The snow pierced Diamond Tiara's face as she trudged through the snow, trying to reach a simple mailbox. Her father had maids and gardeners, why did she have to slog through thick snow and powerful breezes? But slog she did, marching her way to the mailbox. Each step felt like an eternity, time dragging her downward as she walked through the wet, cold slush, almost blinded by the rapidly raining pellets of snowflake clusters falling from the sky.
And then, somehow, suddenly, she hit something with her muzzle, and a faint metallic "rattling" sound could be heard. She looked up, and saw the metallic box full of letters her father wanted her to deliver into the house, swaying slightly from the impact her muzzle induced upon it. She, with a struggle, stood up on her hind legs, and pawed the mailbox open with her hoof, trying to reach the "tongue" on the top of the mailbox door. Somehow, she got it open, and a bunch of letters spilled out, onto the snow, each with a small "plop".
Oh horseapples, thought Diamond, seeing how wet they got. She recalled that earlier, before he sent her outside to this bitter cold, Daddy had told her it was great to check the mail, because, "you never know what surprise you might find, just for you!"
Yeah, she thought, I got a surprise alright. But nopony said it was going to be a good one.
Feeling angrier than ever before, she grabbed each and every one of them with her mouth, but paused when she saw one in particular. It seemed to say very familiar written words on the envelope. Feeling inquisitive, Diamond gently brushed away the snow with her hoof, trying to see if she was reading it correctly, hoping that she didn't have to have glasses like Silver did.
The envelope said, in carefully written, grownup penmanship:
Ms. Diamond Dazzle Tiara
She grinned! A letter for her! YES!
And then she began to sulk when she remembered that it fell in the snow and got wet.
She knew, however, that if she could get them warm and dry, perhaps everything would be fine. And so a new plan formed in her head, though merely thinking about how wet they got made her feel very unhappy indeed.
So she began the long, difficult process of carrying them back into the house. However, she couldn't think about how she got She couldn’t let her father know that she let them get wet. She knew that her mother would surely be furious at this, and like so many children, as far as she knew, there was no difference between her mother and her father.
She somehow successfully trudged back into the house, forgetting to shut the door. Somehow, her whole body was still covered with snow and ice.
He turned and smiled warmly, with some amusement, "Who is that white fluffy pony who has walked into my house?"
Diamond shook her body clear of the snow, revealing her angry features beneath.
He grinned, trying not to chuckle a little bit at her unintentionally adorable scowl: "Why, it's Diamond! You've been gone for so long, that I wondered where you went off to!"
She kept scowling. She carefully removed her scarf and hat, placing them on the nearby coat hanger.
Filthy Rich happily sat by the fireplace, reading the newspaper, despite it being barely full of reliable news outside of stocks and funnies (which was pretty much all he ever read it for anyway).
Filthy Rich envisioned himself as a self-made stallion, and believed that if he were to get Diamond to do chores, perhaps she would learn the value of a hard day's work. Of course, in a way, as he would often remind himself, it wasn't true; he wasn't self-made. Everything he did as a colt was largely beaten out of him with his father's belt, but by his mother. While he always made Diamond do her chores and earn her toys, he tended to admit to himself that he was lenient when it came to discipline, perhaps as overcompensation for how much physical abuse he had to deal with when he was young. He couldn't help but wonder sometimes if he was too lenient, and if he was too underinvolved. Still, to this date, Diamond never met Grandma Rich, and he didn't think that she should.
Thought after thought crossed his mind: He didn't really know what Diamond was like most of the time, except what Spoiled Rich told him. Spoiled often told him that Diamond was a liar and an ungrateful brat, and instructed Filthy to never ask Diamond any questions or for her side of the story, because, Spoiled said, Diamond would just lie about her mother. Strangely, he never had any such experiences with her. When he was around, Diamond just came across as a filly who was indeed flawed, as she was not self-sufficient enough for her age, complained too much, and didn't often remember her manners, but she didn't seem quite as unmanagable as Spoiled often claimed. Well, perhaps now was the time to find out, since Spoiled was now in Manehatten to visit her own mother, Grandma Rotten.
Still, Diamond kept making a mildly rude face at him, similar to the ones Spoiled made all of the time, and he began to feel...uncomfortable.
"So," Filthy began, as if trying get to start a conversation, "did you get my letters?"
"In a minute." Diamond had absolutely no intention on telling her father that she dropped them and they got wet. Her mother often got angry at such mishaps - a huge reason why she didn't like to do chores - and like many children, Diamond Tiara was largely unaware that her parents could have very different policies.
