In the days following the news of Applejack and Twilight Sparkle's relationship, things were surprisingly normal. After returning from Rainbow Dash's house, the two mares bid one another farewell, and Applejack headed home - she had been gone for days, after all, and the earth pony certainly didn't want to her family to worry.
For a while, things were quiet. Pleasant. Peaceful. In many ways, it was almost as if nothing had really changed at all. Twilight had her studies, Applejack had her orchards, and both mares still spent time with each other and with their friends. What moments they did share with one another, however, were often some of their happiest. Even when out in public or in the midst of their friends, they seemed to always have time for one another, some little way to show their affection. Perhaps their tails would playfully intertwine, or they would sneak in a nose rub here and there - whatever the case, it almost always lead to gleeful giggles from their friends, and a faint smile from each other.
Both Applejack and Twilight knew they were living on borrowed time, however. Big Macintosh had done an admirable job thus far in keeping Granny Smith unaware of their budding relationship, but they would have to open up soon enough, and neither of them were looking forward to such an event. The Apple family, as Twilight was already well-aware of, certainly leaned towards the conservative side, something that had steadily been disappearing over the past few years. At the end of the day, though, the elders within the family were still in-charge, and Applejack certainly wouldn't be able to rest easy until they had given their approval.
Such a thing was certainly going to be a monumental feat, but Twilight Sparkle had already told herself that she wasn't going to worry over it until the day itself finally rolled around. She had almost immediately begun organizing for an eventual trip to Canterlot, and it didn't take long at all until she had bought two round-trip tickets. Said tickets currently sat upon her table, and the unicorn was currently in the midst of writing a letter to her mentor.
Dear Princess Celestia,
Well, it's official - Applejack and I will be in Canterlot within a week! All I could find were some late-night train tickets, but it'll have to do. Our friends all know about our relationship now, and they all approve, but we still have to open up about it to our families. I'll admit, I'm both excited and a little bit worried about introducing Applejack to my parents - there's not a doubt in my mind that they'll be fine with it, but I'm still nervous about it.
What I'm really worried about is breaking the news to Applejack's family. The Apples have apparently always been against that sort of thing, and though we've got the support of Applejack's older brother, I'm still not sure if it'll be enough. It'll be any day now, and as nervous as I am about it, I think we'll get through it together. As long as we've got each other, I think we can handle anything.
And of course, I'll be sure to visit while Applejack and I are in Canterlot. I'm still not sure how you managed to figure out we were together, but you have no idea how happy I am that you seem to approve of it. It's been an awful long time since we've talked at-length anyways, and I'm sure you'll love talking with Applejack. If you'll excuse the pun, she's incredibly down-to-earth, and I think she'll enjoy getting to talk with you herself.
See you soon!
Your faithful student,
With the letter finished, she set her quill down and carefully rolled up the parchment before stamping it shut with a wax seal. Just as she was about to pull a book out to keep herself busy, however, there was a knock at her front door, and she quickly hurried towards it. As she pulled open the door, Twilight found herself faced with something that hadn't been entirely unexpected - a rather solemn-looking Applejack. "AJ?"
The earth pony sighed and glanced off to the side. "She knows, Twi."
"...Horseapples." Twilight Sparkle frowned and slowly shook her head. "How bad was it, Applejack?"
"Bad. Never seen Granny so mad in mah entire life. 'course, it was Apple Bloom's first time hearin' about it too, so she's got an awful lot of questions. Macintosh is keepin' th' peace for th' time bein' though, an' Granny told me ta come an' get ya. Said she's gonna 'straighten this nonsense out'."
The lavender mare rolled her eyes. "Gee, wonder what that could mean."
"Whatever it is, it ain't gonna be good." Applejack briefly glanced around once more before looking in Twilight's direction. "C'mon, sugarcube. Might as well get this over with."
The unicorn turned around and promptly yelled back into the library."Right. Spike, I'm going out for a bit! Dunno if I'll be back tonight! Take care of yourself and don't burn the place down!"
There was an unintelligible yell back, but it apparently satisfied Twilight, and the two mares soon set off. As they began to make their way toward Sweet Apple Acres, Applejack let out another sigh. "Twi, can I be honest with ya?"
"I thought you were always honest, AJ?"
"That's not what I meant. I meant... more honest than usual."
Twilight raised an eyebrow and briefly glanced towards the earth pony. "Sure, Applejack."
Applejack stopped in her tracks, and after Twilight followed suit, the orange mare slowly shook her head. "...I'm scared, Twi. Really scared. I mean, Granny doesn' get angry. It just doesn' happen. But... what I saw today. She wasn' just angry, Twilight. She was furious."
