1. Different Skills
It was a month before Boromir's eighteenth birthday; the summer was already developing into an overwhelming succession of everlasting heat-filled days that made routine tasks a burden and strenuous ones torture. Whenever the young cadets of the Guard could find the opportunity between training, guard duties and instructions in the round of ceremonial roles they had to fulfil, they did their best to escape to the delights of one of the two wide streams that crossed the Pellenor; the favoured spots being the willow-lined courses where the water descended from the nearby mountains. Here, in the secluded dells where the waters ceased from being rushing rocky torrents and lingered to spread into wider, deeper pools before carrying on down to the Anduin, here were the perfect places to enjoy a swim, a boisterous game, or to lie somnolent in the sun on exposed rocks or grassy swards.
There were wide places large enough for twenty, and secluded hollows big enough for a couple or two… Most were well known, a few could be acquired and privacy secured by posting a guard to warn off new-comers that the site was 'in use'… but most of the time, the young men were kept busy enough that the opportunity for trysts in the woods, whether with a willing maid or an appealing fellow cadet, were few and far between. No, more often than not it was a noisy group of splashing lads who descended to rid themselves of the heat and formalities of court and the inhibitions of strict etiquette; to revel in swimming naked in cooling water and sharing beer and banter that made bonding into a cohesive fighting unit all the easier.
Boromir, son of the Steward was almost always among them, and often the foremost to suggest such a mass escape. He had his closest friends along with him of course, who kept near and discouraged any who over-obviously thought they could seize the moment to curry favour with the Steward's Heir and thereby profit from it. And when he was there, among the rocks and tree-shaded pools, there was also a discreet presence of several older, seasoned men who kept a reasonable distance, but never let him completely out of their sight. Not part of the Guard as such, they were under orders to keep a wary eye on what were, in fact, barely more than boys eager to enjoy themselves and because of that, liable to be overly casual when it came to hazards. There were Wildmen even this close to Minas Tirith, willing to approach silently and slit a throat or two for a purse or a fine horse left tethered in full view, never mind occasional bands of venturesome orcs. These men took their orders from the young Lord's Amah, and she from the Steward himself – but even they were not above the tempting delights of cool water on hot sticky flesh… though they would privately draw lots as to who swam and who remained alert, taking it in turns and never allowing themselves to be totally distracted from their task of safeguarding the Steward's son… Melleth would have had their balls flayed and served to them roasted on a spit had they come even close to doing so. A whipping would be the least of it for such dereliction of duty and she was quite capable of administering that herself!
She did not accompany Boromir on every occasion but her eyes and ears did, and she knew just what went on, who slipped away with who, who drank too much ale, who… but then that was her job. Officially, Boromir had been beyond her care for very nearly five years; in truth though, there was not a day she was in Minas Tirith that she did not have knowledge of his whereabouts, and much of what he did. Her role as Amah would remain official until Faramir also attained his thirteenth birthday, which would be this coming winter. After that she might be expected to fade into the background – which she had been doing gradually. Her obvious presence at Court was becoming less and less, to the delight of some… even as her value as an agent for gathering intelligence grew. A few of Lord Denethor's closest advisors knew that her merchant's visits to Harondor and the south covered such missions, but most thought she was using her diplomatic connections to line her pockets before she retired – a view she thought fit to foster.
Those that did know her value to Gondor respected her, those that knew her as a friend respected and trusted her… those that had run foul of her, feared her… her and her razor-sharp daggers and box of lethal potions – Lord Denethor did all three. He knew she knew him too well for there ever to be friendship between them, but he trusted his sons' lives to her with the absolute confidence that she would die herself if it was a means to save them from harm. Above all, he well knew her value to Gondor, and like an over-spirited horse or a two-edged, unbalanced blade he did not discard such things as 'too difficult to handle' but used them with subtlety and care. He knew she could have eyes in far places where he did not always see, ears at low levels he wasn't always privy to… and he choose not to question how she came upon her information.
The obvious distance between them was useful in that respect; his courtiers knew he loathed the woman, and most considered the feeling must be mutual. What the clear-sighted few among them more accurately suspected was the loathing came from his jealousy of her closeness to his late wife, whose bond-servant she was originally, and from the obvious love both his sons had for her despite her apparently lowly position. In an ancient court there are always rivalries and factions, some having their origins before any of the present combatants were even born. In this situation, a wise ruler values information, and must, at least partially, swallow his pride as to where it comes from and who brings it. Melleth herself knew her value was enhanced by knowing the secrets of great men - some of which contributed to her own safety, while some allowed her to provide safety to others. She had very carefully and painstakingly constructed a lattice of such knowledge that was her armour and her shield, as well as her weapon – and she used it however she saw fit.
