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

Written by RubyElf

21 January 2011 | 12129 words

Title: Reasons Not to Trust an Elf
Author: RubyElf
Characters: Faramir, Legolas, Aragorn / Boromir (implied)
Rating: PG-13 for the first parts; NC-17 for the epilogue
Warnings: AU (ruby-verse)
Summary: The King and his Steward are in foul moods; Legolas has plans to be “helpful”; Faramir should know better, and Arwen does.
Disclaimer: Characters do not belong to me. They are just here to play.

Why, yes, it is another crappy, snowy, ugly day in my office! How did you know?


Part 1

“I can’t think of a single good reason why I should trust you,” Faramir said, shaking his head.

Legolas put on a pained expression and leaned forward across the table toward Faramir. The young man frowned and drew his mug of ale closer to himself and out of reach of Legolas and anything he might attempt to do to it.

“Why would you not trust me?” he asked.

“Because you dyed my feet blue. And put a rock in my pillow case. Oh, and switched my riding gloves with lacy pink ones.”

“Well, Aragorn would have done it himself if your brother hadn’t had the clever idea to keep an eye on him,” the elf pointed out. “Besides, we have a truce. Remember?”

“Vaguely,” Faramir said, “since you did take me out and get me quite drunk, and then tell me some things, most of which I don’t remember, and then take me somewhere else where I managed to get dosed with sleeping powder and didn’t wake up till dinner the next day.”

“I had nothing to do with the sleeping powder,” Legolas said, raising an eyebrow. “I already admitted that it wasn’t wise of me to underestimate the deviousness of any of Elrond’s children, particularly Arwen.”

“You still got me into it,” Faramir argued. “And you’re not getting me into anything else.”

“You’re starting to sound like your brother,” Legolas said. “Grumbling and growling.”

“Perhaps I’ve realized my brother has more sense than me and I should have listened to him when he told me not to trust you any further than I could throw you.”

“Well, if your brother and the King didn’t have to be so stubborn, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, would we?”

“I’m not sure why we’re having it anyway,” Faramir muttered.

“Because I,” Legolas said proudly, “am extremely persuasive.”

“You’re extremely arrogant.”

The elf shrugged. “Regardless, we must do something about Aragorn and your dear brother.”

“Must we? I’m quite content to leave them alone,” Faramir said, glancing across the inn and hoping one of the other Rangers might come and interrupt the discussion, but they were all busy either watching or playing a game that apparently involved flipping several coins and consuming a corresponding amount of alcohol, with much cheering and encouragement from the other participants.

“They haven’t spoken to each other for a week,” Legolas said.

“Yes, and it’s been a very quiet week,” Faramir said. “I’m inclined to encourage them to never speak to each other again.”

Legolas chuckled. “Do you really want your brother to be in such a foul mood forever?”

Faramir sighed. “He is rather awful to deal with when the two of them are at it.”

“Well, Aragorn’s just as bad,” the elf said. “Well, not as bad, but almost.”

“Aragorn has a wife,” Faramir pointed out, as a loud roar erupted from behind them, indicating that one of the players was now on the floor and therefore had forfeited their bet.

Legolas raised his eyebrows. “And your brother has no other… companionship?”

Faramir scowled. “I’m not discussing this in an inn full of drunken soldiers.”

“Shall I tell the soldiers to go away?” Legolas asked helpfully. “No? Well, then. We shall have to go somewhere else.”

He took Faramir by the arm and briskly escorted him out the door and into the quiet, snowy street, illuminated by the flickering oil laps in the windows of the inn. Faramir thought about resisting, but he’d forgotten how strong elves were despite their deceptively slender build, and decided it would be wiser to just go along with him.

“So you’re saying,” Legolas asked, “that your brother hasn’t been…”

“No, he has not,” Faramir said shortly. “Not that it’s any of your business.”

“Everything is my business,” Legolas corrected him cheerfully. “Surely there are some lovely ladies in this city that would be happy to…”

“He’s not interested.”

“Oh. Well, surely there are some very nice fellows…”

“He’s not interested.”

Legolas snorted. “Well, what’s he interested in? Dwarves? Goats?”

“Hey, now!” Faramir snapped. “That’s my brother you’re talking about.”

Legolas took note of the flare of anger that flashed across the young man’s face, and when he spoke again it was in a moderately more respectful manner.

“Well, he must be interested in something.”

“He’s interested in Aragorn.”

Legolas sighed. “Besides him.”

“Then no, he isn’t.”

“You mean to tell me…”

“I mean to tell you that he won’t so much as look at anyone else, so don’t bother with any silly ideas about finding him a companion to cheer him up or anything stupid like that.”

The elf cocked his head with a puzzled expression.

“I’m certain Aragorn wouldn’t object… he is married, after all…”

“That’s not the problem at all,” Faramir muttered.

“Well, then, what is the problem?”

Faramir gave him a sharp glance. “He’s in love, you daft elf.”

“Oh.”

“What do you mean, ‘oh’? Or don’t elves understand love at all?”

“Of course we do.”

“So what’s the mystery? He’s in love. He doesn’t want anyone else.”

“But…”

“Oh, just stop. You don’t understand at all.”

Legolas followed the man as he stormed off down the street, sending snow swirling and settling behind him.

“I understand just fine,” he said. “Your brother’s moping around making everyone’s life miserable, including his own and Aragorn’s, which doesn’t seem to make much sense when they could be off happily keeping each other busy instead of growling at each other. What’s the matter with him?”

“Arwen…”

Legolas laughed. “Arwen is very fond of her husband. But female elves aren’t the same as mortal women, and though Arwen may have decided to become mortal, she’s still an elf.”

“And?”

“For elves, especially female elves, the intimate activities between a husband and wife are generally intended for the production of offspring. Elf marriages are based on love and respect and enjoyment of each other’s company….”

It was Faramir’s turn to look puzzled. “Men marry for those reasons.”

“True… but elves have an immortal lifetime to decide when they wish to have children, and you have noticed, I suspect, that most elves have only a few children over all that time. Elves marry once and for life. For us to engage in… casual relations for the purpose of pleasure only is considered to be very poor behavior.”

“No wonder your father’s always sending you off on visits instead of letting you hang around his court,” Faramir chuckled.

“My father is unimpressed with my behavior for a wide variety of reasons. But I was attempting to explain to you that passion and desire aren’t really part of what goes on between married elves.”

“Hmm,” Faramir mused, smiling to himself. “You seem to be implying that…”

“That Aragorn probably isn’t being provided with much more of that sort of entertainment than your brother is.”

