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     Chapter One:


    “Alright, I want you to take this last in and out, then you’ll be done for the day.”

    Hermione smiled, and urged her horse, Classic into a canter. She loved how powerful she felt when she was riding him, and feeling his muscles work beneath her. It was amazing how a simple thing such as a horse could make her feel that powerful and amazing.

    She moved him to the outside of the ring, and took half a lap, listening to the steady one, two, three of his hoof beats as they thumped across the dirt, then she cut the corner towards the jump that was about ten yards ahead of her. Classic’s ears pricked up, and she smiled, leaning forward over his neck and lifting herself out of the saddle a few inches. Then as she got about a stride away, she felt him rock all of his weight into his hind quarters, and use that power to propel himself over the fence. And, once they land, they take two more quick strides, and they were over the last jump.

    She let him canter a lap, then trotted for two before finally letting him walk, and pulling him into the center of the ring so she could dismount.

    “You did a really good job today.” She said to him, pulling her glove off so she could stroke his soft muzzle. He nickered, and bobbed his head. She laughed quietly, then pulled a peppermint out of her pocket and held it under his mouth. He crunched on it happily, and she loosened his girth, and unbuckled the nose band and the throat-lash on his bridle.

    She led him from the ring and too his stall where she promptly pulled off his bridle, and hung it outside the door. Then she took off his saddle, and replaced it on the rack next to his stall.

    “I’m going to miss you when I’m back at school.” She said, smiling at him as she ran her hand under his mane and across his neck, his chestnut coat was like liquid fire under her fingers. “I wish I could take you with me.” She added as she cupped his nose with her opposite hand and felt his hot breath on her fingers. “I’ll be back after dinner.”

    She stepped out of the stall, and put up the nylon stall guard before turning around to get one more look at him before walking out of the barn and down the dirt path to her house which is only a few hundred yards away. It still feels like a long walk after a two hour work out on the back of a horse, especially with how tired her legs were afterwards.

    She had finished packing the day before, so she had time to sit back and relax before dinner, and she did that with a hot shower, and some music before triple checking her trunk to make sure everything was there. Books, cauldron, robes, parchment, quills, ink, Muggle clothes for the weekends, and food for her cat, who was sitting in his cage, ready to leave. He was sleeping, and purring quietly in his slumber. Hermione smiled, and then she looked over at her bed, where her robes for the train ride the next morning were laid out, her head girl badge sparkling on the front lapel.

    She sighed happily, and then she left her room, shutting the door behind her and walking down her little hallway to the spare room where her parents kept all of her awards that she had won with Classic. She would often go there, just to look and reminisce on the competitions, and what her events were, and how she had placed. And every year, the day before she left school, she would stand in that room, and run her hands across the strings of ribbons on the far wall, and blow the dust off of the plaques on the trophies. She would cup her medals in her hand, and stare at the intricate patterns on each, and run her thumb over them, and then she would shut the light off, and leave the room. Absorbing everything that helped her through her studies, and the rewards that she had earned for being good at something other than her studies.

    After pulling her paddock boots back onto her feet for the third time that day, she walked back out to the barn. She loved the barn at night, there was just something magical about it when there isn’t anyone else except the horses there, and she instantly felt like she stepped into a fantasy when she stepped through the doors. She smelled the sweet scent of hay, mixed with grain, shavings and the smell of the saddle oil that had spilled in the main aisle of the barn earlier in the day. Then there was the occasional stomp, and soft snorts and knickers, along with the sounds of hay being pulled through the metal bars of a hayrack, it was a sound so sweet in her ears, she couldn’t help but smile. But the best part of the fantasy she was in, was the unmistakable, unique smell of a horse, and as she took in the scent she loved so much, she unbolted Classic’s stall door.

    “Hey there beautiful boy.” She said softly as she slid the door open. He nickered softly to her, and she walked into his stall, pulling a peppermint out of her pocket. She let him munch on it while she buried her face into his neck and sighed. She felt the soft velvet of his lips, and the firm, fluted curves of his nostrils as she took in his succulent scent. And it slowly began to sink in that she wasn’t going to be able to do this until the Christmas holiday.

    Tomorrow, she was going to be thrust back into the wizarding world, thrown into classes, and exams... practicing spells, and upholding her image of the “brightest witch of her age”. Forced back into dealing with Malfoy, and tagging along with Harry and Ron in the numerous adventures that were sure to come her way, all while pretending that Voldemort really wasn’t back, and going on with her day to day life as if nothing was happening in the outside world. She loved every minute of it, but sometimes, she would give anything to be right where she was right now. In the barn, with her horse, breathing in his scent, and thinking about taking him for one last ride.

    Without thinking twice about it, she pulled Classic’s bridle off of the hook outside his stall, and slipped the bit into his mouth carefully. She buckled it, and then with an almighty leap, she slid up and onto his back. With a gentle squeeze, she urged him into a walk, and ducked as he left his stall. She pulled his reign to the right gently, and she kept her head low as they walked out of the barn.

    “It’s going to be a short ride.” She said softly to him. He lowered his head. “I know, but I have to wake up early to catch the train. So I can’t stay out too late, you understand.”

    He tossed his head once, and she smiled and reached up his neck to his ear.

    “I knew you would.” She said, rubbing his neck, loving the way his strong muscles felt under her hand. “Come on, let’s go.”

    And with that, she and Classic set off down the path into the woods, guided by nothing but the starlight and moon.

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