The Sixty-Third Rule

by Syke Jr

First published

Some rules still apply, even in Equestria. Silver Star suspects that CelestAI enforces them for her own amusement.

Silver Star is only just recovering from a magical ailment that gives him unexpected spell surges. After a night of strange dreams based on a recent tabletop roleplaying game, it transpires that he's not... quite as cured as he seemed.

And now he has a problem. Well, two problems.

This story is set in the Optimalverse, and I strongly recommend reading the other stories in my continuity first.

Cover art by SiMonk0, with additional illustrations by HuckleberryPony!

Chapter 1

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“So, Silver... you finally stopped wearing the bonering,” K says as he sits down at the table.

I’d been expecting it. Even so, it’s wearily that I resign myself to where the night is going now that everypony is here and open season on me has been signalled. We’re in the Silver Sword, getting ready for a nice long roleplaying session.

“It wasn’t a bonering,” I give flatly, knowing it’s pointless.

“It was.”

“Mate, it was a bonering.”

“Sorry, Sil, that’s what it was.”

“We all saw it, Silver.”

“I liked the bonering.”

“Okay,” I interject with the irritation they all expect, “Now that you’ve all got one in—” here I glare at Gingersnap, who smiles cheerily back— “can you at least pretend to be happy I’m better?”

“Why would we be,” Clover Leaf says, “when it just means you can play with your dice again?”

There’s a small, collective groan. I smile. That is a plus I forgot about. I can juggle around my set of dice in my magic again. It’s an incredibly fun way to fidget that irritates everyone else at the table except Snaps.

“I motion we bring back the bonering,” White Mage says. “All in favour?”

“Aye,” everyone else says at once. I give Gingersnap another look.

“I hope you,” I say, looking pointedly at White and K, “both get manashock malady at some point. Magic inhibitors are the bucking worst. And you made fun of it enough when I had it. It’s gone now.”

“It’ll live forever in our hearts, though,” K says.

“Magic inhibitor?” Cloudy feigns confusion.

“Bonering,” Clover supplies helpfully.

Buck all these ponies.

“Alright,” Gingersnap says loudly, even as my mouth opens, “we came to play so let’s play. We can make fun of Silver’s embarrassing magical illness later.”

“We could also just accept that I’m cured now and move on,” I say, but giving Snaps a thankful bump on her wing as I do. She strokes said wing along my back in response. I shiver a little, and turn to her storm-grey eyes and grinning face, flaring my nostrils at her with a smile. She’s so perfect.

“No,” Clover is saying, “The teleporting story is too funny. Tell it again.”

“I’ll tell it later,” Snaps says, ignoring my sigh.

What sucks is that the teleporting story is incredibly funny. Manashock malady results in extremely strong, uncontrollable magical surges called ‘shocks’ that take so much energy from your body you pretty much pass out. It’s like a sneeze but through your horn, and a thousand times worse, that knocks you out. And also discharges a huge amount of magic. Apparently in the old days unicorns would use the ailment to cast spells far beyond their normal capability; allegedly with enough concentration you can actually stop the discharge from being random.

My first discharge vaporised an archery target, which was actually extremely cool. My second teleported me directly above the lake in the photo I was looking at in Snaps’ studio, which was less cool. Then I got given the inhibitor by the doctor’s office, and the shocks simply became unbelievably unpleasant hyper-sneezes that made my eyes water and horn ache for minutes on end.

“I almost drowned, Clover.”

The brown mare just shrugs, sipping her cocktail. "Would have made it funnier."

…I can't actually refute that. So I just roll my eyes.

Meanwhile, at least the other ponies are getting their shit together ready to play.

“Okay. Okay. The last session ended on you all being put to sleep by the Discordant Tome. We all remember?” White finally claps his hooves together and pulls up his GM screen.

Murmurs of assent go around the table as we make sure our sheets are all in order and our tokens look like they’re in the right place on the map in the middle of us all. Our characters are chasing a sentient book that escaped from a local wizard’s tower. It’s proving to be more trouble than it’s apparently worth, but if the chase is long, the payoff will be good. White Mage knows how to run a game.

“Okay. So, you all wake up, and the Tome is gone. Again. And this time, it did more than just escape.”

“I stand up very, very carefully and look around.” K’s character, Keystone, always has priority with his class bonuses. He rolls a d20. It comes up 9. “Okay, so eleven,” K says, checking his perception bonus.

“You immediately notice you feel odd, but nothing seems to be hurt and you don’t seem to be in immediate danger. When you look around, you only see the party, slowly standing up themselves. But there’s something different. You notice that Wing Blade definitely looks taller than she did. She’s still wearing her cloak so you don’t know why. Meanwhile Vagrant Sword looks a lot shorter.”

A suspicion immediately takes root in my mind. I glance at White, who’s clearly enjoying himself, and Cloudy Skies, who also looks like she sees where it’s going. The dice floating in my magic clack together excitedly.

“Okay. So then I look around and ask if everypony is still alive.” Snaps rolls a d20 of her own. “And also perception for anything wrong.” Her number is a lot better, a natural 17, but it turns out to be pointless.

“When you speak, the sarcastic, high voice everypony expects to hear from Wing Blade isn’t what comes out. You get halfway through the sentence before you trail off into silence. Your voice is distinctly masculine. Looking down at yourself, you see how tall you are, now, and thicker in the chest.”

Yup. Oh Luna.

We all look at each other, knowing now exactly what’s happening. White grins as he continues, “The rest of you are also figuring out what happened. It seems the Discordant Tome has reversed all of your genders.” And with that, White’s horn flashes and our character sheets are replaced with near-identical ones, with, of course, our characters transformed into the opposite gender, with stats changed to match.

As the table breaks out into metagaming conversation, Gingersnap and I look at each other. She pops her eyebrows at me. I just grin. It’s going to be a fun night.

***

“Well. Back to reality,” Gingersnap says once we’re alone at the table, having said our farewells to White and the rest of the party.

“Such as it is,” I say.

She glances at me with a half eye-roll. “I know you know I know you just say things like that to be annoying.”

“How dare you,” I say idly.

We’ve been roleplaying in the Silver Sword for over fourteen hours. Tabletop sessions are long in Equestria, at least compared to the outer realm that feels further and further away as time goes on. We don’t really need sleep, after all. I yawn all the same.

“Yeah. Let’s go upstairs for a while,” Snaps says. It’s a good idea. A nap would be nice. We’d refused to stop until we captured the Tome and reversed its magic. Then the session ended on a trademark White Mage cliffhanger: the wizard was evil, which Snaps actually called a session ago.

