Three sullen fillies trudged gloomily into the treehouse at the edge of Sweet Apple Acres. The Cutie Mark Crusaders had recently won their place as Ponyville's flag-wavers at the upcoming Equestria Games, and while they received a multitude of congrats from Cheerilee and most of their classmates, there were two fillies in particular who denied them any praise.
Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon simply refused to accept that three cutie mark-less fillies, one of which being a flightless pegasus, could have possibly won the competition, especially over them. They took their anger out mostly on Scootaloo's wings, going as far as to assert that they would never pick her up off the ground for as long as she lived.
After a long school day of being antagonized by their redundant taunts, the Crusaders finally managed to escape to the sanctity of their clubhouse. They gathered together in a circle, exchanging their gloomy expressions.
"I can't believe this!" Sweetie Belle was the first to speak. "It seems that no matter how many times we show up Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, they still try their hardest to get to us!"
"Yeah," Scootaloo sighed. "And here I thought that winning would be enough to shut them up for a while."
"They're just bein' sore losers," Apple Bloom stated. "C'mon, ya'll. We know how they work by now."
"I don't think so," Sweetie Belle said. "Up until now, they've only ever taunted us over our blank flanks. If they're still using Scootaloo's wings to get to her, how much longer until they start teasing me because I can't do magic yet? Most unicorns my age have at least mastered levitation."
Sweetie Belle pulled her saddlebag off her back and placed it on the floor. She closed her eyes and lowered her head so that her horn was directed towards it. Grunting with focus, she attempted to conjure up whatever magical ability rested deep within her. The very tip of her horn sparked up, and her saddlebag was surrounded in a light green aura. Though levitation was her intent, she still would have been happy if she had caused it to explode. Just any magical interaction at all....anything....
Sweetie Belle abruptly broke focus and let out a frustrated groan. The aura around her saddlebag vanished.
"You're gettin' there," Apple Bloom attempted to console her.
"Barely," she responded harshly.
The three fillies sighed in almost perfect unison, hanging their heads and renewing their sullen expressions. A brief silence followed.
"Well, enough moping around!" Scootaloo stated, bolting up onto her hooves in a swift motion that startled the other two. "You guys up for some crusading? I know I said that we're gonna get cutie marks for flag-carrying, but I think I would rather have them before then. That way, all of Equestria would be able to see them! And besides, I don't want us to set ourselves up for disappointment if they don't come when we're carrying the flag."
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle brightened up at once.
"That sounds great!" Apple Bloom exclaimed.
"Yeah, and it will help us get our minds off of....them," said Sweetie Belle, cutting her eyes into glare that was much too adorable to be taken seriously.
"So what should try?" Apple Bloom asked.
"I've been thinking that we should start dabbling into the performing arts!" Scootaloo stated excitedly.
"Didn't we already try that?" Apple Bloom raised an eyebrow at her.
"We tried comedy, but there's a lot more to it than that. I'm thinking we could try acting! I think that could be fun, and if we end up making it far enough, we could probably end up on Bridleway in Manehattan!" said Scootaloo, suddenly instilled with near-boundless enthusiasm.
Sweetie Belle shifted her eyes from side to side. "Umm....that sounds good, but..."
"...we don't know the first thing about actin'," Apple Bloom finished.
"Oh, come on, how hard can it be?" said Scootaloo nonchalantly.
"You see? That kinda thinkin' is why we don't have our cutie marks by now. We've been doin' too many things halfway. We try somethin' once, and if we don't get our marks on the first attempt, we just move on to somethin' else. If we're gonna do this, we need to make sure we're puttin' some actual effort into it," said Apple Bloom.
Her words seemed to resonate with Scootaloo, and she thoughtfully rubbed her chin with her hoof.
"Maybe we can find a book about acting at the library. That could help us, right?" Sweetie Belle suggested.
"Good idea!" Apple Bloom exclaimed. "Whaddya think, Scootaloo?"
