F is for Friendship
By: Manna

This is the fault of: Penandpaper71

Friendship: The state of being a friend, where a friend is a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

Huey is born on a cold winter morning in Ilia. She is weak and unresponsive, and rejected by her shaggy-coated mother, who later colics and dies.

Florina, a girl of eight, takes an interest in this filly who cannot yet walk, and takes it upon herself to sleep in the straw-filled barn to bottle feed at random hours.

She speaks softly in the moonlight, patting down her forelock, "Huey means bright in mind and spirit. Don't give up."

And Huey doesn't.

When Florina is ten years old, she begins training to become a knight. She is smaller and weaker than the other girls, and she stammers when she means to shout.

That spring, they have a trial mission for junior trainees, and Florina panics. Huey is watching when the other girls approach and try to place the blame of the failed mission on Florina, and her ears go back as her neck reaches out. The snapping of a pegasus's teeth and the flapping of agitated wings forces the girls to back off, but later Florina's tears fall into Huey's painstakingly-braided mane, and Huey realizes that people can be cruel for no real reason at all.

Nursing a few red stings upon her face and arms, Florina puts her hand forward to shake the hand of the girl in front of them.

"I-I'm Florina," she says. "And this is my friend, Huey."

"Everyone calls me Lyn," she replies, and reaches out with a kind smile to rub Huey's soft, velvety nose. "I've never seen a pegasus up close before," she continues. "What's it like to fly?"

Florina smiles shyly, and looks at Huey. "Should we show her?" she asks, and Huey stretches her wings and dances to the side in anticipation.

They are flying over the battle when suddenly, there is a sharp yank on the reins, and the corner of Huey's mouth tears just the slightest bit from the pressure.

Something is wrong.

When Huey lands, Florina struggles to stay in the saddle, but she slips and lands in a crumpled heap on the grass. Huey turns to inspect the damage, but an arrow lodged under Florina's breastplate gives her the only information she needs.

She nuzzles her fallen rider, but Florina's response is weak, and when a soldier approaches that Huey does not recognize, the pegasus rises on her back legs and lashes out with hooves and teeth and wings to attempt some measure of protection.

When at last they are again alone, Huey nervously side-steps and alternates between nosing at Florina's hair and looking around for a familiar face, for how can she get help when it requires her to leave?

When she sees a hairless head and full armor approaching, Huey voices her distress in the only way she knows how, and Wallace approaches.

"Easy, girl," he says, and tries to pat Huey's shoulder, but the gesture does little to comfort her, and instead, she hovers uncomfortably close to the man as he carefully kneels to investigate Florina's wounds.

After a moment, he sighs, and touches Florina's face. "Florina?" he calls, softly. "Do you have any last words?"

But Florina doesn't answer, and after a few moments, the young rider's breathing slows and eventually stops, and Huey does not quite understand why Wallace is picking her up, shielding her with his cloak, so she follows him into the camp, where Serra cries and Lyn screams out a sharp, "No!" and Kent and Sain bow their heads and retrieve a spade.

After the hole is dug and Florina placed inside, Huey approaches to try to keep Sain from burying her, because Huey, however, loyal, however smart, does not understand why they are hiding her friend in such a manner.

Sain wraps his arms around Huey's neck and squeezes gently, and he speaks, softly, so that the others do not hear the quiver in his voice, "She is gone, old girl. We've all lost a dear friend, today."

But Huey thinks that maybe Sain doesn't understand, because Florina is Huey's only friend, her truest friend, the one that might have saved her life, that stayed with her and confided in her all things. They lost a friend, but Huey has lost her Florina.

When the grave is finished and Lyn and Serra and Rebecca place wildflowers over it, Huey settles herself next to the disturbed earth, and watches the group march away. Lyn does not try to take her along, because Huey is sure that Lyn understands her relationship with Florina better than anyone.

But when the army marches against the horizon, one person does approach, someone that Huey had never seen speaking with Florina.

"It's a shame," Vaida says, looking impassive as she lays her hand on the rough wooden cross shoved deep into the ground. Her voice, however, betrays regret. "They have each other, but you only have her." She says nothing more, but gives Huey a pat on the shoulder before she moves to her snorting wyvern and takes to the skies.

Huey remembers a cold, bleak day, and a warm little girl who gave her a name and therefore life and purpose.

And after a while, she stands, and stretches her wings. With one final glance back at the gravesite, she takes to the skies and meets the army, giving an awful fright to everyone when she lands suddenly in front of Lyn and simply blinks.

Lyn wraps her arms around Huey's neck in a fierce hug, and manages to get on her back with Sain's help as Kent protests weakly in the background.

They take to the skies, where Lyn sobs brokenly, expressing her grief in a way Huey cannot. When she has calmed herself, she promises retribution for Florina. "We'll get them back," she says.

And Huey understands, but both of them know that revenge will not bring Florina back to them.

After the war, Huey goes with Hector to Ostia, where she is well fed and allowed her freedom.

But eventually, she grows old.

Hector visits her in the snowy open meadow behind the castle with his daughter, and while the little girl falls into the snow to make angels, Hector watches Huey's arthritic knees buckle under the pressure of standing.

"I knew Florina," he finally tells her, "but I didn't know your Florina."

Huey nuzzles Hector's neck with her soft nose and Hector runs his fingers through her mane for a moment before he speaks.

"I never cared much for flying monsters, but you're all right." When Huey stretches her wings, Hector frowns, but his eyes are filled with a quiet understanding. "It's all right," he tells her, and Huey knows that he does not expect her back.

Florina's grave is grown over with moss and weeds and the whole area glistens white with an early morning frost. Huey lands nearby and folds her wings carefully before sinking to the ground next to the wooden cross.

She remembers bright of mind and spirit, warm hands, and a soft, reassuring voice. She dreams of flying over Sacae while Florina and Lyn laugh on her back, and she recalls the rush of the cool Ilian breeze over Edessa.

And she waits.

Author Notes: Huey's gender is never made clear, so I went with female for this story even though I usually lean toward making Huey male. I don't know how such a cute happy prompt turned into this, but hey. I haven't written anything for a while, so have this. :)