• Published 6th Jul 2012
  • 13,522 Views, 874 Comments

Cutie Mark Catastrophes - Wintergreen Diaries

Cutie Mark Crusaders find their marks and look to new horizons; taming colts for themselves.

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Chapter 4: Discovery

“Good evening, Ponyville! How’s everypony doing tonight?” Sweetie Belle grinned as a chorus of cheers erupted from both sides of the tavern while she took to the stage. Rumble had taken longer than they expected, and all it took was a little coaxing for her to take the proverbial spotlight, in all its dim, small town glory. “What do you all feel like hearing tonight? That’s right, I’m looking for requests!” She strained her ears to sift through the answers, before one voice called out over the rest.

“All right, first selection will be ‘You Make my Heart Pound.’ Sit back, relax, hold your special somepony if ya got one, and don’t feel ashamed if you don’t. There’s one for everypony.” Beaming as she stooped down and brought up the selected tune, she closed her eyes and smiled as she recalled the lyrics, her mind on an equally taken purple dragon who was waiting with eager ears. After having so much talk of colts floating around, Ruby found herself invariably pondering the subject herself.

I wonder when I’ll find somepony? I’d never really thought about it before, since I spent so much time with mom, but now that she has somepony who can take care of her even better than I can, I wonder... if I’ll be able to think about romance... What would I even look for? Rumble is pretty nice, but I can’t say for sure if I like him, and if Applebloom does too, then... what would happen? Spike glanced away from the stage to find Ruby’s brow furrowed as she continued pondering the day’s developments, and she snapped back to reality as his voice came filtering through.

“Hey, Ruby? Are you ok?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, Spike.” Whether it was a blessing or a curse was hard to say, as it varied by situation, but Spike had a habit of not letting things go.

“I’m pretty sure you’re not, Ruby. ‘Fine’ is not sitting with a friend, face scrunched up in a scowl so fierce you could probably warm Rumble’s cold spaghetti.”

“I was not scowling,” Ruby asserted, reaching for her glass of maple soda and stifling her laughter with sugar and bubbles.

“Frowning? Moping? Spontaneous face melting? It had to be something. Your face looked like this,” he teased, using both claws and distorting his face in a way his muscles never could. He held the position, meeting Ruby’s half-lidded glare and winning as she dropped the facade and had herself a good dose of genuine laughter.

“Hey, it’s starting!” Spike called out, point a claw towards the stage as the first few notes began to sound from the sizable speakers on either side of the stage. Sweetie acknowledged the wave of applause and encouragement with a hoof, taking in the scene and letting her passion bring forth the melody. By the end of the song, Ruby’s worries had been all but forgotten, and she closed her eyes, acknowledging her feelings, confused though they were, and letting the lyrics sink in; there was somepony for everypony - somepony to make her heart pound.

“It’s just like the first day...
when you made my heart...”

There was an ear-splitting crack as the door to the tavern was simultaneously ripped from the hinges and shattered into matchwood as Rumble stole the show, breaking through and causing ponies to jump out of the way while he tumbled in, coming to a rest as he slammed into the counter, dazed and unconcerned with his audience. His eyes refocused to find his three new friends alternately stifling laughter and attempting to appear sympathetic, and he shakily accepted Ruby’s offered hoof, rising unsteadily to his hooves.

“How did you manage to pass flight camp again?” Ruby chuckled, dusting off a few splinters from his mane and coat like such contact meant nothing, leading Sweetie Belle and Spike to both share a look of mutual bafflement.

“Let’s just say that I’m glad clouds are softer than hardwood floors,” Rumble muttered, tenderly rubbing the back of his head. Good natured laughter ensued, and after a short discussion, they were all happily munching on chocolate cake and ice cream back at their table. Rumble was temporarily distracted by dessert, but as he finished, his friends’ voices drifted away as his mind turned back to one filly, her ribbon, and her precious clubhouse that he had unwittingly punctured.

“Hey, um, everypony?” There was an immediate lull in the conversation as all eyes turned towards Rumble, who, even had he not been thinking about a certain filly, would likely have come across as slightly bashful all the same due to having the spotlight. “How mad do you think Applebloom is about her fort? I’ve felt really bad all day, and I’d really like to make it up to her.”

“Well, what’re you doing here, then?” Sweetie Belle inquired with a grin. “Applebloom is probably in the orchard fixing it right now. Why don’t you just go talk to her? I’m sure she’d love to see you.” Rumble dared to be hopeful as the rest nodded their agreement, though it was Ruby who gave him the final push, quite literally as she nudged him towards the door.

