Beta appreciation notes for original: Kat and Shot. Beta appreciation notes for rewrite: Kat and Derby – thanks my precious, ever patient team.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. I don't own these characters. This story is not meant to violate the rights held by New Line, Tolkien Enterprises, nor any other licensee, nor is any disrespect intended.
A Tale to Becalm the Healing
Aragorn sat on the edge of Faramir’s bed and drew the trembling young Captain to his side. Faramir’s back was rigid, his head high, his eyes downcast, and when Aragorn gave a gentle tug to pull the young man over his lap, he met with some resistance. Faramir, I feel certain, was not trying to be difficult. He had simply slammed full force into this dreadful reality, and now he was so worked up he instinctively recoiled and went rigid with dread. He seemed dazed. Aragorn saw it at once.
The young Captain gazed at the lap waiting before him.
“Faramir,” Aragorn repeated, his call gentle but firm. Faramir flinched, his focus flitting to the man who commanded his attention. “Come, sir,” Aragorn said, and tugged on the lad’s wrist. “At once.”
The directness of the order jarred Faramir enough so that Aragorn was able to pull him down and over his lap. It seemed impossible that Faramir could quiver more than he had been, but he did. Aragorn lifted a sad gaze to me and gave his head a small shake.
Of course, my wild pup surely understood that it was not he himself the young Captain feared, but the actual position and the spanking to come. He also knew that, were Faramir in a less weakened state, he would be handling himself with more composure - if not genuine, then at least contrived.
There was little Aragorn could do to settle Faramir’s distress, but he did what he could. He reached down and pulled Faramir’s legs up onto the bed, sliding back a bit himself so that the lad’s entire body now lay stretched out flat. The solid foundation below Faramir would be comforting, a support to keep his long legs from hanging, a surface to kick down upon, and, at the upper end, a coverlet to stretch over and gather into his fists when, and if, he needed to do so.
Moving with languid purpose, obviously willing to remain at this for whatever length of time it took for the young one to quiet, Aragorn leaned over and yanked off Faramir’s boots; then he slid his hand under the lad’s loose shirt, and began to rub slow circles over his tense lower back. Faramir would not relax entirely while in such a position, but he needed to calm down to a safer degree before Aragorn felt comfortable starting.
“Shhh, breathe easy for me now,” Aragorn murmured. “Shhhhh, lirner dithen.”
‘Shhhhh, little Ranger.’ Ahh, very good. Rangers knew many tongues, Sindarin amongst the rest, and the boyish name might serve to comfort Faramir, reassuring him that Aragorn did not think less of him, but that he, in fact, valued him enough to use an intimate endearment.
Merry raised his head and turned to look at them, no doubt wondering why he was not hearing any spanking. He had stopped crying and was now merely sniffling and suffering the occasional after-shudder, so I decided to get him into a more suitable sleeping garments before he became more drowsy.
Someone, Gimli or Legolas most likely, had retrieved fresh nightshirts for both patients from the corner amoire and laid them on their beds. I kissed Merry’s light curls again, and said, “Come, little one. These clothes are too cumbersome for bed. Let us put you back into a nightshirt where you belong.”
Merry’s vacant gaze drifted up to me, his thickly lashed lids drooping. He was fading rapidly. I shook out the nightwear and pulled his shirt off over his head, stopping to untangling his arms when he somehow got them twisted up in his sleeves. Clearly too weary and well spanked to care a whit about modesty, Merry remained pliable whilst I tended to him. I dropped the fresh nightshirt over his head, threading his arms through the sleeves myself this time; then I reached underneath the billowy linen and slid off his britches, tossing them onto the bed.
“Done now,” I murmured, and Merry sighed, immediately curling his unbound legs up onto my lap, resituating himself more comfortably. He was also, coincidentally, in a better position to watch what was happening. I smiled and I began to gently rock him, feeling myself relaxing as well.
The room was peaceful and serene, and I suddenly experienced a rush of quiet pleasure. Merry felt good in my arms, warm and small, childlike. Comforting Gwin or Aragorn after a spanking was always wonderful, but it somehow felt different with this little one. I relished the moment, gratified that Aragorn had called me to this duty, which was, in fact, no duty at all.
“Goooood, lirner dithen,” Aragorn murmured. “Much better.”
Faramir sighed heavily. “I-I am sorry, my lord, sorry to be so cowardly --”
It earned him his first swat. Faramir gasped and arched, probably more from the surprise of the unexpected spank than the actual pain of it. After all, his breeches were still in place, and I doubted Boromir ever allowed his little brother to keep them on while being spanked.
“You are no coward, sir,” Aragorn said. “Your upset is understandable. There is no need to condemn yourself so.”
“Pardon, my lord.”
Aragorn patted the lad’s bottom. “Of course. Now, let us begin.”
“I am ready.”
I thought that Faramir seemed oddly agreeable, but then Aragorn slid his hand from beneath the lad’s shirt, took hold of his breeches and started pulling them down, and it became instantly apparent why Faramir had shown such poise.
He gasped, jerked up, twisted around, and shot a desperate look over his shoulder at Aragorn. “NOOO!” he cried, his hand flying back to snatch up a fistful of his quickly descending breeches.
Aragorn paused and looked down at him. “Surely, Captain Faramir, you did not expect to keep your breeches on during your spanking,” he stated in a hushed tone of amazement. “Merry’s bottom was bare. Would you expect different treatment?”
Faramir gasped again, a groan of embarrassment mixed in. I could see only the back of his head, but I could imagine his pained expression.
“N-No,” he stuttered, “but, I-I-I --”
“Because I assure you, sir, that shall not be the case. You and Merry shall be treated equally in this case.”
