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The first time they got a pat on the head was with Quirrel.

It was early on in their descent into Hallownest, stumbling across the City of Tears for the first time. Ghost still had their old nail, cracked and worn out. They found themselves walking near the windows, gazing out to the sprawling, weeping city. Something about it captivated them, though they weren’t exactly sure what it was. Perhaps the pockets of lights from still living lumaflies? The sparkle of the rain?

They were so engrossed in looking out the windows, they didn’t notice the bench.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Whirling around, they reached for their nail, pausing when it was only Quirrel that waved back. “Hello once again, friend!” He greeted warmly, lounging back on the bench. “The capital lies before us, and what a somber place it is.” This is the capital? It would make sense, they haven’t come across anything so elaborate and organized before.

Ghost pressed their hands against the window, gazing up. Where was the crying coming from?

“Are you wondering about the rain?” Quirrel got up to stand next to them, following their gaze. “The city looks to be built into an enormous cavern, and the rain pours down from the cracks in the stone above.” They couldn’t see the ceiling, it was so far up. Higher than the towering spires of the various buildings in the distance. “There must be a lot of water up there somewhere.” If it was raining so hard, there must be a lot of cracks. Ghost looked at Quirrel, tilting their head. Is it going to fall? “I suppose, if the cave roof stayed strong this long, it should hold for us.” Quirrel reassured, as if he could read their thoughts. He reached down and patted Ghost’s head.

They recoiled when Quirrel touched them, Quirrel quickly retracting his hand.

“Ah, I apologize! I did not realize you don’t like being touched.” It didn’t hurt. When he touched them, it didn’t hurt. “I won’t do it again, sorry.” No no, what did he do? When they let somebody touch them, it never ended well. They were always grabbing at their horns, at their cloak, claws tearing at their head.

What did Quirrel do that made it not hurt? Ghost gestured to their head, tapping the top.

“Huh? You want me to do it again? But I thought…” Ghost tapped more. Quirrel kneeled down and reached out, Ghost trying to not instinctively flinch away again. Quirrel hasn’t hurt them yet, he won’t hurt them now, right?

His hand patted their head, running his thumb across the surface. Ghost stood still, wondering what was this sensation flooding through their body? Why was it… soft? Why did they seem to relax? Wasn’t touch bad? Anytime something touched them, it left a mark, a slash, a cut. Quirrel’s touches, it didn’t hurt, it didn’t hurt at all.

It… it made them feel less hurt.

“Friend, are you okay?” They glanced up at him, realizing that they were staring at the ground again. “You seem a little out of it, more than usual. How about you sit down for a little bit?” Quirrel helped them onto the bench, sitting down next to them. He hummed as he gazed out the windows, Ghost staring at his hand.

They grabbed it and lifted it up, placing it back on their head. Quirrel blinked in surprise, Ghost staring at them. He began to pat them again, occasionally rubbing the base of their horns. Ghost shifted closer, Quirrel adjusting to use both hands.

“You seem to enjoy this quite a bit, friend.” He chuckled, scratching underneath their chin and caressing their cheek. Ghost couldn’t help but lean into the touches, a strange sense of softness washing over them. Like being wrapped in blankets.

This sensation… they would like to experience it more. A strange aching in their chest appeared when they had to leave, Quirrel waving goodbye from the bench.

The first time they held hands was with Cornifer.

Wandering into Deepnest, they finally decided to use the entranceway provided by the Mantis Lords. They made sure to bow before entering; it was a sign of respect or thanks, or as they have seen. Among the hisses and scuttling, a barely audible whimper reached them, Ghost lifting up their lumafly lantern a little higher. Following the sound, they stopped as they saw Cornifer’s antennae peeking above a little hole. Oh, he was here too? Taking out their geo bag, they tapped the top of the hole, standing on their tiptoes to peek inside. Cornifer squeaked, sighing in relief.

“O-Oh! I-It’s just y-you, friend!” He shakily adjusted his glasses, glancing around like a possessed man. “I-I’m afraid my map is rather m-meager, I… I r-really don’t want to descend any further…” Ghost still handed over the geo, tucking the map into their cloak. “S-Say, do you know a way out?” They did. The mantis entrance wasn’t too far away and had little dangers. “D-Do you mind helping me out?”

Ghost glanced down at the meager map, placing it next to the Fungal Wastes. From what Cornifer drew, it was a simple trek back. They wouldn’t mind if they had to fight the lords again on behalf of him. They nodded, Cornifer almost throwing himself out the hole.

