• Published 16th Feb 2012
  • 1,109 Views, 16 Comments

The Long Road Home - Tealove



A grown up Sweetie Belle returns to Ponyville after being gone for years.

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Conclusion

After a long and emotional day, Sweetie Belle was happy to be at the reunion Apple Bloom threw together. Sweet Apple Acres was very much alive with the sounds of music, talking and laughter. Morning Glory helped Apple Bloom make a nice big salad, Applejack provided the drinks, Pinkie and Braeburn brought lots of dessert, and Clover and Twilight brought a dessert coffee mixture for those who wouldn't be drinking the cider. Memories were shared and new stories were told. For the first time in longer than she could remember, Sweetie Belle felt comfortable. She felt like she was home. As they all ate dinner together, she sat beside Spike, who now stood a little taller than Big Macintosh, and talked of long past days. While Fluttershy shared a story of a chrysalis she'd found that morning out by her old cottage, Dark Cloud stole a bite of Morning Glory's bread and honey, which lead to her chasing him both on hoof and in the air.

Luna showed up after the dishes had been cleared, and a game of hoofball was started with all the stallions playing, Spike, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Luna and Apple Bloom. Sweetie Belle watched from the porch, sitting happily with Twilight and Fluttershy. “What a lovely night,” said the quiet pegasus as she peered up at the stars.

“It really is,” Twilight agreed. The next generation Crusaders were on the front lawn with the twins and Glory. Pinkie Pie was down there as well, trying to explain the rules of some game to them, a stern look upon her face. It made Twilight laugh. “When I was that pregnant you were lucky to get me out of bed, let alone hoofing around with a bunch of crazy kids.”

“Oh, I know,” Fluttershy agreed. “It was all I could do to get upstairs at night.”

“Pinkie's always been pretty unconventional though,” Sweetie Belle giggled. Her attention went to the hoofball game, her smile turning wistful. “How is it possible to go from feeling like I haven't been here in ages to feeling like I never left? All in one day?”

Twilight frowned. “I noticed Scootaloo isn't here. Have you seen her?”

Sweetie Belle nodded and sighed. “I think she'd rather pretend I didn't exist anymore. It's probably easier for her that way.”

“But she was one of your best friends,” said Fluttershy quizzically. “Why would she want to do that?”

“Scootaloo didn't let anypony in. I think she was always afraid of them leaving her or just not caring about her anymore like her parents did. And then when we all moved into Applejack and Dash's house we stopped being best friends and became sisters. As much as she ever could with anypony, she let the four of us in. And then I left.”

“But she must realize you left because Rarity...”

“Maybe,” Sweetie Belle said, cutting Twilight off. “But maybe not. You never knew Scootaloo like Apple Bloom and I did. Behind that tough persona of hers was a very fragile pony. All it would take was one crack in her armor to break her. Once she knew there were ponies that really cared about her she would have done just about anything to hold onto that. I feel terrible that I hurt her but there's nothing I can do about it if she won't talk to me. She made it very clear today that she's written me off.”

The three mares were silent for a few minutes, staring out and watching the games without really seeing them. It was Twilight who broke the silence what a question all three of them were pondering. “How long are you staying?”

“I don't know,” Sweetie Belle answered quietly. “Originally I figured on a few days. Now? Now a part of me doesn't want to go.”

“Do you have to leave?” Fluttershy asked timidly. “I mean, you could stay if you wanted to, couldn't you? Unless you really don't want to of course.”

“I don't know what I want if I'm being honest.”

“Well it's not a decision you have to make tonight,” promised Twilight. “And no matter what you decide you know this place is your home.”

“It took me awhile to remember that but I know that now.” Sweetie Belle watched with a giggle as Spike tackled Big Macintosh and got the ball away from him. “You know what? That looks like fun. I think I'm going to go join them.”

Twilight and Fluttershy watched the young unicorn trot across the field and jump, catching the ball in her teeth to intercept a pass from Spike to Applejack. “She's changed so much,” said Fluttershy quietly. “Not in bad ways, I mean. She's just an adult now. Not the same little Sweetie Belle we used to know.”

“She had to grow up pretty fast,” Twilight said. “A lot of fillies wouldn't have been able to do what she did, leaving at such a young age and making a life for herself.”

Fluttershy smiled. “Like Rarity did.”

“Like Rarity did,” Twilight echoed. “I hope Sweetie Belle knows how much Rarity loved her.”

“I think she does.”

“I know she's a big star now but I can't help but hope she stays.” Twilight watched the way Clover and Sweetie Belle worked as a team to score a touchdown. “It broke Clover's heart when she left before. I think he always thought of her like a daughter. Not that he doesn't love having a son, but I knew from the beginning he wanted a little girl. I know how happy it would make him.”

“It would make Applejack and Rainbow Dash happy, too. And Apple Bloom, of course.” The twins climbed the porch steps and walked over to their mother with sleepy eyes. Curling against Fluttershy and each other, Fluttershy smiled down at them. “Sometimes I think there is no stronger bond than that of sisters.”

