• Published 10th Dec 2013
  • 19,011 Views, 1,985 Comments

One In A Million - ocalhoun

Scootaloo finally finds her special talent. It's the worst week of her life.

  • ...

Great Expectations

he two fillies trotting along with me kept me going; Both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle already had their cutie marks. I had to catch up.

The warm predawn light had only begun to make its way over the treetops, and the nighttime chill still lingered in the air. I hardly even noticed. Today was the day – the day I would finally fly. With any luck today would be the day I finally found mine, too.

My two friends weren't very enthusiastic about the early morning flying lesson of course, but they still followed me up the dew-covered path to the big grassy hill on the outskirts of Ponyville. My fellow Cutie Mark Crusaders had always been there to support me, and I knew they always would be. I smiled over at them – I could hardly help it, after all – and drowsy as they were, they smiled back. This would be the first time my friends ever watched one of my flying lessons with Rainbow. The last thing I wanted was to leave them disappointed, but I knew having them at my side would make all the difference.

As my hooves brought me closer and closer to the crest of the hill, I could see a rainbow-colored tail hanging from the edge of a cloud just above the peak. “Hey, Rainbow Dash! I made it!”

Rainbow's head popped up from behind the cloud. “About time, Squirt.” She hopped down from her cloud. “What took you so long?”

“Huh?” I tilted my head to the side. “You said to meet you at sunup, and the sun's not even up yet.”

Rainbow withered me with a sharp-eyed glare. “Well, I just thought that if flying was important to you or something, you'd come early so you could have your warm-ups finished before starting time...”

I gasped. “Oh no, I'm so sorry!” We hadn't even started yet, and already my grand plans for the day were falling to pieces. I looked around, desperate for a way to make everything better. “I just didn't want to force Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle to get up even earlier, and I had no idea, and it didn't even cross my mind to–”

“Woah woah, easy there, Squirt.” Rainbow glanced back and forth before her glare melted into a wide smile and she trotted over to me. “I'm just messing with you.” She tussled my mane with a hoof, but I didn't care. “If you had shown up earlier, I would've been upset at you for waking me up...” She brought her hoof to her chin. “If you wanted to make it up to me though... you could, I don't know, get all your warm-up exercises done in record time?” She pulled the stopwatch out of her mane.

“On it!” I shouted. In a flash, I dove right into my wing squats, sending Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle dodging out of my way. I cranked the exercises out at top speed and jumped right into my stretches. In and out, up and down, I stretched my wings out faster than ever before. That just left the warm up laps.

I dashed to the bottom of the hill and raced around it, my wings pumping just as hard as my hooves. I put everything I had into it, circling around the base of the hill faster than ever before.

By the time I reached the third and final lap, my lungs burned, my legs cramped, and I was sure my wings were about to fall off. I hadn't pushed myself this hard for nothing, though, and I wasn't about to give up now. With a savage grunt, I plowed through the last lap and sprinted back up to the top.

“Not bad. Not bad. You beat your best time by three seconds.” Rainbow's eyes showed a glint of genuine admiration.

Despite my lungs gasping for air and my legs threatening to let me drop, that little shred of admiration was all I needed to keep going. I felt ready for anything.

“Okay, Squirt,” Rainbow said, pacing in front of me, “As you know, me and my friends have an important diplomatic mission to the Griffon Kingdoms coming up. We have to leave this very afternoon. That means this will be our last flying lesson for a while. I expect you to make the most of it! Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes ma'am!” Rainbow's pep talk had become part of the normal routine for flying lessons, and I knew she would be there for me, just like my two friends sitting on the wet grass watching me. They were more than just friends. These ponies were my family. Without them, I'd be nothing.

The first gleam of the rising sun came just in time to catch the proud grin on Rainbow's face. “Then get up there and prepare for takeoff!” I could feel the tension in Rainbow's voice. She wanted me to succeed as much as I did.

I hopped up to the top of the hill, wasting no time. This would be it. I just knew it. I spread my wings and let the newly risen sun's warmth soothe my flight muscles, still a little sore from my hectic warm-up. I stood still at the top for a moment, trying to calm my nervous breathing and relax. Rainbow had drilled into me a million times, after all, that flying should come easily and naturally.

