• Published 16th Jun 2020
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The Power of Two - Locomotion

A young changeling runs away from home, only to be attacked by timberwolves in the Everfree Forest. Fortunately, Locomotion is on hoof to save her - but little do they know that she has a spy on her tail...

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Chapter 16: Home Alone

Featherweight was as good as his word. It took him a lot of effort to compile a suitable article before the following morning, but he only just managed to complete it in time to be published in the Ponyville Express. Before long, his story of Hornette's act of heroism became the talk of the town; the frowning faces and hushed whispers whenever she was out and about gradually gave way to cheery smiles and friendly waves, and the young changeling soon found that she no longer felt shy and awkward about showing her face in public. Even Rainbow Dash, while she never said anything, would nod a respectful greeting should the young insectoid catch her eye.

This lifted a tremendous weight from Locomotion's shoulders too. At long last, he thought thankfully, the whole of Ponyville had begun to embrace Hornette as an equal; but more importantly, he himself was still alive and well, thanks to her bravery. Even without Featherweight's news article, he could never have been gladder of Hornette's presence than on that fateful night. The days went by, and the two teenagers grew so close that they seemed to spend nearly every waking hour in each other's presence.

A week later, Steamer was getting ready for a very important assignment. The summer fruit traffic from the other side of the Buckskin Mountains was unusually heavy that month, so “City of Cloudsdale” and three other express engines were being sent to Delamare to help with the extra trains. He finished packing his bags, and began to make his way downstairs just as Locomotion emerged from his room.

“Hey, Uncle Steamer,” he said casually. “You nearly ready to go?”

“Pretty much. Should be there in good time to grab some dinner before I set off,” said Steamer.

Locomotion chuckled as he checked his watch. “Yeah, I was gonna say it's a bit early to be taking charge of the Bridleway Limited,” he mused. He knew the express generally only needed the one engine, but he also knew it was common practice for railway superintendents to send extra engines as double-headers on regular service trains. This meant that fewer timetable “paths” were taken up by light engine movements, and allowed greater operational flexibility should another train be chartered without notice.

Steamer only rolled his eyes in mild amusement before changing the subject; “So how did you and Hornette get on this morning?”

“Not bad for her first shopping trip,” answered Locomotion. “I mean, yeah, we did run into Shady while we were out, but at least he had the heart to apologise for last week.” A wry smirk crossed his face as he added, “He's probably a bit embarrassed that his loose lips did me and Hornette a good turn!”

“Yeah...probably,” but privately, Steamer failed to see the humour in Locomotion's remark. Sure, he was as grateful as his nephew that Hornette had been there to save him, but part of him wished that Shady Daze hadn't spoken so tactlessly in the first place, no matter how much of a bearing it had on her reputation. “Will you two be okay here on your own? I won't be back until Sunday evening, you know.”

Locomotion raised an eyebrow. “What's there to worry you, Uncle Steamer?” he objected. “We haven't seen or heard from Diesel for ages – I dunno what you said or did to scare him off, but...”

“It's not Diesel that I'm worried about,” interrupted Steamer gravely. “It's Hornette.”

The red-furred young stallion rolled his eyes and shook his head in mock dismay. “I thought you said you trusted her!”

“I do, don't get me wrong,” replied Steamer. “I'm just a bit worried about whether she'll be able to take care of herself.” In the week following the incident, he and Locomotion had agreed to start easing the latter back into his old job, which meant leaving Hornette on her own for the first time. Locomotion didn't seem too troubled by this (and if he was, he did a good job of hiding it), but Steamer wasn't quite so reassured.

“She'll be fine, Uncle,” soothed Locomotion. “Hornette may not look like much, but she's...fairly independent – she had to be when she was on the run. Besides, Elli, Surfie and the Crusaders have all promised to look in on her, and I won't exactly be leaving Ponyville, according to my work schedule.”

“Why, what are you on?”

“Shunting at the yard,” explained Locomotion simply. “I'm working the 8am to 4pm shift on the 5118; so I should be within easy reach if Hornette gets into trouble.” His expression softened a little. “If I didn't know better, I'd say you're growing attached to her.”

“Says the pony who saved her in the first place,” murmured Steamer with a wry smile. “Seriously, though,” he went on, heaving a wistful sigh, “I know I haven't been the most welcoming of ponies at first, but...there's just something about her that...it's like she's filling in for the family that left me behind.”

