Chapter 1: Year's End
Year's End, by Edoraslass
Théodred sat cross-legged on the wooden floor of the dais, relaxed, full of good food and ale, and lazy in his enjoyment of the festivities. His daughters had happily clung to him all evening, shrieking in delight when he’d presented them with matching black kittens (after having discussed it with Raedwyn and Caflic, of course). It was proving to be a most joyful Mettarë.
Now Fridhu was trying to dress her kitten in one of her new doll’s gowns, while Blídhe was sitting on Théodred’s lap, whispering to her kitten and stroking it with great care. “I like this kitten, Faeðer,” Blídhe said, “she is very nice.”
“I am glad you like her,” Théodred replied, smiling at her solemn little face. “Now what shall you call her?”
“What is that man’s name?” Blídhe asked, puzzling her father with the change of subject.
“That man?” he repeated, looking around the crowded hall. “Which man?”
“The one with the black hair,” Fridhu answered, as if it were obvious. “But girl kittens can‘t have boy names.”
“Can if I want,” Blídhe said, frowning.
Théodred was still trying to find a man with hair dark enough to be considered black by a small girl. “I am sorry, little one; I do not see a man with black hair.”
“Your friend,” Blídhe persisted. “The one with the stars on his bracelets…”
“The stars on his -- do you mean Boromir?” Théodred stared at the girls. It had been nearly six months since Boromir had come to Aldburg, and he certainly hadn’t expected them to remember a man they’d only met once.
“Yes, that man!” Blídhe exclaimed. “Is that a good name for a kitten with black
“Not a girl kitten,”’ Fridhu muttered as she gave up trying to dress her kitten and began teasing it with a bit of ribbon. It seemed much more pleased by this course of action.
Théodred was torn between astonishment at Blídhe’s memory, and amusement at the idea of a kitten named “Boromir”. “They are not bracelets, little bumblebee, but bracers,” he corrected, not quite surpressing a grin. “And why would you want to give your tiny kitten the name of such a big, tall man?”
“Because her hair is black and soft like his,” Blídhe replied, and Théodred had to laugh at her reasoning.
“Yes, it is,” he agreed, remembering how fascinated the girls had been with Boromir’s hair. He stopped that line of thought before it could go haring off into recollections of exactly what that silken hair felt like under his hands. Instead, he scratched the kitten’s head with one finger. “But look - your kitten has on white boots, and Boromir does not wear white boots, Blídhe.”
She peered at the kitten’s feet. “You’re right, Faeðer,” she sighed. “She does have on white boots. Now what will I call her?”
Blídhe looked so wistful that Théodred felt a little guilty, but it would not do to have a cat named after the Steward’s Heir running around Aldburg. Boromir might find it amusing, but Théodred did not think it proper, and it would certainly raise an uncomfortable question or two.
“Where is that man?” Fridhu asked suddenly. “He said he would come back.”
“He said what?” Théodred wondered how he could effortlessly command an éored of grown men, yet so easily be confused by two girls who were not yet three.
“He said he would come back and see us,” Fridhu explained, “and that was a long time ago.”
“Yes, he said,” Blídhe nodded. “Where is he?”
Théodred sighed to himself. He had been very purposefully not thinking about Boromir, and what he might be doing this day, and had been mostly successful. But it seemed his daughters were conspiring against him. “He is likely at home with his family,” he told them, “perhaps having a feast, as we are.”
Blídhe accepted this, and buried her face in the patient kitten’s fur, but Fridhu was not willing to give up just yet. “Can we go see him? Does he have some little girls?”
“No, he does not have little girls, nor little boys,” Théodred replied. “And it is a long way to Gondor --too far for you to travel until you are older.” He grinned at the image of the Steward’s reaction, were he to arrive in Minas Tirith, unwed but with two daughters in tow.
“When will we be old enough?” Fridhu asked, climbing into her father’s lap alongside her sister, holding her kitten close.
“When you are -- fourteen,” Théodred said, picking a number at random. “Then we will discuss a visit to Mundberg, if you still would like to visit.”
“We will still want to visit,” Blídhe assured him, then grew stern. “Fridhu, your kitten is on me.”
“He likes you,” Fridhu shrugged, “because he is my kitten.”
Both kittens chose that moment to dart away, and the girls leapt up, squealing, and gave chase.
Théodred watched them, smiling. He hoped that he was right - he hoped Boromir was spending this Mettarë with his father and brother, rather than chasing Orcs or other invaders. He did not want to think of Boromir out in the wild, cheerless and cold, instead of celebrating. He did wonder, just for an instant, who Boromir might be celebrating with, then resolutely pushed that thought aside. They had not vowed to remain celibate when they were apart, and if Boromir could find some comfort and pleasure with another, Théodred would not deny him that. It would be unfair, and hypocritical as well, seeing as how he himself did not intend to pass the long night alone.
Like his daughters, Théodred wondered when he would see Boromir next. Unlike his daughters, however, he was well aware that there was no predicting when they might meet again. He realized he was drifting toward melancholy, and rebuked himself. He should not be downhearted on this night. He should be remembering the joys of the year, not focusing on what he did not have. He had two beautiful daughters, he had suffered no serious wounds this year, his men were strong, Rohan was as safe as he could make it, and he was surrounded by his family and friends. And he had seen Boromir, seen him and touched him and held him. He shivered at the memory, and indulged himself in a moment of recollection.
A cry of triumph, unmistakably Fridhu, rang out, and Théodred looked over to see Théoden holding two wriggling bundles of fur. “Ieldrafaeðer, you got them!” Blídhe exclaimed, clapping her hands and dancing in place. Théoden laughed at their pleased expressions, and kissed each of them on the forehead before returning the kittens to them.
Théodred went to them, smiling in contentment. It had indeed been a very good year.
“You seem to be enjoying yourself,” Faramir noted.
“Why should I not?” Boromir asked as he sat next to his brother and took a swallow from his cup. “Am I not allowed to celebrate, this night above all others?”
Faramir chuckled at Boromir’s somewhat affronted tone. “All I meant is that you normally do not like such formal banquets,” he explained. “I’ve seen you dance with half a dozen women –“
“—all safely married matrons---“
“—you have been more than polite to the eligible maidens ---“
“---which is harmless flattery, and my duty besides---“
“--- and I’ve not once seen you roll your eyes with impatience at any lord who approaches you,” Faramir finished. “It is just unusual, to see you looking comfortable on such an occasion.”
Boromir grinned, leaning back in his chair. “My heart is light and my spirit is at ease,” he replied. “It has been a good year, and I am taking time to be thankful for that.”
Faramir eyed him, and Boromir could not help but be amused at his brother’s suspicious expression. “You have plans for later in the evening,” Faramir stated, giving Boromir a little start at his perception. “Come, admit it - you are in great anticipation of the Longest Night, and that is the source of your good mood.”
“I admit it!” Boromir replied, wondering what his brother would say if he denied it. “I have plans for later in the evening, as do most of the good people of Minas Tirith. And what are your plans, brother mine? A long night with only your Elvish poetry to keep you warm?”
Unexpectedly, Faramir flushed a deep, dark red, and Boromir laughed aloud. “Ah, so you do have a lady on your mind! Shall you tell me who she is, or shall I guess?”
“If you will leave off bothering me about my evening, I will leave off pestering you about yours,” Faramir said, trying to hide his embarrassment by taking a long drink of wine.
Boromir studied his brother a moment, then shrugged. “Very well,” he agreed, causing Faramir to shoot him a startled glance. “It is of no matter, and as much as I would like to know which fortunate woman has caught your eye, I am in too cheerful a mood to continue to torment you about her.”
Faramir stared at Boromir a moment longer. “Thank you,” he said at length, “even if your sudden lack of brotherly harassment has made me wonder if you are drunk, or perhaps ill.”
Boromir laughed again, this time so loudly that many heads turned to see what the Steward’s Heir found so amusing. “This is not a night for making you uncomfortable,” he replied, “this is a night for enjoying ourselves! We will be cold and wet and miserable soon enough – “ he raised his cup, “so tonight we shall take advantage of all of the luxuries available to us.”
“Aye!” Faramir agreed heartily, raising his cup in response.
They drank, and only just lowered their cups when Denethor looked toward them, and beckoned for Faramir to join him. Faramir sighed and stood, straightening his elaborate surcoat. “Make sure you do not drink all the wine,” he ordered his brother, “I am sure I will need it when I return.”
Boromir watched him go, then let his eyes roam the Great Hall, smiling and raising a hand in acknowledgment to familiar faces. Denethor did not care for Mettarë festivities, but as it was expected that the Steward would hold a banquet, he was forced to do so. Though a large gathering, it did not last til the small hours, and people would slowly drift away to their own private celebrations. Additionally, tonight was the one banquet that Denethor did not demand that his sons stay in attendance until all the guests had left. For that Boromir was grateful – he was indeed meeting someone later, and did not want to push his luck by showing up late.
He was also grateful that Faramir had so easily, if warily, accepted his excuse for why he did not wish to inquire further as to Faramir’s plans for the Longest Night. The truth, of course, was that Boromir did not want to answer Faramir’s questions on the same subject. He was never certain how much Faramir knew about his older brother’s preferences, or indeed, if he knew anything at all. Boromir wondered how he would answer if Faramir ever confronted him directly about it.
Boromir’s wandering gaze lit upon the far corner of the room, where several women sat with children of varying ages. He smiled, remembering how he, and Faramir, and their Nanny had hated attending banquets, and wondered if the women and their charges felt the same way. He vividly remembered how hard it had been for him to behave properly at a young age, and further recalled how he had driven his Nanny to despair by being too loud or rowdy. His hand went to the new pouch hanging from his belt, felt the small lump within. Both the pouch and the tiny duck carved from obsidian had been a playful Mettarë gift from his Nanny, now back home in Dol Amroth, married with children of her own.
Boromir watched the children, though he was too far away to see their expressions. He did not see the purpose in dragging little ones to such an adult gathering, for they were required to be quiet and behave themselves in a manner that would reflect well on their father. They were likely very bored – he always had been.
Such a difference from the banquets in Rohan, he thought. Théodred’s girls were allowed to act their age, as were any children in attendance, and their whole-hearted delight gave the entire gathering a much more informal, pleasant atmosphere. Boromir had never given children a second thought until he had been introduced to Blídhe and Fridhu, and he had been surprised to find himself fascinated by them.
Since then, he occasionally wondered what it would be like to be a father, what his future children would be like. If a boy, would he love the feel of a sword in his hand, or would he prefer more scholarly pursuits, as Faramir did? If a girl, would she turn out to be a feather-headed ninny, intent only on making a good match, or would she know that common sense and kindness were more appealing to most men than the ability to dress in the latest fashion? What would they look like, what would their voices sound like, would they feel as light in his arms as little Blídhe had? He never gave any consideration to the necessary mother of such theoretical children – Boromir knew that he would have little, if any, say in who he married. This did not bother him overly; better to have someone else pick out his wife for political purposes, as he had no interest in finding one for himself.
From nowhere, Boromir had the urge to see Théodred’s sweet daughters, to watch them climbing all over their father with unbridled joy and to see Théodred’s pride and happiness in them lighting up his entire face. He took a gulp of wine in an attempt to cool the sudden spark that had warmed him at that memory. Of course he could not help but wonder what Théodred was doing this night, though he had been taking pains not to dwell on it. He did not think that the Rohirrim observed the Longest Night in a fashion quite as indulgent as was traditional in Gondor, but he also knew Théodred well enough to know that it was unlikely he would pass this night alone. Though Boromir did not begrudge Théodred any pleasure he might find, he wished that he could somehow have managed to be in Rohan. But that was, and would ever be, impossible. His father would not allow him to miss such an occasion for anything other than warfare, and would certainly never allow him to go riding off to Rohan without a very good reason.
Boromir stared into his cup, wondering when he would have a very good reason to go riding off to Rohan again. Surely there would be need of new horses in the next year, or trade negotiations that would require a member of the Steward’s house to carry out? He shook his head, stopping that line of thought before it could darken his mood. He should be grateful that he had any time at all with Théodred – Denethor could just as easily have sent Faramir to Rohan this year, for Faramir was certainly old enough. Or –dreadful thought – Denethor could have sent Faramir with him to Rohan, and then where would he have been? Stuck with trying to avoid Faramir’s curiosity just to find one quiet moment with Théodred, or having to withhold himself from Théodred completely!
This struck Boromir as funny, and he was chuckling at the mental image of sneaking around the stables of Edoras, avoiding his nosy little brother, when Faramir returned. “I hope you are not laughing at me, trying to elude Lord Pelinlas’ niece,” he said with mock severity as he sat down.
“I did not even notice,” Boromir replied in all honesty. “I was thinking back on the year, as one is supposed to at Mettarë.”
“And what conclusion did you come to?” Faramir asked, reaching for his cup. “Did it meet with your approval?”
Boromir gave a wide smile. “Our losses were lower than in past years, Uncle has visited three times, bringing his famed brandy with him, relations with our allies are strong, you and I are both in good health, and Father did not manage to betroth either one of us when we were not looking.” Faramir laughed at that, looking relieved. “Yes, brother, it does indeed meet with my approval.”
“Then shall we toast the year?” Faramir suggested.
“We shall, and hope that the next is better yet!”
Chapter 2: As Close As Memory Allows
As Close as Memory Allows, by Edoraslass
The White Horse Tavern smells of spiced meat, dark ale, and peat, and Boromir thinks it is the next best thing to being in Rohan. He sits at a corner table, drinking mead, observing as the crowd of Rohirrim enjoy this short night.
Urged by friends, a young Rohir stands and begins to sing. Boromir does not understand the words, but he recognizes the music. It is of Théodred’s favourites, a vibrant song of life’s simple joys.
He closes his eyes, listens with his whole heart. I hope you are well on this Midsummer’s night, Théodred. Would that we were together.
Chapter 3: Arrival
Arrival, by Edoraslass
He walks across the courtyard to the Meduseld with unconscious grace, first stopping to pass a word with one of his Riders, then to speak with a small, round-eyed boy. He smiles at the child, and continues on his way.
They met five years ago, and Boromir thinks the stirring of desire he feels at the sight of that smile is becoming no less as time passes.
He always smells faintly - or not so faintly- of horse, but today he also smells of fresh-tilled earth.
“Welcome to Edoras,” Theodred greets, still wearing that smile as he leans toward Boromir.
Chapter 4: Festivity
Festivity, by just_ann_now
Perhaps it was the heat: a hundred whirling, stomping bodies in a low-roofed hall. Frenzied music of fiddle, tambour, and pipes; peatsmoke; the strangely mouth-watering aroma of roasted goat. Too much mead; too little air: all Boromir knew was that he was dizzy, but he must not mortify himself by staggering. What would the Rohirrim think?
A hand on his forearm; an arm around his waist. Théodred’s young cousins, eyes wide with concern, catching him before he fell. “Lift your head up, and smile," the boy muttered into his ear. “It will look like the three of us are dancing.”
Chapter 5: Year's End
Too Often, Only Memory, by EdorasLass
Théodred listened to the quiet laughter of his men, to talk of wives and sweethearts and past festivals. He had brought a small cask of mead on patrol, knowing that they would not be home for this year’s celebration.
He did not mind; he had begun to find it difficult to keep his spirits up throughout this long day. Many Midsummer nights had passed since he and Boromir first met, yet never had they spent one together. I would rather be with you than only remember you, he thought wistfully. But I am I glad that I have you to remember.
No News of Importance, by Edoraslass
The letter was tucked amongst the packing lists inside the crates of delicacies shipped from Rohan. Mag the Cook written on it clear as day, though in an unfamiliar hand. The seal was plain green wax, with no indication of who the sender might be. When she opened it, a second sealed letter fell out – but this one was labeled To Lord Boromir of Gondor, son of Denethor. She looked at it, puzzled for a moment, then chuckled as she realized who both letters must be from.
I can think of no other way to contact him without his father’s notice, he had written to her, and I much wish to speak with him. I know that you hold him dear, and that you will do what you can to see him happy. You have helped us before – might you do so again? All I ask is that you give him the enclosed letter, and I will remain
Théodred son of Théoden
Mag re-read the note, amused both by its humble tone and the lack of title in the signature. “Cheeky boy,” she said to the empty kitchen, folding the piece of parchment and slipping both it and the letter into her skirt pocket. “Trying to flatter an old woman so.” As if she would refuse to pass on a simple letter that would no doubt bring a smile to her darling’s face.
