• Published 22nd Mar 2018
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Pound and Pumpkin Tales 2 - Never2muchpinkie



The continuing adventures of the now seven years old Pound and Pumpkin

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2-3: Close friendship

Twilight was pacing around back and forth, letting out some heavy breaths from time to time.

“Do try and calm yourself, Princess,” said Cup. “There’s no point in getting yourself all worked up like this.”

Twilight paused for a moment, started to pace a few steps, then stopped again, turning to the mare. “How am I supposed to be calm? My niece is struggling with friendship. I grew up without the benefit of real friends until I came to Ponyville. I’m just afraid Flurry is going to go through the same thing. That’s the last thing I want for her.”

Cup chuckled. “What happened to your faith, Twilight? After going above and beyond for Flurry during their party do you doubt Pound and Pumpkin’s ability to succeed now?”

“No!” she said strongly. “I do believe in them, but… but just because I believe doesn’t mean they’ll succeed. Some ponies just can’t be won over.”

Cup walked over, putting a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “I know it’s hard, Princess, but you just have to have faith.

“My children broke the hardness of Flurry’s heart, allowing her to make friends with them. Even if this friend can’t be won over Flurry won’t be alone. Pound and Pumpkin will continue to fight for her, along with the rest of their friends.

“There’s nothing to worry about.”

Twilight slowly smiled. “You’re right. They’ve all exchanged a part of their hearts with Flurry. Even if it’s hard I’m sure the two of them will succeed.”

As Flurry and Crystal released each other they looked into their eyes, smiling. “Thank you,” Flurry said calmly. “I really mean it. I haven’t decided yet if I want to take over as the new ruler of the Crystal Empire when I grow up, but I need ponies by my side that aren’t afraid to call me out when I do something stupid.”

“I want to be a good friend to you,” said Crystal, “but you have to do the same for me. I want to hear about the things that are bringing you down so I can help send those rainclouds away. I couldn’t have done anything about what you were afraid of, but I could have listened to your problems and hugged you tight.”

“I know. I had a hard time opening up to everyone, but when they proved themselves to me I started to trust them and let them see my pain.

“Because they had already helped me with my problems I didn’t think it was important to bring it up to you. I’m sorry if you thought I didn’t trust you. I was only trying to move on and not dwell on the past.”

“That’s okay.”

“I’m glad the two of you made up,” said Pumpkin. “I didn’t want to have to tell Twilight we had failed.”

Crystal looked over at her. “Oh?” she said curiously. “Why’s that? I thought you weren’t afraid of her.”

“We’re not,” said Pound. “But she’s still a friend of ours, and we didn’t want to deliver bad news.

“When we first met Flurry she drove one of our friends away in tears shortly after showing up.”

Flurry winced, letting out an awkward laugh. “Yeah, not the best first impression.”

“What did you do to them?” asked Crystal.

“Well… I said something quite unkind. Their friend was… different. They weren’t a pony. They were a creature called a draconequus.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a being made of different animal parts put together.”

“That sounds weird.”

“It was, at first. I wound up calling him a freak, and he left because he was afraid of doing something bad to me if he stayed.”

“Anyway,” said Pound, “after that me and Pumpkin were understandably angry. We brought Twilight into the kitchen and basically told her to throw Flurry out before she upset any more of our friends.”

“Twilight took us by surprise,” said Pumpkin. “She actually bowed to us and begged us to give Flurry another chance.”

Crystal’s eyes widened. “She didn’t!”

“Well,” said Pound, “she told us that knowing that her niece, her brother, and her sister-in-law were all hurting made her hurt just as much, and she felt like we were all she had to rely on to get through to her.”

A tear came down Pumpkin’s eye. “And seeing Twilight hurting over all of them made us hurt as well, so we agreed to try again. And it all worked out in the end.”

“She even said that it wasn’t an order from a princess, but a request from a friend. Twilight is really humble and has taught us great lessons on friendship. That’s what makes her our favorite princess.” After a moment he added, “No offense, Flurry.”

Flurry waved a hoof. “I know my aunt is super-cool. At my age I can’t expect to compare to her yet, but I’ll get there someday.”

