• 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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20-4: Reassurance

Pinkie knocked on the door of the castle a few times. After a minute or so the door opened, and Twilight stood there, barely giving her half a glance before looking at a scroll and writing a line on it. “Hey, Pinkie,” she said, sounding a little frazzled. “Look, I’m super busy trying to get this speech right for my trip tomorrow. Is this an emergency?” Her brow furrowed, and she scratched out a few words before replacing them with new ones.

“It is to me,” Pound said in a downtrodden voice, “but I guess a kids problems don't really matter.”

Twilight paused in her writing to glance down at Pound. If it had been about just Pinkie she would have trusted Pinkie to be able to wait, but she knew she couldn’t do that with Pound. Experience had taught her that children’s feelings needed to be expressed early, and Pound already looked in considerable distress. If he didn’t speak to her now he’d probably spend the next few hours in solitude, miserable the whole while.

With a flash of her horn the scroll and quill disappeared. “Pinkie, Pumpkin, you two make yourselves at home. Sorry to be so blunt, but I don’t have a lot of time to spare.” She put a hoof on Pound, and with another flash the two vanished, winding up in Twilight’s favorite reading spot.

She got herself into a comfortable position and said, “Okay, I’m all yours.” She tried to avoid looking impatient, but it was a challenge not to start moving her body around. “So what’s on your mind?”

Pound blinked, unsure where to start. Her going from sounding too busy to talk then him suddenly being transported had happened so quick it took him a few moments for his brain to catch up. When it did his downcast emotions returned. “Twilight…” He looked at the ground. “I’m a failure...”

That got her mind off her speech. “Why would you say that, Pound? I know the whole ‘not flying’ thing bothers you, but-”

“It has nothing to do with that!” he interrupted. He hopped up, flapping his wings. He hovered in the air for a few seconds. “I’m actually starting to get there.” He landed and flopped to the floor. “But I’m not here because of flying or not flying or anything like that. I’m here because…” Tears brimmed in his eyes. “…I’m here because I failed the test you gave me.”

Twilight’s eyebrow rose. Her eyes darted around for a few moments, then she asked, “Um… could you refresh my memory? What test did I give you?”

“At the park, after that problem with Drill Bit, you trusted me to help redeem him and make a friend out of him.”

“Ah,” she said, remembering. Though she didn’t forget the speech still waiting for her to finish, it definitely took a back seat to helping resolve Pound’s feelings. He didn’t need the weight of guilt tearing him down. “Why don’t you start at the beginning? Tell me what’s been going on since that day at the park.”

So he did. He told her about Drill Bit’s insulting attitude, the conversation Drill had with his brother, and the new attitude that came about that finally led him to make some progress. He finished up by telling her of the conversation they had at lunch.

“After that neither of us knew what to say, so we just went our separate ways.”

Twilight’s eyes were closed as she took in all the information she had just heard.

“I thought I had made so much progress with him. I really thought that we were ready to be real friends, but then… well, it didn’t happen.”

“I see.” Her eyes opened. “So how is it you really feel, Pound? Do you really agree that you have little common ground to bond over, or did you actually think the two of you were friends? From what you said you invited him to your birthday party as a reward for the help he’s given you. Did you even actually want him there, or did you feel obligated to do it?”

“I did offer it to him as a reward, but that wasn’t the only reason.”

“So what was the other reason?”

“I knew that the two of us weren’t really friends yet, but I thought it was mainly because we only spent our time together training. He didn’t like to talk when we worked out. I thought if he came to my party that he’d lighten up and we could really bond over the time we spent playing games and stuff. You know… become real friends.”

Twilight chuckled. “Trying to lighten up a grump by inviting them to a party. Sounds just like when Pinkie did the same for Gilda.” She chuckled again. “You’re definitely related to Pinkie, all right.”

