A Mother's 'Love'

by deadpansnarker

Part 44: That Night Section 3

"What do you see?" Upper Crust whispered to her husband, as she gradually lost patience with his reticence.

"For the tenth time, nothing!" Jet Set responded, as he stood precariously on the edge of a rusty bucket, looking into Sweet Apple Acres. "If these rubes would wash their windows once in a while, this would be so much easier..."

Upper Crust sighed at the ineptitude of her partner. "If you want something done..." She remarked, before pushing forward an empty crate to stand alongside him.

"Hey, wait..." Jet Set raised an eyebrow. "That seems much more secure than what I'm stationed on. Why didn't you point that box out to me in the first..."

"Quiet!" The grey stallion's wife hissed, as she attempted to peer inside the ramshackle building, shoving him aside so she could get a better glimpse.

Upper Crust couldn't believe what she was doing. Surrounded by the sound of grunting pigs, the swaying of apple trees and various shades of dirt and grime, this could honestly be described as a nightmare come to life for her.

But, as Spoiled Rich had told her, repeated surveillance of Diamond's activities was a very important matter. And, seeing as how Upper Crust and her husband had agreed to help her unconditionally, even the slightest observation could be crucial in getting the desired verdict at the upcoming trial.

Even if it meant missing the train back to Canterlot, sneaking around town like a common thief, and peeping into this most undesirable of addresses during late evening. All this, to help out an ugly mare who neither her or Jet Set had really known anything about before that morning...

The truth was, Upper Crust had no idea why she felt so obligated to follow Diamond around with such tenacity. There was nothing in it for her, save for the alleged kudos she'd get for preventing a somewhat speculative conflict between the rich and the poor, that the pink filly's cutie mark might start off, such was it's influence.

That lucky little... Upper Crust took a moment to glance at her own symbol of three money signs. A very nice one to be sure, which summed up her life's philosophy well enough. But just imagine having a beautiful crown emblazoned on there instead, and the ability to order anypony to do what you want...

Upper Crust had never wanted a family. She was quite happy to live on her family's accounts, as well as taking a little from Jet Set's side, too. But, she couldn't help but feel somewhat maternal whenever she looked at Diamond. She could imagine taking the youngster to various functions, and everypony there being impressed with the filly's manner and appearence. It would open all kinds of new doors for her, socially...

A sorry creature like Spoiled didn't deserve such a pretty filly. Especially as she'd known about her daughter's true talent for months, and had, as of yet, failed to exploit it properly even once. If Diamond was Upper Crust's child, things would be very different.

There would be no foolish talk of boarding schools, for a start. Upper Crust would act like a true mother to the precious youngster, by spending every waking hour with her. They'd wow the aristocracy together, as a perfect team. Between the filly's natural born gifts, and the older mare's knack at using them, they'd have the elite eating out of their hooves.

Oh, and Jet Set could help out too, of course. By staying out of the way

It was a shame all of these idealistic visions would never come to pass. Unless...

"Hey, can you hear me, dear?"

"Mmm, what is it, my servant?" Upper Crust responded, deeply entrenched in her mental wonderland.

"Servant? What are you talking about? I was just trying to let you know, that I hear somepony coming close from inside..."

"What?" Upper Crust broke out of her delusions, and realised it was her husband who was speaking to her. "Well, better late than never, I suppose. Now, let's see what we can find out about the target."

Whether the main focus of their attention was Diamond, to watch for any signs she might be suffering as a result of her unfamiliar surroundings, or Applejack, to see if the orange mare put one hoof wrong in the raising of her new foster child, neither pony knew. But anything incriminating, inflammatory or just plain indecent could blow the case against Spoiled wide open, and that's what the pair were crossing their hooves for.

Through the gloom of the murky glass, they saw two indistinct figures stroll past. It was hard to make out who was who through the poor lighting, but Upper Crust thought she had it worked out.

"Why, it's Diamond herself, and that Apple Bloom beast with her, I'd wager." She scoffed, to the confused expression of Jet Set. "I can easily tell them apart too, darling. Diamond carries around with her a certain pride and elegance in her gait, whereas the farm pony trudges around as if she's stamping on ants. Can you see? You really should try looking harder, dear."