The unicorn leaned forward and gave her girlfriend a reassuring peck on the cheek, as well as a comforting smile. "We'll get through this, Applejack. We've been through hell and high water - we can do this. Just trust me, okay?"
Slowly, Applejack nodded and continued her march towards the farm, and Twilight quickly resumed as well. There was no looking back now, and as they pressed on, the earth pony spoke up once again, a hint of anxiety in her voice.
"I'll try, darlin'. I'll try."
Immediately upon arriving at Sweet Apple Acres, Twilight Sparkle could already tell something was amiss. The very same orchards she had visited so often in the past now seemed rather foreboding, and she cast a worried glance towards some of the trees before hurrying to catch up with Applejack. Every step made towards the farmhouse was one of reluctance, and Twilight continued to nervously look around as she followed the earth pony. She didn't want to admit it, especially not now, but there was something about the place that simply made her feel unwelcome. She had been here time and time again, and yet it now felt as if she wasn't wanted there.
After a few more steps, they stood outside the front door to the farmhouse, and Applejack let out one last sigh before slowly nudging the door open and stepping inside. Twilight quickly followed her in, and immediately noticed the presence of three familiar faces at the kitchen table. At the head of the table sat Granny Smith, a scowl upon her face, and Twilight quickly had the feeling that the mare was watching her every move with intense scrutiny. To Granny's right sat Big Macintosh and Apple Bloom - the stallion had a faint frown upon his face and was nervously rubbing his front hooves together, and the poor filly looked absolutely scared to death. To Granny's left were two empty chairs, and it was fairly obvious who they were intended for. Begrudgingly, both Applejack and Twilight Sparkle made their way towards the empty chairs, and both of them carefully took a seat.
Silence prevailed for the next few minutes. Granny Smith glared at the both of them, and Twilight found herself intertwining her tail with Applejack's as a small show of support. Macintosh continued to simply stare at the table, and Apple Bloom quickly glanced back and forth between the two of them. The time seemed to simply drag on, but at last, Granny Smith cleared her throat and spoke. "Ya'll know why I brought ya here."
Both Twilight and Applejack briefly looked towards one another, and the unicorn quickly deferred to Applejack. The earth pony lowered her head and sighed, her voice barely above a whisper. "...yes'm."
"Thought ya could jus' slip right on by an' keep up this silly little affair without me knowin'?"
"We were gonna tell ya, Granny." Applejack glanced towards Granny Smith, but quickly went back to staring at the table. "Honest."
"We? We?" The elderly mare let out a derisive laugh, and narrowed her eyes at her granddaughter. "Yer honestly goin' along with all this, Applejack? Thinkin' yer gonna be happy with this harlot?"
The very mention of such a thing set Applejack off, and the orange mare quickly stood up, knocking her chair backwards as she pounded a hoof on the table. "Don' you dare call her that!"
"It's the truth! All this 'colt-cuddlin' and 'filly-foolin'... it never ends well. Never! Th' Apple family has spent generation after generation, raisin' our kids th' right way an' teachin' 'em how things are supposed to be done. Yer never gonna be happy with her, an' you know it."
"That ain't true, Granny!" Applejack pounded a hoof once more, and she was beginning to visibly shake as she yelled back at her grandmother. "Twi cares about me! We went through so much jus' tryin' ta save you, an' ever since me an' Twi got together, it's th' happiest I've ever been! You... yer not gonna try an' ruin all that, are ya?"
Granny Smith huffed and shook her head. "Ain't about ta lose one of mah granddaughters ta this filly-fooler nonsense. You turn ta her an' tell her yer done, then th' two of us are gonna have a talk."
"...what did you say?"
"I said no." Applejack narrowed her eyes at Granny Smith and leaned on the table as she stared the elderly mare down.
"I can't believe what I'm hearin'!" Granny Smith let out a groan and shook her head, pounding a hoof of her own upon the table as she returned the stare. "An' what would yer parents think about all this, hm?"
Upon hearing mention of her parents, Applejack's eyes flew open and she began to back away from the table. "...s-shut up. Jus'... shut up!"
"Do ya think they'd be happy about all this, Applejack? Happy ta see what their own daughter has become?"
"I said shut up!" Tears were already beginning to well up, and the earth pony shook her head furiously.
Granny Smith scowled at her and pounded a hoof once more. "I ain't gonna let my own granddaughter back-sass me! I think yer parents would be pretty damn ashamed of ya! Yer a damned filly-fooler, an' a disgrace to th' Apple family name!"
