• Published 16th Jul 2012
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Pony POV Series Season Three: Butterflies - Alex Warlorn



Discord beaten. Reality restored. But invisible wounds must heal too. Time for butterflies to fly.

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Pony POV Series Episode 43: "Cheerilee Secret Interview"

PONY POV SERIES SECRET INTERVIEW CHEERILEE

Optional-Canon

I watch my students so closely, sometimes I think I pick up on their special talent before they do. Not to brag, but I think that's part of my talent, to help students bloom and grow into their true potential...yes, it took awhile to realize that after...after what Discord did to me. But yes, I'm sure now, after Princess Gaia's day, that it's what I'm good at. What I really like to do...unfortunately, it's not as easily said as it is done.

It's all but impossible to tell a foal what their special talent truly is. If you tell them to their faces they'll stare blankly at you and try something else. Not to mention the damaging effects parents can have if they try to force a particular talent on their foal. Even some who have already earned their Cutie Marks don't really know what they mean. For example, Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara.

Those two fillies...it's sad really, thinking the spoon and tiara in their Cutie Marks are all there is to them. They don't realize that more often than not, the Cutie Mark merely takes a form instrumental to the earning of it or has symbolic meaning within it. For example, Miss. Fluttershy's Cutie Mark is butterflies, but her special talent is communicating with all kinds of animals. The butterflies, from what the Cutie Mark Crusaders said in a very well done report on Cutie Marks they turned in once, had a large role in her earning her Mark, but she has a gift with every animal under Celestia's sun, from butterflies to dragons. And Featherweight's talent has nothing to do with feathers, he's merely as quiet as one.

But that's what Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon honestly believed that their Cutie Marks meant, and try as anyone might, they won't believe otherwise until they learn for themselves. And honestly, I think that's for the best, as then it's their accomplishment, their moment. Their realization. It means so much more to figure it out for themselves...But that doesn't mean I can't point them in the right direction.

Diamond Tiara never realized just how much of a natural leader she really is. Whenever I assigned a class project, she would be the one to take charge and lead. And honestly, I couldn't have been more proud of the results. Then Diamond became a bully, I regret that, but she had just a knack for leadership. And naturally, tiaras are heavily associated with royalty, with leadership, so it makes perfect sense for her to have one as her Cutie Mark. But she refused to see that, and as time grew on, became more and more of a bully instead of the leader I could see in her, and could still see in how she interacted with Silver Spoon...so I decided to try and let her rediscover her gift, by giving her the most authority she'd received, making her the manager of our school newspaper.

I should have kept a closer eye on her to help her along. I gave the monster inside her a blank check.

I don't approve of Diamond's way of forcing the poor girls to remain a part of the paper after they desperately wanted to quit (as I later found out, too little too late to save the girls a great deal of suffering), nor how destructive Gabby Gums became at the end and Diamond doing everything she could to encourage it.

But I honestly can't argue though with how she otherwise ran the paper. She managed to make it the most organized it's been and even managed to get the news stands to carry it, surpassing even Namby Pamby like she swore. Gabby Gums had a good deal to do with it, but it wasn't the only reason. Diamond Tiara did a lot of good for the paper, and it pains me I caught the trouble so late that I couldn't reel her...I fear that is a mistake I'll always regret, as I think Diamond Tiara was truly happy being the boss of the paper, and if I'd kept just a tighter leash maybe things could've been different...

However, I will say I'm proud of Silver Spoon. She tended to focus on the spoon as a whole, not the details of it. She never noticed that tiny little heart on the end of the handle, which I feel is the most important part. Whenever Diamond needed something, she was there for her. The times Diamond Tiara began to be sad, Silver Spoon stayed by her side. Even when Diamond began bullying others, Silver Spoon hung with her, out of loyalty to her friend. I can see now just how much of an affect Diamond had on Silver Spoon. But the fact was, she always supported her, and in the brief moments she was away from Diamond or she couldn't override it, she showed genuine support to others. Like when she was the first to begin clapping for Granny Smith on Family Appreciation Day, and I had seen her help a great deal when I hoofed out group projects.