Pound didn’t grin at the comparison like he usually would. “So not only didn’t he want to come to the party, but he even said that time spent with me didn’t help him see what his brother changed for.” Tears began streaming down his cheeks. “So it was a complete failure!” He grimaced, sniffling. “I screwed it all up!” His voice cracked. “And I let you d-down after you put your faith in me. I had the c-chance to make you so proud, but you must be so d-disappointed and ashamed of me.”

Twilight’s horn glowed, and she gently pulled Pound over to her, understanding the real cause of his distress now. When he was close enough she set him next to her, putting a hoof around him as she put her head next to his. “Don’t be ridiculous, Pound. I’m not disappointed at all. Quite the opposite. I’m very proud of you.”

“Why?” he asked. “I FAILED!”

She nuzzled her head against his. “Pound, it may have been Noble, an influential figure in his life, that first put the idea in Drill’s head to change, but you were the one that gave him the opportunity to test that new mindset out and see if it was worth keeping.”

“And he SAID-”

“Ssshhh,” she said gently, putting a hoof to his mouth. “Just listen to me, okay?”

Pound groaned, quieting down.

“Even though his mouth said that he doesn’t get it, he hasn’t completely abandoned his new mindset either. He may have been a little curt in his explanation, but he still let you down respectfully. Even if his head doesn’t realize it, he’s definitely changed for the better. The old Drill Bit would have told you that he wouldn’t want a no-talent loser for a friend. Drill Bit today told you that he didn’t think he’d enjoy being your friend because you’re not into the same things. That’s a huge improvement.

“That your conversation ended on such an awkward note is also proof that he’s changed. He saw your sadness at his response to your offer of friendship, and wasn’t sure how to deal with it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s going to agonize over it, but he did feel some degree of empathy for what he brought about.”

Pound sniffed.

“My perspective on things is that Drill is affected by your time together more than he realizes, but he can’t bring himself to admit it because it runs at odds with what he grew up with. If Noble was simply a grownup Drill Bit before his accident it stands to reason that their parents are the main reason for the way they are. And kids grow up believing that their parents are almost always right and want what’s best for them.

“Admitting that your way is better would mean admitting that his parents, and thus his entire upbringing, was wrong. That’s a pretty big undertaking for any pony. And if he comes around to your way of thinking he may fear that his parents will reject him for it, or stop loving him. Unlike Noble, who is an adult and already moved away from home, Drill Bit is stuck in his house for now, so he likely feels he can’t afford to go against his parents.

“In conclusion, my personal belief is that he is a very conflicted colt.”

Pound’s head was spinning. “I don’t really get it.”

Twilight nodded. “Let me put it another way. You remember when you got suspended from school for fighting and ran away?”

“Of course. We were scared. We thought that fighting made you not love us anymore.”

“Now think of those feelings you had back then, but change the reason for them being not from fighting, but from not being interested in competition, and you’ll understand Drill’s fear.”

He thought back to that night, to the scoldings he got from his parents, but imagined they were talking about things like ONLY getting second place at a competition, or flubbing a critical moment in the middle of a contest. If that was really how things were for him growing up, his only options were either to never lose or run away.

Twilight rubbed his head. “Come back to me, Pound. You look like you’re thinking the worst.”

Pound blinked, shaking his head to get it back in the present.

“I’ve never spoken to Drill Bit, nor his parents. Everything I’m saying is just theory, and I have no idea how accurate it actually is to reality. I was just giving my opinion based on what you’ve said.”

“Oh… oh yeah.”

“Stand up, please,” she said as she raised herself up to a sitting position.

Pound did the same, looking up into her eyes.

“Now as for you, I have things I need to say about you.”

Pound looked up at her uncertainly.

She put a hoof on his shoulder, saying kindly, “I appreciate your enthusiasm, truly. I’m glad that you tried so hard to follow through, but you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. Even I am still learning, which is why I’m grateful for the lessons you helped teach me.”

“Huh? What do they have to do with each other?”

