At least I think it was morning when I woke up again. The stallion felt it was noon maybe, and he would know better, not that it really mattered. It was winter, and usually just too cold to spend much time outside. Then I remembered that our water bucket was probably still down by the pond. As soon as I could, we would need to take care of that.

Again, the stallion quickly realized I was awake. “Miss, how do you feel?”

“Comfortable, but I haven’t tried moving anything yet…” I said this slowly. Maybe I was still waking up.

“Try picking your head up a little” he suggested. My head was still sitting by the side of his neck, on his shoulders. It was comforting, er, comfortable. I guess I had slept like that again.

Well, I tried picking my head up, just a little. “Owww…” is what came out. I quickly put my head back down where it was, and the pain subsided.

The stallion sighed. “I was afraid of that. But I think we both need water, and I need to…”

I thought a minute, then said the only thing that made any sense. “Stallion, we need to take care of both things. Can you still hold me here? I think we need to go like this. I will be your eyes, but you will need to carry me still. I don’t think I should even try to get up…”

It was quiet for a minute maybe, then the stallion said “Let me know when you are ready. And I know I will need to go slow. And, I also think it is pretty cold outside today.”

The cold, well, it didn’t matter. We needed water, and the stallion needed to go…

“I think I am ready, just don’t let me fall.” I said this because I was sure me falling again would not feel very good.

He sighed again. “Miss, do you trust me?” He was right, of course. I should have known, he would do everything he could to keep me from falling, to take care of me, just like I had been doing for him. This strange reversal of roles… I had to shove that maelstrom away for now.

He got up carefully, just like horses do, first front legs, then hind legs. His magic kept me from moving at all, and I am pretty sure he even shifted his magic to compensate for the angle as he got up. That would take a lot of magical control. Well, again, I was pretty sure he had a lot more magical ability than I did. He just stood there, and said nothing. I only slowly realized he was waiting on me. I directed him to carefully turn so he was facing the door. Then I used my magic to open the door. Wow, it was really cold outside. He was right. I directed him outside, then had him turn around some so I could close the door. Then I directed him around back so he could do what he needed to do. Then I directed him back around front and slowly down the path to the pond. I needed to see better, so I had to hold my head up, so I could see better where we were, where we were going. It hurt some, but not a lot. That pain slowly went away. Most of the way there, I saw the water bucket; it was a lump in the snow now.

As we approached the bucket, the stallion stopped. I am not sure how he knew. “Are we close to the bucket?” he asked.

“Yes, I was going to shake the snow out, then try to melt some water” I replied.

Well, it was too far away, and he had stopped, so I couldn’t do any of that just yet. Maybe that was why… He thought a minute then said “Can you melt the snow in the bucket?”

Well, ok, he must be really smart, smarter than me anyway. Of course, melted snow would make water just as good as melting ice. “You are smart. Of course” I said quietly. He walked slowly forward until I told him to stop. Well, we absolutely did NOT want to go back out on that pond!

I couldn’t see the bucket at all, just a big lump of snow. I had left it sitting upright before I fell, and I was pretty sure it was still like that. I selected a point I felt would be inside the bucket, then cast the lowest level fire spell I knew. It could never start the wood of the bucket on fire. But it did melt a bunch of snow, and the snow above just shifted down into the bucket. I was also pretty sure the stallion could feel the magic as I used it. I cast that spell again, same place, and the rest of the snow melted into the bucket. I didn’t know how much water that gave us, but I was going to pick the bucket up.

He said quietly “You do realize that we can melt the snow around the house like this…”

Wow… I had no clue… That had not even occurred to me… I wanted to cry; alone I would probably kill myself… Instead, I just quickly wrapped both front legs around his neck, hugged his neck briefly, then put my legs back to the side. Of course, this made me an emotional mess inside. Maybe that couldn’t be helped… Well, he didn’t scream or complain, so maybe I didn’t mess things up too bad…

“Tell me when you have the bucket picked up, and then turn me around, and we can start back” he said calmly. Well I wasn’t calm. I wanted to run away and cry, but even trying that would be so fiercely painful. I tried to relax as I directed him slowly back to the house. It was snowing again when we got close.

With my magic, I carefully set the bucket on the porch. I had other plans. I had my coat on, and was laying on this stallion’s back. I was not cold at all. I also guessed that I was keeping the stallion warmer than any coat. “Stallion, can we walk slowly back down to the pond and back? I don’t really want to go back inside just yet. I can’t walk, but I would like to be outside some more.”

He chuckled. “Of course, I’ll take you wherever you want to go. You are my eyes, just tell me.”

That is what we did. Honestly, the snow-covered meadow looked very beautiful, and walking around was a treat. We walked down to the pond, then I directed him around the pond, a good distance away from it so nohorse fell again. Then we walked along the creek that fed the pond, very slowly. I told him about any hazards in his path, and he was very careful. But I also started describing what I was seeing. I could tell he was trying not to cry. He could tell I thought it was beautiful. I think he wanted to be able to see again, too. I guessed it was mid-afternoon when we had walked along the creek a while, and it started to snow harder. I carefully directed him to turn around, and we walked slowly back the same way we had come, back down the creek to the pond, around the pond, then back to the path, and up the path towards the house. It was starting to get dark and snow pretty hard at that point.

Most of the way to the house, I said quietly “Thanks for taking me on that walk. It was really nice. I think it helped my head, too.”

“Can I cry yet?” he asked slowly. I felt bad, I had forgotten about that…

“Oh, stallion, wait until we get back inside, and the fire tended.” The way I said that even surprised me, and did give me fits inside. Like I said, keeping hope from hoping may have been a hopeless task after all.

I stopped him at the porch, picked the water bucket up, and got a drink. The bucket was half full, which was good. And the water tasted much better than melted pond water. I put the bucket down, opened the door, then picked the bucket back up, then had the stallion walk inside, and I put the bucket back down on the floor next to the door, and closed the door. I had him turn to the wood pile, I grabbed a log, then had him turn towards the fire, and I carefully placed it where the embers were the hottest. I used my magic for all of this; I was still held firmly on his back by his magic. I directed him over in front of the fire, and he carefully laid us both down again.

He released the magic holding me steady on his back, then burst into tears. I guess me getting hurt really had scared him. He cried for a while like that. He was not moving, so I would not fall off even though his magic wasn’t holding me. And I ended up crying with him. Me getting hurt had scared me too, and showed me that… I really needed somehorse else maybe… At some point, without thinking enough maybe, I wrapped one of my front legs around his neck, and that made me cry harder for a bunch of totally different reasons.

We cried ourselves to sleep that night.

————–

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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