• 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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6-22: True self

“So,” said Starlight. “Where should we begin this time?”

“I don’t know,” said Flurry. “I guess now I’m not feeling so uncertain about whether I should have given Mayhem a second chance, but I’m not sure what else there is to talk about.”

“You’re still having doubts about that? Don’t I make a good example of the value of second chances?”

“Well… it’s not the same as you. It’s been years since you did your bad things, so I have proof that you’ve really changed. This only happened today. Just because you changed it doesn’t mean everyone will, right?”

“Fair enough, but I think you should give your friend a little more credit. And I think you should give yourself a little more as well.

“I believe your name is an excellent symbol. You followed your heart when you couldn’t rely on your strength to win. You inspired your friends to new heights, summoning a power that hasn’t been seen since the time of the founding of Equestria.”

Flurry let out a groan. “You… you’re talking just like Aunt Twilight! You make it sound like I did something amazing. I barely knew what I was doing. “

She hugged Starlight, tears coming down her eyes. “I don’t know anything. I’m just a stupid little kid! I’m weak and pathetic! I was totally useless! I couldn’t do anything on my own. I only succeeded because of my friends.”

“Like I just said you should give yourself more credit than that. It was you who carried your friends throughout this adventure. Maybe they had to remind you what it meant to sacrifice yourself for the sake of others when Mayhem made you forget, but once they did so you grew into your strength, being the inspiration for them.

“Against an exceptionally powerfully enemy you refused to give up, even when he had an overwhelming advantage. And because you didn’t surrender, keeping that belief in yourself, you finally unlocked the power to win.”

“But-”

“Shh.” She put a hoof to Flurry’s mouth. “That power may have been borne out of your unity, yes, BUT that unity was only borne out of the fire of your heart. You burned so brightly that the shadows of fear and doubt couldn’t survive, awakening that same courage in all of your friends when they were all ready to surrender.

“Without your determination to protect your friends this day would have ended with Mayhem still evil, and your friend’s just puppets in his toy box. No matter how much you try to deny it, this victory could only have been achieved with you. It may have been a group victory, but you were a necessary, vital part of it. You saved the lives of all your friends, and that’s something to be proud of.”

Flurry buried her face in her hooves, quietly sobbing.

Starlight rubbed her back. “I was there for you when you didn’t have those friends. Today you did have to face your biggest fears. Now that you have… was it really that bad?”

Flurry looked up. “YES! It was horrible! It was the worst! I’m… I…” She drifted off, burying her head again.

“I think, deep down, you know the truth. Try to remember what you felt earlier.”

A minute passed before Flurry put her hooves down. She wiped her eyes, some strength in them now. “I… I love my friends. I… I would…” She took a breath.

“Yes, Flurry? What about them?”

She was starting to remember the feelings she had, working together and protecting one another. She remembered the desire to protect all of them.

“Do you know what I see, Flurry?” Starlight said kindly, wiping away Flurry’s tears. “I see a girl who is far stronger than she gives herself credit for.”

Flurry sniffed, looking uncertain. She suddenly pulled away, hopping off her bed and pacing around the room. “Maybe I am! And maybe I don’t WANT it to be that way!”

“You don’t want to be strong?” Starlight asked curiously.

Flurry paused mid-step for a few seconds, then rounded on the mare. “That’s not the point! I hate this! I finally got to experience some peace and friendship. I finally got to just be a kid, then today I’m thrown into a nightmare world and forced to forget all that. I was tormented and tortured and-and-and…” She broke off, her eyes fading out as her breathing shortened.

She could still feel the terror permeating her being. The subconscious memories of her friends and joining up with all of them had been the only thing that had staved off the madness that had been eating away at her.

“So, then… are you resentful of Mayhem for doing that to you?”

“What?” She looked shocked at the idea. “No. No. No-no-no.” She shook her head. “It’s… I…”

“So you feel your love for him outweighs the evil he did to you? You can still love someone who betrayed you in such a way?”

