• Published 23rd Apr 2017
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Magic School Days - Dogger807

When the CMC asked Discord to help them attend magic school, he pulled an owl out of his hat. Only he didn't exactly have a hat. Which was okay, since their new school had a singing one laying around. Where the hay was Hogwarts anyway?

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Chapter 68: No Surprises

In his long service to House Black, Kreacher had seen changes to stately Black Manor languidly drift in with the sands of time. With the passing of his mistress, the house had been his for years, and he had done his utmost to mold everything to his tastes. The color palate his mistress had chosen had meshed with his sensibilities, but he had gradually left his own imprint over the years.

That happy time ended with the abruptness of a lightning bolt as wizarding law had forced him to let the much-despised son take possession and move in the remaining members of the house. The drab and dreary colors had been banished by the light. What had been a virtual mausoleum was now brimming with life. Regardless of his personal feelings, the disgruntled house elf had to admit that what had merely been a house had truly become a home. Still, there must be something he could do to express his displeasure.

Suppertime was now fast approaching, and the master and his lady were talking to two of the other residents. The one who had just been introduced epitomized everything that Kreacher had found wrong with his new master.

“You’ve been at Celestia’s school this entire time?” Twilight asked the rainbow-haired daughter of the other woman present. “You’re the changeling I’ve been hearing about? I’ve been meaning to talk to you, first chance I got, but other things keep popping up and stealing my attention.”

“I’m not that interesting, really,” Nymphadora returned. “My pony form just happens to be unusual.”

“That’s an understatement,” Twilight said. “Many scholars believed changelings were just legends made to scare foals. You actually taking the form of one has unsettled more than one pony.”

“So, rainbow-colored unicorns are extinct then?” Andi asked, looking thoughtfully at her daughter. “And Nymphadora just happens to become one?”

“Rainbow unicorn?” Twilight said. “Oh yes, I heard that’s the form she prefers. No, changelings are shape shifters and are a different race entirely.”

“My daughter has multiple different forms?” Andi asked, confused by the news.

“No, Mum,” Nymphadora said. “I have one other form that has the ability to take on different shapes.”

“So,” Sirius said, “you do have multiple other forms. You just have to change into an intermediate form first.”

“Err,” Nymphadora said, “I guess you could look at it that way.”

“Go ahead and change,” Andi said. “I’ve seen your rainbow unicorn, now I’d like to see your intermediate form.”

Nymphadora frowned at Twilight and asked. “You’re not going to start screaming if I do?”

“Why would I?”

“It seems to be the most common reaction I get from ponies.” Nymphadora shrugged. “It’s almost as extreme as when I took a form with both wings and a horn.”

“I heard about that too.” Twilight nodded. “The nobles are still in an uproar over that incident.”

“Princess Celestia asked me not to do that again,” Nymphadora admitted.

“Well.” Andi prodded her daughter. “Let’s see already. I don’t want to wait until after supper.”

“Okay.” Nymphadora’s form melted away, and in her place stood an oddity.

“That is both creepy and cute at the same time,” Sirius said, rubbing his chin. “Those fangs look dangerous as well.”

“I’ve got venom in them too,” Nymphadora said. “Several professors have wanted to milk me, but I’m not comfortable with that idea.”

“I like the unicorn form better,” Andi said, lowering herself to her knees to take a closer look and rapping her knuckles on her daughter’s back. “It’s cuddlier.”

“Just a sec,” Nymphadora said before a green ring of flames encircled her. When they cleared, a familiar rainbow-furred unicorn sat on her haunches. “Better?”

“Much,” Andi admitted, hugging her daughter.

“Ugh!” Nymphadora cried out, her cheeks bulging. “Not now!”

“What’s the matter dear?” Andi asked. In response Nymphadora lit her horn and floated over an empty soup bowl from the already-set supper table.

“Just a sec mum.” Nymphadora aimed at the floating vessel. “Huuuuurk!” A pink substance soon filled the bowl.

Looking on with sympathy, the three humans waited for her to empty her stomach.

“Kreacher!” Andi called out. “Fetch a potion for upset tummies.”

“I don’t think that is necessary,” Twilight said, wrinkling her nose in disgust. “I’m pretty sure that is normal behavior for a changeling.”

“It is normal for me,” Nymphadora croaked. “It’s a daily occurrence and I’m not eating near enough to account for everything I puke up.”

“I’m almost positive that’s love honey,” Twilight said as Nymphadora levitated the now-full bowl back onto the table. “Hasn’t anypony told you that changelings feed on love?”

