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Reasons Not to Trust an Elf (NC-17) Print

Written by RubyElf

21 January 2011 | 12129 words

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Part 4

The next morning arrived, cold but bright and sunny, and when Faramir woke his brother was gone, apparently having taken the puppy with him. He had not, of course, bothered to clean up the puddle the puppy had left in front of the hearth, but Faramir was too amused to complain and mopped up the mess with a rag before setting out for the archery training grounds, hoping that at least some of the archers had recovered enough from their three-day leave to at least attempt to hit a target.

After most of a morning spent prodding reluctant archers to get their gear together and get out onto the practice fields, Faramir stepped back for a few minutes to watch. As he stood, wondering whether to intervene before some of the terribly misfired arrows struck someone out working in the next field, he heard a sharp, excited bark from behind him.

He turned to find Boromir walking toward him; at the end of a lead, wearing a handsome brown leather collar, was Finn, trotting along briskly, attempting to nip at Boromir’s heels as he walked, darting in front of him in an attempt to tangle the lead around his legs. Boromir watched her with the benevolent good humor of a parent waiting for a particularly exuberant child to calm down, untangled his legs, and glanced at Faramir as if expecting a questioning remark.

“Hello, Finn,” Faramir said, as the puppy launched herself toward him, straining at the lead in her eagerness to greet him. Boromir chuckled and took a few steps closer, and Faramir’s legs were immediately covered with wet paw prints.

“Sorry,” Boromir said, not sounding even slightly apologetic.

“That’s a fine collar. Where’d you get it?”

“Went down to the leatherworkers’ shops this morning. Had them find some nice soft bridle leather and make her a collar and a lead.”

“She looks very proper.”

Boromir smiled slightly, glancing down at Finn, who was now busily attempting to chew the fur cuff off of his boots.

“Nothing proper about her. Is there, lass?”

The puppy sat back and looked up at him with an expression of complete and unreserved adoration. Boromir shook his head.

“Silly thing. She’s bright, though. Aren’t you? Shall we show him what you’ve already learned this morning?”

“Please do,” Faramir said.

Boromir raised his hand, catching the puppy’s attention, and said in a firm voice, “Sit.”

Finn cocked her head curiously and then went back to chewing on his boot.

“Hmph,” Boromir muttered, trying not to smile. “Needs practice.”

“She’ll learn. She’s certainly taking a liking to you.”

“Only because I fed her left-over roast pork and let her use me as a bed all night.”

“You’re going to keep her, then?”

Boromir looked at him as if he’d suggested he go eat rocks. “Of course I’m going to keep her. What would I do, give her to someone else?”

Faramir glanced down at the puppy, who had given up on Boromir’s boot and was pawing hopefully at a small pile of snow nearby.

“Well, little one, your friends at the stable will be most pleased to find out that you’ve found yourself a home with none other than the Steward of Gondor himself.”

The two men stood for a moment, watching the puppy snort and play in the snow.

“You said I could bother you about Aragorn this morning,” Faramir said carefully.

Boromir glanced out at the practice field. “That one fool just about hit himself in the head with his own bow.”

“They’re having a rough morning. If you’re not going to talk about it, just tell me and I’ll stop wasting my time.”

“I don’t know what you want you want to know…”

“There you are!” a voice interrupted, and Legolas came around the corner of the wall, looking toward Faramir. When he spotted Boromir, he halted abruptly and glared at him with an expression somewhere between contempt and wariness.

“Good morning,” Faramir said, grinning. “I hear you had a bit of a run-in with my brother yesterday.”

“He tried to break a bottle of wine over my head,” the elf said, scowling. “And then he shoved me into a corner and emptied an entire tray of potatoes and gravy all over me, which was quite hot, by the way, and he was going to…”

“You were warned,” Faramir said mildly.

“I believe that was a rather drastic overreaction,” Legolas protested.

Faramir snorted. “You’ve never seen a drastic overreaction from my brother, or you wouldn’t be here to talk about it.”

“That still doesn’t excuse that kind of…”

All three of them looked down as Finn bared her teeth and laid her ears back, threatening Legolas with her best puppy growl and a sharp glare that very clearly demanded to know exactly who this person thought he was, addressing Boromir in such a fashion.

“Finn,” Boromir said, his tone indulgently amused as he prodded her gently with his foot. She immediately stopped growling and sat down, still eyeing the elf suspiciously.

“Perhaps you ought to teach your new friend some manners,” Legolas said coldly.

Boromir shrugged. “Perhaps you ought to learn some, if you’re so irritating that even puppies don’t like you.”

Before Faramir or Legolas could say anything else, the puppy gave an eager tug at the lead, and Boromir contentedly allowed her to drag him off in the direction of the kitchens.

Faramir spotted Boromir several times over the course of the day, strolling through the training grounds and commenting upon the various activities, with Finn trotting beside him, worrying at the lead with her teeth and biting at his pants and otherwise being generally unhelpful. Faramir couldn’t help but chuckle at the puzzled glances the soldiers gave each other after their usually gruff Steward passed by with nothing more than a benevolent smile or murmured comment of approval instead of his usual sharp orders.