Crystal got a troubled look on her face again. “Doesn’t it bother you at all? I know that Princess Twilight is your friend and all, but she’s still a princess.”

Pumpkin was about to say no, but then she got a thoughtful look on her face. “Honestly, yes. There have been times when we’ve been at our worst that we thought like you do. I accidentally put Pound in the hospital when I lost control of my magic, and I swore off ever using it again.

“Our parents went to Twilight to help me past that fear, but when I first saw her in my living room I felt for sure that she was there to banish me.”

“If you want proof that Twilight is very forgiving,” said Pound, “then you should know that I threatened to attack her if she did anything bad to Pumpkin, and she just brushed it off.”

Crystal’s eyes widened.

Pumpkin’s smile became strained. “Threatened, nothing. On a different occasion I actually attacked her.”

Her mouth was hanging open now. “Why?” was all she could get out.

“Well, I had just gone through my first heartbreak. I found out that the colt I had a crush on had just been pretending to love me, and I went and attacked him in my rage. Twilight put me in a magic bubble to stop me, but I was too mad to stay there, so I used my own magic to make her faceplant and break her concentration so I could hit him some more.”

Crystal let out a whistle, shaking her head with a look of wonder. “And how did that turn out?”

Pound let out a sigh. “That was the scariest moment of my life. I had never seen Twilight so mad. I really was afraid that Pumpkin was going to be banished at that moment, or something else horrible. I bowed and begged for forgiveness for Pumpkin, knowing that it was the only thing I could do.

“She understood that Pumpkin was acting out because she had lost control of her feelings, but she was still really mad, so she sent the colt home before letting Pumpkin free. She reassured me that nothing bad was going to happen to Pumpkin, and she knew she was too mad herself to handle matters with a clear head.”

“That’s just crazy to me,” said Crystal.

Flurry looked slightly incredulous too. “Oh, boy. I can’t believe you actually hurt Aunt Twilight.”

Pumpkin got a guilty look on her face. “I feel terrible about it now, but I was so hurt by what he did to me I didn’t care about the consequences. I just wanted to see him in pain, and I wanted to do it with my own bare hooves.”

“So I guess we slightly understand what you’re feeling,” said Pound. “But even as bad as what we did was Twilight still kept her temper and focused more on helping us improve than punishing us.”

“And that’s what makes her such an amazing princess.”

“C’mon,” said Flurry, taking Crystal’s leg and pulling her up. “We need to continue your growth.”

“What do you mean?” said Crystal.

“I think you should talk to Aunt Twilight. You’ve seen that I am just a pony, so I think you need to see that Aunt Twilight’s the same.”

Crystal groaned. “Do I have to? Isn’t it enough that we became friends?”

“And because we are I’ll be by your side the whole time so you won’t be as afraid.”

Crystal looked into Flurry’s encouraging smile and let out a breath. “Okay,” she said, reassured.

As the quartet came down the stairs Twilight looked to see how everyone appeared. “How’d it go?” she asked.

“Piece of cake!” said Pound, grinning.

Flurry had a bright expression on her face. “It turns out that what we needed wasn’t her seeing me being a regular pony, but for us to share our hearts with one another. When she found the courage to get mad at me and express her feelings it broke the barrier that was stopping us from truly connecting.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” said Twilight.

“Now I have the first member of my Crystal Empire Elements of Friendship.”

“So you do.”

Crystal interlocked one of her legs with Flurry’s before saying, “I’d like to talk to you about something.”

Twilight sat down. “Sure.”

“How did you feel when the twins were attacking you? Pound said that he threatened you when he thought you were coming to banish Pumpkin, and Pumpkin said that she actually attacked you to get to this colt she was mad at.”

“Hmm.” She got a thoughtful look on her face. “Before I answer your question I have one of my own.”

“Okay.”

“From what I can tell you and Flurry dissolved the wall between you, allowing you to treat each other like equals. If you understand that being a princess doesn’t make one so different from you then why do you still seem wary of me?”

