Author Topic: Finding Hope at Follyfoot  (Read 17142 times)

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« on: March 23, 2012, 09:58:26 PM »
Well, here we go I'm taking the plunge!  ;)

I apologise ahead of time if its not entirely accurate, I'm new at this also this is a slow burner so I'm afraid its a little boring to start off but I believe it gets better (I hope!). I will update as and when I can, I know where its going just not all down on paper yet!  :D

Anyway, to Suzy, Pen., Loopy, (thanks for letting me borrow your caps!), Marie, Rob and Loopylin thank you for all the interest and encouragement, I really hope you enjoy. :)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part One - A Change of Scenery

“You’re a beautiful boy.” Dora cooed as she saddled up Copper.
The young horse whinnied softly, turning his head to nuzzle at her coat.
“Come on then.” Gently stroking his nose, she led him out into the yard before climbing up onto the saddle. “I shall be back before tea.” She told Steve.
“Slugger will be pleased, it’s going to be a different stew tonight.”
Dora raised an eyebrow. “Is it a special occasion or something?”
“I’ve no idea!”
He chuckled.
“See you later.”
“See you…oh and Dora…please don’t bring back any more horses.”

She giggled. “It doesn't happen all the time, Steve.” She sighed. “Alright, I promise.” With that, she bade him goodbye again and set off with Copper at a brisk trot.

Watching her leave, her last statement repeated itself over and over in his head: ‘I promise.’
Steve never doubted her sincerity or good intentions but Dora’s promises, in regards to horses were always the same…piecrust.

“Easily made, easily broken.” He recalled the age-old phrase.

He’d had a similar conversation with Slugger about it all only this morning…
“She’d have horses in the bedroom if she could.” Slugger had said.

“That she would.” He murmured as the smile slowly faded and pensiveness set in; it wasn’t that he disagreed with it, far from it but she was always so rash and impractical…these horses needed care, a lot in some cases, and with only 4 of them, (well 3 ½, Ron didn’t necessarily do his fair share always!), to do so it was becoming a harder task. They already had 13…

Steve sighed, leaning his palm on the tip of the broom handle…it could be lonely and frustrating having to constantly be the ‘sensible realist’ in this place.   

Gazing around the small bedroom in Serena’s flat, that evening, Simeon Cartwright’s Sapphire blue eyes widened with incredulity; a cream and red vanity case nestled neatly on the deep purple carpet next to a smart, cream ‘beach-style bag’ and then his eyes fell upon the hard, glossy, dark red suitcase on the bedspread, open and almost full to the brim.
“Serena, darling, is it really necessary?” He asked as his fiancée folded a Teal coloured, light jumper into a suitcase.
“Which bit? We are spending a month in Yorkshire, I’m prepared for anything.” Serena laughed, smoothing a silky blouse, which had been laid into the suitcase. “You did ask me to come, Sim.” She laughed softly and turned to kiss his cheek then returned to her packing. “Besides, it will be a good opportunity for me to spend sometime with Mum and things.”
“By things I suppose you mean learning how to make something other than omelettes!”
Sim laughed affectionately.
“How dare you!” Serena stood in mock outrage. “You said that you liked my omelettes!” She then cuddled him and kissed the tip of his nose. “I still say you’re as mad as a hatter to drive us all that way.”
“Precisely why I suggested an early start.”
“6:00 in the morning; my point exactly, also would it not be cost less to simply take the train?”

Now it was Simeon’s turn to chuckle. “My darling girl, adventure is priceless.”
Serena raised an eyebrow. “And this sudden sense of adventure, it doesn’t have anything to do with the Dolomite Sprint does it?” Referring to her fiancé’s recently acquired Triumph car in a pleasing shade of icy blue, the spunky little vehicle was his pride and joy already.
He grinned sheepishly. “Perhaps…” She rolled her eyes. “I can’t wait to introduce you to everyone…properly, I mean.”
“Oh, alright; you’re forgiven.”
Serena stroked his hair affectionately. “Now, enough chitchat, if we’re going out for a meal tonight, I need to finish packing. Could you get my white jeans and jumper from the wardrobe, please? They’re on the right-hand side.”
A few minutes went by as Simeon located the required hangers on which the garments lived and handed them to her.
“Thank you.”

As she folded the clothes in Serena smiled to herself; she was looking forward to going back to her roots but it was tinged with a strange sense of sadness…she knew that this would be last time she would get to spend any real time there before the wedding preparations took hold and besides, it would be different…

Little did she know her life would change in ways she could not imagine…

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2012, 06:30:50 PM »
For Loopy, Pen., Suzy, Sue, Marie, Gillian G, Loopylin and Rob; thank you so much for the encouragement and enjoy! :)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Two - Homecoming Secrets

“Do I always feel so warm each time I look in your eyes of blue?” Serena sang along to ‘The Ronettes’ track as it played on the radio. “Oh-oh whoa, oh-oh whoa.”
“Do I love you?”
Simeon chimed in smoothly.
She chuckled as she glanced at his smiling profile before turning her attention to the road ahead bathed in bright morning sunshine.

Serena felt the familiar almost warm excitement unfurling in her stomach; as much as she liked the busyness and constant rhythm, nothing could replace the comforting safety of the little house in the village where she grew up.

Steve chuckled softly as he stroked the long, fine nose of Ebony, one of the horse that Dora was currently schooling; a gentle yet demanding whinny coming from two stalls down made Steve click his tongue and roll his eyes.
“Okay, I’m coming, Alex.”
The grey Apaloosa regarded Steve with the most put out look as he came into the stall.
“Good morning to you too.” He patted Alex, grinning to himself at the animal’s cheekiness.

Dora carefully poured the bucket of water around the base of the ‘Lightning Tree’.
“There. A fresh, cool, morning drink…just what you need.” She rested her palm and cheek against the old bark. “To help you grow strong again.”
“Cor blimey, it’s alright for some innit?”
She glanced over her shoulder at a ‘disgruntled’ Ron pushing a wheelbarrow. “That flippin’ tree gets treated better that what we workers do.”
Dora chuckled. “Oh Ron!”
Ron returned her good-natured smile; she might be dotty in regards to the tree but he didn’t mind helping her with it, anything to see the ‘Mistress of Follyfoot’ happy.

Content that the tree had been cared for, for the morning, Dora walked toward the stables; she could hear Steve talking to Alex as he mucked out; what she did next surprised her…

“I hope the others have had as much of your attention.”
Steve turned his head at the sound of her voice. “Of course, always.”
She pursed her lips a little.
“Look, what’s this about, Dora?”
She shook her head. “What is it that Ron said just now? Oh yes, alright for some.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?”
His hackles were raised by her tone.
“The way you are with Alex, right now, is that not ‘playing favourites’ or does that just mean me?”
“I have never said that or ‘playing favourites’ and don’t try to change the subject because you’re losing the argument.”

Dora scoffed and walked away; he knew that she knew he was probably right but sheer stubbornness she would never admit to it and he knew better than to argue when she was ‘in a mood’.
“Least said, soonest mended, eh, fella?” Steve patted Alex’s neck.

Walking over to the mantelpiece, Serena picked up the compact frame in the middle; she stared at the photo, she smiled softly but almost as quickly, it was chased away by the grim reality that still left her cold…
“I’m sorry, dear.” She turned her head at the sound of her mother’s voice. “I should have put it away.”
Serena shook her head, looking at her mum with a tender smile as she returned it to its place. “It’s in the past now.”

Quickly Serena and Rita settled with their tea.

“It seems I’m not the only one who has missed you.”  Rita nodded to the aging Golden Retriever lying contentedly across Serena’s feet.
“I miss her too, she’s my best girl.” She affectionately ruffled the pale golden, still soft fur. “Aren’t you Meg?”
“Shadow would’ve been a better name for her, she followed you everywhere!”

