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. 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 (1/2)
“Are-Are you really gonna sp-spank Bor’mir now, t-tooo?”
I glanced at Boromir. His head was lowered and he was all but squeezing the arms off the chair, his knuckles so bone-white that I frowned.
“Do you think I should forgo his spanking, sweetling?” I asked, preparing myself for an erupting Faramir.
“NOOOOOOOOOOO! AHHHHHHHHHH! OWWWWWWWWW!”
I sometimes wondered how I kept a straight face given this little one’s antics. Faramir had pulled back to glare and yell at me, forgotten that I was holding his flaming bottom up and free from any contact and, in his passion, he’d bounced down onto my thighs. He was still arching and yelping.
“That will teach you to lose your bratling temper with me,” I said, grinning despite myself. I snatched him up again, wrapping my arms round his back and under his thighs and lifting his wriggling self just free of my lap. “Faramir. Stop squirming. There. That’s better. Now settle down. Of course I plan to spank Boromir, little one. Would I neglect your beloved big brother in such a cruel manner?”
Once more safely elevated, Faramir muttered, “Nooooooo, Dammod, you sure wouldn’t do such a mean, mean thing. No, noo, I just hope – I-I hoped, well, I was ‘fraid I m-might have used up your spank-spanking arm.”
Did I not know that Faramir was in deadly little boy earnest I would have suspected him of trying to lighten the dread Boromir was surely feeling. “Nay, sweetling,” I said with a soft laugh. “Have no fears. My spanking arm is yet fully functional.”
“Oh.” Faramir paused to sniffle again. “Oooh, my p-poor big brother.”
“Shhh. Hush now,” I told him. “I shall give your big brother only what he has earned.”
“Oh, nooo!" Faramir's soft wail was muffled into my shoulder. “I-I mean th-thank you, Dammod, but oohhhh, my p-poorrrrr big brother!”
I chuckled again and drew my lad back to look at him, saying, “Let us keep him waiting no longer. Come, you shall rest here behind me rather than changing places with Boromir. I vow stretching out face down on the bed will feel better than sitting up in a chair.”
"Y-Yes, but-but . . . here? On the b-bed? Right here, behind y-you?" Faramir stared at me, horrified. “Nooooo! I-I want to go to my room, Dammod! P-Please! I don't want to stay here. I d-don't want to see Bor'mir getting sp-spank--! Noooo!”
This was, of course, pure Faramir contrariness. The last thing he wanted right now was to be separated from Boromir. Had I replied, 'But certainly, little one. No need for you to remain through your brother's ordeal. I shall escort you to your chamber where you can rest undisturbed,' Faramir would have bellowed the ceiling down. Deciding to spare the ceiling, I said, “Boromir has been with you all this time, sir, sitting nearby, steadfast and loyal, sharing your ordeal. Would you abandon your big brother now?"
Boromir released a muffled, strangled 'how dare you speak to him that way!' sound. I felt his anger simmering. Meanwhile Faramir's horrified look deepened. “Oh, noo, Dammod, nooo!" he cried. "I wouldn't do th-that. No, no, nooo!”
“Very well then,” I said, and I rose, Faramir in my arms, and turned. Flipping him over before his sore bottom hit the bed, I settled him on his stomach directly behind me, then I sat back down, and looked at him over my shoulder. Faramir lay still, his head turned towards me, his eyes half-closed and looking so like the little boy I had ever known and loved that I had to grin down at him and reach back to smooth my palm along his wild, absurdly soft curls. He had been through an exhausting day.
"Would you like a blanket?" I asked him, knowing the answer.
'Noooooooo!" Faramir cried softly. "I-I mean, no, thank y-you, Dammod. No blan-blan-blaaantt. Toooo sorrre."
Faramir in this state was impossibly endearing. "Very well. Silence then, my little bairn, " I told him, patting his fiery bottom. "Any interference from you and I shall indeed escort you straight to your chamber."
In truth, Faramir needed no such warning. He looked too limp and drowsy to manage another yawn, much less come to Boromir's rescue with any kind of protest. It surprised me to hear him even slur a response:
"I'll be goooood, Dammmmod . . . be goodest. . . gooood and quiet . . .."
I grinned again, knowing he would indeed be 'goodest.' He would have to be, because I expected Boromir was about to give me just as much trouble as his little brother had.