Locomotion's smile faded. “Yeah, I know what you mean. That must have been really painful, the way she just walked out on you – and not too long after cousins Megabyte and White Rose had flown the nest. Good thing me being around, eh?”

Steamer nodded and gave his nephew an appreciative nuzzle, a single tear slipping out of his eye as he remembered...but now wasn't the time to dwell on the past, he thought resolutely. Pulling himself together, he ambled briskly downstairs and into the living room, where Hornette was relaxing on the sofa.

“Hello, Mr Steamer,” she said, looking up from the book she was reading. “You all set?”

“Pretty much,” Steamer affirmed, gathering a few books of his own from the nearby shelf. “Just picking out a bit of reading material to keep me busy when I'm off duty.” He packed them into his saddlebag and turned round to face the young changeling; “Now, Hornette,” he asked, “are you absolutely certain you'll be okay to look after yourself while Loco's away?”

Hornette considered. She was still a little nervous about being left to her own devices, and part of her didn't want Locomotion to leave her alone; but she didn't want to disappoint them, especially at such short notice, so she said bravely, “Positive, Mr Steamer – as long as the others look in on me as promised.”

“Good girl,” said Steamer, patting her on the shoulder. “Now remember – if, Celestia forbid, you do run into trouble, the emergency contacts are taped to the side of the fridge; otherwise...well, I hope you two have a good time.”

“Thank you, Mr Steamer. Have a safe journey.”

“Yeah, take it easy, Uncle Steamer.”

“So long.” With that, Steamer slipped his saddlebag over his back and set off for the sheds. Locomotion held the front door open for him, waiting until his uncle was out of sight before closing it again.

“Well, Hornette,” he remarked as the young changeling put her book down and trotted up alongside him, “seems we've got the place to ourselves for the next two days.”

“Yeah,” murmured Hornette, “and there was I thinking he'd change his mind at the last minute. I've never known him to worry this much about a changeling like me.”

Locomotion nodded wistfully. “He wasn't joking with what he said about family just now,” he confided. “When I was just ticking over to thirteen, he was going through such a rough patch that his wife found him difficult to live with. Eventually, she decided she'd had enough, and just...left him. What made the timing even worse was that his son Megabyte and his daughter White Rose had just moved out to begin further education.”

“And she didn't even care for the family she was leaving behind?” asked Hornette, dismayed.

“Well...yes and no. She's still in touch with my cousins, but she hasn't spoken to Uncle Steamer for three years. With her gone, he went into an even deeper depression, and nearly gave up his job until Dad persuaded him to go get some help. I was pretty worried for him too, because I was often there to witness his downward spiral...” An ominous shiver coursed its way through Locomotion's body, and for a moment, Hornette thought she could detect a mild sense of fear in his eyes. It was almost as if he was recalling some terrible trauma from his past. “...but at the same time, I was seeking to further my independence, so I spoke with my parents and asked if I could move in with him. It wasn't hard to persuade them, considering he only lives a few blocks away – and the rest is history, pretty much.

“It kinda works in both our favours, really,” he went on. “Uncle Steamer gets a much-needed companion, I get to learn vital life skills; but most importantly, there's always someone around to keep things going if the other is tired or ill. See, driving and firing a steam engine is a rewarding job, but it can be pretty demanding too. There have been times when Uncle Steamer comes home absolutely shattered, and then I have to take care of the housework while he recovers.”

Hornette smiled softly. “That was really thoughtful of you, Loco. I can't even begin to imagine what had got him so down, but he sure is lucky to have a nephew like you.”

Almost at once, Locomotion seemed to retreat into his shell. “Well...it's not something that he and I like to dwell on, to be honest,” he replied uneasily. “It was painful enough watching his morale decline, but the effect it had on mine...” He said no more, but dropped his gaze down to his hooves.

“How do you mean?” asked Hornette, her smile fading.

“Oh...it's not important,” mumbled Locomotion sheepishly. “Just a hint of the blues, that's all.”

But this wasn't enough to allay Hornette's concerns. Locomotion was clearly hiding something, she thought – and this was the same pony who had been helping her open up to her own feelings and confront her fears! So why was he being so cagey all of a sudden? What could possibly have affected him and Steamer so badly that he became closed off at the slightest mention of it?

“So...what do you want for dinner?” asked Locomotion.

