I am a very humble person aspiring to begin writing some fanfics.
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Applejack sighed, leaning back against a tree for balance. She looked over the orchard, where many of the trees still bore fruit. She looked at the cart beside her. It was completely filled with apples, a small hill of them coming up and almost dropping from the cart. She looked down the row of trees at the barn. It seemed a million miles away. She hadn't felt this lonely since she'd gone to Aunt and Uncle Orange's. Granny Smith was visiting some relatives in Manehattan, Big Macintosh was at Canterlot, Apple Bloom was staying with Rarity during Apple Bucking season, and Applejack was left to tend to the farm and do all the work. She had thought about sending a message to Braeburn, but she didn't really want to be a bother. It felt a bit strange for her, it wasn't something she'd ever worried about, bothering anypony, but apparently, that's one of the things you develop with age. She stood up straight, her legs threatening to collapse. She laid down on the ground.
"I'll just take a lil' ole' nap right here." She yawned, having been working for about three days straight. She settled in, curling into a small ball, wrapping her tail over her own nose. "Goodnight Applejack." She sighed gently, dozing off almost immediately.
Applejack woke up after what felt like ages, her eyes too tired to open. She yawned, stretching out, her legs sore and aching. She winced a bit, opening her eyes a bit. She recognized the shape of her small bedroom in the farmhouse.She blinked a bit, looking about her. The bedroom was definitely hers. A picture of her, Apple Bloom, and Big Macintosh sat on the stand next to the bed, from just slightly after Apple Bloom was born. She smiled slightly, that day being one of her best memories. The room was very simple, the walls made of simple wood paneling, the only light coming in from the open window. Small bits of dust floated through the light, distracting Applejack's tired mind. She shook her head a bit, looking up. Her hat was hung on the small hook above short wooden bed. Her plaid blankets lay over her, and she was tucked in just how her mother used to tuck her in. She blinked. "What in the hay?" She sat up in the bed, rubbing her sore back.
"Oh, good, you're up." A small voice said. "Sorry for moving you, but I was a bit worried with you out there."
Applejack could swear she'd heard that voice before. She looked over to the source and she did, in fact, recognize the speaker. "Well, now, if it ain't Little Strongheart. What're you doin' 'round here?"
"Well, I came into town to buy some supplies for some renovations they're doing to Appleloosa... with the chief's consent, of course. Braeburn told me I should stop by and visit you while I was here. I saw you sleeping and I figured that I'd take you to bed. This room looked like it could be yours, so I took you here." Little Strongheart smiled at her.
Applejack smiled back thankfully for a moment, then gasped as she had a realization. "The apples! I have to go get the apples and get to work!"
"Settle down." Little Strongheart said. "I took the apples into the barn and I even bucked a few trees for you. The buffalo have been helping with the harvest lately. We're basically Appleloosians by now, we visit so often."
Applejack laid back, sighing with relief. "I don't know how to thank ya', Little Strongheart. Shouldn't you be heading back, though? It's gettin' pretty late."
Strongheart shook her head. "I sent a letter with the mailpony. She's a bit strange, but she's pretty nice. She didn't even mind going all the way out to Appleloosa. I told them that I was going to stay here and help you. I can just sleep in a hotel or something."
"Oh, really?" Applejack was a bit taken aback. "Well y'all don't have ta' go to a hotel or nothin', I'm here alone for a while, y'all can take Big Mac's room if ya' want."
"Oh, I don't want to be bothersome." Little Strongheart shook her head. "I still feel bad for taking Bloomberg, after all."
"Oh, don't you worry your silly head none." Applejack waved a hoof. "Water under the bridge. Yer' helping me with the harvest anyways."
"Well, in that case, thank you very much." Little Strongheart said, still looking a bit uncomfortable.
"Why, it'll be just like a sleepover... with no Rarity!" Applejack chuckled a bit at her own joke.
LIttle Strongheart cocked her head a bit. "What?"
"Long story." Applejack laughed.
Little Strongheart nodded a bit, still quite curious. She looked around the room absentmindedly, her eyes lighting on a small picture frame next to the bed. She stared at the picture, a strange knot appearing in her throat. The picture was of a younger Applejack, standing in front of a small apple tree sapling. At her side was a large red stallion with an apple half on his flank, an enormous smile on his face. On his back sat a tiny filly, no older than two years of age, a comically large red bow neatly tied in her mane. She was yellow, with a bright red mane that bore a strong semblance to the setting sun. The filly was grinning happily, her hooves wrapped around the stallion's neck.
