• Published 27th Apr 2015
  • 986 Views, 52 Comments

Family - Talon and Thorn

A series of short stories and extended scenes featuring various characters from the Lunaverse all on the general theme of families.

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In Loco Parentis

Cheerilee ran her gaze over her foals checking that they were all safe and happy. Here a pair of fillies were throwing a ball back and forth, there a small herd was playing tag, and over there more were gathered in a huddled conversation. She smiled, everything seemed normal. Of course they weren’t technically her foals, but for several hours a day she sort of borrowed them from their parents, protected them and cared for them like they were her own family. There was an ancient pegasus term for the relationship between teachers and their students, in loco parentis, in place of the parent. It had originally been a bond where the master would teach the student the art of war and be required to die in their place until the training was concluded. She hoped it wouldn’t come to that, but she did take her responsibility seriously.

Still, it was nice to have a little time to herself. Sometimes, when she had lots of marking to do, she’d have lunch inside the schoolhouse and leave the kids to themselves, but when possible she liked to spend her time near them. Maybe it wasn’t the most relaxing of breaks but she wanted to be there on hoof if they needed her. She had propped herself on a bench near a table in the shade of her little school; from there she could see almost every corner of the playground while still having a sense of privacy.

She carefully unwrapped her rather meagre lunch, she was on a diet after realising she’d put on a bit of weight recently. It was surprising given all her adventures since having become the element of laughter but she supposed she was a little more sedentary than she’d been as a younger mare. She sighed as she looked down at the rather unappetizing cucumber sandwich in front of her, the dry hay seemed even less attractive. Why did things that were good for you taste so much worse than things that were bad? Case to point, there, part hidden under a napkin, was the block of toffee that Bon Bon had given her to sample when she’d last bumped into her. It was apparently a new recipe and Bon Bon wanted her to review it for her. It certainly smelt amazing, and she’d been so good at keeping to her diet so far, surely she deserved a little treat? She carefully lifted the sweet onto her hoof and sniffed it feeling the scent waft into her nose, her mouth began to water as she opened it...

“Miss Cheerilee!” came a cry from near the ground. Covering up a sigh, Cheerilee put down her untouched treat and turned to see which of her charges needed her this time; it was a sky blue coated filly with a two tone purple mane through which the tip of her horn protruded.

“What is it Tootsie Flute?” asked Cheerilee with a practiced smile.

“Miss Cheerilee, me and Dinky were playing with my ball when I managed to throw it really hard and it zoomed up into the sky like a balloon it got stuck in a tree and now we can’t get it back!”

Cheerilee glanced at the toffee with sad eyes, no treat for her right now then. “Ok Tootsie, I’ll give you a hoof,” she agreed, wrapping up the remains of her lunch. She was sure none of her kids would touch it while she was away, but she didn’t want to leave too much of a temptation in place.

The two of them trotted across the playground to the medium sized tree which dominated one corner of the school yard. Beneath it sat Dinky Doo staring up into its branches. Cheerilee glanced up and could just about make out the ball that was lodged near the top of the tree. “You got it really high,” she noted.

“Yeah, I had a surge,” replied Tootsie sounding a little embarrassed, “I didn’t mean to get it stuck up there.”

“That’s alright dear,” Cheerilee made to note to herself to mention it to Tootsie’s parents. It wasn’t the first time she’d lost control of her magic recently. Unicorns near puberty often suffered sudden temporary increases in their powers, she recalled Lyra snapping a few strings back in the day, but if it kept happening they should get her checked out. Better safe than sorry. “Now let’s see about getting it down.” She considered for a moment, it was probably too high for her to poke with a stick and the tree wasn’t really strong enough for her to climb. She could buck the tree but she didn’t want to risk damaging it, maybe she could throw something or... ah, yes a little extra lesson. “Ok girls, how do you think we can get the ball down?”

“I don’t know Miss Cheerilee,” said Dinky, “It’s too high for my magic.” Her horn lit for a moment but fizzled out.

“I suppose we could climb,” said Tootsie looking unsure. “But it’s a long way.”

“Yes, it’s far too dangerous for that,” agreed Cheerilee, she was glad she was having the conversation with Tootsie rather than Scootaloo, she would probably already be half way up the trunk. That filly seemed to be into climbing recently, probably the bad example she had been set on the recent trip to Canterlot; that Baron Mix, or whatever his name was, had a lot to answer for! “If you have a problem and you can’t solve it, you ask for help!”

