Andrahar was a man who was very rarely surprised, and did not care to be. In this one thing he was much like Boromir's father. Though Boromir's request might well have been expected as a logical development of their conversation, it startled him nonetheless.

"I am old enough to be your father, Boromir!" he exclaimed with a frown.

"Ah, but the likelihood of your actually being my father is vanishingly small," the Captain-General responded with a grin, feeling a little more comfortable because of Andrahar's discomfiture. "And you are the only man I can trust to do this. You are not under my command, and I know that your discretion is absolute. There is a chance with anyone else I sleep with, of Father discovering it."

"There is a chance of that even with me," growled Andrahar. "Not because I would ever speak of it, but because your father has spies everywhere, even here in Dol Amroth. And if he knew I'd bedded you, the odds are good he'd have me killed."

"Don't you mean try to have you killed? I feel sorry for the man assigned to the attempt." The white flash of a wolfish grin answered Boromir's statement, then vanished in the next moment as he continued. "But I can understand why you would be concerned. If the possibility of my father's retribution worries you so greatly, I suppose I shall have to look elsewhere."

"Do not try to play me, boy! I don't care for it in the least!" came Andrahar's immediate, irate response. "As if I had ever feared your father!"

"Then why did you bring the subject up in the first place?" Boromir countered, pouring himself another glass of wine, and raising it to his lips. There was silence for a moment, as Andrahar seethed furiously. The Steward's son could feel the anger pouring off of him. Then he mastered himself.

"You've gotten clever as you've grown," he said at last, eyes hooded as he sipped his own wine. "Are you certain that this is what you want?" Boromir nodded.

"Father and the Council are pressing me hard to take a wife. I do not wish to do that until this matter is resolved one way or another."

"That is sensible of you. And in truth, it would not be an onerous task, for you are grown very fair indeed....." There was suddenly something in Andrahar's fathomless gaze that Boromir had never felt before, a sensual speculation that caused his cheeks to flush and heart to pound for the second time that evening. "Stand up." The Captain-General did so almost automatically, years of obedience to this man ingrained his being. The Armsmaster then gestured him to stand before him. "Kneel," he commanded, once Boromir had done so. His former pupil did slowly, and a bit shakily. Andrahar leaned forward, and took his face between his hands, callused thumbs gently stroking his cheeks. He looked deeply into Boromir's eyes.

"If we do this, then you put yourself in my hands, and do as I say, for I am your master in this as well as swordplay. Do you agree?" Boromir nodded.

"Yes, Uncle." The Armsmaster grimaced.

"And my first command to you is to stop addressing me thusly, at least for the evening! I am, as you have noted, no blood kin of yours, and when you name me so, even in affection, it gives an incestuous flavor to the proceedings that I find distasteful. You have my permission to address me by name."

"Very well......Andrahar," Boromir responded slowly, trying it out. A gentle pat of approval landed upon one cheek.

"That is better. Now up with you, lad. The bedroom should be warm enough by now."

************

The bedroom had in fact warmed up nicely. Andrahar had apparently lit the fire there in his earlier wanderings through the house, and a lamp upon the table next to the bed. He carried the rest of the bottle of wine and both their glasses with him, set them on the table, then threw a couple of logs onto the fire and poked it up a bit more. He turned to find Boromir watching him, a little uneasy, and smiled that feral smile.

"Take your clothes off. I wish to have a look at you." He made no move to disrobe himself, but moved over to retrieve his wine glass, turning to watch as Boromir began to undress.

Boromir, well-accustomed to the casual nudity that happened in a military camp among men, and who was a man with great experience in matters sensual, nonetheless felt the veriest blushing boy as he removed his clothing, for usually it was he watching his partner prepare herself for whatever demands he would place upon her. Never before had the situation been reversed, had he been the object of a hot, assessing gaze. He got his outer tunic off without difficulty, but found his hands trembling as he fumbled with the ties of his shirt, and pulled it over his head. He tried to still them, to collect himself, then reddened at the realization that he was already quite erect, tightly constrained within his leather breeches. Andrahar, who must have noticed, made no comment, merely watching and sipping his wine. His eyebrow arched when the shirt came off, and he set the wine glass aside, stepping silently over to Boromir, and running an inquisitive finger over a reddish weal along his ribs on the left side.

