Note of thanks to my astounding support group: Kat – thanks for your incredible “waffly” reviews, for your enthusiasm and encouragement, for the extra pair of eyes, and for being such a constant light. Bella – thanks for the ever-Tookish excitement and dancing impatience
This one is for Shotboxer, who started me on this journey with her longing to see Boromir survive, and for all those who share her longing.
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 disrespect intended.
Ere The Final March
Two Loving Forces
“Tell me, Bor’mir. Please,” Faramir said. “How did Aragorn and Legolas help you?”
I smiled. He was still using his ‘little boy’ version of my name, even though he had calmed enough to pronounce it properly if he so chose.
We lay as we had the night before, my back braced up by pillows at the headboard, my legs stretched out before me and Faramir hugged to my side, his weight off his still bare and very red bottom.
“Shh,” I said, petting his wild curls. “Let me think.”
“Truly, big brother, I am fine,” he hurried on. “Well, most of me is fine. Parts of me are most definitely not fine. Parts of me may never be fine again. That was a very hard paddling, Bor’mir! Very hard and very long! But I’m all right, truly. Most of me is just fine.”
“Hush,” I told him. “I’m gathering my thoughts. Or trying to.”
“Honestly, most of me is fine and ready to hear whatever you will tell me.”
“Legolas helped you, too, you say?”
“Give me a moment, little urchin.”
“Aragorn and Legolas both! Then what I sensed was true! You and Legolas are close as well!”
“To have the counsel of both of them! What could they have said to you?”
I leaned over, tugged up the billowy end of his shirt and landed a firm smack on his scarlet bottom.
“OWW!” He arched against me and gasped, his hand flying back to gingerly rub his hot backside. “OwOwOwwwwww!”
“I. Said. Hush.”
I glimpsed his secret smile before he again buried his face into my shirt. Pulling him close once more, I kissed the top of his head and said, “Rest quietly now, bratling. No more words. Let me decide on how to begin.”
He nodded and nestled closer. I smiled. My little brother was that puppyish little boy again, ten years old and trotting at my heels, chattering away happily. Oh, he was eager for my story, but I hoped Faramir would be able to abide what he was going to hear about his big brother.
I’d wrestled with my apprehensions the night before, wondering if I could bear telling him about the type of ‘counsel’ my two beloved warriors often bestowed upon me. I’d felt it would help Faramir to learn the details of how Aragorn and Legolas had seen me through my guilt, but was this fair to him, casting such a shocking new light on the big brother he looked up to? And could I stomach how humbling it would be? Between short bouts of dozing, a visit from Aragorn and administering a comfort spanking to Pippin, I’d spent a wakeful night with my misgivings.
In the end, my own ‘big brother’ decided the matter. When first reaching out to me in friendship, Legolas had confessed the fact that Aragorn sometimes spanked him. So I had known it about him before the first time he called me ‘little brother.’ I’d known it before the first time he tanned my backside so thoroughly I’d felt it for days. And it had never mattered to me.
I loved Legolas. I admired him and respected him. The fact that Aragorn spanked him had no bearing on any of that. Aye, it was shocking to learn of it, but his willingness to trust me with so intimate a truth, when moments before we had been enemies, instantly drew me to Legolas in a bond of sympathy.
So, although it would doubtless shock Faramir to learn that I was also occasionally . . . well, sometimes more than just occasionally, disciplined by both Aragorn and Legolas, I had to trust that my little brother would be able would accept this truth about me as I had accepted it about my own elvish big brother.
I rubbed Faramir’s back and petted his tangled locks, calming myself as much as I seemed to be calming him. How to tell him . . . how to begin . . . . I was not gifted with the storyteller’s skills. I was not Legolas, nor Halbarad nor this eloquent urchin curled against me. I could speak to matters at hand, help others look at things from a broader perspective, a commander’s point of view. But how did one . . . although . . . what was it Halbarad had said about his story?
"It was but a simple tale meant to pass the time and becalm these few who are healing."
A tale. Aye, this was indeed a tale. I could tell my tale, weaving in my disgrace at Amon Hen with the double dose of discipline that helped heal me of that pain. That was what I wanted Faramir to know – how I was helped to heal.
So I needed to let those past events unravel as they would, starting back at the day I had rejoined Aragorn and Legolas and the others in our splintered Fellowship . . . I smiled again, seeing it again – Gandalf, alive and well, as the elves had reported, and looking more vibrant than ever, resplendent in his white raiment! And that everlastingly staunch dwarf, and bless the Valar! – those two precious little ones! And, of course, my pair of beloved warriors. Would I ever be able to remember that reunion without Sam’s ‘good tears’ stinging my eyes?
Aragorn and his company, journeying from Isengard to Edoras, met my escort from Lothlorien on the plains of Rohan, our parties riding together swiftly after identifying each other. When we had neared each other enough to slow and rein in our horses, two little figures half-scrambled, half-fell from their perches behind Aragorn and a yellow-haired Rohirrim I did not know, two little bodies tumbling to the ground despite their riders’ frantic attempts to grab them back up to safety amidst the prancing hooves of the halting mounts. Then those two halfling whirlwinds were racing towards me! Merry and Pippin, racing towards me, their cloaks flying, their curls bouncing in the morning sun, their arms waving, their young voices filling the air:
“BOROMIR! BOROMIR! AT LAST! OH, BOROMIR! AT LAST! AT LAST!”
