Birth of Spring
written by Sugarberry

The country blue stallion grabbed for the obnoxious phone as its ringing brought him out of a deep sleep on an early Saturday morning. “Yeah!” he croaked into the receiver while rubbing his hoof over his still sleepy eyes.

“Still in bed?” the voice on the other end asked with a chuckle.

“It’s hardly daylight yet,” Vanguard defended, recognizing the voice as Wigwam’s.

“Have you looked out the window?”

“No,” Vanguard admitted, vaguely remembering that it had been snowing the night before even though it was already more than a week into the month of May. He reached for the window curtain that was closest to his position and pulled it back to peer out into the newly dawning day.

“Whoa!” he said, the surprise in his voice causing Sugarberry to abandon the warm covers and join her husband at the window. “It looks like Antarctica out there!”

“My flowers!” the mare agonized, seeing this return of winter as an abomination to the spring display of blossoms that she so faithfully cultivated.

Vanguard heard another chuckle emanate from the receiver. “Tell your beautiful wife that her flowers will consider this just a refreshing drink; it’ll be melted in no time, even if it’s a good foot deep out there.”

“I thought the forecast was for several inches by morning,” frowned Vanguard, noting that flakes were still falling from a dreary sky.

“Wrong again on the weather pony’s part. But I’m not complaining. This gives us a perfect opportunity to have one more trek on our snowshoes. Are you with me?” queried Wigwam.

The expanse of white snow lying pristine on the ground beckoned, its unbroken smoothness begging for exploration. “Sure,” Vanguard said, “as long as Sugarberry will excuse me from the shopping expedition she had planned.” He turned to her with questioning eyes, and the mare waved a hoof in the air to indicate that he was free to do as he pleased. “Sure,” Vanguard repeated.

“Great! I’ll be over as soon as I can get there.”

“Just a sec’,” Vanguard said, covering the receiver with a hoof. He directed a question to Sugarberry. “Shall I invite him to breakfast?”

“Might as well.”

“Okay, Wigwam, you’re cleared for breakfast; see ya shortly.”

* * *

Sugarberry had knocked on Chocolate Chip’s bedroom door to alert her to company coming in the form of Wigwam and scurried to the kitchen to throw together something tasty when Wishbone came up the stairs from his basement apartment. “It’s barely light out, but the clock says seven,” he yawned. “What’s up?”

“Look out the window,” Sugarberry advised.

“Yowser!” exclaimed the stallion. “I heard we were going to get some snow, but this is ridiculous!”

“It’s actually very beautiful, but I worry that all my flowers will be ruined,” brooded the mare. “The apple tree was in full bloom; now all the trees look like they are covered in white flowers.”

Fluff, the orange long-hair, and Raptor, the short-haired black tiger, jumped onto the window sill to watch the steady downfall of flakes, Raptor occasionally trying to catch one regardless of the window glass.

“Good morning, Wishbone!” Vanguard greeted when he came into the kitchen, his snowshoes in hoof. “Wigwam’s stopping by; maybe you’d like to join us on our walk.”

“I’m supposed to be at work by nine; otherwise, I’d go,” Wishbone said.

Chocolate Chip came trailing into the room. “Dreamcatcher said there would be a substantial snowfall this month; she obviously knows more than the weather pony.”

Vanguard, busy mixing up the orange juice, queried, “Her foal is due this month, too, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but not for a couple of weeks, she figures.”

“I saw her yesterday for a minute,” Sugarberry added, “and I thought she was looking rather weary; I asked if there was anything I could do to help her out, but she said she was doing fine.”

“Wait until November, and you’ll be looking weary, too,” grinned Wishbone, referring to the happy event that faced Vanguard and Sugarberry later in the year.

“At least the morning sickness didn’t last long,” admitted Sugarberry with a wry grin.

A knock at the door at the same time it opened admitted Wigwam into the house. “‘Morning, everyone!” His words were inclusive, but his eyes settled on the chocolate brown mare.

“Why did this snow have to come on my Saturday to work?” grumped Wishbone. “I’d much rather be out with you guys on the snowshoes.”

“What about you, Chocolate Chip?” Wishbone grinned. “You said you’d try snowshoeing sometime.”

“I’m to relieve Friendly at the book store at noon, and something tells me that I wouldn’t feel up to it if I was to spend the morning traipsing over the countryside with you two. Besides, I don’t have any snowshoes.”