“Hmm...” Hornette pushed her worries aside for a brief moment, and wrapped a thoughtful hoof around her mouth as she contemplated. “...I actually feel like something...exotic. Something from a place other than Equestria or the Badlands.”

“Oh, well that's convenient,” murmured Locomotion thankfully. “I was actually feeling a bit lazy to do any cooking.”

“Are you, though?” ventured Hornette anxiously. “You seem kinda shaky, especially round your legs.” And his eyes, she thought as she tentatively gazed into them. “Loco...are you alright?” she asked in her most caring tone.

“I'm fine,” Locomotion dismissed absent-mindedly; but deep down, he couldn't help cursing his unsteady legs. “Just a little bit tired. I'll be okay once I get some food in me.”

“Oh...” Privately, Hornette wasn't convinced, but still decided not to make a fuss. “...well, if you're sure,” she conceded doubtfully. “So what did you have in mind?”

“Well, as I said, I'm not really up to cooking tonight, so I thought maybe we could get ourselves a takeaway.”

“A what?” Hornette arched a perplexed eyebrow.

“It's basically like eating at a restaurant, but you literally take your meal away to eat at home or as a picnic,” Locomotion elaborated. “There are even specially dedicated outlets for that sort thing – mostly hot food, of course.”

“Oh, I see! So do you and Steamer have them quite often?”

“Every once in a while, yeah; particularly when we've both had a tiring day at work. We usually get a Chineighse from the Golden Dragon or an Elephandian from the Ranee Vishaal, but there are plenty of other places to choose from...if you want to, that is.”

“No, it's alright, Loco,” Hornette reassured him, “I'm happy to try one of those two places if that's what you want to do.”

Locomotion smiled appreciatively before weighing up his options. “Hmm...in that case, I think we'll go Elephandian,” he decided, cantering into the dining room and levitating the Ranee Vishaal takeaway menu from the nearby shelf. “I quite fancy a bit of curry tonight. You wanna take a look through here, Hornette, and see what takes your fancy? I already know what mine's gonna be.”

“Well, what would you recommend?” asked Hornette, pulling up a chair next to him as she perused the menu. She could already see there was plenty to choose from – perhaps a bit too much for her liking.

“Nothing stronger than a Rogan Josh, that's for sure,” advised Locomotion sagely. “Uncle Steamer tends to go a bit spicier than me, but even he'd have to have an asbestos tongue to withstand the vindaloo and the madras and so on.”

“Yeah...I see your point,” mused Hornette, recalling a particularly embarrassing palaver from nearly a fortnight ago. During dinner, she had somehow managed to put Crystal Hot Sauce on her hayburger instead of ketchup, something she failed to notice until she took her first bite – at which point her mouth seemed to catch fire! Screaming in panic and agony, she bolted for the sink and began hosing her mouth down with cold water, only to send herself into a fierce coughing fit as some of it went down the wrong way. It took Locomotion a long time to calm her down and mop up the resultant spray, and only after a baffled Steamer took a tentative sniff of her burger did any of them realise her mistake. A few sips of milk soon eased her burns, but even then Hornette spent the next day laid up in bed with a sore mouth and the mother of all stomach aches. No way would she want to go through all that again, she thought wryly. “I think I'll just have what you're having...if that's okay with you.”

“Yeah, that's fine by me,” conceded Locomotion affably. “I'll just go phone it through.”

The takeaway arrived half an hour later, just as Twilight had finished scanning Hornette's memory and renewing the suppression spell. It consisted of Locomotion's regular order of broccoli korma, Bombray potatoes and pilau rice with a side of naan bread, and the young changeling quickly found it to be some of the most succulent food she had ever tasted. She especially loved the sweet and creamy almond flavour of the korma sauce; it was almost like taking a spoonful of heaven with a dash of nectar, she thought blissfully as she felt it massage the inside of her mouth. No wonder Locomotion enjoyed it so much.

Indeed, just as he had asserted earlier, Locomotion seemed a lot more at ease now that he had such a delectable meal on his plate, and Hornette soon forgot to be worried too. Having finished their dinner, the two teenagers spent the rest of the evening relaxing in front of the television before Hornette decided to turn in for the night; but when Locomotion came to read his usual bedtime story, it only seemed to rekindle her earlier anxiety. The story in question was about a tomboyish young diesel who had grown fed up of shunting in her home yard, and wanted to go further down the line. In trying to do so, she only succeeded in landing an elderly tram engine in grave danger when her trucks pushed him out of control – straight towards a weakened bridge across a raging torrent! Locomotion seemed to phase out at this point, and even when Hornette managed to snap him out of his reverie, his narration lacked its usual energy, becoming ever so slightly timid and tremulous.