I heard my own cry of joy rip the wind, and I’d bolted from my saddle, running towards them, dizzy with joy at the sight of them. “Merry! Pippin!” I had cried, falling to one knee and opening my arms to the two charging little ones.
They’d hit me at a dead run, all of us going down as we had the first time they’d tickle-attacked me during sparring. Laughter and tears burst from us all, and amongst that chaotic tangle of grasping limbs and giggling hobbits the White Lady’s blessed voice echoed back to me briefly: “Fear not for your little ones, noble son of Gondor, your Peregrin Took and your faithful young Brandybuck,” she had whispered into my mind with a soft smile while I lay groggy and recuperating. “You shall see them again.”
How I’d longed to believe her, and now! Oh blessed Lady! And blessed day! And blessed little squirming halflings! We all three laughed and hugged and behaved with absolutely no decorum whatsoever, despite the presence of the dignified Lorien warriors and Aragorn’s stoic Rohirrim. Truly, we were shameless.
Then Legolas and Aragorn reached us, each of them grabbing one of my arms and hauling me up from beneath the wiggling hobbits, all of us embracing once more, the little ones sliding in between us big folk and fastening themselves to me again. I’d lost the struggle to hold back the few tears that cascaded down my cheeks, joining Merry and Pippin who were still laughing and releasing tiny sobs and nestling closer to me.
“Boromir!” they kept muttering over and over in their soft, broken voices. “Oh, Boromir!”
I closed my eyes and smiled, indulging in the remembered happiness of that day . . . the feel of their clinging hobbit bodies, the warmth of Legolas and Aragorn’s strong arms pulling me close, their eyes positively glittering, gazing at me with heart-stopping fondness. My exquisite warriors. I never failed to marvel that they both loved me as intensely as I did them. How could I do less than weep at the very sight of them?
Ah, pressing my face into the ethereal aroma of silken elvish locks, and Aragorn’s seductive scent of seasoned leather and fresh air and wood smoke, heady sensations that slammed into me like a physical blow. A veiled hunger danced in their eyes, as I could feel it did in mine, but we were aware of at least some seemliness. There were other joys to treasure for now – their embraces and their murmured words, “Welcome back, dear little brother!” . . . “Welcome, my beloved fledgling!”
As it suited them, Gandalf and Gimli stood close to the perimeters of our circle, Gandalf beaming a great smile and chuckling warmly, clapping his hands together, and Gimli, laughing his deep guffaws and slapping my back with huge dwarfish whacks that near took my breath away. And for that short time, the troubles of Middle Earth vanished around our reunited Fellowship – all save that which made our joining bittersweet, for not one of us could stand there enjoying each other’s company without thinking of Frodo and Sam. Aye, they were with us, a powerful non-presence and a sorrow we had to accept until all was right with the world once more and they were back with us again, wrapped in our embraces.
After we had calmed down enough to feel properly humbled by our spectacle, the little ones engaged in a brief squabble over who would ride with me, so Aragorn had me mount, then he lifted Pippin up, placing him before me while Legolas settled Merry behind me. It was only then that peace was restored and we could journey on. Aragorn rode on one side of me, Legolas and Gimli on the other, and I’d been surrounded by cuddling hobbits, Merry’s arms locked around my waist from behind, his warm little body pressed against my back, and another warm little body leaning into me from the front, Pippin’s tousled curls, lightly scented with pipeweed, resting against my chest.
How delightful to hear once more the musical refrains of hobbit voices, the little ones telling me of their incredible adventures since we’d parted. I’d been struck through with wonder to hear of all they’d survived and all they’d done. I’d cast frequent glances of shock at Aragorn or Legolas, both of them listening with soft smiles.
“I thought I had remembered you two as being smaller!” I’d exclaimed at one point.
“Aye! We were!”
“Entdraught! Pip drank it first, then me, and now look at us!”
“We’re fair giants now!”
I’d laughed and snorted, “Indeed. I had best watch myself.”
When they’d finally finished with their tale, Merry and Pippin rested against me, occasionally murmuring soft endearments and quiet babble: “We missed you Boromir.” “Aye, we were so worried about you.” “We wept like nippers when Aragorn and Legolas took us down from the wall at Isengard and told us you were alive.” “We hoped you would return to us soon.” “Pippin asked Aragorn when he thought we might see you again so many times that Aragorn finally had to swat him to make him stop.” “And then he swatted Merry for thinking the same thing!” “But we did miss you so . . . we love you Boromir.” “Aye, we do; we love you, Boromir.”
Several times I’d wiped my eyes during their running chatter.
But the shadows of Amon Hen lingered within me. I struggled when the little ones talked adoringly of my heroism and praised me for my attempt to rescue them from the Orcs. I could barely mutter my thanks.
As attentive to my state as they had ever been, Aragorn and Legolas were even more studious of me now. As the day wore on, I noticed their exchanged glances of concern and their watchful eyes upon me. I welcomed it. I let them see my anguish, knowing that they would help free me from my darkness, knowing that one of them, Aragorn most likely, would deal with me in an over-the-knee manner. I hoped that it would be soon. The weight of Amon Hen was oppressive, and I knew that Lerin was right – relief from that pain could come from only those closest to my heart.
