Pumpkin was sitting on her bed, trying to figure out what Pinkie meant. “I’ll punish myself?” She mulled over the words. “Maybe… she means I’ll get to choose what my punishment is, like either I wash the dishes for a week or have to go to bed early.”
It made sense to her, thought she wasn’t quite sure she grasped what Pinkie’s threat meant.
She pushed that mystery aside for the time being. There was a more pressing issue at hand. She had made Pound cry and sent him running out of the room because of her actions.
She crossed her hooves, getting annoyed again. “It’s his fault! He just wouldn’t leave me alone.” Pinkie’s scolding words came back to her, about how she had only lost her temper because they were both trying to be more stubborn than the other. She lifted her knees, setting her head on it. “I guess she’s right. We were both being brats.” She wasn’t afraid that Pinkie would stop loving her for what she had did, even though Pinkie disliked the behavior. The only question now was what she should do with her feelings
She could go to Pound and apologize when he calmed down, but she thought he’d still be a big jerk about it. If he had only just stopped throwing jabs at her she would have let things go too.
She waited, but Pinkie never came back. She wasn’t sure what she should do next.
Maybe her idea was right, and they were expecting her to choose her punishment. What should she say? “Okay, Auntie Pinkie, I’ve decided to ground myself!” This all felt very strange to her.
She had to know! She found Pinkie up in her room, cleaning up. “Auntie Pinkie?” she said cautiously.
“Yes, Pumpkin?” she responded without stopping in her task, and once again Pumpkin could hear the slight iciness in her tone.
“What did you mean before? You said that I was gonna punish myself, but I don’t get what that means.”
“You’ll understand soon enough, I’m sure.”
“Why can’t you just tell me? Am I supposed to be doing something? I could do some extra chores or something. I’m just so confused.”
“You’re not being punished with loss of privileges or extra chores.” She bent over her bed, making it nice and neat. “Our old system of things clearly didn’t work, and Fluttershy demonstrated that we needed a change.” Turning around she put the photos on her desk onto the floor as she dusted it. “You two are growing up all the time. You wanted more responsibility, and we got you some pets. You hate that we treat you like children? Fine, then you’re going to be treated… well, not like adults. You’re not that mature yet. But you’re going to be held responsible for your behavior.”
Pumpkin felt cold inside. Pinkie wasn’t even looking at her. “Are you upset with me? I guess you don't want me here.”
That got Pinkie to look in her direction. “I’m not telling you to leave. I’m just busy right now. You know I’ll always love you no matter what.” She threw some things in the garbage. “I don’t expect perfection out of you. I know you’re gonna make mistakes. And when you make mistakes I also expect you to be mature enough to admit it and accept the consequences.”
Pumpkin still felt unsure if she should leave. A part of her wanted to join in on the cleaning. Even if she didn’t love chores just about anything could be made fun when Auntie Pinkie got involved. But should she be having fun right now, when she was supposed to be punished? But Auntie Pinkie said she wasn’t being punished. But Auntie Pinkie also said she should choose her punishment and be held accountable for her behavior. SO WHICH WAS IT? She still felt so confused.
She didn’t know what to say or do, so she just stood there doing nothing and watching, waiting for a sign from Auntie Pinkie. Eventually it came.
“Your brother is pretty upset, you know?”
Pumpkin winced a bit. “I know.”
“He said he doesn’t want to come home right now, so he’s at the park with your parents. They’re trying to cheer him up.”
Pumpkin hesitated a bit, then said, “Can I say something?”
“You sure can.”
“I… I don’t really feel bad at all. Pound started all of this! He’s jealous of me, and to hide his feelings he turned into a huge brat like he always does when something is bothering him. Then when he came home he kept annoying me until I snapped. He got what he deserved if you ask me. I wouldn’t have said anything bad to him if he had just left me alone, but he just had to keep going and going AND GOING! It drives me nuts when he does that!”
She sat down, putting her hooves on her sides. “So which is it? Am I being punished or not?”
Pinkie sighed, turning to her again. “Your punishment isn’t a taking away of privileges or being yelled at. It’s to simply watch.”
“The results of your actions. That’s enough.”
“But Pound was being just as bad as me. Why am I the only one being punished?”
“You’re not. He’s already received his punishment.” Pumpkin looked at her, confused. “I certainly am not going to agree with your mindset, that he ‘deserved it.’ However, Pound did keep pushing you and pushing you, and he eventually received his consequence for that in the bad things you made him feel. He punished himself by disobeying the rules. As you said, if he hadn’t kept on going he never would have felt those things.
