• 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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14-2: The sorrowful tale

Pound and Twilight walked through town, following Pinkie’s directions to Tree Leaf’s house. Pound was being totally silent, walking next to her with a downcast expression as he stared at the ground, not paying any attention to where they were going.

His stomach was churning and in knots. He still didn’t know about this. What if things went horribly wrong? Would he let things go with Tree Leaf simply because he wanted Tree Leaf not to seek revenge on Pumpkin?

The relative quiet of the town and his painful inner thoughts made him want to talk about something, anything, to get his mind off his upcoming visit.

“Twilight?” he said.

“Yes, Pound?”

“Um… uh…” He cast around for conversation ideas until he hit upon something. “Twilight, can you tell me about Moondancer?”

“What!” Twilight stumbled a bit at the totally unexpected question before stopping in place. “Where did you hear about her?”

Pound stopped too. “Well, when Rainbow Dash was talking to me and helping me she told me that if I didn’t trust anyone then I’d wind up like Moondancer. She told me some basic stuff, but Moondancer was your friend, so I thought you could tell me more about what happened between you two.”

Twilight let out a heavy breath, jerking her head. “Come on. Let’s keep walking. I’ll tell you on the way.” As the two began walking again Twilight asked in a blunt voice, “So what did Rainbow Dash tell you happened?”

“She said something like you didn’t come to some party she threw and she was hurt by that and gave up on ponies.”

Twilight closed her eyes for a few moments and sighed. “Before I moved to Ponyville I had a small group of friends. Back then I didn’t care much about friendship, so I spent the majority of my time studying. Even when we went out and hung together I would usually have a book handy to bury myself into.

“We were all part of Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. Moondancer was more like me than the rest of them. By some odd coincidence we had the same streaks in our manes and even styled our manes the same.” Her horn lit up as she summoned a mental projection of her. “When she got older she changed things up a bit.” A picture of Moondancer with her sweater and her mane pulled up and held in place by a hair clip appeared next to it.

Pound looked at the filly Moondancer and then the older one. Aside from their mane and coat colors they were basically identical. The older Moondancer had stray hairs sticking out, her sweater worn and faded, and a detached look about her. The difference between the two was stunning.

Dissipating the image Twilight continued, “Moondancer and I were a lot alike in more than just looks. We both had an inordinate amount of love for studying and gaining knowledge, wanting to be the best we could be.

“A few years later things hadn’t changed much. I was still hanging out with my friends on occasion, but I began to put much more emphasis on studying than friends and started to see them less. Being Celestia’s personal student… well, I think it gave me a little bit of an ego. I didn’t show off or brag or anything like that, but I always put Celestia first and strove to impress her, not realizing that my friends were missing me, as they never said anything about it.

“When I read about Nightmare Moon and got the command from Princess Celestia to oversee preparations for the Summer Sun celebration I left Canterlot and headed straight to Ponyville, not saying goodbye to any of them, and as I was living in Ponyville after that I didn’t take the time to tell them I wasn’t returning.”

“I thought they were your friends!” Pound said, sounding offended.

Twilight let out a good-natured sigh. “Before I came to Ponyville I just didn’t think much about my friends, or devote much time to them. It was only after working together to defeat Nightmare Moon’s traps that my heart began to open and I saw the value of what I hadn’t thought was important before.

“After my ascension to princess Spike pointed out how I’d grown into a great friend instead of a terrible one like I was to my Canterlot friends, and that made me realize just how right he was. Even as I was in Ponyville learning about friendship, and the various times I had to visit Canterlot, I never once gave them a thought until Spike pointed it out. I knew then that I had to go make amends.

“For most of my friends it wasn’t a big deal to them. Here I was, giving this big tearful apology about how I had probably hurt them really badly, and they laughed it off.”

“They laughed at your apology?” Pound asked. “Maybe they were mad at you but they were afraid to yell at you because you’re a princess."

Twilight’s smile became strained. “No. As horrible as it is to say they weren’t mad, because they were so used to me ignoring them and snubbing them that it was just another instance of it to them. You might be right that me becoming a princess might have played a part in them getting over it so easily.”