“No wonder they’re both in such bad moods,” Faramir said, grinning.

“Aragorn loves his Queen, but it seems you mortals need the kind of passion that you can only find with one of your own kind. I’m quite certain that he loves your brother as well, and that whatever it is he finds with him… he finds it only with him.”

Faramir glanced sideways at him. “Perhaps that’s true.”

“Well, then, how shall we go about putting things in order with the two of them?”

“Oh, no, elf. I still don’t trust you for half a moment. Nothing good ever happens to me or anyone else when you’re around.”

“I hardly see how I’m to blame for such unfortunate coincidences. Besides, if you’re not going to help me, I’ll just have to do it all myself.”

Faramir scowled and glanced over his shoulder at the light pouring into the street from the cozy inn where the other Rangers, at least those still able to, were continuing with their game.

“Why don’t you find someone else to help you with these schemes? Like Arwen, for instance?”

Legolas, already striding down the snow-dusted street, burst out laughing. “Don’t be silly. Arwen’s not nearly that stupid. Now, are you coming or not?”

“Intolerable bastard,” he muttered, trying not to notice exactly how much like Boromir he sounded, and hurried to catch up with the elf.

Part 2

“My brother doesn’t give gifts,” Faramir said.

Legolas ignored him, absorbed in the selection of wine bottles on the shelf in front of him. The shopkeeper watched the two of them with curiosity, probably wondering what they were doing browsing around in his store when Faramir usually had his favorites sent to his rooms when he was running out and Legolas usually just helped himself to someone else’s.

“Did you hear me?” Faramir asked.

Legolas glanced at him. “Yes. I just wasn’t aware that your comment merited a response.”

“Boromir doesn’t give gifts. There’s been no gift-giving in my family since our mother died when we were children. Father certainly didn’t approve of such things.”

“And?”

“And Aragorn knows perfectly well that my brother doesn’t indulge in random gift-giving.”

“Well, that will just make this an even more romantic gesture, won’t it?”

“No, because as soon as he sees that it’s from Boromir he’ll assume that either someone’s put something in it or that Boromir is trying to make him look like a fool, and he’s as likely as not to end up tossing it as somebody, and if I’m lucky it’ll be you.”

“You may have a point,” the elf mused.

“Wait… did you just agree with me?”

“No, I still think you’re entirely wrong. I just said you had a point. I didn’t say it was a good point.”

Aragorn stared suspiciously at the bottle of wine sitting on the dining table. Arwen, who had been occupied with a book, looked up at him and smiled.

“One of the guards brought that in.”

“What is it?”

Arwen looked at him as if he might have been hit in the head while out during the day. “It’s a bottle of wine.”

“It has a note on it.”

“Yes…”

“Did you read it?”

“No, I didn’t read it.”

“Why not?” he demanded.

“Because it says ‘Aragorn’, not ‘Arwen’.

“Where did it come from?”

“The store that always delivers our wine. He said someone purchased it for you but didn’t wish to be identified.”

“Who would do a thing like that?”

“Well, maybe if you read the note, you’d find out,” Arwen suggested, sensibly enough.

Aragorn opened the note and read it. Arwen noticed his scowl and raised her eyebrows curiously.

“What does it say?”

“It says it’s a peace offering from Boromir.”

“That’s unusually magnanimous of him,” Arwen observed.

Aragorn snorted. “I doubt it. He’s probably put something in it. Or he just intends to come in here laughing at me tomorrow for thinking he’d really give me anything besides a black eye.”

“He wouldn’t say that,” Arwen said.

“He said it this morning,” Aragorn argued.

“Was that before or after you told him his head would make an excellent battering ram?”

Aragorn scowled and snatched the bottle off the table. “I’m pouring this out the window right this moment.”

Arwen shrugged. “Mind the topiary.”

Boromir arrived back to his own rooms later in the evening and had just finished lighting the lamps and removing his boots when he heard a soft knock at the door. He opened it warily to find a slender young woman, bundled up against the cold, holding a wooden box tied up with a ribbon.

“What is that?” he asked, frowning.

“It’s a gift, sir.”

“What?”

“A gift.”

“What’s in it? More itching powder? A giant spider?”

She looked puzzled. “Sir? No… not that I know of. The fellow came into the shop and ordered this earlier and asked to have it delivered to you this evening. There shouldn’t be anything like that in here… I wrapped it up myself before I brought it.”

Boromir took the box cautiously. “There’s a note on it.”

“Yessir. That’s for you.”

Before he could ask her for any details about the fellow who had ordered the gift, she was hurrying off down the hall, probably suspecting that the Steward of Gondor had possibly lost his mind. He took the box into his room and set it down on the table, opening it gingerly so he would be able to jump away quickly if anything attacked him. When nothing dangerous or unpleasant appeared, he leaned forward to look inside and discovered what appeared to be a very nice pair of leather gloves, lined with fur for the cold winter weather. He pushed the box aside and picked up the note.

“Peace offering?” he blurted out, furious. “Smug bastard! Think a little gift is all it takes, does he? Supposed to go over there wearing my nice new gloves and tell him he’s made it all better?”

From the snow-bound garden below, Faramir watched as the box came hurtling out of Boromir’s window, landing with a soft thump in a snow drift as the gloves came fluttering down after it, followed by a hailstorm of curses and then a slamming of shutters.

“I told you it was just going to make it worse,” he said, shaking his head.

Legolas frowned thoughtfully. “It appears that Aragorn must have really pissed him off this time. Any idea what exactly…”

“No,” Faramir said. “And now you’ve just made him more angry, and I’ll bet you a week’s wages that there’s a whole bottle of wine poured out in the snow under Aragorn’s window.”

“I don’t bet,” Legolas said shortly. “Now, it seems that we’re going to have to find out exactly what Aragorn has done to offend your brother so much, and then…”

“Oh, no. No ‘we’. I told you this was a bad idea, and I was right.”

“It was not a bad idea,” Legolas argued.

“What was it, then?”

“An experiment,” the elf said firmly. “We have gained valuable information…”

“I told you, I don’t want anything to do with this…”

“No, but you’ll do it anyway.”

“Oh? What makes you think that?” Faramir demanded.

“If you don’t, I’ll just carry on by myself, and then I’ll make a huge bloody disaster of it, and then I’ll ride back to Mirkwood and let you clean up the mess by yourself.”

“How is that different from what’s going to happen anyway?” Faramir asked, feeling suddenly very tired. .

“This way you’ll at least know what to expect,” Legolas said brightly.