“Oh thank you! Thank you so much!” Ghost pulled out their map and began to walk, stopping when Cornifer grabbed their hand. He was trembling hard still, almost as much as the ground with garpedes running about. “D-Do you mind if we h-hold hands? I-It’s mighty dark down here, a-and the noises…”

Ghost glanced down at their hand. Does holding hands make bugs more comfortable? They gave a little squeeze, noticing how Cornifer seemed to relax just a little bit. Putting the map away and keeping the lumafly lantern close, they held hands and traversed through the winding tunnels and maze of glowing mushrooms. The more they walked, the more the cartographer relaxed.

If they had to be honest… it was comforting to know somebody was right there next to them. They couldn’t help but loosen up a little, the constant instinct to have their nail at the ready numbing.

Walking past the giant pile of corpses, they emerged out into the Mantis Village. Ghost did a quick bow at the lords, hurrying Cornifer along before he could begin to panic. They pulled on his hand through the mushroom-filled lands, only stopping once they reached Queen’s Station.

“Thank you sincerely, friend!” Cornifer took a deep breath, exhaling with a shake of his shoulders. “I don’t know what I might’ve done if you hadn’t come along.” He let go of their hand. “I… I think I’m going to spend a few days with Iselda… or what constitutes as days here.” He smiled at Ghost, fixing his glasses. “Mighty thanks, once more! I’ll see you around!”

Ghost watched as he began to make his way back up to Dirtmouth, glancing down at their hand.

It was a change of pace to have something other than their nail resting in their palm. It was… it was a good change of pace.

The first time they were given a gift was from Iselda.

“The gold pins?” Ghost nodded, taking out the geo amount needed and patting the countertop. Iselda handed the pins over, putting the geo away. Cornifer snored away on the bed, glasses and bags all finally taken off. Ghost glanced up at him, patting the counter again to get Iselda’s attention. “Hm? What is it?” They pointed at Cornifer. Iselda sighed, though not without a hint of affection. “Cornifer’s home at last, but look at him, he’s exhausted. He always does this, furiously charts a place, then collapses once he’s done.” She rolled her eyes, huffing.

They watched a little longer.

“I forgot to say, but I have to thank you for rescuing Corny from the underground. He told me you helped him out of Deepnest, yes?” Ghost nodded. “Thank you immensely for that, he always gets a little above his head when charting, especially since I stopped wielding my nail…” She perked up, looking down at Ghost. “Would you like a new quill and some fresh paper? I’ve noticed that yours is getting quite mottled.”

It was true, their map was getting rather stained and tattered. The blue feathered quill was no longer as pretty as before, an entire chunk missing due to a particularly ambitious mosscreep. They nodded, taking out their geo bag.

“No no, put that away. It is the least I can do for getting Corny back in one piece.” Ghost stopped, tilting their head. She didn’t want payment? “It’s a gift, have you ever gotten a gift?” No, they don’t think so. “When somebody gives you a gift, you don’t need to pay them back. It’s something to say thank you!” It sounded like a reward. Was it like a reward? Ghost gave a little nod. “Alright, give me a second.” Iselda went to storage, coming back with a few new quills.

A brilliant fire-gradient feather, an iridescent thin wing, a large leaf with silvery indents, and an intricate interlacing metal design.

“I tried making a few new quills instead of the standard blue feather. You can pick the one that catches your fancy.” Iselda said, getting a stack of clean papers. “Oh, and some new ink! You must be running low, with all you’ve been adding to your map.” Ghost stared down at the various options glancing back up at her. Which one did she want them to take? “You don’t like any of them?” No, they liked the one with the metal swirls. It reminded them of the City of Tears. “Choose whatever you like!”

They get to choose?

“Go ahead, don’t be shy!” Iselda encouraged. “Pick any one that you want.” What they want? They can choose? Ghost tentatively reached out and took the metal pen, glancing up at her to make sure it was absolutely okay. “Good choice! Corny brought home some window designs he’s seen and I thought to model after those.” She handed them the paper and ink. “I hope the pen works to your liking, tell me if it doesn’t work.” Ghost stared at the items, slowly taking out their geo.

Surely, she wants some kind of payment.

“No no, I said put that away!” Iselda huffed, shaking her head. “This is a gift, you don’t have to give me anything, promise.” Oh. Ghost gave a small nod, took the items, and walked out of the store. Resting at the bench, they took out their new pen, dipping it into the new ink and began to update the map.