I looked up at Rainbow just in time to see her nod. I was ready. My friends were there, watching me. It was time.

With one final, slow breath outwards, I flapped my wings for the first time of this lesson. Nervous energy boiled inside of me, urging me to go faster, go harder, go now... I kept it under control. Strong, sure, steady wing beats were the key, Rainbow always said. Start slow and then build. I sped up my flapping, just like I had been taught. I could feel the breeze they created now, cooling me, and I could feel myself getting lighter on my hooves.

My friends' eyes grew wide in anticipation. Even Rainbow seemed to be watching with bated breath.

I flapped harder and faster, squeezing my eyes shut. I had no attention to spare on anything external now – nothing but me and my wings mattered. My feet edged up off the ground, front first, then the back. I opened my eyes to see myself hovering just a hoof's-length above the ground. It wasn't much, but I held it. I was flying! “Oh my gosh! Rainbow, look! I'm doing it! I'm–”

The horizon tilted. No! It was happening all over again. I knew what was about to happen, but as always, I was powerless to stop it. I stretched out my hooves in a desperate bid to steady myself, but I was too late. I tipped forward, my wings forcing me into a tumble.

My face hit the sod hard, grinding the still-dewy grass into my teeth. I rolled completely over, coming to rest belly-down on the grass, and I looked up to see Rainbow's face looking back down at me.

I could see her let out the breath she had been holding. I knew she tried her hardest to hide it, but her weak smile couldn't mask the disappointment in her eyes. “Oh, um...” Rainbow looked away for a moment before returning to me. “I guess we need to work on balance and control exercises a little more.”

I slammed my hooves into the ground in front of me. They cut into the grass and came back with bits of dirt stuck to them. “We've done that a hundred times. It never works.” I grit my teeth in frustration and tried to stay in control. I was not about to break down and cry right in front of Rainbow Dash. I couldn't. My eyes burned, so I squeezed them shut. “I just can't do it.”

Apple Bloom's hoof on my shoulder brought my attention back to the world around me. “Come on, Scootaloo.” She took my hoof in hers and pulled me back to my feet. “Did Ah quit when those sleazy Manehattan colts took down my handymare business?” She pointed over to Sweetie Belle. “Did Sweetie Belle quit when she got voted out of Equestrian Idol?” She brought her hoof back to me, poking my chest. “Did you quit when they kicked you out of flight camp?”

“No,” I admitted, looking away.

“Then are you gonna quit now?”

My tears dried as I looked up. No. I wouldn't quit now. I would fly, and I would find my destiny. I hopped back up to the top of the hill.

As I stood preparing myself once again, Rainbow Dash slowly nodded. I could see the glimmer in her eyes. She was holding back tears of her own. Tears of pride.

I didn't need to focus on breathing or energy this time. I knew my friends and my mentor had faith in me, and that must be for a reason. I knew what I wanted, and I could – and would – do it.

Closing my eyes, I pumped my wings and focused on what I wanted. No stray thoughts about technique or control distracted me. No doubts poisoned my determination. Everything in me focused on one thing: using these wings to make me go up. I put my all into it, but I still wasn't even rising off the ground. I wouldn't let myself stop though. I couldn't. I flapped faster and faster, so fast that the sound blended into a constant hum.

I pressed on even harder, still focusing on just going up. Something inside me seemed to break free. The hum reached a crescendo, and a blinding purple flash shot through my closed eyelids.

When I opened my eyes, I couldn't believe it – I looked down on Rainbow and my friends from well above their heads... I was in the air! I never even noticed it happening. They drew closer, and I realized I was no longer flapping my wings. I tried to start again, to pull up, but I was too late. I managed to slow myself a little, but the impact with the grassy hill still took my breath away.

That crash couldn't stop me though. I shot straight back up, not even wincing from the hit. “Rainbow Dash! Rainbow Dash! Did you see? Did you see how high I flew?” I slowed, though, when I noticed Rainbow and my friends just staring at me, wide-eyed and slack-jawed.

“You... uh... You didn't fly, Kiddo.”

I looked up incredulously. “What? Of course I flew. Didn't you see when–”

“Scootaloo.” That stopped me. Rainbow never used my full name. “You didn't fly. You... teleported.”

