• Published 10th Jun 2014
  • 1,206 Views, 35 Comments

Hoe Down - Talon and Thorn

Octavia isn't finding it very easy to adjust to her new life in Ponyville. The place is full of crazy ponies! How will she cope when the inhabitants decide to throw a part in her and her fellow element bearers honour? A Cadenceverse story.

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The Dancers all in place

Octavia awoke to a beam of light shining directly only her face through a crack in her curtains. For a moment she tried to bat away the distraction but the photons remained annoyingly unaffected by her flailing hoof. Then she realised what the light meant, the sun was up! Rushing to her hooves she threw open the doors to her balcony. Below her a view of Ponyville opened up with a smattering of ponies going around their daily business. Up above her sun was well along the way in its journey across the sky. She had overslept, the sun must have risen hours ago, she had missed playing for the princess! She tried to calm her racing heart, such an occurrence was rare but not entirely unknown, indeed last year there had been an entire week she had been unable to perform due to illness. This understanding didn’t make the matter any more distressing though, she would have to try extra hard in her performance tomorrow to make it up to the princess. The thought almost made her laugh, it was unlikely that the princess was even aware of her habit although that made her no less worthy of her efforts. Her thoughts turned to Medley, she had kept the pegasus up so late last night and no doubt she would want to open her shop today as normal. She would have to apologize and thank her once again for her kind words as soon as she had the chance.

Worry about tonight’s dance still gnawed in her guts as she showered, but it had somewhat abated. She recognised that her fear was largely unfounded but it was still there. She considered spending the rest of the day practicing her dancing but she felt against the instinct it would just heighten her anxiety and she was probably as good as she could be given the situation and that the dance would now only be a few hours away. She had previously found that further practice would likely be counterproductive beyond maybe an hour or so. Maybe she should spend the intervening time helping Bon Bon?

After spending time making sure her sheets were straight again Octavia trotted down stairs to try and find her landlady. As expected she was in her shop, however she waved away Octavia’s offer of help. So instead Octavia decided to mostly focus on practising her cello which she neglected beyond an hour or two a day for the last few days due to her focus on dancing. She found slipping into her old habits helped to calm her and the hours slipped away without her noticing. She realised that he had left herself little time to prepare for the hoe down, time even further reduced when she found that Bon Bon was also preparing to go out so she would once again have to wait to use the bathroom. In fact her mane was still wet when her friends arrived.

With all of them gathered together Octavia’s room was very crowded in fact the pegasi had to remain hovering very near the ceiling to allow their earth bound companions space to move. Most of her friends had clearly dressed up for tonight’s event. Fluttershy looked stunning as always in a red and white checked gingham dress with both her silky mane and tail platted into pig tails. As she tried to force her own damp mane to cooperate Octavia felt a burst of jealousy at how well behaved the activist’s hair was. Bluenote was wearing a plain white dress and fancy boots on all of her hooves but attention was drawn from most of her clothes to her hat. It was a Stetson, similar to applejacks but an eye watering hot pink in colour and easily three times the size. Vinyl had forgone anything to cover her body and was only wearing a Stetson tightly tied to her head and although it was of normal dimensions it was a fiery red with her spiky two tone mane sticking out from under it. Lyra’s dress was huge, taking up almost as much space as another pony, it was mostly peach with a pink bodice made of silk. Only Medley was completely naked although she had made some effort, her normally curly green mane and tail having been straightened and platted. The pegasus didn’t look any the worse the wear for her late night.

“Is there some sort of dress requirement for the hoe down?” asked Octavia worriedly after seeing her friends outfits.

“Not really,” said Bluenote, “Although most ponies at least make the effort to dress up a little. Why what were you planning to wear?”

“I only have my formal sari,” said Octavia with drawing the black cloth item from her cupboard, “I rarely bother with anything more extravagant.”

“What’s a Sari?” asked Medley poking at the dress.

“It’s a Cheneigh dress made out of a single piece of fabric wrapped around a pony,” piped up Fluttershy.

“That is correct,” said Octavia. “I did not know you were conversant in such things.”

