After Apple Bloom returned to her now blissful, non-cutie mark related dreams, Tiara continued to stare into the mirror for quite a while. Both at the unfamiliar ribbon-wearing filly mimicking her every movement, and also, in a deeper sense, wondering what exactly the future would hold for her as a pony.
She'd now decided on a new course for her life, which involved using her cutie mark to help others, rather than for personal gain. This in itself would take some getting used to, but, added to that change, the backdrop of a completely different lifestyle? How would she cope, without all the mod-cons and luxuries she'd grown accustomed to over the years? The rundown farmhouse she now resided in was as far removed from her old palace as she could possibly imagine.
And what would the reaction of the other pupils be at the school later, when they saw her waltz in the front door with Apple Bloom? Almost everypony knew they were now friends, but word would quickly spread they were sharing a house, and even a room. Would some of her old victims tease her for her sudden 'fall from grace'? She knew she deserved it, for all the anguish she'd put them through for years, yet it wouldn't make the ordeal any less easy.
There were many other questions, like what would she do if she saw her mother (who was still head of the school board)? When would she get to meet with her father again? What were Granny Smith and Big Mac's faces like when Applejack carried her in last night, to inform them they'd have an extra guest staying for a while at Sweet Acres? One with a rather chequered history involving their clan, to say the least?
At least she'd find out the answer to the last one soon. As Celestia's sun began to rise on the horizon to drive off Luna's moon, the weight of all that was going through her head began to tire Diamond, and despite the fact it was so close to everypony getting up, she couldn't help but feel exhausted again.
Now that there was proper daylight, the pink filly got up, and surveyed the room she would be staying in. It was small. Cramped. And that was just for one pony. With a couple of fillies living there, she'd barely have enough space to stretch.
But, it would have to do. Also of note was the peeling wallpaper, the cheap furniture and the cracked window, which may explain why the temperature inside felt like that of a freezer. And, no wonder she could barely move in the tiny bed Apple Bloom now quietly snoozed in. Her four-poster counterpart at home had to be ten times the size of the tawdry creation she was now staring at.
Tiara mentally slapped herself. Didn't she promise herself in the last few days, that she'd be less judgemental of others, the very moment she'd decided to turn over a new leaf? Not everypony was as wealthy as the Rich's, and if the Apples were comfortable living in this rustic monstrosity, then that was their choice...
"Aargh... I'm doing it again!!" Growled Diamond, who was beginning to realise that totally changing who you are overnight was going to be tougher than she thought.
In any case, due to her slight tiredness she decided to catch a few more z's before the inevitable wake-up call that would arrive, probably much sooner than she'd like. Walking over to the side of the mattress, she somehow managed to squeeze herself between Bloom and the edge of the bed, before elevating the starchy fabric that passed as a sheet over her lithe form again.
"This better be a temporary arrangement". The pink filly muttered about the lack of her own sleeping quarters, before the Land Of Nod claimed her once again.
30 MINUTES LATER...
"Get up! Get up!!!" This was what Tiara heard when she opened her eyes, but what really woke her up was the incessant shaking as Bloom enthusiastically had her by the shoulders.
"Alright!! Alright, I'm up..." Diamond observed the excited face of her new friend, as the farm filly grinned by her side. She was in no shape, physically or mentally to start the day, but it would seem that she wasn't going to receive a moment's peace from the hyperactive youngster next to her, so with a great deal of reluctance, the pink filly began to leave her comfort zone.
"I can't wait to show you round! There's the living room, the kitchen, the animal pens, the orchard..." Bloom was practically a blur as she danced round her new roommate. "You'll love it here, you'll see!! Oh and by the way, there's your stuff. D'ya need any help unpacking?"
Tiara gulped as she noticed Bloom point out a bag in the corner she'd filled just after her late night egress from her former home. Knowing that, due to her stress levels at the time she loaded it up, she hadn't put any effort into carefully selecting anything in there, she doubted it would contain much of use.
Still, no harm in looking right?
"No thanks, Apple Bloom, I'm fine. Just stand over there, while I empty it, please..." Diamond asked the farm filly to make way for the avalanche of items which were sure to come cascading out of the overstuffed container.
Curious to see what rich folk pack on their travels, Bloom observed as the contents spilled onto the floor, and it was as bad as Tiara had predicted.
A couple of empty bottles of perfume.
A hula hoop.
Half of a pair of curtains.
And tons and tons of pricy, pretentious gowns and frocks.
Great for dinner parties and social gatherings, not so much for life on a farm.
Diamond sighed as she observed the heap, while Bloom's eyes nearly popped out of her head. "Wait, is that...?"
"Yes, that's the outfit I was wearing for my flop of a cute cenera, the day you met Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle to form the Crusaders, and I haven't worn it since. Too many bad memories, you see, and even more so now, as it reminds me of who I was..." Tiara stared at the ground guiltily.
Not wishing to dredge up the past, Bloom decided to change the subject. "And what about..."
"If you're referring to that stupid hoop toy, then yes I did get my daddy to buy that for me, when you got your fake cutie mark. I wanted to beat you at your own game..." Diamond shook her head at her own childishness.
"And, how did that work out for ya?" Bloom inquired, with interest.
"Well, let's just say I'm about as proficient with it now as I was back then, and that's not a compliment. Here, you can have it." Tiara tossed the unwanted toy over to her new roommate, before kneeling down to rummage through her possessions.
Bloom thoughtfully eyed the hoop. "You know, as much of a bully as you were, that was one of the occasions you were in the right. I was lying to everypony about that mark, and you're the only one who called me out on it. If you're pony enough to admit to your past mistakes, then I should be too. So, I'm sorr..."
