• Published 16th Aug 2019
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Silent Night - Sixes_And_Sevens



Rumble hates winter. It reminds him of everything he's lost. So when the Doctor takes him back to visit a Frost Faire, he's less than happy. Things only get worse when murder enters into the matter. Will this Hearth's Warming be Rumble's last?

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INTRODUCING Our Hero as he Breaks His Fast and Bids a Friend Farewell

Lawndon, Winter of 702 CE: He was being hunted. The stallion’s eyes flickered from side to side, his tongue darting out to lick his lips. A trash bin’s lid crashed behind him, and he spun around with his horn already glowing. With a yowl, the cat sprang away from its late dinner, angry for being interrupted. Dr. Climber sighed, the tension leaving him. Only a cat. He turned back around to continue home. He would be safe at home. He could FIX this at—

He was found by a policeman the next morning. The blood from where his throat had been shredded discolored the purity of the fresh snow.

***

Rumble stood, shivering, in a patch of snow that came up to his knees. The cold bit into his flesh and gnawed at his bones. He could barely breathe for fear of inhaling the fine, dry chips of ice in the air. He stumbled forward, throwing himself against the great curved wall of glass that imprisoned him. He bounced off harmlessly, only succeeding in wiping away a little frost.
Teeth chattering, he rubbed off more of the icy coating and peered through to see what was outside. A face stared back, young and innocent. It was easily big enough for Rumble to use the bridge of its nose as a chair without causing any discomfort to either party. It was his own face, as a child. The ribbons in his hair swung slightly in a breeze Rumble couldn't feel in the snowglobe.
Younger Rumble stared at the snow globe for a second. Then, with a smile, he let it drop.
As Rumble and his prison entered free-fall, he opened his mouth to scream...

***

Ponyville, Winter of 6 BAT:The sound of shattering glass echoed in Rumble’s ears as he awoke with a start. He sat upright for a long moment, clutching his pillow against his chest as he slowly allowed himself to relax. It was all a dream. Only a memory, now. He set the pillow down with a deep sigh. What time was it? Time to get up, anyway. Grumbling, he kicked back the covers and rolled out of bed. Poking his head out the door, he glanced to see if the bathroom was free. The door, unfortunately, was shut, and judging by the off-off-Bridleway quality of the booming voice within, Rumble guessed that his brother would be in the shower for some time yet, doing his mane up. He decided to have breakfast, instead.

***

The kitchen was a disaster area, bowls and dishes everywhere. Finding a few dishes that weren't too dirty, Rumble fixed himself a bowl of cereal and a glass of grape juice. The other pony present watched him idly through heavy and baggy eyes as she enjoyed her hardboiled egg. “That's disgusting,” she observed, regarding Rumble’s meal with derision. “Swear to Celestia, I will never understand ponies who drink milk, it’s disgusting. You know where that stuff comes from.”

“Yeah, yeah, we're the scum at the top of every carton,” Rumble muttered. “You say that every day, Cloudy. Ever convince anypony to change to eating cereal with orange juice?”

“What's got you in such a mood?” Cloudchaser asked. “Can't be my moronic sister, or your idiot brother, they're both still in the bathroom. I don't even think they’re even doing anything in there.”

“Nightmare,” Rumble replied brusquely, digging into his mushy cereal with a vengeance.

The other pegasus winced. “Oh. Sorry.” After a beat, she asked, “Wanna talk about it?”

Rumble scowled into his cornflakes. “I’d sooner stick my tongue in a toaster.”

“Right.” Cloudchaser shrugged. “You wanna do things your way, do ‘em your way. You wanna deal with this stuff, y’know, healthily? Then we can talk.”

Rumble’s spoon poked viciously at his cereal. “Nothing left to deal with,” he growled. “I think we all know where we stand. I think we’ve known for about the last five years.”

“Yeah? So you know—” she was interrupted by a sudden cheerful cry of greeting from behind her.

“Good morning, Rumble!” Flitter chirped, grinning far brighter than anyone had a right to at half-past six in the morning. “How are you today?”

Rumble took a long look at the perky, perennially upbeat pegasus that his brother was dating. “Fine,” he said, shooting a warning look at Cloudchaser. What else, after all, could he say? If he mentioned the nightmare to Flitter, she’d be on him like a mother hen in no time flat.

Cloudy eyeballed him for a long moment, then turned to look at her twin sister. “So. What’s on the agenda today?”

Flitter looked at the fridge and pulled off the weather management schedule. “Looks like light flurries today, followed by major snowfall tonight.”

