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Bravery

Author's note: I've always liked stories in a type of setting like this one, so I wanted to write one...  Show full author's note »
Author's note:

I've always liked stories in a type of setting like this one, so I wanted to write one myself. I also wanted to include a gay protagonist, since I feel like there aren't enough of those in literature. 

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Bravery

The small paws worked nimbly, weaving the needle through the fabric like a serpent might move in and out of water. Sewing was something they had become accustomed to at a young age, and like most skills it had become more gracefull with time. The owner of these paws, a small brown furred weasel, had her mind elsewhere however, as she did most days while working. Her train of thought about serpents had lead to thinking about pirates, and she was thinking about being captured by pirates and perhaps rescued by a certain brave weasel, when a tap on the shoulder snapped her back to reality.
“Almond, dear, are you listening to me?” Almond’s mother, a lighter furred weasel, had put down her sewing to get her attention.
Almond blinked, “Huh? Oh. I, uh...”
“I’ll take that as a no then. I asked if you could bring that cloak to Mrs. Primrose when it’s finished. She’s broken her ankle and said it would be difficult to come get it herself.”
Almond nodded, “That’s too bad, I hope she heals soon. I’m almost done, then I’ll go.”
Her mother smiled kindly, and then went back to her own sewing.
Once Almond had tied off the last stitch she stood up and shook the wrinkles out of the cloak, then folded it and put it into her satchel.
She turned to my mother, “Well, I’m off! See you soon.”
“Stay safe!”
Almond stepped out through the door of her burrow, the day was clear and rather warm for mid autumn. She closed the door softly behind her. From the door she surveyed their town, it was a humble village filled with small houses, mostly dug into the side of the hill to the East of the town, or carved into the trees that bordered the rest of it, though some had been built in other ways. In the center was a small spring, from which a stream emerged, flowing out of town and into the forest to the west. The rest of central town was primarily a marketplace, not yet bustling this early but with a several townsfolk beginning to set up shop, her brother and sister among them.
Almond took a deep breath of the fresh autumn air, laced with the scent of dead leaves and faint apple cider. She decided she would take the long way to Mrs. Primrose. She walked towards the center of town, through the stands or various products. A mouse was selling berries, a squirrel selling jewelry, a hedgehog offered cotton candy as she walked by. Almond was headed towards the spring in the center of town. As she neared it she saw who she was looking for. A young weasel with reddish fur sat by the spring, reading. As she did most mornings. It was Poppy. Almond felt it was wrong to watch her like this, but they didn’t talk often anymore and she didn’t want to disturb her. She just passed by her slowly. If she hadn’t had fur one might have observed that a light blush came across her face.
Almond sighed and continued on her way to Mrs. Primroses house. When she arrived she adjusted the bag on her shoulder and knocked on the wooden door.
“Come in!” A small voice came from within.
Almond opened the door. Sitting in her bed in the single room house was Mrs. Primrose, a kind elderly mouse. Her lower leg bandaged and propped up on pillows before her.
“Hello, dear. Thank you so much for bringing the cloak over here for me.”
“Of course!” Almond replied, “I’m so sorry about your ankle.”
“Oh it’s nothing!” Responded Mrs. Primrose, “I’ve had many a worse injury in my younger days!”
Almond smiled, “Where should I put your cloak?” She asked, pulling the soft dusty rose colored fabric out of her bag.
“Oh, just go ahead and hang it on the hook, I won't need it till i can walk again!”
Almond nodded and did as she was told, “Well, I guess I best be off the-”
Suddenly the sound from outside was not simply birdsong and far off chatter. It sounded like something bad t happened. It was hard to say what. But the chatter had ceased and some screams had broken out in replacement. Almond looked back at Mrs. Primrose with shock in her eyes.
“You better go see what happened.”
When she opened the door she was surveying a different scene. Several stands in the marketplace had been toppled, and many of the townsfolk scurried around looking panicked. Almond’s dark brown eyes widened. She found herself automatically looking towards her family’s booth, her mother had joined them and was helping to gather their belongings. Relief washed over her to see they were safe and she wanted to rush towards them.
Mrs. Primrose spoke first however, “What is it, what happened?”
“I don’t know. I- I have to go make sure everyone is okay.”
“Go. I’m sure my grandson will tell me everything when he returns from the market.”
Almond ran out of the door and down the hill towards her family.
