I'd have never worked on this story without the support of Laura, who's listened to me grumble for months, and Kat, who's read along and encouraged me as I wrote. Thanks, my friends. And thanks, gentle readers, for your everlasting patience.
Thorin "discusses" the troll mishap with Fili and Kili. And then, it's Master Baggins' turn.
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.
An Honorable Burglar - part 1
I strolled back and forth in front of the bench. This private garden Lindir led me to was close to where the Company was quartered, but not too close, so my nephews could feel free to cry out without being overheard.
I would have handled the matter sooner, but there had been no time and no opportunity to deal with the guilty parties until now. So I was eager to get on with this. Waiting was hard on the lads, and it was hard on me as well.
So, when the conference with Elrond ended, I asked him if there was some place where I could have total privacy for a few meetings. Gandalf had a knowing look in his eye and he and Elrond exchanged a glance; then Elrond murmured instructions to Lindir and on our way back Lindir veered off the path and brought me here. Balin strolled ahead, leading the all-too-curious halfling on.
"Bring them now," I had murmured to Balin before turning to follow the elf down the pathway through some high shrubbery to this circular garden. Several benches, low to the ground, surrounded a small fountain, several more faced it. The place had an overgrown look to it I liked. Perfect.
"My Lord Elrond said you requested privacy," Lindir said, lighting a few torches. "This garden is rarely used. None shall disturb you here. I apologize for its --" He paused and sadly looked around as if words failed him.
"Don't apologize," I said. "This will do. Thank him for me." I gave him a nod, and the elf turned and glided back down the path. Elves. I find them . . . unnatural. I have yet to see one with a decent beard, or even the start of one like Kili's. Their chins are as smooth as a halfling's. Master Baggins seems childlike enough to get away with a bare face, but I should think a fully grown adult elf would be ashamed to walk around looking like that. Elves.
I sat on one of the benches and readied myself, thinking back on what had happened last night. Had it been just last night? Aye, this morning's rays had turned the trolls to stone. And I knew at once who had been responsible for our near-tragic encounter with those creatures.
So whilst the others were busy being cut free from the spit and getting dressed I'd taken my nephews away to find out exactly what had happened. I wish I could say I was surprised to find out that Fili and Kili had disobeyed my orders. But it was unlikely a troll would have gone unnoticed when lifting a few ponies had my nephews been at their post, doing what I had ordered them to do.
"The ponies seemed fine, so we went to scout out the area a little," Kili had softly said this morning, he and Fili studying the ground.
"Did you not notice the trolls during this scouting expedition?" I asked.
Glancing up at me, Fili said in his hushed tone, "We went in the opposite direction of their camp, so we didn't know they were there. When we came back through to go the other way, well . . .."
"You noticed that several ponies were missing."
Fili nodded. "Two, at that point."
I paused, then said, "Did I tell you to scout around?"
"You usually do," Kili piped up looking at me with bright eyes. His older brother winced.
I frowned at them for a long moment. "Did I tell you to scout around?"
Again they lowered their gazes.
"Kili, what did I tell both of you to do?" I demanded. "And look at me when I'm talking to you!"
They both quickly obeyed. "You told us to look after the ponies," Kili said.
I waited. "And?"
"And to stay with them," Fili jumped in, coming to his little brother's aid as usual.
I ignored him. "Kili. What were my last words to you?"
"You said, 'Make sure you stay with them.'"
"That's what I thought I said," I muttered. "And did you stay with them?"
"Mmmm." I turned to my older nephew. "Go on, Fili. What happened next?"
"We'd just noticed the missing ponies when Bilbo came, and we saw the troll's campfire light, so we ran closer to have a look and then a troll came by with Myrtle and Minty. Bilbo was afraid the trolls were going to eat them, and since it looked that way to us, too, we decided to let him try to, uhhhh, rescue the ponies."
"'Let' him try? You mean he volunteered?"
They exchanged anxious glances.
"Not exactly," Kili said. "No."
I stared at them. "You pushed him into it."
"Alone," I said.
They nodded again.
"Someone answer me!"
"Yes, sir," Fili quickly said. "We thought, well, because he's our official burglar --"
"-- and because he's so small," Kili added.
"-- and because Gandalf said hobbits can move unseen by most --"
"-- that the trolls wouldn't even see him."
"'Wouldn't even see him,'" I growled.