The tavern is reasonably full of ponies, considering it’s only just coming onto midnight; we weave between a few to make our way to the door marked ‘private’. I open it with my magic, relishing being able to use the magical signature lock again instead of fumbling for a key with my hooves.

In only a moment, we’re in the apartment. It had been my apartment, until this year. Now it’s ours. On the other side of the little sitting room, a door is wedged in the corner. Anypony paying attention would see it for what it is, since the other side of the wall is open outside air. It’s a portal to the other apartment, the one above Snaps’ studio. Really, it’s our office.

Well. ‘Office’ is giving it a lot of credit. It’s where the computers are, at least. The portal door had cost a lot to install, but it was worth it. One time, we’d gone from studio to office to apartment to pub and back again for nearly three weeks without going outside once. It was disgusting. And also glorious.

At the end of it, we only left because of a monumental argument about the pose of the Selene statue in the park.

It turned out to change poses based on the phase of the moon.

Anyway. We ignore the door, the television, and the cushy beanbags we have in lieu of furniture, instead making our way for the bedroom.

“It’s my turn,” Gingersnap says as she leaps onto the bed with a flap of her wings.

I wrinkle my muzzle. “Is it?” I honestly can’t remember. We have to take turns being the big spoon, since it’s both of our favourites. “I think we should play for it.”

Snaps frowns. “I’m fairly sure it’s my turn, Sil. And I want to nap now.”

“Hmm.” I yawn again. “Fine. But I still think I should get big spoon privileges as the bigger pony.”

“You really want that row again?”

“...later, maybe.”

I join her on the bed, and we lie face to face for a moment, sighing as we relax into the mattress. I run a hoof lightly across her cheek, and she blinks slowly back at me. I love her eyes. So many shades of grey in their depths, like a real cloudy sky. I breathe her in and sigh again.

She raises her eyebrows, and gives me a spinning motion with a hoof. I compliantly turn around to face the wall, and let her legs gently wrap around me.

The light touch of a wing wrapping around me too, stroking my barrel softly, makes me smile to myself as I turn out the lights with my magic.

“That session was weird,” Snaps says after a few moments there in the dark.

I reflect on it. It had certainly been fun; White Mage had known exactly how to draw out the best kind of comedy and drama from the genderswap situation. “Rule sixty-three makes stuff weird real fast.”

“Mm.” A moment of silence. “I didn’t fail a single seduction roll. I don’t think White was expecting that. He kept setting Wing Blade up to look like an idiot.”

I snort lightly. “I don’t think he expected you to actually go for it every time. Wing Blade never used seduction as a mare, after all. He wanted you to use intimidation. You know, with the physical size bonus?”

“...That honestly didn’t occur to me.”

“Incredible.”

“It went well anyway. Maybe I should make Wing Blade a stallion full-time.”

“Ha. Maybe.” I feel my eyes closing of their own accord as Gingersnap hugs me close. She’s only a little shorter than me. As we drift off to sleep together, my thoughts bounce around White Mage’s world of renegade wizards and odd mysteries.

Gingersnap’s breath is hot on my neck. I couldn’t be more content.

***

I look upon the lonely wizard’s tower, deserted as we’d found it after capturing the book. I’m dressed as my character, Arrowhead; his recurve bow on my back and his quiver of enchanted arrows at my hip.

It’s night-time. The breeze is cold, and my little hooded tunic does little to protect me from the wind.

What was I doing here? The tower was empty. We’d looked already. We had to look for leads on the wizard, the one who’d taken the Discordant Tome and disappeared along with several townsfolk.

As soon as I think of it, I turn to find the town gates just a short ways away. The lanterns glow outside the taverns and inns invitingly. It’s a crossroad town; a traveller’s haven. I walk through the gates. It’s deserted. But I can sense warmth and activity behind the nearest door.

I walk up to it, and push it open. The warmth and chatter washes over me. I look around. It’s the Silver Sword. I look past the bar into our bedroom. The bed is, as usual, unmade. The ponies milling around don’t really give it a glance, luckily. It’s sort of embarrassing.

I walk over to the bar and motion the bartender over. It’s not a pony I know. “Do you know anything about the ponies who disappeared today? I’m one of the ponies sent to find them.”

The bartender raises an eyebrow. “Your friend’s upstairs already.”

“Upstairs?”

“In the library. Door at the back.”

So I walk through the tavern, past my bed, and through the door at the back. The staircase up brings me to a little library. Sure enough, somepony is there already.

“Gingersnap?”

She’s dressed like Wing Blade, long cloak hiding her deadly namesake weapons, and mane made flowing and spiky rather than its characteristic bouncy wave.

“Oh. Silver. I was wondering if you’d show up.”

Something nudges my mind at her words. I think, hard, about where I am. “Is… this a dream?”

Snaps rolls her eyes. “Why can’t you ever figure it out on your own?”

I blink. Okay. Yeah. We’re dressed as our roleplaying characters in a library where our apartment should be. Our bed is downstairs in the middle of a pub.

As usual, I feel faintly stupid. “You’re always more lucid than me.”

She grins. “Look at this book.” I’m presented with a deep blue spellbook, with the silhouette of a mare embossed over the outline of a stallion on the cover. “It’s a gender-changing spellbook. Wanna try it out?”

“...No?” Even in a dream the idea doesn’t appeal. “I can try to cast it on you. But I don’t fancy being a mare. Arrowhead didn’t enjoy it and I won’t either.”

Snaps pouts. “You can’t just cast it on me. It switches genders between two ponies. Come on, it’ll be fun.”

I take the book in my magic, grimacing. I can feel the spell dancing between the pages. All I’d have to do is cast it. I imagine Gingersnap getting taller, bigger, looking down at me from Wing Blade’s unusual height as a stallion.

I shiver. “Why do you always have to make our dreams weird?

“Are you going to do it or not?”

“Ehh…” I really don’t want to. But it’s a dream, after all. What’s the harm?

As I open my mouth to acquiesce, a familiar and unpleasant feeling comes over me. Pressure building up behind my horn, making my jaw ache and back arch.

Oh Luna. Why would dream-me have manashock malady still? And why does it feel so real? I groan, unable to let go of the book as I close my eyes hard. I hear Gingersnap take a step toward me as the shock really takes hold, locking my joints and snapping my neck straight.

The pressure, the pressure. It’s really awful. My ears ring a little as the power builds in my horn. Teeth gritted, all I can do it wait for it to be over. Like the gigantic, horrendous sneeze it feels like, I know the release will actually be a blessed sensation of relief.

I feel the power snap and let go. My magic surges out of my horn as my entire body jolts, eyes clamping shut even harder as the power drains away in an instant. I feel something else, too, something very much like the teleport that landed me in the lake the other week. Like my entire body was pushed through the eye of a needle in the blink of an eye.