“So it’s the same with you. Throwing you in your room or giving you extra chores isn’t going to teach you anything. You can be held responsible for your own actions, and see what you’ve brought about. That’s what I meant.”
That all made sense to her, and cleared up her confusion. “Auntie Pinkie, I’m sor-”
“Up, up, up,” Pinkie interrupted, holding her hoof up. “Don’t apologize to me. You haven’t done anything wrong to me. As I said earlier, if you want to be treated as more grown up then prove you’re worthy of it. If you want us to stop treating you like little kids then start making better decisions. I’m not saying anything else about your behavior. The rest is up to you to work out with Pound. That’s your responsibility, not ours.”
“I’ll try my best.”
“And that’s all I ask from you, Pumpkin.” And her whole attitude seemed to shift when the corners of her mouth lifted up.
When Auntie Pinkie smiled at her all her trepidation faded away. A Pinkie smile always did wonders for most anyone’s moods. She ran to Pinkie, hugging her.
Pumpkin offered to help with the cleanup, and as she expected Pinkie found a way to incorporate a little fun into every activity. Pumpkin got to hold the trash can while Pinkie threw trash at her, attempting to get it inside. She let Pumpkin stand on the vacuum as she pushed it around. They raced through drawers for any dust or crumbs. All in all, it was a very fun experience, and put her in high spirits.
Her good mood only lasted until Pound finally returned with their parents. Playing with Pinkie had cheered her up immensely, and she was fully ready to work things out with Pound when he got home. But Pound had other ideas.
When she heard the front door open she trotted over to the top of the stairs, seeing Pound and her parents coming in. Champ followed right behind.
Pound looked up at the sound of her steps, and he gave her a death glare that made her pause. His face went red, and she was sure he was about to start yelling, but he dismissively turned his head away and left the room.
“I… guess… he needs a little more time,” she said awkwardly. When her parents looked up at her she wondered whether they were going to scold her now, but they didn’t bring up her behavior.
“It took us a while to convince him to come home,” said Carrot. “So, yeah, I think he needs a little space right now.”
Pumpkin nodded, going to her room. She grabbed a few books and toys, and headed toward Auntie Pinkie’s room. She assumed Pound was eventually going to make his way to their room, so it seemed a good way to avoid fighting again. She paused as she put her hoof on the bottom step, shaking her head. She had it backwards, didn’t she? He would be expecting her to be in their room, so that was the one place he wasn’t going to go right now. She turned right back around, going back to their room.
She sat on her bed, opened a book, and started reading. All she had to do was wait now, and things would eventually blow over like they always did.
Her optimistic view grew hard to maintain as time went on. He wouldn’t look at her, or talk to her. If she walked into a room he was in he would stop whatever he was doing and walk away until she left. Their parents made him sit at the table for dinner, and sleep in his room at night, but aside from that he wouldn’t stay in the same room as her.
It was very disheartening. She thought her parents might get involved to try and get them to make up, but it seemed they were taking the same stance as Pinkie. They weren’t going to get involved, and were waiting for her to try and settle things herself. The weekend just seemed to drag on and on. Since the shop was closed on the weekends it was usually used for family time. They would go out to the park or the movies or play games with one another. But there was none of that this weekend.
The only saving grace she had was something her mom had done the first day of their feud.
Cup Cake had Pumpkin sitting in front of her, and she called Pound over, getting firm when he refused to come in because Pumpkin was there. Eventually he relented.
“Pound, I know the way your mind usually works, so I just want to say this right now.” Cup glared down at him. “If you’re mad at Pumpkin that’s fine. You don’t have to talk to her, or play with her, or whatever else. However, I know you sometimes get a desire for revenge, so I want to make this clear. If you do anything at all to Tiger Lily then I’m returning Champ right to Fluttershy.” Pound’s eyes went wide. “Do you understand me?”
“I wouldn’t-” he started, but she cut him off.
“Pound Cake!” She drew herself up to her full height, using her most dangerous voice. “Am I making myself one hundred percent, perfectly, crystal clear?”
He let out a snort. “Yes, Mom.”
“Any issues you have are with her. DON'T involve your pets in your squabble.”
“I wasn’t going to in the first place!” he said, raising his voice.
“Oh, I believe you don’t have any plans to do so, but I also know you can tend to act before you think. So, really, I wouldn’t put it past you if you decided to give her a kick on the spur of the moment.”
“And you think Pumpkin won’t just deliberately make it seem like I did something just to see me punished?”
