Chapter 1: Meet the Family
“But mama, I HATE broccoli!”
Skeleton Grin and her little brood were sitting at the dining room table, and the gentle natured mother was trying to get Clear Skies to eat her broccoli. They all had their much abhorred vegetables. Clear Skies hated Broccoli, Ghost charm thought asparagus was positively the worst tasting food on the planet and little Pepper Pot couldn’t stand alfalfa. It was something she faced quite regularly, especially with Skies since Skeleton herself adored broccoli. She didn’t have as much trouble with Pepper’s peeve, since she’d inherited it from her mother.
Skeleton Grin couldn’t stand alfalfa.
It was an odd little family, the union and quite swift marriage of Soarin the Wonderbolt and Skeleton Grin had taken paparazzi by storm, although after Skeleton had bared her teeth at them a few times they’d quickly learned the value of leaving the content couple alone. Or at least keep their distance. At first Soarin had spoiled her rotten, buying her jewellery, clothing, even going so far as to personally purchase her a plot of land on ground level for her to indulge her hobby of flower tending for a while. However after a rather scathing admonishment from his rather overwhelmed fillyfriend at the time, he’d sheepishly stopped his constant gifts after she insisted she was perfectly happy with just him.
And how jealously she had guarded him.
Whilst she’d never done anything over the top, Skeleton wasn’t afraid to frighten the socks off of any mare that got too direct or promiscuous with Soarin, who very rarely did anything about it, understanding it was something Skeleton felt she had to deal with to establish that he was hers. In similar fashion, anypony who was anypony was suddenly paying a lot of attention to Skeleton Grin and, realising this was something that Soarin had to do, she’d left him to deal with it.
They sounded like the perfect couple.
Naturally they had their disagreements, mostly over the dinner table or after a particularly draining performance when he returned home. They’d reduced each other to tears a few times and Soarin had stormed off after each time. Skeleton didn’t know where he went, but she had missed him almost as soon as he’d left every time. He had, each time, come home with a bouquet of roses, a box of chocolates, a fresh Apple Cinnamon pie and a large tub of ice cream and an apologetic look, a normally evolving into a gentle and loving caress before the pair shared the pie and ice cream.
When she’d fallen pregnant with Clear Skies however, she took him aside and had a rather serious talk with him. She didn’t want her daughter to be exposed to these sorts of arguments between the pair and they’d managed to work out a stable way to sort things out, normally involving copious amounts of sympathy, encouragement and sometimes a kiss, massage or something similar. Neither of them were particularly good at massages, but they made do.
But back to the dinner table…
“Skies, eat your broccoli.”
“No buts Skies, I told you to eat your broccoli.”
Clear Skies pouted and picked at the tree like vegetable.
“Daddy never makes me eat my broccoli.”
Skeleton felt a stab of irritation strike her and she sighed, pushing it away.
“If you don’t eat your broccoli I’ll make you go to bed right now and you can miss your father coming home altogether.”
That did the trick. In a flash the filly was devouring the remnants of her dinner. She smiled demurely and sighed, looking around the table. She often waited until Soarin returned home before she ate, preferring to eat with him rather than just with her foals. It was a sort of ritual she’d developed fairly early on in their relationship and she had no intention of stopping anytime soon. As it was, dinner was finished by the fillies and Skeleton let them all go do their own thing whilst she cleaned up after the meal. They never really left a big mess, disregarding the one time she’d made lasagne, and it was quite easy to clean up. She took her time with it, treating it as a kind of alone time. She rarely got alone time from her little ones, so she cherished it when she could. Normally it was with Soarin who, judging by the time, should be back right about…
A pair of pale blue hooves encircled Skeleton’s stomach and held her close to a warm, still damp body. She smiled as an affectionate nuzzle found its way under her chin.
“Mmmm… Hello my love..” Came the distinctly recognizable voice of the pie loving Wonderbolt from behind her.
“Soarin, you’re a little early tonight. What happened?”
She heard a genuinely amused chuckle from behind her and then an affectionate nibble at the tip of her ear, eliciting a happy murmur from Skeleton.
“Well you know how it is. Had plans with all my other fillyfriends and they had to cancel tonight, you know?”
Giggling, Skeleton Grin turned herself around in his forehooves, putting her hooves on his chest and stroking the fur on said chest lovingly.
“Now Soarin.” She said quite seriously, “You’re not that attractive you know.”
“Oh really?” he smirked at her, “So why did you chase me for so long again?”
She felt her cheeks reddening and mumbled an embarrassed reply. Soarin chuckled again and touched his forehead and muzzle to hers.
“What was that? I’m afraid I had a little trouble hearing that.”
She frowned playfully at him and grabbed his face in her hooves, righting his head and bringing her muzzle almost dangerously close to his, practically tasting his breath as she tried valiantly to hold herself back.
