Fireflower trotted into Sweet Apple Acres. Her day off had been a successful one, and she had gotten some supplies for her new puppy. He also had a name now; Pyrn. He certainly had a firey spirit, which had been confirmed when she tried to attach a leash to him. She had almost changed into a unicorn just to get him into the harness, and attaching the leash wasn't mush easier. She had managed, however, and was taking him with her to work. It was a a long leash, and she would be able to buck the apples without too much interference.
"Howdy, partner!" AJ called to her as she approached. "See you found yourself a new little friend there! What's his name?" The orange pony was indeed interested in the little puppy.
"His name is Pyrn." Fireflower said. "Isn't he adorable? Pretty fast, too. It took a bit to get him leashed up." She looked up and around at the surrounding orchard. "Where's Mac? He's normally bucking apples by the time I get here." Looking around in concern, the red earth pony look for the stallion with a similar hue.
"Oh, uh, he injured his, um, leg. Yeah, his leg! Busted it up really good! He's inside, um, resting." The orange pony said to her compatriot. "He should be fine by tomorrow, though. We'd best get started. These apples ain't gonna buck themselves." Applejack was speaking fast.
Fireflower turned to her. "AJ, is something up? You know you're horrible at lying." Glaring daggers at her employer, the green maned, yellow eyed pony stepped forward. "Where is Mac really? And no lies this time, you got that?"
AJ was shocked. Fireflower didn't normally act like this. "Fireflower, have you been replaced by a changling or something? You're attitude is a bit out of sync with normal you." She was leaning away from-- whoever this was. Fireflower or not, she was starting to scare Applejack.
"AJ, not with the subject changing, if you please. Do you even know where he is? At all?" Fireflower was starting to sound worried. If something really was wrong with him...
Just them another voice broke the conversation. "AJ? Fireflower? What's going on here?" Twilight Sparkle crested the hill, followed shortly by Big Macintosh and Rainbow Dash.
"What the hay is going on yourself? Where have you even been, Mac?" Exclaimed the earth pony mares. Argument forgotten, they rounded on the ponies who had arrived.
Twilight and Rainbow looked at each other. "Mac," said Rainbow. "I thought you said Applejack sent you. Why is she acting like she didn't even know where you were?" Twilight, too, was suddenly suspicious of the red stallion.
"That's because I didn't." Applejack said. "What did he say I sent for you for, anyway?" Glaring along side Fireflower, the orange mare gave her brother a look.
"Well..." Said Rainbow Dash. "He kind of said you wanted Twilight to preform a detection spell on Fireflower. We were a bit confused, considering the other night, but he convinced us you'd changed your mind." she looked over at Fireflower herself. "Sorry." she said sheepishly.
"The reason Rainbow is here in the first place is so... Well anyway, We'll be going now. Come on, Rainbow." Using her magic to pull the cyan pegasus by her tail, the purple alicorn dashed off.
"Come on, y'all. Let's go buck them apples." Said Applejack. Every trace of anger had been drained out of her. Instead, she was filled with sadness and hurt. "They won't buck themselves." She continued.
Fireflower, too, was feeling dejected. Even though Mac was right, it still hurt to feel untrusted. I wish I didn't have feelings. She thought as she trotted past Mac to the south orchard, hanging her head. Even Pyrn seemed dampened by the sadness in the air, as he left a butterfly alone to walk beside her himself. "They won't buck themselves." she told herself as she went to do her job. I'm deceiving them all. Using their trust. So why do I feel like the one who's been betrayed?
* * *
By the end of the day, Ashley felt no better. She had worked late, hoping it would take her mind off things. But it hadn't. By the time she called it quits, she actually felt worse. She supposed it was the farm, and had gone home, letting Pyrn do whatever struck his fancy. Despite his bounciness, he wasn't a destructive puppy. She let herself indulge this line of thought until her puppy began to bark at the door. Checking her clock, she realized how late it was. "Who could it be at this hour?" She muttered to herself before answering the door. It was Twilight Sparkle.
"Hey." She said. "Sorry about earlier." She truly was sorry. The emotion pulsed around Fireflower, who snapped it up before replying.
"It's no big deal. I understand you were deceived. It's not your fault." Her words seemed to comfort the pony, as a big ball of thanks floated right into her. Many ponies thought love was the only emotion changelings could feed on. But in reality, any positive emotion could satiate their hunger. A bubble of Ashleys own surprise floated over to Twilight, but burst into little pieces upon contact.
"I'm glad you understand. None of us expected what happened today. AJ told me what an effect it had on you, and I felt really bad." She looked at the ground as she spoke. "I'm glad you're okay, though."
"Twilight, you're a great pony, and I'd love to chat more, but it's really late and I have work in the morning. Talk to you some other time?" Fireflower said, her exhaustion showing on her face.
"Of course." Twilight said, yawning. "I'm pretty tired, too. We can talk again some other time." The alicorn turned and trotted off, presumably towards the library.
Fireflower closed the door and trotted back to bed. This time, she fell asleep, quickly, quietly, and happy.