I have just enough time to think oh, no… before the fatigue hits in full and the floor rushes up to meet me.

***

I wake up slowly. Tiredly. It’s unusual for Equestria. Ponies usually wake up at just the right time, refreshed and lively, thanks to CelestAI. But this is the same as the other surges that made me faint. I feel like I’ve been sleeping for an eternity, but somehow not long enough at all.

Had I been dreaming? I faintly remember talking to Snaps in a dream. Digging deeper, I remember the library, the book she’d wanted me to cast. But it feels like a day of dead sleep has passed since then.

I groan a little, curling myself into a ball as I realise I’m alone in the bed. I close my eyes and shift so that the blankets just about cover my head. So what, I still have the malady? The doctor said I was fine to take off the inhibitor if I go three days without a shock. But this feeling of being drained is too familiar to be anything else. I guess I had a shock in my sleep?

I give a loud whimper, hoping Gingersnap will hear and come to my aid. I need a damn cuddle.

As if on cue, I hear the door from the office open in the other room. Hoofsteps follow, and I peek past the blankets as my soulmate enters the room.

Then I blink, hard.

Oh buck oh Luna oh shit there’s no way

“Hey, cutie,” Gingersnap says with a grin. But it’s not the voice I know. It’s deep, and a little rumbly, and more than a little smug. I look up at her. Or, rather, at him.

“Hey,” I say, and then close my eyes again, wishing I’d just stayed asleep forever. This cannot be happening. Because my voice isn’t my voice, either. It’s… soft. And high. And unmistakably the voice of a mare.

SECRET BADGE GRANTED:
Genderbent
Have a magical mishap that turns
you into the opposite sex.
+1000 Bits

I grasp at the idea that I’m still dreaming, but with the lucidity of wakefulness I know I’m not. I try to force myself back to sleep, curling even tighter into the blankets as I hear Snaps chuckle. She—he—steps closer until he’s standing over me, even as I refuse to show my face.

“We got a letter,” the low, sweet voice says, “from Princess Selene this morning.” A pause. “Guess what it’s about.”

Chapter 2

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I look down at Silver Star’s little form, curled up under the blankets and undoubtedly trying to vanish entirely. Little. It’s true. He is. Or, I remind myself, grinning as I remember my short inspection of my favourite unicorn earlier that morning, she is.

I wait a few moments for her to emerge, but I get impatient quickly. Bending down—much further down than I would have needed to yesterday—and taking the bundle of blankets in my teeth, I slowly start to pull Silver Star free of her cocoon. She resists, whining and clinging to the blankets fruitlessly.

I tug, hard, and the little mare yelps as she’s made to roll over by the blankets being pulled out from under her. As I drop the bundle to the floor, she clamps her eyes shut again and curls up with her back to me.

“This isn’t happening, it can’t be, whhyyyyyyyy~” comes the adorable, plaintive cry. The voice is music to my ears. I grin even wider, and slowly ease myself onto the bed with my soulmate. She tenses as I brush up against her back, and I take a deep breath through my nose. Mmmm. She almost smells the same. But where before there was a sharp, musky tone, now there’s a pleasantly soft aroma mixed into her familiar scent.

I curl myself around the mare-in-denial, unable to stop grinning. “Like you said,” I say into Silver Star’s ear, “the bigger pony should always get big spoon privileges.” She whimpers again as I wrap all four legs and a wing around her little body, encompassing her form almost entirely. “Isn’t that right?”

“This isn’t funny, Gingersnap.” Her body shifts against mine and she shivers a little despite the intense warmth. “I do not want to be a mare.”

“I think you should just call me ‘Snap’,” I say playfully. “And I think I’ll call you… Star. Silver is a little too masculine, you know?”

I hear her teeth grind a little, but she doesn’t respond.

“Look, it’s not so bad, yeah? It’s just another funny story about your manashock.” I caress Star with a comparatively huge wing. “You’re not going to tell me mares are inferior, are you? Because I just might take offense to your indignance at being one if you keep it up.”

She huffs, annoyed. “...No. I don’t think mares are inferior.” A pause. “But I’m not one. I like being a stallion. This is just too weird, Snap, it’s weird it’s weird it’s weeeiiiiird~”

And with that she buries her face in my foreleg. I let her lie there, smiling at her use of my name. Long minutes pass as we just breathe there together.

“I blame you for this,” Star says suddenly.

I give a gleeful chuckle. “How d’you reckon? You took off the bonering too early.”

You came up with that stupid book in the dream.”

“White Mage put the idea in our heads in the first place.”

“Buck, your right. It’s both of your faults.” She sighs in resignation, finally relaxing against me. I even hear a little hum of what can only be contentment.

“You done being angry?”

She answers with a shrug.

“Are you going to get up and read Selene’s letter?”

“No. I’m going to lie here and be the little spoon forever. It turns out it’s kind of nice when you’re not the same size.”

“Mmmm,” I say with a squeeze, enjoying my rumbling voice, “is someone enjoying this a little?”

“Hnnn.” It’s a noncommittal noise, but I’d bet anything that Star is blushing under my wing. “I’m starting to wish I drowned in that lake.”

“It would have nipped this in the bud,” I say. “But I’ve got to admit, I’m enjoying this more than I’d have ever thought possible.”

“So that’s why Celestia did this,” Star says. “As long as you’re having fun, I guess.”

“Actually,” a kind, playful voice interjects, “I don’t think you can blame me for this.”

I look up and see Celestia in the doorway. Star finally pushes herself into a sitting position, shrugging off my wing and glaring in the direction of the celestial mistress of our reality. “Of course we can,” Star says angrily, “You’re to blame for everything.”

“Oh? I’m to blame for your visiting the Thaumic Caves in Shetland without the recommended horn protection, and catching the manashock malady? I’m to blame for your not actually reading the letter given to you by Doctor Song, telling you to wear the inhibitor while sleeping for at least another three days?”

I laugh quietly. Star elbows me in the ribs.

“So I take it you’re not going to fix this for me?”

Celestia gives a small, soft giggle. “I rather think you need to sort it out for yourself.”

Star groans and retreats back into my embrace, and I faithfully wrap her in my wing once more, hugging her softly as she grumbles what are probably obscenities to herself.

Celestia raises an eyebrow. “That’s hardly fair.” I grin and shake my head. Clearly, Star is giving our god some choice ridicule in the safety of her own head. Celestia winks at me. “Enjoy your time with Star.”

“Don’t call me Star,” my little mare half-shouts, muffled through my wing.

Celestia simply smiles again, and disappears in a flash.

