• Published 28th Jun 2012
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A New Hero - Alex The Lone Wolf



What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? (Look at longer description...)

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A Second Hearth's Warming Tail

"Hold on! I have a story to tell!" Athena's hoof suddenly shot up, causing Twilight to stop in her tracks before she would return downstairs for the party.

Due to the unforeseen events from Hearth's Warming Eve and the day after, Twilight and I decided to officially host a celebratory party not only for our close circle of friends but practically for the whole town. Even though Hearth's Warming Eve had already passed, none of us found anything against for doing a belated-party sort of thing. After all, since none of us had exactly spent Hearth's Warming Eve together, it offered us another opportunity to celebrate together. Winter was still upon us, so I honestly saw nothing wrong with it.

However, Starlight Glimmer felt a little differently. She didn't see much of a point with Hearth's Warming Eve, and she was just about to skip the event entirely before Twilight came to the rescue. She figured telling an old tale would do the trick, and it was only a matter of time before we'd see the results of it. It was at this point when Twilight was placing the book back on the shelf, where Athena spoke up all of a sudden.

"Oh, really?" Twilight turned around to face my sister. "Which one is it?"

Athena immediately and fervently shook her head. "It's nothing anypony has heard of!"

"Huh?" Starlight returned with a puzzled expression. "Just what kind of story can that be?"

Athena swung her legs as she shared glances with everyone in the room. "It's no old Hearth's Warming Eve story like the one Twilight told us. But, when Twilight was telling her story, it instantly reminded me of a similar and personal one!"

"Personal?" I exchanged a cocked eyebrow with her, finding her use of 'personal' rather interesting. "So, you're saying you've got something you've experienced in your own life? How so?"

"Think about it, dummy!" Athena leaned over to poke my cheek before returning to her own side of the couch we had been on. "The reason that no pony else knows about this story, and the answer to your question, is that it comes from our past life!"

"Huh?!" Everyone nearly shouted out in unison from surprise.

Still, Twilight immediately chugged herself from the bookshelf and plopped down on her seat next to us. "A story from your other life?! I have to hear this! I can't wait!"

"Gather round, kiddies!" Athena closed her eyes and nearly puffed out her chest in pride. "You're about to hear an oldie but a goodie about yours truly!" She reopened her eyes and glanced over at me. "Well, by yours truly, I mean…" She stretched out her foreleg and brought me in close to where our cheeks were squishing against each other. "Yours truly."

Guessing by her emphasis, I assumed she meant that the story revolved around us, rather than just her. Athena had told me the story that explained the lead-up to the certain time we were at now, but this sounded like a good old memory she was proud to look back on. I was definitely interested in what she had to share.

Athena cleared her throat before officially narrating the beginning of the story. "It all started this one Hearth's Warming Eve. In case you hadn't noticed yet, I am crazy about winter. It's my most favorite season ever. But, when Hearth's Warming Eve comes around? Forget about it. All the decorations and merry cheer? That's like a field day for me! Even so, despite how positive I'd be around Hearth's Warming Eve, there was always one pony who thought otherwise."

Athena paused in the middle of her narration and oddly looked at me. This, in turn, caused everyone else in the room to do the exact same, and I immediately began growing severely uncomfortable.

No way. She was talking about me, wasn't she?


You would think that something like Hearth's Warming Eve would bring out the fun out of everyone, am I right? But just like in Twilight's story, one pony was an absolute grouch about it. Sorry, Alex. But that big ole grump was you.

Ever since we had begun the transition into growing into 'young adults', you began to slowly hate the idea of Hearth's Warming Eve. Originally, I think you were pretty fascinated with the idea of it when we were little foals running around in the snow, but once we grew up and observed how other ponies would spend their holidays, that's when things started to go wrong in your head.

During our last day at school, before we would be let out for Hearth's Warming Eve, of course, you had this extremely sour face all day. Even in the classroom, ponies were giving each other presents, exchanging warm hugs, and expressing merriness all around. It was obvious to tell that this was what pushed your buttons. I didn't exactly understand why, at first, but it all started becoming clear later on.

During our lessons, I noticed you would purposely look away from any kind of cheery expressions from the other students. Your eyebrows would furrow and your face would practically wrinkle and scrunch up from anger. If any student wanted to miraculously express some cheer your way, the look on your face would definitely scare them away.

"Have an amazing and fun Hearth's Warming Eve, everypony!" Our favorite teacher, the one we know and love, exclaimed out in glee. She had just dismissed the class, and while everypony cheered out loud and raced to be the first one out the door, you straggled behind a bit.

"Come on, Alex!" I urged you to pick up the pace. "You're such a slowpoke!"

You didn't say anything at first. Instead, you focused most of your attention on adjusting the strap of your schoolbag before dragging your hooves against the floor. I couldn't help but start to think that you were being slow on purpose.

"See you around, you two." Miss Cadence told us as she watched us walk past her desk and head for the door. "Be sure to tell me everything you did for Hearth's Warming when you come back!"

"You're funny." You answered with dry sarcasm. "See you in a few weeks." You said before heading out the door with no regrets.

I immediately felt sorry on your behalf, so I turned to Miss Cadence and apologized before following you out towards the school grounds. This year had been the worse, compared to all the other years. This grudge you seemed to have for Hearth's Warming Eve only continued to grow from when you first started feeling that bitterness in your heart. I was at the point where I felt like I was forced to ask the question I had been meaning to ask for quite a while now. In a way, I had been too scared to ask, and I guess I had even originally thought that if I had ignored it, it would magically go away, but it didn't.

"Alex…why are you such a grouch during Hearth's Warming Eve?" I reluctantly asked, afraid that you might get super angry and scream at my face.

"Let me ask you something, Athena." You stopped in your tracks and faced me with an irritated scowl. "Why are you such a happy-go-lucky gal when all the other little ponies get to have a great time with their parents and family while we sit at home and do nothing? As a matter of fact, the only pony in our house that gets love, affection, and not to mention presents most of all, is perfect little Starlight. How can you stand there and be all cheery when every other pony around us has something to celebrate for Hearth's Warming Eve while we don't?"

Inside, I wholeheartedly disagreed with you on that note. Yes, we didn't get presents for Hearth's Warming Eve, nor did we do anything special with our "family". But even after knowing all that, that didn't stop me from loving every bit of Hearth's Warming Eve. You had put me on the spot, so I didn't know how to explain my love in a way that you'd hopefully understand.

