The clean, cool stream just off the edge of Sweet Apple Acres washed away the troubles of the day. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo had had an exhausting set of adventures and the refreshing dip was just what they needed. The clear waters washed away the heat and the sweat, and the tree sap, of another long day of play. The Cutie Mark Crusaders had gotten an early start, terrorizing no fewer than a dozen ponies before noon. Their efforts had been unsuccessful, but enjoyable. Scootaloo’s stomach rumbled, and her friends’ stomachs soon followed. They hadn’t eaten the ‘food’ they had made around lunch time. Silently, the three of them nodded to each other and understood it was time to get something in their bellies.
“Hi girls! What can I get for you? Do you need cookies? Cake? Cupcakes?” Pinkie Pie gasped. “DO YOU NEED A PARTY?”
“No Pinkie Pie, we were just hungry,” Sweetie Belle said softly.
“Oh. That’s okay. Delicious treats are fun, too! Here, try these muffins!” Pinkie Pie pushed a tray of muffins that hadn’t been there a moment ago across the counter toward the fillies and smiled.
“Thanks, Pinkie. How much?” Apple Bloom asked.
“Oh girls, don’t worry about that. I can tell you’re really hungry, and I need somepony to tell me how these Muffins taste anyway. I used a new recipe!”
“Free muffins? Thanks!” Scootaloo grinned.
“You’re welcome! I’m always happy to help a pony in need. Any time you have a problem, you can come straight to your auntie Pinkie and she’ll help you make everything okie doki loki!”
Rarity stood next to Roseluck, gossiping away as the Cutie Mark Crusaders trotted out of Sugarcube Corner.
“Oh I KNOW. It’s positively SCANDALOUS! There appears to be evidence, too. Haven’t you noticed Lyra seems to be getting a little… larger? I’m fairly certain she’s expecting.”
Sweetie Belle stopped. “What’s Lyra expecting?” she asked sweetly.
“Oh, nothing dear. Run along and play,” Rarity said, shooing her sister off with a hoof. “I’ve never known her to have problems with her weight, so I don’t know what else it could be. Oh, Bon Bon will be so devastated.”
“Oh, I KNOW! Listen, sorry to run off like this Rarity, but I need to be somewhere ten minutes ago. I’ll see you around, okay?”
“Oh it’s not a problem at all. You go and have a pleasant afternoon,” Rarity said, smiling.
Sweetie Belle hadn’t moved. “What did Lyra do to make her sad?”
“Sweetie, it’s nothing. It’s just silly gossip, Lyra probably isn’t REALLY going to have a foal. Don’t you and your friends have things to do?”
“A foal? Why would that make Bon Bon sad?”
“Because they’re both MARES, dear.” Rarity suddenly went very stiff, realizing she had set hoof on dangerous ground. Sweetie was still a young filly, and she didn’t know certain things. Things Rarity didn’t want to have to explain right now.
Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were now standing to either side of their friend, having become interested in the conversation.
“I thought everypony always got all excited about new foals,” Scootaloo said.
“Well, this foal would have come from somewhere else and…” Rarity trailed off as she stepped backward. She was getting pushed into a corner, literally and figuratively.
“Somewhere else? Where do foals normally come from and why is this different?” Scootaloo asked.
“Aren’t you girls still a little young to be asking about foals?”
“We’re not little. And we’re just displaying a healthy curi… curio… curiosity,” Sweetie Belle chimed in.
“Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, I’m sure your familes will tell you all about the birds and the bees later. Sweetie Belle, I…”
“What do birds an’ bees have to do with ponies?” Applebloom asked.
“Oh dear… you know, girls, this is a rather… delicate topic. It is usually best for a young filly’s parents to explain it to her, but only when she is ready. I just don’t think that…”
“Aww, come on Rarity. Just because we don’t have our cutie marks doesn’t mean we’re immature little foals!”
“Come now, Scootaloo, I didn’t mean to imply that…”
“Please Rarity? Ah’m awful curious!”
Apple Bloom was making that face and Rarity was having a difficult time ignoring it. She would have to give them an answer, but she didn’t feel comfortable giving her sister ‘the talk’ just yet, much less two unrelated little ponies. Recalling her own youthful experiences asking her elders difficult questions, and remembering the ridiculous answers she had been given, she decided there was no harm in stretching the truth a little and leaving out some details.
Rarity sighed loudly and dramatically. “Very well then. You want to know where foals come from? Sit, and I shall tell you all about both the birds and the bees.”