Despite the story's happy ending, the young insectoid found it more unsettling than intriguing, particularly with how it seemed to be affecting his behaviour. She tried asking if everything was alright in his world, but Locomotion simply dodged the question and trotted off to his own room, muttering something about finishing his latest fanfiction as he left Hornette in suspense. Reluctantly, she wrapped a worried arm around Prairie and settled down to sleep...

Locomotion was making good time as he took his goods train through the Buckskin Mountains – not as the driver or the firepony, but as a large red tank engine with four small wheels in front, and eight driving wheels behind. Normally, one of the big Mustang Class freight engines would have taken the train, but the one which was meant to work it had broken down; and since Locomotion was the only engine available, Max Pressure had told him to take it instead.

“This sure beats the marshalling yard,” he puffed cheerfully. “I hardly ever get a chance to stretch my wheels with shunting.” He gazed thoughtfully along the line; “I wonder how Hornette's doing at Albaneigh Yard?”

But his trucks were nowhere near as jovial as he was. “That Diesel!” they grumbled to each other. “He's got some nerve, bumping us around like this – and now he's buzzed off to some other station just to get away from us! How are we supposed to get our own back?!”

“Doesn't matter,” said one. “We can always take it out on Loco instead. Who does he think he is anyway, hanging out with that changeling?! She doesn't even belong here!”

Locomotion overheard them, but didn't take much notice. “These trucks sure love their chatter,” he thought aloud, and bumped them sternly. “Alright, you lot, smarten up. I'd rather not have to deal with your nonsense today.”

“Ha! We'll give him nonsense!” whispered the trucks ominously.

They ran quietly and smoothly at first, and Locomotion thought he had them under complete control; but soon, they passed through the refuge sidings at Winsome Peak Summit and approached the top of the long downhill gradient towards Delamare, where they would have to set the wagon brakes before descending. Locomotion whistled to let the guard know they were going to stop, and his own brakes came on with a groan. This was the signal for the trucks.

“Hurrah! Hurrah!” they screeched, and surged forward.

“Whoa, what the...?!” exclaimed Locomotion in alarm as his wheels locked and slithered. He released his brakes and tried applying them again, but they were useless against the unwilling trucks, and before he knew it, they were hurtling down the hill at a tremendous rate. “Cut it out, you stupid trucks!” he yelled frantically. “We're gonna have an accident!”

But the trucks didn't care. “Go on! Go on!” they giggled in their silly way, as Locomotion desperately fought for control...

Further along the line, Hornette, herself now a little blue tank engine with six small wheels, was humming a little tune as she shunted the yard at Albaneigh. Her trucks were uneasy about being shunted by a “changeling engine” at first, but she had been so gentle with them that they began to warm to her. But just as she was about to buffer up to a cut of vans, she stopped and stared along the main line. Far away, but getting closer and closer, she could hear another engine whistling furiously.

“That's odd,” thought Hornette. “It sounds like Loco, but...surely he can't be travelling that fast.” But as she waited and watched, a flash of red appeared from around a distant curve, shouting and whistling urgently to clear the line. As the runaway reached the station throat, her eyes widened in horror, “It is Loco!”

Without a moment's thought, Hornette charged onto the main line and ran as hard and as fast as she could until Locomotion was almost alongside her. “Loco! What's going on?” she called above the pounding of their exhausts.

“Those stupid trucks are ganging up on me!” replied Locomotion. “I can't stop them!”

As if on cue, the trucks seemed to push even harder into his rear buffers, screaming and laughing manically. “Bump him! Scrag him! Throw him off the rails!” they hollered.

“Hang on, Loco!” shouted Hornette, shutting off steam. “I'm gonna try and slow you down from behind!”

“Hurry, Hornette!” begged Locomotion as the smaller tank engine dropped further and further back. But no sooner had he said this than a sudden realisation struck him like a wrecking ball against his boiler. “Oh, D-rat, the bridge! If I don't slow down, it'll tear itself to pieces under my weight! What am I gonna do?!”