"B-but, I am. It's just they're both wearing bows, they're both the same height, I can't make out their colouring..." Her husband tried to excuse himself.

"Perhaps I'm being too hard on you. It must be a thing only us sophisticated females can understand. Or maybe you just don't understand the fairer sex. I have to admit, that wouldn't be too much of a shock if it turned out to be true..."

"... There's no need to be that way, my sweet. I am doing my best..."

"Oh, and since when was that ever enough?! Now, I must insist you shut up, darling. I'm hearing snatches of what sounds like an interesting conversation..."


"Dear, you don't want me to have to raise my voice again? Not now, of course, since I'm sure neither one of us wants to be caught by the rednecks. But it you want your next seven days to be relatively comfortable, you know what I suggest you do..."

"... I'll be good, I'll be good."

The pair eventually settled down to eavesdrop in peace for the next half-hour, and with it being a still night they were able to pick up on a lot of what was going on inside. Bloom and Applejack's heartfelt declaration of love towards Diamond made Upper Crust want to gag, and the rest of the dinner time chatter seemed pointless and arbitrary.

"Oh well..." She remarked with a sigh. "At least I know the good stuff is coming later on. Did you hear them mention something about 'a family meeting' on the way here? I bet that'll be a little more gripping than this tedious small-talk. Honestly, all they seem to care about is apples and playing stupid pranks. Isn't that right dear? ...Dear?"

Jet Set didn't answer straightaway. It was his turn now to be caught in a world of his own, as he heard what was going on inside the farmhouse. Not so much what was being said, but the other noises. The sounds of a happy family. Laughter. Merriment. Ponies talking to each others, instead of being ordered about. It was so different to what he'd grown accustomed to...

"Ouch!" The grey stallion felt something poke him in the eye, as his glasses were pulled up. "Sorry I had to do that dear." Upper Crust lamented. "But letting your mind wander when we have a job to do is simply not on. You should be focused at all times, not indulging in your private fantasies."

"B-but, you were just doing the same..." Jet Set bravely decided to point out.

"No time for that, darling..." Upper Crust cut him for what seemed like the thousandth time that day. "I think I hear something else..."

And, indeed she did. It was the sound of a door being opened, followed by a soft padding on the floor. Both ponies looked down from their vantage point, to see a brown and white dog staring up at them.

Upper Crust rolled her eyes upon seeing this common looking animal. "What's this flea-ridden mongrel doing here? It must belong to those Apples. I can tell, because it seems just as dirty and scruffy as the rest of those hicks. Run along, mutt. Can't you see we're in the middle of something, here?" She turned away, as if expecting the canine to obey her command simply because of who was stating it.

But the dog did not 'go away', as a still watching Jet Set nervously observed. Instead, a low growl emitted from it's mouth, and it began to approach the well-off duo cautiously, it's teeth bared. "Er, sweetheart..." The grey stallion began to shake a little, almost upturning the pail he was standing on in the process.

Sighing with annoyance, Upper Crust spun around once again. "I suppose it's too much to expect this riff-raff to be able to afford proper dog training lessons." She said. "Tell you what pooch. You get lost now, and I won't leave an anonymous tip to the authorities that there's a dangerous animal staying... YOWCH!"

Funnily enough, Winona was too determined to protect her family, then listen to any half-baked threats she couldn't understand anyway. Lunging forward, she bit Upper Crust in the midriff, going right through her fancy outfit.

Taken by surprise that such a lowly creature would have the audacity to chomp down on somepony of her prestige, the yellow mare's next reaction was to run around screaming, with the canine clinging onto her as if for dear life. "Jet Set, what are you doing, you useless donkey?! Get this thing off me this instant!!"

The grey stallion didn't act for a few moments. Somewhere, in the depths of his beaten sub-conscience, he was deriving a modicum of pleasure from seeing his wife be the victim for a change... But that soon passed, when he realised the folly of any delayed reaction. It would lead to at least two weeks worth of relentless nagging, apologising and gift-buying to make it up to his 'beloved'. He wasn't going through that again.

