2. Free and Gay (by Marta)
Summary: Some soldiers of Gondor come together for a Yule celebration. Around TA 3010, give or take.
Faramir rested his head against the tree trunk that both he and Boromir rested against and sighed happily. "Do you miss it?" He nodded westward to the distant White Tower. "The feasting and the dancing you could have enjoyed in Minas Tirith, if you had gone to father instead of here?"
Boromir looked over at his brother, newly second lieutenant in the Ithilien company, and shrugged. "I have meat and wine here, and fresh-baked bread for once" -- both brothers grimmaced at the thought of twice-baked battle biscuits -- "and I prefer Amroth's horn to a court musician's harp any day."
"You say nothing of Taureth, or Morwen, or --"
"Hold your tongue," Boromir said. "Don't think that you can forever escape their piercing looks. They will fix their attention on you soon enough, Steward's son."
"Are they truly that bad?" Faramir winked playfully at Boromir. "You always slip away before the end of any dance; I find it hard to believe you find their attention that distasteful."
Boromir felt his face redden. "The daughters are pleasant enough, I suppose, but the mothers and aunts! They eye me like a slab of meat on a hook."
Faramir chuckled. "Well, they do say you are quite beefy..."
Boromir groaned, and then stood up quickly. "Enough talk; we can do that any time." He offered Faramir a hand and, after he pulled his brother to his feet, they walked toward the dancers. This is why they had come: the three captains of the regiments from Anórien, Cair Handros, and Ithilien, their lieutenants and squires and escorts, twenty men all told. They came to share the news and plan the next spring's campaigns, but mostly to drink and to dance.
The outer chain of men -- all from Cair Andros and Ithilien -- linked arms in a large circle, spinning around while Anórien danced within. It was as constant as Eärendil's voyage from West to East and back again, as predictable as the turning of the seasons. Celebgond and Ithilmir, the non-commissioned rangers who had ridden with Faramir's contingent, let Boromir pass and their lieutenant took his place between them. Once inside, Boromir joined the intricate play of walking in a crouch around the men whose kicks circled over his head.
Could he ever tell Faramir why he enjoyed this dance so much more than the courtly waltzes he faced in Minas Tirith? He did not escape early to enjoy the affections of a maiden, quite the opposite. It was to escape them -- and the suffocating reminders that, whatever he did with his battle-sword, if he could not force himself to bed one of them and produce an heir, he would be remembered for that failure and naught else. Preferring horns to harps, indeed! He would rather face a den of orcs than a pack of lord's daughters, any day of the year.
As the circle spun around him he saw Faramir look at him, his eyes no longer filled with mirth. Seeing his brother's puzzled expression, Boromir realized that he had was crouching still as a cat in the centre of the circle, and that he had never joined the song. He breathed in deeply, filled his lungs with the chilled air, and began:
All ye soldiers join together,
Dance 'neath tree-limb or on heather;
If Yule-week finds you free and gay,
So through next year shall you stay.
Yes. Yule was not for worries, any more than it was for talking. Yule was for dancing, and for singing, and for forgetting the demands of the coming months. Here, in the festive woods of Cair Andros, he could find some semblance of peace. Boromir let the stomp of heavy boots and the heady scent of pine fill his head, driving out all else.