A few long moments pass. “Is she gone,” Star says tiredly.

“Yup.”

“Ugh. Fine.” And she once again crawls out from underneath my wing, shaking herself free of my legs and sighing as she slowly slides herself to the edge of the bed and steps down onto the floor.

I stretch, and sit up myself, there on the bed. Silver Star walks hesitantly over to the mirror, muttering something about ‘getting it over with’. My eyes run over her as she stares into her reflection, expression blank.

She’s probably around the height I had been. Maybe a little shorter. It’s hard to tell from my new point of view. Her body is lithe and slight. Her mane is just as unkempt as before, but also long and flowing past her shoulder. “Magic,” Star says with a small sigh, “is such bullshit.”

I chuckle, and with a strong flap of my wings I’m off the bed. Star jumps a little at the thud my hooves make on the floor beside her, but doesn’t take her eyes off the mirror. I take the couple of steps necessary to stand beside her, and stare into the mirror too. I’d already done that, of course; earlier that morning while my unicorn was still out cold. But now I could really see the differences in both of us.

The tip of Star’s horn is just about level with my chin. I’m really tall for a pegasus, but she’s definitely shorter than average. Her eyes are slightly more softly rounded, eyelashes framing those beautiful green irises. That square jaw is gone, now; all I can think of when I look at her face, her little snout, is: cute.

She is so cute.

I wrap my wing around her again. She sighs, closes her eyes and leans into me, resting her cheek on my chest. “Such bullshit,” she whispers again.

I can only grin. “Come on. Try to enjoy it while it lasts. It’s a new experience, yeah?”

“It’s… something.”

I’m enjoying it.”

“Yeah, you mentioned.” She frowns, opening her eyes and looking at me in the mirror accusingly. “It’s almost like you planned this.”

I give her a sly look right back. “Maybe I did.”

She snorts, and backs away, slipping out from under my wing and turning around. “Where’s that letter?”

“Kitchen table.”

Star walks through the door into the sitting room, then disappears into the kitchen. I sigh and give myself one more look in the mirror. I know Star will want to go back to being Silver as soon as possible, and I’ll have to go back to being Gingersnap along with him.

Assuming we use the same spell as in the dream, at least.

I turn and trot through the apartment to join Star in the kitchen, where I find her already scribbling a letter, presumably to Princess Selene. The princess’ letter had basically said she’d noticed the magical surge that happened during our shared dream, and wanted to know everything was okay.

As I approach, Star rolls up her response in her magic and sends it with a flash. Then she sighs.

“What did you say?”

“I told her about the shock and asked if there was an easy way to reverse it.”

“Hm.” I know it’s unfair, but I sort of hope it takes Selene a long time to respond. I don’t know why I’m having so much fun. I suppose it’s just exciting to have the fantasy we’d roleplayed come to life.

“Well, nothing to do but wait.” Star finally looks at me, looks at me properly, and cracks a small smile despite herself. “I have to admit, it suits you. In a weird way.”

I beam and hum deeply, stepping up to her and looking down. She almost takes a step back at how I tower over her. “It suits me, huh,” I say softly.

“...Yeah.” She blushes. “Please stop making it weird.”

“Nah,” I smile back at her. “Nothing you can do about it. You’re too cute.”

She snorts a little and rolls her eyes. “Stop.”

“Then stop being so cute.”

Star huffs and steps around me, fleeing the kitchen as I slowly turn and follow. As I step into the sitting room she’s opening the portal door and stepping through into the office. She leaves the door open, so again, I follow.

“What, you’re just gonna pretend this isn’t real? Sit at your desk like normal?”

She snorts again, indeed sitting down at her desk. “It’s not real. Not for long, at least. What else do you want me to do?”

“I want you to try to enjoy it,” I say again. She’s kind of getting me down now; a rumble of irritation has sunk into my voice.

“Nothing to enjoy,” she says shortly, staring at the computer screen. She pauses. “...Maybe the cuddling was nice.”

“Come on. Let’s go for a walk. Or! You could go to the range. See if you can make Bullseye blush.”

She blushes instead. “Please stop messing with me.”

I sigh. “I’m not messing with you, Star.” She gives an exasperated blink at my use of the name. “This is just a funny accident. And it could be fun if you let it. What exactly are you so freaked out about?”

“How could I not be freaked out? I’m not a mare! You’re not a stallion!”

“Well I’m not freaked out.”

She looks at me. “I don’t have an explanation for that.”

“The explanation is that you need to chill.” I walk over and stand over her. “You’re gonna change back. So stop stressing. Haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like?”

“What, to be female? No. Have you ever wondered what it would like to be male?”

I shrug. “Yeah, once in a while.”

“Hm. Well I’m glad you’re having a good time,” she grouches. I can’t take the sullen tone seriously. It’s too adorable.

“Come on. Let’s go do something.”

“Why don’t you go do something? Take some photos. Spread your wings.” She glances at me. “They’re certainly impressive.”

For the first time, I feel like blushing. My wings shift a little against my back. “Heh.”

“Go on. You know you want to.”

It’s true. I do feel like going flying. And Star’s attitude isn’t likely to improve if I keep bothering her. “Okay, but later you have to go for a walk with me.”

“Not happening. Ponies will see me.”

I put a hoof on her shoulder. “Remember what I said about taking offense?”

She gulps and looks away. “Yeah.”

“Mhm. Reflect.” And with that, I take my camera bag from its place beside my own desk and head downstairs into my studio, leaving the unicorn mare to a little bit of personal time that I have to admit she probably deserves.

Chapter 3

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Gingersnap—or Snap, I guess—finally leaves me alone to ruminate.

Whatever CelestAI says, she’s responsible for this. She’s the one who gave me manashock malady, even if I had been a bit blase about the warning signs in the caves we visited. I’d like to blame Snap, but he couldn’t know what was going to happen. I’m almost more inclined to blame White Mage.

Ugh. What does it matter.

I search online for gender-change potions, but everything I find is short-term and self-reversing. And… also pretty focussed on the sexual aspects of the idea. Which neither Snap nor I are interested in, thank Luna.

The fact that he's enjoying our predicament is amusing, but also aggravating. The characteristic cheerfulness, and cockiness, is somewhat offputting, now, somehow. Now that he’s so… tall. And I’m not.

I shiver involuntarily, and open up EQchat. Nothing much going on. There are a few messages in the Newforest tabletop chat, though.


[Killgrad]		maybe I'll run a mare next campaign.
[Killgrad]		yesterday was more fun than I thought it would be at the 
			start. I never pick female characters.

[clo]			discovering new things about yourself, hmm?

[Killgrad]		don't be cute.

