Foster Father of The Heart - part 15 (2/2 ) - fanfiction
A story about Boromir and Faramir that could very well be subtitled: “Wherein Our Angsty Sons of Gondor Act Out and Come Smack Dab Up Against Their Devoted Mentor, Damrod.”
Previous parts archived here.
Part One is here.
This story belongs to my precious Kat, a birthday present for a dear friend, who also beta’d her own pressie. Thanks for your constant and ready aid, sweetie, no matter the time or the tedium.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. This story is not meant to violate the rights held by New Line, Tolkien Enterprises, nor any other licensee, nor is any disrespect intended. I don’t own Tolkien’s original characters, however, my OC’s, Gwinthorian, Garrick, Devon and several other Rangers are exclusively my own.
Foster Father of the Heart – chapter 15 (2/2)
His voice was strained and distant. He had shown a bit of spirit when I first turned him over my knee, but he hadn't moved since I'd started spanking him. My meager efforts had been quite powerful indeed. Boromir was more distressed now than he would have been had I started out strong and kept spanking him vigorously.
However, I needed to address his inner darkness first, for my lad was drowning in it. Had I begun with today's adventures he would have been too distracted to concentrate on something as straightforward as insubordination and renegade orcs. There was always a reason behind what my boys did, and Boromir's reason for what he had done today went far deeper than he could have imagined.
"How do you know what is going on inside me?" Faramir had once asked me. "Are you that skilled a Dúnedain?"
"Faramir. If I used those skills, you would be aware of it."
"I know you, little one. Know you of old."
Faramir had studied me for a long moment, then nodded, satisfied, and said, "No offense, Damrod, but that is both a comfort and a curse."
I knew Boromir of old, too, and although Aragorn and Legolas had helped him greatly, he had changed little over the years we had been separated. Like Faramir, his habits were deeply lodged within him, surging forth when he was distressed. So I had my twenty-year old boy stretched over my knee again, and what had worked for him all those years ago would work for him now.
I had given Boromir enough time to think things over and he had, predictably, come to the wrong conclusion as to his worth and what he thought he deserved. He was now well mired in a deep, dark sorrow he had kept carefully hidden, a sorrow often visited by the sons of Denethor. He had also woven in a goodly dose of shame and embarrassment over what he was thinking.
He was doing his utmost to keep everything well buried, but he was no longer blindly angry. He was morose, and he knew why he was morose, or he thought he did. Time to move on. Forcing a lad to see what he did not want to see was akin to forcing a lad to take a spanking. He disliked the process, but he felt better afterward.
I kept swatting lazily away. 'Twas best to keep him talking, urge him from his withdrawal by making him become more insistent and more frustrated with me until he talked himself into a corner. Faramir would never allow himself to be so cornered, but Boromir was something of an artless innocent when battling with words. He did an excellent job of dealing with his little brother when Faramir was in need, but when it came to his own troubles, Boromir became lost in a fog of misunderstanding. So he would simply dig in and hold his ground until he realized that he was standing in quicksand with no idea how he had ended up there and no idea how to get out.
"Perhaps you think I should discipline you as I did Faramir because you believe you were the cause of all the trouble today," I said. He tensed but remained silent. "True, you disobeyed Aragorn's orders to stay out of the sewers, but you were trying to help your little brother, Boromir. 'Twas a kindly gesture. You could not have foreseen a sewer full of orcs. You never would have taken Faramir there did you suspect danger."
He lay so still he scarce seemed to be breathing. How dare I take such a stand? He could not dispute my words, but the last thing he expected was for me to justify his behavior. I felt my boy's rising panic, but he managed to reply, "I . . . know."
"So why do you think you deserve to be spanked as your little brother was?"
"I . . . I don't . . . I never said I deserved to be."
"Then what do you deserve?"
"I don't knowwwww!"
"Did you just growl at me, little boy?" I asked, privately delighted that he had.
"No, sir. I mean, I'm sorry," he said, slipping back into his dull, empty tone. "But I-I don't know what I deserve. I guess . . . nothing."
"Nothing," I repeated. "You deserve nothing?"
"I mean I deserve this. Just what you're doing. This kind of spanking. Nothing more."
"You deserve nothing more than this whilst your little brother deserved a full-blown spanking?"
"Aye," he muttered, sounding disheartened and miserable.
I knew how much he was struggling, but Boromir's wretchedness was a good sign. He was being honest. He wasn't trying to hide under some false guise of obedient acceptance. He was displaying his unhappiness openly, his voice heavy and tinged with a desperate plea: 'Damrod, please, come find me. Help me. Be the Damrod you have ever been to me. Do not leave me alone in this terrible place.'
I had no intention of doing so.
"Why?" I asked.
"Why . . . what?"
"Why is this kind of spanking alright for you but not for Faramir?"
"Because his need was greater than mine is," he answered at once. "He . . . He had a big hurt inside, and only you could help him. Faramir is your chief concern now. That's how it's been for a long time, and . . . and that's as it should be."
"My chief concern? Are you saying that there is room in my heart for only one son of Denethor?"
"N-No. I know you care about me," he said with no real conviction and a shyness in his tone.
"But not as much as I care for your little brother."