“What? No, only unicorns can do that, and I'm a pegasus. There's no way I could–”

“You did, Scootaloo. We all saw it happen. When your wings were flapping really fast, they started to glow, and then you just teleported up.” Sweetie Belle looked over at Apple Bloom for confirmation.

“Eeyup,” she added, simply.

“But... but I can't...” None of this made any sense. I rushed back to Rainbow Dash. “What's going on? How did this happen to me?”

“I don't know,” Rainbow replied. She stroked her chin. “But I think I do know just who to ask about it. Come on, Squirt. I think it's time to visit the library.”

I wasn't ready to be finished just yet, not if I hadn't really flown. “Really? Are you sure we can't just do the rest of our flying lesson?”

“Yeah.” Rainbow nodded rapidly. “I'm sure.” She trotted off towards Ponyville.

“Aww...” This was not how I planned for the day to go.

Apple Bloom laid her hoof across my shoulders. “Look at the bright side, Scootaloo.”

What bright side?”

She just pointed to my flank and smiled.

I twisted around to look, and I nearly fell over in shock. There, on my own flank, was a cutie mark! Three purple shooting stars now adorned my flank. It had finally happened!

I gasped, trying to catch my breath, but I still felt like I couldn't breathe. I couldn't believe it was finally there, my cutie mark. All I could do was stare at it with ever-widening eyes.

But as Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle swept me up in a warm group hug, I couldn't help but wonder what it meant. The three purple stars reminded me of the big purple star on Twilight Sparkle's cutie mark. I didn't like thinking about what that might mean for me.

I rolled my eyes when Apple Bloom banged on the library door for the fifth time and still didn't get any response apart from clangs, thuds, and other random noises inside. “Twilight's our friend, right? Can't we just go on inside?”

Sweetie Belle stomped her hoof down. “Of course not! Friend or not, it's still rude to just barge in uninvited.”

“But this is a library.” I pointed at the sign. “And it is open.”

With a shrug and a flick of her tail, Rainbow pushed open the door.

More clutter than usual littered the floor, though I had seen it in worse shape.

There was no sign of Twilight or Spike, until a voice came yelling down from upstairs. “Spike! Where's Colton's Compendium of Curious Company?” As the shout trailed off, Twilight trotted down the library's steps, looking all around. “Spike! Where are you?”

“Right here.” The little dragon came running out of the kitchen. “And the book you're looking for is already packed in your bags.” He looked over at all of us still standing in the doorway. “Oh, hey, Rainbow's here, and she brought the Crusaders.”

“Never mind that.” Twilight kept pacing around the library in a blur of motion. The alicorn didn't seem to be getting much done. “Have you triple checked your suitcase against our packing checklist?”

“No, but–”

“Then get to it! If we forget something now, who knows if we'll ever be able to find a replacement inside the Griffon Kingdoms.”

“But I already double checked the–”

“Just. Make. Sure.” Twilight's eyes twitched a little, and her wings spread out seemingly of their own volition. As Spike trudged up the library's stairs, Twilight finally noticed Rainbow and me. “Oh, hi Rainbow. Done with flying practice already?”

Rainbow pulled me closer. “Actually, I'm here to talk about Scootaloo.” She looked at me, then back to Twilight. “Scootaloo got her cutie mark today.”

Twilight stopped her frenzy of movement to come over and see for herself. “Oh, that's wonderful.” She stared at it a moment, and her brows furrowed. “That's odd. Stars like those usually represent magic. What does this one represent?”

“That's just what we came here to talk about.” Rainbow's face grew pained. “This is really weird.”

Twilight's eyes wandered back to the mess on the floor. “I hope it's important. I have a lot to do, and the train leaves in less than two hours.”

“It is,” Rainbow assured. She remained quiet for a moment, her lips twisting into a grimace. “Well, uh, Scootaloo can do magic.”

Twilight snorted and held her hoof in front of her mouth as her eyes watered. After a moment, she couldn't hold it in anymore, and she burst into hysterical laughter. After too long of a moment, her laughter died down into a chuckle or two, and she said, “Oh geez, Rainbow, I knew you liked pranks, but this is just over the top, even for you.”

Nopony else laughed. Rainbow flicked her tail. “I'm serious, Twilight.”

“Rainbow, Scootaloo is a pegasus. Only unicorns and alicorns can practice the magical arts.”

