• Published 7th Aug 2012
  • 5,026 Views, 164 Comments

Pride and Prejudice and Snails - Mudpony

A lost bet forces Diamond Tiara to ask Snails to a dance. But when Snails turns to Sweetie Belle for help with impressing his date, she develops feelings for him. And so what was to have been a simple victory for the CMC gets a bit more complicated.

  • ...

Chapter 5

Monday mornings were usually one of Snails's least favorite times of the week, for it meant five days of school before the glorious freedom of the weekend. This one though, he did not particularly mind. Any morning meant one day closer to the day of the dance. Just five days away now, this Saturday, and everything seemed to be falling into place. Hopefully this week would be as productive as the previous week had been.

Every day after school, he and Snails had met up with Sweetie Belle at her sister's shop for dance lessons. The first few days it had been as if he had been born with four left hooves. Nor had Sweetie Belle or Snips been much better. It had seemed that they all were hopeless. He had thought a few times that Rarity would throw up her hooves and scream in frustration. Somehow, though, she had always managed to take a deep breath, then several more, and continue on..

But by Thursday, something seemed to click in his mind. The basic dance steps had become more familiar, as if his legs knew what was expected of them and what their partner was doing. He was not great yet, not by any stretch of the imagination, but at least he could go more than three steps without winding up a tangled mess on the floor. With this week to continue the training, he hoped he could be even better than that, maybe even learn some fancy moves.

Snips, on the other hoof, had decided that dancing was not for him and decided to just provide moral support. He had stated that his legs were just too short to reach the floor properly for this fancy dancing. Snails figured there was a bit of truth to that. Snips did not let many things get to him, but his height, or rather the lack there of, was one of those things. But mostly, Snails figured his friend had moved to the sidelines to insure that Snails had the opportunity to learn as much as possible. He was lucky to have such a good friend.

The library trip was also paying off. The Polished Gentlepony's Guide to All Things was not exactly the most interesting reading, but he and Snips had been working their way through it, skimming it mostly to find sections that seemed relevant, then reading those parts with greater interest. It had even given him the idea of having a gift to present to Diamond Tiara on the night of the dance..

He and Snips had spent a day trying to decide what the perfect gift would be before he had figured it out. He had to ask his parents for an advance on his allowance, and when that wasn't enough, for some money for the dance, telling them it was for some fancy cloths to wear. A lie, something he did not like doing, but he told himself it was sort of the truth, that he was using the money to get a gift in part to pay back Tiara for purchasing the suit. The item would be ready on Saturday morning, the vendor had promised, just in time for the dance.

Snails started to grin as he rounded a corner and met up with Snips. They chatted about their activities of the weekend, which they had spent building a fort near their favorite lake, a fort of sticks and mud. And then they had turned their imaginations loose and defended the fort against all sorts of enemies, from Griffin pirates to Nightmare Moon cultists. It had been a fun weekend.

Such chat occupied his mind until they had arrived at the corner where they would wait for Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, before walking the rest of the way to school, just like they had last week, just like they would this week. And with every such escort this week, one day closer to the dance. His mind shifted into auto-reply mode to what Snips was talking about, just repeating bits of what his friend said from time to time, while he imagined himself at the dance; the dance at which he would surprise Diamond Tiara with his gift and an unexpected prowess on the dance floor.

A few blocks away, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon were heading toward the same corner and, like Snails, Diamond Tiara was thinking of the past week. Since she had followed her friend's advice about acting as if she had nothing to be ashamed of, things had mostly returned to their proper order. There was still some teasing about who she was taking to the dance, but most of it had died down when she had held her head up high and refused to let it bother her. Now she just one more week of this to suffer through, including the dance. And then her life could return to normal. No more Snails.

Although, strangely enough, she was finding she did not mind him that much. He tended to be agreeable with whatever she said, tried his best to be helpful, and had been at the appointed place each school day morning, waiting, and would, undoubtedly be there today.

But none of that changed the other facts about him though. He was beneath her, of low standing, and would never amount to much. Not to mention not much to look at. The night of the dance would be horrible. Though that might be beneficial, provide a good reason for her to end the non-existent relationship. Then a quick little 'I don't know what I was thinking' to her friends and all would be back to normal.