Such a verbal and emotional onslaught had caused Applejack to begin to tremble, and before she could say anything further, the earth pony burst into tears and fled up the stairs to her room. Everypony at the kitchen table, save for Granny Smith, winced upon hearing a door slam shut. There were further sobs from upstairs, and all too soon did Twilight realize that she was beginning to shake as well. The unicorn stared at Granny Smith in disbelief, slowly shaking her head. "How... how could you say such a thing? Why would you say such a thing?!"
The elderly mare closed her eyes and sighed. "She needed ta be taught a lesson. All this coulda been avoided if you had jus' kept yer mouth shut and stayed quiet about how ya felt. This is all yer fault."
Twilight Sparkle could scarcely believe what she was being told, and she let out a little laugh. "...my fault? This is my fault? I wasn't the one who sent her running upstairs in tears! That was you!"
Granny Smith narrowed her eyes and snarled at the unicorn. "It was still yer fault! If you had kept quiet, none of this ever woulda happened! I know I raised mah grandkids right - it's yer fault. You did somethin'."
The unicorn blinked, taken aback. "W-what? What are you even trying to say?"
"I'm sayin' you did somethin' ta mah granddaughter. You probably put a spell or somethin' on her while you two were out an' about, somethin' ta help ya seduce her."
"You... you can't be serious! I helped save your life! I saved Applejack's life too!"
Granny shook her head again and huffed. "I ain't hearin' it. I don' want you goin' near mah granddaughter ever again. Usin' yer magic ta twist another pony's emotions... you oughta be ashamed of-"
Before the elderly mare could speak any further, she found herself cut off, and she quickly backed away from the table. What shocked her wasn't the fact that somepony was trying to fight back, but rather, it was who that somepony was. As Granny Smith stared across the table, Macintosh and Twilight Sparkle soon joined in, and the three of them stared at a rather defiant-looking filly. Apple Bloom had hopped up onto the table and was glaring at Granny Smith, and both Macintosh and Twilight soon began to understand the gravity of the situation - Apple Bloom had been taught most of her life to respect her elders, and for her to even stand up to somepony such as Granny Smith was a big deal indeed. The filly stomped a hoof upon the table and let out an irritated growl as she stared down her own grandmother. "Granny, how could ya say such mean things? Applejack's yer own granddaughter, and Twilight's always been awful nice! She's helped out on the farm, and she even saved ya!"
Granny Smith certainly couldn't tolerate such insubordination, and she angrily stomped a hoof upon the floor. "Apple Bloom! Mind yer elders an' get down from there this instant!"
"I ain't gonna! You keep spoutin' off this garbage about how mom an' pop would hate Applejack fer what she's doin', an' how ashamed they'd be, but it's wrong! It's all wrong! Pop was yer own son, an' you don' even know him!"
"Apple Bloom! Be quiet!"
"No!" The filly stomped a hoof once more, and she angrily shook her head. "He loved us! All of us! An' Macintosh always told me that he'd love us an' be proud of us, no matter what! An' instead, yer twistin' it all! Yer a liar!"
The elderly mare certainly hadn't been expecting such a tirade from little Apple Bloom, and she found herself increasingly shaken by each and every word. "A-Apple Bloom! Stop it this instant!"
"Yer nothin' but a bitter old hag who don' give a hoot about her own grandkids! Yer so caught up in what you want that yer willin' ta destroy everythin' that makes Applejack happy, jus' so you can be happy! If anypony oughta be ashamed, it's you!" With tears beginning to well up in her eyes, Apple Bloom hopped off the table and stomped up the stairs, and it was soon followed by the slam of a door.
Granny Smith fell to her haunches and began to slowly shake her head, and as she did so, Macintosh hopped off his chair and made his way towards the stairs. She quickly looked up towards him, a pleading look upon her face. "Macintosh! You think I'm right, don'tcha?"
The red stallion glared at her and shook his head. "I'm not gonna be part of somethin' so hurtful, 'specially not if yer willin' to do this to AJ. There's some things in this world more important than 'tradition'. It's high-time you learn that, Granny."
As Macintosh made his way up the stairs, the only two ponies still left in the kitchen were Twilight Sparkle and Granny Smith. For the longest time, Twilight simply stared at Granny, pity in her eyes as she watched the elderly mare. As the minutes ticked by, she continued to watch Granny Smith, until she eventually had enough. With a huff, Twilight hopped off her chair and stared at the earth pony before heading towards the stairs. "You brought this on yourself, Granny Smith. I hope you're happy."