"Well, I don't understand how you can't love Hearth's Warming Eve for what it is, Alex." I responded in an attempt to convince you. "Don't you just love how beautiful it is right about this time? All the decorations that everypony puts up in the city? Ponies playing in the snow together and just having a great time? I know it sucks that we don't get to do things together with our own family like other ponies, but that shouldn't mean that we should sit around moping the entire time."

"All I see are constant reminders about how we're just two oddballs stuck in a place we don't even fit in." You turned back around, tightened the scarf around your neck, and packed a nasty punch towards the snow with every step you took ahead. I was surprised that the rage-induced heat coming from your body wasn't enough to simply melt the snow around you. I had to start trotting in order to catch up to you as you continued ranting. "No one wants to invite us over for a, what do they call it, snowball fight? Or to build a snowpony. We don't even have any money to go to some of the rides and events that they have for families to enjoy back in town. All we're stuck doing is waiting for weeks to pass so we could jump straight back to school. It ticks me off so much that I'm so closing to wishing there was no such thing as Hearth's Warming Eve in the first place."

I gasped, deeply shocked that you could think such a thing. "How can you say such a horrible thing?" I asked with earnest concern. "If there was no Hearth's Warming Eve, the windigos would take over and cover all of Equestria in snow!"

"Yes, because a small thing like love is able to keep powerful horses from unleashing an everlasting blizzard." Your sarcasm and skepticism was clear, and I didn't think I could do anything to make you think differently otherwise.

"Well, if all you look is at the bad parts of Hearth's Warming Eve, Alex, then you'll never see anything good out of it." I spared truthfully and sadly stared at the snowy ground beside me as I walked. "If all you do is pay attention to what you don't like about something, then you'll always miss out the good that can come from it."

"Sorry to burst your bubble, Athena, but this isn't some kind of Hearth's Warming fairytale." You mentioned rather bluntly. "To try to make good of what's already bad is just wishful thinking. All you can do is just take what you can get."

I had been sincerely hurt by your words. I hated how you talked like this. I knew you weren't trying to intentionally hurt me, but the fact that the only pony that was ever close to me was shooting down any kind of positivity and optimism I had been putting out, I couldn't help but feel the light inside become shrouded with darkness.

I had never been one to believe that there were some ponies, like us, that were always dealt a bad hoof in life. Of course, everypony has bad days in their lives, but to constantly feel that every day was a bad day like you seemed to believe with Hearth's Warming Eve? I couldn't accept it. I just knew that there was some way to make our own kind of special tradition, but you never wanted to give me a chance and work with me.

I decided to remain silent and followed you the rest of the way home. I had never really cared much for Hearth's Warming gifts. Sure, there were some things that all the other fillies got that I had no chance of getting, but there was only one thing I really wanted. And that was to truly spend Hearth's Warming with the only pony I loved with all my heart. I'm talking about you, of course.


After just hearing the first part of Athena's story, I couldn't help but cringe at my apparent past behavior. "Geez, was I really that broody?" I asked.

"Yup." Athena stated pretty easily.

The edge. It hurts.

"Aww!" Twilight seemed to feel rather sympathetic towards Athena. "All you really wanted was to spend time with your brother, but he wanted nothing to do with Hearth's Warming Eve. I can't imagine how horrible that must have felt."

A rain of guilt began to pour all over me at this point. "Do you guys really have to make me sound like the bad guy?" I mentioned.

"I don't blame Alex." Starlight surprisingly came to my defense. "I'm not saying what he did was right, but it's not like you could expect him to feel the same way like Athena did. He just…saw things differently. That's all. Sometimes when there's too much negativity in your life, it ends up getting under your coat and affecting you as a pony." Starlight shared with a drooping frown and slightly turned her head away as if she began remembering unwarranted thoughts.

I felt the need to remove myself from my seat and join Starlight by hers, seeing as she had taken the time to defend my behavior and actions when she really didn't need to. I placed a hoof around her and shared a warm grin. I did that as a sort of thanks, but it was mostly to return the favor as she had been beginning to become occupied with dark memories.

"I totally get it too." Twilight said. "Before we even met each other, there was a point where I thought making friends was a waste of time. My reasons were different from Alex, of course, but it's sort of the same concept. You know, not giving something a chance because you think there's no point?" Following with her own input, she attached a hoof to Athena's shoulder and formed a slightly sheepish grin. "Not that I don't feel what you must have been going through, of course."

Athena appeared to find our discussion break amusing as she began to laugh out loud. "Hehe! You guys are too much. No need to get worked up over a story from the past. Things are obviously better now, after all." She paused and tapped a hoof on her chin. "Now, where was I? Although Alex clearly had no intention of making this Hearth's Warming Eve a good one, I decided I needed to take matters into my own hooves. I couldn't fathom the idea of giving up so easily. Like I mentioned before, I wanted to believe that there was some way we could have a great Hearth's Warming together, despite all odds appearing against me."


I wasn't sure if it was your words, my pocketed determination to open your eyes to my world, or maybe even both, that woke me up earlier that Hearth's Warming Eve morning. I didn't know what I was going to do with you. I obviously didn't even have a plan. But, I knew I had to do something. I paced around our room as quietly as I could, seeing as you were still asleep. Only drawing blanks, the winter's chill that seeped into our room through our window began to brush itself against my coat.

I had been all warm and toasty under our blankets, and since we had to share a twin-sized bed, our body heat was enough to fend off the cold. Our bed had almost won me over, seeing as I wanted to escape from the cold, but that actually ended up giving me a pretty neat idea. It wasn't a plan, but I decided it was definitely a start.

It was early morning, and since everyone in the house was asleep, I decided to slip into the kitchen and start making you a nice cup of hot cocoa. Seeing as we now know that our parents saw us as some strange children living in their home, they didn't exactly…appreciate it when we used too much of their groceries and stuff. Happy that I wouldn't have to hear some rude remark about 'getting a job', I raced back to our room with a couple cups of hot cocoa on hoof.

Setting aside the complimentary cups momentarily, I continued poking at my brain to see if I could come up with any more genius ideas. There had to be some things to do in Fillydelphia that you didn't necessarily have to pay for. Looking at all the pretty decorations and lights and stuff was free, right? That was definitely one of my personal favorites about Hearth's Warming Eve, but was it exciting enough for Alex? Maybe he just needed the right "perspective".

Taking a walk through where all the festive decorations were hanging at was definitely something I wanted to cover, but I still needed more if I wanted any chance of bringing Alex over from the dark side. Seriously, what did happen to you? When we were little kids, we'd always find something to do for these exciting days, even if it meant just building a simple snowpony. But then you became all bitter and moody. Was this all a part of growing up, and I was just refusing adulthood?