“Because I was about to reference one of those lessons. After your fight with Tree Leaf I arrogantly thought that simply throwing you two in the same room would lead to you getting over your problems and becoming friends again.”

Pound felt small. He didn’t like to hear Twilight insulting herself. “You weren’t being arrogant.”

Twilight shook her head. “Yes, I was. I should have spoken to Tree Leaf first, and had you both agree to a meeting, rather than pushing you to do so when you weren’t interested and then springing you unexpectedly on him. I wasn’t being considerate of either of your feelings because I considered you too simple to hold grudges. That was my failing, and I take full responsibility for that.

“Anyway, the point I was trying to get at was that not all ponies are meant to be friends. Maybe they’re too similar, or too different. Whatever the reason, a friendship cannot be forced if it’s to be a true friendship. The same thing with becoming a better pony. One might be able to force a change of behavior in another through threats or violence, but you can’t force a change of heart. That is up to the individual to decide.”

Twilight closed the distance between them. “Because I know both of those are beyond your control to change and have to come from Drill Bit himself I cannot possibly fault you for his choices. What I CAN judge about you, however, is if you put your heart into things and gave it your very best effort to both befriend him and help him change into a better pony. If you tried your hardest it doesn’t matter a bit to me whether you failed or succeeded in what you were trying to do. I’ll be proud of you.”

She put her hooves around him, pulling him to her and hugging him with both hooves and wings. “And I AM proud of you, Pound, for what you were able to accomplish, even if you didn’t get as far as you wanted. And who knows? Maybe, given some more time, he’ll come around. Growth is an ongoing process for all of us.”

Pound hugged her back, crying joyful tears. His guilt and shame washed away. “Thank you, Twilight.”

“You’re welcome, Pound.” Releasing him she asked, “Feeling better now?”

He gave a hearty nod, all smiles now. “Thanks for listening to me. I’ll let you get back to your speech now.”

“Hold on a minute.”

“Hmm?”

“I had a favor to ask of you.”

“Okay. What is it?”

“Well, I think we should get Pinkie and Pumpkin here first.”

“I thought you needed MY help,” he said a little grumpily.

“I do, but I also feel this is too big for one pony.”

After a bit of searching she found Pinkie and Pumpkin in the library.

When all three of them were in front of her Twilight said, “The twins birthday is next week, and like I told Pound I have a favor to ask.”

“Anything for you, Twilight,” Pumpkin answered.

“Well, I wanted to add a few more guests to the party list, if that’s alright.”

Pinkie beamed. “The more the merrier!” she said joyfully, but then dialed back her enthusiasm. “However, this is your party, you two, so the decision is up to you.”

“So who do you want to invite anyway?” asked Pound.

“Some ponies you already know. Namely, my brother and my sister-in-law.”

“Shining Armor and Cadance?”

Twilight nodded. “And two more. Cadance wants to bring Skyla along.”

“Ooohhh!” they both cried out, remembering the fun they had had playing with the baby.

“So who’s the other?” asked Pound.

“Her name is Flurry Heart.”

“And who is she?”

“She’s their other child.”

The twins looked at her with confusion. “Wait a minute!” Pumpkin said. “Our parents said it takes almost a year to have a baby. It hasn’t even been a month since we last saw Cadance and she certainly didn’t look pregnant.”

“That’s correct. Flurry is actually the older sister. In fact, she’s actually just a year under you.”

Now they just looked more confused. “But... wha-” Pound started. “Wait-wait-wait.” He threw a hoof up. “If they had another child why didn’t she come along when we met Skyla?”

Twilight let out a sigh. “Well, that’s part of why I’m asking for your help. Because of our princess duties the two of us can’t see each other too often, but we still communicate through letters, and she’s told me about the kind of pony Flurry is.”

“What, she’s a horrible monster of a pony that they don’t want getting loose outside of the Crystal Empire?”

Twilight rolled her eyes with a laugh. “NO!” she said firmly. “Cadance tells me she’s shy. She rarely leaves the castle, preferring to study with Starlight and Sunburst. As a result, she doesn’t have any friends her own age.”