Twilight paused in her steps, looking down at the ground with a sigh.

“Twilight?” Pound said questioningly as he stopped.

It took a little while for her to answer. She looked over at him. “I never said I was perfect, Pound. I saw I was never REALLY friends with them at all. I just thought we were. A friend should never be so used to you neglecting and snubbing them that it’s considered normal.

“And then, of course, there’s Moondancer, the biggest failure of my life.” She shook her head and started walking again, her heart burning just as it had back then. “She was the closest I had to a friend, as we had a mutual love of learning and studying, and would often 'argue' over facts and knowledge, challenging each other to be our best. Moondancer took my leaving the hardest, because she was the least sociable of us besides me. I at least had the knowledge that I was Celestia’s personal student to boost me up when I was down, but she didn’t even have that.”

A tear came down her face and she sniffed as she paused again.

Pound looked over at her, and he felt a little embarrassed he had made her cry. “Twilight, I’m-”

“No, don’t.” She shook her head. “This is not your fault.

“She held onto the hurt of me leaving, slowly distancing herself from everyone until she was all alone.”

Pound felt a tingle in his stomach. “That’s… kinda like I was trying to do.”

“I betrayed her, much like Tree Leaf did to you, and she wound up suffering greatly for it.” More tears came down her eyes, her head bowed. “I never meant to do it, but I set her off on a dark path. She spent her days doing nothing but studying and reading. She got some support from her parents, but didn’t care enough about anything to put the effort into it. She didn’t upkeep her house, haphazardly tied up her mane so she didn’t have to put in the work to style it, and the shirt she chose to wear was probably on the brink of tearing apart.”

Pound was feeling really awkward now. A few times he lifted his hoof, wondering if he was going to offend her, before he gently placed it on her head and rubbed it.

Twilight lifted her eyes to him, and Pound jerked back, looking afraid. Twilight put her hooves out to him and hugged him. “Thank you, Pound.”

Relief flowed through him as he hugged her back. “You’re welcome.”

Releasing him she continued on, “I tried to fix things up with her, but she rebuffed all my attempts. I managed to impress her with a spell of mine, and she expressed interest in learning it. I told her I would if she came out on an outing with our old friends. It was… very awkward, to say the least, and she wound up leaving halfway through.

“I was about ready to give up, unsure of how to get through to her, when I got the idea to grab Pinkie Pie and try to recreate the party we never got to have together.”

She stopped talking, and Pound saw she was crying again. “She finally opened up, and really let me have it, telling me just what my leaving did to her and how it made her feel. She told me that I made her feel like she had no value, and that I gave her an expectation that putting trust in other ponies would only lead to failure and disappointments, so she just stopped trying after that.”

She gulped, putting a hoof to her eyes as she began quietly crying. Pound quickly hugged her again. “D-don’t cry, Twilight.”

“I almost ruined her life with my thoughtlessness. Even now, years later, it still chills me to the depths of my soul to think about how much I hurt her. If… if Spike hadn’t brought it up, she might have spent the rest of her life totally empty and avoiding any kind of relationships.”

Pulling him close to her the tears kept falling. “That-” she sniffed “-was the first time I really understood what being a princess meant. I realized that actions that seem little or ordinary to you can have big consequences for others when you don’t consider their feelings. I have to do my best to watch what I say, because I’m now a role model for everyone in town, and they’ll model my behavior as right. That’s why I have to do my best to avoid other ponies growing up like Moondancer.

“And maybe… maybe that’s why I was so focused on helping you, because I hurt you with my actions just like I did to her. Of course you got in trouble before I got there, but my words pushed you over the edge and wound up causing you to run away from home.” She sighed, feeling disgusted with herself.

“B-but it wasn’t all your fault, Twilight,” Pound replied, not wanting her to beat herself up. “Like you said, other ponies got us upset before you got there. If it had been you first it would have been our parents that made us run away, right?”