“Aha!” said Wigwam with a wicked gleam in his eye. “That’s where you’re wrong. I have a second pair waiting for you right outside the door.”

Chocolate Chip was not impressed. “Next winter I’ll accompany you into the wilderness on those things, but not today.”

“You don’t know what you’re missing!” teased Vanguard.

“As if we don’t remember the trouble you had with snowshoes when you first went out on them,” returned Chocolate Chip.

“Well, you won’t learn if you don’t try,” prodded Wigwam. “Van’s an expert now.”

“All the more reason I shouldn’t go along; I’d be a nuisance.”

“Never that, my sweets,” Wigwam grinned, his intense gaze causing her to blush.

But Chocolate Chip would not give in, so it was only Vanguard and Wigwam who set off for the Dark Forest when breakfast was finished.

* * *

The snow had nearly let up and the clouds were beginning to thin by the time the two stallions had traversed the meadowland between Dream Valley and the Dark Forest and, as they always did when out on a trek, headed for Butch’s cabin in the woods. The temperature attested to the fact that Wigwam had been correct in his assertion that the snow would not hang around long, and clumps of snow were dropping off the overhead branches of the trees already as Vanguard and Wigwam walked into the clearing that was Butch’s domain.

Quackers, the green-headed pet duck, had been defeated by the depth of the snow and was confined to his fenced-in pen; this fact did not keep the duck from quacking irritably at the stallions, pointedly informing them that he was not pleased with their trespassing. The duck paced back and forth on a shoveled area at the front of the pen, raising his raucous gabble.

Alerted by the noise from Quackers, Butch came to the door of his domicile to greet his unexpected guests and invite them in for some warm apple cider.

“Hey, this place is really shaping up!” Wigwam commented on entering the house after he and Vanguard had removed their snowshoes. Obvious signs of construction littered the room they were in and continued on through a new doorway to an addition that Butch had been steadily working on in an attempt to modernize and expand his rustic home.

Vanguard crossed to the doorway and peered through. “What are you going to do with all this space?” he asked, noticing stairs that led to a second floor suite in the construction. “You’ll get lost in here all by yourself.” He winked at Wigwam, who gladly continued with the teasing which inevitably occurred concerning the stallion’s friendship with Sparkler, the mare who owned the jewelry store at the mall.

“And a picture window, too; that’s an extravagance I wouldn’t have thought you’d go for in your little bachelor cabin. Or do you have some news for us?” Wigwam lifted a brow in Butch’s direction.

“Can’t a fella improve his property without raising all kinds of questions?” Butch sulked.

“What’s with these fabric samples?” Vanguard asked, holding up a variety of floral prints and solid colors.

“Sp... I’ve been decidin’ on curtain material and beddin’ and stuff like that,” grumped Butch, his lids lowered and his mouth in a frown but with a definite twinkle escaping his eye.

“Hey! You’re really coming up in the world! You’ve got a telephone now!” Wigwam noted.

“And electricity, too,” admitted Butch, a touch of pride creeping into his voice.

“You’ve done a good job,” Vanguard acknowledged. “The place is really shaping up.”

“All you need now is...” Wigwam had begun to say when a distinct scratching at the door caught all three stallions’ attention. Butch hastened to find out what was so adamantly trying to get in. He flung open the door to reveal a noble, grey-furred creature with yellow eyes standing on his doorstep.

“Manitou! What are you doing here?” Butch asked, as if expecting a spoken answer.

Manitou whined and shook his head, calling attention to a red braided band around his neck with a leather pouch attached to it.

“You’ve got something for me?” Butch reached forward slowly, and the wolf bowed his head in submission. The stallion lifted the band from around the wolf’s neck, and Manitou sat down as if to wait.

Releasing the drawstring that closed the pouch, Butch peered inside and then pulled out a piece of folded paper. Upon opening the note and reading it, he tensed up. “Bad news,” he said, handing the note to Wigwam; Vanguard moved closer to read it over his shoulder. Dreamcatcher is in labor and is having a difficult time; I may need to get her to the hospital fast. Can you help? Fetish. The word fast was underlined heavily.

The stallions, responding to the urgency, were ready to move out the door immediately, but Butch delayed them. “We may need some blankets,” he said, rushing off to get several. “And someone should call the hospital to warn them what to expect once we get Dreamcatcher there.”

