I will admit, only being able to communicate with barks, whines and growls wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it was kind of cool.
Before we left the library, Twilight suggested that I get a feel for writing using my mouth. She floated a pencil towards my mouth, but when I lowered my jaws over it, I heard a cracking of wood. My sharp canines had bitten right through it. I tried again, putting as little pressure on the pencil as I could. At first, the words were illegible, and looked like a baby's scribbling. But after an hour of practice, my mouth-writing was becoming understandable at the least.
"'Can we go outside now?'" Twilight said as she read my note, "Are you sure? A lot of ponies wouldn't take kindly to seeing a wolf in their town."
I nodded, and wrote, 'Lyra can explain', on the paper.
"Don't worry Twilight," Scootaloo said, "Me and Lyra can keep him company."
"I hope you're right," Twilight said, and I yipped in response. She wrapped a belt around my torso and slotted a pencil and notepad into it, allowing me to communicate when I needed to.
Pinkie giggled, "When you make those noises, it's so easy to forget that the big bad wolf is actually just same old Dutchy." She rubbed the fur on my head, leaving it dishevelled and uncomfortable. I instinctively tried to raise my hand to scratch it, but found that my paw just wasn't flexible enough to reach it. A funny thought then occured to me, and I sat down as I brought a hind leg up and scratched my head with it. This brought a fit of giggles from the girls, and I walked over to the door, scratching it with a paw to show that I wanted to go outside.
"Aww, he's adorable." Lyra said as she pulled the door open with her magic. I went outside and sat on the porch to wait for her. As I looked around the town, I noticed that my senses felt... sharper. The air was filled with smells, and I could see more precisely than before, making out the shape of a pony a few hundred metres away. I heard the tapping of hooves behind me, and my ear turned in the direction of the noise, making it amplify. Lyra and Scootaloo appeared next to me, while everyone else left the library and headed to their respective homes.
I smiled at her, at which point she recoiled, "Agh! What did you do that for?"
I cocked my head, and remembered when my dog would try to smile. To a stranger, it would look like they were simply bearing their teeth. I quickly grabbed the notepad from the belt and drew a crude smiley face on it.
She saw the drawing, and said, "Oh, sorry. I'm going to miss your real smile."
I nuzzled her, then flicked my head, gesturing down the street. As we walked away from the library, Twilight called out, "I'll keep your stuff here for when the spell wears off. Just remember to be back here at three o'clock tomorrow."
I barked in response, and we carried on through Ponyville. Of course, it was anything but a leisurely stroll. The sun was gone, but the air was still humid, and I found myself sticking my tongue out and panting to find a way to sweat through my thick coat. It felt suprisingly refreshing, and Lyra and Scootaloo giggled as I looked at them.
"Well, this doesn't seem so bad," Lyra said, "If we're lucky, maybe we can--"
If there's one downside about the average pony, it's that they jump to conclusions far too quickly. Maybe it was how peaceful their lives were, but they were much more paranoid than humans. Granted, seeing a wolf wandering through their town might raise a few pulses, but watching everyone run screaming into their homes, even after seeing the two ponies walking alongside me, seems a little extreme. Needless to say, within the next minute, the entire town was empty.
"Let's just go back to my place," Lyra said, "The rain's starting to arrive anyway."
We all agreed without objection, and managed to reach the house just as the first few drops were coming down from the sky. Lyra let us inside, and we made our way into the living room, where she sparked her horn and got a fire going. I was content with sitting next to it, despite my thick coat. Lyra walked in, and I felt my tail wagging as she sat next to me.
She rested against my side, "You two can stay the night if you want. We can make it a little slumber party."
My heart leapt at the thought, and I rubbed my face against her cheek. My canine jaws made it difficult to kiss her.
"I guess we'd better make it a proper slumber party then. How about some s'mores?"
"Sounds awesome!" Scootaloo exclaimed, balancing on her forelegs on top of a chair's arm. She hopped off, and we went into the kitchen, where Lyra grabbed chocolate and marshmallows, Scootaloo carried the crackers on her back, while I took a bunch of sticks in my mouth.
