• Published 10th Dec 2013
  • 14,918 Views, 1,836 Comments

My Family and Other Equestrians - Blade Star

A HiE fic with a twist. Our protagonist is not alone. How does one approach being in Equestria, when their family is along for the ride?

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Chapter 55 - That's Amore

Number two hundred and eighty seven. That was tree number two hundred and eighty seven checked. It was healthy, free from any obvious signs of disease and did not need any further pruning other than what the winter wind had done. In other words, we could leave the tree, named Old Red by Applejack, to its own devices for the year, unless anything odd cropped up.

I’d been at this rather menial chore for a couple of days now, and we still weren’t halfway yet, even with the entire Apple family pitching in. But it was necessary; a single tree carrying disease could spread and ruin entire sections of the orchards. That meant entire sections that didn’t produce fruit and consequently, profit. It had happened once before when AJ was very young and had nearly forced them to sell the farm. As such, she was not willing to take any chances. Still, it was bloody boring.

A few days before though, we had all been treated to a little party courtesy of Pinkie. Mom had managed to get her teaching qualifications transferred to Equestria and was a fully licensed teacher again. Consequently we got a ‘Happy you’re a teacher again’ party. Like Dad, she was now able to start earning properly; their little gift from Celestia had been starting to get a mite low after all.

The party was attended by a good portion of the students, Cheerilee, all of my family and the girls and even one of the inspectors who had passed her had agreed to stay for a day or two. From what I heard, Mom nearly had some trouble from one of the inspectors. Like pretty much everypony else, she had run afoul of Diamond Tiara and her father had attempted to intervene; though I can’t fault him in a way, since Mom seems to have become something of an ally to the Cutie Mark Crusaders, frequently helping them stand up to Diamond and Silver.

Today though was a slightly more irritating day. For miles around, colts, fillies, stallions and mares were all trading cards, going out together and partaking in overtly public displays of affection. Today was Hearts and Hooves Day, and I was thankful I was safely confined to the farm. The whole holiday on Earth had sickened me, I wasn’t certain I would be able to take the Equestrian equivalent. God, if I bumped into Rarity, the ‘hinting’ would be endless.

I returned my thoughts to the present as I reached the next tree; number two hundred and eighty eight. Let’s see, leaves were nice and green, no stag horns on the top, no dead branches left and…hang on. The bark was stained with darkish ooze that seeped from the bark, which itself seemed disfigured. I quickly retracted my hoof and backed away from the tree. Having been warned about this phenomenon I galloped off to find Applejack and Big Mac. They were working a little further out that I was.

“Applejack! Mac!” I called desperately looking for either of them.

“Bones?” sounded AJ’s distant reply. “Where are you? What’s wrong?” I spotted her galloping towards me, concern etched onto her features. I was still out of breath a little, what I’d give for earth pony endurance and strength.

“Ah think….Ah think one of the west orchard trees is carryin’ disease,” I managed to wheeze out. AJ’s face instantly went white and dragging me, she headed back to the farmhouse.

Apple canker is a rather nasty disease that affects apple trees causing them to prematurely lose fruit and rot at a rapid pace. Worse still, the fungus that causes it is easily transferred by spores. The reason I’d had to holler at Applejack was so I didn’t stray too far from what I hoped and prayed was the only affected tree.

As soon as we reached the farmhouse, the pair of us used to garden hose and spout to wash ourselves of any contaminant we may have picked up. After that, AJ hurried down into the cider cellar and fetched some of her strongest apple whiskey and matches. As for me I went and fetched a two pony saw. There was only one way to stop the spread, assuming I had diagnosed correctly; fell the tree and scorch the surrounding area, burning the tree and offending spores to charcoal.

Returning to the site of the infected tree, Applejack began her own examination, careful to avoid touching the bark, or allowing herself to be positioned downwind of the tree. She examined the brown coloured ooze and gnarled bark with a practiced eye. Her head fell and she began to examine neighbouring trees.

“How bad is it?” I asked quietly. Applejack cared for these trees almost as much as her family and was always saddened if one was lost before its time. All of a sudden though she began to chuckle, this evolved into a laugh and she all but collapsed on the floor. In spite of everything, the first thing my mind offered up was; ‘she really does have a beautiful laugh’. I pushed that to one side.

“Erm, mind explainin’ the joke, ‘Jack?” I asked. Applejack eventually managed to control herself, though her speech was punctuated with chuckles.

