I'm just a guy who writes stories about ponies.
Cheerilee did not enjoy visiting her mother.
There was nothing wrong with Cheerilee’s mother. She was a nice pony. She was kind, sweet, easy to talk to. Whenever Cheerilee came to visit, her mother would make the most delicious little cakes that reminded her of being a little filly. She and her mother would talk about how her class was doing, what had been going on in Ponyville, how nice the weather had been the past week. This was all nice pleasant conversation. Nothing wrong with it at all.
But, when the delicious little cakes had all been eaten, the activities of her students detailed, and the events (and climate) of Ponyville exhausted as a topic, then…
“So Cheerilee. Is there a… special somepony in your life?”
Yep. There it was. Without fail, every time.
“Because it would be such a shame if you never found the time to find a stallion who’s right for you…”
If there was a subject that really seemed to interest her mother, it was Cheerilee’s love life.
“…Or a mare, I mean, who am I to judge? But as long as you found somepony…”
She could talk for what seemed like hours listing off all the things that might make Cheerilee a good partner, and then somehow turn all those good traits into one big negative. Like it was somehow her fault for being single while having all these dateable qualities.
“…Because you know I’m not getting any younger, and I want to see some grandfoals someday…”
Cheerilee sighed inwardly and tapped her hoof against the side the plate her little cakes had arrived on. It was going to be a long visit.
Cheerilee checked over her shopping list one more time, then tucked it into her saddlebag before rounding the corner that opened on the marketplace. First on the list: rose petals. She headed right for Rose’s stall, eager to get her shopping done before anything was sold out.
“Hey, Cheerilee! How are things with you and Big Macintosh?” Rose asked.
“I don’t know, we haven’t run into each other in a couple of days. Fine, I guess?”
Rose blinked. “But, I thought you were getting married!”
Cheerilee closed her eyes and sighed. “No, we’re not,” she said with a strained smile.
“But, didn’t the two of you wreck a couple of buildings just the other day? What’s a more obvious sign of love than wanton property destruction?”
“That was just a little mix-up involving some of my students.”
Rose’s face fell. “Hm. So you two aren’t getting married?”
“Nope. We’re not even dating.” Cheerilee wondered if she shouldn’t have given Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo a more severe punishment than writing out ‘I must not meddle in my teacher’s relationships’ a hundred times each.
“That’s too bad, you looked really cute together!”
“Goodbye Rose,” Cheerilee said, slamming her bits down for the flowers with more force than was needed. She made a rapid exit.
Rose and my mother would get along great, Cheerliee thought as she made her way through the marketplace. If they were ever in a room together for five minutes, they’d probably hatch some plan to cook up more of that crazy love potion.
The next stall she had to hit was Daisy’s, for – appropriately enough – daisies. The stall was never without a queue, as daisies were a popular food and Daisy’s daisies were the best. Cheerilee got in line behind a cream-colored pony. Said cream pony noticed her, and spun around and started a conversation.
“Morning, Cheerilee,” said Bon Bon.
“Good morning.” She was trying to remember how she knew Bon Bon. Maybe it was just one of those things; when you live in a small town you learn everypony’s name eventually.
“So,” Bon Bon said with a knowing smile, “what’s this I hear about you and Twilight Sparkle?”
Not again, she thought. Trying to keep her face friendly and her smile pleasant, Cheerilee answered, “I don’t know what you mean. What have you heard about me and Twilight Sparkle?”
“Well, you know…” Bon Bon dropped her voice to a conspirator’s whisper. “The schoolteacher. The local egghead. Two masks of intellectualism that conceal a passionate romance carried on behind closed doors and between library stacks. Eh? Eh?” She raised her eyebrows.
“I… no! What? Where did you ever come up with that?”
“So you’re telling me you’re not part of a raging, torrid, heated Sapphic affair with Twilight?”
“That is exactly what I’m saying,” Cheerilee said, trying to keep her face as neutral as possible.
