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Heartfelt Hearthswarming

By Mobius
Created: 20th December 2020 06:05:43 PM

  1. >Snow crunches underfoot as you trudge down the dark, empty street towards Rainbow Dash’s winter home.
  2. >Apparently the clouds got too cold in the dead of winter, even for pegasi.
  3. >You struggle to keep your wrapped gift under your arm while you pocket your freezing hands.
  4. >You were beginning to realize that Hearthswarming was more of a literal recommendation to keep the fireplace lit than it was a cute name for the holiday.
  5. >It didn’t really matter though, the warm feeling in your chest was keeping you at equilibrium with the frozen landscape.
  6. >Dash had stopped by to invite you over after she hadn’t seen you at any of the Hearthswarming gatherings. She knew you weren’t exactly a socialite but she wasn’t going to let you get away with hiding in your apartment all day.
  7. >As luck would have it, you were looking for an opportunity to give her the present you’d gotten for her.
  8. >And so, one hour later, here you stand at her doorstep.
  9. *knock knock knock
  10. >A warm, orange glow shines through her windows and under the wooden door, appropriately stoking a feeling of giddiness in your chest.
  11. >”One sec!”
  12. >Her voice sounds as excited as you feel; she hadn’t invited you out of pity, you weren’t a third wheel, you were the reason for her cheer, she simply wanted your company.
  13. >You hear hoofsteps bounding across the floor before the door opens.
  14. >”I knew you’d make it!” Her beaming smile winces once she feels the cold draft. “Get inside before all the warmth leaks out!”
  15. >You step inside and she shuts the door behind you. Immediately you feel yourself warming up.
  16. “You’ve got a cozy little setup here.”
  17. >The flickering of a freshly stoked fire illuminates her blanket covered couch next to a coffee table stacked with books and a steaming cup.
  18. >”Heheh! I just got the fire started, a chimney draft kept putting it out but I finally got it to take with a splash of that funny smelling stuff you gave me to clean the windows a while back.”
  19. “You mean the rubbing alcohol?” You kick off your boots and follow her to the couch.
  20. >”Yeah that stuff.”
  21. “Well…that’ll do it.”
  22. >”Who’s that present for?” Her playful grin tells you she already knows the answer.
  23. “Oh I was just going to give it to the first pony I saw on the way over, but I didn’t see anyone so I guess you can have it.”
  24. >”Heh! Sure you were! What is it?”
  25. >You play keep away from her prying eyes as you plop down on the couch next to her.
  26. “What would be the point of wrapping it if I just told you what it is?”
  27. >”Because…I’ll tell you what’s in yours if you tell me what’s in mine!”
  28. “You got me a present?”
  29. >She looks at you like you’ve grown a third eye. “Of course I did, what sorta awesomest pony would forget her best friend’s present?”
  30. >Her candid expression brought a tidal wave of warmth to your chest.
  31. >You smile.
  32. “I just…I think this will be the first present I’ve ever had here.”
  33. >An unusually soft expression covers her features as she studies your face in silence. She finally snorts.
  34. >”Geez dude you gotta give me time to work. You haven’t had a birthday since I’ve known you and this is our first Hearthswarming.” She finishes with a smirk.
  35. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” You scratch your neck awkwardly.
  36. >Her eyes glance to the half empty cup of tea. “Hang tight I made us some hot chocolate!”
  37. >The lithe Pegasus hops off the couch and disappears into the kitchen, leaving you and your thoughts with some privacy.
  38. >Your eyes travel across the room, from the walls decorated with family photos to the small but tasteful decorations she has lying around. It really was rather cozy.
  39. >Another smile grows on you when you realize she didn’t really cleanup for your arrival. She wasn’t trying to hide anything from you.
  40. >The couch is equally mussed and it carries her soft and familiar scent. When you first met you thought it was some sort of pleasant and unique shampoo, it took a long time to realize it wasn’t.
  41. >Cyan fur and the occasional fluffy down feather permeate the cushions and blankets—an unavoidable by-product of tightly wrapped blankets and static.