Twilight nodded. “I'd have to agree. Though I never had any biological sisters the rest of you became that to me. I don't know where I'd be without you all.”

Overhead, an orange pegasus shot across the sky and landed directly in the middle of the hoofball game, pulling everyone playing up short. She looked directly at Sweetie Belle and said, “Club house, five minutes,” before taking off again. Sweetie looked at Apple Bloom and the earth pony nodded with encouragement. Sweetie Belle tossed the hoofball to her friend, then headed away from the game and into the woods in the direction of the Crusaders' childhood clubhouse.

It was certainly no surprise to see Scootaloo standing on the open deck of the clubhouse when Sweetie Belle broke through the trees and into the clearing. She stopped to get a good look at her old friend, something she hadn't really been able to do before. The pegasus stood tall and proud in the moonlight, her wings tucked into her sides and her fuchsia mane and tail windblown and unkempt. But she was beautiful even disheveled as she was. Long, lean and well toned. It wasn't hard to imagine how many stallions sought for her attention.

With a deep breath in, Sweetie Belle trotted across the grass and up the ramp that would take her to the balcony. At the sound of her hoofbeats, Scootaloo turned around to watch her ascend with brows drawn. “You have five minutes.”

Sweetie Belle blinked, confusion on her face. “Five minutes for what?”

“Five minutes to tell me why I'm wasting my time talking to you right now. Five minutes to explain to me why I'm the one feeling guilty when it was you who left and not me.”

“Scootaloo...”

“You are such a jerk, Sweetie Belle! You just up and leave without so much as a goodbye, don't write or come home ever and then you come back after you're this big stupid singing pony and expect us all to drop what we're doing and hug you and talk about the good old days like nothing ever happened? Like we can pick up where we left off?”

Sweetie Belle didn't even open her mouth. There was a lot of anger in her friend, most of it probably well justified, and it was time she got it out. Even if it meant going off like she was on Sweetie Belle.

“Maybe Apple Bloom, AJ and Dash can wax sentimental and just forgive you for abandoning them, but I can't.” There was fire in her eyes and her tail lashed behind her. “Wasn't it you who made us promise that we'd always be friends no matter what?”

“We were kids-”

“That doesn't matter!” Scootaloo exclaimed, stomping a hoof. “We were kids when you left, too. Like you didn't even give a flying feather about us.”

“My sister died,” Sweetie Belle argued thickly. “What did you expect me to do?”

“Let us help you! For Celestia's sake, we were a family, Sweetie Belle! Yeah, okay, your sister died. That really sucks. But to have you just shut down and shut us out the way you did? How did that ever feel like it would be okay to do that?”

“I was hurting! Everypony knew Rarity and knew she was my sister. There was no place I could go where some pony or another wasn't telling me how sorry they were for me, or saying how much they loved Rarity and would miss her, or offering me condolences. I couldn't take it!”

“So you just ran away?” Scootaloo shook her head. “That would have made sense if it was me because that's what I do. But you? You were the goopy, gross 'I love you forever and ever' pony who would do anything possible to cheer a pony up or help them if they were hurting.” Sweetie Belle looked down and Scootaloo's loud accusing tone softened some. “Do you have any idea how much that hurt? Waking up that morning to see your bed empty and a stupid note on the table for all of us to see? Did Apple Bloom tell you how she was so upset that she couldn't stop crying for almost three days? Did AJ tell you how depressed she got or how Dash turned into this crazy pony after you left who worked almost all the time and seemed to avoid being at home for too long?”

Tears welled in her downcast eyes and Sweetie Belle shook her head in shame. “No.”

“Because they didn't want to hurt you. That's the difference between them and me.”

Sweetie looked up, pained. “You want to hurt me?”

“I want you to feel just a fraction of what I felt. Of what we all felt.” Scootaloo took a step forward, unmoved by the tears of the unicorn. “After awhile I got why you left. I even empathized with you because I figured you'd at least write if you didn't come back. But you never did either. You just left us behind as if we didn't matter.”

“You did matter!”

“How were we supposed to know that!” Scootaloo scowled. “Geeze, Sweetie Belle. I mean...not even a letter to say you'd gotten your cutie mark or that you were on Bridleway. Nothing.” Her voice softened to a conversational level but there was still pain in her tone. “You have to know how that felt for me. Before you and Apple Bloom, I had nopony. I lived with a mother and father who'd just as soon forget I even existed than pay attention to me, and when they were paying attention to me it was to tell me what a disappointment I was. And then I found you two. You made it worth getting up in the morning, actually kind of made me look forward to going to school. Then when we all moved in with Dash and AJ it was like...wow. For the first time in my life I could associate family with warmth, and love, and real genuine affection. Didn't you feel like we were your family?”

“You know I did,” Sweetie Belle answered tremulously. “Being there on the farm, living with all of you was like some kind of fantasy for me. My parents were never here. Never. All I had was a big sister who was forced to play mom and still try and run a business. So having two parents and siblings? Of course it was a family to me.”

All the ferocity in Scootaloo seemed to fade out and her frame sagged slightly. “Then why did you leave?”

