On This Hearth Warming Eve...
The windigos were advancing upon her, their frosty breaths clouding the air and their wild manes whipping around in the unforgiving wind.
If not for the harsh cold they brought with them, it would have been their piecing, expressionless eyes to freeze Scarlet on the post with mind-numbing fear, while actual ice began to crawl up her legs.
And even if she hadn’t been so stuck up, where could she run? The ice and snow blocked any exit from the ballroom. And even if she cried for help, who would have come to save her?
She was alone, alone with the windigos and her frightened tears had been frozen on her cheeks for a while, now.
The icy beast at the head of the group opened its mouth, ready to strike on her with its deadly breath and Scarlet thanked Celestia that her glasses were getting too foggy to actually see it coming…
When the windigo’s breath reached and her.
And it was warm, wet and smelled like dog.
Scarlet suddenly woke up, sitting frantically up and looking urgently around without being able to distinguish nothing beside a great light and a greater darkness.
After searching blindly for her glasses and finding them, the white-coated mare was finally able to see again: the Solar Arrow’s ballroom was in the dark, but the lights from the big, decorated tree on its center were enough to recognize the ponies, Pokemon and wolf huddled together under its fronds.
There was everypony: she was sleeping with her head on Gamepaw’s tummy - he must have licked her face in his sleep, that was what woke her up! -, Galacto was snuggled against the wolf’s back, Sparkle was next to him with her head close to Keldeo’s - those two were simply the cutest! -, who had Pikachu resting against his side and using Virulent Valley’s mane as a blanket, imitated by Marble Star, who was leaning against Deep Sense, who was hugging Maplewood’s tail like a plushie while he had his head on Mimic’s back - was she asleep? Recharging? Offline?
Scarlet breathed deeply with relief, seeing all her friends sleeping safely, bathed in golden light.
Now she remembered: they celebrated Hearth Warming Eve together and then fell asleep under the tree to keep on partying the next day.
She looked up at the tree they grew together thanks to Virulent’s help and thought about how “eventful” decorating it had been: during a sisterly banter, Marble and Deep had been on the verge of starting to throw baubles at each other and, during a wild chase to “pack” each other, the oldest tripped on the lying on his back Game and hit the ladder on which Keldeo had got up to hang some decorations, making it fall and leaving the Water Pokemon hanging for dear life instead. Luckily, Mimic’s quick transformation into a pegasus saved the poor guy from the fall, but not the two sisters from Sparkle’s lecture.
And then they had to convince Pikachu to come down the tree’s tip - how did he even manage to climb up there was still a mystery - when the yellow and adorable mouse apparently decided he had to be the star. She couldn’t really blame him for thinking it, he was yellow, he lighted up when he used electricity and he was far cuter than any star…
But he still had to come down: Keldeo’s fall would have injured him, but Pikachu’s could have killed him.
And she, Sparkle and Galacto were in the kitchen, cooking and teaching how to to the always curious Mimic. Only, technically it was only Galacto the one handling the teaching, while she and the unicorn mare were happily singing Hearth Warming’s songs, with the occasional joining from the passing Maple, occupied with the hallway’s decorations and the occasional theft from the cookie dough’s bowl. The problem about it started when they found themselves with a wolf and an electric mouse, encouraged by the cyborg stallion’s behavior, staring up at them with watery eyes that said “Feed me, please, I’m a good boy”.
And when both the decorations and the sweet making had been finished, they all reunited inside the ballroom and left their gifts to each other under the tree - only because they were blocked on a spaceship with no possibility to go shopping it didn’t meant they couldn’t make something special for their friends - and then started their party.
After all the difficulties they had gone through during the past months, with this sudden and tragic and enormous twist on their lives - and the horrible discovery Scarlet still had troubles accepting - , it was just a miracle they found the will to reunite themselves and enjoy together what used to be the most wonderful time of the year.
Only three months ago she wouldn’t have even imagined she would have had the chance to see her crewmates eating homemade cookies while chatting happily with each other, or reenact with them - it was more a messy roleplaying, really, but it had been so funny! - the legendary story of Equestria’s founding and, after that, even Snowfall Frost’s tale and for once she managed to not get scared by it! Not so much, at least.
And, after that night, they would had to add another story to the list of Hearth Warming’s stories: “The Tale Of The Terrible Deep Sense And Her Mistletoe Branch”! She got lucky, she just pecked Maple’s cheek - and Sparkle and Keldeo too hadn’t been complaining - , but others hadn’t been so blessed.
All in all, it had been the most fun she had since all this crazy story began and it was all thanks to them: her crewmates, her new family.
They had gone through a lot and a lot more was surely coming towards them…
But she had faith in every single one of them.
In Deep Sense and Marble Star, always so quick to get in trouble but also always so enthusiastic and full of ideas.
In Mimic, sweet and curious robot that already had such a beautiful heart without even realizing it.
In Gamepaw, big and round ball of fluff that made impossible for her not to smile.
In Pikachu, energetic and charismatic and always with a veil of mystery around him - how did he even get to know the Element of Laughter herself?
In Maplewood, the proud warrior that revealed to them a kind heart and a flirtiness she wouldn’t have suspected from him.
In Virulent Valley, a true lady, so naturally elegant and charming that just looking at her made her mind be at peace.
In Keldeo, so knightly and brave even when full of doubts and uncertain, he was like a book character she simply adored.
In Sparkle, dear and bubbly Sparkle, with her bright smiles and cheery attitude that took away clouds to leave a sunny day behind.
In Galacto, her buddy, the one that under a smile hide his frankness and the tendency to bring her back with her hooves on earth when she needed it most.
She loved them all and, for that, she was a little grateful to this crazy adventure for making her meet them.
After taking some other blankets to cover them, she snuggled back against Game, taking off her glasses and closing her eyes with a soft smile.
I love you all, guys.
Happy Hearth Warming to you.