After it was all said and done, only a few minutes had passed, and yet so very much had changed. From her spot upon the kitchen floor, the elderly mare let out a sigh and lowered her head. It had been a harsh lesson to learn, especially because of how fast it had all happened, but she had certainly learned it. And now, she would be left to ponder it.
Not surprisingly, the rest of the day had been a rather delicate state of affairs. After the confrontation in the kitchen, Big Macintosh and Twilight were left with the rather difficult task of attempting to repair the damage Granny Smith had caused, and both of them had immediately set to work.
While Macintosh checked in on Apple Bloom, Twilight busied herself with trying to cheer Applejack up, and she soon realized just how hard that might be. The earth pony's parents had always been a sore spot for her, and to have them used against her by her own grandmother had been more hurtful than Twilight initially thought. Applejack was nearly inconsolable, and despite using nearly every trick in the book, nothing the unicorn did really seemed to help at all. She tried reading, words of encouragement, and various displays of affection, but none of that ever made a real difference. After exhausting her list of options, Twilight Sparkle simply held Applejack close, shutting her eyes tightly as the earth pony continued to cry. It had hurt before to see Applejack in such emotional pain, and now that they were together, it hurt even more.
Eventually, Applejack began to settle down, and she fell asleep not long after. With a bit of magical effort on her part, Twilight managed to move the earth pony into her bed, and she let out a weary sigh after tucking her in. Despite the fact that Applejack was now fast asleep, Twilight was fiercely determined not to leave her side, and the lavender mare slowly lowered herself to the floor, groaning as she gave her legs a stretch. Even though she was tired, she couldn't sleep, nor did she want to - she simply wanted to rest.
The unicorn picked up her head and looked towards the door, a faint smile beginning to spread across her face. "Hey Apple Bloom."
"...Sorry, didn't mean ta bother ya."
"Nah, you're not interrupting anything." Twilight picked herself up a bit and waved a hoof at the filly, beckoning her to come further in. "C'mere. You've... no doubt got some questions."
Apple Bloom nodded and slowly walked into the room, taking a seat in front of the unicorn. "Kinda, yeah."
"Well, what's on your mind?"
"How's Applejack doin'?"
Twilight briefly glanced over her shoulder, then laid down again once more, resting her head against the floor and looking up at the filly. "She'll be fine, I think. She's asleep right now, but she's had a rough day. We all have, really."
"Guessin' that's why yer on the floor?"
"Mhmm... I'm tired, but not tired enough to sleep, if that makes any sense."
"It does." Apple Bloom briefly tapped a hoof against the floor, then looked over at the bed. "So... mah sister's got a special somepony now?"
The unicorn smiled and sat up once more, nodding. "Yep. Do you... have anything you wanna ask? I mean, I know this is all really new for you, but..."
"I jus' dunno yet, Twilight. It's an awful lot ta think about, but... I'm glad Applejack's got a special somepony now." The filly briefly glanced about before lowering her voice to a whisper. "Mah sister would never admit it, but she always got kinda mopey around Hearts an' Hooves Day."
"Yeah... think she was startin' ta get lonely. But yer gonna fix that now, right?"
"Right." Twilight slowly nodded and briefly chewed on her lip before looking towards the filly. "Apple Bloom, I just wanted to say that... what you did down there, in the kitchen? That was... thoughtful of you."
"It wasn't anythin' special. It's jus' that... after hearin' Granny say those things ta Applejack, and hearin' her treat you the same way, I jus' couldn't take it anymore."
"...so you spoke up."
Apple Bloom slowly nodded. "Mhm."
"Well, thank you. It's always nice to know somepony's got your back." Twilight gave her a warm smile, and the yellow filly quickly returned it before darting out the bedroom door. As she left, the lavender mare laid her head upon the floor once more and let out a soft sigh. Going by the shadows that danced across the floor, she was willing to bet that it was mid-afternoon. It wouldn't be long before Macintosh would begin to make preparations for dinner, but Twilight had the feeling that neither she nor Applejack would want to eat.
After everything that had transpired, however, it was likely for the best if the earth pony simply continued to sleep. With a soft yawn, the unicorn gave her legs another stretch and slowly closed her eyes.
Sleep sounds nice...
When she next awoke, night had already fallen, and Twilight let out a soft groan as she began to sit up. She had certainly slept longer than she anticipated, and as she looked around the moonlit room, she noticed that Applejack had moved from her former position and was now facing towards the window. As the unicorn slowly got to her hooves, she let out another groan, and her ears twitched as a voice called out to her.
"Guessin' yer up, Twi."
The lavender mare turned towards the bed, a faint yawn slipping out as she gave her hood a good shake. "How long have you been up, AJ?"