Part 3

As Faramir walked through the stables early in the morning, horses neighed and shifted eagerly in their stalls, hoping he might be the stable boy coming with their oats. Faramir frowned, wondering absently what the stable boy was up to and why the horses had not been fed yet, but he found himself distracted from this thought by a familiar voice from the far end of the stable.

“.. just looking for a nice spot to arrange a convenient ‘accidental’ run-in,” Legolas was saying.

Faramir did not hear an answer, but the elf’s response sounded distinctly annoyed.

“It is not a stupid idea.”

Faramir, guessing who Legolas might be addressing, chuckled to himself and moved quietly past the stalls, listening.

“Even if they do get into a fight, at least maybe we’ll get some idea what they’re so angry with each other about… I beg your pardon, but they’re my friends and it is my business!”

Faramir stepped around the side of the stall and found the elf leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, scowling at the tall gray horse in front of him.

“Good morning, Arod. Why does your master look so unhappy today?”

Legolas shot the horse a sharp glare. “He won’t be so smug when I sell him as a cart horse.”

Arod flicked his tail with a distinct lack of concern and butted Faramir with his head in friendly greeting.

“What’s this about arranging a run-in?” he asked. “I’m assuming you’re talking about Aragorn and my brother.”

“Of course I am.”

“What half-witted plan are you cooking up now?”

“There’s nothing half-witted about it.”

“Hmm. Then it must be no-witted, which is even more concerning.”

Legolas shook his head. “I’m just working on a way to get the two of them together somewhere where they might talk to each other like reasonable men instead of two-year-olds who missed their naps.”

“You get the two of them together anywhere, and one of two things is going to happen. Either someone is going to refuse to say anything and stomp off, or someone is going to end up with a black eye.”

Before Legolas could answer, the stable boy hurried past them, pushing a wooden wheelbarrow of grain. Faramir motioned him to come back.

“Sir?” the youngster asked nervously.

“Running late this morning?”

“Yessir. I’m sorry. I had to…”

“Had to what?” Faramir asked, curious.

The boy glanced back the way he had come, and an expression of alarm crossed his face. Faramir leaned out of the stall and followed the boy’s eyes to a round-bellied, tawny-furred puppy, all oversized paws and flapping ears. It bounced up to the boy and looked up at him, tongue lolling happily.

“What do we have here?” Faramir laughed, rubbing the little creature’s ears as it licked at him eagerly.

“Err… that’s Honey, sir. Well, that’s what I’ve been calling her, on account of she’s the color of honey. She came around about a week ago… awfully thin she was, sir, and cold. We stable boys have been keeping her in the saddle room and feeding her scraps.”

“She’s lovely.”

The youngster shifted his feet and glanced at Faramir uneasily. “Well, sir, it’s getting to be near impossible to keep her… she hates to be alone and when we have to shut her up in the saddle room she barks and cries… and she’s growing fast… going to be a big dog, sir.”

“Perhaps I could help you find her a home,” Faramir suggested.

The boy looked up hopefully. “Do you think you could? I’ll miss her, but if the stable master finds out we’re keeping her here, he’ll throw her out in the snow…”

Faramir reached down and scooped up the puppy, who nipped playfully at his nose before settling down to lick him enthusiastically all over his face.

“I don’t think I’ll have any trouble finding someone to take good care of her,” he said, grinning.

“Thanks so much, sir. We like her an awful lot… maybe when you find someone to take her, you could let us know who’s got her… so we know she’s well?”

“Of course,” Faramir said, nodding. “Come on, lass… better take you somewhere else before the stable master finds his way in here.”

Legolas followed, protesting, as Faramir walked back toward his rooms with Honey squirming in his arms and chewing at the leather of his vest.

“What are you doing? We’ve got work to do.”

“You’ve got work to do,” Faramir corrected him. “I’ve got a lovely little dog here, and I’m going to take her back to my rooms and find something to do with her until I can find someone to keep her.”

“Would you stop fussing with that dog? We’re going to…”

“No, you’re going to,” Faramir corrected him. “I’m out.”

Legolas scowled. “Fine. I don’t need you anyway.”

He turned on his heel and stalked off down the hall. Faramir chuckled and scratched the puppy between her ears. “About time I told him where to take his brilliant ideas. You seem to be good for me, lass.”

Faramir made his way back to his rooms and made the puppy a bed of old blankets in a corner of his bedroom. With stone walls and no windows, any fussing or barking shouldn’t disturb anyone. While she bounced through the main room, tugging at the tablecloth and barking at one of his shoes, he found a small dish for water.

“I’ll be back in a bit, love, with something from the kitchen for you,” he assured her, trying not to meet her forlorn gaze as he shut the door to his bedroom. He walked off into the cold morning, humming to himself. Legolas was off to get intro trouble without him, and at least when he came home later, there would be someone waiting and happy to see him… even if that someone was probably going to destroy his entire bedroom while she was waiting.

He stopped back at lunch time, surprised and pleased to find that the puppy had apparently slept much of the morning away. He left her enthusiastically gnawing at the scraps he’d brought her from the kitchen and went back out to make sure all was well with the Rangers stationed in Minas Tirith; he’d been rather distracted the last few days and it was about time he let the damned elf go on his own way so he could get back to work.

The sun had set and left the halls in darkness when Faramir came back to his rooms, carrying a basket of scraps from the kitchen, which he had acquired with a promise to bring Honey to visit the next day.

He stepped into the main room and froze; a fire was burning brightly in the hearth, and in a chair by the fire sat a familiar slumped figure, boots propped on the table.

“Boromir?”

“Hush,” his brother said, his voice low. “You’ll wake the baby.”

Faramir crept closer and looked over Boromir’s shoulder; to his tremendous amusement, the tawny-furred puppy was sprawled out, most of her body in his lap, her head resting on his chest, paws draped over him. Boromir looked almost asleep himself, eyes half-closed, one hand resting on her back, ruffled in her fur.

“What’s this?” Faramir asked.

“You tell me. Was walking by your room and thought I heard something barking…”

“You didn’t hear her barking from the hall.”

“All right,” Boromir admitted easily, his voice still low and soft. “I was hiding in your room and heard her barking. She left you a nice little gift in your bedroom, by the way.”

“Expected that,” Faramir said, grinning. “How’d she end up in your lap?”

“Wouldn’t stop crying,” he murmured. “Every time I tried to leave she whined and gave me those damned sad eyes… where’d she come from?”

“Stable boys were keeping her. Said they’ve been calling her Honey.”

Boromir frowned. “Her name’s not Honey.”

“No?”

“No. Her name’s Finn.”

“Finn… after mother?”

