Pounds For Pumpkins

by Crescent Wrench


C3_Good-byes

Pounds For Pumpkins

Digital_Hex

Good-byes

        Pumpkin slowly crept her way from the kitchen towards the sounds of soft sobbing. She had heard her father exchanging words with Pound upstairs, oblivious of what was being said, before they had come downstairs at the sound of the front door knocking. They'd passed Pumpkin on their way, and were just out of sight of her.

        She hadn't heard much of what had been said, but she had sensed the emotions rising. Something was up. Something was seriously up. And if her gut feeling was correct, then she knew exactly what was up.

        Turning the corner, she saw a spectacle she had never expected to see, something even more surprising and far more unsettling than finding out she was pregnant with her brother's foal:

        Her father was broken down into tears. Never before had she seen him so much as tear up, and there he was broken down into full waterworks.

        Unsettling didn't even begin to describe what she felt at the scene before her. This was...

        “Dad?” she asked softly, approaching the two. Pound whirled around, eyes wide with fear. A split second later, Pound's fight or flight reaction finally kicked in. Flight.

        Pound tore out of the house, a screaming tail of red in his wake.

        “Dad!” Pumpkin cried, rushing to her father. “Dad, what happened! What happened!”

        “He's... my Faust, he's going to...”

        Pumpkin groaned as she held her father in her hooves.

        “Dad, what happened?”

        Carrot Cake managed to compose himself for his daughter. Just barely.

        “Your brother is... going to war,” he whispered. It was too much for the older stallion. He broke right back down to crying.

        Pumpkin sat back, stunned. Mortified. Shaken.

        “Wh-what?” she croaked out.

        Carrot Cake simply cried on.

        Pound, outside, had climbed as far as he could into the sky. Looking down, he could see guards going to a number of the houses throughout Ponyville, knocking on the doors. No doubt they were passing the same information to the inhabitants of those houses, too.

        Pound cried out as he rose into the air.

        Everything was happening so fast.

        An hour ago, he was enjoying time with his mare, having a drink with some friends.

        Now, he's expected to go and learn to fight in a war he just now learned about.

        Everything was happening so fast.

        Everything was happening too fast.

        He screamed as he punched through the cloud layer, rocketing up, up, up...

        And he stopped. His heart was racing, his breathing shallow and rapid. He was running, but... what was he running from?

        He couldn't change what was happening. And he sure as Hell couldn't just keep running away from it, either. That would mean leaving his parents, leaving Pumpkin... he could never leave Pumpkin.

        Taking a deep breath, he let himself glide back down. The town was slowly being awoken as guards knocked on doors. As much as he wanted to just ignore everything around him, he had to realize that this was really happening.

        Landing outside of the door to his home, he entered slowly to find Pumpkin and Carrot Cake wiping away their tears.

        “P-Pound,” Pumpkin cried before throwing herself at him, wrapping him up in a tight hug.

        Pound felt his lip whimper, but he refused to cry. He had to be strong. For Pumpkin, he had to be strong...

        ~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~

        The night wasn't long enough.

        Cup Cake had cried when Carrot told her the news. The family woke up together early, ate breakfast together, had one final laugh together.

        After that, Pound left to head upstairs. Carrot Cake followed after him.

        “Dad, what... what do I need to bring?” Pound asked, emotionless. Carrot Cake had never seen Pound quite like this.

        “Nothing,” Carrot sighed, resting a hoof on Pound's shoulder. “You'll be issued everything you need during your training.”

        Pound Cake nodded before climbing the stairs of his house, heading towards his room.

        Carrot Cake sighed.

        Trotting back into the kitchen, Carrot sat down next to his wife. The clock read a quarter past six. Soon, they would need to head to the train depot. Soon. But not now.

        Pumpkin rose from her own seat, chasing after Pound. She found him laying sprawled out on his back across his bed, looking straight up at the ceiling.

        “Hey Pumpkin,” he said evenly, not even looking towards her. His wings gave subtle twitches from their spread position as Pumpkin trotted over, climbing on to the bed next to Pound. She curled up next to him. Pound couldn't help but wrap a hoof around her. He never could help it.

        “Pound...” Pumpkin said quietly, “be careful, okay?”

        Pound nodded. He really had no idea what to expect, heading out to war. He only knew what to be afraid of.

        “I will,” he assured Pumpkin.

        The two laid like that for a little while, enjoying the warmth from the other.

        However, like all good things, it eventually came to an end as Cup Cake poked her head in the door.

        They look so cute like that, she thought to herself with a small, sad smile before opening her mouth.

        “Time to go,” she said shortly.

        Sighing, the two children rose to their hooves.

        Carrot Cake waited until his family was out of the store before locking it up behind him. Together, they all made their way to the train depot.

        Along the way, Pound couldn't help but notice other families much like his falling in step with the solemn Cakes. Soon, he was at the head of a quiet march towards the station, the leader of what must have been over a hundred colts his age or a bit older given the same fate he was. There were older stallions, veterans who were returning to the service, but the ponies were mainly late-teenage colts, hardly stallions, hardly soldiers. Many were much like Pound; scared, fearful, anything but ready for what they were about to do.

        As the ponies all clambered onto the station, the final good-byes were traded. Many parents knew not whether this would be the last time they saw their child or not.

        Pound embraced his parents while still trying to hold back tears. His strong demeanor was cracking.

        “Oy, Pound.”

        Pound looked to his right to see Pipsqueak trotting over to him. He met Pip's hoof with his own before he asked him the question. Pip nodded sadly.

        “Mum and dad didn't even want to see me off to the station, couldn't even get out o' bed.”

        Pound opened his mouth to comment further, but was interrupted as the sound of a train whistle off in the distance made everypony on the station very quiet.

        “There it is,” Pipsqueak whispered to Pound. “That's our future right there...”

        “Yeah,” Pound whispered back. He felt a sudden warmth at his side.

        Turning, he saw Pumpkin tearing up again.

        Disregarding any thought or care, he lifted a hoof to her face.

        “I'll be back, Pumpkin,” he said softly, resting his forehead against hers. “I promise. We have a foal to raise.”

        Pumpkin sniffled, nodding.

        Pound leaned in and kissed Pumpkin softly, tilting his head to the side. Pumpkin, however, was far more greedy, leaning into the kiss as if it were the last one she'd ever get. For all she knew, it could be.

        All anypony had heard of wars up to that point was that they were brutal and swift. All of the veterans would agree with that, as they were the ones who had said so. The Equestrian Guard were some of the finest soldiers their side of the world, but...

        War never changed. Ponies would die, that was for sure. And if relations had escalated so high between Equestria and the Zebra tribes of the south to this extreme, well...

        It was obvious that many ponies would lose their lives.

        After all, war never changes.

        Pound wrapped his hooves around Pumpkin reassuringly, followed by his wings, draped over her protectively. He would return, damnit. He had a child and a beautiful mare to return to.

        Slowly, agonizingly, painfully, Pound broke away.

        “All aboard for New Hope!” the conductor hollered.

        “I've got to go,” Pound breathed to Pumpkin. She sniffled and hugged him tightly before letting him go.

        Pound nodded to his family before stepping up next to Pipsqueak. They shared a determined look before stepping up into the train.

        All around them, colts and stallions far similar to them trotted on as well. A few mares stepped aboard, even. With one last look back to their families, the train doors closed.

        And with one last call of the whistle, the train departed.

        Pumpkin wept.