I had been waiting for Boromir's anger to surface. It had been simmering for some time. He'd had his good and bad moments throughout Faramir's spanking, but he had bravely endured it, even during his little brother's most painful recollections and the consequences he'd therefore earned. It had been difficult for Boromir to hear what I said to Faramir, much as he likely agreed with it. But there came a moment when I was reminding Faramir of what had happened today:
. . . your big brother will nobly claim all responsibility for the plan, and indeed that may be as it was. However, I vow you inspired him by being a most difficult little boy, especially when there was yet time for you to ride after and catch Aragorn. So you tried to push Boromir into doing what you wanted. In plain terms, you tried to play upon your brother’s sympathies, did you not?”
And that was where Boromir's disciplined soldier's training collapsed. He simply could bear no more of my ruthless insistence that Faramir admit to his part in today's trouble, so he shot up and was halfway out of his seat before I ordered him to halt. He sat docily enough when I threatened to send him from the room, and he even looked somewhat astonished by his actions. So I allowed my lad to come forth and comfort his little brother, even though Faramir was the one doing most of the comforting, reassuring his anxious big brother that he was alright and that Boromir needn't worry about him.
Calmed for the moment, Boromir returned to his seat, shaking, his anger subdued, yet still very much there. He'd shown the occasional bit of good humor, but it faded quickly in favor of his underlying ire. I felt a final shift in my lad during Faramir's ending apology. Boromir sat very still, once more at high attention, and from the corner of my eye I saw him go stiff and tense when I told Faramir that he had one last "sorry" to make.
“Do you know what that sorry is, Faramir?”
“Sorry for disobeying orders and going into th-the sewers?”
“Aye, sweetling, because you inspired Boromir to action today, you are as equally responsible for what happened as if you had planned it yourself."
Boromir lowered his head, grabbed the arms of his chair and started to squeeze as though trying to wrench them free. When Faramir asked if I really was going to spank his big brother and I glanced at him again, Boromir's knuckles had gone white from prolonged squeezing and he looked ready to ignite.
It was then that I saw what lay cloaked within him, concealed so effectively that I had not sensed it until his anger had surged and left this profound innermost hurt exposed. It should not have surprised me as much as it did. I knew he shared this talent with Faramir. Life with Denethor had taught both brothers to tuck their deepest pain away and leave it hidden where it could no longer harm them.
"The first time I disciplined him," Legolas said one day when he and Aragorn and I were talking, "not long after our Quest began, I discovered how brutal he was with himself when he thought he had done something wrong. It horrified me, learning of his swift willingness to accept blame, and of the vicious imaginings he had then spun from some dark place within him." He paused to sadly gaze off, his voice suddenly soft. "I could not fathom it when I heard of the horrors he had been imagining."
"And without cause," Aragorn said. "Ere I could even speak of the incident that had caused it all, Boromir judged himself guilty and ruthlessly punished himself."
"He near froze to death washing out muddy hobbit clothing."
My brows shot up.
"It's a long story," Aragorn said with a wry grin.
"He was astounded to learn that Aragorn and I did not blame him for what had happened," Legolas continued. "I told him that little brothers do not see to their own discipline for they cannot judge their actions fairly and they are too harsh with themselves when they think they are to blame. He knew this deep inside, for he had taught it to Faramir, but he could not apply it to himself."
"That comes as no surprise," I'd said. "Boromir was everlastingly forgiving with his little brother."
"Yet merciless with himself," Aragorn added. "And for days he kept silent about his secret terrible imaginings."
"Aye. We knew something was amiss with him, but he said nothing to Aragorn or I about what was troubling him. And we had no way of knowing how far afield he had gone."
"He assumed the worst and then let that torment eat at him, concealing his deepest suffering." Aragorn gave his head a shake. "That lesson has come up again and again. From that first time Legolas spanked him it became a steadfast rule that he never hide his troubles from us."
"His secret deepest pain came up only at his most anguished moment," Legolas said. "And so it does to this day." He looked off again and said, "I simply could not fathom his thinking."
I knew how Legolas felt. Boromir had concealed the cause of this particular hurt so masterfully it had caught me off guard. But watching me spank Faramir had brought it roaring to the surface, engulfing an unprepared Boromir. It saddened me to glimpse what lay festering inside my poor boy. I was surprised he hadn't succeeded in pulling the arms off the chair.
It all made sense now. Clever, clever lad to have done what he did today, although Boromir had been completely unaware of what he was really doing and why. He was still unaware of it. All he knew right now was anger, anger with himself, with his weakness, his pride and his perceived stupidity. When in doubt Boromir's first choice was to blame himself. Unfair of him. But, sadly, I could expect no less from my boy. Denethor had fashioned his sons to be wounded men, and the late Steward knew well what he was doing. For a wounded man is easily controlled. Denethor's lust for control dictated his every action, and he sought it even to the extent of damaging his sons to achieve it.