“What happened?”
Her mother held out her hand to Almond, and she took it, “There was a snake. A big black snake. He came right through the market.”
“A snake? Is anyone hurt? Is anyone...” She didn’t want to finish that sentence.
“One person... A weasel... was taken. I don’t know where the snake took her or why but she was taken into the forest.”  She pointed towards the West of the town, where the forest encroached most into the clearing.
“Wait,” Almond looked around hurriedly, taking a mental roll call of the townsfolk, “Do you know who it was? Did you see?”
“It was a girl from your school, I think. You two used to study together. Her name is Poppy I think...”
“Poppy?! She was taken? I have to go after her!”
“What, why? It’s far too dangerous!”
“I- I need to tell her something!”
“Tell her something?!”
Before anyone could stop her, Almond was off. She ran to the booth which was selling props for costumes mainly, but though the swords were ‘replicas’ they really essentially were reas swords.
“I’m sorry! I promise I’ll return it!” She yelled, grabbing one that had scattered on the ground and then running towards the woods,  to the West hardly even thinking of what she was doing, more thinking of books she had read where heroic deeds were done.
And before logic could take hold, she was gone. The even ground beneath her became rougher by the second, fallen leaves blanketing the ground, tree roots weaving their way among the roots. She slowed. She had to find the snake. Or find Poppy. She sniffed. Behind her of course, was the scent of the town. Various small animals, hard to make out any specific one. Before her were the less familiar scents of the forest, but among them was a faint trace of what she was pretty sure must be Poppy, along with something reptilian. She picked up the pace and hoped to god the snake had for some reason spared her up to now.
After what seemed like far too long of a time running through the woods Almond skidded to a halt. The scent was fresh here, too fresh for them to have gone far. She skimmed the area. There! A long black snake heading for a hole between two tree roots. And wrapped in her tail was Poppy, struggling, but to no avail. With any progress she made the snake just gripped tighter, and it looked like she was running out of persistence.
Almond adjusted her grip on the sword and took a deep breath. She had never seen herself as someone gallant or strong, not a knight in shining armor. But she would be for Poppy. Ever since their first years together in class Almond had admired her. Her strong conviction and the way she laughed with people and never let anyone laugh at her. They were never close though, friends perhaps from time to time but not a lasting bond. Not yet. As they grew older Almond knew that she wanted to be closer with Poppy, that it was not simply admiration but something more. Something that someday, may break into love. And she was not about to lose that possibility forever.
In a flash of blinding courage Almond burst from the underbrush, sword in hand.
“Drop her!” she yelled, directing the command at the snake and swinging the sword at its side.
This did not work as well as she thought it might however, and the snake only hissed in response. Rearing it’s head and looking more annoyed than afraid.
Undeterred she continued on, and as the snake lunged forward for a strike Almond just barely dodged, and as she slid under its head she thrust her sword upward. It pierced the soft underside of its lower jaw. Though it did not kill the snake, it did make it drop Poppy, who collapsed to the ground. But if it wasn’t mad before, it was now. Almond, surprised at her own success, had paused. The snake stuck again, this time succeeding.
She was in the belly of the beast, so to speak. But more literally in it’s throat. She was lucky that its fangs had not pierced her, but still panic seared through her. She still had the sword clenched in her paw though, and with a final burst of energy she sliced the flesh above her. The serpent collapsed and Almond tore her way into the open forest once again. Panting and bloody. Shock still coursing through her. Across the forest floor from her was Poppy. Mouth agape.
“Almond? Is that you?”
Almond nodded, stepped away from the corpse, and then promptly blacked out.
She awoke a few moments later with Poppy sitting over her.
“Are you okay? That was one impressive rescue mission!”
Almond sat up with some difficulty, “I- I’m pretty surprised myself.” she half laughed.
“I can’t believe you would do that for me! I thought I was a goner for sure.”
“I couldn’t let you die, I still had something to ask you.”
“Something to ask me? Must be a pretty important question.”
“Poppy?”
“Yes, Almond?”
“Would you.... Come on a picnic with me? As- As a date?” This was almost scarier than facing the snake.
Poppy smiled, “I was hoping you would ask me someday.”
As they walked back to town, a mixture of emotions and exhaustion filling both of them, their paws reached for each other, and when they met, both felt braver.

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