So, it was with a heavy heart he closed in on his panicking partner and Winona, to grasp the dog with both forehooves to pull her off. After a couple of yanks, he succeeded in his mission, although he got both the pet and a piece of his wife's frock into the bargain...

As well as the dog's jaws clamped around his own stomach.

OW! OW! OW! OW! Now it was Jet Set's turn to make a song and dance about the situation, while his wife attended to her dress.

"Upper Crust! Help me! I think I can feel the teeth piercing my flesh! This is terrible!"

"You're absolutely right! Just look at this red stain on my favourite traveling outfit. It'll take a day's worth of washing to get it out, and I'll have to find just the right tailor to fix the rip..."

"You're missing the point, here! I'm in agony!"

"Is that so? Well, you better get that creature off of you, then. I think we should go now, anyway. All this caterwauling you're making is sure to have attracted the attention of those reprobates inside..."

"I made? But you were just as... OW!"

Sigh. "Oh well Jet Set, it looks as though it's up to your smart wife to get you out of yet another mess. Really, how did you cope without me, for so many years is a complete mystery..."


"Very well..."

Shaking her head at her silly husband's tomfoolery, Upper Crust sauntered over to him, before removing the dog in one swift movement.

Momentarily distracted by the suddenness of the action, as well as now having two pieces of posh clothing to munch on, Winona hesitated for a moment, allowing both snobs to gallop off into the night, with Jet Set taking the lead.

"Darling, can you mind where you're running? You're getting mud all over me..."




"Y-yes d-dear."

Later on, Jet Set would ponder the wisdom of his brutish behaviour back there. His wife would remind him of it. In every little remark, stare and exasperated sigh. For the next two months, at least, he estimated.

But by Celestia, it was worth it.


"... Then, they attached electrodes underneath my hooves, and flipped the switch! All I did was say 'thank you for the lovely meal'! That certainly taught me the dangers of being polite to the cook..." A suspended, both from her job and quite literally in the air, Spoiled sobbed bogusly, as she was led to the mansion by the princess.

"Oh, my. I can't believe how much you've been through. No wonder it's hard for you to trust or make friends with anypony..." Despite trying to keep a level head, Twilight was almost in tears at her prisoner's brilliant playacting.

So far, Spoiled had spun tales of being slapped when she opened the door for another pony, whipped when she laughed during morning assembly and even waterboarded when she dared say that common ponies should be able to congregate with the wealthy. Needless to say, she didn't make that last suggestion again in a hurry.

But, aside from all that, there were the lessons. Always look after number one. How valuable nice ponies were, so they could be exploited and manipulated. Marry well. Look good. Know that you're better than everypony else. And a sworn commitment from all pupils, that if they had daughters, the fillies themselves would be enlisted there too, so they'd be ready for later life.

Just the thought of all those innocent minds being corrupted and little bodies being tortured was enough to make Twilight want to fly there right there and then to shut it down. She couldn't believe such a place existed in modern Equestria... Had any of the other princesses even heard of it? If not, what had kept it from the public eye for so long?

For now though, she had other matters to take care of. Namely, the pitiful mare floating in front of her, tears rolling down her cheeks, a complete turnaround from the aggressively insolent Spoiled Rich that all of their previous encounters had introduced.

"I'll tell you..." Twilight spoke softly, as the pair made their way up the steps to the entrance of the mansion. "What you've just described to me is one of the most horrific things I've ever heard. And you say, this has been going on for generations? Young ponies being taking from their home under the auspices of their parents, to be forcibly indoctrinated and abused in such an awful way? I-it doesn't even bear thinking about..."

Turning on the waterworks again, Spoiled nodded. "T-that's r-right, princess. T-the worst part was, w-whenever I went home for Hearth's Warming, I-I told my mother and father what went on there, a-and they laughed in my face! T-they said if anything, I-I had it too easy there! M-my dad told me there was a male equivalent boarding school for stallions, c-called Greybreyers, a-and apparently it's ten times worse! H-he a-actually said he was jealous of me!"