Since returning from his first diplomatic trip to Rohan, Boromir seemed distracted, and Mag thought she knew why. Oh, she was certain that he’d spent his nights with the young Lord of Rohan while he’d been in Edoras (the way they’d looked at each other when Lord Théodred had visited, she’d be surprised if Boromir hadn’t been dragged off his horse the moment he crossed the border) and he deserved such happiness, of course he did. But Mag suspected that whatever was going on between her lad and Rohan’s handsome prince had begun to be more than just a casual dalliance.
“…he’s never written to me before…“
Mag knew he was talking to himself, and not to her. She watched him examine the letter. He held it with great care, as if afraid it might break; the corner of his mouth quirked, as if he were trying not to smile or frown and Mag knew she was right, even if Boromir himself did not yet know it. She cleared her throat, and he started nervously.
“Go on and read your letter,” she ordered, though gently. “If you want to reply, you’d best have it to me before breakfast – they’ll be heading back to Earla’s Grove right after.”
“Why would he write me, after all this time?” Boromir wondered aloud, and unease was clearly writ in his grey eyes. “What could he be writing to say?”
Mag reached out, laid her hand on his forearm. “Would your friend attempt to sweet-talk me, if the news he has to deliver is bad?”
Boromir considered this a moment. “I do not think so,” he replied at last, smoothing the creases in the letter. “The Rohirrim are known for their honesty. I do not think he would try to deceive you.”
The sudden, mischievous sparkle in Boromir’s eyes set Mag’s unvoiced worries at ease. “You flatter as shamelessly as he does,” she mock scolded, turning back to her crates. “You are certainly well-matched in that.”
Boromir broke into a wide, beaming smile. “Thank you, my Mag!” he exclaimed, hugging her breathless and kissing both her cheeks.
“Away with you, now!” she laughed as he released her. “I’ve still all this to count before I seek my bed.”
Unabashed by her rebuking tone, Boromir only winked at her, stole an apple from the sideboard, and bounded out of the kitchen as if he were an eight-year-old boy and not a full-grown man of 23.
Still laughing under her breath, Mag turned back to unpacking the crates of almonds, almond oil, and smoked pork. She hoped the letter did hold only good news and no word of an impending marriage or a parting of the ways; she did not think she could bear to see her boy’s heart broken.
For long moments, Boromir stared at the letter that lay on his desk. His fingers fairly itched to open it, but uncharacteristic anxiety nagged at the back of his mind. Why was Théodred writing now, when he’d never done so before? To Lord Boromir of Gondor, son of Denethor was written on the front of the folded parchment in an angular, precise hand. Very formal, very impersonal – what did that mean? No, that was probably wise, Boromir chided himself, as was the lack of a royal seal. To the casual eye, there were no signs that this letter was from the heir to Rohan’s throne, which was all to the good. He was making up worries where none existed.
He poured himself a cup of wine, and stared at the letter a bit more. Finally he opened it, and began to read.
Westu hal, my friend –
Do not fear that this letter is to relay something terrible, for all is well in Rohan, and there is no news of great importance.
Relief washed over Boromir, though he felt rather silly at the reaction.
It is still very dry, and we are fearful of wildfires. You have likely never seen one, but believe me when I say that such fires are to be feared above all things.
The Dunlendings have been trying to cross our borders in larger numbers, but they are disorganized and do not stand much of a chance against such well-trained Riders as I have. I have not received any serious wounds of late, though I was unhorsed in front of my éored when a spotted dog ran under Brego’s hooves unexpectedly.
Boromir chuckled, for he could hear Théodred’s chagrined voice in his mind, although he could not imagine Théodred being thrown from any horse alive.
When you left Aldburg, the girls asked where you were going and wanted to know why you could not stay there all the time. Caflic did not seem amused.
Boromir wagered that Théodred had been amused, however.
I apologize that I and my éored could not escort you to the borders of Gondor, as was planned, but duty called to the north. I look forward to instructing you further on spear-fighting the next time we meet, as you showed such interest in learning a new technique.
They had indeed had a friendly debate on spear usage, but the conversation had been held one lazy afternoon in Théodred’s bed. The discussion had quickly turned into something far more heated, and Boromir found himself recalling that day in vivid detail. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair, and took a sip of wine to cool himself before returning to the letter.
I hope that you are not spending too many nights sleeping on the cold ground, though I am sure that is a vain hope. I have found that plucked grass underneath my bedroll will keep away a bit of the chill.
Boromir knew all the tricks soldiers used in an attempt to make the ground softer and warmer, but to hear such advice from Théodred roused an unexpected pang within his chest.
I hope that you are well, and that you found Rohan’s hospitality pleasing as I found Gondor’s when last I visited Mundberg.
Boromir grinned. He had no complaints at all in regards to Rohan’s hospitality, except perhaps that he had not experienced enough of it.
Do not take any unnecessary risks in battle, my friend.
Til we meet again, I am,
It was not an uncommon way to end a letter between friends, but neither was it used freely, at least in Gondor. Boromir suspected that Théodred did not have the need to write many letters, but he did not think this phrasing an accident.
I am yours, Théodred.
He read and re-read the last sentence, unaware that he was smiling. The very fact that Théodred had sent a letter, while explicitly stating that he had no news of importance to relay, told him what he needed to know. The quiet affirmation in the closing lines simply reinforced this knowledge.
I am yours, Théodred.
He sat lost in thought for a long while, then pulled paper, ink, and quill from his desk, and began to write his reply.
A gift for Scribendi.
Chapter 7: Missed Opportunity
With grave courtesy, Eowyn handed Boromir the welcome cup, her thoughtful glance matching his.
“How old is she?” he asked, later.
“Eowyn? Barely seventeen, a child.” Theodred sloshed his ale in his surprise. “Why? Are you seeking a wife?”
“Not now, but someday; and she will need a husband. Why not me?”
“Why not, indeed! Let us speak of this to my father. Truly, it would please me to know her future settled.”
“No, let me go back and discuss this with mine. She is young, and I am not of a mind to wed quite yet. There is time.”
Chapter 8: " 'Tis A Well-Known Fact"
Movieverse. Sort of.
" 'Tis A Well-Known Fact...", by just_ann_now
Theodred was laughing. “Look at them, like flies around a honeypot.”
Boromir could not deny the truth of that. Ever since his arrival, he’d been nearly overwhelmed by the feminine hospitality of Meduseld. Ale, to clear the dust? Bread and cheese, to hold him until supper? Melon, fresh from the garden? (that offer truly gave him pause, for the melons were lovely, and displayed very invitingly.) A bath, a backrub, a nap? Anything, everything, it seemed, was on offer today. Why?
“Well, to tell you the truth, friend, it’s your nose.”
“Some cackling old biddy told a tale this winter about how the size of the nose matches the size of, ah, something else, and now they are all eager to find out if ‘tis true.”
Boromir, choking, nearly spluttered ale from that handsome nose. “Will I have to show them all? Can I not just show one, perhaps two, or three, and let them spread the word?”
“No,my friend. Each will believe the others are lying, exaggerating, and so will want to see for herself.”
Laughing now as well, Boromir leaned closer to Theodred’s ear. “Could I not just show you, and you can tell the rest?
Chapter 9: That Roaring in the Ears
That Roaring in the Ears, by just_ann_now
Desire sang in his blood, a steady hum when they were apart; mounting to a keening roar when they were together again.
The welcoming embrace, held just half a beat longer than customary. Standing pressed together hip-to-thigh as they stood chatting in the Hall, making small talk with riders, friends, and guests; Théo’s eyes dancing with laughter. That glorious moment when, finally behind closed doors, they fall together, clumsy in their impatience, taking the first edge off of their hunger.
Later they would be slow, elegant, imaginative, but this first moment was for gluttony, feverish rediscovery of taste, touch, scent.
Chapter 10: Bravery Is Its Own Reward
Bravery Is Its Own Reward, by Edoraslass
“Lie down,” Théodred bade, pushing gently on Boromir’s shoulders. “Trust me – it will be easier if you are on your back.”
Boromir trusted Théodred, of course, but he could not repress a nervous tremor. “Just – be careful,” he said, staring up at the ceiling rafters.
Boromir felt a puff of laughter against his bare flesh as Théodred bent over him. “I have done this before, you know. Do not worry – I will not hurt you, and I will stop if it becomes too much.”
Careful fingers traced sensitive skin, and Boromir inhaled sharply. “There?” Theodred asked, lifting his head.
“Yes,” Boromir said, nodding and trying to relax his tense muscles.
“I will be quick,” Théodred assured him, leaning forward again to set to his task. “Take a deep breath and hold it, if it will help.”
He was as good as his word; there was a stab of sharp pain that made Boromir grind his teeth together, then Théodred straightened, grinning triumphantly. “All finished!” he declared, displaying the splinter on the flat of his blade. “A good thing I noticed you were limping, too – if it had worked much further in, removing it would not have been such an easy task. Next time, do not be so brave.”
Boromir sat up, grinning sheepishly. “My nanny always gave me a biscuit when I was brave about having my scrapes tended or splinters removed,” he said, lifting his foot to examine the sole. Théodred had made a very neat job of it – the bleeding had already stopped, and there was only a bit of a sting when he touched the small wound.
Théodred laughed and set his dagger aside. “Such courage should certainly be rewarded,” he teased, and once again leaned towards Boromir.
Chapter 11: Soon Enough
Soon Enough, by Edoraslass
When Théodred finally arrives at the baths, he is pleased to see that Boromir is already waiting in one of the long, low tubs. When he looks more closely, however, it seems as if the steaming water has lulled Boromir to sleep. Arms on the sides, head tilted against the back edge, his eyes are closed and his face is peaceful. The ale and food which sit on a table next to the tub have not been touched; the cloth and soap are dry and unused. Apparently Boromir did not even have time to eat or wash before exhaustion overtook him.
Though the sight of those broad shoulders and the temptation of so much bare skin fans Théodred’s need, he is loathe to wake Boromir. Every line of the other man's body speaks of relaxation, and Théodred knows well how rare moments of true relaxation can be. So rather than shedding his own clothing and slipping into the water with his long-absent lover, Théodred removes his boots, settles himself on a stool with his back against the tub, and helps himself to a bit of cheese and meat. Boromir will wake soon enough, and then Théodred will properly welcome him to Rohan.
Cat Lessons , by Edoraslass
“Hold Pipor for me, please,” Blídhe ordered.
Boromir regarded the cat she held out. “Hold her?” he repeated doubtfully, making no move to take the animal. “Blídhe, I am not sure…”
“Don’t you like cats?” she asked, eyes wide in astonishment. “But she’s so sweet and soft – how can you not like Pipor?”
“How do you know that she will like me?” Boromir wanted to know. He had nothing against cats –in all honesty, he rarely gave them any thought – but he had great respect for their claws, and had no desire to hold a hostile cat. Or any cat, really.
“Oh, I told her she has to,” Blídhe replied, stroking Pipor’s head. “She knows all about you.”
Boromir started to ask what that meant, then decided he did not need to know what went on inside a six-year-old’s head when she talked to her cat. “I do not know how to hold a cat properly,” he said, wondering if there was any way he was going to get out of this without hurting Blídhe’s feelings.
“Oh, it’s easy,” she assured him, and dumped the animal into his lap. Boromir went rigid for an instant, then relaxed when Pipor showed no inclination to scratch him bloody. In fact, the cat only looked up at him with wide golden eyes, blinked once, then set about arranging itself more comfortably. “See? She likes you.”
She seemed to be right, for the cat began butting its head against Boromir’s hand. “That means she wants you to pet her,” Blídhe said. “She likes it best if you scratch her ears like this.” She demonstrated, and Pipor immediately began to purr, a deep rumbling that seemed more suited to a much bigger creature. “Now you do it.”
Hiding a grin at her manner, Boromir obeyed. The cat leaned into him, eyes half-closed in contentment, mouth curved up in what almost looked like a smile. “There, see? Easy!” Blídhe declared happily. “I will be back later.” And before Boromir could protest or ask where she was going, Blídhe had run across the hall toward her mother.
Pipor did not appear to care, as long as Boromir kept giving her the proper attention. He had to admit that it was not an unpleasant way to pass a few moments; in fact, the cat’s fur was remarkably soft, and her purring rather soothing.
“Taking cat lessons?”
Boromir looked up to see Théodred grinning at him. “I am holding it for Blídhe,” he said with great dignity.
Théodred laughed, and sat next to his friend. “Certainly you are,” he said. “And a good job you are making of it.”
Boromir narrowed his eyes at the other man; something about his tone was suspicious. “You put Blídhe up to this,” he accused.
Mischief sparkled briefly in Théodred’s blue eyes. “I’ve no idea what you mean.”
“Oh, of course you do not,” Boromir grumbled. “That is unfair – you know that I can refuse your daughters nothing!”
“That is one of the many things I admire about you,” Théodred said, unabashed. He grabbed a handful of spiced hazelnuts from a bowl on the table. “And I would not have had to use such tactics if you were not so unreasonably opinionated against cats.”
“Apparently you have not heard as many terrifying stories about Queen Beruthiel as I have,” Boromir snorted, trying to keep up the pretense of being offended.
“Come now, you cannot believe that there is anything threatening about Pipor,” Théodred coaxed. “See how she lies peacefully on your lap, wanting only to enjoy your company?”
Boromir laughed aloud, amused despite himself. “Yes, well, perhaps cats are not quite the evil creatures of the tales,” he allowed, scratching Pipor’s chin gently. “But I would still prefer it if they did not perch on me while I slept. It is – unnerving.”
Théodred looked rather self-satisfied as he reached out and idly stroked the sleeping cat’s back. “It is a start,” he said, and Boromir rolled his eyes. “ I believe that we shall make a cat lover of you yet, my friend.”
A birthday gift for Ribby.
Chapter 13: A Way of Remembering
A Way of Remembering, by just_ann_now
Boromir looked around the room curiously. A smoky earth-scented fire burned in the grate, warming the flagstone floor. Vivid tapestries covered two walls, feats of the sons of Eorl to inspire and delight generations of wide-eyed princes of Rohan. There were a few pieces of furniture, solid and beautifully carved, a clothes-press and the wide, fur-covered bed. Running his hand along the top of the headboard, admiring the intricate motifs, he noticed some newer markings, carved notches that didn’t seem to quite fit in with the pattern.
He caught his breath as a painful thought crossed his mind.
Théo, following his glance, reached out to take his hand. Drawing Boromir closer, to sit with him on the side of bed, Théo took his hand and ran it, with his, over each notch.
“This was for our first time, when we rode to the Pelagir, do you remember? Fourteen times, over the three nights. And this is for when we spent the night in Mag’s room, before I left. Three times. These are for when we met at Earla’s grove, at midsummer. And here is Aldburg…” Lifting Boromir’s hand to his lips, he kissed each finger. “As I made each mark, I called to mind something special about that time. The way you tasted of brandy the first time we kissed. How beautiful your skin looked in the sunlight as we lay under the almond trees. The time we just unlaced each other’s breeches, not even bothering with the rest of our clothes. When we are long apart,” his voice seemed to catch, slightly, “I use these to remember. We of the Mark are not great ones for writing things down in books, as your people are, but we know how to keep our memories alive.”
Chapter 14: Microcosm
Microcosm, by Edoraslass
It is but a moment’s work for shirts to be thrown aside, and then Théodred has shoved Boromir backwards against the worktable, eagerly seeking the body he has been without for so long. His lips and teeth move downwards: neck, shoulders, chest, eager to remind himself of his lover’s taste, and Boromir groans, arching into his touch.
Boromir’s hands tangle in Théodred’s hair; insistently pulling him closer, drawing their mouths together, making Théodred gasp at the unmistakable demanding in Boromir’s kiss. Fingers clumsy with impatience, Théodred struggles with Boromir’s laces, and his breath catches raggedly when Boromir turns his back, sliding his breeches down over his hips, bracing himself on the edge of the table.
Théodred does not wait any longer and is nearly undone by Boromir’s deep moan of encouragement, the heat of Boromir around him. Oh, how he has missed this: Boromir moving against him, Boromir’s skin sliding against his, Boromir’s harsh, urgent growls of need as he is driven nearer and nearer his release. He muffles his own cries in the nape of Boromir’s neck; now there is nothing else. Now there is only the two of them, moving together, lost to the rest of the world.