"That is new. I don't remember it." After arms practice in hot weather, or indeed most any time save the cold of winter, it was the habit of both the knights and esquires of Dol Amroth to strip to the waist and sluice off in a water barrel provided for that purpose. And sometimes they would go down to the sea and swim all together. So Andrahar was not unfamiliar with the tall, taut body before him now. Boromir shivered a little as he brushed a ticklish spot.

"I got that a year ago, near Cair Andros. An orc, of course, but he was a canny fellow." Andrahar snorted.

"Noticed you couldn't guard worth spit with a knife, don't you mean? Didn't have your shield, did you?" Boromir reluctantly shook his head, and Andrahar frowned. "How many times do I have to tell you--you are better than your brother in most ways where arms are concerned. But he's your better in that, and with a bow, and you'd do well to just accept it."

"Yes, Andrahar," the Captain-General replied, seemingly chastened, but when Andrahar looked up at him (for he was several inches taller than his old teacher), he saw the amused glint in his former pupil's eyes. The Armsmaster's eyebrow flew up, and his hand reached up to slide behind Boromir's neck, fingers tangling in the chaotic mass of soft waves at his nape. The younger man jerked, startled, in resistance, but he dragged Boromir's head down and pressed his lips to Boromir's fiercely. His other hand slid down over the flat belly unerringly, to snake into the waistband of Boromir's breeches, fingertips brushing against the hardness he found there.

Boromir's lips opened in a gasp of surprise beneath his, and Andrahar used the opportunity to push his tongue deep into the suddenly yielding mouth beneath his, withdrawing his hand from inside the breeches to pop open the buttons upon the fly . The groan that sounded as Boromir was freed from the confining leather, and the unconscious shift of his hips forward into the hand Andrahar closed about his member rather than away, told the Armsmaster all he needed to know.

"I think your question may be answered already, lad," he murmured into the taller man's ear as he ended the kiss. "Do you wish to continue?"

"Valar, yes!" gasped Boromir, dropping his head onto Andrahar's shoulder for a moment. That calloused hand, gripping him more firmly than a woman would have dared, and demanding a response from him with its confident strokes, was like nothing he had ever felt before, igniting a fire in the pit of his belly. He felt his knees go wobbly, and sagged a little more heavily onto the Armsmaster, who after a moment released him and slid the hand around to pat him upon the rump gently.

"Very well then. Off with the rest of this, and into bed with you." He stepped away from Boromir and began to remove his own clothing matter-of-factly, taking the time to fold it neatly and lay it upon a nearby chair. Boromir grinned at the sight. His uncle Imrahil was one of the most fastidious men he'd ever known and four decades of association with him, as well as Swan Knight training, had apparently made Andrahar a bit obsessive about neatness as well. The Captain-General skinned out of his breeches and stockings, purposely letting them fall where they would, and his grin broadened when Andrahar unconsciously picked them up and folded them.

The Armsmaster did realize what he was doing a moment later, and shot an annoyed glare at Boromir, who had hastily slipped under the covers. "Funny."

Boromir chuckled, admiring Andrahar's nude form as he moved towards the bed. It was refreshing to be able to admire a male openly and in a sexual way, something he could not allow himself in public. The Armsmaster was a man of average size who seemed short only in the presence of the tall Numenorean nobles he served, and he was of middling build, but gracefully and powerfully made. He was deceptively strong for his size and extremely fast, as attested to by the fact that a lifetime spent in the career of arms had left him with relatively few scars. The worst of them was a ragged gash down his left leg, received in a desperate boarding action he had fought with Imrahil in his youth that had nearly killed both him and the Prince. It showed whitely against his bronzed flesh.

