Beta appreciation notes to Kat and Derby – thanks to my precious and patient team! Also, thank you, Derby, for the splendid bunny, and thank you Kat for the IM brainstorming and instant gratification when I needed a boost. Both of you keep the muse alive and challenged.
(And one more thanks to Kat for the chapter title.)
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
“We shall needs deal with our hobbits ere we set out today. After the march, when we stop again, you and I shall take first watch. Until then, come sweetling.”
And that was it. My fate was neatly wrapped up. Aragorn’s firmly spoken words left me stranded before a yawning chasm of time, hours and hours of it, guilt my companion. I must have looked as dismayed as I felt, for Aragorn gathered me close and made a noble attempt to comfort me. But I stiffened and I nearly pulled away. He felt it, of course. Good. I vow Aragorn could all but hear my thoughts as well: ‘Do not seek to comfort me.’
I do loathe having to wait for a spanking! There are worse things than being spanked. One of them is not being spanked when you deserve to be, and another is having to wait to be spanked, knowing what is coming and what you cannot escape.
However, in all fairness, I deserved this dreaded wait considering what I had tried to do – nay, what I had done.
Earlier, when I had heard Aragorn and Boromir return I had tarried in the cave, strengthening my resolve and persuading myself that I was not completely addled. But, before Aragorn even looked at me he knew. Answering his routinely asked, “Anything to report?” I had achieved my downfall in exactly two words: “No. Nothing.”
Aragorn then stood and turned to me with a raised brow and a penetrating gaze and I realized my folly. He knew. Of course he knew. He was Aragorn. Before I even disgraced myself properly with an honest display of outright fibbing, Aragorn knew. I could not help but wince. Well done, Prince of Mirkwood.
So much for that pact of silence. I had, indeed, been addled. My little brother obviously shared my belief. Oh, his sad, sad eyes! He cast me a look filled with compassion. ‘My sympathies, big brother.’ He said it without saying it. I felt too ashamed of myself to even look at him, glancing away quickly, feeling his forlorn regard lingering upon me.
Aragorn asked for no details. He knew that, had I a good explanation, I would have come right out with it. He always reads the lay of the land exceedingly well, my Ranger. And no matter how many times I had endured such humiliating moments with Aragorn, it still struck me through, the feeling that I had disappointed him. It was good of him to hold me close and to reassure me that all would be well. But I knew what I had done. And there was nothing else to say.
Fortunately, Gandalf and Gimli needed to be relieved from their shift so I could take the watch and secure some solitude for myself. Having little need for sleep is oft convenient. At present, the furthest thing from my mind was curling up within the affectionate embraces of Aragorn and my little brother.
I knew Aragorn did not like letting me go off alone with this matter between us. Neither was he happy about being forced to make me wait for my discipline. There was some comfort in that. But he did not have time to deal with a troublesome elf and to rest as well. And my Ranger was most sincerely tired.
Ironically, I was pleased that he silently admitted to his weariness. Aragorn hides his need for sleep well, so when it shows, as it did when they returned from Drumold, ‘tis a sign he is dangerously exhausted. But oh, how he resented giving in to that exhaustion!
When growing up Rivendell Aragorn refused to accept that he could not train his mortal body to do what an elf’s body did. Eventually he would become weak with fatigue, though stubbornly insisting that he was not, and his brothers would escort him to his chambers, sometimes draped over a shoulder, then watch over him while he obeyed the requirements of his human limitations.
He still never listens to me when I tell him that he should rest. But Boromir’s attentive presence had made Aragorn mindful of his needs in a new manner, and for a new reason.
For my little brother was also inclined to over-stretch himself. His lesson after the mud incident had made him a bit more aware of what he was doing. But behind Boromir’s heart-rending hunger to excel was his longing to prove himself to Aragorn and, to a slightly lesser extent, to me. The fact that he did not need to do so made his longing even more touching. It was going to take time and a great deal of constant reassurance to help ease my little brother’s unnecessary crusade to feel worthy. Meanwhile, if left unchecked, Boromir could push himself to perilous extremes.
At the base of Caradhras he had made his most astonishing suggestion yet: “I would like to suggest a plan, Aragorn. You and Legolas go on ahead up the mountain with Gandalf and help him plan our route from up there. I’ll bring Frodo and Sam while Gimli waits down here with the pony and Merry and Pip. Then I’ll come back and carry Merry and Pip up, and Gimli can lead Bill.”
The Fellowship had been struck dumb. My little brother glanced warily around at our stunned expressions, then he shot Aragorn a sheepish look and muttered, “No?”
“Boromir,” Gimli had said, “I fear our Bill will feel neglected. Will ye nae volunteer to carry the pony up, too, laddie?”
Given Boromir’s eagerness to please, Aragorn and I had decided that a good way for him to learn was by example. So, while he regretted letting me go off alone, one glance at his weary-looking fledgling and Aragorn knew that if Boromir was going to sleep, he had best sleep as well.
The watch was, therefore, mine alone. Free from the scrutiny of others, I could fret with abandon. And I did. I brooded and fumed and pouted. I even paced in what I felt was a perfect imitation of human restiveness. Gwin would have been scandalized. He had voiced strong opinions about pacing the first time he saw me doing it.
“Legolas, whatever are you doing?”
“I am pacing.”
“A mortal way of burning off disquietude. You and I are in a great deal of trouble, Gwinthorian. Halbarad and Aragorn are going to be seriously unhappy with us for what we did. You know it.”
“Aye, but --”
“So, pardon my pacing, but I am feeling uneasy about our Rangers’ imminent return.”
“As am I, but you do not see me pounding up and down in a most graceless, unelvish manner.”
“Is it . . . helping?”
“I rather like it.”
“It looks crude, sir.”
“It feels good.”
But pacing failed to ease my misery. My backside simply refused to stop tingling. Absurd. How could a backside know it was consigned to suffer Devon’s aptly named ‘certain doom?’ I fretted on. I paced some more. I truly hated waiting! I had failed to become more skilled at it with practice. The watch was eternally long. But, finally, Gandalf came out to bid me return to the cave, as all were now awake and on alert.
Later, when the little ones and their disciplinarians returned from the depths of the cave, I took on my stoic elvish remove and glanced at them long enough to notice Merry and Pippin’s distinctive walks. Good. Little bratlings.
“No time for salve?” Pippin was wailing when they emerged from the corridor.
Ah. Aragorn had obviously given them some bad news. Of course we could not tarry that they might enjoy that soothing luxury. Good. Hobbit bratlings.
Merry sulked and grumbled, “Hush up, Pip.”
“But, Merry!” Pippin’s little face screwed up into a classic Tookish pout. “I’m so . . . I mean, my bottom hurrrrrrts!”
And Pippin reached behind him and cupped his no doubt throbbing behind. Ai! but he was adorably shameless! I glanced at his kinsmen and Frodo and Sam had gone positively pink-cheeked for him. Aragorn could not contain himself. He burst into a fond chuckle, the rest of the Fellowship grinning as well.
“I said ‘no,’ sir,” Aragorn told him. “You shall survive the loss.” He winked at Boromir, who ducked his head and headed for the bundles from Drumold, trying to hide his poorly disguised grin. “Perhaps this will help soothe your upset.”
Boromir rummaged around one of the bundles, then he turned and held out two round loaves of dark bread.
Merry and Pippin burst into cries of delight and hugged Aragorn, the rest of the Fellowship joining in their laughter, Frodo’s sweet giggles tickling us all. It is near impossible to stay cross with a hobbit for long, no matter how much he deserves it. Merry and Pippin well deserved my ire, but I found myself smiling along with everyone else, despite my foul mood.
“Come, you monstrous little boy thieves,” Boromir said, and he sat down to tear off a large hunk of bread for each hobbit bratling. The little ones scooted over to him, Pippin exclaiming, “Oh, Merry! Just like at the Green Dragon!”
But when they were at last holding what they had risked so much to possess and were now suffering sore bottoms for, Merry and Pippin paused, went silent and sober and looked at each other. A sudden quiet fell. Then our two well-spanked hobbits turned to me, all gazes following theirs. I inwardly flinched.
Merry and Pippin headed my way, their eyes glistening. I knelt, sat back on my heels and waited. Halting before me, they each held out their bread, and, not knowing what else to do, I slowly took it. I had no words.
“We caused you a lot of worry and trouble, milord,” Merry said in a low, respectful tone. “It was really unfair of us. We were only thinking of ourselves. We’re sorry.”
“Aye, we’re so sorry, Legolas,” Pippin murmured. “You dinna deserve that.”
“You saved us. We would’ve been caught by the hunters who jumped the boys if you hadn’t whisked Pip and me away from there when you did.”
“And you even tried to hush up the whole affair so that Aragorn would’na be --”
“Oh. Right. But, you meant well. We should’ve told you that we’d already been seen.”
“Yes. That’s right. We should have. We weren’t completely honest with you --”
“We abused your trust in the most shameful manner, and we--”
“Enough, sirs!” I exclaimed, gently shoving the bread into their mouths. Everyone relaxed into chuckles. I ‘tsked’ and shook my head at them and flashed a scolding smile. “You shall wear me out with your sorries! Go!”
Pulling the bread from their mouths, they grinned nervously and exchanged wary glances and shifted from foot to foot, peering at me . . . waiting.
I sighed and said, “’Tis all right, my naughty little boy thieves. All is forgiven.”
They brightened at once, and I stood and spun them around, shooing them off with a swat on their sore behinds.
Yelping and grinning, they scooted off amidst the continuing good-natured chuckles of the others. There might not have been time for salve, but two hot-bottomed halflings enjoyed a salve for the soul, happily munching their precious bread and handing servings all around. So the Drumold disquietude lifted from our Fellowship. My inner disquietude, however, simmered.
If the watch had seemed long, the march now seemed endless. Taking my place at the rear guard, my senses on alert, I recalled what Merry had said when we made our pact: “Aragorn’s charge was more to Pip and me than it was to you, sir . . . Yes, he charged you to ‘watch over us,’ but I think we all know that there was always an underlying touch of levity in that duty. He didn’t really think you’d need to watch us every minute . . . We didn’t need a keeper . . . So I think you’re being too hard on yourself if you really believe you’ve neglected your orders. Please don’t do yourself such a disservice, Legolas.”
Kindly words, spoken from Merry’s heart. And clearly the Fellowship shared his sentiments. No one had asked where I had been when the hobbits ran off, not did they cast blame upon me whatsoever. Indeed, my charge, though imposed by Aragorn with all solemnity, had been meant as a deterrent. I would not be taken to task for negligence, for the hobbits had been bound to obedience by their honor, not bound to it in fear of my watchfulness.
But my heart told me something else. Aye, the hobbits were ultimately responsible for themselves. Aye, that should have been sufficient. But there was no getting ‘round the fact that the little ones were able to escape because I had been elsewhere, lost in passionate dreams. My failing, and such a failing!
Ai! how humiliating! I had been so affected that I lost all sense of time, of place, of duty! How could I confess to such an indulgence?
And now a new anxiousness surged forth: Why had I made that foolish pact of silence? Had I been seeking to hide my embarrassment? If so, ‘twas cowardly indeed. Or had I done it in order to save Aragorn some upset? If so, ‘twas a noble, though misguided, effort, and I certainly knew better than to try it. Or had I done it in part for both reasons, or for some deep reason I could not yet fathom?