He hesitated. Hearing it put so plainly clearly troubled him, but again he said, "Well, that's as it should be."
"You've been at his side since you left for Ithilien all those many years ago. Of course you care for Faramir more than you do me. 'Tis natural that you would feel that way. And I'm glad of it. I want that for him. I'm content with things as they are."
He was nothing if not inventive. He kept saying the same thing several different ways, as though repeating the horrible notion over and over again would make it true. He was giving me every opportunity to correct him. I kept spanking him as I had been and questioning him without pause.
"What do you think Faramir would say about what you're telling me?" I asked him.
He paused, then lied with his endearingly typical lack of skill. "I . . . I don't know."
"You do know, and so do I, and 'tis a good thing he's asleep."
"I-I don't . . . it doesn't matter what Faramir thinks!" Boromir grumbled, meaning, 'I don't want to think about this or talk about it.'
"I am sure your brother would appreciate hearing that from you. And I am sure he would have something to say about your claim that I care for him more than I do you."
He made a small strangled sound. "But 'tis the plain, sensible truth! How could it be otherwise? He needed you and you were always there. He is like a son to you."
"But you are not?"
"W-Well . . . I am, but . . . I'm not the same kind of son to you as Faramir is."
"Indeed? How so?"
He released a small huff of annoyance. "As I said, you've formed a closer bond with him. You've been at his side since you left me." He paused, then quickly added, "I-I mean, since you left Minas Tirith."
I grinned at his crucial slip. Good. The more his irritation grew the closer we came to his darkness.
"True," I said. "Faramir and I have been together for many years. But how does it follow that I care less for you simply because I have been with you less?"
He had to think about that for a moment. "I . . . I don't . . .." He squirmed a bit, then muttered in a sulky tone, "I don't know. It just does." In other words, 'I don't want to think about this, either.'
"And what did you mean by, '. . . you left me?'"
Again he went very still. "W-What?"
"You said, 'You have been at his side since you left me.' What did you mean by that?"
"I didn't say--"
"What did you mean, little boy?"
Boromir growled low in his throat, his tight fists clenching and twisting the beleaguered coverlet. He was growing nicely exasperated now, no longer resigned and passive, his inner battle growing. His long legs stretched and tensed. He even clenched his bottom. The harder it became to close himself off and hide his darkness the harder he fought to do so. Ever the warrior, my boy.
Of course he didn't want to admit to saying that I had left him. That was far more meaningful than saying that I had simply left the city. That one word made a profound difference. 'You left me' revealed how hurt he had been by it. But, ever fair-minded, Boromir knew such thinking was unjust as I had been under orders. So now my stubborn lad scrambled for an answer.
"I . . . I misspoke myself," he grumbled.
"Aye. After I said that I corrected myself and said--"
"You said, 'I mean, since you left Minas Tirith.' Aye, thank you for reminding me, little tyrant. Now, what did you mean by, '. . . you left me?'"
He growled some more, then said, "I didn't . . . I mean, I--AH!" He flinched at my first truly hard spank.
"Tell me what you meant," I quietly ordered, resting my hand on his backside.
"I already told you," he grumbled. "I-I misspo--AH!" Two hard swats this time.
"What did you mean?"
Were he a bowstring he would have snapped. He gasped and trembled and snarled and again tensed his bottom.
"The spanks feel bigger and worser when I tense," Faramir had once murmured whilst languishing on my lap in a post-spanking little boy stupor. "But sometimes I can't help it. My bottom goes tight all by itself and then I feel the bigger worser spanks and I'm soooo mad at my bottom."
I burst into a chuckle. "I dare say."
"I dunno why a tense bottom hurts so much bigger. Do you, Dammod?"
"Nay, little bairn. I cannot help you with that, other than to suggest you try to relax."
"Relax? Whilst you're spanking me?"
Faramir had sniffed and murmured, "No offense, Dammod, but sometimes you're of no help."
"Let us try this once more," I said, and I accompanied every next word with a hard swat. "What. Did. You. Mean?"
"AHHHH!" Boromir cried out. "What do you think I meant?"
I again rested my hand on his slightly warm backside and said, "I think you meant that I deserted you, abandoning you to a bleak future without comfort or solace. I think you felt forlorn and forsaken, and with good reason. I think you were mourning the loss of the attention you so deserved."
Boromir froze, panting in short, shallow huffs. "What?" he gasped.
I reached down, picked up his stiff body and smoothly turned my boy over to face me, keeping him lying down and braced up on my arm. He stared at me, thunderstruck and still. I smoothed the tangled locks from his eyes and said, "You are right, little boy. I did leave you that day. I left you as Thorongil once left you, did I not?"
He blinked, the shadow of an old wound entering his suddenly vulnerable gaze. "Thorongil wasn't ordered to leave," he mumbled. "He left because he wanted to."
"He left because he had to. There is a difference. He left because it was the best thing he could do for you. Denethor's jealousy had become too great. It would have torn you in two directions. Thorongil left to protect you, sweetling. He would have preferred to stay."
Boromir thought on that for a moment, then said, "You had no choice, though, Damrod. You were ordered to go."
"Aye, and I had to obey the Steward's orders. I had to leave you. But, what of that, sweetling? You were, nonetheless, hurt by it."