“Oh, well, I sort of make my own clothes,” she explained. Octavia examined the pegasus’s outfit closely, it did appear homemade, Fluttershy must have not insignificant skill in that area.

Her friends milled around as Octavia carried out the complicated task of wrapping and folding the sari around her, although long experience made the task easier than it looked. When she was finished she admired herself in the mirror, turning slightly to note how the dress accentuated her curves. Not that she was worried about such things, it was just that if a certain red stallion happened to see her dressed like this she hoped he would appreciate what he saw.

“Oh, that makes you look so beautiful Octavia,” said Fluttershy.

“Very nice,” agreed Vinyl. “But it’s missing something,” she mused.

“Well um, I made this for you,” said Fluttershy reaching into her saddle bag and retrieving another Stetson. This one was made of a soft felt and was pure white with its sleek edges covered in silver braid around the edges.

Octavia took the offered item of millinery and tried it on her head, it fitted perfectly and stood out amongst her black mane. “Thank you Fluttershy, this is a very kind gift. I will wear it with pride.”

“Oh, it’s nothing really,” squeaked the butter coloured pegasus. “I made one for Medley as well.” She withdrew a second hat from her bags, although in the same style this one was made of thicker more practical material and a plainer brown in colour. “I know you can’t normally afford anything fancy to wear to these dances,” she began.

“It’s not that I can’t afford it, it’s that I don’t need fancy clothes,” huffed Medley although her eyes ran over the hat. “It is nice, but I can’t accept your charity. Maybe you can sell it at the market and use the proceeds for one of your causes.”

Fluttershy seemed swayed for this argument for a moment but she rallied. “Oh, it’s not charity, its... it’s a reward. A reward for helping to defeat the twin tyrants, you worked really hard dealing with those kelpies in the Everfree and you deserve something for that.”

“Well maybe, I did have to do a lot of fighting,” muttered Medley weakening slightly.

“And I’d really appreciate it if you wore it, I wouldn’t want my work to go to waste,” she hunkered down and looked up into Medley’s face, her big blue eyes seeming to grow.

Medley struggled for a moment but the soft blue eyes in front of her seemed to such away her will, she glanced over at the hat, it did look good and she felt undressed compared to her friends. Unable to withstand the onslaught of cuteness Medley capitulated. “Very well,” she said gruffly taking the offered hat and carefully placing it on her own head. “Just because it’s you,” she muttered before giving herself a sideways glance in the mirror and adjusted the hat slightly.

“Yay!” cheered Fluttershy quietly.

“There’s still something missing,” noted Vinyl examining Octavia. She reached into the wardrobe and picked out one of Octavia’s many bow ties, a pink one. “Here you go, you know you’re not quite Octy without one of these.”

Accepting the strip of cloth Octavia tied it around her neck, not an easy task for an earth pony.

“Perfect!” exclaimed Vinyl.

“I’m sure a certain stallion won’t be able to keep his eyes off of you,” noted Lyra with a sparkle in her eyes.

The rest of the mares nodded their agreement.

Octavia eyed the mirror for a moment, she felt the bow tie was a little over the top with the dress and hat but then shook her head, she should accept her friends judgement in this matter, no doubt they understood this sort of thing better than she did.

“We should head off,” noted Bluenote, “We don’t want to be late for our own party.”

The friends made their way out of Octavia’s room and towards the stairs when Bon Bon stuck her head out of her room. “Are you girls off to the dance now?” she asked. “Do you mind if I tag along?”

“I would be honoured if you could join us,” said Octavia.

“Thanks,” said Bon Bon as she stepped out of her bedroom, she was wearing a pair of tight cut-off jeans and a red checkered blouse tied into a knot. Lyra’s head shot round as her sweetheart came fully into view her eyes growing large and a smile starting to spread across her face. Unfortunately she had been trying to navigate the stairs in her dress at the same time and she tripped flying head over tail and landing in a heap at the bottom.

“Oh my! Lyra!” cried Bon Bon rushing down the stairs after the fallen unicorn. “Are you alright?” She reached out a hoof to help Lyra to stand.