I plagued myself, fretting over which thought had come first. Did I think, “Ah, ‘tis best to hide this from Aragorn and protect him from that which he needs not know”? Or, did I think, “I must hide my disgrace! What excuse can I give in order to do that honorably?”
That torment followed me on the march, hissing at me from the dark shadows of the woodlands we traveled through. Perhaps this necessary wait was indeed justice. Hmm. Oh, endless night . . . .
Gwinthorian now returned to my thoughts, the Drumold incident reminding me of the time when he and I had planned a theft of our own – wine rather than bread. We, too, had been caught ere catastrophe descended, and we had also been forced to wait for our discipline.
I grinned, recalling Gwin’s behavior during that Dorwinian wine disaster. Suddenly I missed my little kinsman, even though at the time I had found him wholly irritating. He had been so blithely ignorant of what we had done wrong, so unapologetic that after a while I had scarce been able to abide his company. I had endured his sporadic chatter during the remainder of the watch that night and during the next day when the Rangers continued on towards Mirkwood.
But after discovering that Gwin still simply did not understand our blameworthiness, or that we were answerable to the Rangers for our actions – “I am sorry, Legolas!” . . . “Indeed? What for?” . . . “I do not know! I am sorry we were caught!” – I had stopped responding to him at all, and Gwin had finally drifted off, confused and hurt by my coldness, dropping back and away from me on his horse. Ai! the additional guilt that hit me then!
After a time Devon fell back to walk his mount beside me. He wore the sympathetic look of one who was oft times in trouble himself.
“You know?” I asked him.
He cast me his pretty smile. “Sorry to disabuse you, Legolas, but you’re hardly difficult to fathom. Something very, very bad happened last night.”
He nodded. “Mmm. When I woke this morning I saw Garrick speaking with Aragorn and Halbarad, and my Ranger’s expression bellowed that somebody was in big trouble.” He looked at me, his eyes twinkling. “I instantly feared certain doom, then I remembered that I hadn’t done anything wrong. But Garrick turned and fired me a look that said, ‘You are fortunate to have had no part in this, little boy.’”
I sniffed a rueful grin.
“Ah, poor Legolas.” Devon sighed. “I take it this also involves your wee kinsman?” He tugged his head back towards Gwin, who was riding eyes downcast, pouting beautifully.
I nodded. “Aye. Gwin has a way of charming the good sense right out of me. ‘Ware that wee kinsman of mine, Dev. He can beguile the ugly from an orc.”
Devon laughed quietly. “I shall indeed beware. I vow I am safe, though, since we are returning him to Mirkwood and ‘tis unlikely our paths shall ever cross again.” He glanced back at Gwin again, then at me. “I think we both know what your fates will be, but I get the feeling that Gwinthorian’s never been spanked before, has he?”
I was not surprised to hear this from the watchful, perceptive Devon. I shook my head. “I fear he has not.” The notion that Gwin had never gone over anyone’s knee had shocked me, but I knew from his questions on the previous night during our watch that he did not suspect such a fate. He honestly had no idea what to expect.
Devon ‘mmm-ed’ again, then said, “He shows no natural apprehension of what is to come. No sign of respect for it, nor even what it is. I fear your kinsman is in for a shock tonight.” He glanced at me. “But you know what lies ahead, Legolas; you know what to dread. That’s why you’re so grumpy.”
I lifted a brow at him. “Grumpy? Hmmph.”
Dev flashed me his shrewd grin. “‘Tis this waiting, my friend. You know what’s coming and you know you can’t escape it. Faith, sir! It must be dreadful! I’d be grumpy, too. Garrick is not one to put off a spanking.”
I snorted, recalling Devon’s many trips over Garrick’s knee that had taken place in close proximity to camp. “Fortunate lad, indeed,” I said.
“Fortunate?” Dev exclaimed, loudly enough for a few of the older warriors ahead to cast disapproving frowns back at us. Dev leaned in closer to me. “If you ever wind up over my Garrick’s knee, then we shall talk about that word ‘fortunate.’”
I chuckled. “Nay, thank you. Aragorn is enough to contend with.”
“Yes.” He nodded thoughtfully. “I should think he would be. I’m glad I’m on the less, shall we say,‘ responsible’ side of our captain.”
I gave him a stern glance. “Together the two of you are terrors, sir, and you should ne’er be allowed to share each other’s company without supervision.”
Devon grinned. “True. But Garrick and Halbarad are quick to deal with us when needed. And that’s what I’m talking about.” We exchanged knowing glances. “I know that’s what you meant by ‘fortunate.’ Guilt doesn’t have much time to torment me before Garrick is spanking me free of it. Guilt is a terrible, awful thing, isn’t it, Legolas? Even an hour spent in its company is a terrible, awful endless hour.”
Aye, indeed it was. Oh, terrible, awful endless night!
I marched us a little longer than usual. I wanted to reach a certain spot where Legolas and I had sojourned before, another place that was special to us, as the caves had been thus far.
Since our course took us through lands where Legolas and I had previously visited, I planned to, when possible, rest in these familiar places. I knew them to be safe and dry and comfortable, not to mention soothing to a certain Ranger and his elfling prince. Indeed, the reward of another soft smile from Legolas, despite his inner turmoil, confirmed my choice of heading.
The little ones were exhausted when we reached the thickly wooded forest where I planned to stop. Massive rock shelves formed a deep recess under which our Fellowship could settle and safely light a fire. The watch point was high, commanding a perfect view of the area, close to camp, but not too close. None would hear what would soon take place there.
Merry and Pippin spent most of their time during dinner and after dinner plunked firmly upon my poor elfling’s lap. Had I thought Legolas at all beleaguered by this I would have suggested they sit their sore little bottoms elsewhere. But, even when a small cloud of Longbottom Leaf drifted about his head, Legolas seemed content to let Merry and Pippin remain cuddled upon him. He sat cross-legged, braced against the rock wall, a halfling straddling each thigh and leaning back against him. It was a sweet sight to behold. I felt it healing for the three conspirators, sensing that Merry and Pippin’s devotional need to be close to him helped Legolas temper his wretchedness.
And my elfling was indeed wretched. I regretted making him wait to receive his secret comeuppance. Had there been any way ‘round it I would have taken it and eased his suffering. Curse my troublesome human need for sleep! At any other time Legolas quite enjoyed the fact that Boromir rested better when I rested as well. But, although I could see how torn he was over the matter, Legolas would ne’er consider begrudging his beloved little brother what he needed. Nor would I.
So I had stretched out beside my fledgling yesterday feeling tired and regretful and furious with myself. I gathered my young warrior close, pulling him into my arms in our familiar sleep embrace, comforting myself with the feel of his strong, solid body, so different from a lithe elvish form. Legolas and Boromir filled my arms in quite different ways, yet they both filled my arms exquisitely.
Quite unforeseen by Legolas and myself, Boromir was starting to become more to us in ways we never would have imagined possible. These new feelings had taken us both by surprise, hitting hard and with a strange speed that left us feeling somewhat confused. We had spoken of it briefly, but Legolas and I would needs speak of it more, and soon, for those feelings were swiftly growing ever stronger, becoming more and more demanding, lighting fires within us both. They would likely lead to action before long, either on my part or my elfling’s part, but most likely – and most shockingly of all – on both our parts. And we needed to be careful with Boromir, so very careful.
Though obviously loving the closeness we shared, my fledgling was yet incredibly, endearingly shy. I could not bring myself to ask him what his intimate experiences had been. I vow a part of me began to wonder if I would hear that he had not yet had any at all. The notion seemed preposterous, especially when the longing in Boromir’s gaze was unmistakable.
“Ask him,” Legolas had once urged me.
I frowned at him. “You ask him.”
Boromir loved to be held at night, though, drinking in our embraces and our gentle touches. He would always fall asleep before us, and Legolas would oft glance over at me and grin quietly when my fledgling released his first contented snore of the night.
But when I stretched out beside him and took Boromir in my arms yesterday, instead of gazing at me with his usual open affection, he shot me a furtive glance. I studied him for a moment, then grinned and kissed him softly.
“Do not be angry with me.”
“I’m not,” he shot back.
“Aye. You are.” He dropped his gaze. “Boromir, look at me.” When he obeyed, that hurt and anger surfaced. My poor guileless fledgling. “You are. And I know why you are.”
“How can you do this?” he blurted out. “How can you let him sit out there alone? You know what he must be feeling!”
I was a little taken aback by his vehemence. “Of course I know, sir,” I said in a firm tone. Had I been less fatigued I would have handled my reaction better, but at Boromir’s wounded blink I sighed and said, “Forgive me, sweetling. But, I do indeed know what our elf is suffering. Had I the wherewithal to help him now you must know that I would do so.”
He shifted, embarrassed. “Aye, you would. I know that.”
Smoothing the feathery locks from his brow, I said, “He deserves more than a weary Ranger and hurried time alone. He deserves my best, and he deserves a long, slow period of comfort afterwards. I can give him that tomorrow. I do not have it to give at present.”
He glanced up again, that little boy timidity firmly in place. “I’m sorry, Aragorn.”
“Shhh.” I kissed his forehead. “Your upset is understandable. You care for him. ‘Tis dreadful, seeing him suffer. You also are weary, fledgling mine.”
“So are you. Your eyes have those dark circles beneath them.”
I chuckled. “Ah. My observant Son of Gondor.” At last he grinned a little. It heartened me to see it, for I knew how worried he still was. “Fret not,” I told him. “Trust me, for I have known Legolas and we have loved each other since long before you were born. I shall help him as soon as I am able. But for now, rest. He wouldst not wish you to be lying awake fretting on his behalf.”
His concern for Legolas was charming, and Boromir was not my elfling’s sole defender.
During the march I heard a small shuffling about behind me and I turned to see Frodo trotting forward, up past Gimli, heading towards me. I slowed enough to let the little one catch up. He began trudging along wordlessly at my side. Ah. A troubled Frodo. And I felt I knew what was troubling him. I smiled down at him.
“To what do I owe the honor, sir?” I asked.
I gave him a moment, reaching down to pet his soft curls. “If I may, sweetling?”
Looking up at me again, his wide eyes glittering with the light from my torch, he nodded. I bent and quickly scooped him up with one arm and settled him on my hip. “There,” I said. “Better for a quiet talk, aye?” We exchanged a grin and Frodo sat quietly gazing at me for a moment.
“It’s about Legolas,” he finally ventured.
I softly smiled again at the utter charm of this. Legolas was being fretted over yet again, this time by a wee halfling. It was too delightful. “Mmm.”
“None of my kinsman know what I know, that you . . . well, that you discipline Legolas and Boromir as you do us.”
I gave a nod. “Legolas told me that he and Boromir had accidentally let the fact slip after they had both spanked you.”
“Yes. I’m sure they would rather I didn’t know of it,” he hurried on. “But you can continue to count on my discretion, of course. There’s no need for the others to know, and it is best they not know.”
“I agree.” I studied him. “But keeping a secret from your beloved Sam must be unfamiliar ground for you, Frodo. ‘Tis likely uncomfortable.”
He watched me, obviously relieved to know I understood. “Well . . . yes.”
I smiled and briefly kissed his soft mouth, unable to resist. “Most appreciated, little one.”