“Oh, please!” Faramir implored. “Please, my lord! Allow me a small measure of dignity!”
Aragorn glanced up at me, his eyes glittering from what I knew to be a shared memory. But, though clearly struggling to keep from smiling at the familiar words, he remained politely discreet.
“Captain Faramir, I allow you all measure of dignity. You are certainly worthy of it. But I shall also pull down your breeches and spank you in your natural state. I have never disciplined a deserving soul in any other manner, and I do not plan to do so now.”
And with that, Aragorn gently shoved Faramir back into position. He grabbed the gasping young Captain’s wrist, pried the clutched breeches from his hand and fastened it in a firm hold at the small of his back.
Smiling softly, Aragorn glanced at me again, and said, “There are ways to do these things, and you will find me a man who enjoys the order of procedure whenever it is possible.” He yanked and tugged and within moments Faramir’s breeches were halfway down his thighs. “When you are over my knee, young Ranger, nothing will remain between my hand and your backside.”
Amazing that my wild pup remembered my exact words after so many years! A responding grin tugged at the corners of my mouth. Faramir was decidedly less amused. He whimpered the moment he felt his bottom exposed, and now he buried his face in the bed.
“Faramir,” a low, raspy voice called.
Aragorn and I turned with surprise to Merry. Faramir lifted his head. His face rosy and his blue eyes glistening with tears, he looked at the wee bundle in my arms.
“Faramir,” Merry repeated, “don’t tense your . . . your bottom.”
It was a kindly gesture, and I felt certain Faramir recognized it as such, but it no doubt left a tingling curl of extra mortification in his stomach. He mumbled a gracious, “Thank you, Merr -- AHH!”
Aragorn’s first blow descended hard. Faramir gave the customary response, and he continued to respond customarily, Aragorn quickly setting up his usual pattern of well-delivered spanks. Merry flinched at the first blow, then he pressed himself closer to me, watching as though unable to turn away. I kept rocking him and rubbing his back, smoothing my clumsy fingers through his delicate curls.
Faramir lost control rather quickly. It was fitting, though. I felt certain he gave his big brother plenty of trouble when in this position and at full rebellious capacity, but at present the lad was run down and more fragile than he had let on.
Warriors do not handle physical weakness well. Faramir had little strength to offer much resistance so he reacted in the few small ways he could. He arched up, wriggled a bit, grimaced and released small bursting gasps. Finally, unable to do much else, he lowered his head onto his curled arm and began to softly cry.
Hearing an adult male crying is an affecting thing. Reducing a warrior to the point wherein they emit such a wrenchingly vulnerable sound is part of a spanking that is hard on the disciplinarian. And yet, the purging of torment and the rebuilding of esteem within the cherished soul being spanked is the goal we seek to achieve.
Aragorn seemed quite determined to purge Faramir’s current torments: his frustration with being stuck in a bed and his impatience with all who demanded he heal on their terms instead of on his. Impervious to Faramir’s weeping, Aragorn spanked him with an enthusiasm that quite surprised me, given his concern for Faramir’s condition.
But Aragorn was good at this. I trusted him to know what he was doing. In truth, were Faramir in better shape, Aragorn could have easily doubled his efforts. So I relaxed with my armful of sweet young halfling and waited it out. And when Faramir’s backside took on a warm pink glow, Aragorn began to speak.
“Boromir used to tell me of his stubborn little brother, whom he loved deeply. I knew that if young Captain Faramir was anything like his older brother, a willful nature was inherent in the grandsons of Ecthelion.”
I thought on Aragorn’s words. The Rangers had joined with Aragorn’s company some time hence, so I understood the deeper meaning behind his remarks. But I felt certain that Faramir would ne’er suspect that his older brother had been in the same place he was in right now. Aragorn disciplined Boromir with a covert and somewhat amazing frequency, though, and now he had both brothers to contend with. Valar help my wild pup.
Thankfully, he had Legolas to assist him. Boromir was clearly content in his role of ‘little brother’ and Legolas was clearly equally content serving as the young Steward’s disciplinarian – just as covertly as did Aragorn, and just as frequently. I had the feeling that Legolas would soon be helping Aragorn with Faramir as well. Aye, ‘. . . . a willful nature was inherent in the grandsons of Ecthelion,’ indeed.
“I understand that you are accustomed to deciding your own destiny, little Ranger, but now you need to begin accepting some new facts,” Aragorn now went on. “You have an attentive big brother who loves you and worries about you hovering at your side. So you shall not be permitted to take dangerous liberties with yourself. You know that, do you not?”
Faramir nodded. His weeping had turned to genuine sobbing now and he twisted fistfuls of coverlet in his free hand.
“Yes, my lord!” Faramir snarled with more defiance than I would have expected. “Yes! I-I know it!”
Aragorn delivered several extra-intense swats, saying, “Try that again, sir, with civility.”
Faramir cried out and actually tried to buck upwards, without success. He collapsed then and sobbed in a more polite manner, “Yes, m-my lord.”
“In addition to Boromir, you have me, and you have Legolas, whom I urge you ne’er to underestimate because of his beauty. You also have Halbarad – whom you must also ne’er underrate, and lastly you have Gimli, another whose strength far exceeds his stature. Be advised to consider all of us when contemplating a reckless deed. Do I make myself clear, sir?”
“Yes, my l-lord.”
“I am certain Damrod did his best with you, but I feel he shall welcome some aide in the supervision of a certain young headstrong. We shall all be watching, sir, so best you decide your course of action now, for if you choose a dangerous kind of behavior mine shall not be the only lap over which you shall find yourself draped, nor shall mine be the only hand warming your young backside.”