“These are…heh heh…..these are just natural changes in the bark, Bones. And this sap is normal this time of year; there’s no fungus.” She paused as another fit of the giggles took hold. “And you…ha…and you ran clear across the farm thinkin’ it was apple canker.” With that she lost it again.

For my part, my face had flushed with embarrassment; I knew a fair bit about trees, including that not every knarled mark was indication of disease, I’d just forgotten, the warning from Applejack taking precedence in my mind. I attempted to scowl at her, but that laugh of hers is infectious as Pinkie’s and eventually, even I couldn’t help but smirk at my own rashness.

“Damn, Ah’m mighty sorry, Applejack,” I said, pausing to dry a few tears as we both finally brought our laughter to a halt.

“Oh, it’s okay, Sugarcube,” she replied, placing a hoof on my shoulder. “Better safe than sorry as Granny Smith always says. Come on, Ah’ll give you a hand finishin’ up these last few rows, and then we’ll call it a day. Twilight said to come on into town later anyway.”

“Sure thing, ‘Jack,” I replied. It then dawned on me that I would have to go into town. Dammit.

It was a few hours later, after lunch, a little lie down on the sofa and the walk into town, that AJ and I arrived at the library. Standing outside was Twilight herself, along with Spike, who was just finishing locking up the library. I wasn’t quite sure what the universe’s most adorkable princess wanted from us. According to Applejack, she asked her to come to the library as soon as possible after lunch when she’d spotted her running her little market stall. While tight lipped about what it was all about, she also requested my presence.

“Hey, Twilight. Spike,” I said as the two of us pulled up.

“Oh great,” Twilight announced happily. “You’re both here, and a little early too.” She lifted Spike onto her back and began to head away from the library and out of town. Confused, Applejack called after her.

“Hey, Twi, what exactly is goin’ on here anyhow?” She tilted her head and raised an eyebrow to emphasise her slight suspicion. Twilight performed a quick about face, almost throwing her reptilian passenger off.

“Oh right,” she said, mentally facehooving. “I wanted you two to come with me to meet somepony at the station today.” Both of us, Element of Honesty or not quickly picked up the stench of a lie. Or at the very least, the omission of truth.

“So why didn’t you just tell me that when you asked me?” Applejack asked, now more than suspicious. Under her gaze, Twilight’s eyes began to dart back and forth.

“Oh, erm, well you see,” she struggled for a vague answer. “The pony I was going to meet was hoping to see you two. Particularly you, Blade Star.”

“And?” I countered.

“Nothing. She just wanted to see and speak with you; that’s all.” I noticed her little slip. So a mare wanted to see me and AJ about something. But why was Twilight being so hush-hush? Not being able to come up with an answer, we both shrugged our shoulders and followed her. It couldn’t be too serious, Spike certainly seemed unfazed.

Arriving at Ponyville train station, we found that another of the Elements was in on this little charade. Standing a little ways from the entrance to the booking hall was Rarity. Spike quickly dropped his indifference and, jumping off Twilight’s back, headed over to her. Now I knew for certain something was up.

“Afternoon, Rarity,” I greeted neutrally. “Ah take it you’re to greet our visitor too?” Rarity merely nodded, like Twilight she all but sweated under Applejack’s gaze.

“She should be here any minute, Bones,” added another, clearly male voice. From around the corner stepped the figure of my father, a slight smile on his features.

“Dad?” I asked. I turned to Twilight. “Anypony else involved in greeting this ‘important visitor’, Twilight?” Before Twilight could answer, a whistle sounded in the distance, and the small signal bell on the platform rang for a moment before returning to silence.

Less than a minute later, we heard the sound of the engine steadily growing louder. One of the many benefits of my new form is my vastly improved hearing. Though not as sharp as Winona’s, I’ve certainly got better ears than any human. Eventually the train came into view. As it was not coming from the direction of Canterlot, I assumed this would be the usual Friendship Express service that came through here on its way to the capital, however, I was wrong.

For one thing, the Friendship Express does not produce a blinding glare as it moves, nor does it travel at a particularly high rate of speed. This was a very special train, it was made of crystals. I’d seen it before, not that long ago actually. Just as it was easy to guess who was aboard Luna’s chariot, it was easy to guess who was aboard this train. Princess Cadance was upon us.

Oh dear God.

So, just to summarize, the Princess of Love, as well as the Crystal Empire, was just dropping by to visit Ponyville. For the second time in less than six months. All just to say ‘hi’ to me. Yeah, right. I had a pretty good idea what this was all about given Rarity was involved. I quickly turned to her.