There was not an ounce of fat upon him, and his body would have done credit to a much younger man. It was also apparently as enthused about the proceedings as Boromir was, judging from the impressive display of one particular muscle. Andrahar's manner, however, was unexcited and calm as he joined Boromir to lie face-to-face with him beneath the coverlet.

"If you should change your mind about this at any point, Boromir, you have only to tell me and I will desist," he said, running a hand lightly down the Captain-General's back. Boromir frowned.

"I asked for this, and I am not one to leave something I start unfinished." Andrahar nodded his approval.

"Very well then." And the hand that slid down his back gripped the Steward's son's buttocks firmly of a sudden, drawing him close against Andrahar's body. The Armsmaster's hips flexed, rubbing hard hot muscle against Boromir's equally heated arousal. Boromir groaned, and found himself being kissed once more. When Andrahar broke the kiss off, Boromir stared at him in a fevered daze.

"How would you have this, Boromir?" he asked in the kindest voice his former pupil had ever heard him use. "Shall I be gentle?" His dark eyes boring into Boromir's were both penetrating and astute. "Or shall I not give you any choice in the matter?"

A lust such as Boromir had never known before flamed up in him at Andrahar's words, and for the first time in his life he understood what was meant by the term 'weak with desire'. Andrahar, reading the answer in his face, smiled.

"It is as I thought. So be it. Up on your knees, lad." And he gave Boromir's hip a light slap.

"I am not a lad. I am twenty-eight years old!" the Captain-General protested, only to be rewarded with another light slap.

"You are a lad compared to me! Up on your knees." Boromir complied, and awaited further instruction. He was still achingly hard from anticipation, but he felt awkward. "Rest your head on your arms if you wish, Boromir, it will make you more comfortable. And try to relax."

Boromir folded his arms and laid his head upon them, all too conscious of his rear sticking up into the air. Then Andrahar's hands touched him, and he forgot about feeling ridiculous. They nudged his thighs wider, brushed up the insides and danced lightly across the most aching part of him, making him gasp. They slid up and over and around his buttocks, squeezing them, and massaged a kink in his lower back that he didn't even know he had until it went away. He sighed, and began to relax, and felt Andrahar leave him for a moment. A drawer opened, and then the Armsmaster moved behind him once more. There was a sound of slick hands being rubbed together, then a warm, oiled palm brushed down his buttock.

"Your sheets are going to be a mess," Boromir warned.

"They always are when I have a guest," Andrahar answered, a hint of laughter in his usually gruff voice. "It does not matter. I have a very discreet lady who keeps house for me." His fingers slid deftly into the cleft of Boromir's buttocks, and the Captain-General hid his face in his arms and moaned. "This is the difficult part, Boromir. I will try to be as gentle as I can."

And Andrahar was as good as his word, proceeding slowly and carefully despite his earlier threat of rough domination. First one finger then a second pierced Boromir, working the tightly-clenched muscles until they relaxed, then probing more deeply. When he touched the most sensitive spot deep within the younger man, Boromir groaned hoarsely and spilled himself immediately, overcome by the incredible feeling. There was embarrassment in his voice when he said, "I am sorry, Andra. I did not mean to do that."

Andrahar stroked his back soothingly. "There is nothing to apologize for, and nothing to fear. I fully intend to pleasure you more than once this evening. But I can wait no longer myself. Are you ready for this?" Boromir nodded, and the Armsmaster gripped his hips.

Despite Andrahar's instructions to relax, Boromir found himself tensing as his former instructor began to push inside of him. This caused an unpleasant burning sensation, and he had to struggle to remain still. Andrahar, noting his stiff posture, paused when he was but halfway sheathed, and stroked his lower back again.

"Do you wish me to stop, Boromir?"

"No! Only--does it start to feel better? Soon?" A strained chuckle answered him.