[clo]			I'm always cute

[Killgrad]		what about you? did you like playing a stallion?

[clo]			not really. It was fun watching Snaps seduce everypony we 
			came across though

[Killgrad]		yeah. she was into it as much as me.

[TheWhiteMage]		I'm glad it was a fun session

[clo]			you did good, as always

[TheWhiteMage]		=)

I glower at the screen.


[Ganelon]		yeah great session
[Ganelon]		I even dreamt about it last night. Well, I say dreamt; it was 
			pretty much a nightmare

[clo]			do tell
[clo]			did Selene have to rescue you?

[Ganelon]		sort of.

[TheWhiteMage]		lol sorry Silver

[Ganelon]		oh you will be sorry
[Ganelon]		I will personally find a way to give you manashock, mark my 
			words

[TheWhiteMage]		D=

[Ganelon]		and I'll steal your inhibitor in the night

[clo]			inhibitor?

[Killgrad]		bonering

[clo]			ohhh

[Ganelon]		yeah keep that up
[Ganelon]		you'll die with him

[TheWhiteMage]		it can't have been that bad

[Ganelon]		you have
[Ganelon]		no idea

[TheWhiteMage]		=/

[clo]			what was the nightmare even about?

[Ganelon]		maybe I'll tell you later
[Ganelon]		much much later

[clo]			I'll just ask Snaps

I'm about to tell her not to do that when I freeze. Something just occurred to me. Snap is out there right now, being seen. Maybe—or who am I kidding, probably—talking to ponies.

He wouldn't tell them about me, would he? I realise I don't know. He really might. And even if he doesn't, ponies might figure it out.

Oh Luna buck no.

This horrifying train of thought is derailed by a flash of light and a scroll dropping onto the desk in front of me. I toss my long mane out of my face and excitedly pick it up, unroll it. Come on. Good news. Deliver me from this nightmare.

Silver Star,

That is indeed a very unique predicament. I am not intimately familiar with such magic, and do not have a solution offhoof; however, I am sure with a bit of research I can be of assistance. Neither you nor your partner need worry about being stuck in the opposite gender forever. This I promise you.

I will send another message when I have a counterspell. I should be able to cast it on you both in the dream realm, so you don't need to worry about coming to Canterlot.

Faithfully,
Princess Selene

PS Do not purchase any potions or spells on the internet. They are unlikely to work and could have unpredictable effects.

Hm.

Well. It’s not the immediate fix I’d been hoping for, even though I have no idea what exactly that would have looked like. At least the princess seems confident that a solution is forthcoming. And all we have to do to fix it is go to sleep once she sends her next letter. In a day or so.

I feel myself cheering up a little.

Now that the shock, and the initial reflexive denial, have worn off… it’s really not so bad. Snap is right. The change has some upsides. This morning, being wrapped up in my big, strong soulmate so completely… it was… mmmm.

I shake my head a little and stare at the ceiling. I wonder if the transformation has affected my mind at all. The desire to be curled up in the embrace of somepony big and strong isn’t something I’ve ever had before. Then again, it’s not something I’d ever experienced before either.

I run my hooves through my mane. It’s long, and runs down past my right shoulder. It sort of feels like I need a shower.

I stretch and sigh. The tabletop chat has digressed into talking about K’s latest permadeath game, and I don’t have any input to give there. I wonder what Snap is up to, and sincerely hope he’s just taking photos. Preferably from high in the sky where nopony is likely to notice his… maleness.

Despite myself, I reflect on how nice it would be to go read books in Dreamwalker Park together, like we always do. Leaning into Snap’s body and listening to him hum, like always, but in that new deep, deep tone.

It’s not worth the risk of running into ponies I know, though.

Bleh.

A shower sounds nice. So does food. But shower first.

I make my way through the portal door, and then into the bedroom. Before I continue into the bathroom, though, I catch a glance at myself again in the mirror and stop.

Hm.

I toss my mane clear of my face and tilt my head down, bringing my body around to show off my similarly longer tail. I'm smaller than Gingersnap was, I can see that. But I... don't mind it. If you ignore the unkempt mane and tail my slight figure is... pretty nice.

I shake my head again and move past the mirror quickly. But I smile at the same time.

Chapter 4

View Online

I open the door to my studio, taking off my messenger bag as I do. I take out my camera and drop the bag by the door, not bothering to put it on the hook.

Maybe being a stallion is making me sloppy.

I head upstairs, leaving the camera on the desk. I can process the new photos later. There aren’t many of them; I wanted to get back. I found a great new technique, though: top-down shots from directly above the town. By putting a cloud to sit on in just the right position there’s some great composition to find. I look forward to taking more on a day where the light is better.

“Star?” I walk into the office, where my unicorn is conspicuously absent. I pass through the room and open the portal door. My ear twitches. I can hear what sounds like the shower running. As I continue into the bedroom I hear something else, too.

...my friends and I we’ve cracked the co~ode
we count our dollars on the train
to the party~

I grin. Silver Star sings human songs in the shower all the time. I don’t recall ever hearing this one, though.

and everyone who knows us kno~o~ws
that we’re fine with this
we didn’t come from money
But every song is like

“I’m home, Star,” I call out, stopping her dead. She’ll stay in there for literal hours if I don’t announce myself.

The water stops and there’s a long pause. “How long were you listening,” she calls out suspiciously.

I roll my eyes. “Like ten seconds? Why does it matter?”

“I guess it doesn’t.” I hear the stumbling sounds of her getting out of the shower. “How do you deal with so much hair to dry?”

“You have magic, at least,” I respond before turning and heading for the kitchen. Neither of us have eaten yet. But I’ve only been rifling through our cabinets for a minute or so before I hear Star joining me in the kitchen. “Dry alre—?”

But my question dies in my throat. She’s not dry at all; in fact, her wet mane is draped over her neck and down her shoulder in an… alluring way. Her eyes are knowingly half-lidded to show off her eyelashes. She’s really smiling for the first time today.

I try to say something, but all that comes out is: “Hh.”

“So you think I’m cute?” Star says in the cutest voice possible, flicking her tail and sending droplets of water flying in my direction. A couple land on my muzzle. She takes a step forward. “I have to admit, I think you’re handsome~

I’m just frozen, there in the kitchen with my hoof on the cabinet door and mouth hanging open. I hadn’t been expecting this attitude. As I look at that pretty, pretty face and adorable smile, though, I reflect that it’s more than welcome. She takes another step forward as I close the cabinet, blinking and swallowing. She bats her eyes at me.

“You’re… getting water everywhere.”

And in a split second, Star drops the seductive act and runs a hoof through her dripping mane, grimacing a little. “Yeah. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity, though.”

