• Published 10th May 2014
  • 5,419 Views, 1,103 Comments

Pound and Pumpkin Tales 1 - Never2muchpinkie



Set a few years into the future, six year old Pound and Pumpkin have a lot of growing up to do. They fight and make up, make mistakes and learn lessons, and love and protect each other as much as they get on each other's nerves.

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19-6: Loss of identity

Pinkie dropped the pair off at school like usual, and Pound and Pumpkin went their separate ways to their classrooms.

Things were certainly different for Pound as Nimble took them outside like usual. He was able to practice his wing-ups in peace. Drill Bit’s lackeys seemed a little lost without him there. As he had thought they seemed to just be following along with Drill Bit because he was the most confident and talented of their class.

Since she had been so nice to him the day before he asked Starry Sky to observe him, and let him know how he was doing. Every so often she would call him out when he defaulted to his off-center method of lifting himself, but for the most part he had it down.

It was so quiet it was almost unnerving. No jeering or mocking laughter. No insults. No being called the ‘flightless wonder.’ It was such a relief, and allowed him to put all his focus on improving.

He let out a little groan. His relief didn’t help his determination to scold Pumpkin. On the contrary, he felt guilty for just how pleased he was that Drill Bit wasn't there. It distracted him so much that Starry Sky had to chastise him several times to focus on doing his wing-ups properly.

He shook his head. ‘No!’ he thought firmly. ‘What Pumpkin did is wrong! I’m not thankful for what she did. I’m just glad I’m not being bullied, is all.’

He slowly mastered his feelings, focusing only on his exercise. He only had a limited time of bully-free class, and he wanted to make the most of it. If he could at least master hovering by the time Drill Bit returned he wouldn’t get teased as much.

As he kept up his effort he returned to the mantra he’d repeated endlessly the past few days. ‘I’m an ugly duckling. I’m an ugly duckling. Soon enough I’ll be a swan.’

***

Pumpkin’s back hooves swung idly as she worked on their latest assignment. Sparkler had been telling them about the famous unicorn Starswirl the Bearded. As a test of their memorization ability she asked them to write down everything they remembered.

She already knew most of the things Sparkler had said, in no small part because of Princess Twilight, so she found it easy to write down things about him.

When she finished she went up front and handed in her sheet of paper. Sparkler looked nonplussed at how quickly Pumpkin had come up, and scanned the paper. Finding no fault with it she told Pumpkin to sit quietly while the other students finished up.

As she turned around to sit down Masky got up to hand his in as well. As he passed by her he snuck her a quick peck on the cheek.

Pumpkin stumbled, taken by surprise at his sudden display of affection. Her face went red as she sat at her seat, her restless legs moving faster than ever now. If she didn’t burn some of the energy inside her she felt she might just start leaping for joy. Needless to say that would get her in trouble, and she wasn’t interested in that.

Sparkler was less surprised that Masky had also finished quickly. The colt had been around the whole continent. It was hardly a shock that he would be knowledgeable about many things. Even if his memory was terrible he still would have many chances to pick up the information she had told them.

She gave him the same instruction she had given Pumpkin about not disrupting the rest of their classmates.

Masky stood there a few moments, before leaning in and saying quietly, “Since we’re both finished, would it be alright if me and Pumpkin sat in the corner and talked? We’ll be quiet.”

Sparkler glanced over at Pumpkin, seeing the giddy look on her face. She could tell with a glance that Pumpkin had a thing for him. Now Masky wanted to sit in a somewhat secluded place with her. Next thing she knew they might start having a pretend marriage going on, and that thought made her chuckle.

Leaning closer to him she said, “Very well, but do try not to break her heart, Mr. big shot.” She winked at him.

Masky giggled. “I’ll do my best.” When he turned around he rolled his eyes in exasperation. Was it that obvious? He looked at Pumpkin, and then mentally shrugged. ‘I guess it is,’ he thought.

Masky stood next to Pumpkin’s desk, putting his head by her ear. “Hey, c’mere,” he whispered, gesturing with his head. “I got permission.”

Pumpkin turned her head, and slowly got up and followed him towards the corner of the room.

They sat down across from each other. Pumpkin was pleased that she had him to herself again. He hadn’t decided to wear his dark vest today, but it didn’t diminish his coolness in the least.

“So how are you feeling today?” he asked, pointing to her cheek.

He was concerned for her! Well, she already knew that. He had spent the whole last part of the previous day by her side, but it was nice to know he was checking up. “Well, it still hurts a bit if I smile too wide, or if I poke it, but I’m okay.”

“Glad to hear it.” He flashed a smile at her.

Pumpkin felt her heart start beating a little faster. “Thanks for asking. I really appreciate it.”

“Hey, I would do the same for any pony. Well… at least for a pony as cool and cute as you.”

Pumpkin buried her face in her hooves, her cheeks once more feeling red hot. Love just felt so magical. She looked up when she felt a leg around her shoulder, and saw that he had moved next to her.

“Hey, now. There’s no need to be shy. It’s only the truth.”

Her cheek gently ached as she smiled widely, putting a leg around him as well. She put her head against his and closed her eyes, all feeling right with the world.

Masky didn’t intrude on the silence. Pumpkin was a pony with guts, no doubt about that. Cracking herself in the face with a heavy object hard enough to leave a big bruise in order to protect her brother was impressive to him.

He really did find her cute, and as a pony she was fun to hang out and talk with, but… he couldn’t say that he felt fireworks going off. He didn’t feel the same way about her that she did about him. So why did he persist in leading her on? There were several reasons, really.

He’d never had a crush himself before. He thought he might grow into it, though he doubted it. No, his real reason was that she genuinely loved him, and it cost nothing to be what she wanted him to be. After all, his whole life had been an act lately. There wasn’t any room for his real self. This was just another role he had to play. It made her happy, so why not?

Not for the first time he reflected on the name his parents had given him: Masquerade Ball. An event where everyone comes masked and wearing fancy attire, and that anonymity gives a sense of freedom, allowing everyone to be whoever they wanted to be regardless of who they actually are beneath the mask.

Even though they had given him the name as a symbol of where they had met it was a name that seemed to perfectly reflect him lately. Even his nickname of Masky felt like distancing himself from who he was.

He suppressed a sigh, not wanting to disturb Pumpkin’s ideal vision of him with concern, even though he felt the cold touch of loneliness inside.

He tightened his grip on Pumpkin’s shoulder, seeing her content smile. And yet he felt nothing. He couldn’t allow himself to get attached to her. It would only end badly. Even so, he could play the part. At least he could do that.

Author's Note:

Pound seems to be doing well, as well as Pumpkin. But now we get a little peek behind the mask that Masquerade Ball wears. Pumpkin's loving a shadow, unfortunately.

He's not nearly as confident as he makes himself out to be. We'll be getting to the core of his attachment issues later on, after Pound deals with Drill Bit. For now I'll just say that his issue comes from the nomadic lifestyle he lives.

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