Ditzy Doo pouted as she struggled to focus both eyes on the pony in front of her. The strain of doing so wasn't the only thing causing her eyes to water, however, as she leaned in close to whisper to other mare. "Applejack, we can't keep this a secret forever! The rest of your family is going to find out sooner or later anyway, and I'm tired of hiding it."
"Ah know, Ditzy, ah do. Ya think it don't tear me up inside, every time ah have ta lie ta them? It's jus'... ya don't know how Granny c'n get. Yer family might be okay with it, but Granny's real traditional an' set in her ways." Applejack tilted her head down in shame.
She and the mailmare were in the Apple family's kitchen under the pretext of Applejack offering Ditzy some refreshments to help her get through her route. In truth, the real reason was so that they could discuss far more personal matters without drawing suspicion. Little could they have known that the same elderly mare that they were trying to deceive had been about to join them, but had stopped at the door when she overheard secrets, and held one wrinkly ear up to the door to eavesdrop.
Ditzy protested, "Don't you think you're over-reacting? I've talked to her plenty of times, and she's such a sweet old lady."
"Sure, normally, but you don't hear what she says whenever she sees two mares or two stallions t'gether. If she found out her granddaughter is a... is a..."
"A filly-fooler," Ditzy said bluntly. In a panic, Applejack quickly muffled the pegasus with a hoof over her muzzle.
Quickly glancing around to make sure that nopony was around to hear (unaware that she had been, regardless) the farmer let out a pained sigh. "Please, Ditzy, jus' try ta understand. Mah family's everythin' ta me, an' Granny won't stand fer any Apple 'goin' against the natural order.' It'll mean bein' banished from th' family!"
"Well then maybe your family isn't that great," Ditzy exclaimed, tears falling down her face as her eyes slipped back out of alignment. Seeing the stricken look on Applejack's face, Ditzy stammered, "I-I'm sorry... I shouldn't have said that..."
Applejack shook her head slowly. "No... it's alright, it's jus' this whole situation... it ain't fair ta anypony..."
Ditzy slowly leaned in to nuzzle the orange mare. "It's okay. It'll be alright, we'll figure something out." Wrapping her forelegs and wings around Applejack, Ditzy held her close. "No matter what anypony else thinks, just remember that I--"
Before she could finish her sentence, the kitchen door suddenly swung open. There stood the matriarch of the Apple family, her bony body trembling with inner reserves of righteous anger that frightened the orange farmer. Cold steel seemed to flash in the elderly mare's eyes as--
Applejack stammered, "Granny! I-it ain't what ya think! We... wait, what?"
"Ah'm quittin' this fic," Granny replied tiredly. "Ah jus' can't keep doin' these stories no more." With that, the elderly mare turned around and walked away.
Ditzy and Applejack shared a confused look before disengaging from one another. "Well. Umm... that was unexpected," the pegasus said, reaching up to scratch her messy blonde mane. "Is she okay?"
Applejack sighed softly and replied, "Ah dunno, sugarcube. Can ya wait here while ah go check on her? If ya wanna fix yerself a snack or somethin', jus' help yerself ta whatever's in the fridge, an' send Twi the signal if we ain't back in a few minutes." Ditzy smiled brightly at the offer and patted Applejack on the shoulder as the farmer stepped out into the living room.
The elderly mare was sitting in her rocking chair, her shawl wrapped around her as she slowly rocked back and forth, staring straight ahead at nothing in particular.
"Uh... Granny? Are y'all okay?"
"No, Applejack, ah'm not okay," Granny Smith replied bitterly. "Ah'm a hateful an' heartless bigot who's willin' ta throw her darlin' granddaughter out inta the cold again."
Applejack walked over and placed a hoof on her granny's foreleg. "Ah know, Granny, ah'm sorry for puttin' ya through this. It's jus' the way the story goes this time."
Granny snorted and muttered, "Then the story can shove it where the sun don't shine."
Applejack grinned weakly at her grandmother's saucy comment, but couldn't maintain it as Granny's far-away stare wasn't broken. "What brought this on now, Granny? Ah know ya hate these fics, but ya seemed ready ta go along with it earlier this mornin'."