"Oh yes! Be patient, and try to relax. If you decide that this is something you wish to do on a regular basis, you will find that it becomes easier over time." And with that, he shoved the rest of the way into Boromir, who grunted. Fully sheathed, Andrahar once again held still with what Boromir suspected was an act of supreme willpower, waiting for his partner to relax and become accustomed to the feeling of fullness. After a few moments, when matters became no worse, and the pain actually began to recede, the Captain-General did so. The Armsmaster, feeling the vise-like grip about him slacken slightly, began to move slowly and carefully, short, gentle thrusts that were little more than rocking against Boromir's hips. "Is that better?"

"Uhummmmmmm," Boromir murmured in a preoccupied manner. He was concentrating upon what would increase and intensify the suddenly enjoyable sensations he was feeling, and after a couple of moments, rocked back against his lover experimentally, only to feel an incredible burst of pleasure. Crying out softly, he began to move in time with Andrahar, who took his co-operation as a sign that he could thrust more strongly. Before long, the Captain of the Swan Knights was slamming as vigorously into his younger partner as he could have wished, and their combined cries were echoing about the quiet room. Their satisfaction occurred with a pleasing simultaneity, and when the shuddering ceased, Andrahar withdrew gently from Boromir, and flopped down onto the bed beside him. Snaking an arm about his former pupil's shoulders, he pulled him close, staring intently into his eyes.

"So--are you a lover of men or not?" Still shaken by the intensity of what had just passed between the two of them, Boromir nodded.

"I.....think I must be. And that truly complicates matters." Andrahar sighed.

"Indeed it does. It is not a life I would wish upon anyone, much less someone like yourself, who is subject to so much public scrutiny. What will you do?"

"I will not marry, I know that much. It would not be fair to the woman." The Armsmaster snorted.

"Most noblewomen do not have great expectations, Boromir. They do not expect love from an arranged marriage, merely respect and kindness. You are capable of that, and certainly of functioning with a woman in bed. I see no reason why you should not wed." The Steward's son shook his head sadly.

"What if I do not wish to live a lie? A woman in an arranged marriage may know not to have any expectations, but that does not mean she cannot be hurt or shamed. Let Faramir marry, and give Father his heirs. It may finally make Father more kindly disposed towards him."

"I think we both know how unlikely that is." Andrahar released him, sat up, and reached over to the bedside table to pour another glass of wine, which he drank from, then offered to Boromir, who drank in his turn. When he had finished, he offered the glass back to Andrahar, who refused it, whereupon the Captain-General sat it back upon the bedside table, eyeing the older man speculatively. Brushing a hand down Andrahar's arm, Boromir drew him close, and murmured in his ear.

"May I return the favor?"

To his utter astonishment, Andrahar, who was fearful of nothing he knew of, stiffened suddenly everywhere but the place that might be most entertaining. After a moment he looked up and met Boromir's eyes straightly enough, but there was regret in his voice when he spoke.

"I know that if I am to be a thorough instructor I should allow that, Boromir. But since I ceased being a lad bought by the night, or the candlemark's span, I've not permitted it. There is only one who has had that privilege."

"Uncle?" Boromir guessed, not without some sympathy. "Do you still hope that he will come to you, Andra?"

Andrahar sighed. "Your aunt has been dead for four years, and though your uncle has been most grieved and lonely, he has not come to me, though he knows that the invitation stands. And in truth, Nimrien's death did not change the sort of man your uncle is. Which is, first and foremost, a man who prefers women. No, I honestly expect him to find another wife eventually. He is actively looking, you know."

"I did not. He has not spoken of it."

"He would not. But he feels that the children do need a mother. Though he will have to look long and hard to find someone to replace Nimrien." Boromir, who had loved his book-loving, kind aunt very much, could only nod in agreement. Figuring that their time together was over, he slid away from Andrahar and started to get up and go to the washstand, only to be halted by the Armsmaster's hand upon his arm.

"I would not be adverse to taking you again, lad, though I would understand if you did not wish to let me. I have not been the most equitable of partners." Boromir smiled kindly, and moved back towards him.

"I said that I would put myself into your hands, and so I will. Consider me yours for the night." Andrahar nodded, then guided him gently back onto the bed, this time face upward, and carefully pried his strong thighs open.