He grinned shyly then fell silent for a moment, then: “About Legolas . . . .”
Again I gave him a moment rather than rushing to his aid. Frodo observed me, then he sighed and wrapped his arms round my shoulders, saying, “Ah, well. Never mind. You know, of course, my wise Ranger.”
I sniffed a smile. “I know.”
“And I know he is in the best of care, sir.” He lay his head on my shoulder. “I needn’t have worried.”
“‘Tis good of you to fret about him, though. He would be most touched.”
Frodo was silent for so long that I wondered if he was drifting into a light dozing state. Then his soft voice began again: “The fact that he isn’t to blame for my cousins’ misbehavior doesn’t really matter, does it?”
“Even though no one holds him responsible or thinks that he was negligent.”
“It matters not.”
“And despite the fact that he saved them from getting caught by the hunters and even though he tried to save you added upset by keeping the whole thing a secret . . . .”
“What matters is what Legolas feels he did wrong.”
“And, well, I think he knows that he shouldn’t have made that pact of silence with Merry and Pippin. I’m fairly certain he feels pretty horrible about that.”
“You are very perceptive, sir.”
Silence again. Then: “I was going to go back and talk to him, but that didn’t feel like a good idea. But . . . .” Another thoughtful pause. “But perhaps it would help.”
“Nay, Frodo,” I said. “I know you would mean well. But your first instincts were right. It would not have been a good idea.”
More silence. Then Frodo murmured, “Aragorn . . . ?” And he sighed, utterly without words.
I was glad he could not see me for I unwittingly released another quick grin. Sweet Frodo. He had a slight crush on my elfling, something we all knew of and did not know of. So of course this concern would surface in him now.
“Frodo,” I said, and when he raised his head I kissed his forehead and murmured, “Perhaps you feel that there is more to this, something deeper.”
He blinked, watching me with a new keenness. “Yes. He . . . he seems, well, overly sorrowful.”
“You understand him well. Better, perhaps, than he even understands himself right now.”
“But you understand him, too, don’t you my Ranger?”
“And you’ll help him.”
“Indeed, little one. I shall.”
Frodo finally relaxed, smiling with genuine ease. He gave me a swift hug then lay his head on my shoulder once more. “Then I am content, sir. Thank you.”
Our march ended just after dawn. The hobbits were cold and spent, and Frodo was embarrassed and full of apologies for having fallen asleep on my shoulder.
“I’m sorry, Aragorn! I didn’t mean for you to carry me for half the night! You should’ve awakened me.”
“Hush, Frodo. I enjoyed your company, even though you were dozing.”
“But it wasn’t fair to the others. I should have walked like everyone else.”
Everyone else also hushed him, though, insisting that they were pleased to see their Ringbearer taking what extra ease he could. Boromir, of course, had the most shocking statement to make, closing the matter:
“I would be happy to carry Frodo every night, if you would permi --”
“NO, sir.” I said, and that was that.
My plan to march us a bit longer worked as the Fellowship was now flagging, even, surprisingly, Frodo. All was attended to and our camp had settled quickly when I left for the watch. Boromir and Frodo each watched me with eager gazes ere I stood and took my leave. I vow I heard them both breathe a sigh of relief.
I felt that it might be a bit obvious for Legolas to accompany me so soon after the incident. It was unlikely the little ones would form any suspicions along certain disciplinary lines, but I preferred to avoid giving them the chance to do so. Legolas agreed to join me when all was quiet. It would not take long.
I was seated on a large boulder, halfway through my first pipe when I saw a flash of bright hair through the saplings at the edge of the woods below. I watched Legolas weave his way up towards the watch point and ‘certain doom.’ He had been elusive since we had halted and made camp, avoiding my eyes, only nodding wordlessly at my murmured suggestion that he follow me after the others had fallen asleep.
Such behavior was understandable. Legolas did not need to sleep as did we humans, but being intimately linked with a human for so many years had slightly altered his natural patterns, leading him away from a truly elvish standard. So although he could go for longer periods of time without sleep, Legolas still had to rest on a regular basis. He had simply grown accustomed to doing so. He lay with me every night, whether sleeping or not. He now also lay with his beloved little brother, often holding Boromir as I did, clearly content.
So Legolas should be feeling worn and irritable by now, clinging to his last shreds of restraint. Elvish stoicism could go only so far. Good. I expected a certain amount of sullenness from my elfling when he finally faced me, and such was what I wanted. A tired Legolas was a Legolas less inclined to hold back his emotions. When he was his most upset he withdrew and closed himself off from me. I understood that device well, and I would tolerate none of it from him this day.
Emerging from the wood, Legolas moved towards me with his typical fluid grace, his manner quiet and unhurried. I studied him, narrowing my eyes. A chill shot up my spine. It was worse than I had thought. Silently thanking the Valar that I had rested so well the day before, I sat and puffed my pipe and awaited my very hostile elfling.
I was not the least bit grumpy. Truly, I was not. Neither was I angry, nor sulky, nor looking for a fight. I was, however, determined.
Reason had caught up with me sometime during the last exhausting hours of my wait. Perhaps extended misery sharpens the inner vision. Perhaps relaxing with a lapful of hobbits calmed the soul, allowing balance to return.
But, as I sat there earlier, Merry and Pippin on my lap, something happened. I held them, warm little bodies, resting against me, puffing contentedly, their sweet-smelling pipe smoke swirling around me, just a trace of remaining heat on my thighs from their sore bottoms, and I knew that my backside would soon be hot as well, thank the Valar, and suddenly a calm descended upon me, bringing new discernment:
I was an adult. I did not need to tell Aragorn every little thing. I had handled the situation. I knew that within myself. I had nothing to apologize for. If Aragorn needed to spank me for my great big huge transgression . . . well, so be it. But within myself I now held a new fundamental truth – a sensible adulthood. It felt a bit . . . frightening, and cold, perhaps . . . maybe even a bit . . . well, lonely. But it made sense. Aye, it made adult sense. And I was an adult. I considered a little loneliness a fair tradeoff for sensible adulthood. And with that knowledge my impatience calmed.
Aragorn would still need handling, so I planned out my approach on my way to the watch point. ‘Twould be folly to tell him of my new fundamental truth. He would not like it. He would not understand it. So he did not need to hear of it. How oddly fitting, keeping this from him when disclosure was at the crux of this matter. But my Ranger was clever, and he knew me, so I would needs be alert and not allow him to corner me or tweak my temper, lest I blurt out anything that invited more consequences.
I spotted him through the forest, seeing him before he saw me. Aragorn was watching for me, sitting on a boulder, puffing his pipe, his gaze on the path he knew I would follow. When reaching the place where he would be able to see me, I ignored him for the rest of the way, though I felt his eyes upon me. Reaching the top of the rise where he sat watching me, I stopped a few feet away from him and waited.
“Legolas,” he said, and he gave me a nod.
I nodded back. “Sir.”
“Why are you here?”
His first gentle shove.
“You ordered me hence,” I coolly replied, shoving back. “You said to join you after the others had fallen asleep.”
“But why are you here?”
I felt a tingle of anxiousness, but then I understood what he wanted. “You are going to spank me for withholding information from you. Or, rather, trying to do so.”
“Is that what you feel you deserve?”
There were two answers to this question – mine and the one Aragorn wanted to hear. I knew which one to give him:
He sat and puffed his pipe and gazed out over the countryside. I watched him thinking.
Finally he finished smoking and tapped out the remains of his weed, then, turning his gaze back out to the land below, he narrowed his eyes and said, “Well, I have reconsidered the matter, sir.” He slanted a look at me. “You may go.”
I held my ground, knowing he could not mean what he had said . . . hoping he did not mean it. “But, I made a pact of silence with Merry and Pippin.”
“Indeed,” he said with infuriating calm. “Please do not do that again.”
“I planned to keep all that had happened secret from you,” I said, fighting the urge to squirm.
“You had your reasons. Your intent was pure. To keep me from further upset, as Pippin said.” He looked away again. “I would rather you had chosen to do otherwise. But you made your decision in a selfless manner, so ‘tis understandable.”
I myself had serious misgivings as to whether I had made my choice in a selfless manner. But that suddenly became less important than what was happening here, beginning with who in the name of the Valar was talking to me?
Of course, Aragorn was following some cunning plan. He had reasons as to why he was saying all this, none of which was in keeping with his true feelings. So the question now became, whose pretense would last the longest? I had an eerie feeling it was not going to be mine.
And yet, even though I felt certain that Aragorn’s conduct was feigned, a flicker of doubt burst to life within me – perhaps he really believed what he was saying; perhaps he was being honest; perhaps he was not going to spank me. I considered that.
No. It could not be true. I swallowed hard and carefully schooled my features, saying, “You have never before accepted such behavior from me.”
He shrugged. “As I said, I have reconsidered.”
“Reconsidered what?” I demanded. “What is there to reconsider?”
He turned to me, quietly puzzled. “Why are you so angry?”
“I am not angry.”
“Your face is flushed.”
“I am not angry!”
He raised a brow. “Keep your voice down, sir. There is no reason to bellow.”
“I am not bellowing,” I said, fighting the tremor in my voice. “I am speaking in a forceful manner.”
There was every reason to bellow, though, for Aragorn would have never before tolerated what I had done – and yet he was tolerating it . . . and with frightening ease. I felt a wild urge to lay into whoever was talking to me and demand he return my Ranger at once. That terrible, sensible adulthood slammed into me full force, suddenly seeming quite terrible indeed. My throat burned and an inner voice hurried to whisper the comforting realization that this was simply Aragorn at his strategic finest – “Consider not what Aragorn is saying; consider what you know of Aragorn.”
But what I knew of Aragorn was that he ever tried to do what he believed was best for those he loved. So perhaps he felt that letting this matter go was best for me, that I should be granted a measure of that dreadful, sensible adulthood.
My heart hammered wildly. It mattered not that a moment ago I thought I deserved the grace he was now freely handing me. What Aragorn was doing felt horrible and I wanted it to stop!
I struggled to calm myself. My Ranger would never turn me away to suffer my guilt alone. He would never say such things to me. He was simply trying to make a point, trying to make me see something. Aragorn, my Aragorn was still there, trusting me to know that he would never abandon me to the cold and lonely void of sensible adulthood.
He fired me a smirk. “Speaking in a forceful manner?” he murmured, indulgently amused. “I see.”
“Aye, that I might be fully understood,” I said.
He turned to look at me. “I understand you, sir,” he replied in a quiet tone.
“Do you indeed?” I shot back, beyond caution now. “Even though I entered into a pact of silence with the hobbits? In fact, I suggested it. And I had planned to keep everything that happened a secret from y --”
“Legolas,” he interrupted, his smirk returning. “That is the second time you have mentioned keeping a secret we both know you could not have kept. Even though you suggested it and tried to do it you had to know that it was doomed to fail. You could not have endured such a falsehood. Not for long.”
“But,but,but I – I did try --”
“Given the circumstances, your decision to spare me the unnecessary details was merciful.”
“Aye.” He glanced at me again, that brow quirking once more. “Surely you had no other reason.”
I nearly confessed my other reason there and then: ‘Aye, Aragorn. I abandoned my post, such as it was, to wander off and indulge myself with erotic memories.’ Instead I merely gazed at him, feeling dull-witted and utterly unable to think.