"WHAT!" Twilight exclaimed. "T-there's more than one of these places?!" A vision of where Blueblood might have picked up his discourteous behaviour flashed through her mind, but she quickly dismissed it. She was positive the royal family would never send any of their own to such a fate. Right?

"Yes, there is..." Spoiled confirmed, wiping her fake tears away. "In fact, both schools are very popular among those at the top. I barely got in myself, and mother had to sell half of her business to book me a place for seven years. I think I know why it's so expensive, because the school bribes a lot of other ponies to keep quiet about it, so the transition can go on..."

"Unbelievable..." Twilight shook her head in anger. This was going to take a lot more work than she thought. "So, tell me. Your parents. Are they still alive? And, if they are, I'd very much to have a word with them, too. Mainly to ask what on Equestria they were thinking, ruining your life like that..."

"You mean Mama Spoiled Rotten and Papa Sour Sweet?" The prisoner replied. "Yes, they're both fine. In fact, they were due to come for a visit soon, to celebrate their granddaughter's admission into Whinneans. If you really want to speak to them, all you have to do is wait until next week..."

"No, I think I'll talk to them a bit sooner than that. Like, tomorrow." Twilight stated, with determination. "And if I don't think their explanation for what they did to you is good enough, charges could be pending for them, too."

"Oh please, princess..." Spoiled begged, partly as a result of her performance, but also a little genuinely because she really did adore her parents. "They only decided what they thought was right, at the time. Their relations did it, and their ancestors past that... It's been a tradition going back as far as our family tree will allow."

"Well, it's a 'tradition' that'll be coming to an end soon, if I have anything to say on the matter." Twilight frowned. "And regardless with what happened in the past, your mother and father can't escape what they've done. It was their decision to send you there, nopony else's. But, I'm glad you spoke in their defense. It shows you have a heart, after all that they've done to you. Maybe there's hope for you yet..."

Spoiled caught herself beaming at the alicorn's compliment, but quickly caught herself before anypony could see. My plan appears to be working she thought let's see if the next phase can run as smoothly...

"So, here's what's going to happen..." Twilight continued, as she rang the bell. "You're going to tell me the exact location of both of these so-called 'schools', then me and the princesses will launch a thorough investigation. I would also like the home address of your parents, so I can discover the process behind how each child is picked, and why they commit to such an atrocity in the first place. In return, I'll come and see you every day during your incarceration, and we can talk more about what you think and feel, as well as design strategies to help you cope. I can't say I'm a trained counsellor, but I've read a few books on the subject, and that's better than nothing, right?"

The alicorn gave a hopeful grin at this point, to which Spoiled gave a similarly happy smile. But, inside she was thinking Oh, if only she knew the truth. I'm got her strung up like one of Octavia's prized violins. Who'd have though somepony so bookish could be so dumb...

Her thought bubble faded as the door opened, and there stood Randolph. "Oh, hello Miss Sparkle. And, hello to you too, Ma'am. I almost didn't see you up there. Miss Sparkle, your room in the study is ready for you. And Ma'am, the coal cellar in prepared for you as well. It's been cleaned up for your arrival. Do wipe your hooves on the way in. Of course, for those who levitated all the way here, that isn't really necessary..."


Teatime had not been an especially pleasant experience for Diamond Apple. Or her new sister, Apple Bloom.

After Winona's confrontation with Upper Crust and Jet Set, Applejack had decided to probe further into just what on Equestria had made that loud noise outside, and had soon uncovered the upturned bucket and crate by the window.

Wondering why anypony would be interested enough in the Apple family to bother snooping, she nevertheless realised that the interlopers were long gone. She had her own thoughts about what their intentions could have been, but decided to leave them until after the meal. If she'd left it any longer, the bread would probably go stale.

Dinner was eaten in almost complete silence. This in itself would have been just fine for Diamond and Bloom, because they had enough to chew on already with the reappearance of a certain duo, never mind their food.

But, what really got to both fillies was the stares around the table. The looks that read You're keeping something from us and Why aren't you telling your family about it.

The focus on them was so intense, it was enough to make both fillies sweat throughout the meal, and almost achieved the impossible feat of ruining the delicious taste of Zap Apple jam in Diamond's mouth.

