• Published 3rd Aug 2019
  • 748 Views, 51 Comments

The Filly Within - Detsella Morningdew



With all the evidence stacked up against her, can Sweetie Belle remain herself? A Sweetie Bot story.

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Chapter 4: Heartbeat

The looks hadn't stopped. Not when she woke up in the morning, not when she came back from school. Rarity was looking at her like she had never met her in her life.

At least, when she didn't know Sweetie was paying attention. She was her normal, loving sister every other time.

This has got to stop. I need to know.

And today was the perfect time to find out.

"Genealogy? I thought we already looked at family trees and stuff. Apple Bloom suggested that one, remember?"

"Yeah, but this time I have a better idea. We could be, um... geneticists!"

"Genetawhat?"

"Geneticists! Like, we could look at how we looked when we were little, and then maybe what our parents look like and see what we got from each of them."

"I... guess so?"

Apple Bloom smiled. "That sounds like a great idea, Sweetie. And don't give me that look, Scoots, Sweetie always tries all your crazy ideas."

"Yeah, yeah. We can be boring this time."

Sweetie Belle sighed. "You don't have to do it if you don't want to."

Scootaloo's eyes went wide. "No, no, that's not what I meant! It's still fun doing stuff with you girls, it's just I was hoping something more... awesome would happen today."

Apple Bloom rolled her eyes. "Personally, after our last experiment, I've had enough 'awesome' for a week."

Scootaloo gave a sheepish grin and pulled the torches out of her saddlebag and back into the Crusader supply box.

Her two friends looked at each other. "Ah, that's why."

"Mhm."


Apple Bloom tapped Sweetie with a forehoof. "Uh, why are we goin' to Town Hall? If we're just lookin' at foal pictures, shouldn't we be asking our sisters for the photo album?"

Sweetie kept Scootaloo in the corner of her eyes. "Well, the thing is, aren't birth certificates, like, the most reliable pictures for this kind of thing? It's always right after you're born, and only official ponies get to take them. And besides, I don't think I've ever seen my parents' baby pictures in an album."

Or mine.

"But if everypony has their records with Mayor Mare, we can compare them, like, really well."

Sweetie felt a little bad deceiving her friends like this. And really, she might have suggested something like this anyway. They had done genealogy before, but it was only with the Apple family. While Apple Bloom's family was very large and very interesting, she was far more interested in her own today.

Really it shouldn't matter. But it did.

When they were finally able to get Mayor Mare's attention, it didn't take much convincing to get her to show them their birth records. She was all too happy to help them with this sort of educational endeavor, especially, Sweetie suspected, since it involved files and organization. If anypony could keep up with the amount of weird paperwork Ponyville produced, it was this mare. And she enjoyed it.

She even let them stay in the files room alone, which really made Sweetie question her judgement.

Apple Bloom looked up at the vast filing cabinets, sorted alphabetically. "Okay, are we looking for parents first, or us first?"

Scootaloo crossed her hooves. "I don't know why I'm even doing this. I know I'm not related to my parents."

Sweetie walked over to her. "Yeah, but you're the perfect control group!"

Both of her friends just looked at her blankly. "Uh, the what?"

"Like, since we already know that your parents are different from you, we can make sure that the similarities we find in our parents aren't just coincidental!"

Apple Bloom just looked at her, completely deadpan.

Sweetie sighed. "Like, Scootaloo's mom is a pegasus. It doesn't make them related. And Pumpkin and Pound Cake are a unicorn and pegasus, respectively. Mr. and Mrs. Cake are earth ponies. They are definitely related, though. At the same time, it's really rare for anypony in the Apple family to be anything but an earth pony."

Apple Bloom nodded. "I think I get it. Like, I'm the same color as my dad was, and that probably because of these gene things, but just because Sweetie here is white doesn't mean she's related to Celestia or something. Or that DJ, even though they all have horns and are white."

"Oh. Yeah, that kinda makes sense."

Sweetie smiled. "Exactly!"

Even though she had ulterior motives, Sweetie couldn't help but enjoy this. Even though she certainly was no Cheerilee (and their teaching cutie mark attempt had been disastrous), knowing that she showed her friends something, and they learned from it was a wonderful experience. And it wasn't often that both of her friends were able to talk about their parents so openly.

But based on Scootaloo's expression, it probably wasn't a good idea to dwell here. While she certainly loved her adoptive parents, the subject was still a sensitive one. And Sweetie couldn't exactly blame her, given her current real motive to be here. This needed to end soon. Whether she was right or not she had to know, right now.

"Let's look at ourselves first."

Apple Bloom nodded, grabbing the ladder and climbing the up to the cabinet named "A". After rummaging for a few seconds, she returned with a thick card with her information.

Sweetie looked at her oddly. "That was fast."

Apple Bloom scratched the back of her head with a hoof awkwardly. "I might have... already been here before."

