• Published 6th Jul 2012
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Cutie Mark Catastrophes - Wintergreen Diaries



Cutie Mark Crusaders find their marks and look to new horizons; taming colts for themselves.

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Teach Me

Chapter 20: Teach Me

“You sure are lucky, Applebloom.” Given that the filly’s morning had started off with a maneful of chum, Applebloom was justifiably incredulous as she turned towards the aggravatingly adorable colt who had stopped to take in the rows upon rows of healthy trees and the sweet scent of fruit that pervaded the air. He was probably right, but there was no need to let him have it too easy.

“Oh? How’s that?” Applebloom replied, feigning indifference.

“Well, your yard is really pretty, and it smells nice too!” Rumble quipped, causing the filly to pause and take a deep draft of the country air, analyzing the tantalizing aroma a few moments before turning back with a wry grin to the pegasus just a hoof’s reach away.

“It smells like shenanigans.”

“Uh huh! And apples!” Rumble chortled, beaming brightly and scooching just a little closer.

“Right, and apples...” Applebloom murmured, unable to keep a giggle from escaping as she too inched over, and together they resumed their leisurely stroll. As much as she was struggling to deny the humor in all the mishaps of the prior evening, all it had taken was a relaxed trot through town and Rumble’s ever-present optimism to restore her good graces in a way few ponies could, even her closest of friends. Applebloom had almost forgotten about the rude awakening she’d experienced that morning as they arrived at the farmhouse, but a time-worn mare’s uncanny knack for astute observation quickly wiped the smile from a lively colt’s muzzle and replaced it with a frown that made Applebloom think of that time Winona had been wrapped in damp towels as a pup by mistake. In short? Endearingly miserable.

“Phew! You two musta been gettin’ into all kinds o’ dirty t’ come home smellin’ like that!” Granny Smith exclaimed, wrinkling her nose the moment the two set hoof inside the kitchen. “Applebloom, it ain’t proper fer a young lady t’ go around reekin’ like a pig sty after the whole herd had a grand ol’ feast o’ brussel sprouts and rotten onions.”

“Ah don’t smell that bad, do ah, Rumble?” It didn’t do much for the filly’s confidence as she turned to find Rumble discretely averting his muzzle and nervously rubbing his foreleg in emphatic silence. “...ah do, don’t ah.”

“...uh huh.”

“Even after ah showered so long mah hooves got all wrinkled?”

“Uh huh.”

“Figures,” Applebloom muttered, shaking her head as she turned back to the rickety mare tottering over. “Granny, before ah go soak in enough perfume t’ knock the curl out o’ Rarity’s mane, do ya think you might be able t’ get the smell an’ stain outta my bow?”

“Let’s see now...” the mare murmured to nopony in particular, accepting the offered length of fabric and scrutinizing it under her militant eye. “Well, I’ll be!” she exclaimed, chuckling as she looked at the two ponies with twinkling eyes. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this bow smells like Rumble an’ a bit o’ Silver’s finest pale cider!” Applebloom looked at Rumble, and blushed. Rumble looked at Applebloom and blushed harder. “You two been gettin’ cozy, eh?” Quickly turning away after brief eye contact that anypony would have clearly read “guilty as charged,” Rumble looked up at the beaming matriarch and defended their innocence.

“Uh... uh uh?”

“Oh, there’s no need t’ be secretive with me, young un! Just don’t let Applejack catch ya, or she’s liable t’ tan yer hide real good!” Giving the pair a wink, discernment trained by the test of time shifted the conversation back where it had started, allowing the two time to recover. “Don’t you worry none, Applebloom. I know a few tricks fer gettin’ things cleaned, like... eh, what was that sayin’ my ma used to tell me? Ponyfeathers, it was right there... oh well, it’ll come t’ me when I need it! You go ahead an’ run along, now. Come back sometime this evenin’ and I’ll have it smellin’ fresher than Silver’s goatee!”

“Uh... right, Granny. Thanks, ah guess?” Applebloom offered as the mare tottered off to begin the preparatory work necessary for the cleansing of a defiled and wayward bow, namely a sound interrogation with the possible threat of bleach. Applebloom stared briefly briefly before turning back to Rumble with a dubious grin. “Now, given that somepony didn’t tell me ah reek like a pig, ah-”

“It’s really not that bad, Applebloom!” Rumble interjected, pounding a hoof lightly in exasperation that was more directed at himself than anypony else.

“Calm down, Rumble; ah’m just teasin’” the filly chuckled, starting down the hall. “Ah’m just gonna swipe a spritz or two o’ Crimson’s perfume, and then we can get started on fixin’ the boat, alright?”

“Uh huh! Sounds great!” he replied, brightening up and reverting to his usual smiley self as the filly cantered away, coming to a stop in front of her brother’s room.

Hope ah ain’t interruptin’ anythin’, though ah wager ah’d feel it in the floor if ah was... Knocking thrice to make sure she wouldn’t be victim to education she didn’t need, and consequently already knew, Applebloom waited for a time before cracking open the door and wandering in. Given the amount of “activity” she knew occurred in the room, she tended to avoid it altogether, and not seeing anything right away, it became apparent she’d have to do a little scrounging around to find Crimson’s stash.

If there’s one thing I can say about Crimson, it’s that she always smells real nice. Mah brother sure seems to like it... Not spying anything in the immediate area, the filly took a deep draft of the air and immediately homed in on a set of drawers that smelled like somepony had nicked all of Rose Luck’s flowers and stuffed them all into one tiny compartment. Applebloom cracked open the drawer and was immediately blasted by the scent of many fragrances, with bottle after bottle neatly organized and just waiting for a good testing.

If Big Mac likes it, then maybe Rumble will too! It was all the motivation she needed, and she began to “test” each bottle with a little spritz here, a tiny spray there, one by one until she’d flooded the room with the sweet scent of fruits and flowers. Having gone through just about every bottle, Applebloom ignored the coughing spasm from forced inhalation of countless chemicals and stumbled out of the room amidst a billowing cloud of perfume. A certain colt, having patiently waited for nearly half an hour, smelled a certain other filly long before she strode confidently into the room, her head held high.

“Bet ah smell better now, huh?”

“Uh h- achoo!” An unpremeditated nasal explosion wasn’t exactly the response Applebloom was trying to invoke, but she waited patiently while the colt recovered, sniffed, and sneezed again.

“Are you okay?”

“Nuh uh... a... achoo!”

“What’s yer problem? Do ah still smell bad?”

“Nuh uh! You a... ah...” While Rumble continued to involuntarily empty his snout amidst many a poorly restrained sneeze, Applebloom couldn’t help but feel slightly stinted by such a lackluster response.