Chapter 15: Outside Looking In
Outside Looking In, by Edoraslass
That night, Éomer retires early, for he finds it difficult to meet his cousin’s eyes, or speak to the Lord Boromir without flushing. Éowyn notices her brother’s odd mood, but he tells her that he is simply tired, and cares not if she believes him.
Alone in his chamber, Éomer lets his mind dwell on what he saw that afternoon. He had not meant to watch; he had meant to tightly shut the door that they had left ajar and leave them alone in the tack room, but he is sixteen, and curious.
Théodred, stripped to the waist and bent over Boromir’s body.
Boromir, just as bare, groaning.
Théodred, gasping as Boromir’s hands tangled into his braids and pulled him closer.
Boromir, kissing Théodred so hungrily that Éomer’s mouth had gone utterly dry.
Théodred, tugging impatiently at Boromir’s laces, then Boromir, turning his back as Théodred grabbed his hips.
Éomer had looked away then, face burning with embarrassment and arousal and confusion, but he had still heard Boromir’s deep moan and Théodred’s muffled exclamation of pleasure. He had still heard their low murmuring, their stifled cries, increasingly urgent, and Éomer had fled, to a far corner of the stable where he could give himself release.
He cannot remember a time when he did not know of the bond between his cousin and Gondor’s heir; until this day, he has never given it a moment’s consideration. Now he thinks on it, and his skin grows hot again. As he takes himself in hand, he shuts his eyes and sees them again, moving together, lost to the rest of the world.
Chapter 16: I Try
I Try, by just_ann_now
I try not to stare as they greet each other: their powerful embrace, the brush of their lips, the joy lighting their faces.
I try not to notice the little touches when they join us at table: the scarred finger stroking away an errant curl, the hand slipping 'round to cup a muscled bottom. The way they look at each other as though there were no one else in the world at all.
I try not to think about what goes on behind that door. My mind conjures up strange images, to match the cries I try not to hear as I wander sleepless through the halls. In the morning, I try not to creep into that room, still full of their heat and scent. I run away, ashamed.
My feet are too big and my legs are too skinny and my chest is too scrawny. My hair is like muddy straw, unfit to be used even as bedding for the pigs. Who could ever love me like that?
Chapter 17: Unexpected Guest
Unexpected Guest, by Edoraslass
“There is something sitting on my shoulders.”
Grudgingly, Théodred opened his eyes and looked. “It’s just Sceadu,” he muttered, lying his head back down on the pillow, hoping he would be allowed to go back to sleep.
But Boromir seemed indecently awake for so early an hour. “Sceadu? What, exactly, is a 'Sceadu'?"
Théodred snorted despite himself. “It is only a cat,” he replied. “You have cats in Gondor, I assume? Small furry creatures that catch vermin?”
Boromir grinned. “I am familiar with the animal, yes. But our cats are not so bold as to march into the Heir’s chambers and sleep on whoever might be in the bed.”
Théodred gave a sleepy smile. “Then your Gondorian cats must be of a very odd breed,” he said. “I have yet to make the aquaintance of a cat which did not think it owned the whole of the Meduseld.”
Boromir chuckled. “Father is not overly fond of cats,” he said. “He allows them only because they keep the mice at bay. He found one once sitting in the Steward’s chair, and was, shall we say, most displeased. It was removed with great haste, and none too gently.”
Théodred was amused to see Sceadu leap to the floor and stalk away. “There, you have offended the cat,” he said. “If I wake up one morning to find the blankets shredded, it will be your fault.”
“I will gladly accept the responsibility,” Boromir replied softly, drawing closer, “for I had been wondering how to make it leave without getting scratched.”
Théodred felt a hand on the curve of his hip, drifting downwards, and leaned into Boromir’s kiss. If he were fortunate, there would be no more sleep this morning.
At Earla’s Grove, by just_ann_now
We lay in the dappled shade
Under the almond trees, you and I.
The grass soft beneath us.
We ate sun-warmed apricots.
I licked the juice as it ran down your skin
You tasted of summer. Afterwards, we swam,
Carefree as children, and lay together in the sun.
Now I watch the falling snow
Drifting over the rooftops of my city.
All is cold and still. I remember-
A flurry of almond blossoms
Showering you, as with falling stars.
How you lifted your head, laughing.
I kissed your throat
And pulled you down onto the grass.
A birthday gift for Uisgich.
Shameless, by just_ann_now
It is a glorious spring day in Edoras. As much as I love my homeland, there is something about the spring here – the just-scrubbed freshness of the sky and clouds; the moist, fertile scent of sun-warmed earth, the unforgettable perfume of the sap rising in the alder trees – that is unlike any place I’ve ever been. It is spring, it is midafternoon, and Théo and I are in bed.
I can hear everyday noises outside, the busy clucking of hens and chirping of chicks, the laughter of children, the slapping of leather and the rumbling of horse’s hooves in the nearby paddock. I hear the ringing of metal on metal in the smithy, the chatter of the milkmaids and kitchen wenches; the companionable laugher of Théo’s riders and my men. All those sounds; all those tasks of a normal day, are going on while Theo and I lie abed in the middle of the afternoon.
I was unutterably shocked when he first made the suggestion. “But…but it is midday. What if someone from your éored should have need of you? Or if your father should require your counsel? ” Théo had merely laughed, and said that Elfhelm could certainly handle matters of the éored as well as he could; and that Grima Wormtongue would be more than pleased to have a few more hours of the King’s attention. He continued to make his desires quite plain, rubbing against me, slipping his hands under my shirt, stroking and tickling and pinching until, helpless with both laughter and arousal, I finally yielded with a cry of “Enough!” We stumbled to his chamber, staggering as though drunk, finally collapsing onto the wide bed, where he took me not with fierce energy, but with such unexpected tenderness that I was a bit stunned. It had not felt like mere lust, as enjoyable as we knew that could be. It felt very much like what I imagined any two people in love would feel.
Outside the window, I can hear one of my men, Labadal, trying to flirt in halting Rohirric. I have picked up a few words, and I think I can make out one, forlecga. I have heard Théo mutter that word, hoarsely, while ….no, that can not be what Labadal is saying. I strain to listen, expecting an outraged cry from the young woman, followed by the sounds of scuffling, or the scrape of quickly drawn blades.
“What on earth is the matter?” Théo lifts his head, blue eyes full of concern. “You seemed quite interested there, but now you’ve gone flatter than……”
“I’m trying to find out if a major diplomatic incident has just occurred. I think one of my men has just, ah, insulted one of your women.”
“I could hear. I don’t think she was insulted. Is it the young boy with the big brown eyes, and the dark curls? There’s not that much of a language barrier, and there is one tongue - ” Theo flicks his own tongue, wickedly, as I gasp, “ - that needs no translation. You needn’t worry.”
As I sink back onto the pillow, I think about young men, and young women; and then my thoughts turn toward Faramir. My little brother is certainly old enough, graceful and handsome, to have begun attracting female attention. There will be no lack of opportunity for him, once he begins showing the slightest interest in such things. Midday… after a morning in the practice yards, and a quick bite of bread and cheese, Faramir will be headed to the library to meet with his tutor. Between the kitchen and the library there are any number of box rooms and pantries, quiet out-of-the-way corners where Faramir and a kitchen wench, or one of the maids, could steal a few moments together. He is young; it need not take long, though he will probably want to whisper some kind of Elvish poetry before, or after, to add a bit of romance. I chuckle at the thought of Faramir trying to recite Elvish poetry to Aerin, the buxom cook’s helper who had been my first, and reportedly the first for most of the lads in the household staff as well.
The golden head comes up again. “What are you laughing about? Is there something I am missing? If you are not satisfied with the quality of my work, I can always find someone who is.”
“No, no, your hair was just tickling a bit, that’s all. I’m quite satisfied with your work. You may carry on.”
Théo lowers his head, muttering something about… faceful of scratchy hair, but I’m not complaining, now am I…
I don’t think I have ever felt so shamelessly, delightfully wicked and slothful. Certainly, at home in Minas Tirith, I would never have stopped to dally with a lover in the middle of the day, when the sun is burning overhead and the good people of my city are hard at work. I would be hard at work too – commanding and training and administering and attending meetings and signing interminable heaps of paperwork and occasionally, occasionally, riding out of the city to hunt, or chase down an orc band before it makes off towards Ithilien, where Faramir and his rangers will have the pleasure of dispatching it. Lovemaking is for nighttime, in some expensive courtesan’s bed, where she will smile and pretend to sigh and moan with rapture at my touch. Or some secluded corner in the lowest circles of the city, where, hooded and cloaked, I can meet a soldier or tradesman or visitor to the city to exchange furtive services, quickly, silently, without meeting each others’ eyes.
Lovemaking. How can I even call it by that name, anywhere but here, in Théo’s bed? Here, where there is no guilt or shame; only acceptance, affection, joy. Love.
“Théo,” I whisper.
This time Théo sits up, exasperated. “Are you bored of this? Tired? Are you getting old? Perhaps a nap would have been a better idea.”
But then he gives me that smile, the one that is for me alone, and opens his arms wide. I slide into his embrace, melding my body against his, until we are curled together, fitting perfectly; then, languorous as cats, we wile away the rest of the afternoon.
A birthday gift for Edoraslass.
Chapter 20: Peaceful
The companion piece to "Shameless" (Chapter 13)
Peaceful, by Edoraslass
It is a glorious day in Edoras, full of the essence of spring: sky and cloud, freshly-turned earth, foals and lambs all bursting with newness and the joy of living. On such a day I can’t help but feel that joy myself, that urge to celebrate the thrum of life. Today, I have even more reason for delight, for my best-beloved is here with me.
I dart glances at Boromir to watch as the breeze toys with his hair, chuckling as he squints against the sunlight. Our business has been conducted to the satisfaction of both sides, and tomorrow he and his horsemen will return home with their fine new steeds.
Boromir catches me watching him, and a smile tugs at the corner of his mouth, though he continues giving instructions to his men. With no warning, I am overwhelmed by the fierce desire -- no, the need -- to touch him, to feel his skin against mine. I do not know why this impulse strikes me at this very mundane moment. Perhaps it is the tilt of his head, the light in his eyes, or perhaps it is just spring, rousing my blood. Perhaps it is that I know he will soon be gone. The reason does not matter - now all I can think about is being alone with him
We return to the Hall, and the instant we are in a deserted corridor, I turn and pull him to me. “Your business is finished,” I murmur, kissing his neck, “and the day stretches out before us.” I place my hand over the front of his breeches, so there can be no mistaking my intentions.
Boromir looks scandalized, though he leans into my caress, unconsciously, I think.. “But…but it is midday. What if someone from your éored should have need of you? Or if your father should require your counsel? ”
I do not see what the time of day has to do with anything, but I tell him that Elfhelm is capable of tending to the éored as well as I am, and that Grima Wormtongue will be happy to have a bit more of Father’s time. Boromir needs a bit of convincing, that is clear -- he is utterly shocked by the notion that we should steal away before the sun has set. Why should we not? We have little enough time together; I would not let such an opportunity pass by. No-one will miss us, and if they do, it will not take a great deal of thinking to work out where we’ve gone. And I would not suggest such a thing if there were matters to be attended.
I set my will toward persuading Boromir, stroking him, slipping my hands under his shirt, tickling sensitive areas, rubbing against him, kissing his throat, his face, his tempting mouth, anywhere I can reach until I have worked myself into quite a fever of anticipation. His body eagerly presses into mine and his breathless laughter tells me that he will give in, eventually. Then I trace the line of his ear with my tongue, whispering his name, and he crumbles, as I knew he would.
We stagger dizzily to my bedchamber, and suddenly I am as hesitant and clumsy as a green boy. Mere moments ago, all I could think of was having him beneath me, and while of course that thought is still foremost in my mind, I have begun to realize something. It not only with my body that I want him;it is with my heart as well. I do not know if I should say this to Boromir -- I do not know how he would feel about hearing it. If I could say it, for my throat has tightened and all words have fled.
This time, I do not allow him to do anything to me- I insist that he lets me pleasure him, for it is the best way I know how to express myself. I touch and taste and feel every familiar inch of him, leisurely, gently, tenderly, savouring each gasp and moan. Our eyes meet, and I can see that Boromir is shaken by my unexpected intensity.
Even though our passion is for the moment sated, I remain giddy with the scent and flavour of Boromir. His hands move idly in my hair, across my arms and shoulders as I travel over and down his body. Leather and spicy cedar lingers on his skin, faintly salty, mixed with an earthier tang I know is my own, and the combination is as intoxicating as any ale, wine or mead. He arches toward me, like a pleased cat, as I move lower.
Everyday noises drift in through the window: the shouts of children chasing after angry chickens, the curses of the blacksmith, the sound of horses being saddled and prepared for patrol, the gossip of women servants going about their duties, the halting yet friendly conversation between my Riders and Boromir’s men. I barely hear these things, for they of utmost normality, though I grin when I hear one of the young Gondorians making overtures in questionable Rohirric to a maid. I do wonder where the young man learned that word, but it is of no matter. She will either slap him, or she will not.
Boromir’s attention seems to have drifted, and when I ask why, he is concerned that the woman in question will be outraged. I shake my head, laughing.
“ I don’t think she was insulted. Is it the young boy with the big brown eyes, and the dark curls?“ The women have been casting appreciative glances at that one ever since he arrived. “There’s not that much of a language barrier, and there is one tongue-” I lick a particularly sensitive spot, and he gasps “ - that needs no translation. You needn’t worry.”
He relaxes, and I turn my attentions back to pleasing him. There is no rush; we have a good bit of the afternoon left, not to mention the entire night, but I am loathe to stop enjoying him. When I glance up, he is staring at the ceiling, and his gaze seems faraway. I wonder where his thoughts are -- of the fighting in Gondor, of his father or brother, of me, or of something else? Probably not his father, I decide, as I lower my head again. He would not be nearly so at peace if that were the case, and he certainly would not be chucking. Curious, I feign insult and ask what is so amusing. He claims that my hair tickles, and while that is possible, it is not the truth. But his eyes are content, whatever his thoughts may be, so I pretend to grumble back at him… faceful of scratchy hair, but I’m not complaining, now am I… and return to exploring his handsome body.
I admire the curve of his limbs, his well-earned muscles -- he is broader and more powerfully built than I or any Rohirrim, and I never fail to be surprised at how appealing I find this. I spend a respectful moment examining each white scar with mouth and fingertips, and he sighs blissfully in response. Thankfully, none of the largest are recent, and I wonder if any other man he has taken into his bed even notices these badges of war -- or any woman, for that matter.
I too have spent time in the company of both men and women and, though I believe these companions are satisfied with the time we spend together, for me it is not entirely fulfilling. Yes, there is arousal and pleasure and release, sometimes a lingering fondness that will make me seek out the same person again, but it is not the same as it is with Boromir. I do not take the same joy and delight in others; they can not awaken this fire within me as he does. Fortunately, my passing lovers attribute any distance on my part to my rank, and the knowledge that nothing between us can be lasting.
Except for this. I know this is lasting, though it cannot be frequent or announced to the the world at large. But I have accepted that, and I will take what happiness I am offered.
“Théo,” Boromir whispers, and I sit up, fixing him with a mock glare.
“Are you bored of this? Tired? Are you getting old? Perhaps a nap would have been a better idea.” I smile to let him know that I am teasing, and open my arms. He slides into my embrace, fitting perfectly against my body, and I sigh contentedly against his neck, wishing that this day would not end.
When Boromir turns to look at me, there is something in his eyes that I have not seen before. It is more than just affection and friendship, and my heart stops. He starts to speak, but I silence him with a deep, slow kiss, and his strong arms close around me. He smiles, that brilliant smile that is for me alone, and as always, I am lost.
Chapter 21: What's In A Name?
What's In A Name? by Edoraslass
No-one says his name the way Théodred does.
When they are reunited after being so long apart, Théodred’s voice is bright with joy, welcoming as the arms wrapped around Boromir’s shoulders, tinged with something like relief. There is an undercurrent of anticipation as well, a spark of heat which Boromir thinks – hopes- no-one else can hear.
While they are at the table in the great hall of the Meduseld, Théodred says his name laughingly, blue eyes sparkling as he leans in to be heard over the dull roar of so many voices. Sometimes, when his mouth is very close to Boromir’s ear, Théodred’s voice is teasing, fair vibrating with desire, and his name on Théodred’s lips sends a delicious shiver down Boromir’s spine. He always thinks he should pull away before someone notices the way his face is flushing, but he never does.