Wigwam continued out the door to get his snowshoes fastened on his hooves. “You call, Van, then come after us as fast as you can.”

Butch came through with the blankets; and Vanguard went to the telephone, finding that his hoof was shaking at the thought of the mare about to birth but in need of professional help that was miles away. He located the number he needed on Butch’s list of emergency numbers (which was too neatly compiled to be written out by anyone but Sparkler) and tapped impatiently waiting for the call to connect. When he had forewarned the hospital that a mare was to be brought in for delivery, giving them the few details he had, he ended that call and placed one to his own number to alert Sugarberry so that she could meet them at the hospital. With that done, Vanguard was on his way to join his comrades.

* * *

They found Fetish hovering over his wife in the tepee that was their home at the edge of the Dark Forest. Dreamcatcher, proud of her Native Pony heritage, embraced the traditions of her ancestors with a rigid tenacity that went far beyond her husband’s desire to cling to the old ways. This led to their unconventional housing and a way of life that echoed a lifestyle that had existed in Ponyland hundreds of years ago. Dreamcatcher was hesitant to allow the mode of modern ways to interfere with the Native Pony legacy even to the point of refusing the care and supervision of the medical profession during the hidden growth period of her unborn foal; now that the time for delivery of that foal was here, however, the healer who was to attend to her was not in the area, having his hooves full with another birth in a Native Pony village far to the south.

“What’s the problem?” Butch asked, forgoing civilities and surveying the interior of the tepee, his gaze coming to dwell on the mare resting beside the central fire that warmed the tepee.

“She’s been in labor for most of the night, but nothing is happening. I can’t just stand here and watch her bear the pain any longer.”

“Wasn’t Jalap supposed to be here for this?” Wigwam asked, feeling totally useless.

“Next week he would have been; the foal is a little early.”

Dreamcatcher cried out as another contraction swept her body. Fetish dropped to her side and held her hoof, his face lined with worry as he looked upon his wife who was wearing down in the battle to bring forth the foal; her face was dripping sweat, and Fetish smoothed across her forehead with a woven towel until the mare relaxed for the temporary cessation of the pain. She panted softly in an effort to regain her strength, barely aware of the stallions who had come to help move her into capable hooves at the hospital.

“Dreamcatcher, we’re going to have to take you into Dream Valley to a doctor who can help you.” Vanguard and Butch were already preparing a makeshift gurney on which to transport her, and Wigwam was laying out the blankets which would cover her.

“No!” Dreamcatcher said with surprising clarity. “I won’t go!”

“I’m not going to stand here and watch you...” Fetish left the sentence go unfinished. “For your sake and the foal’s, I’ve got to get you to the hospital.”

“No,” the mare said again, but with less resolve, her eyes closed as another contraction held her attention, her distressful groan rending the hearts of the stallions, her desperate hold on Fetish’s hoof proof of the agony she was in. Her eyes remained closed even after she released her husband’s hoof.

“We’re going to move you onto the stretcher now,” Fetish advised his wife, conveying his intentions to the stallions at the same time. Dreamcatcher shook her head in the negative, but Fetish nodded to the stallions to lift her; at the count of three, they made the transfer and Fetish tucked Butch’s blankets thoroughly around the mare before he stood. “We’ve got to get her there as quickly as possible,” he said, taking his position such that he could keep a close eye on his wife to monitor any immediate need.

The four stallions set off over the late season snow with Manitou a willing escort and with his mate, Halona, joining them. Vanguard could not help but remember the previous spring when the she-wolf had been in need of medical care herself.

The ponies were making good progress when Fetish suddenly commanded his associates to halt their progress and lower Dreamcatcher to the ground; Dreamcatcher, who had been quietly bearing with her misery, had opened her eyes and focused on Fetish’s face with such a pleading look that Fetish knew he must stop the journey momentarily to care for her needs. Wigwam, Butch, and Vanguard moved away to allow the couple some words in peace.

Fetish smoothly the tangled mane that clung to Dreamcatcher’s wan face. “We’ll have you there in no time, my darling.”

The mare almost imperceptibly shook her head. She closed her eyes for a moment; when they opened, they were bright and clear. “Raise our foal in the Native Pony tradition... promise me.”

Fetish felt his heart drop but he forced a weak smile. “We will both raise him...”

Dreamcatcher shook her head now with more resolution. “No, Fetish; you will do it alone.” She closed her eyes and said no more.