"One of the more princely boons I have ever been granted," he said with a grin, his good humor restored, and bending over, set to work once more. Boromir gasped.

************

The next morning, Boromir was awakened just after dawn by the sound of splashing water, and turned towards the noise to find Andrahar standing upon a towel and availing himself of the contents of the washbasin in a most vigorous and thorough manner. A kettle steamed upon the fire, which had been rebuilt, apparently while he slept, and steam arose from the surface of the washbasin as well.

"There's some hot water for you as well, lad," the Armsmaster said. You need to be up and about soon, if you wish to break your fast at the castle and avoid speculation." His manner was pure business, very unlike the man who had pleasured Boromir twice more before falling entwined with him into exhausted slumber. The Captain-General got up and padded over to him, taking the towel and washcloth he proffered.

"Uncle Andra," he asked, feeling the old mode of address safe enough now that intimacies were over, "are you angry with me? Or sorry that I asked you to do this?" Andrahar looked at him in genuine surprise.

"Why no, lad! Why would you think that?" He regarded his former pupil thoughtfully for a moment, then gave him a warm smile.

"Oh! I did not mean to seem cold to you, Boromir. I simply am always cautious about keeping up appearances, and I must be on the practice field in half an hour. Much as I would enjoy dallying in bed with you, the esquires are not on holiday for another two days, and I am expected. You will find, if you do in fact choose this lifestyle, that the times in which you can simply be with your partner, safely enjoying his company, are few and far between. Best become accustomed to it now." Boromir nodded, mollified, and going over to the kettle, wrapped his towel around it, lifted it off the fire and refreshed the washbasin. Andrahar, who was finished, stepped away that he might have more room, and went to a wardrobe from which he pulled clean clothing. From what Boromir could see through the open doors, there was little in the way of personal clothing--most everything his honorary uncle possessed was the blue and silver livery of the Swan Knights.

"I would like to do this again before I leave, Andra--providing you are not adverse," he said a bit tentatively. Andrahar, pulling on his breeches, smiled over at him with that sweet, gentle smile he'd used the night before.

"If you wish to sleep with me again, lad, I am certainly willing. But let's not do it here. The day after tomorrow, go you to the Fairweather in the evening. Do you remember it?" As the Fairweather had been his favorite brothel in Dol Amroth since he was a lad, Boromir had no difficulty recollecting the place. "Go cloaked and masked. I patronize them often."

"For lads?" Boromir asked, wrinkling his nose. Andrahar frowned at him.

"No! For massages. They have a man there from Far Harad that can take kinks out of you you never knew you had. You end an inch taller than when you started." Boromir chuckled, relieved.

"Do you end an inch longer as well?"

"I don't know. I've never felt the need to use that particular option," Andrahar replied loftily, and both men laughed. "Get yourself a room, and a woman, and use her at least once, then dismiss her. Just see that you save a little for me." The Captain-General's cocky grin made a sudden return, and Andrahar shook his head in disbelief. "I will come to you. The esquires will be on holiday, and there we may tarry a bit in safety." He ran his eyes appreciatively up and down Boromir's powerful form. "I must say that I look forward to it." The Steward's son ducked his head, still unused to being looked upon in such an overtly sexual manner, and applied himself to his bathing. There was some thumping about as Andrahar pulled his boots on, then the Armsmaster came over to him. Andrahar's hand reached up and caressed his cheek, and when he met his teacher's eyes, the Swan Knight smiled.

"Thank you, Boromir. That was a most enjoyable evening."

"Thank you, Andrahar. It was kind of you to indulge me in such a way."

"It was very much my pleasure, lad."

The Armsmaster picked up a comb that lay upon the washstand, applied it ruthlessly to his silver-spangled locks for a few moments, then, the picture perfect captain, gave Boromir a nod and departed.

It took Boromir somewhat longer to remove all traces of his rendezvous and return to the castle, but he caused no commentary when he did so. His uncle and grandfather assumed that he'd been out wenching, and twitted him gently about it, though in terms that the younger children present would not find objectionable. He took the jesting in good part, and braced himself to spend the day pretending to seriously examine the young ladies of the court.