Little Strongheart scrutinized the photographs, finding herself unable to pull away. "I didn't know you had a mate, Applejack." She tsked quietly. "And aren't you a little young to have a filly?"
Applejack laughed a bit. "No, no no." She shook her head. "Those're my kin. That's my brother, Big Macintosh. He's two years older than I am, and he handles all the financial matters on the farm. I never was one for those fancy mathematics." She waved a hoof absently. "The filly is my sister, Apple Bloom. She's seven years younger than me, and she tends to be a hooffull, but she's a good kid. You may recognize Bloomberg, he's the saplin' in the background."
Little Strongheart stared at the picture. "Why aren't your parents in the picture?"
Applejack sighed a bit, her smile slipping for the first time. "Ma' died while giving birth to Apple Bloom, and I ain't seen Pa' in years."
"I'm very sorry to hear that." Little Strongheart looked at the ground, feeling bad for having brought it up.
"It's fine." Applejack forced a smile. "After all, Big Macintosh is the best father figure a foal could ever want.
Little Strongheart sighed, her chest hurting her a bit. "I wish I had a father figure. My mother died shortly after I was born, in the yearly stampede, and my father is far too busy with his duties."
"Duties? What duties does your father have?" Applejack asked curiously.
"Duties as chief. Didn't you know? Chief Thunderhooves is my father." Little Strongheart sighed a bit. "Doesn't surprise me he wouldn't tell anyone, after all, he doesn't even seem to know I exist. I suppose I should be thankful. It sounds like your life's been harder than mine."
"I won't disagree with ya'." Applejack shook her head. "Each year's been a little harder for us. We've lost more and more apples each harvest, and that means we can't afford to hire help to buck the apples. And with all the disasters happenin' lately, mostly due to somepony or another's antics, our trees are getting destroyed out there!" She took a deep breath to calm her. The sky outside began to darken. "What the-? The pegasus ponies should have taken care of this! There was no rain scheduled for today!" She jumped out of bed, wincing a bit, her legs sore from apple bucking. She looked out the window at the gently rolling dark clouds, lighting arcing from one to the ground with a loud clap that could have waken even an ursa major. Applejack sighed. "Well, looks like you may be stuck here for a few days, this one looks like it'll be a doozy."
"I don't mind." Little Strongheart smiled a bit. "It'll be nice to have another female to talk to. I'm the only one in the tribe. "
"That's gotta be hard, havin' all that pressure on ya'." Applejack nodded a bit.
"Pressure?" Little Strongheart blinked.
"Well, yeah, it's mating season, after all." Applejack said.
Little Strongheart blinked. "What?"
"The time when all creatures get together and... well... they..." Applejack struggled with how to describe it.
"Oh, you mean they do it?" Little Strongheart asked.
Applejack's jaw dropped. "Where'd you learn something like that, L.S.?!"
"I've learned all kinds of things while hanging out around Appleloosa." Little Strongheart said. "I haven't actually tried it, but I've heard about it."
"Well, if y'all want to avoid it, perhaps y'all should just move here." Applejack said. "We have more than enough females to go around, it's males we gotta worry about."
"Wait... you mean here with you?" Little Strongheart asked.
"Interestin'..." Applejack laughed a bit. "But not quite what I had in mind. I was jus' sayin' you should move to Ponyville. We cater to all sorts here." Applejack smiled at her.
"Oh, of course. Little Strongheart felt the stinging in her chest return with a vengeance. It felt strange, wanting to get a feel for this broken family. The feeling of loneliness, the feeling of wanting a family like Applejacks, a family that cared about each other. Not a distant father, a dead mother, and a tribe that saw her as nothing more than their chance for reproduction. When Applejack spoke of her family, there was something visible in her eyes. A sense of love that surpassed anything Little Strongheart had ever seen. The love of a family. She shook her head, quickly wiping a tear from her eye.
"Ya' okay, there, L.S.?" Applejack asked.
Little Strongheart stared out the window for a bit, trying to come up with a response. Rain had begun falling gently. The leaves of the apple trees shuddered with anticipation of the coming storm. The rain glistened on the shiny apples. Reds, greens, yellows, all co-mingling, just as the buffalo were doing with the settler ponies, and just as Little Strongheart's heart was leading her to. There was something about the apple trees that made her feel everything on a deeper level. She loved apple trees. She never complained when the settler ponies were moving in because she got to see all of the pretty little trees, which were then just saplings. There was something beautiful about it, the process by which small trees become big trees, which become bald trees, which then go back to being a regular tree. The circulation of it had always impressed Little Strongheart. Perhaps when she got older, she too would become bald, only to once again grow all of her coat back and be strong once more. She found herself smiling at the thought of herself with leaves all over her.