They had, in the end, defeated him. Their remarkable spirits were too strong, and they had endured, compassionate souls intact. However there still lay within each of my boys their own uniquely deep wounding. They would ever need the unconditional loving attention they so richly deserved. Boromir was seeking it from me now. He was lost in confused thinking, unaware of what was tormenting him. I did not intend to leave him there.
He remained quiet, head lowered, marshaling his inner forces, a tactic he had fashioned at a young age. When approaching something challenging he would ofttimes go still and watchful, readying himself for whatever was about to confront him.
He was aware of the sudden silence in the room and he knew that I was watching him, but his eyes remained locked on his lap in ill-mannered defiance, his message clear: if I wanted his attention I would have to ask him for it. Very well. When it came to disciplinary matters I was willing to grant my boys what means would bring them comfort. So, as I had with Faramir, I would take this one step at a time.
"Boromir," I said. No response. "Boromir," I said again in what Faramir called my 'First Lieutenant Voice.' "Look at me, sir."
He slowly lifted his head. Clearly Faramir was no longer watching else he would have become loudly distressed by the dangerous gleam in his big brother's eye. Aye, Boromir was angry, so it was best to stir that anger, bring it to the surface and use it to his benefit. "Is something amiss?" I asked him. "You seem out of sorts, little tyrant."
Boromir blinked, his eyes going wide at the name I had given him long ago, after Aragorn, Thorongil, as we then knew him, left Minas Tirith and I was about to discipline Boromir for the first time.
Answering a call issued by Boromir's long-suffering instructor at the sparring grounds I had arrived to see six boys sitting crossed-legged in the middle of the training arena, their wooden swords across their laps. Boromir, leader and spokesperson of this frightening little-boy rabble, eyed me defiantly, puffed out his chest and announced, "We want more free-time after lessons. We are not too tired, as Taracar claims we are, and we want more sparring time."
"You shall follow Taracar's orders, sir," I had informed the wee Steward-in-training. "He alone decides when you have been practicing long enough. His word is law in this arena."
Boromir scrambled to his feet, took a wide-legged stance and declared with all the haughty sternness his little boy self could manage:
"I am heir to the Steward of Gondor. I shall do just as I please!"
This insubordination was more serious than Boromir clearly knew. Yet, as I watched him standing there, chin held high and a steady gaze of superiority in his eyes, I had to delight in his spirit.
"And what would Thorongil say to that?"
A flicker of pain entered his widening eyes, a sorrowful look of remembrance. But he shifted and quickly returned to himself displaying a poise beyond his tender years. "Thorongil is not here, sir," he announced.
"True," I had said. "But he left you in my care, and I intend to honor his trust in me. As long as I am here, you shall not do just as you please, little tyrant."
Boromir blinked. "What did you call me?"
"Little tyrant," I replied.
"What's a . . . try-ant?"
He fumed anew. "TY-rant then! What is it?"
"A tyrant is a ruler who wants only what he wants, regardless of whether 'tis right or wrong and regardless of the concerns of others. You have led your fellow students into a rebellion that will likely end in painful consequences for them all. Do you think they will thank you for this later tonight when they must eat their suppers standing up, little tyrant?"
Boromir, flushed with fresh anger, had stamped his small foot and cried, "Do not call me that, Lieutenant!"
"Do not call me that, Lieutenant," Boromir now growled.
"I believe I shall," I said. "It fits you now as it did when you were a five year old, little tyrant."
He rose slowly, glaring at me, now quite beyond himself. Just as it had when he was a little boy feeling at the mercy of emotions, Boromir's response was to become angrier, as though it might somehow help him. Of course, it never did, something I would have taught him, had I been allowed. But I had been forbidden access to Boromir for too many years, forbidden to help him during his most painful and confusing times. This old behavior still tormented him. Aragorn and Legolas had recognized it in him, and they had shared their observations regarding one such incident:
"He became angry with Frodo," Aragorn had said. "And his anger built and built until he attacked the little one."
"The Ring was controlling him. But he would have tortured himself with anguished memories and driven himself to endless self-punishment had Aragorn and I not intervened the first night he came back to us," Legolas added.
Aragorn had then shared the look of a deeply fond memory with his elf, and I had thanked the Valar yet again for the two of them and their devotion to my lad. They had rescued him from himself after that bitter occurrence. And now it was my turn to rescue my boy from the torment controlling him.