I must have been making some kind of noise while I was deep in my thoughts because I heard you wake up unexpectedly. As you began sitting up from the bed, I felt a fire of panic ignite within me. I hadn't come up with a solid plan, yet you were already rubbing your face before eyeing the cup of cocoa on top of the nightstand.

"What's that?" You asked. "Smells good."

"A-A-Alex!" I turned over to you and decided that I would just try winging everything for today. "H-Hey! Happy Hearth's Warming Eve! I made you some hot cocoa! Let's drink some together!"

"How long have you been up?" You inquired with narrowed eyes. "You're really jumpy, and it's still super early in the morning. You sure you didn't get coffee instead of cocoa or something?"

"Oh, I'm just excited!" I responded with. It was sort of half the truth? "I want us to go out for today!"

Of course, you didn't nearly share the same amount of excitement as you casually grabbed your cup of cocoa and stared at it for a bit. "Why? I told you that there's nothing to do." You paused for a second to blow into your cup, and I could see the big fluffy marshmallow inside lightly float towards the edge. "I can understand why you'd want to go outside if we had the money, but even then, there would be just a bunch of ponies with their families and stuff. All the stuff you pay for is meant for them, not us." Afterwards, you calmly took a sip from your cup.

At that moment, I pulled up as much courage as I could in order to prevent my dreams from being crushed that very instant. It hadn't even been an hour into the new day; there was no way I could give up so easily!

"You don't know that, Alex!" I tried to cheerfully refute. "Come on, please? Think about it. Would you literally rather stay home and do nothing or at least try to find something to do? Maybe they got some cool new stuff at town that they didn't have last year?"

"Since we don't have school, I'd actually rather stay home and sleep for the entire day. Scratch that. I'd sleep for today, and then again for tomorrow since it'd actually be the real Hearth's Warming."

"So, you don't even want to go out this year?" I asked, feeling heavily despondent.

"Nope." You answered nonchalantly, taking another sip of your cup of cocoa.

If you didn't even want to go out, then the light at the end of the tunnel was quickly closing up on me. For the past couple of years, you weren't such a thick wall I needed to break through in order to at least go out for Hearth's Warming Eve. You'd go out with me, but you were still unenthusiastic with everything we tried to do. Now, it was like you literally didn't even want to try at all anymore. Even for my sake. And that really made me sad...

"Please, Alex…?" I nearly begged once more with tears brimming in my eyes. "I don't like sticking around here for Hearth's Warming Eve… I know you don't want to go outside for the holiday, but can you at least do it for me? Please?"

I both unintentionally and intentionally gave you the saddest eyes I could muster up. I mean, honestly, it wasn't like I was trying to abuse my level of cuteness to get you to do what I wanted, but I really did feel like you were carelessly stomping on my hopes and dreams.

When you saw the look on my face, you stopped acting all casual and seemed to slightly warm up your nearly frozen heart. In fact, you couldn't keep your eyes on me for a few seconds before you turned your head away and sighed.

"Okay. Okay. I'll go with you. Just please…don't cry or anything." You yielded.

"Really…?" I had to ask again, just to be sure.

"Yes. But, don't be surprised if I'm cranky the whole time. You know I hate this holiday."

Despite that comment, I couldn't keep myself from hugging you as tightly as you could. "I'm going to try to show you how great Hearth's Warming Eve can be, Alex, even if you think it's all just a big waste of time!"

"Yeah, yeah…" You slipped out of your mouth. "Will you do me a favor and let me get a few more hours of sleep? I think it'd be best for the two of us."

I guess if you were going to be cranky, I wouldn't want you to be extra cranky because you were also sleepy at the same time.

I nodded my head as I managed to pull out a bright smile. "Yeah, okay!"

It wasn't a bad idea in the end. I'd have more time to come up with a plan, and we'd most likely get to experience the best time for Hearth's Warming Eve. Personally, for me, that time was at night when the beautiful decorative lights shined the brightest.


"Alex, why couldn't you just let your sister have the Hearth's Warming Eve she deserved!?" Twilight shook me fervently as she looked like she was on the verge of tears. Twilight was a passionate bookworm, so I could only assume that this wasn't her first time.

"I-I don't know!" I answered as I honestly as I could. Just like Athena had mentioned before, I didn't even know this event between us existed until she just started retelling it right this minute.

"Aww." Athena placed a hoof on her chest as she lightheartedly enjoyed the sight between Twilight and me. "I'm touched that you care so much about the 'me' in the story."

"Of course!" Twilight released me from the grip of her hooves and faced Athena. "If it was me, I totally would have been down to celebrate Hearth's Warming Eve with you!"

"Don't worry." I heard Starlight Glimmer exchange softly with me as she sat beside me. "I would have totally understood if you wanted to sleep all day at home." She said with half-lidded eyes and a smile.

"Let's just keep this story moving." I suggested after drawing out a heavy sigh. "Looks like Twilight is waiting for the part where I finally realize Hearth's Warming Eve for what it really is." I took a look at Twilight's bright beaming face as she lightly shook her hooves in excitement.

"Oh, you think you're bad right now?" Athena noticed how uncomfortable I had been growing at the sound of my past behavior. "Let me tell you, it gets worse!"

"It does?!" Twilight smile had dropped into a hanging frown. "Wait! No!" She immediately shook her head. "Stop spoiling it! We want to hear what happens for ourselves!"

"Yeah, yeah, you're right." Athena agreed and giggled shortly. "Now, even though I had bought myself more time to think, it still wasn't easy to come up with something I'd consider a 'solid plan'. After you fell back asleep, I stood by our window and drank the rest of my hot cocoa in silence. All I needed to do was get you to see the true meaning of Hearth's Warming Eve. That was the main goal. How I got to it didn't necessarily matter. Even if I couldn't come up with a long list of fun things for us to do, I still had to show you how warped your view had really been some way or another."


I wanted to get you out of bed as soon as possible when you woke up, but every time I tried, you reacted in a kind of groggy way. I wanted you in the best mood as you could possibly be, so I decided to give you some space at the same time. After all, I had to continuously remind myself that there was no rush. Once we donned our winter wear and stepped outside, I couldn't stop myself from hopping and skipping in place while you unenthusiastically lagged behind.

"Come on, Alex!" I glanced behind to meet your eyes as I tried to ignore the fact that they were very bored-looking. "You gotta keep up!"

"Question." You responded with. "What are we even going to do? Just rummage through the snow like a couple of losers? We'd get bored of that in a minute."

