The Chance

This story is a sequel to The Chase
The city of Vanhoover is having the worst winter storm in generations as Mignon Croix has to make his way home from the grocery store. Along the way home, he finds something that will change his life forever, but only if he will take the chance.
Reading The Chase is helpful but not necessary to enjoy this story.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/224341/the-chance

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1. Chapter 1

The dull yellow light of the store flickered, causing some small feeling of annoyance for Mignon Croix. With his lip curled back in a sneer, he stood back and tried to take in the dizzying amount of choices in canned vegetables before him Canned peas? he thought to himself. Well, there is canned corn too, he reminded himself.

This was the first winter since the collapse and Vanhoover was still struggling to recover. The grocery store was mostly empty. Mignon turned his head and looked around, surveying the vast quantities of nothing interspersed with the occasional something that held no interest for him.

At least there was plenty of dry goods, basic staples that would keep ponies from starving. Princess Twilight Sparkle and Prince Buckminster Bitters had seen to that, personally escorting a train up from Saddle Arabia.

A mare went sashaying past, her tail swinging, and he turned to watch her continue down the aisle. She paused near the canned beans and peered at the few cans on display.

“If you pay my price I’ll be happy to keep you warm this night,” the mare offered.

Whipping his head around, Mignon snorted and rolled his eyes. He stomped away, his hooves clomping on the tile floor of the grocery store, and he made an equine sound of disgust, nickering loudly.

“Oh come on, you look a little… blue from back here where I’m standing,” the mare teased in a coy voice. “I ain’t asking for much, just a few bits and a warm place to stay. I’ll thaw your icicle.”

Tucking his tail down, Mignon snorted again. He doubted that the mare was talking about his royal blue pelt. He turned the corner, avoiding an old mare and her cart as he did so, sidestepping skillfully away from the elder mare and her cart full of nothing.

He turned down the next aisle and looked around. Again, he saw nothing. He continued down the isle for quite some ways, looking around, his head going left and right, until he reached the cleaning supplies. Using his telekinesis, he lifted a bottle of dish soap into his saddlebags and then went along his way.

The scent of fish caught his nose and his muzzle contorted in disgust. Griffons shopped here, and there was a seafood section. Mignon found that he rather liked the griffons he knew, they were good sorts, but their food left a lot to be desired. Vanhoover was the great city that it was due in no small part because of the griffons and their fishing industry. Vanhoover made more pet food than any other city in Equestria, and fish byproducts were a major industry for the city along with maple syrup.

Sighing with disgust, Mignon Croix gave up and decided to check out.

The cold bit deeply into his nostrils, savaging his poor tender snoot as though it was a hungry beast. Prince Buckminster, the Lord of Winter, had made this winter especially cold at Princess Celestia’s request to heal the land. The cold air burned Mignon's lungs and made his eyes water, his tears freezing on his cheeks. He shivered under his heavy grey woollen cloak and the occasional gust of wind tried to lift the fabric away from his body.

Igniting his magic, Mignon Croix felt a little warmer. He made a weak bubble of pleasantly warm air around him that helped to block out some of the flesh numbing chill. He cast a simple cantrip on his hooves to keep him from slipping, and then he started his long journey home.

His steps were slow and steady, and his gait was not the dainty prance of his fellow unicorns. Mignon moved with the steady pacing of a long time wagon puller. He used what little bit of magic that he had to help him on his job, making wagons and their payload just a little lighter, allowing him to pull heavier loads longer and further.

A gust of wind ripped through his spell bubble and proceeded to slash through his flesh like a swarm of unseen razors. He winced, his face already becoming numb, and he used his magic to anchor his cloak around his body. He reactivated his spell bubble and tried to shield himself from the bone chilling cold.

Leaning forward into the storm, Mignon struggled against the wind, and tried to not get pushed backwards. Snowflakes swirled all around him, and Mignon felt as though he was living in some giant snowglobe. Some giant Tartarus frozen over snowglobe. Vanhoover had not seen a winter this bad for at least a generation or two, and many of the old timers had long pointless chats that perhaps, just maybe, the Lord of Winter had gone too far.

He stepped into a doorway to get out of the weather for just a moment. He stood there, shivering, trying to get up enough courage to step back out into the howling wind, swirling snow, and the chunks of ice which were now starting to fall. Mignon cursed to himself, it seemed a squall was coming in off of the ocean.

He heard a low cough and fell silent. He turned around, looking into the dark shadows of the doorway, saw a box, and peered inside. It was full of newspaper. He prodded it with his hoof and heard a fearful whimpering cry.

“Hello?” Mignon inquired, igniting his horn and peering into the box. He saw nothing but newspaper, and then the newspaper rustled.

“I’m so cold,” a weak low voice answered.

“It’s freezing out here… what are you doing in a box? Are you a foal?” Mignon questioned as he lowered his head. He lifted away the newspaper, rummaging down into the box, hearing whimpers as he lifted away once wet and now frozen wads of paper.