“I eat love?” Nymphadora asked skeptically. “Are you serious?”

“No, I am.”

The three women turned annoyed stares on the lone male present.

“What? It’s mandatory. It’s in my contract.”

Shaking her head, Nymphadora sighed. “I’ve been a pony for three months and that’s the first time anyone has thought to mention that to me.”

“Haven’t you done any research into changeling legends?” Twilight asked, exasperated.

“With all of the other things to learn and do, it kinda fell on the sideline,” Nymphadora admitted.

“That’s it!” Twilight exclaimed. “Into the library! We need measurements and samples! For science!”

“I don’t know.” Nymphadora protested, “I don’t want to be a guniee . . . hey!” Her objection was cut off, with the unicorn encased in a magical aura as Twilight brandished her wand, guiding her latest test subject toward the aforementioned room.

“It’s almost supper time,” Andi said, following.

“Supper can wait!” Somehow, Twilight was now outfitted with a lab coat, protective gloves and safety goggles.

Applejack marched angrily toward the front door of the Apple Family farmhouse, addressing her brother. “Ah can’t believe ya lost track of the twins, too! As if Percy and the Crusaders weren’t causing enough headaches as it is.”

“Here now,” Granny called from the kitchen. “Ah’m sure they are just exploring. They’ve been warned to stay out of the Everfree. Don’t y’all fret none; jus’ let them have their fun. They can’t get into too much trouble. Stop yer worrying”

“Eeeyup,” Big Mac added.

“Stop!” Applejack took a measured breath. “They are mah responsibility an’ they aren’t used to being ponies. Is it too much to ask that y'all keep an eye on ‘em while Ah try and wrangle up their older brother? Ah’m probably goin’ ta have ta tell their mother that Percy Weasley done decided to join a herd as it is.”

Granny Smith slowly ambled in from the kitchen, tsking dismissively. “Y'all need to let foals be foals.”

Applejack was about to respond when the front door burst open and the missing twins put in an appearance.

“’Scuse us!”

“Coming through!”

*Slam!* The door returned to its closed position and the arguing ponies watched the two unicorn colts frantically scramble up the stairs.

“See, that thar is one less worry,” Granny said, triumphantly.

Once again, Applejack opened her mouth to comment when there was a knocking at the door.

Snapping her jaw shut, Applejack opened the door to behold a small crowd of young fillies sitting on their haunches and looking at her expectantly.

Applejack peered at each in turn.

The fillies started to fidget.

Applejack raised an eyebrow.

The fillies fidgeted some more.

“Ah think yer done fer the day,” Applejack said.

“Aaaaaw!” The fillies laid back their ears in disappointment.

The two groups stared at each other for a few more seconds.

“Go on! Git!” Applejack said.

The fillies turned and slunk away with their tails between their legs. There was much grumbling.

“See,” Granny Smith said. “Nothing at all ta worry about.”

Applejack bewilderedly stared at Granny. “How can y'all say that?”

“They have enough sense ta run fer it when they have too,” Granny said, shuffling back toward the kitchen. “Besides, those fillies obviously let themselves be out galloped. Thar is no way a pair of new unicorns could have outpaced all them earth ponies otherwise.”

From the kitchen, Dean’s mother heard the front door open. “Is that you, kids?” she called out hopefully.

“Yes Mum!” She heard all three reply, eliciting a sigh of relief from the woman.

“The note you left said you’d be back in time for supper.” She vented. “Cutting it mighty close there. Where have you been?”

“We had tea with the princesses!” Rosie declared skipping into the kitchen. “And we got to ride the bus!”

“Princesses?” Dean’s mother asked, pausing the preparation of the meal long enough to fix her children with all of her attention. “What princesses? I do hope you behaved yourselves.”

“Princess Luna and Princess Celestia,” Eva said, looking a touch green. “Meeting them was definitely more enjoyable than the bus ride.”

“The bus was fun!” Rosie countered.

“You are too young to be riding the bus by yourselves,” Dean’s mother scolded. “Especially at this time of night. From now on, I want you to give me or your father a ring, and we’ll come get you. Now what’s this about tea with princesses?”

“Mum, the knight bus is a magic bus that was commissioned specifically for those too young or too old for normal magical transport or to help a stranded witch or wizard in need,” Dean said. “Luna says it’s perfectly safe, and it’s the conductor's job to make sure children reach their destinations in one piece.”