But now a sudden snore from Faramir made me smile. Ah, as I’d suspected, he’d been prattling on before in an attempt to fight off his weariness. I knew all too well that a spanking such as the one I’d just put him through was exhausting. He would likely only nap, for he’d had a full night’s sleep, but I was glad to see him dozing. Faramir would need to be rested for what I was about to tell him. His big brother, spanked concurrently by both an elven Prince and the future High King of Gondor!
Suddenly, I remembered something that memory had merely touched on earlier when I had been spanking Faramir:
“I do know how you feel, my fledgling, for my brothers often spanked me concurrently.”
Of course! I’d been spanking Faramir, recalling how Legolas and I had once disciplined Frodo at the same time and thinking vaguely that Aragorn had said ‘something’ about his brothers doing the same to him. But now that memory – that ‘something’ Aragorn had said about his brothers both spanking him – came back fully. It had been far more than just a small something Aragorn had told me, although I hadn’t stopped to remember it in its entirety before.
Closing my eyes, I listened to Faramir’s sleep-breathing, smooth and even, then I moved back into the memory of that night, recalling that quiet, ‘settling down’ time after my double spanking when Aragorn calmed me by telling his amazing tale:
I had been stretched across Legolas and Aragorn, convinced that I would never sit again, still shuddering off and on, and listening to Aragorn tell me that he truly understood how I felt, that I would indeed be able to sit again – that I would, in fact, needs sit my saddle again at daybreak when we continued on to Edoras, a notion that had sent me into a fit of fresh tears.
“Aragorn,” Legolas had said, “perhaps you should tell my little brother of Elladan and Elrohir. It might help him.”
“Aye,” Aragorn had murmured. “Perhaps it will.”
He glanced down at me with a gentle smile. “Shall I tell you such a tale, little one? Would a story help take my fledgling’s mind off his aching bottom?”
“I f-fear that is too much to ask, s-sir,” I’d honestly replied. “I fear nothing will t-take my mind off my aching b-bottom for some time. B-But please, Aragorn, please tell me a s-story!”
My two beloved warriors exchanged a fond grin, and then Aragorn began:
“Well, to start with, Elladan and Elrohir were the kind of elder brothers to me that you are to Faramir, my fledgling, attentive and loving and disciplinary when it was needed.”
“And it was needed often,” Legolas remarked.
Aragorn frowned at him. “I can give this account without your help, mellon nin.”
Legolas grinned. “I shall only supplement when it is necessary.”
“Nay. You shall not supplement at all.”
“But it might help my little brother if I --”
“I think not.”
“For instance,” Legolas went on, his persistence surprising me. “It might help him to know that, when you were growing up, everyone who took you over his knee did so alone, except --”
“Legolas!” Aragorn’s scowl deepened, though I knew his ire to be mostly artifice . . . mostly. “You make it sound as if every elf in Rivendell had a disciplinary hand in my upbringing.”
Legolas assumed a studious frown. “I am trying to think of any who did not.”
Aragorn gave him a lazy grin. “I assure you, sir, my arm is not tired after spanking this little one.”
“Do we understand one another?”
“Then I may continue?”
They had me grinning, of course. And Aragorn began again:
“To continue --” Aragorn cast Legolas a stern look. “-- I do know how you feel, my fledgling, for my brothers often spanked me concurrently.”
“Oh!” I shuddered and gazed up at him wonderingly, trying to picture it . . . Aragorn as the child “Estel,” spanked by both those adult elves, both of Elrond’s beautiful, powerful-looking warrior sons, Aragorn’s big brothers, spanking little Estel at the same time! “Oh, Aragorn!” I gasped. “Often? They did this often?”
He shrugged and said with a wry grin, “Often enough. I had been young, of course. A lad. I was only --”
“Tell him the story Elladan and Elrohir once told me,” Legolas again interrupted. “The story of the last time they both spanked you together, when you were in your early twenties.”
I gasped again. “Your early twenties?”
Aragorn flushed and shot Legolas a glare.
“You remember,” Legolas continued. “You were twenty-two. It was just before you left to take your place amongst the Rangers of the North, correct?”
“Twenty-two?” I cried out, utterly stunned.
Aragorn stared directly at Legolas, then he sighed and frowned and turned his eyes away for a moment, gazing off, his jaw working. Finally he glanced back at my big brother and muttered, “Oh. That time. Aye.”
“Your brothers told me all about it.”
“Thank you so very much, Legolas. I had nearly forgotten that time.”
“I can scarce see how!” Legolas scoffed. “I recall the story well. The twins said that as the time grew near for you to leave Rivendell you became cantankerous and unruly. They felt it was because --” Legolas suddenly halted, muttering, “But, wait!” He narrowed his eyes, then said, “Ahhh, I see. Perhaps this was not the last time they spanked you together. Perhaps it is simply the last one I know of.”
The last one he knew of? Aragorn had been spanked after this incident? After the age of twenty-two?
Aragorn’s eyes held an alarming gleam. He watched Legolas, then he looked down at me and said, “By your leave, my patient fledgling, if you would be so kind as to shift off my lap for a while, as I have need of it in order to spank a certain ungovernable --”
“No!” Legolas cried. “I am sorry, Aragorn! Forgive me.”
His request was met with a steady glower.
“I spoke out of turn, my lord. I am certain you can tell my little brother this tale without my help.”
Aragorn gave him a slow smile and said in a deceptively soft voice, “Legolas?”
“You do not want to interrupt me again.”