After I comforted Faramir I sat back down and tried to remember when Damrod last had me over his knee . . . twenty, twenty-one . . . was it really twenty-two years ago? Twenty-two years and clearly the man hadn't lost a bit of power in his swing. On the contrary, I swear he'd built on it. Small wonder, I suppose. Faramir had kept Damrod's arm in fine condition.
It wasn't that I feared a powerful spanking arm. After Aragorn? After Legolas? Nay, fear couldn't be the source of my discomfort. Then Faramir would wail another ear-splitting wail and a hot shock would shoot through my body and up my spine and I'd close my eyes and squeeze the arms of the chair and think: Courage! Take heart, man! 'Tis only a spanking! 'Tis no elven warrior about to turn you over his knee. 'Tis merely Damrod.'
Merely Damrod? Merely Damrod? And again I'd hear Faramir wail. At his first cries I'd instantly recalled the last time I'd been stretched across 'merely' Damrod's knee, the time he'd reduced my proud twenty year old warrior self to a kicking, sobbing little boy, my fifteen-year old brother sitting there watching. 'Merely' Damrod indeed. I'd be dumber than the dumbest orc in orcdom to not feel a bit anxious about what this man was about to do to me, again in front of my little brother.
So I grew angry. Angrier and angrier. Angry at this big stupid mess of a day. Angry at everything. But most of all, angry at myself. I was to blame for everything that had happened, regardless of what Damrod thought, and no matter what he'd managed to wring from my well-spanked little brother. I'd come up with our 'brilliant' plan. I'd suggested it to Faramir. It had been all my doing. And why? Why had I done it? Because I wanted to please my little brother. I'd wanted to distract him from his upset and soothe his frustration from being left behind to heal when he'd felt he was able enough to make the hard ride to and from Henneth Annûn with his men and Aragorn and Legolas. I'd wanted to comfort Faramir and instead I'd nearly succeeded in getting him killed. And I'd earned him a scalding spanking. And I'd earned one for myself, too. Perfect time to become angry I reckoned.
So I made Damrod the target of my anger. Completely unfair of me, but he was the only one around at the moment and he looked amazingly robust, even after whacking my little brother into a shattered child-like state. Faramir was right - the man made an excellent target, and according to my little brother, Damrod was used to it.
"Not that Damrod deserves it, but I can't tell you how many times I've lost my temper and tried to fight him," Faramir had confessed to me, just before I'd been sent to Rivendell, and before his damaging break with Damrod. "Even when I know I've earned a spanking, I fight him."
"And he tolerates that from you?"
"Never. But Damrod makes an excellent target for my fury. He's safe. He's ever patient with me. And," he added with a wince, "he never lets me win."
He wouldn't let me win, either. All that quiet strength lay ready to subdue me. I welcomed it and I didn't. I felt flooded with confusion. Something within me was spinning out of control, a frightening feeling. And now Damrod, blast him, was making it worse, feeding that anger. I was already having trouble containing it when he pulled forth that insulting . . . 'little tyrant' indeed!
"I said stop calling me that," I told him. "You will obey me, sir."
Damrod studied me closely then gave me a patient grin. "I see that amongst the other matters we have to discuss we shall also needs return to the Big True Thing. You wish to be taught the same lesson your brother learned. Very well. Come, sir." And he held his hand out to me.
"You're wrong," I said, glaring at him and his offensive hand. "Faramir and I don't require the same lesson and I have no 'wish' to be taught anything."
And I suddenly felt bewildered by my words. My mouth felt disconnected from my brain, and my mouth was winning. I quickly glanced at Faramir and found he was blessedly asleep. Of course, else he never would have remained silent during this, despite Damrod's threats. My little brother looked utterly at peace, even though, I noticed with a wince, Damrod had neglected to pull his breeches back up over his very red backside. I thought back on the spanking he'd just endured, how Damrod had continued on and on and on, and although I'd known it was exactly what Faramir had needed, even sought, I now fired a resentful look at our lieutenant.
"You didn't have to be so hard on him," I heard my mouth growl. I blinked. Interesting comment for me to make, given I'd recently put Faramir through a similar intense spanking.
"Is that all?" Damrod asked. "Is your unbefitting anger merely due to how much I spanked Faramir?"
I opened my mouth and nothing came out. I could think of no reply. How could I explain what I couldn't understand? 'Unbefitting anger?' He had a point. Infuriating of him to be so right. And again that confusing sense of spinning in unknown directions surged over me.
"What happened between your little brother and me is none of your affair," Damrod said. "Now, come."
My heart banged wildly in my chest and my breathing was fast approaching the huffing stage, but all I could do was to stand there glowering.