“Because you’re different than Flurry. Flurry is a kid like me, and she hasn’t done anything world-changing like you have.”

“Aah.” Twilight closed her eyes. “I suppose our age difference and experience do make me and Flurry quite different from one another, but it doesn’t change that I’m simply a pony like her.

“How did I feel? Pound back then was quite aggressive when it came to his sister. Though I don’t agree with his behavior I could understand his fear that I had come to punish Pumpkin, so it didn’t bother me much.

“Pumpkin’s attack on me did get me pretty angry, but again I understood the root cause. One of the reasons I left was so I didn’t lose my temper and set a bad example. It was one of the only times that Pound switched from talking to me like Twilight to talking to me as just a princess. That shift in tone, addressing me like a stranger, only made it clearer that I wasn’t in the right state of mind to address the issue.”

Twilight opened her eyes. “A few months ago Pumpkin’s friend Peppermint came to me, wondering the same sort of things I’m sure have gone through your head. Before we got into the matter I had her pick out a short comic for us to read together. Before long we had hit it off, and I told her the comic reading was so she could see me as a regular pony. It was the same sort of idea the twins had for you to help you bond with Flurry.”

Crystal looked at the ground. “It’s just… hard for me to think of you like I’m starting to think of Flurry.”

“Is there a specific reason why, or is just what you brought up before?”

Crystal looked up into her eyes. “You… you saved us all. I mean, I wasn’t born yet when it happened, but you defeated King Sombra and saved our entire kingdom. All of us crystal ponies are forever in your debt.” A few tears came down her eyes. “And I don’t have any way to repay you for saving my parents.”

Twilight smiled warmly, closing the distance between them. She took Crystal’s free hoof in her own. “I don’t do good deeds like that for fame and to inflate my ego. I do it so that other ponies can live in happiness and friendship, and love can flourish.

“Just look at your other leg. You’re holding onto a friend for support, and she’s gladly providing it. That’s all I ever want as ‘repayment.’ It has nothing to do with Flurry being my niece. This joy I feel applies to everyone who can form meaningful connections with one another.”

“But doesn’t it mean anything to you at all?” she asked, looking at Twilight’s hoof in her own. “How can I treat you like anyone else when you’ve done so many amazing things?”

“Come on, Crystal,” Pound said gently. “Can’t you see how Twilight is?”

Twilight sat down on the floor, back legs crossed and her front extended. “Come here, Crystal.”

Crystal stared. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Twilight, but in order to sit on Twilight’s lap she’d have to release Flurry. After a few seconds she said, “Stay close to me, okay?”

Flurry gave a big nod. “I will.”

Releasing Flurry she immediately felt more vulnerable. She missed the connection already.

She sat on Twilight’s lap, feeling uncomfortable. Flurry sat behind her, hugging her neck. That gave her her feeling of security back.

Twilight grinned to see how they were supporting each other. “I’d like to tell you something, Crystal. You’ve heard of my world-saving exploits. I’ve defeated terrible threats, and saved the Crystal Empire. That’s true. However, you’re blinded by my accomplishments because it’s what is most associated with me.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“You always hear about my successes, making me seem perfect and beyond your understanding. What do you know about my failures and mistakes?”

Crystal stared at her a few seconds. “I… don’t.”

“Exactly. I’ve done much in my life, but not all of it is good.” She gestured to the twins, who came to stand on either side of her. “Look at these two. What would you say if I told you they taught me a very valuable lesson about friendship? I had screwed up, and they called me out on it.”

Crystal got an interested look on her face. “I’d like to hear that story.”

Twilight could already see the pedestal Crystal had placed her on starting to come down. Not in a negative way, but simply that the filly was starting to see her in a more realistic fashion. “Pumpkin told you about the accident where she hurt Pound, and I recommended them to school so they could learn to master their magic and flight.”

Pumpkin let out a little sigh. “The two of us got into a physical fight with some of the other kids when they began insulting our sibling, and we got kicked out of school.”

Twilight nodded. “I got an angry letter from the principal about their behavior, and I came to scold them after arguing with the principal for a while about not kicking them out for good, managing to talk her down to a week’s suspension.