  42. >The setting altogether feels more like home than home does.
  43. >”Comin frooh, look ou!”
  44. >Dash reappears clenching a saucer in her maw, balancing jumbo mug of hot coco complete with a layer of melted marshmallow on top.
  45. >She sets it down on the table and flexes her jaw before hopping back on the couch next to you.
  46. “One mug? You’re not afraid of my cooties?”
  47. >She quirks a brow and shoots you a smirk. “Seriously?”
  48. “Hmm…if you’re not afraid of getting them that could only mean one thing.”
  49. >”That I’m a grown mare who doesn’t care about sharing a cup her friend.”
  50. >You shake your head.
  51. “It means you have cooties too.”
  52. >”Heheheheh!”
  53. >You chuckle along with her before your interest turns to the steaming mug.
  54. “So how hot and how chocolatey are we talking?”
  55. >She composes herself and grabs the mug before bringing it to her lips for a full swig. “Hmm…see for yourself.”
  56. >She hoofs over the cup, but not before turning it around so you’d be sipping from the same spot she had.
  57. >You take it and look up to see her playful smirk is capped with a line of white marshmallow. She wasn’t going to let your cooties comment fly unchallenged.
  58. >And you weren’t about to let her win that easily.
  59. >You sip from the same wetted edge but quickly forget about the little charade as your taste buds get assaulted with the richest mixture of chocolate and creamy milk you’ve ever tasted.
  60. “Dash this is great! What’d you put in it?”
  61. >She snorts at your own marshmallow mustache.
  62. >”I just use the store bought mix, except I double up on the chocolate bit.”
  63. >She waits for you to take another sip.
  64. “Oh yeah and I use teat milk.”
  65. >If you hadn’t already gulped down that last mouthful of goodness you would’ve spit it back out as you broke out in laughter.
  66. >Instead you just choke.
  67. >”Aaahahahah! You should see your face!”
  68. >Once you recover you immediately take another sip.
  69. >”No wait you can’t hahahaha!”
  70. “Hmm…a little tart, are you sure you’re getting enough fruit in your diet?” You try to deadpan your expression as much as possible.
  71. >Dash is biting her hoof as she snickers and squints mirthfully. “I don’t know heh! That’s something you’ll have to ask Granny Smith.”
  72. >This time you do spit it out.
  73. >”Hahahahaha!”
  74. >You wipe your chin.
  75. “I think this is a new level of cooties.”
  76. >”Pffft!” She finishes chuckling and takes the cup from your hand to steal a sip of her own.
  77. >You watch her refresh her moustache and notice she’s staring at yours and giggling.
  78. >For some reason she just seems to be in a really good mood tonight.
  79. >You twirl one corner of the marshmallow mustache into a swirl, making her giggle some more.
  80. “I do say, your terrestrial abode is rather comfortable indeed Sir Dash, yees.”
  81. >”Heheh!” She touches her own mustache. “In the winter months I descend from the heavens to give mere mortals a taste of my homemade hot chocolate.”
  82. >A little too much emphasis on the ‘homemade’ bit.
  83. >Still, you chuckle at her charade, and also at how ironic it was that you genuinely felt that wasn’t far from the truth.
  84. >You wipe your marshmallow off with a thumb and bring it too your mouth.
  85. “Seriously though, this is really nice, thanks for inviting me over.”
  86. >”Don’t sweat it dude! I wasn’t gonna let ya spend Hearthswarming alone.”
  87. >You just smile and look into the fireplace while Dash tries to lick off her mustache.
  88. “You know, when I first met you I honestly thought reading novels in front of the fireplace was the last thing I’d catch you doing.”
  89. >Her eyes dart towards the half-dozen books on the table. She’d already finished most of them.
  90. >”Heh, yeah I guess I…” She pauses and holds still for you while you wipe off a bit of marshmallow she’d missed on her upper lip, “…I uh, I’m not always…you know, me.”