Boromir nodded, eyes closed. “That’s right.”

“You’re planning on keeping her, then?”

“Seems that way.”

“Who were you hiding from when you came in here?” Faramir asked, suspecting he knew the answer.

“That stupid bloody impossible elf,” Boromir muttered, but there was no heat in his voice, and the puppy asleep on his chest didn’t stir.

“What…”

“Tried to trick me into having dinner with Aragorn… told me I was supposed to be meeting with some ambassador who’d just arrived, and then I walk in and the bastard’s arranged the kitchen to bring up a nice dinner for two…”

“What’d you do?”

Boromir chuckled softly and opened one eye. “Well, I missed him with the bottle of wine, but he’ll have a time getting the gravy out of his hair.”

Faramir laughed. “Serves him right.”

“I’d have tied him up and left him for Aragorn to find, but he was awfully slippery wearing half of dinner.”

Faramir frowned and stepped closer. “Boromir…”

“No, I’m not interesting in talking about anything having to do with Aragorn, little brother. Go to bed.”

“What are you going to do?”

Boromir yawned and closed his eyes, slumping a little further in the chair. “I’m fine right where I am. If you’re going to bother me about Aragorn, do it in the morning, all right?”

“All right,” Faramir agreed, heading for his bedroom. As he closed the door, he could see his brother dozing off in the chair with the puppy still draped over him, sound asleep.

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.”

Part 5

“Captain Faramir!” a voice called.

Faramir stopped and glanced over his shoulder. One of his brother’s unit captains had tracked him down in the stable, and he sighed and set his saddle down, suspecting that the prospect of a peaceful afternoon ride was about to be ruined.

“Yes?”

“You don’t happen to know where Lord Boromir is, do you?”

Faramir raised an eyebrow. “No, I don’t. Why would you be asking me?”

“Well, we can’t seem to find him. He told us yesterday to have our gear packed and be ready for an assignment by lunch time today, and there’s no sign of him.”

Faramir frowned. It certainly wasn’t like his brother to leave an entire unit in full travel gear standing around waiting for his orders.

“I’ll see if I can track him down. If you haven’t heard from one of the two of us within the hour, have your men head home for the day… it’ll be late to ride out by then anyway.”

“I’ll do that.”

The streets of the lower levels of the city were busy on this cold, sunny afternoon, people bundled up against the chill hurrying from shop to shop, the inns and pubs full of customers enjoying lunch and a beverage (or several). Faramir looked over the heads of the crowd; he knew his target would be the only one strolling around the city with golden blond hair and no hat on.

After much fruitless searching that revealed no hint of Legolas or his brother, he reluctantly decided that he might as well seek Aragorn’s assistance in the matter. If nothing else, the king’s command could mobilize the entire city and have Legolas in front of him within the hour. The elf’s whereabouts became clear, however, as soon as Faramir walked into the royal family’s rooms and found Legolas seated at the dining table with Arwen.

“There you are,” Faramir said. “I’ve been looking for you.”

Legolas glanced at him and poured himself another glass of wine. Arwen smiled and motioned to a chair.

“Won’t you join us, Faramir?”

“No, thank you. I’m supposed to be locating my brother, who seems to have disappeared somewhere, and I suspect your dining companion knows exactly where he is.”

Arwen set her spoon down and gave Legolas a sharp look. “I thought he was with my husband, organizing the patrol groups.”

“That’s interesting,” Faramir said, “since the patrol groups in question haven’t seen Boromir or the King all day, and they’re wondering why that would be.”

Legolas glanced from Faramir to Arwen and back. “I have no idea where they are.”

“Legolas,” Arwen said reproachfully. “What have you done with them?”

“I haven’t done anything with them! Why would you assume that anything that goes wrong is my fault?”

“Because nine times out of ten, it is,” Faramir said. “And the one time that it isn’t, you still probably had something to do with it.”

Arwen rose from her chair. “Legolas, you will take me to my husband right this minute, or I swear by the Valar I’ll have the guards hold you down and shave every inch of your head.”

The elf paled slightly. Arwen did not make idle threats.

“Now,” she added.

He stood up, brushing himself off. “Very well, then, but if we interrupt something, it’ll be your fault.”

Arwen signed and took Faramir’s arm as they followed Legolas into the hall.

“What is he up to now?”

“I expect he’s locked them up together somewhere, thinking they’ll have made up by the time he comes to let them out.”

Arwen laughed. “He doesn’t know my husband or your brother as well as he thinks he does, then. If he’s got them locked up somewhere, all they’ll have done the entire time is plot how to get revenge on him for doing it.”

Legolas led them across the courtyard and down one of the narrower halls which was generally used for storage. The rooms had no fireplace, no lamps, and only very small windows, and Faramir thought to himself about the sort of mood both men were likely to be in if they’d been in there since before lunch.

Legolas stopped and pointed at one of the doors.

“You locked them in there?” Faramir asked. “How did you manage that?”

Legolas sighed. “Told Aragorn that his wife wanted him to get something from down here, and told Boromir you needed something.”

Arwen raised her eyebrows. “Legolas, I do believe you’ve been warned what would happen if you tried to pull me into one of your little schemes…”

“Open the door,” Faramir said.

“Maybe you should,” Legolas said uneasily.

Faramir grabbed him by the tunic and pushed him toward the door. “Oh, no. You’re the one who put two bears in there… now you get to be the one to let them out.”

Legolas approached the door warily and slid back the bolt holding it closed from the outside. For a moment, nothing happened, and Legolas glanced over his shoulder to say something to Faramir, but at that moment the door opened and a sturdy arm shot out, the broad hand neatly capturing the elf by his slender neck and lifting him completely off the ground. Faramir watched the blue eyes widen in alarm.

“Hmm. Doesn’t matter how strong you are if you can’t reach the floor, does it,” Boromir said, stepping out of his storage room prison and making sure to hold Legolas up where he had no leverage against the walls or the floor.

“Put him down, Boromir,” Arwen said gently.

Boromir opened his hand and let the elf drop. He scrambled to his feet, rubbing his bruised throat and glaring at Boromir.

“Are you trying to kill me?”

“Thought about it.”

Aragorn stood in the doorway, shaking his head. “I’d have let him do it. It was cold in there. What the hell did you think you were doing?”

“Making you two get along,” Legolas said sharply.

Aragorn glanced at Boromir. “Well, we’ve come to an agreement about one thing for certain.”

“What’s that?”

“We agree that you, elf, are in a great deal of trouble.”

