We woke up the next morning, also early. I did better since we had basically gone to sleep at sundown. I rolled pretty easily out from under prince’s legs, and was quickly kissing him. I think I was more awake, and we were quickly on our way, skirting prince’s big city as we continued our journey east. Some of this may have looked familiar to me from my first trip out west. But I did recognize when we were close to my big city. We got very close when it was late in the afternoon, and prince asked me if we should go on, or find a nice tree, and go tomorrow morning. I was excited, and we were close. “Let’s go!” I said, and that was that. I think my big city is smaller than prince’s. We walked directly for the edge of the city, then started through. It looked increasingly more familiar as we walked, as I remembered. It had only been a year.

We stopped, well I stopped us at one point, and just looked around. I found a familiar street name, “Phil-Hippos” and I knew we were close. The real reason I stopped was because, up ahead, on the same road we were on, I saw a stallion walking towards us for a little while, then away from us for a while. From the gear he was wearing, he was a soldier horse, tasked with protecting the city. But… his hair was bright, curly red… I knew who he was…

“This way…” I said tentatively. We kept walking. I decided to say nothing to prince. We would try walking right past him, and I hoped for the best. We had to walk past where he was, on the same street, to get to the smaller street that my mom and dad’s house was on.

As soon as we were close… “Oh hey tini, decided to show your face around here again!” Well, he remembered me, anyway, and clearly emphasized… And, ordinarily, I would cry. I was pretty sure that was still his goal.

Prince looked at him briefly, then said loudly “Excuse me, this is princess, she is my Mare now.” Then he slowly, gently picked me up, and put me on his back. I smiled as my prince did that. Then I hugged my prince’s neck right away, and put my head next to his.

Well, I couldn’t resist. “What are you doing?” I tried not to laugh.

He answered loudly, arrogantly, at first. “I am an official member of the third regiment. I am… protecting… this… street…” He was talking pretty quietly, slowly by the time he finished.

Prince was trying to control himself as well. “Carry on, soldier” he said with maybe a hint of sarcasm. With me snug on his back, eyes closed, smiling, hugging his neck, my prince walked us away from him, away from an old nightmare. Once we were clearly far enough away, prince said quietly “My second horn-fire vision was of him, yanking a bunch of hair from your tail, then acting like he had done nothing when everyhorse turned around after you cried out… It was all I could do to keep from dumping him on his head for that. I would be in jail though if I did…”

“Stallion, you have erased all that. Let’s look forward” I said softly, then I squirmed on his back, just a little. Prince understood, and made that amazing contented sound. The past just didn’t matter any more. We were married, and loving every second.

We were also amazingly close to my mom and dad’s house. Turn down this road, and I directed prince right up to the door, which was open since it was a warm day. I directed prince to just go on in. I was still on prince’s back, hugging him tightly. My mom and dad recognized their daughter right away, of course. Prince used his magic to put me down. My mom was on the floor on her belly with her legs out to the side, also with a foal on the way, and my dad was right next to her.

“This is prince, my amazing Stallion” I said quietly, trying not to cry. Well, my parents did cry. We all cried. We all knew that, when I left here, I was an absolute mess. This… hugely amazing change… I think the four of us cried together for a while, as we all exchanged head hugs. Then I laid on my belly facing my mom and dad, and prince did what he usually did; he laid on his belly next to me, then curled himself around me as best as he could. I wanted to say “Mmmmm…” I felt that. But I was quiet. I love my Stallion…

We basically did the same thing we did with prince’s mom and dad. We explained how we met, and were married. Both my parents cried a lot, but prince and I did too. And my mom and dad also gasped at our hornfire. But, what had happened to us both was just so amazing… My mom had to say it… “You are so calm and at peace! Thank you prince… Our precious mare so desparately needed that. I guess she needed you.” Wow, what an understatement. I had prince tell a little about his past, him growing up. We also told them about yesterday, and our visit to his mom and dad’s house.

And, my dad asked me where I settled, and I explained. He said he was pretty sure he knew where that was. Prince spoke up and made it clear my family was welcome at our house any time. My dad looked lovingly at my mom and said “Travelling will have to wait for a while, I think.”