I puffed out my cheeks from what I believed was slight frustration, but then I remembered that you had actually warned me of your behavior ahead of time. Realizing that that was the best I was probably going to get, I attempted to cool my head and keep a positive spirit. Hehe, get it? Because you called me Spirit? Anyway…

"Hey, look! There're ponies skating over there!" I pointed out to a completely frozen lake. Ponies from all ages danced all around on top of the ice, and I continued staring in astonishment at their tricks and spins until you killed the mood.

"So?" You merely returned.

"So, you want to go join them?" I asked.

"And do what?" You muttered back, shutting me down. "We don't have any skates, and even if we did, we don't know how to skate in the first place."

As I exhaled a heavy sigh and watched it turn into particles of ice, I felt my initial excitement draining away from my body. "…you're killing me, Alex…!"

"What?" You asked, seeing as I had nearly mumbled that remark out.

"Nothing." I turned away from the frozen lake and looked in the direction of town. "Fine. Let's, um, see what's going on in town."

We had just started our winter adventure, and I could already feel like I was losing you. Your hoofprints in the snow didn't even look like hooves anymore. It was almost like a drawn-out line. If I didn't come up with something soon, I'd be losing you for good, not just for this Hearth's Warming Eve, but possibly for all the future ones to come.

It was definitely a pretty sight to see once we made to the busy streets of Fillydelphia. They actually blocked some of the main roads, especially for this holiday's events. Instead of different kinds of carts and taxis, the roads were filled with many different ponies. There were a bunch of stands selling different kind of Hearth's Warming products, not to mention the extremely festive decorations hanging about. It was absolutely beautiful, to say the least.

"There's so many ponies…" You commented, which I'm sure was more of a complaint.

"Well, duh." I returned. "It's like this every year."

Your eyes wandered about until they seemed to stop at a couple nearby. I wasn't sure if it was intentional or not, but they were coincidently under a mistletoe. What happened next caused you to immediately scoff and furrow your eyebrows. "Do we have to be here?"

"It's where all the super fun stuff is." I tried to come up with a convincing reason.

"Yeah. The super fun stuff that you have to pay for, and in case you forgot, we're broke." You said.

"I'm sure there are some things that are free!" I hoped, having a really good feeling about the truth of that statement. I began looking around with a hoof over my eyes. There were a bunch of ponies standing around, so it was actually pretty hard to find things.

If anything, there were a bunch of stands for food and games, but those were definitely out of the question as we'd have to shell out bits for them. However, my eyes were soon drawn to a line of ponies standing outside to what I believed was the theatre. Something was obviously going on there, and from our experience with hardly having any money to spend, longer than average lines usually meant something was free, in this case. You had already taken a seat as you roamed your eyes around in boredom. Nevertheless, I took your hoof and began leading you towards that sight of interest. "Come on!"

Once we were closer, I noticed that there had been a sign detailing the event that would be partaking in this theater. They were going to be having a showing in regards to the story about how Hearth's Warming came to be, and the admission was…free! Of course! They always have this play every year! We could totally start with that! Maybe it'll even give me some more amazing ideas for stuff we can do afterward!

"Let's get in line, Alex!" I told you as I already began dragging you to the end of the line.

"But, it's solong!" You protested.

"Don't be such a baby." I replied. "It's a free event. Of course, it's going to be long. It's not like we're going to have to wait hours, though. They'll start letting ponies in when they're ready to start the show!"

The only thing left you had to say was rather just a big wave of icy breath escaping from your lips.

So, we remained standing in line for quite a while. While we were waiting, I occasionally hummed tunes relating to our holiday cheer and rocked my body while you never once seemed to lift the expression on your face. I swear, you probably even looked like a grumpy old stallion.

It didn't take too long before the line actually started to move. I know watching a play wasn't particularly exciting, but I still couldn't wait for us to actually get in. It would be the first thing we'd get to do for today, anyway. Besides not giving us any presents or sharing the holiday cheer, our parents never actually took us to anything like this, so it was actually kind of the first time for us.

I was skipping by the time we made it to the front. I was just about to dash right in the front doors until a heavy hoof appeared directly in front of me all of a sudden.

"Ticket?" A pony by the door asked for.

"T-tickets?" My heart began to race as I felt myself panicking. "What do you mean? This event's free, right?"

"Yes, it is." He answered. "But, you were supposed to receive a ticket from the stand nearby in order to earn you a spot for this performance." He pointed a hoof in the direction of a certain stand where a couple of ponies were.

"Oh, okay!" I felt a wave of relief, seeing as all we had to do we just get a free ticket to go in. It's kind of dumb since the event's free in the first place, but whatever. "So, all we need to do is just go get a ticket right now and come back, right? We can totes do that."

"I'm afraid to inform you that we are currently completely booked. Tickets were on the basis of first come, first served, after all."

My eyes immediately shot open at the sound of this. All that waiting?! It was all for nothing?! Just because I didn't know that we were supposed to get tickets?!

"S-seriously?!" I instantly began panicking again. "I-I didn't know that! Do you think you could maybe let us in?! We'll sit somewhere in the very back if we have to!"

"I can't do that." He stated without a sigh of care or concern. "It wouldn't be fair to those who waited in line for the tickets. Now, if you don't mind, I need you to step aside so I can tend to those behind you."

I glanced behind me and noticed a decent number of ponies waiting for us to be dealt with. No way…

Without a word, you were the first one to get out of line. It was clear that the play was never a big deal for you in the first place. Unwilling to be left alone, I quickly chased after you. However, as I looked back to find the line moving along without us, I felt a great gaping hole in my heart, and it definitely didn't help when you looked angrier than before. I was pretty sure it was because I was unintentionally only proving your point on how Hearth's Warming Eve was a gigantic waste of time.

"T-t-that's okay!" I tried to say before I could lose you completely. "It's just a dumb old play. Who cares?" I honestly didn't mean what I said, but it was the only thing I could think of to alleviate the situation. "Think of it like this! Since practically every pony is going to be at the play, maybe we'll have an easier time finding things to do!" I did a quick search and look around our area and managed to find a Ferris wheel not too far off. "Um, let's check that out!"

I didn't even think about it being another ride we'd have to pay for, but I was grasping at straws, and I'm pretty sure you knew it.

Turns out it was something you had to pay for. It wasn't much, and I was pretty sure whatever change there was back at home would cover it, but I hadn't taken any kind of money with me. There was a kiddie version of the wheel, but it was ridiculously so small that only newborn babies had a fun time riding it.