But as it turned out, the speed limit was only half his problem. The bridge in question passed over a chasm almost as deep and treacherous as Ghastly Gorge; and to make matters worse, it was closed down for repair. In a blind panic, Locomotion swung his reverser hard over and turned on full steam against the trucks.

“I must stop them! I must!” he groaned through gritted teeth.

“ON! ON! ON!” bellowed the trucks fiercely; but their effort slackened the closer they came, until at last, Locomotion brought them to a shuddering halt – right in the middle of the bridge! Slowly, cautiously, he tried to reverse back to firm ground, but the trucks wouldn't let him. “Hold back! Hold back!” they yelled.

“Come on, you suicidal tubs!” urged Locomotion. “If this bridge gives...” but he suddenly let out a shriek of alarm as they felt it sag beneath their wheels. He looked back, praying that Hornette would be strong enough to help them, but was even more horrified to find she was no longer there. The only other engine in sight was a black diesel shunter, who stood smirking next to a pair of wrecking cranes.

The engine leered smugly at him as he watched him struggle helplessly. “So,” he remarked, “it seems that karma has finally caught up with our 'righteous' friend Locomotion.”

“Diesel!” cried Locomotion despairingly as he tried his hardest to grip the rails. “Diesel, help me!”

“After how you insulted me? I don't think so!” taunted Diesel. “Besides, who would want to associate themselves with an engine who wouldn't even dare to save his aunt?” He backed away, grinning ominously at the look of shock on the big red tank engine's face. “Goodbye, Locomotion.”

“No! Diesel, wait!” yelled Locomotion. “You can't leave me here! Come back! Please!”

But even if Diesel could hear him above the whining of jet engines rapidly approaching, he wouldn't have paid him any attention. Locomotion slowly turned his gaze towards the source of the noise, his face ashen with terror – for there, diving towards him at an alarming rate of knots, was a huge crippled airliner with smoke billowing from its engines. As it closed in on him, its rear fuselage suddenly broke away, revealing the registration code on its tailplane as E-BAZT.

Locomotion's boiler seemed to freeze as he watched the tail section plunge into the ravine. He hadn't seen those markings up close before, but he remembered the plane's registration all too well. His call for help caught in his blastpipe, and before he could even think of anything else, the nose of the aircraft tore off as well, revealing hundreds of terror-stricken ponies, one of whom he instantly recognised – but he had no time even to think of calling out her name before the plane crashed into the side of the bridge, creating a huge fireball and sending Locomotion, his trucks and the airliner passengers tumbling and screaming to their doom...

With a panicked yelp, Locomotion jolted himself awake in a cold sweat, hyperventilating like mad until at last he managed to regain his bearings. He was no longer a tank engine, but the same teenaged unicorn stallion he had been when he fell asleep more than an hour ago, now caught in a tangle of bedsheets near the edge of his raised cabin bed. His breathing became ragged with distress as he choked back a small sob, still shaken from what he now knew to be a dream – but what a nightmare! And how easily it could have come true but for the young changeling now sound asleep in the guest room. Hornette was right to worry about him, he thought glumly.

But what difference did it make? He was on his own now...or was he? No...he couldn't possibly intrude...not at such a ridiculous hour. If only his bed could have been closer to the floor for just one night, then maybe he wouldn't have so much trouble sleeping himself. Morosely, he heaved himself out of his bed and stepped quietly into the hallway, trying to clear his head; but even a round of stealthy pacing did little to calm him down. At last, he decided he couldn't take any more, and summoning one of his pillows with his magic, he knocked gently at Hornette's door.

“Hornette? Are you asleep?”

A groggy moan came from the other side. “Mm...not really. Why, what's up?”

“Can I...c-c-can I come in?” stuttered Locomotion timidly.

“Uh...sure.” In the darkness of her room, Hornette shifted herself round so that she could sit upright, blinking herself awake as the door swung open. She wasn't the least bit surprised to see Locomotion entering, but was overcome with a worrying sense of deja vu when she saw how vulnerable and distressed he looked. His eyes were sore and full of fear, with twin streaks trailing down from them. He was holding a pillow in his teeth, and looked like he had been struggling to fight back tears.

“Loco?” asked Hornette, her voice full of concern. “What's wrong? Why are you crying?”

“Nightmares,” faltered Locomotion, setting his pillow down by her bed. “I dreamed I was a tank engine taking a train across the Buckskin Mountains – you were in it too, and so was Diesel...”