Scootaloo's energetic spirit suddenly appeared to die down.
"Ummm....uhhh....I just remembered that there's something I need to do right now. You guys go to the library and meet me back here later," she said.
"Huh? Whaddya need to do?"
"Just....something at home," she said, turning her head towards the window, avoiding eye contact with them. "Don't worry about it. I'll be done by the time you get back."
"Well, we'd sure get to the library much faster with your scooter," Apple Bloom said somewhat indignantly.
The library was at least a twenty-minute walk away from the clubhouse. However, the Crusaders often got around on their wagon, pulled by Scootaloo's scooter, and powered by her unique propulsion system. It would cut that time by more than half.
"Sorry," said Scootaloo, as she casually stepped towards the clubhouse door. "Like I said, just meet me back here after you find a book. See ya!"
Without another look at either of them, she grabbed her scooter and helmet and dashed out of the clubhouse. Within moments, she was completely out of sight. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle remained in place, exchanging inquisitive looks.
"What do you think that's about?" Sweetie Belle tilted her head.
"I was just gonna ask you the same thing. You think she's gonna try flyin' again?"
"I'm not sure. After what Rainbow Dash told her, I really hoped she would have let it go for now."
"I know, but Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon ain't lettin' it go, and they're probably gonna keep on teasin' her until she actually does fly."
Sweetie Belle sighed.
"I think..." she lowered her head.
"We're losing her, Apple Bloom. We're losing our friend."
Apple Bloom's head shook almost involuntarily. She looked hard at Sweetie Belle.
"Wh---whaddya mean by that?"
"You saw how she was last week. She didn't sleep. I don't even think she ate. She just kept pushing herself, harder and harder. 'I'll just work twice as hard---three times as hard---four times as hard---twenty times as hard.' It just kept going up and up. Who even knows how hard she'd be trying now? She's going to reach her limit at some point, but I think she'll just go right beyond it. And since she's now being teased because she can't fly, maybe it's become more important to her than anything else."
Apple Bloom looked down at the wooden floor, letting her words sink in. Without the slightest notion of where it came from, a tear fell from her eye. She wiped it away quickly in an attempt to hide it from Sweetie Belle.
The hoof she suddenly felt around her neck let her know that she failed.
"It'll be okay," Sweetie Belle said reassuringly. "We're probably just jumping to conclusions."
"It's just...I didn't really take the time to understand what she was goin' through. I thought that the only reason she wanted to fly was so that she could be the star of our routine. But now that I think about it, maybe she was just feelin' insecure. All the other pegasi in our class flew in their routines, and she was the only one who didn't. She probably couldn't handle that, and that may have been the real reason why she quit. And then I just went right on ahead and said that we didn't need her. I said that right to her face! How could I have been such an awful friend?!"
Tears were now steadily streaming down Apple Bloom's cheeks, staining the wooden floor like tiny raindrops.
"It's okay, Apple Bloom," Sweetie Belle attempted to console her friend, but she was now beginning to tear up, too.
"That's easy for you to say. You didn't snap at her like I did."
"But she was annoying us both, remember? It's not like she wasn't acting like the routine was all about her..."
Apple Bloom wiped her tears away.
"We're not gonna lose her. Not if we can help it. But like you said, we're probably just jumpin' to conclusions. Let's just get to the library. We'll just ask her about it when we get back."
Sweetie Belle nodded, also wiping away the fledgling tears that had been forming in her eyes.
The two fillies mounted their saddlebags upon their backs and exited the clubhouse, engaging on the twenty-minute walk to the library.
