Katie sat on Strawberry's bed dressed in pyjamas waiting quietly, in front of her rested a foal’s book she was working on reading, but her heart wasn't in it. All her thoughts were directed towards what just happened and the conversation to come. Strawberry made it clear she was going to clean the kitchen, write a few letters and then be back to talk about what happened. There was a consistent kindness in Strawberry that Katie was beginning to trust, so though she feared the conversation it was not the dread that comes with worrying about being harangued or berated.
Organizing her thoughts Katie began to slowly see, today was a start to a vast rearrangement of thinking. Up to this point the whole experience of being in Equestria, massive ponies, and living with Strawberry seemed too absurd to be true. In some ways in the back of her mind she assumed it was temporary, it was merely a way station back to her old life. Today sitting under the desk the reality came crashing down on her, she was an alien on a world all alone, the only of her kind, small, tiny and seemingly useless, feeling both controlled and at the same time out of control.
Strawberry's kindness and care soothed some of the crushing trauma. The most pressing question the girl began to ask herself was how to explain to this kind pink pony why she destroyed the kitchen without sounding crazy.
Meanwhile Strawberry sat at her desk trying to finish a pile of correspondence but in truth she was thinking more about cutie magic. What she witnessed was not just the mischievousness of a pre cutie filly. What she saw was something much more raw. A deep seeded something the mare could not put her hoof on. She shifted a new parchment over and wrote one line in elegant script.
I’m in control?
What was Katie referring too? Is she ready to hear about cutie mark development? Or is that too much too quickly? Strawberry tapped her pen on the desk in thought.
In the end she only replied to half the ponies in her pile. The mare got off the desk and stretched, pushing her front hooves forward, lowering her head and arching her back. She went to the kitchen, now clean and organized, grabbing a drink she slowly made her way to the bedroom where Katie sat patiently waiting.
Strawberry entered her bedroom, Katie looked up from where she sat on the bed.
“How’s the reading going?”
“it’s ok I guess.” She replied, closing the book.
Strawberry nodded her head and sat down next to the girl. “So you want the practical stuff first? Or the serious stuff first?”
“Practical please,” Katie still had no idea how she was going to express herself.
“Ok first off you are not to touch the stove when I’m not home, if you are hungry there are snacks you can eat in the cupboards.” Katie nodded her head meekly. “Secondly you are not to go into my office without permission, you didn’t know but I keep confidential stuff in there. It is off limits till I say otherwise understood?” Strawberry watched the girl closely, she nodded again looking at the blanket on the bed. Thirdly we need to get you proper clothes, though you look adorable." Katie looked up and smiled a little. "They are not meant for the long term, but in order to get you new clothes it requires a trip to Vanhoover. So here is the deal when you feel strong enough to cope with a train ride, and a major city of ponies you tell me. We will go together and get you out of the foal pyjamas. That timeline is yours.”
Strawberry took a sip of her drink to rest her voice and give Katie time to process.
“The final matter is a bit more positive, I am having a dinner party for friends and their families in four days. I very much want you to take part, even if that means you sit next to me the whole night quite as a tiny breezie. That timeline is mine and I want to tell you so you have time to think about it. So any questions love?”
“No I understand," Katie replied quietly, “I don’t mean to be a burden or difficult. I just couldn’t stop myself, I'm really sorry about what happened," there was a silence between them. "Strawberry?"
"Are ponies controlled by magic in the air?” Katie decided to go at her experience from an angle.
“Controlled? I don’t understand, what do you mean?”
“It’s just that......” Katie struggled to speak, like the words were stuck in her throat. Then suddenly out it came, her experience at the cafe, crying, needing to make something in the kitchen. Her feeling the pressures in the air forcing her to do things. The feeling like she had no control of her actions in this world at times.
Strawberry listened silently letting the girl talk herself out. At first the mare was somewhat confused but slowly Strawberry began to understand. Katie was physically feeling what most ponies could only describe in abstract, she was feeling the magic of harmony in the air. Most colts and fillies learned instinctually how to live in harmony, Katie on the other hand was a late joiner, not to mention an alien. It was as if every pony lived underwater and the pressures became normal so they would not feel it, to this little filly tossed into the sea pressures were everywhere. The girl finished pouring her heart out the mare reached out a hoof and drew the girl closer to her. “Listen closely love, you're not a burden, I do things like this because I care, not because I expect you to pay me back exactly in kind. Now lift your ears I’m going to teach you something.”
"Some ponies without really realizing it act or speak as if all of Equestria forced them to do it," there were not that many Strawberry was only referring to several case studies within journals of extreme disharmony. "What they feel is kind of like they are not in control of their actions. They speak as if route simply because they feel they must even thought they might not want to. To these ponies it is like Equestria is controlling them by forcing them to do something contrary to how they feel."
"But the truth is harmony cannot force, it cannot control, if it did so it would not be harmonious. These ponies are not in control because they haven't or won't take the time to understand how they feel. If they examined that then this pressure would change, harmony is a force that works with you for good or bad. So you say that the pressure in the air forced you into the kitchen to try and make me a dinner, and that you could not stop yourself, yes?" Strawberry asked.
"Yes," Katie replied in an uncertain tone.
"Did you really truly want to stop? How did you feel?"
"I... yes... well I wanted to do something nice for you."
"Ummm hummm." Strawberry nodded indicating she wanted Katie to elaborate.
"It was just that you were doing so many nice things, and I was just sitting in the house feeling like... I don't know useless. I was worried about being burdensome, or that you'd resent me or something cause I couldn't do things. I just figured I'd try to show you I can be useful."
"Resent you?" Strawberry asked somewhat shocked at the girl expressing such a thought.
"Yeah... I guess."
"Ok and this is where you say the 'air' pushed you?"
"Seems to me that you were not so much being forced as reinforced."
"But Strawberry I know I can't cook, and yet I felt compelled to try. Even when things started to go wrong I kept going until I had to stop cause of the smoke."
Strawberry immediately knew this statement had more to do with cutie mark magic than harmony in the air so she kind of chose at the moment to glide over it. "Well here is what we are going to do, when you feel this pressure in the air, you tell me, you tell me what you want ok? If it is out in the open we can talk about it and we can work on channeling that harmony towards things that make you feel in control. Will you do that for me?”
“I guess, I’m really sorry Strawberry I feel so guilty and embarrassed. I should know better,” Katie answered.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself sweet tart you’re still young,”
“Am I though?”
Strawberry laughed a bit, noticing the girl stricken face she spoke quickly, “I’m not laughing at you love. Look think of it like this if it's causing you trouble. In the eyes of Equestria and in your experience with harmony you are young. Missteps can and will be forgiven, I certainly don’t expect you to be a pillar of Equestria in a week. I merely expect you to grow here as best you can.”
"I'm already a grown up Strawberry."
"Come now Katie think about it, when has any pony ever really completely stopped growing?" Strawberry replied, giving her a gentle squeeze.