It worked a lot better and wrote much smoother than their old quill. They liked the feeling of the metal groves against their hand. Ghost looked to Iselda’s shop once more, getting up and peeking in; she was organizing the shelves, turning to look at Cornifer. A small smile spread across her face as she pulled the blanket around him more snugly, patting his head before returning to organizing.

A gift for returning Cornifer home safely. Ghost wasn’t sure why, but there was something that made them feel fuzzy about the pen, a good kind of fuzzy.

They should use the pen more. Maybe they should add little drawings of the various locations. To see Iselda that happy, it made them feel fuzzy once more.

The first time they experienced a hug was with Mato.

It has been a long time since they visited. Ghost didn’t want to bother the Old Stag, opting to just get off at Dirtmouth and climb through King’s Pass. They didn’t mind that much, it was only a few extra minutes.

Dropping down in front of the cavern, Ghost sheathed their nail and scurried in. A warm, inviting glow from the doorway shined across the tunnel. They sat down on the bench, a sudden uneasiness coming over; would Mato be mad they haven’t visited for so long? Would he be sad? They got off, hurried through the hallway, and stopped in front of Mato. Gently tugging on his cloak, they tapped at his leg to get his attention.

“My child, is that you?” Mato raised his head, eyes growing wide. “It is!” Ghost froze as Mato opened his arms wide, reaching up to grab their nail. He was angry, he was angry-

They stopped when he held them against his chest, in a hold that was not crushing, not suffocating, not angry. His arms were wrapped around them, yes, he was squeezing, yes, but… gently. Mato was swaying back and forth, laughing joyously. He wasn’t angry?

“My child, is something wrong?” Mato asked worriedly, retracting a little when he noticed that Ghost wasn’t returning the hug. “You’re acting like you never received a hug before!” He chuckled, voice trailing off when Ghost only gave a tilt of the head. A hug? Is that what it was? “... You’ve never been hugged before?” A blank stare. “Not… Not even once?”

Ghost shook their head. They don’t even know what a hug was. Why did Mato look so horrified?

“If you can learn a Nail Art, then surely you can learn how to hug!” Ghost drew their nail, ready to begin training. “No no, put that aside. We don’t need that.” Mato gently took it from them and set it on a table, Ghost suddenly feeling very vulnerable. They shrunk up a little bit more. “Here, open your arms like this.” Mato slowly opened his arms, Ghost reluctantly following. What was the point of this? “Now you wrap it around the bug you want to hug.” He wrapped his arms around them. “And gently squeeze.” Ghost felt Mato hug them, more or less resting their arms on Mato’s shoulders.

They squeezed a little, surprised at how warm it felt. They squeezed again. Warm.

“See? It’s nice, isn’t it?” Mato let go. “Here, hug me now!” Ghost recalled the directions: open arms, go to bug, wrap and squeeze. Mato patted their head when they hugged him the best they could, looking up to make sure they were doing it right. Bright, shining eyes. Was that good? “Isn’t it great to hug somebody?”

They had to admit, the feeling of hugging a bug made them feel fuzzy again.

“There is another version of a hug, kind of like a one-bug hug.” Mato set Ghost in his lap and wrapped his arms around from behind, encasing Ghost in a warm bubble of cloak. They couldn’t lie…

It felt really, really safe. Safer than the bench at Dirtmouth, which was saying something. It felt like nothing could touch them from the outside, safe right here with Mato.

“Do you like it?” Ghost nodded. “Hugging usually makes bugs happier, especially if they’re sad or hurting on the inside.” Happier? “It can make them feel a little more safe, as it can serve as a reminder that they’re not alone in the world.” Happier…

When they finally returned to Dirtmouth, they walked up to Elderbug, opened their arms, and wrapped them around his body. Elderbug blinked, glancing down as they squeezed lightly. They felt the same sensation wash over them when he let out a little laugh, kneeled down, and hugged them back. They like it. They like hugging. It felt safe, it felt warm, it felt nice.

It felt… comforting.

The first time they received a kiss was from the Seer.

They returned with 2400 Essence, as she instructed. Handing it over, she gazed into it, eyes widening with surprise and awe.

“So much Essence… so bright… You truly are the Wielder my tribe so long has dreamed of.” She whispered, the nail glowing brighter than ever before. Her touches were gentle and light, as if she was holding a cracked mirror. “Perhaps, I should tell you why I’m here…” Ghost sat down in front, the Seer lowering the nail.

