"... And that's the whole tale, of how me, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle got our cutie marks, Di became a better pony and she went on to be an official member of my family!" Apple Bloom finished off the epic saga, just in time for the cart transporting her and an unconscious Tiara to turn into the road, just outside the hospital.
"My, that was... That was quite a story, young filly." Green Grapes scratched the back of his head as he pulled up. " It just goes to show, you don't know anypony until you've walked a mile in their horseshoes. So, you're telling me, the day your friend ruined my crop of apples was..."
"Yep, when me and the girls were trying to stage an intervention!" Bloom went to lift Tiara out of the back of the cart, and gestured for the yellow stallion to help. "Fact is, we knew by this stage she wanted to change for the better, and her putting your fruit in our path was just her way of lashing out. She was scared of what everypony would think if she suddenly turned 'soft', having been raised by a mother like Spoiled who put an orchard's worth of pressure on her. Thankfully, she came through in the end, and I think next time you actually see her up and about, you'll notice the difference!"
"Wow..." Green Grapes began to think that perhaps he'd been a trifle hard on Tiara, considering all she'd had to cope with her tumultuous home life. Maybe the well-off didn't have it so easy, after all. He'd also reached the conclusion that confronting Diamond about paying for his ruined apples, after the stress of relocation and the loss of almost everything she'd held dear in the previous twenty-four hours, would be a bit churlish. Instead, he wandered over to Bloom and his other motionless passenger, and aided in carrying her out.
"And you should have been there, when she gave Spoiled what for outside the school!" The farm filly continued to extol Tiara's virtues, as Green Grapes took on all the weight of the pink filly. " I've never seen anything like it! And when she called me and the other Crusaders friends, well, I was plum tuckered! My only concern at the time was how her mother would react when she got home, and that's why I had to tell Applejack my worries. Before I knew what was happening, my former worst enemy was at my front door, and I was sharing a room with her! Ain't life crazy sometimes?!"
"But, wasn't there any bad blood between you? After all, it sounds like she bullied you and your pals for years, and the two of you are from such different backgrounds..." Green Grapes was struggling to get his head around this arrangement, as he and Bloom trotted towards the clinic entrance.
"If you've spent any amount of time with the Apples, you'd know we're a very forgiving family. Why, even Flim and Flam, if they turned up in town tomorrow and genuinely apologised for their misdeeds, would be given a chance. Besides, now I know most of Di's problems stemmed from her bad upbringing, I can empathise with her a lot more. As for the two of us being from unique walks of life, well that doesn't matter a thing if you have friendship, and now she's living with me I do believe we'll get on like apples and custard!" Bloom was sure the future was bright for both fillies.
"Huh. I wish I had your faith in others..." Green Grapes raised his right eyebrow at the mention of those nefarious tricksters Flim and Flam, who he'd had shady dealings with in the past. "In my experience, ponies don't change, they merely refine their methods so their misdoings don't hold up to scrutiny as much. I appreciate that your way of thinking might work for you and your friends, but in my experience, if you put as much blind trust as that in many other ponies, you're just setting yourself up for a long, steep fall."
"It doesn't have to be that way, though." Bloom explained. "If everypony were equally nice to each other, then we wouldn't have so many Diamond Tiaras, Babs Seeds, Gildas or others that have turned rotten down to the environment they grew up in! That's why Ponyville is the best place to live in all of Equestria, because this is where the Princess Of Friendship is! The greatest power of them all! With her fellow elements, she'll change the world one day! Did I tell you, my sister is..."
"I believe you did, missy. Not that I didn't know that already, of course..." Green Grapes chuckled at Apple Bloom's enthusiasm for resolving everything with hugs and kisses, while simultaneously finding it a little naive. Try delivering that nice speech to the hoodlums who cadged hundreds of bits worth of fruit off him every month, and they'd laugh in your face, before kicking dirt in your eyes. This utopia sounded good on paper, but to that stallion at least, was far more fantasy than reality.
"Anyway..." Green Grapes continued. " I do declare we're at the front door now." He said this just in time to Bloom, who absorbed in the conversation as she was, nearly walked into the sidewall.
"Oops..." The farm filly went to an abrupt halt, not wanting to be the second unconscious child in the hospital that day. "Thanks for that. I do tend to get a little distracted sometimes..."