“Fine, I’m fine,” muttered Lyra accepting the hoof and pulling herself to her hooves. Then she seemed to realise what was going on and pulled back her hoof with a touch of regret. “It will take more than a few steps to see off a seasoned kraken rider such as myself,” she boasted.

Bon Bon giggled, “Of course, how silly of me.”

Lyra smiled beatifically and absentmindedly rubbed the hoof that Bon Bon had touched.

Knowing that the mint unicorn would probably be happy to spend all night staring into Bon Bon’s eyes Octavia cleared her throat. “We should make our way to the dance now.”

“Oh, of course,” said Lyra pulling herself away from Bon Bon. She swung open the door. “After you,” she said gesturing to Bon Bon who gave a small curtsey and walked through it. The rest of the group grinned to themselves at Lyra’s behaviour only to follow Bon Bon through the portal.

Outside a thin line of ponies could already be seen making their way towards the Apple farm, it looked like the whole town was going to be there thought Octavia and the warm feeling of companionship started to fade to be replaced by her fear of rejection.

The walk to Sweet Apple Acres seemed to end almost before it had begun, the distance having been eaten up by the pleasant company surrounding Octavia. All too soon the large red mass of the barn came into sight. Around it was a herd of ponies rushing around getting everything ready, several tents had been set up to provide more space for the guests.

“Looks like the Apples have called in the whole family,” said Bluenote gazing around at all the ponies rushing around.

“Well there aren't that many Ponyville natives who don’t have some Apple in them somewhere,” said Bon Bon, “The clan did found the town. I’m,” she did a quick mental calculation, “Three sixteenth Apple, give or take. It doesn’t come up much apart from the odd family reunion. Most of you aren't from Ponyville but I bet if Lyra or Bluenote checked their family tree’s they’d find a few apple seeds here and there.”

“Humm,” said Bluenote looking up, “Yeah, I think I’ve got some Apple on my mother’s side, a great grandmother I think.”

“Hi cus’,” said Bon Bon with a smile waving at Bluenote.

Swinging her head around Octavia looked for a certain Apple amongst the crop below but there was no sign of Big Macintosh. She was uncertain whether this was a good or bad thing. She did not want him to see her dance in case she make a fool of herself, but on the other hoof she did want him to want to see her dance, maybe, she was a little confused on the subject.

Medley must have seen the look of trepidation on Octavia’s face as she moved back slightly to stand alongside the grey mare. “Don’t worry,” she whispered, “You’ll do fine, you were a quick learner, and nopony is going to judge you.”

“Come on everypony,” cried Lyra from the front of the group, “Glory awaits us!”

They trotted down the hill towards the barn through the toiling ponies still putting the last preparations for the night’s festivities together. The group of attractive mares dressed in their finery got several appraising looks from the Apples as they past. One petite mare wolf whistled loudly as Bon Bon passed causing the cream pony’s coat to turn pink and Lyra to glare at the whistler looking like she was ready to challenge her to a duel.

The barn itself was larger, and cleaner, than Octavia had expected. It was well lit with firefly lanterns and a stage had been set up at the far end where a small band was setting up. Behind them was a bulky shape covered by a tarpaulin, some form of farming equipment? A large area had been cleared in front of the stage, the dance floor she assumed, its size was rather intimidating, well over a hundred ponies would be needed to fill such a space. Around the walls were various tables covered with a smattering of snacks. Off to one side a mound of barrels had been set up and tapped. There was a short queue of thirsty ponies waiting to get drinks, Octavia recognised Rainbow Dash waiting impatiently among them.

They were early but the barn was already starting to rapidly fill up, it looked like the half the town was here already as well as Applejack’s relatives. Octavia felt her mouth go dry, all of these ponies watching her! She fought against her feelings, she had performed to larger groups. But the butterflies in her stomach reminder her that then she had been using a skill she had practiced for years, not just a few days.

“Well, howdy, girls,” called Applejack catching sight of them from the stage and galloping over to meet them. “Glad you could all make it, seeing as this whole shindig is in your honour.”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” said Vinyl.

“I must thank you again for such an honour,” said Octavia with a bow. The rest of the party also gave their thanks.