“Ah don’t get it, Rumble. First, ah start mah day smellin’ like day old dinner an’ cider, an’ now that ah went an’ tried t’ fix it, all yer doin’ is sneezin’ like it’s hay fever season! What’s a filly gotta do, huh?” Before Rumble could even try to respond, which would have taken much longer anyways due to his diaphragm’s nasty habit of interrupting him mid sentence with a chain of spasms, Granny Smith’s voice called out to shed a little light on Applebloom’s confusion.

“Woohee! Applebloom, what ‘n tarnation did you do? Smells like a flower shop exploded! Ah hope you ain’t tryin’ t’ impress Rumble with all this... poor colt’s liable t’ sneeze himself half t’ death!” Laughter prompted sneezes which prompted further laughter, and with Rumble no longer able to stand, Applebloom hung her head and sighed. Apparently, smelling like a proper filly was too far-fetched a goal for a farm pony.

“...ah’m gonna go shower,” she muttered, marching away from the scene and heading straight to the bathroom. That was right embarrassin’. Ah tried t’ do somethin’ right, an’ it just plain flopped! It’s just... frustratin’! Smacking the handle on the shower and yelping as the ensuing downpour ranked somewhere just below scalding, Applebloom frantically adjusted the temperature, uttering dark words cursing their old pipes, and let her embarrassment wash away. Ah wonder... if this is how Rumble always feels, breakin’ things? Must be hard on ‘im... Shoot, ah can hardly stand it now, let alone every other day. At least... he got a good laugh out of it.

Her heart calmed as the pungent odor of lilac, lavender, ripe mango and a myriad of other scents washed down the drain along with her frustration, and after drying off, she returned to find Rumble milling about the front yard. Curious, Applebloom sat down and watched as he neared an apple tree, walked a tentative circle around it, and looked down at his hooves. In truth, Applebloom felt just a little bad that she didn’t warn the colt, but her presence was soon made known by uproarious laughter as Rumble made the common mistake of not bracing his forelegs and bucked himself flat onto his face.

“That’s mah colt,” Applebloom murmured to herself, cantering over and adopting a more sympathetic look as the colt massaged his snout, already quite raw from having sneezed so much. “Ah can’t count how many times ah’ve seen others make the same mistake, Rumble, so you don’t have any reason t’ feel bad,” Applebloom said cheerfully. “Ah ain’t that great at buckin’ trees mahself, but ah can show you how it’s done, at least. Now, look here...”

From the moment she started her little seminar, Applebloom found herself regarded with her colt’s complete attention. He listened quietly, asked a relevant question, and was the very model of a perfect student, which Applebloom found somewhat confusing. It wasn’t that she thought he was any less intelligent for this attentiveness, but that bucking trees seemed like such an ordinary task to be regarded with such astute interest, adding to her puzzlement. “See?” Applebloom finished up, giving the tree a light buck and getting nothing but leaves. “You try it now.”

“Uh huh!” Rumble said excitedly, taking his place near the base of the tree. He checked the tree, went through the steps in his mind, braced his hooves just like he’d been taught, and bucked with all his might. A satisfying shock raced through his limbs as he made connection, leaving his hind legs tingling and his muzzle creased into an enormous smile that didn’t fade as a single apple fell down and bonked him on the head. “I did it right! Did you see that? I bucked the tree, I didn’t fall on my face, and I even got an apple! Yes!”

“You sure are excited, Rumble,” Applebloom replied, as amused as she was bemused. “Was bucking the tree really that fun?”

“Uh huh!” the colt quipped as he pranced a victory lap around the tree. “I didn’t break anything, so of course I’m happy! That was great!”

Ah don’t get you, Rumble, but you sure make mah heart glad. “Well, ah’m happy that you had fun,” Applebloom said with a smile. “Listen, if you wanna keep buckin’ trees fer a while, that’s fine, but ah’d really like t’ spend some time workin’ on mah boat today. Ain’t hardly had time, what with all the crazy. Do you think that’d be all right?”

“Uh huh! We can do that now, if you’d like.”

“Don’t need t’ ask me twice! Come on, Rumble. Let’s git t’ fixin’!” Racing to the barn with high hopes, the pair arrived and found Rotterdam right where he’d stayed since his arrival. Rumble watched with anticipation as Applebloom gathered her tools while he took a comfortable place atop a nearby bale of hay so as to not disturb the filly in her natural habitat. He folded his hooves and lay his head atop them, watching as Applebloom set about her chore with passion, working out calculations in mutters and sighs. It was endearing, but it also brought with it a pang of longing for a trade of his own that brought him to life the way restoration did for Applebloom.

I’d love to find just one thing I was really good at, and that I really like... something to make everypony proud. It doesn’t have to be anything impressive... Remembrance of Applebloom’s assistance just moments prior brought a question to mind. It was one he had only asked once, and never again after that, but if she could teach him how to buck a tree, then maybe she could teach him other things, too. “Hey, Applebloom?”

“Uh huh?” the busy filly murmured, glancing up from the sketches she was doodling to try and determine the most adequate starting point. It struck the colt as odd that he found the pencil hanging loosely from the filly’s muzzle to be so bafflingly adorable as she peered up at him with curious eyes, but a whopping dose of affection deterred him from dampening her high spirits with something so trite as a question whose only point was in prompting reassurance. Whether by trade or by trial, Rumble decided that simply sharing in all the craziness of life with Applebloom was good enough for him, and he grinned a little as his brain handed him a hastily scrawled cue card which he read without much thought.

“What’s Silver’s goatee smell like?” The pencil dropped. “I mean, um... your granny! Yeah, she mentioned that it was, um... it was... fresh! Right, fresh. So, does it... smell... good?”

“...ah don’t make a point o’ sniffin’ mah brother-in-law’s facial hair, Rumble.”

“Right. That makes sense.” Not wishing to allow any further mysteries to escape his malignant muzzle, the colt quietly busied himself acting quite invisible, using the most rudimentary of stealth techniques with which to elude Applebloom’s sight; covering his face with a hoof and pretending he couldn’t be seen. Soft hoofbeats signaled the imminent approach of further embarrassment, or so the colt thought. Instead, soft filly lips brushed his cheek ever so briefly, bidding Rumble stow his shame and lift his eyes to gaze upon the red-tinged cheeks of a filly desperately trying to look busy. Crossing his hooves once more, Rumble found his eyelids grow heavy as a comforting warmth tickled the side of his muzzle, and it wasn’t long before a late night and a longer day prior lulled the young pegasus to sleep.

