• Published 10th May 2014
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Pound and Pumpkin Tales 1 - Never2muchpinkie

Set a few years into the future, six year old Pound and Pumpkin have a lot of growing up to do. They fight and make up, make mistakes and learn lessons, and love and protect each other as much as they get on each other's nerves.

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11-I Aftermath

Pound and Pumpkin were sitting in their parents laps, feeling their loving hold. Their eyes were closed, feeling alright with the world. Their parents didn’t hate them, and they didn’t hate their parents either.

Pound looked up into his mother’s eyes, red and tearstained like his own, but loving and kind all the same. “I love you, Mommy,” he said contentedly, giving her a little squeeze.

“And I love you too, my little Pound Cake,” she replied lovingly, holding him tighter.

Pumpkin was nuzzling her father, just enjoying the relaxing feelings.

Coming off the high of their second huge emotional breakdown of the evening they felt like they were all out of tears to cry. They were getting exhausted from all the negativity that had been going on, and it was already past the time they would usually be going to sleep.

Pound felt like he could just drift off, but in the back of his mind he knew he couldn’t go to sleep just yet. There were still some other ponies waiting for them.

With great reluctance he fought his rising desire to drift off, missing his mom’s hold immediately as he pulled out of it.

He crawled over to a forlorn Pinkie Pie, hugging her too. “I’m sorry,” he said sincerely. “I know we scared you and upset you.”

Pumpkin heard Pound’s words, and turned her head toward him. Just like her brother she was loathe to part from the comforting hold of her parent, but she also owed Pinkie an apology.

She joined Pound on Pinkie’s lap, hugging her also. “Yeah, I’m sorry. We just got so scared.”

Pinkie didn’t react at first, guilt overtaking her. “It should never have been this way,” she said quietly. “This was my fault. I got so upset that I completely failed you and led you to think I didn’t love you anymore. I was too late. If only I had realized sooner I could have stopped you and then you wouldn’t have had to suffer.”

Pound heard the dull tone in her voice. “It’s okay to cry, Pink-” he coughed, before correcting himself “-AUNTIE Pinkie!”

“Yeah!” Pumpkin agreed. “It helped us, Auntie Pinkie.”

She had gotten her family title back. That was a relief, but it also just added to her guilt. “Thanks, you guys, but haven’t we had enough crying for one night?”

“No!” they said simultaneously.

“Not if it’s making you sad,” said Pound.

“Just let it out!” said Pumpkin.

She looked down at the two of them, so eager to help her now. Once again she couldn’t help but think of how different things would have been if she had only come to see them a little bit earlier, and suddenly her emotions broke. “I’m so sorry!” she said in a broken voice as she pulled them hard to her and broke down crying.

Pound and Pumpkin both held onto her as she let her feelings go, not saying anything and just letting her vent. They just tried to put their love into their hugs, hoping that it would help to free her of her bad feelings like it had for them.

After a few minutes Pinkie began to compose herself. “All better?” Pound asked with a smile.

Pinkie sniffed, releasing her hold on him to wipe her face. “I guess so.”

“We all screwed up today, Auntie Pinkie, but I still love you,” said Pumpkin.

“Me too!” Pound added right after.

“Do you still love us?”

She squeezed them hard again. “Oh, of course I do! I’ve always loved you guys since the day you were born and I’ll love you until the day you die. Nothing is ever going to change that!”

They sank into her hold, just letting her come down from her emotional high, knowing how much of a relief it was to get it out.

Just as they were starting to drift off again there was that same nagging feeling from before, knowing there was still some unfinished business to attend to.

“Auntie Pinkie, are you feeling better now?” asked Pumpkin.

She let out a long, slow breath. “Yeah. I think I am. I’m just happy that you two are alright.”

“We’ll be back. We have to do something.”

Pumpkin looked at him, not wanting to leave Pinkie. She caught his eye, and saw him gesturing with his eyes. Pumpkin turned her head, and saw understanding go through her. She nodded. “We’ll be back.”

They both pulled away, getting onto the floor. Pinkie was reluctant to release them, but they had said they would come back to her.

Fluttershy had her head back in her chair, her eyes closed and gently humming to herself as she heard the sounds of reforming bonds. She felt like she was being watched, and opened her eyes, looking down at the twins. They were both looking anxiously at her, and she wondered what was causing their distress now.

Pound wordlessly gestured with his eyes a few times. When she followed his eyes they landed on Twilight. She could see they were a little more worried about their relationship with Twilight than their parents or Pinkie, as Twilight wasn’t part of their family. She gave a hearty nod, repeating her Pinkie Promise gesture and winking at them.