“Well, it’s not everyday somepony saves the whole entire world is it? Now the music's going to start in about half an hour so you’ve got time to get a bite to eat, have a drink, take a load off. Bluenote, you might want to stick your head into the foal’s tent I know there’s some young fans who’d like to thank you.”

“Foal’s tent?” asked Octavia.

“Over yonder,” Applejack pointed at one of the tents near the barn. “Pinkie, Cheerilee and a few others are running a party just for the little ones. Keeps them out of our manes for the night so their parents can have fun without having to worry about them.”

“That seems a good idea.”

“Thanks, plus it keeps Pinkie busy, that girl’s a real firecracker she’s got the energy to keep up with the foals. Well I got some organising still to do, I hope you all enjoy yourselves,” Applejack passed Octavia a paper cup before rushing off back to the stage.

“Octavia, sniffed the drink before taking a sip, it had a strong taste of apple and made her tongue tingle a little. “Is this alcoholic?” she asked.

Medley took a gulp from her own drink. “Oh, yeah!” she sighed visibly relaxing. “This is some of the Apple’s hard cider, it’s the good stuff alright, probably just out of storage. I’m surprised they’re giving this away for free.”

“You might want to go steady on that stuff,” said Vinyl. “We don’t want you falling down before the dancing even starts.”

“This is a night for fun you know, but don’t worry. I’ll pace myself,” said Medley taking a smaller sip of her drink.

For a moment Octavia considered taking a swig, it might calm her nerves, but getting drunk was unlikely to help her dancing. She put down the glass, “Do they have something non-alcoholic?”

“There is some pop over there,” said Fluttershy pointing to a number of bottles near the drinks table.

“I’ve got some ponies I want to chat to,” said Bon Bon. “I’ll see you girls later.” She wandered off into the crowd.

“Mum and Dad are probably about somewhere,” said Lyra waving a hoof in the general direction of a large group of ponies. “I’d better tell them of my latest exploits before things get loud.”

“I should probably check on my parental units as well,” nodded Vinyl. “They were supposed to make it, although Dad probably can’t drag himself away from work.” She scowled.

“I’d like to check on the foals,” said Bluenote with a smile. “Pinkie’s probably worked them into a frenzy already.”

“Oh, I see Mr Rich,” said Fluttershy hovering about the crowd. “I want to talk to him about a donation to the phoenix sanctuary.” She slowly bobbed away through the crowd.

Octavia watched her friends disappear into the crowd on their own errands and suddenly felt very alone. The barn was packed with ponies and she knew so few of them.

“Hey cheer up,” said Medley noting Octavia’s expression. “They’ll be back soon, let’s go check out the band while they’re tuning up.”

Octavia tried to put on a smile. “Thank you, I’d like that.”

“Whoo-we did you get a look at that Octavia in her fancy dress? She sure is a classy mare,” whistled Caramel Apple leaning on a tree.

“I haven't noticed,” muttered Big Mac hefting a basket full of apples onto his back as easily as if it were empty. The big stallion was dressed in his finest, a white shirt covered by a brown jacket, his harness was sitting unused in his bedroom for once.

“Really, ‘cause from what I heard Applejack gossiping about earlier she’s sweet on you.”

“Really?” asked the big stallion in surprise, then he seemed to shrink slightly. “It don’t matter none.”

“Well I hear she could hardly keep her eyes off of you.”

“You know I don’t like folks staring,” said Mac shivering slightly.

“Look there’s staring, and there’s staring, I’m sure this was the good kind cus’.”

“I don’t like standing out all the time. I want to be just like everypony else, just like you”

“Yeah, that’s me alright, just a face in the crowd,” exclaimed Caramel angrily.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way,” said Mac leaning down to the smaller stallion.

Caramel sighed, “Yeah I know you didn’t mean anything by it. I owe you and Applejack a lot for taking me in, I’m real thankful.”

“We needed the help and you’re family, we couldn’t leave you hanging.”

“Yeah, I’m still going to pay you back one day.” And maybe today could be that day, he thought. “Look, if you’re not going to make a move on Octavia I think I might. Like I said she sure is classy, and easy on the eyes. I’ve heard stories of what those repressed noble types are like when they let their manes down.” He turned towards the barn, suddenly there was a pain in his hindquarters and he was yanked back.