Faramir’s bottom had reached the same dark hue of rosyness that Merry’s had, and clearly Aragorn intended to take the lad no further. His swats had slowed and lightened. But Faramir’s weeping far exceeded what Aragorn was doing to him, so there was more here than what met the eye. To be certain it had to do with the indifference and disdain Faramir had unjustly suffered from Denethor. He was likely overwhelmed by the notion that so many others would care about him.
It would likely take time and many such lessons until Faramir fully accepted the devotion these loving and caring souls around him insisted he accept. This was just the beginning. He would surely test that devotion, disbelieving at first that others found him so worthy, waiting for them to grow tired of him and fall away, or to show their true faces.
But, so be it. All stood ready to prove their care for him as often as he needed it, as Boromir and Damrod always had. For now, however, Faramir put forth the arguments of one who cannot quite yet fathom how this is possible, the degree of his inner shattering made plain by the childlike way in which he spoke:
“B-But, y-you can-cannot do th-that!” he cried, sounding far younger than his years.
“B-Boromir w-won’t let you!”
“I think he will.”
“H-He’ll get m-mad at you!”
“Nay, I think not.”
“Only my br-brother sp-spanks me!”
“Y-Yes! Only my b-big brother is al-llowed!”
“Shall I ask Damrod if that is true?”
“If you choose to test the limits of those who care about you more than you care about yourself, you had best be prepared to carry a pillow with you at all times, for your backside shall always be sore, little Ranger.”
“S-Stop calling m-me that!”
“You know that Boromir loves you and wants what is best for you, and he shall support whatever needs doing to keep you safe, especially from yourself.”
“Y-You don’t know thaaaaaaat!”
“I do know that. And so do you, sweetling.”
“S-Stop calling me those l-little b-boy n-na. . . I-I’m not a sw-swwee . . . I’m a g-grown-up!”
“A ‘grown-up.’” Aragorn cast me a quiet smile. “Aye,” he murmured, drawing once more on memories. “A grown-up on the outside. Almost on the inside.”
“Noo! Grown-up on-on-on all s-sides!”
Aragorn and I had to give in to a grin then. “Ah, I see,” was all he said.
Finally, Faramir just collapsed and sobbed. Aragorn sighed, letting him weep for a few moments, but I saw a twinge of concern crease my pup’s brow when Faramir coughed several times, the harsh cough of one who had inhaled too much smoke and whose lungs were still healing. Aragorn quickly said, “So, my young grown-up, why was this spanking necessary?”
“B-Because I disobeyed y-your orders to st-stay in bed.”
“Indeed. You command many Rangers in Ithilien. Are they permitted to disobey your orders?”
“So, are you permitted to disobey a direct order, Captain Faramir?”
“N-No, my lord.”
“Do you regret your lapse in discipline, sir?”
“Aye, my l-lord.”
“Have you something to say to me then?”
Faramir paused to shudder through some deep sobs, then he said, “I-I am s-sor-ry, m-my lord! P-Please forgive m-me.”
“Of course, my cherished little Ranger. All is forgiven.” And with one final swat, Aragorn stopped spanking.
Faramir grunted and jerked, then collapsed again, moaning and weeping into the coverlet. He coughed a few more times and Aragorn released his wrist and reached under his shirt once more to resume the soothing back rub. Meanwhile, his spanking hand now becoming a source of comfort, whispering over Faramir’s hot cheeks.
Aragorn flashed me his small half-smile and nodded at Merry. “How long has he been asleep?”
“He dropped off about the time Faramir told you what Boromir would not let you do.”
“He must have been exhausted to have slept through that little tantrum.”
“Aye,” I said, smiling down at the young face soft in repose, lax against my chest. “He feels as though he has no bones.”
Aragorn smiled, dropping his gaze to Faramir. His weeping was lessening, so Aragorn murmured softly to him until he had quieted; then he said, “Come, my little Ranger. Let me help you up that I may hold you a while.”
Faramir’s reply was faint and raspy, but clear. “N-No.”
Aragorn and I exchanged startled looks. “Pardon?” he said.
“No, t-thank you. I don’t w-want to be h-held.”
Aragorn’s face went blank, his usual stunned expression. He then flashed me an incredulous frown and replied, “Faramir, I know you are overcome, but even so, it takes a unique kind of arrogance to say such a thing whilst you are in such a position – or a unique kind of foolishness. I vow neither Damrod nor your brother tolerated such a reponse, sir, if indeed you were bold enough to give it.”
After a moment’s reflection, Faramir, replied, “W-Well, uhhh . . . n-no. No, they di-didn’t.”
“But you thought I would?”
“I-I . . . I thought it worth the t-trying.”
“I see.” Aragorn pressed his lips together in that exasperated way of his, shooting me another look of disbelief. He sighed and said, “Get up here at once, young bratling, before I resume where I left off. No, wait a moment.” Aragorn yanked off Faramir’s breeches and tugged his long shirt down over his backside, ignoring the lad’s whimper. “Now come,” he said.
Faramir clumsily pushed himself up on his arms, Aragorn reaching down to help him rise and turn; but the lad struggled on, still trying not to sit. Aragorn spread his legs, letting Faramir’s sore backside drop down between them, then he pulled the lad into an embrace and held him, murmuring softly.
Though his heavy weeping had ended, Faramir was still in his after-shudder stage, his cheeks tear-streaked in places. Aragorn wiped the tears away and smoothed Faramir’s golden locks back from his face and kissed his brow, continuing his gentle litany of words.