At this point, I was no longer able to think clearly about how I could still remedy this situation. I was afraid you'd quit at any second, so the only thing I thought I could do was literally drag you to anything I first laid eyes on. Now that I think about it, I believe I had lost sight of what I truly wanted, in a sense. I wanted to show you how beautiful Hearth's Warming Eve really was, but I had ultimately begun focusing on just finding something to keep you busy so you wouldn't leave me.

It was only a matter of time before I'd hear those words of devastation.

"Forget it, Athena. There's nothing here for us to do. I'm hungry and I'm tired. I want to go home already." You acknowledged as you began turning in the direction of home. "This was all just a huge waste of time."

"Wait, no!" I pleaded as I grabbed a desperate hold of your hoof. "I'm sure there's still something we can do here!"

"No!" You snapped back. "We've been walking around for forever! I told you this from the very beginning. There's no place for us in anything having to do with Hearth's Warming Eve, and being here proved it!" You pointed a hoof towards the setting sun as you continued to nearly shout in frustration. "I don't know what the heck you thought was going to happen, but life isn't some kind of magical fairytale. Were you expecting some kind of miracle to happen, just like from the old Hearth's Warming stories you tell foals? Well, take a look around, and let me know if you see it!"

At that point, all I could do was honestly whimper as I watched you turn your back on me. I don't think I was sad because I failed horribly in my attempt to show you a brighter side of the holiday you so hated. Instead, I think it was more because it felt like I lost you completely as a brother. You were just so angry, and it looked like you were absolutely willing to leave me alone there…unprotected.

"I'm going home. You can stay here if you want, but I'm not wasting another second here."

As you seemed to slowly grow smaller in my sight, I stared towards the snowy ground and allowed my tears to melt into the smallest potholes they could manage. I began wondering if maybe you were really right about this. I've always looked up to you in a certain way. You always seemed to know what you were doing while I was goofing off the majority of the time. Was this one of those times?

As I closed my eyes, I tried remembering what it really was that made me love Hearth's Warming Eve so much. Sure, I was completely attracted to the festive lights and decorations, especially the big tree and candy canes in the center of this festival we had been formerly engaged in. But, was it really what drove me to want to spend time with you during Hearth's Warming?

Not at all. It was you. That's what Hearth's Warming was all about, wasn't it? About spending time with family and friends. And, that's what made me really sad. You were so blinded by the fact that we didn't necessarily have family and friends to spend it with. You were so ignorant to the fact that there was someone from your family and your closest friend who wanted to spend this amazing holiday with you.

Did I really not matter that much to you? That's what I thought.

"You're such a dummy…!" I managed to say in a loud yet soft quivering voice. I was able to catch your attention as I watched you turn back around to face me. "How could you be so stupid?" I sat down like a little lost child and began trying to wipe away the tears from my eyes as much as I could. "You're so stupid…!" I repeated, trying to gather my thoughts so I could hopefully voice them out to you clearly. "All I ever wanted to do every Hearth's Warming Eve was spend it with you. I just wanted to try to show you how fun it could really be. Maybe, I was just trying to get you to notice me because I was what you seemed to be ignoring the whole time. You said that we don't have any family or friends to spend today with? Well, look in front of you!" I cried out loud, my vision beginning to grow blurry due to all the tears that wouldn't stop building up. "I'm the biggest family and friend you have, and you don't seem to care at all! But, I guess you were kind of right anyway. While I've been so willing to spend time with you during this holiday, you apparently want nothing to do with it, including me. So, I guess I don't have anyone to spend it with after all."

After that, I didn't think I had any more strength to express my innermost feelings. I continued to sob almost uncontrollably while my breath grew unstable. Nevertheless, I had no intention of staying at the festival by myself, so I decided I would go home with you either way. With my tears having no intention of stopping anytime soon, I had a hard time seeing where I had been exactly heading into. Within a few seconds, I bumped into something furry yet solid.

Next, I felt a hoof somewhat caress my cheek as some kind of cloth began to rub against my eyes. I had shut my eyes due to this motion, but I opened them once it had stopped. The first thing I was able to see was you removing the end of your scarf away from my face. You no longer carried a look full of fury and maybe even hatred. Instead, it appeared as if you had been pummeled with a guilty storm of hail. In fact, you couldn't even look me in the eyes afterward. You turned your head towards the ground as my shallow breathing began to regain itself.

"…I'm sorry." You apologized with a lightly but recognizably shaky voice. "You're so right. I'm such a jerk. This whole time, I had just been paying attention to only what I felt, including to what I considered family." You shook your head and finally mustered up the courage to make direct eye contact with me. "Look, don't ever think that I don't consider you family, alright, Athena? You're the best pony in my life, and I love you for it. But, you're right. I got so blinded by what other ponies had that I didn't think twice about what I had. In a way, I thought for the both of us, and I obviously didn't consider being open to what you had to say." You lifted your hooves and wrapped them around me as you brought me in for a warm brush of your coat. "I want to make it up to you. Please. I'll do anything. Just let me wipe away that frown off your face. Because, no matter what you think, it kills me to see you like the way you are now."

"…you really mean that?" I couldn't help but ask.

"Of course, I do." Your grip on me tightened. "I'm sorry I ever made you think otherwise. There are just…times where I can get so angry that I lose sight of what's really in front of me. It's something that I need to work on, but for right now, I just want to focus on you."

"I care about you too, Alex." I finally returned the embrace and allowed my head to rest on your chest. "I don't want to make you do things you don't want to, but if you really don't feel like you're being forced to, I won't ask for much."

You quickly shook your head. "Anything."

At this point, I felt the corners of my lips pull upwards as I lightly giggled at my next thought. "Seeing as we're broke, do you think we could maybe just walk around and look at the pretty lights?"

"Of course, Nene." You surprised me when you called me by the nickname you personally came up with. The origin of the name was actually embarrassing, but at the time, I didn't care at all. As you lightly brushed your hoof against my mane in comfort, I could feel any cold part of my body easily thaw out.

Even though I kind of wasted your time with all the scrambling around for something "fun" to do, I honestly believe it was all worth it for our heartfelt talk. Yes, it was an absolute mess of emotions, but just like you told me not too long ago, sometimes, the bad has to happen so the good can make everything better. That's why you try to believe that everything has a reason for happening.

It was already nighttime when we were able to get back in the motion of the festival, but that was perfectly okay. We were both a little hungry, but it didn't seem like that would be making us leave anytime soon.

