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With long, powerful strides, Dusty sped smoothly across the frozen-over pond, turning gracefully when he came to the bend as if it was as natural as breathing- which wasn’t far from the truth. Year after year, he practiced, ever since he was nothing but a teeny tiny colt. Well, tinier than his usual bulking self. But even with his thick stature, he glided smoothly so along the ice that it would make any skater jealous.  
Although Dusty tried not to let it go to his head, he was pretty confident in his skating abilities. Confident enough that he felt comfortable closing his eyes as he rounded the bend, swirling in a figure eight motion. Unfortunately, he chose a bad time do so, for he didn’t see in time the rock that was protruding out of the frozen ice, right in front of where he was skating.
The good news is, the ice was thick enough that when hefty Dusty was flung headfirst onto the ice, it barely cracked. That didn’t stop it from hurting though, and Dusty cried out in pain as the wind was knocked from him. Sprawled out on the ice, he finally slid to a stop, groaning as he lay there.
“Oh my goodness, are you alright!?” a soft, panic stricken voice cried out.  
Blowing the bangs from his face, Dusty glanced up to see who had witnessed his embarrassing tumble. Straight in front of him, by the edge of the pond stood Pansy, gazing down at him with concern, her hoof against her mouth in horror.
Dusty grinned up at her sheepishly. “Don’t worry, mah pride’s more wounded than Ah am.” He reassured her, scrambling to his hooves- which mind you, is difficult to do on ice.  
Pansy’s worry melted into a sympathetic smile as she said “Well, all that matter is that you’re not injured.  
“Heh,“he chuckled, “it would take more than a tumble on the ole’ rink to bang me up. Once ya been doing this as long as Ah have, ya get used to falling fat on yer haunches once in a while.”  
She shivered, as if what he said brought up an unpleasant memory of hers.“Ugh…just the thought of falling…I can’t stand it.”  
“Yer sayin’…yer scared of fallin?’” he asked hesitantly, cocking his head.
Pansy nodded, rubbing her foreleg awkwardly.
Although he felt equally awkward and had a gut feeling he should pursue the topic further, he couldn’t resist asking curiously,“Well…how did ya learn to ice skate then?”  
“I…uh, didn’t. I mean, mom took me once when I was little and tried to teach me, but I ended up falling and twisting my hoof. I haven’t tried since.”
“How old were ya then?” he said, skating towards the bank where she stood.
She tapped her chin thoughtfully for a moment.“Around 7, I think,” she replied.
He immediately perked up. “Well yer twice that old now! Do ya think you might wanna give it another shot?” he encouraged.
Pansy smiled bashfully, saying,“oh…I…I don’t know.”  
“Ah could teach ya!”, Dusty said,grinning excitedly. “After all, Ah’ve been skaten’ since Ah was knee high to a grasshopper. Ah could show how it’s done and help catch ya before ya fall!” Then he added shly, “That is, if ya want me too.”  
Pansy blinked in confusion.“You mean right now?” she asked. “But…I don’t have any ice skates.”  
“Well it must be yer lucky day then, cuz Ah’ve got cricket’s pair right here!” he said, gesturing to the skates laying in the snow a few feet away. He skated towards them, saying,“she’s still inside with Mama- probably adjusting her third helmet- and asked me to bring them with me.” Grabbing the pair, he skated back over to her and held them out. “They should be about yer size; wanna try ‘em on?” he asked in his typical laid-back manner.
Pansy nervously glanced from the skates, to the ice, to the skates, then up at Dusty, with his soft, kind, green eyes watching her expectantly. Her lips curled in small, but unsteady smile.“Uh…sure,” she said,hesitantly.
“Great! Now don’t ya worry, Ah’ll be by yer side every second of it.” he said comfortingly, as she took the skates from him. Before strapping on the skates, Pansy grabbed a brown paper bag and gently placed it on the snow.
Peering curiously at the package, Dusty asked, “Hey, what’s that ya got there?”  
“Oh, just a package of apple cider,” she answered, plopping down in the snow. “Mommy asked me to pick it up on my way home. I was just on my way back when I took this short cut through the woods and…well…ran into you.”  
“Ah, gotcha,” he said, absent mindedly as he watched her tie the last knot. He was right; Pansy did fit the skates, albeit a little too snugly.
“See,they’re a perfect fit! Seems like fate’s, don’t it?“he said, winking dramatically.  
Pansy giggled so soft and shrilly, it almost sounded like a bird. This made Dusty grin only wider
“So…are ya ready ta skate with me?” he said, offering his hoof to her.
She looked at it, then asked him with a playful smile,“You promise not to let me fall?”
“Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick an apple in mah eye.” he said solemnly, performing the ritualistic gestures.
“Oh…alright then,” she gave in, and grabbed hold of his hoof.  
Slowly, Dusty skated backwards, pulling Pansy with him out onto the ice. The minute her front hoof slipped onto the frozen pond, her smile froze in a grimace. She was tempted to shut her eyes, but they kept staring straight at the ground in front of her, as if they to were frozen.
Dusty sensed her anxiety, and said in calm tone he pulled her further and further on to the ice,” It’s okay Pansy, Ah got ya. Just keep yer leg straight and let me do the movin’. That’s it, yer’re doing great!”  
Within seconds, all three, free hooves were on the ice. Her whole body went stiff with fear, plainly seen in her dilated pupils. Dusty slowed to a halt.  