Suddenly the young Ranger turned his eyes on Merry. He watched him with a rapt expression, an exquisite stillness coming over him. Again, Aragorn exchanged glances with me. One never knew what to expect from a well-spanked person at such a vulnerable moment, so we waited.
“They are s-so like little . . . like c-children,” Faramir finally said in a hushed, dreamy voice. “So beautiful. F-Frodo . . . so elvish, s-so beautiful, and-and Sam, and d-dear P-Pippin, and-and M-Merry . . . such s-sweet faces.”
A wave of pain entered in my pup’s gaze. Hearing of Frodo tore at his heart, yet he said, “You did well by Frodo and Sam, Faramir. You did what you could.”
The young Captain continued to gaze at Merry, plainly fascinated, a deep radiance in his blue eyes. “Noooo, well . . . n-not at first,” he said. “I was h-harsh with them at f-first. A-Angry. Sorry . . . so sorry I w-was mean to them, Ar’gorn.”
Shh, sweetling,” Aragorn soothed. “‘Tis all right.”
I knew, however, from Aragorn’s expression that it was not ‘all right.’ He clearly wanted to know more, but Faramir was likely not going to make much sense at present. Still, anxious to learn what he could, Aragorn said in a soft voice, “I am certain you were not as ‘mean to them’ as you think you were.”
Faramir released a long yawn, then tilted his head to one side and went on in a tone laced with lazy wonderment. “Maybe n-not. They slept real q-quiet, like Merry is . . . after I spanked them.”
Aragorn flinched, jarring a befuddled Faramir. “You . . . you spanked them?”
“Uh-huh. I did.”
“You spanked Frodo and Sam.” Aragorn repeated, as though he simply could not fathom this.
“‘Course. I h-had to.”
“Why did you ‘have’ to?”
Faramir sighed, as though struggling to indulge these tedious questions. “Frodo lied to m-me about Gollum. He said just he and S-Sam were traveling together, even when I asked him many times. But I knew he was lying. Some of my m-men had seen that . . . Gollum-thing. So, when I f-found out the truth, I had to spank Frodo. And Sam went mad and he had to b-be . . . uhh . . . re . . . restrained.”
Aragorn took a calming breath. “And so you spanked Sam because he became so angry when you spanked Frodo.”
“Had to.” Faramir yawned again and rubbed at his eyes with his fist, saying, “I ref-fused to tolerate such behavior. Damrod stayed to help me w-while my men . . . w-while they, umm . . . questioned Gollum, and good thing. Sam sort of gave my lieutenant a challenge.”
Aragorn closed his eyes as though desperately seeking an extra measure of restraint. He could not scold Faramir for what the young Captain had chosen to do. The lad was telling this tale from a dazed state. He failed to realize how distressing such information was to a very protective Aragorn.
And Aragorn knew that Faramir had been well within his rights. He was Captain of his company with authority over his prisoners. He had acted accordingly and perhaps no differently than Aragorn might have himself.
“But afterwards,” Faramir went on, “they . . . they snuggled down together and went right to sleep. It happened the second time I spanked them as well.”
“What?” Aragorn’s eyes flew open. “Twice? You spanked them twice?”
Faramir was becoming increasingly groggy and oblivious by the minute. “I had to,” he repeated, tossing Aragorn a startled frown. “They --”
“Faramir, stop,” Aragorn ordered. “Tell me no more. Not now.”
Nodding as though relieved, Faramir turned his slow gaze back to Merry and said, “I guess hobbits go to sleep after they’re spanked.”
The statement was simply too odd. Aragorn rolled his eyes skyward and smiled wearily. “Having lived with them for some time, I cannot say that is the case,” he said. “It oft happened that way while on the Quest, but usually because they received any discipline they had coming to them at the end of the day when they were already tired from the march. Merry is much weakened at the moment, young one, as are you, so he is exhausted. And,” Aragorn kissed Faramir’s brow again, “so are you.”
Faramir leaned his head against Aragorn’s shoulder, shuddered once more, and yawned. “If you say so, my lord.”
Aragorn sniffed a small grin. “Aye. I do.” He ran his fingers through Faramir’s sandy hair again, and said, “Rest now, little Ranger. I know you and your partner in mutiny will behave yourselves henceforth, with no more attempts to escape.”
Faramir sniffed and rubbed his nose on his sleeve, looking half his age in the doing, and muttered, “It was Merry’s idea.”
“Merry’s idea. All three times, his idea, his plan. And he got Pippin to help us today. They sat there on his bed yesterday, after you finished lecturing us, and they hatched this plan. Pippin said he could handle the guard and get our clothes and --” Faramir paused to yawn again. “And he and Merry worked it all out.”
“And you had nothing to say?”
“Well . . . .” He considered the question, his eyes at half-mast. “I offered counsel. I said ‘no’ when they wanted drug the guard.”
“I thought another way could be found.”
“Thank the Valar a cooler head prevailed,” I remarked. Aragorn nodded, looking astonished. I feared the lad might hang himself and his cohorts higher if he talked on, so I said, “Aragorn, let us put them to bed.”
“Aye, my friend. A fine idea.”
I cleared my throat and nodded at Faramir’s clean nightshirt. Aragorn followed my gaze.
Gathering Merry up, I settled his small backside on my forearm, bracing his body against me as I stood and turned to draw down his coverlet. Aragorn was murmuring behind me, Faramir humming a sleepy response. Then I heard Aragorn begin to resituate Faramir, much to the lad’s dismay.
“Give me just a few moments, little Ranger,” Aragorn muttered. He added a few additional firm words, assuring the fussing young Captain that he had best cooperate, settling the lad’s feeble objections. I heard the soft swish of clothing and knew that Faramir had chosen the nightshirt over whatever might come from any further protest. Within moments both of these patients would be soundly asleep – on their stomachs.