They squirmed without moving a muscle. I did not care to hear more, but I had to learn all of it. "To my knowledge, our burglar owns no weapon. Did you lend him one of your knives, Fili?"
"Uhhh . . . nooo. I didn't think to."
In danger now of fully losing my temper, I folded my arms over my chest and studied the sky, picturing this scene all too clearly. "So," I said, turning back to them, "if I understand this correctly, my two fully armed, warrior nephews sent a green, unarmed and unwilling halfling to thieve four captured ponies from under the eyes of an unknown number of mountain trolls. Does that sum things up?"
My red-faced lads looked as though they wished the trolls had swallowed them whole, parasites and all.
"Answer me!" I thundered.
I heaved a sigh of frustration, glowered at them, and said, "What happened next?" They remained silent. I quickly lowered my arms and barked, "Either of you!" The lads flinched, then started answering, again in their interrupting manner:
"I told Bilbo we'd be right behind him --"
"-- so, after we sent him off --"
"-- we ran into the woods --"
"-- to find a good vantage point --"
"-- and when we saw the troll nab him --"
"-- I ran back to camp to give the alarm --"
"-- and I went to help Bilbo and hold off the trolls 'till you got there."
They were obviously upset with themselves, and they should be. I began to ask the answer-less questions.
"Did you truly expect an unarmed halfling grocer to single-handedly rescue four ponies from some mountain trolls?"
No reply of course. They were back to studying the ground, careful to keep from meeting my eyes.
"Did it not occur to you that he might get caught?"
"What did you think was going to happen?"
And that, of course, was the problem. They had not thought it out fully, and when my nephews stopped thinking disasters occurred.
I made a strangling sound deep in my throat, turned, and wandered off, seeking to settle the roar within me; then I suddenly halted and looked back and I saw my nephews, quiet and sad, watching me now, too respectful of my wrath to look away although it clearly hurt them to see it. They looked very young and full of remorse, and despite the horror of what had nearly happened, I lost the edge of that wrath.
Heaving another deep sigh, I strolled back and stood before them. "Lads," I said in a low voice. "I am quite sorely displeased."
They paled and stared bravely back at me, clearly dreading those words, though they had heard them often enough. Kili's eyes grew wide and Fili pressed his lips together tightly. They understood what I meant. My astute nephews had known that this was going to end but one way.
But, I had to leave it there, for it sounded as though my previously spitted dwarves, laughing and full of high spirits, were nearly dressed again. There was no time to discipline two deserving lads. So I sent them off with assurances that this was by no means finished, then I stood alone for a moment soothing myself by muttering some foul language before heading back through the bushes to the clearing where I found Gandalf snarling at a stone troll and giving it a whack with his staff.
Now, finally, I could deal with my nephews in full. There was still much to go over here. I'd learned but the basic facts of the matter earlier. Now I intended to hear the rest, the harder facts, the ones my lads would find difficult to admit to. But they would, eventually, cooperate. Spank a youngling long enough and he became more than eager to babble, especially Kili, who, despite his raw courage, crumbled rather quickly when over my knee.
Hearing the approach of some heavy, booted footsteps, I stood and watched my nephews enter the garden. They paused and glanced around, then their wary gazes shot straight to me. My compassionate mood had long since flown. I was once again quite sorely displeased.
I rarely waste time on preliminary chatter. These two knew why they were there and what I intended to do. So there was nothing to discuss - yet. For now I simply frowned and studied them, making them stand and quietly await my orders. They held still, alert and attentive. Such obedient lads.
I crooked a finger their way. "Come," I growled.
They moved towards me, a bit too slowly for my mood, so when they drew within my reach I nodded Fili towards the seat opposite my own, rumbling, "There," then I grabbed Kili, hauled him back to the bench, sat and swiftly yanked the lad across my lap. He fell with a soft explosion of breath and lay still.
They never dare struggle, at least not at first. So when I am truly smoldering I move with slow, deliberate precision, making them feel where they are and think about what is about to befall them. I pushed up Kili's long undershirt then worked his breeches over his backside and down his legs inch by unhurried inch, stopping just above his knees. Though but a few minutes had passed Kili was now quivering, his upper body stretched out on the bench beside me, his face buried in his palms and hidden beneath the veil of his dark hair.