A glassy sheen spread over his eyes, my valiant boy struggling to control his increasingly raw emotions. "Fara-mir needed you."
"And of course you were glad of Faramir's fate. You are a loving and generous big brother who wants only what is best for your little brother, so it eased your mind to know that Faramir was safe in my care, free from your father's malice. But, Boromir, you were in pain as well. You also longed for my care. You dreaded having it ripped from you. There was nothing wrong with that, little boy. You were neither envious nor unsuitable nor bad to wish for what Faramir had. You felt left behind, alone and uncomforted during your darkest of times. I was glad to have one of my boys with me. But I was bitterly saddened to leave you, for you needed me, too. So even though I had no choice but to obey my orders, I am sorry for the pain you suffered, little one."
Boromir stared at me, then his face tightened and tears filled his eyes and I quickly gathered him up, holding him close, feeling his strong body tense and tremble. His arms went round my shoulders and he held on tightly, as though afraid to let go, and he buried his face against me, and my boy began to softly weep.
"First Thorongil left you, then Faramir and I did the same," I murmured, repeating what he needed to hear again, what he had been longing to hear. "Those you loved most were torn from you, and you were powerless to change that. It mattered not that Faramir and I were under orders from Denethor. It still hurt. You were alone. How could you help but feel abandoned?"
I held him close, listening to the low, strangled sounds coming from the depths of him. All this time he had lived with this hidden wound festering inside him. Aye, my boys were masters at concealing their deepest hurts from others, and from themselves. Boromir could not be held accountable for keeping secrets from me, for until now he wasn't aware this poison existed.
"I-I thought you left me all the way behind," I suddenly heard him murmur.
"'All the way behind?'"
He nodded. "I thought . . .."
I waited, then said, "Go on, sweetling."
Boromir had slowed his crying, but he yet seemed too overcome to continue. I drew him back to look at him. He swept his palms over his wet cheeks, casting me quick, shy glances. My poor lad, to be this shaken before we had even begun to discuss today's adventure. By the time I had finished with him Boromir was going to be as exhausted as his brother now was.
"'Tis alright, little boy," I said, giving him a quiet grin. "What did you think?"
"I thought . . . it had been such a long time since you last spanked me, and I thought . . . because of the way you were . . . because of that light spanking, I thought you had left me behind . . . in your heart." Then he quickly added, "But that's alright. It's alright that you care more about Faramir now. I'm glad you do."
I gazed down at him for a long moment, then said, "Never presume to know what I am feeling, my lad. I have had quite enough of that for one day."
He looked startled. "But--"
"Did I just hear you tell me that I care more for your brother than I do for you, and that you are glad of it?"
Clearly taken aback, he said, "W-Well . . . aye, sir."
"Boromir," I said, softening my gaze. "During your separation from Faramir, did he ever leave your heart?"
He frowned. "No, sir."
"Did I leave your heart?"
He shook his head.
"Answer me, little boy."
"Then do you believe, in the deepest place of your own heart, that you could ever leave mine?"
He watched me, his eyes filling again.
"Boromir. Answer me."
"N-No, sir. But, the way you were spanking me . . . it-it seemed as though . . . I didn't know why--"
"So you presumed the worst. You thought I no longer cared for you, that you weren't worth my efforts." And he had done exactly what I wanted him to do. He moved from his baffling anger to the vicious darkness tormenting him, and from that place of vulnerable realization I could help him.
"But, I-I didn't know . . . I still don't understand why you were s-spanking me like tha--"
"My reasons are my own, little boy," I said firmly. "I use what methods I feel will benefit you the most. You do not need to understand my choices, nor is it your place to question me. Is that understood?"
Boromir blushed, and winced a bit, but he faced me bravely and said, "Aye, sir. S-Sorry. I-I . . . forgot."
"I know," I softly said. "Shh, 'tis alright. It has been a long time since you were over my knee. You have clearly forgotten a few things. But, know this, sweetling, no matter how time and distance separated us, you never left my heart. You have ever deserved my attention, and I have longed to give it to you, for you are as worthy as your brother is, Boromir, and you always have been. Do you understand?"
A few tears slid down his cheeks, then Boromir's face crumpled again and I drew him close once more, feeling him tremble and listening to him weep, and when his crying slowed I again drew him back to look at him. "Boromir. Do you understand?" I asked again.
He nodded. "Aye, sir," he replied.
"Good," I said. "Then come."
I swiftly turned him back over my knee, trapping his legs between mine and pulling him close, his bottom well situated over my left knee. He gasped at the sudden move. "Shhh," I said, rubbing his back. "I want you to be comfortable. You are going to be here for a while."
My boy lowered his face to the mangled coverlet, squeezed it again in his fists and shuddered. I watched him lying there, trembling and ready. How good his solid weight felt over my knee and how I loved seeing him there. This had been a wrenching journey thus far for my lad, but just as he had put his head down and attacked me earlier he had again put his head down and courageously endured. I could not have been more proud of him.
"Tell me, little boy, do I care for your brother more than I care for you?" I asked, as this truth needed repeated often.
"N-No, sir," he quickly replied.
"And was it alright for you to feel hurt when Faramir and I left you?"
