[Gift] Petty Love

In Monthly Prompt ・ By Oboe
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Oboe idly scratched at an itching spot on their neck, lost deep in thought.


Today was a day that should be celebrated, a festival of love that honored the deity Livinia and all that she stood for. Many mhoats – and now some vabbits, too – rushed around busily, either collecting last-minute gifts for their special ones or otherwise trying to find the perfect spot to steal away for some privacy. Of course, not everyone celebrated; some residents of Mynros preferred their solitude, away from the rumbles of the cities, and even some couples preferred to stay home while celebrating in their own way.


Typically, Oboe could be found out in public, amongst the wider throngs of society, but today was different! Today was something special! Today was… a complete, and utter, disaster.


Oboe, a scientist of Mynros, was busily working on yet another experiment. Despite all their hard work, however, nothing was seeming to turn up right with the data. The work had bled into the evening and the next morning – all time seemed to blur together when they busied themself with this kind of task – and they couldn’t stop yawning. Cor, their twin who was held up by a thin tail, was constantly redirecting Oboe to finish other abandoned tasks and to take a sip of a bitter juice that kept them both awake.


This experiment was supposed to be simple, really – just analyzing different weather patterns, temperatures, and the movements of the sun across a simulated environment. But the data was all chaotic, impure, and the two Mhoats didn’t know if it was a result of bad set up, bad knowledge, both, neither. There was seeming to be no root cause, and Oboe felt overwhelmed and out of their depth. Their main focus in science was to study the various types of magical pets that had sprung up over many years, including their massively magically-mutated forms, but this weather task was set to them by a past mentor. It was supposed to be easy, quick, and produce sound results that could be used by mhoats and vabbits all over the Turtonic islands. In fact, their mentor had hinted that this small experiment on Oboe and Cor’s island could even predict the weather of the future if it was done well enough.


Oboe felt exhausted and misled, and crumbled up yet another silk-produced parchment, throwing it into the wastebasket in the corner.


Cor looked up sadly at Oboe, but this time said nothing. For the past few hours their voice, made possible my magic and amplified, had been uttering comforting praises and encouragements. But it seemed like what the two of them really needed was a break – if not a breakthrough.


They both felt, rather than saw, the delicate aether layers of their body change to a faded red color, indicating their upset at this current experiment. The plates covering much of the surface remained unchanged, but their inside wings, eyes, and even some markings changed slowly at the onset of their sour mood. The mood ring aether was an inconvenient truth at the best of times, as they couldn’t seem to hide their true feelings from anyone once they understood what the different colors meant.

Again, an itch at their neck made Oboe pause in their thoughts, scratching furiously while the red color on their goo deepened. It seemed that some pesky magic-seeking parasite had snuck into their airtight lab, and was currently trying to sap as much magic from the mhoats as it could.


Irritably, they shook their head, and Cor yawned while resting on their shared tail. Cor hadn’t seen anything do the actual bite, but as they had been dozing off at the time, it was to be expected. Some of the worst magic thieves were imperceptible anyways, after all, so identifying the culprit wouldn’t have meant much. 


Finally, after a few more minutes of stewing, they finally pushed back from the main research desk awkwardly with their wings, shifting from their quadrupedal form as they did. The twins’ artisan form was no more impressive-looking than their other form, but this one was easier to travel in. It didn’t involve long stares, or maneuvering slowly on twisted wings. 


Donning a simple poncho, and pulling on a comfortable pair of pants, Oboe exited the facility, with Cor wrapped tightly in their knotted tail. Both ensured the door was properly locked this time – to hopefully avoid other mhoats working in the enclosed space getting bitten by tiny magic thieves – and walked towards town.


“So… what’s the plan?” Cor asked finally, after a couple minutes of silence.


“I need to uh, borrow one of Anisa’s oribirds,” began Oboe. Their voice was slow and measured, seemingly to give more care in the words. “We don’t have access to one anymore since Levie’s mentor moved out, and I was going to send a message to our old mentor.”


Cor would have nodded, if they had a neck. “That makes sense to me. He’ll know what to do, I hope.”


Oboe nodded grimly. “That’s the plan, after all. I don’t need us to both be exhausted over some project that might not even end up working!”


The walk also served to cool off the heated mhoat, and their aether slowly changed color from deep red to light green again. The shifting color would have been obvious to any mhoat watching, but they hadn’t quite made it into the main part of town yet. That, and most mhoats and vabbits were on the other side, where all the shops were, on a date with their sweethearts.