I looked down at my nephew and drew a deep, satisfied breath. He was here, stretched out over my knee, safe. He was not eaten by trolls. And recalling how close we had all come to that fate, I tucked Kili tightly against my body, raised my hand and brought it down upon his backside with a resounding CRACK! They both jumped. I took a moment to relish that, then I began spanking Kili.
It had troubled me when I had first taken on the duty of disciplining my nephews. They were proud young warriors who would sooner battle an army of orcs than take a spanking. I felt their humiliation too strongly and I fought putting them through it. Then came a time when Fili and Kili did something so disobedient and dangerous they had near died along with several of their friends. My lads, the leaders of this reckless group, became drenched in self-reproach.
My hesitation fled, never to return. Leaving them alone to live with their guilt was making them suffer too greatly. I could not abide that. And after my fright and the anger that had followed I discovered that I needed this as much as they did. So, now, seeing Kili safe over my knee helped loosen some of the knots in my stomach created by this troll mishap. Those knots would loosen even more when Fili took his brother's place.
Kili began to make small wriggling moves the warmer his bottom became. As usual, he shattered fairly quickly. He felt his loss of dignity so, this youngling. Still cupping his face in his hands, Kili tried to muffle his cries within his palms. I find this curiously endearing, so I permitted the lad his attempt to hide what he clearly felt was a disgraceful lack of warrior control. That was alright for now. After all, he wouldn't be able to smother his wails for long. He was consistent, my young nephew. Kili's embarrassment combined with his rapidly heating backside to completely undo him. He lacked his older brother's amazing stubborn resistance. That was why I'd chosen to spank Kili first. I had run across a curious inconsistency in this business and I wanted to clear it up, something that had to do with the all-important third member involved - Master Baggins.
Earlier in the evening when Balin, Gandalf, the halfling and I were being escorted to Elrond's chambers to discuss the map, I dropped back to walk next to the hobbit. Leaning over, I said in a low voice close to his ear, "What happened when you took my nephews their supper last night?"
He flinched, cast me a wide-eyed stare and said, "What? Oh, uhh, nothing happened. Nothing at all. I just, well, I-I just -" He shrugged. "I took them their supper. Nothing else."
"Nothing else?" I raised a brow. "Come, Master Baggins. What. Happened?"
The halfling glanced up at me, looked away, heaved a great sigh, shoved his hands in his pockets, took them out, wriggled his small nose and winced up at the stars. I waited. Finally, he huffed and said, "Look, I-I-I took them their supper and we saw the uprooted trees, then we spotted a light, and we went closer, and then a troll came thudding by with Myrtle and Minty. So, as official burglar, I, well, I . . . I volunteered to go . . . look into things."
'Volunteered?' Hmm. I had expected to hear a story similar to the one my nephews told me, but from the halfling's viewpoint. It seemed he had written a new version. I silently strolled beside him, thinking this over.
"You volunteered," I said.
"Yes," he said with a quick nod.
"To do what exactly?"
He shrugged. "Whatever I could."
"And just what might that have been?"
"I couldn't know that, could I?" he replied, sounding a touch impatient. "But they had our ponies, MY pony, to be precise. My Myrtle! And they were going to eat them. Well, I could hardly just stand by and watch, could I? I had to do something. I had to try to rescue them."
"Alone," I said, fascinated. "Were you armed?"
"Well . . . nnno."
"So, without so much as a knife in your hand you were going to rescue four ponies from three trolls all by yourself."
And it was here that the good-natured, courteous Master Baggins became surprisingly belligerent.
"Yes!" he declared in a brusque, hushed tone. "All by myself! Why not? If I'm a burglar then I'm a burglar and it's best I do my job. Those trolls were going to chop up Myrtle and throw her in a stew pot along with three other ponies we couldn't spare. So, yes! I had to do what I could. Slip in, free the ponies, then slip out quick as you please. By myself. Nobody suggested it. Nobody made me do it. Nobody pushed me down the path. I alone decided my course. And I'd do it again!"
He paused to draw breath and fire me a disdainful look. I was so startled I could do nothing but stare down at the fuming little fellow who went right on fuming.
"Look, I'm not entirely inept! You hired me to be a burglar and it was time I started making a contribution, and that's what I'd set about doing when - when -" He paused again to huff, then: "It's not my fault that dratted troll decided to use me as a pocket handkerchief!"
I lowered my head, fighting an unsuitable grin.
"That was disgusting, you know," he grumbled on, "being covered with that . . . that . . . it was revolting! But I didn't complain. I didn't say anything about it then and I have nothing more to say about the matter now. It's over and done with."