Merry stirred a little, his arms coming up around my neck, and once again I felt that sweet rush of pleasure course through me. There was something about having an armful of hobbit . . . some unique sensation of pleasure I could not fathom.
“Thank you, Hal’brad,” Merry whispered dreamily, his low voice almost too soft to hear. “Thank you.”
I smiled against his curls, then indulged in a few minutes of gentle swaying, holding him, listening for his breathing to become slow and heavy and regular again. When he was once more fully asleep I lowered him carefully to his bed, turning him so that he settled on his stomach. He did not stir. I covered him, then I turned to see Aragorn standing over a sleeping Captain of Gondor.
Aragorn glanced over to check on Merry, then looked at me with an approving half-grin and a tug of his head. We both moved away from the beds, pausing once to glance back at the two unconscious scamps. They were utterly spent, perfectly still.
“I shall order the Warden to start the athelas vapors now while they sleep and to keep them steaming all day tomorrow,” Aragorn said. We turned and quietly exited the chamber. “If they are strong enough to keep up these attempts they can take in that much.”
I thought for a moment, then said, “If you like, I can come by and keep them company tomorrow afternoon, see they stay out of mischief.”
Aragorn snorted. “Aye, that is where I need you most, keeping two disobedient rascals entertained.”
“Of course, if you have need of me elsewhere --”
Flashing me his wry look, he said, “Ah, very well. Go tell the children a story or something. I will know where to find you if necessary. These meetings are routine in nature. I expect no great revelations. I can tell you what went on when we meet back tomorrow evening in the Great Hall.” He grinned at me. “‘Tis a generous offer, Halbarad. Thank you.”
I nodded and we walked on at a steady pace, heading for the building that housed his private chambers. He smiled suddenly. Glancing my way, he said, “Merry planned everything.”
I released a low chuckle. “Little imp.”
“That is what I used to call him.”
“And still do, I vow.”
“It still fits,” Aragorn said. “We discovered early in the Quest that he planned much of the mischief he and his cousin got into.”
“I shall not ask the extent of that, my lord.”
“You have ever been a man of great wisdom, Hal.”
I stopped in my tracks, letting him go on a few paces. He turned and grinned at my stern expression. Aragorn was still my wild pup, and every now and then he liked to test his boundaries, just to make certain they were still firmly in place. That need to test now sparkled forth now in his teasing gaze.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“ -- barad,” he quickly added. “Halbarad.”
I rejoined him and we walked a bit further before he said, “Does a shorter version of your name really bother you?”
I ignored the question, not because I could not answer it, but because I chose not to. Aragorn already knew the answer. He had asked me that same question many times, always in a teasing vein. But in these moments of testing it was good for him to feel a perilous tingle.
Of course Aragorn could put a foot wrong. He often did. He often chose to. And when he made such a decision he did so knowing that someone would be there to make him answer for it.
Legolas constantly and flawlessly answered Aragorn’s need, as he ever had, even in Aragorn’s younger days, before I had met my wild pup. But what simmered between my young captain and me at times like this gave him an extra foundation of security, one he could rely on, and one I would always provide, if Legolas did not beat me to it first.
“We are going to your chamber to check on Legolas and the little one?” I asked.
From the corner of my eye I glimpsed him trying to hide his grin at my refusal to answer his question. “Aye. Let us see what has become of my elfling and his naughty charge.”
We heard no screams from Aragorn’s rooms when we arrived, so we entered quietly, and there we found Legolas, lying on Aragorn’s bed, braced up against the ornate headboard, a snoring hobbit stretched out upon him, the halfling’s naked wee backside, decidedly red, and on display.
“Faramir was right,” I muttered to Aragorn. He chuckled.
“Right about what?” Legolas asked as we entered and approached the bed. I placed a quieting finger to my lips, but he shook his head at me. “Pippin sleeps through anything,” he said. “Is that not so, Aragorn?”
“Aye. Awakening him is the greater challenge.”
We all grinned and I answered Legolas, telling him Faramir’s observations about sleepy spanked hobbits.
“He spanked Frodo and Sam?” Legolas huffed.
“He had cause,” was all Aragorn replied.
“Humph,” Legolas snorted, as indignant as Aragorn had been.
I again felt a tremendous longing to meet these two little ones, so beloved of all who knew them. Valar willing, I would someday.
“Well, Merry’s weariness is understandable,” Legolas said. “And so is Faramir’s. As for this one, I allowed him to put up quite an exhausting fight, first through his soaping, and then before, and during, his spanking. I felt he could benefit from a nap, so I made certain he spent much energy.”
Aragorn sank down on the bed and I took one of the chairs next to it, all of us indulging in a small respite before the next wave of chaos arrived with the council meeting in a few hours.
“It looks as though he came out the worse for it,” Aragorn noted. “You created a fine shade of red on his little backside.”
“I did at that.” Legolas grinned. “Thank you.”
“And despite this fighting you allowed, I doubt you have gained even one slight bruise.”
“I doubt it as well. But, Aragorn, I regret to inform you that your bathing chamber is . . . well, something of a mess.”
Aragorn raised a brow. “Do I want to look?”
“I do not advise it, mellon nin.”
“Better instead that a servant deal with it?” he asked.
“More than one.”
I had to laugh. And they were right; Pippin remained fast asleep.
Legolas turned to me and said, “There are few things Peregrin Took loathes more than having his mouth washed out with soap. He becomes quite wild.”
I continued to grin, Aragorn joining me, then he said to Legolas, “Come then, oh tormentor of halflings – tell us how this little one destroyed a bathing chamber and exhausted himself by fighting a warrior with ten times his strength.”
