• Published 13th Jan 2014
  • 1,692 Views, 33 Comments

A Crown of Rhinestones - TheDarkStarCzar



Diamond Tiara goes too far and gets caught, now the Cutiemark Crusaders hold her fate in their hooves while Silver Spoon argues for leniency by telling the story of how they met how they received their cutiemarks.

  • ...
1
 33
 1,692

Of Threats and Promises

Sunset faded to a luminously bruised swath of clouds on the distant horizon as Silver Spoon's tale of summer school woes drew to an end. Her final revelation about Primrose, mithril poisoning depriving her of her magic, being so savagely battered in her own former seat of power hung heavy in the air through a protracted silence. Finally reacting, Scootaloo wrinkled her muzzle and glared before exploding into action.

"Is that supposed to be a threat?" The little orange pegasus' buzzing wings, coupled with a small hop closed the gap between her and Silver Spoon with frightening rapidity. She grabbed the spoiled filly up by the collarbones and shoved her back, flat against the defaced cedar siding of the quaint schoolhouse hard enough that a few boards groaned in protest. As an earth pony, Silver Spoon might have been stronger than her and a simple buck in the chest could have spared her the indignity, but that wouldn't do much to further her cause so she endured it with little more than a frightened squeak.

"It wasn't meant to be a threat," She turned her face away and looked contritely to the ground, "I should have left that last part out, I was just trying to explain how bad that filly's taunting had effected her."

"Really?" She raged, "Because from where I'm standing it sure sounded like you were warning us that we'd get socked in the jaw if we told, well you can bring it on, sister! The Cutie Mark Crusaders aren't ones to back down from a fight!"

"Mostly." Sweetie Belle's head drooped, when she raised her eyes back up, Scootaloo's were angrily boring into her, she rebutted the silent critique of her pacifism,"What? I don't want to get socked in the jaw, or anywhere else!"

"She went after that filly because she was right and Diamond Tiara dang well knew it. The important bit is that whatever threat she made, it was stout enough to keep a stuck up unicorn from speakin' up agin' her, and bad enough she couldn't tell her best friend 'bout it. That's kinda spooky to think about right there." Apple Bloom nodded her head as if to reassure herself of the conclusion she was slowly coming to.

Much as she would have liked to, Silver Spoon couldn't give them the lesson she wanted them to arrive at as if this were an entry in one of Diamond Tiara's book notes and they likely wouldn't believe her unless they worked it out for themselves, so the grey filly had to leave their story at that and just hope Apple Bloom could puzzle it out in time. Maybe she could even find a solution, for which Silver Spoon herself was well and truly stumped.

When Silver Spoon had a complex problem to solve, she often found it useful to define the two extreme ends and winnow them down to the more moderate ones. In this case, her one extreme is to tell on Diamond herself, which would give Silver Spoon the chance to spin her actions as temporary insanity, maybe even blame Apple Bloom somehow. In the right circumstances there was traction to be had there, but it was too risky to be truly viable.

Had the Crusaders not witnessed the perpetrator red hoofed, the opposite extreme would be to burn down the school house. It wouldn't have been a bad solution, per se, she could very well get away with it, but with the other fillies involved it was a nonstarter from the get go. Silver Spoon might be a bully, though she might vehemently deny that as well. She is not, however, a psychopath and that left her other extreme as adamant denial that Diamond Tiara had anything to do with it and claim that the Crusaders were lying to get Diamond in trouble. Alibis could be fabricated, 'witnesses' recruited, money spread around to muddy up the issue until it blew over. The wealthy always had options, but Diamond's father was more of a straight shooter and when he caught wind of this there was no telling which way he would come down.

Odds are he would throw Diamond under the bus so as to save his business dealings with the Apples, or at least that's what Silver Spoon thought. She really didn't know him as well as all that, he was hardly ever around, letting his daughter run roughshod over the town just as she pleased most of the time.

Most ponies, when presented with a unique problem solving predicament don't even acknowledge it for what it is or weigh the facts against the consequences. They simply react emotionally, instinctively, haphazardly, failing and flailing with false starts and opportunities lost. Though Silver Spoon was loathe to admit it, Apple Bloom's a smart filly, probably smarter than herself in any way that actually matters, and she had the look of sizing up her pros and cons quite carefully, for which the grey filly was grateful if a little frightened. A favorable outcome for her did not necessarily bode well for Diamond.

