"(souls are not meant to live more than once — death was not meant to be temporary, and she is so sure that every time her heart starts to beat again that irreversible damage is further inflicted)" -- Anonya, written by Colby
09-29-2019, 09:01 PM (This post was last modified: 09-29-2019, 09:09 PM by lilliana.)
Once upon a time.
Isn't that how the story always starts? If her life had been like those stories, hers would have started in an ivory tower. She would have been a maiden, a princess, locked away for safe-keeping because the world was no place for such a dreamer. But Lilli's story had started in a land far away from here, born to a mother who hardened as a result of war and loss, to a brood of siblings who embodied the best (and worst) parts of their parents, to a family that had loved her and did their best to keep her safe. Because she was too gentle, they said, she was to free with her smiles and too soft in her admiration for the world around her.
A girl like that is bound to get ruined, to get broken.
But Lilliana hadn't broken. When her father returned and left them again, when Cernunnos had taken Orani's innocence and had left her sobbing against her crimson neck, when Broch had stepped onto a battlefield but never off of it, when her family disbanded and left for other horizons, Lilli still hadn't broken. It has left scars on that open heart of hers, there is a certain sadness that can settle on her at the scent of heather, at a glimpse of a family. Things she had once had (and still does, she tells herself) but those who had wanted to keep her safe, who had placed her at the center of her family where they thought darkness could never stain her, are gone.
It is only herself as she stumbles towards whatever lay waiting for her, maybe a path? Maybe a future?
She doesn't think that far ahead; she never does anymore. There is only now and it is beautiful. The late spring sun is radiant and vibrant in the season of new life. The River next to her laughs - it giggles at the sky, the birdsong, the loveliness of the day and Lilli can only smile in return. Her blue eyes glance heavenward as they follow the path of a bluebird who darts about with ease, with the grace of all skyward things. Not for the first time, she thinks its a shame to be stuck on the ground. Her imagination soars with the bird and Lilli loses herself between the sky and the water. Her hooves stay firmly planted on the ground but her heart takes flight and her daydreams take her through the mist of the clouds, to the endless, vivid blue of the sky above.
If only, if only...
i left home on account of snow (buried all the things i know)
She loves springtime the most of all seasons, if she has to pick, especially because of all the new life coming into the world. Baby animals being born, watching little birds learn to fly. All of the wonderful colors with the blooming flowers and the lush green of the grass and leaves growing on the trees. Everything is bright and refreshing from the long stretch of dry and cold winter months. And all the sweet and luscious smells! The small, cloudy-grey mare makes her way through the Meadow- always one of her favorite places, for the scenery and likelihood of meeting new faces. The best part of it being later in spring is the grasses are super tall as they thrive from the nutrient-rich soil beneath them. Perfectly tasty, and because she is so small, it's like walking through a jungle.
She smiles under the curtain of her silvery forelock as she remembers how her imagination ran wild here when she was younger, something she has done well to retain into adulthood. Now, she has grown- though not very much, mind- and been gifted with her dream come true, but the top of her head still barely rises over the tops of the grass. Provided she carries it high, which just isn't as fun. Currently, she does not wear her gifted wings, concealing them so that she can play her games as she continues on her southwestern path toward the River. There, she would enjoy a little evening flight as the sun sets and made way for the stars. It was such a grand experience, maybe even better than making new friends.
Her mind wanders freely as she travels, loving the simple mischief of tricking larger horses who couldn't quite see her, but could hear her. She had to enjoy the little things in life, since she was made one of them. Before long, she could make out the bubbling of the water as it flows over rocks and down the banks and knows she is getting closer as the grass became sparse and lower in height. As her disguise of flora lessens, she tosses her head up to shift her hair away from her blue eyes, a soft smile almost permanently fixed on her lips. As her gaze scans the area, it isn't difficult to spot the lovely russet mare standing beside the waterway. As a daydreamer herself, it's easy to recognize the look on her face. The tiny woman makes her way over to her, radiating kindness with the light dancing in her eyes. "Beautiful day, isn't it?" She asks by way of announcing her presence, her voice soft and musical. When their gazes meet, she smiles brightly up at her. "Hi, I'm Smidgen. My friends call me Smidge."
10-05-2019, 08:07 PM (This post was last modified: 10-05-2019, 08:19 PM by lilliana.)