The farm filly's words got caught in her mouth. For she'd turned around, to see her new friend clutching something in her hoof, one of the random items thrown into her bag without any preparation, but an object which held a far greater level of value than the rest.
It was a silver photo frame, and inside was a picture, taken soon after Diamond Tiara's birth. In it, the young foal was being cradled in blankets by her adoring father, while her mother stood aloof at the side, staring away with disinterest.
If anything encapsulated the state of the Rich family dynamics, it was there. In a nutshell.
Tiara began to sob, but she didn't break down like before. This was more of a silent cry, as she reminisced about all the friends she could have made over the years if it wasn't for her trying to reach her mother's impossible standards. All the time she missed out spending with her father, as Spoiled insisted on her attending ballet or piano lessons on the rare occasions he was home from business. And her life from the very beginning, where she always felt more like a robot than a filly...
Guess who held the remote control?
Bloom was over there in a flash to put a hoof around her, gently patting the back of Diamond's neck, as small rivulets of water ran down her cheeks. Another thing that Applejack had warned her little sister about the previous night was the pink filly possibly demonstrating a few unpredictable emotional outbursts, and the farm filly should be prepared to leave their new house guest alone or call an adult in the event of such a situation.
Bloom had refused point blank at the mere suggestion. She was determined to be a good friend to Tiara, through thick and thin.
She knew there would be times that Diamond would sink back into her old ways, Bloom could act as her conscience.
She knew there would be times when Diamond would lose her temper, Bloom could act as her peacekeeper.
And there would be times that Diamond simply needed a shoulder to cry on, like now. Bloom had suffered more than a few sleepless nights herself, wondering what her parents would have thought about the type of ponies her and her siblings had grown up to be.
She hoped that these experiences could help her new roommate come to terms with everything, as complicated and convoluted as it was for a child to understand.
If not, at the very least she could be there to offer comforting words and moral support.The farm filly's heart was as big as the one emblazoned on her new cutie-mark, and seeing as Tiara had unwittingly helped her earn it, perhaps it was time to put it to good use.
Even as Bloom cradled Diamond's head in her hooves though, there was one crucial aspect that the youngest Apple had got wrong.
You see, this wasn't a 'I Miss My Parents' moment...
It was a 'I Can't Believe What My Mother Has Taken From Me' occasion.
This meant, after consideration of everything that lead up to this point... Tiara stopped crying.
And got angry. Very, very angry.
The warning signs were there, but Apple Bloom chose to ignore them, so wrapped up was the farm filly in stroking Diamond's mane, she failed to hear the sobbing stop, and the telltale sound of teeth-grinding pick up where it left off.
All in an instant, Bloom was shoved to the ground, as her apoplectic roommate jumped into the middle of the mounds of clothes, and began tearing them up.
The expensive outfits, the indulgent frocks, even the cute cenera dress, nothing was spared...
All chosen, and paid for by her. All symbols of her control and tyranny over her daughter.
They must be destroyed.
She held each one down with her hooves, and used her teeth to tear them to shreds.
Tiara seemed to be enjoying it, too, as a sadistic smile appeared on her face in the midst of the destruction, one that Tirek himself would've been proud of.
Diamond started to speed up the ruination of her wardrobe. Her legs began to chafe. Her gums began to bleed. But, she didn't care.
Everything. Must. Go.
And, as the full extent of her demons was unleashed in that tiny nook that day. The innocent little filly...
Became a mini demon herself.
In the process, frightening the life out of her new roommate, who'd picked herself up off the ground and could only watch open-mouthed at this unprecedented display of aggression, the likes of which she'd never seen before.
Bloom began to think, despite her earlier rock-solid confidence, this was beyond her level to deal with. She wanted to go and fetch a grown-up from downstairs, but in the same way ponies stop to observe a crash at a Wonderbolts rally, she couldn't drag herself away from the chaos in front of her.
Eventually, when the last item of clothing had been reduced to confetti on the floor, it was like Diamond became one of Pinkie Pie's balloons that somepony had taken the air out of. The pink filly simply collapsed in the centre of the dump she'd created, while Apple Bloom debated with herself whether or not to approach her volatile friend.
Before the farm filly could reach a decision, Tiara had one last task to fulfill. Weakly taking the picture frame in hoof while on her back, she had just enough strength left to dash it on the floor, smashing the glass and sending shards everywhere.
Next, she took the image inside out, ripping it in half, and throwing the piece she'd torn off against the wall.
Bloom's eyes followed it as it landed, and there it was, the bit of the photo showing Spoiled Rich's surly face.
As for the fragment of the picture she'd kept, Diamond stuffed it back into the now broken silver frame, before giving it a gentle kiss and delicately placing it back in her bag.
Finally, the pink filly lied back down on the materials strewn everywhere, her expression befitting one who was at peace.
And in all this turmoil. All this trauma. All this mess, what was the only thing going through Apple Bloom's mind?
Thank Celestia Rarity isn't here to see this.
Yes, it sounded stupid, but considering the shock and awe the farm filly was going through at this precise moment, perfectly justifiable.
And, as if things couldn't get any worse, the bedroom door was flung open a few seconds later, and there was the unmistakable face of Applejack.
"Morning you two! I hope you like eggs, because..."
She stopped her friendly patter, noticing at once her distraught sister pressed against the wall, as if she was trying to move the house, and Diamond Tiara, who appeared to be trying to crowd surf in a giant heap of rags.
"Just what in tarnation is going on in here?!" Asked the orange mare, that trademark eyebrow being raised again.