• Published 24th Apr 2014
  • 6,580 Views, 427 Comments

Floret - Crystal Moose

Apple Bloom was expecting to find out about the niece she never knew existed. What Applejack shares with her, a secret she held for so many years, threatens to shake Apple Bloom’s world.

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Chapter One

The tense atmosphere at the kitchen table was nearly palpable. Granny Smith had silently served the apple pie, a large plateful for each member of the family. Despite their normally voracious appetites, none of the Apple family seemed particularly interested in dinner.

Apple Bloom sat at the kitchen table, idly playing with the pie crust on her plate. She had hardly made a dent in her apple pie; she didn’t feel overly hungry at the moment.

At the moment, she only felt hurt, confused… and angry.

They have to be lying… they just have to!

“May Ah be excused from the table, Granny?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Are ya sure yer not still hungry?” Granny asked, a frown wrinkling her already well-aged brow. “Ya barely touched yer dinner.”

“Ah’m full, thank you.” Apple Bloom stared quietly into her dinner, waiting for permission to leave. Please, Granny. Ah gotta get outta here.

“Okay then, little filly,” the matriarch responded. “Be sure to be back b’fore sundown.”

Apple Bloom pushed herself away from the table and hopped to the floor. She couldn’t look back… she didn’t want to see her… family… right now. As soon as the door closed behind her, she galloped down the path toward the clubhouse.

“So when are we going to meet your niece?” Sweetie Belle squealed as she trotted into the clubhouse.

Applebloom winced. “Uhhh, you won’t be meeting her. Applejack was just joking.”

“Huh?” Sweetie Belle asked. “She was joking? She didn’t sound like she was joking.”

“Nope!” Apple Bloom nodded. “It was all a joke! No niece, nothin’ strange at all. Just me, Granny, Big Mac and… Applejack. Mah big sister. Yep!”

“Awww, I was really hoping for another Cutie Mark Crusader.” Scootaloo slumped down. “I was hoping she might have had some more ideas.” She looked at the checklist nailed to the wall of the clubhouse; there was a depressingly large number of red crosses next to many of the ideas.

“Hmmm… Applejack didn’t sound like she was joking,” Sweetie Belle continued. “What kind of joke makes somepony cry? It doesn’t sound like a very nice joke.”

“Diamond Tiara would probably like it, then…” Scootaloo huffed.

“And Rarity came to visit me at dinner; she seemed really sad, and was a lot… huggier than normal.”

“She lives in Manehattan!” Apple Bloom practically shouted.

“No she doesn’t,” Scootaloo replied, shaking her head. “Rarity lives here in Ponyville.”

“Yeah, you’ve been to her house…” Sweetie Belle added, staring at her friend with a raised eyebrow. “She lives above her shop, remember?”

“N-No…” Apple Bloom stammered. “Mah niece. S-She—”

“I don’t get it…” Sweetie Belle furrowed her brow. “I thought you said it was a joke?”

“Ah was… joking?”

Scootaloo trotted determinedly towards Apple Bloom. She cast a glance over the filly, lifting her hooves, inspecting her forehead. Scootaloo even forced Apple Bloom to open her mouth, staring deep inside, thoroughly checking every inch of her friend’s apple-scented mouth.

“Welp, she’s not a changeling… and she’s not Diamond Tiara in disguise,” Scootaloo informed Sweetie Belle. “So I don’t know why in Equestria she thought that was a joke.”

“Maybe she’s sick?” Sweetie Belle asked. “Ooooh, did we try getting our cutie marks being doctors yet?”

Scootaloo looked to the checklist on the wall. “Yeah, and Dr. Stable said we weren’t allowed to practice medicine without a licence anymore.”

“So then what else are we gunna try to get our cutie marks in?” Apple Bloom asked, silently breathing a sigh of relief.

Scootaloo turned back to Apple Bloom with a critical eye. “How about… Cutie Mark Crusaders Truth… uhh, Tellers?”

Sweetie Belle couldn’t help but add the instinctual “Yay!” at the end.