While Apple Bloom pondered, Scootaloo abruptly dropped the bully, her offensive capabilities now directed towards petty bickering with her unicorn friend which went on unabated for some time. It ended with Scootaloo exclaiming, "It doesn't even matter! Once we tell, they'll ship her off to some reform school, maybe a military one, we'll probably never have to deal with her again."

"We ain't gonna tell." Apple Bloom said quietly.

"Yeah they'll make her get up at the crack of dawn and run laps and do pushups and...wait, we aren't?" Sweetie Belle cocked her head, "Why aren't we?"

"We have to tell. It's our best chance ever to get her out of our manes, and she really deserves it this time! Even more than usual." Scootaloo half whined, half yelled.

"I don't know what we should do yet, but we ain't gonna tell 'cuz there ain't any point in it. When everypony sees this they're gonna know who did it. Ain't no need for us gettin' involved 'til then, and maybe not even then." Apple Bloom told her dumbfounded friends.

"But what if they can't figure out who it was?" Scootaloo speculated.

"'Member when you scratched that dirty poem Rainbow taught you in the little fillies room stall? Even wrote with a nail, Miss Cheerilee recognized the hoofwriting. Ain't no way she wouldn't pick up on Diamond's left hooved scrawl. It's a teacher thing."

"Meh. If that's the way you really feel about it. I didn't want to be a snitch anyway." Scootaloo acquiesced, somewhat embarrassed about the incident mentioned, "But I make no promises if they don't catch on to her pretty bucking quick."

"But, Miss Cheerilee's seen the way Diamond treats us and she ignores it all the time because of how she kisses up to her. What makes you think she won't ignore it this time too?" Sweetie Belle pled, "Plus, how are you going to feel having to pass that everyday before school? I know I wouldn't like it."

"You'd cry." Scootaloo teased the little unicorn.

"I'd cry!" Sweetie Belle agreed, oblivious to the taunt implied.

"Look...I..." Apple Bloom started, changing direction in mid thought, "I need to think on this some, sleep on it. Y'all come on over to the clubhouse just as soon as y'all get up and we'll talk s'more 'bout it. In private." She glanced sidelong towards Silver Spoon, a look of greater understanding than she was letting on glinting behind her eyes, "For now, we all need to get home 'fore somepony comes lookin' for us and finds this mess."

Scootaloo huffed, "You act like this is our secret to keep, but I don't see how it's meant to be our problem at all."

"I dunno. Maybe it ain't, but sob story aside, there's other things to consider, so let's keep this under our hats for right now."

On that they all agreed and set out down the dusky path back towards Ponyville proper. Despairing of her impotence, Silver Spoon stayed until the night deepened and finally washed away the vandal's work with inky black.


"Girls, this ain't no small thing. There's still a picture hung on my wall from when me and Diamond Tiara used to play as little foals." Apple Bloom meanderingly paced the clubhouse floor, dark circles betrayed her lack of sleep, and though she'd played the stoic the night before, matted patches on her cheeks spoke of her desolate condition. Sweetie Belle, the only one of the three whose role model was prone to shameless, histrionic bouts herself, shed tears freely in her stead. Bright daylight filtered in through the shaded windows drawing irregular polygons on the floor and western wall.

"What's wrong with that filly, anyway? What did we ever to her?" Sweetie Belle sniffle-snorted. Neither of her friends made any attempt to answer. The little unicorn had asked the question a half dozen times already in the hours their fruitless discussion had occupied and a concise answer was neither expected nor wanted.

"That, right there, is something you're going to have to get over, Apple Bloom." Scootaloo reclined in the corner, idly folding and unfolding some yellowed bit of paper that had been inscribed with their revised sacred Cutie Mark Crusader vows, a condensed version in case a Babs Seed type event happened again. Always prepared, one of their many mottoes, which headed up another, currently misplaced list. Scootaloo had worried the paper until it was a velvet soft thing, the subtle sign of her own sentiments, "She blew you off, and good riddance to her. I can't see why you'd be lonesome for that brat's friendship anyway. Let her take what's coming to her."

"You make it sound like I want revenge."

"I want revenge. I want it for all those times she humiliated us and made us look like foals. I want revenge for her lording over us what she has and doesn't even care for, like a spoiled little princess. I want to see her pay for what she said about your family and you should want it too." Scootaloo snarled.