“Enope!” growled Big Mac through a mouthful of Caramel’s tail almost lifting the smaller stallion off the ground.

“Looks like you do care then,” said Caramel as Mac dropped him.

“Just don’t want to see her get hurt, she just saved us all.”

“Hey, I know how to treat a lady!”

“Yeah, until you get bored and find another, you’re a heartbreaker, Caramel Apple. She’s not a local gal, she don’t know what you’re like. She’ll want more than you can give.”

“Well if you don’t want me to have her why not ask her yourself?” said Caramel with a sly smile.

“I... I... I wouldn’t know what to say, I can’t talk,” muttered Mac.

“You’re talking to me now aren't you?”

“That’s different, you’re family.”

“Well play your cards right and maybe she’ll end up being part of the family,” he winked causing Mac to blush even more. “Look, just walk up to her and say, I like you. That’s always a good start.”

The giant stallion shook his head.

Caramel sighed. “You’re hopeless you know. This is a dance, just ask her to dance. Come on, you know you want to,” he teased.

“I... I’ll try.”

“Good, now just take that last basket to the kitchen and we can both get to the barn, it should be starting anytime now.”

The band had finished warming up and had started to play a few tunes. A few ponies were already trotting around on the dance floor but the formal barn dancing had not yet started. Octavia looked up at the band, they were clearly amateurs but had a reasonable skill level. A yellow mare with a carefully styled brown mane was playing a lively fiddle tune, she was very good, she could probably go professional if she put a bit more effort into her craft. She even looked a little familiar, had she seen her around town recently? thought Octavia, or maybe even in Canterlot? “Do you know that mare?” she asked Bluenote who had returned from meeting the foals and was now chewing her way through an apple pie. Medley had finished her first drink and had gone for a refill, if that was pacing herself, it seemed to be a very fast pace.

The music teacher looked up, “She’s one of Applejack’s family I think...” then she blinked and looked back and forth between her friend and the fiddler.

“Say Octavia, you have a sister right?”

“Yes, two of them, Viola and Medley, why?”

“Have you counted them recently?”

“Counted?” said Octavia frowning. “What do you mean?”

“Never mind.”

“Hey Octy, come and meet the folks,” called Vinyl grabbing Octavia by the arm and dragging her across the floor. Octavia blinked, she was suddenly surrounded by a herd of ponies, all tribes and colours were present but the majority were white coated unicorns and all had a certain resemblance to her friend, a common muzzle shape. There were dozens of them, maybe fifty or even more, surely they couldn't all be related to Vinyl, could they? They she thought of the apple clan, maybe they could. “Are these all your family?” she hissed to Vinyl.

“Yep,” she replied with a grin, “This isn’t even all of them, the Scratch clan more or less run a lumber mill a bit to the west. Dad’s always found it easier to employ family than pay a fair wage. Course, most of them are cousins and the like.” About two thirds of the crowd waved a hoof at this. “But these are my brothers,” she pointed to a herd of white unicorns of varying ages from their thirties to foals of maybe only one or two years. “Octy these are,” she took a deep breath, “Douglas, Alder, Yew, Spruce, Ash, Hemlock, Oak, Beech, Birch, Popular, Persimmon, Cedar, Teak and Hickory Scratch. Say hi to Octy guys.” There was a chorus of greetings. Octavia did not have a clue which one was which, in fact her head was spinning just from the names.

One of the brothers, maybe a few years younger than Vinyl, stepped forwards, “And this is our sister Vir...”

“Before you finish that sentence ‘Simmon you might want to remember I’ve still got those pictures of you in mom’s dress, and didn’t that lipstick just suit your mane?” said Vinyl leaning casually against a beam.

“Err, Vinyl Scratch,” said Persimmon, his brothers chuckling at him.

“Good boy. Now did I forget anypony?”

“You forgot your littlest brother,” came a mare’s voice and the crowd of ponies parted as an older white coated unicorn with a dark blue mane speckled with grey walked up, resting on her back was a sleeping colt only a few months old. “Mahogany.”

