I woke up in the middle of the night; the wind was howling madly outside. The door faced west and I could feel the breeze under the door for a little while. Once snow drifted up against the door, the breeze stopped. I just had to remember the snow tomorrow morning, or it would all end up in the house. Without even getting up, I used my magic to pick another log up, float it over, then put it on the low fire. It was a cold night. The stallion was still asleep. I was quickly back sleeping myself.

He woke me up with his nose again, the next morning. I did smile briefly. I thought that I might be able to get used to that. As soon as my eyes opened, he said quietly that it sounded like somehorse was doing something outside the door. I explained that the storm had probably drifted a huge mound of snow up against the door. One of my friends was probably ouside trying to clear that out. Even using my levitation magic, I was still not too sure how to address that. Maybe my next magic lesson, I could ask my nice magic teacher.

I got up, and walked over to the door and waited. When I saw light along the bottom of the door, I felt it was probably ok, and I opened the door, and quickly hugged my neighbor. She said also quickly “The Doc thinks that exercise would probably be good for the stallion, as long as it wasn’t freezing outside. Well, it’s not. I want to take you both into town. We have a thing or two planned for you.” Well, I had no idea what a thing or two might be, but she was smiling, and these new friends had already done so much for me. And, there was no wind, the sun was shining, and it didn’t seem especially cold. My neighbor had brought a piece of rope however. She explained right away. “The rope is for you and the stallion. You will need to tie it though, since it would take me a while!” Well, it would probably take me a while too. But between the two of us…

Still, the more important question is what the stallion would say anyway. I knew he heard all of this. “Stallion, my friend wants me to come into town for a while. I think these storms are done, at least for a while, and I guess the Doc thinks physical exercise might be good for you…” I paused here, then added this. “If you are not up to such a trip, I will gladly wait. I won’t leave you here all by yourself.”

He thought briefly, then said quietly “I think following you by biting one of the hairs in your tail may not be the best approach for such a trip.” He was right, of course, and I blushed.

Still, I said quietly “My friend has brought a piece of rope. I think the goal is to tie one end to each of us so we can stay together.”

The stallion got up. “How far is it to town?” he asked.

I had to think a minute, I could only guess. My friend said quickly “It’s about a mile, and mostly flat. There is snow on the ground, but it is already melting. I think if we go slow…”

“Can you help me outside? Then we can put the rope on” the stallion said quietly.

My friend and I walked outside, then I gave the stallion directions to get him outside too. He went slow, and managed to only rub the door frame. There was already a large loop on one end of the rope, and I used my magic to carefully place that over the stallion’s head and neck. I looked at the free end briefly. Then I picked the loose end up with my teeth, and led him, led us away from my house.

I knew this was very hard for him; he walked slow, and pulled on the rope often, which made me go slow. It seemed he wanted to feel his way. I asked him to stop. “Stallion, do you trust me?”

He thought a minute. I guess he thought through where I was going. “Ok, I will walk next to you and trust that you will keep the way clear. This is scary though.”

We were soon on our way. The stallion kept the rope between us mostly slack, and just kept up with me. I really was being very careful to make sure the way ahead of him was clear. There was snow on the ground, but still. I remembered my last magic lesson, and my magic teacher emphasizing that I needed to think through the consequences of my magic beforehand. Well, this stallion was also depending on me to take care of him as we walked. He was depending on me to make sure his way was clear. We were soon walking at a good pace. The stallion said quietly “This feels very good. Thank you Hope’s friend.”

My friend and neighbor laughed. “No problem, I was already about to go crazy havin’ to stay inside so much. It’s warm, well warmer today. I think it will snow some more tomorrow though.” My friend was quiet, then she asked this. “Stallion, do you have a name? We gave Hope here an unofficial name, even if we understand why she doesn’t want a name right now.”

I blushed, but I was sure the stallion couldn’t see that. But he did answer, slowly. “I… She is taking care of me right now, and it seems I have to depend on her a lot. She explained why she doesn’t want a name right now, and I want to honor that. I am avoiding a name as well.”

“Ah, ok.” Then my friend laughed. “We will do the best we can!”

We were soon walking through town. The stallion couldn’t, didn’t see any of that, except we did need to slow way down, and he probably realized that. And I had to be a lot more careful where I led him, where he had to walk. My friend guided us through town, and we were soon walking into a nice looking building. My magic teacher and my other friends, and a bunch of other mares where there. The stallion noted the voices right away. He smiled, said “Miss… Girl time, I think you deserve that. Show me to a place out of the way where I can lay down and nap. Just don’t leave… me…”

I sighed, then led him over to a spot near the door, and had him turn so he was facing away from the center of the room. He was blind, but I think I was concerned about how my new mare friends would feel. This group didn’t seem the optimum place for a stallion, I don’t know. I couldn’t help that. I am pretty sure he put his head down and fell asleep right away, and didn’t move for the longest time.

