Note: This was written for the 500 word Middle-earth Express challenge prompt #15: Horses.
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"I don't know why I'm doing this," Gimli grumbled to himself as he carefully made his way to the stable where Arod was currently housed. He made sure that no one saw him as he crept along in the shadows. If a certain elf princeling ever found out about this, he would never hear the end of it.
"Finally," he grumbled as he ducked into the darkened stable. Making his way quietly down the row of stalls, Gimli peered into each one, trying to find the horse that he had come to think of as his nemesis.
Arod seemed to have taken as much of a dislike to Gimli as Gimli had taken to Arod. Legolas insisted that it was only because the horse knew that Gimli disliked him and thus returned his animosity. Gimli, however, was sure that Arod simply loathed him for no reason.
Gimli had always only tolerated Arod because they had needed to cover great distances in a short time and they could not do that any way other than horseback. At least, that had been his feelings on the subject of Arod until today. Today, the horse had actually done something to redeem himself in Gimli's eyes.
There had been a battle today. It was not the largest battle they had ever been in by any means, but they had been outnumbered by the horde of orcs surrounding them. Gimli had turned at one point in the battle to see an orc behind Legolas with a raised scimitar, about to take the elf's head. Gimli had been too far away to be able to help Legolas, and the elf had been too involved with another enemy to turn and defend himself. Just as Gimli had thought he was about to witness the death of one of his closest friends, Arod had reared and brought his front hooves down squarely on the head of that orc, killing him instantly, thus saving Legolas' life.
For that, Gimli thought he deserved a treat. When he reached the right stall and recognized Arod, he called softly to the horse. Arod swung his head over the stall door and glared suspiciously at the dwarf. Gimli pulled an apple out of his pocket and held it up to Arod as he had seen Legolas do many times.
With barely a moment's hesitation, Arod nipped the apple cleanly off his hand, then came back looking for more. Gimli had come prepared, and held out another apple, but kept it out of reach for a moment. "I'll give you the apple on one condition," he said to the horse. "The elf never finds out about this."
Arod looked at him for a moment, then seemed to nod his head in agreement. Gimli smiled slightly as he held out the second apple for the horse to eat. After he had fed him the remaining apples he had brought, Gimli lightly rubbed the horse's forehead. "You're not so bad, I guess…for a demonic beast."