There was a rapid and insistent knocking on the library door. Twilight Sparkle pulled her muzzle out of the book she had been reading and glanced up the stairs. She quickly shook her head and trotted over to answer the door.
“Spike please hurry an’ get Twili… oh! Perfect! We was just lookin’ for ya, Twilight.”
Apple Bloom rushed inside, followed by Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, both of whom were struggling to carry large burlap sacks that were twitching and writhing.
“Oh, hello girls. What can I help you with? And what’s in the bags?”
“Oh, well ya see Twilight, we was hopin’ we could get some help with a spell.”
“I’d be glad to help, but um… your bags are… moving.”
“Don’t you worry none about that, these here are ingredients!”
Twilight had a worried look on her face and then glanced upstairs again. “Spike’s been feeling a little under the weather, but maybe we should get him to help us with… this. It looks like you girls have got your hooves full just holding onto the um… spell components. I’m sure actually utilizing them will be at least as difficult, if not more. Just wait here and I’ll be right back.”
Each of the Cutie Mark Crusaders beamed a wide smile at the lavender unicorn as she ascended the stairs.
“Do you think she can do it by herself? My sister said it takes two ponies.”
“Of course she can! Rarity said it was a special kind of magic, and Twilight is like, the most magical unicorn in Ponyville! She’s practically the Rainbow Dash of magic!”
“Ah wouldn’t worry about it. Why if even half the stories my sister tells me are true, she can definitely handle it.”
The fillies’ debate was cut short as Twilight Sparkle came to the bottom of the steps with Spike right behind her. The two crossed the room and stood in front of the eager trio.
“Okay then. So what exactly are we doing here?” Twilight asked.
“Yeah. And why’d I have to come down here? What do you need my help for?” Spike grumbled, brushing one claw under his nose.
Apple Bloom spoke up. “Well ya see, Rarity just told us all about the birds an’ the bees and how foals are made, and we thought it sounded real excitin’.”
Twilight’s eyes shifted back and forth between the two large squirming bags. “I’m not sure I understand…”
Spike sneezed. A huge ball of green flames shot out in front of him and engulfed the bag Sweetie Belle was holding, causing it to disappear in a great puff of smoke.
“Great! It took us FOREVER to get all those birds,” Scootaloo huffed, dropping her cargo as she crossed her forehooves in frustration.
“Birds? What is going on here? And what’s in the other…” Twilight’s eyes fell to the lump of fabric on the floor as she watched the wriggling mass inside it inch closer and closer to the now free opening at the end.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders bolted out the door, immediately knowing they didn’t want to stick around to get in trouble AND get stung. The library erupted into complete chaos, and Twilight cried out loud enough that every pony in ponyville could hear her.
Fluttershy quietly squeaked as she fell to the ground. The trio of fillies stopped running to offer their apologies to the poor pegasus and two of them turned to continue running. Apple Bloom did not.
“Wait a minute... Fluttershy knows all about critters an’ stuff, maybe she could help get all a them bees back where they belong!”
Fluttershy stood and gently brushed herself off. “Oh my goodness. Has there been an incident with bees on the farm?”
“Nuh uh. The bees are all at the library, scarin’ the living daylights outta Twilight.”
“Why would there be a swarm of bees indoors?”
The three little ponies all looked downward and shuffled their hooves.
“Girls, I know you’re eager to discover your special talents, but it’s dangerous to disturb wildlife.”
“Yeah, we know. We were just going to have Twilight help us make a foal,” Scootaloo said with a guilty look on her face.
“Oh MY… you girls are MUCH too young to be having foals, and bees should certainly not be involved.”
“But my sister told us that you needed birds AND bees.”
“Oh goodness, I think there’s been a misunderstanding, girls. The birds and the bees are just metaphors, there aren’t actually any birds or bees involved.”
“Ah don’t get it. Where do foals come from then?”
Fluttershy’s face turned a deep red and she shrunk backward. “Oh, well, you see… when a mare and a stallion ….”
“Could you repeat that? I don’t think I heard you,” Scootaloo stepped forward.
The powerful blush on the timid face of the pegasus intensified and she made herself even smaller. Her lips moved, but it was impossible to hear a word.
“Fluttershy, you’re gonna need ta speak up. Where do foals come from?”
