Home is where the Hearth is
(Takes place after ‘Hearth’s Warming Eve’)
“Are you sure you want to spend Hearth’s Warming Eve all by yourself?” Twilight asked Omnius as they and the rest of their friends left the train station.
“Yeah,” He answered simply, shaking the snow off of his mane. He said goodbye to the mares, and headed down the path back to his house.
Omnius had been like this ever since Twilight had asked him what holidays on other worlds were like. At first, he had been more than happy to answer her questions, but then she asked him what he liked to do during them. Did he have any family he would go and spend time with? A dark cloud had passed over him, and he wouldn’t say anything.
While Twilight was thinking about this, Applejack interrupted her thoughts, saying, “Twilight? You alright there?”
Twilight nodded her head, and said, “Oh, yes, I’m fine. I’m just worried about Omnius.”
“He has been acting rather strange recently, hasn’t he?” Rarity mused. “Why just the other day, he came into my shop and asked for the strangest set of clothes that I’ve ever had to make. I was more than happy to oblige him, but after I gave him the clothes, he left without a single word. It was quite unusual, especially for him. He normally says something like, ‘Because it suits me,’ or some such thing.”
“Yeah. Did you notice that his house is the only one in Ponyville that doesn’t have any decorations?” Rainbow Dash said, scratching her multicolored mane.
It was true. While all of Ponyville was decorated in colorful lights, and banners, Omnius’s house was left entirely untouched. Even the snow seemed to just emphasize its difference from the rest of Ponyville.
“Hm…Rarity, what clothes did he get from you?” Twilight asked, trying to decipher what was wrong with Omnius.
Rarity closed her eyes for a moment, and answered, “I believe it was an oversized red coat, with white trimmings, and a pair of red pants.”
“Well what’s so weird about that?” Pinkie Pie asked, tilting her head.
“They weren’t at all his size!” The fashionista exclaimed. “In fact, I’d suspect that they would be too big for even Big Macintosh to wear!”
Fluttershy decided to speak up then, saying, “He also asked me if I knew anything about taking care of reindeer. I told him how to properly feed and groom them, and when I tried to ask him why he wanted to know, he just ran off.”
“What about you Pinkie?” Twilight asked the energetic bundle of pony. “Did you notice anything weird?”
“He’s been getting a lot of milk and cookies from Sugarcube corner! Which is weird, because normally he gets things like muffins, or cakes, or sometimes he’ll get some of those really yummy strawberry filled cakes that are covered in frosting! He really likes those! I also saw him at the park, and he was asking Dinky Doo what she thought that she would like for-” Pinkie rambled on, before a cyan colored hoof stopped her.
All of the ponies tried to figure out what was wrong with their Traveler friend. He didn’t act this strange during Nightmare Night, and was actually one of the ones that helped to setup the festival in town. He had also done his best to get Luna in on the fun, and was one of the only ponies, besides Twilight, who didn’t run from her when she showed up (although when she spoke in the Royal Speaking voice, he had countered with something like, “FUS RO DAH!”).
“Why are you so worried about him anyways Twilight?” Applejack asked. “I hadn’t really noticed anything was wrong until you started talking about it.”
Twilight cleared her throat, and said, “I asked him what he did for the holidays.”
“Well I don’t see what’s so wrong about that!”
“And I asked him if he had any family that he would go and spend time with.”
Applejack winced, and had to resist the urge to face-hoof. She loved Twilight to death, but for being the smartest pony in Ponyville, she could really do some dumb things. “Twilight, I’m meanin’ no offense or nothin’, but that wasn’t a real smart thing to ask him.”
“Why?” Twilight asked, genuinely confused.
“Think about it Twi. He’s so old, he don’t know how old he is,” Applejack said, attempting to explain it to her bookworm friend.
“Okay…but what does that-” Twilight’s eyes widened, as her mind connected the puzzle pieces. “Oh…I should have known. Poor Omnius.”