“Shut up and kiss me Soarin~”
It was clear that all of the fillies in the household adored their father, but the one who was always the most enthusiastic one in greeting him was always Clear Skies. She was very much her father’s little girl almost to the point of pushing the others away out of pure jealousy. She never went that far of course, she knew that’d be unfair, but she did frequently get jealous of her sisters when they were with Soarin. That said, Soarin seemed to spend the most time with his little Skies. In a similar fashion, Ghost Charm was very much her mother’s filly and was constantly striving to impress her. She fancied herself a little lady, the only part of her rebelling being her hair. No matter what she did to her mane and tail it was constantly fuzzy and frequently spiky. She hated it. She was also intensely jealous of her little sister, who spent the most amount of time with Skeleton.
This was, by no means, favouritism on Skeleton’s part. On the contrary, she was happy to spend any time with her little fillies she could, they all had a little of her and their father in them. Clear Skies’ devil-may-care attitude came from her father, certainly, but it was clear her sense of humour was a mixture of her father’s light humour and her mother’s much more morbid humour. Her talent, however, had baffled both Mother and Father alike.
Whilst she was a rather skilled flyer, her cutie mark did not portray this as her special talent. Whilst she was quite intelligent and this did show in her schoolwork, her mark was not academically based. She was fit and lithe mainly because of all the time she spent with her father (And the team who, incidentally, absolutely adored her, Especially Spitfire and Firestreak) whenever and wherever she could. But it was clearly not anything to do with this either.
What she was exceptionally good at was manipulating colts and, occasionally, fillies and basically wrapping them around her hoof. She could infatuate them at merely a glance and make them almost beg to do something for her and but a twitch of her tail or a shy little smile. Her clearly suggestive winks had melted the heart of pretty much every single colt at school and several of the fillies and, for a while, Skeleton had been worried for the safety of not only her daughter but of the pupils in the school. After a while of watching her though, Skeleton ascertained that the ability was, while certainly used for selfish little whims, never used in a malicious way and she always let them down gently. In fact she’d made many friends like this. Her cutie mark was, in point of fact, a chain wrapped love heart.
A dangerous skill to be sure, but one she carried with pride and caution.
Her father had been quite suspicious. As is the almost ritual of every parent of the male persuasion, he was severely strict with anypony of the male persuasion concerning his quickly maturing tomboy of a daughter. Clear Skies delighted in the attention this garnered and the chance to prank her father and quite often found herself smugly in bed before her bedtime after a particularly well pulled off prank. He’d always congratulate her on her peculiar little tricks and jokes the next morning, normally with prompting from Skeleton.
Incidentally, she found these pranks absolutely hysterical.
The last little filly of the brood was the very young Pepper Pot. Pepper had just started school that year and had already garnered a following of little friends, mostly of the female persuasion. She was a popular filly in the schoolyard, but incredibly reserved in the classroom, refusing to do most of her schoolwork if the teacher demanded it. Skeleton had left one particular teacher a blubbering mess on the floor after her Pepper Pot came home and told her of the stallion yelling at her.
If there was one thing you did not do, it was piss Skeleton off.
Skeleton Grin was far from normal. Her bright orange eyes seemed to burn in the darkness, although they were quite beautiful in the light, and her thick covering of scars warded many away. But the most curious aspects of Skeleton Grin were certainly her owl-like wings, built for silent flight, and her pointed, wickedly sharp teeth. She’d been born with them, and they’d been considered a birth defect for a long time. Whilst she was thankful none of her children had ended up with this peculiar gene, she had to admit the teeth did bring her a rather distinct advantage in many things. For example her talent to scare the coat right off of a pony certainly called upon her teeth often. Even the simple baring of these teeth scared most ponies away.
But in all the time she’d had her little ones, she’d never bared her teeth at them. Not even when they’d managed to break a hole through all three stories of their house, she still did not ever, EVER scare her children. Well, unless by means of a practical joke. In that her talent was of frightening others, Skeleton and Soarin found themselves practically surrounded by fillies and colts on Nightmare Night begging for candy and for a scare. And who was Skeleton to refuse them all?
That’s what she told Soarin anyway. She refused point blank to not allow her children to go out with a few friends to trick or treat, since Nightmare Night was a very special night for her. It held a place very dear to her heart, a special zone. Nightmare Night was the one time that she’d had when she was younger that didn’t see her suffering. Whilst she hadn’t explained this to Soarin, she was rather adamant that the fillies partake in the celebration.
Soarin had, after quite the debate and a few choice, playful jabs at her, relented.
For about an hour after they’d all eaten, Soarin was quite content to play with his daughters, except for Pepper Pot who had rather determinedly snuggled up to her mother with a look of nervous delight on her face whilst watching the trio. Clear Skies and Soarin were quite rough with each other, but never intentionally hurt each other. Ghost Charm, on the other hoof, was quite content to wait it out, watching for an opportunity before leaping onto her target. She never got very far, but it was something. That was an interesting quirk of Charm’s, she seemed to lose her need to be a little lady the moment her father came home and regained it once it was time for bed. Pepper very rarely played with her sisters at all, preferring the company of her books. This was one thing she did excel in. Pepper was only just starting the first grade, but she was already reading small novels. Skeleton had been delighted and had pleaded with Soarin to buy her more books.