Twilight was seated at her desk in the library, deeply engaged in Daring Do and the Ring of Destiny. She was almost tempted to skip ahead to see if she was mentioned anywhere in it. Only Rainbow Dash had been fortunate enough to grace the front cover of the book, and she couldn't help but find that just a bit unfair; not to mention that only Rainbow Dash received a copy of the book for free, a week earlier, and directly from "A.K. Yearling" herself. Still, Twilight was now one of the few people in Equestria who knew that Daring Do actually existed and the events of her stories actually happened, and that was worth something. However, knowing that the events of the book actually happened made reading through it an entirely new experience. The suspense she felt whenever Daring Do found herself in a deadly situation was now greatly intensified. The fact that Daring Do somehow always managed to make it out of these situations seemed unreal, but now that she knew that it was real, Twilight wondered how the adventurous pony could continue to maintain such an dangerous lifestyle.
What would happen if on one of these adventures, not everything went according to plan? What would have happened if she hadn't agreed to Rainbow Dash's crazy idea of doing A.K. Yearling's daily duties for her so that she could spend her every waking minute finishing up the book? They would not have been there to help her stop Ahuizhotl, and the book might not have been finished at all. Her mind spun around all of the variables, all of the "what ifs." It was not comforting to know that she would now have to start reading each new Daring Do book as though it would be the last. If something happened to go wrong during her next adventure, it would essentially mean an abrupt end for the series.
On second thought, perhaps knowing the truth wasn't worth it after all...
As Twilight finished up a chapter, Spike came hurrying down the stairs, sporting a small backpack.
"See you later, Twilight. The train will be here soon," he said, barely glancing in her direction as he made his way towards the door.
Twilight turned to him and sighed deeply, lowering her head.
"Well, I knew this day would come. The baby dragon that I hatched is all grown up and ready to leave the nest," she said with a sorrowful tone.
Spike stopped in his tracks and spun around.
"Good luck with your new life, Spike, wherever it is you go. I sure will miss you."
Spike gaped at her with mystified bewilderment.
"What are you talking about, Twilight? I'm just--"
"Oh, and please visit me every once in a while, would you?"
"Twilight, I'm not---whoa!"
Spike was suddenly enveloped within a pink aura and lifted off his feet, swiftly flying towards Twilight as though she were a magnet. She pulled him into an embrace and pressed her cheek against his.
"Oh, how will I ever survive without my little assistant?!" she cried in a dramatic tone that would have done Rarity proud.
"Twilight, stop it!" Spike said through giggles, and she quickly descended into giggles herself.
"Have fun at your....thing in Canterlot," she said as she released him from her hooves.
"It's a Saddle Arabian artifact museum," Spike said as he readjusted his backpack, which had come loose following Twilight's embrace. "This is the first time it's ever come to Canterlot. And the highlight is the Grande Gem. It's a massive ruby over ten feet tall!" Saliva dripped from his tongue. "What I wouldn't do for just a lick...oh, and while I'm in Canterlot, I'm going to check out this neat comic book shop that opened up recently."
"I see. And...you are coming back, right?" Twilight asked sadly, with her lower lip extended in a pout.
"Yes, Twilight," Spike said with annoyance. "See you in a few days."
Twilight suddenly resumed giggling. "You should have seen the look on your face!"
Spike rolled his eyes.
"Goodbye," he huffed. He turned to head out the door, but was once again wrapped in magic and pulled towards Twilight.
"Come on, don't be mad," she said, placing her hoof around him. "I was only joking."
"I know, I know," he sighed. "Come on, Twilight, I really need to go now."
"Alright. Have a nice time," she smiled.
Spike hurried quickly out the door, as though expecting to be picked up by Twilight yet again. Chuckling, Twilight returned to her book, but was not two paragraphs into the next chapter when the two Crusaders walked through the library door.
"Hey, girls!" Twilight said, turning towards them.
"Hi, Princess Twilight!" Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle said in unison, and they ducked their heads down before her.
"Oh, girls, you don't need to call me that. You can just call me 'Twilight' as you always have, and you don't need to bow, either."