“That’s right,” Boromir said. “Not only did you lock the King of Gondor in a closet, but Finn’s been in my room with no one to let her out since breakfast.”

Aragorn raised an eyebrow, apparently trying to decide whether to be offended at the implication that these were crimes of equal severity. Arwen patted his arm.

“What shall we do with him?” Boromir asked.

Aragorn shrugged. “Haven’t quite decided yet. Just put him in the closet for now.”

“What? No!” Legolas protested.

“Don’t worry,” Boromir said, shoving the elf through the door. “It’ll only be till we decide what else we should do to you.”

He bolted the door and turned around with a smile. Faramir laughed.

“I doubt that will keep him quiet for long.”

Boromir shrugged. “Made me feel better.”

Arwen kissed Aragorn on the cheek. “You two have been shut up in that little room for a while. Perhaps you and Boromir should take his lovely little dog out for a walk.”

Aragorn and Boromir both scowled.

“It does not take two people to walk a dog,” Aragorn said.

“Besides, she’s my dog,” Boromir argued.

Faramir saw something flash through Arwen’s eyes; mild as they usually were, they could turn to the piercing steel gaze that her father could use to silence an entire room, and through the smile on her face did not change, both men fell silent, pinned by her stare. Arwen Evenstar, daughter of Lord Elrond and Queen of Gondor, was putting her foot down.

“That’s quite enough,” she said, her voice still sweet, but sharp as a wire beneath the calm tone. “You two will go to Boromir’s room and take the dog out for a while. And when you come back, you will be dealing with each other in a civil and reasonable manner, because if you don’t, I will make both of you very, very sorry. And you know I can do that, don’t you?”

Both men swallowed hard and nodded, and Faramir thought to himself that he very much hoped never to be on the receiving end of a look like that from the Queen.

“Good,” she said happily, and took Faramir’s arm. “Shall we, Captain?”

Faramir glanced at his brother and Aragorn with an expression that was part apology and part warning.

“Are you going to let me out now?” came a voice from behind the wooden door.

“No,” the two men said, at the same time.

Boromir sighed. “Well, let’s go get this over with.”

Aragorn scowled. “Am I that unpleasant to talk to?”

“Sometimes,” Boromir muttered. Then, relenting, he added, “I was talking about seeing what Finn’s done to my room being shut in there all day.”

Aragorn grinned. “That may be unpleasant. Perhaps since we’re to be civil to each other, I can help you clean up.”

Finn was so pleased to see Boromir that she nearly tripped him in her eagerness to greet him. He scooped her up and scratched her head absently as he surveyed the damage: one of his two favorite chairs badly mauled, both of the rugs ripped to scraps, one of his leather house shoes mostly eaten, and several tooth-marked table legs.

“Could be worse,” he muttered, shaking his head at the puppy, who licked his face “Good lass. Aragorn will thank you for wrecking that chair. He thinks they’re ugly.”

“Comfortable, though,” Aragorn said.

Boromir glanced at him and began picking up scraps of the rug. “It’s been quite a while since you sat in one of them.”

“Damnit, Boromir, is that what this is all about?” Aragorn demanded. “You know I wish I wasn’t so busy all the time. If I had evenings to come and spend with you, I would.”

“You have them for anyone else who needs it.”

Aragorn shook his head. “Don’t pretend that you don’t see me every day.”

Boromir looked up for a moment, then back at the floor. “I see Ellesar every day. I haven’t seen you in quite some time.”

Finn, darting past, snatched a scrap of the rug out of his hands, then looked back at him curiously when he didn’t pursue her. Boromir stood up and took her lead from a hook on the wall.

“Come on, love. Let’s go for a walk.”

Finn raced to him, ears flapping.

“Boromir…” Aragorn attempted.

“We’re to be taking a walk, remember?” Boromir said, still refusing to look at him. “I’m not going to disobey the Queen… I suspect she could kill a man with those eyes if she had a mind to.”

“I’m quite sure of it,” Aragorn agreed, still trying to find a way to go back to a few moments before and say something to make it right.

“Then we’d better do as she says,” Boromir said, as Finn tugged him toward the door. “Are you coming or not?”

“Do you want me to come?” Aragorn asked.

Boromir thought for a moment, looking at the door in front of him.

“I’m not sure,” he said, and let Finn drag him out into the cold afternoon.

Aragorn hesitated for a moment, but decided that since the answer he’d received was better than the one he’d expected (something along the lines of “bugger off” with some choice insults added for good measure), he had best not waste the chance, and hurried down the hall to catch up with them.

Part 6

Large, soft flakes of snow drifted lazily over the two men as they walked silently through the quiet streets of the city’s upper levels. The guards nodded to them as they passed, trying not to chuckle when Finn barked at them. When there were no guards to catch her attention, she darted back and forth, snapping at snowflakes and tying the lead around Boromir’s legs, drawing a trace of a smile from him.

They made their way to one of the small walled gardens that were hidden away in many corners of the city, and once the gate was pulled closed behind them, Boromir reached down and unhooked the lead from the puppy’s collar. Finn shook herself briskly from tail to ears, then galloped to the far end of the garden. Boromir brushed the snow off one of the stone benches and sat down, watching with amusement as Finn plunged her face into a snow drift, then emerged snorting and rubbing her nose with her paws.

“Cold, isn’t it?” Boromir called to her, smiling. “Daft thing.”

Aragorn, noticing that Boromir had cleared enough room on the bench for both of them, took what he hoped was an unspoken invitation and sat down beside him.

“Ever had a dog before?” Boromir asked.

Aragorn shrugged. “I’ve been in camps where the soldiers kept dogs. The men were fond of them, but they weren’t really pets.”

“Never had time for a dog before,” Boromir said. “I was always away.”

“I’m sure you’ll soon have her trained well enough to go anywhere you go.”

“As long as ‘anywhere’ isn’t the battlefield.”

“I doubt either of us will be seeing much of the front lines again any time soon,” Aragorn said. “The King and Steward aren’t supposed to endanger themselves like that.”

“The battlefield’s the only place where I’m any use,” Boromir muttered.

“That’s not true,” Aragorn disagreed. “You’re a very good Steward. No one could ever question your care for the kingdom or its people.”

“Is that a Steward’s duty?” Boromir asked. “Arandur doesn’t mean ‘servant of the kingdom,’ you know. It means ‘servant of the king’.”

“Is there a difference?”

“Of course there’s a difference,” Boromir said sharply, irritated.

“All right, then. What’s the difference?”

Boromir thought for a long moment, and Aragorn wondered if he had decided to ignore the question, but then his answer came, carefully spoken and quiet.