She chuckled softly.
“How is life in London?”
“Busy and changing every day, or so it seems.”
Serena gazed out of the window for a moment. “It’s nice to be home…in the quiet again.”
“You know that home was always here…”
“It was the right decision at the time; I don’t regret it…as such.”
She ran a hand through her honey blond hair. “Things were different then…you know they were.” She snapped back to reality with a bright smile. “Still I’ve come to visit when I can; I’ll bet by the end of the month you’ll be sick of the sight of Sim and I!”
“Never sweetheart, never.”
The warm chuckling of a joke shared.

The brief flash of mistiness in her daughter’s eyes and far off note in the voice was not lost on Rita; so much altered and despite everyone’s protestations about the past and living in it, she knew that the hurt still remained in Serena’s heart.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2012, 10:34:23 PM »
For Suzy, Pen. (glad you like the headers!), Rob, Loopylin, Loopy and Marie. Enjoy!  :)

Author's Note The bits in Green bold italics were actual quotes from the show!

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Three - Old Walks, New Places

“I was thinking I might go for a walk this morning.” Serena mentioned as she dried the breakfast things. “Look around the old places, routes and what have you.”
“I doubt much has changed."
Rita smiled.
“I shouldn’t imagine so.”
“What’s all this about?”
Serena turned her head to see Simeon smiling in the doorway.
“I was saying that I was thinking of going for a walk over all the places I used to go.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Are you sure that’s wise, darling?”
She rolled her eyes. “I’ll be just fine. Would you like to come with me?”
He smiled and stepped into the cosy kitchen. “Alas, I cannot; I need to make arrangements with a few friends, where I am off to now as it happens.”
“Ah, the big introduction tea, I suppose…honestly.”
She rolled her eyes again.
“Can you blame me?  I want to shout it from the rooftops that I am going to marry the most beautiful girl in the world.”
“Stop it, you’re making me blush! Maybe we could go for a walk together in a few days perhaps?"
“I would love that…just be careful today.”
“I will, I promise.”

With that, Simeon kissed her cheek and bade her and her mother goodbye.
“He clearly adores you.” Rita said as she heard the door click shut. “And he’s taking care of you.”
“Sometimes too much I fear.”

A little later Serena came down the stairs dressed in jeans and a brown and cream, long-sleeved ‘Ben Sherman’ shirt.

“I’m off now.” Serena shrugged the grey and black, long jacket over her shoulders.
“I think someone wants to come with you.” Rita nodded to the front door where Meg was waiting.
“Oh.” Serena walked over and crouched in front of her, gently stroking her head and back. “Surely you’d much rather spend the day relaxing in the garden under the apple tree?”
Meg whimpered as she licked her cheek.
“Guess not, walking with me it is then.” She chuckled tenderly.
“See you later, be careful you two.”
“See you, I’ll send her back if she tires and I promise to be back before tea!”
Serena joked, the latter statement referring to her teenage exploits.
“Alright, have fun.”
“I will. Come on girl.”
Gently she patted the top of her leg as the dog followed, tail swishing.

Steve saddled Alex carefully; the horse turned and nuzzled at his hair, causing Steve to chuckle.
“Alright fella.” He murmured, leading him out to the yard before getting up onto his back and trotting out of the yard.
From the kitchen window, Dora watched him go, her eyes awash with a stubborn sadness.

The solitude of the quiet woods soon soothed Steve’s frustrations, it always did; reaching a clearing, he scanned the area of open space, satisfied it was safe, he guided Alex into a canter; the perfect tonic for man and beast…wordless, wild land with the world stretching endlessly before your eyes…not another soul for miles.
He’d once referred to Follyfoot to a haven…it still was that, though the way Dora was these days, sometimes, just sometimes, he needed to escape to this other haven.

For a while horse and rider rested, Alex munching happily while Steve was lost in thought; everything was changing yet staying the same, he didn’t seem to have a place anymore, not that he’d ever felt that way anyways…always the outsider, the loner…it was easier.
He sighed heavily, all this moping would do him no good, he was getting like Dora…ah, Dora, he had her wrath to face when he got back.
“Come on, fella.” Swiftly he swung himself up into the saddle and clicked his tongue and Alex began to walk; as much as he wasn’t looking forward to going back, his other sentiment to his ‘mistress’ echoed clearly:

“You can’t hide away forever.”

Little did he know that on this day he was not the only soul on the hill…

Reaching the top of the slight hill, Serena blew out her cheeks…Meg had had the right idea sometime back and skittered on home.
Oh, the endless days Serena had spent in her teens, though her route had changed a little since then…was it really only a few short years ago?

Up ahead, she spotted a familiar tree, reaching it she sat beneath it, head resting against bark with hands resting on her knees as she gazed out over the wide, open land…she remembered the days of happiness and freedom…a single, gentle sob escaped her throat, her fingers clenching hard at her knees; it still hurt, though she painted on a carefree face, she’d never forget..

“That’s not why you’re here.” She thought, the smile slowly returning.

A few minutes later, she decided to go up the last hill ahead before turning and heading back; reaching the summit, she noticed the old track…something drew her towards the gate that read ‘Follyfoot Farm’.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2012, 05:56:30 PM »
Hi, thought I'd leave you all with another chapter as I'm off on holiday tomorrow for a week; for Suzy, Marie and Loopylin, enjoy!  :)

Author's Note: I've had took take just a smidge of poetic licence with the surroundings and logistics and again, green bold italics are show quotes!  ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Four - Mystery on the Horizon

Watching Steve and Alex leaving, Dora heaved a heavy sigh; why had she done that? Two of the things she hated were arguments or seeing anything hurt, today she had caused both.
It seemed to be the way of things these days, at one time she and Steve could talk to one another alas all they seem to do was argue and snipe at each other now.

Why was he so desperate to change everything…was he unhappy here, she wondered…oh she couldn’t bear it if that were the reason; he did seem different now, had been ever since he’d returned from Liverpool a little while ago.
Calm and quiet with the horses but short-tempered with people and always distant with a sadness in his gorgeous dark eyes, seeing this never failed to upset Dora; she longed to ask or for him to talk to her despite the fact she knew it was not necessarily his way…

So many questions and precious few answers…she groaned softly and buried her face in her hands…everything was changing and there was nothing she could do to stop it!

“Come on, girl; I need all the ‘elp possible if the stew’s going to be ready for tonight.” Slugger’s kind yet jovial voice broke into her thoughts.
Dora sighed again. “Coming, Sluggs.” She slid dejectedly from her place and came over to the table.

The older man regarded her sympathetically; he knew how much she hated any atmosphere about the place and that the obvious disagreement she’d had with Steve just before he had taken Alex out for a ride was obviously weighing heavily on her mind.
“Don’t worry, girl; everyfing’s going to be alright, storm in a teacup, that’s all.” He put his arm around her shoulders in a reassuring hug.
Dora smiled weakly as she set about dealing with the assorted vegetables. “I hope so.”

Serena stuck close to the sheltered areas, making herself as small as she could, desperate to stay out of sight…why was she doing this? Sneaking around like some common miscreant...she felt safer in the shadows, she supposed.
Stepping closer to the wall, she gingerly allowed her fingers to make contact with the thing that had drawn her attention.
“Hello.” Her lips curved as she felt the well-known tepid smoothness.

For a few moments, all was calm…a movement, a shock…two steps back…a stark reminder as she went back the way she came.

Trotting across the field and up the track to the farm, Steve was unaware of the figure whose footsteps had recently graced the ground; his mind was elsewhere, it always happened when he returned after a ride; it was as if his troubles were waiting to greet him at the gate.