“Go on, then. What’re you waiting for? Bet wings would be pretty useful for repairing the roof.” Intent on not wasting another second, Rumble quickly offered them his thanks and took off towards Sweet Apple Acres, taking special care to land a fair distance away lest he desecrate the Crusaders’ clubhouse further. Unfortunately, he was met not with the sound of a hammer, but of silence, and trotting up the ramp reveal the fort to be deserted.

Phooey! I was really hoping she’d be here... His eyes lifted to view his transgression, and Rumble winced as he examined the hole which he could swear had somehow gotten bigger since last he saw it. Shaking his head to ward off the feelings of guilt, he reaffirmed his resolution and sat down at the doorway, where he wait for a time before a stroke of genius blindsided the colt: why not fix it for her? Without a single thought further on the matter, he took off for home, confident that Thunderlane would approve and quite readily allow him use of his parents’ tools. Just you wait, Applebloom. I’ll fix it up good as new! Or close, at least. Hmmm, maybe close isn’t the right word, either... But I’ll try!

“Ah can’t handle any more crazy, sis! C’mon, ah’ve eaten dinner, now can’t I please go fix mah fort before Twilight starts dancin’ on the table too? Ain’t Rarity enough?” Applebloom’s pleas were met only with laughter as dinner with the princesses, Discord, and most everypony else shifted more away from food and on towards alchemically augmented alcohol. In truth, she wasn’t all that bothered by the behavior, as watching Rarity attempt to buck trees that weren’t actually present in the most dainty manner ever contrived for such farmwork landed her flat on her stomach, giggling and seemingly oblivious to the dirt as she let herself go, happened to be quite hilarious. It was more jealousy that she wasn’t getting to partake, and the thought of her wonderful fort maintaining a gaping hole nagged at her “fix everything” complex.

“Ah suppose so, just get home after you finish. It’s already dark, an’... wait just a minute, here. You ain’t meetin’ somepony there, are you?” Applejack inquired, narrowing her eyes. Being several months pregnant, she hadn’t consumed even a drop of alcohol, much to her chagrin, and was quite lucid.

“No, sis, how could ah be? Ah’ve been here the whole time watchin’ Discord turn soup into obscene statues o’ the princess! How could ah find the time t’ make plans?”

“All right, then. Just don’t take too long, ya hear?” Shouting her thanks over her shoulders and eager to be away from the mess, Applebloom took off for the barn to collect her tools when she found a most curious sight.

“Pinkie? What’re you doin’ in here? Wait, is she... sleepin’? Now ah’ve seen everythin’...” Trotting over to investigate, she found her suspicions confirmed as she gently shook her awake. Scilliant blue eyes snapped to attention, and for a moment, Pinkie simply stared at Applebloom with an eerily neutral expression before popping up, as excitable as ever.

“Hey, Applebloom! You got me!” she chortled, prancing in place.

“Uh, right. Yer missin’ a right crazy hoedown outside, ya know.”

“What? It’s not a party without Pinkie!” And without a further word on the matter, she was out the door, leaving a much desired peace in her wake. Donning her tool bag, Applebloom loaded nails, a hammer, measuring instruments and enough slats of wood to get the job done right before carrying the heavy load out into the orchard.

“Finally, a little bit o’ peace. Ah’m all fer a good time, but that dinner was a bit much fer me...” It was a clear night, and the orchard was still warm under a starlit evening sky. Applebloom didn’t fancy herself as the romantic type, but she couldn’t deny that there was a certain allure in the serenity of nature, and she paused, taking in a deep draft of the country air, and letting it out in a long, gratifying sigh.

“Incoming! Hit the deck!” Applebloom would have absolutely loved to take the time to remove her tool bag and bolt for the nearest tree to put some distance between her and a very crazed Scootaloo that seemed to be flying towards her in slow motion, but sadly, Applebloom seemed to be caught in the same time distortion as her friend and the little earth pony trailing after her. While she was unable to move, the split seconds that felt much longer gave her time to mentally prepare as the impact came, time resumed its usual canter, and boards, nails, and pretty much everything spilled everywhere. Scootaloo collapsed in a giggling heap on top of a dazed, none-too-amused Applebloom that was still waiting for the world to stop spinning, while Pipsqueak defended them in their vulnerable position.