Motioning for the others to return to their posts, Fetish soon had them on the march again; his face was nearly as pale and drawn as his wife’s as he contemplated the conversation they had last spring when she had first told him that there was a foal on the way. He shook his head; if only she did not have this evasive unicorn magic of foretelling the future; it was inconsistent, to say the least, and often incomplete, causing undo worry about things that would have better been left unknown.

At that moment, the thinning clouds were defeated by the burning sun and the landscape was converted into a sparkling field of diamonds and rubies and sapphires as the beams exploded into crystalline brilliance. This has to be a sign, Fetish whispered under his breath and looked down upon his wife’s face. Her eyes were still closed, but she seemed to be temporarily at peace; did she notice the warmth of the sunbeams that were slanting across her? He hoped so.

His thoughts turned back to that day by the river when she had naysayed his attempt to have one of Dream Valley’s doctors take care of her during her pregnancy rather than leaving it under Jalap’s supervision. Dreamcatcher had foreseen the springtime snowfall and the dazzling sunshine and something more. She had seen her own death coming upon her while under the auspicious care of the learned physicians at the hospital. It had strengthened her resolve to commit her care only to Jalap and the traditions that had been carried down through the stretch of ages.

This knowledge put a tremendous burden on Fetish; was he doing the right thing to be transferring her from the natural world that she trusted to the sterile environment of modern medicine? Was he literally handing her over to her death? The thought almost caused Fetish to order a halt to his mission, but one more look at his wife’s face- once more plagued with pain- only strengthened his resolve to do what he saw best to save her life and the life of their foal.

The stallions saw with relief that the hospital was in sight, and they quickened their steps, anxious to turn their responsibility for Dreamcatcher to others who could help her. They handed the mare over to the waiting personnel who quickly took control of the situation. Vanguard breathed a sigh of relief as he saw that Dr. Toby himself was there along with Dr. Aurora; Dreamcatcher could ask for no better team of professionals. He, Wigwam, and Butch watched as Fetish followed the doctors into the delivery room and then took themselves out to the waiting area to bide the time until news would be forthcoming.

The stallions were met with the worried faces of Sugarberry and Chocolate Chip. “Is Dreamcatcher okay?” asked Sugarberry, the look of concern intensifying as she noted the sober faces of the stallions.

“Toby and Aurora are with her,” Vanguard said, putting a foreleg around his wife and guiding her to a waiting sofa. “She seems to be awfully weak.”

“What went wrong?” Chocolate Chip wanted to know.

“Fetish says that the labor pains aren’t getting any results,” Wigwam supplied.

“She’ll be all right, won’t she... and the baby?”

Wigwam drew the chocolate brown mare to him but made no response. Would Dreamcatcher and the foal survive? He had to wonder about that himself.

* * *

Fetish retained his hold on Dreamcatcher’s hoof as the medical team went about their work. Dreamcatcher, he noted, was no longer fighting their ministrations as she had at first but seemed resigned to be here; Fetish hoped that she would forgive him for acting against her wishes; he, for one, felt much more positive about the outcome now that the doctors were in control although the monitoring of both Dreamcatcher and the foal completely unnerved him as heartbeat and contractions were watched closely.

An exam had determined that the foal was in a breech position; and Toby and Aurora, both conscious of Dreamcatcher’s desire to have this child naturally, were determined to do all in their power to respect that wish. A collective sigh of relief was breathed when Aurora announced, “There; the foal’s in position.”

* * *

Never had anything so glorious been heard, Fetish decided, than that first cry of his newborn son. He gazed in wonder as the new life was heralded with thrashing limbs and wriggling body that until now had been growing in silent darkness within Dreamcatcher. Fetish dropped his gaze to share that moment with his wife. To his complete dismay, he found that Dreamcatcher- the brunt of her work finished- appeared to have fallen asleep, her face ashen, her sweaty skin now turned dry and cold to his touch, her hoof laying limply in his.

For a moment, Fetish felt as is his heart had stopped beating and he only vaguely realized the increased activity around him as the foal was taken away and he himself was stripped from his wife by an orderly who nearly pushed him out of the room; Fetish managed one quick look back at Dreamcatcher to see both Toby and Aurora working over her in uncompromising proficiency before the door closed between them.

“What’s going on?” Fetish demanded of the pony who still had a tight hold on his foreleg.