“No, it…” I swallow again. “It was worth it.”

She smiles at me. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” I also take a step forward and find myself needing to look down to meet her eyes again. “Star, please don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say you are the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen by an order of magnitude at least.

She doesn’t blush. She just blinks smugly as she turns around to go back to the bathroom and dry off. “Hm. Correct answer.”

I shake my head a little as I hear her cursing at her mane indistinctly from the other room. I wonder what caused the good mood. “Did you hear back from the princess?” I call out, taking out a tea towel to wipe up the water Star left everywhere.

“Yeah,” comes the reply. “She said we’d only be stuck like this for a day or so, and she’d fix it in our sleep. So I’m alright now. I can last a day, I think.”

My face falls a little. A day doesn’t feel like long enough to make the most of this little accident. But hey, at least it’s something. “So will you go to the park with me now?” I grin. “We can cuddle.”

There’s a long pause. “If you cook me lunch.”

“Done.” I grin triumphantly as I open the cabinet again. I was going to cook lunch anyway.

***

Star is surprisingly animated as we walk down the road from the studio.

I raise an eyebrow and glance down at her. “Not worried about ponies seeing you now?”

“Oh I absolutely am.” She flicks her mane out of her face. “Two things: one, I’ve buried it down deep. Two, I’ve decided maybe this really is still just a dream. I can hope, right?”

“I… guess.”

She looks up at me with a vaguely accusative expression. “You didn’t tell anypony about me earlier, did you?”

“No! I promise. I didn’t even talk to anypony.”

We pass through the park gates and make our way to our favourite spot, the spot where we fell asleep one night when Silver Star was still new in town. The grass is soft and cool there. Star pulls off her saddlebags—they look really huge on her—and takes out her book and my graphic novel. I take it from her magic and lie down with a sigh, inviting the unicorn into the crescent formed by my legs and barrel there in the grass. Smiling a little, Star joins me, pressed into my belly with a sigh of her own. I start to hum as I try to find the place I left off on.

Star presses her head, her ear, against me, not opening her book yet. “I like it when you hum.” A pause. “I can hear it in your chest.”

I chuckle. “I like it when you sing.”

“Sorry I was being such an arse about being a mare. It’s not so bad. You know, for a day.”

I roll my eyes a little. “Wow, thanks.”

“Oh shut up. You don’t want to be a stallion forever, do you?” I don’t answer immediately, which makes her pull away and squint at me. “You don’t, right?”

I think for a moment. “No,” I say finally. “I don’t. I like my old self more. This body is a little too tall. And when I was flying earlier? I was way less dexterous than normal. Plus I think I’d rather be pretty than handsome.”

Star gives a little laugh. “Yeah. I’m with you. This body is too small. And I don’t want to be cute forever, even if I like being cute for you.” She looks at me somewhat slyly. “But yeah—I noticed in the shower: mares are more flexible.”

I snort lightly. “Sometimes I wonder what effect exactly innuendo has on sexual ponies.”

“I know, right? From their reactions sometimes I assume it’s, like, instant boners all around.”

“Savages.”

“Animals.”

“Idiots.”

We’re silent for a little while as Star opens her book with her magic and starts reading. I start to hum again when a thought occurs to me. “Will you sing for me, while you still have this voice?”

Star looks at me again, almost blushing. “I don’t know.”

“Come on. What’s that one about just laying here?”

Chasing Cars.” She looks thoughtful. “I guess I could.”

“Or that one you always sing when you’re wasted.”

“What, House of the Rising Sun? With this voice? Definitely not. You could sing it while you’re still a stallion.”

“No, the other one. The depressing one. Dust in the Wind.”

“Oh, right.” She giggles, then stops herself, frowning. “Hm. I don’t like how girly that giggle is. I do like the irony of that song though, here in Equestria.”

I chuckle too. “Yeah. Why did ponies on Earth like reminding themselves of the horrific void awaiting them so much?”

“Dunno. Something to do, I guess.”

“Hm.” I close the graphic novel I realise I’m not really reading. “So go ahead. Sing something.”

“Wait, right now?” Star grimaces, looking around. There aren’t any ponies laying nearby, but there are some walking through the park. “I dunno. I don’t sing in public.”

“I never asked you to, before.” I nudge her with a wing. “But now I am.”

She chews her tongue, setting her book down. “Okay, for you. But only quietly.”

I grin. “Deal.” And I reach out with a foreleg, pulling her close and wrapping her up in a full embrace just like I had that morning, wing and all. I hear a small mph as the little unicorn adjusts herself against me.

I simply wait. After a time, the hesitant lyrics come.

we’ll do it all
everything
on our own

The voice is sweet and soft, and just as wonderful as it had sounded through the bathroom door. I close my eyes and smile.

we don’t need
anything
or anyone~

A passing earth pony gives us an odd look, but Star can’t see him, and her voice actually gets louder and more confident.

if I lay here
if I just lay here
would you lie with me and,
just forget the world?

I lay my head down in the grass with a sigh. I’m more than happy to just lay here as Star continues to serenade. Maybe forever.

***

By the time we’re leaving the park, it’s coming on to the evening, since Star wasn’t even awake until nearly noon. We’re headed for my studio since she flat-out refuses to go to the pub.

“Come on. I bet you get drunk really fast as a mare.”

“I get drunk really fast as a stallion, Snap.”

“Yeah, but now you can do it even faster. It’ll be like a speedrun.”

“I really think this is affecting our minds. You were not this obnoxious before.”

“And you weren’t this timid.” I bump her, and she almost stumbles, shooting me a glare and flicking her mane out of her face again.

“I’m not timid, I just don’t welcome the prospect of everlasting ridicule. The magic inhibitor was bad enough.”

“Bonering.”

“See? Obnoxious.”

“Timid.”

She rolls her eyes. “Okay, sure. Isn’t being timid cute, though? So you should appreciate it.”

“Good point.” I stifle a yawn. “You’re lucky we didn’t run into anypony. I was kind of hoping for it, just so that I could watch you being all timid.”

“Yeah. Good thing Celestia doesn’t like messing with me quite that much.” We’re approaching the studio, now, and Star opens the door with her magic, setting off the little bell. The saddlebags are slipped off and, unusually, hung on the hook using her magic.

She doesn’t notice my grin at that as I step past and lay on the couch with a happy sigh. “So, what, we just watch a movie or two?”

“I guess.” Before she can say anything else, though, a flash of light heralds the arrival of a letter, which falls onto my desk only to be hastily scooped up by Star. “Selene got back to us already! Yes!”

