It would have been a lie if Morningleaf claimed she had been ready for this question.
She stared at Star in shock, hardly registering the fact that he was kneeling at her hooves.
She thought back to all the years they had spent together, all the ways they had grown with each other.
Tears of happiness trickled down her muzzle. Without any more hesitation, she threw her aqua wings around Star.
"Of course I will!" She hugged him close, and the stallion cried tears of joy.
Star nodded once she let him go. "We need to get back," he said.
"But what about Brackentail?" Morningleaf blurted, then slapped her mouth with her wing.
Star eyed her. "What's wrong, Morningleaf?" He demanded, anger from the past year overtaking his gentleness.
Morningleaf lifted her head. "Brackentail told me he is going to claim me as a mate to River Herd tomorrow," she sighed.
Star nodded, his face grave but his eyes full of hope. "Then lets beat him to it."
Morningleaf cocked her head, quizzical. "How?" "If we tell the herd we're mates before Brackentail does, it would make us official," Star explained.
Morningleaf locked eyes with him, new hope rising up in her. "Let's hope so."
⚜️ ⚜️ ⚜️
The two set off from the woods, taking the opposite way around and out so that they didn't run into Brackentail, and flew onto the huge ledge in the territory, where the council made the new announcements. Star trumpeted for a meeting.
It wasn't long before the herd trickled in, clamouring the atmosphere with their voices and sounds... including one Brackentail, dread running as heavy as lead through his veins.
"Attention all," Morningleaf neighed, gathering the herd's attention.
She stepped back and Star revealed himself, flaring his wings.
"The council has reached a decision," he brayed, his voice carrying across the land. "I will be your Over-Stallion, but we shall still have a council to decide the future plans." He let his words settle on the pegasi. They were silent.
"What about a Lead Mare?" A pegasus asked. This triggered whispers throughout River Herd. Morningleaf whinnied.
They all silenced.
"We've thought about this, and I know who is worthy to take such an honour; who will willingly become my mate," Star said. He sucked in a breath, and looked at Morningleaf, who nodded her encouragement, a smile spread across her muzzle.
"Morningleaf is my mate, and your Lead Mare!"
All at once, every single pegasus cheered, creating one huge, ear splitting symphony.
All except Brackentail was happy. His plan was ruined! But he knew how to make his points even with Star.
In the cover of all the joy and happiness, Brackentail slipped away to get his revenge.
To crush Star's heart, and everyone's hope.
To summon River Herd's ultimate doom.