“After being scolded by the principal, their parents and Pinkie, and finally me, the twins were emotionally exhausted. They believed they weren’t loved or wanted anymore, and they ran away from home.”

Pound sighed. “It felt so horrible.”

“Thankfully, my friend Fluttershy spotted them, and provided enough comfort for them to speak their minds, allowing us to renew our bond.

“Now, I am not completely at fault here. I was simply the breaking point after being scolded by everyone else. But what they said made me realize that I needed to change the way I approached discipline with small children. I was, rightfully, angry at their behavior, but my response to them was belittling and critical. I was the one that pushed them over the edge, when I could have been the one to stop them from falling into despair and thinking they had to leave.”

She sniffed, a tear coming down her eye. “And even if I know it wasn’t all my fault, there was still a period of time where I felt annoyed rather than concerned when I heard they had ran away.”

Crystal blinked. “Annoyed?”

Twilight nodded. “I thought they were running away from their punishment. My friend Pinkie got mad at me for that, until my friend Spike pointed out that what they did was similar to something that happened with him. He had once had a situation where he felt unwanted by me, and had ran away. That made me realize I had gone too far.

“Even though we searched the twins eluded us, and then it began pouring rain, making it all but impossible to find them. All of us were miserable.”

Pumpkin beamed. “After we got everything settled with our parents and Auntie Pinkie we were still nervous about Twilight. That was another time we were afraid of her princess status.”

“She showed us her Friendship Journal,” said Pound, “where all of them wrote down the lessons on friendship they learned, hoping that it could help someone going through the same thing one day.

“Twilight wrote down what she learned on one page, and then asked us to write down what we learned on the opposite page.”

“Twilight felt that even kids as young as us could have important lessons to teach, just as important as a princess’s, and what we learned is that everyone makes mistakes, even princesses.

“But even if you make a really, really big mistake you still deserve to be loved.”

Flurry said, “That’s pretty fascinating. I didn’t know about that.”

Crystal hesitated, then said, “I can understand that ponies can say mean things when they’re angry, but Pound and Pumpkin did do something really bad, and you said yourself that you were just the last person to scold them. That doesn’t really seem like a failure on your part. Just bad luck that you were the last one.”

“Fair enough,” said Twilight. “So let’s continue.

“I spent the week of their suspension trying to teach the twins about peaceful conflict resolution. Pound had an overprotective streak that stopped him from remaining calm when he felt his sister was being hurt.

“When we all went to the beach Pound met a colt named Tree Leaf. Although they hit it off pretty well they still hit a major snag in their friendship when he threw sand in Pumpkin’s eyes deliberately.

“Pound did manage to stop himself from being violent, but only because Pumpkin’s pain made him put caring for her over hurting Tree Leaf. Once Pumpkin was being cared for Pound expressed regret for not beating the colt up.

“When Fluttershy talked to them she was patient, letting them open up on their own time. When she heard about their behavior she was understanding, not condoning their behavior but still loving them all the same. I knew I needed to do the same.”

“Twilight was pretty amazing there,” said Pound. “Even though I yelled at her and called her names she never lost her temper, only focusing on getting me to change my mind.”

“And wouldn’t you know it? When I succeeded in showing him the way his thinking was flawed-”

“By threatening to beat me up!” Pound said with a chuckle.

Crystal and Flurry’s eyes both went wide. “You what?” said Crystal.

“Why would you do that?” Flurry asked.

“She wasn’t really going to hurt me," said Pound, "but she acted like she was to help me understand.”

Twilight nodded. “Pound’s logic was that if he beat up those that hurt Pumpkin they wouldn’t do it anymore, but because he himself at times hurt Pumpkin it meant he should be beat up too.

“Anyway, once everything was settled he told me I had passed my retest with flying colors.

“I thought that I had learned my lesson about small children, but what happened next showed me I still had a long way to go.”

“What happened?” asked Crystal.

“As I’ve told the twins I can’t show special treatment to my friends, so just like I helped Pound I wanted to help Tree Leaf. However, because of my ignorance I wound up causing the both of them unnecessary pain.

