Almost simultaneously after Scootaloo revealed the truth, both mare and fox sighed. It wasn’t any pony’s fault. It was the result of Scootaloo’s youth which, for many colts and fillies, meant an incapability to keep her worries from surfacing.
‘Look, I’m really sorry. It’s just I was worrying a lot all day today,’ Scootaloo, who was tearing up, began to sniffle, ‘and my friends were worrying about me. I didn’t want them to worry so I told them about it and said not to worry about it and-‘
‘Scootaloo, I know you well enough to know your intentions were good,’ Lunar interrupted, ‘so don’t punish yourself. All you need to do it ask your friends to keep it a secret. I’m sure they’d understand.’ Scootaloo looked up from her hiding spot underneath her hooves into the compassionate eyes and infectious smile of Lunar. She found herself sigh out of relief and stand up. She gravitated towards Lunar and gave him a hug. Once again, Lunar went a deep shade of red but now he wasn’t embarrassed about it. He hugged her back and heard a single whisper in his ear.
‘Thanks.’ Scootaloo release her grip and took a step back. She smiled and sighed once again. She paused a moment to take a deep breath and dry her eyes. She looked up at Rainbow Dash. She was offered a smile. It was not one of motivation but one of disbelief. She hid a laugh from her mentor and her odd facial expression, turned and galloped out of the tree house to find her friends before midnight. She knew exactly what she had to do.
Lunar and Rainbow followed her out onto the balcony, overlooking the clearing of apple trees and watching Scootaloo disappear behind the darkening horizon. Lunar smiled while Rainbow Dash continued to look on into the distance. Lunar turned to speak.
‘How’d you like my pep talk?’ he was almost as smug as Rainbow. She turned to look at him, exaggerating her non-amusement at the comment. Lunar, like Scootaloo, hid his laugh at the Pegasus’s facial expression. Lunar and Rainbow turned back to look at the clearing. All of a sudden, Dash’s face grew to a look of smugness too.
‘I told you she couldn’t keep it from them. Now, what was the bet?’
‘Where is it?’ the white pony asked. She had been waiting for an hour for ‘it’ to arrive. Half of that time she spent pacing, the other half was spent sitting and staring at the door, afraid to move in case it came while she was away. If wasn’t for her young sister and her friend running around, pouring glasses of water and attempting to make sandwiches, the mare would be hungry, thirsty and perhaps a little less stressed about the package that was soon to arrive. Currently, she was lying on a conveniently-placed couch, stirring her hoof on the floor out of boredom.
Suddenly, after another 5 minutes, a rapping at the door to the Carousel Boutique came. The mare’s face burst instantaneously into a smile. She jumped up and trotted over the door to greet the visitor. She took a deep breath and opened the door.
‘Howdy, Rurrity. Ah came to see if Applebloom was here.’ It was neither the mail mare nor a delivery pony, the cheery orange earth pony had appeared, and behind her a package. Rarity noticed this package and immediately blocked out all unnecessary noise, like she used to do through Applejack’s life stories. She always felt bad about it and it kept her from being bored, but she knew that somehow anything that mattered made it through the blocking.
‘What’s that?’ Rarity asked, unresponsive to Applejack’s question. She stared at the unusually-shaped package. Applejack saw where her eyes had wandered and decided to answer the question.
‘Ditz…Der… the mail mare with ta bubbles cutie mark crashed into our cart and dropped some mail. This just happened to be for y’all, so I came over here ta deliver it and ta have a look for Applebloom. I see she’s here with Sweetie Belle.’ Applejack replied, waving to her sister and thinking she could kill two birds with one stone, ’Ah also wanted ta have a word with y’all in private.’