There are ponies who say that the best things in life are free, and I suppose that that is true in a certain kind of way. Money can buy you lots of things, but it most definitely can't buy someone who genuinely cares about you. And, in case it isn't already obvious enough, family, friends, someone like you, is the best thing I could ever receive for Hearth's Warming.

Despite everything, I understand why you'd be so upset, Alex. Since we technically couldn't enjoy the holiday to the fullest like many other ponies, it bugged you to no end. If I'm not mistaken, maybe you secretly wanted the same thing for me, and you were angry that it just couldn't happen? Even so, I'm glad I was able to snap you out of the wrong way of thinking. Who knows if you would have ended up just like Snowball from Twilight's story? No offense. You may have never had the capability to bring Hearth's Warming to an end like Snowball, but if you would have turned out to be a shut-in today, well, that'd be really sad to see…


"So, what happened after you and Alex made up?!" Twilight enthusiastically asked as she hovered over Athena a little too much for an answer.

"We took a nice walk through the festival and enjoyed the scenery, of course." Athena reacted quite easily towards Twilight's earnest expression. "I'm not going to get too much into the details, seeing as it's not that exciting, hehe. But, then again, I guess that's the whole point. Alex and I spent the entire time together observing the amazing Hearth's Warming lights while having a playful mini snowball fight once or twice. We also built a snowpony, you know, those things older ponies might consider trivial. At the time, Alex still probably thought those things were kind of childish, but I know he did them all for me." Athena took the time to turn to Twilight for some reason. "Hey, Twilight, you have an older brother, right? Shining Armor? Did he ever play around with dolls with you?"

"Him?" Twilight paused to look up in thought. "Haha! Yeah, of course! Back when I was really little!"

"Hehe!" Athena giggled expressively. "It's kind of like that then. I'm pretty sure your brother had no interest in dolls, but he played with them for you." She then turned her eyes to meet mine. "I'm sure Alex would have done that too if I had any dolls of my own."

"Did you two go home after all that then?" Starlight asked.

"Oh!" Athena chirped out all of a sudden. "There was also this firework show I totally wasn't expecting! It happened around midnight, and it definitely took us by surprise! Not to mention, it was totally free! I mean, it's not like you're going to go around charging ponies to stay behind and see some fireworks, hehe." She removed herself from her seat and began to unexpectedly approach me. "It was at this show where the bond between Alex and me…" She sat by me as she continued to lock her eyes on mine. "…grew even stronger. Because after that Hearth's Warming Eve, I could tell he was so much more, what's the word, attentive with me? Yes, I know, I can be really needy at times, but when all you've ever had was the love of one pony for the longest time, you just can't help it…" She reached out her forelegs and wrapped them around me as her eyes squeezed shut. "Sorry, Alex. I love you too much."

"Aww!" Twilight expressed heavily, wiping a tear or two from her eyes and smiling warmly. "You're starting to make me miss Shining Armor even more now. I'm glad that you're at least still able to be with your own brother, even though if things might be a little…different now."

"It's life, I guess." Athena retracted her forelegs and shrugged as she swung her hind legs. "Things happen…for a reason, I hope."

Twilight eyes seemed to catch the clock nearby, causing great alarm to sprout within her. "Oh my gosh! We've been in here for a long time. We better get back to the party!"

Hearing how bad I had acted towards Athena in the story still bugged me a bit after it was over. I was glad that it ended on a good note, just as I had hoped, but still…

Either way, I suppose I wasn't all that different back when I first met the six girls that initially changed my life around. At the time, I had pushed them away from me as much as I could, mostly because I just didn't want to suffer from hurt anymore. They showed me differently, and I had to be grateful for that. All in all, everything, ranging from bad to good, that fell in place within our lives all led up to this moment. Yet, there was still much more that was to be written in our lives, and it was up to us to decide what would happen next.

Once we returned to the party, the majority of the excitement had already kind of winded down. It was getting late, so a lot of ponies from other parts of Ponyville began leaving if they hadn't left already. As I roamed my eyes along the almost completely wiped out refreshment and snack table, I actually found Octavia sipping what appeared to be fruit punch on her own.

"She looks like she needs someone to talk to." Athena, who had remained by my side, suggested. "Octavia, right?"

"Yeah. Though, what do you mean by 'needing someone to talk to'?" I inquired about.

"Why don't you go up to her and find out?" Athena poked me with her head, gesturing me to do as such.

I was puzzled by what Athena was getting at, but I decided to approach Octavia. It had been a while since I really talked to her, so I figured it was long overdue either way.

"Hey, Tavi," I said as I joined her at the table. "Vinyl and Derpy aren't with you?"

I noticed her coat lightly jump at the sound of my voice, but it didn't seem I startled her too much when I popped in all of a sudden.

"Oh, no." She turned away from her cup to face me and shortly brushed through her mane as she responded. "They're over by the tree. I only just stepped away for a moment of silence."

Considering what Athena had mentioned a few seconds ago, I couldn't help but feel something off about her. Everyone else had been enjoying the festivities, as indicated with the smiles and laughter coming from them, but Octavia was the only one who seemed to be holding a troublesome frown. In fact, she actually started reminding me of myself from a long time ago.

"You…doing okay?" I asked.

"Why would you ask?" She responded in an odd yet cool manner.

"It just looks like you're kinda, I don't know, down?" I mentioned honestly.

"I'm fine." She seemed to dismiss rather quickly and even angrily. "I was actually waiting for you for some time."

"For me? Sorry, I didn't know." I apologized before following up on the topic. "What's up?"

She pushed a long and narrow black box that had been on the table my way. "I have something I want to give you. However, I must admit it's not much." I cautiously picked it up with my magic and observed it closely for a short moment. "Go ahead. Open it."

I did and found the box to actually be a casing for something rather fragile inside. If I wasn't mistaken, it was a violin bow, and from what I could see, it appeared to be clean as a whistle. Was this new?

"It's one of my favorite bows." Octavia explained. "I know you previously mentioned that you wouldn't be able to take up the violin for regular practice, but I still wanted you to have it. After all, I don't use this bow as much anymore, and I figured I'd let you have it."

"Are you sure, Tavi?" I asked, unsure if I was willing to actually take something like this from her. "I know you just said that you don't use it much anymore, but wouldn't it be better if it stayed with you? If it's one of your favorite bows, wouldn't it be better to have for like a personal keepsake?"

"I understand your point," She responded, "But, I've already made up my mind. As long as you treat it with the utmost care, I don't mind if you have it. In fact," She turned her eyes away, and her voice softened. "I want you to have it. So, please, accept it."