“Ah take it this is your doing, Rarity,” I said, attempting to avoid from getting too mad. “Ah thought we agreed that you’d let me look after my own life and keep your snout out of it.” Rarity withered pitifully, causing most of my anger to evaporate. I sighed, I was about to apologise when my father entered the conversation.

“Actually, Bones, I asked Cadance to come down here. I had a chance to talk with her while I was up there. Just listen to what she has to say. I’m not asking you to do anything, just listen.”

By now the train was pulling into the station. Even more ridiculous, while I was more than a little ticked off, Applejack was just flat out confused about the unfolding events. After all, I hadn’t said a word to her about what was happening, nor had I mentioned the long running internal conflict I’d been having over her. As far as she was concerned, my views toward her were akin to that of a close friend. And at that point, that it what I wanted her to think.

I braced myself for the meeting with Cadance. I didn’t have anything against her per se; I just don’t particularly care for her. I did my best to return my features to a slightly less hostile look and prepared to be at least vaguely welcoming. But it wasn’t Cadance who stepped out. It was somepony I really didn’t want to see.

Naturally, Cadance, as a princess, travelled with her own guards, both for security reasons as well as for the sake of protocol. The first guard to emerge was a member of the newly reconstituted Crystal Guard. Like his counterparts, he was large and imposing; glittering or not, I wouldn’t want to fight him, even with a decent weapon to hoof. I expected the second guard to be a carbon copy of the first (for whatever reason, the precise nature of the events of ‘Three’s a Crowd’ had slipped my usually sharp mind). It took all my sheer force of will not to go mental when he stepped out.

Unlike his brother in arms, this guard was no crystal pony, he was a pegasus. He was short, with an almost runt like quality to him. Looking closely, I’d say I have a good couple of inches on him. He wore the uniform of the Solar Guard, though it didn’t seem to quite fit him properly and didn’t stand out well against his orange coat. Even odder was his mane. Now my mane may be a little unkempt, but his, considering he was supposedly a guard, was nothing short of a mess; it poked out from beneath his helmet, which sat unsteadily on his head.

This, fillies and gentlecolt, was Flash Sentry. My inner brony quickly offered advice.

‘It’s a monster! Kill it! Kill it!’ it demanded angrily bringing forth the rage of over half the fandom. The rational part of my mind then stepped in.

‘It’s not a monster, it’s just Flash Sentry, leave him be,’ it offered.

‘Oh, it’s just Flash Sentry,’ the inner brony countered sarcastically, going silent for a moment in acceptance.

‘Kill it! KILL IT!’ Or not.

Luckily for the completely unaware Flash, who had failed to properly even scan the surrounding area of the station as his counterpart had, Princess Cadance then emerged. She was just as I remembered her; about Luna’s height with a fairly pink coat and a light pink mane. Every little girl’s definition of a pretty pink pony princess.

Equestria’s Cupid quickly singled me out. Her gaze could be likened to Celestia’s a warm, motherly look, but without the age and wisdom that lay behind Celestia’s. She came across as more of an older sister you would look up to. I quickly removed my Stetson and offered a bow, as did everypony else, aside from Twilight of course. After greeting her sister-in-law, she trotted over to my dad and greeted him like an old friend.

“Good to see you again, Roger,” she said, smiling. My father pulled the alicorn, who was not significantly shorter than him, into a brief hug.

“You too, Cadance, my dear. You too,” he replied. The second youngest alicorn in Equestria went round our little group greeting her friends before turning to me.

Her whole attitude was easy and disarming. Despite my slight dislike of her, I couldn’t really work up any hostility against her. But there still was that niggling feeling in the back of my head that told me to distrust anything love related. For the moment, I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her.


Let me rephrase that; I didn’t fully trust her.

“And I assume you are Roger’s son, Blade Star?” she asked.

“Yes, your highness,” I replied simply. Sensing my tone, the princess changed her approach.

“Is there perhaps somewhere private we could talk; we have much to discuss.” I did my best to repress a sigh.

“The orchards on Sweet Apple Acres should suffice, princess.” Gesturing for me to go on, I led her off.

About five minutes later, the princess and I were standing in one of the more secluded parts of the farm. Applejack, who was still entirely bewildered by what was going on, had gone with Rarity to her shop to talk with her, whilst my dad had gone back home. We would not be disturbed for some time.

We were surrounded by a fairly pleasant grove of apple trees, and just a little way ahead, breaking the apparent circle of trees, was the medium size lake that Dash and I had previously gone to fish in. I would sometime even come here on clearer nights to stargaze. Shoot, it was here AJ and I had had our first heart to heart talk at the end of Applebuck Season last year. I had a lot of memories in this little spot of land.