“For my loyalty to my kingdom, I expect nothing from my kingdom in return.”

Aragorn leaned forward, looking across the snow-bound garden with his arms resting on his knees.

“And what of your loyalty to your king?”

Boromir glanced at Finn, who was rolling happily in the snow, oblivious to her master’s solemn mood.

“I suppose that depends upon what my king expects of me.”

Aragorn sighed. “A Steward’s duties…”

Boromir turned abruptly to fix him with a sharp look. “You wish me to be nothing more than your Steward?”

Aragorn met his eyes. “You wish me to be nothing more than your King?”

Boromir shrugged and turned away. “Might be easier. At least then I could be sure of where I stood.”

Aragorn smiled ruefully. “Have we ever been sure of where we stood, you and I?”

“No,” Boromir said, the flash of anger gone. “But when you first came to wear the crown and struggled under the weight of it, you came to me when you wanted to be Aragorn again for a while, and to forget about Elessar and his duties. Now I’m starting to think it’s Aragorn you’ve forgotten.”

Aragorn gave him a strange look. “But you haven’t.”

Boromir shook his head.

“Do you remember what I told you in Lothlorien?”

Boromir’s face flushed red. “A lot of things. Most of them not fit for polite company. And I was rather distracted at the time.”

Aragorn couldn’t contain a chuckle at that, even as he noted the redness that crept over Boromir’s face and felt a moment of satisfaction at knowing he was not the only one still stirred by memories of that night.

“I told you,” he said, “that I would have you be the one man who, even after I was crowned king, would always remember me and always treat me as the man I was that night.”

“I do recall that,” Boromir admitted quietly.

“It seems I may have forgotten,” Aragorn said.

“I just assumed you had lost interest in being that man anymore.”

Aragorn shook his head. “No. But I may have forgotten how to be.”

A sharp yip drew their attention. Finn, bouncing around in the leafless bushes chasing the scent of squirrels, was caught by her collar on a branch and demanding immediate assistance. Boromir laughed and went to extricate her. She gazed up at him pleadingly as he slid her collar over the twig, then, realizing she was free, barked excitedly and bounded off to dive headfirst into the nearest snow drift.

Boromir turned back toward the bench, but to his surprise he nearly collided with Aragorn, who was standing directly behind him, his expression intent and determined.

“Yes?” Boromir asked, raising his eyebrows.

There was still a Ranger’s wiry strength in the arms that pushed him firmly back until his shoulders found the high stone wall of the garden.

“Hmph! What’s this, then?” he asked, laughing.

“If I recall, at one point you seemed to think that any available wall with even a hint of privacy existed for the purpose of you slamming me against it,” Aragorn noted, hands on the other man’s chest.

“You didn’t complain.”

“No, but I did end up with some rather odd bruises. Arwen used to make a game of trying to guess what you’d shoved me into from the marks on my back.”

“Hmm,” Boromir mused, hands reaching for Aragorn’s hips. “I recall a towel rack… and the edges of some bookshelves… and a sink…”

“A few lamps… the side of the bath… rocks… trees…”

Boromir grinned and pulled Aragorn hard against him and kissed him, Aragorn’s hands sliding up to tangle in his hair, Boromir gripping him hard enough to leave some fine bruises. Arwen wouldn’t have trouble guessing the cause of those, though; the marks of the swordsman’s strong fingers on various parts of Aragorn had once been so common that Arwen had suggested Boromir must have an extra set of hands to be able to grope someone in that many different places at once.

A puzzled whine interrupted them, and Boromir glanced down to find Finn staring up at him with an expression of confusion and some concern.

“I think she’d like to know what you think you’re doing,” he chuckled. “It’s all right, lass. He’s not as bad as he looks.”

Back to Boromir’s rooms, where the shredded rugs and chewed shoes were ignored as doors were locked and a fire stirred to life in the hearth to warm the cold air and lamps lit. Somehow in the midst of this boots and coats and heavy winter tunics managed to be removed and tossed into various corners; Finn investigated these with mild curiosity, but she was exhausted from her busy and destructive day and was soon asleep on the floor by the fire.

“Shall we?” Aragorn asked, nodding toward the bedroom.

Boromir grinned and took Aragorn by the shoulders, moving him sideways a few steps.

“What are you… ow!”

Boromir shoved, and Aragorn fell backwards hard into the chair Finn had mauled. He gave Boromir a reproachful glare, which only widened Boromir’s grin.

“That wasn’t necessary.”

“Oh, but it was,” Boromir said.

“Why?”

“Because I like shoving you around and I haven’t got to do it nearly enough lately.”

“Bastard.”

Boromir made no attempt to apologize, but he did attempt to make it up to him by busying himself with stripping off Aragorn’s breeches and tossing them over his shoulder before pushing himself between his knees and kissing him.

“That’s quite nice,” Aragorn said. “But it doesn’t excuse you throwing me into a chair.”

“Well, since the dog chewed it up and I’m going to have to get rid of it anyway, I thought we might as well make good use of it first.”

“You have a very nice, comfortable bed,” Aragorn protested.

Boromir grinned and kissed him again. “You’re spoiled, you are. What happened to the man who was happy as long as we could find a patch of ground without any sharp rocks?”

“That didn’t mean I wouldn’t have preferred a bed, had one been available.”

“Well, it’s not available.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s all the way over there,” Boromir said, nodding toward the bedroom while his hands were busy stripping off whatever clothing remained between the two of them. “And you’re right here, and I don’t see any reason I ought to waste the time getting you to… augh!”

He jerked back abruptly and spun to glare at Finn, who was staring up at him with surprise, apparently not expecting such a dramatic reaction.

“Cold puppy nose in your arse a good enough reason to relocate to the bedroom?” Aragorn asked innocently.

Boromir growled and tugged him to his feet. “Ruin all my fun ideas.”

“I’m sure you’ll think of others,” Aragorn said, allowing himself to be forcefully directed toward the bedroom.

“I’m already thinking. I’ll send you back to Arwen wearing some nice new marks for her to guess at.”

“At least that’ll prove to her how civil we’re being to each other.”

“Mmm-hmm.”

“Do you suppose Legolas is still in that closet?”

Boromir laughed. “I hope so. Don’t worry about him. He’s always bragging about how hardy elves are. We’ll go fetch him later.”

It was, in fact, quite a bit later when the two of them finally managed to extricate themselves from Boromir’s bed and locate their own clothes. When they went to let Legolas out of his prison, though, the elf was nowhere to be found.

“Bloody elf must have gotten away,” Boromir muttered.