My mom jumped in though and said “Dear… You missed your older sister by just a few days…” I know I looked incredulously at her. She sheepishly explained “Well, dear, you had a rough go of it. We really wanted to, maybe needed to focus all our energy on you, helping you. We could have mentioned your older sister, but she was off to advanced school by then, and…” My mom smiled, an amazing, loving smile. “Dear, you kept us pretty busy.”

I just smiled back. “Mom, you both worked so hard to care for me… You were just getting me ready for my prince.” I closed my eyes, and rubbed my head up against prince’s. I think everyhorse knew what I was trying to say.

I was sad to have missed my older sister, though. My dad added quickly “Well, don’t worry. I can send her out your way, if she gets the opportunity.” That made me smile. My dad paused, then said officially “Welcome to the family, prince. I am so glad our precious little mare found a nice stallion, a Unicorn at that…” I think my dad was going to say more, but stopped.

According to prince, there really was more to be said. “A lot of them are just arrogant scoundrels.” Prince said, with maybe a little disgust.

My dad laughed. “Ok, so I guess I could have gone on. But that just means you truly understand most Unicorn stallions.”

I jumped in, softly, right away. “Dad, prince is no scoundrel… He is so amazing, so caring, so loving… I could never leave him.” That made my parents smile.

Prince added this. “Well, I don’t know how, but you both raised one amazing Unicorn mare… I had given up on any Unicorn, on ever trusting another Unicorn, when she pulled me out of the snow during a blizzard, and even helped this blind stallion go to the bathroom… Honestly, I could never leave her either.” Prince saying that made all of us cry, even him.

It was dark by then, so dad brought out some dinner. It was… One of our amazing friend’s oat pies would have been better, but that wouldn’t have been very polite. I was realizing that, buying food in the big city, maybe it was difficult to get fresh food, unless you walked out into the meadow, yourself. I grew up with this food. It was ok. We let mom eat what she wanted, then we shared what was left. Prince picked up the water bucket, and helped everyhorse get a drink.

But I just had to ask… “Dad, the seeds you gave me… I understand the oats, but the flowers… What were they for?”

My dad smiled. “You are a mare, and those flowers smell nice.” I smiled at that. I thought nothing of it at the time, but they really did… My… our house always carried just a hint…

Then prince whispered quietly in my ear “You do smell nice…” Ok, so I decided to plant more flowers next summer.

Nohorse said anything different, so it became clear to me that we might stay here for the night. Well, I still had to ask. “Would it be ok…” I only got that far.

“Precious daughter, having you here, doing so well, and with this amazing stallion… We would be delighted if you stayed with us tonight. Prince and I can talk more about how to be a good Unicorn!” Prince and my dad both laughed at that. But that was exactly what they did. I laid on my belly next to my mom while prince and my dad talked. It was clear my dad was probing, exploring. He asked about prince’s big city, and the goings on there. “You can’t trust what you read in the post anymore…” my dad said dejectedly. Prince quickly agreed. Well, I think they both enjoyed their time, and talked until late.

My mom said quietly to me “Goodness, dear, you are like a completely different mare… Your prince is really good for you, I can tell. I can see it in your eyes!”

All, I could say was “Oh, mom… He is so good to me…” Then I had tears in my eyes, too.

“I am so glad… Good stallions really are hard to find anymore…” she said quietly. She looked over at prince and my dad. “Look at them…” my mom said with a smile. “They are talking like they have known each other for years…”

“Mom, I doubt that will ever change. Prince and I, we both need each other so much…” Then I said a little more quietly “I may… We may have a foal on the way already.”

The stallionfolk stopped talking briefly. My prince blushed, and my dad smiled. Then they went back to talking. I gently put one of my front legs over my mom’s. I really had missed my parents, and was enjoying this. I knew my mom was too. We just listened to them talk. Probably later than anyhorse would have guessed, they wound down their discussion. My dad curled around his pretty in foal mare (my mom). Prince laid on the floor facing them, and I quickly moved and laid on my belly right next to him. I knew what he would do; he quickly scooted right next to me, and curled himself around me too. Then my dad put out the light thing he had going in the fireplace. It was dark, and we all fell quickly asleep.