Ten minutes later, and I carried another batch of cooked marshmallows to the table, where Lyra and Scootaloo were putting the different ingredients together. I propped myself up on the table and dropped the sticks in front of Lyra, who promptly pulled them off and spread them over the chocolate.
When we had a plate of a dozen s'mores, we walked over to the fire and began to eat. Scootaloo dug in immediately, as she was more interested in enjoying the taste rather than filling her stomach. Lyra and I were slower, watching the fire and enjoying one another's company, listening to the crackle of flames and the pattering of rain outside. Neither of us said anything, but nothing needed to be said. It was a classic romantic moment, we both knew how much we loved each other, and nothing was going to change that.
After a few hours, Scootaloo started falling asleep. I carried her upstairs, while Lyra found a spare mattress for her to sleep on, and I tucked her in for the night. Lyra led me to her bedroom, and I was about to lie on the floor, when Lyra stopped me.
"I'm not letting my coltfriend sleep on the floor," she said, and patted the sheets next to her. I was cautious at this, but after noticing a lack of bedroom eyes, I thought, What could happen? and jumped on the bed and lay down next to her. Lying down as a canine was unusual, but certainly not uncomfortable, and within a few minutes, I was already dozing off. I felt Lyra shift closer to me, and she sighed with contentment.
"I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow. I have a feeling it's going to be... interesting," Lyra said, "I love you Dutch."
I made what I hoped would be a noise to say the same thing to her, and she seemed to understand as she nuzzled me before we both fell asleep.
I stretched as I woke up the next morning. The rain had stopped, and Sweet Apple Acres would need to be worked harder to harvest the extra crop. I pushed myself up off Lyra's bed, only remembering at the last minute that I was still a wolf before falling on my face with a yelp and a thud.
As I stood up, I heard giggling behind me, and saw Lyra had woken up too. She was propping herself up with a foreleg, and despite her finding my misfortune amusing, I couldn't get mad at those gorgeous golden eyes.
I groaned, and she laughed again. I took this opportunity to jump back on the bed and stand over her, glaring. She had a brief look of shock, before I stopped and nuzzled her. She giggled upon realising I was joking, and wrapped her forelegs around my neck, kissing me on the nose.
"You'd better get Scootaloo up for school," she said, "Are you planning on going to the farm today?"
I nodded, and she added, "Then watch out for Big Mac. I think only those in the library know about you."
I nodded again, and walked into the next room to wake Scootaloo. She was still fast asleep when I nudged her, and when she moaned and pushed me away, I gave off a quiet bark.
"Huh?" She turned her head and saw me. She gasped at the sight of a wolf next to her bed, then said, "Oh yeah. Morning Dutch." Reluctantly, she climbed out of bed, rubbing one eye and yawning, which made me yawn as well.
"Those are some really sharp teeth," Scootaloo remarked, "Be careful who sees you with them."
We both went down to the kitchen, where Lyra had some food on the oven, "Hey Dutch? I didn't know what wolves eat apart from meat. Is there anything here that you can manage?"
I knew wolves ate fruit and nuts when potential prey was scarce, so I put my forelegs on the counter and grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl. I dropped it on the table and slowly managed to take a few bites out of it while Lyra and Scootaloo ate their breakfast. After three apples, I gave Lyra one last nuzzle before pulling on the door handle with my teeth and going outside with Scootaloo.
I pulled the notepad off my belt and wrote down 'Meet at library?' for Scootaloo to read.
"You mean after school?" I nodded, "Sure. See you later!"
I smiled to myself as she broke into a sprint and vaulted over a nearby fence. Freerunning was her passion now; she hardly ever used her scooter anymore. It only left the apartment if she was going on long-distance journeys across town that would tire her out on foot. The sun glinted off something metal and reflected into my eyes, reminding me of where I needed to be, and I went off in my own direction.
I reached the barn without any incidents, and Applejack met me from the house. She paused as she saw me, but recognition crossed her face, and she smiled as she trotted over.
"Howdy there sugarcube. Ah assume ya'll are lookin' fer work right now?"