I was quickly crying softly. They gave me a bath. These amazing mare friends wanted me in town just so they could give me a bath… I was still dirty from frantically getting this stallion up onto my cart… Besides, last fall was the last time I could even take a bath in my pond, and it was painful and short at that. The water in that bath was so warm… All I had to do was walk carefully into the tub of water and lay down. I think I cried softly the whole time. I got to know all of them a lot better, and met the rest of the friendly mares that were there. I… Their caring, their friendship, their real friendship was just overwhelming. I cried on and off. Giving this cast off, small, dirty mare a bath, in the middle of the winter… One of the Unicorns even brushed my mane out. Then she gave me the brush! They didn’t say anything about the fact that I was the smallest there… They didn’t say anything about my eyes… They just so clearly cared about me. Well, it was just different. They all seemed so happy together, too. I realized why! Surrounded with such amazing friends… I was both delighted and humbled to be a part of that. Well, I was working on being a real friend myself.

They helped me out of the bath, then we all walked over to the large fireplace and laid on our bellies together and just talked while I dried off. Well, I mostly listened. And that quiet friend was next to me again. I don’t know, I really appreciated that. When it was clear that I was dry, they got me up. I don’t know how they did this, but my coat, the one they had made for me, they cleaned that too, and helped me get it back on. That felt so nice, too. And they promised to make a coat for the stallion. He was using my old coat, and it was pretty tight on him since he was bigger than me. And it was pretty worn out already. And I guess maybe this was a reason for this trip too. They brought out this leather collar thing, well two matching leather collars, with an easily clipped rope thing that went between them. I cried again; that collar thing would be a lot easier to manage than trying to tie a rope. I had no idea how long I would be leading this stallion around, how long it would be until he could see, but those collars would make life a lot easier. They were crying too, but I couldn’t tell exactly why. And I asked them if I needed to pay; they wouldn’t hear of it… That made me cry too. Real friends… I decided we needed more of them… I hugged every one…

I woke the stallion up when it was time to go. I know I blushed, but I nudged his nose with mine to wake him. I didn’t know what else to do. He woke up, then carefully got up. I told him about the collar, and he let them take my neighbor’s rope off, then put the collar on us both, then the short rope with clips. Some of the mares were crying again, I don’t know. My neighbor friend again led us through town, across the snow covered meadows, back to my house. I am glad she knew the way. And the collars, well that was a lot easier. I just walked normally, and the stallion had little problem keeping up. Of course, I had to watch where we were going still.

At my front door, I disconnected the rope from my collar; it was very easy to do with my magic. I directed the stallion over to the fire, turned him, then he laid back down on his belly. I hugged my neighbor friend a little while and cried. She said quietly “Be sure and let us know if there is anything we can do to help.” That message was probably from all of the mares I had spent the day with… I think I was still a little overwhelmed. Then she left, heading west, probably back to her own house, finally.

They brought us into town on a cold, winter day, just to give this tiny mare a much needed bath… I cried for a while…

The stallion said he was hungry. I brought over a whole oat pie. He had me break it into quarters again; it was easier for him to eat them by himself. He asked if I wanted a piece, but I… A day spent with all my new mare friends… Of course there were yummie things to eat. I was fine. He ate it all, and asked for water when he was done. I told him to drink what he needed. I would need to get more water soon anyway, even though my neighbor friend expected more snow tomorrow. Well, it was almost dark now. That would have to be tomorrow’s job.

After walking into town and back, I think we were both tired. I mentioned that to him, and he agreed. I added some wood to the fire, and laid down on my belly next to him, then put my leg up over his.

“Miss, you don’t need to do that any more if you don’t want to. I am pretty sure you are not going to abandon me.” This caught me off guard, and he said this quietly; I really couldn’t tell why…

And I had to think a minute, and yes, I needed to fight hope some. “Do you have a preference?” I asked cautiously, then of course regretted asking.

He just smiled. “I can hear you breathing when you are near. That is very comforting.” He stopped there, and I tried to clean up the mess inside that I had created. Then he added “And, you smell very nice; I can tell you are close.”

Maybe I was still a mess inside. Before I could even… “Well, wait ’till you see…” I didn’t, couldn’t finish, and realized that I should not have even said that. I was on the verge of tears, battling an emotional avalanche.

I think the stallion had some inkling… “Miss, a few of us stallions honestly are interested in what is inside a mare as well. Maybe very few, but still…”

Well, I did cry, and for quite a while. I said nothing, there was nothing I could, should say. We would just need to wait and see. But he did put his front leg over mine until I managed to calm down, which was a long while later. We were both asleep soon after.

————–

1. The Background Music for this entire story is entitled “The Divine” from the “Forever Today” add-on for the original soundtrack for the “Seekers of Adoulin” expansion for Final Fantasy XI, and is copywritten by Square Enix. Players of FFXI will recognize this tune immediately, and this tune is fitting since a lot of this story takes place in the dead of winter. Please purchase this tune, and play it softly in the background while you read each chapter.

2. This story, “CSR Princess” is vol. 14 of the Chronicles of Summer Rain, and is copyright 2017 by Shysage

 

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