He was snoozing next to Topper and Brigette, and though they didn’t move their heads, all of them twitched their ears in my direction as I approached. I ran a hand over every rump in greeting and then stood quietly next to Pauper, not needing to use words, but just to feel the safety of his presence. My sweet show-horse-turned-warhorse had me feeling a little less scared after his terrible, wonderful display. I leaned into his silky mane-covered neck and breathed in his warm, therapeutic scent. He was my constant companion, my protector, my best friend. I knew, there in that moment, how I wanted to ride into battle. It would be me and him, nothing between us, just like in the beginning.