Authors: Linda Chapman
THE MAGIC SPELL
DREAMS COME TRUE
STRONGER THAN MAGIC
A SPECIAL FRIEND
A WINTER WISH
A TOUCH OF MAGIC
Special thanks to Gill Harvey
Twilight was waiting for her at the gate. âIt's time to go,' Lauren whispered â¦ She gave him a hug for good luck, then vaulted up on to his back and fished the map out of her pocket. âThere's a big craggy mountain that we have to head towards. I think we'll see it once we've flown over the woods. Fly as fast as you can!'
The afternoon sun glinted through the trees as Lauren watched her friend Mel ride Shadow towards the gnarled trunk. An old hickory tree had fallen halfway across the woodland path, and it was perfect for jumping over. âCome on, Shadow, you can do it!' Lauren whispered.
The dapple-grey pony took one long
stride, then one short one. He sized up the trunk, tucked up his front feet, and sailed over it.
âWell done, Shadow!' cried Lauren. âThat was brilliant!'
Her pony, Twilight, snorted, as though he was agreeing with her. Lauren smiled. She knew he understood every word she said. Twilight might look like a little grey pony, but he was much, much more than that. When Lauren said the secret words of the Turning Spell, Twilight turned into a beautiful unicorn, with a snow-white coat and a shimmering horn. Since she had first made this amazing discovery, Lauren and Twilight had been gradually finding out about his
magical powers. One of them was that he could use his horn to give courage and confidence, and he had once helped his friend Shadow to become confident about jumping.
Mel was trotting back to Lauren, her cheeks flushed with excitement. âAren't you going to have a go?' she called.
Lauren grinned. âYou try stopping us!' She gathered up her reins and nudged Twilight into a trot, then turned him towards the log and asked him to canter. Twilight surged forward, but steadied as he approached the log. He eyed it up carefully before bounding easily over the tree trunk.
âBrilliant!' cried Mel.
Lauren bent forward and patted Twilight as he arched his neck and proudly tossed his mane. She knew he was enjoying himself. Twilight couldn't speak to Lauren while he was a pony,
but she was pretty good at telling what he was feeling anyway. She slowed him back to a trot, then turned and rode back towards Mel. âThat was fantastic,' she said. âShall we carry on to the clearing? We can do more jumping there.'
Lauren smiled to herself. She wished she could tell Mel exactly why Shadow loved jumping now, but one of the most important things about being a Unicorn Friend was keeping all the unicorn magic a secret. She often wondered what her best friends, Mel and Jess, would think if she told them that Twilight was really a unicorn!
Together, the girls turned their ponies
down the track and trotted deeper into the woods, where the spring buds were just appearing on the trees. The clearing was one of their favourite places. There were banks to ride up and down, and fallen logs and brushwood that were great for jumping over. It was like having their very own mini cross-country course.
When they arrived, Lauren took a moment to decide which route to take with Twilight. He was used to all but the biggest logs by now, so she chose a course that would be lots of fun, with plenty of twists and turns. Sure enough, he tackled them all with his ears pricked up, springing over every jump with
miles to spare. He even bucked playfully when he'd finished, and Lauren laughed out loud.
Mel and Shadow followed, taking a different route that avoided a couple of the more tricky jumps. But Shadow seemed as happy as Twilight to be jumping, his tail flying high as he cleared the final pile of brushwood.
âThat was great!' Mel laughed. âLet's do it again!'
Lauren pushed Twilight back into a canter. This time she decided to try riding down one of the steepest banks. Twilight tucked his hocks underneath him, then slid forward for a little way before jumping down safely.
âWell done, Twilight!' Lauren praised him. They cantered around the rest of the jumps, then watched as Mel and Shadow took yet another route, weaving a figure of eight around the course. Shadow cleared everything before trotting back to Lauren and Twilight. He
stood there, panting and tossing his head.
âMaybe we should stop now,' Mel said. âShadow seems all puffed out.' She patted his neck. âHe's quite sweaty too. He must be a bit unfit â Twilight looks absolutely fine!'
Lauren stroked Twilight's neck. His coat felt perfectly dry. She wondered if Twilight was fitter than Shadow because he got exercise at night as well, when he did lots of flying around as a unicorn. But she couldn't tell Mel that. âMaybe we should spend more time doing trotting exercises instead of always hacking in the woods,' she suggested. âThat's good for keeping ponies fit.'
âGood idea,' said Mel, as they turned
the ponies on to the homeward track. âIt's tempting to come to the woods every day, but I want Shadow to be as fit as he can be so we can keep on jumping!'
After supper that night, Lauren went upstairs to her bedroom to do her homework. It was Friday night, so she had all weekend to do it â but she decided it would be much better to get it out of the way quickly. She had to write a paragraph about her favourite hobby, so she described herself and Twilight jumping with Mel and Shadow in the woods. Writing about something like that felt more like fun than
homework! When she finished, she had just enough time to visit Twilight before bed.
Lauren pulled on a thick sweater and stepped on to the landing. Her younger brother, Max, was already in bed. His Bernese mountain dog, Buddy, lay stretched outside Max's bedroom door with his head on his paws. He looked up at Lauren and thumped his tail on the carpet as she passed. She smiled and patted his head. Before slipping downstairs Lauren noticed that there was a light shining from under the study door. Lauren's mum wrote children's books for a living, and Lauren remembered that she had a deadline to
meet. She could be busy for hours yet!
Lauren popped her head round the living-room door, where her dad was watching the news on TV. âI'm just going out to see Twilight, Dad,' she said.
âOK, Lauren,' replied her dad. âDon't be too long.'
âI won't be,' Lauren promised, shrugging on her jacket and heading outside into the cool spring evening. This was the moment she looked forward to every night â the moment she turned Twilight into a unicorn. Twilight was waiting for her at the paddock gate, and whinnied when he saw her.
Lauren wrapped her arms around his
neck, then led him across the paddock out of sight of the house. Once they were safely hidden by some trees, she stroked his nose, and whispered the words of the Turning Spell.
Twilight Star, Twilight Star,
Twinkling high above so far.
Shining light, shining bright,
Will you grant my wish tonight?
Let my little horse forlorn
Be at last a unicorn!'
There was a flash of purple light, then Twilight the little grey pony was gone; instead, a dazzling unicorn with a silky white mane and tail stood next to her.
Twilight nudged Lauren's arm. âAre we going flying tonight?' he asked. When he spoke, his mouth didn't move, but Lauren could hear his voice in her head as long as she kept a hair from his mane in her pocket.
Lauren smiled. âOf course we are, but we will have to be quick. Dad said not to be long.' Then she remembered how tired Shadow had been that afternoon. âIf you don't feel too tired, that is,' she added. âYou and Shadow did lots of jumping earlier!'
âOh, I feel fine,' said Twilight. âBut I'm a bit worried about Shadow. When we were walking back through the woods, he told me he wasn't feeling very well.'
âPoor Shadow,' said Lauren. âSo he wasn't puffing because he's unfit, after all. Maybe he's getting a cold.'
Twilight shook his head. âHe said he's had colds before, but this was different. He didn't understand it â he said he was just feeling tired out and a bit strange.'
The unicorn rested his muzzle on Lauren's arm, and his eyes looked sad. Lauren could see that Twilight was worried about his pony friend.
âLet's go and see him,' she suggested. âMaybe he'll be feeling better now that he's had a chance to rest.'
Twilight nodded his head. âThat's a good idea,' he agreed.
Lauren swung herself on to Twilight's back. She buried her hands in his mane and touched her heels to his sides. âCome on, let's go!'