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    Secret Santa present for daOtterGuy !

    12 Ciders Shining

    Divorce was something Big Mac didn’t have much experience with. Death was, unfortunately, but things ending because it just didn’t work out? Nope.

    But still, he’d learned a lot just by quietly observing folks, and he could tell a stallion in need of a good warm cider when he saw one.

    “Thanks for having me, Mac,” Shining Armor said, following Big Mac into the apple farmer’s kitchen, a steaming pot of lightly spiked cider awaiting them both. “I love Twily and her friends, but… a change of pace is nice. Twily wants me to visit often so it’ll be nice to have, er, other friends.”

    “Eeyup,” said Mac, and not much else. Shining Armor had been spending a few weeks at Twilight’s castle recovering from, well, the divorce, so the poor guy had probably been doing nothing but talk about his divorce.

    “I’ve heard great things of the Apple family cider!” Shining continued, his cheery disposition betrayed only by the bags under his eyes. “Excited to try it myself.”

    “Have as much as you like,” Mac said, serving Shining a steaming mug full. “Made it all for you.” When he turned around to hoof it over, he was surprised to see Shining’s eyes were wet.

    “Thanks,” said the guard, “that means a lot.” He gratefully took a sip, and Mac felt a hint of pride at the life that came back into Shining’s eyes. “Oh crap! This is great!”

    Mac grinned. “Eeyup.”


    11 Weapons Gleaming

    A week later found Bic Mac inside Twilight’s castle, watching with great interest as Shining Armor displayed a plethora of weapons before him.

    “Thanks again for helping me with these,” Shining said for the fifth time as he levitated over some rags and a jar of polish. “I’m telling you, it was driving me crazy watching how Twilight just… doesn’t take care of any of them!”

    “Not a lotta need for ‘em ‘round here,” Mac said, playfully.

    “Still!” Shining insisted, handing a rag to Mac. “You gotta take care of things because if you don’t then they don’t shine anymore and the more you wait, the harder it is to clean them and…” He faded off, staring at his reflection on the blade of a sword. And then he continued, quiet, “Then it’s too late.”

    Big Mac placed a hoof on Shining’s shoulder. “Not too late for these weapons, though.”

    Shining smiled. “Right.”


    10 Horseshoes Kicking

    “I want a rematch!” Shining insisted between laughs, picking up the horseshoes he and Mac had been tossing around for the past couple of hours. “There’s no way you beat me eight times in a row.”

    “Nine,” replied Mac.

    “Nine!” Shining exclaimed. “You’re cheating!”

    Mac snorted. “Apples don’t cheat. It’s you unicorns and your fancy magic that play tricks. Besides, even if you did cheat, I’d still win.”

    “That’s it!” Shining huffed, cracking a grin when Mac did so as well. “I’m winning this time, even if it kills me!”

    “Your funeral.”


    9 Ciders Glooming

    Midnight had long past when Big Mac opened the front door, yawning as he wiped the sleep off his eyes. Though he had half a mind to scold whoever had risked waking Granny, his tune changed mighty quick.

    Shining Armor stood before him, dark deep bags under his red eyes, and an expression that looked as if death itself had paid him a visit.

    “Hey,” Shining said, quietly. “I’m sorry about the hour, but—” His sentence petered out when Mac, as he had done many times before in the past month, placed a hoof on his shoulder.

    “I have fresh cider with your name on it,” he said, and nothing more, for nothing else had to be said as he stepped to the side and welcomed Shining into his home.


    8 Friends A-Teasin’

    “So, AJ, Dash,” Shining asked, seated alongside Mac, Twilight and her friends at a dinner table. Shining had just come back after a few weeks in Canterlot, away from the town he was slowly starting to think of as home. “Mac and I have a question.”

    “Yeah?” Applejack asked, slightly occupied with a little Flurry Heart trying her best to climb up her back and steal her hat. “What’s that?”

    “Why are we so awesome?” Dash asked, foolishly right before taking a sip of her drink.

    “When’s the wedding?” Mac asked, both he and Shining laughing heartily at the chaos when Rainbow spat her drink all over the table.

