Deal With The Draconequus

by Never2muchpinkie

Chapter 9: A generous destiny.

Sweetie Belle sat by the lake in front of her house, her legs kicking restlessly on the small pier that her dad usually went fishing in. She looked at her reflection in the water, seeing her own miserable face looking back at her.

“Sweetie Belle?” came a voice calling her name.

The filly turned slightly towards the voice, and said dully, “Oh, hi, Miss Cheerilee.” She turned back towards the water.

“May I join you?” her teacher asked.

“Sure,” she replied with a sigh.

Cheerilee sat down next to her student, putting a hoof around Sweetie Belle. “I’m sorry about your sister.”

Sweetie Belle shrugged, not responding. She had felt so drained lately. She felt like she had run out of tears to cry.

“I heard the story from Twilight. So in the end do you think your friend made the right choice?”

A pang of rage built up inside Sweetie Belle, and she threw her teacher’s hoof off of her. “Oh, stop it! You know that it had nothing to do with any of my friends. You knew when I was asking you about it a few days ago.”

“Yes… I did,” she replied, not sounding bothered. “As a teacher I have many roles to play. One of the most important ones is teaching my students how to think and make decisions. When you began asking me about committing a crime for a good reason I felt a little uncomfortable. I could have insisted you take no part in whatever you were thinking of doing but that wouldn’t have actually taught you anything or helped you out.

"There won’t always be someone to ask when you need to make an important decision. My goal is to help you become independent enough to rely on your own input should the occasion arise. Even if I just told you it was a horrible idea and you should never do it you might have decided to do it anyway if you felt the situation called for it. Without probing into exactly what it was that was on your mind the most I could do to help you was to make sure you were well-equipped mentally.

"I told you that story and pointed out all the ways such a path could go wrong for both you and whatever parties were involved to allow you to make your own decision and face whatever consequences that decision would have. I certainly wouldn’t have ever imagined you were considering a deal for Equestria’s most powerful weapon for your sister’s life.

“So tell me… honestly. Do you think you made the right decision, Sweetie Belle?”

Sweetie Belle grimaced. “I… I don’t know! Discord was really going to restore her back to full health! He was perfectly polite and willing to bargain. He only started going really crazy when I turned him down and attacked him. I thought about it so hard I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.

"The day she died I finally decided to do it. I WANTED to do it, and I didn’t care what the consequences were. I was willing to be banished and for Rarity to hate me, but in the end…I just couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. The guilt was too heavy. When I yelled at him and refused the trade I felt so much better… even though I knew what that would mean for Rarity. Like you said… I had to think about how SHE would feel about what I did. I knew how badly it would hurt her. That’s why I stopped myself.

“Rarity…” Sweetie Belle wiped her eyes as tears began forming. “Rarity’s last words were to tell me she was proud to have me as a sister, and she was proud of the choice I made.”

“I know that’s the way your sister feels, but is that the way YOU feel, Sweetie Belle?”

There was quiet for a time as some more tears came down her face. “I don’t know,” she said emotionlessly. “Discord started going crazy, so I guess he wasn’t trustworthy. Rarity said the same thing. But what he was talking about didn’t seem so bad. He wanted to rule like he did before, but he didn’t want to be cruel about it like before. Being friends is about give and take. It’s not about always getting what you want, and that was Discord’s issue. He felt he couldn’t be himself with the way things were.

"He said he would help others in exchange for being able to cause a little chaos once in a while. He also said he didn’t want to have to live in fear of making a mistake and losing his temper the way all of us do. I don’t know how much of that is true, but I do know he helped all those other ponies who caught the plague.

“I… I just don’t know what is right. Without knowing what Discord was really thinking I can’t say whether he would have actually kept his word to me.”

Cheerilee put her hoof on Sweetie Belle’s back, gently rubbing it. “Sometimes… there are no answers,” she said softly. “We can’t always know the way things would have gone if we had just made a different choice, whether it would have turned out better or worse. All we can do is accept the choice we made, learn what we can from it, and then move past it.

“You said yourself that what stopped you from handing over the Element was guilt. I think that says enough about how you really felt deep down. You decided that it wasn’t worth the risk. It’s unfortunate that your sister died as a result, but she told you how she felt about it. She felt you did the right thing. She was proud of you, and I’m proud of you too, Sweetie Belle. You made an impossible choice and stuck to what your heart told you. You turned against what your conscience was telling you was wrong.”

Sweetie Belle shook her head, holding herself as she began sobbing a little. “No!” she cried out, her voice cracking. “It’s not fair! IT’S NOT FAIR!"

Cheerilee picked Sweetie Belle up, sitting the filly on her lap and hugging her. “Shh. It’s okay, Sweetie Belle. I know it hurts, but you did the right thing!”

Sweetie Belle shook with her sobs, holding her teacher close. “I miss her! I miss her SO much! And-and-and she’s never coming back!” She let out a mournful wail as she rested her head on her teacher’s neck, squeezing like her life depended on it.

Cheerilee just held the filly until she cried herself out and was reduced to jerky breaths. “I know you miss her, Sweetie Belle," she said kindly, “but it’s not like she’s really gone for good.”

Sweetie Belle sniffed a few times, wiping her eyes as she said, “W-what do you mean?”

“She still lives on inside of you. Your memories of her will never go away. And if you look at her best attributes and all the things you looked up to her for then she’ll also live on THROUGH you. Every nice thing you do that you know Rarity would do allows her to still be present by letting her best side live on through those you meet and interact with.”

Sweetie Belle sniffed again, looking into her teacher’s eyes. She remembered the last thing she had said to her sister as well. She had promised she wouldn’t let Rarity be forgotten by Ponyville, and she would do her best to emulate her sister.

“You’re looking calmer now, Sweetie Belle. Are you starting to feel better?”