“Oh. Well…” A devilish grin crossed her face. “If you ever are, let me know.” She dropped Cheerilee a sly wink and turned around, leaving Cheerilee utterly dumbfounded as she ordered two dozen daisies.
What in Equestria is going on this morning? Cheerilee found herself wishing she was still in bed and that this was all just a part of some very strange dream. She watched Bon Bon walk away with her daisies. She thankfully had no further theories to share about what she and Twilight did while nopony was around.
Cheerilee stepped up to Daisy’s stall and placed her order. “Twenty daisies, please.” It was then that she noticed the ridiculously exaggerated grin Daisy was giving her. “Oh, not you too,” Cheerilee said. “Okay, out with it, which pony do you think I’m dating?”
“Nopony at all,” Daisy said, her smile still in place.
“Well, that’s a relief. Can I-”
“Because you’re dating Spike!” Daisy’s smile threatened to split her head if it got any wider.
“Spike? The dragon?”
“You gave him a hat for his birthday!”
“But… but he’s a dragon! And I am not a dragon!”
“It was so cute!”
“I don’t even think he’s of age…”
“Don’t you think it’s cute?”
“Daisy.” Cheerilee held Daisy’s gaze with her own. “I am not. Dating. Spike.”
“Aw.” Daisy pouted. “Why not?”
“Because aside from some very basic biological incompatibilities, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal.”
“That’s a shame. You two would be adorable together!”
Cheerilee groaned. “Can I please just have my twenty daisies, please?”
“Sure, here you go.” She pushed the daisies across the counter. “But don’t you go counting Spike out so soon. He’s quite a catch, you know!”
Cheerilee backed away from Daisy’s stall so quickly that she collided with something violently pink standing behind her. If Daisy’s smile had been impossibly wide, Pinkie Pie’s grin must surely have been touching somewhere at the back of her head. She giggled at Cheerilee like she had just discovered a great secret.
“You… and… Daisy…” she managed, looking like she was trying not to spontaneously combust. “I don’t believe it!”
“I don’t believe it either, Pinkie.” Maybe the whole world had gone mad, and had forgotten to tell her.
“I’m so happy for both of you! This calls for a Cheerilee Has A Special Somepony And That Special Somepony Is Daisy Party!”
“Would you mind walking me through how you figured this all out?”
“Well, I saw you two talking just now.”
Cheerilee waited for something more to come, and when nothing did, she asked, “…And?”
“And that’s how I knew you two were getting together!”
“That’s it? We were talking?”
“Uh-huh.” Pinkie nodded vigorously.
“That’s… I barely know… I was just buying some food!”
“But don’t you think you’d be perfect for each other? I mean, Daisy knows all about daisies and you have daisies on your cutie mark!”
Cheerilee reached around to look at her cutie mark. “Actually, I’m not really sure what kind of flowers these are…”
“Maaaybe Daisy can help you figure that out!”
“Pinkie. I’m not involved with Daisy.”
“Not even a little?”
“Not even at all. I’m not involved with her, or Spike, or Twilight, or Big Mac, not anypony.”
“Nopony?” Pinkie asked, puzzled.
“None at all.”
“Not even Caramel?”
“No, not Fluttershy either.”
“I don’t even know who that is.”
“You mean…” Pinkie’s expression was unreadable. It was like she was trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. “You mean you don’t have a special somepony?”
“That’s right. I do not have a special somepony.” Cheerilee breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe now somepony would start listening to what-
“Then I have to find you one!” Pinkie exclaimed.
Oh, no. No no no no. No. Cheerilee felt lightheaded as she saw Pinkie take an impossibly deep breath and announce to the marketplace: “Hey, everypony! Who wants to help me find Cheerilee a special somepony?!”
It was like the entire population of Ponyville suddenly converged around them. Cheerilee was surrounded by a sea of ponies who had dropped whatever it was they were all doing the moment before to lend their two bits on her love life, each clamoring to be heard over the furor of shouted suggestions.
“Nurse Redheart!” shouted a pony to Cheerilee’s left.