Speaking of which, miraculously, said gate was properly closed for once; Steve quickly dismounted and let them in, actually opening the gate as it was intended, unlike Ron who seemed determined to have it off its hinges with ‘that infernal machine’, as the Colonel called it.

The donkeys and one of the horses, a young black mare called Sooty, who was ambling happily around the yard, regarded horse and rider blandly.

“Come on.” He took Alex and settled him in the stall.

Steve began rubbing the horse down; he took pride in the care he provided like this, the right kind of love, just as he’d told young Gip not that long ago.

“We love them the right way; not just loving to have them but loving to see them happy.”

“The Wanderer returns,”
The familiar voice set his teeth on edge as the footsteps came closer toward the stall.
“Dear, dear, dear.” Ron shook his head. “Her ladyship’s got it in for you, mate.” He grinned childishly at Steve.
“Shut up, Ron.” He snapped softly.
“Ooh, pardon me for breathing.” The young man sauntered off, whistling a cheery tune.
Steve tutted as he continued with the task in hand; Ron really rubbed him up the wrong way sometimes.
He and Ron could be mates on occasions but there were others when he’d be glad to see the back of the work-shy so and so who always seemed to enjoy siding with Dora and stirring up trouble!

Alex whickered at his master as if trying to console him.

“I’ll have to face the music sometime, won’t I?” The horse tossed his head in a nodding motion.
Bracing himself, leaving Alex contented, Steve walked towards the farmhouse…ready to face whichever one of Dora’s moods awaited him.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2012, 06:39:01 PM »
Here we go, next chapter; for Pen., Suzy, Dave, Gillian G and Marie and everyone who is reading! Thanks and enjoy! :)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Five - A Visitor at the Gate

Steve had barely stepped over the threshold when he was greeted with a duly remorseful Dora sat on the star, nibbling worriedly at the pad of her thumb.
“Steve.” She stood and walked down to him. “I-I’m sorry; the things I said about you playing favourites, that was cruel of me.” Her voice dropped to an almost childlike whisper.  “Can we be friends again…please?”

Steve looked in her eyes for a minute; it seemed to be the same old merry-go-‘round as always. She’d snap, he’d snap then the argument resulting in either on storming, (or riding!), off, Dora getting upset and saying sorry.

“We were never not friends, girl.” He murmured.
“Oh thank goodness.” Happy tears shimmering in her eyes as smiled a watery smile at him.

As she left him alone, Steve sighed heavily; he knew that Dora meant every apology she ever made…at the time…the problem was, give it a few days they would back at square one again. It was something he could well do without at the moment…though he’d never admit it, he was feeling battered and bruised by everything that had occurred in Liverpool, he wanted to forget but sadly he knew that it would be burned in his memory forever.

A few days passed, but instead of browsing the recently ordered bridal catalogues with her mother, which had arrived in the post that early morning, Serena once again found herself trekking over the hills.
This time she knew where she was headed…Follyfoot.
Her only question now was why?
“This really is a funny to-do, isn’t it?” She stroked Meg’s head.
The dog ‘woofed’ softly as she trotted slowly at her side; Serena had noticed that since she’d returned home, the years had receded in Meg, she seemed to be becoming more like a pup by the day.

Something was drawing her back; apart from the obvious reason…it was like witchcraft, well if you believed in that sort of thing which she didn’t…not anymore…

Dora tapped the tip of the pen against her lips thoughtfully, her eyes scanning the already written words.
“Hm.” She sighed.
It was letter to her parents in Brazil; admittedly she would much rather be busy with horses but Slugger had reminded her that it had been just over 4 months since she had had contact with them and another letter was due, he believed.
“The tree hasn’...” Dora had begun to say.
“Has already been seen to.” Slugger’s eyes twinkled. “And Steve and Ron are looking after the ‘orses..’orrible great brutes, the lot of ‘em.” He grumbled good-naturedly. “So, you find something nice to write to your mother. “
Dora rolled her eyes affectionately; he was worse than Uncle sometimes!

And so, here she was, doing just that; her letters were repetitive and, quite probably, rather boring but there was very little to say…no, that wasn’t true. In fact, there was plenty to say about the farm, their newest residents, (increasing by the day!) and the stories of how they’d come to them, (edited appropriately, of course, her mother would most likely collapse in a fit of ‘the vapours’ if she knew the real details of her daughter’s rescuing adventures!). Alas, she doubted, nay, she knew, they did not wish to hear of such things, her father would tolerate it but her mother was another story completely…

Outside, as Slugger had promised, Steve and Ron were tending to the horses…well, Steve was grooming Sultan and Ron was lazily twirling a blade of fresh hay between his lips and ‘melodically’ humming along to the tune he was strumming on his guitar.

“Are you planning on doing any work?”
“I am working, mate.”
Ron opened one eye slothfully. “Me music is a masterpiece for the soul.”
“Oh, yeah.”
Steve chuckled, rolling his eyes; his general feelings toward Ron and Dora were improved to a few days before, probably the weather or something…
“Oit.” Slugger walked over to where Ron was lounging. “’Ave you mucked out them stalls at the top yet?”
“Ah well, now you see, I was just about to when, me ol’ mates there got a bit fretful, like; so I played ‘em some of me music.”
Ron nodded toward the donkeys in their pen.
“Soothes ‘em y’see.”
Suddenly one of the donkeys brayed loudly, causing Ron to jump.
“I don’t think Smokey agrees with you.” Steve openly laughed.
“Me an’all.” Slugger agreed, clipping Ron’s ear lightly. “Come on, lazybones, I’ve told ‘er Ladyship that her ‘orse’s are in your capabil ‘ands.” He put on his ‘posh’ tone.
“Comin’.” He muttered, glaring at Steve who was still laughing softly. “Wouldn’t want to upset ‘er Ladyship would we? Oh lawks no.” He added his own comically plum tones as he installed his guitar back on ‘its’ hook in the stable and trundled the wheelbarrow up to the big barn.

Steve shook his head, still laughing as he combed Sultan’s mane. “Saved just in time, eh?”
Sultan snorted.
“I know, it’s not my cup of tea either.”

Once again, she stuck close to the shadows, (Meg was resting under ‘their’ tree on top of the hillside.), creeping slowly towards where she’d stood before.
“Why am I going about in this way?” She laughed to herself. “Like a shadow in the night.”

She stopped there as a head appeared; with a half-smile, she cautiously took a step forward and reached to stroke the dappled neck slowly.
“Hello there.” Serena clicked her tongue a few times.

It felt just the same but different as the animal stood still, its placid face regarding her; her emotions were so mixed…
Moving slightly, she accidentally kicked a chalky pebble with her heel, causing the horse to toss its head and neigh quietly; she started and stepped back hurriedly.

Steve turned his head, immediately alerted to the momentary disturbance; though Dylan seemed quiet now, he saw the figure of Serena a little way away, over the wall.
“Can I help you?” His tone was guarded as he set the broom against the stable and began to walk toward the gate.

In a split second, everything changed; her eyes locked with his, she tensed, backing away a little and then, like a fox who’d seen the hounds she skittered away in a flash.
“Hey, wait!” Steve called after her but she was did not stop.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2012, 06:16:59 PM »
Another week, another chapter...eek, I know it's a bit monotonous atm but it is building to a thing or two. :)
For Rob, Gillian G, Suzy, Loopylin, Loopy, Pen. and Marie! Enjoy and thanks for continuing to read! :)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Six - Curiosities Piqued

Serena was breathing hard by the time she reached where Meg was waiting; she dropped to her haunches as she got her breath back, pulse fluttering hard at her throat.

Why had she run away? She’d meant no harm to the horse…she laughed to herself; she may not be a criminal but she had something to hide. Oh, why had she done it, any of it?