"It wasn't so long ago that she was family too, Scoots. Same as you and Sweetie Belle are to me now, even if y'all ain't strictly blood. It still ain't a thing that's so easy to give up on, and...well I don't want to besides." Even after all that had passed between them, Apple Bloom still held a tiny place in her heart reserved for her wayward foalhood companion, and she finally understood the events that had dissolved their friendship from Diamond Tiara's perspective, "What that Primrose said to Diamond Tiara, I understand why it cut her so deep. I'm afraid I might'a gone and said just about the same thing just before she split with me."

"What?" Scootaloo asked flatly, "If you were friends, which I still have a hard time believing, why would you even say something like that?"

"Well it's not like I said it to hurt her." Apple Bloom rebutted, "Truth is that I was excited 'bout it 'cuz we were best friends and I was gonna grow up and run the farm and she was gonna go and take over her dad's business some day and sell my apples and apple products. Seemed 'bout perfect to me 'cuz that's what I wanted to do anyhow, but look at it from her perspective. Rich filly or not, she's trapped into running her father's business, and working for him."

"...And being rich." Scootaloo rolled her eyes, "Sounds good to me, sign me up."

"Bein' a rich slave's still bein' a slave."

"But...you don't feel the same way about Sweet Apple Acres?" Sweetie Belle earnestly asked, somewhat scared for the answer.

"Heck no. I can do any ole thing I decide to, my sister's made that plenty clear. If'n I decide against staying on there I can go to college or start my own farm or whatever, 'cuz no matter what there's Apples that'll take the place on, even if Mac and Applejack skipped out. Not that that's gonna happen. Diamond, though, she's a single foal and her dad's made it plain that he expects an awful lot from her. Must feel 'bout like a prison. It might not excuse what she's gone and done, but I can kinda understand why she acts like such a high highfalutin' brat."

"You don't want to tell, that's your lookout, but all this cutesie wootsie nostalgia doesn't mean that she's not going to get hers come Monday morning, is it?" Scootaloo's wings buzzed briefly in nervous anticipation of the firestorm seemingly inexorably coming Diamond Tiara's way.

"Yeah, I 'spose you're right."

"Bucking well right. That filly's headed straight for Celestia's reform school for villainous fillies, if it existed."

"What do you really think will happen to her?" Sweetie Belle shrunk back.

"Really? I expect Scoots is right about reform school of some sort if her pa don't buy her way out of trouble, which he's libel to. She ain't gonna be back in our class, though. Not after this." Apple Bloom considered it, "Probably she'll get sent off to some school in Canterlot, and if what Silver Spoon was telling us is true, I have to imagine she's going to be on the receiving end of the same kind of thing she was dishing out to us."

"Serves her right." Scootaloo snorted, "I hope those stuck up unicorns throw her a blanket party every night."

"Is that like a slumber party? It'd be such fun to have a slumber party every night!" Sweetibelle chirped.

"Nah, it's where you're sleeping and a bunch of ponies throw a blanket over your head and beat you..." Scootaloo snickered until Sweetie Belle's pained look abruptly stopped her, "I mean, yeah, it's a slumber party."

Sweetie Belle grimaced, "That's mean Scootaloo, even if she is a big bully you shouldn't wish things like that on anypony. If they treat her like that she'll probably come back all messed up and angry and she won't be able to get along with anypony or get a regular job. Just like when they let your dad out of prison."

"You promised not to bring that up anymore." She grumbled, "Besides, I'm hoping she won't ever be coming back."

"That's silly. Her dad's not going to just up and move, his whole business is based out of Ponyville and there's no private school in town." Sweetie Belle reasoned, "She'll be back and worse than ever."

"Maybe they'll hire her a tutor." Apple Bloom speculated with a small shrug.

"So she gets to skip school and still stay in town? Lame-o." Proclaimed the pegasus.

"But everypony will know what she did and nopony will want to be her friend. She'll be a pariah." Scootaloo blinked in confusion until Sweetie Belle clarified, "An outcast? Sompony who's looked down on and you'd cross the street to keep from passing them by?"

"I knew what you meant." Scootaloo lied and her two friends rolled their eyes at the supposedly face saving deception.

"What worries me even more," Apple Bloom sighed, "Is what everypony in town's goin' to think of my family after this."

"Why? You're the victims in all this." Scootaloo stated.

"Exactly. We're the victims and they'll all be gossipin' behind our backs, whisperin' about how sad it is and how we're bein' so brave goin' on like nothin' ever happened. It'll be humiliatin' for everypony to think of the strong, honest and loyal Apple family, first and foremost, as victims." Apple Bloom paced as she continued her tirade, "More than that, they'll be jokes about it and ponies wondering if those things she said about us aren't at least a bit true. 'Til Mac took up with Miss Cheerilee there were a lot of rumors about why he didn't have a special somepony that went along that particular path, and I got dang sick of it then, too."

