"Oui ma fleur?"
"Tell me how you met mama!"
"I never told you before? Goodness me."
"Very well. Have I ever told you the tale of the ugly duckling?"
"The one where the little one turns into a beautiful swan?"
"Yes. That one."
A young stallion strides through a city at night. His path takes him along the banks of a river. His breath visibly fogs as he sets off at a brisk pace, tugging his coat closer to keep the chill at bay. Boxed lanterns serve as the only illumination. The only sound is of the stallion's hoofsteps, clopping through the narrow street-ways in the old city. He is alone as he hurries along the bridge, eager to be out of the cold. When suddenly, he happens across a mare sitting at the edge of the bridge.
"Excuse me madam. Are you well?"
She turns to him with a sad smile on her face. Her limbs are long and gawky. Her snout too big for her face and her eyes too big for her sockets.
"No monsieur. I do not think so."
She turns back to the river. The icy black water stirring restlessly below. Taking a shuddering breath, she inches closer to the edge. Her intentions becoming apparent.
"Wait madam! I assure you, whatever ails you now is only in passing! Surely you must look for the silver lining in your troubles!"
She turns back, now sporting a wry grin. Giving him a half-hearted chuckle, she shuffles forwards until she finds herself at the edge of the bridge.
"My troubles have plagued me far too long for there to be a silver lining monsieur."
She jumps into the water, a resounding splash is heard as her body's carried off by the current. Cursing under his breath, the stallion takes off his coat and jumps in after her, the icy water shocking him as he comes up for air, struggling madly against the current while peering into the darkness for any signs of the mysterious mare. At last catching a glimpse of her horn as she too struggles against the current. With one strong kick, he glides over to her, grabbing her by the midsection and pulling her, as well as himself until they are safely out of the raging current and onto the safety of a cement bank, a few blocks down from the bridge. Spluttering and gasping for air, he turns onto his back and takes long gasping breaths for a few minutes before turning to his mysterious companion.
"Having *gasp* any *wheeze* second *cough* thoughts now, madam?"
The mysterious mare is silent, the shock of the cold water having caused her to pass out. With a pained sigh, he eases her limp form onto his back, climbing the cement steps leading away from the bank and journeying homewards.
"Was that the first time you saw her dad?"
"Oui ma fleur." That was the first time I ever laid eyes on your mother.
(chuckle) "There you go again. With that name."
"Is it so bad?"
"No, no. Every time you say it...I just...I just always remember when I was a little girl."
"Hmmm, and I would always bounce you on my lap? Yes, I remember that. "Papa! Papa!" You would always come running down the hallway, always eager to hear how I met your mother."
"Yeah. I remember, our old house overlooking Prague."
"Oh? You remembered it? You were very young when we moved out you know. Barely more than a newborn foal, taking your first steps on those beautifully long legs. You reminded me so much of your mother then. With those big, soft pink eyes of hers. Just like yours!"
"Oh stop it papa!"
"Ap! There it is! There's my little girl!"
(giggle) "Oh papa always the joker hmm?"
"Always, and forever."
"....Hey papa. Could you tell me that story again?"
"Which one my dear?"
"......You and mama....."
(chuckle)"You could never get enough of that story when you were little."
"Please? Pretty please? For me?"
"For you ma fleur? Anything."
Walking through the city at night, his breathing hardly increased. He was shocked, a mare as tall and spindly as the one he carried couldn't be so light. Could she? Quickly did he come to his own residence. A small door wedged in-between two other residences. As he fetched his keys and walked inside, wiping his hooves mindfully on the doormat. Carefully using magic to levitate the mare off his back and onto the sofa next to the fireplace as he fetched firewood, a stoker, and a towel. Passing furniture covered in sheets of white. Left exactly as they had been the day his parents died. The stallion lived alone for the most part, keeping little to no friends. It was a lonely existence for a pony, but he never minded. To him it was a peaceful reprieve. A place where he could take shelter when the world became too much for him to bear. This was the place he could retreat too and step back from the world. Passing corridor after corridor he finally came to a modest sized closet, letting out an "aha!" Of joy as he used magic to levitate the stoker and three firewood logs before going into the adjacent bathroom and taking a towel from the rack, heading back into the living room as he draped the towel on the mare who's wetness had already bled through the white couch. Chuckling as she lay languidly, almost like a model posing for a painting/ Litting the logs as he ushered them to the fireplace. Turning them once in a while to keep the flames alive and warming. Once in a while, he would glance at his sleeping companion. A strange sensation overtaking him, an emotion he couldn't quite place his hoof on. An emotion that hadn't come once, not even during the years of his self-imposed exile from the social circles. Whichever feeling it was however, he couldn't help but smile. A sense of loneliness long plaguing his heart had been lifted. At least, for the night.