************

Boromir slept with his former teacher twice more during his stay at Dol Amroth. The second time was at the Fairweather, the third at Andrahar's house again. The subsequent occasions were much more enjoyable, for he knew what to expect. The last time Andrahar, having brought him to completion once, reclined beside him tracing callused fingers gently through his hair.

"I want to try something I think that you will enjoy," he murmured quietly, "having watched how you respond. Do you trust me?" Boromir nodded, intrigued, and the next thing he knew, he was blindfolded, his hands bound to the bedstead, and his knees drawn up and spread, tied with the bedcurtain cords. It was a terrifyingly vulnerable position to be in, and tremendously exciting. He struggled a little, trying to free himself, but found that his teacher had tied him well. Once he was bound and totally helpless, Andrahar had done wicked things to taunt and tease him, bringing him to the brink repeatedly till he was writhing and begging for release. And when the Armsmaster finally took him with nicely calculated force, Boromir had the most profound orgasm of his entire existence, biting his lip in order not to scream with the pure pleasure of it.

Andrahar had released him immediately afterwards, gathering his still-shuddering form gently into his arms and holding him close.

".....Why....why did I like that? And how did you know?" Boromir asked shakily. He could feel Andrahar's breath warm on his ear, and snuggled a little closer.

"'Tis easily enough explained," the Armsmaster murmured. "You make important decisions every day, matters of life and death. To have your power to make choices removed enables you to truly relax and enjoy yourself. 'Tis not as uncommon as you might think, Boromir."

Pupil stared at teacher curiously. "Has anyone ever done that sort of thing to you? And did you enjoy it?" Andrahar took a long moment to respond, and it seemed to Boromir, though it might have been a trick of the candlelight, that his dark eyes darkened even more, becoming deep wells of sorrowful memory.

"It is nowhere near so enjoyable when it is for real." Boromir kissed him then, consolingly, and Andrahar gave him a surprised look.

"It is not something I would wish to do every night," the Steward's son commented, and the Armsmaster nodded.

"Indeed. Its impact, and therefore its usefulness are lessened by repetition. But with a lover you trust, every once in a while......" Boromir sighed, his body having finally calmed. Rolling onto his back, he drew Andrahar up onto his shoulder.

"I do not know if I could trust anyone other than yourself to do that, Andra. But what I do know is that there are no esquires requiring your attention tomorrow, and that I intend to sleep in late. With you. Whether you like it or not."

Andrahar turned towards him, draping an arm across his broad chest. "Oh, I do not object lad, believe you me. Good night." Being an old soldier, Andrahar possessed that ability to sleep whenever and however the opportunity presented itself, and it was but a moment later that Boromir heard a very quiet snore issue forth from him. With a smile, Boromir dropped another kiss on the top of his head, then lay awake for a long while, pondering.

Was it merely a captain capable of discretion, or this captain in particular I came seeking? he asked himself wryly. It would certainly be of a piece with what he considered to be his ridiculous destiny, if he had been unknowingly yearning after Andra all along, and for something other than instruction in sexual matters. After all, he is only the man Father hates most in all of Gondor. And I suspect that Uncle would not be overmuch pleased were he to learn what has passed between us. Not because of jealousy, but he might very well think that Andra had taken advantage of me. Grandfather as well would be displeased. I could not have found a more unsuitable bed-partner if I had tried--short of trotting up to Minas Morgul or Mordor and crawling into bed with a Wraith or Sauron himself! A man. A man of Haradrim blood. A man of Haradrim blood who is in love with another man who does not return his affections in that way. I must be the biggest fool in Gondor! And the Valar themselves only know what Faramir would say about this!