    “Macintosh!” Applejack scolded, red as one of her prized apples. She grabbed a napkin and wiped away at the spit all over the table. “Look at what y’all did!”

    “Sorry, sorry!” Shining replied, lifting his hoof apologetically. “We can switch topics!” He then turned to Rarity and Twilight. “So, Rarity, Twi—mmph!”

    “Thank you, darling,” Rarity told Twilight, the alicorn’s horn glowing with the magic muzzling her brother’s mouth shut.

    “Our wedding?!” Rainbow stammered, accusatory. “How about your wedding?! All you do is hang out with each other! Huh!”

    Luckily, Shining was out of the attack range of Big Mac’s spat-out cider, which enabled him to laugh and say, “What do you mean! We’re just buddies! Right, Mac?”

    “Eeeeeeyup!” Mac said as soon as he was done choking on his drink. “Buddies.”

    Shining put a foreleg around Mac’s shoulder. “Just bros!”

    Rarity hummed. “My! Methinks the ‘bros’ doth protest too much, hm?”

    “Nope, we don’t,” they replied in perfect unison.


    7 Dice A-Rollin’

    “I think I should be here for our next session of Ogres and Oubliettes,” Shining said to Mac, the former accompanying the latter all the way home after their most recent session with Spike and the boys. “I need to figure out some sort of schedule. Or… well, permanent home.” He sighed. “It’s harder for me to see Flurry if, well… when I don’t actually know where I’m staying for sure, and it’s making custody arrangements hard. I’ve been thinking maybe Canterlot, but… I don’t know.”

    “Mm.”

    “What do you think?”

    Though Mac usually took his time replying, this time wasn’t so much because of lack of things to say, but because, for once, he had a lot to say. He just didn’t know how to express it. Or say it.

    “Mac?” Shining prompted.

    “Twilight’s castle has lotsa rooms,” he said simply. “Family’s important.”

    “Ah, I don’t know. Twilight’s the only family I have here—”

    “That ain’t true,” Mac interrupted, sharply. Perhaps more sharply than he’d intended, but, well, it was done now.

    “What’d you mean?” Shining asked, and for a second, Mac remembered the nights overhearing Rarity venting to Applejack about relationship issues, and he wondered if denseness was maybe a Sparkle family trait.

    He came to a complete stop and faced Shining Armor. “What you said. It ain’t true. Twilight ain’t your only family here anymore.” Then, in an act that would surprise both of them so much they’d individually think about it for days, he said, “I’m your family, too.”

    And then, just like that, he kept walking, a stunned Shining Armor following a few moments later.


    6 Packs A-Ripplin’

    It wasn’t until the big move day that Shining Armor noticed… well, how fit Bic Macintosh was, lugging around Shining’s suitcases and livelihood out from a carriage and into the castle with absolutely no effort at all.

    Not that he should have noticed. Or ever had. Not that he routinely noticed how fit his best buds were, or how much he appreciated the stoic but warm support, or the fact that Big Mac had actually a really nice, chiseled fa—

    Okay, he thought to himself, focusing on helping move his luggage, that’s something to think about later.


    5 Playful Dolls

    “Hey!” Shining Armor greeted as Mac walked into the castle’s living room, a big saddlebag bouncing on his back. “You made it!”

    Mac snorted. “Eeyup. Just like yesterday, and three days before that.” He looked around. “Where’s Flurry? I brought her somethin’.”

    “Aw, what?! Really?” Shining exclaimed, excited.

    “Eeyup.”

    With a big thud, Mac put his saddlebags on the floor and then carefully took out several adorable looking felt dolls.

    “Made ‘em myself,” he said, then added, “AB helped.”

    Shining took them in his hooves, admiring them as if they were the finest of weapons. “Geez, these look amazing. Thanks, Mac,” he said, genuinely. “What’s the reason, or—?”

    Mac frowned. “Reason? Family ain’t need no reason to give presents. You mentioned you wished she had toys here for when she’s visiting. Want her to know she’s loved here too.”

    Shining Armor was silent for what felt like eons, so much so that Mac almost thought something was wrong until he saw the other stallion’s eye water.