Oh, really? He finally settled down and marched along silently. It took me a moment to consider what just happened. There certainly was a lot of something uncomfortable roaring around inside young Master Baggins to make him explode so incautiously. But I would get to the bottom of it, along with something else his outburst had just made plain, for that had been quite an ill-mannered display from the amiable halfling. I rarely heard such an aggressive tone directed my way.
I understood his agitation. I even sympathized with it. But a company of warriors adhered to a code of deference to leadership and, agitation aside, this little one could have been more respectful. But where would a hobbit have learned about a warrior's code? Or, for that matter, obedience to orders and the consequences of insubordination?
As to his version of 'volunteering', I felt certain my nephews had told me the truth. They were ashamed to admit they had sent an unarmed hobbit in alone amongst the trolls. I doubted they would have told such an uncomfortable tale unless it was true. So Master Baggins had not only just lied to me, he was one of the most inept little fibbers I had ever seen. I felt a sudden urge to burst out laughing. Up ahead Gandalf coughed and rumbled. I wondered how much he had heard. But he said nothing, leaving the halfling to me.
Once again I leaned close to the hobbit and murmured, "I always find out what I want to know, little grocer, so I trust you are being truthful with me."
He gave me an indignant look, stuck his turned-up nose in the air, muttered, "Excuse me," and he trotted ahead to walk with Gandalf, Lindir and Balin. I'd smirked and narrowed my eyes on my wee grocer's back. Oh, there was much more here than Master Baggins was willing to reveal, perhaps more than he knew of himself. I had ideas as to what was at the heart of this particular mystery, but I would settle for nothing short of the absolute truth, and I would demand it from each party over my knee. I was content to leave my burglar for last, as it was going to be a difficult, and undoubtedly lengthy lesson for him.
Now, however, Kili was due a good long spanking. He was never given quarter simply because he broke down quickly. He had been crying into his palms for some time now, and struggling valiantly to hide it. I spanked him in silence, watching Kili's upset increase and giving him some leeway to thrash about. Impossible for this one to remain still for long. He actually became slightly frantic if he was not allowed to move and kick. Again, so unlike his brother. When Kili reached the point wherein he shot a hand back to cover his reddening backside, it was time to start talking.
"None of that," I said in a scolding tone, fastening Kili's hand to his back. "Now. Answer me. Why? Why didn't you come find me when you saw some ponies were missing?"
"D-Didn't want to worry y-you!" Kili cried.
"Who did not want to worry me? Master Baggins?"
"No!" Fili blurted out, breaking the 'no interrupting' rule I had set up long ago. But waiting his turn and watching his little brother gasp and wriggle and cry had, as it sometimes did, proven too much for Fili. I paused in mid-swat and looked over at him. My fair, red-faced nephew swallowed hard and glanced away.
"Sorry," he muttered to the ground.
"One more word and you shall do your waiting back at camp," I rumbled.
It was the most severe warning I could have given Fili, for the only thing worse than watching his little brother take a spanking was leaving his little brother to take a spanking alone. Fili's protective instincts burned brightly within him, even though Kili was more than able and loudly objected to his big brother's care.
Kili was a more polished and natural warrior than many twice his age. But he was impulsive and rash, racing headlong into dangerous situations and making the incautious mistakes of youth. His older brother was no better, and although they were invaluable warriors, they were also too heedless for their own good, or anyone else's. So it came as no surprise that these two had decided to avoid coming to me when those uprooted trees were staring them in the face.
"Let us start back at the beginning."
"AHHHHHH! P-Please, unc-cle!"
"Master Baggins arrived to find that two ponies were gone. What happened then?"
"Bilbo asked . . . he said, s-shouldn't we t-tell you!"
I paused in mid-swing and stared down at Kili's dark head. "What?"
"He said, 'Shouldn't we t-tell Thorin?' That's what Bilbo s-said!"
I glanced over at Fili. Looking freshly ashamed, he nodded. Interesting. Wisdom from the wee halfling. I brought my hand down again, resuming where I had left off, much to Kili's wailing dismay. "And what did you say to Master Baggins' suggestion?"
"That we d-didn't want to w-worry you!"
"Both of you told him that?" I asked, knowing the answer.