Dean’s mother looked at him suspiciously. “I’ll ask Emma about it and get her opinion. In the meantime, stop changing the subject; tell me about these princesses and why you were having tea with them.”

Dean shrugged. “Sweetie, Scoot and Apple are friends with the princesses. We were in town and got invited to tea.”

“You are talking about pony princesses then?” Dean’s mother clarified.

“Yup!” Rosie said. “And they’re big! And have beautiful hair!”

Dean’s mother sighed. “You have no idea how stressing it is when you three go all Narnia on me.”

“Narnia?” Rosie questioned.

“It’s from a book,” Eva explained.

“Read it to me?” Rosie asked.

“No, I don’t want you getting any ideas,” Dean’s mother said firmly.

It was a dazed-looking Nymphadora who followed Twilight and Sirius back into the dining room followed, in turn, by a still-snickering Andi. They were greeted by five individuals already at the table.

“It’s about time you showed up.” The little dragon stood on the table with his arms crossed. “Dinner was ready a half hour ago.”

“Sorry to keep you waiting, Spike,” Andi said. “Twilight just had some tests she wanted to run on my daughter. By the way, I’d like to introduce you to Nymphadora.”

“Call me Tonks.”

Ted laughed and said, “The wait wasn’t so bad. The appetizers took the edge off while you finished whatever it was you were doing.”

“Yeah,” Spike reluctantly agreed. “I could almost make a meal off this stuff.” He popped a cracker in his mouth and made appreciative sounds.

“It is heavenly,” Narcissa said, nibbling on her own cracker. “It makes me feel warm and fuzzy when I eat it.”

Draco sat next to his mother and discreetly downed a cracker of his own.

“You should try some,” Remus said, spreading something pink on a cracker he just picked up.

“What are you eating?” Nymphadora gasped as she watched Spike acquire another cracker and apply more pink to its surface.

“I’m not sure,” Narcissa said, taking another bite from her cracker. “But Kreacher left it sitting out for us, and it goes great on crackers.”

Stunned silence met that revelation before Sirius was the first one to find his voice. “You’ve been sitting in here munching on Nymphadora’s love honey?”

Silence returned.

Every gaze in the room drifted to Sirius.

“That sounded a whole lot worse than it had any right to.” Sirius sweated.

More silence followed.

“Right then, don’t mind me. I’ll just be in the corner cowering in terror,” Sirius said before morphing into a dog and slinking away.

Every eye in the room followed his retreat.

“Eh, I don’t see what’s the big deal,” Spike said and tossed another cracker into his mouth. "Actual honey is bee barf, after all."

Revenge, it seemed, was a dish best served cold. Love, on the other hand, seemed best served body temperature warm . . . on a cracker . . . perhaps with a glass of good pinot noir.

When she heard the front door open, Applejack looked up from the cup of cocoa she had been nursing. Granny Smith had laid down the law and forbidden her from going out to look for the last wayward colt, leaving her nothing to do but worry. It didn’t help in the least that the old mare was also at the table, occasionally sipping at her own mug.

“Percy Weasley is that you?” Applejack called out, not leaving her seat.

“No, it’s me,” Apple Bloom’s voice returned.

Applejack took a deep breath, released it slowly, then hollered. “Come in here, we need to talk.” Afterward, she turned her thoughtful gaze back on her cocoa. There came the patter of several sets of hooves rushing down the stairs. Before long, Apple Bloom came into the kitchen buttressed between Ginny Weasley and Ronald Weasley.

Granny Smith raised an eyebrow at the procession but said nothing.

Applejack looked at the three and said, “Ah only wanted ta talk to Apple Bloom.”

“Yes, ma’am we know,” Ginny said although neither she nor Ron made any effort to leave Apple Bloom’s sides.

“That’s how it’s gonna be then?” Applejack pushed her cocoa out of the way and plopped her head down on the table with a forlorn expression.

Granny Smith chortled softly, raising her own mug for another sip.

“Yer not helping,” Applejack said to the eldest mare in the room.

Said mare placed her mug on the table before saying, “This day were bound ta happen.” She smacked her lips contentedly before shifting her demeanor and fixing Apple Bloom with a hard glare. “Y'all disobeyed yer older sister.”

“Yes ma’am,” Apple Bloom admitted.

“Y'all stubbornly went yer own way when she told ya not to,” Granny accused.

“Yes ma’am,” Apple Bloom repeated.

