• Published 14th May 2014
  • 9,660 Views, 687 Comments

Keeping your Promises - RaylanKrios



Rainbow and Scootaloo learn that there is more to being sisters than bedtime stories and hugs.

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Wanna try that again?

It had been a little over two months since Scootaloo moved in with Rainbow Dash, and the transition was going pretty smoothly, all things considered. True to her word, Rainbow Dash made some mistakes, like the time she let Scootaloo eat ice cream for dinner because she was too tired to cook, and would keep making them, but for the most part Scootaloo was slowly returning to her Discord may care self. She still occasionally slept in Rainbow’s bed when she got scared, or when she just didn’t want to be alone, and she got a little more nervous than was strictly necessary when she did something wrong, but overall she was recovering from her ordeal.

At the urging of Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo had shared some, but not all, of the circumstances that led to her new living situation with her two very best friends. It had been a tearful night with lots of hugs. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle were shocked both by what their friend had gone through and that they didn’t know about it. In the end, the CMC reaffirmed their bond with one another, vowing to never let a secret that big go unshared again.

Scootaloo hadn’t talked to her mother since she last left her house, but they had exchanged a few letters. The orange filly still couldn’t quite find her way toward forgiving her, but her mother’s letters no longer made her angry, and that was a first step toward reconciliation.

For her part, Rainbow Dash found she was adapting to having a filly to take care of better than she thought she would. She now had a regular shift on the weather patrol; instead of just showing up when she felt like it and tackling whatever needed to be done at the moment, she reported for work at 8:30 AM and left at 3:00 PM so she could be home when Scoots returned from school. Then, once a month, she agreed she would take a night shift to make up for the 6 hour work days.

Living with a filly was not without its challenges, however. Rainbow always had to know where Scoots was, and when she’d be back, and she couldn’t just decide to fly to Cloudsdale for the weekend. She had to learn how to cook more than three things, and she had less time than she would like for naps. However, even with the life changes, Rainbow found herself happier than she could remember being in a long time. Of course, she still hadn’t told Scootaloo all of what had happened the night Lightning Strike broke into her house. As a result, she still had occasional nightmares, but that was a price she was willing to pay to keep Scootaloo happy, if ignorant.

Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle were heading toward their clubhouse on a normal Thursday afternoon, to plan that weekend’s cutie mark crusade, when they ran into their tiara wearing nemesis.

“Oh, look, if it isn’t the blank flank trio. Are you girls off to try to figure out if you’re good at anything? I’m pretty sure the answer is ‘no’,” Diamond Tiara said in her usual scornful tone of voice.

“Oh, look, if it isn’t Diamond Tiara. Are you off to figure out if you could be any more of a plot head? Ah’m pretty sure the answer’s ‘no’,” Apple Bloom shot back.

Diamond Tiara ignored the retort and turned her attention to Scootaloo. “Hey, Looserloo, is Rainbow Dash sick of you yet?”

“Rainbow Dash loves me, but you wouldn’t know anything about that,” Scootaloo answered.

“Oh, it’s so sweet that you think that. But she’s the best flyer in all of Ponyville, and a candidate to join the Wonderbolts. You’re a blank flanked filly who can barely hover off the ground for more than ten seconds. Do you really think she likes having to take care of you because your own mother got sick of having you around?”

“Why don’t you go away, Diamond? Don’t you have servants who get paid to pretend like they care what you have to say?” Sweetie Belle said.

“Hey, it’s not my fault that Looserloo burdens everypony who’s forced to take care of her.”

Diamond Tiara’s last comment caused Scootaloo to cast her gaze downward and Apple Bloom to go deathly still save for her grinding her front left hoof into the ground. “Stop talking,” Apple Bloom said with such a harsh edge to her voice that all four ponies froze where they stood.

Diamond Tiara steadied herself, suppressing the very real fear of Apple Bloom hurting her with every ounce of her earth pony strength. “Whatever. You blank flanks are boring, so I’m gonna go find Silvy,” Diamond Tiara said with a huff as she hurriedly trotted off to a location with more witnesses.

“Don’t listen to her, Scoots, she’s just being a jerk as usual,” Sweetie Belle said hoping to cheer up her now forlorn friend.

“Yeah, I know.” Scootaloo said unconvincingly. “Umm... I don’t really feel like planning today; can we do it some other time?”

“C’mon Scoots, yer not really going to let DT ruin our afternoon, are ya?” Apple Bloom asked.

“You guys go ahead without me; I’m just going to head back to Rainbow’s house.” Scootaloo said sadly before trotting off, ignoring her friends’ protests.