When they are finally alone, Théodred’s voice is muffled against throat or shoulder or mouth or belly, breathless with impatience; low and fierce.
When they are tangled together in that wide bed, Théodred repeats his name over and over: heavy or ragged, ground out through clenched teeth or languid with wanting; gasped brokenly when Boromir runs his tongue from ankle to thigh, pleadingly when Boromir teasingly hesitates before taking Théodred’s length into his mouth.
When Théodred pushes back to meet Boromir’s thrusts or as he buries himself deep within Boromir’s waiting heat, it is only a drawn-out, shaking moan or little more than a growl, barely his name at all.
When they have finished, and Théodred’s harsh, choked shout is still ringing in his ears, Théodred will then murmur his name softly, his rolling voice as caressing as the hands that now lazily roam Boromir’s body, and Boromir will drift off into slumber, smiling. When he wakes, it will be to Théodred whispering his name in a voice still drowsy with sleep, yet rich with contentment and promise.
Chapter 22: Early Morning
Early Morning, by just_ann_now
Milky light is seeping under the edge of the shutters, and raindrops are thrumming on the roof. Early morning.
Nestled together like spoons, he savors the heat, the perfume, of skin and bone and fine muscle entwined with his. Drifting back towards sleep, he thanks the powers that rule the lives of men: chance, or design, or whim; that he is in this place, at this moment.
He reawakens later to find blue eyes smiling at him. “Did you mean to sleep all day? There are other ways to pass a rainy morning,” as warm fingers coax him towards joy.
Chapter 23: Morning
Morning, by Edoraslass
Strange birdsong woke him, and for a moment he did not remember where he was.
He saw heavy wooden beams overhead, cross-pieces elaborately carved into horse’s heads.
Ah, yes, Boromir thought, grinning sleepily. Rohan.
He wondered what time it was, and sat up, yawning.
The room was empty, and he felt a pang of disappointment
Ah well, he sighed internally, and lay back down, just for a moment
The soft sound of rain against the roof woke him again, and when he opened his eyes, Theodred was watching him with a small smile on his face.
He smiled back, pleased. “Come back to bed,” Boromir invited. “It is early yet.”
Chapter 24: Late Morning
Late Morning, by Edoraslass
Théoden knocked to alert Théodred to his presence, then entered without awaiting an answer, as he always did.
He stopped in his tracks.
Raven and gold mingled on the pillows, bodies nestled together beneath the bedclothes, and even in slumber, his son wore a serene, content smile. The Steward’s heir had one arm thrown possessively over Théodred’s shoulders, and his face was peaceful as Théoden had never seen it waking.
Chiding himself for not remembering where Boromir would be sleeping, he quietly backed out of the room. They had little enough time together; he could leave them a bit longer.
Chapter 25: Harmony
Harmony, by Edoraslass
Unlike his brother, Boromir could make no honest claim to be a great lover of music. A marching song stirred his blood, certainly, but he had no appreciation for delicate strings of a melody meant for stately dancing. He was delighted to join his men in roaring out bawdy songs in a tavern, yet found little joy in listening to the formal recitations he was obliged to attend from time to time. And though a Steward’s son was given instruction in at least one instrument, Boromir would never lay any claim to being a musician.
Only one instrument could he play with skill and pleasure: the lean, golden body now arching beneath him. Only one tune echoed in his mind long after the song itself had ended: Théodred’s breathless murmurs, soft exclamations of pleasure, cries of urgency as he pulled Boromir close. No note drawn from mere wood could make him shudder so. No trained vocalist could send fire burning through his veins as could Théodred’s wavering voice gasping out his name as they moved with one another, separate harmonies blending into one.
That was the music that played in his mind on long cold nights, when other men danced to whistle or pipe. That was the music he woke humming on mornings too bright and warm to be passed alone.
Chapter 26: Midnight
Midnight, by Edoraslass
He is snoring so quietly that it is more like the purr of a cat.
His dark hair is spread across the pillow, nearly touching my nose, and I breathe the scent of him in. As always, he smells pleasantly of cedar; he carries his own soap with him, and I have teased, Is our poor Rohirric soap not good enough to clean a man of Gondor?, to which he has replied, Saddlesoap, bah! Do I look as if I am made of leather?
His neck is bare, and I am tempted to press my lips to the hollow just below his ear, but that would certainly wake him, and I would not be allowed to study him so closely if he were not asleep. But I am enthralled with that smooth area of skin from shoulder to jaw line. Unmarked, darkened by the sun, it is so vulnerable that I feel an unexpected rush of protectiveness toward him. It is ridiculous, I know – there are few other men so capable of defending themselves. But the feeling remains; I would guard him with my life. I hope that I am never called to do so.
Just above the line of his hip is a scar, now faint with age, where his first armsmaster caught him a glancing blow while sparring with live steel. Further up, on the back of his arm, is a more recent mark of battle, nearly as long as my hand. I wonder what happened, that a blade got past his armour in such an odd place, but I will not ask.
He stirs, and I hold my breath, as if breathing would wake him. He shifts his legs a bit – he sleeps quite still most nights, and does not complain that I am more restless.
When I am certain he is fully returned to slumber, I move closer to him, fitting my body to the curve of his, draping an arm over his waist, burying my face in the crook of his neck. In his sleep, his hand reaches up to clasp mine; he gives a soft sigh, moving backwards against me, and I finally drift off, lulled by his warmth and his gentle breathing.
Chapter 27: As Embers In A Fire Burning Low
As Embers In A Fire Burning Low, by Edoraslass
A knock at the door roused Théodred, and he quickly slipped out of bed before the sound could disturb Boromir as well. He wrapped a blanket around his waist before opening the door – there was no telling who it might be.
It was one of the grooms. “Sorry to wake you, my lord,” he said quietly, “but Ástyrred is foaling, and you said you wished to be there.”
Théodred stifled a yawn. “Thank you – you do not need to wait for me. I will be there as soon as I dress.”
The groom gave a stiff bow and disappeared, and Théodred turned to finding his clothing by the dim light of the fire. He had pulled on his breeches and shirt and had just located his boots when a groggy voice asked, “Trouble?”
“No,” Théodred replied, sitting on the edge of the bed next to Boromir to put on his boots, “one of my mares is foaling, and she will be calmer if I am there.”
“Of course she would be,” Boromir said. “Shall I come with you?”
“There is no need,” Théodred assured him, “and at any rate, I do not know how she would react to a stranger being there.”
Boromir nodded his understanding. “I hope all goes well.”
Théodred laid his hand on Boromir’s bare shoulder, amused at the other man’s obvious
difficulty in keeping his eyes open. As long as he was in a proper bed, Boromir was very slow to wake, though if they were sleeping out, he had no trouble waking swiftly. “I will be back as soon as I can.”
"I will keep the bed warm for you," Boromir smiled drowsily, already drifting back toward slumber.
The birth went smoothly – the mare was happy if exhausted, and the little filly found her feet quickly. As he watched the foal nosing her mother curiously, searching for food, Théodred thought that perhaps his small cousin Éowyn might like to have the raising of the filly. She was certainly old enough to take such a responsibility. He would speak to her on the morrow, and see if she was agreeable.
Outside, the temperature had fallen drastically, the wind had picked up, and it had started to rain. By the time Théodred had run from the stable back to the Meduseld, he was soaked through and half-frozen.
Muttering to himself, he peeled off his clothes, shivering, and tried to wring most of the water from his hair. He did not want to end up with a damp pillow or a Boromir who was irritated at having a mass of wet hair shoved into his face.
“ ‘s raining?” Boromir's voice was thick with sleep.
“It’s gotten much colder as well,” Théodred replied as he slid underneath the blankets.
“You must be freezing,” Boromir murmured. Then, to Théodred’s surprise, Boromir rolled on his side, drew Théodred against his warm, dry body, and pulled the bedclothes around them both. “ ‘s that better?”
Théodred gave a blissful sigh. “Yes,” he said, relaxing into the embrace as he closed his eyes and relished the gentle heat from Boromir’s skin, “that is perfect.”
Chapter 28: Sleepless
Sleepless, by Edoraslass
It is late; how late, he does not know. He should be asleep -- he is certainly tired--for morning will come all too soon. But he cannot.
When morning comes, he will be obliged to reshoulder all the cares and responsibilities that he cast off upon laying down and again be the dauntless heir of his father.
Here, he is wrapped in the shelter of comforting arms. Here, he can feel the rise and fall of a broad chest against his back,dark hair tickling his shoulder and warm breath on the nape of his neck. Here, it is peaceful and quiet and all he could want.
It will be over too soon, that he knows. He would memorize every second, savor every sound and feel and smell to remember when he is sleeping alone on the cold hard ground.
To sleep would be to let one moment pass without his notice. And that is why he cannot.
Chapter 29: Whatever Time We Have
Whatever Time We Have, by Edoraslass
“How are you feeling?”
“Thirsty,” Théodred said, sitting up and immediately wincing at the motion.
Boromir shot him a stern look, and Théodred lay back down, scowling. Boromir thought he looked better today, and that dreadful liquid cough had yet to be heard, though he was still far too pale.
“You are not supposed to be moving about,” Boromir reminded him, pouring water into a cup and handing it to Théodred.
“I am supposed to be out on patrol,” Théodred replied crossly, then drained the cup.
“Then stand up and dress yourself,” Boromir suggested, purposefully callous. He sat back down in the chair by Théodred’s bedside. “Come, then, if you are so eager.” He crossed his arms over his chest, and rested his heels on the edge of the bed, making it clear that Théodred would get no help from him.
Théodred glared at Boromir, then defiantly sat up, though Boromir could see it hurt his head to do so. He had never seen Théodred look so fragile, and it pained him deeply. And yet, the stubborn man was swinging his legs to the floor. Boromir simply watched as Théodred struggled to stand, refusing to assist him in any way. A coughing fit -- dry, thankfully -- stopped Théodred’s efforts. When it had passed, he snarled something in fierce, angry Rohirric, and narrowed his eyes at Boromir, as if this were all his fault.
“And that,” Boromir said, standing and going to help his friend lay back down, “is why you are not on patrol, Théodred son of Théoden. How can you expect to sit a horse if you cannot even stand?”
Théodred made an exasperated noise as he allowed Boromir to arrange the pillows behind his shoulders. “I know,” he admitted, annoyance clear. “But I do not like lying a-bed like this! I do not like being idle!”
For his part, Boromir did not like seeing Théodred brought so low, but he knew that Théodred was frustrated. “I understand,” he said, “but were you out on a patrol, you would be a liability, would you not? Your fever broke only yesterday, Théodred . And the healers say you are improving rapidly. They tell me that fits of crankiness are a sure sign that the patient is well on the road to recovery.” He grinned. “Though I am not sure how that differs from your normal temperament.”
Théodred almost chuckled, but his amusement faded quickly. “I am sure this is not exactly the type of visit you had in mind,” he sighed, twisting the bedclothes fretfully. “It cannot be enjoyable for you to sit here in this dull room and watch me sleep.”
Boromir leaned forward and placed his hand over Théodred‘s. “I am grateful for whatever time we have, Théodred,” he said, suddenly serious. “And doubly grateful today, for if Éomer had not realized how ill you were, you would not be here at all.”
He was not exaggerating; the healers had also said that one more night in the cold air would have been the death of the Second Marshal. Boromir had been shocked when he had arrived in Edoras two days ago and found Théodred surrounded by healers, caught in the grip of a feverish delirium. He had not left Théodred’s side for more than an hour since, and no-one had been foolish enough to try and move him.
“I know,“ Théodred replied, pressing his friend‘s hand, “and thank you, Boromir, for suffering my foul mood. I do not mean to take it out on you.” His smile was likely meant to be reassuring, but his grip only told Boromir how weak Théodred still was.
Boromir returned the smile. “Rest now,” he said, kissing Théodred‘s forehead. “I will be here when you wake.”
“There is no-one I would rather see,” Théodred told him, eyes glowing for an instant, though he was already drifting off. “I am thankful that you are here, my friend. I always am.”
Boromir watched him for a while, then, when he was certain that Théodred was sleeping comfortably, settled back in his chair. He would be there if Théodred needed him.
Chapter 30: Over the Hills and Far Away
Over the Hills and Far Away, by just_ann_now
Sometimes even the walls of friendly Meduseld seem too close, and so they ride, fast and far, their only companions the wheeling hawk and scurrying hare. They tumble eagerly to the soft grass, finally free to shout and groan and laugh and cry out the words no others should hear.
Sometimes Boromir wishes it could always be like this: the two of them, living by wit and skill through endless sunlit days and velvet nights. But that is not why they were born; and so, bodies finally sated and voices hoarse, they mount their horses and return to the world.
Chapter 31: Far From All Else
Far From All Else, by Edoraslass
“Sleep in a musty tent instead of my wide, soft bed?" Théodred asked, puzzled. "Why? Do you miss sleeping out so much?"
"Because we have never been alone," Boromir replied. "Always there is someone nearby – separated by walls of stone or wood, or canvas, but there nonetheless." He shrugged. "I should like to have you wholly to myself for once."
Théodred had never considered the matter, but it was true, and the idea certainly had appeal. "Tomorrow night, then?"
Boromir’s pleased smile warmed Théodred more than it should have. He wondered what Boromir had planned, that they needed such solitude.
Chapter 32: Unfettered
Unfettered, by Edoraslass
There is no-one for miles but the two of us.
Always before we have had to take care, to try and temper the sounds of pleasure and desire, out of self-consciousness or consideration for those who might be sleeping in nearby rooms. We have never been truly alone.
But here, now, on the banks of the river, there is no need for restraint. Now, I can let my cries echo through the spring air, I can urge you on with my full voice as well as my body, without worrying that someone might overhear what I say to you, the inarticulate moaning that seems torn from my throat as you move over me.
Your own voice is ragged yet strong, calling my name fiercely, as if it were a summons to arms. Your voice, loud, ringing, telling me what you are going to do to me, what you wish me to do to you is almost more than I can bear, and I clutch at your shoulders, dragging you down to me, ordering you to act, now, now before your words are muffled by my eager mouth.
Our voices, breathless and pulled taut, mingle together, an incoherent declaration of need and want and fulfillment, and your neck is bared to me as you shout your completion to the skies.
We lay gasping, hands still roaming sweat-dampened, quivering skin, unwilling to silence ourselves even now. There is no-one for miles but the two of us, and our voices, murmuring, laughing, speaking with no fear.
Chapter 33: Fever
Fever, by Edoraslass
Boromir lies in the Houses of Healing, caught in the grip of a fever which has held him for three days. An arrow-wound to the shoulder went too long untended in the field; there were men more sorely injured than he, and Boromir did not want to take attention from those men.
Denethor sits by his son’s side until he is forced by duty to leave; Faramir has not left since Boromir was brought to the Houses. He talks to his brother, reads to him, sometimes sings fragments of half-recalled nursery rhymes or sailor‘s songs. Faramir does not know if Boromir can hear him, but he cannot sit silently. Once he lays his hand on Boromir’s forehead, and is frightened at the heat in his brother’s skin. After that, he takes it upon himself to bathe Boromir’s face with a cool wet cloth, rather than allowing the healers to do so. It worries Faramir to see his brother lying so still.
The rusty voice jerks Faramir awake, and he finds Boromir staring at him. His brother’s eyes are glassy, and Faramir is not certain that Boromir is seeing him. He reaches for the cup of water on the table next to Boromir’s bed.
“Are they -- what day is it?”
“Do not trouble yourself,” Faramir says gently, lifting Boromir’s head so that he may drink. “You need to rest.”
Boromir only sips at the water, then weakly pushes the cup away. “What day is it?”
Faramir is confused at his brother’s demanding, but answers. “It is Midsummer night. Are you planning to get out of bed and celebrate?”
A blissful smile crosses Boromir’s face. “Thought…thought so,” he murmurs, eyes drifting shut. “I was dreaming of him...”
Faramir does not need to ask who Boromir means by “him”. He remembers seeing Boromir and the Prince of Rohan standing close together in a darkened hallway; remembers hearing Boromir speak to Thèodred in just that affectionate voice, a tone he has never heard Boromir use at any other time, until now.
Boromir’s fever breaks with the sunrise. When Faramir cautiously asks if he had dreams, Boromir claims not to remember. But his wistful smile belies him.