“Come on outside, Twilight, and I'll prove it.” Without waiting, Rainbow stepped back through the door and onto the library's front lawn. “Come on, everypony.”

I followed Rainbow outside with more than a little trepidation. How was she planning on proving it?

“Okay, Rainbow, let's see it. I'm putting on a detection spell, though, so there won't be any funny business.” Twilight eyed Rainbow as she stepped through the door. A moment later, her horn began to glow. “There. The detection spell's in place now. Go ahead and show me.”

I felt a little nudge from behind. Apple Bloom had just pushed me to the front. I looked over to Rainbow, and she just waved me on. I had no idea what they all expected me to do.

“Go on,” Sweetie Belle prodded, “just think back to what you did before, and do it again.”

They wanted me to do that again? I didn't even know what I did! How was I supposed to just do it again, on command? My friends looked on, all around me, expecting me to do it again. I wasn't even sure I wanted to ever do it again.

With a sigh, I decided I had no choice. I tried to bring back my confidence and determination from earlier. That wasn't easy. I flapped my wings, bringing back that intense desire to go up. My wing speed increased, and before long, I could hear a now-familiar humming sound, and my wings began to glow.

Something just wasn't right. With a whine, the glow vanished from my wings, and I haphazardly fluttered up a few inches off the ground.

Twilight just raised an eyebrow at Rainbow.

“Come on, Squirt. Do it again.” I could see it was painful for her to be made a fool in front of her friends. I had to do it again. For Rainbow Dash.

I went through the routine, and again my wings glowed. I focused on going up, remembering how important it was to my idol. This time, it worked.

With my eyes open this time, I could clearly see the purple flash as the world around me lurched downwards. I did my best to stay airborne but still couldn't manage it. At least this time, I slowed my descent and came to an almost-graceful landing on my feet.

“That's... that's...” Twilight just sat there, staring at me with her eyes wide. “That is really not possible.” She shook her head. “And not just 'visited by myself from the future' impossible or 'grow a pair of wings' impossible. This is not supposed to happen!” Her horn glowed again, rechecking for any hidden magical interference, no doubt. “How did you do that?”

I actually felt a perverse sort of pride from my impossible accomplishment. “I just think about going up and try really hard.”

Twilight stood up again and started pacing back and forth sharply. “But you just can't teach yourself to teleport. It took me months to get it right, and that's not even counting the fact that you're a pegasus! You just can't!”

“We already know she can, Twilight.” Rainbow stepped in front of her, putting a halt to the alicorn's pacing. “What we're trying to find out is why... and who better to ask than the Princess of Magic herself?”

For a moment, Twilight did nothing but stare blankly ahead. But before long, she rushed right up into my face, causing me to jump back from her. She eyed me closely, a little too closely – I felt like a lab specimen under examination – and she actually sniffed me. “Did you drink any potions or anything? Maybe from Zecora?”

I backed a little further away. My earlier confidence evaporated. “No! No, I haven't seen Zecora in months, and I didn't drink anything weird.”

Twilight brought a hoof up to her chin and leaned in closer. “Have you been playing in the Everfree Forest, maybe around some little blue flowers?” Before I could reply, she cut me off. “Oh, or have you been cursed by anypony lately? Had any spells cast on you?”

“No, no, no!” I shook my head.

Her eyes narrowed. “Have you been hanging out with Pinkie Pie?”

“No! It's not anything like that!” I didn't know how I knew, but somehow it felt right, like it was a part of me, like it was... “It's just my special talent. I finally found it.”– I turned to put my new cutie mark on full display –“See, I've got the cutie mark for it and everything.”

At least that seemed to put an end to the interrogation. Twilight backed off, sat down, and stared off into the distance. “Hmm...” Her eyes came back to stare at me, but they were no longer inquisitive microscopes. Now she just stared at me, still deep in thought. “I think I read something about this a while back. If I could just remember...” Her gaze dropped down to the ground. “Aha!”– she popped back up –“Sir Colton's treatise on the nature and origins of magic!” Without explaining herself, she darted back into the library.

I looked over at my friends. Sweetie Belle just shrugged, and Apple Bloom was already heading inside. Guessing it couldn't hurt, I followed them in. Twilight's book learning was what we came for in the first place, right?