“Belay, there’s no time fer such formality, deckhand! Get back t’ the frontlines, they’re still coming!” Pipsqueak cried, cutting a swathe through the encroaching horde of imaginary foes while Scootaloo and Applebloom had themselves a chat.

“Ah don’t mind a little rough play, ah don’t mind gettin’ dirty, but what ah do mind, Scootaloo...” she started, her voice calm as the spunky pegasus grinned down at her with eyes that didn’t quite understand. Applebloom's volume suddenly rose to a shout, startling Scootaloo and leaving Pipsqueak to roll his eyes at his crew plus one survivor wasting time on such trivial matters. “What ah do mind is such disrespect fer mah tools an’ waste o’ good materials! See those boards? That one used to be a single plank! Now, ‘elp me clean this mess up!”

“But Applebloom, the reason we saved you from the zombie ponies is ‘cause we need your help repairing the boat so we can escape!”

“Fergive me while ah try t’ hurry,” she replied in a bored tone, slowly gathering her things together.

“No, seriously! Me and Pipsqueak were out exploring, and we found this beaten up old boat. The thing’s a wreck, and we thought it might be fun to fix up and go sailing in it or something. There’s a stream in the forest that could work great.”

“Yer not just pretendin’ this one?” Applebloom asked, her tone even.

“Nope, for real! The zombie ponies chasing us was a nice touch, though. Seriously, I’d have started hanging out with Pipsqueak sooner if...”

“Captain, lass! And ye’d better hurry it up or start helpin’ me! A captain ain’t a captain if he’s sleepin’ with the fishes!” Applebloom watched with faint amusement as Scootaloo turned her lithe dexterity into a weapon, beating the air and blending dance with karate in a way that was, she had to admit, quite impressive.

“Ah’ve got a right strange group o’ friends, an’ that’s a fact.” A broken boat? That’d be amazin’ t’ try an’ fix! Sailin’ sounds like a right nice idea, but what about the club house? Ah can’t just leave it. It’ll be itchin’ in mah mind until...

“Applebloom, hurry! We’re defenseless out here in the open!” Scootaloo cried, rushing back to her and helping her gather the nails.

“Aye, the lass is right! We can’t hold ‘em off much longer!” Pipsqueak shouted, tossing his sword in the air and bucking a zombie right in the face before snatching his sword before it fell to earth. Swept up in their fervor and the promised delight of fixing yet another dilapidated whatsit made the decision for her, and Pipsqueak sheathed his sword, racing over as the last plank was loaded into her saddle back.

“Scootaloo, ye ready fer the escort mission to end all escorts?”

“Aye, Captain! Ready and awaiting orders!” Scootaloo replied, throwing a salute.

“Escort?” Applebloom replied quizzically before drawing her mallet and dispatching whatever creature of the underworld had dared wander too close and sheathing it once more with a look of indignation. “What makes you two think ah can’t handle mahself in a fight?”

“So, the maid has grit, eh? Ye best prepared fer the worst, an’ welcome to the crew! All right, you sloppy lot, back to our vessel!” Bolting through the trees as fast as Applebloom’s burden would allow, they slashed, smashed, and kicked their way outside of the orchard and into the outskirts of town, where they entered a small wooded area that revealed a badly damaged skiff, long since abandoned and, to anypony else, beyond repair. Scootaloo gave Applebloom a highly skeptical look as her beloved tools were cast aside like sawdust as the fires of fixing stuff flared almost bright enough to light the darkened copse.

“Termite eaten, rotten, bunch o’ holes... Broken paddles? What, ‘re you both crazy, givin’ me somethin’ like this an’ askin’ me t’ fix it? Is it just dark in here, or is yer imagination runnin’ wild, askin’ me t’ fix... that?”

“Well, I just thought...” Scootaloo began, scoring the ground with a hoof before Applebloom’s elated cry of ecstasy shook the trees, evicted some birds from their nests in shock, and gave even the zombie ponies creeping through the trees cause to pause.

“It’s perfect! Ah love a good challenge, an’ this thing’ll be near impossible t’ fix! Ah can sand it, an’ patch it, an nail it, an’... an’ glue it! Ah get t’ bust out the glitter glue! Right here, an’ here... big glob here...”

“Yer acquaintance seems t’ have a bizarre obsession with wood, lass,” Pipsqueak murmured, smiling as Scootaloo shook her head, snickering quietly. “Seriously though,” he continued, dropping his pirate speech, “I’m real glad I ran into you. I didn’t know what I was gonna do the rest of the day, and playing with other ponies is way better than playing by myself.”