Kili kicked, choked a soft sob, then shook his head, his dark hair flying. Protecting his brother, of course. Why else would Fili have broken the rules and interrupted earlier if not to assume rightful blame? Nevertheless --
"Kili. Stop that at once. Answer me." And I provided some extra incentive by tipping my knee up and spanking the tender undercurve of Kili's backside.
"AHHHHHHHH! Noooooooo! No, s-sir! N-Not both of us!"
"Your brother said it?" I asked, shooting Fili another glance. He gave me a tragic look and nodded again.
"Yes! Y-Yes, sir!" Kili sputtered, and I lowered my leg, returning my swats to his hot bottom. He seemed less than appreciative. Then he stammered, "Fili told Bilbo, no, not to worry you, but-but I was about to tell Bilbo the same thing!"
"Were you indeed?" I fought a grin at Kili's noble, though ill-advised confession. "Do you think this matter would have ended better had you followed Master Baggins' suggestion and come to me?"
"I-I dunno, if -- AHHHHHH! Yes! Y-Yes! We should've l-listened to Bilbo!"
Odd as it felt to agree with that, I had to say, "Aye. You should have."
Kili rubbed his face on his sleeve and murmured, "Uh-huuuhhhh."
"Now, tell me this again," I said in a freshly somber tone, "did the halfling volunteer to rescue the ponies?"
Kili paused as though wondering at the strange question, then: "Nooo! Bilbo didn't v-volunteer. He did n-not!"
I pressed my lips together. I knew it. Lying little hobbit-brat.
"And whose idea was it to send him off alone?"
"Best tell me quickly, little laddie."
Kili sucked a sharp breath at that special name, then he wept harder, and I released his hand so that he could once again bury his face in his palms. Growing concerned about his now red backside, I started lessening the force of my spanks and softly said, "Kili. Tell me. Now."
Lifting his head he blurted out, "My idea! It was m-my idea! Bilbo said 'we have to do something,' and I-I said, 'yes, you should!'" And he collapsed into fresh tears, too overcome to say more.
There was, of course, more left to say, but Kili had done his part, or at least all he was capable of doing. Saving the rest of my questions for his older brother, I spanked Kili lightly and easily and allowed him to utter all his heartfelt 'sorries.' When he'd finished, I said, "Apologies accepted. But you and your brother shall apologize to the Company as well. Tonight."
Kili groaned between his hiccuping and crying. This was going to be difficult for my proud young warriors. Nevertheless it would be done.
"You know it is just," I said, looking over at his sad-eyed brother. "Because you disobeyed my orders the Company could have been destroyed most savagely last night by some thick-headed trolls. So you shall tell the others you are sorry."
Harsh words for two already upset lads to hear, nevertheless they needed to be said. Kili buried his face in his hands again and wept long and low.
I stopped and rested his hand on his hot, glowing bottom. Slowly rubbing his back I kept him over my lap until his weeping began to slow and quiet. "Shhh," I murmured. "It is over now. You were very brave, little laddie. All is well. Shhh."
It took some time, but when Kili finally calmed, I pulled up his breeches, lifted him from my lap and stood him before me, steadying him, then I led him to the opposite bench. His brother quickly stood and I guided Kili down on his stomach and watched him stretch out. Crouching down beside his head, I smoothed the wild, dark locks from his face, murmuring, "Lie still and rest now. And remember." I placed my finger to my lips. "Shhhh. No interrupting."
I doubt he would have been capable of it. Fully spent, Kili gazed at me, his dark eyes soft and drowsy-looking. He twitched a bit, drew his fist up, moved his finger to his lips, and hushed a quiet, "shhh." I couldn't help grinning at him. Then I stood, and faced his bravely waiting older brother.
Fili gave every indication of being unruffled when he most assuredly was. I admired his effort, but I was also eager to shatter that hard earned composure of his. Grabbing his upper arm I hustled him back to my bench, yanked him over my lap and followed the same steps I had taken with his younger brother, lifting Fili's shirt and slowly drawing his breeches over his backside and down his long legs. This never unnerved Fili as much as it did his younger brother, nevertheless he buried his face in his crossed arms and hid beneath his thick tawny hair as Kili had done, showing in his more subtle way that he was anxious indeed.
I made him lay quietly and wait whilst I took in the sight of my older nephew stretched out safe over my knee as his brother had been. I needed to see them this way after a frightening episode for which they were accountable. And when I'd had my fill of that reassuring sight I raised my hand and brought it down and the small garden resounded once more with another CRACK! Again, both lads flinched. That first spank always sounded loud when all was quiet.