Filthy heard a roaring sound like a blowdryer from the bathroom. He initially sat, simply listening to it, thinking that listening to it would answer his questions. However, time continued to pass, and the sound kept going. After some time, he finally rose from his seat to figure out what the source was. He walked to the bathroom, where the sound was at its loudest, and he gently knocked.
"Go away" a voice simply said.
Filthy was starting to get concerned about his letters: "Diamond, what are you doing?"
The dryer stopped. There was no answer.
"Go away," she said again.
He decided to just stand outside and wait. He had his own suspicions of what was going on, and would simply continue to wait until she was finished.
The knob slowly turned, and then she came out, carrying the letters in her mouth, but upon seeing her father outside of the bathroom door, she gasped and dropped them all!
"Diamond, what are you doing?"
And suddenly, she turned to him and sobbed, "please don't be mad at me daddy! I didn't mean to drop them, it was an accident!"
"Diamond, I'm not mad at you...if anything, I'm proud that you're trying to fix it, but...why would I be mad at you?"
"Well...because...because..." Diamond found it difficult to get the words out, that it was because her mother often became irate around her when something went wrong; in fact, Diamond didn't entire know that parents didn't have to get furious when small accidents happened.
But her father was different: "Oh sweetpea, you don't have to hide it from me, when things go wrong...in fact, that is the best time to ask for me. Okay?"
Not used to such understanding attitudes when dealing with everyday accidents, Diamond had absolutely no idea how to take this: "Um, yeah, sure, okay."
Diamond Tiara just went to the kitchen. "Daaaad..."
Filthy turned his head away from the paper, towards the kitchen; "What is it hon?"
"I want some hot cocoa," Diamond's voice called from the other end of the house.
"Here, I'll show you how to make it."
Spoiled Rich had insisted that Diamond and Filthy live like Unicorns, complete with many hired housekeepers, but Filthy didn't think that anything could shake the fact that they were Earth Ponies, meant to live their lives hooves-on. They couldn't use telekenesis to move objects, and they couldn't always rely on hired help. It was costing them money, and with their large home and the bills it cost, it was hard to gauge how much more affordable it would prove to keep living there unless they were to dismiss some of the ponies Spoiled often hired.
As he grabbed the milk to heat in a coffee mug, he tried to think of things to say to his daughter. "Well," he said, trying to start conversation, "did you get the letter?"
"Well," She began, "I found a bunch of letters."
"Oh, right!" Filthy said, almost as if it didn’t occur to him that there would be more than one letter in the box. "Well, where are they?"
Diamond Tiara walked over to the kitchen table where she dropped them off, grabbed them with her teeth, and brought them to Daddy for reading.
He then looked through each one, "let's see, trash, junk, politics, jury duty, Daddy's obviously going to hire a sitter...Ah! Here's something!" He handed over the letter that had Diamond's name on it.
The envelope was carefully torn by Filthy's hoof, and then he gently slid the letter out of the envelope, still nice and warm from the blowdryer.
Diamond took the trouble to read it herself: "Dear Diamond, I'm sending you a very special present. Keep your eyes open and look for it soon!"
She looked all over the letter, and then looked all over the envelope. There was no indication of a return address.
"Daddy," she asked, "do you have any idea who it's from?"
"Oh goodness, no, not me!" he said, "some things are meant to be surprises!"
To this idea, she simply shrugged, and began wondering who it could have been from. How many foals even knew her middle name anyway?
Still, nothing would change the simple fact that Diamond loved getting presents, especially those of the mysterious variety. She waited with patience and excitement, suspecting perhaps that the gift might be hint at the sender's identity. So for days she waited, waiting until it was time for the present to arrive.
Days and days passed, her mother came back, and Diamond noticed that the house was more palpably tense than when she was gone. Still, waiting for her present carried her through even the worst weeks. Then one day, on an afternoon, just like the one you are reading this on, she peered out her window, just to check for a package.
And this time, there was one!
It was an unexpectedly large, box-shaped package on the front porch. Unable to contain her joy, she jumped up and down, and ran to the door. However, her heart stopped when a familiar magenta leg stepped in front of her.
"And just where do you think you're going, with that energy, young lady?"
Diamond lowered her head in fear and in shame, "j-just...to the front door...mother."
Her mother, Spoiled, didn't even look her daughter in the eye. "Hmph! With manners like that, it is far too clear that you've been hanging around...farm ponies. A lady," she added, "is to walk, with grace and control."
Diamond somehow managed to look further doward, "yes, mother."
"Good," Spoiled began, but then she suddenly stopped herself, a thought occurring to her: "And why, praytell, do you intend on going to the front door and exposing yourself to strangers?"
"Um, well," Diamond began
"Face me, child."
Diamond then reluctantly raised her head to look into her mother's intense gaze: "To see...what I got..."
Spoiled cocked a single eyebrow upwards: "What you got?"