Flurry felt oddly defensive. Starlight’s words had a tone of simply trying to get her to articulate her feelings, but it still felt like the mare was judging her choice.

“Yes!” she said firmly. “He was a friend in need, and every time I’d fight to save him!”

Starlight nodded. “Very good. So… if you’ve already put his betrayal behind you and made a plan to stop him from going off the deep end again then what is it that is still weighing you down?”

“So maybe I’m scared, alright! I don’t want to deal with this pressure again! It was hard enough back then. I don’t want those feelings to come back!”

She let out a huff. “Just when everything is settled Aunt Twilight pulled me and all my friends to the castle, asking all of US to sit in their seats, the thrones of the biggest heroes in the world, and talking about how she thought we should be the next Elements of Friendship. I mean, she apologized for it later, and I know she meant well, but I didn’t need to hear that, especially not today!”

“What’s wrong with that? You’re opposed to making new friends, or helping others make up and experience the same things you did?”

“Wha-that… that’s not the point!”

“So what is the point, then?”

“You know what that entails! Aunt Twilight doesn’t just help people make up. She fights these gigantic battles with the worst scum of Equestria.”

“The only thing she asked of you was helping children around your age. Nothing more.”

“I don’t want that responsibility!”

Starlight’s eyes narrowed slightly. “So you’d rather turn a blind eye to those in need?”

Flurry flushed, but her expression didn’t change. “I WANT to make my own choices! This is the same problem I had with being the ruler of the Crystal Empire. I don’t want anyone deciding my fate FOR me. If I’m going to rule I want it to be because I CHOSE to do it, not just out of expectations.

“It’s no different with that magic map. Aunt Twilight and her friends might want to help people, but that map thing just calls them whenever it wants. If I’m going to help someone it should be because I want to, not because something is telling me I need to go do it.

“I hate feeling different just because I was born with both wings and a horn! That’s something that hasn’t changed about me.”

Starlight put a hoof to her mouth, considering Flurry’s words. “I see. I wanted to point out that it isn’t only alicorns that make up the Elements of Friendship, but, being an alicorn, you probably expect that you would be expected to lead.”

Flurry nodded hard.

“So… what if you weren’t the leader? Pound seems to be pretty spunky and courageous from what you’ve said about him. He was the first one to throw himself in the path to protect you from the fake me. If he was the one in charge would that change how you felt?”

Flurry considered the question. After a little while she said, “No. It wouldn’t.”

“Why not?”

“Even if all the people close to me treat me like any other kid nobody else is. As soon as they see I’m an alicorn they’d expect me to be the one in charge.”

“I thought, after your relationship with Crystal, that you were okay with who you were.”

“I AM! I’m perfectly fine with the person I am. I just don’t like when people refuse to see me the way I want them to.

“I’m not ashamed of my wings anymore.” She unfurled them as far as they would go. “These wings are like a test to see who can look past my outward appearance to see who I am inside. That’s why I’m glad I was born with them. It weeds out the fakes who I would never want to be friends with.” She folded her wings. “But this isn’t about being teased or made fun of. It’s about being thrust into a responsibility I didn’t sign up for.”

“Flurry, that’s called life. We all go through life with unasked for responsibilities. How we choose to respond to those responsibilities is what makes us who we are inside. We can either run from them or accept them.

“Just like today, sometimes no one else is there to come to the rescue, and someone has to step up to play the hero.” Starlight let out a sigh. “You said to your friends the reason you felt distressed when the fake me pretended to come back to her senses was because you had to accept that truth. You had to accept that I was a fake, and that meant that you were still going to need to be the one in charge of protecting your friends.”

“Mmm…” Flurry glanced at the ground. “That’s different… to me.”

“Why is it different?”

“Because it was only the six of us. I did have to step up for my friends because I didn’t have a choice. Out in the real world there are hundreds of ponies. Why do I, specifically, have to be the one to do it then? Is everyone else so bad at solving problems that I’m the only one who can help?