Lilliana likes the River.
There is a personal bias there. She was born near one, the bubbling of a brook not far from where she slipped into the world was one the first sounds she heard, the smell of running water one of the first scents to cross her nostrils. She had been raised next to one and it had gurgled its laughter with her as a filly. It encouraged her to run, inspired her to fly when there had been no other foals her age to play with. It had taken her to secret places, introduced her to her favorite bend where she and Elaina had shared all their adolescent secrets.
But there are other reasons she likes rivers.
Sometimes they go straight. Sometimes they flow from a lake, from water sources far away to the ocean. Sometimes it is a straight path from there to the sea. Sometimes it is not. Rivers can turn left, loop around, go the opposite direction. They can run circles and go right back to where they started before they continue their journey seaward. Lilliana comes to the River time and time again to remind herself that life is rarely straightforward. She comes here to remind herself that life will take her sideways, will loop around, will bring her right back to where she started time and time again.
And that was alright. The river would eventually find its way and so would she.
Her head is more or less in the clouds together, those blue eyes fixed and dreaming as the bluebird flies. She wonders again, as she always does, what the view is like up there. Can horses that fly see things more clearly than those stuck on the ground? Is there a clarity that can be found above the clouds that can't be found standing on the soil? The bird continues its flight, its winged form carrying itself further and further away from Lilliana and leaving her with the knowledge that she would have to turn around soon. Dusk would soon be upon the River and if she wished to reach Taiga before dark, she would have to leave.
One ear flicks towards the sound of the amiable voice and Lilli scans for its owner. It takes but a moment and her blue-eyed gaze comes to rest on Smidgen. "It is," she agrees in a voice as warm as the day around them. "There were times that I thought winter would never end. Days like today are a good reminder that they are worth the wait." A dimple forms in her left cheek, "It's lovely to meet you, Smidgen. I'm Lilliana but please, call me Lilli."
A sheepish smile graces her mouth, "You caught me birdwatching." It's something she has always felt foolish about. "I like to imagine all the places they've been," she offers by way of explanation. There is one fleeting look back to the open sky above and then her eyes meet with Smidgen's, brightening with curiosity. "What about you? What brings you out to the River today?"
i left home on account of snow (buried all the things i know)
It doesn't take long at all for Smidge to decide she likes this lady. Of course, she'd never really met a stranger her whole life, so it isn't much of a surprise. The small mare's gaze rises up out to the sky and the land, following the direction of the chestnut's. She breathes in the spring air, which seems even fresher with the flow of the river and the breeze over it.
When the lady's attention falls to her and she speaks, Smidge smiles up back at her and tosses her small, lightly dished face up in a dramatic fashion. "Oh, you are right about that!! Winter seems to last foreeever sometimes. I hate the cold!" She ends on a giggle and a fake shudder before returning her leaked blue gaze back to the other mare's face. Her own smile is kind and welcoming as she introduces herself. The tiny woman can't help but beam up at her in response. "Thank you! It's super nice to meet you too, Lilli." She adopts the nickname easily, and loved the way it sounds. "Lilliana is such a pretty name. Lilies are one of my favorite flowers. And you're pretty too! So it fits."
She means every word she says, and thinks nothing of it. A lot of others might look at her new friend and think she looks quite drab, but Smidge sees everything the way it is. Where some see plain brown, Smidge sees how there's coppery colors all mixed together. Some red, some gold, all depending on how the light hits her. And her eyes! Beautiful sky blue. And three of her feet have white on them. Smidge doesn't feel shy at all about telling Lilli she is beautiful, because it is no lie.
Her eyes catch on the sheepish grin her friend grows, and tilts her head when she talks about birdwatching like it was some silly childish thing. Heck, maybe it was, but who would look down on her for that?! She shakes her little dial and smiles softly, looking up at the trees. "I love birds. Twittering about, going wherever they want, singing their songs. Nothing wrong with that. Sorry if I interrupted ya!" With that, her expression turns a little bashful for only a moment. It passes when she's asked what brought her here. "Hmm.. No real reason, really." Her lips take on a slightly mischievous grin, then. "To meet you, is one reason.. To watch the sunset... To fly.." Her eyes twinkle subtly from between the silver locks of her hair. She knows her friend can't see them yet, but her wings begin to tickle from where they hide, itching to be shown.
