Author's Note: This is my first ever Bambi fic! I hope you like it, and please don't forget to leave a review!

Disclaimer: Bambi and Thumper belong to Disney.

Warnings: Mentions of minor character death.

...

Providence and speedy legs brought Bambi to safety by the thicket, and he was giddy with excitement at having outrun Man for the first time.

"We did it, Mother! Mother?" Bambi called in confusion. "Mother?" He looked around, wondering why he couldn't see a familiar, welcoming figure in the distance, or hear a sweet, melodious voice calling out his name in blessed relief. His eyes squinted against the falling snow, trying to make out some sign of his mother.

"Mother!"

Out of the swirling blizzard stepped the Great Prince- his father. Bambi gulped- he was nervous and shy around his father, and he wanted his mother.

"Your mother cannot be with you any longer. Come, my son." The Great Prince announced gravely. Bambi, with a sickening realisation over what had happened during their escapade, had no choice but to follow him.

...

In the den, the young, motherless prince could not sleep- the loud booms of gunshots and his mother's desperate, fearful cries repeated themselves over and over again in his memory. Unable to take it any longer, he buried his face in his foreleg and began to weep mournfully.

He did not care if his father thought him weak for showing emotion- he would never see his mother again. She was the one deer in his life who gave him courage, kindness, love, comfort and hope when he needed it most, for the short time he had been alive.

Only for what she had given him to be ripped away in the blink of an eye.

"Bambi!" A shrill voice cried out. The young prince looked up hopefully- but he felt instantly upset again when Thumper arrived. He skidded to a halt outside the den, shivering against the cold, biting night.

"Bambi, are you okay?" the rabbit asked worriedly, looking his friend over from ears to tail. He had noticed the Great Prince on the lookout only moments before, and, realising his friend could be in trouble, had hurried to the den as fast as he could hop.

Bambi wasn't hurt physically- his hooves were extremely cold though- but the emotional pain he was feeling made even that pale in comparison. He looked up at Thumper- and the rabbit felt a shiver down his spine at seeing his best friend so shaken and...lost.

"My...my mother- she's...she's gone..." Bambi gasped in between sobs. Unfortunately, Thumper didn't understand what his best friend meant at first.

"Aw, don't worry about it, Bambi- I'm sure she's just outside right now." Thumper replied, thumping his foot again. He was certain that Bambi was just anxious about her, and she really was heading back to the den, or the thicket.

Unfortunately, this made poor Bambi begin to cry again.

"Why do you think she's not coming back? She will, because she loves you," Thumper continued, now starting to feel uneasy at his friend's crying. His foot slowed, but it didn't stop thumping. What was wrong with Bambi?

"But she can't come back." The young fawn emphasised tearfully, giving Thumper a strange look between anger, frustration and grief. "My father told me that she can't be with me anymore..." he added imperceptibly, looking at the floor.

Thumper's foot fell silent.

The Great Prince's word was his Law.

If he said something, people always believed him, for it was the Great Prince's responsibility to be honest to all. If he said Bambi's mother wasn't coming back...then, she wasn't. Now Thumper understood, and he felt remorse for not realising this sooner.

Thumper's whiskered nose began twitching in great sympathy for his younger friend. "I...I'm sorry, Bambi." He said quietly. He wasn't very tactful at times, but he realised he needed to slow down and listen to his friend, because Bambi needed one right now- more than ever.

As for the fawn prince himself, Bambi was torn on to feel about Thumper's presence. On the one hoof, he was grateful to his best friend for coming to see if he was alright, and showing concern. On the other hoof, however, he was still very upset about having his beloved mother snatched from him, and he wanted to be left alone to mourn his loss.

Thumper suddenly hopped into the den and began to nestle up beside Bambi- much to the young prince's surprise.

"Thumper, what are you doing?" Bambi asked between sniffles.

"Look, I...erm, I'm going to stay here, tonight, okay?" Thumper asked, rubbing his paw across his neck. He knew Bambi needed comfort, and he wasn't the greatest at giving platitudes. But he could be there. "I know I can't bring your mother back," he continued, uneasily "and I can't make your pain go away. I just...I just want to do something to help you feel a little better." The young rabbit finished, kicking a twig away from him with his foot.

Bambi knew this wasn't going to look particularly promising to his father, seeking comfort from someone else- particulary of a 'lower rank.' But he was not just a young prince who had lost his Princess- he was an innocent fawn who had lost his beloved mother to Nature's cruellest enemy.

"Thank you..." Bambi answered at last, bravely. "I do feel better knowing you're here..."

"And it's not just for tonight, either," Promised Thumper, putting his paw on Bambi's hoof. "I don't know much about losing a loved one- but I want to help you, Bambi. No matter how long it takes."

The young prince regarded his small friend for what seemed like eternity. Thumper was unusually disturbed at how his best friend's kind, loving, innocent brown eyes were now more hollow and dull than the dead trees in the forest during the harshest winters.

But his first winter had been unfairly harsher than most.

At last, Bambi nodded. "Thank you, Thumper," He repeated, his eyes now glittering with grief. Thumper nodded silently, and nestled closer beside his friend as an act of comfort.

"As long as it takes," he reminded him confidently, and Bambi nodded, before laying his head down on his leg and letting his eyes drift to a close.

Thumper couldn't sleep though. He was now helping his dearest friend through a very difficult stage in his life- and he had no idea how to do it.

But that wouldn't stop him from trying. After all, his father had once told him "Even if you are uncertain how to- never fail to do what your heart tells you to do."