“I don't know,” was Sweetie Belle's whispered reply. “I was just so sad and there was nowhere I could go to escape it. So I guess I thought, selfishly, if I left I wouldn't have to deal with it.”

“It was selfish,” Scootaloo agreed. “We were all sad, Sweetie. But we were there for each other and helped one another get through it.”

“I'm sorry, Scootaloo.” Neither of them noticed Apple Bloom coming across the clearing. Sweetie Belle took Scootaloo in with a pleading gaze. “Are you ever going to be able to forgive me?”

“I want to. I want to be able to forgive you. I hate being so angry at you.” Scootaloo shook her head. “I just don't think it's something you can apologize for and then we move on like nothing ever happened.”

“I'm not asking for that. Really, I'm not. I know it's unrealistic. I'm just asking for a second chance. Or maybe a first chance since we're both so different now.”

Scootaloo frowned thoughtfully. “Are you sticking around for awhile?”

“If that's okay with you.”

She nodded. “I guess it would be okay. Where are you going to stay?”

Sweetie Belle shrugged. “Probably with Clover and Twilight. If they don't mind.”

Scootaloo snorted. “It's they don't mind, please. You know Clover thinks the sun and moon shine out of your...”

“He does not!” Sweetie Belle giggled which made her friend chuckle. With a small smile, Sweetie Belle looked at her. “I'm glad you're not yelling at me anymore.”

“Me, too. My throat was starting to hurt.”

“Can we hug now?”

“Ugh.” Scootaloo made a face. “Fine, let's get it over with.”

Apple Bloom came up the ramp to witness her two friends share an embrace. With a grin, she joined in. “Does this mean we're all best friends again?”

“Not quite,” said Scootaloo as she broke the group hug. “We still have to get to know each other again.” She looked at Sweetie Belle with a tentative smile. “But we'll always be sisters.”

“Always,” enthused Apple Bloom.

“Always,” Sweetie Belle repeated tenderly.

Scootaloo looked at the side of the clubhouse and sighed. “You know, I haven't been inside this thing since we were kids.”

Apple Bloom opened the door and walked in. “Well get on in here, then. The place hasn't changed much.” She knew right where the matches were and made quick business of lighting the lanterns. Soon the entire clubhouse was basking in warm light. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo went inside, both immediately hit with memories of better, simpler times. Adventure planning, talent show preparations, the Rainbow Dash fan club meetings, the love potion gone wrong. So many nights they'd stayed out here just giggling and talking about all the ways they could get their cutie marks.

“It really hasn't changed,” marveled Sweetie Belle.

“I told the Crusaders they could use it so long as they didn't mess nothin' up.”

“You put a lot of hard work fixing this place up,” said Scootaloo.

“Darn tootin'! No way I was gonna let them in here if they were just planning' on destroyin' it all.”

Sweetie Belle sat on the familiar rug and smirked at Apple Bloom. “Hey, Twilight told me how you threatened Cheerilee when Morning Glory started going to school.”

Scootaloo looked at the earth pony with interest. “You never told me that!”

“It was no big deal,” said Apple Bloom with a wave of her hoof. “I just wanted her to know under no uncertain terms that if my niece ever came home cryin' because somepony was bullyin' her she could expect to see me at her front door bright an' early the next mornin'. She wouldn't need caffeine to wake herself up, I tell you what.”

“And how's that been working out?” Sweetie Belle asked.

Apple Bloom grinned. “She's come home smilin' ever single day.”

“Oh my gosh,” said Scootaloo. “Do you guys remember that one time...”

Outside on the deck, Applejack and Rainbow Dash peered in through one of the windows. They were quiet as they watched the three young mares settle down together and laugh over fond memories. And suddenly it was like time had reversed. They could picture the tree of them: little Apple Bloom, shorter than her best friends, Sweetie Belle a little rounder, and Scootaloo, entirely more energetic. They were laughing then like they were laughing now. Applejack looked at Rainbow Dash with happy tears in her eyes and nuzzled the pegasus. “We got our girls back.”

“Yeah,” said Dash with a soft smile. “We got our girls back. Come on, let's let them have some time alone.” As the two walked back toward the farm, tails entwined, they could hear the laughter of their girls behind them and knew what it was to feel like a complete family once again.

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Comments ( 7 )

D'aaaaaaaawwwwwww :fluttercry: What a happy ending! *Cue Applause*

508610 :twilightblush: I'm really glad you enjoyed it!

Wonderful ending, really loved it. :twilightsmile:

508891 Thank you very much! :yay:

Thanks, this was a gread read :)

I'd always thought it'd be a tad bit longer (the story, that is) but this was a nice way to end it :twilightsheepish:

510953 Thank you! I'm kind of new to writing lengthy fics and never really planned this one to go for very long. My other one, Harbinger, will probably be quite lengthy. As will an upcoming story I have in mind. :heart:

Yep... you're getting a favourite for this one! Really good written, excellent characterization and... well executed. Good Idea as well.




please read one of my stories. ...

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