I nodded, and she brought a hoof to her chin, "Hmm, not much ya can do when yer a wolf. Ah know Big Mac's gonna be diggin' holes fer some new trees. If ya take the tools over to the west field fer him, Ah'll see if there's anythin' else ya can do."
I walked into the barn and picked up a shovel, getting the weight right as it swung between my jaws. Holding my head high to make sure it wouldn't catch the ground, I walked out and round to the back of the building, heading west. It wasn't long before I saw the red stallion standing in a clearing among the trees. He had a tape measure in his hooves, and was examining how many trees he could fit in the empty space.
I got within ten yards of him and dropped the shovel, giving a bark to announce my presence. Big Mac turned round, but the normally calm, placid expression was replaced by surprise as he saw me, then anger. Slowly, he lowered his head and scraped the ground, snorting air out of his nostrils. I guess he didn't know it was me, and as he broke into a gallop, a single thought crossed my mind.
Without even attempting to resolve the situation diplomatically, I turned tail and ran as fast as my four legs would carry me back to the farm. I managed to run faster than I thought I could, but despite Big Mac's bulky size and build, he was keeping up with me, hurling all sorts of insults at the predator that had trespassed on his property.
The barn came into view, and I began barking at the top of my lungs, desperate for Applejack to pull me out of the metaphorical hole I had dug myself. Unfortunately, no such luck. She must have been in one of the other fields, because she certainly wasn't in the barn. I quickly turned direction, taking advantage of my agility to circle the barn and gain some distance between me and Mac.
I searched through the north and east fields, finding no sign of Applejack. As I entered the south field, I could smell something else among the apples. The aroma of sweat. I followed it, and found Applejack bucking along the line of trees, letting off another series of barks to get her attention. Her head snapped to me, and she quickly ran over, stopping between me and Mac.
"Woah there Big Macintosh!" She shouted. He reluctantly came to a stop, but only because Applejack was standing between me and him. He expression was still filled with rage though, and I felt genuinely concerned for my well-being as I huddled behind Applejack.
"AJ, what the hay are ya doin'?!" Mac said, "There's a dang wolf right behind ya, and yer defendin' it?"
"That ain't just any wolf, that's Dutch," Mac took a step back in surprise, and Applejack continued, "He was helpin' Twilight with some magic, and she turned him into that."
"So why didn't he just tell me?"
"He can't," Sarah said as she appeared from a collection of trees. I whined, and Sarah went on to explain the downside I faced with having the anatomy of a wolf. With each question answered, Mac's expression softened. When she finished, he sighed.
"Alright then. You two got no reason to lie to me," I slowly walked out from behind Applejack, and he held a hoof out, "Sorry about that Dutch. Ah had no idea it was you."
I nodded, and pressed my paw against his hoof, writing on the notepad, 'Apology accepted'. He gave me a friendly smile, "Eeyup."
He trotted off with Sarah, and my ear twitched as I heard a twig snap behind me. I turned round to see a tree and growled at it, forcing whatever was behind it to come out. It was Applebloom.
"Now Applebloom, ya know better than to eavesdrop," Applejack scolded.
"Sorry," the filly replied, "Ah just wanted to ask Dutch somethin'. If that's really him."
"It is, don't worry yer head," Applejack replied.
I walked up to Applebloom, who was busy shifting her hoof in the dirt, trying to ask what she wanted to say.
"Well, since yer a wolf and all, maybe we could play a game of hide and seek. Winona's always good at findin' stuff, so Ah figured ya'll would be good at it too."
I looked over at AJ, and she seemed to pick up that I wanted her permission, "It's alright sugarcube. Ah'll be honest, there's not much ya can do here. Let the filly have her fun."
Applebloom grinned and guided me back towards the east field, "Do humans have hide and seek where ya come from?"
I nodded as we arrived in the middle of the orchard, and Applebloom told me to count to thirty. I lay down on the ground and covered my eyes with my paws. As I counted, I heard a pattering of hooves become quieter, and after thirty seconds, Applebloom was gone.
I tried to smell the air, and quickly found a scent. Using my newly heightened senses, I put my nose on the floor and began to follow it, only pausing when I thought I had lost the trail. After following the scent for a couple hundred metres, I spotted movement out of the corner of my eye, and the smell became stronger. Upon realising I had found my target, I let out a whine in mock confusion, and a small giggle came from inside a collection of bushes.