Inside, Twilight already stooped over her writing desk. On it laid not a huge dusty tome like I expected, but a single slim stack of paper held together by a clip.

“Here, Sir Colton's treatise on the nature and origins of magic.” Twilight flipped over the cover page. “You're lucky I had it here for review and editing. It won't be published for at least another two months.” She flipped through the pages with her magic, mumbling as she went, “Introduction, underlying field theory, harmonistic theory, reflections of the cosmos, magic as evidenced in other species... no, no... Ah, there!” She pounded a hoof down on what was now the topmost page. “The three distinct forms of magic found in ponykind.” As the rest of us leaned in, she resumed reading.

“The most obvious type of pony magic is, of course, the magic of the unicorns, with which all my readers will be familiar. Less known, though, is the magic of the pegasi, with which they are able to fly with wings that would otherwise be severely undersized for their mass and which allows them to manipulate weather and walk on clouds. The most subtle type of magic is that of the humble earth pony. Having no external effects due to the lack of any appendages to focus it, it nonetheless has a profound effect on the stamina, strength, and longevity of the earth pony race. It is said that alicorns posses all three types of magic in one body, each reinforcing the others and making their combined effect stronger.”

Twilight's face scrunched up. “I already know all that. Where was the part about...” She flipped a couple more pages. “Ah, there we go.” She leaned down again to read the cramped hoof-written script. “There are, however, occasional exceptions to these rules. Some ponies, most commonly earth ponies, but occasionally those of the other races as well, will on rare occasions display magic outside of what their race is normally capable of. While such ponies are often fascinating case studies, they are too rare for proper statistical analysis, and are therefore outside of the scope of this work. For more information about it, I highly recommend Sound Theory's book, A Compendium of the Curiously Counterintuitive, a delightful work wherein she has cataloged an unprecedented number of such cases in fine detail. As for the relation between the lifespans of earth ponies and alicorns, they are...”

Twilight looked up from the paper. “Where's Spike? I need him to find–”

A Compendium of the Curiously Counterintuitive: The Ponies Who Defy the Laws of Magic, by Sound Theory, perhaps?” Spike came skipping up, holding a dusty blue book up in front of him.

I spun around, a little startled to see the baby dragon. I hadn't been paying much attention to anything besides what Twilight had been reading.

“Sound Theory...” Rainbow scratched the back of her head. “Isn't that the pony who came to interview Fluttershy about her stare powers?”

“That's the one.” Twilight nodded. “I bet Fluttershy's even in this book somewhere.” She wasted no time in flipping the book onto the desk with her magic and opening it. “Let's see... Index of case studies: that looks promising.” A couple more pages flipped, enveloped in a violet aura. “Okay, Buttercup, a unicorn who couldn't use magic but lived as long as an earth pony, no... Inner Workings, an earth pony with x-ray vision, no... Shooting Star, a unicorn who could fly, no... Surprise 'Granny' Pie, a pegasus who could–”

“Wait, Granny Pie?” Rainbow fluttered up above Twilight to get a better look at the book. “Is that Pinkie's Granny Pie, the one with all the songs?”

“Yes, Rainbow, it probably is, but we can't get distracted right now. We're on a strict schedule.” She brushed Rainbow away with a flare of magic. “Now, where was I? Ah, yes. Merry Weather, an earth pony who could predict and even change weather patterns, no...”

“...Razor Wing, a pegasus who could use unicorn-style magic... That's it!” Twilight furiously flipped through the pages.

“Hey, that's just like you!” Sweetie Belle nudged me on the shoulder.

“Of course.” I was far too busy paying attention to Twilight to give Sweetie Belle much mind. “That's what we've been looking for the whole time.”

“Okay, here we go.” Twilight stopped on the correct page. “Razor Wing, known only by historical accounts, was a pegasus stallion skilled in unicorn-style magic. He was particularly known for long range combat magic and distinguished himself in the Griffon War. By all accounts, he was never able to fly under his own power, but still retained the pegasus ability to walk on clouds.

“He was killed in action in the year of Our Princess, thirty-four eighteen, during the battle of Stalliongrad. He was posthumously awarded a service medallion and the Solar Shield, in addition to the silver wing and myriad decorations awarded before that date. Not much else is known about this stallion, or this rare form of misappropriated magic. No other cases of this particular deviation are known to exist.”