“No, Nurse Redheart’s with Thunderlane!” retorted a voice from the crowd.
“No, you’re wrong,” cried another pony from somewhere behind Pinkie, “he’s hooked up with Time Turner!”
“And Nurse Redheart is with Aloe from the spa!” came yet another voice.
“Vera’s seeing Berry Punch!”
“The Great and Powerful Trixie!” called a voice from somewhere in the back of the crowd. The voice received a smattering of boos.
“No, her and Apple Cobbler are an item!”
“How about Rainbowshine?”
“She’s dating Rainbow Dash!”
“I thought Spitfire was dating Rainbow Dash?”
“No, I’m dating Rainbow Dash!” Pinkie exclaimed, rearing up on her hind legs.
“I’m dating Rainbow Dash too!” shouted Daisy.
“And me!” cried Amethyst Star, pushing her way to the front of the crowd.
“So am I!”
“She told me we had something special!”
“Quiet!” Pinkie yelled. A tense silence fell over the crowd of ponies. “Now,” she asked, “everypony raise your hoof if you are currently dating Rainbow Dash.” She put a hoof in the air.
The entire crowd did likewise. When the arguments erupted like a torch being tossed into a bonfire, Cheerilee (her four hooves still firmly on the ground) realized nopony was paying attention to her any more. She pushed back through the crowd, keeping her head low and forcing her way past ponies loudly insisting that they were the right special somepony for Rainbow Dash, until finally she stumbled out of the babbling throng. She took a deep breath, and then seized the opportunity. She bolted.
Cheerilee dashed down the street, eager to get away. She had no sooner passed a couple of storefronts when she was grabbed and forced into one of the buildings.
“Hey! What-” she tried to yell, but was cut off by a loud and forceful Shh! Cheerilee took a quick look around. She had been dragged into Sugarcube Corner, and standing in front of her was-
“Mr and Mrs Cake?”
“Shh!” Mrs Cake said again. “They’ll hear you!”
“It’s alright, dear,” Mr Cake said, glancing out the window. “I think they’re too busy to notice.”
Cheerilee cleared her throat. “Would you mind telling me what this is all about?”
“Dear,” Mrs Cake said, “we’re helping you hide.”
“We normally hide until they calm down,” Mr Cake said as he surreptitiously flipped the Open sign on the door to Closed.
“Wait, the town bothers you with this too?” Cheerilee was aghast. “But… you’re married!”
“Shh!” Mrs Cake’s eyes darted about the room. “And, we know. There’s no making sense of anypony when they’re like this. No matter how many times we tell them we’re happy together, somepony will insist I’d be better off with Pinkie Pie.”
“Or me with Mayor Mare,” said Mr Cake from his position beside the window. The Cakes exchanged a glance, then rolled their eyes in unison.
“So how do you-” Cheerilee started to ask, when she was interrupted by Mr Cake.
“Somepony’s coming!” he said in a strained whisper.
“Shh!” exclaimed Mrs Cake, and forced Cheerilee down behind the counter.
A melodic voice came from just outside the door. “This store is closed… I shall not moan. I can still bake cakes on my own. The market’s open, it’s not too late to find a way to celebrate.”
Cheerilee popped her head up just in time to see Zecora’s striped flank disappear past the window of Sugarcube Corner. She and Mrs Cake crept closer to the window, listening with Mr Cake.
“Ponyville is rarely quiet,” Zecora was saying to herself, “but this almost looks like a riot.” She cautiously approached the crowd of arguing ponies. “Could I ask, if I may: why are you so worked up today?”
Pinkie Pie worked her way to the head of the crowd. “Zecora! Do you have a special somepony? Uh… somezebra?” She scratched her head.
“A mate I’ve not had time to find. Did you have somepony in mind?”
“That’s the worst possible thing she could have said,” Cheerilee whispered. The Cakes exchanged another glance, then nodded without speaking. The suggestions from the crowd came thick and fast.
“The Great and Powerful Trixie!”
