If you think about it, parents can be a bit weird.
Some wanted a child about the height of their thumb or at least one inch tall.
Others adopted a child born from vegetation sent by the divine gods themselves.
There are some special cases that they come across a feral one that was miraculously raised by animals (and survived and somehow learned basic human social skills in a matter of days or weeks).
But there is one-ONE very special- case when it comes to these certain parents of the story.
Meet the Nikiforovs.
Ivan Nikiforov is a wealthy merchant while his wife, Vasalisa, is a beautiful lady of her standing. Despite having a fair amount of wealth that wouldn’t have them place above or below anyone, they are a decent folk. Kindly to the neighbors, charitable, even have a decent small farm to tend to their livestock on their free time. But despite having everything…they have yet to desire one thing.
A child of their own.
Despite all remedies, be it old wives’ tale of sorts or otherwise, nothing seemed to work. (Heaven forbid it could be the possibility that they might be infertile, no one had a thought about seeing the doctor. That’s just silly). It had gotten to the point that Ivan spoke to God one day with a simple prayer.
“Please, Lord, give me a child to call my own, even if that child is a hedgehog.”
In hindsight, it might be strange way to wish for a hedgehog as a child. If anything he could have at least considered adoption from an orphanage, or maybe a puppy (which they already have at the time). But we’re getting off topic in this story. Needless to say, that Ivan’s prayers have been answered.
Nine months later, Vasilisa gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
Who is a hedgehog.
Ivan had this to say.
“Well, I did prayed for my child to be a hedgehog. Might as well roll with it.”
Nevertheless, both Ivan and Vasilisa loved the little hedgehog and on that snowy night, they named him Victor. And from then on, they both raised him like any other parents with the love and care that they can provide.
The small hedgehog had quills, just like any other hedgehog. Except his quills were as soft as down feathers, despite their stiff appearance, and each quill had the color of sterling silver. (“It looked more like platinum, actually”). His eyes were a brilliant blue, like the calming ocean on a winter day. Victor grew into a sweet boy who love his parents with all of his heart, twitching his little brown nose in happiness. However, even if with those traits, that doesn’t mean that would shield him from the gossips of the townsfolk whenever they’re out running errands around the marketplace. Some thought he was some sort of changeling, others thought that he was cursed at birth.
Those are nothing compared to the taunts of the children.
It didn’t take long for Victor to take notice that he wasn’t like any other children, he didn’t have smooth skin or a small nose, he was the only one among all of them with a coat of quills and fur all over his body. Pink clawed paws instead of pale hands. Sure he snorts from time to time, even rolled up into a defensive ball in order to protect himself from being pelted by dirt clods and dealing with the aftermath of dirt caked quills. However, he had discovered one thing that gave him confidence.
He had showcase absolute grace once he set foot -or paw- on the ice one winter day when the pond was thick and solid, surprising everyone, even his own parents. That was the day that he fell in love with the ice and the trade itself. He had mastered all jumps and turns that took days, even weeks or months to master. Even made his own story through his skating. This caused the children to be bitterly jealous, and they hated him more for it. That and that one incident that concern about a foot race and literally coating his competitive bullies into dust. However, he knew that there was nothing that neither party can do.
He is different, and his parents loved him for it.
So what else does he need?
“No one wanted to marry a dirty groundhog like you!”
…Ah, that one annoying detail.
Of course, he had seen boys his age grew into arrogant men who thought that they owned the town, picking up the ladies like one would pick daisies. However, as much as he wanted to prove them wrong, Victor knew that he can’t stay here any longer.
Victor Nikiforov, the Silver (“Platinum, thank you very much!”) Hedgehog, will set out into the world to seek his own fortune.
“Dearest,” Ivan spoke up looking out at the window with a mug of tea in hand. “What kind of chicken feed that we used?”
Vasalisa looked up from her needlework and looked at her husband in confusion. “The usual as always, Darling. Why do you ask?”
“Because the rooster seemed to be a bit…bigger than usual.”
The woman blinked before standing up to see what her husband was talking about through the window. And sure enough, there was the rooster…about the size of a horse. They both stared at it blankly as it clucked out among the hens, who paid no mind to the sudden growth of their sole male counterpart. Vasalisa could only stare dumbfounded as her husband blankly took a sip of tea next to her.
“…Ivan, do you think we should worry about this?”
Ivan let out a hum before taking note of their family dog, Makkachin, walking up to the rooster who stared at him curiously. That sight alone made him stiffen in response. The rooster, Blini, was smaller than Makkachin not too long ago. But the size of him was enough to crush the poor dog with only a clawed foot or rapid pecking.
He was prepared to bolt out of the back door armed with only a broom when Makkachin let out a bark, what happened next astounded him. Blini simply flapped his wings a bit before nuzzling his head against Makkachin’s muzzle. That was enough for Ivan to relax as he let out a breath that he had no idea that he was holding.
Thank goodness…was the first thing that he could think of.
“I guess, this is the new kind of normal.” Ivan finally spoke up, watching the two animals interact a bit.
Victor seemed to be elated at the sight of Blini’s new size just as Makkachin, letting out an enthusiastic “wow” as he ran over and hugged the literal big bird. To which the rooster let out what seemed like a coo.
“Mama! Papa! Do you think Blini doesn’t mind if we get a saddle in his size? He looked so perfect for bird-back riding!”
Yeah. This is the new kind of normal.
Little did they know that the world wasn’t done with Victor the Silver Hedgehog.