A few hours later, Rainbow Dash opened her door after a workout expecting to find an empty house; instead she found a troubled looking Scootaloo scrubbing the kitchen floor. “Hey Scoots. What are you doing back so early? I thought you were going to go crusading with your friends today, and why the hay are you cleaning the floor?”

“I just thought I’d clean the kitchen since, y’know, I helped make it messy this morning.”

“Uh huh. You decided that instead of hanging out with your friends, you’d rather clean the kitchen because you helped make it messy by eating breakfast?” Rainbow raised her eyebrows skeptically.
“Wanna try that again?”

Scootaloo stared at the ground and spoke very quietly, which Rainbow knew was a troubling sign. “Diamond Tiara said I was a burden, and I thought maybe if I cleaned the kitchen…” Scootaloo’s voice trailed off as she realized how crazy her idea sounded. A clean kitchen couldn’t possibly compensate for all Rainbow Dash had done for her.

“C’mere, Scoots.” Rainbow Dash sat down on her haunches and scooped the orange filly in her forelegs as she trotted over. She let out a small sigh as she brought the filly up to eye level.

“We’ve been over this Scoots; I love you and I love having you here. You’re a lot of things, but you’re definitely not a burden. And by the way, why would you listen to anything that spoiled brat has to say?”

“I don’t know,” Scootaloo said quietly.

“C’mon, Scoots. This isn’t about what Diamond Tiara said. What’s really bothering you?”

Scootaloo looked away from Rainbow Dash, embarrassed. “I can’t fly. And I know we’ve been working at it, but I can still only barely hover off the ground.” It was a half truth; she was worried that she was burdening Rainbow Dash, but it was also true that the fact that she still couldn’t fly was perpetually on her mind.

“So that’s what’s bothering you? I told you, Scoots. It just takes time and a little bit of practice. You’ll get there.”

“What if I don’t ever fly? I’ve heard there are pegasi who spend their entire lives on the ground. I don’t want to be one of those ponies! I want to be like you,” she sniffled.

“Scoots, you’re already more like me than anypony I know. You’re brave, loyal, and totally awesome. Even if you never fly, you’ll still be the second most awesome pegasus in all of Equestria.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You can fly.”

“Flying isn’t going to make you awesome, Scoots. You’re already awesome because you’re you.”

“I don’t feel awesome.”

“Well, I say you’re awesome, and nopony knows more about awesome than I do.”

“Thanks, Rainbow Dash,” she said rather glumly. “Is it okay if I go out for a little bit?”

Rainbow Dash frowned slightly. She felt like it was her duty to cheer the little filly up, but she was beginning to learn that she was incapable of solving all of Scoots’ problems for her, as much as she wanted to; the orange filly had to work through her own issues sometimes. “Sure, just be back before bedtime.”

“I will,” Scootaloo replied before heading out the door.

Scootaloo didn't really know where she was going; she just wanted to be alone. She knew that she shouldn’t let Diamond Tiara get to her, because that filly was always putting her down for no reason, but knowing something and feeling it were two entirely separate things. She wandered aimlessly around town for a few hours until it began to get dark. Eventually, she found herself at the CMC clubhouse, which is where she usually went when she wanted to be alone with her thoughts.

She lit a few candles and looked around at the familiar walls, plastered with the remnants of failed, but fun, misadventures in the name of the trio getting their cutie marks. Behind their makeshift podium was a big list with all their ideas, most with red X’s next to them, though Apple Bloom and herself had convinced Sweetie Belle to keep singing in the ‘Try Again’ category, and Sweetie Belle had teamed up with her to convince Apple Bloom to give ‘Cutie Mark Crusaders Carpenters’ another try. Also left unmarked was the word “FLIGHT” in big block letters, and Scootaloo stared at those five letters while sighing wistfully; they couldn’t even mark it as ‘NO’ because they had never actually done it, which seemed like a cruel joke.

As she was reminiscing about her past misadventures and generally feeling sorry for herself, she heard a quiet knock; when she turned around, she saw Apple Bloom precariously balancing two mugs with wisps of steam emanating from them on a tray in her mouth.

She set the tray down and spoke softly. “Ah saw a light on and ah thought you might like some hot cider.”

“How’d you know it was me and not somepony else?”

“Ah don’t think anypony else would know where we keep the candles.”

“Oh,” Scootaloo replied while gingerly taking one of the steaming mugs and slowly bringing it to her lips. The hot sweet liquid did make her feel a little better.

“Are you still upset about what Diamond Tiara said?”