Cheerilee backed away from the window. “What’s gotten into them? Every pony doesn’t need to be in a relationship at all times. I don’t! I’m okay with being single! Sure, having a special somepony would be nice and maybe my mother would get off my back about me not having seen anyone in three years, but if the whole town is going to get involved…” She looked to Mr and Mrs Cake for some understanding.
“We know, dear,” Mrs Cake said. “They just get this way when there’s unpaired ponies about. Can’t stand to see anypony being alone, I think. They don’t mean any harm by it.”
“But why?” Cheerilee asked. “Why is it so important to everypony?”
The Cakes exchanged a glance. “We’ve got no idea,” said Mrs Cake. “Do we, dear?”
“None at all,” said Mr Cake. He took a quick peek out of the window. “I think they’re too busy trying to fix up Zecora to have remembered you. You could probably leave out the back and not raise too much fuss, if you wanted.”
“Will you be okay here?” Cheerilee asked.
“Oh, sure, we’ve seen the town do this plenty of times,” Mrs Cake said. “You go.”
Cheerilee made her exit through the storeroom. She tried to walk as casually as she could manage, like she was in no hurry to be anywhere, like she wasn’t worried anypony would suddenly spot her, and like it was perfectly normal for almost every pony in town to be holding some kind of impromptu auction to determine who should be Zecora’s special somepony.
Maybe my mother’s not so bad after all, she thought. She never suggested I’d be perfect with a baby dragon, after all.
Cheerilee was so lost in thought that she didn’t hear the pegasus touch down beside her.
“Hi, miss Cheerilee!” Derpy Hooves exclaimed.
“Yah!” Cheerilee jumped away from the sound.
“Oh, I’m sorry! Did I scare you? I didn’t mean to.”
“No, it’s okay.” Cheerilee took a deep breath to regain her composure. “I just thought you were going to try and set me up with somepony.”
“Are they doing that again?” Derpy indicated the flurry of activity in the market square.
“You know about that? The crazy every-pony-must-be-in-a-relationship thing?”
“Oh yeah. They tried it on me once.”
Cheerilee was suddenly curious. She had never seen Derpy with anypony that looked remotely like a special somepony. “What happened?” she asked.
“Well, I ignored them, of course,” Derpy said matter-of-factly. “I’ve got deliveries to make and little Dinky to take care of. I don’t have time to be getting in to a relationship.”
“I know! Ponies think it’s really easy being a teacher, but it’s a lot of work. Just because we have a long holiday when school is out for the summer,” she huffed. “Like I’m not planning lessons all through my holidays!”
“I can imagine,” Derpy sympathized. “Just minding one foal is hard, I don’t know what I’d do with a dozen or more!”
They shared a laugh. “So, Derpy,” Cheerilee asked, “do you really just ignore everypony, when they start talking about relationships?”
“Sure do,” she replied. “It’s not so hard. You just have to not engage with ‘em, and then they won’t end up like that.” She cocked a hoof over her shoulder to the fray still going on in town.
“I’ll try that next time. Thanks, Derpy.”
“No problem. It’s tough for us single ponies.”
“You said it.” Derpy made to turn and fly off, but Cheerilee stopped her. “Say, Derpy…”
“Yeah, miss Cheerilee?”
“I… this is probably going to sound strange…”
“Any stranger than your day’s been so far?”
“No, that’s a good point.” She took a breath. “Us single ponies have to look out for each other.”
“Derpy, how would you feel about us being single… together?”
“I…” A puzzled expression crossed her face. “I’m not sure I really know what that means.”
“Neither do I,” Cheerilee said with a grin, “and I’m betting everypony in town won’t know what to make of it either.”
Derpy started nodding slowly. “I think I see where you’re going. We could be not in a relationship… together.”
“That’s pretty tricky, miss Cheerilee.”
“So, what do you think?”
“I think it’s a great idea,” Derpy said with a big smile.
The pair started walking away from town side by side. “You know,” Cheerilee remarked, “this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”