"Aye, sir. W-Was alright."
"Even though we had no choice in the matter? Even though we were under orders from Denethor?"
"Uh-huh. Because it still hurt. So it was alright."
"Very good, sweetling," I said, patting his bottom. "We understand each other."
"So, returning to today's events, tell me little tyrant, given your behavior in Osgiliath, what do you deserve?"
Boromir's whole body tensed and he writhed a bit, but he courageously said, "I . . . I deserve to be s-spanked. Really spanked. Like my b-brother was. That kind of big s-spanked."
I raised my hand over his bottom. "I couldn't agree more."
Merciful Middle Earth! If ever there was a perfect time to let fly Faramir's elvish curse, this was it. I held my tongue, though. I was already facing one soaping thanks to that curse. I'm sure Damrod would have gladly added another.
But, ohhhhhhhh! I longed to yell something! I was too breathless to make a sound. I instantly recalled what my last spanking from Damrod felt like. How could I have forgotten? Aragorn had his method of spanking, direct, straightforward and intensely thorough. Legolas had his elvish manner, something I'd noticed the first time he'd spanked me, something about the way his hand and his long fingers connected with my bottom. Both of them could reduce me to tears with humiliating swiftness.
Damrod, however, left me too stunned to even cry out. It seemed he intended to make up for twenty-two years of lost time in those first few minutes. I couldn't help tensing. Every muscle went rigid. I curled my arm down around Damrod's leg and held on, struggling to suck in a full breath. And I suddenly realized that it had been a while since I'd been disciplined. By anyone. Of all the unfortunate times for my backside to be out of spanking condition!
Surely this was simply Damrod's version of those dreadfully vigorous 'pay close attention, little boy' opening swats I'd experienced all too often from Legolas and Aragorn. Please let that be the case! Please let Damrod ease off soon! He spanked and spanked, the same kind of hot, heavy swats he'd given Faramir. It was bad enough watching that. Feeling it was unimaginable. I must have taken leave of my senses in longing for a sincere effort from our lieutenant.
But, ohhh, how I had indeed longed for Damrod's full, devoted attention, the feel of those hot, heavy swats, his hard, muscled thigh beneath my stomach and his strong arm draped over my back, holding me firmly in place. And when my mind cleared enough to form thought I heard again what he had just said:
"But, know this, sweetling, no matter how time and distance separated us, you never left my heart. You have ever deserved my attention, and I have longed to give it to you, for you are as worthy as your brother is, Boromir, and you always have been. Do you understand?"
Until that moment I hadn't understood, or even known where my mind had wandered. I hadn't known about the deep hurt that lay inside me. I had thought only Faramir had harbored a big hurt that needed healing.
So Damrod's words were miraculous. They coursed through me, packing a wallop as potent as his stinging spanks, and between the two I could do naught but bury my face on my arm and begin to cry. Astonishing, the power behind what Damrod had done. He had, with seeming ease, reached inside me, found a tormenting inner darkness I hadn't even known existed, and crushed it to nothingness.
Aragorn and Legolas had done the same many times. They would notice something disturbing in my behavior and soon I'd find myself over either a Ranger or an elf's lap, my backside in flames whilst I learned what vile secret had been eating at me. The first time Legolas spanked me, early in the Quest, he had described with shocking accuracy what my life alone with Denethor had been like:
" . . . you learned long ago that, in order to survive the torment visited upon you, you needed to close it away, lest it swarm over you and devour you. So you did, and there it lived, inside you, like a seething fell beast waiting to be seen when you were naughty and purged when you were disciplined and forgiven.
“But no absolution came to relieve you of that fell beast, did it, little one? No forgiveness. No spanking to allow you release. It may seem that only Faramir suffered your father's malice, but you bore much of it as well. When you needed the loving attention of a forgiving soul, attention deserved from one who understood the anguish of unattended guilt, you were closed off, denied the solace of absolution. You were made to bear the guilt alone and in silence."
"Aragorn and Legolas attended to you well on the Quest, little boy," Damrod suddenly said, breaking into my thoughts with eerie insight. "They saw the poison Denethor planted inside your mind. I vow you kept them very busy, given all the darkness your father bequeathed you."
I hoped he didn't expect me to respond. I was nowhere near able to form words.
"Of course, they would have seen what you could not," Damrod went on. "You are a forthright boy, Boromir. You cannot tell a convincing lie or hide your feelings, but you keep your deepest hurts well buried deep within. I vow Aragorn and Legolas became skilled at uncovering the vicious whisperings Denethor left smoldering within you."
Oh, indeed they did. I grated out a quiet, "Aye, sir." And to my shuddering relief Damrod settled down into a steady, less intense spanking mode. It was still too vigorous in my opinion.
"But, aside from your habit of allowing that darkness to get the upper hand, you truly are a good boy, Boromir," he said. "You are not naughty simply to be naughty."
I gasped. Wretched word!
"Ah," Damrod said, a grin in his voice. "Still object to the word 'naughty,' do you?"
I nodded. "Aye, s-sir!"
"It suitably describes what you and your brother did today, though. You were both very naughty."