“I think I’ve just made quite the fool of myself.”
Meg whimpered worriedly at mistress’s appearance, licking her face.
“It’s alright shh.” Serena soothed, gently stroking the golden head. “Come on, I think we should head home, Mum will have my guts for garters otherwise.” With that, Serena straightened and clicked her tongue as the pair began there homeward journey.

For a second, she paused to look over her shoulder…back in the direction of ‘Follyfoot’; her earlier question raised again…she knew why…because, just for a while, she wanted to pretend that nothing had changed.

Steve stood still, staring at the gate; it was as if the girl had never been there at all; when he’d called out, his first instinct was to prevent her from worrying the horse as he’d heard its nervous whinny but when she’d looked at him, he realised his error; she didn’t look guilty…she looked scared.

Simeon noticed that Serena was unusually quiet over dinner and was concerned when she mentioned that she going to turn in for the night, not long after.
“Is everything alright, darling.” He touched her arm worriedly.
She chuckled, trying to put him at ease. “I’m perfectly fine, Sim; just a little tired, that’s all.”
“It’s all that hill-walking, you’ll make yourself ill.”
“On the contrary,”
Rita noted in a placating voice. “I think it’s doing you the world of good.”
“I’m just getting used to it again, that’s all.”
Serena cast a subtly grateful look in her mother’s direction. “Are you sure you don’t mind? It seems unforgivably rude…”
“Of course not.”

She turned to Sim. “Anyway, I need to look my best for tomorrow, do I not?”
“You always do.”
Sim sighed. “If you need me, I’m only next door.”
She chuckled. “I know.” She kissed his cheek. “Good night.”
Sim returned her kiss then she bade her mother goodnight with a tender kiss on the cheek.

Serena curled up on her bed, Meg in ‘her’ place on the dusky pink, oval rug; she was tired but she needed some peace and quiet just to think. She needed to apologise to that young man, it was the right thing…Monday, she decided as it was the earliest she could get away without Sim flapping around her like a Mother Hen.

A knock came at the door just over an hour later.

“Come in.” Serena murmured.
Rita appeared bearing a mug of hot cocoa. “I didn’t think you would be asleep just yet.”
“Thank you.”
Serena carefully took the mug and sipped it. “Mm.”
“It always used to help when you were little.”
She paused. “Something’s happened, hasn’t it…on the walks?”
Serena smiled wryly; she may be an adult now but her mother could still read her like a book. “Not exactly…”

‘The Girl’ was still on Steve’s mind the following morning as he came down from the loft; in those few, short seconds when they’d made eye contact something strange had happened which he just couldn’t shake.
He tutted and shook his head; what did it matter anyway? They did occasionally get people who were lost turning up asking for directions or admiring the horses, sometimes even asking if they were for sale or else if they were a riding school.

She hadn’t fitted any of those descriptions…there was a sense of mystery about her.

At that moment, the sound of Slugger ‘ringing’ the old tin bell and hollering that breakfast was ready, snapping Steve back to reality.

“Oh bacon and eggs, what a surprise!” Ron exclaimed in faux glee. 
“Best fing for you, sets you up for the day,” Slugger replied. “Because…”
“Eggs is a proper breakfast.”
Ron and Dora quoted in singsong voices and giggling; it was only then that Dora noticed that Steve had not joined in.
“What’s the matter, Steve?” She asked softly. “You’ve been awfully quiet since yesterday.”
He replied absently; he paused before continuing. “I should check on Glory, the vet’s coming this morning.” He stood up.
“Don’t you want your breakfast, son?” Slugger asked, frying pan paused in mid-serve.
“No thanks, Sluggs. Excuse me.” Steve slid his chair back in place and left the room.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2012, 07:27:56 PM »
Here we go, this chapter is extra long I’ve split it. ;)
For everyone who read, especially Gillian G, Suzy, Marie, Loopylin, Pen. and Loopy; enjoy!

P.S. The blue italics are in flashback. ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Seven – Making A Friend

Monday morning dawned, cool and bright; Serena was up with the lark as always, no one was more surprised than she, for it had been a late night. She crept silently out of her room and downstairs, careful not to wake Sim next door; a slight creak on the stairs alerted the other human occupant to her presence when at the foot of the stairs. 

“You’re up early.” Rita commented. “I would have expected you to sleep for a while longer.”
Serena chuckled and kissed her mum’s cheek. “Good morning to you too; I thought about it but you know I can never sleep when there is something to be done.”
Her mother gave her a knowing look. “It has really plagued hasn’t it, this young man at the farm?”
“To apologise for my behaviour is merely common courtesy.”

Rita kissed her forehead. “I’m so proud of you, still concerned; you were always like that even when you were little.”
A sadness misted Serena’s green eyes. “A lot has changed since then.”
“I know, sweetheart.”
She brushed away a stray tear from her daughter’s cheek and kissed her forehead again as Serena closed her eyes, trying to stem her sadness. “Now, one of us needs to get that fire stoked if tea and toast are to be the order of the morning.” 
Serena smiled affectionately. “I shall happily do the honours.”
Meg lazily opened one eye as she passed.

Soon, Rita and Serena were sat cross-legged on the fireside rug, everything set out beside them, cups, butter, plates and suchlike while they waited for the kettle to boil over the flames and toasted thick slices of bread; Serena treasured times like this as she had in her childhood and teen years; safe and unguarded…

“So, any stories to tell? Did you and Sim enjoy yourselves?”
“I think Sim did, I was too nervous…as for stories…”

Sim smiled affectionately at her as he offered his arm; she gamely returned his smile despite the fact she was beyond uncomfortable at this whole situation, as they entered the smart restaurant.
They made a stunning couple it was true, Sim in a dark suit with a subtly stylish red tie, Serena in a long, dark teal dress with large, sharp, white cuffs and collar while her wavy, honey-blond hair had been piled elegantly atop her head exquisitely showing off her stud earrings and that necklace, (Sim had raised his eyebrow at this earlier on but Serena wore it anyway, she needed a form of security as bizarre as it was with this piece).

Seeing the glossiness of her surroundings only intensified her feelings…and this was Sim’s idea of informal?

Soon all introductions were made; Serena really hated being the centre of attention…so many names to remember too, yes she had an excellent memory but still the fear of forgetting one was most definitely there!
“Serena?” Sim’s voice broke into her thoughts as he gazed fell upon the distinguished older gentleman in front of her. “I’d like to introduce you to Colonel. Geoffrey Maddocks, he is a friend of the family.”
“I am very pleased to meet you Sir.”
“And I, you, my dear.” The Colonel gently took her left hand and pressed a feather-light kiss upon it. “Please, call me Geoffrey, none of this Colonel or Sir nonsense; I cannot stand formality between friends.” His kind eyes and friendly smile went some ways to easing her discomfiture.
“I’d be delighted.” Another ‘Oscar winning’ smile from her, though this one was not well schooled but of genuine warmth.
“Sim has told me all about you.”
“All good I hope?” She quipped, glancing up at her fiancé.
“Of course.” Sim smiled tightly.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2012, 07:34:55 PM »
Serena kept mostly quiet over the dinner, allowing the many conversations to wash over her, though occasionally answering the questions asked of her.

“How is Walter?” She heard Geoffrey ask Sim. “I hear the stables and the school are doing wonderfully?”
“Father is in excellent health, still with them every day.” Sim replied. “I hear you’re running…”

Knowing where that conversation was going, Serena quickly attuned herself to another; this
wasn’t her world, she would always be the outsider for more reasons than she cared to count…she touched the necklace with a fingertip, shutting her emotions away.

“I think I made the right impression, at least I hope I did!”
“I’m sure you did, sweetheart, you’ve never put a foot wrong, ever…it’s the way you were brought up!”

Serena leant over at kissed her Mum’s cheek. “As long as I make you proud.”
“Always have.”