    “You big crybaby,” he said immediately, chuckling with delight.

    “Shut up, Mac. C’mere!” Shining laughed, wiping away tears and moving in to hug the other stallion. And then it was Shining’s turn to say something that was so often innocuous but would leave both of them awake long into the night. “I love you, Mac.”

    As would Mac’s reply.

    “I love ya’, too, Shining.”


    4 Late Night Talks

    “Twilight,” Rarity said, as patiently as she could, which was very patient considering her lack of sleep four nights in a row. Sitting in their bedroom, Rarity took Twilight’s hoof with both her hooves. “This cannot go on. It cannot.”

    Rarity,” Twilight said, stern. “It’s a difficult thing to admit to yourself, let alone others! Or your sister! He needs time!”

    “Darling, please, just tell him you know! Tell him! We all know, for goodness’ sake! He’s kept you up for four nights trying to tell you and avoiding it, and then I have to stay up as well so you can unpack it with me! If you won’t do it for him, do it for me!”

    “Rarity—”

    “He will be relieved. Trust me, darling. I’ve lived with the stallion for, what, three months now? I know him! He will be glad! Remember how relieved you were when I just told you I know you liked me after you failed miserably for three weeks to tell me!”

    “Shining and I are differe—!”

    “You are the SAME! THE SAME! I’m going to scream, Twilight, I am going to—”

    Three knocks at the door interrupted them.

    Twily?” came Shining’s voice. “Are you free? There’s something important I really need to talk to you about.” There was a pause. “That I forgot to tell you the past few nights. Sorry!”

    Twilight took a deep breath. “Coming!” she called out, pointedly ignoring Rarity’s desperate whispering, “Spare him the misery! Spare me! Meeee!”

    Twilight opened the door, smiling warmly at her brother. “Of course, Shining. Why don’t we go to—”

    “Is everything all right, dear?” Rarity innocently called out, pretending to read a magazine she’d just grabbed from a table.

    “Uhh, yeah! Yes. Absolutely.” He paused, a nervous tone to his voice. “Well. Uh. Er. Yes. But.” Another pause, then, “Actually, Rarity, are you free, too?”

    He hadn’t finished his sentence Rarity was already at the door, practically flinging the magazine away. “Darling, absolutely. What do you need to talk about?” She grabbed him and practically ushered him into the room, ignoring Twilight’s stern look as she sat him down on their sofa. “Speak! What ails you, my dear?”

    “Errr, okay,” Shining said, a little out of sorts until he cleared his throat. “Well. Uh.” He petered off, and in his eyes Twilight could see the same hesitation that had led to her staying awake until three a.m. for four nights as Shining kept redirecting the conversation to completely unrelated topics. “Actually, I, maybe, err—”

    “Darling,” Rarity said, immediately, at once, no hesitation, “I know what you have come to say.”

    Shining leaned back. “What? You do?”

    “Yes,” Rarity said, “and I love you dearly, you are a wonderful specimen of a stallion, but you are also a stallion and a Sparkle which I’m sure is a lethally wonderful combination for everything except for this particular conversation. So! I’m going to save all of us—you’re welcome—and give you this alongside the reassurance that Twilight and I are proud of you and love you and want you to be happy.”

    Her horn alighted with magic and a book materialized before them.

    Shining, shocked, stared at it. Twilight, horrified, stared at it. Rarity, satisfied, also stared at it.

    “Swinging The Other Way: A Guide For Romantically Curious Stallions,” he read. There was a pause in which Twilight might have strangled her partner if it wasn’t for Shining saying, “Wait, you know?”

    Darling, Shining, sweetheart, dearest.”

    Twilight, too stunned to be upset, said, “I mean. Big Mac comes over so often he might as well be living here, too. Also,” she added, a little embarrassed, “Flurry was playing family with her dolls last week, and she, uh, kept making the ‘Daddy’ and ‘Big Mac’ dolls kiss. So, uh, yeah.”

    “Really?!” Shining asked, his eyes sparkling.

    “Yes,” Rarity said immediately, “and it was adorable, and I hadn’t told you yet only because your sister threatened me to secrecy.”