"Perhaps you would like to rid yourself of some of that unbefitting anger, take it out on someone?"
I didn't move.
"Too much of a challenge for you, Captain of the White Tower?"
Why did this seem so familiar? Ah, yes. Legolas. The first time he spanked me.
"Very well. Let us get this over with. Do your worst. Come. Best me, little brat."
I smoldered and watched Damrod stroll to the center of the room, taunting me with his casual indifference. I didn't think. I charged him. And within a minute I realized that I'd never fought Damrod. Not like this. Not without a practice sword in my hand. Faramir had again been right.
"It's quite a humbling experience," he'd told me. "I start out half mad with rage and end up thoroughly humbled. But then, he's Damrod."
Indeed he was. I'm considered to be a more than able soldier, but I was quickly reminded who had taught me to be one. Damrod handled my attack with the smooth, calm acceptance and mastery of a consummate warrior. Burdened as I was with a load of useless raw emotion, my efforts were scattered and paltry. Again I recalled fighting Legolas for the first time, a learning experience if ever there was one.
But I battled on until, suddenly, after Damrod tossed me flat on my back yet again, it occurred to me that this was absurd. I lay there wondering what on earth I was doing. I deserved a spanking. I'd earned it. So why was I fighting this man? Gazing at a much too vigorous Damrod, I stood, huffing, still feeling angry but . . . but, I didn't know what to do with it!
Damrod moved fast. He grabbed my arm, hauled me to the bed, yanked me over his lap and ripped down my breeches. The swiftness of it stunned me. Less than a minute, that's all it had taken him. And now I was bare bottomed, stretched over his knee and staring down at a knotted up coverlet, soggy with my brother's tears. Thank you so much, Faramir.
Would I ever get used to this feeling of embarrassing exposure? No matter how much I tried to keep from imagining how I looked when positioned like this I immediately saw it in my mind and it made me long to cringe and hide my burning face. The room had felt warm until Damrod pulled down my breeches, but the air now hitting my backside was far too cool. That wouldn't last long.
"Are you going to behave yourself now?" Damrod said, resting his far-too large hand on my behind. "Or would you like me to toss you about some more?"
The man could be insufferable at times. I was in no position to indulge my temper further, and since Damrod hadn't called me 'little tyrant' I decided to remain calm and --
"Answer me, little tyrant."
I snarled and bucked up. He was obviously expecting it. His muscled arm pressed across my back holding me down with shocking ease. "None of that now," he said. "You've been difficult enough for one day. Answer me. Shall we spar a bit more, or are you through being naughty?"
The wretched 'n' word. That did it. I answered him. And I fully enjoyed the way Faramir's filthy elvish curse rolled off my tongue. It was likely the last thing I would enjoy for some time but it felt good to use my newly learned phrase in such a rewarding context.
"I see your little brother has been teaching you some foul elvish."
I scowled. "What makes you think it was Faramir? Why not an actual elf? Why not even one of the little ones? Frodo knows plenty of filthy elvish."
Damrod went silent for a moment, then he said, "There's a disturbing thought."
"Aye. So why blame --"
"Because I know it was your brother, sir. I. Know."
And I'm quite sure he did. Somehow he just did. I fumed, then muttered, "Aye."
"Mmm. Of course this means that tomorrow you shall be back here with me and a bar of soap."
I bucked up again and growled, "Damrod, 'twas but one lone curse! Men do use foul language from time to time!"
"But gentlemen do not," he said. "And my boys are gentlemen."
I considered telling him that I'd heard Aragorn and Legolas mutter some right nasty sounding elvish words under their breath at times and then asking Damrod if he thought the future king of Gondor was, therefore, no gentleman. But I held my tongue lest I earned Aragorn and Legolas a soaping, too. Not that I thought Damrod would actually do such a thing, but, well, he was Damrod.
"I do not expect to hear such language from either of you, regardless of how angry you are. So tomorrow morning you and Faramir will have your mouths--"
"What? Why Faramir? I'm the one who said it!"
"And he's the one taught it to you."
"That is unfair!"
"Come, little boy," Damrod said. "You know your brother. Do you think he would stand still and let you face such a sentence alone?"
The lie shot from me: "Aye!"
He chuckled. "Nay, you know him too well for that. He would demand an equal sentence, and should I refuse to comply he'd regale me with enough vulgar elvish to earn himself a place at your side and a mouthful of soap."