I tried to get her to take a role in the paper, but Diamond Tiara had already broken her heart. And I mean that, Diamond must have absolutely devastated Silver Spoon to break them apart...but still, when Princess Gaia gave her a day in paradise, she wanted Diamond Tiara back as her friend, her friendship still mattered even after all that...Silver Spoon started trying to stop coming to school. But it was my duty to make sure she was there, and I unknowingly made the choice that would help heal her. I sent the Cutie Mark Crusaders to bring her to school...and something amazing happened. They actually began to help her...They began to break the shell Silver had made around herself.

Then, at the Gaia Festival, I saw her actually play with them, after sitting through every last one of the...rather gory comedy they'd put together...I give them an A for effort, but I think they read the wrong book. Regardless, Silver Spoon was actually happy for the first time since Diamond had pushed her away. And I did just as I promised, and gave her time to think things out by keeping her parents occupied.

...When I was grading papers shortly there after, I noticed something. As a sign of progress, I routinely include on my quizzes the question, "If you have one, what does your Cutie Mark mean in your eyes?" I ask because what somepony sees their Cutie Mark as meaning changes over time as they understand it better, there is no wrong answer, so it's normally more of a bonus point...Silver Spoon had always put "silver spoon in my mouth," but this was different. It was after she began sitting closer to the Crusaders every day. Instead of her usual answer, I got one I'd never have expected.

"A silver spoon with a heart in the handle. I don't know for sure what the heart means yet, but it has something to do with how I act towards others. I'm still figuring it out."

Finally she knew, she's still learning. She's willing to learn. And those three are helping her more than the psychiatrists ...If it weren't for the inevitable lawsuits and property damage it would ensue, I'd make the Cutie Mark Crusaders a school club.

I just wanted to make it clear I don't hate them, and in spite of appearance they do a lot of good. They are a blessing. But?

. . .

In a piece of Neighpan history I used to teach, there was a passage of how samurai could cleave their enemy and it would take several seconds for them to realize they'd been cut.

It was rather like that.

For myself and Big Macintosh it was just a strange incident at first. Drinking 'punch' to humor the girls. Waking up in a pit wearing a wedding veil with Big Macintosh.

The fillies explaining their well-meaning but foolish scheme involving a 'love poison.' I knew the tale, but its not something you teach to foals and I hadn't ever expected my students to reenact it.

We handed them off Big Macintosh's chores at Sweet Apple Acres for a day (the girls didn't once complain about me not being their mother). And as a finishing touch we both play acted that spell hadn't worn off completely. This was one lesson I knew would stick.

And well, good food shouldn't be wasted, so we tried out the 'romantic' picnic the girls had prepared the day before. We both laughed at the contrived nature of it all. Then Big Macintosh said those words, "Bet we were actin' real funny weren't we?"

And I finally felt the blade cut.

"Were we?" I asked, not able to keep the slight tint of fear out of my voice as it dawned on me.

"Huh?"

"How were we acting? I don't remember."

He shrugged, "Ah don't either. Them's the way magic works Ah guess."

"How magic works," I repeated like an echo.

"Yep. Can't say Ah have a degree in it mahself. But from the Zap Apples Ah can tell ya it works and got its own rules."

I'll give him credit. It was like nothing could break him, and he'd just power on through.

But one tiny piece of logic wouldn't leave me alone. Why shouldn't I remember? I remember when ... when Discord made me into a mad florist giving foals bad advice. (I tried not to think how this time my mind had been muddled by three of my own students with ingredients that could have been gotten anywhere in Equestria.)

The doctors never stopped saying I just had to accept that wasn't the actual me and let go.

But not remembering made it scarier.

We finished in total silence (easy for him) and alone I back tracked my movements for that day ... Apparently I had been to Sugarcube Corner ... and owed the Cakes a new door. There was also apparently a milkshake the two of us had both liked the flavor of I didn't remember ordering. I had also, apparently, been spouting dialogue from the most cheesy romance novels I had ever read on my lonely nights, to the point several ponies felt sick just listening to it. I also owed Rarity a new door frame (at least she let me return the veil).

Apparent. But I didn't remember anything.

I loved Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie and all my students like they were my own. But now I felt a sick feeling at the pit of my stomach and a chill up my spine.

What had they done to me?

I tried to remember, a moment, a feeling, anything, but it was like I had simply ceased to exist from that moment I drank that punch to when I 'woke up' in that hole. At least when Discord brainwashed me I could apologize to someone I'd hurt, fix something I'd broken, or at least work through the pain it caused.