Much as I longed to disagree with him based on that word alone, I was in a bad position to do so. Besides, he was right. Without question, today Faramir and I had been the wretched 'n' word. "Aye, s-sir!"
"Do you remember what Aragorn said about the sewers?"
Of course I did. He had been talking to Damrod and me the night before they left for Ithilien:
"I can scarce think why anything would remain in those sewers. Sam said that after leaving Faramir he and Frodo traveled through them as quickly as they could. They even kept up with Gollum. Anything escaping the battle through those channels would have likely kept going all the way through to the forest and freedom. But we shall needs be certain. A detachment should be sent in to explore."
"I trust access to the sewers is forbidden then, my lord?"
"Aye. I doubt any wouldst choose to go in there. But I agree, Damrod. This matter can wait until we return as there seems to be no real danger."
"Boromir!" he barked, swatting down hard.
"AHHH!" I cried, my head jerking up.
"What did Aragorn say about the sewers?"
"H-He said no."
"You asked if the sewers were forbidden and, and he said they w-were."
Damrod was silent for a moment, then he said, "Ah. I see. So, to the question, was anyone permitted to approach the sewers, Aragorn said that, 'no, they were not allowed to do so.' Is that it?"
I reckon my answer had been somewhat muddled, but I defied Sauron himself to be in my position and reply with any kind of clarity. "Aye, Dammod. Not al-lowed."
"Indeed. I agree. But you decided that his order did not pertain to the Steward of Gondor?"
That was a singularly nasty question. But of course he would ask it. He spoke to me with quiet patience whilst I sputtered out my answers on short ragged breaths. How I despised these give-and-take exchanges! Damrod, I now recalled, excelled at them. I'd seen him do this same thing to Faramir earlier.
"Why do you make me answer questions when you're spanking me, Dammod?" I once asked him when I was a lad of eleven and fresh from a trip over his knee.
"It is how I help you see certain truths. And it helps me know how much, or how little, you understand about your actions."
"Well . . . I don't like it."
"That is unfortunate for you, little tyrant."
"AHHH! Aye, s-sir!"
"Answer me. Did you, as Steward, countermand your superior officer?"
Why was he asking me this? He already knew what I'd done. He'd talked it over with Faramir during my little brother's spanking. I was right here, listening. So what did Damrod want? My own confession? Well, I'd had enough of his questions!
"Ara-gorn said that there was no danger!" I spat out rather nastily. Damrod responded with several hard swats that made me squirm and cry out.
"Mind your tone, little tyrant. And your temper."
When I finished grimacing I muttered, "S-Sorry, sir." And I truly was. Temper was not my friend at the moment.
"You're recalling only what you choose to recall," Damrod said. "Did Aragorn say there was no danger? Think back. What did he say?"
I lowered my head and wiped my wet face on the coverlet, struggling to think through the bite of each new, hot spank on my seriously stinging bottom. And then I heard Aragorn's voice: " . . . But I agree, Damrod. This matter can wait until we return as there seems to be no real danger."
I groaned. "He said 'there seems to be no real danger.'"
"Is 'seems to be no real danger' the same thing as 'no danger?'"
"I agree. So, returning to my question, did you countermand your future king's orders?"
Alright. He did want a confession. "Aye, s-sir."
"And why did you do such a naughty thing?"
"You know why!" I snapped again, sick of that 'n' word. "You already told me why--AHHHH!"
"I wish to hear you tell me why," he said, delivering a few mighty hard whacks. "Without the insolence, if you please."
I stomped on my renegade temper. I was doing my utmost to keep up with Damrod and to think clearly and to answer him and surely didn't want more of those extra-strong spanks. My backside was already blazing enough. "I was trying to help Fara-mir. He was s-sad about being left behind, and I want-ted to do something exciting."
"And the sewers looked exciting to you?"
I thought about that. "I . . . well, n-nooo, but I just . . . it was something to do."
"Something to distract Faramir from his anger and disappointment," Damrod said. "He was upset, and you wanted to cheer him."
"I-I thought it would be a safe adventure for him . . . for us."
"And instead you found yourselves trapped by some trespassing orcs."
"Aye! Stupid, stupid orcs!" I cried, instantly embarrassed to have blurted such words. Oh, no. I was slipping into that boyish place. Damrod kept spanking steadily as though fully expecting my outburst.
"Stupid orcs indeed," he said. "Ruining your adventure with their presence. Endangering your little brother."
I listened to his quiet, reasonable tone and although I longed to feel comforted by it, I couldn't. "N-No, Dammod," I muttered through fresh tears. "I-I endangered my b-brother. Not the s-stupid orcs."
Damrod paused and rubbed my bottom, then he rearranged me, swiftly picking up my legs and laying me over his lap. "Shhh," he said, continuing to spank me. "You did not intend for that to happen, Boromir."
The last thing I wanted from him now was understanding. "No matter!" I cried, writhing under his endless swats. "I should never have d-done it."
"You had a good reason for what you did."
"Not good enough!" I snarled, writhing now and giving a few kicks, always useless, desperate attempts to escape the next hot spank.
"I am not speaking of the reason you just gave me," Damrod said, his voice suddenly soft. "I am speaking of the real reason behind your actions, little boy."
