• Published 1st Jul 2014
  • 3,106 Views, 359 Comments

Foal Fever - Distaff Pope

With a filly on the way, Vinyl's started dreaming about her glory days as Equestria's premier DJ. A mysterious potion offers her a chance to feel young again, and with Vinyl's youth restored, Octavia's pregnancy is suddenly a lot

  • ...

19. Apple Family Values (Octavia)

I stood in a barn, surrounded by several ponies in dark robes. The one in the center was attempting to cover her cowpony hat with a black hood. “The Council of Apples has convened ta listen to Octavia’s…” The pony who was obviously Applejack and my very distant relative glanced at the cloaked figure standing to her left. “Do we really have to go through all this hooplah? It’s not like Ah’m against tradition, but this whole thing… she came to our house to talk with us, and Ah know it’s a big deal whenever the Apple clans meet up to discuss business, but do we really need the cloaks?”

“We are determining the fate of the Estate lineage, whether they will be welcomed back into the fold or cast from the herd,” the pony next to her said. “In my capacity as the representative of the Fillydelphia Apples, I say that proper protocol be observed. For a decision as important as this we can not allow for any reproach.”

“The representative of the Manehattan Apples concurs. Protocol must be observed.” The other ponies in the council nodded and chanted “Protocol must be observed.” My years associating with the Apple family had taught me that they had an even greater interest in propriety than I did. If even one little detail wasn’t completed according to tradition, an investigation was conducted, and for our meeting, that meant they needed to wear robes.

“Alright, alright,” Applejack said, looking back down at the sheet of paper. “So, Octavia, you come here today to call off our attacks on your folks, right?”

I nodded at her, trying to ignore the other Apples staring at me. I tried to recall what Applejack told me to say before our meeting. If their war on my parents had taught me anything, upsetting the entirety of the Apple family would be a rather poor idea. “Indeed. My parents have lost all their assets excepting their savings account and their house, and of four hours ago the house was signed over to my name. At this point, any future hostilities would be excessive.”

“And what of the assets we seized?” the pony who claimed to be from Manehattan said, her voice had the typical upper-crust Manehattan tinge to it. “Our influence in Manehattan has more than tripled since our war began, returning such assets–”

“We wouldn’t be returnin’ ‘em since they’d still be a part of the Apple family,” Applejack said, interrupting the Manehattan Apple. “Unless ya all are considerin’ striking the Estate family from the herd.”

“Certainly not, although at this point it would just be exiling the one member. No, our biggest concern is that she would be unable to properly manage all the assets we claimed during this dispute. We must not weaken the Apple Conglomerate.”

The other Apples (sans Applejack) nodded in agreement. “I don’t care about whatever assets you took,” I said, “I just want hostilities to cease. If letting you keep control of… what did you rename Capitail Records?”

“Apple Records.”

“Of course,” I said, chastising myself. It had to be Apple Records, every business they controlled had the word Apple associated with it. At this point, it was more a brand name than a food. “Like I was saying, I have no interest in regaining control of whatever assets you seized, as long as hostilities can cease and our lineage can formally be welcomed back into the clan.” Even if we didn’t know we were related to the Apples until shortly before the conflict began, I’d still rather be friendly with them than not. Especially since they thought so poorly of ponies who abandoned their core tenants.

They whispered to each other for a few minutes while I stood and watched. As Applejack had explained it to me, talking while they deliberating was a quick way to earn their ire. “Your terms sound good,” Applejack said once the whispering had abated, “but a few of us want to know you won’t go ‘round actin’ like your parents did. Sayin’ the apple doesn’t far from the tree and such.”

“Applejack has known me for several years, she can vouch for me. I trust the Element of Honesty would be a suitable reference for my character.” As it had been explained to me, anonymity was important in these meetings, and calling anypony on the council there by name would throw the entirety of the proceedings into question. Again, I’m not sure why a group of ponies descended from apple farmers have such strange and byzantine rituals, but since I needed their help, I couldn’t complain too much, at least not out loud.

“Uh… yep, she sure can,” Applejack said, sounding rather uncomfortable as she struggled with the minute deception. “So, we know Tavi– Octavia is gonna be stickin’ to Apple family values and not goin’ against kin.” Her words brought up my doubts about my ability to raise my filly, doubts that had gotten even heavier as I considered how the fact I might be stuck as a teenager for the foreseeable future might impact my ability to raise a child. My mind went back to all the horror stories I had read about teenagers who had gotten themselves pregnant, and I imagined ponies judging me for my mistake. I made a note to ask Lyra about her progress on reversing the potion’s effects before we left for Manehattan. It had been several days and my parents still hadn’t noticed I had been transformed.