Legolas shot us both a sweet, clever grin, his eyes glittering. Elves are natural born storytellers and Legolas was one of the best. He had entertained the Grey Company countless times around the fires. Sometimes he would wander out to keep the watch company, telling a tale to the lonely Ranger long into the night. Aragorn stretched out on his side, bracing himself up on his elbow, and I slid down in the chair, stretching my legs before me and crossing my ankles, and Legolas began:
“He began the moment I shut the door to Merry and Faramir’s chamber. ‘Legolas,’ he said. ‘You know, my part in all this was rather blown out of proportion.’”
“‘Was it indeed, Master Took?’ I asked.
“‘Aye,’ he went on. ‘All I did was, well, pack up some clothes for Merry and Faramir, smuggle them in past the guard --’
“‘After telling him the sack was full of books,’ I added.
“‘Well, aye,’ said he. ‘I suppose so. And then all I did was tell the guard that Aragorn would like to see him.’
“‘Aye,’ I said. ‘You made quite the clever argument for yourself, Pippin.’
“He thanked me politely and smiled sweetly, then went on, saying, ‘So, you see, I hardly had any part in this at all.’
“‘Amazing logic, sweetling,’ I told him, and again he thanked me. I thought it best to save my real opinion on the matter until we were behind closed doors, so I filled in the rest of our journey with small talk that he might find interesting. Several times he asked if I thought Merry would be all right, and I assured him that he would be. ‘Aragorn will see to Merry,’ I told him. Of course, he already knew this, but his anxious questioning served to fill any silences that left him vulnerable to his thoughts.
“When we arrived, I shut and locked the door, aware that he was watching my every move with wide eyes. ‘Legolas?’ he ventured in a small voice. ‘Do you truly mean to do this?’
“I wondered if he imagined that I would answer in any way other than what I did. I assured him that I did indeed intend to follow my orders. Then, thinking I should once more explain what he already knew, I added, ‘You interfered in matters that did not concern you, little one. I know you intended to help Merry and Faramir --’
“‘This is his livery I wear!’ he interrupted proudly placing a palm on his chest. ‘Faramir told me that this was his outfit when he was a child! He helped me learn the vows of fealty that I had to say to his horrible old father, and --’
“‘Hush, Pip,’ I told him. ‘I know. You told us all that, remember?’
“He paused. “‘Oh. Aye. So I did.’
“He began to look quite nervous and crestfallen. I felt for him. Nevertheless, I had a duty to perform, so I said, ‘I know you were trying to help them, but you actually set them back in their healing.’”
Aragorn quickly sobered. “He would not like hearing that.”
“Nor did I enjoy having to be so frank with him. The stricken look on his little face saddened me. But he needed to understand fully what he had done. So I explained that, had Merry and Faramir not tried to escape today, exhausting themselves in the process, they could likely have begun to move about the day after tomorrow, but that now they would face two more full days of bed rest.
“He winced, and, you are right, Aragorn, he did not like hearing it.” Legolas turned to me, saying, “When Peregrin Took becomes upset over something he has done, Halbarad, especially if he feels his actions have harmed another, he turns his anger at himself outward, inviting all manner of trouble for himself.”
“Aye. He seeks a strong disciplinary response.” Aragorn sighed. “He excels at that.”
“He followed true to form this time, his temper flashing in an instant. ‘Put me down!’ he demanded.
“I decided to let him loose some of his anger and frustration, so, rather than carrying him into the bathing chamber for his soaping, I put him down and waited for the eruption.
“He straightened his little black livery and said with great loftiness, ‘Sir, I understand you have your orders, however I prefer to discuss this matter further with Aragorn. So I ask you to stand aside and allow me to leave, so that I may wait for him to finish with my cousin, then talk to him about this.’
“‘No,’ said I.
“Pippin’s temper simmered. ‘You are refusing me counsel with Aragorn?’ he asked.
“‘Aye, sweetling; I am indeed,’ I replied. ‘Aragorn gave me orders, and I mean to see those orders through.’
“He glared at me and stammered, ‘But . . . but --’
“‘Shall we start with the soaping?’ I asked in a pleasant tone, deciding to throw all caution to the wind and get on with this.
“He gasped and stared at me as though I had just sentenced him to a grisly end. ‘I refuse to cooperate until I speak with Aragorn!’ he declared, and he crossed his arms over his chest and set his jaw and frowned up at me. It was all I could do to keep a straight face. But he was in such earnest, and so clearly determined to be taken seriously that I could not dishonor him by smiling.”
“I commend you for your self-control,” I said.
Legolas grinned. “I tried reasoning with him one last time, saying, ‘Come now, dearest Pip. Do not oppose me. You know that you shall not succeed in stopping me from what I mean to do.’
“‘You do not frighten me, Legolas,’ he said.
“I smiled and told him that I was pleased to hear it, for I had no wish to frighten him. ‘But I shall,’ I said, ‘perform my duty.’
“‘Then I shall be forced to retaliate,’ he shot back.”
Aragorn and I grinned.
“‘Do as you feel you must, sir,’ I told him. ‘And I shall do the same.’
“Defiance flashed in his eyes, that blind rebelliousness which serves no purpose other than to satisfy a need to fight. I have seen it oft before --” Legolas paused to glance playfully at Aragorn, my pup responding with a flush to his cheeks. “And I have felt it, lived with it beating in my heart and filling my mind and robbing me of my judgment. And there it was, manifest within that little one who stood rigid and glaring up at me, and in that moment I had all the confirmation I needed.”
