The changes in season started getting more obvious with each passing day in Ponyville. After that one weird, snowy day, the temperature and weather were back to normal, but autumn was passing swiftly, turning incredibly quickly from dry and incredibly colorful to humid, gray season when the rains would last for days. Fillies and colts were studying hard for their exams, farmers and gardeners did their best to grow their food properly in time for winter, the weather ponies tried to keep the rain falling in order, - to preserve the crops - the whole Ponyville was in full working force.
No citizen of Ponyville seemed to notice the sudden change much though, which surprised a certain Spirit. He watched in surprise as Twilight came home with Spike as well as large supplies of food and wood, then proceeded outside to Fluttershy's, Twilight mentioning something about help she offered with "homes and critters."
"Just where is everypony rushing to?" Discord questioned as the library door closed. Spike glanced at him shortly as he walked calmly into the kitchen.
"What do you mean? Nopony is rushing anywhere."
"You're all so busy with whatever. Twilight Sparkle here spent the whole morning outside and now left me alone again! She knows well how easily bored I can get."
Spike raised an eyebrow before playfully replying: "What is she, your foalsitter or something?"
Discord frowned as he watched the small dragon skillfully slicing many apples on the kitchen counter.
"It wouldn't be a problem if everypony else wasn't busy as well, is what I meant."
"Seriously, what are you talking about? It's average a day as any other."
"I'm talking about a week, maybe even more."
Spike blinked, by now totally lost. Merely shrugging, not knowing what else to say, he put the sliced apples into a big pot, added sugar and water and started cooking it - then proceeded to slice some more. Discord observed his actions carefully.
"Is there some kind of event coming up?" The Spirit asked.
"Huh?" Spike looked at him briefly before continuing his job. "Um, no, not any that I know of. Why?"
"What are you preparing all that food for?"
Spike finally realized what he was getting at. "Oh, this? I'm making fruit preserves. Jam, marmalade, fruit butter - the choice is quite big."
"Fruit preserves? What is that?"
Spike gave him yet another confused blink before laughing lightly.
"Oh yeah, seriously, how would you know that? Well, since the winter is coming, we won't be able to harvest our food, the chickens won't be as active and cows won't give as much milk. So, we make food preserves out of whatever we can to keep us fed during the winter."
"...Huh." Discord sounded like he just discovered Mare-ica. "That is... quite an interesting system. So, how do you preserve them, some kind of spell?"
"Oh, no no, it is all in cooking. You can preserve it in all kinds of ways. Drying, vacuum packing, pickling, sugaring, canning - the list is long."
"...Huh." Discord again sounded surprised, making the short dragon laugh once more.
"Well, um... I'll leave you to your fascinating work then; I am going to find someplace or somepony to kill boredom with."
"Alright - see ya for dinner!"
Discord flew out swiftly into the slightly chilly air. The sky was gray and dull, Ponyville seemingly dark and colorless with no Sun reaching it. He wanted more than anything to reach up and chase the clouds away with a click of his fingers, but knew Twilight Sparkle would protest against it - after all, those clouds were being prepared for a rainy night. Putting aside the question of why he even took Twilight's protests in consideration, he flew on, watching the ponies that were suddenly so busy - yet, nopony but him noticed it.
He couldn't even try to stop anypony for a prank - they were all rushing, bringing food or water, transporting hay or wood, carrying small animals or pulling carts. What a strange phenomena! He had to question somepony about it immediately!
Discord swiftly descended to Sugar Cube Corner. It was apparently empty, except for one of its pink residents, and seemingly closed until later in the afternoon. With a quick spell, he found himself inside, observing Pinkie Pie as she carried a few large, heavy flour bags on her back. Her posture significantly improved when Discord picked them up, ridding her of heavy load. Her blue eyes glanced at him and a delighted smile decorated her face.
"Oh, hiya Dissy! What are you doing here?"
"I'm bored!" Discord exclaimed, like it explained everything. He glanced at the bags he was holding. "Need a hand with these?"