Cloudchaser groaned. “Oh, goody goody, dealing with the Snow Department again, what fun. Buncha artsy-fartsy weirdos. What do they care if a snowflake isn’t an original? No one looks at them individually! And Celestia forbid you put one of their ‘babies’ at the bottom of a drift, but make sure it’s the first one to fall! Sheesh.”

Flitter shrugged. “At least we don’t have to deal with them personally,” she said.

“Heh. True. Really makes you feel bad for Rainbow, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Thunderlane agreed, trotting into the kitchen. “I tell ya, I wouldn’t want to be head of weather for all the gold in Canterlot.” He paused, considering. “Actually, yeah. Yeah, I would.”

“Morning,” Rumble said.

“Oh, hey bro. How’s life?”

“Fine.”

“That bad, huh?”

“I’m fine,” Rumble repeated.

“Alright. Okay,” Thunderlane agreed. “You’re fine. Great. Oh, hey, you got any plans this afternoon?”

Rumble frowned. “Not really. Button, Scoots, and Sweetie are all on vacation, Bloom and her family are leaving for Manehattan today to visit family, and Dinky’s got a cold. Why?”

“Need you to go do some grocery shopping. Oh yeah, and the toaster’s finally fixed, so could you pick that up sometime?”

Rumble shrugged. “Sure.” He looked up at the clock. “Hey, don’t you guys have to be at work in half an hour?”

Flitter, Cloudchaser and Thunderlane froze. “BUCK!” Cloudchaser shouted as they all scrambled for their winter gear. “You guys! I didn’t even get to have a shower!”

“We’ll fly through a cloud on the way!” Flitter replied, throwing open the door and leaping into the air. “Come on!”

Rumble just rolled his eyes. Looked like he was on cleanup duty. Again. Sighing, he started to stack the plates and bowls, wondering if it wouldn’t just be easier to use disposable dishware.

***

“Arright! Haul ‘em up!” Apple Bloom called, balanced at the edge of the apple cart.

With a grunt, Applejack picked up a suitcase in her teeth and, with a flick of her head, threw it into the back of the cart. Grimacing, she rubbed at her jaw before moving on to the next one. Bloom, meanwhile, was stacking the cases neatly against the sides of the wagon, taking care to leave enough room for Granny to ride along. The old mare herself was waiting impatiently on the porch. “Hurry up, ya whippersnappers,” she called. “Train’s gonna be gettin’ here soon!”

“Not fer another hour’n a half, Granny,” Mac corrected from his place at the front of the wagon to which he was hitched. “We got plenty of time.”

“Hmph! Well, mebee you young’ns do, but I’m an old mare. Yes indeedy! Could go at any second, and I’d rather do it on a train than out here!”

Apple Bloom frowned. “Why’s that?”

The old mare grinned. “More folk to see me croak, more dramatic it’ll be.” She cackled at that.

Applejack rolled her eyes. “Y’all have been alive fer near a century already, Granny. Ye’ll forgive me iffin I’m doubtin’ yer gonna drop anytime soon.”

The old mare smirked. “Respect yer elders,” she replied, sitting back in her old rocking chair.

Suddenly, a flutter of grey caught Mac’s eye. He glanced over to see Bloom’s friend, Rumble coming in for a landing. Mac nodded a greeting. He liked Rumble. That colt was probably the most stable and rational of any of his littlest sister’s friends. Heck, he could be more rational than most of Applejack’s friends, too. Well, except perhaps Princess Twilight. He stared off into the distance, suddenly lost in a sea of purple dreams. Fortunately, nopony noticed. It was one of the benefits of being a wallflower. “Howdy, Rumble!” Apple Bloom said, leaping down from the wagon. “Whatcha doin’ here?”

“Thunderlane’s got me doing the shopping. I thought I’d say goodbye before your train left.”

Apple Bloom grinned. “Aw, shoot, that’s nice of ya.” She threw her hooves open and wrapped him in a warm embrace. “See ya in a week,” she said, letting go.

Granny Smith, meanwhile, had sat bolt upright, frowning at the colt. Were her eyes finally giving up the ghost, or— No. He had flinched, she was sure of it. When Apple Bloom had thrown her hooves around him, he had blanched like he was about to be struck. Granny was old enough to count gossip as one of the few pastimes she had left, and she had most certainly been around long enough to catch on to equine nature. “You there! Bumble! Stumble!” Blast it, what was that colt’s name? “Grumble! Come here and help an old mare close up her house.”

The pegasus paused for a moment, uncertain. “Are ya deaf?” Granny shouted. “Iffin y’are, I can lend you an ear trumpet! But I need you t’help me lock up the doors’n’windows!”

She trotted inside imperiously, and Rumble found himself drawn in after her.

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