Looking slightly reassured the two walked up to Twilight, hanging their heads.

“Twilight,” Pound said quietly, “do you think we’re just bad kids?”

Twilight felt a pang in her heart to see the way the twins were looking at her. They seemed like they were still expecting her to explode on them. She thought they were past all this. They had settled things with everyone else so easily, and thought only an apology, some hugs, and maybe a few tears would be enough for her to do the same.

She mentally brought herself back to her center. It wouldn’t do to lose her head now. She had to remain focused. “Why are you asking me that?” she said in a patient voice. “You went to your parents and Pinkie Pie and made up with them easily. What makes me so different?”

They looked at each other, letting out little sighs. Wasn’t it obvious?

Despite wanting to avoid getting emotional she couldn’t help feeling a bit discouraged that they didn’t seem to want to give her a chance.

Fluttershy could see they were all having trouble knowing where to start. “Pound, Pumpkin. Can you come here, please?”

Relieved to be able to do something else for the moment they both turned around and went back to Fluttershy, sitting on her lap. They were both being restless, Pound holding her tightly and Pumpkin nuzzling her.

Lowering her voice to a whisper like before she asked, “What’s the matter, you guys? What’s stopping you from talking to Twilight?”

“She’s a princess,” Pound whispered back.

“And she’s not part of our family,” Pumpkin added.

“She doesn’t have to forgive us, or love us, or apologize.”

“I want you to listen to me very carefully, you two,” said Fluttershy. “Just do exactly what you were doing before. Speak your mind honestly, and don’t hold back. Twilight may be a princess, yes, but she’s also a pony just like you and me. She isn’t so arrogant as to look down on others because she’s royalty. She tries to treat every pony equally.

“I understand that it can be a little scary, but I already gave you my word that I’d help you and protect you no matter what. I’m one of Twilight’s oldest friends, and she’ll listen to me if I speak. She wants things to end peacefully as much as you do.

“Now, I’ll hold you guys for a little while longer, but then I want you to go talk to Twilight. She hates the ponies closest to her treating her different because she’s a princess. It’s very uncomfortable to her. Just talk to her like you would talk to me. If you trust me and believe in me then just say what’s really on your mind. It’ll be okay.”

She set them down on the floor, and with a trace of reluctance headed back to Twilight.

“Come up here, you two,” said Twilight, determined to make things right. The pair looked at each other uncertainly before complying. “Please, I‘m begging you. Just talk to me honestly. I want to follow Fluttershy’s example here and just avoid judgment or punishment. Why are you finding it so much harder to believe that I can let things go than Pinkie or your parents?”

Pound shrugged noncommittally. “You have a lot more power and importance than they do. Our parents can ground us, but you could have us banished from Equestria.”

His matter of fact tone hit her hard in the gut, like he had no doubts that that was one of her planned courses of action. Did they really think that she was that kind of pony? “I’ve never banished anyone!”

Pumpkin shrugged as well. “It’s never too late to start.”

Twilight found herself perplexed. It occurred to her that her experience with friendship largely was with ponies around her age. She’d also had to deal with Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle on occasion, but it seemed that even that small age difference between the girls and the twins was huge. She’d never had to deal with extremely young kids before, and she was starting to realize that they thought and acted very differently. She thought that this was a huge gap in her education as a harbinger of friendship.

She mentally shifted her thoughts, realizing that she really was different from everyone else in the room. They all had more experience dealing with the little ones than she did. She looked at Fluttershy, thinking about how she had gotten through to them: listening without judgment.

“I understand now. You think I go by a 'might makes right' philosophy? I’m a princess, so I can override your parents?” They both nodded. “Okay. I can understand why you might feel that way, but I’m not like that. Your parents are your authority over you. I wouldn’t interfere with that because it’s not my place to. I’m the Princess of Friendship, not a dictator who orders others around.

“It was never my intention to cause you such pain. I’m no different than any of the other ponies here. I want to make up and be friends again.” They both looked at her blankly, and Twilight wasn’t sure how to proceed.

Pound sighed. “Why would you want to forgive us? We made you look bad in front of the principal.”

“Yeah,” Pumpkin said. “You already told us you think we’re bad ponies.”

“No, I didn’t!” Twilight said quickly. “I never said anything like that.”

Pumpkin narrowed her eyes. “Oh, don’t lie. When you came here before you asked what kind of ponies were you sending to the school.”