    Taking this in, Shining looked to Twilight, and painfully vulnerable, asked, “…And… are you okay with this, Twily? You don’t care that I’m… maybe… you know…?”

    Twilight stared at him like he’d gone insane. “Do I care? Shining, I—Shining—” she said, flabbergasted beyond eloquence. “I am gay, Shining Armor.”

    “I know! I just wanted to make sure,” he said, excitedly. And relieved, clearly, by his smile. “This is great! Wow. I’m glad we got this over with. I’m going to go to bed, then. I’m waking up early tomorrow to train the new guards, and then Mac and I are going to see a hoofball game.” That said, he gave his sister a hug, his future-sister-in-law another hug, and then trotted off. “Have a good night, girls!”

    Twilight watched him leave before turning to Rarity, who did nothing else but trot towards the bed, grab her sleeping mask and say, “You’re welcome. And good night!”


    3 Botched Confessions

    Unfortunately for both stallions, neither was particularly good at asking the other out, mostly because neither had the experience to ask a stallion out.

    Shining Armor’s first attempt was… not ideal. He’d taken Mac out to a game of hoofball planning to ask him out after the game. Unfortunately, not only had their team lost terribly, which meant it would be a bummer night to remember as the night they got together, but Applejack and Rainbow Dash also ran into them at the game and didn’t leave them alone for the rest of the night!

    The second time was even worse. This time, he tried doing it after Ogres and Oubliettes, having spent the entire night trying to hint at his feelings by proxy of their characters. This was going fairly well, right up until Discord thought it would be very funny to have his wizard accidentally make Shining’s paladin a puppy, which… did not make for a romantic scenario in any what whatsoever.

    The third time, though…

    The third time, the two of them had been sharing a drink in the barn, enjoying each other’s company. They were lounging on a haystack made comfortable with a blanket, the two so close to each other they could nearly touch. And wanted to. And did, eventually, when the barn door slammed opened and in walked a very irate Apple Bloom, startling them both into all but cuddling.

    “Big Macintosh!” squeaked Apple Bloom, stamping her hoof on the floor. “Ya’ forgot to feed the cows again, so AJ made me do it! Again!”

    Mac blinked. “…Eeyup,” he said, sheepishly.

    “Well, stop it!” she demanded. “Or else I’m gonna tell Granny Smith you keep missing out on chores because you’re too busy with your dumb dates!” That said, she trotted off, making it a point to slam the barn door as hard as she could.

    A moment of silence passed. Then another, then another until Shining flung his foreleg around Mac’s shoulders, pulling him close. “So, we’re dating, huh?”

    Mac did the exact same, cuddling closer to Shining Armor, giving him a simple kiss, and then blissfully whispering only one thing.

    “Eeyup.”


    2 Magic Words

    Despite being in a relationship for almost over a year now, Shining Armor had never seen Big Macintosh cry—except for once.

    And it only took two words.

    Macintosh was staying at the castle one night, which happened to be during the weeks Flurry Heart was staying with her father. The three of them were gathered in one of the living rooms, each to their own devices. Shining polishing a weapon, Big Mac reading some of Shining’s old comic books, and Flurry playing with dolls.

    Or attempting to, at least, since it was a little past her bedtime, and the poor dear was falling asleep.

    “Okay, Flurry,” Shining affectionately called out, “time for bed. You’re practically falling over.”

    “‘Kay,” the toddler Flurry said with a yawn, too tired to protest having her playtime cut short.

    “Go to bed and I’ll be there to tuck you in in a minute.”

    And then, before he could remind her to say goodnight to Mac, she turned to Mac and said, “Daddy Mac tucking me too?”

    The two stallions froze, staring at the yawning filly.

    And then she asked again, “Daddy Mac?”

    Jolted out of his stupor, Mac smile was as warm as apple cider. “Eeyup, appleheart.”

    “‘Kay,” she said, and then trotted off without another word.

    Another moment of silence, and when a still stunned Shining Armor turned to his partner, his heart grew ten sizes at the sight of Big Mac wiping his eyes.