While Cor rocked happily in the tail, calling out the occasional greeting to any passerby, Oboe’s gaze was piercing the ground, seemingly still lost in thought. In actuality, they were doing their best to not trip over protruding roots or stones; their balance was atrocious, and the last thing they needed was to fall flat on their face in front of a huge crowd. Cor was doing their part by watching up high in case anyone needed a more official greeting, but so far the coast was mostly clear apart from the occasional “hello” needing to be said.


At last, the two finally reached the store center of the tiny village. The tiny ring of stores centered around the square, offering a variety of wares to those that ventured into town. Mhoats and vabbits of all ages and walks of life came here to trade and to buy, seeking out only the finest wares that were offered here.


Walking past a cutesy-themed candy store, Oboe and Cor made their way to the small pet store, set slightly out of the way. The pets were domesticated and didn’t fear many Mynros residents, but the loud noise of the square could still upset some of them that had delicate hearing. Anisa, the shopkeeper, had chosen well to have her store built slightly off the beaten path.


Oboe pushed the door open with a wing-hand, and a bell tinkled merrily overhead as they entered. Immediately they were overwhelmed (in a good way) by the light blue paint on the walls, which matched nicely to the glass habitats some pets were kept in before being taken to their new homes. Scratching posts and climbing trees were littered around the store, and lazy cattypillars batted sleepily at toys dangling from their edges.


All in all, it was a peaceful scene, apart from the occasional “fight” that broke out between two or more caterpoggo puppies.


Anisa, a pretty light blue and pink mhoat, looked up as Oboe and Cor entered, and offered a small wave and smile. She recognized them from occasional visits – Oboe and Cor had volunteered in the store when they and Anisa were all youngsters, and the two mhoats often came to Anisa’s store to pick up pet food or toys.


“Hello, Oboe and Cor! What can I do you for today?” Anisa asked, in a pleasantly high voice.


Oboe looked up to meet her gaze, and immediately felt their heart skip a couple beats.


How had they never really looked at Anisa before?


The mhoat was beautiful, really, with her long flowing hair free from a mhoattail, allowed to wander down her back and shoulders like a waterfall. Her softly-patterned aether was like looking at a field of wildflowers, the delicate pinks and yellows contrasting nicely with the paler fur covering her shell. And her eyes, oh her eyes


Oboe had never really appreciated just how beautiful Anisa’s eyes were, and they were kicking themselves internally for that fact.


For their eyes, a soft pink, gazed warmly upon them, and Oboe could feel a massive blush creeping under their plates. Their white fur would do nothing to hide it, and surely Anisa would see and comment–


And of course, at that very moment, Cor saw the aether they shared with Oboe turn the brightest blue it ever had before.


“Er, Oboe, are you alright? You’ve been standing there for a minute now…” Anisa looked helplessly down at Cor. Cor, unable to shrug, could only offer a halfhearted “I dunno” of their own.


Anisa walked around from the counter, concern lining her perfect features, and gently grabbed Oboe’s face in their hands. Oboe, smitten, did their best to keep from drooling all over Anisa’s floor.


As Anisa looked closely into Oboe’s ocean-blue eyes, she suddenly realized what must be the matter. For outlined harshly against the glassy blue were pink hearts, dancing around where a pupil would have been.


“Cor… I think they’ve been bitten by one of those lovebugs going around. Did you see anything unusual?”


The twin gasped in realization, and quickly began to recount the mild, itchy bites that Oboe had received while working on their project. Anisa quickly parted the fur at the base of Oboe’s neck (Oboe shuddered), and found two perfectly heart-shaped bites right at the center. Her face grew grim, and she turned back to Cor.


“We’ve got to get you both to the hospital, I think. Oboe won’t be able to do anything in this condition.”


Oboe took no convincing to leave the store, right after Anisa flipped the sign to “closed” and insisted she would go with the pair to make sure they got their safely. She even let Oboe hold one of her hands – something that had the short mhoat swooning quickly – so they wouldn’t get separated in the crowd.


The three finally made it to the hospital, seeing a crowd of other mhoats and even vabbits waiting to be admitted entry, swooning over the nearest person. Most of them were getting a quick once-over by a harried mhoat nurse, but it looked like the problem of lovebugs was worse than Anisa initially thought.


“Once you get through this,” she looked Oboe dead in the eyes, “We might have to do an experiment together to figure out where these bugs came from.”


Oboe fainted dead away at her words.

[Gift] Petty Love
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In Monthly Prompt ・ By Oboe
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Submitted By Oboe for Love Hospital
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