Scootaloo had already half lied to Rainbow Dash, she didn’t feel like adding Apple Bloom to that list.

“Yeah,” she said softly. “I know she was just being a plot head, but I don’t want to be a burden to anypony.”

“Yer not a burden Scoots. Can Ah tell ya a story?”

She wasn’t really sure where Apple Bloom was going with this but it wasn’t like she had anywhere else to be. “Sure,” she replied.

“Okay, well, when I was a little foal, right after my parents died…,”

An uncomfortable silence hung in the air for a few seconds. Apple Bloom didn’t talk about her parents much, even though it had been years, as it was still a topic that made her sad. Scootaloo silently kicked herself for being insensitive; she had been complaining about her Mom ever since she told the CMC what happened, and hadn’t ever once considered that Apple Bloom would have gladly traded places with her in a second if it meant she could speak to her mom again.

“Anyways, Big Mac was away in Appleloosa, and Granny Smith’s hip was acting up, so AJ was doing most of the chores, and taking care of me, and Ah guess Ah was misbehavin a bit; we ended up having a huge fight about me goin’ to bed. So, Ah finally went to bed, only as soon as AJ left, I snuck downstairs. I was expecting to find her bein’ all angry and stuff, but instead, I saw her slumped over the kitchen table. Ah swear, Scoots, Ah’ve never seen anypony look so dang tired, and Ah don’t think I’ve ever felt as bad as I did just then. Ah ran over and hugged her, just apologizing for being so rotten, y’know? Then I asked if she was upset because she had to take care of me, an’ ya know what she said?”

Scootaloo shook her head.

“She told me that taking care of me was her favorite thing to do, even when Ah was misbehaving. I know that sounds corny, but ah’ll bet ya Rainbow Dash feels the same way.Yer not a burden Scoots, and nopony should ever feel like they are.”

Scootaloo looked up from her mug and smiled at her friend. “Thanks, AB, that makes me feel a little better. I’m sorry I ditched crusading this afternoon. Did ya do anything cool?”

“Nah, you know we can only do cool stuff when it’s all three of us.”

“Well, did you come up with any good ideas for the weekend?”

“Some…”

For the next hour, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo thought up and rejected ideas for the three friends to try, and generally behaved like two fillies without a care in the world. Before they could decide whether Cutie Mark Crusaders Ghost Hunters was a good idea, they were interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Okay, you two, that’s enough crusadin’ for one evening, an’ it’s a school night. AB, you best be getting ready for bed soon, and you ought to head back home yer own self, Scoots. Say hi to Rainbow fer me,” Applejack said, putting an end to their strategizing session.

“Aww... okay sis. Later, Scoots!” Apple Bloom said before giving her friend a quick hug.

“Later, AB.”

The two sisters trotted off back to the barn, and Scootaloo headed toward the cloud house she had almost come to think of as home. She climbed up the cloud ladder, expecting to find Rainbow Dash waiting for her, but as she entered the house she saw a simple note tacked to the fridge.

Hey Scoots, went out for a bit. There’s some leftover pizza in the freezer if you’re hungry.
-Dash

She wasn’t sure where Rainbow had gone, so she settled in for a night of reheated pizza and whatever was on television.

---------------------------------------------

While Scootaloo was off feeling sorry for herself, Rainbow decided to pay a visit to Twilight. What bothered her was that Scootaloo wasn’t entirely wrong. They had been working at her flying skills for a while, and she wasn’t that much better than when they started; and she was nowhere near as good as a filly her age should be. Rainbow was beginning to get worried that Scoots might never fly, and while she didn’t know how to solve that problem, she did know one pony who knew everything.

Rainbow entered the library through the open window. Twilight had grown accustomed to Rainbow’s refusal to use the door, and looked up with only mild annoyance on her face as her friend landed in the middle of the room.

“Hi, Rainbow,” she said almost cheerfully.

“Hey, Twi’, I kinda need your help with something.”

“Sure, what can I help you with?”

“I need you to help me teach Scoots how to fly.”

Twilight was surprised by the request. “You’re the best flyer I know. You’ve been to flight school and I haven’t. You taught me how to fly. What could you possibly need my help with?

“I’ve been working with her for a while and she’s not getting better. Well, she is, but she should be a lot further along than she is.”

“Okay, but what do you think I can do?”

“I need to know if it’s something I’m doing or if it’s a problem with Scoots.”

“Why do you think it’s something you’re doing? You’re a great teacher.”

“Thanks Twi’, but I’m not sure that’s true. Scoots can’t lift off for more than a few seconds.”

“Okay. Why can’t you teach her how to get off the ground?”