"Diamond, how many times do I have to tell you, there is no reason for you to assume that anypony would send anything to you...unless you succeed in life."
Diamond hung her head low again: "Yes mother."
"And do you know how to succeed in life?"
"Um, no mother."
"Well, I shall tell you," she stated firmly. "Connections. Investments. Work is for common ponies."
"Yes mother." To Diamond, this was an especially difficult thing to hear. Her father often spoke of the pleasures of gardening, and the satisfaction of making things grow, for, as he said, "the Earth Pony's true magic is to bring life to all of Equestria". Their enchanted seeds, he often told her, were the backbone of all Equestrian ponies, and that without the Earth Pony culture, the Pegasi and Unicorns Spoiled so greatly admired would surely starve.
Still, Spoiled had more to ramble on about: "And for you, to open the door! Oh! To expose yourself to strangers. You can only open it under highly specific conditions."
"Don't take that tone with me young lady!" Then, almost as quickly as she had lost it, Spoiled Rich regained her composure. "When I am here to see it. That is when."
Filthy heard all of this conversation; he didn't always agree with his wife's positions, but he daren't intervene, for the sake of being a unified parental unit. Besides, this time, she was actually right; Ponyville wasn't always as safe as it used to be, thanks to maddened Princesses, Chaos Gods, and other nightmarish things affecting it ever since the young unicorn Reverend moved into the tree library, thinking about this, he asked, "how about if I open the door and get the package -"
"No Dad," she said, taking her mother aback by not addressing him as "father", "I've got this."
She slowly and carefully opened the front door, and saw the package, still there! She carefully examined a tag on it, and it said, "on request, a present custom-prepared for Ms Diamond Dazzle Tiara".
Yep, this was the one!
Spoiled was, somewhat secretly, somewhat far-sighted, meaning that seeing things up close could be difficult, but she could see things well enough from a distance. Watching from the doorway, she lightly gasped at seeing Diamond's name on the tag. "Filthy Dear, do you know who sent this to Diamond?"
A voice shouted back, "actually, come back here dear..."
That was normally something Filthy said when he didn't want Diamond to hear what he and mother were talking about. But this time, too dazzled by the box, she didn't care. She just kept studying it, trying to figure out where it came from.
Unlike the letter, it had a return address, but nothing she recognized. Just something that said "Doolots Canterlot Garden Center".
Diamond Tiara had no idea what that meant.
She tried carrying it into the house with her mouth, but when she tried, she found it too heavy. So she grabbed it by her mouth and dragged it into the house.
Spoiled tried calling for one of the maids to help, but to Filthy's pride, Diamond Tiara had successfully dragged it to the entry hall all on her own. Her task completed, Diamond then happily rubbed her hooves together and prepared to undo the package's wrapping.
Filthy smiled as he saw Diamond excitedly tear off the wrapping paper. The joy and energy of foals was to him, one of the greatest delights to cherish. He wondered eagerly what Diamond would think of her present. She rapidly tore off the wrapping paper to realize that...
She got a box.
Indeed it was a box, a strangely shaped wooden crate that looked like a cow's manger, or perhaps a baby's crib, but it had a lid over it.
Oh well, maybe it was something INSIDE of the box. So she slid off the crate's lid -
It was full of dirt. It was a box full of DIRT. And all she could do was just stare at this thing. This box. Full of dirt. She didn't say anything to her father. She could be vocal about her ingratitude, but not this time. She was just too dumbfounded to say anything about it. Was it some colt thing? Did colts like playing with dirt so much? Did some colt from school send her this? Spike? Maybe, he was literate. But did Spike even know any middle name for Diamond besides "McMeaniePants"? How many ponies knew her name besides Daddy anyway? Well, her dad was male and he seemed to live up to his name when it came to outdoor work, so, maybe...
It came with a note, saying, "please take care of me, keep me some place safe, and give me water."
She realized that it was probably some growing thing, like a plant.
She sat down and sulked. Oh well. Nothing more interesting, like some toy or a game. She said little, but the disappointment was very clear on her face.
Spoiled flew into a rage, "a plant? Like that of some common farmer!" With a huff, she commanded, "come on Diamond! We'll go shopping for a real present."
Filthy, meanwhile, just collapsed next to the fireplace, and then and there, few eyes in all of Equestria were sadder than his own.
Weeks later, the crate was now on the shelf of a cellar, where Diamond would sometimes remember to give it water, and sometimes she didn't.
But Filthy Rich never forgot. He simply waited and watched, watching the sun cross the horizon every day, and going down to the cellar, inspecting the plant's progress.