“Oh, there ya go.” Apple Bloom laid a hoof across my shoulders. “It's normal, even if it is kinda rare. You're not the only one.”

“The Griffon War?” Rainbow fluttered up to the book again. “Wasn't that, like, hundreds of years ago?”

“Four hundred and fourteen since the war began, to be precise.” Again, Twilight brushed Rainbow away magically. “Four hundred and eleven since the year Razor Wing died.”

“Wow, Scootaloo, you're the first magic pegasus in four hundred years – you're totally special!” Sweetie Belle hopped up and down in her excitement.

I looked down at the floor. “Yeah... special.” Special, and very, very alone. I didn't want to be a freakshow oddity. I just wanted to fly and be like Rainbow Dash.

“Hm... what to do, though...” Twilight turned to me with an appraising eye.

“Twilight, we're gonna be late!” Spike butted in and tugged on Twilight's leg. “The train leaves in ten minutes.”

“Hold on there, Spike.” Twilight extracted her leg from the dragon's claw. “This is important. You go ahead and take the bags to the train station. Rainbow and I can just fly over and get there in no time.” She turned back to me. “Well, we can't leave you without training. An untrained magic user is dangerous.”

“But I don't know a thing about magic.” Rainbow dropped to the ground. “How am I supposed to teach her about that?”

“You're not, obviously.” Twilight held still a moment. She seemed lost in thought. “Yes. It's time I took on a protégé of my own. I'll train her myself.”

My heart imploded, and I felt sick and empty inside. Not training with Rainbow Dash anymore? My mind wandered back to the pleasant memory of the day Rainbow had agreed to teach me to fly, but that memory already seemed somehow darker, dimmer, tainted by the wrenching loss I now felt.

“But I'll be heading off on that diplomatic mission for a week. You'll need someone to teach you the basics while we're gone.” Twilight stopped for a moment, tapping a hoof to her chin. “Aha! That's it! Spike, take a letter.”

Everypony stood silent for a moment. “Uh, Twilight,” Rainbow reminded, “you sent Spike off to carry the bags.”

“Oh.” Twilight blushed a little. “I guess I'll write it myself.” A quill and scroll came floating over, and Twilight dictated as she wrote, “From the desk of Princess of Magic, Twilight Sparkle. I am sending you a fine young pegasus mare named Scootaloo Songwing for instruction in the basics of magic. I know this is an unusual assignment, but Scootaloo is capable of using unicorn magic, as I have personally verified. Please enroll her into your school in the next class. She deserves the very best magic kindergarten education that Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns can provide. Gratefully yours, Princess Twilight Sparkle.”

I couldn't hold it in any longer. “What?” I squeaked, “Magic kindergarten?”

“Of course,” Twilight confirmed, “It's a very good school.”

“But... but...” I latched onto Rainbow's leg. “I don't want to! I want to stay and learn how to fly with Rainbow Dash!”

“Squirt, you have to–”

Twilight hushed Rainbow with a raised hoof. “Easy there, Rainbow.” She looked down at me, and I could see a soft warmth come into her eyes. “It's okay, Scootaloo. I know this has kind of been forced on you, but sometimes that's how life is. Sometimes it isn't fair, and lots of times you don't get what you want. You just have to make the best of what life gives you.” She stepped over next to me. “Did I ever tell you the story about my coming to Ponyville? When Princess Celestia sent me here all that time ago, I thought it was the worst possible thing. It was the exact opposite of what I wanted to do. But I did it, because I had to.” Her eyes seemed to lose focus a little, and her smile grew dreamy. “But when I did, I discovered the magic of friendship and a whole new life – a life I wouldn't give up for the world.” She edged back into reality and looked me in the eye. “Where would I be now if I had stayed in Canterlot and insisted on the world being fair and getting what I wanted? Where would the world be?” She held out a lavender hoof. “Come and learn how to use your magic with me, Scootaloo. Please.”

I looked away from Twilight, trying to get some support from Rainbow Dash, but she just smiled at me and nodded towards Twilight. Even Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle watched me with naked anticipation in their eyes. I felt the walls closing in around me. I couldn't breathe in this trap. I had to get out!