Almost, but not quite. She still managed a few strangled groans of contentment.

As soon as it was over, Diamond and Bloom were hurriedly ushered out of the dining room by Applejack, while Granny Smith began to clear away the empty plates, and Big Mac started the taps running.

Finding themselves in the living area of the house, both new sisters were obligated to sit down, while Applejack closed the door so she could address them in private.

"Now, this was going to be a family meeting..." The orange mare informed her charges. "But seeing all the other stuff which has gone on this evening, I kind of figure it would be easier for both of you to talk to me two-on-one, rather than have the others interrupt. After all, it's not like they fully understand everything yet, and I'd rather do the explaining when you two are in bed..."

Diamond and Bloom looked at each other with trepidation, unsure whether this was good or bad news. In the meantime, Applejack continued.

"So, first off I was kind of thinking to myself: Who in tarnation would want to spy on us Apples? We don't have any secrets, apart from our cider recipe. And I hardly think anypony would learn that by peeking through our window in the evening. Then, a thought occurred to me. What's changed since yesterday in this house, that could explain this oddness? I'll tell you what... It's you Diamond."

The pink filly gulped down hard, before glancing from left to right. "Me?"

Applejack nodded firmly. "That's right. Now I'm not saying me and my kin ain't happy to have you here. You're now an official member of the family, and we wouldn't have it any other way. But, and I think you realise this yourself, you do come with a lot of baggage, as well as a mother that seems set on winning you back at any cost..."

"But, she's no longer my mother!" Shouted Diamond at this juncture, jumping up and stamping an angry hoof on the floor. "You're my mother! I never want to see that awful pony ever again!" She growled defiantly at the orange mare, being returning to her seat in a huff, hooves crossed.

Applejack had conflicting emotions of happiness at her foster daughter's somewhat virulent exclamation of love, and worry over what exactly Spoiled had done that was so terrible it had made the pink filly hate her so much.

"Be that as it may..." Applejack remarked. "The fact remains, she doesn't see it that way. And I reckon she's the kind of mare who'd try everything in the book to get you to return. She might be locked up now, but I wouldn't be shocked to find out she had the resources to pull something like this off..."

"...P-pull s-something like what off?" Diamond seemed a little frightened all of a sudden, despite being comforted by Apple Bloom, who always seemed ready for an outburst from her new sister.

"I mean, having you watched." Applejack put it to her, bluntly. "There's plenty of ponies who'll do anything 'round here for an easy bit. In fact, I would say they might even have followed us home today. I did see something in the shadows out of the corner of my eye, but I just put it down to a trick of the light..."

"D-don't b-be silly, big sis..." Bloom commented, worried that the orange mare might be close to the truth. " Y-you're being overprotective again. Just like that time I made a mess in the kitchen..."

"Yes, yes. We'll save that for one of our story nights, I reckon..." Applejack was not eager to dwell on one of her worst moments. "In fact, I suppose I should warn you, Apple Bloom, you're included in this as well. Twilight told me earlier that Mrs Rich is none too happy with you, either. I would even say, you might be in either greater danger than Diamond. Which is why, if either of you know anything about what's going on, I think you should tell me now..."

Bloom visibly shrunk upon hearing about this implied threat to her life. When her fellow Crusaders had told her their fears for her safety, she brushed it off as a mere flight of fancy. My friends are over-exaggerating things as usual. Nothing to worry about...

But now, hearing her big sister say very similar things, without a hint of humour to them, She began to pale a little. Would Spoiled really go after me, just for befriending her daughter, and making her a better pony? The farm filly started to shake, and it was Diamond's turn to do the solacing.

Applejack hated to lay all this pressure on ones so young, she really did. But the pair had to know what was at stake here. If Spoiled was as ruthless as she suspected, then all kinds of stuff could happen between now and the trial. And, she wanted them to be ready for it. Of course it would help if they spilled their guts, too...

"Sis, I think I might know..." That was Bloom, in the hooves of Diamond, beginning a sentence. Clearly terrified by what she'd just been told, she was prepared to blurt something out. Applejack was all ears...

