And now, picking up where we left off, Boromir and Faramir were in the midst of being rescued --
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.
This story belongs to my precious Kat, a birthday present for a dear friend, who also beta’d her own pressie.
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 - part 6
My brother glared at me for another moment, then he turned and charged down the tunnel into the fray. In less than a minute he’d made himself very clear. I was to Stay. Put. I rubbed my backside, watching Boromir swing his immense sword with lethal efficiency and poetic grace, cutting down one orc after another. Breathtaking, the sight of my magnificent brother in action!
I watched, admiring his skill. Then I drew my sword and charged down the tunnel into the fray with him.
“Do you think he can do it? Spank us one right after the other?”
“Did he say that he intends to do just that when he returns?”
Faramir winced and gave a nod.
“And have you ever known Damrod to lie?”
“Then I reckon he can. In fact, little brother, I’m certain of it, and I vow you are too.”
Heaving a sigh, Faramir mumbled, “Given the degree of effort he puts into it you’d think the man would tire after one victim.”
“Given the degree of his fury I think we’ll be lucky to get only one spanking a piece.” I paused to lift a brow at him. “Mayhap someone told him about the ‘every other night for a week’ strategy, Aragorn perhaps, or Legolas. Maybe even Halbarad.”
“Do you think . . . ?”
I shrugged. “'Tis possible. Aragorn said that Halbarad was the first to introduce the practice and he’s become friends with Damrod.”
“Even if Damrod hasn’t learned of it yet, they could decide to enlighten him when they return. Knowing Aragorn and Legolas, they might even offer to share in the – ” I heard my words and paused, instantly imagining a reunion I didn’t care to imagine.
“– share in the . . . spanking?”
“I’d sooner not envision that, thank you, Boromir.”
“Nor would I, little brother.” I glanced at him.
Fidgeting in the chair across from me, all clean and glowing after his bath, Faramir looked like a little boy, the firelight warming his skin and bouncing off his bright locks. Fresh shirt and breeches, no more black orc blood-splattered clothes and nary a scratch on him, the infuriating brat. He’d flouted my orders to stay put, and when the battle was over he had emerged, thank the mercies, completely unscathed. And, in true Faramir fashion, he’d even emerged a hero.
Racing straight into the battle just moments after I had ordered him to stay behind, my infuriating brat of a brother burst from the tunnel, sword slashing, battering back two orcs who had young Valerian down and were moving in for the kill. I’d spun, seen the boy’s plight and was racing his way when I heard Bram’s roar and saw him nearly at Val’s side; but Faramir was already between the orcs and the boy, running the first orc through, hurling him off his sword and then running the second orc through just as Bram reached Valerian and hoisted him to his feet.
His stalwart face tight with emotion, Bram clapped a hand on Faramir’s shoulder, shoved Val behind him and they turned back to the battle, the little one staying well in Bram’s shadow. Faramir whirled, saw me, and with unashamed joy he flashed me one of those enormous smiles he used to give me when we would be fighting alongside each other, the immortal sons of Gondor, spurring each other on. I wrestled with my anger. But Faramir’s eyes glittered and danced and he looked beautiful and delighted and just like his old self. So I had to smile back. Infuriating bratling! I gave him a nod and a wink and we returned to the fight.
It was brief. The orcs were seriously outnumbered. With his typical efficiency Damrod had swiftly mustered what looked like at least a hundred warriors, then stealthily hurried them through the sewers and up to the very edge of the orc nest, those odd noise-deadening air currents working to Damrod’s advantage. The orcs, being their thick orcish selves, had posted no watch. So Damrod’s bellowing soldiers were well into the orc nest when Faramir and I scrambled around the corner.
I had to join that fight! Had to! But – ! Faramir! Nooo!
Absurd of me to expect of my brother what I could never have done myself. Faramir had to join in, too. He had to follow me. And I had to permit that. What choice did I have? And the instant he’d appeared he saved Valerian’s life. So typical of my little brother.