Granny slowly rocked back and forth. Back and forth. "It jus'... hit me, ah suppose. Ah was listenin' ta you an' Ditzy, an' ah was ready ta barge in on ya when ah realized... ah can't remember th' last time th' fic writers wanted me ta do anythin' else. An' it don't even make sense!"
The elerly mare reached over for her script, which she had left on the side table beside her chair. She then put on her reading glasses and began flipping through the pages, her lines highlighted for quick reference. "Seriously, who writes this load of horseapples? 'Ah won't stand for no sinful behavior in this house.' Gah!" She threw her forelegs up into the air in frustration, letting the pages of the script fly loose and drift down to the floor. Looking at Applejack over the rim of her glasses, Granny asked, "Sinful behavior? An' who made it a sin? It sure weren't Princess Celestia, considerin' who she gets paired off with!"
Granny put her hooves back down and started laughing bitterly. "Now that'd make fer a scene transition. I ask, 'Oh, what would the Princesses think of this shameful display?' Then cut straight ta Celestia goin' down on yer friend Pinkie's pie."
Pinkie Pie panted heavily, her body quivering with anticipation. Celestia had brought her sooooo close, and now all that was left was the finishing touches. All while the Canterlot elite looked on with open mouths and scandalized expressions at what their divine ruler was doing. And with one of the crude little commoners who had helped ruin the most disastrous Gala in living memory, no less!
"Just a little lower, Princess! Just a... just a little... more... Yes! Yes, oh, YES! YESSSSS!"
Pinkie let out a scream of bliss. Among the crowd, several monocles crashed to the floor and a few ladies (and one stallion) swooned into a faint. By contrast with the majority of his peers, Fancypants smiled and whispered to his wife, "This reminds me of our honeymoon."
Fleur tittered and leaned against her husband as she whispered back, "The papparazzi had a field day."
"As I recall, you had a fine time posing for the cameras," Fancypants teased while Pinkie began cheering and pumping her hoof victoriously. The golden aura of the sun princess's magic that was wrapped around the party pony put Pinkie Pie back down on the floor.
The instant Pinkie's hooves touched the ground, she began bouncing excitedly as everypony marveled at what she and the princess had accomplished. Towering high over them all was a thirty foot tall scale-model replica of the royal palace, made entirely out of cake and candies. Standing on the top-most balconies were the finishing touches; small edible doubles of the royal sisters themselves standing side-by-side, manes of spun sugar seemingly waving in an unfelt wind.
"We did it! We did it! Oh my gosh, this is the most amazing cake ever! Equestria's got this contest in the bag!"
Celestia let out her soft, motherly laugh. "Yes, and I might actually get a chance to taste this one," she replied, looking over at the bouncing Pinkie. "But most importantly, I must thank you, my little pony."
Pinkie blinked and stopped bouncing as she looked up at the majestic alicorn. "Aw, you don't need to thank me, Princess! You did most of the heavy lifting. I was just happy to help!"
Celestia shook her head and smiled down at the pink pony. "No, Pinkie, the greater part of this triumph is yours. I so enjoy encouraging my little ponies to take pride in their works, and yet I had almost forgotten what it feels like to do so, myself. You, Pinkie, are the one who lifted me."
To everypony's astonishment (and causing more than a few more fainting spells), Celestia bowed down to Pinkie. When she stood again, the princess smiled and said, "Pinkie Pie, by the power invested in me as Diarch of Equestria, I dub thee--"
Everypony turned toward the sound, groaning in disappointment as a scroll materialized in front of the director in a burst of purple flame, the noise interrupted the scene. Sitting in the director's chair, the new alicorn Princess of Fanfiction tried to hide behind her wings while also levitating the scroll up in front of her. It was wrapped in a yellow ribbon, which Twilight pulled off in order to read the message. "S-sorry, everypony, there must be trouble In one of the other fics. I've really got to make a silent version of that spell," she added under her breath. As she quickly scanned the scroll's contents, Twilight's eyes widened in surprise and dismay. "Uh-oh..."
Celestia asked, "Oh dear, which one? It isn't the Sparity pirate romance AU, is it? Spike was so looking forward to that one..."
