• Published 25th Dec 2018
  • 882 Views, 73 Comments

The Iron Ho-Ho-Horse: Hearth's Warming By The Numbers - The Hat Man

Hearth's Warming with the family is traditional! A family made up of robots... that's less traditional. Turing Test decides to unite her robotic siblings and their creator for a holiday gathering in Mustangia in this collection of vignettes.

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Minus One

It was in the evening after dinner when Cobbler Mustang made his way out to the back of the house. He wore a scarf and carried a mug of mulled cider. His belly was full from the delicious meal that Auntie Bellum had cooked (with some not-too-unintrusive help from 001), and he wore a smile as he recalled the way his three robotic children all watched intently as he and his aunt ate.

I understand that they find eating food fascinating, since they can’t eat themselves, he thought to himself, but still, I wish they wouldn’t stare so!

Then he chuckled, remembering how 001, in an effort to join in, stuffed a napkin in her mouth and pretended to chew it, saying “OM NOM NOM” all the while.

He shivered in the cold as he followed the path behind the big house, the warm light from the windows casting long shadows from the trees surrounding them.

At last he stopped at his destination: the family graveyard.

He stopped by the graves, placing a hoof on each headstone as he took a sip from his cup, silently blessing each one of the departed.

One for Granddaddy… one for Daddy… one for Mama… one for Sweet Clementine...

He paused at the biggest grave, shutting his eyes. He swallowed, swearing that he would keep his composure.

No… it would not do to go back into the house all weepy-eyed. I will not ruin the festivities by dwelling on the past. After all, I have been blessed with a wonderful family, and I should be grateful.

He inhaled through his nostrils and opened his eyes.

Before him was the grave of Georgia Peach, his first daughter.

Even over a decade later, he could still remember her at every Hearth’s Warming. He remembered her snuggling adorably with a new teddy bear one year. Another, the time she knocked over the tree trying to put an ornament on a branch that was too high for her to reach and cried and cried about how she’d ruined the holiday. Another, when she got her favorite orange dress.

And the last one, when she’d still been healthy, and she’d given him a picture of herself and all her friends at her university greenhouse.

He placed a hoof on the grave and took a long sip of hot cider. “Happy Hearth’s Warming, sweetheart,” he whispered aloud. “I know a small piece of you lives on in your siblings, and it was your love that saved me from a wicked path… but still I wish you could be here with us in person.”

He sighed, his eyes dampening, but he kept his smile. “I love you, sweetheart,” he whispered, and turned back to the house.

When he returned to the house, he found the rest of the family in the parlor.

“Well, there ya are, Nephew!” Auntie Bellum said. “And will you look what Turing Test brought for us: new Hearth’s Warming dolls!”

Cobbler’s eyes widened. “Oh? Well, let’s see them!”

Sure enough, there on the mantle were the Hearth’s Warming dolls for all of them. Auntie Bellum’s and his own were traditional cloth dolls while each of the robots were metallic figurines.

“I had them made for us, Father,” Turing Test said, coming up alongside him. “Are they satisfactory?”

He grinned. “They are simply lovely, my dear,” he said, patting her on the head and ruffling the coils of her mane.

“I am glad you like them,” she said. “I will inform the Doctor that his efforts were appreciated. It is a shame that… ah…”

Cobbler raised an eyebrow as she trailed off. “What is it, Turing?”

Turing looked down at the box that she’d brought the Hearth’s Warming dolls in. Cobbler looked and saw that there was one left: 002’s.

“Ah. I see now,” he said quietly.

“I know that your relationship is strained,” Turing said, picking up the final doll. “Still, I had hoped that perhaps she might come at least for Hearth’s Warming. I suppose that such a wish was foolish.”

“Sentimental? Yes. Unrealistic? Certainly,” Cobbler said. Then he grinned at her. “But there’s nothing foolish about wanting your family to be together.”

“Then, shall I place it on the mantle, Father?” she asked. “I was uncertain if it would be appropriate. Though I wish for her to be here, it seems somewhat disrespectful of her own wishes to place her effigy here. Was I mistaken?”

Cobbler pursed his lips. “No, I think you’re right,” he said. “As much as it pains me that 002 thinks ill of me, I cannot blame her. When she cares to join us for Hearth’s Warming, we’ll let her place it there herself.

“Still, there is a spare spot on the mantle, and I think it’s been vacant for far too long… Auntie, children, would you excuse me? I need to get something from the attic.”

“Well, don’t take too long,” Auntie said. “I was going to read ‘A Hearth’s Warming Tail’ to the children just like old times.”

Cobbler left for a moment while Auntie got in her favorite chair with the book, and each of the robots dutifully sat on the carpet in a half-circle around her.

A few moments later, Cobbler returned with something in his hooves.

“Oh… oh, Cobbler,” Auntie said when she saw what it was.

Cobbler went to the mantle and put a new doll next to his. It was older, but in good condition, and only needed to have the brown yarn ringlets on its head untangled before he was satisfied.

“There we are,” he said, nodding approvingly.

“Iss Joja Peesh!” 001 exclaimed.

“Indeed it is, 001,” Cobbler said. “And though she isn’t here to say so, I am quite certain that she would want to be here in person.”

Auntie Bellum smiled warmly as Turing Test and 004 nodded in approval.

“Now then,” Cobbler said, taking a seat nearby, “where were we in the story?”

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