“I thought we did Miss,” said Tootsie looking unsure.

“Yes, but you can always ask your friends. Featherweight, can you come over here for a moment?” she called.

The thin pegasus looked up from where he had been chatting to Rumble. “Miss Cheerilee?” he asked looking nervous.

“Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. Could you fly up there and retrieve Tootsie’s ball please?”

“Not a problem,” he said before gracefully ascending to the top of the tree. Cheerilee smiled, she had chosen correctly, the colt was one of the better fliers in her class. With a quick kick he knocked the ball out of the branch and sent it falling back to earth. Stepping back a few paces Cheerilee allowed it to bounce on her head several times before rolling it along her back and using her tail to swipe it towards its owner so it came to a stop at her hooves. There was a little gasp from several of the foals around. Nice to see I’ve got a career in hoofball if teaching doesn’t work out, she thought.

“There you are,” said Cheerilee, “So if there’s something you can’t do yourself you should ask a friend for help, and together you can get it done.” That was a good moral for the day, she thought, probably worth a slice of toffee.

“Yeah,” said Featherweight returning from the top of the tree. “Because pegasus are the best tribe.”

No, thought Cheerilee, her mood souring, she was not going to have talk like that in her playground, even if he probably didn’t mean it in a bad way. Better to nip this in the bud now. “Each tribe has its own strengths you know.”

“But nopony but a pegasus could have gotten that ball back,” he boasted.

“Well many unicorns could have used their aura to get it down, and earth ponies could have shaken the tree.”

“Well maybe,” he muttered no seeming that convinced.

“Could you give me your camera for a moment?” she asked, it seemed to almost be attached to him, she’d only just managed to persuade him not to wear it in class. Nervously the colt complied. “Thank you. Now what would you do if something like this happened?” Quickly she lifted one of the rocks that marked the border of the school grounds and carefully dropped the camera’s strap under it before letting it fall. “How would you get the camera back?”

Featherweight looked appalled for a moment then dropped to the ground and pulled at the camera with no effect, after a moment he leaned heavily against the rock trying to shift it without any success.

“Girls,” said Cheerilee, “Would you help him, please.”

Looking confused, the two unicorns ignited their horns and tried to help their classmate. Together they could just about move the rock but not enough to free the strap. While they tried, Cheerilee glanced around the playground for a possible volunteer. She noticed a short grey earth pony colt with a curly mane nearby, Truffle Shuffle, perfect. The colt and Tootsie Flute had been flirting like mad for the last few months, of course given their age that only meant a lot of mane pulling and giggling behind their hooves, but she was sure he would be happy to be able to show off in front of the object of his crush. “Truffle dear,” she called, “Can you come over here for a moment?”

“Sure Miss Cheerilee,” said the short colt cheerfully, he noticed Tootsie and averted his eyes, meanwhile a slight blush appeared on her cheeks. So cute, thought Cheerilee.

“Featherweight's camera has gotten stuck, do you think you can lend a hoof?”

“Uh, ok,” he said wandering over to the rock and pushed against it. For a moment, Cheerilee worried she might have underestimated the rock’s weight, then with a grunt the colt put his back into it and the rock started to lift slightly. Without prompting, Dinky and Tootsie used their aura to help support the weight while Featherweight rushed forwards and grabbed the camera, pulling it free.

“There you are,” said Cheerilee with a smile, “All three of the tribes have their own strengths, but they are even stronger all working together.”

“Yeah,” said Featherweight cradling his camera protectively, “I get it.”

“Thanks for your help,” said Tootsie hugging Truffle who was glowing red with embarrassment, “You’re very strong.” Cheerilee hoped they would name their first foal after her.

“Would you like to play ball with us?” said Dinky to the two colts.

“Sure,” said Featherweight.

“You take that back!” came a shrill cry.

“No! It’s the truth and everypony knows it the truth!” came a retort.

Pausing half way back to her lunch, Cheerilee looked around for the source of the voices. To her surprise she saw two fillies standing almost snout to snout, one grey coated with large glasses and the other pink with a delicate crown on her head. Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara? What could they be fighting about? They had used to be the best of friends, although their relationship had started to deteriorate a little recently, they seemed to spend less time together than they used to. It was a little sad but it was only to be expected, Luna knows Cheerilee didn’t spend much time with all of her friends from school anymore. In addition, Silver had been rather quiet for the last few days. Normally she was one of the first to raise her hoof in class, but she’d been more reserved recently. Cheerilee shook herself out of her introspection, she should intervene between the feuding fillies before things got out of hoof.