“You’re wife has had a difficult time, Fetish; she’s very weak and has lost more blood than is normal...”

“What are you saying?”

“She needs to be stabilized, and Dr. Toby thought it would be best to have you out of the room.”

“You can’t let her die!”

“We have no intention of that happening! But there is a need to take steps promptly to steady your wife’s vital signs. Now, I can stay here with you, or I can return to help with your wife.”

The blazing fire in Fetish’s eyes glared at the orderly; but reason overcame emotion; and, releasing a deep sigh, he stepped back in quiet submission.

“The waiting room is right over there,” the orderly nodded, “and I’ll come and get you when the doctors give their okay. Understand?”

Responding with only a blunt affirmative, Fetish turned and made his way in the direction indicated and was met with compassionate entreaty by his friends who had as yet received no word on the progress so far and, they realized numbly, could not expect cause for rejoicing in the somber face of the stallion before them.

“What’s happening?” Wigwam voiced for all of them.

“Dreamcatcher isn’t doing too well,” he said, and the vocalization of that fact tore his heart; he could no longer stand steadily and his face convulsed in a spasm of anguish. Butch moved a chair behind him. The stallion sat down and lowered his head, hiding his face in his hooves. The clustered ponies could see that there was more to come, and whatever it was would not be pleasant. “She’s lost too much blood and she’s exhausted and her vital signs...” He choked and could not continue.

“Toby and Aurora know what they’re doing,” Vanguard offered after a moment, trying to keep his tone positive.

“She’ll be fine... won’t she?” queried Chocolate Chip.

“They were doing their best for her,” Fetish granted.

Butch placed a hoof on Fetish’s shoulder. “Here. Have some water,” he said, handing him a paper cup.

“What about the foal?” Sugarberry asked tremulously.

“It’s a colt.” After a moment, Fetish added, “He seemed to be doing all right.” The news should have resulted in a chorus of positive jubilation, but it was met in subdued relief instead.

“Dreamcatcher will fight to hold him in her forelegs,” Sugarberry murmured, knowing how she would do anything in her power to protect the life within her, bring it to fruition, and value the privilege to guide its future growth. “She won’t give up now.”

Fetish lifted his head to meet Sugarberry’s eyes. “She knew going into this that she wouldn’t survive; that blasted unicorn magic has taken the fight out of her because she expects to die!”

Chocolate Chip gasped, and Sugarberry stepped back from his words. “Dreamcatcher wouldn’t give up without a fight!” she snapped. “She wouldn’t!”

“She told me I’d have to raise the foal alone,” Fetish whispered, his words rasping.

“That’s not her decision,” Vanguard said, supporting his wife. “She’s in God’s hands.”

The defeated look went out of Fetish’s eyes and was replaced by a scalding anger as he stood up from the chair. “If He cares so much, then why isn’t Dreamcatcher sitting up holding her son right this minute?” He stalked across the room and leaned against the wall to suffer alone.

* * *

After a nerve-wracking and lengthy wait, the entrance of the orderly who had escorted Fetish from the delivery room claimed everyone’s attention. Fetish came forward to meet him with an expectant look on his face that hovered between hope and fear, but the smile that accompanied the pony’s words broke the spell of melancholy in an instant. “Dr. Toby says you can come see your wife now.”

With a quick glance at his friends, Fetish wordlessly followed the pony down the hall and through the double doors that led into a highly sophisticated care unit where he found Dr. Aurora perusing a chart of medical data. The doctor looked up at the approach of hoofsteps and set Fetish’s mind at ease with the simple words, “She’s going to be just fine, Fetish; she’s one tough pony.”

“She’s okay then?”

“She’s out of danger and resting comfortably; we’re going to keep a close eye on her for a little longer, but we don’t foresee any problems.” The doctor went on to explain the complications that had occurred after the birthing and what steps had been taken to remedy the problem, including an emergency curettage which required anesthesia. “She’ll be coming around soon, and as for your son,” Dr. Aurora smiled as a nurse carried the newborn into the area, “he has proven to us he has a healthy pair of lungs once he was recovered from the distress he was under from a longer than desired delivery time.”

Dr. Toby was close behind Nurse Nightingale and commandeered the infant from her forelegs and transferred him to his father. “Congratulations, Fetish! He’s one fine-looking colt!”