“I know what to do when I get in the air, but I’m not really sure how to get there, you just sort of jump and try not to hit the ground.”

“That doesn’t make sense. What do they teach in flight school to little pegasi about how to lift off?”

Rainbow let out an uncomfortable sigh. “How much do you know about pegasus culture, Twi?

“Some. I mean, I’ve studied all of Equestrian history, but ever since Celestia united the tribes, our cultures have slowly amalgamated.”

“Amalga- what now?”

“It means coalesced.”

“Twi, speak Equestrian!”

“There just aren’t as many differences between Unicorns, Earth Ponies and Pegasi as there used to be!” Twilight said, getting exasperated

“Right, well, there are some things you should know about pegasi.”

Rainbow set about giving Twilight a crash course in some of the darker parts of Pegasian culture. In pre Celestia times, Pegasi would offer any child who couldn’t fly by their second week as a sacrifice to the ancient gods, believing that a flightless foal was a sign that the gods must be angry. Later, that barbaric practice died out in favor of the slightly-less barbaric practice of just leaving a flightless child alone in the woods to die. As society evolved, and infanticide became frowned upon, the common practice was to cut off a flightless foal’s wings and give the foal to an earth pony family to raise.

Now, that didn’t happen as much anymore but it was still far from unheard of; some doctors had even been known to falsify the birth records and use a skin graft to cover up the scars so that the foal would never have any idea that they had been born a pegasus. Because of this practice, the underlying belief that a flightless Pegasus wasn’t a true Pegasus was still uncomfortably prevalent in Cloudsdale, even if the bigotry took more subtle tones than it did in the sacrificing and abandonment times. As a result, Rainbow knew that much of the study of flight, even at the higher levels of research, involved what to do when a Pegasi was already in the air; getting there was supposed to be a natural skill. To even get into flight school, there was an entrance exam that involved demonstrating basic flying competency.

“That’s awful,” said Twilight when Rainbow finished giving her brief history lesson.

“You really want to compare histories Twi?” Rainbow said, getting defensive. “Because I remember learning some pretty terrible things about unicorns back in school.”

“...it still doesn’t make it right,” Twilight responded quietly.

“No, it doesn’t, and I’m not one of those pegasi who look down on the flightless, but you wanted to know why there isn’t a lot of instruction about how to lift off. Well, that’s the reason.”

“So, how much do you actually know about lifting off? If we start there, maybe I can figure out what we need to know to get Scootaloo flying.” Twilight began to get excited at the prospect of both a research project and potentially contributing to a neglected field of study.

“Okay, well, you know that flying is part-magic and part-physics, right?”

“Of course. If pegasi had to generate all the lift required to fly with just their wings, they’d be like fifteen feet long.”

“Yeah, so we use pegasus magic to get us off the ground, and then we just push the air with our wings, causing us to fly,” Rainbow said proudly.

“That’s it? That’s all you know? Pegasus magic?”

“Yep, that’s pretty much it. Like I said, we’ve never given much thought to how the whole thing works.”

Twilight frowned. “Better put some coffee on. It’s going to be a long night.”

“Great, well, let me know what you find,” Rainbow said as she prepared to leave.

“Oh no, you don’t. I may need your help, so grab a book and start reading.”

“Umm, Twilight, isn’t shifting through a bunch of boring old books kinda your thing?”

“Yes, but as you’ve already pointed out, I don’t know that much about being a pegasus, so if you want me to help Scootaloo fly, I need your help. So park your flank and start reading,” Twilight said as her horn flared, her magic pulling all of the library’s books on history, anatomy and physics from the shelves.

Rainbow let out a loud groan, but she couldn’t very well refuse Twilight’s request after coming to her for assistance. “Where’s Spike? Isn’t he supposed to help you with this kind of thing?”

“Rarity is borrowing him for the week. She said something about filling a large order. Do you really want to be the one to tell him he has to leave early?”

Rainbow shook her head, not wanting to risk the wrath of a lovesick dragon, and the two ponies began to scour the library’s collection for any clue on how pegasi were able to get off the ground. Well, Twilight began to scour for clues. Rainbow found herself reading the same passage about lift and air pressure over and over again because she kept getting bored.

”Huh, apparently wing digit bones aren’t really bones, but more a rigid cartilage, similar to unicorn horns,” Twilight said offhoof while studying a book on anatomy.

“Is that important?” Rainbow asked.

“It might be.”

