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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4. Chapter 4

The lock was always a bit fiddly in the cold weather and was in need of graphite to make it easier to turn. Mignon carefully twisted the key and turned the doorknob, pushed the door open, and then looked around. There was a blanket covered lump on the couch, and he sighed with relief. He came in, shut the door behind him, locked it, and then he hung his cloak up on the hook near the door.

He stepped into the living room a bit more, uncinched his saddlebags, tried not to think about whatever it was behind the door, and gently let his bags to the floor near the couch. He opened one and pulled out the stuffy, then opened the other to pull out the coat. Laying the coat over the arm of the couch, he smiled, and then set the stuffy on the sofa.

He moved into the kitchen, eyed the clock, and saw that it was almost a quarter past eleven. Sighing with relief, he moved through the kitchen, thinking about lunch. He opened the freezer to look around, he peered inside the winter wonderland inside of the top of the icebox, his gaze lingering over ice encrusted boxes and cartons of food. There were still baguettes to be eaten, and he planned to fix one of those, most likely with cheese.

Lifting things out to have a look, Mignon found nothing in particular that he was interested in, just frozen dinners of questionable nutrition. And then, he saw something of great interest in the back of a freezer. A small cylinder of concentrated orange juice.

“Oooh hoo hoo… what do we have hiding here?” Mignon muttered to himself, levitating out the concentrated orange juice canister. “Makes one gallon? Lovely.”

He set it down on the counter and continued to poke around, finding nothing.

“Sacré bleu,” Mignon swore in Fancy as he opened the fridge.

Much to his dismay, he saw the same items he always saw in his fridge. Scowling, he wondered what to do about the food situation. Things were bad all over, and he wasn’t starving, but food was life. There was a difference between living and surviving. His gaze fell upon a large wedge of Monster cheese, made from the finest goats terrified by the finest monsters.

He looked around his kitchen and spied his caquelon, the stoneware pot he used for making fondue. He still had some wine. He had cheese. There was butter. There was cornstarch. There were baguettes. There could theoretically be fondue.

Smiling, he went to work, pulling down the big one gallon pitcher to make orange juice as he prepared the coquelon with a measure of garlic oil. He heated the stoneware with his magic, getting it just the right temperature. He added the butter, some cornstarch, allowed it to melt, blended the mixture, and then tossed the cheese and some wine. Afterwards, he ignored it and allowed the heat from his magic to do its work.

When the orange juice was done, he stuck it in the fridge and shut the door.

“Mignon?”

He froze when he heard her voice, feeling bad that he had woke her. “Magnolia?”

“Stuffy?” Magnolia said, her single word a question, her voice dry and raspy.

“I thought you might like it,” Mignon replied, suddenly feeling a peculiar sensation all over his body. The lump from last night returned with a vengeance, making it difficult to breathe.

“You got me a stuffy,” Magnolia said in a low weak voice.

“Yes… is that okay?” Mignon inquired in a worried voice.

“You’re like the nicest pony ever,” Magnolia murmured, her voice barely audible from the living room.

Quite without warning, Mignon felt a tear escape from the confines of his eye and slide down his cheek, soaking into his pelt and vanishing before it could slide free and hit the floor. He felt his lower lip quivering uncontrollably.

“Every foal should have a stuffy,” Mignon stated, not knowing what else to say. “And a warm coat. A heavy warm coat is a necessity.”

“I forgive you for almost drowning me,” Magnolia answered.

“Thank you,” Mignon said, feeling quite relieved by her words.

“I need to go,” Magnolia announced, her tone hesitant and somewhat embarrassed.

“Okay, one moment,” Mignon replied.

“No, I really need to go, I don’t have a moment,” Magnolia warned, her voice insistent and firm. “I don’t feel good.”

“Oh dear,” Mignon grunted as he trotted into the living room, snatched the foal up off the couch, and hurried off with her to the bathroom.

The splattering sounds behind him worried Mignon a great deal. He gnawed on his lip, now chapped from the cold and his constant nervous lip chewing, and tried to keep his heart from breaking as he listened to Magnolia’s pained cries. She whimpered and grunted, and Mignon could hear the sounds of her stomach gurgling. Finally, he could take no more and turned around.

The filly foal looked at him, her eyes opening slowly when she heard the sound of him turning, and her wide eyes were pleading. “It hurts,” Magnolia whined.

“I know… I don’t know what to do,” Mignon replied, his voice becoming reedy with worry and fear. He saw that the foal was sweating profusely, her mane clinging to her face, her curls damp with perspiration. She was shivering and her small body convulsed.