But first, this upcoming week to get through. Another week of faking interest in Snails. And, on top of that, she needed to help Silver Spoon. The colt her friend had been hoping would ask her had asked somepony else and so she was still without a date for the dance. Silver Spoon would need to act quickly before all the good choices were gone and she would have to go solo. Well, not solo, as the grey pony would be a welcome distraction from Snails, no doubt. But there was an image to maintain and it would not do for her friend to have a gorgeous new dress but no date of her own.

Tiara rounded the corner and there, as expected, were Snips and Snails. She stopped and went through the usual pleasantries, faking greater interest than she really felt, before the four of them continued on their way, walking the last couple of blocks to school, while discussing what their weekend activities.

Diamond Tiara shouldered the classroom door aside, took a step into the classroom, and stopped in surprise. Miss Cheerilee was there, but there were two other ponies as well. One she knew, Miss Sparkle. The other was new, and he was the reason for her surprise. A unicorn colt, one she had not seen before. His coat was solid white, while his mane and tail were two tones of blue, with dark green eyes. He did not have the gangling look of the colts in her class. Quite cute, as long as... yes, he had a cutie mark, a golden shield emblazoned with a red heart.

She pondered the unfairness of the universe. Of late, it had seemed out to get her. And yet, for another, what they needed might just fall right into their saddlebags. She squashed that line of thought quickly though. This was not just for some other pony. This was for Silver Spoon. She would have preferred the universe apologize directly to her, but it offering up the perfect solution to her friend's quandary instead, that was acceptable.

She cast a questioning glance at Silver Spoon. Her friend met her eyes and her approving smile was answer enough. They would have to act quickly though, before anypony else could scoop him up. To let the universe's apology slip through their hooves would be criminal.

"Good morning, Miss Cheerilee," both fillies called out.

"Oh, hello, girls, Snips, Snails," replied Cheerilee. "This is Heart Throb. He's going to be joining to join us for a while. Would you mind helping him get situated while I finish talking to Miss Sparkle here?" The young ponies nodded.

"Hi, Heart Throb. I'm Diamond Tiara. Snips. Snails. And this is Silver Spoon," said Diamond Tiara, indicating each pony in turn with her hoof.

"You're new in town, right? I don't think I've seen you before. Where are you from?" asked Silver Spoon.

"I just got here last night from Canterlot. My dad is an officer in the Royal Guard there," said Heart Throb, pride evident in voice.

"Really? I wish I lived in Canterlot, it'd be so much classier than living here." Silver Spoon smiled dreamily. "But if he's a guard there, what are you doing here?" she queried.

"I'm here to get special training. My dad pulled in some big favors and got me some tutoring with Princess Celestia's prized pupil, Miss Twilight Sparkle. Can you believe that? Her brother was the Captain of the Guard and the Shield Major and now she's going to be teaching me."

"Teaching you what?" asked Snails.

"Defensive magics. That's my thing." He proudly showed off his cutie mark. "Every year, there's a special contest in Canterlot for young ponies, the Junior Training Corps Championships. The winner qualifies to enter the Royal Military Academy. I am going to join the guard like my father and someday be the most powerful caster of defensive magics in the land, the Shield Major."

He stood there, head held high, back straight, reminiscent of the Princess's guards on their visits to Ponyville. The thought that he would look lovely dancing with her entered her mind for a second, but she shoved the thought away. Her fate for the dance was sealed. This was for Silver Spoon and she would be happy for her best friend. Provided everything went well. She glanced at the clock to check the time, as the door opened to allow another group of students into the classroom.

"Class is almost going to begin. You should sit here, next to Silver Spoon," Diamond Tiara said. "She can help you if you have any questions and introduce you to the rest of the class."

When Heart Throb wasn't looking, she threw a quick wink at her friend before settling into one of the desks in the front row.

At recess, the school kids all gathered around Heart Throb, curious to learn more about him. When they learned what he was here for, a pale yellow pegasus with a purple mane badgered him for a demonstration. Diamond Tiara glared at the pegasus. Was it merely just friendly interest or was Alula contemplating something more? Did she have a date yet? She tried to recall, but could not. Best to head this off at the pass.

"I'm sure he doesn't want to spend time performing tricks for people, Alula," Diamond Tiara said.