“Are you kidding? I was itching to get out and work off some steam. I swear, my dad can be such a... a...”

“Just ‘cause yer a seafarer now don’t mean ye can swear like a sailor," Pipsqueak cautioned, chuckling as the filly grumbled under her breath. "Don’t worry, I’ll find a way t’ defeat the Gatekeeper next time fer sure.”

“Oh man, I can’t wait to see that! Just... be careful, ok?” Scootaloo cautioned, mostly serious. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“Nay, nopony can bring this Captain down! Ye... Scootaloo, is she nuzzling the boat?” Pipsqueak asked, tilting his head to the side. Scootaloo turned to find that Applebloom, in her fervor, was indeed rubbing her cheek against the moldy timber, proceeding to trot in place and put a hoof through the hull.

“You fight monsters, she, uh... fixes things. She’s like that.”

“Suddenly, I don’t feel very strange anymore.”

“You’re not strange, Pipsqueak. You’re awesome.”

“Really?” I’m not dumb. I know everypony thinks I’m strange, and that’s why I have so few friends, but she... she thinks I’m awesome?

What the... he’s giving me that look again, like when I was dancing! “Uh... you ok?” Scootaloo offered, suddenly extremely nervous and dreading the heat rising to her cheeks. Now I’m blushing too? What the hay! He didn’t even say anything mushy or gross! I shouldn’t be blushing... I’m not, I’m not blushing! I’m just... um...

“Yer a kind hearted lass, Scootaloo. Thank ye.” And then, without warning, a wave of unidentifiable and startlingly strong emotion swept over the filly, filling her chest with fire as the words, spoken in the soft of the night, sank in deep.

You’re... very welcome, Pipsqueak. Thoughts and words don’t always mesh, as what actually came out was slightly less touching. “Ahhh! I’m on fire, I’m on fire!” Any remaining aviary critters swiftly vacated the scene as Scootaloo darted out of the forested area and took a much needed night flight to cool down, leaving even Pipsqueak’s vast imagination unable to follow the transition. Applebloom’s revery was disrupted, and she immediately jumped into maximum fix it mode.

“Ahoy, Captain pony or whatever you call yerself. Go tame yer crazy lass an’ get her grounded so y’all can help me move this thing! This ain’t the type o’ thing ah can finish in a night, an’ ah definitely ain’t gonna fix it in the dark!” Scootaloo, however, was much too high for Pipsqueak to reach, a dark speck in the moonlit sky, so he simply watched from the ground as she dipped slowly lower, even graceful in flight. Scootaloo’s mind had drifted away, the sensation of being held by the wind rushing past bringing out a side of her she kept bottled away. Her flight wasn’t strong, and rather than maintain altitude, she let the wind carry her gently back down to earth, incorporating fluid hoof movements with graceful loops before touching down, a calm smile gracing her muzzle. Scootaloo’s short lived condition of inner combustion transferred to the diminutive earth pony, and he bolted away as she slowly opened her eyes, catching sight just before he disappeared amongst the trees.

Maybe... being a lady isn’t so bad. At least I can tease him a little. But seriously, what was with that strange... Just the remembrance seemed to fan the embers, and she shrugged it off, pushing the thoughts down as she trotted back to her friends in time to hear Applebloom giving Pipsqueak a dressing down.

“What do ya mean, ‘she lit mah face on fire?’ It looks fine, now get back out there an’ bring Scootaloo back! Ah need all three o’ us t’ lift this. Ah wish Rumble were here, ‘cause it’s gonna be heavy.”

“That the only reason you want him back?” Scootaloo chortled, trotting over and sitting down a few hoof lengths from Pipsqueak with her head held high.

“What other reason would ah want a cannonball near such a frail vessel? Now come on, then. Let’s get this back t’ the farm. We can stow it in the barn fer now.” Suddenly, Scootaloo was wishing Rumble was present too, as even as destroyed as the vessel was, it was still quite heavy. Carefully flipping over the boat, the three crowded under it and worked together to start back towards the farm. After crashing into several trees, Applebloom gave the worn skiff a heartfelt apology before smashing two holes in the front end so they’d have at least some field of view, limited though it was. All three were bone tired by the time they made it back to the barn around eleven, and Applebloom waved her friends off with a yawn as she made straight for bed.

“Applebloom, ah got questions fer you.” The sleepy filly could hardly stand, having carried both her tools and likely half the weight of the boat, and she looked up at her sister with a glazed over expression conveying an utter lack of interest or understanding.