"Little Strongheart? Y'all alright?" Applejack repeated.
Little Strongheart found herself blushing a bit, not realizing that she had spaced out. Suddenly, she remembered what she was talking about, and the bad feelings came back in spades. Her feelings of loneliness, of worry, of not knowing what was to come, but worst of all, the feeling of loving somepony she knew she would not be with. The feeling of the respect she had grown for Applejack possibly not being returned. The worst feeling in the world, the feeling of unrequited love. "Y-yeah." She coughed a bit. "I'm fine."
"Do y'all think ya' can get away with lyin' to the bearer of the Element of Honesty?" Applejack raised her eyebrow a bit.
"W-what do you mean?" Little Strongheart shifted nervously.
"I can tell 'yer lyin'. Don't try to say you ain't, because I can tell you are." Applejack nodded at her, sitting back on her haunches. "I promise I won't make a peep 'bout it unless y'all want me to."
"Well..." Little Strongheart thought for a moment. She wondered how much she should say. She wanted to tell Applejack how she felt, how her dreams for the past year had been haunted by her visage. How every waking moment filled her with dread because she loved a pony that couldn't love her back. She wanted to tell her how every night she'd be unable to sleep because her thoughts would always turn to Applejack. She wanted to say so much, but she knew she could not. She thought of how best to tell Applejack her feelings. "I'm..." She wanted to badly to say "I'm in love with you," but she just couldn't, so she quickly came up with an excuse. "I'm jealous of you, Applejack." Her statement was not a lie, she truly was jealous of the gorgeous orange pony.
"Jealous? Of me?" Applejack asked, seeming almost amused by the notion.
"Yeah." Little Strongheart was a bit relieved she didn't say what she was really thinking. "You have a job, a loving family, and all of those friends you have... All I have is my tribe, and they don't even really like me that much.
"Oh, sure they do, sugar cube." Applejack patted Little Strongheart's back comfortingly.
Electricity ran down Little Strongheart's spine at her crush's touch. She bit her lips to stop herself from saying anything about it. She cleared her throat a bit. "Not for anything other than doin-" She paused for a moment, looking to Applejack. "Other than mating." She corrected.
"Now I don't believe that 'fer one second. Not that I don't think that they want to mate with you, but I think they like you and want to mate with you..." Applejack frowned a bit. "Wait, that didn't quite come out right. Anyways, about your sleeping arrangements, it's just me an' Apple loom here 'til matin' season's over. Problem is, Big Macintosh never really cared for beds, said they were too unnatural or somethin'..." Applejack laughed a bit at the ridiculousness of it all. "Anyways, his room's just got straw. I s'pose we could be bed buddies, if y'all don't have an issue with that." Applejack suggested.
"Yes!" Little Strongheart said quickly. She blushed lightly, coughing a bit. "I mean... sure, if you want."
Applejack looked at Little Strongheart strangely, cocking her head a bit. "Anyways..." She finally ceased her scrutiny, turning her head back to the window. "So, why'd you say you came here again?" She sat in front of the window, staring out at the apple trees.
"Well, the chief... my dad sent me to Appleloosa to help them get ready for winter. They sent me here to pick up some supplies. I don't really remember what they were. I mean, it seems like they'd be able to get most supplies there, but who am I to judge. They surely know what they need."
Little Strongheart shrugged a bit. "I'm just glad to leave all of those males back there."
"So, does that mean..." Applejack coughed a bit. "Are you one of them that likes... that likes females?"
"Never really thought about it." Little Strongheart shrugged. "It's really more that there's someone I had in mind..." She began kicking herself mentally. Why did I just say that?! She screamed inside her head.
"You go, gal. Who is it?" Applejack asked. "Come on, spill it."
"Well..." Little Strongheart bit her lip. "It's somepony you know..."
"A pony I know?" Applejack thought for a moment. "Oh! Braeburn! It's gotta be Braeburn. Good job, L.S., he's quite the catch."
Little Strongheart braced herself, ready to confess, ready to tell Applejack just how she felt. "No, it's..."
"It's Rarity, ain't it? I don't know a mare or a stallion alive that ain't thought of it at one point." Applejack nodded.