Here there was just, nothing.

If it wasn't me, who was it? Was it some spell animating my body using my memories as a reference guide?

What if the girls hadn't realized the full weight of what they did? What if everypony just passed it off as some secret relation I had that I was now being open about?

A terrible vision came to my mind, of waking up one morning the spell gone, and myself a decade older with foals I didn't remember birthing and who had been criminally neglected by a spell that wasn't complex enough to handle child care beyond saying 'he's got your eyes!'

Could something like that had happened if it'd just been a different day? Could I have woken up with a foal and not even known it? I know under normal circumstances Big Mac would never do such a thing, but if just Sweetie Belle bringing up the possibility of marriage made us go out and get ready for it, what was to stop the next logical step?

An image slammed in my mind of a filly looking at me scared and confused, looking filthy and starving, begging me to so much as LOOK at her as the spell in my body treated her as just an accessory to her 'love' for her honey-bear.

I shivered. Had the potion really just turned me off in my own body and let some magical programming put my body through the motions?

But there was only one pony who understood my plight. And I met him again the next day . . .

I could swear the family dog was growling at me when I asked where Big Mac was.

It took a mountain of words to convince Applebloom that we had just been playing a game before and the spell was gone.

I was going to tell their families what they had done, but they beat me to it. I don't know what additional punishments of any they were dealt. Twilight Sparkle told me that she gave them a very, very long lecture on the dangers of using magic potions irresponsibly, even calling in Zecora for details. And reassured me that book was a rare one, not one just anypony was capable of obtaining, and that she was going to make certain to be more careful who she loans it to from now on.

What did little fillies know about what it means to be in love anyway? They barely understood it, it was a feeling shared among family and friends, what did they know of the union between a mare and a stallion? The only way to understand it is to experience it, it's not something you can simply learn or teach.

"So yer worried you were just 'poof' when them spell was on us?"

Yes we were alone, I didn't feel comfortable talking in front of others about being a puppet for a day of a spell mixed up by three fillies.

"Yes. It doesn't make sense we can't remember -anything.-"

The scary idea hit me that the 'love poison' had been an excuse for something even more wild, but I dismissed it as (hopefully) paranoia.

"Well, we ain't professional in magic, so it ain't our business to say what ain't and what is."

"It doesn't bother you at all?"

"Nope."

"Not that you can't remember?"

"Ah think it's better Ah can't remember. 'Bloom says Ah was actin' nutty."

"You're made of iron you know that?"

"Nope, flesh and bone, same as you."

No, not quite the same.

I knew I should have just let go. Like the day of chaos the more I'd dwelled on it the more I'd hurt in the end. But the shadow stayed with me.

I noticed him fiddling with a box.

"What's that?"

"Oh! This? Erm, it's.. it's-" He blushed, "It's yer wedding gem."

I startled, "What?"

"Got 'Bloom ta take me back where Ah guess ah bought it ... store said no take-backs. Tried to explain but they weren't takin' 'yes for an answer."

"... was it expensive?"

"A little."

Of course. The magic flowing through Equestria's very soil made gems 'mature' quickly and into the facetted shapes apparently there was a whole industry for in the outside world. But unicorns who could detected gems guarded their magic jealously, rock farmers protected what shares they had with blood if need be, and Diamond Dogs and dragons both instinctively needing them staked out and defended their harvesting ground fiercely.

"Ya can have it."

I panicked and I might have blushed, would I just vanish again? "But-but Big Mac, I can't, I don't-"

"Granny Smith says it's too tacky. Applejack don't wear jewelry, and Ah think makin' 'Bloom hold onto it is cruel and unusual punishment so ... ya can have it until ... when ya find yer real one and only."

And for one second the invincible armor fell away, and I looked into his eyes. He looked lonely, incomplete?

After all, while mares were free to marry or not, it was the stallions always expected to marry sooner or later, so were the stereotypes.

It looked heavy in his hooves. I took it. I never opened it, but I keep it in the lock bottom drawer of my desk (and with a special note to the CMC not to take it if they try to be Cutie Mark Crusader Cat Burglars). Just don't ask why. It felt, cruel, just to toss it.