“I thought the best course of action would be to get them together to talk out their problems. Pound was tired of the bad feelings that had been going around, so I pressured him into going because I believed it was best. Tree Leaf didn’t even know we were coming, so he got pretty steamed when we showed up.

“What happened next was a total disaster. I completely failed at keeping things under control. The two of them spent the majority of their talk insulting, belittling, and yelling at each other. They were only interested in ‘winning.’ That is, seeing who could cause the other to break first. Sometimes they would talk about the issue, but they were both so heated up nothing was getting done.

“Finally, Pound said the magic word that pushed him over the edge, and Tree Leaf demanded that he leave, expressing the notion that friendship was a lie and he didn’t need any.”

Flurry let out a breath. “As the Princess of Friendship I’m sure that must have been hard to hear.”

“It was even worse, because I had just got through telling Pound about a friend of mine named Moondancer that I had hurt who did give up on friendship for a long time because of my carelessness.”

“So then he was left alone?” Crystal asked somberly.

“I didn’t want to forgive him,” said Pound, “but when I thought about Moondancer I knew I didn’t want him to end up like her. And seeing how upset he was finally allowed me to stop being angry and just… talk with him.”

“The two of them were able to renew their friendship,” said Twilight, “after which he apologized to Pumpkin as well, and they’ve been friends ever since. But what if I hadn’t told him about Moondancer, thus allowing him to empathize with Tree Leaf’s situation? It was just a matter of luck that my friend brought up her name, and that Pound happened to ask about her right then.

“What happened between them would have turned out better if I had been more considerate of both their feelings before arranging for them to meet. As it was, both of them called me out for getting in the middle of their problems and trying to force them to settle their differences, and they were absolutely right.”

“I couldn’t imagine doing that,” said Crystal.

“But you just did!” said Pumpkin. “You yelled at Flurry because she had hurt you.”

Crystal squirmed a bit. “But she’s a child too.”

“Well, no one said you have to yell at me,” said Twilight. “The point I was trying to get across with these stories is to show you that I’m not perfect, and I’m not afraid to admit when I screw up. I would like to be respected for the things I’ve accomplished, but not if it means you put me so high up you forget that I have a negative side too.

“Even I am still learning. When the twins ran away from home it made me realize I knew little about small children, and I used that experience to help Pound change his thinking. When it came to him and Tree Leaf it made me realize that I was looking down on them, thinking their feelings were too simplistic. Those two events helped me to adjust the way I treated them, and ever since that day the twins haven’t run away again, nor have they taken issue with my behavior.

“Even if indirectly, these children taught me something I needed to learn, filling in a gap in my education.

“As I said to the twins, I can’t teach others to overcome their own issues if I pretend that I don’t have any myself. I want you to have a realistic view of me, and that means acknowledging that even our heroes are capable of great errors.”

“Mmm.” Crystal put her hooves over Flurry’s. “I think I understand now. Even though she explained it I still didn’t really get why Flurry thanked me for yelling at her.”

Flurry gave her a little nuzzle.

“All that being said,” said Twilight, “I do think it’s prudent to bring up that not everyone will want to interact with you at ‘eye level.’ Me and Cadance and even Flurry want to treat everyone like equals despite our status, but not everyone is like that.

“A perfect example is King Sombra. He thought his position entitled him to treat his subjects like slaves. He definitely looked down on them as being lesser than him.”

Crystal nodded.

“But not everyone is out to rule the world in their ego. Some have just been petty, or arrogant, thinking too much of themselves but otherwise mostly harmless.

“If you make an assumption about someone you may put an unnecessary barrier between you that doesn’t need to be there, but it might also lead to anger if they’re not as friendly or forgiving as you think. The only advice I can give is to find a balance between caution and openness, and the best place to start is to observe the way they talk and act first, and then form your own opinion on the kind of pony you think they are.”

“When I first met Flurry at the playground I didn’t know who she was. She kept her wings folded up, so I didn’t even notice she was an alicorn. It wasn’t until her mother came to drop her off that I even realized who she was.”