Chapter 34: Postponing the Inevitable
Postponing the Inevitable, by Edoraslass
Fifteen years since their first meeting in Minas Tirith; fifteen years of long separations, broken only occasionally by diplomatic meetings which they consider the perfect opportunity to snatch a few precious hours together. It never occurred to me that they would hold to each other for this long; I assumed it a fleeting infatuation for both young men.
But their youth is far behind them, and still when they meet, I see unmatched joy in my son’s face, and an answering delight in Boromir’s eyes. I have seen the way they embrace after a long parting, the way Théodred lights up when he receives one of those infrequent letters from Gondor’s heir.
I have never wanted anything for my son but his happiness, and I am glad he has found some measure of it. However, more and more frequently, my counselors remind me that Théodred should soon find a wife. They are right, of course – even if those charming daughters of his were in the line of succession, they could not take the throne. But though I know I am only postponing the inevitable, I am reluctant to press him on the subject.
I do not know how a marriage would change the relationship between the two of them. Often I think that perhaps it would alter nothing – they have remained steadfastly loyal with only correspondence and infrequent meetings to keep them warm during years apart. But sometimes I am afraid that a marriage on either side will upset the careful balance of devotion that they have achieved. And I would not wish to be to the cause of such pain to my son, or to Boromir.
They both know that they cannot avoid marriage forever. They know that they will be expected to do their duty and provide heirs for our countries. That is how it has always been, and how it will always be.
I will wait a while longer to insist that Théodred give the subject serious attention. It cannot hurt, and it will give Prince Imrahil’s daughter time to grow a little older. Just a few more months, then he must consider his future, and future of Rohan.
Chapter 35: Growing Pains
Growing Pains, by just_ann_now
She had been very young when she first met him. Raven-haired and grey-eyed, she thought him the handsomest man she had ever seen. A great friend of Théodred’s, renowned warrior and commander; she imagined herself, Lady and Shieldmaiden of Gondor, riding by his side as they vanquished their enemies.
Later she remembered his shimmering, dancing blade as he sparred with Théodred, and sought to match that skill. She refused to think about the future. The word marriage came up every now and again; her uncle and that strange twisted man, his counselor Gríma, would glance at her, then quickly look away. She kept her gaze blank.
Then one day she heard that he was coming to Edoras, a brief visit to confer with Théodred, and pay his respects to Théoden King. She and Théodred watched impatiently from the top of the stair. “It’s not every day we have company, is it?” Théodred laughed; but when Boromir rode in, he flew down the steps, taking them two at time. She followed slowly, and so was only halfway down when she saw them meet, embrace, kiss in a way that made her question exactly what was meant by “diplomatic relations.”
Chapter 36: Fiercely Kept Secrets
Fiercely Kept Secrets, by Edoraslass
He does not know; he cannot know. If he did, he certainly would not have sent me on my own to Rohan.
But why does he look at me so strangely? Have I said something that would raise his suspicions? No, I have been absolutely proper in my report. I have said nothing unseemly.
I never believed any of the wild stories of his ability to read men’s minds– but the intensity of his gaze…no, it is utterly ridiculous.
Think of something else. Orcs, Osgiliath, tavern wenches, cool ale, a hot bath, my waiting dinner.
Think of anything but Théodred.
Chapter 37: Today
Today, by just_ann_now
Today, the messenger brings word of a single rider, a powerfully built man in livery and tack of the White Tree, and bearing an ancient horn – Boromir of Gondor rides to Meduseld.
For once skittish as a girl, Theodred orders preparations: his chamber to be dusted and aired, the lumpy horsehair mattress turned and plumped, fresh linen brought, basket of fruit and flagon of mead set ready. His old nurse laughs at him, then takes on the duties herself: it is she who leaves the bowl of spiced hazelnuts, Boromir’s favorite, and sets the bottle of sweet almond oil by the bedside. Why should her darling not snatch his happiness when he can?
When the visitor arrives, there will be cool ale to soothe his parched throat, then a bath, remembered always as his first request. Their first coupling will be there, in the bathhouse, where joy and hunger will drive them quickly to breathless release. Afterwards, Theodred will sluice the dust and sweat from his lover’s body, stopping to examine each new scar, laughing over each grandiose tale of valor or folly or luck. For a soldier, used to rough living, Boromir is strangely fastidious, and so will sigh blissfully as he lowers himself into the tub, closing his eyes, murmuring dreamily. At the end, Theodred will wash his hair, as tenderly as a father with his child, and Boromir’s eyes will shine with affection.
Tonight the king will join them at table, for a time, and news will be exchanged: ravages of orcs over the Westfold; precious horses maimed or stolen; reports of new terrors from the East or South. These cares are for tomorrow: tonight there will be songs, and tales, and the waiting bed. Smiles will bid them goodnight, but no teasing laughter: as if all understand the preciousness, the rare gift of their time together.
By candlelight, in the wide bed, they will once again drink deeply of each other’s taste and scent, rediscovering with lips, tongues, teeth. Calloused fingers, surprisingly gentle; unbearably, exquisitely rough. Long limbs entwined, until it is impossible to tell one from another except for sensations on the skin. Memories to be hoarded like treasure against the dark nights, and the morning that will come too soon.
Later, Eowyn will ask him, for she does not understand. Should he not, instead, be seeking a bride, fathering a heir, forging a link to Rohan’s future? He will not tell her what he knows: that there is no future for him or his lover; that death waits, catlike, watching their every breath; that they will live forever young in the songs and tales of Rohan, warrior princes bound by ties stronger than blood.
An Unexpected Pleasure, by just_ann_now
Of all the sights that might have met Boromir as he crossed the river into the East Emnet, what he least expected to see was Prince Théodred, stripped to the waist along with most of his éored, scything hay in the summer sun.
“ 'Tis ready, and folk must cut when they can,” Théodred explained, passing the waterskin as they sat munching bread and cheese on the shady riverbank. “They're fortunate that we arrived on patrol when we did. Old men, old women, mothers and children – they would have only been able to harvest a fraction of their crop; the winter will be hard enough as it is. Many riders of my éored come from villages just like this one, and would wish the same help for their own folk.”
Boromir nodded, then surprised his companion by pulling off his own tunic, rolling it neatly and stowing it in his saddlebag. “When we were young, my brother and I both worked part of each summer at our tenant farm. Scything is a skill that, once painfully learned, is hardly forgotten. I had not dared hope to be lucky enough to spend any time with you; I'll enjoy it however it's spent.”
A birthday gift for Half_Elf_Lost.
Chapter 39: Seeing All
Seeing All, by Edoraslass
Boromir knows every inch of Théodred's skin as well as he knows his own. When he is in Gondor, months and miles from Théodred's embrace, he closes his eyes, picturing Théodred beneath or above him, remembers surrounding him, being surrounded by him.
Though Boromir needs no sight to guide him, he lights the candle by the bedside. He wants to watch every moment of pleasure on Théodred's face, wants to see his lean, golden body when it is trembling and straining toward release. Months and miles from now, memory will serve, because it must; now, Boromir wants to see everything.
Chapter 40: Infrequent Joy
Infrequent Joy, by Edoraslass
He should be more careful, I think as I watch my brother ride away from Minas Tirith. He is far too happy to be going on what is supposedly nothing more than a visit of state.
Our father is sending Boromir to Rohan, to discuss border security and to purchase new mounts for the cavalry. But as I watched him pack, Boromir whistled cheerfully, and as he readied his horse with barely-concealed energy, there was an unmistakable a gleam of excitement in my brother’s eyes.
Naturally he would be excited; he has not been to Edoras in nearly three years. I cannot imagine what it must be like, to be separated for so long from the one who holds your heart. Nor can I imagine how Boromir can bear to keep his connection with Lord Théodred concealed. It must be terrible, being unable to speak of Théodred, having to act as if Théodred means nothing to him, especially for Boromir, who is usually outspoken and open to a fault.
But this is different, I remind myself. This is no telling what Father would say or do if he found out. He would be furious, of that there is no doubt. He might even decide to make a political incident of it.
If I had not overheard an almost-conversation many years ago, it is likely that I myself would have no inkling. Oh, I would notice the change in my brother when Boromir goes on such diplomatic errands, and I would mark the indefinable, quicksilver shift in Boromir’s eyes when Rohan is mentioned, but I would not know the cause of these reactions. But since that day so long ago, I have noted many small things which tell me that Boromir and Théodred have quietly continued their association for all these years: the melancholy state of my brother’s temper when he returns from a trip to Edoras; a cryptically bawdy remark from Mag to Boromir; the pleased yet wistful expression that was on Boromir’s face one day when I found him reading a letter, and the way Boromir quickly folded the letter up and stuffed it inside his tunic, as if I’d caught him with something inappropriate.
I wish I could tell Boromir that I know. I understand that he must keep his involvement with the Lord Théodred from everyone else in Gondor, but I am not used to Boromir keeping secrets of any kind from me. It pains me to be excluded from this aspect of my brother’s life. I wish that I could share in Boromir’s happiness; I would like for Boromir to know that at least one member of his family does not think that such a relationship is dishonourable. I would like for him to trust me in this, as he does in all other things. We have kept each other’s counsel always, since we were very young, and it is troubling that he will not speak of this association to me, when it is clearly so important to him. I do not want him to babble on like a love-struck adolescent, but I would like to understand what it is that drew the two men to one another and what has held them to each other for so long, even when they more often are apart than together.
But Boromir will never confide this in me; I will never broach the subject, not only because Boromir would vehemently deny such a thing, but because I am afraid that my brother would break with the Lord Théodred, if he believed that I knew the truth of the situation. He would be afraid that I would somehow think less of him, or that I am so innocent that I would be shocked. I cannot deny that I was shocked, when I first found out – but I was only thirteen then, and confused about many things.
Since then, I have had time to come to terms with Boromir’s nature, and it matters not to me where his preferences lie. He is still the same warm-hearted, irritating, headstrong, generous man he has always been; he is still held in the highest regard by every fighting man of Gondor, including me. There is nothing different about him.
But I will say nothing; I will continue to pretend as if I have no idea. I would not want Boromir to panic and cast Théodred off because he is worried for my good opinion. I could not bear to be responsible for causing such heartache. If Father begins to wonder why Boromir is on such good terms with Rohan’s heir, I will find ways to calm those suspicions, convince him that it is simply diplomacy. If I cannot tell Boromir that I am pleased that he has found someone who brings him peace, the least I can do is to protect him. Soon enough, one or the other will wed, and then they will have to part. Until then, they should be allowed this small, infrequent joy.
Chapter 41: Morning Prayer
Morning Prayer, by just_ann_now
Every morning upon arising, Théodred breathes slowly, deeply, reaching his arms to heaven, sending greetings to the sun. He stretches his torso, muscle and sinew, curving to arch his back, then bends long legs, shoulders, and golden head to kiss the earth.
Every morning they have ever woken together Boromir has shared this ritual. His mouth is dry as he watches from the corner of his eye; not with desire but awe, and gratefulness, that he has been blessed with this vision of power and grace: the Son of Rohan as he thanks Béma for the gift of another day.
Chapter 42: In Dreams
In Dreams, by just_ann_now
Théodred's hair is surprisingly soft, but the stubble of his chin, the underside of his jaw, is coarse, scratchy. Boromir loves the contrast, the silkiness under his fingers as Théodred nuzzles his belly, his thighs; Théodred's tongue teasing him, dizzying him with sensation, until -
And Théodred is there to ease him down slowly, whispering in his ear, something nonsensical, a lullaby almost, and Boromir drifts off to sleep, peaceful, content. Is this a memory, or a dream? Boromir really doesn't know, nor does he care: whatever it is, he holds it to himself, a treasure, a consolation, an escape.
Chapter 43: Joy
Joy, by just_ann_now
Why does Faramir look at me so? Does he – no, of course not. How could he? I have ever been discreet, feigning nonchalance at every mention of Rohan, boredom or bother or just plain disinterest. Nobody suspects; nobody knows but Mag – dear Mag!
I would not burden Faramir with such secrets, in any case. He… no, I could not.
Oh, but when I reach the open plain, riding alone and swift, none to see or hear, no danger to befall me unnoticed, I shall sing: bawdy songs of laughter and joy, for I am alive, and my lover is waiting.
Chapter 44: Word
Word, by just_ann_now
There is a word for what he feels.
Boromir has never said the word to anyone. When he was young he imagined he would, one day, speak it to a wife, a child, yet as the years pass he realizes that there has only ever been one whom he has ever found worthy. Yet for nearly twenty years, he has been unable to speak it.
There have been times that his heart has been filled with such joy that he felt himself ready to burst, to sing, to cry out to the sky. There have been times when he has thanked the Powers for such a blessing, even though he feels himself scarcely worthy of the gift. There have been times, so many times, when he felt the overwhelming urge to speak the word aloud, fearful that he might pass beyond the borders of this world without ever speaking it. “Théodred, I…” he begins, and his beloved turns toward him, smiling, expectant. Then Boromir finds his tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth and he can only shake his head, while Théo laughs, drawing him close once again.
Each time he thinks, This time I will not hesitate; I will tell him; yet each time he falters.
Until one night, as they lie together, peaceful, he gathers up his vaunted courage and begins, “Théodred, I….” Théo, eyes warm with affection, presses a finger to Boromir’s lips, and murmurs, “I know.”
Chapter 45: A Taste of Remembrance
A Taste of Remembrance, by Edoraslass
Théodred is asleep on his stomach next to me, his face partially obscured by tangled braids, long limbs sprawled all over the bed as usual.
I reach out and touch an almost-invisible mark on his shoulder. Well do I remember the night I put it there, the first time I took him. I remember the way his unexpected heat took my breath; I had not really expected that I would ever have him, and it did not quite seem real. He had gasped harshly, almost pleading me to move, and I chose a slow, steady pace, for I wanted to make it last as long as I could. He had matched my rhythm, moaning encouragement in his language and mine, every muscle of his golden body tensed as he moved beneath me, and I watched him through a haze of pleasure, fighting to keep the end from coming too soon, for I did not know if I would have this chance again.
I remember the way he groaned my name when I reached forward and took him in hand, and how I tried to muffle my own voice by burying my face in his shoulder. I remember how every sensation seemed magnified a hundredfold; how his skin against mine was almost too much to bear; how he cried out, shuddering and arching upwards into me when my teeth sank into his skin as my release washed over me.
I had been appalled when I had seen blood on his shoulder, though Theodred had brushed aside my concern with an oddly satisfied grin. He had allowed me to tend the small injury, and I had washed it carefully and applied a healing salve. Of course now I know that he does not mind such marks at all, but at the time, I had been terribly worried, afraid that I had not only offended him, but that I had lost the opportunity to ever be with him again, and that notion was unbearable. Even then, even in the very beginning, I knew that I wanted every moment with Théodred that I could steal.
He had quickly put those worries to rest, however, by pouncing on me as soon as I had finished attending his wound, and I laugh softly at the memory of my younger self, dizzy with joy at being able to freely explore this part of my nature without shame. In truth, I am no less joyous now.
I lean down, gently kiss the faded scar on Théodred’s shoulder. He stirs briefly, but I know that it takes more than a such a light, quick touch to wake him fully. And so I turn my attention towards rousing him, tracing paths learned over years, knowing that I will never have my fill of him.
Chapter 46: Made For Each Other
Made For Each Other, by just_ann_now
Theodred kneaded at the cramp in his thigh, while Boromir rolled his shoulders, easing the knots there.
“Where did you come up with the idea for that?” Théodred laughed. “I would never have imagined such a thing as humanly possible.”
“I saw it in a book. It has always intrigued me, but whenever I’ve attempted it, my partners seemed to have been lacking the necessary, ah, flexibility. You are the first man with whom…”
“Flexibility? More a matter of blacksmithy, parts designed and molded to fit together exactly.”
“That’s exactly so.” Boromir smiled. “And we are obviously a perfect fit.”
Chapter 47: An Unfamiliar Light
An Unfamiliar Light, by Edoraslass
It is just a banquet, exceptional only in the fact that Lord Boromir of Gondor is attendance.
Fridhu looks up at the sound of her faeder’s laughter, and sees him lean toward Boromir to speak as he has a hundred times before. But this time, she see an unfamiliar light in her faeder’s eyes, and it strikes her that his head was tilted almost as if they were about to kiss.
Suddenly she remembers the day that she and Blídhe stumbled upon their faeder and Boromir, holding each other, bidding each other farewell. They had run away, giggling madly, for they were not supposed to be in the stables unescorted, and Fridhu had forgotten all about the incident until now.
