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“Are you him?” The blue-coated, yellow maned stallion of the three pegasi that were standing at the front door demanded of her father. He wasn’t particularly large, even compared to Castor Cut, but there was a cold fury in his eyes that terrified Sparkler. Standing near him was a pegasus mare, with a lime green coat and dark green hair, who’s was matching the stallion’s gaze evenly. Standing between the two, looking down, was a gray coated, blonde pegasus mare, though she looked only a few years older than Sparkler at most. Her eyes were yellow, but not aligned correctly – one was glancing upwards of its own volition, while the other remained focused downwards. Sparkler had only a glimpse of them, though, before the young mare squeezed her eyes shut. From the looks of things, they were a family.

“No, wait – ” Castor Cut begged, as Sparkler watched from the hallway, her mother coming up alongside her. They had been having lunch, but the banging on the door had interrupted them.

“Dad, I don’t – ” the young pegasus tried.

“Ditzy, be quiet,” the stallion ordered, though he didn’t take his gaze off of Sparkler’s dad. “Are you him? Are you the reason my Ditzy Doo is pregnant?”

“Castor?” Sparkler’s mother, May Bell, asked, rushing forward at the stallion’s words. Sparkler could only stand in shock at the accusation. “What is he on about?”

Castor Cut looked to the blonde pegasus mare, then to his wife, and back to Sparkler, mouth opening and closing, trying to work. “N-no, I – ”

“Don’t deny it!” The older mare shouted. “Don’t you even dare! She’s barely more than a filly, you sick – ”

“Castor?” May Bell asked. “Is…is this…?”

“It is, ma’am,” the pegasus said, jabbing a hoof at Castor Cut. “Your husband was sleeping with my daughter, and now she’s pregnant and he is trying to shirk responsibility – ”

“How – what?” May Bell demanded, “Shut up. Just shut up! You’re lying!”

“Don’t you call my daughter a liar!” the green mare cried.

The gray-coated, pregnant pegasus was looking between her parents “Mom, please, I don’t want to do this – ”

“Shut up, you, you little…Castor, how could you? We’re married, for Star’s sake!”

“May Bell, I didn’t ever mean – ”

“Didn’t mean? What? Was it an accident that you were sleeping with my Ditzy for three months? She’s barely more than a filly, she’s disabled – ”

“I’m not disabled, dad! It’s just my eyes! I knew what I was doing – ”

“This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening – ”

“Your husband is going to support my daughter. He’s going to support her foal. He’s going – ”

“He is going to do no such thing for that harlot!”

“Don’t you dare call my daughter that!”

“I’ll call her what she is! Castor, how – how could you do this to me? To Sparkler? Don’t you love us?”

Sparkler couldn’t look away as her family fell apart.

“I – ”

“No! Shut up! I – I don’t want to hear you. I don’t want to see you anymore! I thought we were getting better, but I…I want a divorce!”

“May Bell – ”

“I’m taking Sparkler and we’re going to my sister’s in Canterlot. I don’t ever want to see you again!”

Amethyst Star blinked a few times, and realized that she’d run out of paper on the ledger she was writing on several moments ago, and she was now writing on a display case, covering it in black ink. She scowled at it, grabbing a cloth and cleaning it off. Memories of that day – of what her father had done – of the several years in Canterlot that had followed – were exactly what moving to Ponyville was supposed to be helping her escape from.

The worst part of it all was that it was remembered advice from her father that made Sparkler keep soldiering on through the day. She couldn’t remember the exact words, but it was something to the effect of, everypony falls down, but nopony ever accomplished anything by staying down.

Moon and stars, she hated her father all the more for that. She had his eyes, his cutie mark, and now she had his voice in her head? “That’s a recipe for a healthy pony,” Sparkler noted aloud, to the empty store.

In spite of it all, though, it was good advice, and thankfully nopony who came into her brand-new store after her run-in with Ditzy Doo seemed intent on asking her what had happened. She was able to keep her temper surprisingly under control as she went about her business for the day, even managing to hit her sales estimate as she closed up her shop at five o’clock, just as the sun was beginning to touch the horizon, heralding the safe – if chilly – arrival of the night. It took longer than expected, though – she’d probably have to look into getting an assistant.

