by Cloudy Skies
The school bell rang, signalling the end of yet another day in Ponyville Elementary. Most of the fillies and colts in Applebloom's class were quick and eager to start shoving the contents of their desks into their saddlebags. The little yellow filly herself was still staring at the blackboard, face scrunched up in consternation.
"Well, I suppose that's it for today, class. Don't forget the upcoming quiz, and remember to ask your parents for permission to join the field trip next week!" Cheerilee announced as the other ponies filed out of the classroom, ready to enjoy the freedom of the weekend. Applebloom hardly noticed.
"Applebloom?" Cheerilee asked, approaching the ferociously focused filly's desk.
"A hundred'n twelve?" Applebloom suddenly asked, looking up at her teacher. Her eyes were big and bright with hope.
Cheerilee blinked and turned to look back over her own flank. She briefly considered the problem posed on the blackboard before chuckling softly to herself, smiling kindly down at the smaller earth pony.
"Close. It's a hundred and ten. Now, unless you're volunteering to help me clean up here, why don't you head out and enjoy the sunny day? It's weekend, after all!"
Applebloom stole a glance at her blank flank and tried to smile despite the almost automatic sigh of disappointment. A mathematics cutie mark would probably look stupid anyway.
"Yes, miss Cheerilee," Applebloom muttered, nosing her pencils and books into her pack before slipping in under it. Normally, she'd leave with Twist, but her friend had gone to visit her aunt and uncle in Trottingham.
Applebloom refused to let this keep her down, though. The weekend had finally come, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders had lots of crusading to do, as always! She galloped out of the classroom at full tilt, ignoring Cheerilee's casual and well-worn comment about running in the hallways. Her short little legs propelled her with uncanny speed out through the doors of the schoolhouse. Weekend! Crusading! A flash of white, and pain.
Applebloom's world spun as she rolled around and around, finally coming to a halt upside-down with her back against a white picket fence. A white pegasus filly with a pale blue mane slowly righted herself nearby and tested her wings.
"Watch where you're going!" the little pegasus said. "Stupid earth pony."
"Ah was watchin' where Ah was goin'," Applebloom said, standing up and facing the other filly. "And Ah'm not stupid!"
A small crowd of colts and fillies had begun to gather near the two, curious and perhaps expecting a fight. The contents of Applebloom's bags had spilled all over the area, loose papers scattered everywhere. The pegasus seemed to notice this at the same time as Applebloom did, but where the latter of the two sighed and began collecting her things, the white filly grinned, taking off to hover off the ground.
"Well, you look stupid to me," the pegasus giggled as the draft sent the papers scattering everywhere.
Applebloom glared and dropped the book she was holding in her mouth as she spoke. The book, seeing an opportunity to make matters worse, landed in a patch of mud. "Why don't you come down here and say that?"
"Can't hear you! Too high up. Why don't you fly up here and ask me again?" the pegasus smirked, hovering just out of reach. Her joy was short-lived though, teasing cut short as she spotted something off to the side. Without a word, the white filly bolted off and away from the school.
"Just what is going on here?" Cheerilee asked loudly. Most of the assembled ponies scattered like leaves before the wind, leaving two unicorns as Applebloom's only company when the school teacher arrived. Snips and Snails. Snips looked like he wanted to bolt, too, but Snails wasn't paying attention. In the end, the smaller unicorn stayed with his friend.
"Applebloom?" the fuchsia mare asked in that voice that was stern but kind all at the same time.
She was no tattle-tail. Squaring her jaw, the earth pony filly began picking up the things she could find. Her pencils were stuck in the patch of mud, but her favorite eraser was nowhere to be found. Where was the book report she had gotten an A+ on? She had been looking forward to showing that one to her family.
"Applebloom, what happened?" Cheerilee repeated, gently this time.
Her Equestrian book had only gotten mud on its covers. She could probably wash it off. Applebloom spotted all the missing papers; they were stuck high in a tree above them. Cheerilee followed her gaze and sighed.
"Snips, Snails, can you help her get her things? If you change your mind, Applebloom, you know where to find me," the teacher mare concluded, turning around to leave the three of them there.
The very second the door to the schoolhouse shut, Snips let out a loud groan. "Why do we even have to do this? It’s just because you were too slow, Snails!"
"Uuh," Snails began, the gears of his brain churning.
