• 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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WHEREIN Our Heroes Visit Old Lawndon for a Merry Hearth's Warming

“So!” the Doctor exclaimed as he trotted around the console, flipping switches and pressing buttons, “Where to? Ancient Spurta? The Tenochtitlan Basin? The far future or the distant past? On Gaea or off?”

Rumble shrugged. “Surprise me,” he said.

“Oh, come on, you have to have somewhere you want to go!”

“Right now, ‘anywhere but here’ sounds nice.”

The Doctor frowned momentarily, but then shrugged. “Alright then! Let’s see, where shall we go… Ah!” Leaning forward, he pushed a few more buttons, pulled a lever, and with a violent shaking and groaning, they were off.

Rumble picked himself up from where he’d fallen. “Sheesh. Rough takeoff much?”

“Actually, that one was pretty decent, all things considered,” the Doctor said, rubbing the back of his head and grinning sheepishly. “This was always meant to have five more pilots…”

“So… why don’t you?”

The Doctor hesitated. “I… may or may not have borrowed her without permission.”

“You stole the TARDIS?”

“Stole is such a strong word,” the Doctor said breezily. “I prefer… liberated. Or borrowed, perhaps. Anyway, doesn’t matter now, we’re here.”

Rumble did a double take. “We are?”

“Yeah. Great thing about time travel, it doesn’t really take you any more time to travel a thousand centuries into the future of a far distant planet than it takes to get you to the chemist’s five minutes ago.”

“And we are…”

The Doctor nodded at the doors. “Why don’t you take a look?”

Rumble eyed him suspiciously, but slowly trotted toward the doorway. Pushing through, he felt an icy-cold breeze tickle his mane, fresh snowflakes sticking in his coat. Directly in front of him was a brick wall, but turning his head to the right, he saw well-lit shops and merrily burning street lights, a cheerful street full of jovial ponies. The festive smell of roasting apples and fresh cinnamon was strong in the air, and merry laughter echoed from a pub up the road. The pegasus promptly pulled his head back into the time ship. The Doctor grinned broadly. “Hearth’s Warming Eve, 702. The middle of Equestria’s first major industrial revolution. Lawndon. Whaddya think?”

Rumble shook the snowflakes from his pelt. “Try again,” he said shortly.

The Doctor’s face fell. “What?” he gasped. “What’s wrong with it? It’s perfectly lovely! Practically something out of a storybook, that’s how good it is. Well,” he added conscientiously, “At least, if you’re rich. Less so if you’re not, but all told, your lot did pretty good here. Better than Earth, anyway.”

“Fine. Great history lesson. Can we go now? I have… bad memories about winter.”

The Doctor studied him. “Bad memories.”

Rumble glared back. “Yes.”

The Time Lord nodded. “There’s a cure for that, you know,” he offered. “Bad memories, I mean.”

“I thought you weren’t that kind of doctor,” Rumble said warily.

“What, you mean medical?” He pulled a face. “Nah. But I’ve lived long enough to pick up a couple things, y’know.”

Rumble waited a few moments. The Doctor merely looked at him, eyebrows raised and mouth quirked. The pegasus sighed, deflating. “Fine. What’s your cure?”

The Doctor grinned and trotted toward Rumble. “The cure for bad memories? Well. There’s only one tried-and-true method of doing that.” He leaned in close to the colt’s ear, then paused and leaned back to study him intently. “You ready for this? I mean, really ready?”

Rumble rolled his eyes. “Yes,” he replied flatly.

“You sure?”


“Right. The cure is…” the Doctor leaned forward to whisper in Rumble’s ear. “Go and make some good ones.” Then, with a grin, he pushed forwards through the doors, taking a very surprised Rumble with him.

The colt struggled to rise from the snowdrift, half out of surprise and half from the cold. He rose for the briefest of moments, just long enough to see the Doctor turn the key in the TARDIS door—and then tumbled back into the pile of snow once more with a grunt. A brown hoof wrapped round his barrel and helped him upright. The Doctor grinned brightly at Rumble. “Allons-y!”

The pegasus glared at the Time Lord. “Is summer too much to ask?” he grumbled.

“Oh, come off it. Winter’s brilliant! Besides, you can’t just spend your life hating an entire quarter of the year.”

“Watch me,” Rumble shot back.

“We’re going to go have a nice warm cider,” the Doctor said firmly. “Then, we can go skating, or build a snow fort or something. After we’re done with that, if you still hate winter, fine. But at least give it a go, yeah?”

The colt hesitated. The Doctor was looking at him with a mixture of hope and determination in his eyes. “Yeah, fine,” Rumble sighed. It did sound like a pretty nice time, after all.

The Doctor’s face split into a wide grin. “That’s the spirit,” he said, cantering down the alleyway. “I can taste that cider now. Not as good as a banana daiquiri, mind, but still...”

Rumble set off after him, a faint smile developing on his own face.


It was, Rumble admitted to himself, a pretty good argument in favor of winter. The atmosphere was so full of Hearth’s Warming cheer that it practically tasted like pine sap and cloves. The streets thronged with merry holiday well-wishers. Even the flickering yellowish fires of the streetlamps seemed to crackle with more jolliness than usual. Every now and again, Rumble found himself smiling. But then, his eyes would drift to the dark snow clouds above, or the deep drifts, or a row of icicles, and his grin would melt in much the way that they currently weren’t. The Doctor was not oblivious to this, and his brow wrinkled as he thought. What event could have occurred in Rumble’s life to cause such a hatred of snow and ice? When he noticed the colt staring up at him, he quickly brightened. “Good cider, hey?” he grinned.

“Yeah,” the colt admitted. “I don’t usually have it warm. It’s good. Almost better than Sweet Apple Acres cider.”

“Well, I’d be surprised if the pony who made it wasn’t some sort of ancestor to that lot.” He frowned. “Have you noticed, they’ve got something of a monopoly on the market?”

Rumble shrugged. “Dunno. Maybe apple ponies attract other apple ponies, or something.”

“Like attracts like? Yes, I suppose— Rumble, are you alright?”

The colt had suddenly winced like he’d taken a punch to the gut. “Fine,” he replied gruffly. “Just got a bit of a headache.”

The Doctor tutted. “Here, let’s sit for a little while.” He trotted to a nearby bench and plopped down.

Rumble slid onto the bench next to the Time Lord. The crowd continued to bustle around them, barely giving them a second glance.

The two sat in silence for several minutes. “You want to talk about it?”

“Already been over this once today. Rather not do it again,” Rumble replied brusquely.

“Fair,” the Doctor nodded. “This have something to do with your parents?”

“What parents?” Rumble retorted.

“Ah.” The Doctor stared into space. “I never really got on with my parents, either.”

“Hnh,” Rumble grunted.

“They didn't think I’d ever make a Time Lord. Dad never supported me, and Mum never stood up to him. My brother, Brax, he was the golden child.”

“Yeah? They ever throw you out?”

“I think I was disowned after I, ah, liberated the TARDIS. Maybe not quite the same thing, but I get the idea.”

Rumble was silent. “Why?” the Doctor asked, eyes growing hard and cold.

Rumble got up. “Let's go do something,” he said. “Ice skating, you said?”

The Doctor stared at him for a moment longer, then grinned, relaxing. “Sure. That sounds brilliant. Right, the rink ought to be… this way. Allons-y!”


In a moment, it had turned to pandemonium. In a fraction of a second, smiles had frozen, turned plastic and dangerous. Love withered and fear bloomed. The vase barely missed his head. Rumble flew out the front door into the bitter winter night, his tears turning to ice.

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