“When you are done, I am going to clean you up in the shower,” Mignon said in a soft voice. “Afterwards, I am going to take you to the doctor. This scares me.”

“I’m scared too.”

Lunch had been forgotten at home, and the fondue had probably hardened in the pot without the presence of Mignon’s magic. He sat in a small examination room in an uncomfortable plastic chair watching Magnolia, who was laying on her side on a small foal sized bed. Her coat, which was just a little too large for her, lay nearby, and Mignon worried that he was going to be sick at any moment. He was nauseous with fear and worry. His symptoms had started when he had told the nurse everything, starting with finding Magnolia in a box the night before.

“Mister Croix?”

“Yes?” Mignon replied, looking up at the doctor who had just entered the room.

“Quite an interesting story you have here,” the doctor said in a warm genuine voice.

“Thanks, I suppose,” Mignon responded.

The doctor looked the foal over, just as the nurse had done, listened to her breathing with a stethoscope, checked her ears, looked into her eyes, and finally, much to Magnolia’s dismay, stuck a thermometer into a very delicate place, ignoring Magnolia’s whimpering protests. The unicorn doctor hummed for a few moments, pulled out the thermometer, peered at it, raised an eyebrow, and scowled.

“Low grade fever. Nothing too bad. Nothing to be too concerned over. A bit of medicine will fix that. She has a minor respiratory infection and a bit of an infection from the rat bites. Make no mistake, those are rat bites. I see them almost every day now.”

“Ugh,” Mignon grunted.

“Magnolia, is Mister Croix good to you?” the doctor asked.

“He’s been very kind to me. He bought me a stuffy and a nice coat. He hasn’t done anything bad to me,” Magnolia answered, looking up at the doctor with wide eyes. “You on the other hoof, you stuffed an ice cold thermometer up my backside.”

“Yes, I suppose I did,” the doctor replied. “Sorry about that. Regrettably neccessary.”

“Is she going to be okay?” Mignon questioned, his voice a soft whimper.

“She’ll be fine. She needs rest, a warm place to sleep, fluids, and a little affection from a trustworthy pony,” the doctor replied. “Look, Mister Croix, you are not her guardian. I understand she is an orphan, and if she goes back to that place in her weakened condition, she will probably die, either from infection or rats. So here is what is going to happen…”

“I don’t like where this is going,” Mignon muttered, shaking his head.

“You are going to take Magnolia and you are going to flee this place. When the authorities come, I am going to tell them that you took her, you left, and I couldn’t stop you. You are going to take with you a whole lot of pills that she needs, and you are going to make sure she takes those pills so she can get better. If I keep her here, they will take her back to the orphanage. I have to tell the authorities, or I will lose my job. So run. Lay low for a while. This is still a somewhat lawless time for Equestria, so hopefully, this will all blow over, and if you are lucky, you can work to gain custody of her. I am leaving notes in my case file that you are a doting, loving, and trustworthy parental figure,” the doctor explained.

“I don’t want to go back,” Magnolia whimpered.

“I know… I don’t know what to do,” the doctor said to Magnolia. “I’ve tried doing something about this already, I’m powerless… which is why I am trusting Mister Croix to do the right thing.” The doctor turned her head. “Please, do whatever you can, but don’t let them take her.”

“I don’t know what I can do,” Mignon replied, fear creeping through his guts as he thought about whatever it was that was behind the door, the door that was now a bright crimson in his memory. He shivered from the thought. He watched as the doctor began to load up one of his saddlebags with medicine and supplies, including a large bottle of cough syrup.

“Mister Croix, over the past six months, I lost a lot of faith in my fellow equines… please make sure my act of faith in you is well deserved,” the doctor said as she closed Mignon’s saddlebag and snapped it shut. She looked at the unicorn stallion with her lips pressed together in a flat line of worry. Blinking her eyes, she leaned forward and kissed Mignon on the cheek. “For luck,” she explained as she watched Mignon blink in surprise.

Rising up out of his chair, Mignon strapped on his saddlebags, dressed Magnolia in her coat, lifted her to his back, and then donned his cloak. He looked at the doctor, his face one of surprise and concern.

“Thank you,” Mignon said in a low husky whisper.

“No, thank you,” the doctor replied as she stepped aside to allow Mignon to exit out of the door behind her.

“Whatever the nurse gave me to drink made me feel lots better.”