And then, Mignon felt the peculiar sensation of his heart stopping inside of his barrel. He felt a large lump come to life deep within his guts and start to crawl up his esophagus, pressing against his insides, pushing and shoving its way towards his skull, until it finally stopped in his throat and corked his airway. After a moment of not breathing, he strove to draw in one shuddering pained breath.

In the bottom of the box was foal curled into a fetal position. She was small, her ribs were showing, and she was covered in dozens of festering sores. Her ears were notched and it was as if something had been chewing on them. Even the edges of her nostrils showed signs of something gnawing on them. The foal was almost lilac in colour and her mane was a streaky shade of green that made Mignon wish for the springtime.

“We need to get you someplace warm,” Mignon announced. “I don’t know what you are doing out here, but you’re gonna die if you don’t get inside.” He lifted the foal in his magic, pulled up his cloak, and then made the worst mistake of his young life.

The foal was like ice against his damp pelt. She was cold, as cold as the winter night itself, and her body pressing up against his was painful. Mignon sucked in his breath and hissed, his eyes closing, and he pranced in place as every muscle in his body tensed up in agony. The foal was pressed up against his spine along his withers, and her icy cold snoot pressed into his neck, causing electric spikes of agony to go shooting up into the back of his skull and then explode just behind his eyes.

“Oh for the love of Princess Twilight Sparkle’s snatch that’s fecking COLD!” Mignon bellowed.

(Somewhere, far away, much further south, Princess Twilight Sparkle shivered, feeling some odd psychic twinge that only happens when an important pony’s name somehow becomes a swear word, and it caused her to drop her hot cocoa, much to her annoyance.)

He could feel the heat being leached out of his body by the frozen foal and he took a deep agonised breath of cold air, trying to regain full control of his senses. “Kid, you’re colder than a windigo's teat,” he muttered through teeth chattering so hard that Mignon actually worried that they might shatter.

Behind his head and along the base of his neck, he could both feel and hear the foal’s teeth chattering as well. Grinding his teeth together and pushing the nightmarish image of his teeth shattering like glass out of his mind, Mignon Croix stepped out of the doorway and took the first few difficult steps towards home.

The ice pellets fell from the sky with bruising intensity, and he heard a pained cry coming from under the cloak covering his back. He somehow managed to concentrate enough through the pain to summon a shield around his body, a weak shield that was intended to keep things like rain off of him. The ice chunks bounced from the olive green glow of his magic and crunched underhoof as he continued forward.

Visibility dropped and Mignon was forced to amplify the light from his horn. He was pushing what little bit of magic he had to the limits, and he could feel himself getting a hornache for his efforts. On top of being nearly frozen, now he had a splitting hornache that throbbed down into his brain and pounded just behind his eyes, making his vision fuzz over, further reducing visibility.

It was going to be difficult to make it home, and Mignon came to the painful realisation that going grocery shopping at night was a bad idea.

The stairs to his apartment were covered in sheets of treacherous ice. He planted a hoof down, glad for his magic, and then he began his climb up the stairs, grunting with each step, clouds of steam puffing from his nostrils into the whirling frozen air.

Thirty one steps. There were thirty one steps to climb. Each one felt more impossible than the last, and at the halfway point, he had to pause for a moment to catch his breath. It burned in his lungs and it was getting hard to see. The temperature had dropped with the wind, the squall coming in off of the ocean had plunged the air into the sub zero range. It hadn’t been this cold when he had left home earlier.

Each grunt, each snort, each heavy breath came out as a billowing cloud of steam that was immediately snatched away by the cruel demon wind. The ice chunks coming down were grape sized, maybe larger, and the storm continued to whip itself further into a frenzy.

Finally, he reached the door at the top of the stairs and let himself in. Getting the door open was easy, getting it shut was nearly impossible, and he had to throw himself bodily into the door several times before it closed.

He staggered down the hall, panting, stumbling towards his door. He fumbled out a key from his saddlebags using his telekinesis, unlocked the door, and then made his way inside of his small apartment, which was over a small hardware store. There were two apartments up here, and his was the smaller one-bedroom.

Stomping into his living room, he flung off his cloak and allowed it to fall to the floor near the door. He dropped his saddlebags, uncinching them with his magic. There was a clunk when they hit the floor. He made his way to his small sofa, leaned down, and gently shook the foal free from his back. She fell to the sofa, bouncing once, and then lay still, her eyes closed, and her barrel barely moving.

Leaving her on the sofa, he stumbled into the bathroom with an almost drunken stuttering step, tripped over the rug in front of the bathroom sink, and took a tumble down to the floor, striking his head on the toilet.

“You no good dirty meadow muffin muncher!” Mignon cursed as he lay sprawled out on the floor. He let out a groan, shook his throbbing head, and then carefully regained his hoofing.

Once up on all fours again, he ran a bath, making the water warm but not hot. He watched the tub fill, tapping his front left hoof upon the floor the whole time, and when the tub was halfway full, he turned off the water. As he exited the bathroom, he tripped over rug again, this time striking his head on the sink as he went down.

“Bitters damnit!”

(Far off in Ponyville, a supremely puzzled Buckminster Bitters raised his head, feeling a most curious sensation, and then went back to what he was doing, which happened to be Berry Punch at the moment.)

