• Published 30th Apr 2020
  • 3,244 Views, 54 Comments

Does she know— - semillon

Love is built up over time, and no one knows that more than Ocellus.

  • ...

that I'm a changeling?

My room is peaceful and free to hum in, despite the griffon currently studying on my carpet. He’s told me that he enjoys not only my voice, but all of our friends’ voices, and that I’m free to do whatever I need to do while studying.

I’m humming along to a Countess Coloratura song in my head when Gallus breaks me out of my musical reading bubble. “Ocellus?” he asks. “What does tasting feelings feel like?”

The subject of my diet has come up multiple times throughout my new life in Ponyville. I’ve whittled all the facts down to the four most important:

1) I passively “eat” emotion at all times. It doesn’t hurt the source, and I can’t turn it off. The process is similar to a plant gaining energy from sunlight, but less filling or necessary. The detected emotion sometimes isn’t as vivid as it could be, which leads into the next point.

2) I can actively “eat” emotions from a source—usually another changeling. Love is the only one that’s nourishing, but I can taste and feel other emotions as well. Siphoning love from one individual can lead to a complete drain on their energy, which is why I haven’t done it with any one of my friends. Instead, I take little bits of love from all of them, until I have a full meal, just like at home. I only do this after making sure they’re okay with it, of course.

3) I can eat pony food. Chocolate cake tastes great.

The fourth most important thing is the answer to Gallus’s question. I shrug at him with a smile on my lips. “They’re kind of like tasting anything else.”

“Obviously. I’m not stupid. What I meant was: does your mouth fill up with saliva? Do you have to chew?”

“That’s a good question...” I say, drawing out my words as I muse. How best to describe emotions? “It’s not like food. Not that tangible. It’s like, well, are you aware that your testicles have taste buds?”

Gallus grows silent. I watch as he eyes me carefully before he glances down at his crotch. “You’re pranking me.”

“I’m not. Want to test it?”

“No. I don’t.”

We both know he’s lying. I’m glad I keep a jug of Apple Family Soy Sauce stowed away in my dresser. After we pour a few milliliters into a bowl and Gallus squats over it, he gives me a glare and a pulse of threatening emotion that hardly fits the situation. I giggle despite the acrid taste in my mouth.

“You better not be joking,” he says.

“Do I look like a prankster to you?”

“You look like you’re more than that egg head and those cute bug eyes.”

“Thanks for the compliment,” I say, fluttering my eyes. “Want to continue our science experiment?”

He sighs and sinks his rear end lower. I hear the sound of something dipping into liquid, and wait with bated breath. To tell the truth, I don’t actually know if this is going to work. It seems more like pseudoscience than the legitimate kind.

Gallus’s face changes from unspeakably angry at the fact that he’s going with this to...surprise. His eyes widen. His beak opens slightly. “Holy shit.”

Surprise feels like fizzy soda and tastes like birthday cake. I lick my lips. “It worked?”

“I can taste it!”

“Yes!” I cheer, my wings fluttering as the word soars into a delighted laugh. “You know, I had no idea that was gonna work!”

“So that’s what tasting emotions feels like?” Gallus says as he takes his balls out of the bowl. “Just, like, tasting something!” He smacks his lips. “Okay. That’s cool. I’m not really salivating. You know, it’s a little like I just chewed soy sauce flavored gum and spit it out a few seconds ago.”

I nod happily. “Want a towel?”

“I’d love one, thanks.”

“Too bad. They’re all in the wash. I could use my tongue if you like.”

Gallus’s beak opens slightly. His wings flare.

He watches tensely as I stand up, eyes half-lidded, my wings fluttering a little as I finally make use of my ability to blush on command. “Now that,” I whisper, “was me pranking you.”

His shock is left behind in an instant, and we break out into laughter.

That’s when the door opens. Smolder takes a single step into the room. “Hey, Ocellus. I was wondering if you’d seen my—”

She stops cold. We all stay very, very quiet. Her eyes zip between my face and Gallus’s, and then they angle down at Gallus’s crotch. The moment I think I’m going to say something, there’s an audible dripdripdrip—drops of soy sauce splashing back into the bowl.

Smolder’s face slowly forms a grin. Gallus and I slowly approach her, repeating “no” so many times that it hardly sounds like a word after a few seconds.

