After a minute or so of being encased in her furry cocoon, Diamond Tiara's sobs gradually abated. She looked around at the four sympathetic faces around her, and mumbled "Thank you".
Applejack gave the filly a nod. "Anytime, sugarcube. Never forget, we're all here for you if you ever need us, and I know I speak for Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie on that score as well. Now, in regards to what I said a minute ago, do ya think you'll be okay with getting your things from upstairs? Or do you want my help? Take your time." The farm pony smiled back at Diamond patiently.
"No. I think I'll be fine..." Tiara was able to squeeze out, as she overcame the last of her tears.
"Well, off with you then. Don't worry. We'll all still be here when you get back..." Applejack spoke with the same friendly tone.
"Okay. I'll go now..." Diamond slowly trudged up the stairs, her head still pounding at the rate at which everything was moving. Not to mention, her complete meltdown in front of the quartet of mares, who were all still watching her concernedly as she ascended the steps.
And yet, none of them had seemed the least bit embarrassed at her display, and they'd barely thought twice about comforting her during her lowest ebb. The filly had always been taught that to show such emotion in public was unseemly, and to accept compassion from 'lower classes', a sign of weakness they could exploit.
Yet, these were four of the heroines of Equestria, Who had helped save the world from the likes of Discord, Queen Chrysalis, Tirek, so nopony could call them unimportant, or 'weaklings'.
Despite all that though, They hadn't hesitated to cuddle the sadness out of her when she feared her dam was about to break. There seemed to be no ulterior motive either, behind their words of empathy and solace.
Nothing about it added up.
What she had been lectured about, drilled into her brain on countless occasions since the day she was born...
'Arrgh!! My head...' Diamond winced at the overanalysing going on in her brain. She'd already been through so much that night, any more mental gymnastics might cause her skull to implode. Besides which, it was already long past her bedtime, and she still had to gather up some personal possessions, make the long walk to the farm...
Upon reaching her room, she grabbed a velvet travelling bag from under her bed and stumbled around like a zombie, opening drawers, taking random stuff out and just throwing it in her case.
She was so not ready for this right now.
While Rarity was wandering around the hall admiring the decor, and Rainbow Dash pondered why anypony would want to waste their bits on such pretentious trinkets, Applejack and Twilight were going over the arrangements for Diamond Tiara's arrival.
"... And she can share a room with Apple Bloom, help her out with her chores..." The farm pony seemed quite enthusiastic about having the magenta filly as a guest.
Twilight scratched the bottom of her chin. "Are you sure about this? I mean, it'll be enough of a culture shock moving from this" (The princess gestured at her ornate surroundings) " To where you live, no offense. And now, you're going to bunk her with somepony she bullied until fairly recently, and make her do jobs that she's probably never done in her life? I don't know..."
Applejack put a reassuring hoof over the alicorn's neck. "Don't worry Twi. we'll soon get her settled in. The Apples aren't known as the most welcoming family in all of Ponyville for nothing. And we won't give her any of the heavy stuff to do, just pick a few apples up and whatnot. Don't you worry about my Apple Bloom neither, she can handle herself, and now she knows all about Diamond's personal circumstances, I'm sure she'll be just as patient as I plan to be."
Twilight's fears were slightly allayed by Applejack's confident words. "What will Granny Smith and Big Mac think about this, though?" She added.
The farm pony grinned at this question. "They'll be over the moon. Granny loves children, having another young 'un around the place will make her day. And I'm sure Mac would enjoy having somepony else to talk to..." Applejack laughed at her little joke, and catching onto the pun a few seconds later, Twilight followed suit in chuckling.
Their revelry, along with Rarity and Dash's examination of the property, was suddenly interrupted by the sound of a door closing.
It was Randolph, who had just emerged from the lounge, and was now staring at the four guests with a quizzical frown.
Glancing at each other nervously, it was Rarity who popped the question. "Errmm, so, how are Mr and Mrs Rich doing, darling?"
Randolph stared down at the ground, and replied in his rarely heard, crackly voice "Mistress Spoiled is still unconscious, but she is stirring. With a bit of rest, she'll be fine tomorrow morning. Master Filthy Rich has calmed down, and is aware of the situation. He would also like to see his daughter before she leaves. Now, if you'll excuse me, madam, I have to get a cloth to clean up a honeysuckle tea stain with."
At this point, the butler brushed past those present in a rather brusque way. The quartet of mares looked at each other in surprise.
"What's eating him?!" Remarked Rainbow Dash, with a raised eyebrow. "You know, apart from waiting on the biggest snobs in Ponyville for the best years of your life..."
