Third Gear OSS: Sharing Hearts Is Magic

by BNuts

The Epilogue, In Which Gearhead and Luna Converse

As Gearhead fell more deeply into sleep that night, he was somewhat surprised to find Princess Luna waiting for him. When at rest, his mindscape took the shape of a fortress city with seven walls ringing it at even intervals. The next set of walls were higher up, like a layer cake, until the top, where the tower of his most central thoughts stood. There were gates posted at each of the cardinal directions, and each ring was further divided into quadrants for compartmentalization, so that Gearhead could decide what was and what was not easily accessible.
It was a pretty close match for what Luna had taught him to do. Mostly her lessons were about psychic defenses, since there were some things Gearhead did not want Snowbelle to find out through their psychic bond -- she was his daughter, after all, despite being a dragon. Some of Luna's lessons, however, were about countering psychic attacks, and even how to reach out toward another being's psyche and explore the accessible bits. Gearhead had not had the ability to do any of this before Snowbelle hatched and linked with him. Now, though, it seemed he was becoming more and more skilled at it. Luna charitably allows that he might have a knack for it. But he was by no means a psionicist or dreamwalker. Gearhead preferred it that way: the mind was a dangerous place to dive into, especially alone.
"Is it time for another lesson?" Gearhead asked, appearing at the gate where Luna had appeared to let her in.
"Actually, I wanted to consult with you," Luna said, coming inside anyway.
"Very well. What is the topic?"
"Ah well, I am afraid I know very little about them, unless you are referring to familial and friendly relationships."
"A little more than that, and I think you know a little more about it than you think you do. After all, am I not your third female visitor this day?"
"It depends on where you mark the beginning and the end,"
"Well, I happen to believe that I am the third."
"That's my line," the Thirdson said.
"In any case, there does not seem to be a single source for romantic relationships. They can happen suddenly just as easily as they can happen gradually, between friends or strangers one has just met."
"It seems you know much on the subject already,"
"I do not hear you disagreeing,"
"Because so far I agree. One can look for romance, and romance can find you regardless of your effort, or lack thereof. Mother pursued Father, but I doubt that is a common thing."
"Says the one being pursued," Luna said.
"No, says the one not ready for romance," Gearhead corrected her.
"Perhaps it can happen whether you are ready for it or not," Luna mused. "Did you not find yourself connected in such a way with the Azure's eldest?"
"You are talking about Prism's crush on me? I gave her the time to see where it would develop, and meanwhile I was definitely not ready for her."
"Then what about the Conclave's second-eldest, since she is not so forward or daring?"
"She is certainly fun and kind, however I think I will lose the race to Big Sister Ivy, and then Dawn and I will be siblings-in-law."
"And if you still wanted to be together?"
"I suppose I could leave the Herd. It would also solve my personal problems with Vines, but only my problems and not those of future generations he might affect. And I could never stop supporting those who supported me in turn."
"And Fluttershy?"
"She is a lovely mare who deserves better."
"Ah, so here we arrive at the truth: love makes us see ourselves as unworthy, or else the thing we want most is for our most beloved one to achieve the greatest happiness possible, even if that means being apart."
"I never said that,"
"You did not have to."
"And what about you?"
"I had fun, and I think my sister did too. I need not have a partner who sees the world through the traditional lens, not after all I have seen. But long-lived as I am, I still desire the companionship of another, even if he might pass before I do. I hold Big McIntosh in high regard, but I do not know if this is 'love.'"
"Perhaps love takes time for immortals,"
"Time our mortal loves do not have?"
"Maybe, and if so then you will have to decide in time for it to make a difference."
"I am surprised in some ways that nopony tried to use the Crystal Heart's power."
"It would not have worked," Gearhead said.
"Why not?"
"First because the Crystal Heart reflects and amplifies either Light and Love or Despair and Hate, emotional forces that are already present,"
"And second?"
"False love does not work for long: Heads butt, a strong personality takes advantage of the weaker one, or the relationship decays until it falls apart. Even love potions cannot make a false love true, without true love being there in the first place -- at least a speck of it."
"You almost sound like you are speaking from experience,"
"I am speaking from the point of learned theory, and from observations. I do not know if I am in love, or ready for it. I do know that it will happen eventually. When it does, I want to make sure I do all that is possible to make it the best it can be."
"Can love be made to be something?"
"Probably not, but I hear it needs to be worked at to make it work."
"That sounds similar to using a love potion,"
"I do not know: I have loved others, mostly family and close friends, but I have never been in love."
"How does one know? The pony herself seems like the worst one to identify it."
"So ask another, if you can dare to do so."
"I would rather not," Luna said.
"I thought so."
Luna paused to think. "For something so central to our lives, love is so very ill-defined. I have heard it said that we can know it when it happens, but not before."
"I have heard of that as well, but never experienced it."
"I do not think I have either, but then neither of us are looking for love."
"If this was a fiction, that would be exactly when it finds us," Gearhead said.
"Then I think I had best move on before it does," Luna said, and then she vanished.
Love, like Friendship, is a real, physical force in this world, Gearhead thought. I have seen both vanquish powerful foes. It is an awesome, unbeatable, impacable power. And it makes ponies do strange, stupid things and think strange, stupid thoughts. For the lucky, this somehow leads to greater happiness, an end to be wished for.
But not to be made. Gearhead meant to create his own future, so the thought that he was not in control of parts of his own life was somewhat upsetting. Then again, Love was also uncontrollable.