissed me again before I could yell another protest, and when we finally parted, breathless and warmed, his teasing somehow seemed insignificant. We lay wrapped around each other, and I rose up and looked down into his eyes, seeing those smoldering fires gazing back at me with such force that I felt a jolt to my stomach.
“I do regret Boromir’s absence, but I think it is well that this night is ours alone.”
“There will be other nights,” I said. “Many tomorrows. We will have him with us for all the tomorrows yet to come.”
My beautiful Ranger grinned his perfect lopsided grin and murmured, “Aye, elfling mine. Such wisdom. And so many tomorrows lie waiting.”
End of Chapter III – A Blind Trust in Tomorrow
Ere The Final March to be continued . . .