author - Jules

e-mail - yunadax@bigpond.com

story title - MUD!

rating - pg13

authors notes - This fic was written for a challenge, one was shown a picture and had to write a 2000 word story about what was going on in the picture. This effort earning me an honourable mention, fill details can be found at

http://www.aragorn-legolas.5u.com/main.html .

Disclaimer - they do... I don't.. BUGGER!

Gimli saw the incoming weapon and realised he only had time to do one thing; shout a warning or act. The blade continued to spiral through the air towards them, and time seemed to stand still for the dwarf. He gathered himself from his defensive position and leapt through the air, reaching for his companion and throwing him forward onto the ground. Caught completely unawares by the sudden impact the Prince of Mirkwood stood little chance of keeping his footing and landed in the mud face first, arms splayed out beside him. He was about to let loose a rather intense string of elvish curses when the slight whistle of a blade sailing far too close to his head told him otherwise. Again his life was indebted to his stout friend. Gimli rolled off his back and threw his axe at the remaining wildman, the blade neatly cleaving the near-animal's head in twine and dropping it soundlessly into the thick mud.

Rising to his full height Gimli cautiously examined the grassy field around them, wandering a short distance to see if all the wildmen were indeed dead. The dwarf grinned wickedly when he had finished his cursory inspection, letting a loud laugh of pure victory carry through the flat grassy plains they had tarried upon. Still grinning he turned to see his companion still face down in the mud. Concern touched his stout heart and mind as his raced to Legolas' side. Several thoughts battled for his attention as he crossed the short distance between them. Had he pushed the elf too hard and knocked him unconscious? Had the elf been hurt previously in the small but violent battle? Is the elf playing some evil trick against him? While his mind mulled over each of these options at a rather fast pace, he dropped into the mud next to his friend, carefully reaching across the fallen form to grasp the slender shoulder and turn him over.

Mud had thoroughly soaked through Legolas' tunic but he was determined not to let it bother him. The thick substance coated his skin, seeped into his hair and even found its way into his mouth and nose. He fought the urge to squirm against the cold wetness and tried to remain perfectly still; this would only work if Gimli had no warning. He listened as Gimli scouted and checked the corpses, making sure there were indeed no more of them trying to lop their heads off.

Patiently he waited, still and silent as Gimli gave a little huff of surprise.

'So he has noticed!' Legolas thought with glee; he was going to get Gimli back for throwing him into the cold mud, blade or not, there must have been another way to avoid it rather than lying in the wet earth. He forced his body to relax as Gimli sent the more muck flying as he dropped onto his knees. He felt the hand on his shoulder, reaching around the joint and carefully turning him onto his back. He kept his eyes lightly closed and listened intently, trying to work out what Gimli was doing without the use of his eyes. He felt the presence of another body leaning over his again and he decided that it was now or never. He let the handfuls of mud fly towards his friends' face, one hitting him square in the jaw and the other high on his helm. Gimli reeled backwards, hands clawing at the thick substance that now covered his face and he didn't see the until-recently limp elf flying towards his chest.

Legolas hit his target with all the grace of a herd of oliphants, tackling him around his broad chest and sending them both flying backwards into a rather juicy patch of mud. Gimli was nearly submerged in the dark goop with Legolas' full weight still on top of him, yet somehow he managed to get a stout leg between his torso and his companion, enough to send him flying backwards with all the strength of dwarven legs propelling him. Smirking to himself Gimli stood and watched his friend flounder in the murky grasslands, trying to regain his composure whilst covered from head to toe in mud. Warily both of them eyed each other, each watching out for any signs of another dirty tactic. Finally Gimli broke the standoff, eyeing his filthy jerkin with distaste.

" Now look what you've done Elf, we'll have to find a stream now to clean this muck off!" he spat, a hint of humour touching his otherwise gruff voice.

" So this is my fault? I do recall a certain stout member of this small party throwing me face first into a nice pile of mud And since good turn obviously deserves another, I thought I would repay you for your efforts in kind!" The slender elf retorted, a chuckle working its way into the words. Gimli huffed again and was about to tackle the elf again when Legolas raised his hands in a gesture of peace.