“Ah!” Something clicked in Twilight’s mind, and she felt like she finally understood what was going through their minds. “The principal asked me that, yes, but is that what you were thinking? You think that I was mad at you because you 'made me look bad?'” More nods. Twilight felt relieved. “Pound, Pumpkin, that had absolutely nothing to do with why I was mad at you.” Skeptical looks followed that statement. “Honestly.”

“So then why WERE you mad?” Pound asked, his cheeks puffing up again.

“I wasn’t mad so much as I was disappointed. Do you remember why I recommended you to Magic Kindergarten in the first place?”

Pumpkin spoke up, sounding a little scared. “B-because I hurt Pound with my magic, and I didn’t want to ever use it again.”

“Yes. And I helped you to see that your magic is a part of you just like your legs and eyes. Not wanting to force anything upon you I asked the two of you what YOU thought about going to Magic Kindergarten and learning about your special gifts and it made me so happy to see your reaction.”

“Huh?” Pound saw her looking at them with that same bright, tender look his mother had given him, a tear coming down her eye. Although he didn’t understand why he stopped feeling so defensive.

“The both of you were hopping up and down in excitement, ecstatic to think of going to school and learning all that you could learn. You wanted it badly, and just seeing that made me feel so happy, my stomach churning with excitement and joy, because you reminded me of myself when I was your age.”

“We did?” Pound asked in surprise.

“Really?” asked Pumpkin. Both of them were shocked, interest wiping out their apathy.

“Yes.” Twilight nodded. “I studied hard to learn all I could about magic, reading all that I could with the hopes of getting into Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. One of the most important duties of being a princess is to watch the next generation and make sure they’re growing up and learning well. Seeing how eager you were to learn filled me with great joy, and I knew that you two could handle it.”

Her smile faded, and she let out a small sigh. “I had a busy day, but I couldn’t stop thinking about you two, wondering what you were up to. Then I got the note telling me you got into a brawl with the other students and they didn’t want you in the school anymore.”

The twins felt their guilt returning, before Twilight suddenly held the two of them to her. It felt strangely comforting.

“I wasn’t mad at YOU. I was upset because I was worried about your future. They really wanted to expel you and not take you back. It took me almost an hour to convince them to lower your punishment to a week’s suspension. Knowledge is power. The more you know the better prepared you are to make intelligent decisions and the better the chances that you’ll live a great life.

“On the flip side, not knowing anything and a lack of knowledge leads to inexperience and the likelihood of making bad decisions and others looking down on you.”

Twilight sniffed, and the two of them looked up at her, surprised at the tears brimming in her eyes. “I’m so sorry!” she said emotionally. “I never meant to make you feel so horrible. I just want to see you excel and grow into your best selves. I didn’t want to make you feel worthless and bad and think that you should be banished. Please forgive me!”

They had made a princess cry. That was bad. “C-come on, Twilight,” Pound said, shaking a little. “It’s okay.”

“D-don’t cry,” said Pumpkin, patting her shoulder.

It seemed like she was going from bad to worse with them. They looked more nervous than ever. Getting an idea she wiped her eyes. “That’s it. I know what to do.”

They both shrank away from her, hoping the answer wasn’t banishment.

Picking them up she flew over to Fluttershy, setting them down in her lap. “Hold onto them for a minute. I’ll be right back.”

With a flash she disappeared. About a minute later she teleported back into the room, holding a book, a quill, and some ink.

Lying down on the floor she said, “Come here, you two. I have something to show you.”

Curiosity overtaking them they hopped off of Fluttershy’s lap. They saw a book with a horseshoe on the front. On the side were mouth written letters saying, “Friendship journal volume 6.”

“What’s that?” asked Pound.

Twilight flipped through about half of the book before coming upon a set of blank pages. “Would you like to help me?”

“With what?” asked Pumpkin.

“How can we help YOU?” asked Pound. “You’re bigger and stronger and smarter than us."

“That doesn’t matter,” Twilight replied. “I need your help for this.”

Looking at each other for a moment they both got down on their bellies like Twilight. “Okay.”

“When I first came to Ponyville I knew very little about friendship, and it wasn’t very important to me. It was by working with Pinkie and the rest of our friends and stopping Nightmare Moon that I came to learn the importance of friendship, and Princess Celestia had me write letters to her telling her important things I’d learned about the magic of friendship.

“Later on, after a certain incident, my friends began to join in the letter writing. After I became a princess the letters to Celestia stopped, as I was now a teacher of friendship instead of a learner. When investigating the old castle of Princess Celestia and Luna I found their diary, and we decided to continue the letter writing ceremony, keeping it as a reminder of where we’d come from and where we were heading.”