“Huh, he’s even distractin’ when he’s asleep,” Applebloom murmured as she regarded her coltfriend’s form and gentle snores with a fond smile. Her tools were ready, her plans all laid out, but it wasn’t with excitement that she turned away, but a strangely comforting reluctance. Rumble, you ain’t got even the slightest idea how dreadfully taken ah am with you. If you're already rivalin’ mah hammer fer affection, then ah’ve got it real bad. “Ah well, work before play, ah suppose,” Applebloom said with a quiet laugh turning back to the waterlogged vessel. “Now, don’t go gettin’ full o’ yerself, Rotty. Ah’d choose Rumble’s needs over yours any day, but he ain’t fallin’ apart. What’s that? Well, o’ course you ain’t mah number one no more! You had yer chance, an’ you didn’t listen to a word ah said!” Rambling to her hearts content, Applebloom settled into her groove, ready for a relaxing afternoon of restoration, backed by the subtle support of a snoring colt.

The elderly, however, can often be somewhat stubborn and set in their ways, and not being a licensed medical professional accustomed to attempting to coax rickety ponies to take their meds, which are solemnly believed by the intended recipient to turn their limbs into flaccid cucumbers, Applebloom didn’t take Rotterdam’s refusal of healing hooves with all that much patience. Nailing one plank caused another to break, merely walking on the surface seemed to invite cracks or, in some cases, liquefaction of once soggy, now dry planks, and all her elaborate sketches and drafts were obsolete within minutes of setting into the work. Applebloom was fairly stubborn as well, but the morning passed and quickly turned to afternoon as muttered calculation became darkened oaths not fitting for filly lips to utter. As the starboard side fell flat for the umpteenth time, the can-do filly threw down her mallet and fled the codger in shame, diving into a pile of hay and having herself a good ol’ fashioned tantrum.

“Ah can’t do anythin’ right!” was the mournful howl to which Rumble awoke, startling the colt from his bale and landing him with a wakeful whumph on the barn floor, blinking sleep from his eyes and simultaneously trying to gain his bearings while trying to tell his lungs that he wasn’t upset with them, he was sorry for abusing them, and he’d try to make a point of not knocking the wind from them again. “Ah can’t hardly bake, ah’m not strong enough t’ buck trees, an’ now ah can’t even fix a single, stupid, stubborn ol’ boat!”

Knowing that his fillyfriend had a tendency to freak out and not yet fully awake, Rumble sat up, heaved a tremendous yawn that left him glassy eyed, and let his ears train his eyes over to a large pile of hay that had was either terribly upset with gaining sentience, or housed a heartbroken filly. Assuming it to be the latter, the faithful coltfriend hoisted himself upright, made his way over while ignoring the disaster area to his right, and took a seat at the base of the hay.

“Applebloom? Um... are you ok?” he asked, prodding the the filly bomb with a tentative hoof. Were he more awake, he might not have asked such a glaringly obvious question, but he soon had his answer as the glowering filly batted his hoof away and popped just the top of her head out of the hay, fixing twin daggers on Rumble and impressing upon him that physical contact with the wroth mallet goddess would likely result in hospitalization.

“No, ah ain’t ok!” she stated with flagrant annoyance. “Ah’m a failure, an’ a two-timer, an’... an’ just a plain ol’ horrible pony!” Having said her piece, she disappeared into the dried out stalks amidst much rustling. Rumble ignored the first point, given that it was just a ridiculous notion, and quickly tossed out the third along with it, leaving only the subject of infidelity left to confront.

“Rotterdam?” Rumble guessed, unable to hide his amusement as Applebloom popped out again, this time up to her waist.

“O’ course it was! What, like ah cuddle with any other boats? But... but just look at ‘im!” Applebloom wailed, pointing an accusing hoof at the craft with whom she was the mistress. Rumble hadn’t really noticed, but a glance told him he couldn’t well call it a boat anymore, as the heap of planks, glue, and nails didn’t resemble anything save a few of his “projects” that he had started at home but never finished. “The more ah try, the worse it gets! Ah’ve never found a single fence, door, house, or... or anythin’ else that ah couldn’t fix, but one lousy ol’ boat? It’s... it’s just awful what ah’ve done to ‘im! Ah’m just plain useless!”

Rumble wasn’t about to stand idly by while Applebloom was reduced to hay-muffled sobs on account of a lecherous boat. For a colt who was more likely to reproduce the domino effect simply by existing, hearing a filly with more skill than he could ever hope to claim slap herself with the term “useless” was simply unacceptable.

“Applebloom? You are not useless,” Rumble assured her with absolute confidence, striding towards the boat. Grumbles and mutters sounded behind him as he glanced around at her tools and sketches, not really understanding much of anything. She seems to fix everything with the mallet, so that’s probably my best bet. I’ve never used one before, but it seems simple enough.

Gingerly lifting the sacred artifact, Rumble took his place before the beast that would upset his filly and gauged his prey. Senility had convinced the time-worn vessel that it was half passed Nightmare Night, and it had cleverly concealed its identity as a skiff by impersonating swiss cheese. With his heart set on making Applebloom smile and hooves trained in accidental destruction, the best of intentions prompted a mighty swing of the magical mallet. Rumble soon learned that it took on the properties of the wielder, and thus operated much like its lesser cousin known as the hammer, a “toy” with which he had great fun smashing his other toys as a child. Applebloom would have said something right away were she not morbidly impressed with the way the butt of the ship had just exploded into matchwood from a single, mighty swing.

“...oopsh,” Rumble muttered around the handle, staring at the fruits of his labor and wondering if he should take a few moments to sweep up the splinters. Applebloom, however, was far more important than the remnants of Rotty’s hindquarters, and thus he proceeded to swing twice and then thrice before Applebloom interrupted him mid swing with a terrifying howl of misery. Rumble lost his grip on the backswing, sending the mallet sailing gracefully through the air and crashing through the roof of the barn, and his ears drooped along with his wings as he beheld Applebloom’s crestfallen features. “I-”

“You killed ‘im!” Applebloom cried, pointing a trembling hoof at the downcast colt who could only hang his head in shame. “You killed Rotty, an’ now he’s dead!”

“I don’t think he was ever alive, Applebloom. It’s...” The slamming of the barn door cut off what remained of the colt’s pitiful explanation, and there he sat by a craft that was horrendously scuttled and irrevocably deceased. “I just wanted to help...” Rumble pouted, stubbornly folding his hooves across his chest. It wasn’t long until said hooves retracted and followed his eyes to the ground as he sighed, wondering how many times he’d said those words and knowing it was too many to count. Creaking hinges announced the presence of another, and assuming it was a certain livid filly come to apply some cosmetic rearrangement of his facial features, he made no motion to run.