Winter eventually passed, the birds now singing in the trees. After a long, cold winter, spring had come. The ponies were holding their Winter Wrap-Up, but rather than help the ponies in town, Spoiled insisted that Filthy and Diamond only do enough Winter Wrap-Up to take care of themselves. So they did, their Pegasus gardener pushed away the clouds, pushing away the inky grey skies that used to cover their house, and Filthy himself was hoeing the garden to prepare it for some plants that Spoiled had planned on getting.
Diamond had bonded with her father over the course of her mother's recent visitations to Grandma Rotten, and decided that she wanted to do what he did. Preparing for this, Filthy had prepared some foal-sized gardening tools for Diamond's usage. Diamond, this time, volunteered to help rather than be told to by her Filthy, much to his pride (and much to Spoiled's chagrin). There was, however, a problem: She lost track of her tool box! So Diamond searched everywhere, seeking out her little tools.
In her shuffling and searching, Diamond found her little box, shoved behind other boxes, most of them Spoiled's, but rather than remove one box at a time, Diamond simply assumed that she could safely draw her tool box out, so she just grabbed it with her teeth, trying to bring it forward.
That's when it happened.
As she tried to move the box, it was naturally twisting and sliding the boxes in front of it forward, including her crate of dirt. The crate, which even Spoiled took care to always place in front, happened to be the one to take the fall.
With a loud, wodden crash, the crate fell and broke into many pieces, with dirt spread everywhere! And there it was! A bulb, clearly for some kind of plant, but it showed no signs of life.
Out of frustration at the box and at herself, she grabbed the bulb by the the few stringy roots it was growing, and threw it away, and didn't think about it for the rest of the
About three days had passed, and Diamond did not see that bulb again, until, one morning, on none other than the morning of Spring Blossom's Day, she walked out of the house to take in the scents of the newly blooming flowers of Ponyville.
And she saw them.
Lilies, that were not there before, and certainly not part of her mother's plans.
It was three flowers coming from the same lily plant! Each individual flower took on unique colors:
One was the powerful white of Princess Celestia.
The second one was the warm pink of Princess Cadence.
And the third's petals were the soothing blue of Princess Luna.
All of their petals unfolded in shapes like triumphant trumpets. The plant had green leaves brimming with powerful life, and a scent that put the fragrances of all other flowers to shame.
Diamond Tiara almost teared up as she saw them, unable to contain her emotions. She was laughing, she was crying, it was truly a Spring Blossom miracle!
Then the very blank flanks she so often teased, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, trotted up to Diamond Tiara.
Apple Bloom exclaimed with a cheery sigh, "they're so pretty!"
Sweetie Belle knew her flowers best: "Where did you get them?"
Scootaloo, by contrast, was generally uninterested in flowers, "are they for eating?"
Diamond Tiara couldn't help but laugh and tear up.
Then, Spoiled Rich came along. She coming in a storm to bring Diamond Tiara back into the house, shouting, "DIAMOND DAZZLE TIARA! WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT-" And then, just like that, she suddenly stopped dead in her tracks and began to stammer at the sight of the Lilies: "Wha-what are they?"
Sweetie Belle chirped, "they're Princess Lilies! They're lilies enchanted to look just like the Princesses when they bloom!"
Diamond almost gasped, saying, "really? It's not a coincidence?"
"Princess Lilies? Never heard of 'em" Scootaloo admitted,
"Nope! Not a coincidence" Sweetie Belle continued, "And they live like, forever! If you keep them watered, anyway."
After spending a minute to thoughtfully tap her chin with her front hoof, Apple Bloom asked, "don't they cost a fortune?"
Sweetie Belle continued to squeak with the utmost enthusiasm: "Oh yes! My sister's been trying to get these for months! But she can't afford them. Whoever got them must have been filthy rich!"
Suddenly, an idea crossed Diamond Tiara's mind, and she said, "I have to go" to her friends. Then she ran off.
She ran! She ran as fast as she could, into the house, rapidly looking for her father.
She darted to her father, and embraced him: "I'm sorry daddy...I...I- I don't deserve this."
He just kept smiling: "Deserve what, buttercup?"
"The flowers! They-they-they-"
"Hon," called Spoiled from the open door, "come see the lilies! I'm not sure why your daughter placed them where they could be easily trodden upon, but they truly are marvelous!"
Filthy suddenly grinned broadly! "I wondered when those Princess Lilies would finish growing!"
"I knew you gave it to me! Somehow I knew it! I'm sorry daddy! I barely took care of it! Why would you give me anything nice?" she asked tearfully.
What would he say? Would he affirm her fears? Would he get angry at her?
No. He did not.
He only warmly smiled, put his forelimb around her, and held her tight. Diamond's eyes stung and moistened yet again. He just gently whispered, "anything, for my little pony."