“Ah’m not sure Ah—”

“I’ll go first…” Scootaloo scratched her chin. “Oooooookay. The reason I never invite you girls around to my house is b-b-because…”

Both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle looked towards their friend. Apple Bloom had always wondered why they never seemed to meet at Scootaloo’s house. In fact, they’d only been there once, when they were trying to get her to come to the flag-waving tryouts.

“Becausemyparentsarecompletedorks!” Scootaloo burst out. She looked imploringly to her friends. “Pleeeeeeease don’t tell Rainbow Dash.”

“Oooh! Oooh! I’ve got one!” Sweetie Belle hopped up and down on her haunches. “I once broke Rarity’s porcelain mirror she got from Saddle Arabia…” She gulped. “A-and blamed it on Opalescence,” she finished with a nervous grin.

“Ah don’t—”

Scootaloo looked to her flank, a disappointed look across her face when she saw no cutie mark. Sweetie Belle repeated the motion, and teared up a little at her own blank flank.

“Well, Sweetie Belle and I aren’t cutie mark crusader truth-tellers—”

Sweetie Belle interrupted with another “Yay!

“—but not everypony here has tried yet.”

Apple Bloom scowled at Scootaloo. “That’s a pretty dirty trick.”

“Trick?” Scootaloo replied, wearing her most innocent face. Apple Bloom had seen that face many times when they’d tried to get out of blame, so she wasn’t fooled. “No tricks here, no siree!”

“Hey!” Sweetie Belle squeaked. “You might be able to get a cutie mark in truth-telling. It runs in your family, after all.”

“Shut up!” Apple Bloom yelled. “Ah don’t gotta say nothin’! Just… just leave me alone!

Apple Bloom stood, bucking the door open before she stormed out of the clubhouse. She lept to the ground, silently cursing as she hurt a hoof on landing, then continued towards the treeline before Traitor-loo or… or… Oblivious Belle… could follow her.

She silently wandered around the orchard, not knowing where to go. Every now and then, she would stop to buck one of the trees. She reasoned it was something to do, and might even help get her cutie mark, but she knew the truth was that it was a way of venting her frustration.

“Now Apple Bloom,” Applejack scolded the filly. “Ya shouldn’t be angry when ya buck the trees. Some might say it’s silly, but Sweet Apple Acres have the best apples because of the love we put into ‘em!”

Apple Bloom stared at the tree, unsure how she could kick something with love.

“Remember, little sis… these trees are just like fami—”

Apple Bloom screamed as she bucked the tree next to her (Wilson, if she recalled correctly) as hard as she could. Wilson did not give up any of his apples, and Apple Bloom only succeeded in hurting another hoof.

Frustrated, she turned back towards the treehouse. She’d been gone for a while; hopefully Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle had already left.

As Apple Bloom approached the clubhouse, she could hear their voices as Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo descended the ramp. She dove for a shrub, hoping neither of them would spot her.

“Ugh,” Scootaloo groaned. “Can we please stop talking about my parents?”

“But why are they dorks?” Sweetie Belle persisted.

“They… they’re just really into this really dumb game.” Scootaloo kicked at the dirt. “They met at a big competition in Vanhoover. They were national champions… that’s their special talents.”

Sweetie Belle’s squeal of delight pierced the night air. “Could we get our cutie marks in it? Have we tried it yet? What game is it?”

“There is no way I am getting a cutie mark in playing Witchcraft: the Herding!” Scootaloo groaned. “Soooooooo dorky!

Apple Bloom held her breath, wary of making even the slightest sound as her friends trotted back towards town. Once she was certain they were out of earshot, she crept back into the clubhouse. She couldn’t go home right now… she couldn’t stand to look at any of them.

It’s not funny.

It’s a stupid joke.

Why are they being so mean to me?

Dumb adults.

She leaned against the door of the clubhouse, which was slightly broken after her little bucking earlier, and watched the sun as it set over the western orchards. It was peaceful— no friends asking mean questions, no brothers or sisters telling mean lies… No Granny Smith serving apple pies.