“Girls!” she called. “What are you arguing about?”

The two fillies jumped apart with matching guilty expressions on their faces. “Nothing,” they mumbled.

“Well it certainly sounded like something,” said Cheerilee.

“Well...” began Diamond.

“She said her daddy was more important than mine!” blurted out Silver.

“Well he is!” insisted the pink filly.

“No he’s not, all your daddy has is a big shop, mine has contacts all across Equestria and even further than that! Just last week he got a vase all the way from Chooma.”

“Shouma,” corrected Cheerilee automatically. This was a tricky one. Looking at it objectively Filthy Rich probably was a more important pony that Sterling Silver, he was after all a member of the town council and maybe the richest pony in town, if not by much, but she could hardly break the heart of a little filly by telling her that, or inflate Diamond Tiara’s ego anymore. She’d had enough trouble with these two when they went through their ‘looking down on blank flanks’ phase a few months ago, she didn’t want any more problems. “Silver, why do you think it’s important that your father is more important that Diamond’s?”

“Because he is! He’s a really important pony! He’s the most important pony!” She stamped a small hoof on the ground in agitation her tail lashing about. She seemed really upset about this.

“I’m sure he’s one of the most important ponies in the world to you,” said Cheerilee soothingly, “because he’s your father, and Diamond’s father is the most important pony to her because he’s her father, you both love them very much, and they love you. But why is it important to you that she says your father is more important?”

Silver chewed on her lip for a moment, blinking quickly. “Because... because... because I heard daddy’s secretary say that business was down one... one whole percent this quarter. That means we’ll be poor ponies, and poor ponies don’t live in big houses so we’ll have to move!” Tears started to roll down the grey filly’s cheeks. “That sort of thing doesn’t happen to important ponies, so it can’t happen, it can’t!”

Cheerilee moved to comfort the distressed filly, and maybe teach her a little more about percentages, but to her surprise Diamond got there first and was hugging her friend. “You’ll never be a poor pony,” she said, “If you do have to move you can live with me and daddy! We can have sleepovers every night!”

“Thanks,” mumbled Silver leaning against her friend.

“Girls,” said Cheerilee, hugging both of the little ponies, “One percent really isn’t very much.” Given how much Sterling Silver made it was probably more bits than she’d see in a year, but still not much on his scale. “You won’t have to move because of that.”

“R...really?” said Silver looking up, her glasses making her eyes look huge.

“Really,” said Cheerilee, “Your father is an important pony, but you’re probably the most important pony to him.”

“Just not as important as my daddy,” piped up Diamond.

Cheerilee tried to stop herself grinding her teeth, the filly seemed to just want to spoil the moment. “That doesn’t really matter, I’m sure you’re the most important pony to your father as well.”

“I suppose,” said Silver wiping her glasses.

“Yeah,” agreed Diamond, resting one leg on her friends back, “both of us and our daddy’s are very important ponies!”

“Yes,” agreed her friend with more enthusiasm. Together the two of them ignored their teacher and started to march across the playground.

For a moment Cheerilee wondered if she’d created a pair of monsters, but at least they were happier now. She might not agree with all her little charges but she still loved them and was glad Silver felt better, she should probably ask Stirling to have a talk with his daughter about the situation. Peering over at the town hall clock Cheerilee decided she just had enough time to finish her meal before the break was over, and that she definitely deserved a treat now. She turned back towards her seat near the schoolhouse.

“Miss Cheerilee!” came a panicked cry and she felt a small body bounce off her barrel. She turned to see Scootaloo picking herself up, the poor foal seemed frantic, tears were dripping from her eyes. “Miss Cheerilee, meandSweetieBellwereplayingwithastickandIturnedandIhitherintheeyeandshe’sbleedingandthere’sbloodandshe’shurtandit’smyfault!” Even before her brain had fully translated the garbled message Cheerilee’s legs were already galloping in the direction the foal was indicating. There sat Sweetie Belle, one hoof held tightly to her eye, her white coat tinged red. Trying to fight down her panic, Cheerilee pushed through the small ring of ponies that had formed around the injured foal.

“Sweetie! Are you alright!?” she asked.

“My eye!” exclaimed the little filly, “It hurts!”