“An’ ah got... got sleepies, sis. Can’t it wait till mornin’? Ah’m plumb tuckered.”

“Applebloom, yer bow is filthy, yer shaky in the legs, an’ ah’m havin’ trouble understandin’ yer mumblin’,” Applejack replied, apparently unmoved. “Ah don’t think you were fixin’ yer fort like ya said.”

“Nnnope,” she murmured, flopping down right there in the hall and unsuccessfully trying to bury her head into the floorboards which, given her state, would more than suffice for a pillow. Applejack soon realized she wasn’t getting anywhere, so she scooped the sleepy filly up and carried her to the bathroom, untied her bow, now covered in gunk, and gently washed her hair, seeing that she was too tired to do so herself. Even the stream of water did little more than relax the filly further, and she was snoring softly as Applejack laid her in bed, drawing the blankets up to her chin. Returning to the bathroom, she washed out the bow and hung it to dry before trotting back to her room and climbing in beside her husband, Silver Moonshine, who accepted her with open hooves.

“Well, sweetheart, I didn’t hear any yelling, so I’m guessing all went well?”

“Ah dunno, sugarcube. She fell asleep before ah could get a clear answer out of ‘er. Still, ah think everythin’ is alright. Whatever she was up to, she ‘ad a lot o’ fun, an’ ah can be grateful fer that, at least. She’s got a right nice group o’ friends, so ah’m doin’ mah best not to worry.”

“Look at how much you’ve grown... It didn’t even take any moonshine.”

“Now, don’t you mention that stuff,,” she chuckled, pounding his chest lightly with a hoof before snuggling closer, ready for sleep. “Ah’ll check with her in the mornin’. Until then, ah’m gonna take a hint from mah sis an’ get some rest fer two,” she said softly, grinning at the soft buck she felt as Silver gently laid a hoof over her stomach. It had been a crazy day for everypony, and she readily accepted sleep’s gentle embrace.

It was hard to call a hospital room home. Pipsqueak wasn’t ungrateful by any means, as it meant a place to sleep, free food, and the nurses there lavished plenty of care and affection upon him, but he couldn’t see any of them as parental figures. In a lot of ways, most ponies his age would eagerly trade places with him, not having a set bedtime, able to come and go as he pleased, and nopony telling him what to do, aside from the occasional chastisement from Nurse Redheart for making too much noise in the later hours. However, facing Scootaloo’s parents, discovering a real boat while tearing around with Scootaloo, and all around having the craziest, most awesome day he had experienced in a while culminated in an overwhelmingly seductive call to sleep, and as with many a doomed sailor, he could hear the siren song of the pillow harpy before he even turned the handle to the room.

“Verily, it is not proper to keep a princess waiting, young Pipsqueak.” Disregarding fatigue in exchange for one last burst of excitement, he launched himself at the closest pony he had to a mother, clinging to her neck in a manner no royal guard would ever have allowed.

“Miss Luna! You’re here?”

“Indeed I am, child,” she chuckled, lowering her head and dropping him down onto the bed. “Have any grand adventures recently?” Always ready with a story, he adopted a fierce scowl, leapt down to the floor, and wove a tale fitting for the attention of a princess, mostly fictional though it was. He wrapped up with a flourish, striking a pose and beaming as the princess gave him a hearty round of applause before quieting her laughter and being somewhat more serious. “Now then, what really happened?”

“But all that real stuff is boring, isn’t it?” he replied, trotting over and plopping down in front of her.

“Not at all, Pipsqueak. Everypony loves a good yarn, but reality is a place in which we must live, unfortunate though it may seem at times.”

“Oh, alright, um...” he started, adopting a thoughtful expression. “I met some cool friends, said something that made one of them run away, don’t ask me why... I met her parents, made them mad, then got a lecture from Rumble about needing to apologize and be polite. He’s probably right, but the bit about finding a boat is true! Applebloom is going to fix it up for us, and then we can have some real adventures! After that, I walked Scootaloo home then came back here.” Luna adopted a thoughtful expression, one particular detail catching her attention.

“So, who was the princess in your story?”

“Gosh, Miss Luna, do you really wanna hear about that?”

“Oh yes, I’m quite interested in who is making my favorite little colt blush.”

“Am I really?” he replied, bringing a hoof to his cheeks and finding them to be surprisingly warm. “Hey, I am! Luna, what’s that mean?”