By this point, Fluttershy had closed her eyes and become a tiny shivering ball of fur. Her mouth still moved, but there was no trace of sound coming out.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders had returned to their clubhouse to formulate a plan to deal with the bees. Maybe they would be really talented beekeepers. They set to work drawing out ideas to get the situation under control, when Sweetie Belle stopped and set her crayon down.
“Girls, we still didn’t find about where foals come from… and I don’t think I want my cutie mark to have anything to do with bees…”
“Yeah, me neither. Besides, I’m sure Twilight’s crazy magic can deal with a few bees.”
“You’re probably right.
“Applejack, where do foals come from?”
The farm pony dropped the basket of apples she was carrying and froze in place. She didn’t look forward to this conversation, but she had always believed honesty was the best policy.
“We tried ta ask Fluttershy, but she just got all embarrassed an’ quiet.”
“Yeah, and Rarity said a bunch of junk about birds and bees and the magic of love.”
Applejack slowly turned to face the three fillies with a nervous look on her face. Telling her sister she could do, but there was no way it was right to go putting ideas into other ponies’ heads. Granny Smith was furious the day Big Macintosh came home talking about what his buddy had taught him about hard cider. Honesty was all well and good, but a pony could get mighty angry if their foal learned something from the wrong place. If the fillies had already asked more than one other pony and not found an answer yet, it was unlikely she would be able to get away without telling them something.
“Ya don’t say. W-well I reckon’ I could tell ya all about it. ‘Snot particularly c-complicated. Uh… well, when two ponies love each other very much… a-and they decide they want to have a foal together, t-they write a letter to the Princess a-askin’ if they could please have one. Then the Princess uses her real fancy magic, an poof! That’s how a foal gets made. Yup. Definitely.”
“Well, that explains magic and love, but that didn’t have anything to do with birds OR bees,” Scootaloo protested.
“Oh, uh, well, ya see… the bird is the uh… the STORK! It’s a special kinda bird an it flies out from the palace and brings the new foal to it’s parents. Yeah, um, an’ the bees are just the way ponies used to send letters.” Applejack’s snout was scrunched up and her eyes were darting rapidly around the area. She would make a terrible poker player.
A fantastic rainbow streaked through Ponyville at an entirely unsafe altitude. One wrong move and she’d be Rainbow Crash all over again, but avoiding risks just wasn’t her style. She needed to keep her reflexes razor sharp so she could…
Turn her head and slam directly into a building before sliding painfully to the ground. She fell over with a dull thud.
“Scootaloo, come on now. Don’t go ditchin’ us just yet. Besides, we still didn’t find anything out. Hey Rainbow Dash, do y’all know how foals are made?”
Crud. This wasn’t good. Rainbow Dash had limited knowledge of the world. She knew flying, she knew pranks, she knew weather, and that was basically it. She didn’t know a lot, but she was okay with that because she didn’t NEED to know a lot. But there are some things that EVERYPONY is supposed to know. Things that are embarrassing to grow up without learning. Things that would make ponies laugh at you. Twilight Sparkle didn’t know the first thing about snowball fights, and that had gotten quite a laugh. Everypony felt bad and apologized later, but it had been hard to resist rolling on the ground pointing and laughing at a pony who didn’t understand something as simple as “throw snow, dodge snow.”
Not knowing how foals were made, at her age, was something Rainbow Dash could not admit to. The embarrassment would be too much. She needed to slide out of this situation as smoothly as possible without revealing her ignorance. Her head hurt a little from the crash earlier, and she was having a hard time coming up with a decent way to excuse herself for immediately flying away. She would need to have something important to go take care of. Something that was believable and didn’t damage her image. The perfect idea came to her. An excuse that not only didn’t spill her secret, but that actually reinforced the OPPOSITE idea. She was totally an expert.
“Sorry, squirts, but I’ve gotta fly. I’m actually of on my way to go make a foal right now! Later!”
“Do y’all think Twilight’s taken care of the bees yet? We’ve asked just about everypony else and we ain’t any closer to a good answer.”
“She’ll definitely know, but she might be kinda mad at us,” said Scootaloo.
“Maybe we should go apologize, and then if she forgives us we can ask her,” replied Sweetie Belle.
Apple Bloom and Scootaloo nodded at this and the three fillies cantered back toward the library. When they got there, they noticed the front door was missing. Apple Bloom gingerly stepped inside and saw a purple unicorn covered in small red lumps sitting in a corner. Floating above her was a glowing ball making a terrible buzzing noise. “Pinkie?” she asked.
“Twilight? Are ya okay?”