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle raised their heads back up and exchanged a relieved look. This was their first time visiting Twilight following her coronation, and had spent the entire trip discussing how they should address her now. They were certain that she wouldn't insist that they bow, but they still did not want to take the chance.
"Oh my gosh! I heard that you girls will be carrying Ponyville's flag at the Equestria Games!" exclaimed Twilight.
"Yup!" Apple Bloom said boastfully.
"Congratulations on your win! Rainbow Dash told me that your routine was quite impressive."
"Yeah, I guess it kinda was," Sweetie Belle shrugged.
"You're not nervous, are you?" asked Twilight. "As I recall, you were pretty nervous during your talent show, and there will be far more ponies watching you at the Games than there were in that audience."
"I think we're okay," said Sweetie Belle, and Apple Bloom nodded in agreement. After all, they had already performed a sophisticated routine in front of a large crowd at the Crystal Empire. Carrying a simple flag would be nothing compared to that.
"Great! I have no doubt you'll be the best flag-carriers you can be."
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle exchanged another relieved look. Twilight was still their friend as she had always been, and her newly-acquired princesshood had not changed anything.
"So where's Scootaloo?" Twilight finally noticed the missing Crusader.
"She....had somethin' she needed to do," Apple Bloom said apprehensively, as though she didn't actually believe her own words. Sweetie Belle gave her an uneasy look.
"Oh, well, are you girls here for any reason in particular?" Twilight asked.
"We're trying to get cutie marks in actin'. We were wonderin' if you had any books that could help us out," Apple Bloom said.
"Acting, huh?" Twilight rolled her eyes. She had long given up on trying to steer the Crusaders towards trying things that they were familiar with for their cutie marks, and had since decided to just go along with whatever crazy new idea they came up with, as long as it wasn't anything particularly dangerous.
Twilight's eyes trailed upward as she thought.
"Hmm...I think I have just the book. Wait here," she said, and trotted up the stairs.
"Should we tell her about Scootaloo?" Apple Bloom asked when Twilight was out of earshot.
"If Scootaloo really is pushin' herself to fly again, Twilight could help her, if anypony could."
Sweetie Belle shook her head.
"If Rainbow Dash couldn't snap her out of it, I don't think there's much Twilight could do."
"Yeah, you're probably right," Apple Bloom sighed.
Sweetie Belle passed her a remorseful look.
"I shouldn't have said what I said. I didn't mean to worry you like this."
"It's okay, Sweetie Belle. All I know is that she'd better be at the clubhouse when we get back..."
Twilight returned moments later, a red-binded book levitated beside her.
"Well, this is the only book I have related to acting. Curtain Down's Guide to Improv."
"'Improv?' Sweetie Belle cocked her head. "What's that?"
"Improv is acting without a script. You come up with a scene and then just make it your own. Curtain Down is famous for his improv sketches," Twilight answered.
"Well, I guess that'll do," Apple Bloom made a shrugging motion.
Twilight attempted to wedge the book into Apple Bloom's saddlebag, but the bag was much too small to accommodate it. After several seconds she finally managed to position the book in a way so that it wouldn't fall out, although most of it still hung sloppily outside the bag.
"Well, good luck then," Twilight said, even though she was almost certain that this would not get them cutie marks.
"Thanks, Twilight," Sweetie Belle said.
"Sure thing. It was nice to see you girls. It feels like it's been a while."
"Yeah, it has" said Apple Bloom. "We'll be sure to visit more often."
Feeling satisfied and accomplished, the two Crusaders left the library. Twilight rolled her eyes a second time and returned to her book.
It was late in the afternoon by the time Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle made it back to the clubhouse. They only had a few hours left before they would need to return home for the night. The two kept themselves occupied with idle conversation during the walk back, mostly to keep their minds off of Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.....as well as Scootaloo.
When they walked into the clubhouse, they found her seated on the floor, taping her hoof while humming.
"Finally!" she said, jumping back onto all fours. "So, what did you get?"