“If that’s everything, I need to write a few more letters before my train leaves tonight. Is there anything else you wish to discuss?” I said, looking at the various hooded ponies surrounding me. They all shook their heads. “Wonderful, then I really must be off, I need to talk with Lyra and then go about writing a letter to Princess Luna… or perhaps I should do the letter first.” On the other hoof, if I wrote the letter first, Vinyl would be at the house, and if we were together my odds of doing anything productive for the rest of the day plummeted. Unlike my other love, the cello, my time with Vinyl was something that was almost impossible for me to say no to. Honestly, it was a small wonder I was able to get out of bed every morning as I tended to wake up with my wife’s foreleg draped over me and keeping me close to her. There were very few sensations more enjoyable than that, and almost all of them involved my wife and our bed in some capacity.

I shook my head to dispel such thoughts as I left the barn, trying to focus on all the things I had to do before I could enjoy myself. Work first, pleasure later. I smiled as I imagined my evening at home. If I could pull myself away from Vinyl at some point tonight, I could spend a few hours practicing my cello. The more I thought about it, the more I found myself regretting the fact that I had volunteered to do all these unimportant trivialities. The only things in my life that were truly important were my cello playing and Vinyl, so why in Equestria was I helping parents who had completely disowned me?

Before I could think any further, I heard hoofsteps coming from behind me as I reached the extremity of Sweet Apple Acres. I looked behind me to find my sixth cousin Applejack running towards me. “Wait up!” she said as she drew closer. “Ah wanted to apologize to ya for all that stuff back there. It… the family’s pretty big on tradition, ya know?”

“Obviously, if the last five years didn’t make me aware of that, the shadowy council meeting for absolutely zero reason did.”

“Yeah,” she said, rubbing the back of her head, “look, I get that some of our big family customs are odd, but it’s just the way we always did ‘em. We were havin’ our secret council meetings and big ceremonies back when Granny’s granny was just a filly. Truthfully, the Ponyville Apples kind of went our own way ‘cause we thought some of them traditions were a mite silly.”

“Just a mite,” I said, gesturing for her to walk with me as I headed back towards town. “And I always thought I had a problem with propriety. It turns out my relatives are far worse than I. Strange how we have that in common, even though I grew up free of them.”

“It’s in the blood, right? Like how you and Pinkie both got that Pie gene, which now that I think about it, I wonder how many folks in the Apple Family got that?”

“I highly doubt I am the pony to ask, although if I indulge in some unfounded speculation, perhaps your family’s focus on ritual and tradition is their way of reducing the gene’s effects. After all, Pinkie’s parents were rock farmers, were they not?”

“Maybe,” Applejack said as we walked. “I don’t rightly know. Ah just wanted to apologize for back there; they think that just ‘cause somethin’ worked for them before that it will keep workin’. Ah like traditional values as well, but at least Ah got sense enough to see when somethin’ ain’t workin, and havin’ big secret shadowy meetings… well, it might work, but it’s a whole lotta unnecessary hooplah.”

“While I agree the whole thing is a touch excessive, it’s also… I don’t know, interesting to me. You had all these traditions growing up, these strange things that helped keep your family together, and I didn’t have anything like that. I had routine, certainly; I woke up, ate breakfast, played my cello, ate lunch, played my cello some more, ate dinner, and then played my cello a bit more before bed, but nothing like your Apple Family reunion or Hearth’s Warming celebrations.”

“Well, Ah’m sure y’all did somethin’ for Hearth’s Warming right?” she asked, frowning.

“Of course, there’d be gifts under the tree, I’d open them and we would spend the rest of the day doing as we wished. Hearth’s Warming was a day we could relax and unwind.”

Applejack blinked as we walked. “Pardon me, Tavi, but that sounds like the worst way to spend Hearth’s Warming ever. Where’s the family? Where’s the bonding? It ain’t just a day off, it’s time to spend with your family and kin.”

“I know. The last few years with Vinyl and her family have shown me that.” My lips turned upwards at the thought of my wife and I found myself wishing I could skip my business with Lyra to spend time with my wife. Certainly, I thought as we walked, it wouldn’t be so terrible if I waited to speak with her until after we returned. There was no real rush, and maybe Vinyl was right, maybe my regression was a good thing. Either way, I could wait to speak with Lyra until after our trip finished.

“Well, like Ah said, Ah ain’t against tradition or anything, but sometimes, Ah think maybe we Apples can get too focused on it. Just got to find the right balance, I guess.”

I nodded at her, smiling as I thought of my wife waiting at home for me. Yes, Lyra could definitely wait a few more weeks.

Author's Note:

So, for those of you who are reading this without reading the Royal Ponyville Orchestra, this chapter might or might not make no damned sense. I would recommend you go back and read RPO. Also, what was everyone's thoughts on that little bit of background lore I put in the Author's Note yesterday?

Edited by EquesTRON