“Oh, yeah! How could I forget little Mogwy,” said Vinyl trotting over and tickling the foal who twitched in his sleep. “Octy, this is my broodmare, I mean mother, Fruitful Garden.”

“Virola Yvonne Scratch!” exclaimed Fruitful causing her daughter to shudder. “That is no way to talk any me in front of your friend.”

“Sorry Mom,” although she didn’t seem very embarrassed.

“Besides, I think Mahogany might be the last brother you get.”

“You said that after Hick, and Titchy and Cedar, they stop being a baby and go all broody again. Face it, you just can't keep your tail down, Mom.”

“From the talk I've heard around town you might have the same problem my girl. Am I going to hear the pitter patter of tiny hooves from you any time soon?”

“Mom! I use protection, never ride bareback, always use a saddle,” she gave Octavia a wink.

Octavia blushed, she could not imagine discussing such things in public with her parents. In fact her parents had been too embarrassed to discuss such things in private, resulting in a somewhat exaggerated lesson from Viola. Luckily the Princess of Love herself had been in place to sort out the misunderstandings after Octavia had refused to play an instrument previously handled by a colt for fear of getting pregnant.

“Vinyl!” came a further call as a tall muscular white unicorn stallion stomped up to her. “Don’t back talk to your mother. You’ve got to pay more respect to the plank you were cut from, my girl.”

“Dad!” cried Vinyl in joy, for a moment Octavia thought her friend she was going to nuzzle the stallion before she seemed to bring herself under control. “I didn’t think you’d be able to make it.”

“Well,” the older stallion fidgeted a bit. “Sometimes you have to cut against the grain to get the best edges.”

Vinyl frowned as the stallion turned to Octavia. “You must be Octavia. I’m Sawdust, I believe I have yourself and my daughter’s other friends to thank for saving the world.”

“We couldn’t have done it without your daughter,” said Octavia modestly.

“Yes, she is a unique timber all right,” he smiled at his daughter.

“You betcha, there I was fighting the evil twin of the Princess herself and I was throwing out some sick beats at the same time. She zigged left so I zagged right, it was awesome, epic.”

“‘Sick beats?’ were you ill?” a little worry started to edge into the stallions tone.

Vinyl sighed at her father’s confusion. ”No, it means my wubs were awesome.”

“You know I don’t understand your music Virola.”

“Dad! It’s Vinyl, and my music is where it’s going to be. Ponies love it. You’ll see, I’m gonna be famous. Big Club’s going to introduce me to his cousin.”

“I don’t know Vinyl, are you sure you don’t want to move back home? The things you can do with machinery we could find a place for you, and you could do your music thing in your free time,” said Sawdust hopefully

“We’ve talked about this before, dad. I have a good thing in Ponyville, I’ve got friends and it’s easy to get to Canterlot and other big venues. Hang around and later you’ll see how good my music is.”

Before Sawdust could reply Applejack’s megaphone amplified voice boomed out across the barn. “Ok, folks. It’s about time for us to kick off this shindig. Now if you clear a space we can get the dancing started.”

“Come on Octy,” called Vinyl grabbing the grey mare’s arm. “We better get up there.”

“Maybe we could sit out the first dance?” suggested Octavia looking nervously at the dance floor. “It looks a little crowded.” Indeed the dance floor area was rapidly filling up as ponies started to partner up and get into position.

“Come on, this party’s in our honour, we can’t sit it out. Are you still worried about messing up?”

“A bit,” admitted Octavia, “But not as much as I was, Medley told me nopony would care but I’m worried I am not prepared enough, the ponies deserve my best.” Octavia’s ears drooped.

“Octy, you won’t get it wrong, you’re awesome, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you play a note wrong and even I get the wrong beat sometimes.”

“That is different, I know I am good with my cello, I have practiced long and hard to reach my current skill level but I have only had a few days to practice this dance.”

“You’ve got to step out of your comfort zone occasionally. No one will be on your back about your dancing, well unless Mac can’t control himself.” She wiggled her eyebrows.

“Vinyl!” gasped Octavia sounding shocked.