“Tomorrow will be better,” Sparkler stated simply after she had finished gathering up all the jewelry in the display cases and putting it into her store’s safe, along with the money she’d made for the day, wondering all the while how she’d gotten into this mess. All she’d wanted was to get away from everything, get away from her father and her mother and the drama created by that – that home-wrecker – and try and start fresh. Ponyville had seemed ideal.

Of course, apparently it had seemed ideal to a certain gray-coated pegasus as well. Sparkler hadn’t known that, not until two months ago – not until all the lease papers had been signed and the inventory ordered, not until after she’d reached what amounted to the point of no return.

Not until Corona had escaped from the sun, and Ditzy Doo had somehow managed to become an Element of Harmony. Sparkler had hoped that she would have been able to go longer without running into Ditzy Doo, and had certainly not expected to learn about Dinky Doo, and everything that her existence implied…yes, she’d known that Ditzy Doo had been pregnant, but to actually see the little filly in front of her – to have talked to her…

But Sparkler wasn’t going to focus on that. No. She was going to go upstairs, into her new home, and put on a record of something loud and mind-numbing, and plunge herself into a book or magazine or some such, and just forget everything that had happened today. She just had to double-check the lock on the front door. Before she could, however, there was a knock at it. Sparkler frowned at the sound as she approached it, as she could see nopony on the other side through the door’s small window…

Opening the door, Sparkler gasped slightly at the chill that rushed to greet her – between simply closing her shop, and actually doing everything to clear up the shop for the night, the sun had set, and this night was looking like it was shaping up to be a cold one indeed.

But her gasp grew to a shout of surprise when she saw who had knocked on the door, and she recoiled as though the filly unicorn who had done so was a snake rearing up and ready to strike.

Dinky Doo leapt backwards a few feet as well at Sparkler’s reaction, but no further, and quickly recovered – far faster than Sparkler herself. The two unicorns were silent for several long moments after that, just staring at each other.

Sparkler broke the silence first. “What are you doing here?” she demanded. She tried to keep her voice calm and collected, and to her own ears it sounded like she’d nearly – nearly – succeeded.

Dinky stared a moment more before answering. “I want to buy that necklace.”

“You can’t,” Sparkler answered immediately, without thinking.

Dinky Doo took a step forward. “But it’s my momma’s birthday in just a few days,” she said. “I’ve saved up all year and please, Sparkler – ”

“Amethyst Star. My name is Amethyst Star.”

Dinky paused at that, then took another step forward. “Please, Amethyst Star. I saved up all year for my momma.”

Sparkler had actually begun to shiver from the chill seeping into her store with the door open, but at the mention of Dinky Doo’s mother, a hot rage boiled through her. “No,” she stated firmly, still trying to remain calm despite her anger. “I’m not – not to that – look, I don’t know how much you know about your mom – ”

“My momma told me everything today,” Dinky stated.

Sparkler stared. “Yeah. I’m sure. Her side. What, did she say dad – my dad – took advantage of her?”

Dinky shook her head, which surprised Sparkler. “Momma said that what she did was wrong, and that it’s her fault, and that she shouldn’t of done it and she’s sorry and it wasn’t fair to you or your mom – ”

Sparkler bristled at that. “She doesn’t get to apologize!” she exclaimed, whickering and stamping her hooves in anger. “I don’t want her to apologize! I want that whore to go to the sun and burn!

Dinky stared wide-eyed at Sparkler’s proclamation. “That’s a horrible thing to say,” the filly stated.

Sparkler blinked at that. She – well, she hadn’t been thinking when she’d said that. But even if she had been, she wouldn’t of expected such a measured response from Dinky Doo. Amethyst Star closed her eyes. “Go away. Leave me alone. Find something else for your mother.”

“No. I want that necklace!”

Sparkler sneered despite herself, using magic to start closing the door. Dinky leapt, though, and the older unicorn was only barely able to stop the door from slamming into the filly as she placed herself firmly on the door’s threshold. She didn’t seem to care that she’d very nearly caused Sparkler to injure her. “You’re not getting it!” Sparkler shouted in spite of herself. Some part of her couldn’t believe that she was seriously attempting to chew out this little filly.

Dinky matched her glare. “But it’s perfect for my momma and I saved up all year! I didn’t do anything wrong, there’s no reason to – ”

“Store’s closed.”

“I’ll give you all hundred bits. Keep the change!”

“No. You’re not getting it! She’s not getting it!”

“I have friends. They’ll buy it for me!”

“I just won’t sell to little fillies and colts, then.”