10-10-2019, 07:38 PM (This post was last modified: 10-10-2019, 07:42 PM by lilliana.)
She stares at the sky. She studies the clouds, the way they curve and the way they shape themselves in the wide-open blue above. As a filly, she had created castles and kingdoms in those clouds. But now, now Lilli wonders. It's easy to lose herself in the dying light of day because Lilliana likes to lose herself from time to time. Sometimes her mind drifts to what might have been, sometimes it drifts to her family, sometimes her thoughts are only a single plea: please let them be okay.
Lilli stares at that sky hard enough like it will provide all the answers, like everything she is wanting to know will come raining down upon that pretty head of hers.
It doesn't. It never does. It is never that easy.
The gentle running of the river that bubbles in the background soothes her. It reminds her that despite everything being so different, some things are still the same and so what truly changes? Everything, she wants say.
But nothing can ever stay the same. Change is inevitable and there is beauty in the ruin.
Smidgen seems to share Lilliana's sentiments towards winter and the chestnut smiles warmly at her, basking in Smidge's attention. (Despite the day ending, Smidgen seems to have brought the sunshine with her.) "Winter seems endless," she says. All those empty, gray days that bright nothing but frigid temperatures and biting breezes. Even with summer so close on the horizon, Lilli can still feel the bitterness of it in her memory. There is an involuntary shudder down her own spine and she offers a small smile to Smidge. Winter is gone and today, well today is another day. The bleakness of the gray season is behind them and the small smile grows. "I think you've brought the warmer weather with you, Smidgen."
The roan mare compliments her and Lilli does what she always do at this; she feels the heat rise to her cheeks and she looks at a lovely flower not far from them, admiring the soft pink of the petals. But Smidgen has said something kind and so Lilli raises her blue eyes gently to her, warm in greeting. "Thank you."
She has heard this compliment before. It had been said in a different dialect, a language that she had no way of knowing until he told her. His Lilli of the Glenn, he'd called her and the memory of it makes the smile that much warmer, that much easier because Lilli can't help but feel that this is a sign. A message, perhaps, reminding her that she doesn't always have to be so alone. There is an easiness here with Smidgen, another dreamer, that makes this all so easy to believe. There is no need to catch herself here, to be something she's not so Lilli allows herself to simply be with her new friend. The sheepish smile changes to a giggle as Smidgen shakes her head, as if Lilli isn't some foolish little mare.
Maybe she is. But that's okay. Right now, it's okay to be foolish.
Her blue eyes turn skyward again, contemplating another bird that dances on a branch in a tree above them. "Have you ever wondered about the songs they sing? What they might mean?" The bird goes from one end of the branch to another, hysterical in his movements and demanding in his song. Another long glance finds the culprit, another brightly colored male resting, watching on a branch above a female. Some things aren't so different, Lilli thinks as she looks back to Smidgen. "You are certainly a welcome interruption," the young mare beams back at her.
And then Lilli looks to the sky again, open and beckoning. "What a wonder it must be to fly," she dreams out loud. The chestnut mare peeks sidelong to her new companion, curious about her last words. "And where would you go if you could fly? Can you imagine?" Lilli aks, breathless with the dream. "To have the sky unfold before you."
i left home on account of snow (buried all the things i know)
Laughter rings through her as Lilli shares in her distaste of the cold weather months and a shudder rolls her russet shoulders. And then a bright and genuine smile as her new friend suggests she is the bringer of warmth. "I don't think I have that kind of power, but I like the idea anyway." Her voice is musical and unassuming, her eyes dancing with humor and appreciation.
Smidgen is not shy about feeling so much joy as the other mare's cheeks take on a rosy glow. Lilly's shy smile and soft thank you is one of her favorite parts of paying the compliment. Watching it change someone's whole face and feeling the happiness grow between them. Best feeling ever! Causes this bubbling up of energy inside of her and her heart to pitter-pat. "You're welcome!" She giggles and tucks her chin to her chest as she sort of explodes into a little leap and dance around until she comes to face the girl again.
Leaked blue eyes rise to the boughs of the trees above them, finding the birds that caught Lilli's attention. Fussing over a female, from the looks of it. She snickers. "Yes! But as much as I romanticize it, it seems to be quite basic sometimes." A little shake of her head as the female bird seems to grow tired of the males' antics and takes off. The boys seem not to notice at first, but then suddenly realize she's gone and bicker at each other as they make chase. Sooo silly. "Always thought they have it easy, but guess maybe not."