Crystal let out a little sigh. “Now I know how badly she was hurting back then, and I just wish I could have done more to help.”

Flurry gave her a little squeeze. “No worries. Even if it hadn’t been for that little accident I don’t know if I could have opened up to you. Aunt Twilight told everyone that I had a problem that needed solving, so the twins and all their friends were ready for me.”

She laughed awkwardly. “There was a reason I kept them at my side.”

“What’s that?”

She blushed, still self-conscious as she released Crystal. “Look for yourself.”

Crystal spun around in Twilight’s lap, waiting.

Flurry took in a deep breath. “This drove some of my other friends away, or at least caused them to make fun of me.”

Crystal waited, but Flurry still just stood there, blushing and making nervous gestures. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m… a little scared. I just started a real friendship with you, and I don’t want to ruin it now.”

“Flurry,” said Twilight, “you won’t be able to avoid it forever. Eventually she’ll see it. If it’s enough to drive her away from you then you might as well get it out of the way now rather than stick around her. And if it isn’t, then all you’ll be doing is worrying yourself over nothing. Either way it goes, showing her now is the better option.”

Flurry looked into her eyes. “I… I know, but…”

“Do you remember what you said the day after our birthday?” said Pound. “You said that if someone can’t accept you for all of you like me and Pumpkin do then they’re not the kinds of friends you want to have.”

Flurry groaned. “I know that! And I meant it, but I still… I mean, it’s easy to say that when nothing’s going wrong, but after everything we just went through to get this far-”

“Then you should trust your friend that she will love you the same, just as she asked you to do,” said Pumpkin. “Unless, of course, you don’t believe in her?”

Flurry winced.

Crystal looked between everyone. Everyone seemed to know something about Flurry that seemed devastating. Did she have a horrible scar that she kept hidden? What could possibly be causing her such distress?

“I want to know!” she said firmly. “I don’t want to be the only one not in the loop. And if everyone else here still cares about you despite knowing your secret then I can too! I trusted in your words enough to be honest with my feelings. Please… trust me too.”

Flurry took in a deep breath. They were right. They were all right. It wasn’t something that could be avoided forever. “Forgive me, Crystal. I should have trusted you more.” With one last steadying breath she unfurled them, showing her oversized wings.

Crystal just stared. Every single pony in the Crystal Empire was an earth pony. The only exceptions were Shining Armor, Cadance, the two unicorns that had taken Flurry to the park, and the members of the Royal Guard that had been transferred over from Canterlot, most of which were all unicorns.

Thus, she didn’t exactly have much of a frame of reference for average wing size. But even so, she could tell that they weren’t right. They seemed way too large for her body. She thought it was no wonder that Flurry always kept them concealed.

Flurry had her eyes closed. It wasn’t so much that she didn’t trust Crystal, but a lot of children had mocked her for them.

Crystal could see the shameful look on Flurry’s face. Flurry’s sensitivity to them had to come from somewhere, and she could only guess that there was a time when Flurry showed them off regularly before being teased to the point she always kept them at her side.

Standing up, she closed the difference between them, and gave Flurry a big hug. “I think you’re perfect just the way you are! Thank you for showing me.”

Flurry sniffed, tears running down her eyes as she hugged her friend back. “Thank you.” She extended her wings, hugging her with them too. “I was right to choose you. You’re an amazing friend.”

Crystal blushed.

Twilight was glad that Crystal was such a good fit for Flurry. As Cup had said to her before, the twins and the rest of their circle of friends would still be there for Flurry even if this didn’t work out, but even if they could communicate across long distances through the magic notebooks it still wasn’t the same as a hug in person. Flurry needed a friend at home to be there physically for her, and it was clear that Crystal was a perfect choice.

Pound whispered in Twilight’s ear. She nodded.

Her horn glowed as she concentrated, several objects appearing: a quill, a bottle of ink, and a book. “Flurry, Crystal!” she said brightly.

They broke apart from their hug. “Yes, Aunt Twilight?” she asked, wiping her eyes.

“The both of you have had a big day today, so I think you should take advantage of it.”

“What do you mean?” asked Crystal.