“Am I making myself clear?”
“Quite clear, my lord.”
“Do we understand one another?”
“Then I may continue?”
Again I was grinning, nearly laughing. How I loved them!
“Now that I recall . . . .” Aragorn paused to cast the innocent-looking elf a smoldering look. “Legolas is right. It was indeed just before I left Rivendell.” Aragorn gazed off for a moment, then:
“As my heritage dictated, it was my place to lead the Rangers of the North. I struggled with my destiny as Isildur’s Heir, but I was eager to assume command of the Grey Company, that elite group of Numenoreans whose blood ran in my veins. I felt ready to go forth and prove myself. But I had led a sheltered existence within Rivendell’s safe borders. I had been watched over carefully by many, taught and tutored and trained by Rivendell’s finest and wisest.”
“Elrond knew the time had come for me to join my kinsmen, but he had a father’s reluctance to see his youngest go forth. He planned to send an escort with me, as the journey to the Northern regions took several days, and he decided that my two warrior brothers would be well suited to that duty. That way they could stay with me for a week while I settled in with the Rangers. Shortly before I was to leave, Elrond called my brothers and me to his study to tell us of his decision.
“My brothers and I had traveled and adventured through Middle Earth for some time, so they were delighted to be given this journey with me. They had shared our ada’s disquiet about me leaving me home and their watchful care in order to take command of a band of rough-hewn human warriors.
“Like myself, like many in Rivendell and throughout the elvish realms, my brothers thought of me as elfkind rather than belonging to the world of men. They had faith in my abilities, but they nonetheless had concerns regarding how I would manage a new life amongst a race I had barely known. They had the watchful natures of big brothers who look after their little brothers.” Aragorn paused to raise a brow at me. “But I guess you would know something of that, would you not, my faithful fledgling?”
I nodded thoughtfully, imagining Faramir in a similar situation.
Aragorn grinned, then he went on: “I, however, was less than pleased. Though always glad of my brothers’ company, I felt that the time had come for me to assume my adulthood and that I could, and should, travel alone. I argued my case, saying that it was more fitting that the Lord of the Dúnedain arrive unescorted rather than being accompanied by his elvish big brothers.
“Elrond heard me out, but he overruled my request. ‘You are an able warrior, Estel. That is true,’ he said. ‘The day shall come when you may choose to travel far and wide on your own. But that day is not yet upon you. Your adventures with your brothers have taught you much. You are keenly intelligent and capable. However, you are but twenty-two summers in age, my son. Though you are skilled beyond your years, those years are too few in number for me to grant you what you seek. Nay, young one. Your brothers shall escort you to the Ranger encampment in the North.’”
Aragorn paused to sigh. I considered Elrond’s words. The elf lord had been right. Regardless of how skilled Aragorn had been, at twenty-two years of age he had been too young to make such a journey alone, especially considering the importance of who he was.
I had grown up in a warrior culture, trained as a warrior from my earliest days, and even I had not ventured forth on such a journey by myself until I was near thirty. I was always in the company of some others, or a patrol or a small division of warriors. Damrod was usually at my side. I vow that had I tried to strike out on my own at the age of twenty-two Damrod would have tanned my backside so thoroughly I would have lost all interest in mounting a horse for some time.
“My ada was right,” Aragorn now continued, making me grin to myself. “But I saw only a doting father coddling his little boy. I lost my temper and let fly my thoughts, storming about Ada’s study, ranting that he and my brothers should have more faith in me, that I was too old to be so overly protected, and that it was unfair for Elrond to dictate to me in this manner. I demanded the right to choose my own destiny and the right to go alone.”
Aragorn winced in memory. I joined him. He had demanded? And he ranted at Lord Elrond? I doubted I would’ve had the nerve to do so. At the Council I had spouted off, aye, but my ranting hadn’t been directed at Elrond, and the Ring had definitely taken its first stab at my sanity. It surprised me to think of Aragorn being so youthfully out of control. He had behaved in a ridiculous and childish manner. It was almost, for some reason . . . amusing. I actually could understand his feelings, did I put myself in his place with Damrod dictating to me. But to have railed at my father in such a manner? No.
“Silence filled Ada’s study after my explosion,” Aragorn said. “My brothers and Ada stared at me in quiet astonishment. Then Ada said, ‘I believe I needs reconsider this entire matter, little one. Long have I kept Lieutenant Halbarad appraised of your many achievements. The last message I sent to him announced that I felt you were ready to join your fellow Dúnedain and lead the Grey Company.
“‘But a childish outburst such as the one we just witnessed is more worthy of a spoiled little boy than a man ready to go out into the world and assume command of seasoned warriors. Mayhap you would be better off staying here at home for a few more years while you grow in maturity and learn to curb your impulsive nature.’
“I cried out, ‘No, Ada! Please! Please forgive me. I-I am sorry. I was far too outspoken and unthinking. I was ill mannered. I was wrong. I truly am sorry, my lord.’
“Elrond’s somber look remained unchanged. ‘There is no shame in traveling with an escort, Estel,’ he said. ‘There is wisdom in it, especially considering who you are. The world of men has need of your light --’ Ada’s voice softened. ‘-- as do those who love you.’
“‘Forgive me, my lord,’ I repeated. ‘You know best, of course. I do not doubt your wisdom. I know that my welfare is your only concern, that you want only what is best for me, and I shall, of course, abide by my ada’s wishes.’