All the while Applebloom ignored them and went about picking up the last of the items on the ground until all that was remaining were the the papers stuck in the tree. Applebloom stared up at them, frowning. If only she could will them down here with the sheer force of her annoyance, they would have come down immediately. Fluttershy could probably have stared them down. Perhaps her special talent was withering glares? Nothing seemed to be happening.
"Because Applebloom is an earth pony and not a pegasus or a unicorn, and can't get the papers out of that tree without our help?" Snails asked in his oft-used monotone voice, tilting his head.
"I wasn't asking a question because I wanted an answer," Snips snapped, staring up at the offending piece of paper and focusing intently. He closed his eyes and furrowed his brow.
Applebloom watched as the older unicorn colt's horn took on a faint sheen, and then started glimmering. As Snips concentrated, the sparkle grew to a soft glow, and there was a faint rustle above the three ponies as the errant schoolwork flew free. Applebloom was quick to gather them up as Snips wiped his brow.
"Well, uh, there you go," Snips said with a shrug, the stubby unicorn colt glancing about. "Let's go, Snails."
"Yeah, thanks guys," Applebloom said, once more slipping into her saddlebags. She still hadn't found her eraser.
"Hey, so is it because she's an earth pony?" Snails asked as he followed Snips out of the schoolyard and the unicorn duo's voices faded.
Applebloom rolled her eyes and set off in the opposite direction. She could do tons of things unicorns and pegasi couldn't! She just couldn't remember them off the top of her head, was all. Not that it mattered, considering it was weekend and crusading time!
Swift hoofsteps carried the filly down the streets of Ponyville with speed and purpose. Weekend meant that special spot near Sugarcube Corner. Next to the rainwater barrels under the awning, the crusaders met every day to plan their adventures. Applebloom's heart leaped when she saw she was the first one there. Scootaloo was always the one waiting for her and Sweetie Belle. She would totally rub it in her pegasus friend's face when she showed up! Who said earth ponies were slow?
She was not slow, she was not stupid, and today, she was first, she repeated to herself ten minutes later. Still no sign of her friends. Pinkie Pie poked her head out of a window and asked Applebloom if she needed help waiting, but she declined. The yellow filly was just about to get up and head off when she heard the tell-tale buzz of Scootaloo on her scooter. Sure enough, the orange pegasus was on the approach.
Only, she wasn't stopping. Scootaloo seemed intent on passing Sugarcube Corner by when the earth pony filly yelled out her name and jumped into the middle of the road. It was testament to Scootaloo's reactions and agility that the little pegasus avoided colliding with Applebloom. This did not prove to be a happy thing for the nearby pear cart Scootaloo slammed into. Scootaloo herself could probably have been happier about the results, too, but it was hard to tell considering she was buried in pears.
"Hey Scootaloo! Where're you goin'?" Applebloom asked as she nosed some of the pears out of the way. She was quickly rewarded with a peek of a helmet and a dark pink mane.
"Uh, sorry 'bout crashing yer scooter," she added, wincing. "You okay?"
"Rainbow Dash is giving me a flying lesson!" Scootaloo yelled as she burst forth from the pear-heap to hop about. "Rainbow Dash! Me! Flying! It's gonna be awesome!"
"That's nice! Maybe Ah can come watch?" Applebloom asked.
"Uh. I think it's kind of a flying thing," her friend stammered, suddenly shifty-eyed. "Like, pegasus thing. Flying, I mean. She was thinking of maybe using her house as a launch pad."
"Oh," the earth pony filly muttered. "Ah guess you'll have fun. Uh, Ah'll head over an' see if Sweetie Belle wants to hang out. Crusading tomorrow?"
"Hey, sure!" Scootaloo said, quickly remounting her scooter. With a quick 'bye' and a buzz of her wings, the pegasus filly shot off like a bolt of greased lightning. More to the point, like a filly off to spend her day doing pegasus stuff with her favorite idol.
Applebloom kicked a rock in front of her as she headed in the general direction of Carousel Boutique. The rock was a little too big and it hurt her hoof, but that was okay. She should probably be kicking herself for not being happy for her friend anyway. Perhaps she could just stand far below where Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash were training or whatever they were doing? Would they mind? She could just sit and watch, perhaps?
Applebloom snapped to, looking up to see Twilight Sparkle rubbing one of her forehooves with the other. She levitated up the offending rock to study it with a confused look.