"I hadn't thought of that." Scootaloo said simply.

"But...but...that's really what's going to happen and there's nothing we can do about it?" Sweetie Belle stammered.

"Seems that way." Apple Bloom snorted, "I mean, how could we possibly fix all that, even if we wanted to?"

"I don't know, couldn't somepony just putty over the carving and touch up the paint?" Scootaloo thought aloud, "Isn't that how you'd fix it?"

"Nah, it'd show through no matter what you did. Wood putty don't work as well as all that. I think the school house'll have to be resided on that end." Apple Bloom dismissed her idea, but it only sparked one from Sweetie Belle.

"Couldn't we sand it out and not have to replace the boards?"

"Maybe, but it'd take forever and there'd be dips where the letters were." As an abstract, to be dealt with philosophically and with mental issues in mind, the problem was unsolvable and uncomfortable. As a practical matter, Apple Bloom came into her own, "Maybe if you had to do it in place, you could do it with a plane and keep it even, if you had one that was shaped right, but you'd have to take down the trim boards and repaint the whole wall, includin' those hearts and little swirly-cues over the windows. Ain't no minor undertakin'."

"So, out of curiosity, have you got the thing to do it?" Scootaloo asked, but Apple Bloom wasn't sure she did.

"I'll have to ask my brother." If she did that, then this all went from a rhetorical discussion to something of a commitment and she eyed her two friends meaningfully. Sweetibelle nodded her implicit solidarity. Scootaloo pursed her lips and released a slow breath.

"Buck it. I think you're wrong, saving that brat's flank like this, but it's your call and you know I'd follow you right into Tartarus if that's what it'd take to make you happy."


Big Macintosh didn't have the right plane, but it's such a simple device that he managed to fabricate a pair of them in half an hour. It was simply a block of wood with a notch on one side to ride along the school's clapboards and a plane iron hung on the front by a bolt. They didn't even have a handle, but in testing their fit on the barn's siding, Apple Bloom was certain it would work. Likewise they acquired a gallon of paint, labeled by it's manufacturer as barn/schoolhouse red, which is a lucky break. Add a few variously colored quarts for the flourishes and they were set. They scrounged some brushes, a step ladder and a tall ladder. So equipped and with a short and a tall ladder, they felt well prepared for the task at hoof.

Looking back on the pile of supplies heaped against the barn, Apple Bloom couldn't help but realize, "We're gonna need some help."

Though the Crusaders were not unaccustomed to being sneaky, Apple Bloom had simply explained their need for the tools to her brother by telling him that someone had carved bad words onto a wall, and they wanted to repair it before anypony saw it and got their feelings hurt. He'd protested, being the stalwart of responsibility that he was, that they shouldn't cover up for the vandal or the only lesson they'd learn was that other ponies would clean up their messes for them. Despite this, he saw that his sister's heart was in the right place and helped her prepare for the task. That being said, there was nopony she wanted along less than Big Mac.

Adults think nothing of breaking promises of secrecy to a foal and are, in fact, worse tattle tales than any filly could ever be if they feel their course of action to be the proper one. Adults couldn't be trusted this time, which meant that their resources were limited.

"How about Twist?" Sweetie Belle suggested as they stared at the pile of paint and tools laying before the barn.

"I wouldn't turn down her help," Apple Bloom said charitably, "But I was thinkin' more like Archer."

"Considering last year, I don't think Archer wouldn't help to save Diamond Tiara if she were on fire and Archer were holding the last bucket in Equestria." Scootaloo observed, "I was thinking Rumble and Shady Daze might help."

"You know, even if nopony's seen the schoolhouse up close yet, a herd of foals is going to draw a lot of attention to it and I think we're going to be found out pretty quick." Sweetie Belle gestured to the tools, "Carrying all this isn't going to help that too much."

"We'll have to do it at night." Scootaloo replied.

"Nah, we can't do it in the dark and lanterns would give us away." Apple Bloom pointed out, coming to the same conclusion her erstwhile nemesis had, "We'll have to do it right at dusk. We'll have maybe an hour when it's still bright enough to see, but dark enough not to get caught too easy. I expect us three and about five others ought to be able to just pull it off in time. We'll have to swear them all to secrecy and tell 'em the truth, or a fair bit of it, but make it clear it's a favor to me, not somethin' we're doin' to help out Diamond Tiara. But on no account can we let anypony who can't keep a secret in on it."