Trying not to panic Cheerilee carefully prised Sweetie’s hoof from her eye dreading what she would see. To her relief the organ itself seemed to be undamaged but there was quite a deep cut only a short distance above it, blood oozing from it. Objectively she knew that the injury was relatively mild, head wounds bled quite a bit. A gash like this wasn’t likely to be serious, but blood was coming out of one of her children! She struggled to maintain control, panicking would only set off the other foals. “It’s not that bad,” she said, with only a little waver in her voice.

“It hurts!” moaned Sweetie

“I know,” said Cheerilee nuzzling the injured filly, not caring if she got blood on her coat, “But we can go back to the schoolhouse and put a plaster on it and you’ll feel all better.”

“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry!” cried Scootaloo still in tears.

Cheerilee dithered for a moment; she wanted to comfort the distressed pegasus, but she had to see to Sweetie’s injury first. “Scootaloo, could you go and get the first aid kit please,” she commanded, that should get her focused on something useful and help calm her.

Blinking the little pegasus nodded and rushed off towards the school house barging past several other foals her wings blurring. Cheerilee gently helped the injured child follow in her classmate’s wake. Soon they arrived at the school, where Scootaloo had grabbed the box of bandages Cheerilee kept for just such occasions. She wished she didn’t have to use it quite as often as she did, but she supposed a few bumps and skinned knees were all part of growing up. She took a damp sponge and carefully wiped at the unicorn’s head while mumbling soothing nothings, Sweetie fidgeted it a bit but mostly held still. As she had expected, the wound itself looked much smaller now the blood was gone. Still she made sure to pick out the few tiny splinters in it, and cleaned it out with some iodine. The foal yelped in surprise at the stinging but otherwise was very brave. Finally Cheerilee fitted a bandage over the wound with tape, it would hurt a bit getting it off her coat, but it was better to keep it from getting dirty.

“There we are Sweetie, all done, and you were very good,” Cheerilee reached into the first aid kit for her secret cure all and presented the filly with a large lollipop, Sweetie took it and started to suck contentedly. “Now,” she said her tone turning darker, “How did this happen?” She turned to Scootaloo who was hovering nearby, her head hanging low like a condemned criminal.

“We... we were playing,” mumbled Scootaloo, “I... I was a guard.”

“And I was the princess,” added Sweetie brightly, seeming much recovered now.

“I found a stick, I was pretending it was a spear and I spun around and Sweetie was standing there, I didn’t know she was so close! And I... the stick... I’m sorry, I’m really really sorry.”

Cheerilee took a deep breath, she really wanted to tell the young pegasus that everything was alright, but she could have really hurt Sweetie Belle; you had to be cruel to your foals sometimes, even if it hurt. “You hit Sweetie in a really bad place, a little lower and you could have blinded her,” she said strictly.

“I know! I know!” wailed Scootaloo.

“But you didn’t, and she’s going to be alright, but you have to be more careful, real guards train for a long time to use spears so they don’t hurt themselves or their friends.”

“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry!” cried Scootaloo.

“I know you are,” said Cheerilee resting a hoof on the distraught filly, “But it isn’t me you should be apologizing to.”

“I’m sorry Sweetie, I really am, I’ll be more careful, no more sticks!”

“That’s ok,” mumbled Sweetie, hugging her friend, “How can you be my guard without a spear? I shouldn’t have gotten so close when you were swinging it around.”

Cheerilee smiled at the two fillies as she started to pack up the first aid kit and returned it to its place, hopefully not to be used for quite some time; she didn’t like having to patch up her foals.

She glanced over at the clock tower again, time to call the kids back inside again. She looked over at her unfinished meal, well that was one way to lose weight, she thought. Still maybe she deserved a treat tonight, a glass of wine to wash down Bon Bon’s toffee? That sounded about right after solving all the playground’s problems, In loco parentis indeed. She glanced around at all of her foals, and knew she wouldn’t have it any other way. She took the school bell in her mouth and shook it vigorously, “Come on children! Time for more learning!” she cried. As one her family turned to her and began to tramp back into the classroom.

Author's Note:

Another story I think has come out quite well showing Cheerilee's relationship with her foals and that parental bonds do not require blood.

As RDD pointed out it seems like I like hurting foals in my stories with Dinky getting a bonk on the head in 'Dinky's birthday' and Sweetie Bell almost getting blinded here.

Thanks to Rainbow Double Dash and Grass and Clouds 2 for their suggestions on this story and to docontra for his excellent editing.

Comments are always welcome.