He stood and looked off again, wandering away from me a bit. “You no doubt handled the situation in the best manner you could at the time, mellon nin. I recognize your efforts and I know you did what you thought was most fitting.”
“But,but,but --” And nothing came to mind save the same words he had already cast aside: “But, I . . . I kept a secret --”
“Come, sir. You are an adult. You do not need to tell me everything.”
“You have ever made it plain that it is wrong to keep secrets from you!”
He sighed. “Aye, indeed, I do not like it when you do. But again I say that you are an adult, an intelligent adult capable of making decisions on your own. I must learn to respect your choices and trust your decisions.”
“You have ever done so,” I pointed out. “But in this case --”
“In this case I am also choosing to do so, as I shall needs do more often.” He bent and picked up a few stones and began whipping them casually over the embankment. Trembling, I watched him, a strange terror ripping through me.
“Things change,” he now said.
It was the most frightful thing he had said yet. My blood pounded. “What things?” I breathed, scarce able to voice it.
I stood frozen. I knew not what to say or what to do. All that came to mind was the truth, so I took a step towards him, aching for him to turn to me, see me, become my caring, insightful Aragorn once more, not this detached and strangely cold personage. Perhaps . . . perhaps he meant this? It was the darkest despair imaginable.
“Aragorn, please,” I said, my voice sounding small. “Please, I-I feel so badly about what I did.”
“I know you do. And I am sorry,” he said without turning. “But those feelings shall pass, mellon nin. Give it time.”
I simply stared at him.
“You may go, Legolas.” He glanced back at me briefly. “Get some rest. You look beyond weary.”
Sick at heart, I stepped away, heading back, not knowing what else to do. No . . . I did know what to do! I whirled and charged Aragorn. He had turned and was watching me, but he held perfectly still, letting me race at him at top speed. I slammed him to the ground and scrambled atop him, pinning him, both of us huffing and grunting.
I had no thought in my head, only a hurt so dark it had turned to rage, so it surprised me to hear myself snarl, “I deserve better than this from you!”
“Ah,” he said with mild surprise. “At last. An honest answer to my question of what you deserve.”
I was too frenzied to listen. My fury exploded again. “You would never send Boromir back to camp alone and unspanked! You would never do this to your fledgli --!”
What? I blinked and stared down at Aragorn, my mouth falling open, my mind blank, my words, echoes of thunder, hanging over us. Aragorn flashed me his smoldering, knowing grin.
“Well said, elfling mine.” He shot up and hurled me over on my back, now pinning me. “More honesty,” he said. “Finally we can get on with this.”
And there he was, my Aragorn, full of perfect authority and quiet command. Holding so much in check had clearly cost him. He was ready to let loose.
He clambered up, dragging me with him and hauled me to the closest boulder where he sat, pulled me down across his lap and positioned me, leaving my legs free to kick and my upper body stretched out on the stone atop his draped cloak. It took him but seconds to secure me, his arm curling over the small of my back, pulling me tightly against him. I let fly a quick gasping sob, but I had given him no fight. I could only think of what I had said about Boromir!
I could not have meant that. I loved Boromir! I loved him more each day. I was not jealous of him! The envy I had once felt and my early treatment of the man I had come to love now shamed me. It hurt me to even recall it. So how could I have said what I just did? It was not in keeping with my feelings for my beloved little brother! No, it was not! So what?what?what --?
I panicked. I did not know my own mind! I felt suddenly afraid. But of what? Of . . . of my words. Of a poison within me I had not known was lurking. My own mind felt a fearful place!
But then I remembered where I was and I felt what was happening to me. Aragorn had me. He held me down over his lap, safe . . . I was so safe here, the safest place imaginable. He was about to spank me, and a spanking cleared the mind and brought matters into focus like nothing else could.
So, poisonous thoughts be damned! Aragorn was about to demand my full attention. He had just raised my tunic over my back and now he pulled down my breeches, lowering them over my thighs with that familiar controlled movement and firm, swift yanks. Sunlight warmed my bared skin where sunlight rarely touched, an odd feeling, but, aye – focus on that feeling. And listen. Aye, listen to Aragorn!
He had been muttering whilst I was lost within my own panic, so I reached back into memory, listening to what Aragorn had said from the time he had pulled me up from the ground:
“Aye, you most certainly do deserve better from me, better than indifference and dismissal, and if you think I would ever handle you with either of those then you have drifted far afield indeed, little one! You need to become reacquainted with a few basic truths. Aye, we have new ground to explore, but some things never change. I intend to remind you of that. You had to wait too long for this spanking, I fear. You have been thinking too much and following an unacceptable direction. Enough nonsense, elfling mine!”
I was too relieved to become upset with him for his deception. And then his first stinging spank cracked down and I yelped and jerked. Ai! the burn of that opening swat on bare skin!
“Have I your attention, sir?”
Another powerful swat! Merciful Middle Earth! Indeed he did! I nodded fast, croaking, “Aye!”
Aragorn leaned over me, his voice warm and soothing in my ear: “Legolas, shhh. You know that I am not angry with you. And you must know that I am quite aware of what you deserve. But your swift yielding seemed to be merely an attempt to appease me. It was a yielding in word only, sir. It did not come from your heart.”
“I-I am sorry, but I – OWW!”
“Shh, hush now. Clearly your memory had failed you. You had forgotten the way things are between us. So I felt a bit of schooling was in order. You have ever come ‘round to the truth by discovering it for yourself. So pardon my harsh methods, little one, but you abandoned your stubborn notions quickly enough when facing the reality of those notions.”
Blessed Dúnedain insight! “Aye!” I gasped, “You are so right, Ara --”
He shot up and spanked me again. I tensed and gulped and grimaced.
“Hush, sweetling. We both know what naughty thing you did, and we both know that I intend to hold you accountable for your actions.”
A warm flood of relief coursed through me, and I stammered, “I – I know, and – OWW!”
“Hush.” Aragorn ‘tsked.’ “Ah, Legolas! When you wander astray you make certain ‘tis a fair distance. But I shall ne’er let you wander so far that you are lost to me.”
I lay shaking, drinking in his warm voice, my panic easing, my bottom stinging, my worry over my stinging bottom growing and tears burning behind my closed eyes.
“Now,” he said, petting my backside, “we have much to cover, and we shall attend to it all, fear not. To begin with --” He sighed again, loud and with a hint of a growl attached. “A pact of silence, little one?”
“Deciding what I shall hear and not hear?”
“Legolas, you know better.”
“You do like to challenge me on this issue, but no matter. When you have been naughty, you deserve to be spanked. You deserve my care and attention, and by the Valar, elfling mine, you are about to receive both.”
My stomach quivered, two silent whimpers echoing within me: ‘Aye, Aragorn! Please. Help me,’ and ‘Ohh, noo! Valar help meeee!’
“As to your words about your little brother – ah! How quickly you tense! Shhhhhh, hush now. Of course you are surprised, even horrified by those words. But be at ease, sweetling. You know that I am not angry about what you said, nor am I shocked by it, nor am I disappointed in you. I understand why you said what you did, and all will be well.”
I released another hitching sob. Oh, blessed words of comfort! He knew! He understood!
Of course he knew. He was Aragorn.
“Rest assured, by the time we are finished here you shall also understand, and you shall be comforted. For you are not a bad little elfling, Legolas, you are merely a confused little elfling. So we shall begin at the beginning.”
Oh no. Oh noooo! He delivered another powerful swat that made me suck a deep gasp. I knew better – but I instantly tensed. “Ar-Aragorn, please --!”
“Hush. I cannot make my points unless I have your undivided attention. I shall tolerate no cruel torments whispering untruths to my beloved elfling. So we shall address that little problem right away.”
“No! No, please, Ara - I AM hearing you now!” I cried. “I – AHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
“Clearly you are not hearing me, for I have ordered you to hush five times by my count. So, once more, hush.”
And Aragorn began spanking me, his first swats falling with dreadful force and his typical precision. Sometimes, when he thought it necessary, he gave me a sound and powerful opening set of spanks – those awful first, ‘getting your undivided attention’ spanks. I had once tried to persuade my painstaking Ranger that this measure was unnecessary. He had my attention simply because I was over his knee, bare bottomed and about to be spanked. His response was predictable.
“That is not for you to decide, elfling mine.”
“Aragorn, please, I-I know I have this coming --”
“Aye, and I have offered no resistance.”
“Nor should you have.”
“I-I know. So, y-you see, you already have my full attention.”
“And my cooperation. So, truly, there is really no need to make your opening spanks so hard.”
“Oh? Truly? There is not?”
“Thank you for your counsel, sweetling. However I am a creature of habit as regards spanking methods. I like doing it this way.”
And now, my response to his attention-getting opening was equally predictable:
One cannot ignore a resolute Ranger set upon walloping the breath from one’s body. Such dedicated focus did wonders for grasping one’s instant attention. So after a dozen or so overly intense swats, when it seemed all breath had indeed left my body and I trembled on the edge of tears, Aragorn muttered, “Mmm. Better. Now, sir, as to the first order of business . . . .”
And he began his sincere and serviceable spanking pace, suitable for a long stretch with an errant captive over his knee. At this steady pace he could keep on, and on, and on, not a comforting thought. As was his habit, Aragorn spanked silently in the beginning. So I clenched his cloak in my fists and squeezed my eyes shut and wondered what, by all that was blessed, I had been thinking when inviting this.
No matter how often I have been spanked, the intensity of it still never fails to stun me. I find it baffling that a mere hand well applied to bare skin can create so powerful a sting. Repetition. That was the key. And though I understood the value of it when on the delivering end, I loathed that cursed repetition right now.
All Aragorn had to do was to keep spanking away, sometimes swatting the same spot over and over and over until I was near trying to swim off his lap and away from that relentless spanking hand. He knew that even my most stubborn efforts to maintain at least a shred of dignity would eventually mean nothing. He demanded total collapse . . . as did I. And yet, I still always hoped that this time I would hold out longer, bear up better, endure with my elvish decorum intact.
Such folly! I had once laughed myself into a near stupor when Gwinthorian proudly stated that he no longer intended to allow Halbarad to strip him of his elvish decorum as easily as he stripped him of his breeches.
“You cannot mean it, Gwin!”
“Stop laughing. Stop it. It was not that funny.”
“Oh, I-I am sor-sorry, but ohh!”
“For mercy’s sake, Legolas! Get up off the ground!”
This time, though, despite my wish to be cooperative and despite Aragorn’s comforting assurances that he understood the problem and that all would be well, I could not stop fretting over what I had said about my beloved little brother. How could I have thought such a thing, much less blurted it out? What awful darkness lay hidden inside me that –
“AHHHHHHHHHHHH! Aragorn! Not, not therrrrree! Please! Not under --!”
“This curve beneath your sweet bottom certainly is sensitive. You have ever been especially vulnerable down here.”
“AHHH! No! NO! Pleeease! Stop! AHHH!”
“I felt your attention was beginning to drift, elfling mine. I am sorry. Was I mistaken?”
Wretched Dúnedain insight! I swore Aragorn’s powers were incredibly intensified when he was administering a spanking.
“Legolas?” A rapid volley over that tender area made me arch up and howl. “I asked you a question. Was I mistaken? Were those mean ugly thoughts trying to return?”