Upon hearing those muffled words from beneath his cloak, relief flooded through Mignon Croix. He made his way through the streets, Magnolia Warbler upon his back, feeling utterly impervious to the cold. He blazed with inner emotion and the weight of the small filly resting upon his withers was reassuring.

“Are you my daddy now?”

Whatever burned inside of Mignon Croix now blazed with supernovaed intensity. The clopping of his hooves on the cobblestones pealed off of the walls and doorways all around him and a confused sad smile spread over his lips.

“I don’t know,” Mignon replied in a confused honest response.

“Would you like to be?” Magnolia inquired. “If you did, more mares would kiss you, just like the doctor did, because good daddies get kisses. It’s a rule I think,” the filly added.

In the distance up ahead, Mignon heard the sounds of a violin being played, an incredibly beautiful and sad sound. He continued up the hill, heading back towards his apartment, chuffing slightly from his hurried pace, his nostrils puffing clouds of steam that lingered in the frosty air.

“Magnolia, I don’t know that I am the best pony to be a daddy, but I’d sure like to try to be. I’m not the most patient pony and I don’t know what I’m doing,” Mignon responded, his words honest and forthright.

“You’ve done all of the right things so far. You even helped to clean up my messy tail in the shower and it was full of… you know, yucky stuff,” Magnolia said in a low voice.

“You were sick, it needed to be cleaned,” Mignon stated, his cheeks warming.

“But we’re still sorta strangers and that is awfully personal and I think we both cried just a little bit,” Magnolia said from beneath Mignon’s cloak.

“I didn’t cry,” Mignon retorted.

“It’s okay, I didn’t see anything, I had my eyes closed,” Magnolia replied in a tired voice. “But I know I was crying. That was awkward.”

Ahead of them was a griffoness and she was sitting on her haunches while playing a violin. Her eyes were closed and her body swayed with her music, her crest rising and falling as she drew the bow over the strings, she was lost, drifting within her music.

“Something about the music makes me feel good,” Magnolia mentioned, her voice sounding stronger as it emerged from her hiding place.

“Me too,” Mignon added.

The unicorn stallion, using telekinesis, fished a few bits out of his bag and dropped them into the hat at her side, his coins clinking in the empty space of the hat. His horn tingled in the presence of strange magic, and he came to the slow confusing conclusion that the griffoness’ music was magic.

“I don’t feel so achy,”Magnolia reported.

“It is my magic,” the griffoness admitted. “I am a skald… I mourn the passing of my kith and kin, and the death of my homeland.”

“I’m sorry,” Mignon said, offering an apology because it somehow felt like the right thing to do. He watched as the griffoness kept playing her sad song, the bow trailing over the strings and producing the most heart rending of sounds.

“I am not sorry… all things must die,” the griffoness replied. “It is the balance of things, from death comes new life. When this winter ends, new life will begin in the spring.”

“How are you making magic?” Mignon inquired, feeling spellbound by the sound he heard. His spirits lifted and even the horror of what lurked behind the door felt distant in his mind.

“Because, music is a magic all of its own, you unicorns aren’t the only ones who can control the ebb and flow of harmony magic,” the griffoness answered. “My name is Abernethy the Skald, and is a pleasure to meet you, Mignon Croix and Magnolia Warbler.”

“Wait, how did you-”

“Maaaaaagic,” Abernethy teased, her bow lingering upon the strings.

“You are the most amazing creature I have ever seen,” Mignon breathed.

“Magnolia, my little bird, what would you like for Hearth’s Warming Eve?” Abernethy questioned as her bow teased the strings into producing a creeping crescendo.

“I don’t know… I just got a stuffy, a coat, and Mignon,” Magnolia replied from beneath Mignon’s cloak.

“Surely there is something your heart desires,” Abernethy said, her crest falling, the wind rippling through her plumage.

“My sister,” Magnolia said in a pained whimpering voice. “She didn’t mean to kill mama, I don’t see why they took her away from me… I would have took care of her somehow.”

The terrible lump that was Mignon’s nemesis returned, restricting his airway and nearly causing him to painfully choke. He swallowed, trying to make it go away, but the sad music of the griffoness’ violin made it difficult. His mind posed to him a question, a fundamental inquiry that hinted at the nature of the universe.

Why must orphans be so terribly sad?

“I am very sorry to hear that,” Abernethy stated.

“Mama was sick, when Olive was born, mama got sicker and she went to sleep afterwards and didn’t wake up,” Magnolia said.