Twilight shook her head. “That’s not the point. As a princess the lessons I’ve learned are supposed to hone me and make me better. Naturally I was angry and scolded you. That would be expected. But later on, when I first heard you had ran away, I just got irritated. I thought you were only running away from your punishment and trying to avoid responsibility. Once again Spike had to wake me up, reminding me of how I had once drove him to run away by making him feel like he wasn’t needed anymore.”

She suddenly released him and started walking again.

Pound quickly hurried to match pace with her. “H-hey!” he said, but she ignored him.

In a short voice she said, “I can’t be this way, just forgetting the lessons I’ve learned as I grew up.”

She looked to be in a foul mood now, and Pound was feeling more and more awkward. What should he do? What COULD he do? She was so much older than him, with so much more experience and knowledge, and he was just a little kid. He didn’t know how to help solve her problems. He could barely solve his own. At the least he could try the whole listening without judgment thing his parents and Fluttershy had been using on him.

“Twilight, um…” The role reversal of what he was trying to do humbled him, and the words to say just wouldn’t come.

He looked down, feeling lost, trying to think of something meaningful to say. He had one idea, but he didn’t know if it was going to work. It wasn’t directly addressing her problem, but it might help.

He ran ahead a little bit so he was in front of her, and stopped in front of her. “Twilight?”

She showed every sign of being about to walk around him, but then she came to a halt. “Yes, Pound?”

He closed the small gap between them and put his hooves around her. He wasn’t tall enough to reach her neck, so he just splayed his hooves across her chest and said, “I love you, Twilight!

“You taught me a better way of keeping my sister safe, and you’re helping me to grow up. You’re a fantastic princess.”

She grimaced, her body tensing as her eyes filled with tears before she broke down, holding him close to her again as she released her emotions. “T-thank you, P-Pound,” she stuttered out, holding him lovingly.

Pound held her back as tight as he could, wanting her to feel loved. “No pony is perfect. Just like you told me. We all make mistakes and forget things, and then we talk it over and cry and we get over it and be friends again. Right?”

She got a small smile on her face. “Right,” she said. “I… I’m just… I’m still not used to all of this. Ponies all over expecting so much of me, and the knowledge that my actions devastated Moondancer just makes me think of what I could do to some other pony. It can just get so overwhelming sometimes.”

Pound began to rub her back, nuzzling her neck. “It’ll be okay, Twilight. That’s why you have all of us, remember?”

Despite her pain she couldn’t help but admire how Pound understood a lot more than most others would give him credit for. Under his pride and brash, confrontational side was the shape of the hearts she hoped to bring about, and it was calming her down. When he had an outlet for his feelings and was calm he was truly an exemplary pony for his age.

She set him down on the ground, nuzzling his face. “Thank you, Pound. That means a lot to me. I do need my time of being a normal pony. That’s why none of my friends go around calling my Princess Twilight the majority of the time.”

Wiping her eyes she said, “Ah, it’s good to have a nice cry every once in a while. You’re right, Pound. I’m not perfect, and I never will be, but I need to pay more attention to my attitudes and the way I conduct myself around others, especially the vulnerable young ones who need the most guidance. Ponies like you, that need a lot of support when you start getting down. You came close to giving up on friendship much like Moondancer, but you pulled through because of the variety of friends you have and their varied experiences.

“Granted, I don’t know much about him, but Tree Leaf might be going the same way, and I would much rather have him learn and grow like you did than to sit around being punished.”

“You told me that you’re certain that I can handle it,” Pound said, his own uncertainty returning. “But what happens if I do lose it and attack him?”

Twilight let out a laugh as she put a hoof around him and turned him around back toward their destination. “Then you get to tell a princess ‘I told you so’ and brag that you knew better than someone over twice your age.”

Pound giggled too. “That would be funny.”

“I’m sure it would. I’m confident in you, though.”

“I’ll do my best.”

“And that’s all I’m asking for.”

A few minutes later they finally arrived at their destination. Twilight raised her hoof and knocked on the door.

Author's Note:

What is this? Filler?

No way this will possibly be of use in the near future or anything. :derpytongue2:

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