“Not them,” Dinky stated. “I have adult friends. Miss Trixie or Miss Cheerilee or Miss BonBon could buy it for me and you don’t know who they are or maybe Miss – ”

“I do now, since you told me their names.” Sparkler observed. At the moment, she was too angry to dwell on the name 'Trixie,' other than to let out a slight mental groan and make a note to make sure her store was insured against flooding.

Dinky’s mouth clamped shut at Sparkler's point, and her glare switched to look almost mollified. Sparkler had to fight hard to stop a burst of laughter at seeing such a rapid change of attitude. “I have other adult friends, too,” Dinky stated firmly.

“Then I’ll take the necklace down. I won’t sell it to anypony. What then, huh?”

Dinky thought a moment. “I’ll get something else,” she decided. “I saved up for a whole year! I can save up longer! If I have to miss my momma's birthday, than fine, I'll get her something else, but I'm gonna buy something nice for her to show her how great she is! Unless you don’t want to sell anything to anypony, you’ll have to let me – ”

“Okay, that’s it,” Sparkler stated, glancing behind her, towards her own deep blue, hooded winter cloak. She grasped it magically and brought it over to her, wrapping it around herself, before looking back to Dinky and grasping her telekinetically as well. Dinky yelped as she was hefted into the air, and Sparkler stomped out of her shop and into the night, carrying Dinky behind her. “We are going to the town hall and somepony is going to – ”

“Sparkler!”

“I told you to call me Amethyst – ”

“Ow! Miss Star! You’re hurting me!

Sparkler’s eyes widened at that, as she released her telekinetic hold on Dinky and turned around rapidly, hoping the damage wasn't too great. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, sometimes I grab things too hard, I didn’t mean – hey!

Dinky, as soon as she’d been set back down and was free from Sparkler’s lavender aura, had dashed into her store, letting out a slight squeal of triumph. The older unicorn followed as quickly as she could, horn glowing as she chased the filly in. Dinky had run up to the display cases, not noticing that they were empty until she’d come right up to where the necklace she wanted was normally kept and she found it devoid of any jewelry. Before Sparkler could grab the filly with her hooves or teeth – she wasn’t trusting her telekinesis right now, just in case Dinky hadn’t been lying about Sparkler accidentally hurting her – she had dashed off to the left, causing Sparkler to stumble and land on the floor.

“Get back here, you little – !” Sparkler exclaimed as she stood up in time to see Dinky dashing behind the display cases. Sparkler gave chase, but the filly was an agile thing despite having much shorter legs, easily avoiding Sparkler’s clumsy grab attempts.

“I chase chickens every weekend! You can’t catch me!” Dinky said as she ran to the back of Sparkler’s store, and right up to the safe. Unfortunately, she now found herself in a small room, an office, with the only means of exit being the way she had come in. On realizing this, she turned around, wide-eyed as she realized that the door was blocked.

Sparkler was panting despite her chase being only a brief one. Dinky, for her part, didn’t seem out-of-breath at all, but then she was a little filly. Bursts of energy were second nature to her. “Alright, you little reprobate,” Sparkler said. “I’ve got you. We’re going to the town hall. Somepony there is going to get in contact with your mother and she’s going to come and pick you up and, hopefully, ground you for the rest of your life.

“No!” Dinky exclaimed, tears in her eyes. “If you do that then momma will know about the hundred bits and she’ll want to know why I came back, that it was for the necklace! That’ll ruin the surprise! I saved up all year for my momma, kept it all secret from my momma even though I hate lying to her and I don’t want it to be for nothing!

Sparkler blinked at the sight of Dinky Doo breaking down into tears. Where before the filly had shown a remarkable amount of stoicism, her inner reserve of maturity had apparently, at last, run its course. The filly was bawling now, openly and without shame in the way that only foals and the truly broken could, having fallen back onto her haunches and just letting her tears fall.

“I…I just…I just want my momma to be happy!” Dinky sobbed. “She works so hard and she’s so kind to everypony, and…and ponies make fun of her for her eyes and she just laughs it off and she saved the whole world…and then you came along and ruined everything!”

Sparkler took a step back at that, as her eyes narrowed. “I ruined everything?” the older unicorn demanded. “Your mom’s the one who – ”

“Momma was happy before she saw you and I didn’t know about my father but it didn’t matter ‘cause I had my momma but now you’re here and my momma’s not gonna be happy anymore because she made a mistake and you won’t forgive her even though she’s sorry, and you’re supposed to forgive somepony when they’re sorry, Scootaloo forgave me when I called Rainbow Dash lazy and stupid after I said I was sorry and now we’re friends!”