He was right. That's just what Faramir would do. I'd done the exact same thing at the beginning of the Quest, when Aragorn threatened Legolas with a bar of soap. I wasn't about to allow my new big brother to face that humiliation alone, so I'd spat out a string of my finest disgusting language learned at an early age down at dockside. Aragorn and Legolas stared at me, then Aragorn gave me just what I'd demanded, much to my dismayed satisfaction.
And so now I'd bought for my little brother yet another dire consequence. Fine big brother I was. Faramir was better off with his other two. At least Aragorn and Legolas weren't likely to lead him into a sewer full of orcs, a sore bottom and a mouthful of soap. I growled low in my throat, and I again bucked up, this time adding some kicking. Damrod clamped his strong arms over my body, holding me down and waiting patiently.
"When he spanks me he listens to all that I don't say." Faramir again, surpassing expert on Damrod spankings. "And thank the Valar he does, Boromir, because I'm usually too foolish to be anything but trouble."
"True to form, little urchin."
But then, I'd already known this about Damrod, that he listened to us and knew what to do for us.
“He can’t know!” Faramir had once bellowed. “How can he know, Boromir?”
I answered with one of our familiar responses. “Because he is Damrod, little brother.”
“I should have challenged him on it!”
“You mean you didn’t?”
“Well . . . no. I mean, well . . . yes, as a matter of fact, I did.”
“I vow that was well received.”
Of course, Faramir, rich in Dúnedain gifts, knew full well of Damrod's singularly accurate insight. He had simply objected to it. Loudly.
When I finally gave up my struggle and lay still, Damrod said, "So foul elvish cheek is your answer?"
I had forgotten the question. "What?"
"I asked if we were done sparring now," he replied with irritating patience. "Or would you like me to turn you loose that you might try to release more of that unbefitting anger?"
I thought about the futility of battling this man further and slowly shook my head.
"No . . . sir," I muttered. "I don't need to fight you again."
Damrod patted my backside. "Good boy. Then let us get on with this."
Aye. Let us, indeed. My turn. I braced myself for an opening round of our lieutenant's finest efforts. Recalling what I'd just seen him do to Faramir and dreading what I was about to feel, I closed my eyes, trying not to quiver, sensing Damrod's hand rising over my backside. And then that hand fell.
My eyes popped open. He had started spanking me, yes, if one could call it that. He was spanking me at an easy, moderate pace and with downright light swats. What was this? Spank after spank fell, Damrod settling into a steady, calm rhythm, but with little effort behind his swats. Was this some kind of new approach? Was he planning to begin spanking me harder any second now? Was this a way to throw me off my guard, lure me into a sense of false security ere a full blown Damrod spanking would crash down? No. He wouldn't betray my trust with such lowly tactics. I had no idea what to think.
"Have I your attention, little boy?" he asked.
I scarce knew what to say to him. I couldn't think much beyond a muttered, "Uhhhh . . . yyyyes."
"Good," he said, and he kept right on with his pathetically light spanking. What the blazes was going on here?
"I asked him one time," Faramir had once told me, "I said, 'Damrod, why do you demand my attention if you aren’t going to talk to me?'”
"He said, 'I require your attention, little one. I do not wish to talk to you.'"
I'd laughed at the time, but now I desperately wanted to question Damrod myself. Maybe he wanted me to. This was so utterly, blatantly wrong. Was he trying to force me to question him? If so, I refused to comply. I didn't need to know what he was up to. I'd lie here all day before I'd ask him anything. But such an approach hardly seemed like Damrod. He was ever direct. He wouldn't try to manipulate me in such a way. So what was he doing?
I'd never been spanked like this. Was this even a spanking? It eventually might have some impact, but at this rate we would be here for hours ere what he was doing had the desired effect. My mind scurried and flew about, seeking reason. Was Damrod tired? Mayhap our lieutenant had overtaxed himself . . . no. No. Damrod overtaxed? Impossible.
I lay there, bewildered, the strangeness of this turning into a sharp fear. Finally I could bear it no longer.
"Damrod, what are you doing?"
"I should think that was fairly obvious," he said with mild surprise. "I am spanking you."
And just what could I say next? 'You call this a spanking?' 'You're not spanking me hard enough?' 'Why aren't you making much of an effort?' 'Why aren't you spanking me as you did Faramir?' I couldn't ask him such questions. The mere thought made me cringe. Such questioning implied I wanted to be spanked harder, and I . . . I didn't . . . but I did. It implied that I thought Damrod didn't care to . . ..