He stopped spanking and began rubbing my backside, and although it gave me a moment to slow my gasping and crying out, tears kept rolling down my cheeks. "What -What real reason?"
"Boromir, you knew there was a rift that needed to be healed between Faramir and myself, and so you chose this time to disobey Aragorn's orders and take your brother on a bit of an adventure. Aragorn and Legolas were away. You knew that, when you were found out, and you most certainly would have been found out, I was the only one here to discipline the two of you."
I opened my sore eyes, blinked and stared off. My little brother lay sleeping beside me. He looked content, perfectly, serenely content. He lay there, his bottom on fire, sleeping quietly and looking perfectly, serenely content. He and Damrod no longer had a painful gulf festering between them. He was once again at peace with his foster father, our foster father. And Damrod was trying to tell me that I had somehow planned for things to happen that way, that I had set this up. He was rubbing my back slowly, patiently, waiting for me to think this over.
"No," I breathed. "No, I-I couldn't have --"
"Aye," Damrod softly said, patting my backside. "You did. Oh, you were unaware of your actions on the surface. You thought you were simply trying to please your brother. But deep inside you knew full well what you were doing.
"We speak of Faramir and his Sight, but you have a Gift as well, little boy. There is a place within you that guides you, Boromir, when you are leading your men through a difficult battle and know what to do and what orders to give your commanders, when you spank your little brother, easing his pain with your words and your compassion, when you helped Aragorn during the Quest, as he told me you so often did, from reading each other's movements during a battle to disciplining and comforting the little ones when they needed it; all that you do by instinct is guided from that place within. Today you knew what Faramir needed, what he and I both needed, so you formulated a strategy. You weighed the consequences of your actions against the benefits to Faramir and me, and you made a decision based on love. That was the real reason behind your actions today. Love."
I sucked a sharp breath and lay there, stunned and trembling, no longer crying. I had done all that? Without knowing it? Was that possible? Damrod seemed to think it was, so it must be true. But how . . . how did I . . .?
"I led him into a spanking today?" I felt a shudder course through me. "Ohhhhh."
Damrod grabbed me up and turned me to face him. "Aye, little boy. A spanking your brother very much needed. A spanking I alone needed to give him. And you knew that. Deep within, you knew it. You led him into a place of healing, and you led yourself there as well. So recognize what you did for what it is, for the cleverness of it. I do. I vow your little brother does, too. And if you cannot see what this spanking has done to heal the wound inside you then we need to go back over that lesson again."
"Nooooo!" I cried. "I-I do see it. I do. I . . . I just cannot--"
"Believe how clever you are?" He shook his head. "Ever willing to see Faramir's brilliance yet unable to see your own." I felt my face begin to burn, making Damrod's grin flash for a quick moment, then just as quickly fade. "You did all three of us a good turn today, sweetling. And when I have finished with you, I want you to think on that more."
I felt my eyes widen. "Are you not yet--?"
"Finished?" Damrod raised a brow and flipped me over again before I could draw another breath. "Lest you forget, we yet have another matter to attend to. Disobeying your commanding officer's orders, little tyrant."
I grasped the damp coverlet in my fists, sensing what Gwinthorian and Devon had so aptly named 'certain doom,' and sputtered, "But, but, but--"
"Aye, your intent was good, even if you didn't know it. That does not, however, negate the fact that you did, in fact, misbehave today. You countermanded your commanding officer's orders not out of need or because there was danger. You did it in order to, as far as you knew, satisfy a desire, namely, to please Faramir. Is that not so?"
And Damrod delivered a wallop that made me near jolt off his lap. "AHHH! Yesssirrr!" I cried, gasping, hot dread firing along my limbs. This did not look good. I had a sudden vision of my little brother during Damrod's most wholehearted spanking efforts and I had the awful sense that I was about to look exactly the same way and feel what my brother felt. I buried my face against my arm, curled my hand around Damrod's leg once more and braced myself.
"Indeed you did, little boy. So let us be done with it." And he raised my bottom up, exposing that tender undercurve.
Do not tense, do not tense. "Y-Yessssirr," I muttered, tensing.
During the height of a spanking my boys sounded very much alike, especially when this sensitive curve under the bottom was spanked. I focused on that area for awhile, then I tipped Boromir back down and returned to his backside, spanking him with steady, solid swats. I paid attention to the reddening condition of his bottom, yet I wished to impress upon him what I thought about his casual attitude towards what was, in effect, outright insubordination. He knew what he'd done. He'd known it when he was doing it. But he told himself that he was the Steward of Gondor and had every right to do as he pleased. Time to relearn the lesson I had taught him after his first little boy insurrection all those years ago at the training arena.
Had this matter involved anyone other than his little brother I knew Boromir would have been much more judicious in choosing to countermand a standing order from Aragorn. But he had, in fact, done so, and it needed to be addressed despite the good that had come of it ere my conscientious lad could forgive himself the actual deed.
Since joining the Quest, reuniting with Aragorn and becoming an elf's little brother Boromir had been frequently turned over the laps of his two most attentive warriors, but my boy had been too long absent from mine. I had missed this closeness with him. Given the ordeal he had endured since leaving Gondor, and considering our anguish in thinking he was lost to us, I relished being once more able to give him the attention he so deserved.