She flipped backwards to various entries, showing several distinct writing styles. “By checking this book from time to time we remember the ponies we used to be, as well as the ponies we became. We see the mistakes we made, and the way we improved. By reading entries made by others we may see our own similar mistakes made by others, or we may see something we never dealt with ourselves, but may come up in the future. By learning from something that someone else went through it may very well help us avoid making their mistakes.”

Pulling the book toward themselves she saw them flipping through and reading some of the entries. They looked completely captivated.

After giving them some time she gave a gentle tug to the book and they looked back up at her as she returned the book to the blank pages. “You two have taught me something important today, and so I want to add to our friendship journal.”

Twilight used her magic, dipping her quill into the ink. As she began to speak she directed her quill to the page, writing the words. “Dear diary, as a princess a lot is expected of me. As the years pass I begin feeling comfortable with where I’m at, sometimes feeling like I’ve learned all I need to about friendship and what it means. Naturally, every time I start to think that I’m proven wrong shortly afterward, and I’m taught that there is much I still have to learn.

“Today, I learned that I have remarkably little experience with very small children. As my good friend Fluttershy told me, their tiny size hides the depth of their hearts. They feel and love and hurt just as much, if not even more, than we adults do. In a world where they’re still learning their place, Pound and Pumpkin Cake taught me that I need a greater understanding of what it means to be an effective leader to ALL ponies of EVERY age, not just those around my age.

"From the big to the small, from the elderly to the toddlers, every pony deserves respect and understanding. And in that regard I failed to do that with the two of them, conveying an impression of hatred and not being clear enough on how I felt to those least able to understand.

“My experience with the two of them makes me want to work even harder to grow my understanding of those I have the least interaction with, so that I never wind up making other ponies feel the same way again.

“Signed, Twilight Sparkle.”

She saw the both of them looking at her uncertainly. “You two have helped me see I still have a long way to go, and I bear you no grudges. So now… as I said before I need your help. Do you still want to help?”

They hesitated for a few moments before nodding. She pointed to the other blank page. “I’d like you to add an entry to the friendship journal and tell others what you learned today.”

Their eyes almost bugged out of their heads. “US?” Pound sputtered out.

Pumpkin just stared at her open mouthed.

Twilight nodded. “That’s right.”

“B-b-but we’re just little kids!”

“And you’re a princess!” said Pumpkin.

Twilight nodded again. “Correct, and I value your words as much as my own. I became a princess through observing and listening and interacting with others, and learning the lessons those events brought about. You are just as important as me, princess or not. We’re all ponies, regardless of race, and each of us has great value and lessons to teach, and I want to save your words and lessons for future generations to benefit from. Even the smallest and weakest ponies have something important to teach, just like you taught me today. Now I’d like you to help out others with the words of your heart.”

Tears began to brim in their eyes. Even though they thought they were out of tears to cry they still began to bawl once again as they ran over to Twilight and hugged her.

Twilight shifted her position so she could hold them back, hoping that she had finally gotten through to them. Now hopefully they would listen to her.

When they began to settle down Twilight said, “Listen up, you two. In response to your question earlier my answer is no. I don’t think you’re bad ponies at all. There is a big difference between a bad PONY and a bad ACTION. Every pony in this room, me included, has done a LOT of bad things in their lives. We’ve gotten angry, said nasty things, lost our tempers, fought with friends and loved ones, made wrong assumptions, held grudges, and so on. No pony is perfect, and we all screw up many times. What separates a bad pony from a bad action is one very important thing. Do you know what that is?”

Pound shook his head.

“W-what?” Pumpkin asked, wiping her eyes.

“Guilt and remorse. It might not come out right away, but so long as you feel bad for hurting others you’re not a bad pony. You’re just a good pony that lost control.”

The two of them seemed intrigued by her words. “Just a good pony… that lost control?” Pound said slowly.

“So… it’s… okay… for us to screw up?” asked Pumpkin.

“Yes.” Twilight nodded. “However… that DOESN’T mean you’re not going to get punished for your actions. When you do bad things there need to be consequences, otherwise you wouldn’t have to care that you hurt someone else.”

Neither of them seemed bothered by that last bit. They liked her explanation. Pound put his hoof over his heart, feeling a strange excitement. He wasn’t bad. He just made a mistake.

Pumpkin was feeling much the same. She let out an innocent giggle.