Growing somber again she continued, “Something’s troubling that filly, and she won’t say what the problem is. All they know is that Flurry has become even more reclusive since Skyla was born.”

“Sounds like jealousy to me,” said Pumpkin.

Twilight shook her head. “You’d think that would be the simplest explanation, but according to Shining Armor her and Skyla get along famously. She feeds her and changes her and plays with her and rocks her to sleep without any complaints.”

“That reminds me of my friend Peppermint. She said that she loved caring for her new baby brother but she grew angry at her parents because they weren’t paying much attention to her anymore. So maybe Flurry’s upset with her parents and that’s why she’s avoiding them.”

“I can’t discount the possibility,” Twilight conceded, “but I really think she just needs some friends to play with.”

Pound said, “I don’t mind if she comes to our party, but we live so far apart we can hardly be considered friends. Why doesn’t she just make friends in the Crystal Empire?”

“Well, that’s what we’re trying to figure out. I was the same way once upon a time, avoiding ponies and just focusing on reading and studying. It’s my hope that a day away from magic practice where she can relax and cut loose might help inspire her to be more sociable. And, hopefully, by day’s end we’ll have discovered what’s troubling her. As Celestia told me once upon a time, Flurry needs to stop reading dusty old books and make some friends. It’s not good for her to only be surrounded by adults.”

“Well, what about school?” asked Pumpkin. “That’s how the two of us started interacting with kids our own age.”

“She’s said she isn’t interested. She feels she learns plenty from Starlight and Sunburst and doesn’t need any more teachers. While that’s not inaccurate every pony has different experiences and thus has something to teach that others can’t.”

“Just like us!” Pound said with a grin, thinking of their entry in the friendship journal.

Twilight giggled, nodding in agreement. “Yep. Just like you.

“Cadance will be happy to hear it. I’ll have Spike send her the message when he comes home.”

“Sounds great,” said Pumpkin.

“Indeed. Now that that’s settled I really do have to get back to work. I’ll see you all next week at the party.”

Pound ran up to her and hugged her once more. “Goodbye, Twilight. Thanks again.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied, hugging him back.

With a few more goodbyes the trio left on the way for home. “You know, Pumpkin,” said Pound, “I just thought of something.”

“What’s that?”

“We’re turning seven in a week.”

Pumpkin gasped. “WE ARE? I had no idea!”

Pound rolled his eyes. “I guess I had that coming. I’m just saying… it’s been one crazy year.”

“Sure has,” Pumpkin agreed. “We’ve ran away from home, started school, made some friends, got to break reality, and we’re both learning how to use our own special gifts of magic and flight.”

“Would you have it any other way?” Pinkie asked.

“I guess not. A little chaos is what makes life fun.”

“Oooh!” Pound exclaimed. “I have an idea.”

“What?”

Pound jumped, hovering in the air. “Help me fly home. It shouldn’t strain you since I’m already doing most of the work. You just need to help keep me level.”

“Sounds fun.”

A blue aura surrounded Pound, and the two took off side by side, laughing all the while.

Pinkie sighed joyfully, euphoria building up within her at their teamwork and growth. “I love you guys,” she said before she took off trotting after them.

Author's Note:

Okay! It's almost party time. I already have Flurry's personality and motivations planned out in advance, so all I need to do is write it out.

It HAS been a long year for the twins, and I think it's a fine time to bring their sixth year to a close. There have been breaks here and there, but I've always come back to this. All we need is some monster sealed away for a thousand years to pop out of the woodwork and we'd be right at home for a season finale of the show. (Though there are no such plans for their party. It's just gonna be straight slice-of-life.)

This is by far my longest story, and I never expected it to grow as far as it did. For those of you who have stuck by me for this long, especially AandWguy and Deltaxeno1138, thank you. I hope to continue entertaining you with more Pound and Pumpkin tales.

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