“And you! When you were talking about your past thoughts you said it shouldn’t only be up to six ponies to help everyone with the little things. And it shouldn’t!”

Starlight slowly shook her head. “You’re so naïve, Flurry.”

“Why? I’m just repeating what YOU said, and I agree with it.”

“I do feel sympathy for your plight. Being born an alicorn certainly hasn’t been an easy experience, especially with your large wings. However, that’s all I feel sympathy for. Your mindset is repulsive.”

Flurry growled, her eyes narrowing.

“Don’t give me that look!” Starlight said authoritatively. “What you’re saying is that you only want to help others when it’s convenient for you, a very selfish notion that’s a slap in the face to ponies like your mother Cadance and your aunt Twilight, who selflessly offer themselves to others. I guess it’s good you’re not interested in your title, because the title of princess is clearly wasted on you.”

Flurry’s eyes clenched shut as she began to sob. “What would YOU know? You’re an adult now. You have the experience and the skill to deal with all these things. I don’t! I’m still a dumb kid!”

“That’s not an excuse,” Starlight said flatly. “Some ‘dumb kids’ were able to relieve your feelings, so don’t act like age is stopping you.”

“Fine, but I don’t feel ready for all of this!”

“All of what, Flurry? Helping out another six year old? You act like Twilight is trying to replace herself with you right now. You’re letting your fears make you paranoid, just like you did when you thought you’d be plopped on the throne if your parents died.

“From what you and Twilight have told me about how your friends met, Pound and Pumpkin were able to help quite a few through personal family issues. If they can do it then why not you?”

Flurry began to shiver. “I told you before! I’m scared!”

“Scared of what, Flurry? If you don’t want to be a fighter then that’s perfectly fine. That’s what I’m here for. What issue do you have with helping others that’s got you so terrified?”

“I’m scared of screwing up and making things worse. I’ve learned the value of friendship, but I don’t think I’m qualified to start teaching others yet. It feels like too much responsibility. I’d feel horrible if I wound up destroying a friendship because I said or did the wrong thing.”

She sniffed. “I just want to be an ordinary kid. Maybe that does make me a failure as a princess, but I always knew I didn’t deserve the title in the first place. I never should have been born an alicorn.”

She looked at the ground, tears dripping onto the floor. “I know I’m just a pathetic loser. You don’t have to rub it in more."

Starlight let out a sigh. She gestured to Flurry to get her attention, then patted her lap. Flurry stood still for a minute before slowly plodding over and hopping up, automatically throwing her hooves around the mare as she continued crying.

“I think I went a bit too far,” said Starlight “but my intentions are pure. You’re so much more than you think you are, Flurry.”

“Now you’re praising me?” Flurry said dully.

“Your spirit has been drained from your recent experience. Mayhem may have restored the memories you forgot, but that doesn’t make you the same person you were before he did so.”

Flurry just raised her eyebrow, not responding.

“I think… with all the other things going on, that you’ve forgotten who you are.”

Flurry’s head tilted. “That’s stupid! Mayhem made me forget my friends. He didn’t make me forget that I’m Flurry Heart.”

“Sure he did. You just can’t see it.”

“I just used my name. What in Equestria are you talking about?”

“You may know your name, but that doesn’t mean you know who you are.”

“Huh…”

“Think about it like this, Flurry. When I began to take away ponies cutie mark’s their names may have stayed the same, but they were no longer the same person. Pinkie Pie was no longer her bubbly self. Twilight lost all her skill at magic. Everyone became equal so that no one could excel.

“But, just like Twilight said about her friendships, it’s those differences that make you unique. They make you who you are.”

“Oh,” said Flurry. “I was taking it literally.”

“I know you were. And I can say with confidence that you have forgotten who you are.”

“Do I really seem that different to you?”

Starlight nodded. “Definitely. It wasn’t perfect, but you were definitely on your way to truly knowing yourself before. Now you’ve drifted far from that.