“Oh, it’s you. Yes, Apple Bloom, I’m fine… mostly. I just need to stay here and concentrate on keeping the horrible little demons in place until Pinkie comes back. She said she could help me get rid of them.”
Scootaloo came inside and sat next to Apple Bloom. “We’re sorry. About the bees.”
Twilight sighed. “It’s okay, girls. Just… please don’t bring any bees anywhere near me ever again. Now, I believe you three have some very misguided ideas about where foals come from, and I know I have some books here that can explain everything to you. They should be on that shelf over there,” she said, pointing a hoof to one side.
A poofy pink pony bounced in through the doorway, carrying a jar full of peanuts and a goose on her back. “We should be able to get rid of the bees with these!”
“That’s good. The bees will go away, we’ll get our questions answered, and Rainbow Dash will have her foal,” Sweetie Belle said, smiling.
Pinkie dropped the jar and the goose, jumping up into the air with a gasp. “RAINBOW DASH IS HAVING A FOAL? INEEDTOGOPLANAPARTYSORRYTWILIGHTI’LLCOMEBACKLATERBYE!”
The glass jar shattered on the floor, scattering peanuts everywhere and causing Twilight to lose her concentration. The Cutie Mark Crusaders fled the scene once more as Twilight’s screaming and the buzzing of the bees were joined by a the sound madly honking goose.
Sugarcube Corner was more decorated than it had been in months. Countless streamers and curled up banners hung from every available surface, and every table had a beautiful triple layered cake in the middle. No expense would be spared for an occasion this special. Applejack and Fluttershy and Rarity had all shown up promptly, and Pinkie Pie could hardly contain her excitement. Sadly, Twilight wasn’t able to make it. She was at the local clinic for some sort of minor allergic reaction that ended up becoming serious from exposure to large doses. Dash was supposed to show up last so everypony could surprise her. She would be showing up any minute now…
Right on cue, Rainbow Dash stopped in the doorframe, staring into the darkness. All at once, the lights came on and the banners unfurled.
Dash stared at the banners hanging around the room, her jaw brushing against the floor.
“So darling, you simply MUST tell me who the lucky stallion is. How long have you two been seeing each other? Why haven’t you told any of us about him? Is it somepony we know? Are you embarrassed about who it is? Oh we have SO much to discuss!”
Fluttershy blushed lightly and smiled. “I’m very happy for you, Rainbow Dash.”
Applejack quietly brought her face right next to the cyan pegasus. Her expression was cold. “If you hurt mah brother, Ah will end you,” she whispered.
“Big Macintosh? I’ve barely ever said two words to him!”
Applejack let out a long, whistling sigh. “Whoo. That sure is a load off. I just assumed, what with you spendin’ so much time near the farm… Ah’m right sorry fer thinkin’ you would do such a thing without tellin’ me.”
“Do what? Listen, Applejack, Pinkie, Rarity, Fluttershy, I don’t know what’s going on here. This is all just a big misunderstanding!”
A still somewhat lumpy Twilight Sparkle trotted inside, followed by the Cutie Mark Crusaders. “Yes it is, and it’s about time we clear this all up. There will be no more confused little fillies, no more rumors about who’s expecting a foal, and no more bees.”
Twilight slowly plodded to the center of the room. “When two ponies love each other very much, they can choose to work together to bring a foal into this world. There are no letters to the Princess, no spells, no birds, and NO BEES. All it takes is love.”
Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom smiled and cooed. “Eww, ”Scootaloo frowned and stuck out her tongue.
“B-but that doesn’t explain where the foal comes from,” Rainbow Dash stammered, “y’know, and… and that’s what they wanted to know all along.” She smiled sheepishly.
“OOH! OOH! I know this one!” Pinkie exclaimed, bouncing halfway to the ceiling. Ten minutes later, she had finished explaining, in somewhat unnecessary detail, exactly how a foal is conceived and delivered. Fluttershy, as expected, was blushing furiously. So was Rainbow Dash.
Princess Celestia stood in front of the door to her sister’s room. She had played a terrible prank on Luna the previous night involving FAR too many frogs. She had apologized and promised to never use amphibians in her pranks again, but she wanted to apologize one more time. Celestia knocked twice and waited. Just as Luna opened the door with a smile that matched her sister’s, a large burlap sack appeared in her face and burst open. Luna screamed and the castle burst into a flurry of panicked shouting. There were birds EVERYWHERE.