It took a lot of spanking to make Fili lose control. He broke later rather than sooner. But Fili held out in order to invite a more severe spanking. As the older brother he felt accountable for what had happened. Pure folly, of course. There was no restraining Kili if he was determined to be adventurous and Fili was usually in the thick of things right alongside his brother. He would then try to assume full responsibility for whatever mess they had made despite his little brother's protests.
This time, however, Fili was indeed the chiefly responsible party, and that was what I had saved to discuss with him, but first I needed to spank him into a more pliable state. That was fine with me. This matter could have proven fatal for all had Gandalf not arrived. True, the halfling had tried to stall matters, and he did save Bombur, but the whole time he was cooking up his tale about parasites my trussed up dwarves were still cooking on the spit. So I had no trouble whatsoever in giving my elder nephew exactly what the lad thought he deserved. I thought he deserved it, too.
I spanked Fili silently, steadily and with an enthusiasm I had no intention of regretting. And, thankfully true to form, it took him some time before he reached the point wherein he could no longer keep still. When he began writhing and straining and making small labored sounds, he was ready to talk. I went right to the heart of the matter.
"Now, nephew," I began, "why did you refuse Master Baggins' suggestion to come tell me what had happened?"
That was precisely what had set all this in motion, and why Fili was the chiefly responsible party. For if he had answered Bilbo by saying, 'Yes, we should go tell Thorin at once,' Kili would have supported his older brother's decision and we could have quickly and quietly gathered the rest of the ponies and moved the camp, slipping off into the night, far away from the vicinity of the trolls. We would have lost but a few ponies, a small price to pay. My lads would still have been answerable for having left their post, but none of the Company would have nearly ended up as troll fodder.
In a hushed voice, Fili said, "I didn't want to worry y--"
"No," I said with an extra firm whack. "I want the real reason."
He arched up, tensed and went silent. I watched him grapple with himself, his tenacious will fighting his hot backside. Incredibly, he might need yet more time before he was ready to own up to the reason behind his refusal to find me. And that was alright. I knew the answer and I was content to keep right on spanking him until he was ready to be honest with himself and with me. So I kept on for awhile before giving Fili another chance to speak.
"You should really consider answering me truthfully, lad," I said, watching him clench his fists and writhe. "I shall keep this up until you do. As you well know, my arm is tireless. Your choice."
A low gasp came from the other bench and I glanced up to see Kili staring fixedly at us, his liquid eyes full of dismay. Amazing that he could watch his brother take a spanking, especially the kind of spanking Fili invited. But, unless his own ordeal had taken so much out of him that he fell into exhausted dozing, Kili rarely failed to stay loyally attentive, just as his brother had for him.
I fired him a stern look and stopped spanking long enough to press my finger to my lips in another 'shhh' gesture. Kili blinked, drew his knotted fist up and pressed it to his closed lips as though to block any further sound from escaping.
Fili was now squirming and trembling and showing signs of genuine difficulty. His hand shot around, palm up, then he halted halfway to his goal and drew it back, once again burying his face in his crossed arms.
"Good lad," I murmured, marveling, as I usually did, at his restraint.
He bucked up a few times, gasped and then, at last, his first whimper came. Ah. Better.
"Fili. Come. Tell me," I quietly commanded. "Why did you not follow the halfling's advice? Why did you not alert me when you saw the ponies were missing?"
He was just barely holding on, his body rigid and quivering, his breath coming in short desperate huffs. Just a little more incentive--
"I know it is hard," I said in a gentle tone, "but you will tell me now. It's alright. Do not be afraid, little beardling."
And, as it had been with his brother, the special name was simply too much for my valiantly struggling nephew. It was as though I had said, 'No matter what you tell me, I shall always care for you.'
Fili burst into deep, muffled sobs. When this lad finally shattered he truly shattered. I stopped spanking, giving him time to lose himself in his yielding, for yielding was so very hard for Fili. He wept into his crossed arms, then, clearly needing more air, he turned his head to the side and continued his low, husky crying. I waited, and when his breathing became less ragged and his sobs less wrenching, I began spanking him again, using a little less strength as we still had much to cover and my stubborn lad's backside had become an amazing shade of red.