"So I noticed." Green Grapes afforded his young friend a warm smile, before looking down at the pink filly he'd taken all this way, regarding her with much more compassion than was present earlier that morning. "You'd better go inside and get somepony with a trolley to take her to the right department. When you come back, I'll be on my way. And, in case I forget, tell Miss Tiara here when she wakes up, I wish her all the best, and there are no hard feelings."
Apple Bloom, in a hurry to get her roommate seen to after noticing the ever-increasing queue at the clinic, simply replied "Yup!" before darting inside.
Green Grapes couldn't resist another grin upon hearing that monosyllabic response.
"Now, that's one filly who most definitely takes after her brother..." He mused.
"Mmmmm. No, daddy, it's too early for bathnight..." Diamond Tiara was not in the mood for cleanliness, as she felt a warm flannel being wiped over her person.
It started on her back... Then, at the sides... Before, gradually making it's way up her neck... It dabbed her ears... Touched her nose...
Tiara's unexpected sneeze was enough to bring the pink filly back from her perpetual sleep, and it also sent the white mare attending to her stumbling backwards into a nearby curtain.
Having no idea where she was, or how she had ended up there, Diamond began to panic. She found she was tucked into a fluffy bed, in a room that smelt like steriliser. "W-what's happening? W-where am I?"
The nurse who'd fallen down was a highly trained professional, who despite her little trip, soon recovered her poise and trotted back to her young patient, smiled sympathetically.
"Well, hello there." She spoke in a warm voice, exhibiting excellent bedside manners. "My name is Miss Redheart. You were bought in today to the hospital about an hour ago by a friend of yours, who said you fainted in the playground. I was just here to monitor your progress, and I thought I'd give you a bit of a wash, because you appeared to have quite a few specks of dirt on you. "
"Is that so..." Tiara stated, as the events that led her to this room began to return to her memory. "Well, I was planning on having a bath later anyway, but thank you for your concern. Now, could you please tell me what time it is, and when I can get out of here?"
Redheart was slightly surprised at the quick change in tone from frightened filly to confident child, but she answered anyway in her usual jovial tone. "It's just about lunchtime. I can bring you something over, if you like. As to when you can leave, you'll have to speak to the doctor about that. Usually though, when somepony faints, we like to keep them in for a few hours, to make sure nothing more serious has caused it. I'd also like to take a look at that bandaged leg, before you depart. It looks well wrapped, but quite muddy. I just need to see that it hasn't got infected. I hope you understand."
Diamond huffed in slight annoyance, but tried not to appear too cross. After all, the nurse was just doing her job. The pink filly also wasn't feeling very hungry at all, especially considering some of the rumours she'd heard about hospital food.
She needed to get out of there as soon as possible. Explain to Silver Spoon that she wasn't abandoning her friend for anypony else. Her living with the Apples was purely temporary, and she'd had little choice in it. Same with joining the Crusaders, the decision had virtually been forced on her. A similar thing had occurred with the trio's hi-jacking of her patented nickname.
In fact, now that she thought about it...
All of her problem with Silv had started when...
"Miss Redheart." Tiara said. " You said a friend brought me here. Could you please describe them to me?"
"Sure, dear!" The nurse replied. "She's about your age, yellow fur, red mane, wears a bow just like you. In fact, she's in the waiting room right now. There was a stallion with her, but I think he's gone..."
"Is it okay for me to have visitors, and if so, could you please send her in now?" Diamond interrupted the health worker.
"Oh! Yes, of course, my love. You appear to be on the road to recovery, and judging by your demeanor, you certainly seem alert enough. I'll go and fetch her now. You just stay put for me, please?" Redheart gave her patient a little wink, before disappearing from the cubicle, leaving Tiara on her own.
Within a few minutes, the curtains around Diamond's bed were flung open, and there stood a very relieved looking Bloom. "Oh, thank Celestia!" She exclaimed, pulling in her new friend for a tight hug. "I was so worried! Just seeing you collapse like that, I really feared the worst. But you're back, everything's going to be fine now, right?"
"Apple Bloom..." Tiara mumbled from underneath the farm filly.
"And, look! I bought you some fruit! Well, apples mostly..." Bloom was trying to be nice...