"Oh. Sorry Twilight," Applebloom said, trying to put on her most winning smile. The purple unicorn mare only now seemed to notice her, smiling back down at her.
"Hello, Applebloom! What brings you out today?" she asked, flicking the rock over her shoulder with a burst of magic. They both winced at the muted crash that followed.
"Ah'm headin' to see Sweetie Belle!" Applebloom declared.
"Carousel Boutique, then? I'm heading there too, actually," Twilight said as she resumed her walk. Applebloom was quick to fall in step with her.
"What's it like bein' a unicorn?" Applebloom asked on a whim, looking up at the older mare. She knew it was a silly question, but she was curious now. In fact, Applebloom was always curious. It was just trying to find the words with which to make the questions that was hard.
Asking Twilight may have been a mistake. Applebloom thought she could hear the rustle of paper and the shuffling of books as the purple unicorn went through her mind in search of a way to answer. Her gaze grew distant even as she walked, and her lips were pursed. When Twilight finally turned to look back down at Applebloom, she was frowning.
"Numerous authors have written books on the subject, attempting to discern the differences in the state of being across ponies-" she began. It sounded almost like a rehearsed speech.
"No, Ah mean, what's it like?" Applebloom insisted.
Twilight's face slowly lit up in comprehension. "Oh. Well, it's amazing? I mean, I didn't really appreciate what I had until I lost it, I guess. Like when I first overexerted myself and couldn’t use magic for the rest of the day. I had to use my hooves and mouth," she chuckled and shook her head at something. “What a mess.”
"Um," Applebloom shapelessly almost-protested.
"I mean, that's just part of it!" Twilight enthused with a faraway look. The purple mare was lost in a giddy reverie. "I don't think it's possible to explain how magic feels, but it's wonderful! Reaching out with that special something inside of you? I wish everypony could get to experience that!"
"Uh-huh", the increasingly dejected earth pony filly said.
"Not to mention linking with another unicorn's magic, that's really special, too. It's more than just convenience or manipulating objects," Twilight continued. "It's about being in touch with everypony and everything else through your magic."
Applebloom wished she had another rock to kick. The two ponies came up on Carousel Boutique, and Twilight paused in front of the door, perhaps only now noticing Applebloom had fallen quiet.
"Uh, sorry, did that answer your question?"
"Yeah, thanks Twilight," Applebloom muttered, pushing the door open with her head. If she'd been working up a gloom, though, it was quickly dispelled upon seeing Sweetie Belle sitting atop one of the mannequins in the boutique.
"Hi Applebloom!" Sweetie called, nearly falling off the cloth-and-wood pony.
"Sweetie Belle! Ready to do some crusading?" Applebloom replied, galloping over. She nodded politely at Rarity as she passed her by, earning a nod and a smile in return.
Sweetie Belle, however, was not smiling. At the mention of crusading, just like with Scootaloo, her expression changed. The white unicorn filly was biting her lower lip anxiously and glancing over at Rarity, who was now engaged in conversation with Twilight. Applebloom's heart sank.
"Uh, I would like to, but Rarity promised I could watch-"
"I did no such thing, dear," Rarity casually shot over her shoulder.
"Sis said I could watch as she worked on a spell with Twilight," Sweetie amended. At Applebloom's pout, she looked away, her voice taking on a higher pitch. "What if my cutie mark has something to do with magic? I need to find out!"
"Ah guess," Applebloom admitted, sitting down on the smooth, hard floor.
"Actually, Sweetie, I think it would be a great idea for you to head out," Rarity called from the other side of the room. "To do some, ah, 'crusading'. We are only trying to synthesize-"
"Sis! You promised!" Sweetie Belle groaned and hung her head.
"I didn't-" Rarity began, but she halted herself and sighed. "Yes, I said you could watch if you are quiet and sit still. And only if Twilight does not mind," she added, looking at the other unicorn mare.
"Oh, I'm sure it will be fine," Twilight said. "I'm sure Applebloom could stay too. I mean, sure, it's magic, but it's actually quite interesting, too! We're trying to synthesize-"
"Aw forget it," Applebloom muttered, heading for the door. "Hey, Sweetie Belle, Ah'll see you tomorrow."
Sweetie Belle called for Applebloom, but did not follow. The red-haired filly didn't bother to turn and slipped out the door. "Does nopony but me find it interesting that we're trying to synthesize-" she heard Twilight say before the door closed and cut her off.