She ignores us, however, and takes off, an excited story hiding behind her smarmy expression. She dashes to the end of our dorm wing, where Yona, Sandbar and Silverstream are playing marbles.

“I hate you,” says Gallus.

I look to his flank. “You’re getting soy sauce on the carpet.”

“You never told me where the towels were!”


When my friends try to lie to me, I have a hard time not being amused. Not when they lie for the wrong reasons, of course, but when they tell lies for things that don’t matter at all. The whole concept of “white lies” is something that’s completely new to me. Growing up Changeling, you learn to be either completely truthful (because there’s barely a point to doing the opposite with another changeling) or to make everything about yourself an utter lie. There used to be no in-betweens in my world, but then I moved to Ponyville, and suddenly lies are everywhere.

That sounds like the line out of a political intrigue novel, but the lies that pervade my life are much more toothless than the kind one finds in those stories.

I can’t sense a lie, per se. Lying isn’t a feeling. It’s more the blend of discomfort and anxiety that gives a lie away to me. It tastes awful. Sandbar regularly fibs about how much of his clover stash he has left. Yona knows that yaks aren’t the best at everything. Gallus is...well, he grew up in Griffonstone, and he catches me off guard sometimes. I have no doubt he’d be able to beat half the hive at poker. Pharynx would eat him alive, though.

Silverstream lies sometimes. She pretends that she’s not tired when she really is. She pretends some paintings that she makes fill her with joy when looking at them really fills her with the kind of frustration and heartache that makes me feel like my chitin’s cracking, falling apart with her attempts at acting happy. When this happens, she often glances towards me as the compliments on her work roll in from the rest of our friends. She’s perceptive. She knows that I can tell she’s not being completely truthful. Her gaze tells me not to say anything out loud, so I don’t. I just nod at her subtly. This is how she deals with the stress in her life, and sometimes that stress shows up on her canvas. I just have to trust her to come to one of us if painting her feelings is ever not enough.

On the other side of this spectrum is Smolder. She’s ridiculous. I wonder sometimes if she’s aware what kinds of abilities changelings possess, and then I remember that she very well knows, and that she just never puts two and two together whenever she attempts to lie to me.

Her lies are either harmless or fixable. Sometimes her greed sense flares up and she takes things. Smaller things. Never anything as big as my zap apple jam jar or Sandbar’s family photos, after last time. She’s made it clear that she’s doing the best she can, too, so when I see her sneaking a pencil or pen out of my saddlebags sometimes I try not to say anything. She usually does this during study group, when the rest of our friends are there, so I spare her the embarrassment.

When it’s just the two of us, I’m always a little eager to play with her a little bit. I’ve been helping her with certain subjects and textbooks for a while now, and so the times when she comes to my dorm with a specific passage she needs help deciphering present themselves as the perfect times to playfully tease her about her biologically propelled kleptomania.

“Smolder?” I’ll ask. She’ll usually be on my bed or on my floor, and I’ll be on my desk. She’ll grunt in response, and I’ll continue talking. If she’s taken my pencils in an earlier class, I’ll say something like, “Have you seen my pencils anywhere?”

And Smolder will freeze up like a windigo’s running laps around her. Her joints will cease to work. I can hear her neck creaking as she shakes her head and says “N-no.”

I want to gently remind her that I know what she’s feeling, but I’m afraid that she would be guarded around me as a result. I’m afraid that all of them will. So I sit by and I try not to talk about it, and sometimes I lie a little bit myself—pretending to not know all of my friends’ emotional states.

“Are you sure?” Sometimes I’ll press her. “Because I swear I just had them in my saddlebags and now they’ve completely disappeared.”

“They’re in mine!” Smolder will yell, blushing under her scales. Sometimes they’ll be stashed by the door. “I-I must have gotten confused or something!”

Likely story. But a sweet one. She knows what she’s doing is wrong, on a very small level, and she feels bad about it, and she wants to make up for it. She’s genuinely trying. I appreciate that.

I’ll smile as she passes my pencils, or whatever she’s taken, to me. “Thanks, Smolder.”


“What are those?” Smolder asks, leaning over my shoulder. When we’re studying in my room she likes to pace, and this time she’s paced right onto my bed. I shift to give her a better look at my book: it’s currently open to three pictures of the same dress. A beautiful black chiffon ball gown sashed with a red silk ribbon and paired with a white cape.