This was no spanking. I felt ridiculous, embarrassed to be laying here, a party to this pretense. That's what it was. What had I done to deserve this miserable effort instead of an honest spanking? After all, I had led my brother astray and put him in danger because I'd wanted to see him smile again. I'd wanted to be a hero to him. Damrod had been forced to muster a large party of warriors and come rescue us, endangering all their lives as well. I was responsible for everything that had happened today. Surely that would have earned me a decent spanking, a spanking as long and intense as Faramir's had been.
I hated that thought. It seemed to smack of jealousy when it was plain that Faramir had deserved more attention than I did. He'd had a hurtful breach to mend with Damrod, so of course Faramir's need was greater than mine was. I was glad Damrod had spanked my brother into a state of little boy exhaustion. Aragorn and Legolas had done the same to me more than once, and although my backside suffered, the release from my inner torments was so wondrous I would collapse, peaceful and safe, as Faramir now was. I looked at him, his face close by and turned towards me, his lips slightly parted. Sleep, little brother. I'm glad you're not awake to watch this. Good thing Damrod had spanked Faramir first. He would have been unable to contain himself had he witnessed what Damrod was doing.
How long had he been at this? My backside was scarcely warm. My first spanking from our lieutenant in twenty-two years and this was all he could manage? This was all I was worth? Aye, Faramir had bigger sorries to offer and more painful hurts to heal, but did I not also deserve a goodly measure of our lieutenant's care?
But . . . Damrod was not really "our" lieutenant, was he? There was a time when he belonged to both of us, but he was Faramir's lieutenant now. When we were growing up our father, envious of Damrod's influence over his sons, sent our lieutenant away for long periods of time and Faramir and I had endured that loss together. But then Father dispatched Damrod and Faramir to Ithilien to guard Gondor's borders, and now, twenty-two years later, it made sense that Damrod was closer and more devoted to Faramir than he was to me. How could he not be? I could not blame him for it.
When Damrod and my little brother were sent away Faramir was torn between his happiness in escaping Denethor's cruelty and his anguish in being sent so far from Gondor and his big brother. I was also in anguish, also torn. I was losing my little brother and Damrod. But I was glad Faramir would now be out of Father's firing range, glad I would no longer witness what that man did to my gentle little brother.
Life with Denethor was different for me than it was for Faramir. The Steward reveled in my victories and my leadership skills. He warmly supported me in all my successful undertakings. And yet I dreaded being left alone with him. I hated living under the strain of his constant demands, knowing I'd be required to perform to his increasingly higher expectations and that failure meant enduring his harsh disapproval and days of brutal coldness. Now there would be no Faramir to commiserate with me and jolly me out of my dark mood, no Damrod to clap his big paw on my shoulder and tell me how proud he was of me, regardless of the outcome of my efforts. Losing both of them would change my life, and not for the better.
But I couldn't allow myself to think on't, not with my insightful little brother sensing all I wasn't saying. I had one last, vital deed to do when seeing them off on the morning they left for Ithilien. I had to convince Faramir that he needn't worry about me.
"I shall be fine," I'd lied, watching Damrod mount his horse in the stables, Faramir lingering before me, his sad eyes overflowing with concern.
My one consolation in this parting was that Damrod would be with him. I envied Faramir in the way I sometimes did, that as the younger son there was less of a burden upon him to excel. His drive to prove his worthiness came from his own desperate desire to please Denethor.
In truth our father rarely asked much of Faramir, expecting he had nothing of value to offer. When Faramir would attempt to reach out to him, to somehow gain his attention and please him, our father ignored him. Turned away and absolutely ignored him. I'd see my brother's wounded gaze when it would happen and it tore at my heart. For Faramir to be ignored, especially when he was open and vulnerable and reaching for Denethor was one of the cruelest of all cruelties. I couldn't fathom why Faramir kept attempting to reach our father. Where did he find the desire to try again and again when Denethor had acted with such brutal, predictable consistency? How could Faramir have faith in a new outcome when time after time Denethor coldly refused to notice him?
Most horrible of all was when Denethor would lure my trusting brother to him, respond to Faramir's attempts to talk or to share time with him, encouraging Faramir with a small random smile or a moment of listening, just enough to kindle my brother's belief that perhaps this time things would be different, that maybe something had changed and he'd at last become worthy of Father's attention. Faramir would innocently, hungrily reach for Denethor's offer of longed-for approval, and then, just when my brother was enjoying the heady feeling of possible acceptance, Denethor would turn away from him again, slam the door against him and ignore Faramir, forcing him to suffer anew the anguished silence of dismissal. When it happened I could scarce control my rage.