From the sound of her voice and the feeling of her hitching barrel upon his withers, Mignon knew the filly on his back was crying. He could feel her shuddering sobs and he felt an odd pain in his heart, something he had never experienced before.

“That is love you are feeling, Mignon Croix,” Abernethy said as she continued to play. “And it is making my music meaningful and beautiful. You hold on to that feeling, it will make you a better pony. Goodbye, Mignon Croix and Magnolia Warbler. I do not know if we will meet again, but I do so hope that we will. Remember that you love. It will give you strength to face the darkness.”

“I suppose I should be going home and getting Magnolia out of the cold,” Mignon agreed. He waved at the griffon skald, offered a nod of respect, and then he continued homewards, the haunting sound of the mournful violin lingering in his ears.

The fondue seemed salvageable. Mignon applied heat and waited for it to soften, watching Magnolia out in the living room. She was on the couch, hugging her stuffy, and already she seemed much better. Still weak, still mostly unable to do much of anything on her own, but she was sitting up with the stuffy’s help and she had her forelegs tightly around it.

“Would you like some orange juice?” Mignon asked.

“Yes please,” Magnolia replied, her voice an odd mix of cheerful and sad.

“Hold on, the fondue still needs time to melt. I shall fetch you a glass,” Mignon offered, willing a bit more heat into the caquelon as he opened up the fridge.

There was a knock upon the door and Mignon felt blood run cold.

He closed the fridge, moved out of the kitchen, through the living room, and stood before the door, his breathing becoming heavy and laboured. He blinked a few times, and he felt as though his guts were a writhing mass of serpents.

“Mister Croix, I can hear you in there, open up, this is the police.”

“She can’t go back,” Mignon said through the door. “She’s sick, going back will kill her,” he argued, trying to appeal to reason.

“Look, I’m just here to collect her. If you surrender her willingly, no charges will be filed and everything will be just fine.”

His horn flaring, Mignon opened the door. “I can’t let you take her… not after what I saw behind the door… I… I… I can’t remember what it was, but I can’t let you take her,” Mignon stated, his voice trembling with emotion and his ears flickering with nervous tension.

He saw the officer, a pegasus, staring at him. “Look, don’t do anything foolish,” the pegasus warned. “Just give her up so she can be in a nice warm safe bed back in the orphanage tonight. Do what is best for her,” the officer pleaded. “Ponies like you always mean well, but the orphanage is the best place for her.”

“Do what is best for her,” Mignon repeated. “Do what is best for her…” he said again, his mind lingering on what could not be remembered behind the crimson red door. “I will do what is best for her!” Mignon roared, his horn flaring with brilliant intensity as Magnolia screamed feebly on the couch just a few feet away from him.

The pegasus was slammed into the wall with impressive concussive force, cracking the plaster from the force of his impact. He slid to the floor unmoving.

“Magnolia, we gotta go,” Mignon said in a panicked voice. “I have to do what is best for you… I can’t let them take you.”

“Okay,” Magnolia squeaked in a fearful foalish voice. “I don’t want to go back!”

Moving swiftly, Mignon dressed Magnolia in her coat, placed her stuffy into a saddlebag, donned his saddlebags, placed Magnolia on his back, and then pulled his cloak on. Her medicine was still in his bags. He levitated his collection of bits out from the hiding place in the bedroom. He grabbed the thick woollen blanket from off of his bed, folded it quickly, and stuffed it into the saddlebag with the stuffy.

He fled, locking the door behind him.

Stepping out of the door that led to the rear steps that led to the street, he saw an earth pony officer climbing the steps towards him.

“Stop!” the earth pony shouted.

There would be no stopping… Mignon had committed himself to his course of action. He had to do what was best for Magnolia. With as much telekinetic force as he could muster, he slammed the officer on the stairs, bowling him over and making him tumble down the stairs. When he reached the bottom, the earth pony flailed feebly, crying out in pain.

“I’m sorry… but you didn’t see what was behind the door… I did! I can’t remember what I saw, I can’t remember! She can’t go back!” Mignon shouted as he took the stairs down. “I really am sorry,” he apologised, leaping over the rail near the bottom and landing on the street, Magnolia safely secured in his magic.

With nothing else to do, Mignon Croix galloped off, forever crossing the boundary that exists between law abiding citizens and criminals.

“I don’t remember what was beyond the door!” Mignon wailed as he ran away.

Author's Note:

And now, The Chase begins.

Well, a chase, not the chase.

 
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