The white unicorn stuck out her tongue. Causing the grey mare to giggle slightly, she could count on her friends to try and make her feel better.

The crowd opened up and suddenly Octavia found herself standing not far from the stage with what seemed like the entire town looking on at her. She knew intellectually that she had performed in front of bigger crowds but for a moment she felt so small and flashed back to her first public performance as a foal. For a second she wished her mother and father were here to make her feel better. Then she pulled herself together, she was a grown mare. Still she was glad she had worn a bow tie, that always reminded her of her father and the confidence he had given her for her first performance.

“Now this party is in aid of a certain group of heroic ponies who braved the worst the Everfree could throw at them, and even the twin tyrants themselves to save not only us but the whole of Equestria. Some of them have lived in Ponyville all their lives while others first arrived only a week or so ago,” cried Applejack from her place on the stage. “Now I’d like you to all put your hooves to the planking for our very own heroes, the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony.”

The racket was incredible as every single pony in the barn almost was one began to stomp their forehooves on the ground. Some hooted and hollered or otherwise shouted their thanks. The sound struck Octavia like a blow but instead of driving her down she felt like she was lifted into the air. Vinyl stuck out her chest and grinned at the attention and even Fluttershy, although looking slightly overwhelmed, seemed to enjoy the attention.

It took several minutes for the noise to die down. “Now that’s enough of that for the moment,” said Applejack once she could be heard over the cheers, “We don’t want their heads to get too big to get out of the door. Still we got some other things arranged for later to show our appreciation, but for the moment I think we should just let them lead us in our first dance, come on down here girls,” she called.

The six element bearers started to form up into pairs while the rest of the crowd started to disperse into their own circles. To make up the eight ponies needed for a square dance the bearers were joined by the mayor and a light red coated stallion with a curly black mane that Octavia had not seen before. The mayor nodded to each of the other mares as she took her place, Octavia thought the nod given to her was a little curter than the others.

From the stage the band started to play and Octavia tried to stop the butterflies in her stomach, maybe a glass or two of the cider would have helped? After a moment’s hesitation Medley strolled over and took up a place to Octavia’s left, she was glad for the other mare’s companionship. The two of them had the most experience dancing with each other and Medley had taken the ‘stallions’ role in the dance. Meanwhile Fluttershy and Vinyl and Bluenote and Lyra had paired up positioning themselves in a rough circle.

“Ok, folks were going to start with an easy one as some of our guests might not be used to how we swing the Ponyville way. So first up is what I like to call the Apple Star. First up join hooves.

All of the dancers reared up and locked their forelegs together leaning into each other to remain stable. To Octavia’s right Vinyl gave her arm a squeeze to show her support.

Circle up big ,” ordered Applejack as the dancers tottered back, “Circle to the left and you don’t be late.

Swing your partner high and low,
Now promenade with heel and toe. ” The ponies all dropped back to all fours and Medley swung Octavia around before the two of then trotted around in a circle.

All four mares go into the middle and a’back to the bar .” Octavia moved to the centre of the circle with Ivory, Fluttershy and Bluenote only stopping long enough to bump hooves before retreating again.

Colts go in with a right hoof star ,” the designated ‘stallions’ moved in and spun around, one leg held out. ““Now left hoof back.” The smoothly turned and headed back the other way.

Now switch partners take the next right by your side. ” Rearing again the circling dancers held out a hoof to catch their partners and draw then in, Octavia staggered slightly as Vinyl linked hooves with her but no one seemed to notice.

Colts swing out and the mares in,
Its once and a half and you’re gone again. ” Vinyl hurled Octavia around grinning at her crazily, the earth pony was only just able to keep her hoofing, being forced to hold on to her new hat, but oddly she couldn’t feel bad about it, something about the atmosphere was contagious.

Break that star and swing. ” Once again Vinyl twirled Octavia around. “Promenade around the ring. ” They trotted around the circle at a more leisurely pace for a moment.

Join hooves and circle to the left eight steps you go, the other way back and you don’t be slow. ” Once again the dancers all linked up Lyra joined Octavia on her left.