“What?” Pinkie asked, looking between the two mares.
“If Omnius is as old as he claims he is, then all of his family must have passed away by now. He’s all alone…” Twilight said. Applejack nodded, glad that Twi had realized it.
All of the Ponies were somber, as they looked in the direction Omnius had walked off in. Rarity tried to think of what it would be like if she couldn’t ever see her parents, or her friends for that matter, for the holidays, and shuddered. It wasn’t something that she wanted to experience anytime soon.
“So that means that he doesn’t have anypony to spend Hearth’s Warming with?” Pinkie asked, frowning. “That’s not right! Omnius has done so much for us! Why don’t we throw him a party?”
“That’s your answer to everything!” Rainbow Dash said, rolling her eyes.
“Actually, that might be a good idea!” Twilight said, her eyes sparkling. “Gather round girls! I have a plan!”
All six of the ponies huddled together, while Twilight explained her plan.
“Son of a bitch!” I swore, clutching my hand.
Slim shrugged apologetically, and he picked up the book he had dropped by accident.
“It’s fine, but be more careful! I want this to be the best Christmas- I mean, Hearth’s Warming Eve, or Day, ever!” I said, pulling on a pair of black mittens.
“Ivy!” I called out, wrapping a black belt around my coat. “Is the list finished yet?”
The Silver screen floated over to me, and folded itself into the form of a petite young woman with shoulder length hair. “Nice list is now 100% complete, and has been double checked for accuracy. Reminder: Thank Princess Celestia and Princess Luna for use of their knowledge,” She said, clasping her hands together in front of her.
“Already did,” I replied simply, pulling on a pair of boots. “How do I look?” I asked, posing for the two.
Slim gave me silent thumbs-up, and Ivy smiled. “Very jolly sir.”
“Thanks,” I said, too distracted to tell Ivy not to call me ‘sir’. “Is the sleigh loaded?”
“Slim, are the reindeer prepped for launch?” I asked, shifting into unicorn form. I shook off the stinging sensation, and called up an Aura to help me fit inside of the massive coat.
Slim gave me another thumbs-up, and I nodded.
“Good thing Santa was kind enough to loan them to us for tonight.” I then grinned mischievously, and pointed to a spot above Slim and Ivy. They looked up, and saw a familiar looking sprig of green…
“Mistletoe,” I said, already leaving The Vault.
I laughed in a jolly voice, as I heard the sound of metal knees nervously clanging together, and the sound of Ivy stuttering. Me and my Christmas spirit…
I looked around, and made sure that the area was clear of anypony who might accidentally see me. Once I was satisfied that no one could see me, I levitated a small silver whistle to my lips, and puffed on it three times.
The sound of bells reached my ears, and I grinned.
“Ho ho ho!” I laughed, as three reindeer landed from their flight in front of me. I hitched them up to a red sleigh that had a bulging red velvet sack inside of it, and grabbed the reins with my teeth.
The Reindeer looked at me, and I said, “We have to wait until the sun sets! Then we can go do our holiday thing!”
The lead reindeer rolled his eyes, and turned to face the strip of land I had cleared for the occasion. As the sun sank below the horizon, I felt my body hum with energy. I shook the reins with my teeth, and called out, “On Dasher, on Prancer, on Comet and...Okay, that’s all of you. H’yah!”
The Reindeer took off, slowly ascending into the sky, towing me and the sleigh with them.
As we flew above Ponyville, I looked at the list Slim had conveniently duct-taped to the seat next to me, and skimmed through it. My horn glowed with a red aura that was peppered with flecks of white, and a delicately wrapped present floated out in front of me.
“Little Sweetie Bell wanted her older sister to get a new rare gemstone,” I muttered to myself, as I lowered the present to the ground, where it landed gently in front of the Carousel Boutique.