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle both said nothing. They showered Scootaloo with stares of both worry and indubitable relief.
Apple Bloom dropped her saddlebag and walked up to her, throwing her forelegs around her neck.
"I'm so sorry, Scootaloo!" Apple Bloom said, with tears swiftly returning to her eyes. "I'm so sorry!"
"Sorry for what?" Scootaloo directed a perplexed look at Sweetie Belle, attempting to get some sort of answer for this unexpected action. However, Sweetie Belle was already walking up to her to do the same thing.
"For last week. For sayin' that we didn't need you. We do need you, Scootaloo. And that's why we're not gonna lose you."
"Wh--what are you talking about?" asked Scootaloo as Sweetie Belle also wrapped her in a hug.
"We just want you to know how much we care about you," Sweetie Belle said. "We don't want to lose you. We can't lose you."
Scootaloo stood in utter confusion as she attempted to figure out exactly where all of this was coming from. Regardless, she was still quite touched by their display of affection.
"Guys, I--" she started, as Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle released their grasp on her simultaneously.
"Why do you guys keep talking about losing me? What did I miss after I left?" she asked.
Apple Bloom wiped her tears away and Sweetie Belle took a deep breath.
"Well, we thought there was somethin' strange about how you just up and left us in such a hurry, so we kinda started thinkin'..."
"....that maybe you were trying to fly again," Sweetie Belle finished.
Scootaloo blinked twice and sighed.
"Well, I wasn't. You guys didn't need to worry about me."
"You pushed yourself way too hard last week, Scootaloo," Sweetie Belle continued. "We just don't want to see you putting yourself through that again."
"Well, I'm not, okay?" Scootaloo said, without much assurance in her voice. "Speaking of which, I've been wanting to apologize to you guys for how I acted towards you during our routine. I was so focused on flying that I didn't even realize how I was treating you. I'm sorry."
"Even so, I still shouldn't have said that we didn't need you..." said Apple Bloom.
"It's alright, Apple Bloom," Scootaloo said. "I know you didn't really mean it."
Apple Bloom and Scootaloo exchanged another hug, and Sweetie Belle wedged herself in between them. Everything was fine now.
"Anyway, let's get this started," said Scootaloo, as they ended their embrace. "We're losing daylight."
The week passed fairly uneventfully, and with no cutie marks to show for it. As expected, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon still refused to let up. The Crusaders were now hearing "blank flanks" (among other things) about a dozen times a day. Bringing up the fact that they were the ones who were going to be carrying Ponyville's flag at the Equestria Games tended to drive them away, but not before they would make another shot at Scootaloo's wings.
The Crusaders gave up on acting after a day, but they were still convinced that they needed to start putting more effort into their cutie mark attempts. For their next three attempts they made another three trips to the library to pick up another book relative to what they were trying next, and to simultaneously return the previous book. However, Scootaloo was not present for even one of those trips, much to the annoyance of Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, who were forced to suffer the long walk to the library and back each time. She instead chose to gather any materials that they were to need, and before the other two Crusaders could put up an argument, she hopped on her scooter and dashed away.
Odd as Scootaloo's behavior was, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle were relieved that she was no longer trying to fly, at least not as obsessively as she had the week before. Regardless, they wondered how long it would be before Diamond Tiara's taunting would start to get to her.
Reeling from the previous day's failed cutie mark attempt (gem-mining), the Crusaders trotted up into their clubhouse at the end of another school day.
"So, what should we try now?" Sweetie Belle asked, as they seated themselves in the clubhouse.
Scootaloo fell backward on the floor, crossing her hind legs and folding her forelegs behind her head.
"To be honest with you guys, I think that's enough for one week," she said. "Crusading has become pretty complex all of a sudden."
"I know what you mean," added Apple Bloom. "But we can't go back to just tryin' somethin' once, and then movin' on to somethin' else. We need the books to make sure we know exactly what we're doin'."