Apple Bloom groaned as her stomach rumbled. She hadn’t felt like eating earlier, but her appetite was starting to come back. They always kept a fresh bowl of apples in the clubhouse (one of the perks of being at Sweet Apple Acres) so she tore into them with vigor.

As the cold night air descended, Apple Bloom pulled a blanket out of the Cutie Mark Crusader Camp-out Emergency Supply Box (yay!) and wrapped it around herself. She didn’t feel like going back to the farmhouse any longer.

Apple Bloom was certain she could wake up early and get to school before anypony noticed she was gone.

Apple Bloom stirred as a heavier blanket was draped over her shoulders. Bleary-eyed, she looked up to see Big Mac standing above her.

“Sorry, Apple Bloom. Di’n mean t’ wake ya,” he mumbled as he laid down beside her. “Ya hungry?”

Big Mac pulled a tin of apple fritters from the ridiculously small saddlebag slung over his croup. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, she realised it was her school saddlebag.

Apple Bloom quietly accepted the tin of fritters.

“Havin’ a campout t’night?”

Apple Bloom nodded.

“Well, so long as ya don’t stay up too late. Ya got school t’morrow.” Big Mac put the saddlebag on the ground, patting a hoof on it. “Packed yer lunch, and yer homework, so ya can get ta school t’morrow.”

“Thanks,” Apple Bloom mumbled as she avoided his gaze.

“You okay?”

Apple Bloom scooted away from him slightly before she replied. “Ah’m fine!”

“Ya sure ya don’t want ta talk—”

“Ah said Ah’m fine!”

Big Mac nodded. “Ah’m sure ya are… just— if you ever need me, Ah’ll be whoever you need me t’ be, big brother, or unc—”

“Ah don’t need ya t’ be anypony!” Apple Bloom yelled. “Yer mah big brother, so ya don’t need ta be anypony else ‘cuz Applejack is lying!”

“When does an Apple ever l—” Big Mac stopped and sighed. “Y’know, Apple Bloom… sometimes, ponies ain’t so nice t’ folk,” Big Mac said. “Ya know Dinky, th’ young filly in yer class?”

Apple Bloom nodded.

“Her momma was real young when she had Dinky, an’ a lotta folks ‘round here didn’t treat her none too kind. A lotta folks think that the only way a filly or colt can be raised healthy is fer a momma and poppa t’ be around, and not too young.”

Apple Bloom wasn’t sure what Big Mac was trying to say.

“Miss Doo told me once… she told me she were mighty scared. She didn’t have a family like ours t’ help her out, and she struggled. An’ Dinky still gets picked on, don’t she?”

Apple Bloom nodded… Dinky was a little strange, and a little quiet, and tended to get picked on at school even more than the Crusaders.

“Because of her momma, and b’cause some ponies ain’t nice t’ each other.” Big Mac sighed. “Her momma is one’a th’ bravest ponies Ah know… but not every pony is as brave as her. Ya understand what Ah’m saying?”

Apple Bloom shook her head. She didn’t really understand why her brother was bringing it up.

“Y’see, while Miss Doo didn’t have family t’ turn to, Applejack did. She was scared fer ya, that ya might get teased, or bullied, ‘cuz she was young. She weren’t as brave as Ditzy, an’ we agreed that maybe instead ya could be our li’l sister.

“Only a few ponies knew; old Pipe Down, when he were AJ’s teacher… and th’ Cakes… but most o’ the folk ‘round Ponyville just knew you as the youngest o’ Ma and Pa’s foals.”

“You’re lying!” Apple Bloom screamed, pushing her brother away. “You’re lying you’re lying you’re lying you’re lying!”

Big Mac pulled his sister into a hug, ignoring Apple Bloom’s furious hooves beating against his chest.

“Ah’m not lyin’, Bloom.” He pulled her close, stroking her mane as she sobbed. “But Ah’ll be yer big brother, yer uncle, whoever. Ah’ll always be Big McIntosh, and Ah’ll always be here for ya.”

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