Sweetie suddenly remembered Mayor Mare's decision to leave them alone. It made a little more sense now.

After a few moments more of awkward silence, Apple Bloom moved over the "S" section. "Ah still think these files here should be sorted by family, not name. Would be a whole bushel less confusing."

Sweetie nodded, but also tried to think of a way that would actually work. The Apple family was obvious, since they were big enough to have a unified name. And her own family was primarily a unicorn one, which meant they kept a second, family name, Belle. But Scootaloo's family, even if they were blood related, had no unified name, which would be hard to sort in general. At least with Mayor Mare's system, it was simple.

"Though ah suppose it's easier for me to find both your birth certificate things. They both start with 'S.'"

As Apple Bloom passed them to her friends, Scootaloo perked up for the first time, looking not at her foal picture, but the information to the side.

Now that it was in front of her, Sweetie was almost afraid to look. But after a half second of indecision, she looked down.

It wasn't what she expected. It wasn't even either outcome she expected, both good and bad. In fact, she wasn't sure what to think.

The picture was a picture of her face. Almost identical to how she looked now. She didn't even remember the picture being taken, but Rarity had taken many pictures of her before. Same with her parents.

Though, as she looked at the information to the side, they weren't really her parents. Or maybe they were, but it didn't seem to be by blood.

Her birth town was blank. Her birth date was uncertain, an estimate rather than a solid date. It wasn't even the date she remembered celebrating every year.

She wasn't just an orphan. She was, like, a super-orphan. They didn't even know who her parents were. She was just found.

But if she was this old when they found her, why didn't she remember any of it?

Sweetie hadn't noticed until now, but her friends were now looking over her shoulders, reading the paper frozen in her hooves.

"Sweetie, I..."

Scootaloo gave a humorless chuckle. "I guess I don't have much to complain about, do I?"

Apple Bloom looked at her friend's face closely. "Sweetie? You aren't mad at Rarity are you? Your parents?"

Sweetie looked down. "I... I guess not. More that I'm just... sad I was right."

She positioned herself in front of her, lowering her head to make eye contact with Sweetie. "So, you'll go talk to her with us, won't you?"

She looked back up. "I... not yet."

Apple Bloom's eyes narrowed.

"I will! I promise. It's just... I need to check something first. Just one thing."

"Are you sure?"

"If it makes you feel any better, I'm just asking Twilight something."

Apple Bloom still looked uncomfortable, but nodded. "All right. But we're going to Rarity with you right after, you hear me?"

Sweetie nodded.

"Good. We'll be at the clubhouse when you're finished."


The world felt strange to Sweetie as she exited Town hall and walked down the dirt road to the library. The evening air felt too wet, the sky too heavy, and the ground felt like she was pushing it backwards rather than the other way around. It didn't help that halfway there, the sky started leaking water.

Really, being adopted shouldn't have been such an important thing. Despite their disagreements, Sweetie knew Rarity loved her like a sister. And even though their parents weren't around often, she knew they loved both of them just as much.

It shouldn't matter, but it did. And those looks Rarity gave her after the changeling thing... did she really love her after that?

And worse, what if she did know that changeling queen, but just didn't remember it? She didn't remember that picture, and it looked almost recent. Why couldn't she remember more than a few years, and all of that was with her new family?

She looked at the door to the library with determination.

And why can't I do magic?

She had always been told that all young unicorns took a while to master their horn. It took effort, but you got it when you were ready. Just like cutie marks. And just like cutie marks, some got it earlier than others.

But just like cutie marks, she was the last to get it in the entire school. Well, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom didn't have theirs, either, but she was still the last unicorn. But with the magic, she even caught Cheerilee looking worried, even though she still reassured her that it would work eventually. She wasn't so convinced anymore.

Sweetie knocked.

"Just a moment!"

The door opened, and a figure around the same height greeted her.

"Hi, Spike! Is Twilight here right now?"

"Yeah, just a sec." He turned around. "Twilight! It's Sweetie Belle!"

He turned back to Sweetie, realizing she was still in the doorway. And that it was raining. "Oh, right. You can come in, by the way. This is a public library, anyway, even though it's close to closing hours." He poked his head out and looked up at the sky. "Don't know why you'd be out in this weather, though. Didn't you look at the schedule? There's a storm today."

Sweetie trotted inside, allowing Spike to finally close the door and shut out the sound of the steadily growing rain. "I know, but our Crusading was supposed to be all indoors. And I thought the library was supposed to have a lightning rod, anyway."

Spike shrugged. "I was more talking about, you know, staying dry. Not getting struck by lightning. That's kinda hard to do if there's buildings nearby."

Sweetie looked uncomfortable. "I know, it's just our project was done early, so I thought I'd ask Twilight some questions. It was supposed to be tomorrow, but... I don't really want to wait another day."

The sound of hooves on wood interrupted them. "Ask me what?"