“Y'all refused to mind her. Instead ya jus’ had to go an’ keep an eye on a colt who was already under the watchful eyes of two grown mares.”

“Yes ma’am,” Apple Bloom agreed.

Granny Smith eyed the steadfast filly and her two equally unmoving herdmates. “An’ Ah’m of the mind that ye’d do it again, given a second chance.”

“Yes ma’am,” Apple Bloom said.

“Ah see.” Granny Smith nodded her head wisely while Applejack groaned with her eyes screwed shut. “It would seem time ta have a little visit to the barn then.”

Apple Bloom’s ears started to lay back, but she caught herself and forced them forward all the while standing taller. “Yes ma’am.”

Everypony in the room swiveled an ear to capture the sound of the front door opening again. Applejack’s head shot up. “Percy Weasley, is that y'all?”

“Yes ma’am,” came the reply that caused Applejack to wince; she had been hearing those words far too much in the last five minutes.

“Y'all missed dinner,” Granny Smith called out. “Ya need me to rustle ya up some grub?”

“No, we had a nosh! Er, we ate elsewhere . . . We had hayburgers!” Percy called back, panic creeping into his voice near the end.

Applejack facehoofed so hard she nearly knocked herself out.

“Well, I’m just going to go up to my trunk and call it an early night!” Percy called, and there was the sound of hooves retreating up the stairs.

“Foals will be foals.” Granny Smith shrugged and took another sip from her mug. “Ah’ve learned not ta lose sleep over it.”

Applejack shot Granny a withering look. “Granny! How am Ah supposed to explain that to his mother?”

“Calmly and somewhere that allows fer a quick escape route,” Granny said thoughtfully. “Wouldn’t hurt none ta have yer friend Twilight handy to teleport ya away, neither.”

Applejack frowned, reached for her cocoa and downed it in one gulp, ignoring the burn.

“Don’t think we dun forgot about y'all over there,” Granny said to the three children waiting quietly. “Ronald Weasley, Ah’d think it’d be best ifn ya go up and have a chat with Percy Weasley.”

Ron looked at Apple Bloom and Ginny before replying, “I’ll stay with these two.”

Granny shook her head and said not unkindly. “Yer brother needs company; with tha twins still hiding in thar trunk, that responsibility falls on yer back. Now git on up thar.”

Ron stared back defiantly.

“Go on now. He needs ya more than these two do. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your other kin jus’ 'cus’ you can give yer herdmates a bump of support. They know ya have their backs,” Applejack said, her head still firmly planted on the table.

“Percy will be all right,” Ron insisted. “Besides, Ginny is better at talking than I am, she should go.”

“Ronald, listen to yer elders. Go see ta yer brother,” Granny said getting out of her seat. “Ah know that y'all do things differently where ya come from, but this here conversation has taken a turn toward mares only.”

“But . . .” Ron started.

“Ron, Ah think ya should listen to her,” Apple Bloom said.

“You wouldn’t abandon me.” Ron grated.

“Ron, please.” Apple Bloom exhaled. "Ah have ta do this alone."

Ron stared at her for a few seconds before narrowing his eyes in anger. “Fine, be that way,” he said before stomping off. Soon, his hooves could be heard on the stairs.

“Go on and wait in the barn. Ah want ta talk to Applejack fer a sec,” Granny said.

“Why don’t cha go after Ron.” Apple Bloom said to Ginny. “No reason fer you ta share in mah lickin’”

Ginny’s ears wilted. “If you hadn’t gone with them, I would have.”

The two older mares shared a look. “Off to the barn with both of ya then,” Applejack said.

An unusual trio was gathered in the Black family library, while the adults went off and did adult things better left to the imagination. Once the doors to the impressive room were closed, they immediately got down to important business.

“So, you’re a dragon?” Draco asked the small purple occupant of the chair across from himself.

Spike sighed, “We might as well get this out of the way. I want to teach you how to play Ogres and Oubliettes once we get past the boring stuff.”

“So, you’re a dragon?” Draco repeated, his curiosity in no way slaked.

“I’m an Equestrian dragon . . . which is completely different from the animals you know as dragons.”

Nymphadora said, smiling at the diminutive figure, "Call me Tonks, though I can’t get away with that in this house since it's also my mother's name. I have to say, you're rather quick to point out the difference."

“It’s a safety precaution.” Spike shrugged.

“Oh?” Draco asked. “How so?”

“A Ministry official confronted me and Twilight while we were in Diagon Alley. He said I was most likely going to have to be put down as an illegally-bred dragon.”