  91. >Her ears tuck back as she turns her gaze to the fire as well.
  92. >You look over at her skeptically.
  93. “What do you mean? There’s nothing wrong about that sort of stuff.”
  94. >”Yeah I know, it’s just that ponies always expect me to have the coolest, wildest private life and I guess I’m just not all that interesting.”
  95. >You turn to face her.
  96. “Rainbow…” You wait for her to look at you, “…That couldn’t be farther from the truth. You’re the coolest pony I know, and the fact that you know how to make a mean cup of hot coco and build a comfy couch makes you extremely interesting.”
  97. >A soft blush appears on her cheeks and she averts her eyes.
  98. >You rub her shoulder for emphasis; your fingers sift through her plush, warm fur.
  99. “Ponies don’t like you because you’re Equestria’s fastest flier, they like you because you’re you. And that includes the part of you that likes to slow down.”
  100. >She finally meets your eyes once more and you can see her blush had blossomed on her cheeks.
  101. >”Thanks, Anon.” A smile tugs at the corners of her lips.
  102. “Sure thing you sappy little pony.”
  103. >”Hey! I’m not sappy!” She blurts.
  104. “Unhuh. What do you say we open presents?”
  105. >”Not until you say I’m not sappy!”
  106. “Hahah fine, you’re not sappy. Let’s open presents.”
  107. >”That didn’t sound convincing!” She’s leaning on her front hooves, as if threating further action.
  108. >All that meant to you was that she was off balance.
  109. >An arm snakes up and pulls her into your side, and she can do little to resist.
  110. >Her wings puff to help her keep balance but she collapses onto you anyways. “Hey! Watch it bud!”
  111. “Presents, now.”
  112. >You grab your box and put it in her lap as she finds a seat leaning against your shoulder.
  113. >”What is it?”
  114. “Dash, I can tell you or you can find out when you open it. Either way you’ll have to open it.”
  115. >She grumbles and scrutinizes the package before giving it a shake.
  116. >A bit of anxiety was beginning to creep in. You were short on bits and you weren’t sure how she’d like the gift.
  117. >Now that it’s in her hooves, veiled by a thin piece of colored paper, you were starting to have second thoughts.
  118. >Her hooves tear into the paper and she turns over a taped box. It takes her all of one second to start digging at that too.
  119. >Ok never mind the gift was a bad idea she’s going to think you’re weird.
  120. *riiiiiip
  121. >She tears a piece off in her vicious enthusiasm.
  122. >Too late.
  123. >You gulp and shrink away from her.
  124. >”Anon, what’s…” She pulls out the piece of patterned cloth and spreads it out. “Anon…is this your sweater?”
  125. >You nod and struggle to find your voice.
  126. “I remember you uh…really liked it when I loaned it to you for that camping trip a while back. I-I couldn’t find one of the same materiel and…i-it was too expensive to have one made…”
  127. >You trail off on the same breath, the suspense wouldn’t let you breathe.
  128. >She turns it over in her hooves and sees that it is indeed the one she’d taken a liking to…though not exactly because of the materiel.
  129. >But she keeps that to herself for the time being.
  130. >A smile pulls up the corners of her mouth until she’s sporting a cheesy grin. “I love it!”
  131. >She clutches it too her chest and rockets her head into your side to aggressively nuzzle against you.
  132. >In that second she restores every bit of your lost confidence, and then some.
  133. “Whoa hey! Take it easy there! Haha!”
  134. >Your arm holds her tight against you anyways.
  135. >You never thought you could gain so much happiness just by giving. Apparently, sweaters make great presents for blue pegasuses.
  136. >Dash must’ve been able to detect the relief in your laugh because she moves up to nuzzle your neck before pulling back.
  137. >”I really do love it, Anon. Thank you!”
  138. >Her genuine smile makes yours grow.
  139. >You boop her nose and she scrunches before chuckling.
  140. “You’re welcome, you sappy pony.”
  141. >She judges you with an uncontrollable smile.