"Sure, whatever," Scootaloo rolled her eyes.
"Well, we should go return the book, at least," said Sweetie Belle, looking at the mining book seated on the nearby table next to some farm tools that the Crusaders had substituted for mining tools. Unfortunately, they learned quickly that a hoe was no substitute for a pickaxe.
Scootaloo turned her head to look at the window.
"You guys can go. I'll be here."
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle raised eyebrows at each other. Not this time...
"Scootaloo, is something goin' on?" Apple Bloom asked. "Why won't you come to the library with us? We're really gettin' tired of havin' to walk there."
"Yeah, it almost seems like you're avoiding it or something," added Sweetie Belle.
Scootaloo went silent for several moments, her eyes fixed to the window. The weather outside seemed quite nice...
"What's goin' on, Scootaloo?" asked Apple Bloom. "You can tell us..."
Even without looking at them, Scootaloo could feel the concerned eyes of her friends piercing into her, as though threatening her to open up. There was no way she was going to get out of this without telling them now, and she knew it full well.
Sighing, she turned herself upright to a seated position. Her eyes went from the window, straight to the floor.
"I just....I don't want to see Twilight," she said with annoyance. The two fillies gaped at each other for a brief second, then turned their heads back to the pegasus.
"Whaddya mean, Scootaloo? Twilight is our friend!" said Apple Bloom.
"Yeah, and she's been one of our biggest supporters ever since we started up the Cutie Mark Crusaders!"
Scootaloo's eyes remained fixed to the floor. It looked as though tears would penetrate them at any second.
"What's wrong? Are you mad at her or something?" Sweetie Belle attempted to coax Scootaloo into continuing the conversation, as it appeared that she was not going to say any more.
"No," she shook her head.
"Then what?" asked Apple Bloom.
She...she can fly," she said in a voice so low that the two fillies barely heard it. She shifted her head to the side so she could no longer see her friends' bodies.
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle felt disappointed. It suddenly felt like they were back where they started two weeks ago--right after Diamond Tiara convinced Scootaloo that they would have no chance to win if she didn't fly in their routine. It also felt like they were suddenly in danger of losing her again...
"But...Rainbow Dash can fly, too. You've never had a problem with that," Sweetie Belle pointed out.
"That....that's different," Scootaloo sighed. Her head hung so low now that it was almost as though she was speaking directly to the floor.
"Why?" asked Apple Bloom.
"Because nopony ever expected Twilight to fly!" Scootaloo instantly lifted her head again and restored eye contact with her two friends. Her tone shifted to seething frustration. "She's not a pegasus. She wasn't born with wings. But it's not like that matters since she was still able to fly anyway."
Sweetie Belle opened her mouth to say something, but Scootaloo continued before she could get a word out.
"I mean, I'm still trying to wrap my head around how it all even happened in the first place!" she began to pace rapidly back and forth as she spoke. "The last time we saw Twilight was the day Spike dragged us to the Crystal Empire, and we spent the whole ride back hidden underneath the seats of the train. That was the last time we ever saw her as a unicorn. Soon after that, all of Ponyville went crazy. Applejack had Rarity's cutie mark and was trying to run Carousel Boutique, Rarity had Rainbow Dash's cutie mark and was trying to control the weather, and from what I understand, Rainbow Dash had Fluttershy's cutie mark and was living in her cottage.
"And as if all that weren't enough craziness for one day, the next thing I know, I'm hearing that Twilight is now a princess. An alicorn! At first I thought that had something to do with all the other stuff going on, but it turned out to be permanent. I had actually thought that having wings would be hard on her. She had lived her entire life without having to worry about flying, and now she would need to learn. I felt really sorry for her."
Scootaloo ceased her pacing and plopped down on the floor in front of her two friends, who were engaged in her story.