Twilight shook her head, quickly rolling the scroll up. "Sorry, everypony, I need to head over to Sweet Apple Acres for a bit, so take a break and I'll get back as soon as I can!"
While the crowd of extras started to break up, most of them heading to the craft services table, Pinkie began bouncing around on her hind legs, waving a hoof in the air. "Ooh! Ooh, while you're there, can I direct the 'Assertiveness Lessons' scene we were gonna do after this?"
A deep blush tinted the purple alicorn's face. "Y-yeah, that... um, you go ahead, Pinkie. Th-that might be for the best," she replied before teleporting away in a flash of violet magic.
With Twilight having fled, Fluttershy stepped out into view wearing a curve-hugging Nazi-fetish outfit. The yellow pegasus said, "Umm... th-thanks for offering to direct, Pinkie. Twilight always gets so nervous, it's umm... kind of distracting..."
Pinkie giggled. "Yeah, it's cute how she gets all flustered by clopfics, considering she's shipped with everypony."
"Well, that's just part of her charm," Celestia replied warmly. The three mares then sighed wistfully, thinking about some of the fics they'd participated in with Twilight. The alicorn then got a naughty grin on her face and turned, wiggling the royal tush at them. "Now, then, why don't we head up to my bedchambers and get that scene done?"
"Right away, Your Highness," Pinkie and Fluttershy replied, the latter briefly tucking her head under her wing in order to pull out a riding crop and hold it in her mouth as they followed the swaying royal rump of their sovereign.
Applejack shook her head, suddenly realizing that she was being spoken to. "Huh? Wha? What happened?"
"Y'all sort of glazed over for about ten minutes there," Granny replied, rolling her eyes. "Ah swear, all those fics y'all've been in with that Rainbow Dash, ah wouldn't expect ya ta be so bashful."
Applejack's cheeks burned. "Well, it's... y'know, different when ah'm followin' the script," she stammered before a knock on the door interrupted them.
Applejack made her way to the door and opened it a crack. Seeing Twilight outside, she sighed and came out to join her alicorn friend. "Hey, Twi, sorry ta pull you away. How's 'Pastry Princess' goin'?"
Twilight had a concerned look on her face as her friend tried to distract her with small talk. "It's fine, AJ. Pinkie and Celestia just finished the cake. What about over here? Derpy--"
"Ditzy. She's Ditzy Doo in this fic."
"Oh, right, sorry," Twilight replied with an embarrassed little half-grin. "Anyway, Ditzy's scroll wasn't clear on what happened, but I figured it had to be pretty bad. I mean, I've practically seen you do these 'coming out' fics in your sleep."
Applejack looked back over her shoulder. "Yeah... it ain't me, it's Granny. The typecastin's been worryin' at her for a while now, an' it finally got too much for the ol' gal." She then looked back at Twilight, sincere worry shining through her green eyes as she told her friend, "She hates these fics, y'know... Hates 'em. Ah don't think she's gonna want ta get back inta this one."
"Oh," Twilight murmured, looking over her friend's shoulder at the farmhouse. "Can I talk to her?"
"You're welcome ta try, sugarcube. Though, uh... don't let her fluster ya," Applejack cautioned, her face flushing again at the thought of what Granny might say to her friend while in her current mood. Especially if she decided to bring up the scene that Granny had 'walked in on' just a few days prior involving Applejack, Twilight, and a few jars of Zap Apple jam.
Twilight smiled reassuringly and approached the door, opening it up with her magic. "Don't worry, Applejack, I'm just going to try to help her work through this." She stepped into the house and saw the elderly green mare slowly rocking in her chair. "Hi, Granny Smith. How is everything?"
"Oh, hello, yer highness," Granny replied, turning her head slightly to focus on the young alicorn, but otherwise she didn't move. "Y'all come over ta buy some Zap Apple jam? Oh, but ah shouldn't sell it to ya, what with the wicked, sinful things y'all use it for. Why, ah'm such a bitter, spiteful old coot, ah'm of a mind ta get outta this chair an' tan yer royal hide fer 'corrupting' mah granddaughter on account of traditions an' decency an' all them horseapples."