"Now, dear, don't be too hard on him..." Rarity was quick to speak up for the servant. " He's just seen one of his employers faint, another one in floods of tears, and is about to witness the filly he perhaps thought of as a granddaughter being removed from the mansion she's lived all her life. I would say his conduct, despite being a bit unprofessional, was at least understandable."
"...Oh" said Dash, her head slightly bowed "When you put it like that..."
Just when everypony was pondering the mood of the veteran butler, another voice could be heard in the echoey chamber.
"... I said I'm ready. Did you hear me?"
It was Diamond Tiara, clutching a rather large holdall with her teeth, and looking pensively at those who were about to take her away from all that she'd ever known. Having had time to think things over upstairs, she wasn't exactly ecstatic at the prospect, but, as a tough filly, she was determined to make the best of things, and there would certainly be no more impromptu crying sessions from that point on.
Applejack approached her new house-guest with a bemused look "WHOA there, missy!!" The orange mare exclaimed. "That's rather a lot of stuff, isn't it? I told you to pack light. How are you going to transport everything in there to the farmhouse, by yourself? There's no horse-drawn carriage waiting for you outside, you know."
Tiara was shocked. "Y-you don't mean y-you expect me to..." The filly stammered, her face turning an attractive shade of scarlet.
Applejack rolled her eyes with a soft smile. Of course, the filly expected everything to be done for her without question. It was a common theme running throughout her upbringing, after all. Oh well, hopefully it was a habit the Apples could ween her off of during her tenure at the farm. It would do the child the world of good to learn some independent skills for a change.
"Tell you what, sugarcube" the orange mare told a perplexed Tiara "I'll help you this once. But in the future, don't try to pack more than you can carry, because I won't always be around to do your heavy lifting for you. Even your servants have days off, you know. Do you agree?"
Still getting used to this state of affairs, Tiara nodded her confirmation. She was going to have to learn, and fast.
As Applejack went to clasp the filly's bag (Which was so heavy, even the fit farm pony struggled a little with it's weight) Twilight suddenly remembered Randolph's words.
"Oh, by the way, Diamond..." the princess told the youngster "Your father would like to say goodbye to you before you leave. Do you want to see him?"
Tiara thought about her answer for a few seconds. "Yes. Yes I would. Very much."
Twilight smiled at the filly. "Of course you would. Take as long as you need, me and my friends will be right out here, waiting for you."
The other three mares present also gave Diamond reassuring grins, as she made her way to the lounge, for possibly the last time for quite a while.
Wondering what she was going to find inside, she pushed open the double doors...
And saw her father tending to her dazed mother, who was propped up on their luxurious couch with silk cushions, and a glass of water by her side.
She'd never seen either of her parents in this state before. Filthy Rich, the usually hard-nosed businessman, was sitting there, his eyes bloodshot and his face a picture of sorrow.
Spoiled Rich was even worse off. The prim and proper mare who took great pride in her appearance was dead to the world, her mouth agape, mane ruffled and a most unflattering expression set on her stony features.
Unsure of what else to do, Diamond meekly entered the room, and held onto one of Filthy's vacant hooves, while the two of them just sat there for a few minutes, staring at the motionless form of her mother.
Finally, Randolph arrived back with his flannel to clean up the spilled tea, and it was as if this action was enough to spur Filthy to life, as he at last said something.
"Diamond Tiara..." His voice sounded uncharacteristically hoarse "My precious Diamond. I have to apologise to you..."
'Oh no...' thought the filly. 'He sounds so sad...' And, contrary to what she promised herself a little earlier, she felt her eyes fill up with moisture once again.
"I've done you so wrong" the wealthy stallion continued, too ashamed to even turn around to look at his daughter. "I was so focused on work. So obsessed with striking deals and earning money. I didn't realise... How bad..."
Desperate to hold it together, Tiara frantically wiped her eyes and tried to console her broken father. "D-daddy? What are you saying? It's not your fault. I'm the one who should have been better. Please, don't cry..."
Her words didn't seem to have much effect. "No, sweetheart. I should have been here. But, I wasn't, and now, thanks to my blind stupidity... My precious Diamond... Is being taken away..."
That did it. There was no tough words, no pretensions of keeping a stiff upper lip left. Father and daughter just collapsed into one other, their tear ducts given free reign to unleash their contents, mostly on the comatose person in the middle of it all who was more responsible than anypony else in that room for their current predicament.
And yet, even as she was getting soaked by her family's misery, she slept peacefully on.