Her friend mentions flying and seems to dream of what it might be like, and Smidgen almost doesn't want to tell her the secret she keeps in that moment. She was a dreamer like her once, not so long ago. There was nothing the tiny mare had ever wanted more than her own set of special wings. And by some miracle that was the fairies, she'd been granted her wish. And she would certainly not like to make her friend feel unhappy that she got to experience flying while she herself remains rooted to the ground.
Smidge shares in her whimsical fantasy anyways, deciding to remain nonchalant a moment longer, "I always dreamed it was like letting go. Being free, seeing everything from up high where no one can reach you." She waits a few moments, trying to contain her grin as she contemplates what to say. "The clouds don't feel like I thought they would have though." Smidge tries to keep it subtle, like a mistaken set of word choice, and watches for Lilli's reaction out the corner of her eye. She's smart though, she knows, and so once the mare catches on, Smidge lets her grin free. "To answer your other question, I go wherever the wind takes me. Wherever looks good to explore." Her expression quiets some in the next moment, hoping with her whole heart that Lilli doesn't take it wrong.
She glances off toward a set of boulders that could make the perfect step up to a platform, and she goes for it. With one last peek toward Lilli, the tiny mare bounds over to the large rocks and hops on up to the largest one that would take her off the ground the most. Smidge doesn't hesitate at the top and simply leaps off, and like magic, her beautiful blue fairy wings appear at her back and take her weight so she doesn't fall. With each downward thrust, small sparkles of light rain from them and disappear past her hooves. The wings are somewhat iridescent in the waning light of the sun, and she angles herself to pass over her new friend, fluttering to give extra sparks over her head before she leans out to circle and then land on the ground once more. Trotting back to the chestnut mare, she no longer tries to hide them, peering up at her face for her reaction.
10-26-2019, 03:24 PM (This post was last modified: 10-27-2019, 09:01 PM by lilliana.)
"I think you have plenty of powers," Lilliana warmly counters her newfound friend. There is a genuine smile on Smidgen's face and Lilli basks in the simple pleasure of it. "It can't be a coincidence that today has been so lovely and you come across my path." The words are musical with teasing and Lilli's blue eyes spark with the mirth behind her words, an easy smile that spreads without thought.
But all teasing aside, Lilliana does believe that Smidgen possesses her own light. Perhaps not the supernatural kind, not the kind that a horse would have to find in a quest or on the Mountain. But there is no doubt in Lilli's mind that there is a kind and caring spirit in the little Falabella before her. Smidgen dances a circle and Lilli laughs again, brightening to the silver mare's antics. "You're very pretty too, Smidgen," the chestnut adds as she studies the unusual loveliness of her blue eyes. "You have a touch of the Fey about you, I think."
As they both glance upward, the birds dance and flit on their branch, flaring wings and chirping their indignations at each other over a female. The female slips away unnoticed and a chestnut ear flicks to catch Smidgen's giggle as a knowing smile curves against the side of Lilli's face, "So it would seem." The words come out dry but as the two males discover their potential paramour gone, they too fly away. "For something so basic, it seems that it can become quickly complicated." The young mare has heard her fair share of Beqanna's tangles of the heart (or perhaps not so much the heart as it is just the tangling) and Lilli thinks not for the first time that it is better to keep oneself separated from such things. She gives a simple shrug to Smidgen's words because what else is there to say? Birds must have their own set of burdens they carry on their wings.
Who is she to judge who carries the heavier ones?
And then Lilliana lets herself slip into the whimsical, a place that is so easy to slip into in the presence of another dreamer. Her blue eyes roam over the billowing clouds going golden against a setting sun, illuminated by the dying rays of daylight. "I don't know why I dream of flying so much," she adds quietly. "When I was small, I could spend all day looking at the sky and thinking of all the places I could go. I hated the fact that I was stuck on the ground."
And how stuck she had felt. Her hooves had been firmly planted when all her heart had wanted to do was soar, when all she wanted was to find a way to bring the dreams of others closer to Earth. If there had been a way to bring her father home, to find Aesop for Elaina, because where could the lost things go besides the heavens? As a filly, Lilli had always assumed that her answers would be in those clouds, in the stars and it is a habit that she has yet to grow out of.