“Rumble?” Slightly confused that he was still conscious, it took the colt a little while to turn, though when he did he was surprised to find Sweetie Belle trotting over. “Have you seen... woah, what happened?” the filly exclaimed, stepping around the debris and regarding the derelict craft with no small measure of worry.

“I’d... rather not talk about it,” Rumble said quietly, cringing a little and turning away. “If you’re looking for Applebloom, she ran off a little while ago. I want to see her and try to apologize, but... I dunno if that’s a good idea.”

“I hate to say it, but you’re probably right,” Sweetie Belle agreed, glancing over at the sullen pegasus before turning back towards the partially embalmed wood corpse smattered with glue. “I have something to tell her, and she’ll probably be less likely to attack if there are two of us there. Come on, we’ll face her together.”

“Really? Thanks, Sweetie Belle,” Rumble replied, offering a rueful smile as they left the barn and started towards the clubhouse at Sweetie Belle’s behest. Given that Sweetie Belle had known Applebloom longer, the colt followed without complaint, nodding as the filly went on to explain that the clubhouse was the most likely spot she’d run to, given that there were plenty of arts and crafts supplies with which to distract her from the mess in the barn. Along the way, Rumble gave a brief synopsis of the previous night and all of the “mishaps” that occurred, creating within Sweetie Belle a strange mixture of mirth and embarrassment, along with a heaping dose of sympathy for the colt who was clearly trying his best. “I just can’t seem to do anything right today...” the colt lamented as the tree fort came into view. “She’s got good reason to be mad at me. I just keep messing stuff up!”

“Well, yeah, it kinda sounds that way, but she’s still with you,” Sweetie Belle pointed out with reassuring confidence. “She didn’t tell you to leave when you busted her boat. Anypony she didn’t like who had done that would have had to flee for their lives, but she left instead. That means she still likes you, ‘cause she’s not trying to kill you! Does that make sense?”

“Uh huh?” came the quizzical response. Rumble found her words strangely comforting, though he was forced to hold onto that sentiment for dear life as they entered the fort and found conditions to be worse than anticipated. Applebloom had tipped open a sizable chest full of stationery, snatched up a bottle of her favorite shimmering adhesive, and commandeered the thinking spot as the ideal location to make it rain rosen. Such behavior was clearly indicative of something being quite amiss, but no smile came to the ashen faced filly seemingly unaware that the stream shooting up was also coming back down upon her head. Sweetie Belle looked at Rumble, Rumble hung his head, and Applebloom paid neither of them any attention.

“Applebloom?” Sweetie Belle said cautiously, keeping a good distance away. Applebloom looked neither left nor right, but simply flinched a little as the gooey stream stopped for a short while, though this pause was the only sign that she was responsive. With no verbal confirmation and the fountain of glue once more spouting in all it’s bright-hued splendor, Sweetie Belle glanced over at Rumble who sat shuffling nervously by her side. “Rumble, forget about the boat; where’s her bow? She never leaves without it!” Sweetie Belle asked in a frantic whisper, growing increasingly concerned for the colt’s health as a guilty muzzle hung lower.

“I kinda... puked on it.”

“You what?!?” Sweetie Belle exclaimed, clapping a hoof over her mouth as Applebloom slowly turned her head, fixed Rumble with a pointed glare, and sneezed due to some glue attempting to explore her nasal passageways. Sweetie Belle wisely chose not to speak until the filly’s eyes were pointed straight ahead, and the relaxing trickle of glue running a bit faster as more rained down. “Ok, this may seem really out of place, Rumble, but she’s has to be head over hooves for you. I don’t think she’d let even me get away with that!”

“That’s... really not that comforting,” Rumble murmured, his muzzle creased into a worried frown as Applebloom grew progressively less recognizable. “Does she always get like this when she’s upset?”

“This is way more than upset, Rumble,” Sweetie Belle corrected. “Applebloom has kind of a... fixation on glitter glue. She only uses it on stuff she really cares about, so if she’s wasting it like this, it means she’s way beyond just a little annoyed. Sheesh... did anything else happen?”

“I tried to help.”

“Ya failed.” It was the first thing Applebloom had said since Rumble had arrived, and his heart fell as she continued looking straight ahead. The colt sat silent until a gentle hoof on his shoulder and a nod bid him continue his tale.

“You know that boat?” he began again, this time in a whisper.

“You mean the hunk of rotten wood in her barn?” the young unicorn replied in an equally dulled tone. “Yeah, why?”

“Well... I spent most of the morning sleeping,” Rumble explained, briefly making eye contact before looking away. “When I woke up, she had buried herself in a pile of hay. The boat wasn’t coming along very well, and she was shouting about how useless she was, so... I tried to help.”

“Useless?” Sweetie Belle repeated, no longer whispering on account of justifiable indignation. “She’s nothing of the sort! I’d give my horn to have her kind of talent! I mean, have you seen me try to sew? Or do anything with my hooves, really?”

“Nuh uh.”

“It always comes out a complete disaster! Applebloom, that’s ridiculous!” Sweetie Belle declared, trotting over and plopping down in front of the vaguely responsive filly. “You spend nearly every day helping out somewhere in someway, so you have no right to call yourself useless! Besides, just look at Rumble; he breaks everything!”

“Uh huh! Wait a second...”

“Ah’m perfectly aware how skilled Rumble is at breakin’ things,” Applebloom stated flatly, not bothering to pay him the dignity of eye contact. “Ah’m sure ah’d have figured out some way o’ fixin’ that poor ship if ah had enough time t’ calm down an’ think, but now ah’ll never be able t’ fix ‘im! I have Lord Cannonhoof, King o’ Destruction, lesser minion o’ demolition, an’ bringer o’ all things disastrous t’ thank fer that.” Sweetie Belle tilted her head to the side and leaned over, making eye contact with a colt who’s guilty eyes checked off all of the above.

“So...”

“Remember how I said I helped?”

“Yeah?”

“It... didn’t work.”

“Didn’t work... how? Wait, you did that to the boat?”

“Yeah...” Rumble trailed off, rubbing his foreleg with a hoof and staring at the ground. “If it dried out, it might make decent kindling...” As if to punctuate Applebloom’s thoughts on the subject, there came a rather rude noise from a glue bottle spraying its last as the fuming filly turned her glowering gaze to a cowering colt. “It was my first time using a mallet, ok? You make it look really easy!”

“Three swings, Sweetie Belle. That’s all it took fer him t’ break the whole dang thing!” Applebloom whined, searching her friend’s face for sympathy. “You saw poor Rotty! He weren’t big, but he weren’t that small, either! Ah mean, how is that even physically possible?” Instead of being snatched into a caring embrace where her ears were tickled by the sultry sound of much deserved ranting directed at the destroyer of derelict dinghies, what she heard was an excited exclamation and the clop of two hooves pounding together.