“Alright, Princess,” I said, as I settled myself down for a long chat. “Ah think this should suffice. Now what do you wish to talk to me ‘bout?”

“I want to talk about you and Applejack,” she replied. I’d not been here five minutes and this already sounded like a therapy session. I attempted to halt the inevitable.

“What is there to talk ‘bout? We’re good friends and Ah live with her and the Apple family. In exchange for a roof over my head Ah work on her farm.” Cadance rolled her eyes.

“I’m sure though that you’ve…noticed things changing between you over the past few months.” To her credit, Cadance didn’t ram the idea down my throat, though looking back I kind of wish she had.

“Ah suppose, my dad or Rarity told you about that one kiss then?” She nodded.

“Amongst other little incidents,” she replied. “And not all of them were instigated by Applejack. Almost as if you liked her back.” The pink alicorn allowed herself a small titter.

“Very subtle, your highness,” I replied dryly. “Though Ah still can’t quite see why any of this requires your…involvement.” At this Cadance took on a look of mild surprise.

“I am the Princess of Love, Blade Star. And while much of my time is spent in my own kingdom, that does not excuse me from my duties in Equestria and elsewhere in the world. I would be betraying my cutie mark if I did; I help ponies realise the love between them. It is my duty and privilege.”

“How touching,” I countered. “And say a pony rejected this offer of help, what would you do then? Would you leave them be?” The princess considered this for a moment.

“If you’re asking me if I would force two ponies to love each other, then no. Your study of magic should tell you that that is impossible. But personally, I’ve never encountered that situation, and was I to, I would have to investigate. A pony in such a state may be in more need of my help than they realise.” I bristled at that.

“Respectfully, your highness, Ah do not need your help.”

“Why?” she asked, still maintaining the collected air of a therapist.

“Because Ah am not in love,” I replied.

“Oh really?” she countered.

“Yes, really, your highness. Ah’m aromantic and asexual. That means Ah don’t fall in love like most ponies.” Cadance considered this for a moment.

“Then explain to me the feelings you have been having. Explain the conflict within yourself. Why is there that part of you that that told you kiss her back?” she asked.

“There isn’t any conflict to speak of. I kissed her back because it would be rude not to.”

‘I swear to Celestia, when I get out of this, I’m going to buck Dad upside the head. I had everything under control nicely and then he sends Princess Airhead down here to ram her lovey-dovey nonsense down my throat.’ I thought to myself.

“I think you are in denial, Blade Star,” said Cadance. “In fact, I think you love her, and for whatever reason you are preaching this ‘aromantic’ concept to avoid admitting it.” That was the straw that broke the pony’s back; I have no problem with the concept of love itself. I just don’t feel it that much. But if you try to force it on me, you’re gonna tick me off. I wheeled round and got right up in her face, my whole form just screaming ‘anger’.

“Enough!” I snapped angrily. Cadance remained unruffled even as I starred her down. “You listen to me you overbred pegasus! Ah am not some lovesick schoolcolt you can corral and trick; love magic or not! Ah do not love!”

“Why?” she asked again. That was the question. Why didn’t I love, romantically I mean? Why was it that when every other guy my age was chasing girls and getting his heart broken, did I just carry on regardless? Why did I despise today? My usual answer would be because that was the way I was. I didn’t choose to have a disinterest in love (although my hostility was a choice) it was just the way I was. No amount of preaching and love magic could change that. Cadance suggested something at length, an idea that I had not considered.

“It scares you, doesn’t it?” She didn’t ask, merely stated it as a fact.

I’ll give her credit, she has talent. Such an idea had never entered my mind. I’d always felt that I just disregarded love; I’d never felt fear of it.

Had I?

In that moment, for whatever reason, everything clicked. I could just about hear the faint sound of magic, a very familiar sound by this point. All those missed chances, here and on Earth, all those dismissals, all those speeches. Underneath everything was fear. It was all motivated by fear; of rejection, of loss, of being hurt or made to look a fool. And according to Cadance, it was a common problem. But I’d managed to blow the issue way out of proportion. I sighed deeply and sat on my haunches, lowering my head. The anger that had previously been dictating my actions left me. Off to the side, I felt Cadance settle down next to me.

“Blade Star, you’ve studied a fair portion of dark magic with Twilight, correct?” I nodded. “So you know that it is fuelled by negative emotion; anger, fear and so on. But do you know what the most powerful source of dark magic is?” I shook my head. “Love.”

