Colored by Trystl; original b/w art by Aheorian https://aheorian.deviantart.com/ For the briefest moment I felt joy. My-other-half and I were standing by the hitching post outside the Lone Post Tavern when I saw her. It was the first time I’d seen anyone from the old tribe in ages—and Myra was the last one I expected to come looking for us. She was brave and fierce, but even hidden in their style of clothes, she was still too young to be safe walking so brazenly in the trader’s realm. Since the day we were born my-other-half and I have been inseparable; we’ve always shared everything. We shared our learning classes, our work and our play. We slept in the same room and mated with the same man. I thought surely we would get pregnant together, but that was not to be. Still, we shared the duties of raising her, and we trained her to be a fine young woman. Even when the herd master tried to separate us, we just threw ourselves on the ground and cried until we were put back together. No amount of beating could force us to eat or get back on our feet. Not until they put us back together were we again willing to bear our other burdens. For the longest time we nudged each other for comfort as best we could. I was surprised the herd master let us cuddle as long as he did—he was not a sentimental man—but he seemed to sense that there was some advantage to be gained. It was like we came to a silent agreement. We would bear being ponies stoically as long as we’re together. We would learn our new duties and try our best, as long as we were never separated. Being apart was simply too much. Sharing everything is why we were together when we were captured and it was why we were together when I saw Myra, looking at us from across the street. For the briefest moment I felt joy. My-other-half felt it too and turned to look at our daughter without having to be told. She was so beautiful and free. Then she looked at us, not for the first time, but we looked so different that it was only then that she recognized us. The look on her face mirrored the feelings of my-other-half and I. There was a brief flash of joy (even thought the reunion was a distant one). But this was replaced by a look of horror, fear and outrage. A new look of terror filled our eyes as Myra began to cross the road—she was about to expose herself as she tried to rescue us; but together we shook our heads. Myra stopped, and finally there was a look of understanding and recognition. Me and my other half still longed for freedom but too much had happened. It wasn’t just that we feared for Myra’s safety. We were not the same; and we could never go home. Our arms could never be replaced; our faces could never be fix. The brands on our skin would always proclaim who and what we are—and it would make our whole tribe a target. We felt a sense of relief as Myra stepped back into the flow of traffic—safely hidden once again. Things could be worse. My-other-half and I were together and our child was safe—but as we cuddled together, our joy was seasoned by bitter tears for what we would never have again.