Convincing their classmates was hard, but Scootaloo surprised everypony and managed to make some very convincing and heartfelt arguments that repeatedly turned the tide. Under Apple Bloom's leadership, the plan itself went off with nary a hitch. A few things didn't turn out so well as they might, and if anypony looked for it they'd be certain to spot certain oddities in the topography of the schoolhouse's siding, but given the time crunch and the labor pool they'd drawn from it was nothing short of miraculous. Twist had proven to be the hero of the evening. While she'd started out feeling awkward and out of place amongst ponies more accustomed to the work at hoof, she'd been the only one able to accurately paint the complicated designs above the windows. With a delicate hoof she even managed to paint them before the underlying layers of paint were dry, which expedited the work considerably.

"Thanks y'all. You have no idea what it means to me that you'd come out here tonight just to help me. If y'all ever need anythin' just ask, I'm in your debt." Apple Bloom said and the hoof full of other foals solemnly nodded, "Now, let's never, ever speak of this again. Cross your heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in your eye."

The assembled classmates mumbled and went through the motions, then dispersed into the night, several carrying the tools, paint cans and tarp full of wood shavings and paint drips, to either hide away or return to Sweet Apple Acres.

"So what now?" Scootaloo asked.

"So...nothin'. Problem solved. We go home and get some sleep afore we get yelled at after parent teacher conferences tomorrow." Apple Bloom said. She'd done poorly in math and her spelling was mediocre at best, so she'd been expecting a good solid dressing down to come with tomorrow's meeting. After the crisis she'd just averted, she couldn't find it in her heart to worry about it.

"Problem not solved." Scootaloo insisted, "What makes you think she won't just up and do it again some other time?"

"There ain't much I can do about that. If she does something like this again, who knows if we'll be able to do anything about it, but I have to imagine she didn't figure on getting caught, right? So she's probably sittin' home right now, agonizin' on what's going to happen tomorrow when everypony finds out what she's done. That ought to be more'n enough to teach her a lesson."

"You're probably right." Sweetie Belle yawned, "Maybe she'll even stop being such a big meanie after this. If nothing else, it was kind of fun getting everypony working together on a project."

Scootaloo had to admit, "It kind of was. I'll see you two after my conference is over, okay?"

"G'night Scoots, Sweetie Belle."

"'Night." Sweetie Belle waved as she headed towards home, trailing just behind Scootaloo so she wouldn't feel so alone in the dark, but not so close she'd have to admit that she'd like to be walked home. Her thoughts roamed to what Diamond Tiara must be feeling this very moment. If it had been her, she'd probably have lost her appetite and been curled up in the corner of her room, sobbing, or more likely she'd have sought out a friend for comfort and consolation. Jerk or not, (and in truth, there were few she found consistently jerkier) Sweetie Belle couldn't help but feel pangs of anxiety on her behalf, despite knowing that the crisis had been averted.


Silver Spoon stood below Diamond Tiara's window and flung pebble after pebble at it until the light winked off and she apparently retreated to some other portion of the mansion. She'd already been repelled at the front door by the butler. It was time to play her last card. She knocked on the kitchen door and was thrilled to have it opened by the jolly Miss Xenia, the rotund zebra cook. They had always been friendly, but didn't know each other intimately enough that she felt comfortable letting her risk her job unawares.

"Hello Miss Xenia, lovely night, isn't it?" The embarrassed foal started awkwardly and the zebra gave her a puzzled look, clearly wondering how she came to be at her door rather than entering through the front like a proper young lady. Silver Spoon hem hawed around, looking for an explanation, but settled for the truth, it seemed to be a night for it, "See, Diamond's mad at me, and I've got to talk to her, but she won't let me in. I don't want you to get in trouble, though, but I need to see her."

A sly look crossed the zebra mare's face and she walked to a window in an unlit portion of the dining room and flung it open, then looked Silver Spoon in the eyes, "Little filly, that was terribly naughty of you to sneak in through the window while I was occupied with my baking. For shame, for shame." She said as she turned her back and resumed her work.

"Thank you." The filly said genuinely as she trotted away.

"Who was that that just spoke, I wonder? Must be hearing things again."

One might think stealth well advised, but the mansion was fairly large and there were, at most, half a dozen ponies within. The only one she actually needed to avoid was the butler, and this time of night he'd be chatting up the old maid as she knit and pretended to rebuff his advances. It was a simple enough feat to avoid her room and advance to the only sliver of light winking out across the lower story, from Filthy Rich's study.