Twilight opened the book to two blank pages. “This is our friendship diary, where we write down all the important lessons we learn. I’d like both of you to write down what you learned today about the magic of friendship.”

“Okay,” said Flurry.

Crystal looked uncomfortable. “I… I don’t think I can.”

“Why not?” asked Pumpkin. “You’re not still thinking you’re worthless compared to Flurry, are you?”

She shook her head. “No, it’s not that, but… I don’t know how to write all that good yet.” She moved one of her hooves in small circles. “I don’t know how many ponies go through that book, but I don’t want everyone looking at my mistakes.”

“That’s no problem, “ Pound said brightly, throwing a hoof around her shoulder. “When me and Pumpkin wrote our entry into the friendship journal Twilight wrote it for us. You just tell her the words you want her to write down, and she’ll take care of the rest.”

“Oh.” She looked reassured. “In that case it’s fine.”

“What about you, Flurry?” asked Twilight.

Flurry sucked on her cheek for a few seconds. “Well, I do a lot of studying, and I understand a lot of words, but I’m not so good at writing them myself, so I think it would be better if you wrote mine too.”

Twilight nodded. “Very well. I can do that.” Dipping her quill into the ink she said, “Who wants to go first?”

Flurry pointed to Crystal. “She’s the guest, so I think she should choose.”

Crystal let out a little whimper. “You can go first… you know, so I can see how it’s done.”

“Well, this is new to me too, you know.”

“Mmm.”

Twilight set her quill down. “You don’t have to worry so much about doing it ‘right.’ You don’t have to write in a certain way, or make it super long. Just express your heart. But maybe it would be helpful if you read a passage or two to get a feel for it.”

She browsed through a few pages before stopping on one. “I think you’ll find this one appropriate. It’s the one that the twins and I wrote.”

They read both sides. Twilight’s expressed her ignorance of little kid’s feelings, and how it led to her hurting them, as well as the desire to plug that gap in her education not to make the same mistake.

Pound and Pumpkin’s admitted their screwup, and how a bad pony is different from a bad action, and that as long as you feel guilt over your wrongs you still deserve love.

When the two finished and looked up at her again she said, “The twins felt quite unworthy of their page, considering it was right next to mine, but lessons can come from anywhere. There are things they’ll experience that I never will, which means that they can help in a situation that I can’t.

“It reminds me of the Cutie Map.” That got questioning looks from them. “The Cutie Map is a special part of the castle in the throne room. Every so often our cutie marks will glow, telling us to visit it. The thing is, except for our first time, it very rarely calls all six of us. Usually just two at a time, and the map tells us what location is in need of a friendship lesson.

“For example, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash were sent to the homeland of the griffons. They were once united by a statue that filled them with pride and stopped them from being so greedy and self-serving. When it was stolen that unity broke.

“During the course of their adventure they actually found the idol, and one of the griffons, an old friend of Rainbow’s named Gilda, was put in a situation where she had to choose between saving the idol or saving her friend, as one of them was going to fall into an abyss, and she chose her friend. That selfless action, combined with some encouragement, allowed Gilda to make friends with another griffon, and thus they found something else to bond over.

“I wasn’t sent there, even though I wanted to go. How do you think things would have been different if I had gone?”

“Well,” said Flurry, “you have magic, so you could have just poofed it and the rest of you out of there.”

“And you can fly,” said Crystal, “so you wouldn’t have to worry about falling to your doom.”

“Exactly,” said Twilight. “But if I had done that it wouldn’t have solved the problem. Bringing back the idol might have allowed them to be united once more, but it would only last until the next thief stole it, or some accident caused it to break. Then they would be right back where they started.

“What was needed was something to replace the idol, something that wasn’t a physical object that could be broken or stolen. Hence, despite all my magic and skills I wasn’t fit for the job, but my friends were.”

She pointed to the book again. “And that’s why the twin’s words are just as valuable as mine, because they dealt with a problem far different than I did. And that means they could help someone in a way that I can’t.”

Flurry smiled. “The same way that they helped me open up about my problems.”

