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03 May 2011 | 9184 words
TITLE: Spring Thaw (Part 1)
CHARACTERS: Aragorn, Boromir, Faramir, Legolas, some hobbits, a dog…
WARNINGS: AU (ruby-verse)
SUMMARY: Faramir finds himself unwillingly babysitting his brother’s puppy when he would rather be doing … other things. Elves, as usual, are good for nothing but trouble. Certain hobbits prove once again that they are NOT helpful. EVER. Boromir is going to be cold and wet and VERY ill-tempered when he gets home…
DISCLAIMER: Characters do not belong to me. They are just here to play.
Faramir had decided before he reached his door that whoever was pounding on it needed a proper beating. He was fairly certain it wasn’t Merry and Pippin again; that pair had come by earlier, pestering Faramir to come and join them for lunch, seeing as how they’d just arrived and hadn’t eaten since second breakfast, but he’d sent them away, ignoring their demands for an explanation. He certainly wasn’t going to discuss with them, of all people, the fact that he had company and had no intention of going anywhere: after days of nearly climbing the walls with impatience to be free of the city, Legolas had finally received a clean bill of health from Aragorn, and had immediately retrieved Arod from the stables and made his escape, and after two weeks had just returned, not too long before the arrival of the hobbits. Faramir had been thinking that two weeks could not possibly seem as annoyingly long for an elf as for a mortal, but Legolas had been quite impatient and more than enthusiastic, making the hobbit interruption extremely ill-timed. Now this new unwelcome interruption had dragged him out of a pleasant half-doze from his warm bed and the even warmer body in it, and Faramir was not pleased.
Anyone but Aragorn would have received an unexpected degree of verbal abuse, but at the sight of the King, Faramir settled for a very Boromir-like scowl.
“What are you doing in your underclothes in the middle of the day?” Aragorn asked, distracted from whatever he’d intended to say.
Faramir raised his eyebrows as if to suggest that anyone who had to ask such a question was being significantly dense.
“Back already, is he?” Aragorn asked, smiling. “He must like you. I’d assumed we wouldn’t see him back in the city for at least a month.”
“Yes, and now you are more than welcome to go away and stop interrupting my welcome,” Legolas called from the bedroom.
Aragorn shook his head; there was no creature in Middle Earth more smug than an elf who’d gotten exactly what he wanted.
“This is slightly more important than your entertainment, Legolas.”
Faramir’s eyes narrowed. “What is it? Where’s Boromir? They were supposed to be back today.”
“Why do you always assume it’s your brother?”
“When is it NOT my brother?”
“Point taken. I’ve no reason to think any harm has come to him or any of his men, but with all the snowmelt on the Pellenor, the Anduin and its tributaries are quite thoroughly flooded, and still rising. I’m sure they’ve taken a different route to keep to higher ground, but it may take them several days to find a place where they can cross safely.”
“Safety isn’t usually my brother’s priority.”
“Not for himself, no, but he’d never put even one of his men in unnecessary danger.”
“I’ll go ride out and see if I can…”
“What? Why? The healers have cleared me for my normal duties. No more headaches, no dizziness…”
“I know. But any small party trying to cross the Pellenor right now would be in considerable danger from the flooding. Boromir will bring them all back in fine shape, although he’ll be in a foul mood the whole time.”
“So what do you want me for?”
Aragorn smiled. “I need you to look after Finn.”
“You want me to babysit the dog.”
“Don’t be silly. You and Arwen have been taking care of her…”
Aragorn made a face and waved his hand. “The Queen is not terribly fond of dogs, Faramir, especially noisy, destructive half-grown puppies. She’s tolerated it very well thus far, but if I tell her we’ve got to keep her another few days…”
“All right, all right,” Faramir sighed.
“Splendid,” Aragorn said, obviously relieved. “I’ll go get her.”
Faramir closed the door and sank into his chair by the fire. After a moment, warm arms twined around him from behind.
“So it seems,” Faramir agreed.
“Next time, you’re coming with me instead of me coming here.”
“Maybe when it’s summer, but right now I’ve got a warm fire and a warm bed and hot water and hot meals…”
“Men,” Legolas sighed. “It’s amazing how any of you survive at all, as soft as you all are.”
“Soft? Come here and see what that groping of yours has done to me, and you won’t use that particular word again.”
Legolas made a disapproving sound. “Aragorn will be back very shortly. Anyway, I thought you needed a rest.”
“Hadn’t you heard that the Stewards of Gondor count a fair number of elves among their ancestors?”
“Well, then,” Legolas said, grinning. “But whatever you’ve got in mind, it’ll be nobody’s fault but your own if Aragorn shows up in the middle of it.”
Finn was delighted to see Faramir, her favorite person next to her master, and she bounced happily at him, barking, as soon as Aragorn let her off her lead. Faramir was completely unable to maintain any semblance of annoyance in the face of this onslaught, and couldn’t help grinning as he reached down to scratch the tawny ears.
“Good lass. Come to stay with Uncle Faramir for a few days?”
Legolas rolled his eyes. “Uncle, is it?”
“Well, I don’t see much chance of Boromir producing any human nieces or nephews for me, thanks to Aragorn…”
Aragorn shook his head. “You know as well as I do that wasn’t likely to happen regardless of my involvement in the matter, Faramir. Now, I must get back to my duties, which at the moment include assisting my dear wife in removing dog hair from the furniture.”
Legolas glanced at Faramir. “See? I told you wives are more trouble than they’re worth.”
“I’ll thank you not to talk about the Queen like that in my presence,” Aragorn said.