Oh, she thinks, a little stunned. Just that; just Oh. She looks at Blídhe and sees the same realization on her sister’s face.
They are startled, but in truth, it makes perfect sense. They have always seen the subtle touches, the sidelong glances, the oddly warm smiles and murmured words saved for only the other. It has always been that way; they just had not known what it meant.
Blídhe is smiling; she takes her sister’s hand and squeezes gently. Fridhu returns the gesture, leaning her head on her sister’s shoulder, and wonders if knowing will change anything.
Chapter 48: Unsent
Unsent, by Edoraslass
I wish that you were here, but that is ever a vain hope.
I do not like falling asleep alone; I do not like waking without you. As time passes between our meetings, I find myself despairing that we shall ever meet again.
I know we will; our duties guarantee it, but in the cold small hours of the night, my heart will not listen to reason.
I would give much to see your smile, or hear your laughter. I would give more to feel your body against mine, but
Of course he does not send this letter; that would be sheerest folly. Instead,he feeds it into the fire, watches it burn, and wonders how long he must be so unfulfilled.
No Word, by just_ann_now
Long months, without a word.
News of import, of course, would have reached him through the ungainly language of diplomacy: My lord, it gives me great pleasure to announce that my son, Prince Théodred... or even the unspeakable: My lord, it is with heavy heart...
Sometimes there are rare, precious letters, slipped in amongst sacks of almonds or casks of peach brandy bound for Mag’s kitchen. For discretion’s sake they appear merely to be simple tales of spotted dogs and weaponry; yet each bears beneath those mundane words the warmth of memories best left unwritten. He keeps them in his belt pouch, always close, a talisman of happy times.
Long months, without a word.
Yet each morning, wherever he is, a part of him awakens with boyish hope: Today, perhaps there will be word today.
A birthday gift for Scribendi.
Chapter 50: Never Enough
Never Enough, by Edoraslass
“Here you are.”
Boromir looked up at the sound of Théodred’s hushed voice. “I was restless,” he said as Théodred came to sit next to him on the cool stone of the stairs. “I did not want to wake you.”
“I know,” Théodred replied with a smile. “I was not asleep, in any case.”
Boromir did not quite believe him, but was grateful for the company nonetheless.
They sat silently, looking out at Edoras.
At length, Théodred asked, “Is all well?”
He said it neutrally enough, but Boromir, tuned as he was to the nuances of Théodred’s voice, could hear the underlying hint of concern. He looked at the other man and smiled briefly. “I am tired of having so little time with you.”
Surprise flashed across Théodred’s face, for by tacit agreement, they never spoke of the inevitability of separation. “I know,” he said softly, eyes mirroring Boromir’s dissatisfaction. Then he took a deep breath, and said, “Would...would you prefer to have no time?”
Boromir stared at Théodred dumbly for a moment. He was not certain he had understood the question, for it was uncharacteristically vague. And he had never seen Théodred so hesitant. “Are you asking if little time is better than no time, or if it would be easier if we parted altogether?”
Théodred winced, and Boromir belatedly realized how harshly he had spoken. But he did not apologize.
“The second.” Théodred’s voice was so low that Boromir had to lean forward to hear.
Boromir was so shocked that he did not know what to say. Even in his deepest moments of loneliness or frustration, he had never seriously considered ending his association with Théodred. Finally, heart in his throat, he managed, “Is that what you would prefer?”
Théodred met his gaze. “No,” he replied forcefully, and his back was rigid with tension. “But if you are not happy…”
“You’re an idiot,” Boromir snapped, and despite his irritation, was almost amused at the way Théodred’s eyes went wide at the words. “You are an utter and complete idiot if you think that having no time with you would make me happy.”
Théodred gave a twisted half-smile. “I am sorry,” he said, looking down at his bare feet. “There is nothing that I would want less, Boromir. But I had to ask.”
All at once, Boromir’s annoyance evaporated, for he did understand the impulse that had made Théodred ask such a thing. On long, cold nights in the field, surrounded by his men yet wholly alone, Boromir had occasionally wondered if it might not be kinder, for both of them, to become less than lovers.
“You are an idiot,” he repeated, more gently this time, moving close enough that his hip pressed against Théodred’s. “And so I am. I should be pleased with whatever time we are allowed, and yet I cannot be.”
At last Théodred relaxed, but his expression was solemn. “I know,” he said again, clasping Boromir’s hand. “It is not enough, but it must suffice.”
Boromir sighed. “Of course you are right. Though that does not mean that I have to like it.”
“I like it no more than you,” Théodred assured him, quietly resigned. “But there is naught to be done.”
They watched the moon rise, but spoke no further.
The Taste of Memory, by just_ann_now
The bulky parcel, carefully transported and passed hand-to-hand from White City to Golden Hall, was unwrapped to reveal a cask full of sandalwood chips. Nestled inside was a velvet pouch; inside that, a cut-glass flask of precious Dorwinion brandy, the richest vintage in all the lands of Men.
Théodred had tasted it once before, pilfered with great daring from a locked sideboard in the Steward's dining room. Giddy with youth and fire, he and Boromir had lain entwined in a moonlit garden, licking the sweet droplets from each other's lips. The memory of that night, the scent of jasmine and the taste of Boromir's skin, still filled him with wonder.
Wrapped around the bottle was a note. The sight of that handwriting made Théodred feel a bit breathless, as the thought of Boromir always did, even after all these years. He read: My uncle nearly choked at the idea of giving up a bottle from his cellar; still, it has always been his habit to indulge me, and so I share the wealth with you. Drink to your health and mine, dear friend, in honor of our birthdays; the rest we'll savor when we are together again.
A birthday gift for Kortirion.
Chapter 52: Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation Techniques, by Edoraslass
Théodred was in a foul temper, and at first, Boromir simply let him seethe. He well-understood frustration and impatience with counselors who had no practical experience in the field, and Théodred had spent most of the afternoon in a closed session with such men. Boromir had planned to brag about how he had spent the afternoon – riding, sparring with Riders, a leisurely lunch in a tavern and even a quick swim – but upon seeing Théodred’s grim face, had wisely decided to remain silent.
However, after Théodred had been pacing the room and venting his irritations for the better part of an hour, Boromir decided that Théodred was only growing more agitated, instead of exhausting his annoyance.
“Théodred!” he said sharply, and the Marshal stopped mid-tirade, a dark expression on his face that would have cowed many men.
Boromir, of course, was not one of those men. He stood, and pointed to the low-backed chair he had just vacated. “Sit down.”
“Sit down?” Théodred echoed blankly. “I have no desire to sit down, Boromir – have you not been listening to –“
“Sit. Down.” Boromir repeated forcefully, crossing his arms over his chest and facing Théodred squarely. “You need to calm yourself, and you cannot do that when you are stalking around the room in such a manner.”
Théodred’s eyes narrowed dangerously at the unmistakable note of authority in Boromir’s voice. A heavy tension suddenly hung between them, but Boromir ignored it and only continued to stare at the other man as he might a new, impertinent recruit. He hoped that he had not pushed Théodred too far – Boromir was aware that he stood a chance of having that anger turned on him.
After a long, uncertain moment, Théodred exhaled noisily and threw himself into the chair. “I am sitting,” he declared, a bit sullenly. “Now what shall you have me do?”
“I should have you relax,” Boromir said in a much gentler tone. “It is very clear that you are frustrated, but there is no point in working yourself into such a state.” He took the tall stool that sat by the fire and placed it behind the chair in which Théodred sat. “No, do not turn around,” he ordered, and Théodred obediently faced forward again. “You may talk, but softly. Organize your thoughts.”
“What new advice is this from you?” Théodred asked wryly. “ ‘Talk softly’, ‘organize my thoughts’.”
Boromir chuckled, relieved that Théodred already sounded more reasonable. “ ‘Tis advice from my brother when I have been in a similar state,” he admitted as he began to pull free the leather thong that held the other man’s hair back in a single braid. “This is no doubt some of your tension,” he went on. “Why did you draw it back so tightly? I am surprised your head is not pounding.”
“It is pounding,” Théodred said, and gave a deep sigh of relief when Boromir finally managed to untie the knotted bit of leather free and loosened the sections of the braid. “But ‘tis not simply that which causes my head to ache so.”
Boromir combed his fingers through the golden tangles, careful not to pull. “Tell me what is truly bothering you about this Grima,” he invited, beginning to rub Théodred’s scalp with a light, sure touch.
Théodred let his head fall against the back of the chair, and closed his eyes. It was a moment before he answered. “It is that I do not know why my father listens to him,” he said at length. “He is no lord, I do not know how high of birth he is, and I am not even certain how he first came to my father’s attention…” his voice drifted off, and Boromir could see that Théodred’s face was much less strained than it had been. “I think he was a scribe, or perhaps a secretary?” Théodred’s voice, however, still retained its irritation. “He also does not speak in a straightforward manner as he should – he tries to give the impression that he knows a great deal more than he does.”
“Are you certain that he does not have the knowledge that he implies he does?” Boromir asked mildly, moving his fingertips to just behind Théodred’s temples and making slow circles.
“That feels wondrous,” Théodred murmured with a fleeting smile. “I have always admired your hands, Boromir, even before I had learned how talented they were.”
Boromir laughed softly. “Answer the question,” he said, leaning forward to whisper in Théodred’s ear.
“He may have that knowledge.” Théodred was clearly reluctant to concede this point. “But if he does, it would better serve my father the King if Grima would reveal his knowledge, and cease presenting himself as a sage to rival the Maia.”
Boromir did not argue that; he was used to this kind of self-importance from Gondorian nobles and counselors, but the Rohirrim were far more uncomplicated in their ways of speech, even in political situations. He understood why such a manner would try Théodred’s patience. “Lean your head forward,” he bade, and when Theodred did so, brushed the hair aside, and focused his attentions on the back and nape of the other man’s neck. “Surely that is not the extent of it.”
“He spoke of me as if I am a child,” was the somewhat muffled reply. “As if I am not my father’s Second Marshal, and have never seen action in the field. And what is worse, he spoke of me as if I were not even in the room!” His voice rose for a moment. “I do not mind hearing the point of view of other men, truly I do not – but I do resent a man who has not spent one day on patrol acting as though I am some green boy in search of excitement to ease my boredom.”
There was the crux of the matter, Boromir guessed, that this Grima had somehow questioned Theodred’s competence in front of all the counselors, not to mention the King. “I have encountered the same attitude,” he said, carefully working a particularly tight muscle at the base of Théodred’s neck. “I think it is a rule that all counselors must behave as if they have many years of battle behind them, when confronted with a man of our ages. Nay, not simply counselors, but at times, seasoned soldiers as well.” Theodred hissed suddenly, and Boromir dropped his hands immediately. “Have I hurt you?”
“Do not worry,” the Rohir replied, though his voice was a bit harsh . “It is just a sore spot.”
“I will be more gentle,” Boromir assured him. “Remove your shirt, and continue.”
Théodred glanced over his shoulder quizzically. “Remove my shirt? Boromir, I mean no offense, but I am not in the mood –“
Boromir rolled his eyes as he stood and went to retrieve the bottle of oil from underneath the bed. “Can you not simply do as I say?”
Théodred chuckled, and, pulling his shirt over his head, turned forward again. “You are right,” he continued as Boromir re-seated himself and poured a small amount of oil into his palm. “I have had older Riders question my decisions, but they are always respectful, and …ah, that is marvelous.” This last as a response when Boromir began to knead his shoulders. “Must I continue to talk about this? I would much rather simply concentrate on what you are doing. You are working wonders.”
“You do not have to if you do not wish to,” Boromir grinned, though Théodred could not see it, “I have my hands on you either way. But, as my brother would say, if you do not learn what rouses your temper, you will never learn to control it.”
Théodred nodded, but did not reply, and for a while, there was no sound but for his appreciative sighs as Boromir continued to massage his shoulders and upper back.
Finally Théodred broke the silence. “There is something about him I do not trust,” he said. “I cannot name it, but he unsettles me, and I do not wish to ignore my instincts when they have served me well in the past.”
Boromir understood that, as well. He relied on his instincts both in the field and in more formal situations – and Faramir’s instincts were often something just short of miraculous. “Then do not ignore them,” he said, returning his attentions to Théodred’s hair, using the oil on his hands to pull the snarls free. “I will not tell you how to feel towards this man, Théodred, for I do not know the entire situation. But do not let him goad you.”
“You are right, yet again,” Théodred nodded, then yawned. “I do not suppose I could convince you to apply your skills to the lower part of my back?”
“Perhaps you could,” Boromir replied, amused and pleased with himself that he had managed to ease Théodred into a much more amiable temper. “You shall have to lay flat on the bed, however.”
Théodred looked over his shoulder, eyes gleaming briefly. “You say that as if you fear it will be hardship for me.”
“You did say that you were not in the mood,” Boromir reminded him with mock seriousness.
Théodred’s laughter rumbled low in his chest. “I am willing to be persuaded into the mood.”
Boromir grinned widely, and stood. “Then I shall endeavour to persuade you.”
Chapter 53: Baiting the Trap
Baiting the Trap, by Edoraslass
"Think you Théodred will agree to this? He will be suspicious, if he sees you and I talking together."
Boromir chuckled. "Think you he will turn down such an opportunity?" he asked, eyes sparkling with mischief. "But we will have throw him off balance, then lead him into the bear's den, so to speak." He thought a moment. "I think I know a way to distract him so that he will not suspect anything until we have him where we want him."
Besorg gave a wide grin that mirrored Boromir's own anticipation. "Tell me about this wicked plan of yours."
Chapter 54: Instant Pleasure
A companion piece to "Baiting the Trap".
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Instant Pleasure, by just_ann_now
I knew that Théo and Besorg had been lovers, yet when I met him I was surprised at how uncomfortable this made me feel.
Of course we had not vowed to hold only to each other; how foolish that would have been! And I had had a good number of lovers myself. But there was something about the tattoo artist, his knowing air, the familiar way in which his eyes ran over Théo’s body, that raised my hackles just a bit. For a moment I regretted agreeing to Théo’s suggestion that I consider some adornment similar to his; I just wanted to grab him by the arm and head away somewhere by ourselves, where I could bury myself in him, and he in me, driving such thoughts away.
Théo, though, greeted Besorg as an old friend, slapping him on the shoulder, describing the artwork that he had in mind. Immediately Besorg’s attitude became quite professional, removing my shirt to inspect the expanse of skin between my shoulderblades, discussing designs and colors that I might never get to see. I could not help but shiver as he marked out the area with his fingertips, thinking of those long, ink-stained fingers exploring Théo’s body, stroking and caressing, as I did. Distracted, I did not realize that a decision had been made, until Theodred poked me. “Lie down, for pity’s sake, he can’t do this kind of thing standing up.” Moments later, I was lying on my belly upon the high oaken table.
Théo sat on a stool close by, regaling us both with tales of his travels throughout the Mark. Besorg, as he worked, also shared the Aldburg news, small bits of gossip which seemed to delight his prince. I was struck once again by the easy familiarity between Théo and everyone he met – there seemed to be no artificial distinction of rank between him and his people, though there was seldom, if ever, any disrespect. I wondered for a moment how effective such a relationship would be when he became king.
After lying for some time in such an odd position, I began to realize two things: that my back and shoulders were becoming stiff; and that another part of my body was responding in much the same way. The sure and steady touch of Besorg’s fingers, the heat and scent of his skin so close to mine, his absolute concentration on my body, was having quite an affect. At once I understood how Theo must have felt, young and curious, faced with such lush sensuality. And how I must have reaped some of the benefits of that youthful liaison as well.
Then Théo – that imp! - watching me carefully, interrupted the conversation. “I think Boromir is ready for a stretch now, don’t you?” Besorg immediately stopped and stepped backwards as I eased myself up, rolling and arching my shoulders to loosen them.
I was hesitant to stand up straight at first, but Théo’s knowing glance, and his infectious grin, relaxed me at once. “The very same thing happened to me,” he chuckled, stepping closer, and then he was on his knees, unfastening my breeches, sliding them down around my ankles. And then, to my surprise, I could feel Besorg behind me, fitting himself against my cleft, rubbing and grunting softly, running his hands over my thighs as Théo mouthed me eagerly. The utter delightful shock of the two of them, giving and taking such casual pleasure, undid me quickly, and I half-collapsed, laughing and gasping, onto Théo’s shoulder, as I felt Besorg sigh and relax against me.