There was nothing further to say, so I simply spanked Boromir in silence for awhile, allowing him to cry and yell and squirm and feel all he needed to feel, take all he needed to take from me. Far too soon Boromir's bottom became a shiny dark red and I had to ease off. By now he had collapsed into a weak, sobbing heap, looking very much like his brother had earlier.
"Have I made my point about needlessly countermanding orders, little boy?" I quietly asked him, resting my hand on his hot backside.
"Yesssirrr! P-Point . . . made p-point."
"And do I need to address the remark you made ere we began, when you gave me an order and told me to obey you?"
He groaned and shuddered. "N-No, sirrrr."
"Just a bit of inappropriate cheek was it?"
"Aye, s-sirr," he sniffled. "Aye, Dammod. Was inappro . . . ina . . . n-naughty cheek."
I grinned at him with complete fondness. "Indeed, little tyrant. So have you something to say to me regarding all this naughtiness today?"
"Sor-ry, Dammod!" he cried. "Soo, sooo sor-rryyyy for ever-ever- thing!"
"I know, sweetling," I said, beginning to rub his back. "Shhhh. Hush now. Shhh. All over, little boy. All is forgiven." Although seeming to be exhausted with tears, Boromir yet cried some more, forgiveness having such an overwhelmingly powerful effect.
Had I tried to lift him into my arms at that moment he would have surely struggled to remain where he was. But I had no intention of moving him. I kept him there, safe over my knee, feeling the weight of his strong body draped across my lap, rubbing his back and resting my hot palm on his equally hot, red bottom, and I watched him, drinking in the sight of him. My boy. He had endured so much, suffered through so much, and yet, like his brother, Boromir had borne each adversity and remained the extraordinary man he was. Reaching over, I swept the wild locks from his face listening to his husky weeping grow softer, sensing his inner stillness and contentment, and the purity of the moment was almost too perfect and enormous to take in. Having him with me again filled an empty place that had ached within me for what seemed like an age. Both my boys were here, with me, at peace, settled by my hand. I was at peace now, too, and I smiled softly to myself and kept Boromir over my lap where he belonged.
When his weeping had all but ended save the occasional slight tremor, I gathered him up and held him. My poor lad had evidently lost every bone in his body. But his arms came around me and he lay his head on my shoulder and I smiled to myself, and held him close, listening to his steady breathing and his slight endearing hiccups.
"Shhhh," I murmured. "Shhhh. All's well now." I let him rest there, then I softly said, "Boromir, look at me." He roused himself slowly, watching me as I lowered him in my arms. The lad was a sight, as glassy eyed and weary-looking as Faramir had been. He gazed up at me with a vague, sated look.
"Listen to me, little boy," I said. "Today's naughtiness is over and done with. What is left for you to remember is the good you have done this day, for all of us. Your clever little brother will know it, and likely even talk to you of it, forthright lad that he is. But you must know of it, sweetling. Take it inside yourself. With your insight and your love you have eased three hearts this day, and I am proud of you my boy."
And that, truly, was too much for him to bear. Seeing Boromir start to crumple again I quickly gathered him up that he could hold on to me and bury his face against my neck and give himself over to his tears. I murmured to him and rocked him and rubbed his back, feeling him wrestle with my praise and grieving over the fact that it was so hard for the sons of Denethor to hear good things about themselves. They stood ever ready to assume responsibility and blame for any kind of mishap, but they had true difficulty accepting approval. Boromir once stood atop the highest building in Osgiliath after the savage battle, raising the flag of Gondor while the soldiers below roared his name, and I watched him, seeing his slight hitching hesitation, his barely glimpsed uncertainty in the face of such fierce loyalty and his brave attempt to appear the fearless, bold captain they needed him to be. It saddened me as it had ever saddened me that my boys struggled in this way. Denethor's legacy was deeply ingrained.
So now Boromir wept quietly against my shoulder, struggling to believe all I had told him about his cleverness and the good he had done this day. I held him until he was utterly spent, and when he had but a few soft shudders left I murmured, "Would you like to lie here beside Faramir and rest for a while, sweetling?"
I needn't have bothered asking. Boromir nodded against my neck and I carefully lifted him, slid out from beneath his body and stretched him out on his stomach next to Faramir, who had not stirred since I laid him there earlier. Boromir gazed at his little brother for a long moment, reaching over to stroke Faramir's cheek with the backs of his curled fingers, then he closed his eyes and was instantly still. I looked down at them, Captain Faramir and the Steward of Gondor, my two red-bottomed boys, asleep side by side. I smiled, waves of pure pleasure coursing through me, then I found some spare bedding in an airing chest and threw a light sheet over the two of them. Neither lad moved.
I crossed to the fireplace, put another log in the flames, dug my pipe and pouch from my pocket and sat down on the chair where Boromir had been perched. Stretching my legs out straight, I crossed my ankles, then I packed my pipe, eased back and watched over my sleeping boys.
He was still writing. I shifted on my uncomfortably hard chair, the very chair I'd near torn the arms off of yesterday. Cursed hard oak. I frowned over at my little brother. Faramir sat across the table from me, scribbling away, his face schooled in concentration, his attention firmly focused on the page before him. He'd been scribbling non-stop since Damrod left the room nearly an hour ago. He reached over yet again to dip his quill in the inkwell and I snatched up the bottle and held it away from him. Faramir looked up at me, startled.
