• Published 22nd Dec 2015
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Human Rituals - Aegis Shield



A human stays among ponies, mystifying them with his odd traditions and customs.

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Mistletoe

Human Rituals
Mistletoe
(8 Months Since Arrival)

“You’re sure this is all you need, Neig-g-g-gh?” Twilight’s translation bracelet still refused my name, but Rarity’s kind tone was all I needed. Between us on the counter were maybe a dozen white beads, a thin spool of green thread, and some fake topiary leaves. “I couldn’t charge you more than three bits for such a tiny request.”

“Thank you, Rarity,” I smiled and took said amount out of my rucksack. “Still want me to shovel the sidewalk to the shop this weekend when it snows?” I asked while she put my selections in a little box and put twine around it to hold it shut.

“Oh yes, of course,” she smiled. “It’s kind of you, mister hyoo-man,” she gave a toss of her mane as Twilight’s translator tried to make the words sound right to my ears. I almost reached to pat her nose, but I resisted. After the third time of reaching and petting Rarity like a dog, she’d taken to swatting me with her rather strong hooves. Who knew a seamstress could make your hands sting like that? She’d apologized for any marks afterward, of course, and there were no hard feelings, but the mare could certainly leave a bruise! “If I may ask,” she said, cocking her head and giving me a little smile. “What are they for? One can’t do much with a dozen beads and some string. Making a bracelet for a special somepony?” she fluttered her eyelashes.

“No,” I stuck my tongue out a little. “Your kind’s cute, Rarity, but they’re not THAT cute.” I frowned at her crossly until she gave an apologetic smile. “But, I guess I can let you in on this, if you’ll keep mum about it.” I smiled.

Mother?” It was lost in translation, and she tilted her head a bit.

“Er, quiet. Not tell anyone.”

“Oh yes, of course,” she leaned in conspiratorially, like she was about to be told some sort of atomic secret. I put the box in my rucksack and pulled on my mittens.

“I’m making mistletoe for Twilight’s winter party at the castle,” I grinned.

Rarity’s smile didn’t falter bit her eyes did blink twice in confusion. “Ah… huh,” she said, trying to stay agreeable.

“Oh right, no mistletoe here,” I rolled my eyes. “Twilight will be thrilled to learn another human cultural thing.”

“Do tell?” Rarity asked, tilting her head.

“Well, mistletoe is something you hang in a doorway, an archway, something like that, during the holiday season.”

“Like Hearths Warming?”

“Yes, that’s right,” I was buttoning my jacket as I spoke. “The point is to catch someone you like under it and kiss them.”

“Oh?” Her face lit up. “How romantic! What is the significance to hyoo-mans?” she smiled wider and wider at the idea of such a thing.

“Er… getting a kiss, I guess.” I shrugged. “It’s supposed to have roots in old druidic stuff, things we’ve long forgotten about. But it’s the thought that counts.”

“And the kiss too?” Rarity chuckled.

“And the kiss too,” I agreed.

“What if one were to… I don’t know, wear it on one’s tail?” Rarity said with a sideways glance.

“Some men do that to say they want oral sex,” I said with a devilish smirk, remembering the haughty underwear I’d seen in a few magazines. Rarity’s red face was PRICELESS.

“Oh! Oh my! W-well that’s certainly not---” she lost track of herself for a few moments, stammering in embarrassment.

“Breathe, Rarity,” I coached. “I’ve told you this in confidence, remember?”

“We have the Spring Flower Festival every year, since this is an earth pony town,” Rarity smiled a bit, coughing and trying to collect herself. “All the mares wear flowers in their tails. White means you’re looking. Pink means you’re in a relationship. Red means you’re happily married. I just thought, the way you made it sound…” she trailed off. “E-excuse me a moment, Neig-g-g-h!” she trailed off behind her little curtain to the backroom. Maybe to do a breathing exercise, I’m not sure. When she returned she’d regained her composure.