Twilight's face grew flushed as she was taken aback. Even though it wasn't really directed at her, the scathing tone in Granny's voice gave Twilight an inkling of just how serious the issue had become.
When the old mare's rant lowered down into sullen muttering, Twilight approached and took a seat on the floor in front of her. "Umm... no, it's okay, Granny Smith. I just want to make sure you're okay. I was hoping we could talk about what's bothering you."
Granny scowled at Twilight with a ferocity that made the alicorn flinch. Princess or not, the Apple family matriarch had steel in her from decades of frontier living, and a force of personality that could overwhelm an unwary pony when she was angry. As Granny focused more on the mare in front of her, though, seeing her granddaughter's dear friend and honorary family member looking hurt, her scowl softened until it was merely a sad, frail frown.
"You're a good'un, Twilight... Always have been, and ah'm sorry fer takin' it out on ya. Ah jus' don't know why they hate me so much..."
Twilight blinked and reached out to placed a hoof on Granny's foreleg. "Oh, Granny, nopony could possibly hate you."
Granny snorted, but gratefully accepted the reassuring bit of contact. "Sure, no pony, maybe. The fic writers sure do, though. Always makin' me out ta be somethin' ah ain't..."
Twilight nodded, trying to show her understanding. "I know, it can be rough sometimes. Trust me, we all have fics we can't stand, especially since I became an alicorn. I know I can barely do the ones where I turn evil, or outlive everypony and get suicidally depressed... and Pinky's got it even worse. There are so few where she features prominently and isn't either psychotic, an overused Fourth Wall-breaking joke, considered so annoying it's a miracle any of us even talk to her, or some combination of all three. But you know, when I get down, she always reminds me that it's the ones who get her right that keep her going, even if they're few and far between sometimes."
"And what if she didn't have even that much?" Granny asked sullenly. "Ah know ah'm no main character. That's mah granddaughters' job, an' ah'm proud of 'em, but why do ah always have ta be the villain? What did ah do ta make the writers think ah should be?"
Twilight rolled this question around in her mind for a bit before looking down at the loose pages of script littering the floor. Her horn glowed softly as she picked them up and started sorting them, glancing over the highlighted lines while she did so. "Well... the focus of these fics is on characters coming out, and how important it is to be honest with yourself, even when there's resistance. Because of your age, rural upbringing, and position as head of the family, they find it easy to write you as a pony who adheres to traditions and wouldn't accept anything 'unnatural'."
Granny scoffed so hard at that, her false teeth nearly flew out of her mouth. "Unnatural? Ah've seen enough animals in mah time ta have seen homosexuality ain't somethin' ponies jus' came up with because they were bored! As for 'tradition', ah like ta think ah'm a good, Celestia-lovin' pony, an' ah ain't never heard her say one bad word 'gainst gay ponies. Fer cripe's sake, our national motto is 'Love and Tolerance', so bein' a gay-basher would be goin' 'gainst tradition a lot more'n wishin' mah family happiness with whoever they love."
She shook her head wearily. "Ah've lived here nigh on two hundred years now. Ah've seen Ponyville spring up from nothin' an' grow into a fine town. Ah've fallen in love, made friends, had children... ah've had adventures, but none of it matters. Fic writers don't want ta tell those stories. Ah jus' ain't no good to 'em..."
Twilight shook her head vehemently. "That's not true at all, Granny Smith!" Granny opened her mouth to retort, but Twilight quickly continued, "Please, let me explain. What you're saying is true for Equestria, but the writers aren't from Equestria, so they write their stories through the filter of their own experiences and relations. Maybe it doesn't make a lot of sense to you or me, but it does to them."
The alicorn draped a wing across the old mare's back, trying to comfort her as Princess Celestia had done for her so many times before. "And it's important to them, because it isn't easy there. So many of them have to prepare themselves to deal with the possibility of becoming alienated from their family, and... well, you and your grandchildren are the most closely-knit family in Equestria that they know of. It matters whether or not you approve of their relationships, and those who are afraid of how their family will react can relate to that. That's why they need you to take that role."
Granny looked down at the floor as Twilight spoke, trying to imagine what the purple alicorn was describing. "Really? Ah... ah didn't think of it that way. Ah suppose ah didn't try too hard ta think of it from their point of view..."