Four little hooves set course for Sweet Apple Acres, for home and family.
Returning home early had meant she was immediately drafted for work. Her big sister Applejack noted her reluctance to answer the "why" of her coming straight home, and did not press the issue. Applebloom was thankful for this, helping as best as she could even if keeping her mind on the tasks was hard.
Every time Applejack bucked an apple tree, Applebloom thought of last Applebuck season, when Twilight had helped them in the main orchard with her magic. Whenever an apple was left in the crown of a tree, she wished she had a pair of wings so she could fly up there and pluck it.
They went on like this for hours. After the apples were bucked and the corn was checked up on, Applebloom helped her sister sharpen the plough. She held it up while Applejack worked the whetstone. Surely Twilight could simply do this with a spell? Could any unicorn do that, or did it have to be your special talent to sharpen stuff?
She realized she had never actually used the whetstone before. Normally, Applebloom would jump at the chance to try something new in the off chance that it would lead to her cutie mark, but she simply wasn't feeling it today. The filly kept the plough propped up while her sister did the work. Time went by, and Applebloom didn’t really care.
The sun was just starting its descent in earnest, casting a golden glow across Sweet Apple Acres. Up until now the two sisters had worked in silence, half-way through repairing a fence that had fallen over recently. They were laboriously raising each section and hammering in the nails by hoof in a manner that had never before struck Applebloom as inefficient. Not until now.
"Yes, sis?" Applebloom asked, looking up at her.
"Big Mac just said dinner was ready, sugar. You sure you're feelin' alright?" Applejack gestured to the house and spat out a few nails she'd held in her mouth. Her eyes were lit with genuine concern that made it that much harder to keep quiet. It would be all too easy to tell Applejack everything, but her worries seemed petty compared to the weight her sister carried on her back on a daily basis. She was not a snitch, no, and she was not weak, either.
Hard to keep quiet, yes, but not impossible. Applebloom shrugged and started walking towards the Apple family's house where the faint yellow light promised to hush her rumbling stomach. She was almost at the door when Applejack caught up, having squared away all the tools.
"Think it's apple soup tonight. Your favorite," Applejack said, nudging her little sister in the side to no discernible response.
Scootaloo was probably flying around high in the sky right now, having a great time with Rainbow Dash. Applebloom would never be as fast as her. What about Sweetie Belle? She had probably learned lots of magic by now. She would never have to use her hooves again. Unicorns didn't have to deal with the taste of door handles all day. It was so unfair.
The kitchen table was set with four bowls and a large pot that smelled suspiciously like apple soup indeed. Applebloom managed to smile at that, at least, taking a seat. Big Mac helped Granny Smith into her chair, and Applejack started ladling up soup for everypony with her mouth.
"So. How was school?" Big Mac asked as he leaned forward to sip the still-hot soup.
Applebloom muttered something involving the word "fine", content with inhaling the divine scent of today's dinner. Three types of apples went into making this, if not four.
"And I reckon' the reason you're looking more glum'n a pegasus in the apple cellar is why you're home early, huh?" Applejack continued her brother's assault where he had left off.
Applebloom said nothing, idly wondering if everypony's siblings were as gosh-darn annoyingly good at sniffing out things like these. She stared into her soup hoping that the questions would just go away. Could unicorns magic questions away?
What actually did go away was her soup.
"Hey! Gimme a break, give it back!" Applebloom called, trying to stretch over the table to retrieve her dinner. Applejack had snatched it away and sat with her forelegs crossed, frowning at her little sister over her two soup bowls.
"Hooves off the table!" Granny Smith snapped, even though she was grinning toothlessly at the whole debacle.
"She took mah dinner!" Applebloom whined.
"And you ain't answerin' me. What's up, sugarcube? You want your dinner, you be honest with me now," Applejack said, glancing askance at Granny Smith. Their grandmother simply nodded and looked at Applebloom expectantly.
"T'aint fair," the filly muttered, turning to her brother with a quivering bottom lip. She looked for help, for any trace of sympathy. Big Macintosh dipped his muzzle into the soup and did not so much as look up at her.
"Fine!" Applebloom said, crossing her forehooves petulantly and sitting back in her chair. "Scootaloo is too busy doing pegasus stuff flying around, and Sweetie Belle is with Rarity and Twilight doing unicorn magic, so Ah don't have a lot to do today what with bein' a stupid boring earth pony! You happy now? Can Ah have mah dinner back now, sis?"