Théo stood up, smiling, for this was an act which never ceased to delight him. I leaned forward, moving into his kiss, but to my surprise his lips brushed past me to Besorg, sharing the taste of my seed with him before turning his mouth to mine.
“Feeling better?” he asked, after we broke our kiss. Besorg motioned me back down to the table as he took up his pen. I hesitated.
“What about you, Théo?” I asked, for it did not seem fair for him to be without relief. His clinging leather breeches left little doubt as to his mood.
“Oh, don’t worry about me,” he said, unfastening his laces with one hand while reaching into his pocket with the other. “I’ll take care of this in no time.”
And as we watched, breathless, he did.
A birthday gift for Edoraslass.
Five Memories, by Edoraslass
I woke with Théodred’s arm wrapped around my waist, and his leg thrown over mine; his breath was warm on the curve of my neck. Against my back, his chest rose and fell gently, and I reached to cover his hand with mine.
Then I was wrenched awake by the clamor of bells, the Tower Guard calling the hour, and I slept no more that night.
When I reached Edoras, Théodred was not waiting to greet me. I did my best to hide the disappointment that welled within me, and thanked the lad who told me that all was prepared, should I wish to bathe.
That was where Théodred waited: in the bathhouse, eyes gleaming with mischief and impatience as he rose from a tub of steaming water to welcome me.
We sat at a table in the great hall of the Meduseld, eating and talking and laughing with his men. One Rider told a bawdy joke that set us howling; Théodred looked toward me, roaring with laughter as we all were, and in the midst of the uproar I thought, I would that it could always be this way.
I was shocked to see how Théoden King had aged in so short a time. I glanced to Théodred for explanation, but there was none forthcoming, and the grimness of his expression warned me against further inquiry.
After dinner, when we sat alone on the stairs of the Hall, that grimness had taken on a cast of bleakness, and I could not let it be. I did not ask any questions; I merely moved closer to him, and entwined my fingers in his. He did not explain, not at that time, but his shoulders slumped and a tremor went through him even as his hand tightened on mine. “I can do nothing for him,” he said in a low, wavering voice, and all I could do was to lend him what strength he needed.
I woke with my arm wrapped around Théodred’s waist, my leg thrown over his, my chest pressed against his back, and his hair in my face. When I brushed his hair aside, he stirred, and rolled toward me, blue eyes still groggy with sleep. He smiled, that smile which has always been for me alone, and touched my cheek. We lay so for I know not how long, talking idly of everything and nothing, chuckling softly, murmuring words we would say to no other, until we were obliged to rise and begin the day.
I watched as Boromir sparred with one of my older Riders. I admired his fighting form, his grace and speed, the pleasure he took in his skill, the efficiency of each movement, no stroke too light nor too forceful, even in this, a practice session.
This is his joy, I thought with a strange pride. This is what he was meant for. As we both are.
When the bout was finished, I stood, taking up my own sword. Boromir’s eyes lit up with anticipation and for all that he was already tired, I knew that he would not hold back. He never did.
I watched him ride away from Earla’s Grove until he could no longer be seen. I ached from our time together; bruises now barely bloomed would begin to darken rapidly, and still I wished he had been able to stay for one more hour, one more night. One more cup of ale, one more meal, one more night of him murmuring my name in the dark, one more morning of awakening to his face.
Always, when he left, a part of me left with him, and I never knew when or if he would return.
When Boromir arrived in Edoras, he was so impatient that he tried to drag me into a stall. I laughed, and pointed out that straw and hay were not such a comfortable bed as they might seem, and that I was not going to be the one on my back or my knees in the scratchy, sharp stuff.
His mouth and hands were persuasive, as they always were, and soon I could not bring myself to wait, either. We shut ourselves in the stable’s tack room, and were lost in one another other, forgetting there was a world outside that door.
Boromir looked at me with such confusion that all I could do was to clench my jaw and look away. Throughout dinner that evening, I saw his bewilderment grow with every glance he cast towards my father and the vile Worm who never left his side. Fury at my own helplessness and shame at Boromir seeing my father in such a state distracted me, and I fear I hardly spoke to him during the meal.
Later when we sat alone on the stairs, I could read the questions in his eyes, and I braced myself for the words that would surely now come. Instead, Boromir merely moved closer to me, and when he took my hand, it was all I could do to keep my composure. “I can do nothing for him,” I said in a voice that shook. His hand tightened on mine; he leaned against my shoulder, wordlessly offering what strength he had, and I had never been more grateful for his presence.
We relaxed in a large tub, sated, for the moment. We were under no obligation until the evening meal, so we took our time, washing each other clean, reveling in long-missed touch.
Boromir combed the snarls from my wet hair as he told me of his journey; I pretended to complain at his ungentle hands and told him of my most recent patrol. His laughter in my ear sent pleasant shivers down my spine; he sighed with contentment when I leaned back against him. He traced each new scar he found on my body, and I would do the same to him, later that night.
We stayed there until the water grew cold. When we climbed out, we found that all our clothing was soaked, for in our haste we had discarded them too close to the tub. We had no choice but to don that wet clothing, and we laughed at our foolishness as we squelched our way back to the Golden Hall.
A birthday gift for Scribendi.
Surprise!, by just_ann_now
Boromir wondered at the seemingly-deserted city until the music and laughter drew him to the Hall. He entered almost shyly, ill at ease for being uninvited, until he caught a glimpse of Théo, twirling and dipping expertly among the dancers, his golden hair streaming behind him.
Caught up in the festivity, clapping along, Boromir did not notice as Éowyn came up behind him, pushing him at just the right moment for him to catch Théo’s outstretched arm. Quick to learn , quick on his feet, the Captain-General returned the Marshal’s surprised grin, partnering him neatly as onlookers whooped in delight.
A gift for Sillimarilli.
Chapter 57: Seven Deadly Sins - Théodred
Seven Deadly Sins – Théodred, by Edoraslass
The sun is on warm his face, the grass is cool on his back, and the scent of almond blossoms is almost dizzying.
Or perhaps it is Boromir’s hand idly stroking the inside of his thigh that is dizzying; perhaps it is the knowledge that they are wholly alone, with no duties to call them away from one another.
Perhaps it is the soft heat of Boromir’s mouth against his throat, lazy rather than insistent, as if they have all the time in the world.
He leads the éored back to Edoras. He and his men are exhausted; all they want is a bath, a hot meal, and a soft bed.
Few were wounded this time; Théodred is unspeakably grateful that for once, no-one was killed.
The Meduseld comes into view; a ragged cheer arises from weary throats, and fierce pride surges through Théodred. This is his home; there is no other place he would be, for Rohan is his heart. These are his people, and he will defend them with his last breath.
Théodred watches his cousin in the practice ring, silently noting Éomer’s weaknesses and strengths.
Éomer is still a boy; there are no marks of battle on him, and he swings his sword with the utter confidence that he will be victorious, no matter what he faces, a confidence that is the sole property of untried youth.
Théodred envies that; envies Éomer’s blithe assurance that there is nothing he cannot overcome. He vaguely remembers once feeling that way himself, but it is a hazy memory at best. His first battle swiftly taught him that there is no man so skilled that he cannot be beaten.
Horses scream, orcs roar, swords crash, and men roar their defiance to the skies.
Théodred hears all this at a distance, his attention is wholly on the next enemy.
It is always like this: in the heat of a battle, there is nothing but his horse and his blade and the peculiarly sharp focus that comes with the blood-lust. He lets it sing through his veins, swings and hacks and bellows until his throat is raw.
Only when the fight is over does Théodred realize he is bruised and aching from head to foot; only when every last foul beast lies dead does he note the arrow in his shoulder.
He should not drink more; his speech is already slurring and his vision is not entirely clear. He will regret this in the morning, he knows that.
But the ale dulls his memory; takes the sharp edge off the sorrow.
Twelve men lost today; fully half of them were green boys barely able to grow a beard. He can still see their faces; startled, frightened, confused, and so very, very young.
He reaches for the pitcher, and re-fills his mug.
Boromir’s hands clutch at his shoulders; his breath comes in short, hard pants as Theodred’s mouth makes its lingering way down his body. Theodred knows exactly how to make his lover tremble with need; knows exactly where to caress or lick or bite to draw his name from Boromir’s lips.
He does so, again and again, until they both are shaking and his name has become nothing more than a shuddering plea for release.
Théodred is not a man to stand idly by; he is a man of action. He has never encountered a problem too difficult or complex to be resolved. He has never been helpless.
There is nothing he can do for his ailing father; nothing he can do to bring back the proud, noble man he has loved and obeyed unhesitatingly all the years of his life.
Now all he can do is watch as Théoden King slides further into darkness. All he can do is watch as his father, once so seemingly undefeatable, becomes a ghost in his own Hall, unable to cut his own meat or give forth his own counsel without the treasonous words of Gríma Wormtongue further poisoning his mind.
All Théodred can do is try to swallow his rage, for if he does not, the floor of the Meduseld will run red with the traitor’s blood.
Chapter 58: Chance Meeting
Chance Meeting, by just_ann_now
The youngest rider, the one with the best eyesight, stood up in his stirrups, shading his eyes with his hand as he squinted into the distance. “Seven, eight, …ten of them. They ride in the Gondorian style.” He suddenly grinned, glancing at Théodred. “I believe that Lord Boromir is among them.”
The other riders chuckled, while Théodred coughed in mock severity. “Well, then, we must go question their justification for this unwarranted invasion of Rohan. Hrrah!” He galloped off toward the approaching party, the others following with thinly-disguised glee.
They had been investigating a report of an incursion of a small band of orcs and the theft of several horses. Restless, Théodred had selected a small patrol and ridden in pursuit, overtaking the orcs near the Mering Stream, slaying them all and recovering sixteen of the eighteen stolen horses. He had sent scouts all about to determine if this attack might be a feint, a distraction from a more intense operation, but there had been no sign; and so they were feeling high-hearted, eager for an unexpected diversion of a non-combative nature.
From this distance, though, all Riders looked alike: tall and burly, their gold or reddish hair streaming out from beneath their helms. They rode so magnificently it was pure pleasure to watch them, until one rider in particular caught his eye. “Tcha!” He rode forward eagerly, not quite believing his eyes, not believing his good luck.
Down, Théodred murmured; Boromir turned and leaned forward to rest his head on his arms. Hurry, hurry, he thought, shivering with anticipation as Theo caressed him, preparing him. No other lover touched him thus: his most secret places were for Théo alone. Finally with a single slow thrust they were together, joined together, reunited after so long apart. Yet Théo, it seemed, had forgotten nothing: taking Boromir in hand, moving in their favored rhythm of thrust and stroke, until Boromir groaned his release. Only then did Théo follow, gripping his lover’s hips with bruising fingers.
They fell sated, moving only to pull up a blanket as the night cooled their sweat-drenched skin. They did not sleep, not really, merely drifted in and out of deep reveries of warmth and comfort and the feel of the longed-for companion in their arms. After a time Théodred realized that the night sounds had become sunrise sounds; at the same moment he became aware of Boromir’s hands roaming his skin, cupping and stroking and finally sliding under his hips. With a deep chuckle Théodred complied, wrapping his legs around Boromir’s waist, opening himself wide and welcoming, smiling into Boromir’s eyes as they moved together in the ancient dance.
Chapter 59: Wheeling Stars Count Our Days
Poetry/prose mix. TA 3000-3019. A combined birthday present for Illwynd, Adraefan, Cocoajava, Edoraslass, and Windswept1.
Wheeling Stars Count Our Days, by just_ann_now
Denethor, he knew, had written poetry: words of ardor and heat. He remembered seeing the pages, in his father’s distinctive scrawl, his mother’s shining eyes and flushed cheeks as she read.
Faramir too wrote poetry: ballads and verse of history and lore. Boromir enjoyed his war-epics, the color and rhythm and drama; love-songs or odes to starlight or trees made him yawn.
He never wrote poetry himself, not even the simplest forms. Never saw need for the skill, nor suffered its lack. Poetry was something other people did. There was nothing that called forth that art from him.
Boromir struggles with his Muse
The first time ever I saw your face
When we first
Before we even spoke -- 6 When I looked in your eyes, I knew -- 8 But would you feel the same? -- 6 - damn
this is not easy
Before we spoke a word -- 6 - too many
I looked in your eyes, and knew -- 7! - good!
But would you feel the same? -- 6 - too many
We spoke not a word -- 5
I looked in your eyes, and knew -- 7
Would you feel the same? -- 5 - finally!
We spoke not a word -- 5 - I don’t really like this line I looked in your eyes, and knew -- 7 - nor this one either
Would you feel the same? -- 5
Not a word spoken. -- 5
Looking in your eyes, I knew.-- 7
Would you feel the same? -- 5 - good.
Not a word spoken.
Looking in your eyes, I knew.
Would you feel the same?
Wheeling Stars Count Our Days
Your throat is silken
Your pulse now quickened, eager,
I taste your heartbeat.
Laughing, you teach me
Words like music, making art
Of our delight.
Your hands roam my skin
Sear my body with your touch
Marking me as yours.
Milky light, raindrops
Lovers entwined; thankfulness.
Wakening to joy.
Inspired by Star-crossed by Scribendi
Never enough time.
Wheeling stars count our days
Each moment, a gift.
Inspired by The Click by Ribby
Two halves of one whole
Joined, we fit perfectly.
The years mean nothing.
Inspired by Escape by Scribendi
A moment of peace
Under open, sunlit sky
We renew old vows.
Inspired by Escape by Scribendi
When I wake, trembling
Half sick with horror of my dreams
Your touch soothes my pain.
I watch while you sleep
Pale moonlight brushing your skin.
Outside, the leaves fall.
In dreams I see you
as through a mist, beckoning.
Wait for me. I come.
“I have something belonging to you,” Aragorn whispers. “I read it. I am sorry.”
Curious, Faramir reaches for the tattered volume. Flipping through the pages, his heart leaps - Boromir! - as he reads. Inventories of supplies and equipment; promotion lists; maps, diagrams. What is here that pains Aragorn so?
Skin slides against skin
Warmth, a whispered sigh, comfort
Together at last.
Aragorn hears the sharp hiss of Faramir’s breath. I know your brother, he thinks, in ways I never did before, why he always turned wistfully away from my offers of comfort. Another held his heart, and he would not be foresworn.
Dear brother, Faramir thinks. So many times you teased me about my poetry - I would never have imagined this of you! Did you share these with your loved one? When you met again beyond the borders of this world, were your verses on his lips?
Chapter 60: Marriage Negotiations
Marriage Negotiations by just_ann_now
A hogshead of ale had been broached in the stableyard, and the door warden greeted Boromir with a tipsy grin. Shouts of laughter rang out from the Great Hall.
"Boromir!" Théodred cried joyfully as he embraced his old friend. "You've arrived just in time!"
"What are we celebrating?" Boromir took a long, slow draw from the horn of ale Éowyn handed him. After his dusty ride it tasted like heaven. Éowyn, though, seemed distracted; she had not greeted him with her customary smile. Must be busy in the kitchen, Boromir thought.
"We've just received word from Dol Amroth; the Prince and his council have approved my betrothal to Lothini....Lotharya...whatever her name is. The princess."
"Lothíriel? My cousin?" Boromir choked on his ale. "The one who's, what, seven years old?"
"Well, I'm not marrying her tomorrow. She has time to grow. I sent her a mare in foal, and she sent me, look, a portrait of herself, on ivory, drawn with kraken's ink." Théodred pulled it out of his pocket to show Boromir. His little cousin smiled demurely, rosebud mouth concealing the impish gap-toothed grin Boromir remembered.
"She's a hellion. You two are well suited. I wish you happiness of her - once she's grown."
Théodred laughed, spilling some of his ale as he did so. It did not appear to be the first time ale had been spilled in the hall this evening. "The wedding's not for nine, ten years or so. Éowyn will get it all sorted out and everything will be fine."
"Éowyn?" Boromir repeated slowly. Suddenly it all made perfect sense, Éowyn's silent fury, the way she had plunked the bowl of stew in front of him so fiercely that it sloshed all over the table before turning and stomping back toward the kitchen, kicking an overturned footstool (and almost, a dog) out her way as she went.
"Will Éowyn herself not be wed and gone by then? Ten years is a long time."
"Gone? Why? Where would she..." For a moment, Théodred looked blank, then sat down heavily as he thought about Boromir's words. "Oh. Oh." He groaned.