Aragorn shook his head, grinning. “Oh, I doubt that.”

The two men could hear Legolas shouting before they even reached the royal family’s quarters, and Boromir brightened considerably at the distinctly unhappy tone of the elf’s voice.

“Let me up!” Legolas was shouting, as Aragorn pushed the door open.

Faramir looked up at them from the floor, where he was occupied with sitting on and restraining a frantically squirming elf who, despite his arms being bound behind his back, was still desperate enough to be putting up a reasonable fight. For some reason, his head was wrapped in what appeared to be a dark-colored wet turban.

“What in the world are you doing to him?” Aragorn asked.

Faramir grinned. “Ask your wife.”

Arwen emerged from one of the other rooms, drying her hands on a towel. Seeing the two men, she smiled approvingly.

“Good boys. I knew I’d only have to tell you once.”

“What are you doing to the elf?” Boromir asked.

“Oh, it’s already done,” she said lightly. “You can let him up now, Faramir.”

The man pulled the slipknot, releasing the bound arms, and Legolas immediately twisted out from under him and jumped to his feet, unwinding the wet rag around his head with an expression of dismay as he hurried to the mirror on the far wall.

“You’re right, Arwen,” Faramir said. “That is a lovely color.”

The elf stared in horror at his reflection in the mirror and ran his hands through the once-golden hair that was now completely dyed a deep, vivid purple.

“What have you done?” he demanded, horrified.

“It’ll wash out eventually,” Arwen said.

“It will?” Legolas asked hopefully.

“Oh, yes. It won’t take more than a month or so.”

“What? What am I supposed to do till then? I can’t go around looking like this! I’ll have to go into hiding!”

“And what a terrible shame that would be,” Boromir said. “You’re lucky Arwen got to you before I did… I was planning on giving you a thorough beating, but the Queen does have a talent for justice.”

Legolas glared at him balefully as he stormed past the two men and out into the hall, slamming the door behind him.

“He’ll be back,” Arwen said cheerfully.

“Why is that?” Aragorn asked.

She reached for a small bottle on the table and handed it to Aragorn. He studied it curiously, as did Boromir; it appeared to be some sort of light oil, with an oddly familiar herbal fragrance.

“This is the cure for that awful itching powder,” Aragorn said, eyes widening.

Arwen smiled. “Of course it is.”

“But where…”

“He’s bound to stumble upon some of it,” she said. “It’s on just about everything in his room.”

Boromir gazed at her with admiration. “You, my Queen, are an extraordinary woman.”

She smiled gently. “Perhaps. Now, off with you two. There’s a bottle of wine on the bookshelf in your room, Boromir; I think you’ll find that it has… pleasantly stimulating qualities.”

Both men turned red as she ushered them toward the door and out into the hall.

“Boromir?” she called, as they walked away.

“Yes?”

“My husband does have to appear in public tomorrow. Please do plan your bruises accordingly.”

Epilogue

Boromir watched suspiciously as Aragorn retrieved the dark blue bottle Arwen had left on his bookshelf and set it down next to a pair of mugs on the table.

“I think I’ve learned better than to drink anything out of strange bottles. Especially ones that your wife had anything to do with.”

“Nonsense,” Aragorn said, twisting the cork out of the bottle. “You and Arwen have a peace agreement, and she never goes back on her word.”

“She covered the elf’s room with itching powder.”

“True, but I don’t recall Legolas ever asking for or being granted any sort of truce, do you?”

Boromir grudgingly admitted that he did not recall any such thing, watching Aragorn pour the dark red liquid into the mugs.

“That doesn’t look like ordinary wine.”

Aragorn laughed. “You worry too much. Weren’t you going to take Finn out one more time for the night?”

Boromir muttered to himself as he took the puppy’s lead down from its hook on the wall. Finn, obviously aware of what this meant, came galloping across the room toward him, stumbling over the shredded remnants of the carpet.

The two men walked slowly through the dark streets, nodding to the occasional guard as they passed. Finn barked at the first few, but it was really much too late in the evening for such things, and after a few scoldings from Boromir she kept quiet and trotted along beside him, shooting the guards dirty looks as if they had dared to get her into trouble with her master. Boromir scowled into his mug.

“This stuff is rather strong.”

Aragorn nodded, still slightly breathless from the last swallow of the liquor.

“Doesn’t taste too bad,” Boromir admitted. “Still not entirely convinced that it’s not going to do something strange to me, though.”

“Like what?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Turn me blue, or make me grow tits, or something like that.”

Aragorn laughed. “I don’t think blue would suit you.”

“Oh, but tits would, hmm?”

Aragorn studied him with a rather poor attempt at a serious expression. “No, I don’t think so. They’d probably affect your sword-fighting. And they’d probably be hairy, too.”

“Ugh,” Boromir groaned, shoving him. “Go away, you daft bastard.”

“You’re a soldier. I thought soldiers laughed at any joke about tits.”

“Generally the tits in our jokes belong to women.”

“If you’d finished up what was in your mug, you’d probably think that was as funny as I did.”

Boromir chuckled. “Are you admitting that people have to be drunk to find you funny?”

Aragorn rolled his eyes and tipped his mug up, emptying it. Boromir, never one to back down from a challenge, did the same. Finn dragged them forward, eager to sniff in every corner and niche, and Boromir was content to allow her to lead him, letting the warmth of the drink flow through him.

“That is strong,” Aragorn muttered. “Seem to be feeling a bit light-headed.”

A low rumbling chuckle from Boromir. “Good. I was afraid I was the only one.”

Another moment of silence, and then Boromir spoke again.

“I believe we should be heading back soon. Perhaps immediately.”

Aragorn grinned. “Good. I was afraid I was the only one.”

“Well, if we don’t get back to my rooms soon, the guards are going to be wondering what we’re trying to smuggle past them in our pants.”

A hurried walk back to Boromir’s rooms, and then Finn was deposited in front of the hearth with a bowl of bacon trimmings from the kitchen, which was sufficient to keep her distracted. Otherwise, she would have been unable to resist chasing after and mauling the boots, gloves, coats, and heavy over-tunics that seemed to be getting tossed about all over the room behind her. She looked up for a moment with some concern when the bedroom door slammed shut rather abruptly, but then returned her attention to sniffing out any bits of bacon she might have missed.

The abrupt slamming of the bedroom door was due to Aragorn being slammed rather firmly into it, the metal handle digging hard into his back. He considered protesting this treatment, but then Boromir’s cock was digging insistently into his groin, and Boromir was kissing him hard enough to bruise his mouth and leaving him gasping for air.

