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12
B like a Bathing Boromir

MEFAs, 2009:
Third Place-Races: Men: General


Once again, for the B2MEM challenge. This one's a lot longer than a drabble.


~~~

The fishing had been unsuccessful, though that possibility had been allowed for. A basket containing a bountiful lunch sat on the blanket beside Andrahar, who sat safely well above the tideline clad in nothing but his breeches, obviously very comfortable basking in the sunshine. He had not fished, and seemed disinclined to exert himself in any way.

“Won’t you come out and join me?” Boromir called, enjoying the wash of waves around his legs. He’d discarded his clothes to bathe.

“I think not. I will do well enough where I am.”

“What’s the point of coming to the beach if you’re not going to fish or swim, Andra?”

A smile flashed whitely on the Armsmaster’s usually somber countenance. “Never fear-I am enjoying myself, Boromir!” His dark gaze wandered pointedly over his younger lover’s form, beautiful in the sun with the surf foaming around his knees. As often happened when the two of them were together, Boromir found his cheeks heating as if he were a lovesick boy.

“Gah! I’ll never understand how you make me blush like a maiden with just a look!” the Captain-General grumbled, before adding hopefully, “Are you sure you won’t come in?”

Andrahar chuckled. “Absolutely. I prefer being high and dry.”

Reflecting upon Andrahar’s legendary dislike of the sea, Boromir thought he might be able to guess the nature of his lover’s difficulty. “Oho! I know what the matter is! The Tiger of Dol Amroth, like most big cats, doesn’t know how to swim!

The Commander of the Swan Knights did not dignify that with a response, merely raising an eyebrow. Giving up teasing as a pastime, Boromir turned and waded out to where he could start swimming, sporting in the waves like a very large and powerful dolphin.

He had swum happily for several minutes when it suddenly seemed as if the water itself seized him, bearing him out to sea with shocking suddenness. Startled, he tried to stroke back in towards shore. It was not the first time he’d pitted his great strength against some phenomena of nature, but this time strength did not suffice him. No matter how he strove against the current, it kept sweeping him seaward and his impotence caused him to panic. Strokes turned into flailing, and soon he found himself sinking beneath the surface in a froth of sunlit bubbles.

A shadow came between him and the surface, then a strong hand was hauling him up into the air. He clutched in panic at a pair of wiry shoulders and a deep voice snarled in his ear. “Stop fighting! ‘Tis Ulmo’s Hand! Remember you nothing from your summers here? You cannot hope to fight it, you must slip its grasp!”

Andra?” he coughed.

The Armsmaster had one arm about him, holding him up while treading water. “Of course. Stop clutching me so, just let yourself float! There, that is better. Did you swallow much water?”

“No.” Not only was he recovering, Boromir was beginning to feel like an idiot. He noticed the shore receding away from them still, and made as if to start back to shore, only to be stopped by Andrahar.

“Not that way. Do you think you could swim a bit?” Boromir nodded. “Then remember your training-we follow the shoreline, for ‘tis the only way to loosen the Hand. Besides, I do not want to get any further out than we already are. I have it on good authority that Numenor is no longer where it was.”

Boromir stared at him in disbelief for a moment, then snorted a laugh that stung his abused sinuses anew. Andrahar took the seaward side, and they began to stroke slowly, parallel to the beach. After a time, the current released them, and they angled in towards shore, to stagger safely up onto the sand at last. A short hike back up the beach took them back to their picnic things. The Steward’s Heir watched as Andrahar wrung the water out of his parti-colored hair, appreciating the flexion of muscles in shoulders and arms.

“I remember now what Uncle used to say about Ulmo’s Hand. It had quite gone out of my mind,” he admitted, chagrined.

“You’ve been too long away. That overblown ditch that flows past Minas Tirith is not the Sea.” Andrahar stalked over to the blanket with the same air of affronted dignity often exhibited by wet cats, and tossed Boromir his breeches.

“I never got caught in it before, all the times I was here.” Some one-legged hopping followed this statement as he managed to pull his breeches back on, catching only a little sand in them in the process. “However did you learn to swim so well? Surely it was not in Harad?”

Andrahar settled himself on the blanket and began pulling out their lunch. He uncorked the wine bottle and took a casual swig from it before offering it to Boromir, who joined him on the blanket. “No, it was not in Harad. You have your uncle to thank for that. He was determined to go to sea when he was younger and since I was set upon accompanying him wherever he went, he decided I’d better learn to swim. So he spent months tossing me over the rail when we were anchored and making me sit underwater with him in the shallows of every cove we beached in, holding our breath. He even made me jump into water over my head in a hauberk, so I could learn to get out of it with enough air in me to make it to the surface.”

Boromir shuddered at the very thought of it. “He did go in with you, didn’t he?”

“Oh yes. He was always careful. Though as stern a taskmaster as I am on land, Imrahil is almost as bad a one on the Sea.”

“You can’t be afraid of it after all that!”

“I never said I was. I don’t like it but I respect the Sea, as one does any dangerous enemy. An attitude it would behoove you to adopt!”

“Yes, Andra,” Boromir said meekly. “Thank you for saving my life,” he added after a moment.

One of those eloquent, Haradric shrugs. “You would have done the same. Let us enjoy this very nice lunch.”

They did so, turning their talk to other matters, arms and war mostly, the meat of their profession. After lunch, they retreated under the myrtles behind the dunes, out of the sun and where they could spread the blanket once more where spying eyes could not see. There they settled down for a nap. Andrahar rested his head upon Boromir’s shoulder, utterly relaxed in a way that was totally at odds with his usual energy, and which denoted, the younger man knew, the utter trust he had in Boromir.

Boromir stroked the striped hair gently, reflecting not for the first time upon the strange tricks fate could play on people, for had anyone ever told him as a boy that his life’s greatest love would be a Haradrim man twenty-three years his senior, he would have never believed them. And despite the fact that he’d grown up with the man, Andrahar could still surprise him-as he had today.

As if sensing that Boromir was thinking about him, Andrahar spoke without opening his eyes.

“Ignorant Gondorrim,” he said fondly, and yawned, shifting a little closer to his lover.

“I beg your pardon?” Boromir inquired, dropping a kiss on his head.

“Everyone in Harad, down to the babes in clouts, knows that tigers are actually excellent swimmers!”

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