Lilli dreams until her heart stills and she catches Smidgen's gaze, a grin broadening on her face as realization creates a mirror image on her crimson features. Smigden, like Lilli in being one of Beqanna's more unassuming residents, seems to have her fair share of secrets. Longing washes over her features as she earnestly gazes to her friend, "What do they feel like?" It's something she has always wanted to know, always dreamed about knowing. The silver mare talks about going where the wind takes her, where the invitation calls to explore beckons her and Lilli thinks it sounds like a wondrous existence.
And then Smidgen heads for a set of rocks, climbing to the tallest one and then fearlessly leaps. Lilli can feel the fear rise in her throat, afraid for the smaller mare and the worry that she would injure herself. But with effortless grace, the tiny mare takes to the sky with a pair of blue iridescent wings that earn Lilliana's wholehearted admiration. Her head follows Smidgen as she flies above her and then a bright, lilting sound colors the air around her.
Lilliana laughs from deep within herself and as the little mare comes to stand before her, the chestnut can't help but gaze warmly on her. "You're just full of surprises, aren't you Smidge?"
The tiny mare beams up at Lilli, basking in her compliments. No one had ever told her she was pretty before, and while she never thought badly of herself, it was very nice to hear it out loud. Not that beauty was all that important to her, she thinks, but it's still nice to know. "You think so?" Her eyes dance with joy as she giggles softly. "Thank you, Lilli!" Hardly able to contain herself, she does a little jig in place where she stands. The russet mare states she has a touch of the Fey about her, and Smidgen grins at the knowledge of just how right she is. "Perhaps."
Their conversation changes to flying, and Smidge listens to her friend's attempt to explain why she dreams of it. Not that she needed to, the tiny mare understood quite well. So, she nods along, staring up into the clouds and smiling softly. Lilli talks about how when she was small, and it makes Smidge snicker just a bit. "The thing about being small is that you have very little to do except look up! I had the very same dreams as you." And she decides to hint at her secret ability by talking about the clouds. Her leaked blue eyes lock on the taller mare's face, and her expression brightens with humor as Lilli catches on to what she said.
She laughs, light and whole-hearted. "Honestly, it gets really chilly up there, and the clouds feel like a dense fog. One time I went through one and came out with my hair all wet! Had to come back down before I shivered to death!" She accentuates her recount with wide eyes and dramatic shivering, ending on a giggle. It is then Smidge decided to go on and show her friend how such a thing was possible, demonstrating a short flight and raining sparkles over Lilli's head.
Once she returns to the ground and faces the other mare, she is vastly relieved by the warmth remaining in her blue eyes. "I like them to be a surprise sometimes." She says, smile turning rather sheepish. She doesn't say that she hides them at times because they aren't always viewed with appreciation and Smidge really doesn't like it when others don't like her. It was often easier to hide them until she knew them a little better. With Lilli, she is happy to reveal them. "I hope you aren't offended that I didn't show you sooner? And I'm definitely a little short on any other secrets." She ends on a giggle again, feeling silly for making so many short jokes. All in good fun, though. "So where are you from, Lilli?" She asks, wanting to know more about the pretty scarlet mare.
11-15-2019, 10:45 PM (This post was last modified: 11-15-2019, 11:02 PM by lilliana.)
Where Smidgen beams up, Lilli feels the smile light up her own face.
This is what she loves. These moments when she can see a face look at her with open joy. The Falabella might not need to hear she is lovely, perhaps she already knows such a thing but the smile that etches onto Lilliana's face gives everything away. There are no secrets or shadows there - just the warmth she has grown to love that floods her veins when she sees it. What else is living for if not these moments?
What is the point of a beating heart if you can't use it to create something beautiful that comes within the echo of a heartbeat?
The joy manifests in Smidgen as she jigs and Lilliana remembers another memory, telling another soul how she hadn't believed in love at first sight. There is tenderness that lifts the corners of her eyes and Lilli realizes just how silly that statement had been. Here, in this moment (with perhaps a touch of fairy magic around them), Lilliana thinks it is entirely easy to love Smidgen. When the little mare grins at her, the chestnut mare lowers her head radiating all the warmth she feels to peer at Smidge and gently says, "I know so."