The story she told, of the moth tribe, her ancestors, and the wyrm. Why the bugs now shamble around, why the kingdom was now stuck in an eternal dream. Ghost listened attentively, watching as she would glance at the dream nail every once in a while, cupping it with a delicate touch. How the moths forgotten the light, turned their backs. How it all crumbled down until she was the last remaining moth, and has been the last one for quite a few ages now.

For a bit, they thought it was a trick of the light, their imagination, or just the dream nail as dream sigils began to appear around her. But when she became slightly translucent, Ghost shot up, realizing that she was fading, she was fading away. The Seer raised her hand to reassure them, a calm smile on her face.

“The Wielder has at last appeared and I’ve held the memories of my tribe for long enough. It is time for us to be forgotten too…” Ghost shook their head, kneeling in front of her; they tapped at their head. They will remember, they will remember her. She blinked, a little raspy laugh echoing around the chamber. A melancholic laugh, slightly happy, slightly sad.

She set the dream nail back into their lap.

“Don’t remember us, Wielder. Don’t honor us, we do not deserve it…” She chided, patting the top of their head. Ghost swallowed, glancing down at the dream nail. How brightly it shined, contrasting so beautifully against their cloak. “Ah, I’m sorry… Light… Radiance…” The Seer lowered her head, almost gone. Ghost reached forward and placed their hand into hers. She raised her head in a bit of surprise, Ghost shifting closer.

Don’t go.

She leaned forward and gently kissed the top of their head. They don’t know why, but they held her hand tighter. The kiss, it left a tingling sensation behind, one that made their body relax and no longer attempt to fight what was happening. They continued to hold her hand, watching as she disappeared into a series of dream sigils.

“I… remember you.” She whispered, lights surrounding around her. Ghost watched, watched until the last of the dream sigils disappeared into thin air and the dream nail no longer glowed.

The tingle remained on their forehead, Ghost unsure why they sat there for an extended period of time. They slowly reached up and touched where she kissed them, letting it fade away into a memory.

They sat there and watched the lumaflies flutter about.

The first time they felt care was with Hornet.

When they emerged from Herrah the Beast’s dream, they were surprised to see Hornet sitting there. She glanced at them and then at the empty pedestal, turning away.

“Leave me now, Ghost. Allow me a moment before this bedchamber becomes forever a shrine.” She murmured. Ghost got up and dusted off the excess dust, sheathing their nail.

They would have left, if it weren’t for a nagging feeling in the back of their head telling them to stay. They stood right where they were, Hornet raising her head.

“What are you doing? Leave, there is nothing left for you here. You have done your job.” There was another job to be done, but they weren’t sure what it was exactly. She repeated for them to leave. Again. Again and again and again. Ghost refused to move, Hornet’s voice getting increasingly more frustrated. “Do I have to escort you out myself?” She hissed, standing up. Ghost shook their head. “Then what are you doing here?” They don’t know. “Let me grieve in peace!” Still there. “Do you not understand what I’m saying?” Hornet grabbed her nail, pointing it at Ghost.

They still stared at her.

“I am not going to fight you, if that is what you are looking for. This is hardly an appropriate place.” They weren’t looking for a fight. No, there is something else. “If you are looking to gloat, this is not an enemy you can gloat over.” They aren’t here to gloat.

Even when Hornet drew her arm back, they still did not leave.

“Why are you still here?! It’s not like you care!” Hornet yelled, flinging her needle. It barely sliced through their arm, clattering to the ground. Thread wasn’t even attached to it. Hornet never threw like that, she would never throw so sloppily and so carelessly.

She wasn’t herself. 

“Get… Get out of here…” Her voice cracked, crumpling to her knees. She hunched over the pedestal, taking in a shuddering breath. Her shoulders began trembling as her entire frame was wracked with irregular shaking. High-pitched noises emanated from her, Ghost taking a small step forward. It didn’t sound like her. It sounded like what a tiktik would sound like, not her, not Hornet.

She wasn’t okay.

Ghost took their nail and set it next to her needle. She wasn’t like them, but maybe they could be like her for a little bit. They weren’t bigger than her, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue, right?

They walked behind her, wrapping their little arms around the best they could. They felt Hornet freeze up, breath hitching for a second. A little squeeze like Mato demonstrated, resting their head on the back of her neck.

A one-bug hug. Would that make her happier?

The noises became quieter. They stood and hugged her, letting her grieve. They wanted to say something, anything that might bring her more comfort. But the most they could do is hug her a little more and hope that it brought her some happiness like it did with Elderbug.

After an unknown amount of time, she finally stopped, slowly turning around. They let go.

