One evening, only a week before the Hundred Year Star would bestow its power on Ember and Spark, Starpebble was taking a refreshing dip in the oasis when she heard nasty laughter from the other side. She looked over and saw three large colts cornering Spark against a palm tree. She frowned and dove under the water, swimming toward the edge.
She slid out of the water, droplets dripping off her hide, and planted herself silently behind the colts. “Ahem.”
They turned, startled, then one burst out laughing. He turned, jeering at Spark.
“So you need a filly to come and save you, is that right? Well, maybe you’ll have to be the one doing the saving.” He turned, advancing toward Starpebble, who backed up three steps. Spark darted forward and rammed him from behind, then positioned himself in front of Starpebble.
“You leave her alone!”
They laughed and began to circle them. Starpebble nudged Spark. “Into the water!” she whispered, and turned to slide into the water, Spark right behind her. They slid under the surface and instantly all was bathed in a bluish light. Paddling quickly, they swam toward the middle and popped their heads above the water. Spark grinned at Starpebble.
“Thanks for the distraction.”
He took a sip of water, then looked straight at Starpebble. “You know, I’ve always been so different, and I’m about to get even more different. Nothing is the same with me as with other pegasi. I wish I was normal.”
Starpebble tilted her head thoughtfully. “You are special, Spark, and nothing can change that. I think that if you were normal, you would want to be different. You weren’t born to be normal, Spark. You were born to be the Healer. Okay?”
Spark sighed, spreading his wings out on the water. “I guess so.” He didn’t sound very convinced. So Starpebble took his head in her wings. “Listen to me, Spark. I like you different. Don’t change. Just be you.”
He looked deep into her eyes, and she looked into his, seeing there confusion and anxiety and something she couldn’t quite make out. Finally he took a deep breath. “I won’t change, Starpebble. At least, not for the worst.”
“I hope not.”
They floated there for a long time, until the sky was dark and their wings waterlogged, but when they stepped out of the water both their minds were at ease, waiting for what the future would bring.