Lilliana listens with a dreamers heart and the ear of a friend. She listens to what it must feel to have sky at your beck and call - the world, really. For a moment, she is tempted to ask what troubled thoughts feel like in the clouds - do they feel as heavy as they do on the ground? It is there and gone in a glimmer of sky blue.
There are some things that you can't, shouldn't, shed light on.
There is enthusiasm that follows, laughter that comes when Smidgen exaggeratedly shivers at the mention at the density of clouds. Like Taiga's fog, she imagines, rolling in off a morning tide. She can almost smell the brine and damp against the scents of evergreen.
Lilliana shakes her head in laughing protest at Smidgen. How could she ever be upset with the little Fey mare? "Not at all," she says with a spreading smile that is shadowed by the dying day. "We all have our secrets," Lilli confides. And with that, she decides to show Smidgen one. It takes a moment of concentration, finding a thread of silver light that she so often feels but tries so often to ignore. Once her mind wraps around it, Lilliana suprises even herself as she shifts her weight back and lifts her head while lifting her front right leg.
It isn't strong - if anything, it is a subtle glow against the coming dark on her white stocking. Her blue eyes look down at it, a mixture of awe and terror before she nervously glances to Smidgen, wondering if she has scared the first dreamer that she has felt herself around. "This started happening after my time on the Mountain," she says breathlessly. "It comes and goes," she admits while not saying that it most often happens when she gets nervous or those troublesome thoughts build on the horizon of her mind like a coming storm.
Lilliana, who was born without powers or gifts, as ordinary as her coat is chestnut, still feels unsure about Tir's gift most days.
"Taiga," she breathes after she releases it, trying to alleviate the tension that had built itself in her chest. She disperses her weight evenly on her four legs and Lilli lowers her sculpted head again, tilting it slightly in the direction of the Redwoods. "Do you know it?"
She loves how easy it is with Lilli; the sharing of kindness and joy and conversation. There's nothing more that Smidgen enjoys than making new friends, even when she has to work at it just a little bit to bring a smile to someone's face. In fact, it was the best part! But with Lilli, it was simple and lovely and beautiful, and Smidge can't help but to be glad she's met her.
When Lilli lowers her scarlet head to Smidge's level, she grins as she bubbles up with silly energy. Her tiny gray nose reaches out to "boop" Lilli's before she pulls back and squeals with a bit of laughter, unable to contain herself. "So, you're pretty and smart! That is a really good combination." She says it and nods matter-of-factly, every bit of her emotions present on her face. She hides nothing of herself well, and hasn't found much need to. Especially with her wonderful new friend!
Lilliana shreds all worry about showing her wings, and with that, their bond is sealed. She even goes on to show Smidge her own little secret gift, and her leaked blue eyes widen and reflect the light Lilli shows her within them. "Wow! The fairies have gifted you as well, then! That is so amazing!" Her fascination grows and she completely misses the mare's nervous look as she intently watches the glowing around her forelegs. "What all can you do with it?" Her small voice is awed as she asks, not even realizing that it might not be polite to ask.
She'd all but forgotten the other question she'd asked her friend, so when Lilli answers and the pretty light fades away, it's almost like the tiny mare is broken from a trance. The mare lowers her head to her once more and it takes so much effort not to laugh at herself for being so absent-minded. The only reason she's successful is because her friend states she's from the Taiga. Smidge's jaw drops and then she grins wide. "Really?! Oh yes, I know the Taiga!" Once more unable to contain herself, she grins and dances in place again, her tiny hooves pattering the ground. "I used to live there too! Oh, gosh it's been so long since I've been there.." She trails off at the end, dropping into the shame-filled thought that it really had been a long time and she realizes how much she misses the huge redwood trees and the majesty of the forest. And her family. Guilt begins to rise in her chest as she realizes how long since she'd seen Ruan and Jinju.. Everyone she knew..
Smidgen struggles not to let it consume her in this moment, focusing instead on Lilli, who lives there now. It shocks her, even, that she hasn't placed the scent of the Taiga on the mare's skin before now. Silly her. Oh, this was exciting! "Do you live there now? Oh, who are the leaders? What are they like?" Shoot, she's asking too many questions, and she has so many more. And Smidge can't help but wonder if it's still like she remembers, and if whomever ran the place now would welcome her back home? Ohhh, it would be so great to return already having a new friend at her side!
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