All of which might be the long way to explain that when young Lord Boromir, barely fifteen, had had a few secretive and not altogether successful fumblings with a chamber-maid or two who flaunted themselves sufficiently to get young blood racing – it was Melleth who took him out hawking on a late summer's day. Low and behold, they came upon a picnic laid out, and a tent with a camp bed and an expensive young concubine from Pelargir ensconced therein. It was by closely questioning the girl afterwards, while Lord Boromir took a refreshing swim with a couple of his guards, that Melleth came to the conclusion that her suspicions about him were completely correct …she had chosen the wrong brand of whore. But all was not lost, her love for him, several years among the stews and harems of Harad, and the ability for calm, pragmatic assessment of most situations meant she was neither shocked nor disgusted – if the lad preferred snails to oysters… who was she to dissuade him? A new trip could be arranged. New prospects among the elite of Gondor's young men would need to be scrutinised as possible companions - not as prospective lovers, but as those who would be open-minded enough to value the young lord's friendship and loyal enough to keep his confidences to themselves. Until then…
She watched him trying not to stare at the naked bodies of the guards as they splashed in the water. Hmmmm… whereas she had given strict instructions that any hint of sexual display between any of them was absolutely forbidden in front of the young lord… now perhaps it was time for her lamb to realise that warriors could have more than just friendship between them and still be no less as men.
It was some months later, when darkness fell on a hunting trip and they were still far from the city because Melleth's horse went lame, that Boromir and his escort found themselves at a country inn well beyond the environs of the Pelennor. It was a cold night, and encouraged by a hefty tot of spirits 'to keep the cold out' and the warmth of fires and good food, Boromir found himself retiring to a well-appointed bedroom that just happened to be occupied by a very beautiful youth from Harad. He had shining brown eyes, sweetly oiled ringlets and a lithe body the colour of pale sand clothed only in a thin robe that veiled rather than hid what delights he could offer. A little older than the initially, slightly frightened Boromir, he had been well and gently schooled in the Act of Bothers, sufficiently for him to take great pride in his profession, as well as pleasure in his work. Melleth had elected to occupy the room next door, just to make sure events went well… but half-way through the night she moved in with the guard-captain down the corridor to get some sleep. The lusty noises of satisfaction being sufficient to ensure her of the success of her 'arrangements'… And it gave her the opportunity to initiate some relief from her own unbidden excitement, generated by listening to two exuberant young men with seemingly inexhaustible energy!
Boromir was late down to breakfast the following morning, and from his healthy flush, mild hand tremor and slightly dazed look… it was obvious this new activity was something he couldn't get enough of. Melleth made some excuse and went back upstairs. She found the beautiful Haradrim washing behind a screen in the corner of the room. When he emerged, slightly stiff-legged, she was reassured by him that he had done exactly as she had instructed – the young lord was not to be entered in any way, only shown the pleasures that could be engaged in with another man. After his first nervous trepidations had passed, Boromir, healthy, strong and with a huge appetite for life, had taken those lessons to heart and entered fully, firmly and with great enthusiasm as many times as he found himself able to during the course of the night – enough that the dusky young man would need a cushion for the long carriage ride back to Pelargir. Melleth added an extra few silver coins for his trouble and was pleased to be told that 'should the young lord require any further… training…' He would be more than happy to oblige his eminence. She even thought she heard a wistful sigh as she left the young man to prepare for his trip - back to the respected establishment she had a very discreet 25% ownership of in Pelargir.
It was the happy memory of that night, and at the time catching sight of the strange look on his own face as he passed a mirror… that allowed Boromir to recognise a similar look on the face of his little brother that summer afternoon, as the cadets swam naked or lazed with barely adequate towels over their loins. Twelve year-old Faramir had begged to be allowed to go swimming with them. He'd just finished a hard bout of sword practise and was drenched with sweat and scarlet from his exertions – on a baking hot day when he was on his way to swim himself, Boromir couldn't turn his brother down. Of course, he knew that if Faramir came, then Melleth would definitely be around – she was still his brother's amah for another few months, and would not let her own plans interfere with her duty – be that, as he remembered ruefully from experience, if she really didn't want to go somewhere when he did… he was made to suffer afterwards with extra weapons practise, or strenuous riding exercises that left him splay-legged and aching for his bed.
As it was, she agreed without demur - she and her men would make up the usual rear-guard. It was a wonderful afternoon for galloping across the plain and the gentle wind cooled the skin, but excited the temperament. As soon as they'd reached their chosen spot, the cadets flung themselves from their rapidly tethered horses and left a trail of clothing down to the inviting water. The broad stream scurried throatily over a short fall of rocks before spreading languorously into a still, clear pool, kept judiciously free from weed and water-lilies by the grounds-men who tended the surrounding pasture. Boromir had been first among them to dive into the enticing, and at first touch, seemingly icy water, emerging like the others with shrieks and shouts to splash and dive to get his body used to the abrupt change of temperature.
