1. Hot Springs
Love washed over him. It had started innocently enough. They had planned this expedition for a full year. Théodred met him at the Mering Stream's garrison. He proceeded to present Boromir with a beauty of a bay as a belated birth day present. Boromir rode the mare next to Théodred as they made their way up the White Mountains to a campsite they had used the year before.
Boromir loved the feel of the mare beneath him; he could hardly keep from petting the sleek bay's neck as he rode, relishing the soft hair under his hand. This night, he would delight in grooming the animal.
They found the hot spring about a mile up the foothills from Amon Anwar; both men were surprised at the discovery. Neither had known its presence before.
"Mayhap there have been earth quakes recently?"
Théodred shook his head. "I have received no such reports."
They dismounted to investigate. Both decided it was as good a place, and as good a time, as any to set up camp.
"If you bring water, I will collect firewood."
Théodred nodded in agreement. He slowly walked to the stream, two water skins clutched in his hands. The river was typically cold; run off from the White Mountains turned the water into an idyllic shade of turquoise. He stood at the edge and lost himself as a cool mountain breeze dried the sweat from his forehead. Late summer had turned sultrier than Boromir and he had hoped, and they both rued the heat that had washed over them as they rode. Théodred filled the skins, then, on impulse, he took off his boots and stepped into the rushing stream. His breath left him as the icy water lapped at his calves. He bent and laved his face and stood too quickly. The cold filled his eyes with a sudden pain; he stepped back and right into a small depression in the stream's bed. He had all he could do not to fall in. Startled, he noted the water was warmer. He steadied himself, flailing his arms at his sides to purchase secure footing. He turned and walked further downstream, towards the hot spring they had discovered. To his delight, he found that the stream was braided. A portion of one of the braids touched the hot spring and, at the confluence of the touch, Théodred found a deep pool of very warm water. A large stone ledge, submerged at the northern edge of the pool, offered a seat. Théodred smiled. 'Perfect spot for a bath!' He was ready. A frown appeared on his sun-browned face, crinkling his forehead. 'I should bring the drinking water back to Boromir. He will have started a fire by now.' Looking with longing at the steaming pool, he vowed to return after they supped.
Théodred had not realized the length of time he had been gone, but when he returned, he found their camp set, the tent up, and a stew bubbling on the fire. Boromir had snagged a hare to augment the supplies they brought with them. The meal was pleasant.
Boromir said not a word about where Théodred had been. Both men were warriors, or would be soon. More importantly, both were heirs, filled with daily reminders of what they were born and bred for. Both now rejoiced in the time spent alone, doing such mundane tasks as collecting firewood and water. Neither felt the usual constraints of time and duty. This occasion away from Minas Tirith and Edoras was long planned as respite for their weary bodies, minds and souls.
The sun would soon set and Théodred, in the midst of the peace of their camp, remembered the warm pool that awaited him. He pulled a clean shirt and leggings from his pouch, took out soaps and a cloth for washing and left.
Boromir watched in surprise. He too picked up his gear and followed Théodred. When he reached the river, he found he had lost sight of the Rohir. He listened and the sound of splashing and a gentled voice singing led him to his friend. Théodred sat naked on a stone ledge in the middle of a small pool. Though the water steamed, Boromir could not fathom Théodred's sitting in the cold stream. "You must be freezing!"
"Nay! It is warm as a bath. Come! Join me!"
Boromir quickly laid his kit down, stripped, and gingerly put a toe in the pool. "Ah!"
Théodred laughed. "Did I not tell you it was warm!"
"Beyond warm! This is glorious!" He settled in the pool opposite Théodred , sitting on the stony bottom. He moved a number of times, trying to find a suitable seat.
Théodred grinned. "The ledge is large enough for the both of us. Come! Join me."
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