Twilight nodded. “Exactly.”

Crystal slowly shook her head. “Everything feels so different than what I expected it to be. Did you really bow to them and beg them for help?”

“Indeed I did. I learned my lesson when it came to Pound and Tree Leaf. I couldn’t force them to make friends with Flurry, and it was rather rude to expect them to deal with her issues during their birthday party. So it was the only option I had available to me. They had to freely choose to do it, so I opened my heart and showed them how much I was hurting, allowing them to get over their bitterness to give Flurry another chance.

“I know that doesn’t sound very princess-like to you, so if it makes you feel better it isn’t the kind of thing I’d do outside of my close circle of friends.”

“I guess it does.”

“So, anyway, let’s get your friendship reports.”

“I’m ready,” said Flurry.

Twilight readied her quill.

“Life can be difficult for me sometimes. It can be hard when you feel like you’re different than everyone else. I was born an alicorn, and my wings are adult sized even as a child. I’ve had ponies call me a freak, and it was very hurtful.

“For a while I was scared of all the pressure put on me, until my awesome Aunt Twilight brought me to a party with friends that loved me just the way I am. They helped take the pressure of me so I could just be a kid and goof off.

“I learned that real friends accept you for who you are, no matter what you look like. I also learned that sometimes we can hurt our friends without realizing it.

“My friend Crystal got mad at me for not trusting her enough to tell her my secrets like I did with everyone else, and she told me off for it. Luckily, she accepted my apology, and now we’re both getting closer.

“So my advice to anyone reading this is to keep searching for your real friends, and be honest with them once you find them.

“Signed, Princess Flurry Heart.”

Twilight nodded in approval. “Very good, Flurry.” She looked toward Crystal expectantly.

Crystal let out a little sigh. “I’m ready, I guess.

“I… I never spent much time around royalty, or famous ponies.” She hesitated, blushing slightly. “I thought that they were almost from a different world, stuck-up or scary. Before I knew Flurry was a princess everything felt normal, but as soon as I realized who she was it felt like a huge wall went up. I didn’t feel safe around her. I… I thought horrible things would happen if I got her mad.

“Even though she tried to be nice to me I just couldn’t relax around her, until she brought me to play with some of her other friends. I couldn’t understand how they could act like it wasn’t a big deal to have a princess in their house. They made it look so easy, and it made me kind of… jealous.

“I liked Flurry, but… I just didn’t know how to treat her like Pound and Pumpkin did.

“In the end, we finally talked things out. I had felt hurt and angry towards her, but I didn’t realize it because I was too scared. When I finally showed her my feelings she surprised me by thanking me for it, telling me it’s how a true friend should act.

“Even though it was one of the scariest moments in my life, I did it because I wanted to trust Flurry, and be by her side.” She sniffed, a few tears coming down her eyes. “I wanted to be her friend, someone that she can rely on. Even if I didn’t feel I deserved it, she had chosen me out of everyone else, and I wanted to prove myself worthy of being a true friend.”

Flurry put a hoof around her shoulder, putting a wing around her as well.

Crystal put her head against Flurry’s, nuzzling it a bit. “I learned that even ponies that you think are scary have feelings too, but if you can get past those differences that’s where the light of friendship truly starts to shine.

“I’m glad that the two of us opened our hearts to each other, and even though we might fight sometimes, I hope we remain friends the rest of our lives.

“Signed, Crystal Mines.”

Flurry was the one crying now. “Me too!” she said in a croaky voice. “I hope we’re friends forever too.”

Crystal put her hoof around Flurry’s shoulder, pulling her closer, their eyes closed as they held onto each other.

Twilight felt her own tears start. She didn’t know what the future would hold for them, whether their friendship would remain strong in the years to come, but she sure hoped it did. Regardless, the future was in the distance. Right now, before her eyes, she could see the bright spark of friendship between them, and that was enough.

Author's Note:

Hoo boy! This one came out really long like the last one. It is a bit of a recap chapter of events in part 1 of this story, but it also helps Crystal take down more of her assumptions and have a more realistic view of the princesses.

Now Flurry has her first home friend.

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