There was no way I could refuse her offer with something like that. If she really wanted to give me this expensive-looking bow, then I felt like I had no choice. It's not like I didn't appreciate the offer. It was just that I wasn't sure if I was the right pony to care over something like this.

"If you say it like that, then I guess I can't refuse, huh?" I closed the box and put it aside nearby for the moment. "Thank you, Tavi. Even though I'm a little worried about how it'll be with me, I still appreciate the thought of you giving me something as special as this. I just feel bad that I don't have anything for you…"

"It's the season for giving, not receiving." She stated somewhat strictly as she turned away from me. "I don't need you to give me anything, nor do I expect you to." She finished whatever left she had in her refreshment cup and appeared to gather herself to leave. "I'm going home. Happy Hearth's Warming, Alex."

Something about the way she talked really bugged me. It's like there was a bitter underlying tone in her voice. In fact, I couldn't help but feel like she forced herself to be here with us. I hardly even saw her much for the majority of the party, seeing as I had been upstairs listening to Twilight's and Athena's stories.

There was a thought that came to mind as I watched Octavia begin to walk away. It was a thought I hoped wasn't true, but based on the current circumstances, was entirely possible. Could she have dragged herself over to this party just to give me what she wanted to give me?

I wanted to say something, but she had already left the castle. I could have gone after her, but I had already tried asking if she was okay earlier. If I continued to ask, despite her telling me she was "fine", she'd probably only repeat it and, if I knew her, get furious with me. If I had an idea of what could have been bugging her, then maybe I'd be able to do something.

I swung by the tree and found Vinyl and Derpy chatting while sharing a few laughs every here and there. There were a few other ponies hanging around nearby, but I was focused on them for the meantime. Despite their current conversation, they were able to find me approaching them before I could speak up.

"Yo, Alex! How's it hangin'? We, like, missed you the entire party." Vinyl greeted.

"Yeah, sorry." I apologized once more, almost feeling guilty that I had been upstairs listening to stories instead of speaking with close friends downstairs.

"I'm sorry too!" Derpy apologized unexpectedly out of the blue. "I accidentally broke something while we were setting up the tree and Rarity got mad at me." She pointed her noise directly towards the floor to reveal how remorseful she felt, but that in itself was too adorable for anyone to be mad at.

"It's no big deal." I responded, feeling a smile grow on my face after seeing her expression. "Don't worry about Rarity either. She just likes for everything to be as 'precise' as possible."

As Derpy lifted back her head and sent a warm grin, Vinyl caught my attention with her next statement. "Hey, did you catch Tavi? She wanted to give you something or something."

"Yeah, I did." I answered. Seeing as Vinyl was her best friend for an apparently long time, I decided to bring up our subject's seemingly odd behavior into the conversation. "Hey, did anything happen with her recently? She seemed kind of…distant earlier."

"You noticed it too, didn't you?" Vinyl returned, which I actually wasn't expecting from her. "She's been acting like that ever since I met up with her today. She doesn't want to talk about it with any of us though. What about you?"

"When I asked her if something was bothering her, all she said was that she was 'fine'." I replied.

"Yeah, dude. Same with us."

"And none of you have any idea why?"

"Not really, no."

Well, Vinyl sort of made my previous thoughts of Octavia only coming here to give me her gift more likely. But, at the same time, at least she confirmed that I wasn't the reason why she seemed so angry or depressed. After all, I did apparently keep her waiting for a while.

"Speaking of Tavi, where is she?" Vinyl asked. "She's been gone for a while."

"Oh." I remembered how she disappeared right after she did what she wanted to do. "She actually left right after she gave me her gift."

"Tch. Seriously?" She answered with concern rather than irritation. "I really want to know what's up with that chick. Like, really."

"And, I'm afraid to keep asking." I mentioned truthfully. "I wouldn't want her to snap at me."

"I feel you, bro." She acknowledged. "Maybe we should just give her some space. At least for the rest of the night. Maybe she'll feel better tomorrow."

"Yeah, maybe." I reluctantly decided.

Seeing as there was still a good amount of partying going on, Vinyl and Derpy seemed to decide to stay for at least a while longer instead of going home like Octavia did. Nevertheless, it was nearly impossible for me to ignore Octavia's behavior. I didn't think it was an emergency or anything, but knowing that she was possibly dealing with some kind of hurt stopped me from enjoying the party like everyone else, especially after the kind of gift she had given me. What kind of friend would I be if I didn't at least check up on her?

"Doesn't this seem a little familiar?" I heard by my side, pulling me out of my thoughts.

It was Athena, and I supposed that that enigmatic side of her personality hadn't entirely died down. "Huh?"

"The way Octavia is acting." She clarified. "Does it, you know, remind you of a certain someone from a certain story?"

Besides the heartwarming gift, Octavia was acting a little cold and distant. It was just like I said; Unless I was seeing things differently, it almost seemed like she didn't want to be here in the first place. Regarding Athena's hint, I could only believe that she had been talking about the story she told us not too long ago, and in that story, there was only one pony that acted similarly to Octavia now.

"So, you think I should go check up on her after all, huh?" I asked, mostly certain that she didn't just want me doing absolutely nothing.

"That's up to you." Athena returned. "But, if you were in her shoes, would you want somepony to talk to?"

"Say no more." I stated with a light sigh.

Just telling her that I was there to listen couldn't hurt. Besides, she said it herself that she didn't expect me to give her anything in return following her gift. The least I could do was give her company and an ear as a good friend if it turned out she needed it.

Having wrapped a nice and extremely warm scarf that Fluttershy had personally made me, I showed up in front of Octavia's door with a steaming cup of green tea. I took a glance at her windows and found no visible lights from within. I was a little nervous at the thought of waking her up, but I was willing to push on despite that.

While I waited for several slightly unnerving minutes, I constantly looked around in order to rest my eyes somewhere else besides her door. Next, I found my eyes were locked onto the Hearth's Warming decorations that were set up outside of town. For some reason, as I thought back to Athena's story, it was hard to pull my eyes away from these simple decorations. It wasn't until I heard the door in front of me open when I was able to break away.

"I was wondering who could be knocking on my door this time of night."

Octavia had been wiping her eyes, and her mane had been slightly disheveled.

"I wasn't sure if you went straight to bed." I replied. "Sorry, if I woke you."

"Don't worry about it. Is something the matter?"

"Funny that you should ask that." I returned with a small smile forming on my face. "Is it alright if I come in for a bit?"

"Sure…" She stepped to the side and allowed me to walk in. Once inside, she closed her door and walked towards the nearest couch. "Please, take a seat."