Somewhere along the way, he had fallen asleep. Blinking, he woke, arching his back once to get rid of the stiffness before smacking his lips together in a very ungentlemanly like fashion to wake himself up. But, almost as if he was still in a dream, he heard a familiar melody waft through the house. In his half-woken state, he rushed to the source of the noise. Judging by the clarity, he estimated the noise to come from the piano room, and indeed, it did sound like a piano. Soft, melodious, and heartachingly melancholic. Stopping at the door to the room, his eyes flew wide open.
The mysterious mare from before sat on the stool, the moisture long gone from her hair. The sunlight coming in through the old windows illuminated her and cast her in an almost godlike glow. All her imperfections erased in that single moment as she gently tapped the keys of the instrument. Touching it with reverence, almost as if she was catering a newborn foal in her hooves. Her head swished side to side, following the intricacies of the song. Her long, almost carnation pink mane coiled and sprung up in different directions. No longer did her limbs seem awkward or gawky. In the early sunlight, all her errors were forgotten. The sun caressed her shape, her elongated snout giving her face angular definition and giving her limbs a long, reaching grace. Stunned, he could only stand there in the doorway as she played. The tune haunting and so familiar it nearly drove him to tears. But the way she played it. By the Celestia the way she played it.
"My mother was fond of that."
He called out to her just as she finished playing. Making the mare nearly jump in her seat.
"I remember, she would always play that on a boring old sunday. Just to liven up the house."
He strode over to her. The mare's blush had stained her cheeks the color of rose.
"What is your name young miss?"
"It's Fleur. Fleur-
"Ho boy. Mom must have been shocked to see you there."
"Well, it's not everyday you wake up in the home of a stranger. Unless you're me of course."
"Give it a rest father. You've never even been with another mare! You were always in love with that mare. And I think you still are."
"Yes, though the difference is the time is short now. I fear I shall be leaving this world shortly, and hopefully, I'll see her."
"Oh don't say that pops! You still got a couple years left in you!"
"I fear that may not be the case ma fleur. I am an old tired stallion who's only wish is to rest one final time."
"Now don't you say that! I knew my father and he would never say such a thing! Where is that old Fancy Pants? With his can do spirit and his confidence? Because I see no remainder of him in this stallion before me."
(tut tut) "Now don't you say that ma fleur. I've lived a long and prosperous life. I have seen the jewels of the world. And have journeyed to it's known ends. I have conversed and dined with dragons, changelings, gods, wizards, enchantresses and demons. I have climbed the roof of the world and beheld the starry night sky as only they themselves could see. I have accomplished great things ma fleur. But now has come the end of them. Now is the time I take my final bow. And bid the audience adieu."
"Oh now don't cry over me ma fleur. There will always be a time of mourning. Nopony wants to bury their loved ones. But it is your choice mon chéri. Yours, and once mine."
"What do you mean?"
"What? Do you think I could simply forget your mother? She was the best thing that had ever happened to me. A flower that I had found, forsaken by the world, yet beautiful once it had bloomed. We ventured the world together, beheld the wonders with our own eyes. Do you think it was easy to let her go? No, it was nigh impossible I tell you! For days I holed myself up in that old house in Prague. Crying my eyes out until they ran red. But if life has taught me anything my girl, it's that time will heal all wounds. As it has always done. In time I finally forgave the world for taking her from me. And in time I ventured its roads once more. And adventure I will. Even if I have come to the road where all paths end. I will continue onwards. Because at the end, she will await me. With those brilliant eyes."
"Oh...come here papa! Give me a hug."
"Wow now! Settle down! Your old man's not as spry as he once was! Ack! Be careful child! My bones are brittle!"
"Oops! Sorry papa!"
"All is forgiven ma fleur, now if you'll excuse me, the time is late, and I feel quite tired as it is."
"Wait! Don't go papa! Please, tell me that story once more!"
(laughter) "I'm afraid this time I must decline ma fleur. Do not worry, you will find your match in due time. But for now, I bid ye farewell. Just remember, that once you come to the path where all roads end, I will be waiting for you."
(sniff) "Goodnight papa."
"Goodnight. Mon chéri."