"Oh, hi Twilight!" Sweetie smiled up at her, then suddenly remembered her reason to be here, and her smile faded into a grumpy frown. "Right, I need to ask you this Twilight, and I want you to tell me the truth. Even if it's something I won't like. Can I do magic?"

"Of course you can do magic, Sweetie. You just have to be patient-"

"Twilight! I'm fourteen! I should have magic by now! At least a little!"

Twilight's mouth hung open for a few seconds, clearly unsure on how to deal with the sudden hostility. "Um, I mean... maybe you're really late?"

"Twilight. I've been told that for more than a year. I don't care what you have to do, scan me, hook me up to your weird mad science devices-"

"I do not have 'mad science devices!' Those are precision-"

"Twilight! That doesn't matter! Just tell me, with absolute scientific proof, that I can do magic. I don't care how. That changeling Queen changed her plan because of me, and I just found out that I was adopted and they don't even know who my parents are. I need something today."

Twilight stared at Sweetie, and to her horror, her expression looked a lot like Rarity's.

"Please, Twilight."

Twilight shook her head, and the expression was gone. Replacing it was a kind of determination that Sweetie found significantly more comforting. "All right. This should be pretty simple. Well, the spell I'm using isn't actually that simple, but it should make things really clear for you. The spell simply lights up in the presence of magic, allowing us both to see your magic core, as well as the leylines that connect to your horn. And if your magic really is damaged, we can get you the proper treatment, all right?"

Sweetie started to nod, but stopped suddenly. "Wait, if the spell just lights up in the presence of magic, won't the rest of my body just block the light inside me?"

"That's what makes the spell not that simple to cast."

"Ah."

"So... I'm going to start the spell right now. Is that okay?"

Sweetie nodded, tensing up as she readied herself mentally. Less than an hour ago, she found out that she shared more with Scootaloo than she had ever thought she would. Could she really share even more? Scootaloo had told her before, what was really wrong with her wings. And she had read from Twilight's own library about the condition, to get it in a bit more than a few words. Could she really have the same problem? Were her leylines broken?

Twilight gasped, and Sweetie looked down at herself. Her heart soared. There was indeed a fuzzy light in her chest, with thin, light pink lines running from it all over her body, even her horn. Her magic wasn't broken!

But Twilight was still staring. And her expression was weird again.

"Twilight? What's wrong? I thought this was what we were looking for?"

"But... but... no! That's not where it's supposed to be!"

Sweetie blinked, her brain refusing to comprehend what she was saying. "What?"

Twilight pointed at the light, still staring at it with laser-like focus. "Your magic core! It's supposed to be in your head! Pegasi have their core in their spines! Earth Ponies have it in their stomach! Nopony just has it in their actual heart!"

"W-what?"

"And your leylines! They just go... everywhere! They aren't supposed to do that!" Twilight was now breathing heavily, putting her hoof to her chest and trying to slow it down.

Sweetie wasn't doing much better, despite her relative silence. No matter what, the face of that queen would not leave her head. If her magic didn't look like a unicorn, didn't look like a pegasus, and didn't look like an earth pony...

She bolted.

Twilight called out for her to come back, but she was already out the door, not caring that it slammed against the library's welcome sign. Not caring about the rain that came down in sheets and turned the dirt road into mud.

Thunder crashed in the distance.

Vaguely, she noticed that Twilight was running after her, but it didn't matter anymore. Who was Sweetie Belle? Was she even real?

She slipped, her face falling solidly into the mud. The darkening sky wouldn't have given her much to see by, even if she had been looking. She scrambled to her hooves again, this time going off into the grass. It didn't really matter where she was going. She didn't have a sister. She didn't have a family. It was all fake, just like that fake, evil queen.

All that mattered was that she got away.

She was running up a hill now, but she barely even noticed it. It wasn't much harder than running on flat ground. She shivered. Weren't bugs supposed to be able to walk on walls?

Twilight's voice pierced the air, and Sweetie easily traced the source. She was at the bottom of the hill, horn lighting the way. "Sweetie! It's okay! I'm not going to experiment on you, or do more tests, or anything a mad science pony would do, I swear! I was just surprised!"

"I just wanted one thing, Twilight! Was it too much to ask?" Her voice hitched. "I just wanted to know who I am! And now I don't even know WHAT I AM!

"Maybe I do know, but you know what's even worse? I DON'T EVEN REMEMBER!"

Sweetie stood on her hind legs, pointing angrily in the direction she thought through the clouds must have been the sun. "And YOU! Why didn't you tell me? You know... you're supposed to know everything.. right?"

"Then who am I?"

"WHO AM I‽"

"WHO AM I‽"

The lightning bolt missed the houses nearby. It missed the trees that were scattered along the field she was in. It bypassed everything and hit Sweetie Belle right on her outstretched hoof.

It hit her, and she saw no more.

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