Heart Throb, however, contradicted her. "Nah, I'm happy to show what I can do. See that hoofball over there? I'm going to put a protective shield around it."

His horn started to glow red and his face scrunched up as he concentrated harder. His horn glowed brighter and a translucent erubescent globe appeared around the ball. The schoolkids all oohed.

"Now, someone try to kick it," he challenged.

"Ooh, me, me!" exclaimed Snips. Without even waiting for a response, he rushed to ball and bucked it as hard as he could. The effect of the kick was immediate. The globe stayed right where it was and Snips wound up face first in the grass. Diamond Tiara giggled at the sight.

"No offense, pipsqueak, but how about someone a little bit...more full grown?" Hearth Throb asked.

"I'll do it," Snails said, as he stepped forward. He slowly walked around the ball, examining the surrounding globe from all sides. Eventually, he settled on a spot, carefully placing his forelegs. He gave a quick practice kick with one hind leg and nodded with satisfaction. The watching crowd went silent. Snails breathed deeply, exhaled slowly, and took another breath.

The audience trembled, anticipation building, and just as the anticipation was about to turn to impatience, Snails unleashed. His hooves collided with the sphere with a thump. The sphere trembled a bit, but held. Snails returned his rear hooves to the ground, and quickly sat down, rubbing his legs.

"Ouch," he said.

Diamond Tiara hoped he was not hurt. She shook her head, wondering where that thought had come from. No, she hoped he was hurt, hurt enough that he would not be able to attend the dance. Unfortunately, that did not seem to be the case, as Snails shook his rear legs a bit, then got gingerly back on all fours.

Once it was evident that Snails was alright, the audience gathered around Heart Throb, who basked under their attention until the bell rang, signaling the end of recess. As ponies started to file back toward the classroom, Diamond Tiara frowned at the way Alula was eyeing Heart Throb. Nudging Silver Spoon with her shoulder, Tiara nodded her head towards Heart Throb. Taking the hint, Silver Spoon closed on the white unicorn.

"That was very impressive," she said.

"Yeah, it is pretty cool, huh?"

"Very. So, um, this Saturday, there's this dance. Since you're new in town and probably don't know anypony, well, I figured maybe you'd like to go with me?" Silver Spoon asked.

"Yeah, sure, why not? It could be fun," said Heart Throb.

The next day, Sweetie Belle sat eating her lunch, softly humming a song to herself. Scootaloo and Apple Bloom were nearby, doodling on some paper, coming up with some sort of plan. Sweetie though wasn't really paying attention. Instead, her attention was focused on her daisy sandwich and what was happening on the grass field around her. A group of foals playing jump rope. Some others were playing jacks. And another group was playing a ball game, split into two teams and kicking a ball around. It was this group that primarily held Sweetie's interest.

It was not that sports held a particular fascination to Sweetie Belle. The opposite, in fact. She had tried her hoof at a few, well, more than a few since she had begun crusading, but it was not really her thing. But she had to admit to herself, there was a certain relaxing aspect to the ball and players moving back and forth. There were a few of her classmates in the game as well, and it was them she spent most of her time watching.

Something nudged her shoulder, but she ignored it as one of the colts from her class almost scored. A second nudge, harder than the first, caused her to lose her balance. Her forelegs flailed, sending her half-eaten sandwich flying. She lunged, hooves stretched, eyes closed. She cautiously opened her eyes, breathing a sigh of relief to see her sandwich safely caught.

With a glare, Sweetie turned on the source of the nudge. "What?" she demand.

"So what do you think?" asked Scootaloo.

"About what?"

"The plan we've just been spending all of lunch working on, of course," Apple Bloom said.

"Oh, um..." Sweetie Belle glanced quickly over the paper colorfully marked with crayons. The squiggly writing was not easy to read. She tried again, but still could not make much sense of it. Scootaloo writing, so no doubt it would be a plan for something adventurous. "I, um, really like this part." She pointed in the middle of glob of writing.

"But that's crossed out," Scootaloo said, her brow furrowed. "Why would you like that part?"

"Yup, what you replaced it with is much better," Sweetie Belle said lamely, just as the school bell rang. Rarely had she been so happy to have lunch end.