After a few hours, the words on the page began to blur together for Twilight, and she was forced to admit that she hadn’t yet found an answer. “Okay, Rainbow, it was probably stupid of me to think I could figure this out in one evening. You should get home to Scootaloo, but I’m going to keep studying. Check in with me later, and I’ll let you know if I’ve found anything.” Twilight was discouraged, but she had never met a problem that couldn’t be solved by researching the heck out of it, and she was sure that this was no different.

“Okay. Thanks, Twi, but what should I do with Scootaloo in the meantime?”

“Keep practicing, I guess. Maybe she’s just a late bloomer and we don’t need to *unlock* the secret of flight,” Twilight joked half heartedly.

“I hope so, Twi. That filly deserves a break.”

Twilight smiled warmly at her friend. She still wasn’t quite used to seeing Rainbow’s softer side, but the prismatic pegasus couldn’t help but show it when it came to discussing the orange filly now entrusted to her care. “I can think of one break she’s already gotten. Say ‘hi’ to her for me, okay?”

“Sure thing,” Rainbow said before flying off.


When she arrived at home, Rainbow Dash found a still bummed Scootaloo, watching Baking Bad in the living room.

“Hey there, Scoots; feeling a little better?”

Scootaloo shrugged. “I still can’t fly.”

“Well, I don’t have anything to do tomorrow. How about we go practice tomorrow after school?”

“But we’ve been practicing and practicing, and I’m not getting any better.”

“And you think sitting around is going to make you a better flyer? What do I always tell you?”

Scootaloo sighed and repeated the now familiar mantra Rainbow drilled into her whenever she complained during flight practice. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

“That’s right. So, what are we going to do tomorrow?”

“Practice.”

“And why do we practice?”

“Because practice makes awesome,” Scootaloo finished the familiar call and response without much enthusiasm.

“It’s been a long day, so I’ll let you get away with such a lackluster response.” Rainbow softened her voice, “How ya doing Scoots? For real.”

Scootaloo brightened up a little bit; it was nice to be reminded that her big sister really did care about her. “I’m okay,” she said a little more confidently than her previous answers.

“Good. Listen, kid, I know it’s been a rough day, but everything will look better in the morning, so why don’t you get ready for bed?”

“Will you tell me a bedtime story?”

“You know it. Head on up and I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Scootaloo turned off the TV and stared at the ground. “Umm, is it okay if I sleep with you tonight?”

“It always is, but neither of us will get any sleep if we stand here yaking all night, so go get ready for bed.”

Scootaloo nodded happily and hurried upstairs.

After a few chapters of Daring Do and the Forest of Fear, Scootaloo began to doze off; Rainbow wrapped a wing around the filly, snuggled tightly next to her and lay her own head down on her pillow.

“Hey, Rainbow,” she heard a small voice whisper.

“Yeah, Scoots?”

“Did you mean it when you said I wasn’t a burden?”

The question prompted Rainbow Dash to tighten her snuggle grip on the filly.

“Of course I did, Scoots. What would make you think that I didn’t?”

“It’s just that... you’ve done so much for me, and all I ever do is cause problems.”

Rainbow nudged Scootaloo forward so the little filly was next to her head. “I love you, Scoots. There aren’t enough problems in Equestria to make me stop loving you. Besides, you make a great pillow,” Rainbow said, as she grabbed Scootaloo and rested her head on top of the filly’s barrel.

Scootaloo giggled and squirmed, but Rainbow held firm, pretending to be asleep. Rainbow felt the little filly nuzzle her, and she smiled as she let the filly resign from her new position as Rainbow’s head rest. “I promise you that you’re not a burden, Scoots.” Rainbow paused for a moment. “Before you moved in, I thought I could be happy living alone and seeing my friends occasionally. I didn’t realize how much I was missing. You’re the furthest thing possible from a burden, Scootaloo. You make life worth living.”

Scootaloo listened to Rainbow without saying a word. When she finished, she hugged her sister tightly and let out a small whine. She felt a wing squeeze her back, and eased her grip ever so slightly. As she nestled herself in the familiar warmth of the cyan coat, Diamond Tiara’s words from earlier in the day dissolved into nothingness. Scootaloo sighed, held tight by the wing wrapped around her, and soon fell asleep, content that all was right with the world.

Author's Note:

One of my favorite debates in the fandom is whether Diamond Tiara is a schoolyard bully, a mean girl, or actually maliciously cruel, and then where Silver Spoon falls on that spectrum. It'll be fun to explore that in this story.

So, welcome to the sequel for those of you who came here from Promises and for those of you just joining us, greetings. No cliffhanger this chapter, but I'm hoping that y'all can tell there is more story to come.

All authors love feedback, good and bad.