Faramir halted in his rush to the water, staring at the naked, well-defined bottoms upending in the water in front of him; the rolling sacs that came into view beneath patches of dark curls that trailed upwards to ornament firm bellies and chests… never mind the thick, wrinkled bullets of reddened flesh, shrunken by the sudden cold to stubby, bobbing enticements that begged to be watched… He felt very guilty for wanting to watch – so much so he half decided this whole idea had been a bad one. He dithered near the water's edge biting his lip. He was after all some twelve years and eight months – his body had little more than some fine down growing over his balls, which were not so large as the ones that swung without any inhibitions in front of him. He felt his penis would look embarrassingly small, his body puny beside the large, confident, noisy young men…
Boromir called to him to hurry up, before he duck-dived in a flash of round buttocks and pale, strong thighs that made Faramir gulp and turn away. Now he saw that their escort had arrived, they moved quietly to places of vantage, though two of the six strolled lazily down, disrobed and strode into the water – hard muscled men, their limbs finely laced with the white lines of old scars, dark hairs covered their skin from knee to midriff, curling thickly between their legs, up their bellies and over their chests. Faramir couldn't tear his eyes away from the flaccid penis of one, so huge it could have brought pride to a stallion… so he thought.
He turned and fled, calling back something about needing to piss. He dived into the nearest bushes; all of a sudden hot and flustered, not at all sure why he felt like that… apart from such thoughts must be shamefully unnatural. How could he escape? He couldn't possibly go back to the water, not when… not when his own erect penis was so painfully stiff and clearly with a mind of its own! He opened his breeches and touched himself experimentally, like he did in bed when he was half asleep sometimes. He groaned aloud, shivering with the jolt of pleasure that shot through his groin. Maybe… if he was quick… they wouldn't notice he'd been away too long to just make water. He closed his eyes and the naked bottoms and delightfully swaying …bits …bounced in front of his eyes. His hand stroked furiously at his sticky shaft, his breathing becoming shallower and faster until he was grunting in time to each stroke then – release! He cried out as pleasure ripped through him and hot liquid spilled over his fingers, a few strokes more as he bit his lip and it was over – but he felt so shamed; he had lost control at the sight of men. How could that be? It wasn't natural – his tutor had warned him about such temptations. He should not indulge himself like this – he could go blind! He guiltily wiped his hand on the grass and tightened the laces of his breeches before trying to slink back towards the rocks bordering the pool without attracting attention.
Boromir heard soft footsteps pad up behind him as he lay sunning himself on the large flat rock he favoured. Supple leather rustled as Melleth sat down just behind his shoulder. He knew he'd only heard her because she wanted him to; it was a sometimes annoying habit of hers to be able to move near noiselessly when she chose – she said the Elves had taught her, but since Boromir knew there were no such things as elves these days... he also knew it must just be another one of her fanciful tales. Be that as it may – the sun felt very good on his bare skin after the refreshing chilliness of the stream; he remained lazily outstretched on his back, langorous and silent, half-pretending to be asleep.
"Boromir. I know you can hear me – your little brother needs a word with you."
There was a pause.
"You need to ask him that yourself."
"Won't it wait?"
There was another short pause. Boromir sighed.
"Are you sure...?"
The leather of her boots was soft and supple, but the booted foot that nudged his shoulder did so a warning firmness.
Boromir sighed. "Oh alright... where is he then?"
Boromir gathered the towel over his hips and lent up on one elbow, squinting in the bright sun.
"He's among the far rocks downstream."
Boromir looked. He could see the lad sitting on the jumbled boulders, bent over and dangling his feet in the water, still dressed and not looking at anything further away than his knees. After a few moments, Faramir looked up, stared at the rough-housing, naked cadets and hunched over again, his face flushed. That was when Boromir recognised 'the look'...
"Oh." He said.
"Yes... 'Oh'." Boromir's exposed back got another prod from the soft leather boot. "He needs some brotherly advice to clarify his feelings."
"You expect me to tell him that looking at men's naked arses is a perfectly reasonable thing to do?"
"No 'buts' – I explained the facts of life to him two years ago – but that was 'the facts', not the emotions. As his elder brother, that falls to you – Yes, it does!"
Another, slightly harder prod halted more dissention.
"He needs to be told that he's not strange, or perverted, or unnatural for becoming excited at the sight of naked bodies..."
Boromir burst out laughing. "You mean, you caught the little bugger wan... Ow!"
The remark was cut short by a smart cuff round the back of the head.