I carried on, making her think I missed her, before doubling back and coming up behind the bush. I got closer, and could make out the end of a red tail sticking out among the leaves. I lowered myself to the ground and crawled forward, keeping quiet, before biting down on the tail and dragging Applebloom out from the bush.
"Woah!" She spun around, before laughing at her defeat, "Ah saw ya followin' a trail. Do Ah really smell that bad?"
She laughed at her own joke, before scampering off to hide somewhere else. I gave her another thirty seconds, before slowly following her scent again. This lasted for several hours, and despite how many times I found her, Applebloom would always try to find the most unconventional hiding place. At one point, my nose led me into a wall, and I eventually found her on the barn roof. How she got up there I will never know.
At 2:30, Applebloom finally got tired herself out and headed back to the barn. She knew I also had my own things to take care of. Feeling that I couldn't do much else to assist around the farm, I walked back down the path and left Sweet Apple Acres. Walking under the sign at the entrance and back to town, Lyra met me halfway.
"What's the time Mr. Wolf?" She asked jokingly, and I rolled my eyes, "So I suppose we go to the library now?"
I nodded, and we ambled towards our destination. Our pace was quickened however, when a clap of thunder came from overhead.
"Another storm?" Lyra asked, "I understand we've had a lot of sun lately, but two storms in two days?" She glanced at me, "Race you to the library!"
She took off just as the rain started coming down in buckets, and I was surprised at her speed; she was faster than she looked. As I was a natural predator, however, I was still faster, and when the library came into view, we were neck and neck. Of course, being a gentleman, I slowed down at the last minute, and she skidded to a halt by the door.
"Yeah! In your face, Dutch!" Letting the lady win, I could handle. Watching her gloat was another thing entirely.
Only giving a sly grin as indication of what I was about to do, I flexed my shoulders and shook my body from side to side, ridding it of excess water. My eyes were closed, but I heard Lyra shriek as the water covered her. I stopped, and quickly took a punch in the foreleg for my actions.
"Not funny." Lyra said, though her attempts to hide a smile proved otherwise. Her mane was drenched, and it hung over her eyes and horn. She flicked it aside as she pushed the door open and went inside.
Twilight and Scootaloo were already waiting for us, and Twilight said, "Ah, glad you could make it. The spell will wear off completely in exactly..." she looked at the clock on the table, "...three minutes and 42 seconds. You might want to take your clothes and go into the basement, seeing as how conscious you humans are with nudity."
I lifted my clothes onto my back, along with a towel, before picking up my boots and carrying them into the basement. I set them down at the foot of the stairs, and started feeling a tingling all over my body. I lost my balance, and everything that I had felt the day before seemed to be coming back as its opposite. My legs were stretching to what felt like an impossible length, as well as my arms. The sensation of being pricked with needles covered my entire body, and I assumed the fur was starting to vanish by now. I felt my tail disappearing too, but it was akin to having my spine pulled up my back, my back itself feeling like it was splitting apart as my wings returned. Finally, my skull returned to its original shape, and my nerves ended their tyrade of pain.
It took a few minutes to get used to being human again, but after a few minutes I was standing again, and after a bit of gibberish, my voice returned. I looked over my shoulder to see white wings on my back, and gave them a flap, sighing like I had just scratched an itch.
Realising that I was now naked, I dried myself off and pulled my clothes back on. Ten minutes after I had transformed back, I exited the basement, where the three ponies were waiting for me.
"I'm glad everything went smoothly," Twilight said as she looked up from a book, "I was worried there would be another side effect."
I cleared my throat and spoke for the first time in 24 hours, "Side effects?"
"Well... there's always unknowns," she quickly answered blushing.
I lowered myself to my knees as Lyra and Scootaloo both hugged me. I ignored Lyra's wet coat as she nuzzled my face, while Scootaloo was wrapped around my chest, listening to my heartbeat. What the filly said next almost made me collapse with laughter.
"You smell like a wet dog."