The two of us were instantly well into the fight, as many of the orcs, frantic to escape, began charging the tunnel where Faramir and I had been hiding. We were the only two blocking that opening and we could have been quickly overwhelmed, but Faramir’s six Rangers, including a ferocious-looking Damrod, now mysteriously formed around us.
The orcs, desperate and hunted on so many fronts that they’d been forced to trespass in this risky place, were now crazed. Which was perfect. Faramir and I felt a bit crazed, too. Sitting in the dark, trapped, helpless and forced to wait for a rescue had been harrowing, so hacking into the creatures responsible for that was highly satisfying.
And then it was over. Quite suddenly it seemed. I glanced around. Every orc lay slain, but not a soldier had fallen. Astonishing. So incredibly fortunate. Had a single man been killed or maimed whilst rescuing us from this foolishness . . . well, no one had, thank the Valar. Even the wounds were small and superficial, the kinds of battle tokens warriors enjoyed bragging about and comparing. I shuddered with relief, unable to keep from imagining what could have happened.
But then I turned, and there was Faramir, and we looked at each other, and we couldn’t help it – we broke into instant beaming smiles, and then burst out laughing. He was stepping around the carcasses towards me, and I held out my arms and grabbed him up in a fierce embrace, and we held on tight, still laughing, both of us splattered with black ooze and neither of us caring. I was so proud of him I could scarce draw breath!
I pulled him back and kissed his forehead and cried, “Well done, little brother! Well done!”
“You, too, big brother!” Faramir beamed at me with that familiar gaze of adoration.
We stood staring at each other, savoring our thankfulness. Rescued! We were rescued! Undamaged! And for that precious instant all was perfection. Separating then, we glanced around. The soldiers were milling about, some starting to drag the bodies into a pile, some sauntering back after chasing down the orcs who had tried to escape, all of them moving with calm and casual certainty. I recognized these men, of course. They were either Minas Tirith soldiers or men attached to Osgiliath. Seasoned warriors. And it was more than plain that, whether or not this skirmish should have taken place, the men had truly enjoyed it. Their robust, lively faces were relaxed and full of easy humor, and they called to each other, nodding to grinning comrades, chuckling and sharing the pleasure of victory. Faramir and I delighted in some happy backslapping with his six Rangers who had stayed nearest us during the battle.
“Thank you for saving my life, my lord,” young Val said, staring up at Faramir with the same familiar look of adoration that Faramir had just given me.
Faramir tousled the boy’s curls and grinned sheepishly, then he glanced at Bram, and my brother’s grin faded. I followed his gaze, seeing that the big warrior’s face had begun to cloud. In fact, the manner of Faramir’s other Rangers now shifted. The men seemed to withdraw from us, almost shyly removing themselves, as though a shield slammed down between us, but instead of wandering away to walk off their post-battle energy and help the others drag bodies, the Rangers lingered, shifting their weight from foot to foot and regarding us with a respectful, yet somehow distant attentiveness.
Odd. I looked at Faramir and he returned my bewildered glance, and all at once, I couldn’t say why, I had the uncanny feeling that Faramir’s men were following orders to keep us under guard. Absurd notion. But I didn’t feel the least bit inclined to put these men into an awkward position by testing it, for such an order could have come from only one source.
I looked over at Damrod, my stomach fluttering. Since the battle ended he had been standing with his back to us a distance off across the sea of carcasses, talking to several of Minas Tirith’s corporals. They were listening and nodding, and then Damrod whapped each man on the shoulder, pivoted, and headed our way. He flashed Faramir and me a brief glance, as though making sure where we were, then he turned his attention elsewhere, sweeping his gaze over the small field of battle, advancing toward us like a consummate commander. Everyone knew that I was the highest-ranking officer there, yet everyone understood who was in charge.