Leaving my mom and dad again the next morning was just hard. We all cried quite a bit. But it was clear I was being well cared for. My dad hugged prince, and thanked him for taking such good care of his little mare. I knew prince would do no less. We were soon on our way back down that long street. Red was out again, protecting that street. We walked past him and said nothing. That was past and gone. We were soon back in the meadows around the city again, and began our return trip, off to the west. And my prince read my mind on this. “I… As much as you would like to, we probably should not stop by and visit my house again. That would just make it harder on my little sister.” Prince was having a hard time with that too, I think. I thought for a while about what he observed, stallions having an easier time in the big city than mares. If my experience proved anything, prince was right.

But I think prince and I, we both felt a lot better out in the meadow, compared to the cramped confines of the big city. The houses were so close together there! And, of course, you had to go out and buy food, and you had to be able to pay for it too… “I don’t think I am a city mare..” I said quietly.

“Yes, princess. I look forward to returning to our home.” Prince thought a minute, then added “Well, as long as you are there.”

“Can I ride on your back a while, Stallion?” I asked quietly. That was quickly done.

“So much better” prince said right away. It was quiet, then I asked prince if it slowed him down, if I felt heavy for him to have to carry me. I should have expected his answer. “You feel nice up there, and your hug is so comforting. And, having your head right next to mine, I really cherish all of that. I don’t mind at all.”

I hugged his neck tightly and smiled. “I love you, prince.” Prince replied by making that amazing contented sound. I would really be hard pressed to even try and describe it. But I know what it means!

We had started home early in the day, and we walked most of that day. We made it easily around prince’s big city, and were a good distance away from it when the sun began to set. Well, it was another nice warm day, too. Prince let me stay up on his back, in one of my special comfort places, and we were both soon asleep.

Waking up on my Stallion’s back… I have so come to treasure that. I hugged him tightly as soon as I was awake. “Let’s get going, and maybe find food on the way. I am anxious to get back to our pond. Wait, I am anxious to get you back to our pond… Both of us, that is.” My prince didn’t seem very well collected as he said this. Then he was quiet briefly, and asked timidly “Is it ok if I have dreams about you?”

I tried to reproduce his contented sound, and failed. But I said quietly “Prince, you are my world… I want everything to revolve around you… I need that… I need you…” Then I hugged his neck tightly, and cried quietly. Prince held me on his back, then got up, and began walking west. He didn’t ask me about getting down. I think we both wanted me up here. The sun was soon high and warm. Walking through the meadow on prince’s back… That was just amazing. I put my head up, right next to his, and we walked like that. I think we both liked that too. Well, and I touched the tip of his horn with mine. That felt very nice for both of us. I think, since we had so many other ways to touch each other that felt even more amazing, we had stopped doing this. But now… I think we both appreciated it. And this trip back was turning out to be so relaxing, so amazing, as we just enjoyed loving each other as we walked. At around noon, I was starting to fall asleep.

Prince lurched us to a stop abruptly. Two brown Cougars had been hiding in the brush nearby, and were now standing, growling fiercely, baring their fangs. For a brief time that seemed much longer, we all just stood there. They were probably trying to decide how to fight two horses at once. Then, still growling loudly, they started walking slowly towards us. Prince said quietly “Push the left one down, pick him up, just keep him from moving for a minute. I’ll take care of the right one first.” Well, I tried. I couldn’t pick the one on the left up, but I could push his head into the ground. I was pretty angry by now. It was clearly us or them. Prince wasted no time, and quickly threw the other Cougar high into the air, and off to one side. That Cougar cried out in pain and writhed on the ground after it landed. Then prince quickly did the same thing to the other one still in front of us, who was trying to get his head back. The second one didn’t land well either. “Beasts…” prince said quietly. “It would be fine, if they didn’t always want to eat us…” Prince stood where he had stopped, and we waited for a little while until it was quiet. “I don’t think they will get up” prince said grimly. “But I would not want them attacking anyhorse else. At least we Unicorns can defend ourselves…” We resumed our trip. Well, prince began walking again. I loved the meadow, and had never even thought that other animals like this lived there, too. Well, I just added this to the long list of why I would die without my Stallion. And, when I told him that, he just cried… “Princess, you are the reason I…” That was all he could say. We cried together for a while as he walked.