Startled, I looked up in surprise. Cadance was smiling benignly and her horn was glowing a soft blue. Evidently, she found something about this whole conversation to be enjoyable. I on the other hand was now just plain bewildered.

“Think about it, Blade Star,” she went on. “Imagine losing all those you cared about in one fell swoop. Can you imagine the despair, the horror, the rage, that is a powerful source for dark magic to draw on. And I think that it is those feelings that you fear. If you take a chance and allow yourself to fall for somepony, you take a risk; you fear the consequences.” Silence reigned for a while; she was right. At the extreme, I feared deception, just as everypony had been deceived at the wedding. Perhaps that was why I hated Changelings; they break the purity of love, just as love itself can break you. At the lesser end, I just feared the unknown. Eventually, I was able to find my voice, the previous anger now gone.

“If Ah am afraid of love, how do Ah overcome it? How do Ah just, let go and take the plunge?” I asked. I felt a hoof under my chin lift my head, allowing me to look Cadance in the eye.

“How do you feel about her?” she asked. “Just between you and me, no consequences.” I smiled, at last allowing all those niggling little thoughts out.

“Well, of course Ah like her. Hay, Ah wouldn’t have asked if Ah could stay with her if Ah didn’t. She’s been a great friend to me; honest, kind, dependable and Ah’d say she’s just as loyal as Rainbow. Ah couldn’t ask for more.”

And with that, the penny finally dropped. I liked Applejack. I don’t know about the whole idea of romance, that was a whole other kettle of fish, but there was no reason why I couldn’t admit that I liked her. Looking back on it, I was being a little bit pretentious.

Finally, this epiphany subsided, and I found myself standing with Cadance again, whose horn had stopped glowing. Shaking my head in an effort to clear the cobwebs, I tuned to her.

“That’s some special talent you have there,” I said. The two of us smiled. “Now Ah guess all Ah have to do is tell her.” Cadance smiled at me, undoubtedly aware of the intense nature of the experience I’d just undergone.

“There’s no need to rush in and confess, Blade Star. She’s waited for a fair while already,” she said. “If I know Applejack, she won’t want that sort of thing anyway and you clearly aren’t the romantic sort. Just, open up to her a bit more, and don’t be afraid of liking her back. Remember; you may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don't trust enough.”

With that, the pink alicorn flared her horn, and disappeared in a flash of light. Most likely, she went back to the train station, but who knows, maybe she took a shortcut back to her little empire. I was now alone in the orchards, with nothing but the setting sun and the buzzing of the evening insects for company. My thoughts quickly returned to AJ and what Cadance had said. It couldn’t hurt to try could it? Applejack wasn’t one for all that romantic nonsense I despised and we got along so well. And then of course, there had been that kiss.

There was no getting around it; I liked her, as far more than a friend. Now I would have to wait and see what happened. I began to trot back toward the farmhouse with my heart and mind considerably lightened. That was a good Hearts and Hooves Day.

Author's Note:

Proofread by Sidetrack.

And so, at long last, the romance arc reaches its conclusion. I initially tried to write this as a romantic scene, but in spite of my efforts, it just didn't feel right. So I reviewed my characters. Neither Blade Star nor Applejack are overly romantic. If we look at the episode 'Simple Ways' we see AJ spurns such behaviour. Neither of them are romantic characters, so there was no way I was going to write them as such.

I'll be honest with you guys (and gals) I've never been in a romantic relationship, and I probably never will be. But from what I have observed, very rarely does it happen the way we are told it does in the world of fiction. There is no confession of undying love, there is no 'moment' when two people become lovers. It is something that you notice over time, you realise you've been hanging out with a great girl (or guy, no prejudice here) more than anyone else and that you behave differently around them, and you realise you are probably more than friends. Then everything starts.

Hence this most difficult of scenes. All that has happened is that Blade Star has realised how his behaviour has changed which will in turn affect his later actions. For all intents and purposes the two are now 'in a relationship' they just don't know it yet.

Now, onto what is probably the subject of a small war in the comments box. Flash Sentry. As you know, this fic accepts EG, it just never mentions it, just as the series does. And don't worry we will not be seeing him in any kind of serious role and he will be staying well away from Twilight and your other waifus. I don't particularly care for him, but I don't hate him. I just think Twilight can do a hell of a lot better than that orange feather duster (no offense intended to pegasi readers).

Be on the lookout for the new chapter next Friday. And feel free to drop hints about this scene; I'd really appreciate some feedback.

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