My horn glowed, and I felt the strain of having to lift multiple things at once start taking its toll on me. My eyelids grew heavier, and I had to fight the urge to fall asleep in the sleigh. I reached into a side pocket, and pulled out a cookie that was loaded with chocolate chips. I bit into it, and I could feel the rush of sugar energy surge through me.
“Note to self: Find comfortable place to crash for inevitable sugar coma,” I laughed, spraying the front of the sleigh with bits of crumbs.
All night long, I flew throughout the skies of Ponyville, levitating presents onto the doorsteps of the slumbering ponies. With the help of the children of Ponyville, I had made sure that I knew what everypony wanted, and had made sure that nopony else had gotten them that present (It would be hella awkward if I accidentally gave them a present they had already gotten. Especially since I’m covering for the Big Guy on this world).
“The things I do for these worlds,” I said in a jolly tone, stroking my beard thoughtfully.
Once the sun had started to rise, I looked over the sleigh, and made sure that all of the presents landed in their right places. Once I was satisfied with how everything had turned out, I used magic to amplify my voice.
“HO HO HO! Happy Hearth’s Warming Day!” I called out, making sure that my voice was loud enough to wake everypony up.
While a few ponies opened their door, looking groggy and irritated, most of them looked happy (and slightly confused) when they saw that somepony had left them all presents on their doorsteps.
I flew off, laughing my ass off.
“It’s good to be The Traveler!”
When we landed at my house, I was ready to pass out. I had run out of Pinkie’s cookies two hours ago, and the sugar crash was hitting me with a sledgehammer.
I stumbled out of the sleigh, and dismissed the Aura. “Bad idea,” I wearily said, as I slipped and fell, face first, onto the ground. I shifted into human form, and pushed myself up.
“Great job you three. Now go home, get some rest…I know that’s what I’ll be doing,” I chuckled, walking into my house.
I stumbled through the door, and forced my feet to carry me up the stairs. “Stupid…sugar coma,” I mumbled through numb lips. I made it to the bed, and I managed to crawl into it, pulling the blankets over me.
Twilight Sparkle was awoken by a loud booming voice, which called out, “HAPPY HEARTH’S WARMING DAY!”
She blearily rubbed her eyes, and after wrapping herself up in a warm scarf, walked outside, where her assistant, Spike, was already tearing open a brightly wrapped box.
“Spike? Where did these presents come from?” She asked, looking at the small pile of boxes that was in front of her.
“I don’t know! I just woke up, and they were right there. We’re not the only ones who got them though,” Spike replied, smiling widely at the perfectly polished Ruby that was in the box in front of him.
“Nope! It looks like everypony in Ponyville got presents! Oh boy, would you look at this Ruby!” Spike said, licking his lips. He took a huge bite out of it, and moaned. “This is the best gemstone I’ve ever had!”
Twilight then turned her attention to the present in front of her, and she magically unwrapped it, making sure that she didn’t rip the paper. Her eyes widened, as she lifted a thick heavy book in front of her.
“Starswirl the Bearded’s Autobiography?” She exclaimed, a huge smile on her face. She then frowned, and said to Spike, “But how? You’re the only one who knew that I wanted this!”
Spike shrugged, and continued to eat his gem.
“Hm…Well, it’s a mystery we’ll have to solve later! Come on! Operation: ‘Home is where the Hearth is’ is ago!” Twilight exclaimed, lifting Spike onto her back.
“Why are we calling it that?” Spike grumbled.
“I thought that Omnius might find it funny. We are doing this for him, remember?”
It felt like I had just fallen asleep, when I heard somepony pounding on my door.
“Arrrrrrrrrrgh,” I groaned, waking up. “It’s always when I NEED to sleep, isn’t it?”
I shifted into Earth Pony form, and shook out my mane. “Hold on, Imma comin’!” I hollered, stumbling down the stairs. I opened the door, and was surprised to see Applejack, who had a worried look on her face.