“They’re from the new Griffenchy haute couture season—he’s picking up a lot of traction in Prance as the premiere griffon couturier.” I smile at the bewildered expression on her face. “They’re pretty cute, aren’t they? Professor Rarity asked me to—”

“Cute?” Smolder repeats, then gags. She punctuates her disgust by leaping off my bed and strutting towards the door. “I gotta piss. Be right back.”

Her emotions taste like absolute garbage. Which is confusing, because she seems to like Professor Rarity’s classes. Maybe she just likes the craft of dressmaking as opposed to the actual dresses made?

I shrug it off and I flip to the next page.

It’s not long after that that I find myself crying in hysterics over being turned into Queen Chrysalis in the caverns underneath the school. It’s not long after that that Smolder finds me and tries to get me to change back.

The memory bubbles to the forefront of my mind as soon as Smolder blurts out “I like cute silly stuff!”

I process immediately: what I tasted back then wasn’t hate. It was a lie. A big, filthy lie and that means that Smolder likes cute things and just the image of her in a pretty dress, sipping tea with her pinky digit held to the sky and a pleasant smile on her face? It’s adorable enough to make me curse.


I burst out laughing before covering my mouth with my spindly, emaciated hooves.

Smolder proceeds to make her case, and by the end of it she helps me out of the trap that the Tree set out for us.

We have a tea party the next evening. Just the two of us, in the safe confines of Professor Rarity’s classroom. All the desks have been cleared out of the way for our dainty, lace-covered table and tiny chairs. If this were in the afternoon we could have had the full treatment, with a tiered tower of snacks and cutely folded napkins.

It’s two o’ clock in the morning on a Tuesday, so we simply opted for a nice tea set (we’re drinking chamomile).

We have class later. Later in the morning. But Smolder insisted, and I accepted, and now I’m in danger of passing out at any point in the next hour or two. That’s fine. Anything for a friend, right? Anything. Even...even risking falling asleep during class tomorrow. It’s just a lesson, right? A single lesson. It won’t kill me. I mean, it might, because what if I’m gonna need whatever’s being taught because it’ll save my life in the future and I don’t know what to do because—

“Ocellus!” Smolder snaps her digits at me.

I look at her in disdain. “Smolder! Etiquette!”

She looks like she’s going to bark a complaint at me, but instead she visibly calms herself down. I watch her shoulders relax and her posture perk up. She takes a cup of tea off of the table and holds it delicately in her claw, breathing slow.

Her voice lightens and spins, sounding like cotton candy. “I’m sorry, Ocellus. I forgot my manners for a moment.

“That’s okay,” I say, nodding slightly.

“What were you thinking about?” she asks.

I probably should have expected her to press the issue. I give her a polite smile. “If I’m being honest, I was thinking that you look really pretty in that dress.”

Sometimes I’m glad there isn’t another changeling in the room. I’d be caught every time I lied.

“Really?” Smolder asks, looking down at herself.

No, not really, but now that it’s on my mind, she does look very pretty tonight. I don’t know where she got it, but her gown is an absolutely stunning pink satin with puffy sleeves, the fabric manipulated slightly so that it looks like tilled fields flowing geometrically down her body and arms in straight lines. It puts my simple purple dress to shame.

“Did you sew it yourself?” I ask.

“Worked on this baby for a month straight after lights out,” she says, patting her dress fondly. “Where else would I have gotten it?”

“Professor Rarity, maybe?”

Smolder scoffs. “And trust her big mouth with my secret? Yeah, no.”

“You’ll trust me, though?” I take a sip of tea.

“Who are you gonna tell your secrets to?”


Smolder chuckles. “I guess that’s true. She’s not the best at keeping her cool under pressure.”

There’s a story there. I look at her with a raised brow.

“You didn’t hear?” she asks. “Maybe the big bird’s not as bad at shutting her mouth as I thought.”

“What didn’t I hear?”

Smolder takes a sip of her tea.


She gasps. “Ocellus! Etiquette.”

I huff and frown at her.

“Fine, fine. Just that she totally hooked up with Sweet Biscuit and November Rain.”

Oh...oh my. Smolder giggles as my eyes widen.

“At the same time?” I ask.