"Oh, look at the time. Lunch is over.. Let's get back to class." Sweetie Belle said as she scooped up her things and raced off, leaving a perplexed Scootaloo and giggling Apple Bloom behind.

Once back inside, the time passed pretty quickly. Some of the subjects covered were interesting. For these, Sweetie Belle diligently scrawled notes. For the others, her notes were a lot less complete, one could almost call them lacking, as she fought her boredom by drawing doodles in her notebook. And so the afternoon passed until at last Miss Cheerilee signaled the end of the school day.

"Okay, that is it for today. Remember to study for the test on the paleopony period on Wednesday. And don't forget to ask your parents to fill out the volunteer forms for the dance. There's still a few slots we need to fill," Miss Cheerilee reminded the class. "Class dismissed."

The class exploded into action as the foals stuffed items into their packs and desks, started to chat with friends, and headed toward the door. Most of the class was already gone by the time Sweetie had finished carefully putting away her items, each in their proper place. She knew her friends would be waiting for her outside. And sure enough, they were, just outside the door, as were two colts from her class.

"Oh, hey, guys," said Sweetie Belle. "You coming for dance lessons tonight, Snails?"


"You guys are still doing that fancy dancing stuff?" Scootaloo asked.

"Yes, Snails is getting pretty good."

"I don't fall over nearly as much," Snails added, beaming with pride. Snips added his own affirmation of this with a nod.

Sweetie Belle giggled. "I'll see you tonight then. Oh, want to study together for the test tomorrow after school?"

Snips responded, "Sure, that would be great!"

Sweetie opened her mouth to respond, only to find herself shoved rudely from behind.

"Out of my way. Ponies are walking here," said Diamond Tiara, giggling as Sweetie Belle fell down. "Coming, Snails?"

Snails looked apologetically at Sweetie, then he and Snips dashed after Tiara. Sweetie could just hear him chiding Tiara about her behavior. Tiara's response was audible as well, a laugh.

"Gah, I hate her so much," said Scootaloo, as she and Apple Bloom helped Sweetie back up. "One of these days, she's going to go too far and I'm going to kick her right to the moon."

Snips refilled his glass with punch as he watched the dance practice with a satisfied smile. He had known Snails could pull it off. He had never doubted it, well, other than most of the first few days of dance lessons, but that did not really count. Now, as he watched Snails and Sweetie glide across the floor, he believed what he had always known, that his best friend would pull this off. They moved with a grace and ease he would have had trouble imagining even a week before.

Sure, Miss Rarity was still pointing out all sorts of flaws in their technique, but what she was pointing out were things Snips doubted most ponies would even notice. He certainly did not. Rarity did though. She had an eye for lack of perfection. But from watching her, Snips could tell even she was happy with the level of progress. Whereas before there were many sighs, scrunched eyes, and calming breaths before speaking, with every passing lesson, there were more nods, some compliments, and even the occasional smile. Snails would be ready. He could pull this off, as long as nothing went horribly wrong.

As the song finished and the two dancing foals coasted to a stop, Rarity spoke up. "Okay, that is all I have time for tonight. I really need to finish off a few more things that customers are coming to pick up tomorrow, as well as your suit, Snails, so you can take it home tonight. But you and Sweetie can keep practicing for a bit longer, if you want."

Snips watched Rarity leave the room, only to have her return half a minute later, her horn glowing as she dropped off a stack of dress covers on a table.

"Sweetie, would you be a dear and put the dresses on that rack in dress covers and move them to the rack in the hall?" Rarity asked as she turned around and exited the room without waiting for an answer.

"Okay, sis," Sweetie called after her sister.

Rarity ducked her head back into the room. "Oh, and please, please, puh-lease be careful with that punch." And she was gone again.

Snips smiled. Over the last few weeks, he had seen similar scenes with Rarity over and over again. When it came to her work, she worried endlessly about things that would never happen. Or at least, if they did happen, were not nearly as bad as she made them out to be. Still, she was kind enough to give these dance lessons despite her worries. It made Snips almost wish he had an older sister of his own. Or maybe an older brother. Yeah, that would probably be more awesome.