“Ghost…?” Yes? “Why did you do that…?” Mato said it makes bugs happier. Ghost wanted to ask if she was happier. “You’re supposed to be empty, you’re supposed to leave. You’re not supposed to care.” She mumbled, head hanging down. Her entire body, it was slumped over. Ghost noticed how tattered her cloak had become, resting a hand on her knee.

Care? Is that what they felt? Was that the job they needed to do?

“You’re not supposed to care… so why did you stay? Why did you hug me?” A little black tear was dripping down her left cheek, slightly translucent. They reached up and wiped it away. Hornet reared back a little, raising a shaky hand and resting it on their head.

They leaned into her touch.

“You’re not empty, are you…?” She whispered, Ghost staring back in silence. “You’re not empty at all. You’re not…” They jumped as she suddenly fell forward and scooped them up, squeezing them tightly. Her shoulders were shaking again, the same noises echoing through the chamber. Ghost reached and hugged her back. “You’re not, you’re not, you’re not…” Little hiccups and black tears dripped onto their cloak, but they didn’t care, only hugging her tighter.

They weren’t sure how long they sat there, but they wouldn’t mind hugging her a thousand more times if it brought her a little more happiness. They didn’t care about being empty.

They rather care about their sister than that.

The first time they felt pain was with Hollow.

 

Ghost stared up at the chained figure dangling from the ceiling, bleeding orange eyes staring back at them. A crack split down their skull, oozing more infection. Complete silence, just the two of them.

And it hurt.

It ached, rapping against their head. It was agonizing to watch, down to their shade, to all their regrets and frustrations. They had to, they had to release them. They struck the chains as hard as they could, destroying the bindings. Hollow crashed unceremoniously onto the ground, Ghost rushing over and cupping their head.

They thought there was a flash of recognition in there. They thought, for a second, everything was going to be okay. Hollow heavily leaned into their touch, only one hand reaching up and resting on Ghost’s cheek.

For that moment, the pain disappeared.

Then the scream erupted from the recesses of Hollow’s mind, the hand tearing away and grabbing the cracked pure nail. Ghost felt pain explode across their face as it crashed into their head, but it wasn’t the pain they usually felt when an enemy manages to land an attack on them. No.

It was agony, the realization they have to fight Hollow. Their sibling, walking around like a puppet with broken strings, an entire arm missing. They didn’t want to. This wasn’t fair, this wasn’t fair at all. Why? This fight, this battle, they don’t want to fight, they don’t want to hurt Hollow. They slashed, parried, spat spells out. They don’t want this, they don’t want this. Hollow struck them with the brunt of the handle, Ghost hitting the ground.

They raised the nail, Ghost steeling themselves for the inevitable stab. Hollow shot the nail down, turned it, and drove it straight into their chest.

They wanted to scream. It was agonizing, horrifying to watch. It was too painful, too painful to bear. Stop it, stop stabbing, why? Why sibling why? Hollow drove it deeper and deeper each time, Ghost seeing the orange recede from their eyes as they stabbed it to the hilt. They wished they didn’t see, because it only solidified the fact that Hollow was still there. Still alive.

Ripping the nail out, Hollow collapsed onto the ground, Ghost holding their face once more. They begged to stop fighting, stop everything. Why didn’t the pain go away? A giant, sickening gaping hole rested in Hollow’s chest, slowly filling back up with infection.

The pain continued. Large orange cysts grew, throwing Hollow’s body up into the air in a grotesque fashion. It was like they were being hung, limbs dangling down. It smashed them down into the ground, a nauseating crack signifying each smash. Up, down. Up, down. Kept on smashing them against the ground like they were nothing. Hollow managed to get a grip on the pure nail once more, driving it back into their chest and spewing infection all over the floor. They crashed.

Ghost felt sick seeing it lodged so deep inside, unable to even swing their nail. Hollow barely managed to raise a trembling hand and caress their cheek, as if that was supposed to make the pain go away.

When the needle flew in front of their face, Ghost barely registered the flash of red. She knows she can’t survive in the egg. She knows. She knows. They know. They all know.

The crack resonated throughout the chamber, Hollow’s head pushed toward the ground and split. Hornet screamed something at them, hands already shaking as her energy was torn away. Dream sigils spewed out of the crack, glowing a sickening bright orange.

And then they saw their eyes. Hornet and Hollow both looked at them, and for a second, two pairs of black eyes begged for them to do what’s right.

That one moment they were all together.