  142. >”Well I guess my secret’s out, better make sure you’ll keep it to yourself!”
  143. >Her wing shoots up your shirt to tickle your sides as she pounces.
  144. “Aaahahahaha-quit it!”
  145. >You try to fend her off but she’s too nimble and determined.
  146. >”Not until you promise to keep quiet!”
  147. “Ok! Ok! I promise I won’t tell!”
  148. >She tickles you for a moment longer before relenting.
  149. >”Not a word.”
  150. “My lips are sealed…” You catch your breath, “…about how much of cuddlebug you—ah!”
  151. >Her feathers jab you one last time for good measure, but she can’t feign annoyance with that grin.
  152. >She quickly fills the roomy sweater and her grinning muzzle sticks out from the hood.
  153. >You pull it back for her and watch with a warmth in your chest as she tries to swim her hooves out of the sleeves.
  154. >”Your turn.”
  155. >You stare at her in disbelief.
  156. “You want me to tickle you?”
  157. >”Pffft! No silly! Your turn to open your present!”
  158. “Oh. Yeah.”
  159. >She chuckles and reaches down beside the couch to retrieve your small envelope.
  160. >A hoof passes it to you as a strange expression starts to cross her features.
  161. “Let me guess, a check for a million bits?”
  162. >”Heh, not quite.”
  163. >She consolidates herself while you open it, staring more at the envelope than your expression.
  164. >You pull out a red ticket—a flightline pass for the next Wonderbolts performance.
  165. “Awesome! I’ll get to see your rehearsals and see the show from the best seats in the stadium!”
  166. >She smiles weakly, “I thought you’d enjoy it.”
  167. “It’s great Dash!”
  168. >You go to hug her but pause once you see her expression. She looked downtrodden, like she was disappointed with something.
  169. “What’s wrong?”
  170. >She tucks her ears again and struggles to meet your eye. “It’s just that…I had something else for you but…”
  171. “But what? I love this present.”
  172. >”Yeah but it’s not meaningful.”
  173. “What do you mean, it lets me hang out with you more, how is that not meaningful.”
  174. >That gets her attention, “They were giving them out for free so we could invite friends and stuff. I was just afraid that you wouldn’t like my other gift…s-so I grabbed that at the last minute.”
  175. >You look as worried as you feel.
  176. “Believe me, I’m not particularly judgmental when it comes to gifts, and besides, I doubt an awesome pony like you could come up with anything less than amazing. Not that I’m complaining about my ticket.”
  177. >She seems caught on the precipice of a decision, and embarrassed for whatever reason. “That’s just it, it was kind of a…” She takes a deep breath, “…You know what, hang tight for a bit.”
  178. >She gets up and trots off back to her room.
  179. >What in the world had gotten into her?
  180. >In no time at all she’s returned with a small booklet in her teeth.
  181. >She hops up and sits down before dropping it to her hooves. She looks nervous as hell and only gets more nervous when you try to look at it.
  182. >”I-I…*ahem!” She recovers from a voice crack. Her cheeks and ears are beat red. “I-I made this at first, but I th-thought you might think it was dumb…”
  183. “Dash, I’d never think that about a sincere gift, much less a gift from you.”
  184. >That doesn’t do anything to quell her anxiety. In fact, her muzzle is now turning red.
  185. >”You gotta promise not to tell anypony…”
  186. >You shoot her a puzzled expression, but agree.
  187. “I promise.”
  188. >She takes one more glance at the item in her hooves before holding it out to you.
  189. >Once you grab it she snaps her hoof back and shuffles nervously.
  190. >You’d never seen her like this before.
  191. >Only after watching her expression to make sure she wasn’t going to melt do you look down at what you’re holding.
  192. >It was a small notepad, like something you’d find at the corner store.
  193. >When you turn it over, the front cover reads ‘I O You!’ written in colored pencil, but in the place of the ‘O’ there’s a big red heart.
  194. >You can hear her gulp nervously and she reaches for the hot coco to take another swig. It refreshed her marshmallow mustache but she needed something to do besides focus on her embarrassment.