"Oh, that's so nice of you! Well, since you're offering, I need to take about twenty more bags of flour to the basement." Pinkie gestured to neat, big pile of heavy, brown, firmly sealed packages, her voice as cheerful as her facial expression despite the hard job awaiting her.
"Oh dear, that is a second of work for me." Discord smiled, clicking his fingers. The bags suddenly came to life and started literally waltzing to the basement, on the astonishment of Pinkie Pie. She laughed when the Spirit joined the weird dance and started humming a waltzer tune until all of the bags neatly arranged themselves in the basement.
"Wee! That was so awesome! Thank you Dissy! Hey, hey, you want some snacks? Since you so awesomely took care of those, you just allowed me to take a break!" She smiled widely, already making her way to the kitchen.
"What a question, dear Pinkie Pie." It was all Discord said, yet it was enough for Pinkie. She disappeared in the kitchen for a moment and swiftly came back with several cupcakes and a bowl of weird, tiny... somethings he never saw before. Taking a few in his hand and inspecting them, he felt they were slightly sticky and dry, with a strong, sugary scent. After popping a few in his mouth, he realized they tasted familiar, but much sweeter and chewing them was very similar to chewing gum.
"What are these?" He questioned. Pinkie laughed, letting out a snort as she did and looking at him with a bit of disbelief.
"Those are raisins! Have you never seen raisins?"
"I've never even heard of them." He admitted, snickering. " I must say, these look so weird. Weirder than some of the things I create. Do they grow in the bushes?"
"No, silly; they grow on vines! Sheesh, even you ought to know where grapes come from!"
"...these used to be grapes?"
Pinkie Pie laughed once more, this time even louder - but not in any mocking kind of way. She just seemed amused by his confusion.
"Of course!" She simply confirmed, before she herself put a large portion of dried fruits in her mouth.
"...Huh." Discord commented, before taking some more. They tasted so great! He wondered if that's what he was tasting in her cupcakes sometimes.
He realized there was a strange number of things he didn't know about Ponyvillian ways. And for some reason, those things he didn't know were connected with this weird, working atmosphere he found himself in.
I need to find out more about this unusual occurrence.
Figuring Pinkie Pie might know something, he asked:
"Say, Pinkie Pie, my dear, what is everypony up to these days?"
As he expected, Pinkie Pie frowned in confusion.
"What do you mean?"
Letting out an exaspareted sigh, Discord waved his lion hand. "Never mind," he said "I didn't expect you'd notice. Nopony did, for whatever reason."
"Oh, I get what you mean." Pinkie smiled once again before she strated to ramble: "Like, that feeling you have when you're the only pony who knows something is going on, or something is about to happen, yet nopony else seem to have noticed anything; I know because I had that same feeling when parasprites came, because I was like, 'get me some instruments!' and everypony else was like, 'Pinkie, stop joking around, help us with parasprites' and I was like 'well duh, silly, I am!', and then the parasprites were gone and Celestia left and that's how I got my Cutie Mark!"
"... Wait, what?"
"Well, that's all the time I have for a break! I have to get cookin'! See ya later, Discord!" Pinkie Pie bounced off to the kitchen, leaving the confused Spirit alone. Spending another minute trying to figure out the quirky nature of Pinkie Pie, Discord finally shrugged before flying out. It had started raining, though very weakly. It felt good, in fact.
As he flew up to try and get the better feeling of the tiny, refreshingly cold rain on his skin, he saw a rainbow colored blur in the distance. Almost automatically, he waved at Rainbow Dash and almost immediately after scolded himself for doing so. He was getting way too friendly.
But much to his delight (he wanted to think it was 'much to his chagrin', but lying to himself so obviously was pretty much silly), the blue Pegasus noticed him and flew towards him. Rainbow Dash didn't slow down at all before flying straight into his arms and crashing against his chest, making him swirl backwards several dozen times in the air before finally gaining back his balance - luckily, seconds before she did, he noticed her intention in just enough time to make her impact a rather fun, painless experience by going along with her actions. Rainbow Dash smugly smiled as they separated and she flew around him.