‘Sure. Make yourself at home. Just wipe your hooves.’ Rarity took the parcel with her magic and unwrapped it, gesturing to the newly made doormat that read ‘Welcome’ in a fairly fancy font. Applejack groaned and rolled her eyes as she usually did at her friend’s attempts to keep herself away from any dirty work. She brushed her hooves and saw that she had left a fair bit of mud on the mat. She trotted in and stopped beside Rarity, who was staring intensely at the new fabric and its pattern of several of Fleur de Lis’s cutie mark.
‘Now that’s mighty fancy. The dress you’re making’s for a friend of your in Canterlot Ah reckon. You don’t usually get cutie marks like that around these parts.’ Applejack spoke but also seemed to be entranced by the shininess; it appeared to have the complexion of a polished apple. She shook herself out of the trance and looked up to see Sweetie Belle and Applebloom scavenging for a substitute to both peanut butter and jelly, as ‘the stains are awful. They never come out and leave the most horrid of colour in their wake,’ as Rarity always put it. So far, they had cheese, pickles and lettuce. All solid, unstaining foods.
‘It’s good, but not what I thought it was,’ Rarity sighed, ‘it’ll have to do. Her dress is due the day after tomorrow and I still need to design her hat.’ Once again, with magic, she picked up a ruler and some scissors and started cutting at the fabric. She was cutting out a section to fit around the left half of the delicate Fleur’s upper body.
‘Rurrity. Ah wanna talk to ya ‘bout Rainbow. She ain’t been around much of late. Ah think she’s avoidin’ us and ah want some pony to help me follow her.’ Applejack seemed really serious about it. Rarity had even stopped what see was doing to listen at the mention of Rainbow Dash’s name.
‘Applejack, darling. I’ve noticed Dashie absence too but do you really think I could stalk Rainbow Dash like that? You know I have a problem with doing dirty work. Get that little filly that idolizes her. You know, Skaterloo.’ Rarity put down everything and turned to Applejack to look directly into her eyes. It was only a nanosecond or two until two other higher-pitched voices from across the room screamed something.
‘It’s Scootaloo. She’s at our tree house, meeting with some pony,’ shrieked the voices of Sweetie Belle and Applebloom, but Applebloom continued, with the same country accent as her sister, to break the awkward silence the room had entered into, ‘Luna, Ah believe. Ah don’t think it’s the princess though.’
The two larger mares stared at each other and nodded. They casually walked towards the door of the Boutique only to hear heavy rain. The orange mare walked straight out the door but the white pony picked up an umbrella and walked out slowly and cautiously until she was yanked out of the door and joined her friend in galloping toward the tree house. The two fillies sat watching this whole experience in disbelief.
‘Did they just leave?’ Sweetie Belle asked anonymously.
‘Eeyup.’ Applebloom replied in a voice only higher in pitch than her brother’s. They looked towards each other. Neither blinked and neither broke the silence that was creeping in. It was only the sudden opening of the door that distracted them and made a noise. The entrance of a drenched orange and purple filly was one that would tickle the taste buds of any theatrical critic.
‘H-h-hi, G-girls.’ Scootaloo chattered cold and shivering. She laughed and flopped out on the doormat, which became bloated with rain water almost at once.
It took a while for her to warm up, even if she was still chattering. It took hot soup, several blankets and, unfortunately, the nearest sheet of fabric. Scootaloo was still sniffling and taking deep breaths. Finally, the two dry fillies asked her the question.
‘What are you doing here?’ asked Sweetie Belle, both concerned for her friend’s well-being and wondering how silly she was to be out in such weather.
‘F-finding you two. I-I wanted to ask y-you to keep it a secret.’ Scootaloo chattered through her teeth.
‘What do ya want us to keep a secret?’ Applebloom piped in. She too was wondering how bad she looked after the rainfall and how silly she was to be in it.
‘L-lunar. The meeting. You D-didn’t tell anyone about it, especially n-not about it being in the tree house, d-did you?’ She was still chattering but still looked confident and trusting as she looked up, hopeful, at her friends. They looked at each other and muttered the one word Scootaloo didn’t want to hear come from their mouths.