My stomach’s flutter turned into one big knot. Unable to look away, I watched Damrod coming nearer, and from the corner of my eye I saw Faramir also standing at rigid attention, gazing at the man we knew all too well. After years of intense study, my brother and I spoke fluent Damrod and that first glance our way had been a calm glance. Damrod still looked calm. Thunderously, ominously calm. Nothing boded more ill than a serene Damrod. Faramir whispered our elvish curse before I could, but I whispered it anyway. Excellent word. I loved that word. I practiced it several more times under my breath until Faramir whispered, “Don’t let him hear you say that.”
Staring at our approaching lieutenant, my brother stepped closer to me and said in a hushed voice, “Boromir, hav-have you ever seen him this horribly calm?”
“Never quite this bad.”
“Neither have I.” Silence, then: “We should make a run for it.”
“You first, little brother.”
Nearing the Rangers, Damrod bestowed an easy word and commendatory grin upon each one. He even ruffled Val’s locks as Faramir had done and gave the boy a wink, saying, “Well done, youngling.” Then Damrod nodded at Calder and Bram and the men wordlessly drifted apart and wandered away, melting in amongst the other warriors. Aye, we’d been degradingly under guard. My post-battle thrill vanished as I was again struck by the impact of my foolishness and the lives I’d carelessly put at risk simply in a desire to please my little brother.
I felt wholly deserving when Damrod, his gaze downcast, halted before us, rested his big paw on the pommel of his sword, then lifted his eyes and looked back and forth between us with his forbidding stare of absolute wrath. Few beings can make me quail with just a look. Damrod was one of them.
I jumped, yanked from my musings, and looked at my brother, sitting quiet and golden in the glow of the firelight.
“Sorry. Were you back at the battle?”
He cocked me a patient smile. “You were brooding again.”
“Sorry,” I said quickly, winking at him. “Sorry, little one.”
A shadow crept into his gray eyes. Ah, here it came again, that ‘are you sure you’re not angry with me for joining the fight’ question. The Wrath of Damrod was about to descend upon him and what occupied Faramir’s worries? Whether or not I was upset with him for disobeying me.
I truly wasn’t. I wasn’t angry with him in the least. I’d reconciled myself to the fact that it was unrealistic of me to think that Faramir could simply stand down and watch such a battle. And I certainly didn’t blame him for any of this. Oh, he’d set things in motion this morning by trying to play on my sympathies; he wouldn’t be my urchin if he hadn’t done that. But I’d meant what I told him earlier – I made the decision to do this, I came up with the plan and the responsibility was mine alone. And now I deserved the humiliation about to come.
But, right now, sitting here contemplating being spanked in front of my little brother, and knowing all Damrod was going to wring from me before I would be allowed up from his lap had sent me scurrying for any kind of mental escape, even drifting back to memories of the skirmish. I regretted leaving Faramir alone with his own brooding, though. In truth, it was taking nearly all my effort to sit still and at least appear calm. I longed to jump up and pace. Movement might have helped steady my inner quivering, but Faramir was unnerved enough without having to watch me pace like a caged warg.
“Are you sure you’re not angry with me for joining the fight?” was right there on his lips, and when it came out it would be the fourth time that he had asked me that question. I decided to intercept him: “No, little brother. I’m not angry with you for joining the fight. It was unfair of me to expect you to hold back.”
He looked mildly startled. Impressed to silence by my insight again, no doubt.
“I wasn’t going to ask that.”
“Oh.” I darted him a rueful smirk. “Sorry.”
“Well . . . .” Little mischievous laugh. “Maybe, I was.”
I shook my head at him. “Aren’t you in enough trouble? Does provoking me help you feel less anxious?”
He grinned. “Yes. But thanks to you, and something I just remembered, I hereby pledge to never ask you that tiresome question again. I’m surprised you didn’t think to tell me this straightaway, since you’ve won several arguments with it.”
He watched me figure it out and start to chuckle. “Ah,” my brother said, much too delighted with himself. “One last time then: Boromir, are you angry with me for joining the fight?”
“Of course not,” I replied. “It’s what I would do.”