“Yes! I’m not the only one who’s cursed! High hoof, Rumble!” While his hoof had been raised to make a defense, Sweetie Belle’s swipe couldn’t be dodged, and even as covered in goop as Applebloom was, the stare with which Rumble soon was fixed was enough to make him wish he were standing trial before Applejack instead. Sweetie Belle was quite unashamedly prancing with joy that she wasn’t the only cursed pony in Ponyville until she noticed Rumble’s regrettable position, and not wanting to lose her new companion in catastrophe, she came to a halt and adopted an appropriately apologetic expression as she took a few steps closer to the raging filly.

“Look, he can’t help it, Applebloom. Ponies like us just...”

“Ah don’t wanna hear it!” Applebloom cried, tossing aside the exhausted bottle and standing to face the two with barely restrained tears of frustration. “Even if Twilight came an’ used her fancy magic t’ put it all back together again, ah wouldn’t be able t’ fix it! Y’all already made that clear enough!” Roughly knocking Rumble aside in her haste, Applebloom bolted down the ramp and into the trees, heading back towards the farmhouse while Sweetie Belle helped Rumble upright, even though he didn’t particularly feel like moving.

“Well, you’re still alive, at least...” Sweetie Belle offered, her empty chuckles doing little to alleviate the tension. Rumble didn’t respond, but rather slowly made his way over to where the distraught filly had been sitting and did the same, positioning himself in the center of the glue ring Applebloom had left in her wake. As was customary, Sweetie Belle held her silence out of respect for the thinking spot, and after a few minutes, Rumble lifted his head and spoke.

“I have to do something for her, something that shows how sorry I am for messing everything up. I just can’t think of what...”

“I’m sure you’ve done plenty, Rumble,” Sweetie Belle pressed. She couldn’t help but feel sorry for the cursed pegasus, what with his plans being thwarted at every turn; it was a frustration with which she was well acquainted. “I don’t know why she was so attached to that boat in the first place. It was in horrible shape when she found it, and I bet she could build an even better one!”

“That’s it!” Rumble exclaimed, snapping back to life. “I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before! It’s so simple, even I can’t mess it up! Thanks, Sweetie Belle!” Using doors was for ponies not in a hurry, and given that Rumble couldn’t count himself anything other than frantic to be about his work, he leapt for the window and was perfectly fine until a voice called out behind him.

“Rumble, wait!” Attempting rather unsuccessfully to un-leap while already half in, half out of the window resulting in a colt’s hind leg catching on the window sill, and Sweetie Belle immediately regretted opening her mouth as the colt smacked into the side of the clubhouse before spiraling down to the ground and landing in a dazed heap of limbs and feathers. “Oh my gosh, are you ok?” Sweetie Belle called out from above, just hearing the sound having been enough to make her wince and giving her a deeper understanding Applebloom’s diatribe at school a few days back about how unlucky her coltfriend seemed to be.

“Nuh uh...” he chuckled, coughing a little as he rolled onto his back and staring up at the fuzzy filly spinning in the distance. “What is it, Sweetie Belle?”

“Well, assuming you’re not hospitalized by a mallet or some horrific accident by the end of the day, Scootaloo and I are trying to gather everypony together for a night at the tavern. So, um, try to stay safe so you can both come, ok?”

“Uh huh! See ya!” Nearly clipping a few low-hanging boughs on his haphazard ascent, Rumble circled up over the farm and took off towards the local knowledge dump, certain he could find what he was searching for amongst the many tomes kept by a lavender librarian. It wasn’t long until the grandiose oak tree came into view, but as was common for Rumble, math ruined his day with things like physics and gravity, his excitement producing haste which in turn led to acceleration towards the inevitable use of the front door for brakes. A squeal of excitement echoed out over a colt’s sullen groans, and the librarian in training popped her head out of the door and gave the colt a little bit of advice.

“Not s’posed ta open doors with ya head,” Dawn informed Rumble in a sage tone. “Heads are for thinking, an’ reading... not doors.”

“Dawn? Who are you talking to? You know you’re not supposed to answer the- oh goodness, Rumble. That looks painful!” Twilight exclaimed, glancing down at colt’s reddening forehead. “Come on inside. Dawn, could you go get some ice for mommy?”

“Kay~!” the filly cheered, taking two steps inside before hollering at the top of her lungs. “Dad~! Mom needs ice!” Twilight led Rumble to the couch to lay down while Cerulean descended the stairs, trotting over and gingerly moving aside the colt’s hooves.

“That looks like a rough landing if ever there was one,” the stallion mused, his horn glowing briefly as a small pile of snow formed atop the colt’s head to soothe the inflammation. “There, feel any better?”

“Uh huh! Thanks, um...”

“Cerulean. I take care of that one,” he started, pointing at Dawn, “and keep this one sane,” he concluded, pointing at Twilight. “I also dance, but that’s not always appropriate for children.”

“Dad, no bein’ naughty! Little ears!” Dawn exclaimed, bouncing from the couch and bopping her father on the head before darting away in a trail of giggles and mane as Cerulean gave chase.

“Sorry that we’re not very quiet for a library,” Twilight said, grinning unashamedly at Rumble who didn’t seem to mind the chatter and crashes as a foam block war commenced with gusto. “So, what brings you here? Did you need a book?”

“Uh huh!” he replied enthusiastically, laughing a little as Twilight paused in shock.

“That’s wonderful! I can’t even remember the last time somepony actually came to the library for a book!” Twilight laughed, clapping her hooves merrily. “Could it be a book on magic? Wait, that wouldn’t make sense, because you’re a pegasus! Flight theories, perhaps? You could probably use a little, given how you crashed like that. Oh! Maybe wing theory? String theory? The history of theory and its direct application to hypotheses?!?” Rumble stared at the books floating before him a moment and shook his head with a smile.

“Nuh uh!”

“Awww, I thought for sure I had you at wing theory,” Twilight pouted, dropping all but the thick tome she now held before her. “Ok, well, what did you need?”

“Do you have anything about building a boat?”

“Carpentry for Sea Biscuits: Revised Edition! Oh, now where did I put that? Was it alphabetically, or by category?” the mare wondered aloud, pulling down book after book as the block war escalated into forbidden territory. “Dawn, no throwing books!” Twilight chided, pausing her search long enough to give the filly a reproving frown.

“Dad started it!” Cackling maliciously as the azure stallion immediately erected a chest high wall of books, he playfully cowered behind his fortress as the destroyer came near.

“Care to explain?”

“Certainly?”

“Oh? I’m listening.”