Until Diamond, looking absolutely mortified at what could follow, quickly put her hoof in Bloom's mouth to prevent the secret from being revealed.

Diamond followed this up by whispering something in her new sister's ear, quickly getting the farm filly to calm down. The pink hoof was withdrawn, and Bloom was able to give a more tacit answer: "I mean... I have no idea. Sorry."

Applejack was no fool. Despite the express denial of her little sister, she was now absolutely positive that this was yet something else they were keeping from her. And, she intended to find out what it was.

"Come on, you two. I wasn't born yesterday. I know something is going on. You're holding a lot of stuff back from me, ain'tcha? Between what happened at the hospital, and the disturbance outside, I think I deserve at least an explanation..."

"WELL, YOU CAN'T HAVE ONE!" Diamond was fed up of all this probing, and lost her temper without warning.

Applejack was so taken aback by the intensity of her foster daughter, she jolted back in her chair. Apple Bloom, still in a state from this suggested threat to her life, stopped sniffling for a second to glance at her new sister in amazement.

Sensing the stunned reaction she was getting from both sides, Diamond decided to reign it in a bit. "Er... What I mean to say is... I don't feel like talking about it, yet. I really appreciate all you're doing for me Applejack, and I want to think of this place as my new home. But I ask you, if it's not too much to say, have a little patience with me. I want to tell you everything, really I do, but please respect my wishes when I say I'm not quite ready yet."

Despite being disappointed with the secrecy on display, Applejack could not resist a wry smile at how mature the child sounded. She could see a shining future for Diamond, whatever she decided to do. "Very well, then. I trust you, sugarcube. But, I want you to promise me something. The very minute something like this happens again, or I feel any of our lives are in jeopardy. I don't want any excuses. You get everything off your chest. No ifs. No buts. And, that goes for you too, Apple Bloom. As much as I respect your privacy, there has to be some limits. And, endangering this family is one of them. Do you understand?"

"Yes." Diamond nodded. That seemed fair enough to her.

"....Yes" Apple Bloom seemed a little more uncertain.

"Good. Now, the pair of you can go upstairs and play." Applejack got out of her seat. "I'm gonna stay down here to help Big Mac with the washing-up. The big galoot is a great worker, but he's got two left hooves. In fact, he's liable to..."

SMASH! That came from the kitchen.

The orange mare rolled her eyes, as if she'd heard that noise all too often. "See what I mean? Talk about jinxing it. If I don't see you both before bedtime, I'll be up to tuck you in. You didn't have a story before you went to sleep, did you Diamond?"

"No." The pink filly answered sharply, as though it was the easiest question in the world.

"Ah, of course..." Applejack suddenly remembered who her old mother was. "In that case, this'll be your first one. I think all of us could do with a relaxing tale before we get some shuteye. Well, Catch y'all later. I'll be down here if you need me, cleaning the floor, most likely..."

With that, the orange mare took her leave. The next to depart was Diamond, who shot her new sister a dirty look before she ascended the steps. "Upstairs. Now. We need to discuss something." She said between gritted teeth.

Apple Bloom sighed at what she was sure was bound to follow, but complied anyway.

A couple of hours ago she couldn't stop talking.

If only it was so easy now.

Legal Eagle watched his daughter sleep for a long time that night.

He'd put her to bed an hour ago, but still couldn't pull himself away from her side. He watched her chest gently rise, gently fall, and he began to ponder.

Was she dreaming? And if she was, were they about him? What did she see in her head... A brave man, fighting in court for the little folk? If only she knew the truth...

Though he didn't want to admit it, that heroic caricature she drew of him earlier had stung more than he'd realised. It had bought home the huge disparity between his only child's admiration of him to the cold, hard reality.

And, considering what the vile creature he was defending had done, threw things into an even sharper contrast. How could he look his filly in the eye and tell her to be proud of him, when he could be getting a client off scot-free, who was culpable of doing unspeakable things to her own daughter. It just didn't add up.

Now, he had a decision to make. He could either do the right thing, and risk losing everything he'd ever worked for. Or do the wrong thing, and carry on as normal. Being the world's biggest hypocrite.