    “Awww,” Shining said with a completely smitten laugh, “you big crybaby.”

    “Aw, shaddup.”


    And A Family Under An Apple-Pear Tree

    Truth be told, Shining Armor hadn’t thought he’d survive his divorce from Cadance.

    In the first few weeks, and even months after, he’d felt like the only reason death hadn’t come for him was solely because of Flurry Heart. For her, he’d live, the only thing he had left of what he thought was his close family.

    But now, almost three years later, lazily sitting beneath his partner’s family tree, the two of them cuddled while Flurry Heart peacefully slept in between them, the only thing he could think was how grateful he was for his new family.

    One he’d make sure to grow strong and sturdy like an apple tree.

    Did a little ficlet for The Enchanted Library supporter server secret santa! Otter gave two MxM pairings, and I ended up chosing Shining and Big Mac because I love them!

    Also, the utter shame at how much raritwi shipping trash I am at realizing that the Rarity and Twilight section is so BIG god I’m sorry, Otter, Shining is Twilight’s brother, and you gave me an inch, and I shamelessly took a raritwi mile 😔

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    6 Comments

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    1. A Deer
      Feb 7, '24 at 12:27 am

      This was a really lovely story! I liked how it tied into the 12 Days of Christmas song and how neatly that helped move the story forward. I enjoyed Shining and Mac’s whole dynamic and how it developed. Also got to love the humor and the bits of raritwi added in – and in just the right amount may i add. Lots of emotion and feeling throughtout the story. A great story!

      Also i kinda relate to shining asking twilight if she’s alright with him being gay even though she’s gay. I’d be doing that too bc i have to be 100 percent sure or else I’m too anxious

    2. cel
      Dec 27, '23 at 7:08 am

      GAY HORSES YAY

    3. Dimbulb
      Dec 26, '23 at 5:58 am

      What a heartwarming Hearth’s Warming story. ^^

    4. Common
      Dec 26, '23 at 1:11 am

      Started off sad but quickly grew super sweet! And we all love that even in stories focused on other pairings, the RariTwi still manages to steal the scenes with them.

    5. ShadowLDrago
      Dec 26, '23 at 12:39 am

      Also, the utter shame at how much raritwi shipping trash I am at realizing that the Rarity and Twilight section is so BIG god I’m sorry, Otter, Shining is Twilight’s brother, and you gave me an inch, and I shamelessly took a raritwi mile 😔

      Counterpoint: It was funny.

    6. SigmasonicX
      Dec 26, '23 at 12:09 am

      I have to say, I didn’t expect you to be so good at writing this ship too. This was really sweet, and yes, the RariTwi parts added a lot lol.

      It was nice to see Flurry Heart as part of all this too, and her moments of bonding with her two dads were sweet.

      “Still!” Shining insisted, handing a rag to Mac. “You gotta take care of things because if you don’t then they don’t shine anymore and the more you wait, the harder it is to clean them and…” He faded off, staring at his reflection on the blade of a sword. And then he continued, quiet, “Then it’s too late.”

      Big Mac placed a hoof on Shining’s shoulder. “Not too late for these weapons, though.”

      Shining smiled. “Right.”

      This is such a nice moment that says so much about what happened with Cadance and how Big Mac supports Shining.

      “When’s the wedding?” Mac asked, both he and Shining laughing heartily at the chaos when Rainbow spat her drink all over the table.

      “Macintosh!” Applejack scolded, red as one of her prized apples. She grabbed a napkin and wiped away at the spit all over the table. “Look at what y’all did!”

      “Sorry, sorry!” Shining replied, lifting his hoof apologetically. “We can switch topics!” He then turned to Rarity and Twilight. “So, Rarity, Twi—mmph!”

      Really cute

      “Shining and I are differe—!”

      “You are the SAME! THE SAME! I’m going to scream, Twilight, I am going to—”

      This is an amazing RariTwi exchange holy shit

      Her horn alighted with magic and a book materialized before them.

      Shining, shocked, stared at it. Twilight, horrified, stared at it. Rarity, satisfied, also stared at it.

      I suspect Mono might be able to write a good Rarity