She laughs. “No idea.”


“Yeah, no kidding, huh?”

I look down at my tea, blushing.

“Don’t you wish you could have seen it?”

My neck makes an audible cracking sound as my head whips up to look at Smolder. When did the room get so hot all of a sudden? “S-Smolder!”

“What?” She shrugs, her cheeks slightly flushed as well. “I’m just saying. Three of the cutest creatures at school? Must have been gold.

I try to speak, but all that comes out of my mouth is an embarrassed whine. This is a topic we’ve never really talked about before.


This is a topic we’ve never really talked about before!

Smolder raises a brow. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Smolder…” I rasp, smirking at her. “You think Silverstream’s cute?”

“Yeah,” she says. “What, don’t you?”

“Do you like her?”

Smolder’s pupils dilate for a second before expanding back to normal. She throws her head back and laughs. “Hah! Not my type, Celly.”

“Celly?” I repeat.

She nods. “Cute, right?”

“It’s not bad, I guess.” I rub one of my legs. I’ve never really been given a nickname before. “So, uh, Silverstream.”

“Silverstream,” says Smolder. “Not my type. Did you know Sandbar thinks that she lays eggs?”

I squint. “What? Why would he think that?”

“No. Frickin. Idea.”

“Have you talked to him about it?”

“He’s mentioned it once or twice,” she says, waving a claw. “But I’ve never really corrected him. Honestly I don’t really know myself.”

“But—” My brain is struggling to compute. I gesture emphatically to her. “She doesn’t have a cloaca.”


“You kind of need those to lay eggs, Smolder.”

“Oh.” She takes a sip of tea and smacks her lips. “Weird.”

I shake my head. “We’ve gone off topic.”

“We’re going by a list of things to talk about, now?”

“No. I just wanted to talk to you about romance because we’ve never talked about it before! Not even amongst the entire group. Is that weird?” I rub my chin. “Do you remember if we’ve been taught about how friends deal with romance yet? Is that something that friends talk about?”

“If you don’t know, I don’t know.”

“Okay, but regardless. I—”

“Have a crush on Headmare Twilight?”

I choke on whatever I was going to say and I don’t even remember what I was going to say because—because!

“You’re not the most subtle bug on the block, Celly.”

“I—” I cough, struggling as hard as I can to regain composure. “I do not—”

“When you lie your ears twitch one after the other,” Smolder interrupts, taking a long, hard sip of her tea. She sighs contentedly when she pulls the cup away and looks at me, blinking one eye after the other like a lizard in the sun. “Your ears also twitch when you detect a lie.”

“Yeah?” I ask, baring my fangs. My voice is wobbly and flustered. “Well...w-well you have a crush on Sunburst!”

“I do.” She smirks.

That wasn’t the reaction I was expecting. My cheeks just grow warmer. Why am I twice as embarrassed? I hate it here!

I cross my forelegs and look away from her, painfully aware of the fact that I’m still blushing.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” says Smolder. “We’ve got some hot teachers, dude.”

“But it was something that was mine,” I say. My words are growing softer. “Something...I don’t know. I didn’t choose to tell anyone but everyone knows anyway.”

“Well, not everyone,” she says.

I side-eye her. She’s giving me a patient smile.

“It’s like all the gossip we just talked about. It’s gonna stay with me. And you now, I guess. I have no one to tell this stuff to. Gallus doesn’t care, Silver’s heard it already, Sandbar and Yona don’t care…” She stands, and I turn to face her. My body’s suddenly tense.

Smolder picks her chair up and moves it beside mine.

“Etiquette,” I mumble.

“Screw that. C’mere.”

She sits and extends a wing outwards, and I let her wrap it around me.

“I guess gossip isn’t so fun after all,” I say.

Smolder scoffs. “Disagree. I do like talking to you though. That’s pretty fun.”

I can feel a smile wanting to burst out of me. It’s like what Professor Pinkie says. Smiles come when they’re needed. “We don’t have to stop.”

“So you wanna make this a regular thing?”

“No more gossip.”

“Not if you don’t want to,” she groans facetiously.

“You like talking to me?” I ask.

“Didn’t I say that already?”

“I guess you did,” I say.

And she was telling the truth.

Author's Note:

i don’t actually know if the soy sauce thing is true but you should absolutely try it and comment your findings