Steve sighed to himself; it had been a busy morning what with mucking out, grooming, exercising and a whole host of other chores, (the majority of which were the responsibility of Ron but…well…we all know how that sentence ends!), not to mention, as of a late last week, they had two thoroughbreds to school…potential show-jumpers apparently.

Returning the pitchfork to its place, he briefly surveyed the freshly swept yard and clean stalls; with a single, satisfied nod, he turned his attention to the next task of polishing tack. It was one that he would concentrate on for hours until every piece gleamed; it had become a standing joke between the others that he’d turn into tack if he wasn’t careful!

As he worked, Steve momentarily raised his head to glance out at the fields ahead; in an instant the image of ‘The Girl’ rushing away across the hill came sharply, she’d disappeared as quick as a shadow.

The gentle breeze tousled Serena’s ponytail playfully while the mild sun warmed her skin as she and Meg took their leisurely walk through the hills; she stroked Meg’s head she replayed the previous evening’s events in her mind.
She smiled wryly to herself…quiet as a mouse she’d been, oh-ho had it been a few years ago…maybe she’d mellowed…maybe…

“Whoa, whoa steady.” Steve tried to soothe the flighty creature.
The lithe, chestnut horse stamped her foot and tossed her head in defiance at this vaguely familiar new human.
“I warned you that she was tricky.” Dora pointed out. “I could take them both if you like?”
Steve shot her a stormy look; he swore sometimes that she thought he was an imbecile.  “Come on.” His voice firmer this time, leading the mare towards their schooling ‘paddock’ with Dora and companion in prim pursuit.

Watching his demeanour, Dora couldn’t help groaning softly and sadly, all she was trying to do was give him advice to help him improve his training method! 
“Ooh he’s being so stubborn.” She muttered to the horse. “I’m only trying to help!”
The horse whinnied softly.
She chuckled. “You understand don’t you?”  She had already worked wonders in a few short days as the haughty thoroughbred allowed her to stroke his nose.  “Walk on, there’s a good boy.”

She’d always viewed humans as strange and complex beings and Steve was the worst of the lot; he was a mass of contradictions. He could be so gentle and caring then turn on a sixpence and become this dark and angry monster…she’d seen more of the latter recently.
“Oh dear.” Dora sighed heavily again; this was why she preferred horses…much easier to understand!

A few feet away Steve was also reflecting; he knew that his temper was quick with her and also knew that there was no malice was meant by her pointers…she wouldn’t even know what it meant.

The mare neighed crossly at him; she wasn’t used to have her attention rationed!
“Steady, steady.” He crooned. “Come on, that’s it…there you go.”

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2012, 07:42:40 PM »
Looking up, Dora saw Steve smile slightly at her, admittedly it was a little tight but a smile nonetheless; it meant that, for now, any petty snipes were put aside; the tension wasn’t good for the horses and they need all their surrogate humans’ calm and wisdom to realise their birthright talents. 

Reaching the familiar spot, Serena led Meg under the tree with a gentle instruction to ‘Sit’.
“I’ll be back soon, good girl.” She gently rubbed the silky ears and kissed her head.

Back up in the ‘schooling paddock’ the warm weather was about to be broken by a storm…

“Steve you need to be firm with her.” Dora said.
“You did mention it.” Steve replied tersely.
“There’s no need to take that tone with me.”
“And what tone would that be, eh?”
“This one, always angry, always defensive!”
“I wouldn’t if only you’d listen to me sometimes; I do know about horses, Dora.”
“I never said that you didn’t.”
  She pouted her lips slightly
“The minute I suggest we start doing more schooling or something a little different you walk around with a face like a thunderstorm in September.”
“It isn’t like that, Steve. I mean schooling, riding lessons…it all seems so unnatural for us.”
“Unnatural? Like, Slugger’s Saturday class?”
“Of course not! Besides, that is different, but Follyfoot is meant to be for tired or unwanted horses.”
“I know that, girl and it is.”
He murmured levelly, despite his ire. "These ‘deserving cases’, as the Colonel calls them, need special care which we can provide but it costs money, Dora and in doing this we’re building a good reputation.”
“Uncle would never let a horse starve; if things were really…”
“You can’t rely on that forever!”
He rubbed his free hand across his mouth.
Dora sighed exasperatedly. “Why does it always have to be about money? Sometimes I just wish that you wouldn’t..”
“Wouldn’t what? Have an opinion?”
“No. Steve, don’t twist my words!”
“I suppose it would be easier if I weren’t even here; no one to ‘rain on your parade’ as they say.” 


“I think that’s enough for today, we should take them back and get them settled.” Dora spoke quietly, without anger.

Soon there were nearing the back gate that lead to the stables.

“Dora, there’s a ‘phone-call for you!” Slugger hollered from the farmhouse gate.
“Coming Slugger!” She called back, and then with a last icy look at Steve, she handed
him the reins and walked away.
Steve shook his head, his anger still simmering…she always did this; just when things were getting into a calm routine she’d make a mountain out of a molehill, the molehill usually being something to do with him not slotting into the perfect life she envisioned Follyfoot to be and there they were…fighting again.
“Come on, let’s get you two back, eh?” He tempered his anger as best as he could so as not to unnerve his charges.

It had all started out so well, too.

Ron Stryker smiled blissfully as the sun warmed his face; it was lovely day, one best
served, he believed, by basking in it’s and nature’s glory…

“Excuse me?” The soft, cultured voice startled him; as his eyes adjusted to the sunlight,
he saw that the voice belonged to a young, attractive female standing at the closed gate.

“’ello there!” He turned the charm on to 110%. “And what can I do for you?”
“Good morning.”
Serena allowed his obvious flirtation to go over her head. “I’m sorry to disturb you, it’s just I’m looking for someone; I believe he works here, though I’m not sure? Dark hair, longish.”
“You must mean Steve.”
Ron looked over his shoulder, spotting Steve going into the stables. “Hoi, Steve! Steve!”
“Can’t it wait, Ron; these horses need to be attended to?”

Ron clicked his tongue and rolled his eyes. “Flamin’ ‘orses; he’s almost as dotty about them as Dora.”
“What is it, Ron?”

He looked back at Serena. “Back in a minute.”
“Thank you.”

Ron walked over to meet Steve partway.

“Cor dear, kept that a bit quiet ain’t ‘cha!” He smirked.
“What are you goin’ on about?” Steve asked irritably.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2012, 07:48:40 PM »
“There’s a girl at the gate asking for you; right little corker, eh?”
“Shut up Ron.”
Smoothing his palms down his jeans and straightening his pale blue shirt, he walked toward the gate.

As he got closer, the realisation dawned on him like a bolt from the blue…it was her, ‘The Girl’: she looked about 21, 22 he guessed, the slight side smile really brought out her sparkling green eyes, unconcerned by the flyaway honey blond hair in her line of vision.

“Hi.” His tone was still guarded but friendlier than before.
“Hello.” Her voice held a very fine trace of huskiness, more pleasing to Steve’s ear than the shrill tones he usually encountered with girls. “I should introduce myself; my name’s Serena.”
“Pleased to meet you, I’m Steve.”
“You too. Listen, I can see that you’re busy, so I won’t keep you. I wanted to apologise for my behaviour the other day, I was startled.”
She cleared her throat ruefully. “I have no idea what I was thinking; I meant no harm to the horse by the way, I stumbled on a pebble, made the poor thing jump, silly thing to do, me I mean, not the horse.”
“Fair enough.”
Up close, he realised he was eye to eye with her, height wise. “You like horses then?”
“Something like that.”
She ran a hand over her wavy half-fringe, pushing it up and back.
“Clearly you do too.”   
He chuckled. “Dora’s collection of Waifs and Strays; she owns this place.”
 “I see.”
“Do you want to come in, have a look around?”
His smile much more open.