Legolas turned to Aragorn and said, “It was, of course, never Pippin’s desire to speak with you, Aragorn.”
“Nay.” Aragorn agreed. “He sought to invite a strong response to his behavior.”
“Aye,” Legolas went on. “He wanted to be difficult and hopefully earn for himself a stronger comeuppance, a response from me that was intense enough to purge the guilt that had hit him so quickly and ruthlessly. And to that end, Pip said with great disdain, ‘If you continue in this manner when I have asked to speak with Aragorn, you are no nobleman, sir.’”
Aragorn groaned and glanced at me. “Pippin is most adept at getting what he wants.”
I snorted. “I dare say.”
Legolas smiled in fond remembrance and glanced at me, saying, “He does not do things half-heartedly. He loves to extremes, he fights to extremes, he lives and he errs to extremes.”
I nodded. “Then how like him to demand a harsh response.”
Legolas grinned. “And far be it for me to deny this noble little soul what it was he so clearly needed. It had been a while since I had tussled with a hobbit, and, coincidentally, the last time I had done so, this had been the very hobbit with whom I had tussled.”
Aragorn and I both chuckled softly. Legolas continued.
“‘True,’ I told him. ‘I am, as you say, no nobleman. I am an unprincipled elf, and you, small bratling hobbit, have just earned yourself a superlative soaping and spanking.’
“And so the tussling began. Pippin is fast; I give him that. Before I knew it he had raced into the bathing chamber, slammed the door, and locked it. At last, I could let go my chuckle, and I did, then I strolled to the door. ‘Peregrin,’ I called. ‘A question.’
“‘What?’ he snarled.
“‘I assume by your action, that you believe a locked door will stop an elf?’ No response. ‘Pippin?’ I called again. I listened closely, but heard nothing within. ‘Are you standing near the door?’ I demanded. ‘Answer me at once!’
“‘No!’ he shot back.
“‘Good,’ I said, and I kicked in the door.”
Stunned, Aragorn and I paused, then we burst into laughter.
“It made a glorious crash, causing poor Pippin to squeal and back himself against the wall at the sight of me. I was not trying to appear fierce, but that would have made little difference to this now-cornered halfling.
“‘For pity’s sake!’ he cried. ‘Look what you did to Aragorn’s door, ye daft elf!’
“I looked down at the door, and said, ‘My, but I am impressive.’
“‘Yer’ cracked, Legolas! That’s what you are!’ he exclaimed. ‘Just look at what you did!’
“So, again, I glanced down at the door, then I looked back up at him and smiled, and said, ‘Lovely, is it not?’ He seemed utterly astounded, but I swear to you, I saw a small spark of admiration in his gaze. And I know he was struggling to keep from laughing. He covered it up with more posturing.
“‘I’ll not take the blame for that!’ he declared. ‘I intend to tell Aragorn that his lunatic elf did it!’
“I nodded seriously and replied, ‘I am certain you shall have no trouble convincing him that it was not you, Pip.’
“By now I felt the need to move things along, so I stepped atop the flattened door and into the chamber and said, ‘Come now, sweetling. There are no more chambers to run to, and no more doors to slam and lock. You have exhausted your retaliatory efforts.’
“Pippin stared at me, his eyes going wide with fresh anger, and then he glanced to his side and noticed there a shelf of many jars and potions and whatever types of things humans use in – do not say it, Aragorn! I know that none of those things were yours. They were no doubt put there by well-meaning servants hoping to see to your comfort, and who had, inadvertently, provided one panicking hobbit with an arsenal of ammunition to begin firing at a pursuing elf.
Aragorn gasped. “He did not.”
I said, “Nay, he would not dare.”
“He did indeed dare. And if you have ever seen a hobbit wield a rock, Halbarad, you would know that this was not as harmless a situation as it would seem to be. Pippin snatched jars and bottles from the shelf and began hurling them my way. I could scarce believe it! I was quick enough to knock them aside, but some of some of them were glass, so they shattered or exploded on the walls and the tile. He threw near half a dozen bottles before I got to him and hauled him up in my arms.”
“He kicked and yelled and squirmed the whole way over to the basin, impressing me with his colorful language. I considered the best way to subdue him, then quickly decided on the under-the-arm sling method. I could restrain him with one arm and leave the other free to soap with. It also made it possible for him to kick without doing any damage. He tried to connect with my legs and backside, but I re-angled him and put an end to that. So now he was facing the basin, the perfect position for him to see me pouring the water from the pitcher and then swishing the soap, getting it lathered. It was then that Pippin’s best screaming started, and his most foul language, uttered, to my shock, in the elvish.”
“What?” Aragorn and I cried in unison.
“Aye, my reaction as well! And each word was as foul as the next. ‘Where did you learn those awful elvish words?’ I asked him.
“‘As if I would tell you!’ he shot back.
“‘Pippin, there is no need to be disagreeable,’ I said. More naughty elvish poured forth. I was most intrigued. ‘You shall tell me where you learned that ‘ere we are done here,’ I promised.
“‘And if I won’t tell?’ he growled.
“‘Then I shall use up this bar of soap, and start on another,’ I said, and as he bellowed his protest, I shoved the wet soap in his conveniently open mouth. Needless to say, this did not go on for long. He kicked and writhed and gagged, for this little one has no stamina when it comes to a soaping. He often starts crying after the first dose, so it takes a strong resolve to keep going. But several good doses are needed for the lesson to have meaning. Despite his low level of tolerance, Pip’s stubbornness won out, if but briefly. I had to shove the soap in and swirl it around three times before he finally, quite literally, coughed up the culprit.
“‘B-Boromir!’ he bellowed.”