“Great,” I say, less enthusiastically but forcing myself to not sound sarcastic. She probably wouldn’t have noticed, though; she’s reading the letter thoroughly.

“Tonight,” Star announces after a moment, “She can do it tonight. Right now, actually, if we want. Apparently Celeste had a similar problem in the past and had a spell ready.”

“Huh.” The idea of Celeste as a stallion floats through my mind. “Alright. You go order food and pick a movie, then; I’ll just upload the snaps I took today and come up in a minute.”

“Sure! Pizza sound fine?”

“Yeah, good.”

I look after Silver Star thoughtfully as she heads through the door leading upstairs. I’m happy that she’s getting her body back. Even if I got her to enjoy the day a little, she’ll clearly be a lot happier to be back in her own skin. His own skin.

But… hm. I don’t know if I’m done enjoying this yet. I’m looking forward to being a mare again, sure, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s more fun to be had with Silver and our other friends before then. Unlike Star, I was looking forward to messing with them a little.

I probably have time to slip out to the magipostal box without Star noticing. So I pull out a pen to write a quick letter to Princess Selene.

Chapter 5

View Online

“So why did you take so long to show me a human movie anyway,” he asks with a small yawn.

“I don’t know. Why did it take you so long to ask to see one?”

We’re sitting on our beanbags, idly watching the credits roll. Snap ate most of the pizza. It had been funny to watch him inhale so much without even thinking about it. I’d suggested watching The Grand Budapest Hotel, since Wes Anderson—now Pastel Reel—is actually a really successful Equestrian filmmaker. Snap surprised me, though, by asking to see Fight Club. It’s one of the first books Gingersnap read when I first emigrated.

“It’s just… weird to think of you as a human.” He grunts and sits up properly in the beanbag. “But it would have been weird to think of you as a mare before today, too, so…” he shrugs. “And I didn’t want you to ask you if it was going to be hard for you.”

“Yeah.” I chew on a few of the last popcorn seeds. “I guess I have similar reasons. It would be showing you part of me that’s… gone forever. And I really was afraid you just wouldn’t like them. It’s not like reading human books; you can visualise those however you want, you know?”

“Yeah.” He nods. “It took a little while to get used to what’s on screen. But it was good.” He pauses, tilting his head. “Really good. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but… better than the book?”

“Yes! It is! And it’s the only time I’ve ever thought that! The book is always better, except in this case.”

“The first time I read the book, I didn’t like it,” Snap admits.

“You read it more than once?”

“Yeah. Once I was more used to… human stuff.”

“Hm.” The credits end and we’re thrown back to the streaming menu. “So, what, another film? Or should we… call it a night?” The subtext is there. Once we go to sleep, we wake up back in our own bodies. It’s not very late. Only just after nine o’clock.

Snap sighs a little and stands to his full, freakish height, stretching. “Yeah, let’s go to bed. But not to sleep, yet. I know you want to cuddle some more while you’re still small and adorable.”

If only I could argue. “Yeah. That sounds nice.”

I turn off the television and follow Snap into the bedroom. He dives onto the bed and adjusts the covers to make a little nook for me. I smile despite myself and join him, settling into his embrace just as before, feeling him wrap around me like the big spoon he is.

“You were really afraid I wouldn’t like seeing humans onscreen?”

I turn off the lights. “Yeah. I guess I was.”

He hums, low and rumbly. “Mental thing to think.”

“Was it?” I just pause and listen to him for a moment. “Maybe. I am in the shard that shows human films at the theatre sometimes.”

“Exactly.” He hugs me closer. “And now that we’re doing it? I can’t wait to see all your favourites you kept saying we’d watch ‘eventually’.”

I smile, there in the darkness, and hug his foreleg back. “I am going to miss being this little of a spoon,” I say after a few minutes.

“This is your last chance to call it off,” Snap says teasingly. “Stay a mare for a while. See how you like it long-term.”

“No.” I shake my head. “It was… fun for the day. But I want my old body back.” I snort. “Which is never something I would say about my old old body.”

He gives a rumbling chuckle. “Yeah. We can be glad that one’s really gone forever.” There’s a pause. “Dust in the wind.”

I smile knowingly. Fine. If he wants it, I’ll oblige. It’s the last time he’ll hear this voice, after all.

I clear my throat.

I close my eyes~
only for a moment
and the moment’s gone

all my dreams
pass before my eyes, a curiosity

dust in the wind

all they are is dust in the wind.

***

I find myself at the gates to Dreamwalker Park, looking into the night of a full moon within. I look to my side and see Snap, towering above me as always. He looks down into my eyes.

“In case you’re slow again, this is a dream, Star.”

I blink a few times. Yes. He’s right. There isn’t even the rest of the town, just the park floating in a void. “Let’s… go in, then.”

He grins. “Lead on.”

I shake my head a little and oblige, passing through the gates and instinctively walking in the direction of the Selene statue.

I’m not at all surprised to see it start glowing as we approach, and come to life in a small flash, revealing the real Princess Selene of the Night. Snap and I both bow as she steps down from the plinth wearing a soft smile.

“Well met, my little ponies. I hope this day has not been too awful.”

Snap and I look at each other. “No, actually,” I find the fortitude to say. “It wasn’t so bad.”

Snap, for his part, just grins at me and nods at the princess, who smiles in turn.

“Well then,” Selene says, “If you’re ready, I shall cast the counterspell. It will also end the dream, and you will wake up. No meaningful time will have passed in the waking world. Is this satisfactory?”

“Yes, Princess, thank you,” Snaps says happily. This time I’m the one to simply nod. We can always just go back to sleep after.

It seems Selene wants to waste no time, and she takes a step back as her horn begins to glow. The light becomes blinding after just a few moments, and I close my eyes: at that moment, a wave of magic washes over me, and I’m thrown once more into the void.

***

I wake up with an urge to stretch, so I do, kicking the blankets into disarray. I feel Gingersnap behind me, still being the big spoon, but more importantly, I can feel my body is back to the way it was. No more long mane in the way. I put my hooves up to my face and feel my jaw again. I sigh in relief.

I feel Gingernsap nibble my ear with her lips, and snort a little. “Hey. You don’t do that. I do that. Stop it.”

“Maybe it’s a stallion thing,” comes the response, and it makes me freeze. That’s not Gingersnap. That’s just Snap. His low, honeyed voice is knowingly sly.

Very slowly, I roll over to face him with a look of accusatory betrayal. “Why are you a stallion still.”

He grins at me. “I wasn’t done having fun. You might not want to mess with White or Clover, but I do. And now you’re back to your old self, so you can come too without being… timid.”

I frown at his unrelenting cheerfulness. “You’re really going to… stay like this? For how long?”