She then shook her head and sighed, leaning against Twilight. "But ah can't do it today. Ah feel sorry fer 'em, ah do. Ah'd like ta help, but ah jus' can't muster it in me ta be the bad guy. Please, find somepony else ta be their strawmare this time, Twi... ah mean, yer highness."
Twilight smiled softly and leaned in to nuzzle the old green mare. "It's okay, Granny, you can always just call me 'Twilight'. I was an honorary member of the Apple family long before I was a princess. I'll see what I can do about negotiating a re-write done for today's fic."
Granny Smith blinked in surprise. "Y'all c'n do that?"
Twilight giggled and stood up to adopt a regal pose. "Well, what's the point of being the Princess of Fanfiction if I can't throw my influence around now and then? Especially for the ponies I care about."
Granny leaned back, a relieved and genuine smile crossing her face for the first time that day. "Thank you, Twilight... y'all ain't just a good'un, y'all're the best'un. Thank you fer goin' to the trouble fer an' old biddy lahk me." She then looked past the alicorn to see a bit of the brim of a familiar hat poking out from behind the open front door. "An' thank you fer callin' her, Applejack. Don't think ah don't see ya there!"
Applejack yelped, then came into the house with a sheepish grin. "A-heh... sorry, Granny."
The old mare got up out of her chair and walked over to embrace her granddaughter. "Oh, never you mind, sugarcube. Ah'm grateful to ya fer carin' enough ta bring Twilight over an' let me get that off mah chest. Ya know that no matter what the fic writers have me say, ah'll always love ya from the bottom of mah heart, no matter who y'all get shipped with, right?"
Applejack smiled warmly and returned the hug. "Of course, Granny." Then she blinked and asked, "Uh... no matter who AH get shipped with? Granny, did y'all read th' whole script?"
Granny Smith snorted derisively as she let go. "Couldn't bring mahself ta read any more'n ah had to ta get through the scene we were 'bout ta do. Why?"
Applejack and Twilight were about to reply, but before they could, the sound of eight tiny hooves making their way down the stairs could be heard. Four of those hooves belonged to Granny's other granddaughter, Apple Bloom, the other four to a periwinkle coated unicorn with a blonde mane.
Both of them had cheeks as red as Apple Bloom's hair. With a bit of a slur in her speech, Apple Bloom asked, "Heya, Twi! Uh... good ta seeya, but c'n we get to th' scene where Granny catches me 'n Dinky kissin' already? We've been practicin' all mornin', an' mah mouth's startin' ta go numb."
The little unicorn giggled bashfully and nuzzled Apple Bloom's cheek. "But I didn't mind, because she's really good at kissing."
From the kitchen, Ditzy's voice called out, "She'd better be, if she's going to be shipped with my little muffin!"
This got a laugh out of everypony except for Granny Smith, who stared up at the fillies on the staircase, her lips pursed with the sort of stern glare that she had been expected to make earlier that day.
"Twilight," the old mare said with grim seriousness, "If'n this is a foalcon fic, y'all c'n fergit about the re-write an' just send me to th' writer's house with a can o' gasoline and a box o' matches."
Granny Smith slowly rocked in her chair on the farmhouse's front porch, looking out across Sweet Apple Acres. She sighed softly as she her gaze focused on Apple Bloom and Dinky Doo, as they sat on a log a ways down the road. The two fillies had been leaning against one another, talking and giggling as the sun dipped low.
While she slowly rocked, the door opened and Applejack stuck her head out. "Dinner's almost ready, Granny. How're th' girls doin'?"
"See fer yerself," the elderly mare replied, pointing a hoof at the fillies. "They've barely moved from that spot! T'ain't natural... ah mean, when's the last time y'all ever saw Apple Bloom sit still that long?"
Applejack laughed and shook her head. "Enjoy it while it lasts. Tomorrow, Dinky joins th' Cutie Mark Crusaders. Celestia have mercy on us all."