"Hiya, Disc." She greeted. The draconequues returned her smile.
"Hiya, Crash." He mocked, but more in a good-natured, 'buddy' kind of way. Rainbow was seemingly used to him being like that, since she didn't take offense to it.
"What'cha doing here in the sky? Don't tell me you were thinking about messing with the clouds?" She asked cunningly. Discord feigned innocent personality as he said:
"Why Rainbow Dash, how could you ever think something like that? It is not like I'm prone to doing these things."
Rainbow Dash laughed.
"I'm sure you're not." She looked around and flew up to the small herd of clouds, carefully picking a spot and then kicking it out of existence.
"So, what are you busy doing?" Discord asked, wondering what could the role of Pegasi in this mysterious working mess be.
"Oh, I'm, kind of, rearranging." Rainbow shrugged. "It is desirable for the rain to fall everywhere equally, so technically I'm in charge of making sure that no flood occurs. Plus, and this is more important, I have to make sure no crops get too much water, since rain was falling heavily only yesterday. Man, Applejack would be furious if I allowed 'too much water in the bark of her trees'." She mimicked Applejack's accent as she quoted her, though quite clumsily.
"...Huh." Discord mumbled to himself for the umpteenth time that day. He had no idea the weather ponies had such a task on their hooves.
"Hey, wanna help? The first one to finish their side of the sky wins." Dash challenged. Needless to say, the Spirit accepted and soon the two were kicking and moving clouds and their pieces around, which resembled a big jigsaw puzzle when one thought about it.
Rainbow Dash though had a great time watching the Spirit struggle with doing what he was supposed to do. She was done with her area long ago and simply observed as the Spirit finally gave up from one cloud and ripped it apart in frustration.
"Not exactly your special talent, now is it?" Dash teased.
"Well, Chaos being my true special talent, I can't quite exactly 'rearrange clouds' the way I should." The Spirit justified. "Now that I think of it, it sound like quite a boring activity. I'll leave you to deal with this unpleasant job."
Rainbow Dash snorted. "I for one am not bored. Enjoy yourself, Discord." Rainbow Dash gave him a short wave before moving on to fix what he had done. With a small frown and a smile, the Spirit flew further away. As he flew over the Sweet Apple Acres, he spotted Applejack somewhere deep down, bucking trees furiously along with her older brother and younger sister - even Granny Smith seemed to be hard at work as she separated the good apples from bad ones.
Even they were busy! He couldn't afford to bother them; if he learned anything about the Apple family through all this time he spent living in Ponyville, it was that they were not fond of slacking off.
After a few more minutes of aimless and unsuccessful searching for things to do, he recognized Fluttershy's hut beneath him and landed on its roof. It didn't take him long before he noticed both Fluttershy and Twilight among the bushes nearby, talking and seemingly building something.
"Thank you for helping me Twilight; making homes for my little critters to stay over the winter can take up a lot of time sometimes. And you're getting really good at it, too!"
"Sorry for slowing you down, Fluttershy." The unicorn said, slightly embarrassed. "I'm doing my best here."
"Oh, not at all; with your help, I'll actually be done by the sunset; even if you are not as skilled as I am, you're a great help - um, not that I mean to say I'm perfect at it; I-I mean, uh--"
"Fluttershy, calm down." Twilight smiled at her friend. "I know I am not as skilled as you - it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Remember how I was frightened to show my talent with magic when I needed to? You shouldn't be embarrassed to admit what you're good at either. So don't be too modest on yourself, missy." She ended jokingly. Fluttershy gave her a meek, but honest smile.
"Thank you, Twilight." She simply replied as the two continued working.
"...Huh." Discord never realized Fluttershy had such a great task on her back. Making homes for animals that were weaker than her, maybe not even as resourceful as her despite the vicinity of nature, didn't have the warmth of firmly built homes and fireplaces.
Spending a few more moments observing the two ponies, Discord suddenly realized it was getting darker with every passing minute. The Sun was setting earlier each day and he only now noticed it. Feeling chilly, he flew back to the library quickly and soon found himself in front of the warm, still lit fireplace.