“Steve!” Dora came running out of the farmhouse, tears streaming. “Steve!”
He turned at the sound of her distress. “What is it, girl?”
“Oh Steve! That was Sarah Cooper from Cogburn Farm, they’ve found a horse, they think it’s a stray.”
Dora swallowed, trying to stifle a sob. “Oh Steve, she says the poor thing is suffering terribly, we must go over there immediately!”
“We’ll take the Land Rover, it’s quicker.”
“Hurry then.”

He looked at Serena. “I’m sorry, I have to go.”
Serena shook her head. “Don’t worry; I hope everything’s alright.”

Author's Note: I know Steve and Dora are arguing a lot but things will change eventually! ;)

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2012, 06:16:01 PM »
For Rob, Loopylin, Suzy, Squeakytre, Loopy, Marie and everyone who is kind enough to read. Enjoy and I hope it lives up to your expectations.  :)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Eight - A Horse In Need

Tears still flowed down Dora’s pale cheeks, her hands clasping and unclasping in her lap as the Land Rover rumbled down the lanes.
“Please hurry Steve.” She murmured emotionally.
“I’m going as fast as I can, girl.” He assured her, his own brow furrowed with worry at the state of the poor horse that awaited them.

Sarah Cooper tucked her long, raven hair behind her ear, to prevent it tangling in her small, gold, hoop earrings; although she knew the journey from Follyfoot was short, every second seemed to tick by like an hour…and then as if by magic the familiar Land Rover appeared.

“Steve, Dora, thank goodness you’ve come.”
“The horse?”
Dora’s face was filled with worry.
“In the stable at the far end. Dora?” Sarah looked over at Steve; the look in her eyes told him everything.

“I’m not going to break, Steve.” Dora replied stubbornly.
“Just wait here.” His voice was firm but gentle.

Reaching the stable, Steve’s gaze fell upon the animal in question; the poor thing was quite literally skin and bone, its once bright, dark eyes emotionless and sunken. The only sign of injury was a weeping gash on its knee.

Steve ran a hand across his mouth; it made him feel physically sick to see a horse, any horse, just left in this way but a beautiful creature such as this, an ex-jumper he’d bet…the mind boggled.

“Easy, easy.” He murmured as he stepped into the stable and crouched at its side. “Shh.” Tenderly, he stroked the once proud head; the horse, though perilously weak, managed to lift its head slightly, toward Steve’s touch.
Its lungs heaved like bellows, its ribs emphasised with each heavy rasp; it was a classic case of under-trained, over-jumped. Steve felt the anger swirling inside of him; how could people treat another living creature so callously?!

“Oh!” The half gasp/half sob made Steve look up.
“I tried.” Sarah explained. “Terrible, isn’t it?” She sniffed, her own eyes filled with tears as Dora swiftly took her place next to Steve with the horse.
“Yeah.” Steve’s reply was almost inaudible.
“Poor boy.” Dora crooned.
“I’ll go and wait for the vet,” Sarah said. “He’ll be here any minute.”

As she left, Dora looked up at Steve; fresh tears running unchecked.
“Oh Steve, look at him…how could someone do this?”
“I know, girl…I know.”

The vet’s prognosis was two-fold: A) It would be a miracle if it survived the night given its malnutrition and breathing difficulties. B) If by said miracle it did survive, it would take a fair while to recover enough to lead a quiet life.

“Is he in any pain?” Dora asked softly.
“No.” The vet replied. “The gash is clean and dressed.” He sighed. “I am aware of your feelings, Miss Maddocks..”
She looked back to the horse. “I know what you are going to say…if he’s not in pain, then no.”
“Very well.”
“The sooner we can get you back to Follyfoot, the better.”
“In the animal’s current state I would advise against moving him, the stress would be too much.”
“I agree.”
Dora looked in shock as she heard Steve reply.
“I shall be on my way.” He walked out of the stable and turned to Sarah. “Telephone me if anything changes.”
“Certainly.” Sarah nodded. “Thank you for coming so quickly.” She began to escort him to his car.

As soon as they were out of earshot, Dora rounded on Steve.

“Steve, how could you? You know Follyfoot is the best place!”
“Look at him, Dora.”
His big brown eyes gazed sadly. “You heard the vet,”
“Oh, so now the vet’s right and I’m wrong, is that it?!”
“I thought you cared, understood the Follyfoot way?”
“Of course I do.”
He sighed as he bowed his head. “Now’s not the time to argue, Dora. This horse needs us.”
Dora looked at him, there was a strange look in his eyes though the sincerity of his words eased any misgivings; she bit her lip…usually she hated to be wrong, especially it was Steve that was right…except at times like this.
“I’m sorry Steve.” She looked back at the horse, her thumb stroking its nose. “We need to make everything alright.”
“We’ll find a way.”

Dora smiled weakly at him.
“It’s going be a long night for us, eh, fella?” Steve patted the smooth, nut-brown neck tenderly.
“It’s alright, you’re safe.” Dora murmured. “You’re among friends now.”

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2012, 06:10:11 PM »
For Rob, Suzy, Gillian G, Loopylin, Pen., Marie and everyone who reads, you really keep me going, also glad you like the headers!  ;)

P.S. Green, bold italics are show quotes! ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Nine - Midnight Vigil

The hours slowly ticked by; the thoroughbred fought gamely to cling onto life as his human protectors tended to him and watched over him, both lost in their own seas of thought.

Dora was anxious over everything, that was the problem with silence, it gave you time to think; the look in Steve’s eyes earlier had unnerved her…she could see that fervent belief of giving a second chance to their charge along with the sympathetic tenderness he showed but now there was a heaviness…as if he’d fought the world and limped away badly beaten.

Had something happened in Liverpool? He had had that heaviness about him ever since he’d returned. She desperately wanted to ask what had happened, see if she could help though she didn’t have the nerve…his anger and standoffishness had increased too as she had witnessed…seeing him angry scared her so much.

Steve sighed to himself, remembering the last time he’d been in this situation, (the darkness had a tendency to play tricks with his mind)…fighting the Colonel, whilst he still stood by what he had done, his vision had not perhaps been at its clearest. What was it the Colonel had said?

“With love you owe somewhere else. Isn’t it time you faced up to it and gave it where it is really needed?”

So that was precisely what he had done; finding his mother hadn’t been the easiest of tasks, (though he’d met plenty of characters along the way!), when he had though…oh he’d been so relieved. He could help her now, let her know that she wasn’t alone anymore; Steve had soon realised that helping his mother was going to be much harder than he thought; never shy of a challenge, he’d worked and worked to pay off her debts.

Bert had warned him that he’d make himself ill if he carried on but Steve had remained undeterred…part of him was just happy to have found his mum after all these years.

Not many people knew his history, if they did the first question they would ask is: Why?
She’d abandoned him at an orphanage when he was just a tot really, walked away without a backward glance, never bothering to find out what had happened to her son; Steve didn’t care about any of that…she was still his mum and even she deserved a second chance.

Eventually he’d earned the money to pay her debts, given it to her with the promise from her that she’d take it to the police; leaving to return to the garage, his grin grew wider and wider. Everything would be alright now, no more running…maybe, now that there was some security in Kathy’s life she might want to get to know him, even learn to love him as her son again…

Sadly, it wasn’t to be; that evening the police sergeant turned up, told him what had happened and soon he’d found her ‘out on the town’…that was when it happened…

“Look, love, just leave me alone.”

He would never admit to it, that single statement of rejection hurt him more than any physical blow ever could; despite his freshly bruised heart, he’d run to Bert and asked him to help, promising to repay it. The older man had looked upon him with a resigned kindness and told him the painful truth.