My little brother would be free of Denethor's heartlessness now. Damrod would be there to give him the acceptance and the loving guidance and discipline he had ever given us both. And I was near twenty-one. I no longer needed the same kind of discipline Damrod had given me a year ago when I'd tried to climb the Tower of Ecthelion. I was an adult now, too old to be spanked by our lieutenant. I would be fine. I would be. I would have to be. And that was what I struggled to convince my brother of the morning he and Damrod left.
Damrod silently waited, showing none of his feelings, but Faramir was suffering. Not for himself, of course, but for me. His eyes were glassy with tears he was fighting to hide. Willing away my own tears I'd grabbed him up and held him tightly, feeling him tremble, feeling him bury his face against my shoulder and scuff the wetness from his cheeks.
I'd looked up at Damrod who sat so stoic and straight in his saddle, watching us. "Take care of him," I thought, knowing Damrod would hear me. "Keep him safe." Of course, I need never have told him that. I'd just needed to say it to him, even if only in my mind. He studied me, his handsome face softened, and he gave me a nod.
That nod from Damrod enabled me to pull my brother back and gaze at him with quiet reassurance, saying, "Go now. I know we shall see each other soon."
"How can I leave you here alone?" he murmured, his voice wavering. "With him?"
"You must," I said. "Remember, little brother, life with Denethor is different for me than it is for you. I shall be fine."
"Faramir," Damrod said, gentle but firm. "Your Rangers are assembled and wait for us outside the gates. Come, sir. 'Tis time to go."
Faramir nodded and mounted and I walked in silence beside them to the city gates. Damrod gave me an encouraging grin, told me to behave and that he was proud of me, and then he rode on, but before following him Faramir leaned down towards me. I moved closer and he touched his forehead to mine. "I love you, big brother," he murmured. "But you are, as you have ever been, an appallingly poor liar." Sitting up quickly he trotted his mount after Damrod through the city gates.
When I was four years old I stood in this same spot weeping and watching Thorongil ride away from me through those gates, my father's hand clamped tightly on my shoulder to keep me from once again running after the man I adored. I now stood watching my beloved little brother and our steadfast foster father lieutenant leave the city, not knowing when, or if, they would ever return. Thorongil had never returned. Would I ever see my little brother or Damrod again?
My chest ached as it had all those years ago when I was a child. I tore up to the highest lookout point on the gates and stood watching Faramir and Damrod lead the escort of Rangers across the Pelennor Plains, straining my eyes until they became only a cloud of dust, then vanished on the horizon. I stood there for a long time, feeling such emptiness I couldn't move. I was alone again. Left behind again.
So of course Faramir and Damrod would have formed a special bond over their many years together. Of course Faramir's lieutenant would care more about my brother than he did me. That was as it should be and I wouldn't want it to be otherwise. But now, laying across Damrod's lap and enduring his half-hearted efforts, I again felt my chest ache as it had the day I had watched Damrod ride away and leave me, the way it ached the day Thorongil had left me. This spanking hurt in ways I couldn't begin to describe, ways I wanted to hide from, bury, deny.
It was unjust of me to feel abandoned by this man. He'd had no choice but to obey Denethor's orders. I would never have wanted Faramir to be alone in Ithilien. He'd been but sixteen years old at the time. Without Damrod, who might my little brother have become? He surely wouldn't be the Faramir he was now.
So it was petty and foolish of me to feel slighted. I was humiliating myself. I would shut this feeling away and take whatever Damrod decided to give me. Perhaps this was, indeed, all I deserved. If Damrod thought so then who was I to question his judgment? Even if I degraded myself and asked him for more it would mean nothing. The choice to give me a decent spanking had to be Damrod's, and he'd clearly decided that wasn't what I deserved.
I suddenly felt oddly and horribly fearful. Something big and dark and painful rose up inside me, mixing with my still simmering anger and building swiftly until it burst, spilling that darkness throughout me. I couldn't think straight. I could only lower my head to my arms and lay there, blackness washing over me, loneliness slithering along my limbs.
"How silent you are, little boy," Damrod said. "Gone journeying have we?"
"Aye, sir," I said in a small voice.
"You know that is not permitted."
"Aye, sir. But . . .."
"You haven't said anything yet."
"Nor have you."
"But, Damrod, you're supposed to . . .."
"I am supposed to . . . what?"
And I could say nothing. I couldn't teach Damrod about how to properly give a spanking, nor did I want to. What was Gwinthorian's silly word . . . ? Ew.
"Boromir. Answer me. What am I supposed to do?"
"I don't know." It was the truth.
"I think you do know."
"No, I don't. I . . . I misspoke. Pardon me. But I don't know."
Onward to Part Two.