But there was truly no sense in getting himself worked up over the problems inherent in a permanent relationship, for as far as he knew, Andrahar was not interested in him beyond the sexual instruction the Armsmaster had agreed to supply. And he was going to have to return to Minas Tirith in the next couple of days in any event. There was no telling when he would see Andrahar again, and even when he did, his old teacher might not be interested in taking up where they had left off. No, Andrahar had been right when he had said that being a lover of men was a lonely existence, and that Boromir should become accustomed to the idea. His advice had always been good, and the Steward's Heir finally closed his eyes resolving to follow it. Boromir's last thought before sleep claimed him was that at least the nagging question that had driven him down to Dol Amroth was now resolved--even if more unanswered questions had taken its place. And the biggest, most pressing of those new questions was: wherever could he find a man whom he could safely love?

************

February 3007--

The messenger bowed low before Boromir, who was busy with paperwork at his desk within the ruined hall at Osgiliath that was currently his headquarters.

"Dispatches, my lord, and two letters for you."

The Captain-General sighed. He absolutely loathed this part of soldiering, and consequently tried to do it as expeditiously and correctly as possible. "Dispatches in that pile on the corner there. I'll take the letters." The man handed them to Boromir, and he smiled. "Thank you for your trouble. There is hot food and warm drink for you in the mess hall."

"Thank you, my lord!" Bowing again, the messenger departed, and Boromir examined the letters. The first was from his father. He opened it, scanned it cursorily, and sighed. There were the details of some intelligence about the Haradrim he had asked for last week, and the usual request that he check up on some shortcoming of Faramir's that had been relayed to Denethor through sources unknown. No fatherly inquiries about his health or his brother's and certainly nothing about the Steward's state of mind or body. In other words, business as usual for the House of Mardil.

With greater pleasure he opened the second letter, which was addressed in his uncle's elegant script. As he unfolded it, another, smaller sealed note fell out, which he glanced at curiously, but set aside for the moment.

Imrahil's missive was chatty and far more personal than his father's had been. The Heir to Dol Amroth wrote both of his nephews, but he corresponded more frequently with Faramir, mostly because Faramir was a better correspondent himself and actually wrote him back. Boromir was pleased to read that his cousin Erchirion, who had not arrived for Yule as expected, had come safely into port a couple of weeks late, after his ship had been blown off course by a storm. And he chuckled at the account of Princess Lothiriel's unsuccessful attempt to seek vengeance upon Amrothos. She had ventured into her older brother's room intending to destroy his experiments as she had promised, only to find all sorts of creepy, crawly things--some dead, and some very much alive--not to mention some rather nasty traps utilizing miniature siege engines and paint. She had fled shrieking in terror, and Amrothos had escaped unscathed, much to his satisfaction.

I hope that you enjoyed your visit with us here, the letter concluded, and that you will be able to wheedle some more leave out of your father at some point and return to us again--perhaps in the summer? Lothiriel has all sorts of plans for your entertainment, which should inspire fear in you, and Father is, of course, always very glad to see you.

By the way, Andra asked me if he could include a note for you--that is what the enclosure is. Take care of yourself---and WRITE!

Your loving uncle,

Imrahil

Surprised, Boromir laid down his uncle's letter and took up the note, which was sealed with the sigil of the Swan Knights. Cracking the seal, he unfolded it, staring at the handwriting with some curiosity. Andrahar's hand was as elegant as Imrahil's, but stronger in the strokes, and it had a slightly foreign quality to it, as if he'd learned to write in another alphabet altogether when he was young.

Boromir--

It was good to see you at Yule. I greatly enjoyed our arms practices together, particularly the one-on-one sparring. You have grown formidable in many ways, but your knife-work is still execrable, so I had better not hear of you discarding your shield again. Learn to be patient. A new weapon sometimes takes considerable time to master, but should you have need, I will be only too glad to tutor you in any manner you require when you next return to Dol Amroth.

Sincerely,

Andrahar,

Armsmaster of Dol Amroth

Boromir read the note once, then re-read it again after a moment's thought. A grin spread slowly over his face. Discretion to be relied upon, indeed! Folding the note once more, and placing it carefully in his belt pouch, he picked up a requisition form off the stack at his elbow and began to whistle.