Of course, usually the choice would be easy. He'd been doing the 'wrong' thing all of his life. He'd told one lie after another in court, to convict the innocent and release the guilty. He'd made a very lucrative career out of it. He'd disposed of that useless thing called a 'conscience' long ago, and this time should be no different...

The problem was though, this time it was different, no matter how hard he tried to deny it. It was a subject matter that hit him especially close to home now, and one which almost drove him to tears just thinking about. He could no longer not declare a personal interest in this case, after what Spoiled had told him. And now, everything was on the line, depending on his decision...

"She's so cute when she's asleep, isn't she?" Home Maker's warm words from the doorway intruded on the lawyer's thoughts, and he hastily pulled himself together.

"Yes... Yes, she is." Legal Eagle smiled at his wife, before returning to his vigil. "Our little miracle."

"She worships the ground you walk on, you know..." Home Maker entered the room. "And with good reason, too..." She affirmed her point by giving her husband a peck on the cheek.

Legal Eagle went from feeling like a million bits to barely a single one in an instant. His head sagged, as he spoke to his wife. "Sweetheart, can I ask you something?"

"Of course, darling!" Home Maker went to his side, before putting his hoof through hers'. "It's nothing serious, is it?"

"No, no..." The lawyer fibbed. "It's just... Do you think ponies should fight for what's right in every situation, no matter how much they stand to lose from it? I mean, sure most ponies would choose good over evil in all circumstances, but reality is sometimes a bit more complicated than that. I wish I could explain it better, without going into a lot of detail..."

"It's okay, dear..." Home Maker continued to smile, as she massaged her husband's temple. "I think I know exactly what this is about."

"Y-you d-do?" Legal Eagle found himself stammering, for some reason.

"Yes, of course. You're saying that, because your opponent in court is a princess, you're worried about possible future repercussions..." Home Maker's voice took on a sterner tone. "I must confess, when you explained to me about this case before we arrived, I had my own reservations. But, when I see in my mind, the face of that poor filly being taken away from her mother by that wicked Twilight, I can barely contain my anger at the abuse of power she's demonstrating. So, do it darling. Stand up for what you believe in. And any problems that come our way, we'll handle them together. As we always have, and as we always will."

A single tear dribbled down Legal Eagle's cheek, upon hearing his beloved's pep talk. What did I ever do to deserve a wonderful mare like you he thought.

Suddenly, it was like his whole perspective on things had changed. Looking at his beautiful daughter curled up in her blanket, comfortable in her slumber. Seeing his faithful wife by his side, ready to stand with him no matter what.

Then, compare those two flawless elements, with him. A sleazy, downmarket, nasty piece of work, who'd squandered the numerous gifts that were given to him to upper class trash. How could he call himself a good father. How could he call himself a good husband. How could he look in the mirror...

He was going to do it. He was going to tell all. If he didn't, he would regret it forever. Only by doing that, could he even begin to redeem himself in the eyes of his family. Afterwards, they might not want to see him again. They may even disown him.

But, at least he'd be able to live with himself. That he'd put a monster like that behind bars. And that would be something pure he'd done right in his whole impure existence.

He looked once more at the love of his life, as the nightlight caught her mane perfectly. "Did I ever tell you..." He recited "How wonderful you are?"

"Oh, stop it!" Home Maker giggled, playfully pushing him away. "You're making me blush!"

"Well, it's true..." Legal Eagle said. "And, because of what you just told me, you may have just helped me to make the biggest decision of my life all that easier."

"Oh, well. Good! I guess..." Home Maker replied, slightly confused. "To celebrate then, would you like a cup of tea? I bought some of those herbal ones you like today..."

"Coffee will be fine, thanks." Legal Eagle responded. "I have a feeling I'll be pulling a late one tonight. I have plenty to prepare before tomorrow."

"Sure thing!" Home Maker was about to leave the room, but was stopped before she could do so.

"Whatever happens next, always remember... I love you." Legal Eagle words sounded a little corny, but based on what could happen next, they could be tragically prophetic.