“Very well,” Legolas said cheerfully. “Go away, then, and you won’t have to hear it.”
Aragorn departed, but Finn continued to bound back and forth across the room, snorting and sniffing into every corner. She took a long moment to carefully inspect Legolas, as she was quite aware that her master disapproved of him, but at the moment the fair-haired elf smelled as much of Faramir has he did of himself, and Finn seemed to take note of him as a mobile piece of Faramir’s furniture before bouncing off again.
“Can’t you get her to lay down and go to sleep?” Legolas said impatiently. “I did have plans for this afternoon.”
“She’ll settle down in a bit.”
“We could go into the bedroom and close the door.”
“That’s fine, if you want her to cry and howl like she’s being tortured.”
“Hasn’t Boromir taught her any manners at all?”
“He claims he has,” Faramir said, chuckling. “Finn, sit!”
The puppy grinned up at him happily and showed no intention of sitting.
“Finn, come here.”
Again, he received only a delighted puppy expression as a result.
“You don’t sound enough like Boromir,” Legolas advised.
Faramir shook his head, but lowered his voice and put a harsher tone to it before he spoke again.
Finn plopped her rear end on the floor, tail wagging wildly.
“If you want her to settle down and sleep, we ought to take her down to the garden and let her run for a while,” Faramir said, reaching for the lead.
Legolas yawned. “Sounds terribly exciting, but I do believe I’ll wait here.”
Finn had been meandering down the hall, sniffing at puddles, but when she heard familiar voices ahead, her ears raised and she froze, looking excitedly in the direction of the disturbance.
“And you know, Pip, how men are about such things.”
“And how many men do you know in that sort of way, Meriadoc?”
“Hmph. Perhaps I’ve been to bed with all sorts of men and just haven’t told you about it.”
“Well, if you have, that would explain a few things.”
Pippin must have whispered his answer, and it must have been extraordinarily dirty, because when the pair came around the corner Merry’s face was as red as Faramir had ever seen it.
“Hello, lads,” Faramir said, smiling.
“Don’t talk to him,” Merry said. “He’s filthy and horrid and shouldn’t be allowed among decent people.”
Pippin, looking very pleased with himself, glanced around and grinned. “I don’t see any decent people around here, though, so it should be all right.”
Finn whined eagerly, and Pippin chuckled and scratched her ears while she squirmed happily. Suddenly, she stopped and began sniffing avidly at his hands and the pockets of his trousers. Pippin laughed.
“What have you got, Master Peregrine?” Faramir asked.
Pippin held out his hands, letting Finn lick them. “Butter.”
“In your pockets.”
“Afraid you’ll be hungry later?”
Pippin grinned slyly at Merry. “No, but certain foolish young hobbits forgot to put any oil in either of our packs, and when we went to the kitchen to ask for some, the girls tossed us out.”
“Why would they do that?” Faramir asked, puzzled.
“Perhaps it was on account of Pippin having to mention that it needed to be a particularly nice, slippery oil, and preferably with a nice taste, and without any sort of spices in it that might be uncomfortable if applied to the skin…” Merry said.
Pippin laughed, still scratching Finn’s ears. “I did manage to steal some butter from a dish on the counter on our way out the door, though. Not that I’ll need it, apparently… after all, Merry’s been with so many men, he’s probably as…”
He was cut off abruptly as Merry tackled him to the floor. “You dirty-minded, evil, rotten creature!”
Pippin bounced to his feet and bolted down the hall, shouting over his shoulder. Merry scowled and took off after him, muttering threats. Faramir shook his head.
“Shall we get back to our walk, then?”
As the gate to the small garden came into view, Finn’s tail began to wag and she began squirming and tugging at the lead eagerly.
“Just a moment, lass… let me get this gate open…”
Faramir attempted to work the wet, half-frozen latch, which was made more difficult by having only one hand to use, the other being occupied keeping a tight grasp on Finn’s lead as she pulled at it excitedly.
“Settle down! I’m working on it, lass…”
The lead in his hand went suddenly limp, and Faramir looked up just in time to see Finn at a full run vanishing around the corner of the hall. He stared blankly for a moment at the empty collar still attached to the end of the lead, and was suddenly hit by the memory of Pippin’s hands scratching and rubbing at Finn’s ears and neck… Pippin’s butter-covered hands…
“Finn!” he shouted.
The hall was alarmingly silent. Faramir dropped the lead and the slippery collar and raced after the dog, but she had a head start, and by the time he rounded the corner, she had darted down one of the side hallways and was nowhere to be seen.
There was no sign of the puppy.
“Bloody hell,” Faramir muttered. Then, spotting one of the guards at the far end of the hall, he shouted and motioned for him to come over, quickly explaining the dilemma and attempting to ignore the man’s broadening grin.
“So you’ve lost the Steward’s dog, then.”
“It was all the hobbits’ fault. No one should let those two have butter. Or anything else they can do damage with.”
The man attempted to look solemn. “I’ll go track down the other guards on duty, Captain Faramir. She can’t get down to the next level of the city without going through the gates, so I’ll have them keep an eye on those, and then the rest of us will start looking for her.”
Faramir sighed. He couldn’t very well go back to his room and let Legolas do all the things he’d suggested earlier, not while Boromir’s dog was missing under his care.
“Any foods we might tempt her with, sir? What does she like?”
“She’s crazy about Boromir. She’d come in a second if he called her. But since he’s not here…”
“Of course, sir. We’ll start looking right away.”
With a last thought of the warm bed and warm hands awaiting him, Faramir shook his head and walked off in the direction Finn had gone.
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