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Dreamflower's Mathoms II  by Dreamflower

  Author name: Dreamflower
Recipient's name: Linaewen
Title: A Horse is a Horse Of Course
Rating: G
Request:  I would like a story about a misadventure Boromir has during his 110 day journey to Rivendell. It can be either serious or humorous, or somewhere in between!
Summary: Boromir recalls part of his journey north to Imladris to Merry and Pippin as they float down the Anduin.
`I have myself been at whiles in Rohan, but I have never crossed it northwards. When I was sent out as a messenger, I passed through the Gap by the skirts of the White Mountains, and crossed the Isen and the Greyflood into Northerland. A long and wearisome journey. Four hundred leagues I reckoned it, and it took me many months; for I lost my horse at Tharbad, at the fording of the Greyflood. After that journey, and the road I have trodden with this Company, I do not much doubt that I shall find a way through Rohan, and Fangorn too, if need be.' (FotR, Book II, Chapter VIII "Farewell to Lórien") My thanks to Shirebound for finding this quote for me!
Word Count 1,822

A Horse is a Horse Of Course

Merry looked at Pippin, who shrugged. Then both turned their eyes to Boromir, who had been silent for hours, ever since they had left Lothlorien. Right now he was muttering to himself.

Both the hobbits had a good idea of what was bothering the Man, and it frightened them. But if they could distract him, perhaps he would be able to ignore the Ring's silent call.

Pippin could think of only one thing. He began to sing. Pitching his voice carefully, so that it would not carry far he began with a traditional Buckland tune...

When I was a lad so free
I had no cares to worry me,
Save what to drink and when to dine,
On the banks of the Brandywine!
On the banks of the Brandywine!
Save what to drink and when to dine,
On the banks of the Brandywine!

Once I spied a lass so fair,
Plaiting violets in her hair...

Boromir turned to them for a moment startled at first and scowling. But they smiled at him and his face changed and he gave them his own brief smile. As Pippin sang, they could see the tense muscles in his neck and back begin to relax. He returned to his rowing with renewed vigour. Merry grinned at Pippin, and mouthed "Well done!" to him, before joining in the song.

Merry faded out after a few songs. Pippin sang on until his voice was ready to give out, and he was exhausting his repertoire of songs. Finally he stopped as he finished the last verse of "Nob o' the Lea".

"Boromir," said Merry, "you've been rowing ever since we left Lothlorien. Let me take a turn."

"Thank you, Merry." Boromir put down the paddle, and made room to exchange places with the hobbit.

The Elves had provided paddles especially designed to make rowing easier for the small folk. Merry took one up, and dipped it in the water; he was surprised at how well it worked-- he had feared that the extra length and angle of the paddle would make rowing awkward. But he realised that there was no awkwardness at all, and it actually felt more comfortable than rowing his own boat on the Brandywine. Trust Elves to know what they were doing. He soon relaxed into the rhythm, and they glided easily down the Anduin.

Boromir stretched his arms, and Merry and Pippin could hear his shoulders pop. "Ah!" he said. "This is not so difficult as walking, but my arms are not used to this form of exercise in a long time. Not for the first time do I wish we had horses!"

Pippin patted Boromir on the arm. "I'm sorry your horse died, Boromir."

"What?" he asked, a puzzled expression on his face.

"You said you lost him at Tharbad. I thought perhaps the horse drowned in the ford."

Boromir chuckled, but his face had turned quite red. "No, he did not. When I said that I lost my horse, I meant it quite literally!"

Pippin gave him an intent and interested look, making his eyes as wide and expectant as he could, the look of one settling in to hear a good story.

"Ah, Pippin! You are wheedling stories again. You are quite good at that. Well, I suppose as you have entertained me for so long with your singing, that I should tell you what happened."

"Yes, you should! I should like to know how you came to lose your horse."

"So should I," Merry put in.

Boromir nodded. "So first I shall begin by telling you that he was not properly speaking my horse..."

"I left Gondor with Star-- he was named for the white blaze on his forehead. He was otherwise black, and his proper name was 'Southern Star', but of course I called him Star. I could not imagine making the journey without him, but he was an older horse. I remember Faramir asking if he were up to the adventure, as he had seldom travelled very far in recent years. I was quite sure that he would be.