I found a seat across her with a coffee table separating the two of us. I didn't want to keep her long, so I tried to keep it brief yet unhurried. "Here." I placed the cup of green tea onto the table in front of her. "I know it isn't much, and it definitely doesn't compare to what you gave me, but I got you a cup of nice and hot green tea. It's one of your favorites, right?"

"Yes." Octavia seemed to somewhat hesitantly speak as she stared at the cup for a period of time. "However, I told you there was no need to give me something in return."

"I didn't do it because I felt I needed to. I did it because I wanted to." I cleared up before rubbing the back of my head in slight confusion. "Then again, you could probably say that my 'want' was great enough to become a 'need'."

"I see." She slowly slid her hoof towards the cup and cautiously touched it. "In that case, I appreciate the gesture. Is this the reason why you came over?"

I shook my head. "Not exactly. There's something else I want to give you, in a sense."

"And what is that?" She raised an eyebrow in curiosity as she brought the cup to her lips.

"How do I put it…?" I asked myself as I leaned back and rubbed my neck with my hoof. "I just…want you to know that I'm available anytime you want to talk." I shook my head once more when I heard that statement come out of my mouth. "Actually, there might be times where it'll be physically impossible to talk to you. I might be on some kind of adventure in another part of Equestria and stuff. Anyways, whenever I'm here in Ponyville, and I'm not stuck in the middle of some kind of friendship problem or something, then I'm willing to hear whatever you feel like you need to get out."

"I understand." Octavia calmly responded and placed the cup back down on the table before she continued speaking. "And, I thank you for it, but what makes you bring this up all of a sudden?"

"I noticed something about you tonight." I explained quite frankly. "And not only me, but Vinyl and Derpy too." At this point, Octavia's pupils moved to the corner of her eyes and pointed away from me. "I know what you said, but each of us thinks that something is under your skin right now." I thought for a moment and remembered what Athena had hinted towards me. Taking into account of the information Vinyl supplied me with, I decided to take a kind of wild guess. "Does something about Hearth's Warming bother you, Tavi?"

A silent yet strong gust of air blew from her muzzle. She shut her eyes and remained sitting still for a moment before she addressed my question. "I appreciate your concern, but it isn't something you should trouble yourself with." She turned her head away in a solemn manner. "Things just have a habit of not working out for me."

I felt the strong urge to lean in forward after she said that. "What do you mean? What's going on?"

I was expecting her to turn away my concern immediately, but she actually remained quiet for some time. During this silence, my attention was drawn towards a hoof of hers that moved over to her chest. As I watched how her chest expanded in and out, I found that her breathing appeared to quicken its pace. Eventually, she shut her eyes and didn't open them again until she released one last long breath through her nose. Afterwards, she turned back towards me and noticed that I had been observing her during this entire time with a great deal of worry. Remaining convincingly composed, she reached for her tea and took a few sips before setting it back down on the table.

"Can I ask you something, Alex?"

"Sure. What is it?" I earnestly responded.

"Have you ever had your heart broken?"

I was definitely not expecting that, especially from her.

"Um… I think so." I tried to remember as accurately as I could. The first thing that popped into my head was when Discord was able to manipulate me into making me think that my friends actually didn't care about me. "A long time ago. Back before I met Vinyl and even Derpy, someone managed to convince me that the friends I had didn't care about me at all. At that time, I had just started warming up to the idea of having friends, so, when he was able to manipulate me, it felt like my whole world shattered, or at least the hope of a better world did, anyway. But, like I said, that was a long time ago, and everything's better now." It was at this point, while I was thinking of another scenario in the back of my mind, that I remembered of another heart-wrenching moment. It involved the last I saw of my 'real' dad, but I didn't want to expose that kind of drama again with her. "Sorry," I apologized, feeling as if I shared more than I needed to. "I didn't mean to get off topic or anything."

She shook her head. "It's alright. I'm sure you've gone through so much more than somepony like me."

I wasn't sure if she was intentionally trying to turn the focus onto me instead of her, but I decided to put us back on track. "So, Tavi. You asked me if I ever had my heart broken. Are you saying that you have?"

"Mm." Her body appeared to stiffen for a quick moment, but she responded to this by picking up her cup and taking another sip of her green tea. "You could say that, yes."

"You want to talk about it?" I immediately asked.

"That's the thing." She returned. "As much as it may bother me, I believe it's only trivial to talk about such a pitiful event."

This was weird. With the way she talked, it was like she was trying to keep her cool, but, at the same time, she was revealing how much, whatever it was, really bothered her.

"But that's what I'm talking about, Tavi." I encouraged. "I don't care about how 'trivial' it may seem. If it's something that is still bothering you to this day, then I'm all ears. I owe you so much after what you did for me during my time of need, after all."

Octavia averted her gaze away from me as she lightly sighed. "You're really sweet, you know that?" Waiting to see if she had any more to say, I kept my mouth shut. "Perhaps…I do need to speak about this with somepony. I've tried ignoring it for so long, yet I always find that my mind is plagued by it at certain times, this being one of those times."

"I'm here, Tavi," I repeated. "Even if I have to stay all night."

The corners of her lips surprisingly lifted up as she glanced at me after hearing this statement. "Haha." She chuckled. "No, there's no need for that." She cleared her throat and grazed her hoof along her cup as she appeared to think to herself. "Let me rest for tonight, Alex. If another time comes, then I may just seek your company then. However, I'm feeling much better just by your visit this night."

I wasn't going to understand the real reason for her sudden shift in mood tonight, but I was still glad that I made some progress towards that goal. Either way, she did appear to tell the truth when she said that she was feeling better, so that was good enough for me.

"Sure thing, Tavi. Just don't be afraid to come talk to me." I stood up and fixed my scarf for the weather I would meet outside. "Don't forget about Vinyl and Derpy either. They might behave a little differently than you, but they're still great friends to be around."

"I know." She acknowledged as she nodded.

Believing she could definitely use one, I lifted my forelegs and spread them out for her, inviting her in for a warm embrace. She observed my movement for a silent moment before she finally brought herself closer and accepted the gesture.

"Happy Hearth's Warming, Tavi." I returned back to her from the castle. As I said this, I tightened my squeeze a little more in hopes to express my sincerity to her.

"Yes." She responded, her voice slightly muffled by my coat, "To you, as well."

As I began walking back to the castle during the cold yet beautiful winter night, I wondered a little deeper about the reason behind hearing Athena's story. Could it relate to the troubles that Octavia went through? I'm not sure, but I guess I'll be waiting to find that one out.

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