Nymphadora winced. “That couldn’t have gone over well.”

Spike shrugged again. “He got a nice big fish tank after it was explained that I’m a citizen of Equestria and was to be treated with all due respect.”

“How did he end up with a fish tank after doing his level best to start an interdimensional incident?” Nymphadora asked, eyeing Spike skeptically.

“He has to live somewhere,” Spike said. “Twilight flatly refuses to change him back into a human.”

“Well, when the transfiguration wears off in a few days, he’ll have learned his lesson,” Nymphadora said smugly.

“I’m not so sure that it’ll wear off anytime soon,” Spike corrected. “It’s already been two and a half months.”

“Are you sure he’s still transfigured?” Nymphadora gasped.

“I hear he likes live crickets.”


“Thus, the new Ministry policy not to, in any way, shape, or form, seem to threaten me,” Spike continued.

“I can see the wisdom in that,” Nymphadora conceded.

“The Minister also said that, in the future, anyone stupid enough to do that in front of Twilight was on their own and would be held accountable for the subsequent damages.”

“Just goes to prove how much smarter than Fudge Xenophilius is,” Nymphadora stated.

“So, Twilight is your friend, not your owner?” Draco asked.

Spike snorted. “Nopony owns a dragon any more than anypony owns a human.”

“You’ll have to excuse him,” Nymphadora said. “His father taught him some bad habits he needs to outgrow. Apparently, not annoying the fire-breathing dragon is one of them.”

“I didn’t mean it that way,” Draco said hastily. “Remember, I saw you from a distance at the pony party. I was just wondering what your connection to Twilight is. It must be close, since you are here and, supposedly, I’m to share a room with you.”

Spike eyed Draco before saying, “Twilight is my adoptive mother. She hatched and raised me."

“I’m surprised the Ministry official got off with just being made a real toady.” Nymphadora mused. “If it had been me, they’d have cleaned him off the street with a mop.”

Draco considered Spike for a few more seconds before asking Nymphadora. “What does it mean having a dragon for a cousin?”

“What do you mean ‘for a cousin’?” Nymphadora asked.

“Since the Black Family tapestry has Twilight Sparkle Black listed as Sirius’ wife, that makes him our cousin. An adoption by Sirius would even make him heir apparent Black.”

“What you talking about Draco?” Spike peered at the blonde boy with one eye closed and his head slightly tilted. “Twilight isn’t married to Sirius.”

“Yes, she is.” Draco sneered at his ignorant cousin. “The Black Family magic recognizes the union. Therefore, they are legally married.”

Spike stared, his mouth falling open.

Draco gave him a haughtily superior look.

Spike threw his head back and yelled, “Owlowiscious!”

Twilight's childhood home was again a place of happiness. Despite her initial reaction, Clouded Hope was warming up to her biological father and his family. The filly had been resistant, but like most children in her age group, it had just taken some attention and reassurances for them to work their way into her good graces. Once Shining Armor got her to talking about her time at school, she had opened up. Now, even if she hadn't completely accepted the stallion as her father, she was comfortable in the knowledge that Standard Issue was not going to be cut out of her life entirely.

Twilight Velvet could understand the poor dear’s position. Cadance had predictably panicked, but had used her position to keep her relationship to the child secret. It was obvious she didn’t want Shiny to feel obligated. That decision had very nearly backfired. The two were talking again, and the love that had been there was slowly resurfacing. But some trust had been lost, never to be regained.

Unfortunately, it would be Clouded Hope who would suffer the most. She knew Cadance as one of her mothers, but Shiny was new to her. Luckily, the past day proved that they would connect eventually, most likely sooner than later. The precious thing seemed to lap up her father’s love and affection. The situation was becoming more and more favorable. It had just taken some time.

Twilight Velvet was smiling at her son playing with her grandfilly when an owl alit on the back of the couch where she lounged.

Remembering the last time she had seen this particular bird, Twilight Velvet said. “Hello, I see you have another letter. I’m glad this one isn’t red. Hopefully, this time you brought good news.”

The owl promptly facewinged and held out the claw holding the letter.

“That can’t be a good sign,” Shining Armor said, watching his mother use her magic to retrieve the missive.

“I swear, Shiny, if this tells me you have another foal, I didn’t know about . . .” Twilight Velvet left the threat hanging.

Nervously, Shining glance over and saw that his daughter was already displaying her survival instincts as she crept toward the exit.