“Carpentry for Sea Biscuits?” he offered with a cheeky grin, holding the tome out with both hooves. Twilight accepted the offereing, breezed through a few pages, and slapped it shut before giving Cerulean her best librarian glare.

“I’ll let it slide this time, mister.”

“Awww!” Dawn groaned, disappointed in such an anti-climactic finish, though she was soon content to snuggle up beside her father as he started to read her a children’s story, bringing it to life with ice sculptures and all manner of silly voices.

“Here you go. This should have everything you’ll ever need to know about boats great and small!” Twilight declared, setting the book down in the colt’s lap. Curious himself, he breezed through a few pages, his brow furrowed in concentration as he came to the conclusion he couldn’t make heads or tails of the complex terminology or diagrams, but that wasn’t going to stop him.

“This is perfect! Thanks, Twilight,” Rumble cheered, closing the tome and wiping away the melted snow from his brow as an excited exclamation in a comically skewed tone bid them both turn and look at the narrator and his enthralled audience of one. That foal looks so happy... I wish my parents took the time to teach me like that... Shaking his head, Rumble slid off the couch and moved towards the door. I have too much work to do to be thinking like that. Applebloom’s upset, and in the name of Celestia, I’m gonna fix it!

Taking off as abruptly as he would have entered if there had been no door, Rumble clutched the book to his chest as he made for a low flying cloud, and after settling in, he cracked open the book and began his research. The better part of an hour passed while he was sifting through the pages, looking at the various crafts and the materials needed, and quickly came to the conclusion that building a boat was going to be a lot more work than he had anticipated. Perhaps not as much work as dating two mares at once, the colt thought with a laugh, but it was still a formidable undertaking, and if they were gonna make it to the tavern on time, then he didn’t have a moment to lose.


“Come on, Applebloom, it ain’t that bad.” Applejack’s motherly tone was largely lost on her sister who had spent most of her afternoon in what ranked in her mind far beyond a justifiable huff. Applebloom pulled her muzzle from her glass of juice just long enough to roll her eyes before returning for another sip. “Look, Rumble seems like a real nice colt, an’ ah know he wasn’t tryin’ t’ break yer boat. That poor ol’ thing was well past it’s prime, an’ even as talented as you are, it’d have taken three Twilights t’ get that thing shipshape again.”

“That doesn’t mean that Rumble needed t’ go an’ make it four Twilights!” Applebloom exclaimed, throwing her hooves wide. “Sis, why’re you sidin’ with him? He’s been nothin’ but trouble today! Ah mean... don’t ah get a little sympathy? He puked on me!” Applejack tried her best to stifle her amusement, but a chuckle or two slipped out nonetheless, leading Applebloom to the conclusion that she hadn’t quite made her point. “It was gross, sis! It was in mah hair, an’ mah mane, an’ it even got on mah bow! It was the worst mornin’ ever!” Having finished her tale of woe, the filly planted her face to the table with a reverberating thump, leading Applejack away from the sink where dishes from the previous evening’s meal still waited to be cleaned and over to her sister who, whether she knew it or not, was sending off love sparks left and right.

“All right, settle down, now,” Applejack cooed, taking a seat beside the and draping a hoof around her shoulders. “Ah’m not tryin’ t’ say you don’t have reason t’ be upset. None o’ what you’ve told me sounds like any kind o’ fun, but have ya stopped t’ think about how Rumble must be feelin’ right now?” Curious and not quite following the implications, Applebloom rubbed her snout with a hoof while giving her attention to Applejack.

“If ah were him, ah’d be halfway through buildin’ a boat by now. Anythin’ less wouldn’t even come close t’ coverin’ bustin’ up mah stuff...” Applebloom fired back weakly, heaving a sigh. “Fine, sis, ah know. He’s probably feelin’ pretty miserable with ‘imself.”

“Ah’d say he probably feels a lot worse than miserable, sugarcube,” Applejack chortled, rustling her sister’s mane and laughing as her hoof was batted away. “Listen, speakin’ as somepony who has woken their significant other with a rain o’ vomit...”

“You did that t’ Silver?” Applebloom interjected, incredulous.

“More than once, sugarcube,” Applejack confirmed, hiding her face in mock embarrassment for a moment before peaking out with a wry grin. “He’s a great husband, Applebloom. Mornin’ sickness hit me pretty hard a month or two back, and it wasn’t pleasant. Ah think his response the first time was somethin’ like ‘Sweetheart, now that just ain’t polite.’” The two girls shared a short laugh at this, and Applejack got right back to making her point. “I’m sure he wasn’t too pleased by wakin’ to a mountain o’ chum bein’ dumped on his head, but he noticed pretty quick that ah felt a whole lot worse about the whole thing than he did. Ah’d never do somethin’ like that on purpose, but accidents happen, an’ more often than not, the one who caused it ends up feelin’ the worst out o’ everypony.”

“Awww, shucks! Now ah really do feel terrible!” Applebloom cried, planting her face to the table and groaning before straightening up and staring down at the unmoving furniture. “Ah’ve been hidin’ in here all day, waitin’ for ‘im t’ come beggin’ fer mercy... he’s probably been feelin’ right ashamed o’ himself all afternoon! Now ah’m the one who needs t’ find a way to say sorry...”

“Gifts are always nice, Bloom, but ah think he’d be even happier if ya just apologized fer gettin’ so bent outta shape.”

Ah don’t know how mah sister got so smart, but she’s right! Rumble ain’t the type t’ be all demandin’ and wantin’ stuff! Even still, ah’d like to do somethin’ for ‘im fer bein’ such a cranky ol’ coot. Must be from spendin’ all that time around Rotty... “Ah bet... he ain’t had lunch yet, bein’ so worried. Maybe ah should take him a little somethin’ to eat?”

“Sounds like a swell idea, sugarcube. Just sit tight an’ ah’ll whip up a nice basket o’ goodies t’ share with ‘im.” The Apple family fridge was never short on all manner of sweet treats, and after a few more minutes Applebloom had her gift and was making for the door when a cheery voice hailed her from behind.

“Hold it! Where’re you rushin’ off to, eh?” Granny Smith inquired, taking slow step towards the filly. Applebloom set the basket down and was about to protest when wrinkled eyes creased in accordance with a warming smile as the wise old mare presented the filly with her ribbon, spotless and smelling faintly of roses. “Can’t have you goin’ anyplace lookin’ like that, no way, no how! Gotta look your best fer Rumble!” Blushing lightly, Applebloom sat still while her granny tied her bow just perfect, rambling about her escapades as a mare with countless suitors. “Oh, don’t you look adorable! Now, if he don’t treat ya right, just tell yer granny and I’ll court martial that sorry excuse for a colt faster than you can say zap apple jam!”