“Steve, she doesn’t want anyone, she’s shut herself off.”

The cold cloak of loneliness swathed him in an instant; he did not regret trying to help but knew that his place was back at Follyfoot…or so he had thought…so much had changed in those recent months he’d been away…   
Just like then and with that first poor, dying horse, despite the fact Dora was with him now, he still felt alone.

Sarah stayed up all night, too worried to sleep; she made frequent trips to the stable to make sure that everyone was fed, watered and warm.
“How is he doing?” She asked softly
“No change.”  Dora replied.
“You know what they say, no news is good news.”

Sadly, the statement did little to ease Dora’s worries; things changed at 2am.

“Maybe we should try him with some water again?”
Steve nodded, cupping some water in his hands, dripping it carefully against the horse’s lips.
“Come on, fella.” He encouraged softly. “Just try it, come on.”
Slowly the pale tongue flicked, taking in the life-saving liquid.
“That’s it, there’s a good boy.” Dora murmured; she smiled up at Steve…their chances were starting to look brighter.

Soon after Dawn broke, Sarah went back to the stable.

“He made it through then?” She leant her arms on the door.
Dora looked up. “Yes, yes thank goodness.”
“How is he doing?”
“He’s keeping steady.”
Steve answered this time. “He’s drinking more.”
“That’s brilliant news!”
She chuckled softly. “Come on then, you two. There’s a nice, hot breakfast on the table with your names on; afterwards I’ll get Paul to drive you back, you both need to get some sleep, you can pick the Land Rover later on…and before you say anything, Fiona and I will keep an eye on this chap here.”
 “Oh Sarah, we couldn’t possibly..”
Dora began.
“No arguments.”
Dora smiled gratefully. “Thank you.”

Stepping out into the morning air, Steve breathed a sigh of relief…the long night was over.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2012, 08:02:52 PM »
I apologise if this is getting wooden and repetitive, I'm trying!  :-[
For everyone who is kind enough to read, extra mentions go to Rob, Suzy, Loopylin, Marie and Gillian G, Pen. and Loopy too!  ;) ;) ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Ten - The Plot Thickens

Over the next couple of days the horse gradually improved, thanks the care of both Dora and Steve and Sarah and her family; he’d been christened ‘Gingernutt’, (Named after Sarah’s favourite biscuits as well as his appropriate colouring; Steve and Dora had to allow Sarah to name him after all she was doing.), and according to the vet that if he improved at his current rate, he could be transferred to Follyfoot in a week or so…much to Dora’s delight!   
They were still taking it in turns to stay at Cogburn Farm, Steve had just returned from the night shift, once he’d attended to the horses he’d get a few hours sleep…or at least try to.

He was an incredibly light sleeper at the best of times although just recently with everything that had happened he found it nigh on impossible even when utterly exhausted added to that, when managed, it was troubled… 

Feeling Alex nudging his head on him brought Steve back to the present.
He chuckled softly, stroking Alex’s nose. “Come on, you need to be out in the field, can’t stay in here all day you know.”

Watching Alex trot off deeper into the field a few minutes later, Steve surveyed the scene; happy, healthy animals enjoying life with care and companionship…it was their birthright…sadly they weren’t all that lucky. He thought of Gingernutt, yes he had improved but Steve knew that the odds could still fall either way…if only Dora saw the same…she was practically planning the homecoming celebration already!

Steve was alerted suddenly to some tugging at his jacket; he looked down and saw Folly nosing around for a treat, (though Dora claimed it got them into bad habits he’d seen her give Folly a treat many a time and Folly, being the shrewd animal that he was, expected everyone to be the same and knew exactly where to look!).

“Get away you little perisher!” Steve laughed, ruffling the short mane. “Nothing today, I’m afraid, tomorrow maybe.”

Well, what Dora didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her, would it?

Back at Cogburn Farm, Dora took care of Gingernutt.
“As soon as you’re able, Steve and I will take you to Follyfoot.” She told him softly. “Oh, you’ll just love it. A nice, warm, stable a bit like this, a big field to run in, with lots of lovely grass to eat and other horses to keep you company.” She paused. “Above all, someone to love you.” She stroked through his mane with her fingers. “Has anyone ever loved you, I wonder?”  Gingernutt snorted quietly. “Anyway, none of that matters now, we’ll all love you, even Slugger and Ron, though they don’t always show it.” Under her breath she added. “And Steve.”

Serena came up the hill, still sticking close to the wall, coming closer to Follyfoot she noticed immediately that the gate was open…she stopped, her stomach clenching…should she go closer or turn back, the risk concerned her.
Suddenly, over the fence in her safe, dark, little corner, a familiarly dappled head popped over, causing her to jump. 
She exhaled. “Hello there.” She stretched out her fingertips to stroke its neck, mindful of her ring. “I guess you made my decision for me.”

Steve looked up as he’d watched Dylan move over to the far corner of the wall…and noticed the shadowed figure partly visible on the other side.
“Serena.” He murmured under his breath; he went to step forward but for a reason he couldn’t fathom he remained rooted to the spot.

Serena sighed, eyes downcast. “Oh, you’re such a sweet creature.” She murmured. “I’m sorry I can’t…”

Nearby, Steve watched her; her touch was sure, eyes kind…yet the minute the horse moved its head she retreated like a cat on a hot tin roof.
He knew that she was running from something, he recognised the haunted shadows behind her eyes…but what?

And what did it matter?! It wasn’t any of his business, after all, he scolded himself.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2012, 06:28:31 PM »
For Rob, Gillian G, Loopylin, Nokumarie, Suzy, Pen., Marie and anyone who is kind enough to read!  ;) ;) ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Eleven - Helping Hands

That evening, Serena sat brushing her hair at her old dressing table, her green eyes lost in thought; near enough every day since she’d come back she had walked up to Follyfoot and skulked at the wall…that wasn’t why she was here. Anyway, what was she hoping to achieve?
Her eyes strayed to her bed…she wanted to but she didn’t all the same…
“It’s all in the past.” She murmured at her reflection as she tied her hair back again.

Oh, if only it were…her head and heart had had this battle many times and she was still no nearer to resolution.

She set her brush aside as she heard scratching at the door; Meg woofed as she saw her mistress open the door.
“Hello Meg.” She knelt in front of her and fussed her. “Been sent to fetch me for dinner, have you?”
The dog looked at her with wise eyes, as if she knew what was on her mind.
“What would you do, Meg, hm? If it were you?”
She whined gruffly.
“Fresh out of ideas, eh? Makes two of us.” Se kissed her nose. “Come on, we should go downstairs because if dinner gets cold Mum will not be happy and poor Sim probably thinks I’m neglecting him.”

Early the following morning Serena and Meg were out walking, once again, (unconsciously perhaps), en route to Follyfoot, though it was a smidge more briskly, (mindful of Meg’s age too) than usual as Serena was on a time limit today; she needed to be back home by 12:20 as Sim was taking her out to lunch in Tockwith at 1:00.

Soon Serena was back at the now familiar, grey, stone wall; she noticed a young redheaded man ‘struggling’ with a pitchfork, broom and wobbly wheelbarrow; a bit much for just one person, she thought. Though she would never have thought she would do what she did next.

“Would you like a hand?” She asked from the safety of behind the wall.
Ron looked up and saw her; he grinned to himself, she was about his age, really pretty…this opportunity was too good to miss!

“Ah, now that you mention it, anuva pair of ‘ands makes light work an’ all that.”

Serena stepped gingerly around the wall and through the gate, her eyes darting subtly left and right, tucking herself into the gap by the donkey pen; the yard was empty and quiet, bar the donkeys, as the horses had been turned out for the day.