“Were you going to say something?” he asked, green eyes burning in the lantern light.

Aragorn shook his head, and immediately found himself spun around and shoved again; at least this time Boromir’s soft bed met him as he fell, sprawled on his back with Boromir pinning him hard to the mattress and chuckling to himself.

“What’s so funny?” Aragorn demanded.

“You look terribly offended.”

“Perhaps it’s from being tossed around like a rag doll.”

“Sorry,” Boromir said, and Aragorn noted a distinct lack of apology in his tone, but allowed the other man to gently roll him over as strong hands began to work soothingly into the muscles of his neck and shoulders. If there was a man with hands stronger than Boromir’s, Aragorn had never met him, and the steady rubbing lulled him into a haze of contentment, although he noted absently that he was still quite hard, and that eventually that part of his anatomy would demand relief.

“You’re going to fall asleep,” Boromir said.

“Oh, no, I’m…”

The sharp slap of strong hand on lean buttock rang out clearly in the small room. Aragorn gasped and rolled halfway over to stare at Boromir. Despite his propensity for handling his lover rather roughly, Boromir had never struck him. Now, though, he was sitting back on his knees, and Aragorn took note of the dilated pupils, the rapid rise and fall of the muscular chest. So Boromir had enjoyed that, he thought. Deliberately, he rolled back over onto his stomach and stretched his arms out. He could feel Boromir studying him, reading the implicit consent in the lazy arch of Aragorn’s back and the open hands spread across the sheets, and then he felt Boromir move and braced himself.

The sound was startlingly loud, but the impact of the blow was mild, and Aragorn’s hands twitched slightly, but other than that he did not react. Boromir watched him for another moment before the hand came down again, and this time the echo off the stone walls was not the sharp crack of a slap, but the firm smack of a real blow. Boromir inhaled sharply, and Aragorn felt the impact shudder through his body, his hips rising involuntarily, brought abruptly to full hardness. He felt Boromir’s eyes run over him again, reading the familiar body for any sign of hesitation, and Aragorn knew that if he intended to protest, now would be the time, but he kept still, waiting.

Three more strikes, swift and relentless, leaving skin flushed fiery red, and then he felt Boromir’s weight shift, and three more rapid blows descended on the other buttock, and then Boromir sat back on his knees again, breathing hard, admiring his work, the perfect prints of his strong swordsman’s fingers across the exposed, reddened skin.

“Beautiful,” he murmured. “Finest marks I’ve ever left on you.”

He paused, waiting with sudden concern for a response from Aragorn, but relaxed into a grin when the only answer was a soft, contented chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Boromir asked.

“If you don’t do something with this problem of mine that’s jammed into the mattress, I’m going to leave some marks on you to the tune of a black eye.”

Boromir laughed and his powerful hands grasped Aragorn’s hips hard, hauling him to his hands and knees before groping for the bottle of oil in the stand by the bed where he’d stuck it earlier in the evening. Aragorn felt one hand rubbing roughly over his still-reddened skin while the other fumbled and finally managed to pour a trickle of oil, startlingly cool against the burn of the blows, before the bottle clinked unnoticed to the floor and one hand was on Aragorn’s side, stilling and soothing him while the other busily worked the oil over the exposed opening. Then two fingers were sliding in, briskly and without mercy, spending just enough time to oil and stretch and open before they were abruptly withdrawn.

Aragorn did not expect the sharp blow that burned across his already sensitized skin, felt his body arch unconsciously into the impact, and Boromir took that opportunity to take a bruising grip on the wiry hips and shove himself steadily and relentlessly inside, driving Aragorn forward until his long, low groan was buried in the mattress, hands reaching out to brace himself against the headboard. Boromir drew back, thrust, and then drew back again, this time laying another stinging slap on Aragorn’s buttocks before pushing forward again.

Between the stinging burn that seemed to draw all of his attention to his lower body and the steady force of Boromir driving into him, forcing him to keep shifting his weight to balance the force of the other man’s tremendous strength, Aragorn realized dimly that at this moment, he would allow anything Boromir wished to do to him, reveled in the possessive grip on his hips, the relentless force of the thrusts hard enough to be just on the edge of more than he could stand, but never harder.

Suddenly Boromir pulled away from him, and before he could protest or even question he was flipped forcefully onto his back, knees shoved up firmly toward his chest, Boromir’s fingers locked into a grip on the backs of his thighs that would leave bruised outlines of each fingertip in the morning, and as he resumed his steady pounding, he leaned forward and buried his face into the soft hollow at the base of Aragorn’s throat, his lips on the pounding pulse, sweat-streaked bodies rubbing hard against each other until Aragorn arched blind and gasping and shouting as his hands tightened in Boromir’s hair, until Boromir growled and bit hard into the muscle below Aragorn’s collarbone and muffled a roar into the skin as his teeth marked it.

As both of them regained some rhythm to the frantic racing of their pulses, Boromir raised his head.

“What is that awful noise?”

Aragorn cocked his head to listen, and then grinned at the anxious, desperately sorrowful howls that rose from just outside the bedroom door.

“Is that the dog?” Boromir asked, trying to contain his laughter.

“She apparently thinks we’re killing each other.”

“I’m not entirely sure we weren’t,” Boromir said, his tone apologetic as he pushed himself up on his arms and studied the deep bruise his bite had left on Aragorn’s chest.

“I’m fine.”

Boromir raised an eyebrow.

“Well, I’m not at all sure I could walk at the moment, but other than that I’m fine.”

“I suppose it’s a good thing you’ve nowhere to go for the rest of the night, then.”

Aragorn snorted. “If I don’t, you’re likely to do that again, and I don’t think I’d survive it.”

Boromir grinned and rolled him over again, gently this time, and his powerful hands resumed their kneading and stroking of the long muscles of the other man’s back and shoulders, sliding down occasionally to run a soothing palm over the over-sensitized skin of his buttocks.

“I’m not falling for that again,” Aragorn said sleepily.

“No tricks. Time for sleep.”

Aragorn yawned, suddenly exhausted, and allowed his eyes to slip closed.

Boromir continued the steady motion of his hands, humming tunelessly to himself.

“Been too long since I woke up with you next to me, love. Entirely too long.”

Aragorn’s eyes did not open, but a small smile slipped across his face. “It has been too long, love. But I should warn you of one thing.”

“Really? What’s that?”

“If Arwen did slip something into that bottle and you do wake up with tits, I’m throwing you out of the bed.”

NB: Please do not distribute (by any means, including email) or repost this story (including translations) without the author's prior permission. [ more ]

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RubyElf

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