The day came where the CMC plus Silver Spoon came almost late to class with a flock of birds with blue eyes and yellow and pink feathers. And I heard their song.

Come to paradise. All the foals to their perfect worlds. Princess Gaia. Beauty incarnate. Need MY help? Don't have to ask twice. Her kiss.

I live to protect her foals. Protect their perfect dreams. Twilight and friends are given their perfect worlds. Applejack ruins everything. Have to teach them a lesson. Ends up being the one schooled.

Memories flooding through, remember the greatest joy is seeing a wonderful child become a wonderful adult. Princess Gaia's vision is flawed. I apologize.

But that wasn't all I remembered.

No it wasn't Twilight's memory spell. It was Princess Gaia's kiss.

I remember every moment. Like I was a princess in a fairytale and I had found my prince. Nothing else mattered, nothing else could matter. It felt like my heart grew until it was all of me. Then we got pulled apart. A wedding was suggested. Of course, why didn't we think of that? (Hard to think of it as 'me'.) Thinking was hard, feeling was so much easier. Get dress! Get dress! Got dress! Must be perfect! Must be perfect! Like us together!

What name should we give our first foal?

I feel like a clock ticking down inside, like something awful will happen if I don't get back to Him soon! Hurry! Must hurry! Tick-tock!

Hear him! With strength I never knew I had I tear down barricades and walls. Wearing a veil I saw him! His eyes! I have to see them or something terrible would happen! Tick-tock! Tick-tock! Fillies in the way, I knock them out of the way. About to look into his eyes and--

And I finally understood. I had blacked out the memories myself.

Was I so a pathetic one of fortune's fools that I couldn't bear the memory of pure happiness? Was I that scared of being reminded that I was the only reason I was alone?

I told myself I blocked them out because it had hurt Applebloom, Sweete and Scootaloo . . . but that was a lie, I'd have faced that sin potion or not.

For one day I had been a princess in a fairytale, and I hadn't even gotten to my happily ever after.

I had lived a perfect day as the fairy tale princess, the kind every little filly dreams of having then reality came crashing back and everything I had felt I had been -made- to feel, I hadn't found my prince, and I hadn't been his princess.

And with my mind in Princess Gaia's fog, all I could think of was to protect the perfect dreams my foals now had but I had lost.

Looking back, it was for the better I blocked it out, I don't want to think how, how horrid I'd have been to the girls if I had woken up from my fantasy knowing what I had been teased with.

I understood Silver Spoon's pain when she angrily ranted she wanted her perfect lie back. I'd had spouted the same foolishness if I had remembered my illusionary happiness when I'd woke up from my dream.

And that's why I made doubly sure she had no chance to run back into the waiting fog. And why I made sure she found the friendship in reality she was tantalized with in the fog.

I don't blame the girls for ending the dream, they knew we'd end up hurting those we also cared about if they didn't.

And they had to learn playing Alicorn with ponies' hearts was wrong. But... no, I'm not, I finished shedding my tears.

I know it was just an enchantment but I don't care. I know it was a potion but I don't care! Yes I am a fool! I know it could have just as easily been Spike! But I was happy! More than that! I was whole!

And I thank my Princess, and I always shall, for letting me remember that one day of complete, whole, happiness.

And I don't blame Twilight and her friends for ending the dream again, because that's what dreams are supposed to be, woken up from so they can be made real.

I haven't asked Big Mac if he remembers our day of a perfect fantasy now too.

It feels like a fairy, if I asked if it's truly there, it would vanish.

I love my students, they are my family, I'd never want to abandon them.

As a filly, I was stupid and ignorant what it meant to be in love, it was a game to me. I wouldn't accept anyone but Mr. Perfect. Never mind that I wasn't 'Mrs. Perfect.' Then I woke up one morning, and realized I wasn't a filly anymore, and all the stallions I had passed by had found mares who would love them warts and all.

Was what was between me and Big Mac real? No. Do I wish it was? I don't know. Would I live that one day again if I had the chance? The uncertainty honestly scares me. But I don't regret remembering it now.

But I got to live a dream I and probably ever other little filly on the planet had at one time or another. And like I said before; to understand love, you've got to experience it. Now I understand, and now I know what love is, I'll know when I find it for real so I can make that dream real.

~ Fin