It took a while for him to explain what had happened, but Hornette was already reeling with unspoken shock and dismay when he came to the part with the unsafe bridge. By the time he had finished, she was so flooded with sorrow that she was compelled to draw him into a comforting embrace. “Aw, Loco,” she whispered softly as he wept into her shoulder, “you poor stallion.”

“I'd have been a goner if not for you,” sobbed Locomotion. “I can't thank you enough for saving me that night...really I can't!” Gingerly, he tried in vain to wipe his eyes, only for them to water up again as his tears continued afresh. “Pinkie was right – you really are an angel.”

Hornette nodded, nuzzling him as she did so. “I couldn't possibly sit there and watch you die, not after you refused to do so with me,” she murmured, trying to suppress the flattered blush on her cheeks. “Besides, you're my best friend; I don't know how I would have coped without you.” But somehow, there was something about calling him a friend that seemed to sting her in the heart. Was he really just a friend, she wondered? Or was he......more to the point, did he even want to be...?


Breaking free from her train of thought, Hornette drew back a little so that she and Locomotion could see eye to eye. “Yes, Loco?”

“I know this is probably a bit...nah, I can't,” mumbled Locomotion uncertainly. “You'll only freak out if I asked you.”

“Eh? Asked me what?” Hornette cocked her head.

Locomotion hung his head guiltily. “It's stupid...”

“No, please tell me,” coaxed Hornette gently. “Did you want me to tell you a bedtime story?”

“No, it's a bit more...personal than that. What I'm trying to say is...” Plucking up what little courage he still had, Locomotion looked back up again with pleading puppy eyes. “...Hornette...can I sleep with you tonight?”

To her credit, Hornette didn't freak out in the slightest; but she was so taken aback that she didn't know how to respond. Sure, she was anxious to try and soothe Locomotion's rattled feelings, but for reasons she couldn't quite fathom, the prospect of sharing a bed with him seemed a little forward. She loosened her embrace and gazed bashfully down at her mattress, blushing profusely. “Oh, gosh, I...I don't know...” she stammered.

Locomotion grimaced with shame. Of course Hornette wouldn't agree to such a thing, he thought ruefully. “Never mind,” he mumbled. “Just...forget I asked, okay? I'll just go back to bed.” Dejectedly, he made to stand up and walk away, only for Hornette to press down gently on his shoulder.

“Wait, hang on, Loco,” she said in an almost guilty tone. “I never said I didn't want you to. You just caught me by surprise, that's all.” She paused for a moment to gather herself before adding, “To be honest, I had a worrying feeling about tonight, what with the shaking in your legs and your choice of story.” The hoof she had laid on his shoulder gently rose and began stroking his cheek. “You're really shaken, aren't you?” she whispered, her expression softening with the tone of her voice.

Locomotion nodded faintly, his own expression turning from regret to embarrassment. “I must look an absolute wreck right now,” he lamented under his breath.

“Hey, it's alright,” replied Hornette kindly. “You don't look too bad, considering what a terrible dream you'd just had.” She scooted to one side of the bed, patting the empty space next to her. “And if it's any comfort to you, then yes – you can share my bed.”



With an internal sigh of relief, Locomotion gingerly laid himself down next to her. “Thanks, Hornette,” he whispered gratefully. “I promise I won't get up to anything if I can help it.”

Hornette smiled and wrapped her arms around his barrel again, cooing and hushing him as she magically pulled the covers over them both. Already she could feel the tension in his muscles beginning to fade, see the unease in his eyes slowly peter out...even his breathing seemed slower and steadier now. She gently ran her left hoof up and down his back, letting out a soft sigh as she felt how warm he was; like being wrapped in a thick, fluffy blanket fresh out of a spin-dryer. How she wished she could have realised this sooner.

The same thought was flowing through Locomotion's mind as he snuggled up to the young insectoid. Even with the carapace of a regular insect, she still felt almost like an ordinary pony; not like the hard plastic surface of a foal's lunch box, but tender and malleable with a thin, fuzzy layer of hair on her flesh. And then there was her mane – only now, as he ran his hoof through it, did he truly appreciate how therapeutically soft it was. He could very nearly have been stroking a kitten it was so fine. At long last, he felt a sleepy smile cross his face, which only grew as Hornette began to hum a soothing lullaby...until eventually he found himself drifting back into the realms of Dreamland, with only a single query still remaining in the back of his mind;

Is this what it feels like to fall in love...?

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