“The weirdest part of it all is that you without your memories seems like she understood things far better than the Flurry sitting on my lap right now.”

Flurry looked away. “I… I don’t understand what you mean.”

“Well, finding your identity is something that is usually done on your own, but I can give you some hints, and they all start with your friends. The rest will be up to you to figure out.”

Flurry looked back up and nodded.

“Crystal helped you to see the shape of who you really were.” With her magic she pulled Flurry’s wings out. “She helped you to accept yourself for being different.

“Do you remember why you overcame those feelings? It was for her. If she was ever in danger you didn’t want to let your shame over your wings cripple your ability to be there for your friend.”

As Starlight released her wings Flurry extended them in front of her, thinking of the long time it took her to learn to appreciate her wings.

Starlight poked her in the chest. “This fear floating around you isn’t a fear of being a hero or having to step up. It’s really a fear of being yourself and who you’re meant to be.”

Flurry gazed at her questioningly.

“Once you’ve accepted the person you truly are you won’t be able to look back anymore. Your heart will accept nothing less than action. Sitting on the sidelines and holding back won’t be something you’ll accept.”

“And… who am I, truly?”

“That’s a question only you can answer, Flurry. You started to find her because of Crystal, and I think today you truly discovered her.

“You need your friends, of course. Meeting them for the first time they taught you the joy of friendship. The second time you met them ‘for the first time’ it was much the same. They inspired you and sacrificed themselves for you.

“This connection goes both ways, though. Stop and think for a moment about what your friends would do without you.”

Her horn glowed, summoning a memory.

Flurry looked around, seeing they were at the end of Mayhem’s game. Mayhem made his proposal to spare the pony who betrayed the others.

“Look at your friends, Flurry. Can you see the fear and uncertainty in them? The only one still calm in this sea of fear is you.”

“But…” Flurry’s ears went down. “But that was only because I believed in my friends and wanted to protect them. I can’t do it on my own.”

Starlight lifted Flurry and set her back on her bed. “You can tell yourself you can’t a thousand times, but when it comes to your friends it’s clear that your only response is ‘I can.’ And you did.”

Starlight began walking to the door of her room.

“Where are you going?” Flurry asked emotionally.

She stopped, turning her head around. “To let you figure things out. I told you that I was only going to give you some hints.

“I know who you are, so-”

“So why won’t you just tell me?”

Starlight smiled at her. “Because you don’t need me to. You already know everything you need to know. I saw her emerge today from your memories.

“Besides, don’t you remember what you told me? You don’t want someone deciding your fate for you, or pushing you onto a path you didn’t choose. If I tell you what I think, and you reject it, then it comes to nothing.

You have to be the one to make your own choices, Flurry, just as you said.”

Flurry gulped, trapped by her own words. “But… I… I don’t even know where to start.”

Starlight considered her for a moment. “I already told you, Flurry. Take a minute and ask yourself about what your friends mean to you. Think about the feelings you have for them.

“Then I want you to flip it around, and think about what you mean to your friends. Ask yourself where they would be without you in their lives.

“When you can answer both of those questions with confidence I think you’ll find the answer you’re searching for.”

“But… but what does that have to do with anything?”

“Who you are is determined by the things that are important to you… the things you cherish most dearly and want to protect. If you can find that pony without your memories, then think of how much stronger you can be with them intact.”

Starlight gave her a big grin. “You are your own pony, Flurry. Who you choose to be is up to you. Knowing you as well as I do I’m confident that you’ll find the answer that you’ve already discovered and forgotten.

“Let me know what you come up with later.”

And with that she left.

Author's Note:

i'm a bit on the fence with this chapter. I don't know if it's that good. The next one I like as we delve into Flurry's memories, but I wonder if Starlight should have said more or if things seemed too abrupt and all over the place.

But at least we've finally past all the distractions. This will have a big impact on Flurry.

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