" Peace Gimli, I think we are both too wet for any more mud-baths" he said seriously, and indicated towards the edge of a forest where he had spotted a suitable camping spot. Gimli caught on quickly and grabbed their two sodden packs, handing Legolas his before shouldering his own dripping bundle.

Within a short period of time they had reached the area that Legolas had indicated and found it perfect for what they required. A swift stream ran near the edge of the clearing and a grove of close trees secluded the pair from watchful eyes. Graciously allowing Gimli to bath and clean his clothes first Legolas set about starting a fire and looking over their campsite. The elf easily started the small fire and started peeling off the outer layers of his clothing. Mud has invaded every fibre of his clothing, caking the hardy but fine fabric in a thick layer of the brown muck and making it rather difficult to remove. It was hideously uncomfortable as it warmed with his body-heat and started to dry, pinching his skin and making even moving seriously unpleasant. Giving up waiting for Gimli to return from his bath, Legolas crept up to a bush near the stream and called to his friend.

"Gimli! Are you going to ever finish or shall I be forced to come in there an rescue you?"

A startled grunt met his delicate ears and he assumed that Gimli had voiced his acceptance of company. He carefully removed his cloak and tunic, laid the nearly ruined clothing next to the bush, peeled off his soft leather boots then removed his leggings and the remainder of his clothing. Once fully freed of the stiff fabric he picked up all he had shed and quickly moved to the waters edge and waded in.

Gimli looked as the Elf entered the water, carrying his clothing with him. The stout dwarf paused in his frolicking and cleaning as Legolas quickly rid his pale skin of all traces of grime, then proceeded to methodically wash his clothing, laying each piece flat on the bank of the stream once it was as clean as possible. He was finally onto his fine pale blue silk shirt, scrubbing the delicate fabric together and smiling slightly as the fabric slowly returned to its pale brilliance. Carefully he waded once again to the shore, stepped out and placed the garment on a nearby flat stone, allowing the warm afternoon rays to dry it. The elegant Prince of Mirkwood was just about to return gracefully to the water when his foot struck a somewhat slippery piece of dirt, sending him crashing most un-elf-like bum first into the water and causing a great wad of sodden earth to crash into Gimli's rarely unhelmed head.

The dwarf protest loudly as the mud impacted, sending him splashing in the water to try and see again. Once he'd scrapped the muck away a rather amusing sight befound him. Legolas was sitting in the shallow water, a rather bemused but somewhat peeved expression lacing his features. Gimli didn't know whether to howl with laughter or crawl off somewhere to let the Elf cool off from his ungraceful entrance. He stood in stunned silence for a minute, watching as emotions warred for dominance in his friends' heart. Amusement finally won the Prince's soul as he caught sight of Gimli once again bearing a sizable portion of earth on his face. A giggle found it way into his throat and he let his mirth spill into the surrounding forest, the clear ringing of elvish laughter echoing around the still glade. Unable to contain his own mirth Gimli joined his comrade, the boisterous laugh adding to the dulcet tones.

Once he had recovered, Gimli remembered that mud still clung viciously to his beard and hair, tangling the recently clean strands back into the semblance that they had so recently borne. A smirk crossed his face, deviousness entering his eyes as he plotted revenge on the fair creature before him. He carefully pulled the thick substance out of his beard, gathering as much as he could in his other hand and before hurling it with all his might at his companion. The throw proved true and struck Legolas fair in the face, marring the now clean skin. The elf staggered slightly under the blow, his feet nearly slipping from underneath him as the current fought to throw him off-balance. He quickly righted himself and ducked his head under the water, once again returning his features to their normal clean state. When he rose he saw Gimli in a defensive stance, or as defensive as a naked dwarf could be in a stream, expecting the Prince to retaliate. Fortunately for him Legolas' only ammunition was the water itself, so he launched into a fully fledge splash-fight with his friend, only resting when mirth and aching limbs left him breathless.

In mutual victory they both climbed out of the stream, dressed in their now clean and dry clothes, and collapsed into an exhausted slumber, content with the days victories and their dreams filled with the easy merriment that only occurred between true friend.

Ende