“I felt true remorse for my behavior. Elrond understood, as he always did, but he delivered a stinging lecture on responsible behavior and the dangers of rash emotions, words I should have heeded more closely. He excused my insolence, and he even denied my brothers their eager offer to wash my mouth out with soap --”
“Oh, Aragorn!” I exclaimed. “Your brothers used to wash your mouth out with soap?” I quivered, recalling how I so hated the deed.
Aragorn went crimson, but Legolas quickly grinned and said, “Indeed they did! And Estel so hated the deed that --”
His eyes widening at Aragorn’s frown, Legolas murmured, “Pardon.”
Clearing his throat with a purposeful, ‘a-hum,’ Aragorn again went on: “Despite my regret over my outburst, within a few days I once more began to resent what I saw as Elrond’s unnecessary measures. Aye, Legolas, my brothers were right – I did become belligerent as the time grew near for my departure. I was seething inside, furious about traveling to the Ranger camp so accompanied, fearing that I would look like a little boy who needed his big brothers to hold his hand. What a terrible first impression! I fretted more and more about what those stalwart Rangers might think of me, how it might even undermine my authority. It became all I could think about. So I foolishly decided to take matters into my own hands.”
I cringed. “Oh, no.”
“Aye, my fledgling.” Aragorn smiled wearily. “I vow you can guess what I did next.”
“You . . . you left on your own.”
“Indeed I did. Desperation robbed me of my reason, and I laid plans for my escape. I knew the locations of every guardian outpost on Rivendell’s borders, and I could avoid them all. I was certain that I could slip away and ride hard and fast and get to the North where the Rangers were encamped before any from Rivendell overtook me. I knew that none would drag me back once I had taken command, so I set my plans and wait.
“My opportunity came quickly. Several days later a small party arrived from Lothlorien, and on the first night they were in Rivendell, when all were gathered in the Hall of Fire and the songs and stories were just beginning, I made my move.
“I had hidden provisions near Rivendell’s borders earlier in the day, so I went to the stables and gathered my horse, careful to avoid the stable master, then I quickly headed away from the settlement.
“I knew my brothers had been keeping close watch on me. I had never managed to elude them for long when I was a child bent on eluding my tutor for the day, but I was a man now, considerably more skilled in the fine art of escape . . . or so I thought.”
I couldn’t help groaning.
Aragorn gave me a sad grin. “Aye, the arrogance and pride of youth. I prided my skills of evasiveness too highly. I was raised as an elf, but I was not elfkind, and none can move as stealthily as they. I had led my horse a mere quarter mile from the stables when two familiar voices cried, ‘Where away, little brother?’”
I groaned once more in squeamish sympathy.
“I froze,” Aragorn said, “my heart galloping, and from the shadowy woods stepped my two brothers.
“‘Pray tell us, whatever would these be for?’ Elladan asked. Elrohir held aloft my bundle of provisions.
“I stood there, quivering. There was nothing I could say, of course. My brothers knew that. They had played their hand well. They always did when it came to dealing with their little brother. They gave me just enough rope to hang myself, then they swooped in and boosted me up before I dangled overly long.”
I lay there aching for Aragorn’s discomfort. I’d sometimes been the one to trap Faramir, and there was a definite thrill in the doing of it. But a few times I’d found myself wriggling in one of Damrod’s snares, so I knew how awful it was to be caught. All I could say was, “Oh, Aragorn!”
“Aye.” He sighed again. “And now that I had indulged my madness it had, of course, flown, as indeed madness seems to do once it has been indulged. My sound judgement having returned, I realized how ridiculous my behavior had been.”
Legolas snickered. “Ridiculous to say the least. Your brothers described watching your naughtiness, how you so carefully slipped away and sequestered your wee bundle, and how they could not help thinking their little brother too delightful. They almost hated having to put a stop to your antics, you had done such a thorough job of --”
“Would you like me to move, Aragorn?” I offered, noting his smoldering expression.
“Aye, that would be most helpful, my fledgling. Thank you.”
“Noooooo!” Legolas held my shifting body down and threw Aragorn a remorseful look. “Pardon again. I-I am sorry, Aragorn.”
Aragorn’s dark look remained unchanged.
“You are making yourself quite clear, sir,” Legolas said. “We understand each other.”
Aragorn dropped his gaze to me and winked and I settled back into place, trying to subdue my smile and failing quite thoroughly.
Legolas frowned down at me. “Bratling little brother.”
“To continue yet again,” Aragorn said, “my brothers said that Elrond was well aware of my movements as they had kept him appraised of them.
“Elrohir said, ‘The day after you were so impertinent in his study, Ada told us that, when and if we caught you in any foolish attempt to escape --’
“‘And we knew it would be when, rather than if --’ Elladan added.
“‘Indeed. When we caught you in your foolish attempt to escape, we were to discipline you ourselves before bringing the matter before him.’
“This was not welcome news. I had resigned myself to my fate, but I had assumed Elrond would deal with me. That was going to be bad enough, for in truth, one spanking from my ada was nearly as bad as a double spanking from my brothers.
“But, as you just experienced, little one, being spanked over two laps and by two different hands during the same discipline session is worse than one longer spanking. It does not have to be longer or harder than a single session over one person’s lap for it to be worse. There is something in the actual doing of it that is shattering. I know your poor bottom hurts mightily, sweetling, but I shall guess that it is no worse right now than when you have received a particularly sincere spanking from either Legolas or myself alone.”