“I… I think I am.”

“That’s great. So can I expect you in school tomorrow? You don’t want to miss too many days of school or you’ll never grow to be as smart as your sister.”

Sweetie Belle nodded. “I’ll be there.” She gave Cheerilee one last squeeze, saying, “Thank you so much for coming to visit. I… I really needed it.”

Cheerilee responded in kind, hugging Sweetie Belle harder, saying, “You’re very welcome, Sweetie Belle.”

The next morning Cheerilee was looking over the classroom, about to take attendance, when she noticed that Sweetie Belle’s seat was empty. Her smile faded.

Just as she was about to call the first name the door of the schoolhouse burst open. Sweetie Belle came in, wearing a pink dress studded with small gems and ruffles. “S-sorry I’m late,” she huffed. She turned around, dragging a sack behind her.

“Sweetie Belle, why are you dressed like that?” asked Cheerilee.

“I’m taking after my sister, like you said.”

“And what’s in the bag?"

“I brought some presents for everyone. I had to borrow some money from my parents, but they gave it to me because it was for a good cause.”

“Oh. Well, I guess we can put roll call off for a little while, then.”

Diamond Tiara rolled her eyes as Sweetie Belle began handing out little wrapped boxes to the other students. She was trying not to say something nasty because she had at least some respect for the dead, but she knew that Sweetie Belle wasn’t going to give her anything. It wasn’t like she WANTED anything from her, anyway.

She looked down as she heard an impact on her desk, and she saw a red box wrapped with a green bow. She was surprised. “What’s this?” she asked suspiciously.

“That’s for you,” said Sweetie Belle. “I hope you like it.” Going into the sack again she took out another box and put it on Silver Spoon’s desk.

As everyone began opening their presents Diamond Tiara felt a small bit of exhilaration, wondering what was inside. She pulled on the ribbon until it came undone, and opened the box. Pulling away some tissue paper she took out a small bottle and a few pieces of cloth. Turning the bottle around she read it. “Silver polish?” she said confusedly.

Sweetie Belle pointed above her head. “I know you love to wear your diamond tiara to school every day, and I know you like the best of the best, so I thought it was about time you helped to restore it to its full shine so it looks the best it can.”

Diamond Tiara had trouble swallowing through the lump in her throat. She tried to play it off like it didn’t matter, saying, “Well, thanks,” in an uninterested voice, but she took off her tiara and began rubbing it clean all the same. She couldn’t stop a genuine smile from coming to her face.

Silver Spoon opened her box next, seeing a bottle of eyeglass cleaner and some drying cloths. She was much more warm about her gift. “Hey, thanks a lot. I needed this. They’re getting so foggy lately.” Removing her glasses she, like her classmate, was smiling as she took advantage of her gift.

With the worst of the class being grateful she knew the rest of them would also like their own presents. Each of them began smiling as they opened their gifts. She had tried to get them something that she knew they would need. Featherweight got a carrying case for his camera. Scootaloo got a Wonderbolts necklace. Each of them were nosy, trying to see what everyone else got.

All in all, she got no complaints. Every one of them expressed their gratitude to her, making her smile wider and wider, joyful tears coming to her eyes.

All of them were in bright spirits as the school day began, and Sweetie Belle could see it. For probably the only time in her life she saw Diamond Tiara dispense with her snobby attitude. She wasn’t nasty or dismissive at all. She almost dropped dead of shock when Diamond Tiara actually complimented her on her fashion sense for the dress she was wearing.

When it was time for recess Cheerilee asked her to stay behind. As everyone one else headed outside she went up to the desk and said, “Yes, Miss Cheerilee?”

Cheerilee saw that as soon as they were alone that Sweetie Belle’s spirit had faded. “I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you for what you did today.”

“Thank you.

“I didn’t want to tell Apple Bloom and Scootaloo yet, and that’s one reason I wore this dress, but I got my cutie mark yesterday.”

“You did?” she asked excitedly. “Let me see.”

Sweetie Belle turned to the side, lifting up the back of the dress.

Cheerilee leaned in, observing the mark. The bottom half looked like a treasure map, with hoof marks heading forward and making little left and right turns before ending at an “X.” Above that were two ponies, one holding a wrapped box and the other with their hooves out to receive it.

“Hmmm? What does it mean, Sweetie Belle?”

“I did a lot of thinking yesterday about what you said. You told me that every time I showed off what Rarity taught me that I help to keep her alive. Watching me, other ponies will know that I am my sister’s sister. That’s when I knew what my destiny was.

"I’m going to follow in the hoofprints of my sister Rarity, and I’m going to be generous to every pony I can. I’ll show each of them about how great a pony Rarity really was, so that way she’ll never disappear from Ponyville. I’m not going to hold back, either. That’s why I also got gifts for Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon. If I singled them out just because I don’t like them that much that would be selfish, the exact opposite of what she stood for. And seeing the joy I brought them made it all worth it.”

“So why do you look so down, Sweetie Belle? Aren’t you happy?”

“I am happy I got my cutie mark, and that I know what I want to do with my life, but I still miss my sister a lot. I’ll always keep her alive in my heart each time I do something generous for another pony, but I wish she could be alive for real, too.”

“Do you know, Sweetie Belle, what the best part about giving to others is?”

“What’s that?”

“That you get something back in return. You inspire others to follow your example. Like me. Right now I’m feeling generous too, and I want to give you something: a nice, big hug.” Picking the filly up she held her student close. “You’re an amazingly strong pony, Sweetie Belle. Smiling even at your worst moment takes a lot of courage. I know your sister would be proud of you for your decision and what your cutie mark represents.”

Sweetie Belle broke down crying at her teacher’s words, feeling a sense of relief. “T-thank you, Miss Cheerilee! Thank you!”