“A.J?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, uh, you see, it’s uh, oh! It’s Fluttershy! She, uh, needs your help with her critters!” She said nervously, her eyes shifting.
I raised my eyebrow, but failed my bluff check. “Alrighty then, I’ll go see if I can help her out then.”
I dashed off down the road, zipping up the blue vest Rarity had given me a while ago.
“Phew…” Applejack let out a sigh of relief. “I cain’t believe he bought that. Alright girls, the coast is clear!” She hollered out.
Five ponies stepped out from behind the trees, each wearing a set of saddlebags that were stuffed with holiday decorations, and sweets.
Twilight grinned triumphantly, and said, “Phase one of ‘Operation: Home is where the Hearth is’ is complete. Rainbow Dash, start Phase two!”
Rainbow Dash saluted, and flew off, a rainbow trail glistening behind her. Twilight opened her saddlebags, and levitated strings of tinsel over the doorway of Omnius’s house.
“Why did you have me tell him Fluttershy needed help?” Applejack asked Twilight. “You know that I cain’t lie to save mah own life!”
“Because Omnius doesn’t notice much when he’s woken up early,” Twilight said, smiling. “I knew that since it’s a holiday, he would definitely plan on sleeping in, and look! I was right.”
Applejack shook her head, but let the matter go.
I reached Fluttershy’s cottage, and knocked on the door. “Fluttershy? You in there? Applejack said that you needed my help with the critters?”
Frowning, I looked at the doorstep, and said to myself, “Her presents are gone. She must have already opened them…but where is she?”
While I tried to puzzle this out, I heard Rainbow Dash call out, “Hey! Omnius!”
“Hey Dash,” I said, turning to look at her. “Hey, have you seen Fluttershy? A.J said that she needed my help with one of her animals.”
“Oh yeah! She’s over at Sweet Apple Acres. Turns out some badger has been digging up some of the fields,” Rainbow said, gesturing towards the direction of the farms.
“Why would she need my help with a badger though?”
“Uhhh, she said it’s a pretty mean one. She can’t get close enough to calm it down!” Rainbow said, hesitating slightly.
I groaned mentally. Sweet Apple Acres was all the way on the other side of town, and I had just gotten to the cottage. “My legs are gonna hate me tomorrow. Alright, I’ll head over there. Would you mind flying ahead to let them know I’m coming?” I asked, already taking off down the road.
“Sure thing! I’ll be there in ten seconds flat!” Rainbow Dash promised, speeding off ahead of me.
I picked up my speed, and tried to hurry. I would have used an Aura to get me there faster, but I was still a little tired from the late night Santa gig, and I didn’t want to risk passing out.
“The decorations are complete!” Twilight said enthusiastically, marking it off of her check list. “Now we can move onto Phase three: Party! Rainbow Dash should have pointed Omnius to the farm by now, so I’ll just go and wait for him.”
“Uh, are you sure it was a good idea to distract him like this?” Fluttershy asked after she had set up a large bowl filled with punch. “I mean, won’t he be mad when he finds out that there isn’t anything wrong?”
“Yeah! Remember that one time when me and Dashie switched his soda with a glass that was filled with Rainbows?” Pinkie asked, giggling. “Oh, was he mad! But then he realized it was a prank, and he started laughing with us!”
“I still wish I coulda seen the look on his face,” Applejack snickered. “You only licked it that one time we went to Cloudsdale, and he actually downed that entire glass!”
All five of the ponies laughed, and Rainbow Dash chose that moment to enter. “He’s on his way to the farm! Is everything finished here?”
“Yep. Now I just have to teleport to Sweet Apple Acres, and let him know!” Twilight said, her horn already glowing. With a bright flash of light, she was gone.
“Legs…burning…need…food,” I panted, as I leaned against the side of Applejack’s house. “But I made it…”
I wobbled over to the door, and knocked on it weakly. The door opened, revealing Big Mac, who was wearing a Christmas wreath (Or Hearth’s Warming wreath) instead of the normal plow he was seen in.