“The first step to Ice skatin’ is balance. So yer job is just to focus on staying up right- don’t even try to move yer legs! Ah’m gonna come along ya and nudge ya with little boost to keep ya gliding. All ya gotta do is make it to the other side of the pond with falling. Do ya think ya can do it?” he asked, in parently-sounding tone.  
Pansy didn’t look up, but pursed her lips tightly and nodded.  
“Okay now, Ah’m gonna let go of her hoof and come along side ya. That’s it, just, gently setter’ down,” he soothed, as he lowered her hoof to the ice. As he pulled away, Pansy’s whole frame shook, with fear or because of the ice is anyone’s guess. But Dusty didn’t panic. He simply skate around to her left side and pressed his side against hers.  
“Here, ya just lean on me, okay? Remember, just keep yer legs straight and leave the rest to me,” he said, reassuringly.  
Again she nodded, and her frame stiffened once more. Slowly, he inched his away across the ice, while Pansy leaned on him for support. They had scooted a few feet forward, and Pansy had barely slipped. In fact, it was more like guiding a statue along the ice rather than a tramatized, living, breathing filly.
“See, Pansy! Yer doin’ just fine for a first timer,” he said, encouragingly. “Only a few more feet and you’ll be at the finish line!”
A couple of seconds later, a voice in the distance caught Dusty’s ear.  
“Dusty!” it hollered.  
For a split second, the colt stopped and twisted his head behind him. In the distance, only a few yards away, he could make out Cricket’s tiny figure among the trees. She was galloping towards the pond as fast as her skinny legs could go under the weight of all the scarfs, coats, and hats she wore.  
“Wait fer me!” she called out again.  
Before Dusty could reply, another girl voice caught his attention, only this time, it sounded only a few inches away.  
“Uh…D-Dusty!” it whimpered.  
His heart stopped.  
Swiveling around, he felt panic set in as he saw Pansy gliding away from him towards the bank. She was still frozen, but that didn’t keep friction from propelling her faster and faster down the uneven slope of ice. He didn’t know when started skating frantically towards her, all he knows is that one second he was standing frozen in fear, and the next he was skating like his life depended on it as he called out, “Hold on, Pansy, I’m commin’!”  
Unfortunately, in his panic, he forgot about the rock sticking out of the ice and where it was, and well, one thing led to another and-  
“OOF!” Dusty grunted, as for the second time that day, he went flying head long in the direction of the unsuspecting Pansy.
She heard the cry, but by the time she looked behind her, it was too late. With a shrill scream, she flew up in the air as Dusty’s hulking figure slid under her, knocking her off her feet. She fell back and on top of the still careening colt, and the two in a pile of limbs and screams slid straight towards the bank of snow. Neither had time to think or respond, before slamming into the snowy powder.  
Cricket caught sight of the two disappear in the bank just as she reached the edge of the pond and steered her path towards the crash site. She had just reached it, panting heavily, when Dusty’s head arose from the mound along with Pansy’s  
As Dusty shook the snow from his mane, he gasped out frantically, “Pansy? Pansy, are ya alright?”  
What he heard in reply was…laughter? He looked over at her. Pansy, with her glasses dangling from one ear, was giggling hysterically. Confused, but relieved, Dusty chuckled along with her.  
Once Pansy could control her laughter, she said breathlessly,“Well, did I win? I technically made it to the snowbank?”  
“True, but you didn’t stay up right for the entire time, remember?” Dusty said.  
“What I remember is that you’re the one who made me fall, after you promised me you wouldn’t let that happen,” she said matter-of-factly, adjusting her glasses

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Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta
Having scrambled out of the snow and dusted himself off, he suddenly stop and, rubbing shoulder nervously, he said, “Oh right, well, I’m sorry for letting you go..and trip..and bump into you like that.”
Shaking the snow off her own coat, Pansy looked at his sorry puppy eyes and smiled. “It’s okay,” she said sympathetically, “I know it was an accident. No hard feelings. Besides, I’m just glad didn’t sprain my ankle again- oh! Oh dear…” She suddenly paused. All eyes turned to her as she lifted her right hoof and gazed in horror as it slipped off with ease due to the rip right down the middle.
“My skates!” Cricket gasped, and bounded over to skate, scooped it up, and cradled it like a deceased pet.
“I’m so sorry Cricket,” Pansy apologized, pawing at the ground guiltily.
Dusty huffed at his sister’s dramatic display of grief, but he walked over nonetheless and laid a consoling hoof on her shoulder as he said, “Hey, it’s okay sis, we’ll just go inside and patch them up,”  
“Mom’s gonna kill me,” she whispered audibly to herself, her eyes dilated in horror.
“Don’t worry, I’ll go with ya and explain the whole thang,” he said, calming her down.
Turning to Pansy he said, “Guess we’ll have ta continue the skating lesson later.”  
Pansy waved him off. “Thanks, but I think I’m all skated out for another 7 years,” she said.
The two chuckled at this, before Pansy added, “Well, I better go to. See you at school tomorrow.”  
“Alrighty, see ya!” Dusty said, waving goodbye, as both he and Cricket started the trek back to the barn.
They had only gone a few feet when he turned back to see Pansy place the package she had come back for and started her own walk back home. He felt jittery inside, and his cheeks unusually warms. Probably nothing more than the cold winter breeze and the excitement of a few minutes ago, he rationed. Still, he knew this was something he would look back on and remember fondly. The time he taught Pansy how to skate.
Well, tried.