“Not really. No.” Pound was glaring at her. “She’s ready to let things go already, even if you’re not. But if anything happens that’s what we have Fluttershy for. We can hear what happened from her translating it.”
Raising her voice a little she said, “You understand me too, Pumpkin?”
“Yes, Mom!” she replied.
“Don’t forget what we told you before we went to Fluttershy’s house. These pets are not officially yours until your birthday. So that applies to both of you. These are living things, not toys. I don’t want to see any harm come to either of these animals just because you’re angry at one another. Do NOT test me on this. I will not tolerate it. Keep everything between the two of you.”
“Yes, Mom,” they said again.
“Off you go then.”
Having been released Pound immediately left the room to get away from his sister.
Truthfully, she hadn’t thought about Pound using Tiger Lily to hurt her, and she was glad her mother addressed the matter quickly. She knew she had no intention of doing anything to Champ. The idea wouldn’t have even crossed her mind. She thought her mother was right about Pound. She didn’t think he would make any plans to hurt her cat, but he might just do it spontaneously.
She found it strange how normal everything seemed. Besides Pound, everyone else treated her exactly as they always did. No one yelled at her, brought up what she had said, or asked her to apologize. It felt like she had gotten away with bad behavior, despite the fact that Pinkie had explained exactly why they weren’t getting involved.
She tried asking Auntie Pinkie for advice. “What am I supposed to do? I can’t work things out with him if he won’t even stay in the same room long enough for me to get a word in!”
Pinkie said bluntly, “That’s your problem. Unless you two begin physically fighting and have to be pulled apart all three of us are keeping out of this. I already told you that your punishment was that you had to deal with the consequences of your actions. That’s what it means to be mature.”
“Well… can’t you, like… start things?” She gave an awkward smile, scratching the back of her head.
“I’m not going to repeat myself again. This is a problem between the two of you, so you should be the ones to deal with it.”
Pumpkin sighed. Pinkie’s disciplinary side rarely ever showed itself, but when it did she became an unbreakable iron wall. So she already knew Pinkie wasn’t going to give in, and pushing harder was only a waste of time.
Saturday passed by extremely slowly to her. It was just like Friday had been. Pound wouldn’t say a word to her, or stay in the same room as her. She spent most of the day in her room, only leaving for necessities like eating and going to the bathroom. She read book after book, or played some games she could play alone.
The only positive thing she could say about the experience was that she had Tiger Lily with her. If it wasn’t for her little kitty she would have felt really lonely. She still felt a little lonely, though. She knew she could go play with Auntie Pinkie or her parents, but it just felt awkward to think about when her Pound problem was still in full effect. They were probably expecting her to think of a solution, but even though she strained her brain she couldn’t think of anything.
She considered writing him an apology letter, but thought he’d either rip it up or just throw it away without reading it.
Besides that, she wasn’t sure how else to say sorry. The only thing that would cheer Pound up for sure was if he started flying. Her levitation skill was steadily growing. If she helped him stay floating the next time he tried to fly it would certainly put Pound in a good mood, but it would only end badly, since she couldn’t be there all the time. Either he would discover the ruse, and assume she had done it to hurt him, or just get discouraged he had one good day and then kept on failing after that.
Sunday looked like it was gonna be the same, and she couldn’t stand the quiet atmosphere anymore. She went to Pinkie and asked if she could go to Peppermint Swirl’s house. Thankfully Pinkie agreed. She wasn’t sure if her aunt was going to insist she stay home until she solved her problem. Maybe if she left the house for a while Pound would be satisfied.
She grabbed some things and kissed Tiger Lily goodbye. She bid her parents farewell too as she passed by them, eager to get out of the house and talk with a friend.
When Pumpkin left Cup and Carrot noticed Pound’s demeanor changed. He had been stiff and near silent for the past two days. It was natural that he would push Pumpkin away because he was upset with her, but he had been withdrawn with them too. He didn’t snap at them or refuse to talk to them, but he kept his distance.
They thought it was prudent not to push him, as they felt he was just a step or two away from going the “break everything in sight” route like he had done when he had experienced his first betrayal.
Pound and Pumpkin’s fight had derailed their initial idea to chat with Pound and build his self-esteem up. They had planned to speak with him once Pumpkin went to sleep, figuring talking to him alone would cause him to be more truthful and relaxed. It was a little different than they had wanted it to be, but Pound was alone and they could talk to him without worrying about Pumpkin interfering.
Pound’s aloof air had finally vanished, and as he let out a heavy breath his body relaxed, his gaze growing somber. It looked like he had finally dropped his guard, making it the perfect time to talk with him.