And when our laughter slowed, Faramir said, “So, is this what you would do, too?”
I gave him a vague look.
“If you were in Damrod’s place and I was in this position with someone else, that is to say, if you were going to, well –”
“If I was going to spank you and some other unruly bratling who had caused a bit of disastrous mischief?”
Delightful fond scowl from my little brother, then: “If you were going to unjustly discipline me and some other innocent soul after we became involved in an accidental accident that simply wasn’t our fault.”
“Is this what you would do, too? Would you make us wait like this, agonizing for hours and hours?”
I snorted, certain that he knew we’d only been waiting here for no more than one, albeit very long, hour. “Most likely. And ‘twould be a mercy, little brother, because if this so-called ‘accidental accident that simply wasn’t your fault’ proved typical of my urchin I would be greatly in need of some calming down time ere I laid hands on you.”
“So, all things considered, we shouldn’t resent Damrod for making us wait.”
“I didn’t say that.” We chuckled, then I said, “At least we’re waiting together. If you and Gwinthorian were the ones in trouble and Halbarad was seeing to your discipline, he would no doubt be inclined to make the two of you wait in separate chambers, without the benefit of each other’s company and comfort.”
Faramir peered at me wide-eyed. “He’d do that?”
I gave him a grim look and a nod. “No matter, though. Gwinthorian would surely be poor company. I reckon that little one is right moody when waiting for a spanking.”
“Devon wouldst probably be growly, too, were the two of you waiting for Garrick.”
“Umm.” Faramir now narrowed his eyes and studied me closely, a sudden glitter of perception in his gaze. “Let’s talk about something els – ”
“So I doubt you’d want to await certain doom with either Devon or Gwinthorian.”
“As opposed to your cheering company.”
“I’m just saying, little brother, that if you were about to go bare-bottomed up over Halbarad’s knee – ”
“Boromir, enough! Please!”
“ – or if Garrick was about to spank you – ”
“I don’t care to imagine myself in that predicament with either Garrick or Halbarad, thank you.”
“Nor do I.” I grinned. “But I find that I don’t mind imagining you there, little urchin.”
“What?!” Faramir scowled at me, then snarled a new and quite filthy-sounding elvish word. “And I’m not telling you what that one means,” he said.
I chuckled. Fine sport, watching Faramir glower at me with feigned annoyance and fidget as though feeling the effects of what I’d planted in his unwilling imagination.
Perhaps it might be considered bad form to plague my brother with such talk, but it was diverting him from his own brooding and, aside from a few slips wherein memory had distracted me, I’d been trying to comfort Faramir in any way I could. For although the dread I felt involved my loss of dignity in front of my little brother, his dread involved facing the breach that festered between him and Damrod.
Our lieutenant would be arriving any moment now to take Faramir over his knee for the first time since that breach was torn. So a dark melancholy hovered in this room with us, and although we both knew it was there, neither of us chose to give it notice. I knew my brother didn’t want to talk about it and I wasn’t going to drag him kicking and screaming into some conversation that would do little to help ease his anxiousness.
So, distract, distract, distract, aye, that I could do. Bad form or no, I would resort to whatever might keep him from sinking into some dark place where I didn’t know how to reach him and couldn’t bear to see him dwell. There wasn’t much else I could do for my little brother. He had all the big brotherly love and comfort I could give him. Faith, how I loved him! But, in this instance what Faramir needed most could only come from Damrod. And that was as it should be. That was just. Damrod had exceptional powers to heal, and at this moment, his was the only healing that could help my urchin.
So I prayed he chose to spank Faramir first, not because I loathed the idea of my little brother watching me shatter over Damrod’s knee, although I did indeed loath it – and, alas, that was going to happen regardless of my desires or the order in which Damrod chose to spank us – but to ease Faramir’s suffering first and to end this anguish between them with no further delay.
And just what was Damrod thinking, making him wait this long? Blast the man! Where was he?
End part 6
Foster Father of the Heart to be continued