Fetish received the foal with humble reverence as if not fully believing that this tiny being could possibly be the fruits of Dreamcatcher’s labor; he had been whisked away so quickly after his entrance into the world that his father had had little time to note the diminutive hooves or the softly-colored green eyes which perfectly matched his whisper-soft mane. Now the proud father could take in every detail about the colt and found him absolutely loveable.

Dr. Aurora closed up the chart and with a sideways glance at Dr. Toby, mentioned that Fetish might like some time alone with his son at which subtle suggestion Dr. Toby reiterated that Dreamcatcher would soon be awake; and the two physicians made their exit leaving Fetish to admire his protege all he wanted and to keep watch over his wife.

* * *

There were voices, Dreamcatcher was sure of that, although they flitted through her mind like elusive breaths of air that could not be detained. She was tired and her body was weak and she was grateful that nothing was expected of her; she could not have opened her eyes, she felt so feeble. All she wanted to do was drift off...

When she next rose above the empty darkness, Dreamcatcher managed to harness her whirling thoughts again. The voices seemed louder now and closer, but they wavered in and out so that she could not grasp their meaning. She let them go.

She remembered something now. Fetish had grown frightened about her and the foal. He had gone against her wishes. He had brought her to the hospital, fully knowing what she had foreseen about such an event. So this is what dying is like, she surmised in the fuzzy recesses of her brain. Everything is cold and black and cavernous. I’m floating. I’m numb...

* * *

The foal having fallen asleep in his forelegs, Fetish could concentrate on studying his wife’s face now; there was a trace of color in her cheeks which gave him hope. Her breathing that had been so shallow was heavier now. He brushed her cheek, murmuring her name, but there was no response.

How they had looked forward to the birth of this foal! Their plans and dreams encompassed a lifetime of teaching, protecting, loving, and guiding this new life. Now, here the foal was in the light of day, and Dreamcatcher was unable to enjoy these first precious hours with her son. How she would want to snuggle him to her and look into his innocent eyes, to nourish him, to shield him, to encourage him. “Dreamcatcher,” he whispered, his voice seeming to echo in the space around him. “Our baby wants his mother.”

The nurse appeared once more to check on the mare and turned a placid face to Fetish. “Everything looks good.” Nightingale smiled. “She’s taking advantage of the circumstances to get a good rest. That little guy is going to keep her busy.” She straightened the blanket that did not need straightening, then slipped back out of the room.

Sugarberry was right, Fetish reflected. Dreamcatcher would not give up to this stupor when her foal needed her care. She would not, except that she had gone into this day expecting the worst.

On a hunch, Fetish moved the still sleeping foal to his mother’s side, cradling him in the protective curve of his mother’s foreleg. The foal snuggled against the warm body, coming home to all that was familiar to him. Fetish allowed himself to grin at the seemingly heavenly expression on the newborn colt’s face. However, the nearness of his mother’s body awoke an elemental need within the foal; his eyes opened and his tiny face crumpled into wrinkles as he let the world know that he was hungry.

“Dreamcatcher, your son needs you,” Fetish said, louder this time, to be heard over the insistent cry of the impatient colt.

* * *

Dreamcatcher heard voices again. This time she could make out some of the words, but she could not hold on to them long enough to perceive their meaning. She sensed that someone was nearby, and she knew now that she was not floating but wrapped warmly. She was not numb- there was some pain. And that noise... that grating cry... where was it coming from?

She tried to find the peaceful emptiness that had so recently engulfed her, but the bawling would not subside. And what was that warmth against her side that knocked into her like... like the unborn foal had been doing within her these last months.

“Dreamcatcher, your son needs you.” My son!!!
* * *

Dreamcatcher’s eyes flew open as cognizance returned. “Fetish,” she murmured as she was favored with his face close to hers; she was immediately bestowed with a tender kiss.

“It’s about time you decided to acknowledge our offspring,” he grinned at her, feeling as if the world was once again spinning in its orbit rather than hanging motionless with bated breath. “How are you feeling?”

“I want to see him,” she said, her eyes bright with tears.

“He’s right here,” Fetish said, lifting the tiny body up to his mother’s sight.

“Oh, dear God, he’s beautiful!” Dreamcatcher breathed in complete contentment as the complaining foal met her eyes, after which her gaze flew to her husband. “We made it!” she murmured in astonishment.

“Yes, we did,” Fetish concurred, and he enveloped the mare and the foal in a hug that was quite ample for all three.

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