I left Twilight Sparkle standing there with a hoof still held out to me as I rushed out through the library's front door. I burst through without closing it, without a thought of explaining myself, without thinking of anything besides getting away from this situation. Outside, with a clear blue sky above me and green grass under my feet, I could finally breathe again. I felt like I could just fly away from all this... but my respite was doomed to be short-lived.

“Scootaloo!” Twilight was the first to jump through the door. “What's wrong?”

I ground a hoof into the grass, dangerously close to lashing out at the alicorn behind me. After a moment, I couldn't hold it in any longer. I whirled around just as the other ponies came out. “What's wrong? What's wrong?” I felt my legs trembling. The only thing keeping me from collapsing was my disgust with the unfairness of it all. I couldn't believe how insensitive they all were. “Maybe it's how nopony cares what I think about it. Maybe it's because you're telling me I'll never be able to fly. Maybe it's–” My throat clenched, and I forced back a sob. I could barely see through my watering eyes. “Maybe getting to train with Rainbow Dash was the best thing that ever happened to me in my crummy life, and now you're taking it away from me.”

I squeezed my eyes shut. I didn't want anypony here thinking I was a crybaby.

A strong pair of hooves wrapped around me and lifted me. “I said I was taking you under my wing, Squirt.” I opened my eyes to find Rainbow Dash holding me up. “And just because you're training with Twilight doesn't mean that's gonna stop.” She gave me a tight squeeze. “I'm sticking with you, kid.”

As Rainbow set me back down on the ground, I turned to the others. “I still don't know about this magic training thing, or about this magic kindergarten thing. It just doesn't seem very–”

“You have to.” Twilight trotted up next to Rainbow. “If you stay around as an untrained magic user, we'll always be one accident away from a disaster. It isn't safe.”

I could see that, of course, but that didn't mean I liked it. “Magic kindergarten, really?”

“Oh, don't say it like that,” Sweetie Belle said, popping out from behind Twilight. “Magic kindergarten is actually a lot of fun. I had a great time there.”

Apple Bloom edged up beside her. “And it's only about a week long. You'll be back before you know it.”

I glanced back and forth between my friends. “Well...” I pawed at the ground with my hoof; I still wasn't sure about it, but at least it didn't sound like the end of my life anymore. “If you all say so, I guess I should go.”

“Okay, good.” Twilight patted me on the back. It was somehow a little comforting. “Get home and pack your bag. They start new classes every second Monday, and–”

A distant whistle sounded.

Rainbow's head popped up. “Twilight, the train!”

A look of panic crossed Twilight's face, but passed quickly. “I think I can catch it.” She flapped her wings once and shot a challenging smirk at Rainbow. “How about you?”

“Oh, you are so on!” Rainbow let her own wings flare out.

“Okay, Scootaloo.” The smirk vanished from Twilight's face. “Just take the first train to Canterlot tomorrow morning. There should be a pony at the Canterlot station to lead all the new magic kindergarten students to the school.” A scroll floated out through the library's door, enveloped in Twilight's magical glow. “When you get there, give this letter to the headmaster. That should be enough to get you started.” She looked off into the distance, in the direction of the train station. “I'm sorry to have to leave so quickly, but I really have a train to catch. Good luck!” With a few wing beats, Twilight shot off into the sky.

Rainbow Dash followed close behind. “Good luck, Squirt!” she shouted as she took off.

I watched the two fly off together until they were just specks in the distance, my old mentor and my new mentor. There was a lot to soak in, and I was in no hurry to–

“Hey, Scootaloo.” Sweetie Belle poked me in my side. “Scoots!”

What?” I growled. I wasn't in the mood for conversation at the moment.

Cutie mark!” She nudged me, pointing at my flank and squealing like a little schoolfilly.

I couldn't help but smile as I bent around to look at it myself, and my dark mood washed into the background. There it was, my cutie mark. It was growing on me, I had to admit. The purple stars matched my mane well, and the trails behind them gave a hint at the action and speed I loved. Without warning, I scooped up my fellow Cutie Mark Crusaders into a big group hug. They seemed surprised at first, but quickly reciprocated.

Letting them go, I bent around to look at the matching mark on the other side. What had just happened to my life? What would Cheerilee think of it?