“Aye! I mean, nay, you are not mistaken and, and aye, they were trying to return! I-I am sorry! Sorry, sorry, sorry!”
“I should think so.”
I quivered, burying my face in my palms, shuddering into them, that tender curve under my bottom now sizzling so much that I wriggled and twisted shamelessly. Did I think Aragorn would tolerate it I would have gladly reached back there and rubbed . . . elvish decorum indeed.
“Let us have no more of that,” he said, lowering his knee and returning his swats to my backside. “Not that I mind spanking that soft little undercurve, but I vow you wouldst rather I not do so.”
“Noo! Not there! Please not there!”
How could this man know my thoughts within moments of my thinking them? And how many times had Gwin and I run afoul of that insight? My poor kinsman especially struggled with it at first, crumbling when Halbarad crossed his arms over his chest and locked him in a stern steady stare.
But Gwinthorian went through a period wherein he fought the fact that our Rangers had this advantage over us. At least I, having lived with it longer, had the sense to respect it. Not always, of course. I could be as daft as Gwin, hoping that this time would be different and that we might get away with whatever we should not have done, or not done and should have done.
But I knew when to yield and admit defeat, whereas Gwin, in his stubborn attempts to be right, sometimes tried to lie his way out of trouble when caught by Halbarad’s insightful question: “Is there something you wish to tell me, Gwinthorian?” Sadly, poor Gwin had few skills when it came to lying and no skills whatsoever when it came to lying to Halbarad. My kinsman quickly became well acquainted with the strong durable soap packed by the Rangers.
Finally he learned to accept the fact that Halbarad was simply going to know what Gwin did not want him to know. Even when Halbarad did not know what Gwin was trying to hide, he knew when Gwin was trying to hide something. In Halbarad’s opinion, that alone was grounds for a spanking.
“It is not fair, Legolas!” Gwin had groused to me one day after Halbarad had thoroughly spanked him the night before. Rubbing his small bottom, he sniffed, “Twice. Halbarad spanked me twice! First for trying to keep that little incident from him, and then after a short break, he spanked me again.”
“For the little incident itself?”
“Aye. And he said what he always says when I am not truthful from the outset.”
“That ‘omission of the truth is but a lie cloaked’?”
“And it is simply not fair.”
“He knows before I even confess.”
“Then just confess, as I do, and have done with it.”
“But Halbarad cannot know, not without a shadow of a doubt.”
“Gwin. He is Halbarad. Of course he knows. Just as Aragorn always knows.”
“Your thoughts are especially unrestrained today,” Aragorn remarked, finishing his second spanking visit to my tender undercurve.
Stupidly, I bit back my sobs and argued, “But I was not t-thinking bad s-scary thoughts! I-I was thinking of G-Gwin!”
“Well, I am a selfish sod,” he said, a shrug in his voice. “I require your attention on the matter at hand. No wandering about in your mind to escape your present circumstances and your sore little bottom.”
Oh, how he could make me blush! Impossible to think that he could still do so after all our time together, but he could indeed.
“I find it amusing that Gwinthorian can get you into trouble merely by the power of a memory.” Aragorn chuckled softly.
I could think of no reply to that. I agreed. And so I lay squirming and huffing and wincing and stiffening my straining legs, as though any movement could ease the shock of the next spank, as though anything might help salvage my dignity. Absurd to consider dignity a factor when one was stretched out, bare bottomed and being spanked. Aye, sensible adulthood indeed.
The kindest thing I could do for Legolas was to keep him focused on where he was and what was happening to him. He had admitted what I needed him to admit. That was all that mattered for now. I took over from there.
Earlier, when he had turned to leave, I had feared that he was not going to be able to admit what he must. I feared I was going to needs chase him down and engage him in battle, then seek his admission when his bottom was nice and hot and he was in a more agreeable state of mind.
But thank the Valar for my elfling’s impressive temper. It erupted when he felt unjustly wronged, and I had unjustly wronged him indeed, dismissing him in such a cruel manner. I had hated having to do it, but rousing his temper was the most efficient way to get Legolas where I needed him to be.
I could never have convinced him that Boromir was at the heart of this. Had I tried to tell him that truth Legolas would have dug in his heels, stubbornly denied it and a fresh battle would be on. Nay, that realization had to come from Legolas himself, and it had, most emphatically. It had burst from him by way of a sudden frenzy of unforeseen emotion, and upon hearing what poured from his mouth my poor elfling had gone so instantly pale I feared he might topple over. Thankfully he had already knocked me to the ground and scrambled atop me ere his declaration gushed forth.
Typical of Legolas to be so unaware. Though easily attuned to the suffering of others, he was incredibly ignorant of his own. Of course, he was not jealous of Boromir, though I knew he now feared as much, given his outburst.
But, nay, he loved my fledgling. After I had told him about Boromir’s sad past, Legolas had completely shifted his attitude, taking his ‘little brother’ to heart with an instant enthusiasm that had astonished and delighted me. And, almost at once, his love had shifted, too, as had mine, becoming something deeper.
“There are times when he seems so lost, and so very young,” my elf had murmured a mere week or so ago, the night before we attempted Caradhras and Legolas and I lay in the cave watching Boromir sleep between us. “How he does rip at my heart, beloved! He has no other, Aragorn, no mate. It grieves me to think of him so alone.”
Aye, my fledgling was, indeed, at the heart of this. We both loved him, and he was going nowhere, not if Legolas and I had anything to say about it. But it was time we dealt with the changes Boromir’s presence had created. Legolas and I had much to discuss. We had time to do so now. I was well rested, and I had told Boromir to stay his watch. His concern for Legolas had again touched me deeply:
“Please help him, Aragorn.”
“I intend to.”
“He-He’s going to be spanked, isn’t he?”
I grinned to myself. Boromir was not asking because he feared for his big brother’s bottom; he wanted his hopes for Legolas confirmed. I nodded. “Indeed he is.”
Releasing a breath of relief he said, “Is . . . Is there anything I can do to help?”
I had leaned close to him and murmured, “Afterwards, my fledgling. We shall both comfort your big brother afterwards.” And Boromir had been more than content with that.
So I had started at the surface with Legolas, addressing that absurd ‘pact of silence,’ his blatant cry for help. Bit fragile at present, my elfling on the edge. I could lead him to the final truth, but I needed to move him there slowly, preparing him for the inner fell beasties at the heart of all this.
And, oh, how I was looking forward to attending to those fell beasties laying siege to my elfling! They were able to torment him now only because he did not recognize them. Deep inside, though, he knew what they were. It was Legolas who had revealed them to me not long ago after a certain soaping incident when I had convinced myself that Legolas and Boromir were growing closer and that I was about to become an outsider. Something similar was now happening to Legolas. Though his torment differed from what mine had been, both had the same foundation.
The fear of change was a powerful foundation for torment indeed – ugly fell beasties, whispering ugly possible fates, all of them absurd. But they were very real to Legolas at present. His beasties were even more treacherous than mine had been, for his remained hidden, taunting my poor elfling from the dark corners of his mind.
This had been building in him, growing even as his love for his little brother grew, cruelly hiding behind that growing love. It was near impossible to see those fell beasties when they chose one’s self for a target but when I revealed them to Legolas, and he recognized them for what they were, I knew that he would be able to purge them at once. After all, he had helped me do the same.
I had been spanking him for some time now. He had tried to escape me through his thoughts several times, as was to be expected. So at present his bottom was nicely red and his squirming and gasping was growing desperate. All was going well.
“Your pretty bottom is becoming such a sweet rosy shade, little one.”
He grunted and whimpered and writhed and I vow I heard that nice faint growl of temper. “Is’t indeed, milord?”
“Mmm. Most charming.”
“I-I am happy y-you are pleased, s-sir.”
“Indeed I am. Save a few slips in decorum, you have been behaving very well.”
“So, perhaps you will now be so kind as to explain to me why you made a pact of silence with two hobbits who very much deserved what they had invited for themselves.”
“I . . . I do not know – OWW!”
“There is always a ‘why’ behind every act of naughtiness, even if that ‘why’ is as simple as, ‘because we wanted some bread.’ So try again.”
“I-I th-thought to save you – OWWWW!”
“Surely you are not going to tell me that you thought to spare me the knowledge of it, sweetling. We both know you would never be so foolish. Try again. Why did you make that pact?”
And suddenly Legolas burst into tears. Though startled by the suddenness and the vehemence of his collapse, I kept spanking, letting him feel that safe connection. He had held out for too long, and he was making up for his costly restraint, his sobs deep and gasping.
“I-I tell you, I do not know!” he finally sputtered. “But I-I . . . perhaps I w-was trying to hide . . . hide what I had d-done!”
I frowned. “What did you do?”
He buried his head in his hands and wept. “Oh, Arag-gorrrrn!”
I thought quickly, wondering what could be upsetting him so. I yearned to pull him into my arms and comfort him, at least until he was more fit to continue. But I knew that Legolas would not appreciate coddling at this point. Something had him embarrassed and flustered, and he did not feel deserving of solace. Trying to force it upon him would only bring out his belligerent side.
So I said, “I am waiting for an answer.” And again I tipped up my knee, raising his bottom to expose the now dark pink tender undercurve –
“NOOO!” Legolas reared up before my first swat fell, and when it connected a moment later his strangled wail reminded me of Gwin. “AHHHHHHHHHH!”
“Tell me, sir. At once. What. Did. You. Do?”
“OWWWW! W-Went back t-to our special mithril ch-chamberrrr! In t-the caaave! W-Went back there, and-and dreamed and just-just sat, t-thinking, ‘bout us in th-that special place! Sorry, Ar’gorn! Sorryyy! So f-foolish of me! And the hobbits ran-ranned away while I-I was back there d-dreaming ‘bout us!”
I lowered my hand, resting it on his hot bottom. This was the awful thing he had done? I stared down at him, watching my tenderhearted elf bury his face in his palms once again and sob over what he clearly found to be a shameful lapse of restraint.
I was too touched to speak. He was amazing, my sweet elven warrior prince. Even after all our time together, Legolas could still surprise me. This was too endearing. I understood at once, and I could not resist my urges. I had to reach down and gather him up, needing to feel him in my arms.
But Legolas remained his stubborn self. When I tried to lift him he squirmed and fought and snarled, “Noooo! No! Do n-not seek to comfort me!”
Very well. I had been right. He felt too mortified to accept affection. But I could embrace him with my tone and my words, and I did so, once again resuming his spanking.
“As you will, elfling mine,” I said, sighing. “But you have nothing to apologize for, and no cause to feel ashamed. My mention of you staying behind to watch the little ones was meant as a deterrent to them. I thought you understood that. Forgive me, sweetling. I should have made my meaning more clear to you. I never expected you to keep constant watch over the halflings. None expected you to, not even the little ones themselves, I vow.”
His weeping lessened a bit, as though he was listening to something else . . . ah. Perhaps he had heard this truth before. And suddenly I knew – Merry. He must have already spoken to Legolas of this. Young Merry was amazingly straightforward and he would have understood that my orders were issued to them, not to Legolas.
“You had every right to go back and visit that special place,” I went on in a gentle tone. “I wish we had been able to see it again together, maybe even have shown it to Boromir.”
He caught his breath and stiffened and shifted, nestling his face in the crook of his elbow. Mmm. As I had suspected, my mention of taking Boromir there had jostled him within. But I quickly passed over it as though the matter was of no great consequence.