“Well, it may mean that a certain dashing pirate just had his heart stolen,” she giggled, chuckling as Pipsqueak denied the claims.

“That can’t be right. Here, give me your hoof,” he demanded, any semblance of etiquette due to being in the presence of royalty cast aside as he lifted her hoof and stuck it against his chest. “See? It’s still there!”

“So it is, Pipsqueak,” she murmured, ruffling his mane with a hoof and glancing around the room. There was no decoration, a room like any other in the clinic, with bland white walls, uncomfortable green bedding, and a few cupboards for him to stow his trinkets and treasures. You truly are an impressive colt, Pipsqueak, maintaining such exuberance in the face of such bleak circumstances. You... truly deserve more than this.

“Miss Luna? Are you ok?”

“Quite, my dear colt. Now, as much as I appreciate your continued devotion, every young colt needs their sleep,” she chided gently, lifting him into bed with magic. “Thank you for gifting this princess with another grand tale, Pipsqueak. I hope to hear more of your own princess when I return.”

“Miss Luna?” She paused at the door, turning back to the colt who sat fidgeting with his hooves. “Isn’t there any way you could stay?”

If only I could, Pipsqueak. Verily, it is not your offerings that do me well, but your kindness to this fallen mare... “I would parley with the Pirate of Ponyville. In exchange for a promise to devise yet another tale and continued appreciation of the night, I shall stay with you until you are asleep. Does this seem fair to you?”

“Aye, on me honor, it shall be done!” he cheered, dropping into his pirate voice while he scooted over to make room. Luna climbed up and instantly found the colt curled against her chest, and she couldn’t stop an affectionate smile from creeping to her muzzle as she draped a hoof loosely over the colt who was quickly moving towards the land of dreams. It seemed only a matter of seconds before he was snoring softly, and Luna closed her eyes, savoring a few sweet minutes of serenity.

And to think Quakehoof was worried about Scootaloo hanging out with this lad... He’s a great haul o’ treasure that’s trapped in a waterlogged chest. The dark blue pegasus easily melted into the night at the sound of wings, and he watched as the Lunar Princess took flight. He returned to the window, watching for a moment before trotting off towards a large, almost mansion-like house with every light out. Shrugging his silence, he knocked softly on the door, and nodded to Flying Grace as she ushered him inside.

“So, Silent Gale, I trust you have some news for me?” she said quietly, motioning for him to sit on the couch.

“Aye, plenty, though I can sum it up nicely with one sentence, no fancy words or anythin’,” he chuckled, making eye contact. “Ye’ve nothin’ t’ fear from that child, Miss Grace. He’s got an active imagination, an’ he could stand t’ put a lid on it every now and then, but it’s little wonder he doesn’t know better.”

“Oh, and why is that?”

“I think he’s an orphan, Miss Grace.” Her gaze softened, feeling even worse over Quakehoof appearing so threatening to the tiny colt. “He’s staying at the clinic in one o’ the rooms. Now, I’ve no idea how long or if it’s just temporary, but he’s not a bad sort, and I don’t think ye should give Scootaloo any grief over spendin’ time with him. Honestly, what have ye t' fear from a lad named Pipsqueak? They spent most of the night together, an’ I’ll be scuttled if she didn’t come home with a smile. Ye didn’t punish her, did ye?”

“No, I said not a word, and she did have quite the spring in her step,” Grace admitted with a grin. “Thank you for your help, Gale. I’ll have a talk with Quakehoof in the morning, and hopefully things will settle down.”

“Oh, I don’t think ye should set yer sights on 'settled down,' lest yer expectations spring a leak. He’s gonna take some taming, and yer daughter loves every minute o’ crazy he shares with her. I’ll tell ye what, though. Ye’ve been kind t’ me fer a long while, so I’ll see if I can teach the lad a thing or two.”

“Kindness could not hope to repay the debt this family owes you, Gale. Now, get back to your fillyfriend. I’ve kept you long enough.”

“Aye, I’m in fer a good hollerin’, coming home this late without warnin',” he laughed, completely serious. “I bid ye goodnight, Miss Grace. Tell that son o’ yers to stop by sometime, would ye?” Her worries laid to rest by Gale’s encouraging words, she stopped at the base of the steps, looking towards her daughter’s room and wondering just what would come of her daughter’s involvement with the colt. In all honesty, she was excited, and could hardly wait to become acquainted with the one who may yet lend his hoof in the uphill battle of turning Scootaloo into a proper lady.