Couple one go down the centre hoe and plow. ” For a moment Octavia froze, what was hoe and plough? Medley hadn’t taught her that move. Then Vinyl pulled her forwards through the outstretched legs of Ivory and Lyra and then under as the whole chain turned itself inside out.

Couple two go down the centre,
Couple three go right on through,
Couple four you know what to do. ” In turn each of the other pairs repeated the move.

All four mares go into the middle and back to the bar
Colts go in with a right hoof star
Now left hoof back
That’s that mare, now take the next. ” Once again the dancers switched partners leaving Octavia in Lyra’s hooves.

Now inside out and outside in
Now do that Apple star again
Break it apart then swing
Now promenade
Join hooves and circle to the left,
Eight hooves are out “ The mint unicorn’s style was different from her white tribe mate whereas Vinyl seemed to put the greatest possible effort into her moves Lyra was gentler but faster hopping in place whenever there was nothing else for her to do. Octavia found it a little distracting.

Other way back or you’re going wrong. ” Prompted Applejack, Octavia realised she had missed a turn and spun around her cheeks burning. Her eyes flickered here and there, nopony seemed to have noticed.

Couple one Go hoe and plough
Couple two you cut ‘em up short
Now Couple three
Last ones, Couple four go through that door
All four mares go into the middle and back to the bar
Colts go in with a right hoof star
Now left hoof back from where you are
Here comes the next one by your side .” This time Octavia linked hooves with the unknown stallion. He seemed a little nervous his eyes flicked back and forth between her and Ivory who was pointedly looking away from them.

Colts swing out to the Everfree
Once and half now gone again
Break it apart then swing
Now promenade
Join hooves now circle to the left then right
The other way now, now another way around
Couple one Go through that door hoe and plough around the floor
Couple two your lead ‘em on through
Now three
And now were through to couple four
All for mares go into the middle and back to the bar
Colts go in with a right hoof star
Now left hoof back
Take the other one by your side, ” Octavia found herself back with Medley who grinned at her reassuringly. Now they were back to their original partners the dance must be almost over and no one seemed to have noticed her mistakes, a wave of relief washed through her.

Now inside out and outside in
Break it apart and swing
Promenade two by two
Now join your hooves that’s what you do
Now circle to the left eight hooves
Other way back the best you can
Go into the middle with a great big shout, ” The entire barn seemed to break out in a yell, “Yehaa!” surprised Octavia staggered back slightly.
Couple one go hoe and plough
Couple two you know what to do
Now three
And couple four go through that door. ” Still off balance Octavia lost her grip as she and Medley passed through the ring of dancers and she staggered forwards onto a tan stallion with a well styled brown mane sending them both tumbling to the ground. Recovering Octavia cringed awaiting the hash laughter she deserved for believing she belonged here. To her surprise the laughter, although immediate, was light. “If you wanted a dance you only had to ask him,” called one spectator.

“I guess she’s the forward type,” replied another with a grin.

“Are you alright?” asked the stallion helping her to her hooves.

“F-fine thank you,” stuttered Octavia.

“You better get back to your dance,” he gently pushed her towards her waiting partner.

And when you’re home you swing her high and swing her low
Now promenade around the floor. ” Continued Applejack as if nothing had happened.

“See I told you no pony would care if you made a mistake,” whispered Medley.

“I... I see, I apologize,” muttered Octavia, still surprised.

“You’re far from the worst dancer here,” she said indicating a white coated teen aged unicorn mare with a curly red mane who was stomping around with much more enthusiasm than skill. Her blue pegasus partner looked rather nervous as he struggled to avoid her wildly flailing hooves.

That’s all there is there ain't no more, ” exclaimed Applejack and the music behind her stopped. “Woo wee, now that got the blood pumping. Now we’re all warmed up, in fact it looked like Octavia might have gotten a little too excited. There was a ripple of laughter through the crowd. “So let’s move on to something a little more interesting...”

Author's Note:

So meet the Scratch clan, G&C2 has mostly let me design Vinyl's family and background the fool! *mad laughter*

I tried to come up with a bunch of Scratch related names but I just couldn't come up with enough so I went for a wood based theme. Virola is a south American tree who's sap has hallucinogenic properties.

As always comments are appreciated