Naturally, Soarin did so. He very rarely refused her anything, but he did make a big show of considering to refuse it. It was a game they played quite often.
“Alright, time for bed.”
Soarin, Skies and Charm all groaned and Skeleton lifted an eyebrow.
“You don’t want a story then?”
The room was vacant in seconds. Even Soarin had left, although she knew that was more to encourage them and play a little longer more than anything else. She stretched herself out from where she’d been laying, her wings spreading out and quivering along with her forehooves and hind hooves, stretching much like a cat before standing up and yawning slightly. It wasn’t that she was tired, but it did help her get some more air in her lungs.
She then trotted upstairs to prepare the girls for bed.
Clear Skies came bouncing in with her father, the pair of them laughing at something that obviously had no relevance to Skeleton Grin. Next came Ghost Charm, who was walking demurely in with an offended look to her face. Skeleton guessed she was who they were laughing at. Lastly crept in the youngest of the trio of fillies, Pepper Pot.
“Alright girls, into bed. Quickly now or you won’t get a story.”
The fillies filed up into their respective beds. Skeleton had many beliefs and most of these were enforced in the behaviour, rules and structure of the household. The top level of the three story house was completely and utterly for storage. And was there a lot to store. Soarin had a lot of possessions, and not all of them Skeleton agreed very much with. She did not, however, make him throw them out. Thinking that was unethical and wrong of her, she’d told him that he could use the top floor for showing off all the stuff she preferred not shown on the bottom two. In time, part of the floor was sectioned off as Soarin’s personal ‘cave’, and no females were allowed inside. He took his male friends in, but whenever Spitfire or Fleetfoot came to visit they stayed down with Skeleton.
Skeleton didn’t mind. She agreed with it in fact. She thought everypony needed their own personal space. The next rather interesting perk was that she believed that in sharing, one developed a sense of what was fair and the ability to work together. So the three fillies shared one massive room. It was circular and the beds sat around the room, an equal distance from each other however, despite this firm belief, she utterly refused to allow her foals to sleep in the same bed as anypony else bar herself or Soarin, she firmly believed that THAT sort of thing was saved until after marriage, as she had with Soarin. As such, the three sections were different in accordance to which filly had taken up residence. Clear Skies’ third was cluttered with bits and pieces, mostly of Wonderbolts and band posters and memorabilia. Ghost Charm’s was immaculately clean and neat and she had requested (and received) a vanity for her birthday the previous year, so it sat beside her bed. Pepper Pot's was filled with books. Books on the floor, on the shelves they put up, on the bed, under the bed, in the chest of draws that held her formal wear.
No matter where you looked, there were books.
The fillies happily tucked into bed, Skeleton sat in the centre of the room. She looked around at the three as Soarin returned to her side and nuzzled her gently, earning a gentle coo of content.
“Are we all comfortable then?”
The fillies nodded, but Pepper Pot seemed a little uncomfortable. Skeleton looked at her youngest daughter and smiled.
“Something wrong Pepper?”
Pepper looked up at her mother like a deer in the headlights of a fast moving carriage and shook her head quickly. Skeleton tilted her head ever so slightly to the left.
“Pepper, if something is bothering you, you can say so.”
It took her a minute, and all eyes were on her, but Pepper eventually spoke up in a tentative but curious voice.
“Mummy… where did your tattoos come from?”
Skeleton frowned and looked at her body, followed by Soarin and the other fillies, confused. Then it hit her and she smiled.
“Oh, you mean my scars.”
Pepper blushed and nodded timidly. Skeleton seemed a little uncomfortable.
“This… is very sudden Pepper.”
“I…. I just wanted to know…”
Pepper Pot was not normally a reserved little filly. On the contrary she was generally harsh almost to the point of being cruel when something somepony did upset her or disrupted her reading and was quite blunt in asking for what she wanted, be it knowledge or items. She didn’t mean to be so direct as to sounding rude, she simply didn’t see the point in beating around the bush, so this behaviour was certainly new to both Skeleton and Soarin. The question she’d just asked seemed to rattle Skeleton and she was looking at the ground before her. It was clear to Soarin she was fighting a losing battle with something in her that not even he knew about and he nuzzled her gently, also curious to hear the reason. Eventually she sighed and looked up.
“Well… I suppose you’re all old enough now. You have the right to know. But this isn’t going to take one night to tell, each one has its own reason.”
The fillies, suddenly detecting the oncoming of a great tale from their mother, nodded eagerly and partially sat up in their beds. Soarin on his part looked equally amazed and curious and one of his wings unfurled and draped itself over her for emotional support and she smiled and nuzzled under his chin affectionately.
“Well, it all happened a long time ago in a small, superstitious village called Cornicopia…”
Well you guys asked, you pleaded, you begged, so here it is. The start of the tale of Skeleton Grin's past. If you're dead set on this course than so be it but I warn you, it's not a happy tale filled with fairies and dreams coming true. Skeleton's past is quite grim. However the tale won't be ALL grim. There will be interludes of much more light hearted stuff. Maybe.