While other little fillies and colts might have been terrified of the storm, one of them was sitting at her window, gazing out forlornly at the lashing rain and the spectacular light show of crackling lightning as thunder rumbled overhead like the Princesses bowling.
She was scared too, but for a completely different reason, which she felt was anything but consolable. She sat on her bed, resting her crossed forelegs on the windowsill, tears beading in her sapphire eyes.
She bowed her head and sobbed silently.
Behind her there was the clopping of hooves, and she felt the presence of an older stallion pausing in her open doorway.
“Topaz?” he said. “Y’all okay?”
She couldn’t contain herself anymore – she bowed her head and let the tears flow freely.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” asked her father. When he saw that the little filly may have pushed herself beyond the despair event horizon, he walked over to the bed, sat down and pulled her into a tight cuddle.
“Dad,” she said, “do you love me?”
Her father was deeply shocked.
“What in tarnation’s that s’posed ta mean?” he asked.
“You heard me,” said Topaz. “Am I really your daughter? Do you... Do you love me?”
“Aw Topaz, ya know Ah love ya!” the stallion insisted. “Of course you’re mah daughter! Why in Equestria would ya think otherwise?”
“Braeburn?” A pale unicorn with a painstakingly styled mane appeared at the door. “Topaz, what in the world is going on? Shouldn’t you both be getting your beauty sleep?”
“Rarity, you would not believe what our daughter just said to me,” Braeburn told his wife. “She just asked me if we really love her and if she’s really ours.”
“Oh, that is simply ridiculous!” Rarity exclaimed, and she joined her husband in cuddling little Topaz. “Darling, of course we love you! Why would you ever have reason to think otherwise?”
“It was the fillies at school,” the sobbing Topaz explained. “They told me... They told me that-that you didn’t really love me *sniff* that you were just pretending, and that... that I was adopted and that-that you didn’t... didn’t care about me at all! I just- I didn’t know-”
“What do those bullies know about yer family?” asked Braeburn. “’Course yer our daughter!”
“Topaz, I want you to look at us,” said Rarity. She released the filly, wiped her tearful eyes dry, and placed a hoof on her chest. “You have a coat which is as white as diamonds. What colour is my coat?”
“Um, white,” Topaz replied uncertainly.
“And what colour is my mane?”
The filly turned her eyes upon the unicorn’s gently curling locks of deep violet.
“Purple,” she said eventually, “like mine. And-and before you say it, my eyes are blue, just like yours.”
“Of course they are,” said Rarity. “Now look at your father.” She placed a hoof on his shoulders and he gazed lovingly into her face.
“He is an earth pony with the most scruffy mane I have ever seen in all my days,” she ruffled it affectionately, knocking his cowpony hat off in the process. “And he is the most handsome, most loving pony I have ever met in all my days. And look at you: a simply lovely, if rather scruffy, absolutely beautiful little filly.”
“Now do ya really think we ain’t blood?” asked Braeburn.
Topaz sniffed and wiped her eyes.
“When you put it that way,” she said slowly, “I guess you must be my real parents. But-but they sounded so sure.”
“Darlin’, those foals are nothin’ but bullies,” said Braeburn. “They don’t know nothin’ ‘bout our family. Topaz, you are our whole world.”
“We have no idea what we’d do if we ever lost you,” said Rarity. “The two of you stay here, and I shall prepare us some cocoa. Celestia knows what time it is.”
“Here,” said Braeburn as she left. He removed his trademark vest and placed it upon Topaz’s shoulders. “Ah was gonna save this fer yer birthday, but... it kinda seems like ya need it now.”
“But-but Dad, this is-” Topaz began.
“Ah know, Ah know!” said Braeburn. “But mah pa passed it onta me when Ah was your age, so it-it seemed like the time was right.”
Topaz hugged the comfy leather around her shoulders.
“Wait a sec,” said her father, and he helped her pull her forelegs through the holes provided.
“Now ya look like an Apple pony,” he commented. “Don’t ya move a muscle, ya hear? Ah’m gonna help yer mom with the cocoa.”
When he was gone, Topaz removed the vest, held it to her muzzle and took a deep sniff, before smiling and sighing contentedly.
It smelled of family.