“Sadly, with the need to spank our naughty halflings, there was too little time.”
He was hearing me enough to nod. He even sputtered, “I-I liked that you chose that cave . . . that you ch-chose it because . . . because --”
“Because it was special to us. Because of the many times we had --”
“Aye!” He began weeping again. “And-And I just wanted to see our ch-chamber again!”
“Aww. Was it still as beautiful?”
He nodded fiercely. “Uh h-huhh!”
“Mmm. I can see you, reflected in the mithril walls . . . mmm.” I grinned down at the back of his bright head, petting the soft locks. “I am glad you visited our special chamber.”
He sniffed and mumbled in a sulky tone, “You could have done so, t-too, had I not gone th-there alone and let th’halfl-lings esca – OWWWWW!”
I sighed down at him. He was picking up his little brother’s habit of assuming blame too quickly and for too much. It was bad enough trying to break Boromir of the habit. I did not relish having to do the same with my elf. “Legolas, listen closely,” I growled, “for I vow I shall spank this truth into you if I must keep you over my knee all day – you did not let the halflings escape. None hold you accountable for the hobbits’ behavior.”
“But – AHHH!”
“Ah! The stubbornness of elves!”
He caught his breath and went silent, too upset to laugh, but still, I hoped, touched by the irony of my words.
“Aye, you always tell me that men are stubborn,” I muttered. “But I shall share with you something I overheard Pippin say to Frodo a few days back when Frodo accused him of being in a continuous state of amorous hunger: ‘Takes one to know one.’”
And this time he could not help himself. Legolas burst into an involuntary laugh, then he turned and looked at me over his shoulder, sending me a teary glance of such longing that I knew I could now gather him into my embrace and he would not resist.
“Come here,” I murmured. I lifted and turned him, laying Legolas back in my arms to gaze down at him . . . so beautiful, my elfling. But I noticed the shadow in his eyes, so I kissed him lightly and settled his fears, murmuring, “Nay, of course we are not finished yet, my pretty bratling. I am merely allowing you a short breath ere we continue.”
He gave me a face-saving hearty objection. “B-But Aragorn, please! My bottom hurrrrrts!”
“You sound like Pippin.”
“You did n-not spank h-him this hard!” he groused.
“Nay, I spanked Pippin harder,” I told him, kissing the gasp on his lips.
Master Took never pouted as prettily as my elfling did in that moment. How I loved Legolas in this state! I might need to take all watches this day and keep him to myself out here. But I would not deprive Boromir of this experience, for he had never yet seen his big brother in this condition.
“I know your sweet bottom hurts,” I said. “But you know that I would never abandon you now with so much left to settle. So no fussing, little one. We have more to do. We have not resolved this matter, have we?”
Legolas dropped his gaze. “N-Nay, milord.”
I studied him for a moment, recalling what he had said a moment earlier. “So you yet feel you were to blame for Merry and Pippin’s escape, and their following predicament?”
He blinked, then he sulked and picked at the lacings on my shirt, delightfully obvious.
“You have had enough of a break then I take it?” I said, moving to flip him back over.
“NO-NO!” he cried, wriggling to resume his safe position. I relented and he said, “No. I-I am not responsible for the hobbits r-running off.”
I raised a brow. “Legolas.”
“I-I truly am not. I know that.”
“Mmmm.” I narrowed my eyes upon him, taking in his honest gaze and listening with my feelings. Legolas knew that I would be able to tell if he was being less than truthful.
“Why the sudden change of heart?” I asked, needing to push him, to make certain he was ready to move on.
He swallowed hard. “I . . . I think . . . I think I always kn-knew that I w-was not to blame.”
I shook my head at him. “Bratling elf.”
He looked genuinely bewildered. “I . . . know, b-but I-I cannot understand w-why I thought . . . I do not know m-my own m-mind, Aragorn!” His eyes filled yet again with fresh tears, this time of dismay. “Nothing I have d-done in this has m-made sense to me! My thoughts do not even m-make sense! I-I do not understand.”
“Shh,” I said, smoothing the stray hair from his damp face. “Then it is time to sort it all out, sweetling. For, as I told you before, I do understand.”
His gasp came too late. Eager to slay some fell beasties, I already had Legolas flipped back over my knee and tucked close to my body. His bottom was that pretty rosy elvish shade unique to him, and I allowed myself a moment to admire the sight. Patting the hot skin under my palm I said, “I am proud of you, little one. You have been so brave.”
“Aragorn, please, pleeeease!”
“Shhh, trust me as you ever have,” I murmured. “I know how much my elfling can bear.”
“I-I have borne all I caaaaan!”
“Nay, sweetling. You underestimate yourself.”
“OW! AAAAHHHHHHHHHH! AR’GORN! AHHHHH!”
I winced at his cries, but I kept on. And when he flung his hand behind him, palm up, fingers spread, I grabbed his wrist and held it at the small of his back and I kept on. And I kept on when he finally began to kick and his bucking increased and his wails grew louder. As ever, I was well aware of how much my sweet elf could endure, and we were not there yet. I would go slightly easier on him, but, despite his apparent resistance, Legolas was reaching for me now, so I would not fail him by letting up too much simply because he wanted me to do so.
“I know your pretty little backside hurts,” I said again in a gentle tone. “But, we have some big things to discuss and, as you once wisely said, a spanking serves to clear and focus the mind like nothing else.”
“I-I m-m-might h-have been wronnnng!”
I grinned. “I think not.”
“Ar’gorn p-pleeease! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
“Hush now. We needs finish this first piece of naughtiness ere we move on. You made a pact of silence with the halflings, did you not?”
“Aye. And I-I-I am sorr --”
“Is it ever acceptable to keep secrets from me?”
Legolas lay his head down and wept for a moment, just wept, the sound of his tears taking a sudden and different turn. I knew the various tones of his weeping and within these soft sobs I heard the grateful release of a bad memory. My poor Legolas. How frightened he had been by my earlier feigned dismissal!
“Shhh. I know, elfling mine. It is over now. I regret having distressed you so. Put it from your mind, for you know, Legolas, I shall never turn you away so heartlessly. Never.”
“I-I know,” he whispered into my cloak, jerking with each swat. “I-I kn-knew . . . deep inside . . . knew. An-And I know it w-was hard for you to do th-that. So, s’alright, Ar’gorn . . . s’alright.”
I was spanking his burning backside and yet Legolas was seeking to comfort me for my earlier harsh treatment of him. My sweet elf was like no other. I blinked back a film of glassy tears and forged ahead, saying, “Back to my question, is it ever acceptable to keep secrets from me?”
“Do you have something to say to me for trying to keep secrets and for making a pact of silen --”
“SORRYYY! Sor-sorry, Ar’gorn! I-I know b-better, like you s-said! Sorryyyy!”
“And do you decide what I am permitted to hear and not h --”
“NOOO-I-I-I do not decide . . . NOT p-permi – perm – per – not ‘llowed!”
“And do you ever, ever conspire with naughty wee bratling hobbits against me?”
“I agree. So, again, what do you have to say to me, my naughty wee bratling elf?”
“SORRYYY! Sorry!Sorrryyy!Soorryyyy Ar’gorn!”
“I know,” I said, slowing my swats even more. “Shh. I know. And all is forgiven. Shhh. Quiet now, sweetling. All is forgiven.”
I stopped spanking and rested my hand again, letting him weep, safe over my lap, allowing him another necessary respite ere we came to that imminent heart of the matter. I was eager to attack those fell beasties of his, but I would not rush him. I would wait until he felt comforted and able to move on.
Sadly for Legolas, I was a better judge of when he was able to move on than he was. Of course, he had, at times, protested my decision. But my poor elfling was beloved of a Dúnedain whose insights regarding him were far too accurate to suit him. I understood. When Halbarad turned his insight upon me I oft felt oddly betrayed by my own thoughts. I also squeamishly felt as though I had no clothes on.
My own insight was a marvelous tool to have at my disposal, though, and it certainly served me well when dealing with confused and vulnerable little elflings. So, when Legolas began to calm and his breathing became less ragged and his crying slowed, I knew he had recovered enough for our final push. “Let us move on, sweetling,” I said, rubbing his sore behind. “We are back at the important root of this question – why you made that pact.”
He paused, then turned to look back at me. “But-But I already answered --”
“Nay. We lost that question amidst your guilt for visiting the mithril chamber. Remember?”
And, clearly, Legolas did. A distinct awareness flashed in his eyes, a belief that he thought he had successfully escaped this issue by focusing on another. It was one of his favorite subterfuges, although I could not say why as it had never really worked for him. I began a spanking knowing that there were certain matters we needed to address, and I was fully aware when those matters had not been resolved. It did serve to infuriate Legolas when his plan failed, though, his . . . disappointment usually leading to an impressive display of elvish temper. He kept true to form today.
I felt him tense and saw his expression tighten and I quickly yanked him around and back into position, securing him firmly for the eruption I knew was coming. I was but seconds ahead of him.
“WHY, WHY, WHYYY!” he bellowed, kicking and bucking up with shocking fierceness. “I do not know whyyy! I keep telling you that! Stop asking me why!”
“Give me an answer and I shall stop asking the question,” I said mildly, delivering my first spank to that well-thrashed bottom. He sucked a sharp, strangled breath. I winced myself. That had to feel awful. It certainly got his attention, though, and it slowed his writhing. “And govern your tone, sir,” I told him, my hand picking up its pace again. “Enough of that impertinent shouting.”
But Legolas was now displaying the erratic changeableness of a very befuddled and panicky elfling. He needed a steady spanking hand and a calm voice to help him reach this last plateau of understanding. And he needed reminded of a few points of common courtesy, I realized a moment later when he surprised me by spewing forth a few vulgar elvish names.
“What did you call me?” I asked, trying to keep the incredulous chuckle out of my voice. He repeated it! Where, I marveled, was he getting this energy? No matter. Legolas was demanding only one thing from me at the moment, so I responded. Gladly. Those were truly vulgar names. I tipped up my knee, exposing that tender place --
“NOOOOO! OWW! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! OWWWWWWWWWWW!”
“Excuse me? Were you speaking to me?” I asked, spanking away. He needed little force. He could bear but little force. And, judging by his howls, I was obviously giving him enough of what he had sought.
“Sorry . . . who?”
“You shall be sorry indeed when next I get you alone with a bar of soap and a water supply.”
“But you keep asking me w-whyy!” he wailed. “WHY, WHY, WHYYY! I keep t-telling youuu, I dunnnoooo the ‘why!’ I-I cannot understa -- I-I DO NOT KNOW W-WHYYY!”
He arched and wailed and twisted his torso, trying to wriggle away from my spanks. Much as I would have preferred to stop, Legolas clearly needed this to focus upon. So I sighed and said, “Then settle down, sweet elfling mine, and let me help you find your ‘why.’”
Dazed though I was, I did hear him say that magic word – help. Thank the Valar, for I was beyond thought, beyond the ability to reason. Everything that came out of my mouth astonished me. Little of it seemed to make sense, no more so than did my frenzied emotions.
I was, however, being entirely honest. My last words echoed around us, my roars of, “WHY, WHY, WHYYY! I keep t-telling youuu, I dunnnoooo the ‘why!’ I-I cannot understa --I-I DO NOT KNOW W-WHYYY!”