When we stopped that night, prince said that he felt we were less than a day from home. We both decided to wait patiently until tomorrow afternoon at least, before… Prince left me on his back, and we were both soon asleep under the biggest tree we could find.

When I woke up the next morning, prince was already walking! And, maybe, he had been walking for a while, already. Trying not to fall off, I stretched my body while hanging on to his neck. I think he appreciated that. He made that amazing contented sound. “Should I run to our pond?” he asked, then he laughed. I smiled. It would be good to be home. By noon maybe, I saw the spire for the castle, far up ahead. I mentioned that to prince. He said quietly “Home… Mmmmm…”

But I knew what was coming, so when he said “Mmmmm…” I said it with him. I think we both felt the same about that. I was pretty sure some amazing cherishing lay in store for both of us tonight. But it wasn’t just that. Prince and I both grew up in a big city. But, really, we were so much more contented out here in our meadow. And with prince always nearby… Well, it was just an amazing combination all around. So really, it would be nice to be back where we both felt we belonged, and together. Cherish time would be amazing, too.

Soon after that, our new flying friend found us, landed nearby, and walked with us towards town. Prince gently put me down on the ground at that point, and I walked next to her. She laughed and said she was flying extra because she just knew fall was coming. And she also did keep an eye on our house for us. She even spent some time basking in the sun in the meadow near our home, “like you two do” she said with a smile. I hoped she didn’t see, but I blushed right away; prince did too. I hoped that prince and I were careful. We thought we were. I guess neither of us had thought about friends high up in the sky! Well, we would need to be a little more careful after this.

Our flying friend led us to the castle where my, our magic teacher was waiting, along with a few other friends. Well, I still hadn’t seen my quiet friend since… But they were excited we were back, and wanted to hear all about our trip. We spent the rest of the afternoon telling them about both our families, and our visits there. I think they were familiar with both big cities, but that didn’t matter. The Cougar raised some concern with my teacher. Prince said quietly that, from what he had heard, the Cougars stayed mostly far away from the cities and towns, trying to live in the vast, open meadows away from horses. But he agreed, it would have been different if they found somehorse unable to defend themselves. And, when we were done, trying not to cry, I said “Oh, precious friends, it is so good to be home…” Then prince and I both hugged everyhorse there. We told our neighbor we would bring her saddle bag back in the next few days. She said there was no rush.

Late in the afternoon, our neighbor walked us home, then headed to her home to the west. Prince carefully added the oat pies from the saddle bag to our food stash on the shelf in our house. Then he put my coat in our room. The saddle bag prince had worn for days came off, and he put it next to the table. Then he came back out next to me. Standing next to our house, our home, I leaned on prince, and sighed. “It really is good to be home…” Prince breathed deeply, sighed himself, then gently picked me up and put me on his back. We walked down to the pond, and prince laid on his belly with me still on his back. We rested in the warmth of the setting sun, and just looked out across the meadow. I was deep in thought. “So much has changed for me since a year ago… For both of us, I guess…”

It was quiet for a while, then prince asked carefully “Would you want to go back and do it differently?”

I put my head up against his, closed my eyes, and sighed again. “Only if I could come find you sooner…”

“I’m glad you found me at all…” prince said quietly, clearly holding back tears. I asked him to hold still. I, my head was next to his, and I could see… I used my magic to gently touch the base of his Unicorn horn. Just a little further, add a little wind… “Wow, that feels nice…” he said right away. Prince held his head as still as he could, but did the same thing to me, touched inside my Unicorn horn with a little wind.

I said “Mmmmm…” right away. He felt nice to me too… “Can we do this until sundown?” I asked, trying not to laugh. Well, laughing would have been hard. My prince knows how to make me feel so amazing…

“I doubt… we will make it… that long…” prince said softly.

He was right…

————–

1. There is no background music for the rest of this story; just the breeze blowing gently across the meadow, the crickets at night, and the occasional bird chirping…

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

 

 

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