“Happy Hearth’s Warming,” He said, chewing on his usual sprig of wheat.
“You too,” I panted. “Hey, is A.J home? I heard that she and Fluttershy were having trouble with a badger, or something like that.”
“Nope. In fact, she told me that she was headed to your place to help out the others with something,” He replied, scratching his head. “Hey, do you know anything about them presents that appeared on everypony’s doorstep this morning?”
“Uh, no? Why do you ask?” I said distractedly, as I tried to figure out why Applejack would have lied to me.
“Well, it’s just that this morning, I heard some feller holler out Happy Hearth’s Warming, and found that somepony had given me a present. I’m not ungrateful or nothing, but I just wanted to say thanks to the pony who left it.”
“Uh, yeah. I’ll let you know if I find out about that. Welp, I guess I’m just gonna head out now. Tell Apple Bloom I said hi,” I said, stumbling to the path.
“Alrighty. Bye Omnius.”
I started down the path, and thought to myself, “Ow, my aching legs…”
With a reluctant sigh, I took off down the path, running as fast as my burning legs would carry me. “There had better be a good reason for all this,” I muttered to myself.
“Bad news girls. We may have a slight problem,” Twilight said, reappearing in front of The Traveler’s house.
“What’s wrong? And why isn’t Omnius with you? I thought you were going to meet him at the farm!” Rarity said, looking around, as if Twilight was hiding Omnius.
“Apparently Omnius already left the farm…and he’s headed this way!” Twilight said, running inside.
“But that’s impossible!” Rainbow exclaimed. “There’s no way he could’ve gotten to Sweet Apple Acres before I got here!”
“Wait, I just thought about something,” Applejack said, smacking her face. “I forgot about the hill.”
“What?” The other ponies turned their confused gazes upon Applejack, and she grimaced.
“Well see, there’s this hill that Apple Bloom likes to go sledding on during the winter, since it’s all covered in ice. Sometimes she can get to goin’ so fast, that even Rainbow might have a tough time trying to keep up.”
“I doubt it,” Rainbow Dash mumbled.
Applejack ignored Dash, and continued, saying, “Well since Omnius had to go that way, what if he used the hill to speed himself up?”
All of the ponies were silent, as they considered what A.J had just said.
“He’s not going to be happy when he gets here,” Fluttershy gulped.
“Don’t worry. What are the chances that Omnius will be angry?” Twilight said, trying to mask her own worry.
“I…am...pissed,” I gasped out angrily, glaring at the path that lead to my house. “I’ve been up all night, been woken up WAY too early, and now I’m on a wild goose chase!”
I used my anger to stave off the burning in my legs, and turned the corner to my house-
-and stopped dead in my tracks, as I took in my house’s appearance.
I was so shocked, that I had completely forgotten my anger. I stumbled to the door, and, in a daze, opened it.
“Surprise!” Six enthusiastic ponies shouted. “Happy Hearth’s Warming Day!”
“What the heck?” I asked, stunned.
“Happy Hearth’s Warming,” Twilight said, wrapping her forelegs around me in a hug. “We knew that you were planning on spending today alone, but-“
“But we know that nopony should have to spend a holiday alone!” Pinkie said, ladling out a cup of punch for me.
I accepted the glass gratefully, and felt tears start to well up in my eyes. “But why?” I asked, still shocked that someone (or somepony) would do all this for me.
“You’ve done so much for everypony here,” Fluttershy said softly. “We just thought that we should say thanks, and let you know that we care.”
That did it. Tears started streaming down my face, and Pinkie said sadly, “You don’t like it?”
I shook my head, grinning. “No Pinkie. I love it…Happy Hearth’s Warming, everypony…Thank you so much.”
We all hugged each other, and I thought to myself, “I was wrong. I’m not alone…”
A warm glow spread throughout my body, chasing away my fatigue.
“I have my friends.”