“Like the first time I spanked you, little brother,” Legolas said. “The first time you understood exactly what being my little brother meant. I gave you a spanking that would seal that knowledge within you for all time. Do you remember?”
I blushed fiercely. Did I remember? How could I ever forget how my world changed that day and what that particularly intense spanking felt like? “Aye, Legolas,” I murmured.
Aragorn softly stroked my hair. “And the way your bottom felt afterwards, was it similar to how it feels now?”
I nodded, still blushing hotly. Aragorn smiled, leaned down and kissed me, Legolas doing the same.
“So it is not in the actual physical consequence that makes a double spanking worse. It is in the doing, the being passed from one lap to another,” Aragorn said. “Is it not, little fledgling?”
Again I nodded, releasing a soft groan. “Aye, in the doing.”
“Then perhaps you understand why facing a double spanking from my brothers made me cry out, ‘NO! Please! Let Ada deal with my discipline!’ My brothers smiled odiously and came striding towards me, speaking in their familiar synchronous pattern.
“‘Sorry, little one,’ Elladan said, ‘but Ada already spoke to you of this.’
“‘And clearly it was not enough,’ Elrohir added.
“‘So he felt that it was time for action.’
“‘He agreed that we could handle that part quite effectively.’
“‘You offered?’” I cried, stepping backwards as they neared.
“My brothers merely grinned. They turned me around and took me back to the stables where they made me apologize to the stablemaster for taking my horse without informing him of it. One of my rules from childhood on was that, when I took my horse out, I left word with the stable master as to my heading so that others could find me if need be, or so that they would know if I had been gone too long. It was humbling of course, having to admit that I had, in effect, stolen my own horse, but the humbling was the point of the apology. That done, my brothers escorted me to my chambers.”
I bit my bottom lip and squeezed my eyes shut, uncertain as to whether I wanted to hear more of this, but strangely fascinated as well. A moment later I felt a finger rubbing my lip free of my teeth and I opened my eyes to see Legolas and Aragorn watching me, Aragorn’s finger still hovering over my lip.
“None of that, little brother,” Legolas said.
“Shall I go on, sweetling?” Aragorn asked. “Or have you heard enough to be comforted in the knowledge that I do, indeed, know just how you feel?”
“I . . . I . . . .” In truth, I didn’t know what I wanted. I wanted to hear more and I didn’t want to hear more . . . no, I did want to hear more.
“Go on, Aragorn,” Legolas murmured, his watchful gaze upon me. “I think my little brother can bear hearing more.”
They exchanged knowing glances, and then Aragorn did go on:
“There was nothing to be gained from fighting my brothers, except perhaps the satisfaction of delivering the occasional kick or blow strong enough to make them grunt. Useless gesture though it was, I sometimes needed to do just that. My brothers were understanding and loving and shamelessly over-indulgent. They tolerated my desire to do them damage when I wanted to, as indeed my damage was of such little consequence. So that night they let me give them some trouble, or, as they liked to put it, ‘to enjoy having a nice temper tantrum.’”
Trying to envision this, I gazed up at Aragorn, too thunderstruck by now to speak. My Aragorn, at the age of twenty-two, having temper tantrums and fighting not one, but two elves who were bigger than him and vastly more powerful. I had no words.
“Aye, it surely would have looked odd to anyone observing,” he said, glancing down at me and grinning. “No matter my age I would have looked like a little boy when fighting my two big brothers. But they always patiently suffered my nonsense until they became weary of it. Or, if they noticed that I was becoming too upset and frustrated, they would put an immediate stop to my assault. One of them would pick me up and haul me over to my bed, and then . . .” Aragorn paused, and he actually blushed a bit, then he went on: “Then things would happen much in the same way they happened with you tonight, my fledgling . . . .”
Faramir snuffled in his sleep. I paused my memories to listen to him, willing him to sleep just a little longer, give me just a little more time in the past, for this was where Aragorn had reached me so completely, speaking to exactly what I was feeling – what it was like to be spanked by two loving forces at the same time. And he had done it in a way that made me certain I was understood. There had been such comfort in that, the knowledge that Aragorn had been through something similar and understood my feelings. That alone made my sore bottom and my disgrace easier to bear.
And that was what I wanted for Faramir. I wanted him to feel understood. It was why I had decided to reveal this intimacy to him, so that he would know that I sympathized with his pain and humiliation, that I had been through something like it. And he was eager for that bond of sympathy. He had reached for it himself, asking me: “How did you come to forgive yourself, Boromir? Did Aragorn help you?”
Faramir had to know what I’d done to Frodo, and how I’d been healed of it. As I had realized earlier, by sharing my disgrace, I could help ease his.
Aragorn had achieved that feeling from me with this simple story, and I wanted to listen a little more to those voices from the past, learn a little more. Surely that was why the memory came forth so clearly now, to teach me how to give to my little brother what had been given to me. ‘Sleep, little one,’ I whispered silently to Faramir. ‘Sleep, just a bit longer.’
And he did. Faramir didn’t move. His breathing became slow and steady again, and I knew from the even rhythm of it that I had leave to go back once more and think a bit longer on what Aragorn had said that night:
“Then things would happen much in the same way they happened with you tonight, my fledgling,” he’d said. “From the time I was a child my brothers had been disciplining me, usually one at a time. But they dealt with my most serious disobedience by spanking me at the same time, so there were no surprises in what came next.