Stealth was attempted and blown completely by the squawk of dry hinges holding the heavy door. Diamond Tiara looked up from the rug where she lay on her belly, reading a thick tome by the light of a roaring fire in the darkened room. She glared daggers, at least, maybe swords and poisonous death, but she blinked and it was gone. She returned her gaze to the book and spoke without looking up again.

"So old Xenia finally let you in, huh?"

"No, I snuck in the back..."

"You can't lie to me Silver Spoon, you're an open book. Speaking of which, one of your favorites." She slipped loose the comic that was nestled between the novel's pages, closed the book and slid it so that it stopped before her friend's hooves. It was The Princess, by Marechiavelli, not a first edition, such a thing would be astronomically valuable and in a language neither could read, but a good translation in a faux leather binding. Silver Spoon stared at it in silence for a good minute trying to think of what to say, but Diamond Tiara beat her to it.

"You're here to plead for me to apologize, preemptively, or are you going to suggest that we claim that Apple Bloom and her friends did it themselves to frame us? I could get a couple witnesses to back that up, if I needed to."

"No, I wasn't going to suggest either of those things."

"Good, because I wasn't going to do either one. If this was as big a problem as you seem to think it is, the quickest solution would be to burn the school down." She still wouldn't look up from her comic, glancing over, it turned out to be the Watchstallions. Silver Spoon always hated that one, it was so irredeemably hopeless, but Diamond Tiara read it over and over again, monthly, it seemed, only ceasing during the period when the play based on it was at the height of it's popularity and everypony else glommed onto it.

"I thought of that, but the blank flanks saw you."

"Collateral damage and scapegoats all rolled into three." She coldly stated, though her friend knew she didn't mean it, she just said it for shock value, but it did work, a bit. Diamond often came up with some truly ghastly thoughts and expressed them freely to Silver Spoon, generally she knew her friend had the same ones but had simply suppressed them as too untoward to reveal, even to her.

The grey filly scuffed her hooves and let her ears drop back, "Well, if I might ask, what is it you do intend to do?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing? You can't not do anything, it's just a matter of time before you're caught and then who knows what'll happen!"

"I really wanted to keep you from coming in here tonight and demanding silly answers to stupid questions I'm not in the mood to bother with. Why don't you just see yourself out?" Diamond reached for the silver bell that would summon the butler but never made it.

"So that's it? You really mean to throw your best friend out instead of talking about this? If you can treat me this way, are we even friends at all?"

She shrugged, "I made a threat, as you recall. I told you that if you wanted to be my friend you'd better show up and be a lookout, and because you didn't...Well I'm not sure I can really blame you as much as all that, it's just bad luck, I guess, but still, a threat is like a promise. I intend to keep it or no threat I ever make in the future will be worth the syllables it takes to make it. "

"So...you're saying you don't want to be my friend anymore?"

Her eyes flicked up for the barest moment, full of hurt and confusion, but they just as quickly returned to the pages before her, "We'll just have to see. The question may be moot."

"Because your dad's going to ship you off to boarding school in Canterlot for good like he's threatened ever since what happened with your mom? You think he'll hold his threats as dear as promises too?" A quick glance was all it took to verify that hypothesis, "We can still be friends, I'll write you every day, and you can write me too, whenever you have time."

"That sounds dreadful. Just really, really awful." She finally shut the comic and looked up coldly, "Look, long distance relationships never work, there's no point in pretending they will."

Silver Spoon was too incensed to even speak. She scooped up the proffered book, flung it at her and was out the door before seeing if it hit it's mark. Before she even made it home she was second guessing herself, giving Diamond the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was being that way to make it easier when they inevitably had to part ways. Was she that manipulative, that kind? It was always so hard to tell with her what emotions were false and which were genuine, or maybe she ascribed to her friend a ruthless cunning she didn't truly possess and she'd simply been enthralled by her self assured personality. What if the depth she'd inferred all this time was nothing but an illusion and Diamond Tiara really was the monster she appeared to be?

Among all the fillies in Ponyville there was only the one who ever even understood Silver Spoon, or seemed to, and she'd hitched her star to that rather abusive wagon. It was too late and too hard to disentangle her heart, no matter what happened. Through a veil of tears dripping on uneven cobbles and foalish mementos etched in concrete, she slipped in the back door of her home, ill prepared for the morning and the brief moment around which, she imagined an entire future pivoted.