He looked back to his mother in time to see the letter go up in flames. “Are you bucking kidding me!”

Countless hours of guard training kicked in as Shining bravely scooped up his daughter in his magic and fled. There had to be a late show somewhere that didn't feature letters from the end of the alphabet.

Even half shrouded in shadows, the Apple Family barn did not project an aura of menace or unease. On that cold winter eve, it still offered warmth and comfort to everypony who entered. The same could not be said for an object that Applejack wielded in her mouth with the grace of an expert. That object held both Apple Bloom’s and Ginny’s undivided attention. It was an ancient and terrible relic. It had tanned more hides than a gryphon hunting expedition prowling the grass sea. It was to be respected and avoided at all costs.

It was the SWITCH. Anypony who did not capitalize each and every letter of the word clearly never had an encounter with it. It had been bad enough when the fillies beheld it as they were waiting for their elders. Watching Applejack use it as they waited for Granny Smith left nothing to the imagination.

*swish* *snap* A bit-sized piece of skin was flayed from an apple.

“You know,” Ginny said, “back home, I’ve seen my brothers get switched, but Dad never once hit me. Being the only girl meant that punishment was off limits. I just got yelled at a lot when I did something wrong. In a strange way, I’m looking forward to this.”

Not taking her eyes off the object, Apple Bloom said, “That has got to be the craziest thing Ah ever dun heard.”

*zip* *zip* The top of a head of cabbage was shredded into slaw.

Ginny shrugged. “Chalk it up to me wanting to test the limits of my pony body. I’m supposed to be a lot more resistant but really haven’t tested it in anyway.”

“That thar is something you don’t want to purposefully check. The concept of pain is the same no matter where ya go.”

*swish* *pop* A candle went dead as the tip of its wick shattered.

“I know.” Ginny tilted her head. “But it is kind of nice to be treated like others instead of being the special case.”

“Y'all have some strange ideas,” Apple Bloom said. “Don’t worry none though; they’re about to be corrected.”

*zip* The top flew off a pumpkin.

Further discussion was interrupted by the hinges on the barn door groaning in protest. In came Granny Smith with an unreadable expression on her face. She almost seemed sad.

Applejack reverently placed the SWITCH in its holder and tilted her hat back before addressing Ginny. “It ain’t too late fer you ta join Ron.”

Ginny just looked up at her and shook her head.

“That thar has been decided then,” Granny Smith said before looking at Applejack. “Go on and get it.”

“Yes Granny.” Applejack laid her ears back and lowered her head as if in mourning. She then went to the corner and bypassed the SWITCH entirely. Instead, she retrieved a low round table which she placed in the middle of the barn. Next, she approached a large, heavy box of equipment which she pushed out of the way to reveal a trap door that Apple Bloom had never seen before. In a flash, Applejack had disappeared down it only to return shortly with an ancient-looking jug and a small journal, both of which she placed on the table, followed closely by four empty shot glasses.

“Pear Butter should have been tha one here ta do this.” Granny Smith sighed, sitting at the table. “'Tain’t fair that Ah’m here and she’s not.”

In confusion, the two fillies glanced at the SWITCH then back at Granny Smith.

“There ain’t goin’ ta be any of that,” Granny Smith said, tapping the table with a hoof. “Come sit.”

Hesitantly, the two fillies did just that and Applejack joined them, tears clearly visible in her eyes.

“What’s wrong sis?” Apple Bloom asked, concern for her older sister overriding her other worries.

“Nuthin’ is wrong.” Granny said softly. “She is jus’ being hit by the realization that you are growin’ up.”

Granny Smith looked at the others sitting at the table and gave a wan smile. She then tapped the jug with a hoof to draw attention to it.

“This,” she said reverently, “is older than the farm. It’s been in our family since before the shindig with the Windigos. Be careful when ya handle it.” She then pulled the journal over and tapped it in turn. “This holds the recipe. Salted and aged cider. When ya use some, ya replace it so that the next generation has its share.”

Apple Bloom and Ginny peered at the really, really, really old piece of clayware before turning questioning gazes on Granny Smith.

“Ah don’t get it,” Apple Bloom admitted.

Applejack sighed. “Taking responsibility fer yerself an’ yer actions is part of growing up.”

“Taking responsibility for the safety an’ happiness of others along wif being willin’ to accept the consequences means there are no fillies sitting at this table tonight.” Granny had removed the cork from the jug and was pouring some of the precious liquid into each of the four shot glasses. “Only mares.”

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