It was all I could think of to roar, and by saying it I meant that I did not understand anything anymore. I felt lost in a quagmire of confusion. ‘Why’ had become a taunting word, and passion now overruled reason. Aside from how frightening that was, I was also exhausted and my throbbing backside could take no more and I suddenly wondered what I was fighting.
Halbarad once said to me, “You must first tear down the broken pieces before you can rebuild something good. It is oft an untidy affair, but there is no other way.” And although we had been discussing strategies for dealing with a difficult Aragorn, I had the feeling that Halbarad had also shared those words with my Ranger. Aragorn had quite successfully torn down the broken pieces, and now I was more than ready for him to rebuild something good. I felt most untidy indeed.
I also recalled my astute statement, the one Aragorn had quoted to me when taking me over his knee – a spanking cleared the mind and brought focus like nothing else. It cleared out all the nonsense that closed off understanding. So I was untidy, but focused. And, for my last flash of retrospection, Aragorn’s opening words came back to me:
“I understand why you said what you did, and all will be well. Rest assured, by the time we are finished here you shall also understand, and you shall be comforted. For you are not a bad little elfling, Legolas, you are merely a confused little elfling.”
I succumbed at last, stretched out over Aragorn’s lap, all fight now gone. “H -Help me, Ar’gorn,” I murmured, gasping against the cloth of his now tear-soaked cloak. “Please, h-help m --”
He scooped me up ere I finished my words, gathering my aching body into his arms, pulling me close to kiss my hair and my cheek, and to guide my head down to his shoulder. I huddled against his solid body, too spent to put my arms around him, yet able and eager to rest enfolded in his strong embrace, listening to his gentle words of solace and encouragement, his softly purred sounds that melted through me like warm honey and the kind of ‘sweet little elfling’ praise that made me weep for loving it so. And he rocked me, my powerful Ranger, so perfectly skilled at comforting.
I knew he would not rush me from that place of consolation, so I rested there, safe, knowing that he held the answers I needed and would begin to share them with me when he felt I was ready. ‘Till then, I knew that Aragorn relished this time of calm as much as did I. So I closed my sore eyes and lay quietly, listening to his heartbeat beneath my ear, hearing every deeply-rumbled sound that formed first in his chest, and wondering if I would ever, ever sit again.
When I had quieted to the occasional hiccup, he kissed my head and murmured, “This is about Boromir, of course, elfling mine.”
“I . . . I know.” I did know. I simply did not understand anything else.
“Tell me what frightens you, sweetling.”
“I am not frightened!” I quickly said.
“And my arm is not tired, so I suggest you do not give me trouble.”
“Oh.” I appreciated the fair warning. “I . . . I am frightened because I do not understand myself. I agree that this is about my little brother, but I am not jealous of Boromir. I am not!”
“Nay, you are not. But perhaps seeing him go with me to Drumold awakened something hurtful within. After all, you and I have ever walked side by side.”
“But, no! I could not go to the village. You needed a human with you.”
“Hmm. And you cannot help being elfkind, so you should not feel badly about having to remain at camp with the halflings.”
I squeezed my eyes shut hard, something sick churning in my stomach. “I am not jealous of my little brother!” I exclaimed softly. “I am not! I love him.”
“Aye, sweetling.” Aragorn kissed my head. “I know. Shh. I know you love him.”
I snuggled down closer to him, pressing my face into the muscles of his neck where it blended into his shoulder, breathing in his scent, full of life and surety and all that was good and that made my heart quicken. Aragorn made a move to lower me and lay me back against his arm, but I pressed closer to him with a shameless whimper and said, “Pleease, I-I like it here, please, Aragorn.”
He glanced down at me and I lifted my eyes to his. “Very well. I shall indulge you for now, but when I can no longer bear to be kept from looking into your pretty eyes, I shall lay you back in my arms with no fussing and no sass from you, understand, little one?”
His words made me blush and grin a little, and I nodded swiftly and snuggled again, utterly chagrined by my behavior.
“Bratling elf,” he muttered. Then he said, “But we are going to talk this out now. No more fell beasties tormenting my beloved. Much as I hate to draw you from your safe ‘little elfling’ place, I need you to concentrate. I know you may have some trouble thinking clearly, little one --”
“Uh-huh. You spank-spanked me too hard,” I murmured sulkily in his ear. The small swat he bestowed upon me made me jump and yelp.
“I spanked you as much as you needed, but I can always turn you back over my knee and spank you some more. So behave and speak to me as best you can. I will know if you are not trying. And I will tolerate no further displays of temper and foul language. You have already earned one soaping. I advise you to curb your tongue lest you find yourself facing another.”
I groaned and shuddered. Oh, how I hated having my mouth washed out with soap! He was quiet for a moment, then: “Do you recall the last time I washed your mouth out with soap?”
I groaned again. “Ayyyyye. Oh, Aragorn, m-must we talk of that? Ew.”
He ignored me. “Do you recall what happened afterwards? Boromir had risen to your defense, insisting I treat him in the same manner.”
“Cheeky of him.”
“Aye. And when it was over?”
I paused, concentrating as he asked, really listening to him instead of fighting the memory. Aragorn was trying to make a point. I thought back, my fingers twisting his shirt laces, recalling the terrible days that followed the incident and . . . and suddenly I shifted to that other part of myself, the grown-up elf part, remembering how my Ranger child had slipped further and further away from me. He had become lost in a quagmire of confusion . . . .
I sat up suddenly, grimacing when my scalded backside slipped between his thighs. “You are saying that what happened to me is the same as what you went through?”
“I am saying that it is similar. Not the same. But close enough in nature, and ignited by the same catalyst.”
He gave a nod. I stared at him, my thoughts swirling. Focus . . . focus. Aragorn lowered me and draped me across his lap, cradling me in the crook of his arm, as he had longed to do. He gazed down at me, watchful and patient, his eyes glittering with that great warmth of affection that stirred me within . . . so beautiful, my Ranger.
“Do you understand what it is I am trying to say, sweetling?”
“I-I think you are saying that Boromir was the cause of your suffering back then.”
“Nay. I was the cause of my suffering.”
“Oh. Aye. You were. As I am now the cause of mine.” I nodded. “Aye. Boromir is not to blame.”
“Very good, sweetling.”
I warmed under his praise, then went on seeking more: “You feared that my little brother and I would cleave to each other, and that you would be left alone.”
“Your fell beasties were whispering cruel falsehoods to you.”
“So they were.”
“They are very cruel, Aragorn.”
“Indeed they are, elfling mine.”
“But that is not what is happening to me.”
“Is it not?”
He raised a brow at me and gave me that indulgent look. That look has been known to rouse my temper, but most of the time I enjoyed the prettiness of it. “I do not fear that you and Boromir will leave me out,” I explained. “I fear . . . I fear . . . .” And I paused, needing to think it over. Of course, Aragorn knew.
“You fear what will happen if we include Boromir in a more intimate way.”
Oh. Oh, indeed. Aye, that was it indeed. I nodded. “Uh-huh.”
“I feared change, too,” he said. “I feared losing what I had, losing you to another’s affections, losing what we had between the two of us. And so it is with you, sweetling. You fear those exact same things. Is that not true?”
I shuddered at the truth of it, but I had to nod again and grunt out another, “Uh-huh.”
He kissed my brow and said, “‘Tis alright. You and I both have strong feelings for Boromir. We have spoken of it many times, and each time we have done so we shared the understanding that one day a great change might happen for us, all three of us. This affection has grown quickly, perhaps too quickly, but the speed with which love moves and the direction it takes is not for you or I to decide.
“So the fear of loss and of change is your fell beastie, too, elfling mine. You and I are set upon a course with our young warrior that none of us foresaw, but what we feel will not be slowed nor discouraged from blossoming.”
“But I-I –Aragorn-I --”
“Shh. Slow down. Form your thoughts, little one. Take a breath. Think.”
I did, and when my words evened into some order I said, “But, Aragorn, I . . . w-want that increased closeness with him.”
“As do you.”
“Indeed. As do I.”
I fought voicing my next question, then I ventured, “Do you mind? I-I mean, do you feel . . . odd, or slighted to know that I have feelings of passion for Boromir?”
He tilted his head to one side and considered me quietly before answering. “My elfling is not asking me that. You already know the answer to it, do you not?”
I did. “Aye. And nay, you do not mind.”
“No more than you mind me having the same feelings for him.”
“I . . . I like that you have those feelings for my little brother.”
He flashed me his ready smile. “Aw, sweetling. I know. And I like that you have such feelings for him, too.”
Returning his grin, I said, “I know.” Then I sobered, thinking, and I gazed at him, just gazed. “Aragorn . . . is’t possible? Can we love like this?”
He stroked my face and sighed, watching his fingers glide over my cheek. “Do you remember the last time we spoke of this, little one?”
“You mean that night in the cave? Before we started up Caradhras, after you had spanked Sam?”
He nodded. “Aye.”
I thought back on the scene, Boromir, asleep, snuggled between us, Aragorn watching me with a low smoldering light in his eyes . . . . “Uh-huh.”
“I spoke of Lord Elrond. Remember?”
“Uh-huh. You said that before we left Rivendell, Lord Elrond took you over his knee for a last comfort spanking, and he told you something about you and me and my little brother . . . something . . . .”
He nodded. “Aye, sweetling. Very good. Elrond said, ‘Your beloved elfling has a heart as large as your own, Estel. As you had room in your heart for this human, so will he. When the time comes, listen to your hearts concerning Boromir. You and Legolas will know what to do. Trust that when it is right for you to understand, all will become clear.’”
I frowned. “That makes no more sense now than it did when you first told it to me.”
Aragorn chuckled. “Well, I have been thinking on’t, and I believe I understand what he meant. For here we are, sweetling, both of us knowing what we are feeling and what the other is feeling, and watching ourselves race towards an uncertain future with regards to Boromir. How strong our love is, and how strong our faith in each other must be to even consider doing what we are thinking of doing!
“Little wonder we have suffered inner attacks from fell beasties, though, for the strangeness of this notion would serve to shake us. As would the swiftness with which it came over us both. After all our long years together, suddenly this young man appears and we are thrown in ways we could have never foreseen. Our willingness to embrace the possibilities conjured those fell beasties, screaming at us of disloyalty and unseemliness.”
“Nasty fell beasties.”
He grinned again. “Nasty indeed. But, sweetling, e’en if we had been given a choice in this matter, I vow that we would have chosen for Fate to deliver us all in exactly the manner It has. I sense you feel the same way, my beloved.”
Aragorn’s roughly handsome features relaxed and he smiled softly and kissed me again. “Beloved. That is a word of great importance, elfling mine. We are beloved of one another. Nothing will change that. No consequence, good or bad, will shake it. Our bond remains so solid and our love so abundant that it seems Fate has decided there is more than enough for us to share it with a lonely and heart-wrenching young Captain of Gondor.
“That is what Elrond was speaking of. He said to trust that when the time was right, we would understand. That time is now, sweetling. And we are reaching a place of understanding. And he said that our hearts had room for this human, and that we would know what to do. That is true, elfling mine, is it not? Our hearts are longing to reach out to Boromir in a more intimate way, and we do indeed know what we want as concerns him.”