My brother was quite right. The journey was indeed difficult for the old fellow, and he was limping by the time I arrived at Edoras. The head groom gave me disapproving looks, and told me that his joints were swollen and he would need a good deal of rest. Prince Theodred, the King's son, who was a good friend to me at one time though we had seen little of one another in recent years, gave me my pick of three horses. One was a bay gelding; Theodred told me that he was good over long distances and had a very steady gait. Another was a white mare; she too, was known for her endurance over long distances, and to have a placid nature and was good with strangers. The third was a beauty, a roan stallion. Theodred told me that he too had a lot of endurance and strength as well as speed, but was young and untried and very spirited.

I was impressed with all three, but I confess I was influenced by the fact that I had only ever ridden stallions since I had come of an age to ride to war. War horses are almost always stallions, and I simply could not imagine riding a gelding or a mare. Perhaps it was vanity-- after all, I was not riding into battle, I was simply making a journey. A more seasoned animal with a quieter nature would probably be a better choice. Nevertheless, I chose the stallion, whose name was Fulgrim. I rode him around the paddock, and down the training field, and I did notice that he needed a firm hand, but I saw no reason why I could not handle him."

Pippin tried to suppress a smirk.

"Do you want to know what happened, Peregrin Took?"

Pippin nodded and made the smirk go away.

"Fulgrim liked to be given his head, and when I realised how swift he was, we made excellent time across Rohan. Still, he could be skittish at odd things. He stopped short at a puddle and very nearly threw me over the pommel. And he balked at the Fords of Isen. I had to dismount and lead him through. I was beginning to wish I had chosen the mare when I was only a little way beyond Rohan's borders. And I found myself missing Star mightily.

The further we went, the more skittish he grew. An unexpected bird call or even a strong wind causing a branch to move would make him put his ears back, and his eyes would grow wild. I kept telling myself that at least he was faster than walking, and that when I came to civilised lands I would trade him in for something more placid. Riding an old plowhorse would have been less nerve-wracking, I do believe.

And Fulgrim hated to get his feet wet. At every little stream or creek, I had to lead him through. I found myself hoping that any rivers we came across would have bridges. Alas, you know how well that hope was answered. We came to the Greyflood late one afternoon. Fulgrim had already begun putting his ears back before we ever even saw the water, but merely heard it splashing over rocks in the distance. I decided to halt and make camp on the near side, waiting until morn when I was more rested to deal with the crossing. Fulgrim clearly thought he had won some sort of victory when we did not approach the riverbank, and was in a fairly good mood that night.

The next morning I doused my campfire and saddled him up and led him towards the river. He started to balk, and stopped completely at the edge of the water. For the longest time he would not move however hard I pulled. Finally, just as I was near to completely losing my temper, I took him by the headstall and tugged. He took a step, and then another reluctant step, and another. Slowly, ever so slowly, we made our way across the Ford. We were almost across and I had congratulated myself that the worst was nearly over.

Then, suddenly, and with no warning whatsoever, he reared, pulling my hand free, turned tail and fairly bolted back the way we had come. One of his front hooves clipped me, stunning me and setting me down in the water. The next thing I recall were hands pulling me from the water. Apparently my shouts-- and I am embarrassed to say, my curses-- had roused a woodcutter and his sons who were working nearby. They hauled me out, dried me off and tended the knot on my head.

"Sorry I am to tell ye, my lord," the woodcutter said, "but yon horse is long gone. We saw the tail end o' him disappearin' into the wood like sommat was after 'im."

Luckily I did not lose anything important: my foodstuffs and my spare clothing, and of course the saddle and the tack. But I was carrying my sword, my horn, and the scrip with my money and other more necessary items on my person.

I spent a day or so with the woodcutter's family, and they helped to reprovision me. I paid them well for the food they gave me, and they were pleased enough. And I suppose that I gave them an amusing tale that would last for months.

But that, Pippin, is how I came to lose my horse. I can only hope that he made his way back to Rohan. Although given his distaste for crossing water, I am sure it would have taken a long while. I have to say, one of the many reasons I would have preferred to take the Gap of Rohan is that it would have given me a chance to see my old friend, Star, once more.

Pippin and Merry were both laughing heartily at Boromir's description of his mishap, and he seemed pleased that he had made them do so.

"I am so glad to see you are sympathetic to my misfortune," he said wryly.

Merry looked back. "Pip, would you like to row a while?"

Pippin amiably changed places with his cousin, and both of them felt pleased that they had helped to dissipate the ill mood their friend had been in. Boromir was looking at them with a fond smile.

Merry leaned back in the boat, and for a while there was silence.

Then Boromir began to bite his nails, and to stare at the boat ahead of them, the one with Aragorn...Sam...and Frodo...

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