"Err... Okay." Home Maker was charmed, but a little bemused at this unexpected outpouring of affection. "And, I love you too. But I'm not going anywhere, and neither are you. So, quit being so soppy, and get with your work. I expect you to win this case, then we can all go on that vacation to Manehattan you promised you would take us on months ago. So, stop slacking, Mr Lawyer, and do your duty!"

With that, she gave him another kiss on the muzzle and a friendly wink before she left him for real this time, humming a happy tune all the way down the corridor.

Legal Eagle watched her depart with a look of adoration, before glancing back at his still sleeping daughter with the same expression. If I have any regrets over what I'm about to do, it's possibly losing you two...

The lawyer stood up, to begin his evening's work. He would have to prepare an awful lot of paperwork, to indict his own client. Legal Eagle began to walk out of the room...

Before two pieces of paper suddenly flew out of his bag, to nestle on the floor. Odd. I'm sure I put everything away securely, when I left the hospital. Let's see what they are...

The first was the picture that Libra Scales had painted of him earlier. His wife must have popped it in his bag for 'inspiration'. Looking at the image now, knowing what he was about to do, he didn't feel so bad. He could still be her superhero. He could still be the good guy. He just didn't know if he could be her 'dad', that's all.

The second was a little more oblique. A large envelope, with his name written on the front, in nice, cursive handwriting. Baffled, he opened it up there and then...

Almost immediately, dozens of photographs fell out. Initially taken aback by their presence, the lawyers look of surprise turned to horror when he saw what was on them. And they were scattered all over his daughter's room...

With the world spinning, and suddenly feeling dry in the mouth, he swiftly picked them all up, before stuffing them back in the envelope. As he did so, he noticed a letter. Numbly, he read it there and then.

Dear Mr Eagle

Thank you for being the best lawyer a mare like me could possibly want, and more besides, as these pictures will demonstrate. I would like to say I hired somepony to take photos of our numerous trysts to keep as souvenirs, but sadly that wasn't the point. I especially like the graphic close-ups. My daughter means the world to me, and I am willing to go to any means to secure her release from her foul new environment. And yes, that includes blackmailing the corrupt lawyer, as ironic as that sounds. What you see here is just a small taste of the hundreds of images I've had developed, that even now are waiting to sent off. Where, you might ask? Well, let's see. Your address. Your filly's kindergarten. Your parent's house. Your head office. Need I go on? It would be safe to say, that not only would you lose everything, you'd be a public disgrace too. Did you really think I'd tell you such pertinent information today, if I didn't have a little something up my sleeve? Not likely. And, in case this little incentive isn't enough, a small reminder that I know people in high places who could do serious harm to members of your family. Yes, even the younger ones. I hate to use such barbaric practices, but in doing so I hope to impose upon you just how desperate I am to win this case. All you have to do is be a good boy, and do what you do best. It doesn't come simpler than that. As soon as my precious Diamond is safely ensconced in Whinneans, I shall burn all the original negatives, and we can all move on with our lives. You can't say fairer than that, can you? Once again, thank you for being the temporary hunky lover I've always deserved, but never got. It's a shame I can't keep you, but I'm sure they'll be others. Say Hi to Home Maker and Libra Scales for me. Tell them to stay safe. Even though, it's really all in your hooves.

Take Care
Mrs Spoiled Rich xx

P.S There are two other smaller letters in this envelope. One for my parent's house in Fillydelphia, the other to good old St Whinneans itself. Do be a dear, and send them off first thing in the morning, priority class, please. Remember, everypony you care about depends on it! Thank you, sweetums!

Legal Eagle read it again. And again. Each time, feeling just a little bit queasier.

This was a mare he'd slept with. That he'd shared some truly private moments with. That he'd agreed to represent.

And now... She planned to take everything from him.

That, he could live with. He'd already made his peace with that possibility.

But, to humiliate his wife and daughter too... As well as threaten their physical well being...

That was an entirely different matter altogether.

He ran out of the bedroom, to avoid waking up the filly with his cries.

Everything seemed so clear-cut just a few minutes ago...

Now, it looked like the world was collapsing again. With him at the epicentre.