“I don’t want – ”

Whatever Sparkler didn’t want was drowned out by Dinky’s tears. The filly had run out of words by this point, was just crying her eyes out, somehow convinced that it was Sparkler’s fault, even though Sparkler was the victim here, she was the one who’d had her family torn apart by Ditzy Doo. All she was doing was not selling a single necklace to this filly! It wasn’t like she was purposefully trying to make Ditzy Doo’s life miserable! She would have been perfectly content to have simply never interacted with the pegasus beyond hateful glares whenever they saw each other…

…but none of that changed that there was a wailing filly in her office.

Sparkler grit her teeth, then closed her eyes. “Fine. Fine! Fine! Just – just stop crying!” Sparkler stomped past Dinky Doo, going up to her safe and using her horn to turn the two combination locks. Dinky didn’t stop crying entirely, but she did tone things down as she watched Sparkler open her safe and start flinging jewelry around as she dug through it, before finding the necklace and taking it out. By the time she did, Dinky was already struggling to open her school bag, sniffling as she poured out her bits.

Fine!” Sparkler exclaimed again, tossing the necklace to the floor at Dinky’s hooves. “Here! You want this? Take it! And I’ll take these,” she used her telekinesis to scoop up the hundred bits that Dinky had poured onto the floor, “And I’ll keep the change because of all the trouble you caused. There! You have the stupid necklace! Happy?

Dinky blinked, staring at the silver chain and yellow gem that lay before her, lip still trembling, a confused look on her face. “N…no…” she said softly.

“Well why in Luna's name not?” Sparkler asked. “Oh, what, did you suddenly realize that breaking into my store is a bad thing? You feeling bad about calling me mean? I’m not the mean one! I’m the victim! S-so are you! You should hate your mom as much as I hate my dad!” Sparkler stomped a hoof. “H…he cheated on my mother! They’d been married for years and years and I was his daughter and I looked up to him so much, I became a jeweler because he was, and he just forgot about all of that and went out and slept with some ten-bit whore and didn’t think at all about what it was going to do to his marriage! And then you were born! My dad cheated on my mom and abandoned you! And your mom, she…she…”

Dinky stared at Sparkler, as the older unicorn realized that her breaths were coming in short, quick gasps, hyperventilating with rage – or so she thought until she felt wetness on her snout. Her legs gave out at the sensation, as did her telekinesis holding the coins aloft, and the unicorn fell to her knees, head hanging as she, unlike Dinky, fought against her tears while it rained silver all around her.

“It’s not fair,” Sparkler cried hoarsely. “I didn’t do anything wrong…I was a good daughter…I loved him…it’s not fair…it’s not fair…”

Sparkler heard hoof-steps, and glanced up to see Dinky approaching her. The filly leaned in, nuzzling Sparkler. Despite herself, the older unicorn leaned into it, and it was then that any control she had over her emotions just slipped.

She cried, and cried, and cried. She cried more tears than she knew she had. Every few minutes, just as she was about to finish, just as she thought she had a hoof on things, she’d start again, sometimes because she remembered a happy time with her father – often for no reason at all. Occasionally a word or phrase, such as ‘daddy’ or ‘it’s not fair,’ would slip out, but more often than not all her throat could produce was sobs.

“I just…” Sparkler said at length, when at last the tears seemed to ebb, “I…I just want my family again…I want my mom…and my dad…I want them in the same room without shouting at each other…without it being a court room…”

“Maybe that’ll happen someday,” Dinky offered, as the filly continued to nuzzle Sparkler.

Sparkler shook her head. “N-no it won’t. They hate each other now…” the older unicorn leaned back, looking Dinky over. She really did look like a miniature, wingless, horned version of Ditzy Doo, at a glance…but up close, Sparkler could see a slight purple tinge to the filly’s coat – a legacy from her father. A connection to Sparkler. This filly, no matter what Sparkler wanted, was her half-sister. Was her family. Sparkler wasn't sure what that meant, what that was supposed to mean...but maybe, she was supposed to find out.

Slowly, her legs shaking, Sparkler got to her hooves. “C-come on,” she intoned, wiping tears from her eyes. “L…let’s get that necklace wrapped up.”