Again, Aragorn and I roared a “WHAT?” that should have awakened the dead, much less one sleeping hobbit. We were now chuckling again, fascinated by this tale.
“Aye! I laughed too!” Legolas exclaimed. “And my cried out, ‘WHAT?’ was just as loud as yours was! I nearly asked him where Boromir said he had learned it, but poor Pippin was crying and spitting and my heart went out to him. I flipped him up and poured him a cup of clean water from the pitcher, allowing him to rinse and spit out all he wanted. His sweet young face was wet with tears and his wild curls stuck to his cheeks – he was a sight. And we were just getting started.”
“He could not have had much strength left to fight you during the spanking,” I said.
“He did not. But he tried anyway. I carried him to the bed and turned him over my knee, then I merely held him there, allowing him to kick and thrash and flail as he desired. Finally, I yanked off his breeches and tossed them aside which served to infuriate him anew, but it had become clear that Pippin’s tantrum was about more than just this session of discipline that he very much deserved.”
A few long moments of silence drifted over us, and finally Legolas turned a gaze full of compassion upon Aragorn.
“Aye,” my pup said quietly. He sat up and leaned back against the foot board of the bed, gazing down at the sleeping halfling. “He had to unleash his anger and frustration over their injuries. He longed to do something for them, and yet when he tried . . . .” Aragorn glanced at me sadly. “Pippin meant well, but he did not think it through, and when he realized what he had really done, all the fury he felt in being one little hobbit, unable to speed the healing or ease the misfortune of those he loves, exploded within him.”
“Aye,” Legolas said. “He had to let all that go.”
“And you helped him. You gave him cause to do so,” I said.
“Aye. And Pippin did indeed receive a superlative spanking. He bellowed the rafters down,” Legolas replied. “Oh, how he craved that release! Afterwards, when I hauled him up into my arms, he shattered again, this time in relief.”
Legolas turned a stricken look to my pup, saying, “He felt shaken, fragile, not like himself at all. Aragorn, I fear Pippin has slept little of late. He has been alone in that big chamber – Valar knows the last time he slept without Merry. And I fear he has been very much on his own during the day as well. I have been either at your side or off on maneuvers with the Grey Company seeking enemy stragglers. Gimli and Gandalf have, most often, been with you, or going about their own business in the city, and Boromir has been in Osgiliath –”
Aragorn frowned. “Such isolation would be hard on Pippin. He is unaccustomed to spending much time alone.”
“Aye,” Legolas said. “It is especially hard when his beloved cousin lies beyond his reach. We have all been busy in these anxious times, and the youngest of us has had none to share his worries with, no one to talk to.”
“Ah, mellon nin, I fear you are right,” Aragorn murmured.
“When he was drowsy and sated, I got him to talk. The healers have been repeatedly shooing him from Merry’s bedside, as he was spending most of the day there, and unlike Boromir who roars the staff into silence, Pippin’s voice alone carries little weight. He has only been allowed short visits. He would not burden you or me or Gandalf with his needs, nor would he suffer anyone to intervene on his behalf.”
Aragorn’s frown deepened, his eyes full of turbulence. He glanced at me, then back to Legolas.
“This will not do, my friends.”
“Nay,” I replied.
Legolas shook his head
After a short pause, Aragorn said, “I propose that Pippin serve penance to atone for the trouble he helped cause for Merry and Faramir.”
I glanced at Legolas. A smile formed at the corners of his mouth. I felt one forming at mine as well.
“For starters I think he should lay quietly abed with his cousin all day tomorrow to let his . . . injuries heal. And then the next day, he should remain in their chamber, reading to the patients, or telling stories, or singing as much as they desire. What do you think of this penance?”
“I think it just and fair,” I said.
“And I think it is inspired,” Legolas added.
“Do I have to wait until tomorrow?” a small groggy voice quavered. “Can’t I go now?”
We all flinched and shot startled looks at the drowsy scamp stirring upon Legolas. “How long have you been awake?” Legolas asked, peering down into the sleepy face that now lifted a bit.
“Uhhhh . . . I dunno . . . Aragorn said . . . he said something about . . . for starters, and then lying with his cousin . . . I mean . . . my cousin . . . I mean, me lying with . . . and letting my injuries heal . . . and I know what you mean by my ‘injuries,’ Strider, and dunna find that particularly funny.”
“You dunna,” Aragorn said with a grin.
“No, sir. My bottom is fairly scorched and, well, I hate to have to say such a thing, sir, but I have long held the opinion, and I think my kinsmen will agree with me on the matter, that this elf enjoys spanking hobbits a wee bit too much.”
We all chuckled helplessly.
“Aragorn,” Pippin ventured, “I need some salve.”
“Salve?” I asked, turning a curious gaze to Aragorn.
Legolas smirked at him and said, “I shall leave you to explain that one.” He nodded towards a throw that lay folded at the end of the bed. Aragorn tossed it to him and he quickly wrapped Pippin up in it, saying, “I have a delivery to make to the Houses of Healing.” He stood with his bundle and said, “I shall bid you gentlemen farewell until later. And Aragorn,” he said over his shoulder as he headed out. “Remember, stay out of the bathing chamber.”
“And bring some salve!” Pip’s small voice cried in farewell.
I raised my brows in silent question as we stood, but Aragorn merely said, “Do you still want to go entertain the bedridden tomorrow? Your audience just increased to three.”
We headed from the chamber and I fell into step beside him once again, saying, “What is one more, my lord? I am certain I can come up with an entertaining tale or two, perhaps even something to keep the high-spirited Peregrin Took enthralled.”
“You are a man of many gifts Hal . . . barad.”
To be continued . . .