Twilight put them down. “Are you ready?” They both nodded heartily, their cheeks bright with passion. “Well, I hope this won’t bother you, but if you want to teach others they need to understand what you’re saying. Your writing still needs some work. Would it be alright if you say the words, and I write it down?”

They both nodded, not caring. “I’ll start!” Pound said excitedly. “Hi there! It’s me, Pound Cake.”

“And Pumpkin Cake!” she added.

Twilight began to write.

“Today was a big day. We got to go to school, but we wound up getting into a fight and kicked out.”

“We got yelled at by, like, everyone, and we thought we weren’t wanted anymore.”

“We ran away from home, but we ran into Fluttershy, and she taught us that even if you screw up really badly, that ponies can still love you even if you do a really bad thing.”

“And we learned that even your parents and princesses aren’t perfect, and they can make mistakes too.”

“But we can all still love each other even though we get mad and upset.”

“And we learned that being a bad pony is different than doing something bad.”

“So long as you feel bad and apologize and cry together you can still be friends and you’re not a bad pony. You’re just a good pony who made a mistake.”

“And you still deserve to be loved and hugged and kissed and tucked into bed.”

“Signed, Pound Cake!”

“And Pumpkin Cake!”

As Twilight finished she couldn’t help but feel her heart soaring. The two of them had the biggest, purest grins on their faces. Their eyes were alight with joy, their cheeks still red with happiness and contentment.

She closed the book. “Thanks, you guys. This could come in very handy to a filly or colt who wonders if they are a bad pony.”

They both blushed, Pound rubbing his head bashfully as Pumpkin giggled again.

“Our words are right next to a princesses,” Pound said blissfully.

“And one day we might help some other pony in need of help,” Pumpkin replied in the same tone.

The pair looked on top of the world, having finally resolved all their issues.

Pinkie got off the couch, heading to the two of them and nuzzling them. “Hey, you guys. Now that everything is alright I think it’s time we go to bed. You have to be pretty wiped out. You can sleep with me tonight. It would make me feel better.”

They both looked at each other and gasped in delight. “Sleepover with Auntie Pinkie!” They slapped their hooves together, running to their parents, Twilight, and Fluttershy and giving them a quick “Goodnight!” before zooming away, bounding up the stairs in a manner reminiscent of Pinkie and laughing their heads off.

Twilight playfully rolled her eyes. “Wiped out nothing. I doubt they’re going to go to sleep any time soon.”

Fluttershy walked over to Twilight and gave her a hug. “That was genius, Twilight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the twins so happy.”

She hugged Fluttershy back. “I’m a little surprised myself how effective it was. I guess at that age the only thing that really matters to them is feeling valued and loved. Feeling so powerless compared to older ponies it’s probably the only thing that keeps them going.”

Letting her friend go she turned to Cup Cake and Carrot Cake. “I’d like to spend this week of their suspension getting to know them better, if that’s okay with you.”

“O-oh, of course, Princess,” responded Cup Cake.

“As I said in my note I have very little experience with the very small ones, and I can’t let that gap stay unfilled. If I had known more about their age group I would have been more tactful. It would also be prudent to teach them about more effective means of resolving their issues so they don’t turn to violence to solve their problems.”

“That would be better,” agreed Pinkie.

“I think with all the terrible feelings that have been going on tonight that they’ve been punished enough for their actions. It would be a much more effective 'punishment' to teach them how to behave better and to funnel their feelings into more productive areas. I’ll be back tomorrow when time permits.”

“I should go too,” said Fluttershy. “Good night, everyone.”

"I'll take you home, Fluttershy. It's still pouring outside." With a burst of magic the two of them disappeared.

"Uh-oh," said Pinkie.

"What uh-oh?" Cup Cake asked. "Please tell me there aren't any more disasters."

"I helped Pumpkin to stop being afraid of storms, but Pound is probably still terrified and my room is on the top floor. I better go check on him."

Pinkie went upstairs to her room, hoping to see them hopping up and down on the bed. When she got there she could see Pound shaking on the bed, and Pumpkin talking to him.

“Bowling alley?” Pound asked.

“Yeah,” Pumpkin replied. "If you make your fear into something silly like that it's impossible to still be afraid of it."

Pinkie gently giggled to herself as she saw Pumpkin helping Pound past his fear of thunderstorms the same way that she had taught the filly. She elected to watch to see if it would work, so that Pound wouldn’t have to rely on her for comfort.

When the next rumble of thunder rang out and it got a little laugh out of Pound she smiled contentedly as she entered the room, thinking that he wouldn’t be afraid anymore.

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