“Well! I’ll see you at Twilight’s Winter Party, then!” I told her. “Bye!” the bell rang and I was off. I wasn’t much good with a sewing needle, but I’d make something happen with the fake leaves, white beads and thread.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

“Huh, Miss-uhl-toe…?” Mr. Cake leaned to read my little sign, then followed the arrow to look up. “’Standing under it with somepony you like and kissing brings good luck.’ Huh!” he smiled at his wife, who looked at me. I nodded encouragingly.

“Well I can certainly indulge in such a nice custom!” The plump mare seized her rather lanky husband and kissed him. He struggled, blushing, and I laughed. A pony who was waiting nearby with a camera snapped a picture. The box spat out the rapidly developing photo, and he stuck it up on the wall with all the others. Hundreds of ponies were attending Castle Friendship, and dozens of couples had all loved the idea of this new ‘kissie weed’ I’d hung above the door to the ballroom.

My little project had turned out nicely. The photographer was even paying me a bit for any couples that came back wanting copies of their own special moment. I turned to watch Twilight, who was anxiously watching other ponies participate in my hyooman ritual of kissing under a plant. I could practically see her sweating to run over and bombard me with questions. But, she was the Princess and the hostess of the party for all of Ponyville.

“Good evening, Neig-g-gh!” Rarity said, dressed in a luxurious red-and-white festival gown.

“Hey Rarity,” I smiled, kneeling down so we were eye to eye.

“How is your mistletoe working out?” she asked, gesturing.

“Ponies seem to like it!” I leaned, cupping a hand to whisper. “I think half of it is just an excuse to kiss in public! The scandal!” Rarity smirked good-naturedly at me, shaking her head. “But I won’t keep you. Enjoy the party, huh? I’m hanging out over here so I don’t make a spectacle of myself among all the little ponies.”

“That’s very kind of you. Some are still a little nervous to see you about town.”

“I’m twice their height and have no magic. I’m a pretty big target if they get upset with me,” I joked, nodding and taking a cherry-flavored drink from a passing waiter.

“Even so, dahling, it’s good to be culturally sensitive now and then,” she leaned and, checking my ‘kissie weed’ above us, pecked my cheek. “Enjoy the party!” she said, turning gracefully and mingling into the crowd. I snickered a little, adjusting the bowtie she’d made for me.

“Hey! Hey, me too!” None other than Spike the dragon had appeared in the archway.

“I am not kissing you, Spike,” I snarked.

“Not you! Rarity!” Spike snorted at me, shoving past to get through the crowd and catch the white mare. “Rarity! Rarity come back! I wanna try the mistletoe!”

“Are you gonna dance with anypony, Sugarcube?” Applejack had appeared a little while later.

“I’m twice your height!” I repeated, laughing.

“You can line dance, then, so you don't squish nopony!” she offered.

“Nah, I’m fine. I’ll probably wish Twilight a Merry Chris--- Hearths Warming, and head to bed soon,” I said. There was a half-awkward silence between us and I looked at the floor, mumbling.

“Y’know,” Applejack tilted her dark dress hat, “If you don’t wanna be all by yerself for Hearths Warming, you can come be my plus one at the Apple family house for the festivities!”

“Really?” I perked up a little. Hearths Warming and Christmas were fairly close in comparison, so it certainly sounded appealing. “Sure, that’d be great!”

“Now, mind Big Mac this time. He’s already kicked ya twice for sneaking up on him,” she said seriously.

“Not my fault he’s half-deaf and can't hear me coming within a forty-foot radius saying his name out loud. The stallion has his head in the clouds.” I stuck my tongue out, remembering the massive bruises and days of visible limping.

Applejack rolled her eyes and smiled. “Alrigh’. Just don’t expect me to be kissin’ nopony under your plant thing up there or I’d be--!” A passing stallion who’d read the sign smooched Applejack on the cheek as he went by, laughing merrily and vanishing into the crowd. Flash went the camera. The mare went as red as a beet. I was rolling.