“What is your name?” Mignon asked, sitting down on the floor in front of the sofa.

The foal, laying limp and not moving, opened one eye and looked up at her rescuer. “I’m not supposed to talk with strangers,” she uttered in a barely audible whisper.

Looking over her body, he saw tiny wings and all of the curious little sores covering her skin. He leaned in closer and examined them in the light. “Are these bites?” he asked.

“The rats chew on me,” the foal replied.

A very large icicle lodged inside of Mignon’s heart and the lump in his throat returned, and this time it brought a friend. He wasn’t quite sure he believed the foal, but it certainly looked like she had been chewed on by something. He had trouble with the idea that a foal would be in a situation or a place where rats could chew on them. A sound of equine concern formed down deep in his throat and he wickered.

“I ran away from the orphanage. Foals are dying there,” the foal whispered in a trembling frightened voice. “Are there any rats here?”

“No, there are no rats here,” Mignon replied. “What is your name? My name is Mignon Croix.”

“My name is Magnolia Warbler,” the foal said in a raspy whisper.

“Well Magnolia Warbler, I am going to give you a bath, then I am going to clean up these wounds, and afterwards, I am going to fix you something hot to eat, but it probably won’t be anything special. I ain’t got much,” Mignon announced.

The foal coughed, a wet raspy cough, and Mignon felt a growing sense of concern. He gently lifted her in his magic and carried her to the bathroom. He snarled at the bathroom rug, which he had kicked out of the bathroom, and made his way into the bathroom without falling over.

“I gotta go pee,” Magnolia whispered.

“Okay, I can set you down in there and close the door,” Mignon replied.

“I don’t think I can sit up,” Magnolia whined. “And you’re a stranger.”

“I… well, nuts… I don’t know what to do,” Mignon stated, his ears perking forward.

“I gotta go,” Magnolia moaned.

Feeling rather awkward about the whole mess, Mignon lifted the toilet lid, set the foal down on the toilet seat, kept her tail out of the water which for some reason made him feel immensely proud, steadied her with his magic, and then turned around. “Now you can tinkle and I won’t be looking.”

“But you can hear me,” Magnolia whimpered.

“I’m sorry, what do I do?” Mignon asked.

“I dunno,” Magnolia squeaked in panic.

A second later, there was the sound of tinkle trickling down into the toilet followed by the sound of a tiny tummy gurgling. After that, there was a small satisfied sigh.

“I’m done,” Magnolia announced.

Slowly turning around, Mignon flushed the toilet, lifted the foal, noticed she dripped a little, heaved a resigned sigh, and then gently lowered the squirming pegasus foal into the bath.

A second later, he realised that she really couldn’t sit up on her own and he lifted her from beneath the water, the foal coughing and sputtering, and fighting desperately, trying to suck in air. He flipped her over and let the water pour out.

“I’m so sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking!” Mignon cried. After speaking, he started to chew on his lip from nervousness. He had nearly drowned the foal when he had released her from his magic. His heart thudded painfully in his chest.

“Ack!” Magnolia coughed.

“I’m so stupid!” Mignon muttered as he gently set the foal down in the warm water, this time making sure that he held her up. Each cough, each sputter, each laboured breath made him ache with guilt, each sound she made caused him to wince in pain.

Leaning over the tub, he realised that using a scrubbing brush was a bad idea with all of the weeping sores. The warm water had caused them to open, and pus was dribbling out of some of them. Not quite sure what to do, Mignon sat down beside the bath to think about the problem.

The little pegasus flapped her tiny wings in the tub, a feeble flailing movement, and her head rolled around limply on her neck. Mignon flexed his magic and did more to hold her up, careful to not apply too much pressure. His head was still thudding from too much magic use and nearly cracking it open not once, but twice in the bathroom.

“I feel warm again,” Magnolia whispered in a wet wheezy voice. “It hurts all over.”

“I’m sorry,” Mignon said in a low voice. “So you ran away from the orphanage?”

The foal squirmed feebly in his magical grasp and tilted her head to look at her caretaker. “The orphanage is awful. There are too many orphans, not enough food, and every night, rats kill more foals,” she whispered. “You gotta believe me.”

“I do… look, I am going to lay you back a little bit so you can soak and we can clean these wounds, but I promise I won’t dunk you and nearly kill you again, okay?” Mignon said, announcing his intentions.

“Okay,” Magnolia breathed, closing her eyes. “I need to ask you something.”

“What’s that kiddo?” Mignon replied.

“I need some help cleaning my bottom. It burns and hurts so much back there, and it’s itchy. I haven’t had a bath in a long time,” Magnolia whimpered in a barely audible voice. “Please don’t hurt me… I’ve heard stories and I’m so scared. I want to believe that you are a good pony.”

“I’ve never given a filly or even a foal a bath before, I don’t know what I’m doing,” Mignon said, his voice cracking with emotion. “Is there something special I need to do? I mean, I don’t have one of those and I have no idea how you clean it.”

“Very carefully,” Magnolia replied. “I’ll talk you through it.”

 
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