I nodded, watching him encouragingly, willing him to continue as he was. At times like this Aragorn not only spoke to my heart, he spoke what was in my heart, and to such perfection that I could only sit and listen, mesmerized by the miraculous gifts of my Dúnedain.
He kissed me yet again, then continued in that soft, reasonable voice that curled itself within me: “Aye. What we want is not in question. We know what we want. Our only questions are unfounded ones, fears of what might be, conjured by those hateful fell beasties who love to control and torment. That is not truth, sweetling, and we know it. What might be can never displace what is. Not as concerns you and me. What we have cannot be taken from us. And my sense is that, by inviting this gentle man into our arms we are losing nothing, but we are enhancing what already is.”
And that was my Ranger’s magic. He had stood back and understood what he was seeing, so he knew how to reach inside me and guide me to this place of understanding.
Of course, he knew. He was Aragorn.
So now he also knew by my peaceful smile and the way my fingers glided over his soft beard then wrapped around his neck, pulling him down for a deep kiss that all was settled within me. “Beloved,” I murmured against his mouth when he let me breathe again. “How perfect a word.”
He picked me up then and moments later he had us arranged over his cloak, stretched out, me half atop him, our comforting post-spanking position. I assured him that all was quiet in the area, and so we could lie there undisturbed for awhile.
“I wonder what he will make of this,” I said at one point.
Knowing whom the ‘he’ had to be, Aragorn stroked my bottom and said, “It is time we found out. He will surely see you in a spanked state often.”
“Often?” I ‘hmmphed.’
“He is looking forward to comforting you when we return. Perhaps you would like him to take you over his lap and apply some salve --”
“NOOOOO!” I cried, rearing up in horror. Aragorn burst into laughter.
“Wretched man,” I said, lying back down.
“I should ask him to do it.”
“That is not funny.”
“He would do a wonderful job, sweetling.”
“I am not laughing.”
“Perhaps not, but something else is happening,” he chuckled in a lascivious tone, rubbing his leg against me.
“Aragorn, please!” I buried my face against his chest, listening to his deep laughter rumble in his body. I punched him. “Stop.”
He did. Then, his tone turning warm and deep, he murmured, “How I wish I could have had some time with you in our mithril chamber, elfling mine . . . see you reflected in the walls.”
“I imagined you there with me.”
“I had planned to go and see it again together, you and me --”
“And Boromir?” I lifted my head and looked at him.
“If you had agreed, sweetling. These places I have been choosing to camp in, all places where you and I have stayed before --”
“You knew of them,” I said. “They were safe and dry, easily defended, good water --”
“And they were ‘our’ places.” He smoothed a few stray hairs from my face. “I wanted to see our places again. With you.”
I smiled softly and kissed him and rested down upon him again. He was still rubbing my bottom, and it felt so sore and so good and I found myself grinding down upon my Ranger. My next words surprised me. “When all is right with the world again, let us plan to take my little brother to the mithril chamber some time.”
I heard the smile in his voice. “He would love it.”
The first time Legolas had spoken kindly to me he had refused my invitation to sit as he was freshly spanked. We shared an instant camaraderie based on our disciplinary common ground. So I knew Aragorn spanked him, of course, and with some frequency, given the stories Legolas had shared when keeping me company on the watch or when he was holding me at night and indulging my request for another tale of their exploits. He would sometimes tell me a story that ended with him, and perhaps his kinsman Gwinthorian – a right outrageous bratling of an elf by all accounts of him – being turned over their respective Ranger laps.
“And then, well, Aragorn and Halbarad dealt with us accordingly,” he would say. “Gwin and I encountered ‘certain doom,’ as Dev would put it.”
I couldn’t wait to meet these various Rangers I’d been hearing about – Halbarad and his elf, Gwinthorian, Garrick and his Devon – oh! To ride for a time with the Grey Company!
But now I was actually going to see Legolas after a spanking! I wasn’t at all certain what to think about that. I was truly looking forward to what Aragorn had whispered just before leaving for the watch, though. To my question, “Is there anything I can do to help?” he had said, “Afterwards, my fledgling. We shall both comfort your big brother afterwards.”
The notion of exactly what Aragorn meant by comforting my big brother would not leave me alone. Neither would it conform to polite thought. The application of salve came to mind, though I dared not allow myself to hope for that. Surely Aragorn would take care of that for Legolas . . . take him back over his knee, and, well . . . aye, Aragorn would likely do that before returning to camp. Unless he didn’t.
Needless to say, sleep eluded me whilst I awaited their return. I did try, but my mind was out at the watch point. Aragorn had told me to stay my watch, so it would be hours and hours and hours before Gimli went out to relieve them.
The imagination sometimes travels incredibly wicked pathways and mine was racing. Every time I closed my eyes I saw that same enticing scene, over and over until I thought I’d go mad – Legolas over Aragorn’s lap. Legolas kicking and writhing, his long, bright, silken locks spilling over his shoulders, his breeches pulled down, or perhaps even taken all the way off . . . ohhh . . . and Aragorn’s strong arm rising and falling and rising and falling, his big hand spanking down over that perfectly shaped, rounded, pink and creamy soft . . . I truly was vile.
Nevertheless, envision it I did, and it was a heart-stopping scene to imagine.
Finally I could lay there no longer and I shot up and strolled away from camp, striding off to . . . nowhere. I halted and stood still, gazing off across the rough, grey countryside. Where was I going to go? Back to Drumold? Up to the watch point? I actually turned my head and looked up and back over my shoulder, up to where I knew Aragorn was likely “spanking the daylights,” as Pip would say it, out of my gorgeous big brother elf.
Pace. I could pace. I paced. Then I stopped. Deep breaths. I was a disciplined warrior of Gondor. It was beneath my dignity to lose my senses over --
I jumped a foot off the ground, then looked down. “Frodo!”
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you! I thought you heard me.”
“I should have,” I said. “Although you Shirelings move as silently as the wind.”
“Then you shouldn’t have.” He smiled up at me sweetly. “Of course, the wind on Caradhras was pretty loud.”
“Come here, you hobbit brat.” I scooped him up onto my hip, giving his small bottom a playful swat. He squeaked and laughed.
“I did not come out here to be abused, sir,” he said with a dimpled grin.
I started strolling a bit. “Why aren’t you sleeping? And how did you wriggle out of your gardener’s arms?”
“I have my ways. And I couldn’t sleep either, like you.” A pause, then a small ventured, “Boromir?” I turned to him and he wrapped his arms around my shoulders and kissed my cheek. “Legolas will feel better when Aragorn is finished with him.”
I looked away. “I know.”
I don’t know why, but it made me squeamish to hear Frodo talk about Legolas getting spanked. Legolas himself had let the information slip to Frodo after he and I had both spanked the little one, and I, in sympathy and support, had let Frodo in on my secret as well. So he knew that Aragorn disciplined Legolas and me at times, and Frodo had never breathed a word of it to his kinsmen, not even to his beloved Sam, but still . . . .
“There is a problem, though,” he was now saying.
I stopped strolling to look at him – sweet youthful face, large compassionate blue eyes wide with concern. “Problem? What problem, sweetling?”
“Well, who will put the salve on his spanked backside afterwards? Aragorn, or you?”
I nearly dropped him! “What?”
“If I know our Ranger he is likely spanking the daylights out of Legolas right now --”
“So Aragorn’s hand will benefit from the salve as well, if he applies it, that is.”
I growled in mock indignation. “That is enough, sir!”
“But perhaps you could share the duty,” he offered, full of a childlike eagerness to be helpful, his eyes glittering with mischievous lights.
“Like when you and Legolas spanked me. Remember? You could pass him from one lap to the other. You know --”
“I said sto --!”
“-- take turns.” He started giggling.
“You insolent hobbit bratli --!”
“Or perhaps you could do one side of his bottom, then Aragorn could do the oth --”
“That’s it!” I swung him around and under my arm, his bottom facing forwards.
“I’m sure you recall this ‘hobbit spanking’ hold, sir. Think mud.”
Frodo giggled and wiggled so much I near dropped him again, but I did manage to gently whack his impudent little backside a few times, making him squeal with feigned horror. He was rosy-faced and teary-eyed from laughter when I uprighted him again. I tousled his curls and kissed his forehead, saying, “You are the most cheeky little rascal this side of Peregrin Took, Master Baggins.”
“I taught him all he knows,” Frodo replied.
We spent some time together, talking quietly under a friendly pine, Frodo in my lap, and finally he began to yawn and his sweet head grew so heavy that he rested it upon my chest, and he curled up into a ball, growing drowsy and slow of speech. So I carried him back and tucked him in with his instantly cuddling Sam. I still felt I could not sleep, but I was calmer now, having spent some time listening to a soft-spoken little halfling who had much to say about his beloved Shire and the life he missed so much, so I found my bedroll and stretched out, and when I woke, Aragorn and Legolas were there.
Lying on my side, I came up on one elbow and took in the sight of my two magnificent warriors stretched out beside me. On his stomach between Aragorn and myself, Legolas lay facing me, his head resting on his folded arms and his eyes closed. I darted a look to Aragorn, who was gazing levelly at me, braced up on one hand, his other hand moving beneath the blanket that covered Legolas. I glanced down, knowing that he was rubbing a very sore elvish bottom.
“Ah,” Aragorn murmured. “I am glad to see you awake, my fledgling. Here – you can take over comforting your big brother.”
And Aragorn took my hand and drew it under the blanket to where he had been rubbing, placing my palm firmly atop that hot, tender, and incredibly silky skin . . . I near forgot how to breathe.
“I have already applied enough salve, and it has soaked in,” Aragorn said, moving his hand over mine, ‘showing’ me how to caress those perfect mounds. “But rubbing makes it work better. Very good. Like that. Slowww circles. It helps him relax and feel good.” Then he removed his hand from mine and draped his arm across Legolas’ lower back, and I kept rubbing slowww circles, my heart trying to pound its way out of my chest.
“Mmmmmmm,” Legolas purred, again nigh halting my ability to draw breath. He opened one drowsy eye and gave me a lazy, dreamy smile. “Thangyouuu li’l brotherrrr.” Then his eye drifted shut again and he sighed and purred again deep in his throat.
I swallowed hard. My cheeks burned. I gazed down to where my hand was rubbing 'neath the blanket and I struggled to remain composed. Another quiet, ‘mmm’ from Legolas drew my eyes back to that stunningly beautiful face, the soft parted lips, the glowing skin . . . . Suddenly I heard Aragorn’s concerned murmur:
“Boromir, are you alright?”
A pair of glassy elvish eyes popped open, staring directly back at me. I darted a glance between Legolas and Aragorn, who was now also studying me closely.
“A-Aye! Fine, fine, fine! I’m fine,” I stammered, eager to relieve their worries. “I j-just, I . . . I like doing this. Very much. Very much indeed. I like . . . I love comforting. It feels very . . . nice.”
They both broke into relaxed grins, turning indulgent, warm gazes upon me. Well worth my clumsy, revealing admission.
Legolas closed his eyes again and Aragorn stretched out fully on his side with a sigh, saying, “Good. I shall leave you to it then. If you are content, my fledgling, we are content.”
“Aye, Aragorn,” I murmured, continuing on with my slowww circles. “I am most content.”
End - Tales of the Quest Chapter III - Beginnings