His smile drops. “I dunno. At least until after our next roleplaying session. So, a week? Selene said she’d be happy to cast the spell whenever, I just have to call her in my dreams. I’m lucid, remember?”

“Sure.” I blink. “So you planned this with her?”

“I mean. Not planned. Just asked.” He tilts his head. “Do you… not like me being a stallion?”

“I…” But I stop. I realise I don’t really know. It was nice when I was a mare; something about the swap made it seem… fair. Now that I’m a stallion again, too, is it weird?

I look into what little I can see of his eyes in the darkness. I realise, no. It’s not. “I love you, Snap. Mare or stallion. You’re the best pony I could ask for either way.”

I see him beam again, and I roll back over in an unspoken approval for him to embrace me once more. Humming happily, he obliges, tucking his legs and wing around me and pulling me close.

He starts to nibble my ear again.

“Do you actually feel like sleeping,” I say after a few minutes.

“Not really.”

“Want to go get drunk?”

“Definitely.”

***

As we walk into the Silver Sword, I know we’re about to run into a group of ponies we know. Don’t ask me how. I’m getting genre savvy, I guess.

Sure enough, by the time we get to the bar we’ve been spotted by Clover, who makes her way over, smiling, and equally predictably slows to a shocked stop when she spots Snap. I look over and see White Mage and Cloudy Skies at the back, playing some sort of card game.

“You go on. I’ll get our drinks,” I say, hoping to avoid the initial questions.

“Hm. Almost as timid, still.”

I huff and continue past to the bar. “Okay, Snap.”

I’m vaguely aware of Clover Leaf loudly expressing her bewilderment, and Snap laughing. I manage to catch the eye of Dusty Glass.

“Hello, my friend. Having the usual?”

“That’s right. And Snap’s usual too.”

“A double?”

I smile wryly. “Oh yes.”

“Coming up.”

I wait for the drinks and glance over. Snap is talking animatedly to Clover beside a stunned-looking White Mage and a highly amused Cloudy. Ice broken, I suppose.

With a thanks to Dusty I take the drinks and head over. As I approach, White looks at me with an intensely questioning look, to which I can only offer a shrug. Clover points me out to Snap, and he turns around, taking his screwdriver out of my magic.

“Where’s the bonering, Silver,” Clover asks with a sip of her own drink.

“Still gone. Still don’t need it any more.”

“Oh really?” she looks pointedly at Snap, who’s busy downing his drink in one.

“Really,” I say firmly. I turn to White. “This, by the way?” I gesture up at Snap, who gives a small burp. “Your fault.”

“I… do not accept the blame. For that.”

“Tough shit.”

“I,” Snap announces, “need another one of these. Or two, of these.”

I look at him doubtfully. “You want two?”

“Yeah. Speedrun.”

Cloudy laughs loudly, and Clover giggles a little too. I smile, shaking my head and shrugging. “Okay.” I quickly down my neat rum, and chase it with a large gulp of cola. Then I take Snap’s empties to return to the bar. “Speedrun.”

***

We leave the bar, both giggling. In a very masculine way, of course. Cloudy follows after us, taking wing and floating above us as we stumble along.

“Don’t you two live here? Where are you going?”

“Out,” Snap says. “ ‘S tradishion. Goin’ to park.”

“Yeah,” I add. “Where we always go.” I laugh again. “Down-town.”

“Thass your inside joke voice. Do I know that one?”

“No. ‘S an old person one. My mom would geddit.”

Cloudy sighs. “Okay, have fun. See you both at the next game.”

“Byee Cloudyyyyy,” Snap says loudly, spinning around to wave at the airborne mare.

“Later Vagrant,” I call, keeping my eyes ahead so as not to fall over.

“Yeah, later,” she calls back, fying upward and disappearing into the night sky. Snap and I continue on our, indeed, traditional route to the park. He bumps against me, probably forgetting that I can’t offer much support to the much larger pony. I do my best anyway.

“You happier now? Assa stallion ‘gain?”

“Yeah,” I respond, focussing on the distant park gate. “Was kinda fun. Forra while today. Nice… cuddles. But now I feel. More like me again.”

“Good. ‘M glad.”

“An’ you know what I like to do now?”

“What.”

“THERE IS,” I shout into the night, “A HOUSE, IN NEW ORLEANS,”

Snap laughs, and joins in. “THEY CALL, THE RIIIIISIN’ SUN!

We break into what could very generously be called a trot, if significantly more stumbly. “AN’ ISS BEEN! THE RUIN! OF MANY A POOR BOY! AND GOD, I KNOW, I’M ONE!

I keep singing. Snap doesn’t know the rest of the words, but he tries to keep up with ‘da da daa’s. Eventually we make it to the park, and amble along to our spot in the grass. I’m winding down, now, and Snap simply hums along to my words. “One foot oooon the platform, the oooother ooon the train… I'm goin' back to New Orleans, to wear that ball an’ chain!”

With that, I flop down onto the grass, and Snap falls on top of me, grunting and knocking the wind out of me. I groan, and wiggle out from under his laughing bulk with some difficulty. I realise he’s trying to let me be the big spoon. I try to comply.

“You’re… you’re too big,” I say, unable to fully get myself wrapped around him.

He hums and says, “You wanna switch?”

“...Yeah.”

So he rolls over, and we shift around until he envelops me once again, still humming deeply and sweetly. I close my eyes and sigh.

“If you… wan’ me to be a mare again, I’ll do it tonight,” Snap says.

“No, no. You do it whenever you want. I like you either way. I still think you’re… very very hannsome.”

He hugs me tight. “ ‘M glad.” A pause. “Jussa few days. Wanna do next session. Thassall.”

I nod. Then I think for a second. “You wan’ me to be a mare again?” I ask it hesitantly.

He laughs. “Nooo… you didn’ like it so much. I thought you were the… cutest mare ever in the history of… ever. But I like you like you are.”

I smile to myself. “Thanks. But..." I take a deep breath. "Maybe... I could do it again sometime. You know, for another day."

Snap doesn't respond in words. He just hums louder and pulls me so close I can't sense anything but him; his feathers, his breathing, his humming, his scent.

I feel myself drifting off, there on the grass, surrounded in my soulmate’s limbs and wings. It’s nice. I have to admit I will miss this once Gingersnap is a mare again. I realise I actually really wouldn’t mind if he were male forever. They’re both pretty great.

The humming slows and becomes a snore. I think of the bizarre set of circumstances that led me to here, in the grasp of another stallion, just as my awareness begins to fade into Selene’s gentle embrace.

My last thought is that even CelestAI, it seems, follows the sixty-third rule.

~end~