• Published 29th Dec 2019
  • 1,606 Views, 175 Comments

A Cozy Hearth's Warming - SoloBrony

In the last story, Cozy Glow became a super hero. Mostly because of brain damage. Now she has to juggle studies, super heroics, friend-making (ugh), and... destiny? All before Hearth's Warming – can't a former megalomaniacal psychopath catch a break?

  • ...

Not a moment's peace

"Very good, Cozy. Hold it just like that."

Cozy squinted in concentration, but otherwise kept a calm poker face while she held up the complex apparatus of machinery. It was a very delicate bit of telekinesis; if she offbalanced the machine even slightly, the bearings would slide out of place and it would fall apart. In terms of raw power, even with her abilities faded somewhat since the Battle of the Bell, she was still alarmingly advanced, but her inexperience with a horn made such a fine task quite hard.

It was a great surprise, then, when she spoke without missing a step.

"I appreciate the help with my studies, Princess Celestia, but I wanted to ask; why are you taking an interest all of a sudden?"

There's that formal demeanor she takes with me. Probably worried she'll try to manipulate me if she doesn't keep herself reined in.

"Well, there's the simple fact that you're my niece, now. And I would have participate sooner, but Luna thought you needed the space to work on your own. We had the impression your magical training was your alone-time."

Cozy nodded slowly, eyes still fixated on the apparatus.

"She wasn't wrong. I'm still working things out."

"But you don't mind the company now, do you?"

She took a few seconds to answer – whether due to difficulty maintaining the levitation or because she was considering her answer, or both, I couldn't be sure.

"No, I don't. It's nice. You don't talk too much or try to dig into my head."

I almost laughed at how lukewarm that sort of compliment sounded, delivered so bluntly, but I checked myself.

She's trying to be honest. I can't undermine that.

"I try not to tread where I'm unwelcome. Or be careless with things I don't understand."

Cozy smiled at that.

"See, you get it. If there's one thing I really hate, it's when ponies assume they know exactly what's going on in my life and then dictate what I should do about it."

"In my experience, everypony hates that."

"You'd think they'd know better, then."

It was my turn to laugh.

"If ponies actually learned how to treat others from their own experiences, and consistently treated others with that kind of tact and care, I doubt they'd even need leaders to settle disputes."

Cozy thought that over while she experimentally turned the apparatus horizontally without tilting it vertically.

"I guess other ponies struggle with empathy, too, sometimes."

I considered that, digging back through years of experience settling disputes rather than giving a snap answer.

"I think most ponies find empathy itself easy, but then fail to apply what they know. They form bad social habits, and don't really question them."

"Huh... so if you asked them, they'd know what would or wouldn't hurt somepony else, but they'll do it anyway without even thinking that through?"

"More or less."

Cozy took on a quizzical expression that bordered on comedic.

"But that's dumb."

"I wouldn't say that... it's more just a matter of how much effort ponies put into socializing. Most interactions don't take much thought, so it's habit-forming not to take it too seriously."

Cozy's face lit up at that, like she'd just discovered how to cast a new spell.

"Oh. So that's how it is. I guess I've gotten used to overthinking how I speak and act, because... well, you know why."

I scooted closer to her as her countenance darkened.

"That's not necessarily a bad thing, Cozy. That kind of awareness could make you the best friend somepony could ask for."

I got a loud, unladylike snort out of her in response to that.

"Right. Ponies are just lining up for a chance to hang out with the most destructive filly in history."

I actually tried to evaluate whether she was, in fact, the most destructive filly in history for a moment before realizing it wasn't productive. (Tough call, though; I mean, Luna threw some impressive tantrums, and depending on the age range considered, Starlight did technically destroy Equestria, and I'll just stop now.)

"Most ponies have short memories, Cozy. Even if you struggle now, things will get better. And I heard you did just make a new friend in Ponyville, the other day, right? It's not as though you need a great many friends; for one such as you, the depth of even a single friendship will go much farther than it does for most ponies, I suspect."

Cozy chewed her lip over as she set the apparatus down.

"Maybe. But the friends I have right now tend to be pretty busy, and we only know each other in passing. I don't feel like I've gotten a real chance to get to know anypony aside from Luna. It's kind of funny that I felt so accomplished for having so many 'friends' before, but I didn't have a single pony who really knew me. And the only things I knew about them were details on how to mess with them."

This filly is far too good at assessing her own weaknesses, failures, and shortcomings. At her age, in her situation, that kind of self-awareness is more of a burden than a boon.

I gently extended a wing around her. "Well, what about gathering together with your friends for Hearth's Warming? It's coming up in a few days, and I know Luna was looking forward to putting on a big celebration this year with Twilight."

Cozy huffed, rolling her eyes at me and grinning. "Oh, I know. She talks about it constantly! 'Cozy, you should make some friends your own age, I don't want to see you alone at Hearth's Warming', 'Cozy, what kind of outfit do you want to wear at the Hearth's Warming Party', 'Cozy, does this dress make mine posterior appear inordinately rounded'?"

That took me so off-guard, the mental image so vivid and her voice impression so terribly caricatured, I giggled so hard I snorted for breath halfway through, and Cozy started laughing with me (or possibly at me).

"Oh, my stars. She did not say that last one!"

"Haha! No, not really, but she might as well have. I saw her checking her flank out in the mirror with that big frown she gets when she's stressed about what ponies think."

Cozy made a dramatically huge frown to demonstrate, and that got another round of giggles out of me.

"That's it, that's the look! I remember seeing her make that face whenever delegates wanted to see both of us!"

Cozy snickered and shook her head, directing her gaze out at the clouds. "I can imagine, yeah. I bet she was really glad to get out of the castle."

"We both were," I confirmed. "It wasn't doing our relationship any favors, either. I like the freedom we have now; it's been untold centuries since I could simply be with my sister and explore what kind of ponies we are to each other."

We settled into a companionable silence for a while after that, until a nagging thought crept up on me.

"So, Cozy... are you looking forward to the Hearth's Warming party at all?"

Cozy's gaze flattened slightly, and she eventually let out a sigh. I could tell she was struggling with whether to lie about her feelings.

"No. I kinda hate Hearth's Warming."

I pursed my lips and considered that before responding.

"I won't pretend to know precisely why you feel that way. I suppose it must be related to your past?"

Cozy nodded stiffly, but didn't elaborate. I was going to gently push for more when we were both startled by a buzzing, humming noise that went off periodically. We both looked around until I noticed her flank was glowing.

"Erm, Cozy? Your cutie mark is glowing."

Cozy's eyes shot wide and she stared at her flank in disbelief. A few tense moments passed before she groaned and facehoofed.


Author's Note:

Destiny is the universe's way of getting its kicks messing with you, Cozy.