“Thanks, granny, but ah don’t think he’s the one you gotta worry about,” Applebloom replied, scuffing awkwardly at the floor.

“Applebloom, you’re right precious,” Granny Smith said softly, hooking the filly with a shaky hoof, “an’ I know that Rumble feller sees it, too. Go on, off with you, then,” she suddenly exclaimed, shoving the filly towards the door and nudging the basket over. “Oh, and keep it down, eh? Don’t wanna get yer sister on yer tail!”

“Granny, what’re you tellin’ Applebloom?” Applejack asked, trotting over with a skeptical expression.

“Eh, what’s that? I hear the coffee pot callin’ fer me!” Granny Smith shouted. Showing complete disregard for her age, the mare skipped away like a young ram amidst uproarious off-key singing. Snatching up the basket and hoping that Applejack hadn’t caught sight of her cheeks on the way out, the filly galloped towards the clubhouse while her thoughts drifted back to the first time she’d seen Rumble upset. Determination to bring a smile to her long suffering companion rose to quell the tides of worry that would stay her hoof, and she pushed all thoughts from her mind save those focused on the colt she found regrettably absent.

This ain’t good at all. Ah hope he ain’t holed up somewhere, feelin’ bad about himself... Ah gotta find him, an’ fast! She searched the orchard row by row and made a round or two through town, but even talking to Thunderlane yielded nothing to guide her to her special somepony. Hope began to waver as wearied hooves brought the filly back home, and after Applejack assured her she hadn’t missed him in passing, she trudged towards the barn with a heavy heart. It was there, back where things had first gone awry and her temper had gotten the best of her once again, that she found the very one she sought snoring softly on his side, illuminated by golden shafts of sunlight and the flitting dust motes that sparkled like diamonds in the afternoon rays.

“Oh, Rumble... ah’m sorry fer makin’ you wait...” the filly whispered, setting her gift basket to the side as she drew near and took a seat beside his slumbering form. Lulled by the inviting warmth beaming down through the window, the filly closed her eyes and began running a hoof through his sun-warmed mane with welling affection, unable to keep from smiling as a soft sigh slipped out between the dull murmurs of sleep. We ain’t doin’ much of anythin', but mah hearts racin’ just like the first time he talked t’ me. Ah guess... all it takes is a little time away fer me t’ realize how much ah wanna come back.

Amber eyes opened to gaze upon her treasure, one more worthy of affection than even the most glittery bottle of glue that bits could buy, and this she did for a few more minutes before something caught the corner of her eye. A book? Ah didn’t know that Rumble liked t’ read. Applebloom pondered what it could possibly be from a distance, but if she wanted to actually read the title, she would have had to move, so she didn’t sate her curiosity right away. It wasn’t until the notion that she could learn a little bit more about what he liked came to her that she reluctantly gave his mane one more tousle before pulling away and discovering that, no, the only information she’d find was that which she already knew: Rumble = Best Coltfriend Ever.

“No, he didn’t... did he really?” She didn’t make it even halfway through the first page she turned to know that he had. From material calculations to complete schematics, everything that she could ever need to know how to build a craft to be proud of was there in detail, but what brought tears of simple joy to a young girl’s eyes wasn’t the anticipation of starting her next big project, but desire and adoration for the one who, even in her craziness, had found a way to tell her she was loved. The tome in her grasp wasn’t worthy of her affection, so she moved her hooves to one that was: a clumsy colt with a beautiful heart.

Waking to Applebloom that very morning had been one of Rumble’s most cherished memories despite lasting mere moments before an evening of dissipation came back to ruin the it, but coming to and finding himself secure in her loving embrace while not gripped by gut-churning nausea was as close as Rumble could imagine to pure bliss. Like a wind-swept wildfire, the tingling embers of affection flared to outclass Celestia’s sun, and Rumble found himself robbed of words with his cheeks flushed crimson. With the scent of flowers tickling his nose and bathed in the tides of forgiveness, Rumble lay secure in Applebloom’s embrace until the filly pulled away, peering back at the colt holding something to his chest.

“Applebloom, I... here.” Unable to hide his muzzle arrayed in deepening hues of crimson like a brilliant evening sunset, Rumble made one last peace offering as he handed a bottle over to Applebloom who sat up and cradled the gift as she would a foal. To most, what she held in her hooves was nothing more than a simple decoration: a novelty, admired once or twice and then shelved to collect dust until eventually being given away or sold. It was a boat in a bottle, though to Applebloom, it was so much more.

“I wanted to build you a boat to show how sorry I was for messing up the other one,” the colt explained, bashfully averting his eyes while stealing the occasional glance at the awestruck filly. “I got that book and was super excited, but then I went to the store, and I didn’t have nearly enough money to get all the stuff, and I couldn’t understand the instructions, so... I’m sorry, Applebloom. That’s the best I could do...”

“It’s... it’s perfect, Rumble...” Applebloom whispered, pressing the gift to her chest and closing her eyes, smiling even as a few more tears seeped out. Rumble could have asked for anything at that moment, and so deeply moved by the colt’s genuine care that she likely would have obliged, but greed was absent and lust vacant as he closed the distance and drew her close, placing one hoof around her shoulders and bringing the other around to gently stroke her mane. Already feeling tremendously pampered, Applebloom melted completely to a tender kiss on the cheek. She wondered where she would go from here, what she could possibly do to show the colt who had given her everything how much she truly appreciated every moment of patience and understanding, but at home in Rumble’s loving embrace, the filly realized there was really only one path left to take: give everything back.

A gentle touch to his hoof brought Rumble momentary confusion before it turned to breathtaking wonder. Applebloom wordlessly guided his hoof from its place on her neck up a little higher as she pulled away, bowing her head as she allowed him an honor that was for him and him alone. Rumble didn’t know what was happening until his hoof was guided to a rest atop her bow, a closely guarded treasure and the last memento Applebloom had to remember her mother. Peering up from a position of absolute acceptance, the filly decided that for just a little while, her fiery spirit and hot temper would be better exchanged for gentleness.

“Everythin’ that went wrong today was an accident, an’ ah still got all bent out o’ shape,” Applebloom said softly, dropping her gaze down to the floor. “Ah said things ah didn’t mean, ah hurt yer feelings, and how’d you respond?” Sensing the filly’s distress, a once immobile hoof slowly began to caress a fabric of soft pink, proving her point even further. “Sweetness, just like that...”

“Uh huh...” Rumble replied, coaxing out a smile in return for his own. “Applebloom, I’m gonna tell you a secret, ok? I think it’s really, you know... cute the way you spaz.”