"Just what the devil are you finding to write about?" I demanded.
He looked at me in mild surprise, then a little glitter sparkled in his eyes. "Having trouble are we, big brother?"
"How many pages have you written thus far?" I asked, trying to remain civil.
He shrugged. "Dunno."
Faramir sighed and counted up his scrawled upon sheets. "Seven," he said.
"WHAT?" I cried. "Seven?!"
"Seven," he replied with perfect innocence. He held up the page he was working on. "And a quarter."
"You're nearly finished!"
"Well, I've got two and three quarter pages left to go," he said, as if that number meant something. "And you?"
I shifted my aching backside and glared at him. "Less than seven."
"Boromir," he said in a kindly tone. "How many?"
I put the inkwell down and glanced angrily at my meager efforts. "Half a page," I muttered. Hearing nothing from him I looked up and found him not struggling to suppress a laugh as I'd expected, but simply watching me, his eyes soft with compassion. I'd have preferred the laugh.
"It's this damnable title," I griped.
"Reasons Why Exploring Uncharted Sewers Is--"
"--a Dangerous Enterprise and Why I Shall Never Again Attempt Such an Asinine Deed! Yes!" I snarled.
He winced a grin. "You're right. Damnable title."
I don't know why I was growling at him. Faramir wasn't to blame for my mind shutting down. I looked at my empty pages in despair, wondering how much longer we had before Damrod came striding through the door asking to see our results.
"May I?" Faramir asked, reaching for my half page of scribbling.
I 'tsked' and shoved it towards him. "Be my guest."
Faramir stood and strolled closer to the fireplace, mindlessly rubbing his bottom whilst reading and frowning down at my paper. I felt my face grow hot.
"Well," he said, looking up at me. Then he balled up my page and tossed it in the flames.
"Hey!" I yelled, leaping up. The page was beyond hope, gobbled up by the fire. I spun to face my brother. Faramir looked at me with a calm and unrepentant air. "Why did you do that?" I barked.
"Because it was rubbish," he sweetly replied. "And that's what Damrod would've done with it."
"You don't know that."
"Yes, I do. And so do you."
I fumed for a moment, then flopped back down in my chair, threw my quill with childish bad grace and snarled, "Aye, it was rubbish."
"How did you write the first one? Reasons Why Climbing The Tower of Ecthelion Is--"
"--a Dangerous Enterprise and Why I Shall Never Again Attempt Such an Asinine Deed. I know!"
"How did you write it?" he asked again.
"Faramir." I leveled a look at him. "I cannot remember. That was over twenty years ago."
"Twenty-two, actually," he said, crawling under the bed to retrieve my quill.
I groaned and banged my forehead down on the table.
"Boromir, for mercy's sake, pull yourself together." Faramir pushed on my shoulder, sitting me up. "Here," he said, handing me my quill.
"Thank you," I grumbled, snatching the cursed thing from him and dropping it on the table. "Much good it'll do me. And don't bother offering to help. You know what Damrod said."
"That he would know if we'd helped each other," Faramir said. "And he would."
"Aye," I said, grimacing. "He would."
Faramir brightened slightly and said, "He did offer us a way out of writing the treatise."
"You can exchange writing the treatise for another spanking tomorrow if you so choose," our lieutenant had generously offered after hearing us groan over this everlastingly tedious writing assignment.
"What kind of an offer is that?" I'd exclaimed.
"Your choice, little boy."
Faramir gave him a searching look. "Damrod, can't you at least give us a different title?"
Damrod headed for the door. "I do not argue with success, little bairn. I'll have a table brought in for you to share. Ten pages. Unless there are any takers on another spanking." He paused and lifted a brow.
Faramir and I declined his kind offer.
I now looked at my brother and said, "Oh, indeed! Some option that was."
"Boromir, you can do this. You don't lack the skill. You lack focus."
I scowled up at him. "That doesn't help."
Faramir gave me his quiet, patient look and said, "If I might make a suggestion?"
His eyes glittering again, he began slowly wandering a short path, saying, "Alright. Let's change the focus. Let's say, ohhh, let us say that Gwinthorian, Devon and I decided to have a little adventure, so we stole away to explore the sewers of Osgiliath where we found an orc nest, and we were nearly caught by said orcs and were forced to hide in a side tunnel where we were trapped until you figured out what we'd done and came to rescue us."
Everything shifted in my head. My blood raced, a jolt of adrenalin coursing through me. Faramir watched me, grinned and went on.
"So, imagine you've now rescued us, and whilst waiting for Garrick and Halbarad to come retrieve their two trouble-making Rangers you have a chance to sit the three of us down and lecture us on Reasons Why Exploring Uncharted Sewers Is a Dangerous Enterprise and Why We Should Never Again Attempt Such an Asinine Deed." He paused to grin at me again. "Well? What would you say to us?"
I stared into Faramir's calm gaze. Then I picked up my quill, dipped it, and started writing. I doubted ten pages was going to be enough.
Foster Father of the Heart