  195. >You can hear her because your own lack of breathing afforded you the silence.
  196. >The next page has a simple ‘to Anon from Dash’
  197. >Your curiosity peaks as you flip the page.
  198. >You’re greeted with a crude sketch of a rainbow maned pony flying over the park, and it had a note that read: ‘One private airshow.’
  199. >The next page had an equally crude sketch of a haypatty burger: ‘One restaurant dinner on me.’
  200. >She gulps again and shuffles as you take in the little treasure with a shocked expression plastered on your face.
  201. >A scribbled Dash curling a dumbbell, ’One week of personal coaching in the gym.’
  202. >A colored in Daring Do book, ‘One chapter of Daring Do read aloud.’
  203. >A cyan pony smiling on the couch next to you, ‘One sleepover at Dash’s house.’
  204. >Each page was a coupon of sorts that could be traded in for time spent with her in one form or another. And each page had a hoof drawn picture to go along with it.
  205. >It was obvious Dash was no art student, but that couldn’t be farther from the point.
  206. “Dash…this is…”
  207. >You can’t find the words as you read one page after another; you don’t even notice that she’s starting to sweat bullets.
  208. >The next page makes you stop. ‘One wing hug on a cold night.’ It shows a diagram of her wing blocking ‘Cold’ and keeping ‘Warm’ under it.
  209. >You glance up at her just in time to see her wide eyes affix you with a timid stare.
  210. >Words still fail you and you take that as an excuse to turn the page once more.
  211. >A rough sketch of her leaning towards you and your blue and green circle heads touching: ‘One ki—”
  212. >The description ends, incomplete. The rest of the pages, some two dozen or so are blank.
  213. >She’d obviously lost her nerve on that one description.
  214. >The precious sketch stares up at you from the open page as you turn your eyes towards the flustered mess of a pony.
  215. >”S-so yeah. I-It’s…dumb isn’t it.”
  216. >She still won’t meet your eye.
  217. “It’s beautiful.”
  218. >She looks up, a sparkle of surprise in her watering eyes.
  219. >If the little story in her book hadn’t made it obvious enough, the expression in her eyes sure did.
  220. “This is the best gift anyone has ever given to me.” Getting those words past the lump in your throat was difficult.
  221. >She blinks away some water and clears her throat.
  222. >”Y-you don’t think it’s s-silly?”
  223. >You instinctively reach out to hold her hoof.
  224. “Do you remember what I told you about ponies liking you for who you are?”
  225. >She swallows and nods.
  226. “This is who you are.” You hold up the book, “And I…I love this.”
  227. >Her wavering eyes don’t dare look away.
  228. >Your face was red enough to match hers now, but it didn’t bother you.
  229. >You look down at the hoof you held.
  230. “I think I’d like to cash one of these in now.”
  231. >Her magenta eyes stay glued to yours, her warm breath washes over your face.
  232. >”W-W-Which one?”
  233. >Her hoof trembles ever so slightly and she bites her bottom lip.
  234. >You close the distance and bring your lips to hers in a soft embrace. You can feel the moist skin of her mouth, the soft fur of her muzzle, and the cool marshmallow pressing from her top lip to yours.
  235. >Neither of you breathe amidst the exhilarating contact.
  236. >She presses closer as her brain catches up with her muzzle, and after a few long, joyous seconds, you break with a soft pop.
  237. “That one.”
  238. >Her eyes shine with watery happiness and you pull her in close for a hug.
  239. >Well, it’s sort of a nuzzle tackle but she combines it with a hug.
  240. >The fireplace pops and you pull a blanket over your cuddled forms before wrapping your arms around her to trap the warmth.
  241. >You feel something strange and lick the marshmallow off your lip before the situation dawns on you.
  242. “Heh, thanks for the mustache.”
  243. >She giggles against you.
  244. >”I guess you got my cooties now.”
  245. >You squeeze her a bit tighter.
  246. “I think I’m alright with that.”
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