"A while. Can't get back ta sleep either, an' I didn' wanna wake ya up, so..." The earth pony let out a sigh and she shifted slightly. "...been layin' here, lookin' at th' moon."
"Applejack, you could've woken me up. I wouldn't have cared."
"I know, jus'... didn' want to." Applejack glanced over her shoulder at Twilight before settling back down. "You comin' ta bed?"
"Well, I'm not exactly tired now, but I wouldn't mind some 'us' time." With a grin on her face, the unicorn made her way towards the bed and quickly slipped beneath the covers, letting out a content sigh as she snuggled up against Applejack. "...feeling any better?"
The orange mare was more than eager to press back against her, and Applejack seemed to relax a bit in Twilight's embrace. "A lil' bit. I stepped out fer a bit while you were asleep, an' Macintosh told me what went down after I left."
"So... you know about what she said to me, then. And about what Apple Bloom did."
"Mhm." Applejack quietly snickered and shook her head. "That girl's just as stubborn as me, but... I'm pretty darn proud of her fer doin' what she did."
"I think we all are, AJ." Twilight's horn softly glowed as she used her magic to pull a few errant strands of Applejack's mane away from her face, and the unicorn frowned somewhat. "What about Granny? Has she said anything else?"
Another head shake. "Nah. All Macintosh said was that she's been doin' some thinkin', an' that she's been awfully quiet."
"Oh... well, maybe she'll have an answer for us in the morning. We should probably get some sleep."
"That's th' thing, Twi. I can't go ta sleep. I've got too much on mah mind now."
"I think somepony is a little stressed out right now..." The unicorn gave Applejack's neck a nuzzle, a faint smile upon her face. "Want me to fix it?"
"...Fix it?" The earth pony rolled over in bed, turning to face Twilight. "Fix it how?"
"Oh, I have an idea..." Twilight leaned towards Applejack's nightstand and opened it up, rummaging through it and she had eventually managed to find what she needed. With a mischievous little grin, the lavender mare slipped beneath the covers. "I think you'll like this."
"Uh, Twi? What th' hay do ya mean by th-" Applejack's eyes flew open, and she let out a quiet yelp. "Alright, definitely wasn' expectin' that."
"Quit moving and just try to relax a bit."
"Alrighty." The earth pony settled down somewhat, and as she began truly relax, she let out a delighted sigh. "This... actually feels pretty darn good, Twi."
The bump in the covers shifted slightly, and soon spoke up. "What, you've never had this done before?"
"Oh ho, I'm just getting started."
"Hoo boy..." Applejack gave her neck a stretch, and a low groan escaped her lips not long after. "Ohh, right there, Twi!"
The orange mare nodded fervently and groaned once more. "...that's th' spot. Oh Celestia, that feels great..."
Over the next few minutes, Applejack could simply feel her stress begin to melt away, and there were several more sighs and groans. Much to her embarrassment, there was even a moan or two, something that elicited giggles from Twilight. In fact, Applejack was so caught up in what was happening, she had failed to notice the knock upon her door, as well as her brother's arrival.
"Applejack, ya mind keepin' it down? Some of us are tryin' ta-" The stallion paused, mid-sentence, and stared at Applejack. She stared back. And then he noticed a rather large bump in the blankets. With his face now beet red, Macintosh began to apologize profusely, and quickly backed out of the room. "So sorry, AJ! I mean, I knocked an' all, but ya didn' answer, an'... so sorry fer disturbin' the two of ya."
"Wait, it ain't what it..." Applejack frowned as the door quickly shut, and she sighed. "...looks like."
Not long after, Twilight popped up from beneath the blankets, a faint frown upon her face. "Wait, Macintosh?"
"He was here?"
"...and he thought we were..."
The unicorn sighed, her ears flattening slightly. "Oh dear. That's gonna be difficult to explain in the morning."
"Tell me about it."
"So... I'm guessing you don't want me to file your hooves or massage your legs anymore?"
"Nah, s'alright darlin'. I do feel a bit better though." Applejack pulled Twilight up, giving her muzzle a gentle kiss. "Though, I gotta ask..."
Twilight quickly placed the file back in the earth pony's nightstand, closing it before rolling over to embrace Applejack once more. "Hm?"
"Where th' hay did ya learn ta do those things?"
"Oh, that." The unicorn blushed faintly and gave a sheepish grin. "I read about it. A girl's gotta know how to take care of herself."
"That she does." Applejack grinned in return and gave the lavender mare a hug. "I think I'm ready fer some shut-eye. Gonna join me?"
With a smile upon her face, Twilight gave the earth pony a quick kiss and eagerly snuggled up against her.