It wasn’t pain. It wasn’t pain that they felt. It wasn’t pain at all.

It was love.

The first time they felt love.

Love that tore at their core, clawed at their head, wailed for Hollow, for Hornet, for both of them. Love that didn’t want any of this to happen, that wanted for this to end. For all of this to end.

Ghost drew the dream nail and slashed.

Love, it burned so scorchingly through their body. Love, it made their hands shake as they stared off into the ball of fire in the distance. Love, it gripped them at their very core.

Ghost stared at the light in the distance. It stirred, white feathers fluttering down from the heavens above as giant wings unfurled.

They felt love for the first time, and didn't want to let go.

When she appeared, they didn’t draw their nail. No, they dropped it, threw it off the platform. She stared at them in shock, screaming and aiming light blades at them. They didn’t move. They fired no spells, threw no items, nothing.

Ghost raised their head and held their arms out.

The Radiance stared, almost in bewilderment. She shook her head and screamed again, aiming lasers around them. They didn’t move. She summoned orbs and fired it all around them. They didn’t move. She drove the blades until their cloak was torn, but they still did not move.

The light blades lowered. She stared at them, trying to understand why. Ghost waved their arms, asking for her to come down. She slowly did so, blades still aimed at them. They walked forward, wrapped their arms the best they could around her, and gently squeezed. They hugged her, pressing a little kiss above her eyes.

They have felt love for the first time, and wished for her to feel it too.

She recoiled for a second, raising a blade. Ghost didn’t move. She was shaking, curled up and tense. They waited patiently, watched as the blade slowly lowered back onto the ground. They moved forward, reaching out and placing their hand on one of her feathers.

All the blades clattered to the ground.

She slowly hunched over, trembling. The sun began to set, the white feathers are fluttering down even more now. Ghost only hugged her tighter, patting her wings and running their hands over her head. It reminded them of kingdom’s edge, white ashes floating down from the sky, mourning the death of the Wyrm. A wyrm that crashed all alone, died alone. Lost everything.

But this time, they can make sure one of them doesn’t go alone.  

The sun set behind the clouds, the Radiance wearily looking down at Ghost. She was tired, she was so tired. Ghost cupped her face, resting their forehead against hers.

She wanted to know, why? Why, after everything, they were showing kindness? Why after everything they’ve seen, they’ve experienced, they aren’t fighting? Ghost only had one answer.

They don’t want to fight, they don’t want to hurt her. They care about her.

They love her.

They sat there until the sun completely set, darkness slowly beginning to swallow up the light. The Radiance curled up around them, Ghost continuing to hug her, to comfort her. They held her, glancing up to see the void beginning to thrash. They told for it to calm down, to stop. There was nothing to fight here. There was nothing to fight about.

Only when the darkness became as still as the water at Blue Lake, did Ghost allow for it to continue. The Radiance watched them with half-lidded eyes, closing them with a final exhale of breath. They held her until the last of the light died away, a single glowing white feather floating down into their hands.

Ghost held the feather with the utmost care, pressing it against their chest as one final hug. Dream sigils carried them away, the void no more than a murmur in the back of their mind.

When they woke up, Hornet and Hollow were waiting for them, watching their body. They jumped as Hornet dashed forward, arms wrapping around them tightly. Hollow managed to shift over, wrapping their arm around both of them the best they could, all squeezing. Hornet’s voice was once more that high pitched whimpering, but it wasn’t sad, it wasn’t sad at all.

She was laughing. She was happy, hugging them and laughing. Hollow’s eyes have never been clearer, hunching over and pressing their face against both of them. They were trembling, laughing as well. Ghost couldn’t help but tremble as well, feeling so so warm.

No voice to speak, but they didn’t need a voice.

They love their siblings. They love them. They love them. They love Hornet, love Hollow. They love Dirtmouth and all the residents. They love all the bugs they met through their journey; Quirrel, Cloth, Myla, Cornifer, Iselda, Mato, and so much more.

They love the colorfulness of Greenpath, the shining gems of Crystal Peak, the eccentrics of Fungal Wastes, the melancholy rain of the City of Tears, the tranquility of Fog Canyon. They love the sanctity of the Resting Grounds, the beauty of Queen's Gardens, the profound mourning of Kingdom's Edge, the emptiness of Howling Cliffs, the ambiance of Deepnest.

They love the Ancient Basin, the Abyss, their home. They love it, they love it all.

They love Hallownest.

They love their friends.

They love their family.

And they love themselves for allowing themselves to love.