“They sat side by side, just as Legolas and I sat here upon this boulder, but with enough space between them so that my kicking legs or my thrashing arms would do no damage. The brother who had carried me to the bed spanked me first, and that night Elrohir had grabbed me up and tossed me over his shoulder, hauling my kicking, writhing body over to the bed, so he went first.”
Aragorn paused again, toying with the ends of a few of my locks, watching them unseeingly. Legolas sat quietly, his eyes downcast, waiting.
“They spoke to me off and on,” Aragorn finally continued, his voice suddenly soft. “Elves have that gentle cadence to their speech. You know what I speak of, sweetling. Their words sounds almost musical when they use their native tongue, although your big brother also speaks the Westron with elvish grace.”
Legolas smiled, his gaze remaining lowered. Knowing exactly what Aragorn meant, I said, “Aye, he does. ‘Tis soothing.”
“So it is,” Aragorn replied.
“You do the same as well, Aragorn,” I said. “Your voice comes inside me and warms me and I . . . I feel comforted.”
Again, both of them grinned quietly, then Aragorn said, “And so it always was with my brothers. Even when I was being my most belligerent, they tolerated my worst sass, although what they chose to say would make me squirm inside. That night I was furious with myself for failing to escape and confused about what I wanted, not that I knew it at the time. All I knew when Elrohir turned me over his knee and pulled down my breeches was that I had wanted to journey to the Ranger camp alone. I had wanted to be seen as a strong leader. How could I give that impression when my big brothers delivered me like a little boy? It was not fair! It was not! I felt that I was being treated like a child, and I yelled that out repeatedly.
“‘You are being treated in the manner you are earning, little one,’ Elladan said. ‘But do not fuss. We shall take care of this naughtiness, shall we not, Ro?’
“‘Aye, Ladan. Our poor little brother, trapped in such a naughty place.’
“‘He does not deserve to be there.’
“‘Nay, indeed he does not. Shall we stage our usual rescue?’
“‘Indeed we shall, Ro. Have to.’ ”
I could not help squirming myself at the language Aragorn’s brothers used. As Merry would have said, merciful Middle Earth! I knew it was meant to serve a purpose and I knew what that purpose was and I’d had it done to me and I’d done it myself on any number of occasions to various halflings and my own little brother, but to hear it done to Aragorn! Oh, merciful Middle Earth!
“As I said, it made me squirm, too, my fledgling,” Aragorn said with a quiet smile. “And my brothers continued in that manner. You know what this feels like.”
He was right. All through my spankings Aragorn and Legolas had talked in that harmonious manner, layering language over me as effectively as they had layered swat after swat over my backside. I grimaced and nodded, making Aragorn smile anew.
“My brothers always spoke that way, but when they were spanking me, it always felt different somehow. And now . . . now Elrohir did start spanking me . . . .”
Again Aragorn paused, this time gazing off and knitting his brow. He moved a bit, like his backside remembered all too well what it felt like when his spanking began. My innards fluttered in sympathy.
“Elrohir had his manner of spanking, and Elladan had his --”
“You do not call them by the fond names they use for each other?” I interrupted to ask.
“Nay,” he replied quickly. “They only refer to each other that way.” He glanced at Legolas, a soft look passing between them, then Aragorn murmured, “But . . . well, after a spanking, when I was . . . .” Aragorn flushed. “They would allow me to slide into those names after a spanking, when I --”
“I see,” I said quickly, knowing what a spanking often did to one’s adulthood. Oh, indeed, I saw all too well. I squirmed all over again, saying, “Sorry to interrupt. You were saying they each had their own manner?”
“Aye,” Aragorn hurried on. “Elrohir was direct and methodical, moving with even swats in a regular pattern over my backside. He was much like our ada, almost practiced in his style. I could predict where his next swat would fall, and dread it, and try to brace against it, and try to squirm away from it, and then it would fall, as would the next one I anticipated, and the next, and the next. I could hold out against him for only so long. I would strain and groan and huff and bury my face in the coverlet and release desperate whimpers until finally I could take no more and I would let go with my first wild cries.”
Oh, to hear him describe it so! Aragorn, my Aragorn, feeling all I felt when being spanked! Again, I couldn’t bear for him to go on, and I couldn’t bear for him to stop.
“My brothers would still be talking off and on, and when I gave in and started crying they always had something to say about it. This time was similar to all the others, Elladan saying, ‘There now, little brother. Very good! That is much better. It is useless to keep holding back your tears.’
“‘Useless,” Elrohir agreed. “And it is very hurtful to do so. But Estel has that streak of belligerence, Ladan.’
“‘Aye, he does, Ro. He makes it difficult for himself.’
“‘Our poor little brother.’
“‘Aye, poor little boy.’”
“Oh, by all the blessed --!” I could not help myself. “Merciful Middle Earth, Aragorn!” I blurted out. They both chuckled.
“Well said, little one,” Aragorn remarked. “Aye, their words shattered one’s dignity. But, as you well know, such language works its way into you, and soon you find yourself kicking and sobbing, and still the spanking goes on and on, seemingly forever, and then, when you feel your bottom can take no more, then --”
“Then you are moved to the next lap,” I said with a moan.