The dinner table was quiet for a few seconds before Big Macintosh spoke up. "An yer' books bein' muddy, what's up with that?"
"Ah fell," Applebloom snorted, blowing her mane out of her face. "'Cause Ah'm a clumsy earth-"
"You finish that lil' sentence o'yours there now an' Ah know'a one lil' filly what's sleepin' in the barn t'night," Granny Smith quietly said. Despite her words, the wizened old mare was smiling still, and there was a twinkle in her eyes. Applebloom huffed and held her tongue.
"Ah think it's 'bout time Ah tol'ya a lil'story, Applebloom," Granny muttered, leaning back in her rocking chair. In her voice and her eyes both, the little filly could see and hear the wisdom of a lifetime's worth of experiences. The old green pony closed her eyes, reminiscing for a long time.
For an awful long time, in fact. The entire table was waiting for her next words, whatever they may be. Here sat three members of the Apple family ready to learn from one whose many and long years had taught her so much. The illusion was somewhat broken after a minute.
Granny Smith snored.
"Consarn it, Ah know how the story goes anyway," Applejack said, puffing out her cheeks. "She didn't mean nothin' about the barn, Ah'm sure, but you listen to me now, okay? You close your ears to me now and it’s straight off to bed."
Applebloom nodded dutifully at her big sister, which rewarded her with a warm smile.
"Right, so this story goes back to when the world was little, still young and such," Applejack said, looking up at the ceiling. Applebloom thought her big sister looked for all the world like a real storyteller right then, like the ponies who spoke at the festivals. Even so, curiosity got the better of the little filly.
"Like, when Granny was young?" Applebloom asked.
"Nah, older. Ah reckon' this was before any of us," Applejack said with a shrug. "Anyway, there were three sisters-"
"Way Ah heard it, they was' brothers," Big Mac commented, wrapping his lips around the soup ladle to get a second helping. Applejack tapped him on the nose with a hoof.
"Will the two of you hush and let me tell the darn story?" she snapped.
"Sorry AJ," Big Mac muttered, echoed by Applebloom.
"Right, so, world, sisters, where was Ah? Right. Three sisters, and no they din' have names so don't ask, that's not the gosh-darn point. One was a pegasus, brash and strong. The other was a unicorn, wise and clever. The last of the sisters, she was an earth pony."
"And what was she? The earth pony sister wasn't smart or strong? An' how can they be sisters if they were different ponies?" Applebloom asked, voice full of suspicion. Applejack completely ignored her.
"So these three sisters stood in the fields one night, and no, Ah don't know where," Applejack said, holding up a warning hoof. How had she known Applebloom was about to ask?
"They stood there looking up at the stars in the sky above, blinkin' all nice and stuff. They all wonder what the stars really are, 'cause nopony really knew. So the pegasus sister takes off sayin' she's going to find out, bein' all brash and loud. Quicker'n the eye can see, she flies up into the sky. The other sisters nodded at this an' went off home."
"Night after, the unicorn sister and the earth pony sister come back to the fields, and the pegasus sister returns from the sky, grinnin’ wide. She says she's touched the stars themselves, an' wouldn't the sisters just love to hear?" Applejack said. The easy smile she wore vanished as she briskly shook her head and slammed her hoof on the table.
"No way, no how! The unicorn sister refused and said she was gonna learn for herself what the stars were. So just like that, she closed her eyes and lay down, castin' herself off into the heavens with her magics. The two other sisters let her be, goin' home 'ter sleep. Like good ponies do. Speakin' o which, it's straight to bed for you after this."
"Next night, the pegasus sister an' the earth pony sister 'acourse come back to the fields. The unicorn sister gets up and smiles, sayin' she's seen the stars for what they are. Bein' the clever pony she was, she always knew, she says, but now she knows, 'cause of her magic and all that other fancy mumbo jumbo that unicorns have. She'd of course just love to tell the earth pony sister if she wanted t'hear!"
This time Applebloom wasn't surprised when Applejack's hoof came down on the table again, and she even giggled a little.
"Nuh uh, says the earth pony sister. She din' need her sisters to tell her what the stars were. Now they get all angry at this. The pegasus sister says she doesn't have wings, so she can't fly up an' see for herself, can she? No, she says, she can't."