The whole house smelled of sweet, tasty cooked apples and other fruits, as well as honey. Spike was asleep on the kitchen counter, probably feeling tired because of all the work - the mentioned counter, as well as the kitchen table, were literally covered with dozens and dozens of jars and cans, neatly packed and sealed away from the effects of air. Discord snapped his fingers and in a moment, Spike was levitated to his basket, letting out a grateful, sleepy groan as he felt its softness and automatically grabbing his blanket, still dreaming.
It was a bit late when Twilight finally got home and found a slightly unusual sight. Discord was in front of the fireplace and judging by the look on his face, as well as the fact he neither heard her saying 'hello' nor saw her passing in front of him, he was heavily in thought.
"Discord?" She called again - as she nudged him with her hoof, he finally snapped out of his thoughts and looked at her.
"Oh, hello there Twilight Sparkle. How was your day?"
"It was nice." She simply said as she shrugged. "I helped Fluttershy build some homes for her animals."
"Speaking of that," Discord started, hoping at least that the smartest pony in all of Ponyville would be able to answer, "what is everypony so busy with today?"
The confused look in her eyes said it all. Discord simply added, "Never mind," as he once again turned towards the fireplace. He heard her hoof steps as she climbed the stairs to go to bed, in process wishing him good night.
Discord mumbled a 'good night' in return before he kept pondering over this busy day.
Spike was making fruit preserves. Pinkie was using his preserves and packing huge amounts of flour into the dry safety of her basement. Rainbow Dash was carefully rearranging clouds so the crops wouldn't fail. Applejack and her family were furiously collecting all the apples one last time before the winter. Twilight got bunches of supplies for their home and together with Fluttershy was making shelters for small animals.
Preparations for the winter. Who knew preparations for the winter were such an unnoticed event? Were ponies simply too used to it to notice? Were they way too busy to even notice the other ponies working hard? Was it simply unspoken of?
Was it just one big, common habit? Huh.
Discord couldn't quite tell why it was the way it is, but he had learned something today. Something he couldn't quite name, but was obviously involving all of the citizens of this little town. Something everypony was an important part of. It impressed him quite a lot, to see all those ponies working hard to assure the safe winter for each other, to ensure there will always be extra food, extra shelter, extra warmth for anypony who might have failed to find it for whatever reason.
Work may not be such a bad thing after all, the Spirit concluded before his eyes slowly closed and he drifted of into sleep.
Somewhere outside, as the rain was getting stronger, Derpy was playfully jumping in the puddles, not minding her wet mane as it got into her eyes as long as her hooves stayed dry under the protection of her galoshes.
"Oh dear, what are you doing here in the rain?"
Derpy turned around to see a white unicorn with a fancy mane, wearing a raincoat and carrying an umbrella, who had a slightly strict, even uncomfortable look on her face. She recognized her as Rarity, one of the Element bearers.
"I'm just jumping in puddles, is all! It's so much fun! You should try it!"
"Oh no darling, but thank you for the offer - don't catch a cold, alright? Uh, here," Rarity took off her raincoat and placed it neatly on Derpy, "just a little measure of caution for your health."
"Thank you, thank you," The Pegasus sing-alonged, "so where are you going?"
"Oh, I just got some more materials for raincoats and winter coats. Have to make them as soon as possible. Wouldn't want anypony else to get wet, now would we?" She smiled.
"Ooh, you're busy too, right? Have to prepare well during the autumn!"
"... pardon, dear?"
"Oh, nothing, nothing. Thanks for the raincoat!"
"Always the pleasure. You'll have to excuse me, but I have to go; must start working on these you know." Rarity said while nodding towards her saddle bags.
"Sure thing, Rarity! See you!"
Derpy had to wonder why they never did name the event during which they prepared for winter. Wouldn't it be awesome to have Autumn Wrap-up, or something like that? Even a song to go with it? She shrugged and continued dancing around in the puddles.