Granny shivered. "Well, good ta know some things ain't changin', ah suppose. Ah still think our li'l Bloom's growin' up too fast." As the sun touched the horizon, Dinky tapped Apple Bloom's shoulder. When the farm filly turned to look, Dinky quickly leaned in and stole a kiss. Unable to keep smile off of her face, Granny added, "Still... can't deny that they're cute together."
"Nnnope," Applejack replied in imitation of her big brother while trying not to giggle at how Apple Bloom's blushing face glowed just as brightly as Celestia's sunset.
"CUT! Great job, everypony," Twilight said, stepping out into view along with Ditzy, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon. While the wall-eyed pegasus flew over to hug her daughter, Twilight looked down at the two bullies. "And thanks again for agreeing to help out on such short notice."
The two earth pony fillies gave a brief bow, and Silver Spoon grinned as she replied, "You know me, your highness! I'll do anything for page-time!"
"That's true, Silver is a total attention horse," Diamond Tiara snarked, earning her a light hoof-punch to the shoulder before the two friends devolved into giggles as they headed down the path back into town. They made sure to wave to the 'happy couple' as they passed by. Exaggerated kissy sounds, along with light-hearted taunts of 'blank-flank' and 'spoiled brat' were tossed between the two duos before they parted, causing Twilight to smirk and roll her eyes at the foalish antics.
Twilight then turned to Granny Smith and asked, "I hope you liked the re-write?"
Granny smiled widely at the alicorn and nodded. "I did. Again, thank you so much fer goin' to the effort. Ah'm in yer debt." She reached under her shawl to pull out the re-written script. She was still written as being opposed to the relationship at the start, but this time it was because of her own bad experiences with jumping into a young romance with a colt who was bad for her before meeting the one who she would eventually marry. It had even come with a flashback, allowing her to enjoy being young and pretty again for a little while.
At the same time, the real antagonistic role had been shifted onto the two bullies, who tried to sabotage the relationship because Diamond Tiara was jealous of her long-time rival/target finding a very special somepony before her. It may not have provided quite as much dramatic tension, but everypony involved felt that it worked out in the end.
Twilight gave the old mare a quick wing-hug. "I'm just happy I could help. Anyway, it's getting late, so I should head home. You all have a good evening!"
Everypony waved Twilight off and wished her well before she teleported out.
"We should go, too," Ditzy said, bending down so that Dinky could climb up onto her back.
"Awww, y'all ain't gonna stay fer dinner?" Apple Bloom pouted, but Ditzy just patted her on the head.
"Sorry, but my little muffin and I have to get up early tomorrow for a Lunaverse fic."
Dinky giggled, shooting some colorful sparks from her horn. "The Great and Powerful Dinky is a rising star," she exclaimed as Ditzy took wing and started rising up into the air.
"Bye, then," Applejack called up to them. "Say hi ta Trixie for us!" Once the pegasus and her daughter were out of sight, she addressed the rest of the family. "Well, we don't actually have dinner cookin' yet, so ah still need ta get that started. Hope ya don't mind a little wait."
"Ah'll help," Granny replied, pulling herself out of her chair. "Ah've been sittin' around enough as it is."
Making her way through the house and into the kitchen, Granny Smith thought about what she had learned that day about fanfiction. On the one hoof, she was glad that the fic had been altered to allow her to stay true to herself. On the other, Twilight had made her start thinking about how there was always a reason behind the way fics were written. Even when the characterization was horrible or the stories made no sense, there was always a writer behind it with something to say.
Except for the foalcon writers. Those were obviously in need of psychiatric help.
While the old mare was hopeful that future fics would care about her character with the same level of affection that other ponies had received, she resolved to herself to be more accommodating and not take it so personally if she had to play a mean role again. Perhaps she would try to make the time to have a chat with Applejack's friend Pinkie Pie about it the next time the party pony came to visit.
Feeling more determined and energized (thanks in some small part to her brief return to youth during the flashback), Granny opened the refrigerator to get the fixin's for dinner, only to blink in surprise as she found the shelves inside to be completely bare, but for a mouth-written note.
Hey, AJ, the writer wanted me to end on an
'I cleaned out your fridge' joke, so sorry!
I'll make it up to you!
Granny pulled the note out and read it over again a few times before slumping her head down with a weary sigh.
"Ah hate fanfiction..."