“I’m Serena, by the way.”
“Ron Stryker, at your service.”
He grinned.
“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr Stryker.”
“Oooh, charmed, I’m sure.”
He used his ‘plum’ voice, though quickly remembered himself. “Ah, er, sorry, just call me Ron.”
Serena laughed. “A most amusing accent, you have quite a sense of humour!”
Ron smiled. “What are you doin’ up here, bit out o’ the way, innit?”
“I like to walk the hills.”
“A pretty lady like you shouldn’t be out walkin’ alone in a place like this, is dangerous country, this is.”
“Thank you for your concern,”
She gently wiggled the fingers of her left hand, showing her engagement ring. “Spoken for, I’m afraid, young Sir.”
“Oh. I didn’t mean no disrespect or nuffink..”
“None taken and I’m not usually alone.”
“You from ‘round ‘ere?”
“I live in London, the ol’ ‘Big Smoke’.”
The friendly chuckle immediately showed no signs of snobbery despite her soft, well-spoken tone. “I spent several years in this area as a child.” She knew that her last statement wasn’t entirely true but what of it.
“Oh; you here on holiday then?”
“Sort of.”
She turned her attention to one of the pen’s occupants. “What charming creatures, hello.” She reached over and stroked Smokey’s head.
Ron grunted. “’Orrible flamin’ fings; ‘ard work on 4 legs, that’s what they are.”
“Oh now, he can’t mean you surely?”
She crooned laughingly then she walked over to
Ron. “What would you like me to do?”
“Er well, the yard needs sweepin; the broom’s leaning against the side of the stable there.”
She tensed, her eyes scanning her surroundings as she fetched it, wrapping both hands firmly around it before sweeping close to Ron. “I’ve noticed a horse or two here when I have walked by..”
He tutted. “One or two? Try sixteen…and counting. They’re Dora’s y’see; she rescues ‘em.”
“You’re a sanctuary of some sort then?”
“Yeah, you could say that..”

A soft woof interrupted him; Serena looked over and saw Meg at the gate.
“What are you doing here?” She went to her and stroked her head. “You should be by the tree, sweetheart.”
“He yours, is he?”

She looked back. “Yes, she is; remember when I said I didn’t walk alone? I’ll take her back just in case, she is really quiet and well trained but she might frighten the donkeys.”
“Nah, they’ll be fine, she won’t do any harm.”
“If you’re sure?”
“Yeah, can I..?”
“By all means, I take it you like dogs more than horses or donkeys then?”
She chuckled wryly.
“’Ello mate.” He stroked Meg’s head, rubbing her ears.

“Stay, there’s a good girl.” She patted Meg as she lay down, stock still and quiet by the gate. “I’ll be back in a little while.” She and Ron returned to their chores. “You were saying just now that you rescue horses?”
“Yeah, Dora does. We’ve got ‘em all here. Follyfoot; the ‘Last Chance Saloon’ for the weird, old and unloved, goes for people too.”
“I see.”
That last statement about weird and unloved made her shiver.

The pair talked and worked together for quite sometime; (I bet you can guess which one did more of each!).

“Do you have the time?” Serena returned the broom to the wall as she lifted her half-fringe from her moist forehead with her left palm.
“Er,” Ron glanced at his watch. “11:20.”
“11:20? Oh jeepers!”
She hurried to the gate. “I’m sorry, I must go.”
“Oh, er, ‘fanks for your ‘elp and that.”
“No trouble.”
She clicked her tongue. “Come on Meg.” And they were away.

Unbeknownst to them all, Steve had been watching from his loft window, his eyebrows raised in curiosity.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2012, 07:06:33 PM »
For Suzy, Rob, Loopy, Loopylin, Pen., Gillian g, Marie et. all, your kind words really mean a lot! Please forgive me for this chapter... :-[

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Twelve - Drama and Disquiet

That evening Steve returned to Cogburn Farm; as he got out of the Land Rover, he noticed Sarah walking speedily toward the farmhouse.
“Hi.” Steve smiled but seeing Sarah’s expression, his brow immediately furrowed.
“Steve.” She tucked some windswept hair behind her ear. “I’m going to call the vet; Gingernutt’s gone down…he won’t get up.”
“What? When did this happen?”
“Just after Dora left.”

Steve raced to the stable; when Dora had come home earlier, her face had lit up when she’d given them the news that Gingernutt was finally on his feet.

The sight that greeted him was not a happy one; poor Gingernutt’s breathing was shallow and laboured, eyes clouded and semi-closed.
“Oh mate.”  Steve murmured, crouching and stroking the slender neck. “What’s all this about, eh?”
“The vet will get here as soon as he can, breech calf at Smithsdown Farm.”
Sarah appeared at the door.
Steve nodded.
“It can change so quickly.” She sighed. “He has eaten a little more today, though mostly water still; you couldn’t wipe the smile from Dora’s face this afternoon…it’s not looking good is it?”

The inevitable answer hung silently in the air like a dark, muggy cloak which sadly was confirmed by the vet 3 ½ hours later.

“I’m very sorry.” The vet removed the stethoscope from the horse’s chest and returned it to his bag. “There’s nothing I can do.”
“How long?”
Sarah’s voice quivered.
“A few hours at best.”
“Alright, we’ll look after him. Thank you.”

Sarah saw the vet to his car before going back into the house to update Fiona and Paul, change her jumper and make some tea.

“Here.”  She carefully handed a mug to Steve.
“Do you mind if stay?”

He shook his head.
“Should we ‘phone Dora? She’ll…”
“No, she’ll only get upset.”

Fiona and Paul visited once, about an hour later…by midnight it was all over; it was far too late for Steve to drive back to Follyfoot, Sarah reasoned, so he would stay there, though he chose to remain in the stable.

“Morning Slugger!” Dora spoke chirpily as she hung up her coat in the hall.
“Mornin’ girl. ‘Orses all seen to are they?”
Dora nodded as she sat at the table and was served her breakfast.
“Yeah, ‘orrible fings." Ron grumbled as he too was served.
Slugger chuckled then noticed Dora attacking the food with speed and gusto. “’Ere, steady on girl.”
“Sorry Sluggs.”
She chuckled. “I just want to be ready to go to Cogburn’s when Steve gets back.”
Slugger glanced out of the window. “Speaking of which, he here is now.”
Steve walked in, head bowed.
“Mornin’, son. You want some breakfast?”
“No thanks, Sluggs.”
Dora asked nervously.
He looked up at her, his soulful eyes pained. “I’m sorry girl.”
Dora began to shake her head, fingering at her mouth in disbelief. “No…he can’t.” She began to weep.
“Eh, come on.” Slugger set the frying pan aside and went to comfort her.

“I need to see him.” Dora sniffed, tears still streaming. “I will go to Cogburns now.”
“I’ll take you.”
  Steve replied.

A short time later, they were greeted by Sarah.

“I’m sorry Dora.” Sarah’s own eyes were moist.
Dora nodded and allowed Steve to lead her to the stable.
“Oh Gingernutt.” She murmured, stroking his nose.

Over the next few days, life at Follyfoot was markedly subdued; Dora was quiet and still tearful from time to time, spending her days fussing Copper especially, though the other got a fair share too.

Ron for once actually knuckled down and worked rather than larking about and cracking jokes; he hated seeing Dora so sad again, he wished he could make it better, he’d had the same feelings as he’d watched her pine for Steve during this Winter/Spring just gone…

Steve, on the other hand, spent most of his time in the fields alone and with the horses; as much as he was used to sad events in his life and contrary to what people might have believed by his brusque manner, it hurt him too. Going further back into his shell protected him and them.
Everything was hurting him at the moment, exhaustion and insomnia weren’t helping and the loneliness seemed to be gnawing at him.

A small part of him still wanted to be loved but it wasn’t his way…not anymore…

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!