Little Strongheart sighed a bit. This confession would be easier without the interruptions. "No! It's..."
"Don't tell me it's Spike. I know y'all like dragons, but I didn't think you liked them." Applejack grimaced a bit.
Little Strongheart groaned loudly. "It's you!" Little Strongheart screamed. "I like you..." Her voice trailed off, the weight of her confession setting in slowly. She looked to the floor, wanting nothing more than to jump out of the window, but her small legs refused to move.
"Oh..." Applejack said quietly.
"I'm sorry." Little Strongheart sighed. "Go ahead and tell me that you don't like me back." She felt very childish saying such a thing, as if she was going to pout at any moment. More than anything, though, she wanted to cry. Tears pushed through her eyelids, wetting her cheeks as they rolled gently down her cheeks.
"I can't..." Applejack said after a few minutes. "I can't say that honestly..."
Little Strongheart's ears perked up a bit. "Really?"
Applejack shrugged slowly. "You're rugged, strong, and perty cute." She sighed quietly. "Unfortunately, I don't really have the time or energy for a relationship these days..."
"Oh... of course..." Little Strongheart sighed.
Applejack frowned. "Of course, we'll be stuck here alone for a few days until the rain clears up, and Apple Bloom's always wantin' to stay at Rarity's, apparently she lets them sleep in the boutique. We could always just hang out for a few days and see where it takes us."
Little Strongheart looked up at Applejack. "Hang out?"
"Y'know, hang out." Applejack shrugged. She thought for a moment. "Although, if the weather allows, I've got somewhere to be tonight."
"Where?" Little Strongheart asked.
"Well, y'all remember Pinkie Pie, don'tcha?" Little Strongheart nodded. "Well, in a few hours, she's getting married." Applejack sighed a bit.
"Really?" Little Strongheart gasped.
"Really." Applejack nodded. "I'd always figured Rarity'd be the first of us to get married. Whoo boy, I sure hope she don't find out 'bout the weddin'."
"Why not?" Little Strongheart asked.
"I'll explain it later." Applejack said, thinking for a moment. "Hey, do y'all wanna go to the wedding with me? I s'pose it'd be like... a date of sorts." Applejack shrugged a little bit.
"Of course!" Little Strongheart shouted excitedly.
Applejack laughed. "Yer quite different now than you were back by Appleloosa, L.S."
"I've been spending more time in Appleloosa than with the tribe. I suppose I'm more pony than buffalo now." Little Strongheart laughed.
"You do look it quite a bit." Applejack laughed along with her. "Welp, we should probably get ready for this shindig." Applejack said, moving from the spot by the window she'd occupied for quite a while. "Let's go shock some ponies."
Little Strongheart smiled at her."Sounds like a plan."
The End of Applejack's Chapter
Whew. Here we are, the next chapter. Sorry this one's taken so long, but situations were crazy between having school stuff, band competitions, and play practice to deal with. And to make matters worse, I just went through a pretty bad breakup and that's the last time you want to write a romance story. Also, starting with this story, all of my writing will be done by hand first, then transferred to computer to give myself a chance to proofread before sending it to my proofreader. Oh, by the way, did I mention that I have a prereader now? Thanks a bunch to JuyUnseen for being my official proofreader. From now on, expect, if we're lucky, a schedule of a chapter every two weeks. As a side note, (I really should organize this part more,) I am still looking for pictures to replace the rather bland title picture that currently serves as the picture. I have been working my fingers to the bone today trying to get an entirely new story out for Halloween, but time, not to mention at times the stuff I write about makes me a bit sick to my stomach, (I should probably be institutionalized,) have prevented me from finishing, so maybe coming up within the next week. Also, to any bronies from the Western Michigan area, I am planning on going to the brony meetup that is currently being set up, so if I hear that any of you are going, I may just have to distinguish myself so you can punch me in the face for messing up a few chapters. As for the next chapter, I won't give you a spoiler hint with some hidden message or anything, but I will ask a question that is related. (Don't worry, I wouldn't abandon my Fluttershy, I just want hers to come in a place where it fits in to the story.) Anyways, the question is: does it piss anyone else off that Derpy Hooves/Ditzy Doo is almost always portrayed in fics as either mentally challenged or total badass? Why is there no middle ground. Anyways, I've talked enough, and I don't know if any of you are still reading, so if you are, have an internet cookie. I love you guys. Bye! (Man, I'm long winded, aren't I?)