“You’re gonna make mah heart explode with that kind o’ flattery,” she murmured, laughing a little and cherishing the sound as Rumble did the same. “You’ve been everythin’ ah could ever hope for in a friend and more, so,” she paused, taking one of the colt’s hooves and cupping it in her own, “please, Rumble, let me do somethin’ fer you. Ask me anythin’ you want, an’ if ah can give it, it’s yours.” Of all the times for Rumble to go silent, that had to be the worst. Applebloom could admit that she’d basically just told the colt to make a wish, and having a single shot at making a dream come true could and should merit due thought, but the hesitancy clouding violet eyes that had been filled with mirth just a few moments prior gave the filly pause, leading her to really think about what it was she’d just offered.

Ah really did mean it, Rumble, but why’d you have to go an’ get all quiet like? Oh, what if he asks fer somethin’ ah can’t give? What if he asks me never to get angry again? Ah don’t think ah could ever be as laid back as he is, ah just ain’t that way! An’ what if he wants me t’ stop hangin’ around mah friends so ah’ve got more time fer him? Ah don’t think ah could ever do without Sweetie Belle an’ Scootaloo... We’ve been through so much together! What if... he asks fer mah bow? Trying to get a read on the colt who sat deep in thought was about as fruitful as a berry bush buried under a foot of snow in the dead of winter, and Applebloom’s gaze dropped down to the hoof that lay cradled in hers. It might be painful, but... whatever you ask, Rumble. Ah’ll do mah best...

“Teach me.” It was such a simple request, but one that couldn’t have been more frightening for the colt to ask, and amber eyes filled with puzzlement and relief lifted to regard the colt whose voice was laced with hesitancy and a terrible longing.

“Teach you?” Applebloom replied quizzically, tilting her head a little. “Uh, ah ain’t no Cheerilee, but ah guess ah could give it a shot. What exactly is it that you want to learn?”

“When I was three, my parents... offered to let me help,” Rumble began to explain, garnering complete attention from Applebloom. “They were working on some machine, I can’t even remember what. All I remember is that within minutes, I had caused almost two thousand bits in damages. They never offered to let me help again after that.” Applebloom could feel the heartbreak even as the colt tried to stay strong, holding back the tides that were already forming in the corners of his eyes, and deciding that a hoof wasn’t enough to hold, she wrapped her hooves around his waist, nodding for him to continue.

“I hate being a bother, and I know that I’m always breaking things so I never dared to ask, but maybe if somepony took the time to teach me how to do things right, I wouldn’t mess everything up so often. Please, Applebloom... can you teach me how to build, not break?” The colt’s excitement at having been shown something as simple as the proper way to kick a tree suddenly made sense to Applebloom and brought back to mind her own experience that morning with having plans go awry, all while Rumble waited in yearning silence. Knowing that Applebloom was well aware of just how destructive the colt could be, Rumble braced himself for the myriad of likely well-founded excuses for why taking him on as an apprentice was just plain nuts, but instead of a stammered refusal or avid rebuttal, quiet words granted the colt’s longest standing unfulfilled dream in a whisper.

“There’s nothin’ ah’d love more... than having you workin’ by my side.” Assumptions and dejection alike were blasted away as a firm embrace melted along with a tender heart. Butter-colored hooves of a filly overjoyed cupped the gray muzzle of a colt most deserving, and the two met in the middle, their young hearts awash with affection. The motion of one reaching out to help her, a girl who was always the one giving help, had left Applebloom overjoyed when Rumble had “fixed” the roof, but to have this same treatment be the colt’s most solemn request? There was no shame in her heart as she leaned in deeper, surprising them both as a searing wave of youthful passion swept over them head to hoof, and a growing desire within Applebloom’s fluttering heart caused her to break their connection for a moment, gazing deeply upon the face still held within her hooves.

“Let’s... let’s do it together.” Imagine one lucky colt’s surprise at such an unexpected offer! However, Rumble wasn’t exactly the pervy sort, and thus he responded with genuine shock at the filly’s murmured invitation. Applebloom, confused as to why the colt was suddenly acting so fidgety, sniffed a little as he sputtered a few times and, finding speech to be quite the formidable task, resorted to a word he couldn’t mess up.

“...huh?!?”

“The boat?” Applebloom offered, confounding the colt even further by not only making the offer, but specifying the location. “Ah think we have enough materials layin’ around the farm t’ get a good start on it, an’ ah was thinkin’ that we could make it our little project.”

“Oh... phew!” Rumble said, heaving a sigh of relief as he placed a hoof over his erratically fluttering heart. “I thought... I mean you... me... and the, um...” Rumble felt a shiver race through him as Applebloom tilted her head to the side in abject confusion. “Nevermind.”

“Wait just an apple buckin’ minute here... what were you thinkin’ ‘bout just now?”

“Nothin’!” the colt yelped, pulling his hooves to his chest and staring back wide eyed as fearful comprehension came upon the filly, his flimsy rebuttal losing all potency as Applebloom watched his wings, already partially unfurled from a startlingly enthusiastic kiss just moments prior, shoot open with a poomf.

“Ah can’t believe you! Put those away before somepony sees!” Applebloom cried frantically, putting forth a hoof to “assist.”

“No, don’t touch them! That is not helping!” Rumble shouted, shuffling backwards and falling onto his back.

“Ah can’t believe you were thinkin’ like that! After bein’ so sweet with me...” Applebloom pouted, folding her hooves across her chest with a reproving frown.

“It’s not my fault! You said it funny!

“Ah did not!”

“Uh huh!”

“Nuh uh!”

“Uh huh!”

“Oh, hush! Do you really think I’m that kind o’ floozy?”

“Uh h- wait, no!”

“Rumble!”

“I didn’t mean it! I thought... it... I didn’t hear you right!”

“You’re gonna hear a lot less right when I find mah mallet!” Laughter, loud and sweet, echoed throughout the barn as chasing ensued. Agitation quickly subsided as Applebloom worked out her frustration with the colt’s justifiable misinterpretation amidst much pummeling via one of Winona’s squeaky toys, and having doled out enough punishment, Applebloom collapsed beside the snickering colt. They took a moment to rest as the afternoon stretched out before them, and Applebloom refused to restrain the ecstatic anticipation welling within her with every frantic beat of her heart

There would be lunch. There would be building. There would surely be mistakes, and there would likely be exasperation. Applebloom knew all of this even as she unpacked the temporarily forgotten gift basket, setting various foods before the famished colt who tucked right in, but as Rumble paused to offer an apologetic grin for his ravenous behavior, a smile, small and affectionate, spread across the young filly’s muzzle. There would be toils, there would be troubles, but overshadowing them all, there would be love... and glitter glue.