Fili rarely kicked, but he writhed and wriggled and his legs strained and stretched. He had buried his face in his crossed arms again, half-smothering his low, throaty wails, but he knew what was expected of him, so he lifted his head and in a broken voice he rasped, "I-I didn't want you to know that we'd disobeyed your or-orders."
"Ahh," I said, and since he had so bravely admitted this painful truth, I helped him along by doing his explaining for him. "You were not really concerned about worrying me."
"You could not admit that you had left your post and that something as large as a troll had slipped past your watch, so you gave Master Baggins a different reason for not coming to find me."
Fili wept anew and squirmed and nodded his head. I swatted him hard.
"Y-Yesssir! Didn't want to tell you!"
"When I give you an order, little beardling, I expect it to be obeyed."
He understood the gravity of what he had done, but Fili needed the chance to fully atone for it in all its terrible entirety, so I said, "Because you could not admit that you had disobeyed my orders, our quest nigh came to an end. The Company was nearly destroyed, and Erebor lost to our people."
He paused in his cries, a shudder and a long groan rippling through him. I felt his horror. He had likely already considered this darkest of consequences, but hearing it given voice hit him like a blow from a sword. In part I hated having to speak the truth so plainly, but it was the truth, and it needed to come out where Fili could look at it and accept it and, hopefully, learn from it. Although, when it came to my nephews learning from their mistakes, I had been hoping such hopes for many years now.
"Ohhh!" Fili wailed, the sound coming from deep in his body. "Ohhhhhh!"
Understanding how painful this had to be for him, I gave him a moment, resting my palm on his hot backside. "It must have been a grim sight for you and your brother," I murmured. "The uprooted trees and the missing ponies. Something very bad had happened, and you should have been there."
"Y-Yesssirrr! Bad, very b-bad!"
"So you included the halfling in your problem, hopefully to salvage the mess you had made before I learned of it." I swatted him hard.
"Hiding the truth is a form of lying, is it not?" Again I swatted him hard.
"Are you ever permitted to lie to me, little beardling, or to hide a hard truth because you cannot admit that truth to me?" Several hard swats this time.
"AHHHHH! Noooooo! No, never!"
"No indeed," I said, adding a few more powerful swats and listening to him cry out again. "You are never, never to lie to me, either of you!"
Fili's weeping grew more intense, overwhelming him now. I paused again, and when I had borne all I could of his broken, hushed crying, I reached down and stroked his thick hair, saying, "Shhh. Shhhhhhh. Hush now. I know you feel badly." I glanced over at a transfixed, tearful Kili. "But we have been here before, have we not? Times when you have disobeyed me and ended up across my lap?"
I rubbed Fili's back, making him tremble, then I gave him permission and listened to him tell me how sorry he was over and over again. "Shhhh, enough now," I finally murmured, patting his backside. "Apologies accepted, little beardling." And for some time I let him rest, let him feel safe where he was, throbbing bottom and all.
"Heed me, both of you," I then said. "You have your apology to make to the Company, but this matter is now finished between us. All is forgiven. You have answered for your wrong doing and it is time to move on. But you know what I now have to say to you both." Fili and Kili went very still, listening, reaching for what they knew was coming, what I had ever said to them after spanking them.
"No matter what you have done, you can never disappoint me. I shall never turn away from you, nor dismiss you, nor leave you alone with your guilt. I am now, as I have ever been, proud of you."
I felt Fili moan and shudder and I looked over to see Kili close his eyes, tears glistening on his lashes. My words had ever affected them deeply, and they needed to hear those words. For I truly never did think less of them for the mistakes they made or their follies of youth. My beardling brats were, after all, still so young, and I truly was, no matter what, proud of them.
I drew Fili's breeches back over his glowing bottom, grinning when he tried to hide his hissing. Picking him up, I put him on his feet and steadied him, then I crossed to Kili and picked him up as well. They stood before me, my two glassy-eyed lads, having survived yet another trip over my knee, and I smiled at them and gathered each one in my arms and held them closely for several long moments as I always did, stroking their hair, easing their trembling and murmuring, "All over. Goooood lad. I am proud of you."
When I had released them they cast me timid, vulnerable glances and swiped their forearms over their damp faces as though hoping to erase any remaining evidence of what had just happened. Fighting another urge to smile, I gave them a moment to compose themselves, then I lost the battle and grinned at them.
"Go now," I said, "and send the halfling to me."
Onward to Part 2.