"Earth ponies don't have magic either, the unicorn sister says, so she can't exactly use her magic to find the answer, can she? Again, the earth pony sister says no, she can't, but all the same, she'd be happy if they din' tell her. All angry and confused, they leave their earth pony sister out there, an' she figures she'd just sleep there for the night, then."
"They come back the day after, 'acourse. So, d'you know what the stars are now, they ask? She nods at this, smilin'. Acourse, her sisters get all up in a tizzy again. How could she know? They won't tell her the truth if she's gonna lie to'em. Wouldn't she want to know?"
"Know what she says?" Applejack asked Applebloom, smiling.
"No?" Applebloom replied immediately, on pure reflex.
"Ah already know, and the world's bigger for it."
"But she didn't!" Applebloom protested. "She was lyin'!"
"Not even one bit, sugarcube. She told'em that so long as she hadn't touched the stars, she knew they were whatever she wanted them to be," Applejack chuckled. She shook her head as she got up and collected her hat. "C'mere. Big Mac, can you do the dishes?"
Big Macintosh muttered an affirmative as a confused Applebloom was ushered out the door by her sister. Within the minute, the two earth pony fillies stood outside the farmhouse. The sun had barely set, and the first few stars were beginning to shine over Equestria.
"What'n the hay is that all s'posed to mean," Applebloom whined. "How's that s'posed to help me? Stars?"
"You watch your mouth young lady!" Applejack snapped, nudging her with a hoof. "Now you apologize. I won't have the h-word outta you like that."
"Sorry," the smaller pony muttered.
Applejack's expression mellowed as she threw a foreleg 'round her sister's neck. "And you're right. It ain't about the stars at all. That's part'a the point. Feel the ground beneath you and don’t look up, look forward. Don’t let anypony tell you what you can and can’t do. And once in a while, if you think there’s something that’s just plain impossible? Look at yer hooves and what’s below."
"Huh?" Applebloom said, looking about. She felt a gentle hoof on the back of her head, forcing her eyes to the ground. "Mah hooves?"
"The earth herself, sugar. That what's under your hooves right there. All of Equestria," the older mare said, chuckling. "That's what we got, and that's what the other ponies can't ever take away from you. Sure, you don't have fancy magic, and sure, you can't fly, but you know what? We work hard 'cause we have to, and that’s our biggest strength."
Applejack's words didn't quite resonate with Applebloom, but the filly picked up on the pride in her words. The pride and the resolve. When she looked up at her big sister's face, Applejack was smiling, and Applebloom couldn't quite stop herself from smiling back.
"Ah guess that bit makes more sense when you're older, huh?" Applejack asked with a shake of her head. "Just trust me, sugarcube. Sweet Apple Acres and the entire Apple family ain't what it is just 'cause we got lucky. Ah ain't sayin' them other ponies aren't great and all, don't be getting any big ideas here now, but they sometimes forget to stop and listen. They don’t stop and feel the dirt under their hooves like they oughta, and when you can fly, you never learn to climb a steep hill with your own hooves."
Applebloom nodded mutely, turning her sister’s words over in her head still.
"Ah can see you're gettin' part of it at least, 'cause you're listening. Now, dinner's probably gone cold, so what say we heat it up again, have some food, and then Ah'll let you borrow one'a my magazines tonight 'cause you were a right helpful filly all day. That okay?"
"So, crusaders, time to report!" Applebloom declared. The three friends were well situated in their clubhouse the very next day. Paper, crayons and the random tools of their varied trade lay scattered about the room in preparation of a weekend full of crusading.
"I don't think magic is going to be my cutie mark," Sweetie Bell sighed. "I thought I was going to get to try some magic, but I don't know how, and they were just doing some, um, 'synthesizing'-"
"Yeah," Scootaloo broke in, dejected. "Rainbow Dash is awesome, but I don't think there's a cutie mark for being thrown off clouds. If there was, I’d have it now."
"What about you, Applebloom?" Sweetie Belle asked.
“Ah don’t know yet, and that makes my flank bigger,” Applebloom said, grinning proudly. She wasn’t quite sure she got that right, but it didn’t matter. She had good friends and all of Equestria under her hooves.
Thank you for reading! A huge thanks to Ocean Breeze for the “cover” art, and equally huge thank-you spam to Cormacolindor, Kits and Twilight Snarkle for their input! As ever, if you’ve any comments, feel free to mail me, if only to say that writing author’s notes for a 5k word fic is a bunch of horseapples.