"Have a quiet word, reassure him – and be nice about it!"
The unspoken 'or else' hung in the air for a moment.
"Alright, alright... I'll tell the Bookworm it is acceptable to ogle coc..."
He ducked, and the half-hearted cuff brushed his hair rather than landing a blow. He heard her leathers rustle as Melleth stood and walked away, back into the trees. Faramir glanced up at him, hearing him laugh. Boromir waved lazily and ambled down to the water's edge, slid in and slowly swam down to where his brother sat hunched up.
"Why don't you come swimming, little brother?"
An incoherent mumble came from the bowed head.
"Get undressed and come into the water – you'll enjoy it."
Boromir pushed himself away from the rocks to float out into the pool on his back. Faramir looked up and hastily ducked his head again, blushing at the sight of his brother's naked body barely lapped by the water, every attractive but disturbing feature clearly visible. Boromir swam back with a few strokes and sat chest deep in the shallows beside Faramir's rock. They sat near side by side in silence for a few minutes.
"You know…" began Boromir, " ...you know some people like sweet things. And some people prefer savouries."
Faramir looked at him, slightly puzzled. Boromir persevered.
"...It's just a matter of different tastes. You know, for instance, that I like sweet things. Cheese after a meal is fine, but I'd rather have one of Mag's puddings – she makes wonderful tarts..."
Faramir regarded him with a small frown.
Boromir paused. He was not explaining himself well at all - He'd best just spit it out!
"Faramir – do you know that sometimes... men prefer the company of men!"
Faramir opened his mouth, but failed to find a word. He closed his lips and nodded hesitantly.
"And actually – provided one is discreet – and private – it does no harm... to enjoy ...admiring other men's bodies…"
Faramir blushed again, but looked up at his brother hopefully – perhaps wondering if these pearls of wisdom were going to be explained further. Boromir plunged on.
"Little brother – all men touch themselves. It is not something they talk about, but they all do it – even the Chamberlain ...even Father!"
Faramir covered his mouth with his hand to suppress his giggles.
"Yes. Shocking isn't it?"
Faramir nodded at his brother's broad grin.
"And just because the sight of naked bodies, including men's bodies, makes you go hard – it does not mean that you are feeling anything wrong or unnatural or perverted. When I was your age I had my hands deep in my pockets all the time!" said the oh-so-mature Boromir at very nearly but not quite, the grand old age of eighteen. "It doesn't mean anything, and you won't go blind…"
"My tutor says I will!"
"Your tutor is talking bollocks!!"
Faramir's eyes grew round, before he ducked his head to hide a smile.
"...though I doubt old Brethil has any, they'll have dried up like raisins by now. Stupid old fart."
Boromir launched himself back into the pool and turned to face Faramir treading water.
"Come on, Faramir. Get undressed properly and get into the water, you wanted to swim with us. You needn't get out where the others are - I left my towel over at the big rock. You can come back afterwards and dry yourself here if you want..."
"They won't laugh at me...?"
"Why should they?"
"For... not having... and... and for looking..."
Boromir laughed out loud, making some of the others look across at the two brothers. He swam back a little closer to the youngster.
"Little Bookworm – I'll tell you another secret – everybody looks! It means nothing, not really... There are men who will look at you because they want to touch, but those men are not here. Not ones who want to touch young boys – that we do not tolerate. When you are older... you will, perhaps, discover that you want to touch other men... for much the same reasons as men want to touch women. Do not be ashamed, but do not be coerced... if your desires lead that way, so be it, but do not think yourself an abomination because of it."
Boromir faced his brother with great seriousness now. Faramir nodded slowly, storing away every word to consider later. Boromir nodded also, relieved that so far Faramir was satisfied with his explanation. He grinned.
"Come on then – I'll race you!"
Boromir splashed him. Faramir was on his feet and scuttled back a few feet, to strip off his clothes before sliding quickly into the water. He gasped as the chill caught at his body and any remaining desire was taken by the sudden cold.
He found he could race and splash and be with the naked youths without feeling odd or anxious and at the end of their swim he gratefully swam the few yards downstream to his pile of clothes that had been mysteriously joined by Boromir's towel – while Boromir swam to the bank with the others and laughingly snatched up that of one of his friends and towelled himself vigourously - before it was snatched back off him, engendering raucous laughter and friendly jeers. Faramir was still smiling as he mounted his pony to ride back to the city. He felt proud to be part of the group and pleased to be accepted by his big brother's friends.
Melleth trotted her horse up to Boromir's side and spoke quietly as she passed him.
"You did well. We'll make a diplomat of you yet!"
Then she spurred away – leaving Boromir spluttering behind her.
"You were listening!?! Amah! – Why, you old..."
But the rest was lost amid his clear laughter.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.