Eventually giving up on his ill-tempered and hung-over archers, Faramir sent them all home in annoyance and retreated to the library, where he could generally expect to be left alone for most of the afternoon and evening. He stirred the coals in the main hearth and tossed some logs on them before lighting a lamp and carrying it back into one of the quiet reading rooms at the far end of the library, each equipped with a comfortable chair, a small table, and a curtain to draw across the doorway to prevent disturbances. He had long ago claimed one as his own and had an assortment of books hidden away there, although he noticed with some amusement that many of them were about the customs and lore of elves; he shook his head and thought that he would be considerably better off if he were less familiar with elves, or at least with one of them.

He had just settled down into the chair with a book of some rather terrible poetry, and was about to set it down and go find something less awful to read when he heard someone else swing the heavy library door open. This did not particularly catch his attention, but the next sound did: the jingling of a lead on a dog collar.

“There, lass,” Boromir’s voice said. “No trouble in here, and no chewing up the books. I’ll only be a moment. I know there are books in here about dog keeping… just not sure where they’d be… under ‘dog’, maybe? I don’t see anything that says ‘books about dogs’… Finn, stop that!”

Faramir was prepared to go out and assist Boromir in his fruitless search (the books he was looking for would be shelved under ‘livestock’), but at that moment, the main door swung open again, and another well-known voice spoke, seeming not to know whether to be more shocked at seeing Boromir, seeing him in the library, seeing him with a puppy gnawing on his boot, or all of the above.

“Boromir… is that a dog?”

Faramir held his breath, knowing that his brother’s answer would indicate a great deal about his general disposition and whether the situation was going to result in physical injury.

“No, Aragorn, it’s a dragon. It can fly, too. Want to see?”

Faramir exhaled, relieved; the tone was bitter, but not outright hostile.

“What are you doing with a dog?” Aragorn asked.

“She’s my dog,” Boromir said bluntly.

For a moment, neither of them spoke, but Faramir could hear Finn bouncing eagerly and snuffling, probably trying to get to Aragorn and give him a proper licking.

“She’s lovely,” Aragorn said quietly. “What’s her name?”

“Why do you care?”

“Well, I’d like to know what to call her.”

“You don’t need to call her anything. But her name is Finn.”

Another long moment of silence, interrupted only by the increasingly frantic sounds of the puppy whining and scrabbling on the stone floor as she attempted to get closer to the new person and inspect him. Finally Faramir heard, to his surprise, a low chuckle.

“Go on and pet her, Aragorn, before she drives herself to distraction.”

Finn snorted and squirmed with delight as Aragorn scratched her ears. Faramir peered past the edge of the curtain, trying to keep himself from laughing.

“Hello, lovely. Ow! You do have sharp little teeth!”

“At least she likes you,” Boromir said grudgingly. “She growled at Legolas.”

Aragorn stood up. “Ah, Legolas. What’s this he said about you throwing a bottle of wine at him and dumping an entire dinner on him?”

“He deserved it,” Boromir said. “And it wasn’t the entire dinner… I would have stuffed the loaf of bread in his ears if he hadn’t run so fast.”

“I’ve no doubt he deserved it,” Aragorn said, grinning. “Wish I’d seen it.”

“You just missed it,” Boromir said.

“Did I? I was on my way to dinner with some ambassador from somewhere who’d just arrived in the city.”

Boromir laughed. “No, you weren’t. You were on your way to dinner with me… only you didn’t know it because that bloody manipulative elf was playing his damned games again.”

Aragorn shook his head. “He’s persistent; I’ll give him that.”

“He’s been trying to make us play nice, you know.”

Aragorn sighed. “I know, I know.”

“Those gloves weren’t from you, were they.”

“What gloves?”

Boromir grinned broadly. “The ones you had sent to me as a ‘peace offering’.”

“Hmm. Just like the bottle of wine you had sent to me, right?”

“You should know better. I never send anyone anything.”

The two of them stood for a moment, uncertain, until Finn tugged at the leash and whined. Boromir started out of his musing.

“Oh… sorry. Must go! Still working on that whole not peeing in the house business… come on, lass!”

Boromir ushered the anxious puppy out the door, giving Aragorn a glance over his shoulder as if he’d thought to say something and decided against it. Aragorn watched him go, stood for a moment in thought, and then muttered some curses to himself and headed off in the direction of his rooms, leaving Faramir with the library to himself again, just as he heard Boromir’s voice exclaiming from down the hall.

“Finn! You’re supposed to wait until we get outside!”

An unhappy, apologetic puppy whine, and the tone of his brother’s voice instantly changed.

“Come on, lass. It’s not your fault. Let’s go get you something nice for dinner. Don’t worry about the puddle, love… if we’re lucky, Legolas will come along and step in it.”

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For more of RubyElf’s work, visit her LiveJournal.