"You know, I actually wanted to talk to her about it. Maybe even give her some pointers on how to get started, as funny as that must sound. Me giving another pony some pointers on how to fly." Scootaloo scoffed and shook her head. "How foolish. More like some pointers on how to flap your wings as hard as you possibly can, and yet only come an inch off the ground."
Scootaloo scornfully dropped her eyes to the ground. Her pause didn't last too long, as both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle looked as though they wanted to say something about how she was being too hard on herself, but Scootaloo didn't feel like being consoled at the moment.
"And then we were at her coronation, and....." She groaned loudly. Her tone shifted to a stark bitterness.
"You know what happened. She flew, and did it as though she'd been flying for years. I was born with wings and all I can do is hover for a few seconds. She gets wings out of nowhere and within two days she's soaring through the sky! She exceeded an expectation that was never placed on her. And she did it right at her coronation, which means that now everypony in Equestria knows that Princess Twilight Sparkle can fly! I guess it just goes to show that flying comes just as naturally to unicorns as it does to pegasi. Like when Rarity had wings, she was apparently a good enough flyer to enter a competition on short notice. And I'll bet that if earth ponies suddenly gained the ability to fly, it would come just as natural to them, too! I used to think that flying actually took a lot of effort, but I guess not if any pony who suddenly gets wings can instantly fly without even trying! When I saw Twilight fly, all I could think about was how silly I'd been. Silly to think that I might not be alone anymore. Silly to think that there just might actually be another pony with wings who can't fly. But no! Of course not! It's like flying is nothing but a game! A game that I'm just not allowed to play!"
Scootaloo let out a frustrated groan and stamped her hoof. She took several rapid breaths as her lungs attempted to catch up with her since she hadn't paused to breathe during her rant. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle looked at their pegasus friend with deep pity, unsure of what to say to make her feel better.
"Scootaloo....I thought you said that you weren't mad at her?" Sweetie Belle piped up after it became clear that Scootaloo was done talking.
Scootaloo took a moment to calm herself down, and her tone reverted back to normal.
"I'm not. I'm really not. I don't hold it against her or anything. I know it's not her fault that I can't fly. It's just....it's not fair! It's not the slightest bit fair! I mean, I didn't think that I would be flying before she would. Her wings are larger than any normal pegasi wings, after all, and unlike mine, they're fully grown. I just didn't think she would get it down so quickly, making it seem like there's really nothing to it at all. When it comes to flying I always sort of thought that I would have to wait my turn, like with our cutie marks. We'll get them eventually---no pony in recorded history has ever not received a cutie mark. That's kinda how I felt about flying, and that's why it's never really bothered me that the other pegasi in our class can already fly. My turn will come when it comes."
Scootaloo dropped her head again as tears began to fall from her eyes.
"Two weeks ago was the first time I ever thought that my turn would never come. That I would never fly. That the only thing my wings would ever be good is propelling my scooter. That the dreams I've always had of flying side-by-side with Rainbow Dash would never come true. And I still don't know if it will come or not. I don't know if there ever lived a pegasus who was never able to fly, but if not, I certainly don't want to be the first. I don't want Diamond Tiara to be right about my wings..."
"But Scootaloo, how long are you plannin' on avoidin' her?" asked Apple Bloom.
"I....I don't know," she said while wiping away her tears. "I just....I need time. Scootaloo Time. Time to accept it. "Please, guys, don't tell her that I feel this way. I don't want her to know about this."
"You can't avoid her forever, Scootaloo..."
"I realize that," Scootaloo huffed. "Just please, don't tell her..."
Silence fell upon the clubhouse as none of them had anything more to say.
"Let's just go, Apple Bloom," Sweetie Belle said mournfully, after several seconds of silence. She turned and headed out the door.
Apple Bloom placed the book in her saddlebag and followed after her. She stopped at the door, turning her head to take a last look at her sullen friend, who was now pitifully scratching at the floor with her hoof. Still unable to think of anything to say, Apple Bloom sighed and walked out.