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Feb. 29th, 2008 @ 05:05 pm Second Thoughts (a story, revised)
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
I just finished revising this story before sending it to my cousin. I figure I might as well share the slightly revised version. {SMILE}


The smell of orange blossoms! Especially when there is a bit of a breeze on a sunny day... - from pyrongaku

Characters: Philo, Delphine, Otis, and Ilona.
Words: 994
Acknowledgments: I would like to thank my parents for their help. Also betaed by Jennifer.
Warnings: Probably boring to most younger children.


Second Thoughts

by Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

copyright 2008



“Hey! Philo! Looking for someone?” Otis called.

“Yes. Have you heard where Delphine is?” Philo asked the younger centaur.

“One of the ushers warned me she was going to the orange grove to think.”

“Thanks. I’ll go check there.” Philo said, and galloped off towards the little thicket of orange trees Miss Luella called her orange grove.

Otis watched the older centaur trot off with a thoughtful expression on his face.

******


Philo found Delphine leaning forward to sniff some orange blossoms. He wondered why, when every little breeze carried the scent right to him. Still, they did smell sweet, he smiled.

“There you are,” Philo said as he stepped around a tree into her sight.

“Were you looking for me?” Delphine asked, sounding surprised.

“I wanted to talk to you.”

“About what?”

“Are you sure you want to go thru with this?”

“This what?”

“The wedding. Getting married.”

Delphine looked down at her hands as one hoof traced a circle in the dirt. “I can’t back out now.”

“I could,” Philo said, “If I ask Ilona to wait, you won’t have to marry her brother.”

Delphine started, jerking her head up to stare at him. “But you love Ilona! You’ve wanted to marry her for years!”

“I still love her... but if I’m careful, I can finish raising the brideprice her relatives demand in another year... less if Miss Luella gives me a raise.”

Delphine frowned.

“We’ve waited since we were too young to marry,” he pointed out, “Another year won’t seem that long.”

“Another year is plenty of time for her family to marry her off to a hunter like they want to. Once you’ve gotten this close to marrying her, they won’t want to give you another chance.”

Philo took a deep breath. “I’d rather risk that than see my favorite sister enter a loveless marriage.”

“I’m your only sister.”

“You’re still my favorite sister. I like you better than any of our female cousins... I think I’d like you better than another sister if I had one.”

Delphine snorted indelicately, as only a centaur could. “Anyway, how do you know it’s going to be a loveless marriage? I’ve barely met Ilona’s brother; I haven’t figured out what to make of him yet.”

“That’s the problem. I want you to get to know Otis first. If you find you love him like I love Ilona, great. We can do the bride-swap then. If not... then I’d rather wait until I raise Ilona’s brideprice myself.”

“It’s too late to wait. Our wedding is this afternoon,” Delphine said, “Philo... please! Let me go thru with this.”

“What?” he asked, confused.

“I want to go thru with it. I want to try, at least.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ve been talking to Ilona. Her relatives have been increasing the pressure to marry a good hunter like they’ve always wanted.” Delphine raised her hands, “Don’t you dare tell her you heard this, let alone that I told you! But her relatives have never wanted her to marry a ‘mere cart-puller.’ You know that.”

It was Philo’s turn to snort. “I challenge any hunter to put dinner on the table as regularly as this ‘mere cart-puller’ can with my salary from Miss Luella!”

“I know. Ilona knows too. But most of her relatives think hunting is the only job worth a free centaur’s time. They think our family has sold out to the elves by pulling things around for mere money.”

The two siblings snorted in unison at that.

“Besides you’re my favorite brother. I do have two more brothers, so that does mean something!” Delphine bit her lips, “I’d like to see you marry the girl you want... yes, even if I have to get married to someone I don’t really know.”

Philo paused, staring at his sister, stunned. “Th-thank you. I-I-I don’t know what to say. J-just... thank you,” he finally stammered.

“You’re welcome,” Delphine replied softly.

They stood quietly for a while, while a breeze wandered through the orange trees, teasing them with freshly strong whiffs of orange blossoms.

“I do want you to promise me one thing, though,” Philo finally says.

“That depends on what it is.”

“Tell me if you’re unhappy. I’m still going to raise the brideprice they asked for. It will take longer, with Ilona to support. Still, I’m going to save it, and set it aside. If you’re unhappy, I’ll give them it as soon as I can.”

Delphine stood silently.

“Please?” Philo asked, “For me, if not for yourself.”

“Okay. If I’m unhappy, I’ll tell you after you get that brideprice raised. But don’t hold your breath. Otis is Ilona’s brother, and she’s pretty special, after all. I don’t know that I’ll want out.”

Philo smiled, “We can hope this works out well for both of us then.”

They clasped hands warmly, so absorbed in that moment they didn’t even notice when a stick cracked as a young centaur backed slowly away and left.

******


Later, when the wedding began in Miss Luella’s garden, Philo walked to the fountain with Delphine on his arm. They met Otis and Ilona in front of the priest, both couples being careful to arrive at precisely the same moment. When the priest signaled to them to exchange brides, Otis and Ilona leaned forwards, beckoning.

“Don’t worry. We’ll be fine,” Otis said under his breath when they’d gotten close enough. At Philo’s blank stare, Otis gestured minutely with his head. “See those three elves by the pine tree? They’re my trading partners. I sell furs and skins to them. I can introduce you after the ceremony. I think they’d hire Delphine occasionally if she wants to work for them. We’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

Otis and Ilona smiled tentatively. Slowly Philo and Delphine began to smile back. Then Ilona and Delphine exchanged places. When they turned to face the priest, all four centaurs were smiling broadly. It was a good day to get married.


Anne Elizabeth Baldwin
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