“Aye.” Aragorn sighed. “The next lap. I always knew the feel of the last swat, the one given right before I was picked up and moved over to that next lap. And now I felt Elladan’s strong hands lifting me and pulling me over to him, settling my wriggling body over his thighs. I squirmed wildly, foolishly trying to free myself, knowing I could not do so, knowing I was going to be given another spanking from a fresh arm no matter what I did.”
“It always seemed unimaginable at that point, the thought of another spanking, but then it would begin . . . .” Aragorn stopped and glanced down at me. He tipped his head to one side and gave me a calm smile; then he leaned down and he kissed me, and said, “Such a fretful gaze. Shhh, let us visit this without feeling it. Or shall I stop now? I had meant to comfort you, not make you fuss.”
“No,” I said in a small voice. “No, Aragorn, please do go on. I-I am fine.”
He glanced at Legolas, who was studying me closely. Legolas flashed him a quiet look and a nod, and Aragorn went on:
“Elladan’s style of spanking was the opposite of his twin’s, which always seemed strange to me since they were so alike in every other way, but I suppose it was a blessing, even though I disliked his style as much as I disliked Elrohir’s. Elladan moved all over my bottom in a random manner, spanking and spanking with no pattern, no way for me to predict where his next swat would fall. It was as awful as Elrohir’s method, but in a different way. I did not even know where to try wiggling to, or how to make a useless attempt to squirm free.
“So Elladan started his turn, and I quickly lost all control. The brother who took me over his knee last usually had to deal with me throwing my hand back to cover my throbbing backside, as you tried to cover your pretty bottom tonight, sweetling. Elladan held my hand at the small of my back, as I did yours, and he continued spanking. I carried on like Pippin, my legs jerking and kicking, my muscles quivering, my wails surely drowning out the festivities at the Hall of Fire. Soon thereafter I weakened and slumped over his knee in acceptance, sobbing repeatedly and apologizing and saying all the things you say when you want the spanking to stop.
“Elladan slowed at once, and now my brothers began to address my offense:
“‘Estel,’ Elrohir called gently, ‘Ada spoke truly. There is no shame in arriving with an escort. There is sense in it. I vow that this Halbarad, of whom Ada speaks, does not expect you to journey to the wild Northern Regions alone, especially when you have never been there.’
“‘Ada clearly admires the man,’ Elladan went on. ‘Should you ride into their camp unattended Halbarad would likely suspect that something was amiss, for why would so important a young warrior, the hope of his people, travel unaccompanied?’
“‘But I am a grown-up!’ I wailed. ‘Ada still thinks I am a little boy, but I am a grown-up!’”
I blushed for Aragorn’s sake, knowing I’d wailed similar words at one time or another. A grown-up. Aragorn declaring he was a grown-up. Moved and fascinated, I listened quietly.
“But my brothers spoke to me in soft, reasonable tone.” Aragorn grinned at me. “They were treating me like the grown-up I claimed to be rather than how I deserved to be treated, given my behavior. For they had brought me to that place wherein I could hear them, and, as big brothers do with upset little brothers, they soothed me by speaking to my heart. They spoke sense and compassion to the Estel they had watched grow up, and it was their loving voices I responded to. I think you know what it is I speak of, my fledgling, how it feels when a massive wave of simple truth from two loving forces engulfs you . . . it is such perfect abandon.”
I had nodded, mesmerized, and I felt myself nodding now. Aragorn had described it precisely. That was, indeed, just what it felt like to be spanked by two loving forces. He had formed that bond of sympathy I wanted to form with Faramir. I’d felt understood, and I knew my little brother would feel the same when he learned that I, too, had wronged Frodo, and that I had been able to accept forgiveness.
I need not be a practiced storyteller. All I needed to do was to tell my simple tale, as Aragorn had told his to me. He shared what was in his heart, and I could most certainly do that. Again I heard Halbarad’s words: ‘ . . . a simple tale meant to pass the time and becalm these few who are healing.’ Mine was not a tale to becalm the healing; mine was a tale to beckon the healing.
“A pleasant thought, my brother?”
I flinched and glanced down. Faramir’s drowsy, happy gaze met mine. I gave him an exaggerated frown and said, “How long have you been awake?”
“Only long enough to see that peaceful smile cross your face,” he replied. “Have I slept long?”
“Nay, only twenty minutes or so, what nurse used to call . . . what did she used to call it?”
“A catnap,” Faramir said with a fresh grin.
“Aye! How you used to snarl when you were a young man and she would suggest you needed a catnap!” I chuckled. “‘Master Faramir, you push yourself too hard.’ ”
He joined my chuckling and added, “‘Up late with your studies and up early at the practice fields . . . .’”
“‘A wee catnap would behoove you, young sir!’” We both laughed, our teasing done in fondness. “She was right, though,” I said when our chuckling eased. I kissed his head. “You did push yourself too hard, little brother.”
Toying with the hem of my shirt, Faramir blinked and looked thoughtful; then he murmured, “I vow we both did.”
He looked up and smiled suddenly. “And now for your story! I am feeling even more fine than before as I am rested. Have you gathered your thoughts, my brother? Do you know how to begin?”
Puppyish Faramir. I had to return his eager grin. “Aye, sweetling. My thoughts are all gathered, and I know how to begin.”
End of Part III, Chapter V
Ere The Final March, Chapter V, to be continued . . .