Whereas Diamond was just finding her trying. "Apple Bloom, could you just..."
"When we tell Applejack about this later on, it was just an accident, right? No pony's fault..." the farm filly was a little on edge...
Tiara shouting at her didn't aid her nerves much either. "Apple Bloom! Just listen for a minute! I need to talk to you about something!!"
Diamond's sudden outburst had the dual effect of causing Bloom's embrace to be cut short, as the farm filly backed away in surprise, and Nurse Redheart's face to poke through the curtain.
"Is everything alright in here?" The white mare asked with concern.
"Yes, we're fine. Could you get us both a glass of water, please?" Tiara replied, while Apple Bloom was just grateful it wasn't Discord she'd requested that of. She'd heard things from Twilight...
"Oh, of course, dear. Coming right up." Redheart had obvious misgivings, but left the pair to their own devices anyway.
As the red cross adorned flank of the nurse disappeared from view, Bloom decided to try and clear the air. " T-talk to me about what, Di?"
Tiara sat up in her bed and fluffed out her pillow, before staring Apple Bloom squarely in the eyes. "Personal boundaries." She said, bluntly.
Jet Set angrily paced up and down inside the room in which Spoiled was still sleeping peacefully, although she had begun to stir a little. Soon, the world would undoubtedly be graced by her presence again.
Whether anypony liked it or not.
As for the restless stallion himself, he was upset because all he did was look down for a minute, to make sure all of his numerous bits were still in his pocket. He'd heard some of these underpaid paramedics had sticky fingers, a worry he was about to share with his wife...
Who'd just vanished in an instant, leaving him in this decrepit room, staring at this freak show of a mare, all alone.
"The things I put up with from her..." He admonished himself. "Those fancy hats, those jeweled horseshoes, and now this. Her latest scheme. And what do I get in return? Not much. Sometimes, I wonder if a separation wouldn't be less hassle and cheaper..."
Fortunately for Upper Crust, her husband never got to reach his epiphany. The mare came crashing through the door at that very moment, looking a little short of breath, but otherwise elated.
Jet Set observed his partner with barely disguised irritation. "Really, dear. Isn't it enough you rush off without even telling me where you're going, but you come bustling back in here like a commoner being offered free cider? Most undignified."
For once, Upper Crust was too occupied to respond to her husband's smarminess with one of her trademark catty comebacks. "Never mind that. I was just trying to order us a decent meal, without any luck, of course. They don't even have anypony to serve their VIP guests! All I could find were some vending machines full of junk, not a dandelion salad in sight! I was about to give up in disgust, until guess who I saw sitting in the waiting room, as large as life?"
"I really have no idea, darling. Daring-Do!" Jet Set chuckled a little at his attempt at a joke.
Alas, his attempt at humour fell flat, on the deaf ears of a still raving Upper Crust. "It was that Apple... Shroom character, or something. You know, One of those miscreants who dared to publicly berate us earlier. She didn't seem too happy, either. Almost as if she was visiting somepony sick..."
"That's usually what ponies do when they sit in the waiting room at a hospital, dear." Jet Set chided. "They're visiting somepony ill. Could you please get to the point?"
"Well, yes. I know that." Upper Crust was beginning to catch onto the less than respectful tone of her husband. "But who was she seeing, that is the question. Intrigued, I decided to covertly watch her for a little while, and within fifteen minutes she was summoned to a room by a white mare, and I was able to get a sneak peek in through the door, before it was shut."
"Don't you think it is quite unbecoming for ponies of our status, to skulk around corridors like rodents?" Jet Set was beginning to wonder if this was the same pony he married.
"Generally I do..." Upper Crust agreed. "But wait until you find out who the patient was! I think you'll agree, when I tell you it was worth all the extra effort. It was..."
At this juncture, Spoiled started to mutter in her sleep. "Stupid... Blank... Flanks. Stupid... Princess. Tell... Me... What... To... Do... Would... You? I'll... Get...You. I'll... Get... All... Of ...You...Apples. And... Your... Little... Dog... Too."
Realising Spoiled would soon come to, Upper Crust grinned a knowing smile.
"I think I'll postpone the unveiling for now..." She smirked to her unsuspecting husband. "I want both of you to be awake, for the grand announcement..."