Journeys by Bill the Pony

Chapter notes: Summary: Legolas and Gimli share a horse as they seek Merry and Pippin in Rohan.
The Riders of Rohan put Gimli onto Arod behind Legolas, and though the top of the horse's head was no higher than he could lift his axe, it seemed as though the ground were miles below him, more so because the beast was ever moving. He wrapped his arm around Legolas and clung to him, glad of the elf's confidence, and of other things, though what they were he feared to tell.

They loped off across the grass after Aragorn at a great pace, and Gimli buried his head at Legolas' back, terrified for a time; the steed was swift and though its gait was smooth, Gimli bounced upon its back and would have been glad of a saddle with stirrups.

"How fare you, Gimli?" Legolas' voice came over his shoulder. "Do you see how fast we travel? Have you yet lost your reluctance to ride?"

Gimli just clutched tighter, resentment kindling in him at the obvious joy in Legolas' voice, for he was miserable, and yet Legolas was warm against him, and Gimli felt heat glow through him as though a forge had kindled between them. It made his tongue unwary. "If I must ride, I would prefer a different steed!"

Legolas laughed, the wind of their passage sending the sound rippling back over the plains. "And what steed would you prefer? I thought that dwarves did not ride at all, and yet if you say that they do, then I am sure they make a pretty craft of it, for I have been amazed by all that I have seen of dwarven skill."

Gimli bit his tongue and was sorry he had spoken, but he did not loose his hold on Legolas. "When we ride we prefer mounts of our own choosing, which are closer to the ground!"

The elf laughed again and did not challenge him anew for answers, leaning forward to whisper in Arod's ear, and the beast's gait changed, growing smoother. Gimli swayed dizzily, clinging to Legolas' belt until he sat upright again. "You would have me fall," he accused, "and though I have on mail of my own make, I would not bounce on the turf like an elf!"

"You will never fall while you are mounted with me," Legolas's voice was sober and not so, a thread of laughter in it, and something more. "And perhaps you could teach me much of riding, in the dwarven style!" Gimli blinked, certain at last of what he heard, and his armor was a comfort to him, for though it protected him no more from Legolas than it would from the blast of a dragon's breath, it hid his interest in the elf's words. "Would a bird go to a fish to learn of flying?" Gimli scoffed. "Do not mock me, elf, if you would ride with me!"

"And will you let me ride with you if I do not?" Almost there was something fearful in Legolas's voice.

"A dwarf does not ride lightly." Gimli fell silent, and he would have released Legolas, if he dared.

"And I do not take saddle lightly, or without a care for my steed."

For that Gimli found no answer, and they rode on a time in silence, until Gimli could bear it no longer and spoke again. "Would you saddle one steed to ride for life, and that mount a shaggy pony?" Gimli felt bitterness rise in him, and he wished that he had kept his silence. "For that is the way of the dwarves, and it is not the way of elves. Though you were offered the prince of horses himself, you would not take such a bargain willingly!"

Legolas turned his head and looked down on him from over his shoulder, his fair face troubled.

"I would wager you have seen many saddles, elf, and bridles too, and yet this is the first time my own legs have not been enough to bear me." Gimli grit his teeth and clung to the elf's belt, awaiting his answer, for he felt his heart was revealed, and he regretted his candor. "I tire of this game, Legolas. I do not make my way by words, for they show two faces to the world, and they may take on false meanings. Make yourself plain to me! I will have deeds or I will have nothing."

Legolas did not speak or move then, except to guide Arod. Gimli closed his eyes and cursed the wind for bringing tears to them. And so they passed under the eaves of Fangorn.
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