"Have there been no negotiations for her? She's comely enough, and certainly of an age..." Boromir whispered hurriedly as Éowyn returned to the table with bread and butter. She stood, arms crossed, glaring at the two of them.
Théodred dropped his head into his hands. "What have we done? Or not done, it seems. Éowyn, have we not, has my father not ever..."
"Not ever that he's ever told me, or that there's ever been a whisper about in council, or not ever that even Grima the Worm could taunt me with. Not. Ever," his cousin replied through gritted teeth.
"Well, we shall have to think of someone for you, then. Elfhelm's cousin, that you danced with at Harvest Festival that time? Or Grimbold's uncle, remember him, who has that beautiful herd of chestnut horses, over on the East Emnet?"
"Elfhelm's cousin has been married for four years now. And Grimbold's uncle? He has granddaughters older than me, if you recall. And you should; you spent enough time dallying in the stable with them. And he has no teeth. Why would I want an old lout for a husband?" Éowyn's face was red with fury. She stood close enough to her cousin to spit in his eye, if she had chosen to. Théodred rose unsteadily; they glared at each other until Théodred shook his head.
"You're so right, Éowyn. You want someone young and strong, wise and compassionate,full of courage and laughter to care for you and your children. A man worthy of you in every way. "
"Would you have me, lady?" Boromir asked softly.
Éowyn whirled around, ready with a stinging word. But Boromir sat still, his gaze fixed upon her, no trace of a jest in his manner. She stopped, took a deep breath.
"You honor me, my lord, with the asking, even though you may be rash to offer without consulting your father or his Council." Boromir started to speak, but she stayed him gently. "I am afraid, though, that I must decline. I fear that my skills - riding, hunting, swordplay, spinning and weaving, attending the births of foals and lambs - would be wasted in the role of Steward's Lady. My restlessness would sow discord, not only between us, but perhaps between our countries as well. I wish you good fortune, though, in your continued search for a wife. " She smiled, and Boromir grinned in return. He and Théodred watched as she turned and left the hall, stately as a queen. Then they sat and returned to their drinking.
"Don't you have a brother? Or some cousins?We really need to do something with her," Théodred muttered. "And since when are you looking for a wife?"
Chapter 61: Far Sighted
Far Sighted, by just_ann_now
He never means to spy on them, but sometimes their images appear, unbidden, drawn from his deepest thoughts.
Faramir, gnawing on his fingernail as he studies a map, sandstone walls behind him glowing soft in the firelight, safe in his outpost at Henneth-Annun.
Boromir, groaning, crying out – injured? In danger? But no, that is not pain contorting his face, and his companion – ah, of course. Shocking, at first, though long-suspected, and ultimately useful. Whispered vows of love and fealty would endure much longer than ink on a page.
Satisfied, for the moment, Denethor turns away from the Palantir.
A Token of Long Life and Happiness, by just_ann_now
“But you've never actually seen a mûmak, have you?”
“Well, no, of course not, but I have read of them in the old histories. My brother Faramir, I'm sure, could tell you much of them: their size and color, eating and mating habits, the last time one was sighted in Harondor. He's a great repository of such knowledge. Often it is very useful; in any case, I always enjoy his storytelling. Whether or not they exist, who can tell? The Enemy has many weapons, shrouded in secrecy, he could have one; or a thousand; or none at all, and something much worse instead.”
“I find it difficult to imagine anything much worse than a lumbering creature, as big as house, with an arm growing out of its face, able to uproot trees and trample horses. Still, it would be an amazing sight, would it not?”
“Yes, I'd like to see one, just not have to do battle against it. A peaceful, good natured one; that's what I'd like to meet, just wandering in a fair green land. I would send word to Faramir -Come, and bring your sketchbook! - and to you; then you and I could simply wander away, following the creature to the ends of the earth.”
Théodred pulled Boromir closer, settling himself against the warm curve of his shoulder. “I would follow you to the ends of the earth, you know. You wouldn't need a happy mûmak to lure me.”
Sometimes when the burdens of kingship weighed most heavily upon him, Éomer, called Éadig, would seek refuge in the quiet room that had been his cousin's chamber. He had had most of the clothing and useful gear removed, cleaned and passed on to those in need, or to Théodred's closest companions who appreciated the keepsakes. Yet there were still a few mementos of his cousin that he had kept, relics that he would ponder, seeking wisdom or guidance or sometimes forgiveness for being gifted the life and birthright he had never imagined. He would wander about the room, picking up a book or a pair of well-worn gloves, imagining that Théodred would come in at any moment, bright-eyed and ruddy from his morning ride. Sometimes Éomer sat on the side of the bed, feeling he was waiting for him.
There on the nightstand was a small wooden carving of a mûmak. When he had first noticed it, gleaming in the lamplight, he gasped, paralyzed for a moment by memory: choking dust, screaming men and horses, the ground shaking, those fearsome trunks sweeping from side to side. So far as he knew, Théodred had never encountered a mûmak, yet there must have been some reason why his cousin kept such a thing here, close to him. As he examined it, though, Éomer found that this creature had as little in common with the great war-beasts of the Pelennor as a songbird with a eagle. This little mûmak was dancing, his front foot waving gracefully, one rear foot crossed elegantly over the other. Under the upraised trunk, he almost seemed to be smiling.
Studying it, Éomer noticed that the bottom was hinged. Unlatching the tiny clasp with his thumb, he opened it, inhaling a surprising whiff of sandalwood, earthy and sharp. Inside the box was a note, tightly curled to fit. Hesitating barely a moment to consider the propriety of reading a dead man's correspondence, Éomer unrolled it.
I found this in a shop on the second circle and thought of you at once (for when do I not?) The shopkeeper said it was a totem from faraway Khand where mûmakil symbolize good fortune, rather than destruction. And so I send him bearing my best wishes for you on your birthday, long life and happiness, my dearest friend. Yours, B
I found this in a shop on the second circle and thought of you at once (for when do I not?) The shopkeeper said it was a totem from faraway Khand where mûmakil symbolize good fortune, rather than destruction. And so I send him bearing my best wishes for you on your birthday, long life and happiness, my dearest friend.
A birthday gift for Edoraslass.
Chapter 63: Never Can Say Goodbye
Never Can Say Goodbye, by just_ann_now
Between midnight and dawn, they savor each kiss as if it were the last, revelling in touch and taste, ravenous with hunger that only the other can satisfy.
Come morning, they will not use the word "goodbye", superstitious enough to be horrified by its utter finality. There are softer terms, westu hal, fare you well, travel safely, bearing the same wish for health, long life, safe return.
Their parting kiss is always gentle, a brush of cool lips against a brow, a cheek, the corner of the mouth; the whispered 'beloved', at once a blessing and a prayer.
Nothing Has Changed, by just_ann_now
The letter sat on Mag’s desk for weeks, carefully hidden among a jumble of old packing lists and grocer’s bills.
After the Captain of the White Tower had seen his men settled, equipment cleaned and stored away, horses tended, he came at last to the kitchen. He knew she would be waiting, sweet tea and hot meat pasties at the ready, just as she had for years. She is even better than a wife, he thought, grinning. No whining or nagging or arguments.
She returned his grin, thinking he looked handsomer than ever with the incipient silvering of his dark hair, the sharp boyishness of his features softened a bit by maturity and pain. Thirty six years old he was, unmarried, unfettered, unconcerned. She handed him the letter as he was finishing his meal.
He set it by the side of his trencher, unopened, yet he continued to steal sidelong glances at it as he wiped his mouth, belched softly and sheepishly, stretched out his long, leather-clad legs. He looked at it as if it was a gift he was afraid to open, for fear of disappointment; as if he were certain that it contained only dire news. Suddenly he glanced at Mag, as if seeing her for the first time in twenty years.
“How do you bear it, Mag?” he asked softly.
“Bear what, dear heart?” she replied, though she knew full well what he meant.
“The loneliness. To be parted from the one you love; by death, or by duty, or by the way of the world.”
She did not know how to answer him. There had been no eyebrows raised when she and Nall lived comfortably, companionably, in their little house in the Third Circle. Who cared what women did in the privacy of their bower? But for men, things were always more complicated; for prince and steward’s heir, unthinkable.
“I once had a dream,” he murmured. “I dreamed that he and I were old men, sitting together in a garden with a low, stone wall. The air was warm, and the sky was blue – I could hear birds singing in the apple tree behind us. Our hands were clasped together, and people walking by were smiling, and bidding us good day.”
Mag said nothing; she and Nall had sat in their garden, just so, countless times. Why had she not stopped to treasure each moment for the gift it was?
Boromir’s voice was barely above a whisper now, ragged and hoarse. “Then he turned to me, and kissed me, right there in our garden, and the people just kept on smiling at us, as though our kiss was the most natural thing in the world. We were neither steward nor king, just two men who had lived long years together in peace and happiness.”
She had no words for him; but she reached out for his hand. He gripped hers; that handclasp bearing the weight of all the words they did not say. Smiling sadly, he lifted her hand to his lips; then reached for the letter.
To give him privacy she cleared away the remnants of the meal while he read; every now and again she heard him chuckle. When she returned to the table, he was tucking the letter away in his pouch. He smiled at her, eyes bright again with laughter; he looked as young and joyful as he had been so long ago, when he and his prince first met.
A gift for Scribendi.
Chapter 65: Tales of the Longest Night: The Unexpected Guest
Tales of the Longest Night: The Unexpected Guest, by just_ann_now
There was nothing at all furtive about the kiss.
Théodred had shoved Boromir up against the wall in a corner of the Golden Hall. The swirl of dancers, the skirl of pipe and tambour was all around; the room smelled of peatsmoke and sweaty bodies.
"How," murmured Théodred, "did you persuade the Steward to send you off at Mettarë?"
" 'Twas not difficult at all. I forged a invitation. Expensive, but well worth it."
"Clever. Is it still snowing? You could be stranded here for weeks." The snow on Boromir's boots had melted into a pool around his feet; a few droplets glistened in his hair.
"I could, couldn't I. Pity."
"Indeed." Théodred nuzzled Boromir's neck just below his ear. "You taste cold."
"I think..." Boromir ground his hips against Théodred's as he slipped icy fingers under the prince's tunic, chuckling at his startled gasp, "you're not tasting the right spot."
Chapter 66: Treasured
Treasured, by just_ann_now
As the sweetness bubbles upon his tongue, Boromir leans back against the headboard, remembering.
Midwinter. They lay entwined, breathing deeply of each's other's scent, licking scattered droplets of golden mead from each other's skin. The crackling of the fire, and their low, contented laughter the only sounds. Moments of rare, perfect happiness, for both of them. The last time they had been together.
Tonight an icy wind howls from Mindolluin, and sleet pelts against the walls of his city. He keeps a bottle of mead handy for just such nights. A taste of golden memory, for comfort, and for hope.
Chapter 67: Wordweaver
Wordweaver, by just_ann_now
The seam of Boromir’s breeches had come apart. With the soldier’s mindfulness of the proper care of his kit, he sat cross-legged and naked in the lantern-light, humming to himself as he set about his mending.
In their frenzied rush Boromir’s pack had been upended, its contents scattered about the floor. Théodred found the simple sewing-kit, passing it to Boromir with a distracted grunt, his attention caught by the scuffed leather journal. It had fallen open to a page with a very creditable sketch of a horse in full gallop, mane and tail flowing, similar in fact to the tattoo on Théodred’s back. Curious, he picked up the book and leafed through it.
Inventories of supplies and equipment; promotion lists; maps, diagrams. A drawing of a mother duck and her brood of downy ducklings; a lovely sketch of a slender boat, afloat in a wide, tree-lined river. Bits of poetry:
Never enough time.
Wheeling stars count our days
Each moment, a gift.
Théodred smiled. “I wrote a song in your honor,” he said. “You’ve probably heard it – they sing it oftimes in the evenings by the fire. Mo Ghile Mear , it’s called; my gallant one, my hero. ”
Huan’s teeth! thought Boromir. Has he found those damned poems? What a fool he must think me. I don’t know what made me write such things. Faramir would laugh himself sick if he were here now.
Nahar’s mane! thought Théodred. Did he write these poems? About us? I would never have imagined him to have the soul of a bard, weaving words with such passion.
Then Boromir laughed, and Théodred as well. “Quite the pair of lovesick girls, we are!” Boromir said.
“I like the poems,” Théodred replied, his voice soft and warm. “Especially the one that goes,
‘Sear my body with your touch
Chapter 68: The Gift, The Blessing
The Gift, The Blessing, by just_ann_now
I. The Gift
What a pompous ass I was in my youth, to think I knew all there was to know about love.
What I knew was the fierce heat of lust, quickly sated. I knew how to read the question in a man’s eyes as clearly as book; how a simple quirk of an eyebrow would lead to an hour’s groaning pleasure. The guilt and shame lasted much longer.
Until Théodred showed me that our bodies are made for joy, and that pleasure is a gift. There was never any shame in his touch, and in his arms what had once seemed unspeakable became, instead, a blessing. No rush to hurried completion here: from him I learned to make love slowly, to savor every sensation, from the barest whisper of his breath on my skin to the power and beauty of his body arched above me. Every cry, every gasp, every whisper drawn forth from my taut body was as music, and Théodred was the bow, playing me with grace and skill, patiently teaching me to do the same.
What is love? Is it a mother’s delight in her child? A father’s pride in his sons? Is it the passion that binds two people with a silken thread, turning to silver as the years go by? I feel all these things for him. There has not been a single night that I did not long for the sound of his voice, his laughter, his touch that stirs me as no other ever will. For over twenty years I have awakened each morning reaching for him, and when I have found myself alone, I have breathed a silent prayer for his happiness, and health, and the hope that one day we will be together again.
And yet for over twenty years I have been a fool not to realize that the love I feel for him is as clear and true and strong as any on this good green earth. I am as the Powers created me, born to love my land, and my family, and Théodred. I thank them for such a blessing, even if it has taken me so long to recognize the gift.
II. The Blessing
There is something different about him today, a fierce joyful energy that makes me wonder if he bears some great good news: a battle won, a treaty negotiated, an unexpected alliance. Yet in conference with my father and the council he shares no word of such things; tidings are neither better nor worse than they have ever been. After the meeting we spend an hour at table for the evening meal, where he discusses dwarvish metallurgy with Éowyn and teases Éomer about a serving girl's bold flashing eyes. Another hour is dallied away by the hearth with songs and tales, his voice holding the hall spellbound, even if not all his words are understood, before we finally slip away.
We had taken the first edge off our passion urgently, deliriously, there in the bath house; now our kisses are slow, languorous. He relaxes into my embrace, his lips warm on my skin, and suddenly I feel a great rush of tenderness towards him, as if he were one of my children rather than my proud and glorious lover. For a moment I wish that by enfolding him in my arms I could keep him safe, shield him from all grief and fear. But then I feel the deep rumbling purr of his laughter, and I can restrain my curiosity no longer.
I push him away, laughing at his startled oof. “Out with it! You are like the cat who drank the cream. What secret are you guarding so smugly?”
His face is full of mock outrage, though his eyes are dancing. “Why would I keep any secrets from you, of all men? Gondor's staunchest ally, Lord of horses, my oldest and dearest friend? When have I ever...no! Stop!”
Pushing him onto the bed, I attack, sliding my fingers under his shirt, down his taut belly to the edge of his trews. Over twenty years I have mapped out his skin, knowing it as well as I know my own, which spots make him gasp and sigh, and which can drag out a belly-laugh or startled yelp. Over and over we roll, tickling and grunting like playful boys, or puppies; I continue my assault until I feel him surrender, breathless. Then I seize my prize.
Later, as we lie in each others' arms, drowsing in the warmth and scent of our lovemaking, I speak again of what is in my mind. “You seem different, somehow, as though some great burden has lifted, yet you tell me that nothing has changed in Gondor.”
“I seem different? Truly?” A log falls in the fireplace, and sparks dance in the corner of the room, lighting his beloved face. “It is just that I have come to a realization, what Faramir would call a Great Truth.”
I chuckle; for years he has been telling me of his brother's philosophical discourses on the nature of life and the mysteries of the universe. “And what is this Great Truth?”
He leans up on one elbow, bends forward, and kisses me, his lips as soft the brush of an owl's wing. “That I shall never love anyone as I love you.”
My heart seems to stop, and then suddenly I feel lighter than air. I have never thought to hear such words from him. Then my laughter echoes his as I pull him close, the one who has held my heart for over twenty years.
“I never doubted it, not for a moment.”