He shook the thought from his head and smiled, taking another drink of punch. Unless his parents had neglected to tell him he had an older sibling, it would be rather unlikely he would end up with one. So there was little point imagining that when there were other things he could be imagining. He could be an officer in the Royal Guard, leading a successful charge. Or a successful stage magician, the envy of all others. Or, as he glanced at his friend practicing with Sweetie, perhaps a wealthy businessman, dancing at the Grand Galloping Gala.

Without really intending to, Snips's body turned the daydream into action. He spun around, trying to match the moves Snails and Sweetie were doing out in the open area. He glided left, then spun, only to feel his balance going as he collided with a dress rack. With all the grace of a really ungraceful thing, he recovered his footing. He really was not cut out for dancing, he decided, and took another sip from his glass. Or rather, tried to, as he discovered the previously half full glass was now empty.

A quick scan of the floor revealed that the missing punch was not on the floor. Nor had he spilled it on himself. Which left... the dress rack. Slowly, he turned toward the dress, to have his fears confirmed. The first dress on the rack, a shining white creation just a minute ago, was now marred with a large maroon stain.

Dread filled Snips. If Rarity found out he had spilled the punch on the dress, after she had specifically warned them not to, it would not be good. She would probably kick them out. She might cancel the dance lesson tomorrow. Or even worse, she might decide to not finish Snails's suit. That would ruin Saturday. That could not be allowed to happen.

He needed a place to hide the dress. He urged his brain to work, to identify a good spot to hide the dress, maybe something to cover... cover, yes, that was the answer. He quickly scooped up the dress, folded it double to cover the stain, and carried it over to the table with the dress covers. The perfect place to keep the dress out of sight.

"You're being careful with that, right, Snips?" Sweetie called out.

Snips froze for a second, as if caught in a cockatrice's stare, worried that had been caught out. But no, Sweetie just thought he was putting away the dresses, doing the task her sister had asked of her. "Um... yes, of course."

"Okay, thanks for taking care of that for me."

"Yup, that's me. All helpful like that," Snips replied. He breathed a soft sigh of relief as Sweetie Belle returned to dancing. This little incident would not ruin Snails's big day.

"You know, I always had this image for how my first big dance would be. I'd have a gorgeous dress, a handsome date, and I'd be the belle of the ball. It'd be perfect. But, hey, at least I got the dress, right? One out of three is better than nothing, I guess," Diamond Tiara said.

"Yeah, you are going to look absolutely gorgeous in that dress. You'll be the second best looking one there for sure!" Silver Spoon said, drawing a glare from Diamond Tiara.

"Okay, okay, tied for best looking," she added with a laugh, drawing a giggle from Tiara, before Tiara once again turned somber.

"You're so lucky, you know, going with Heart Throb. Your night is going to be perfect, everything I had dreamed of, while mine..."

"Oh, come now, yours probably won't be that bad."

"I know it will be that bad. I had so wanted my first dance to be special." Tiara shouldered Silver Spoon to interrupt her sudden giggle. "Good special, you know what I meant. And instead of being the filly everyone else there is jealous of, I'm going to be spending the entire night hoping not to be noticed.

"Promise me, something, Sil. Promise me your night will be everything mine won't be. That your night will be perfect. If I cannot be happy for me, I can at least be happy for you."

"I promise, Tia. I'll do my best."

Diamond Tiara wrapped her forelegs around Silver Spoon's neck. "Thanks."

The two fillies continued the last bit of distance to the boutique in silence.

Today was the day Rarity had promised their dresses would be ready. A bit later than the fillies would have liked, what with tomorrow being the dance, but Miss Rarity had needed to special order in some fabric for their dresses. Nothing to be done about it, plus one did one's best to not antagonize what rare bit of style there was to be found in Ponyville.

Rarity was busy serving another customer, a stallion. Diamond Tiara looked him over with a critical eye. His mane had been cut recently, probably earlier today. His hoofs were not well trimmed, indicating his livelihood most likely involved physical labor. His build seemed to support that. With him solidly categorized as somepony not worth knowing, she abandoned her inspection and looked around the shop for something else to occupy her time until Rarity was done helping him.

There was nothing new that she and Spoon had not seen on their last visit to the store and less items in stock overall. That made sense, Tiara figured, what with Rarity's time most likely having been occupied with lots of custom work for tomorrow's big day. Silver Spoon had apparently reached the same conclusion, for she was browsing through a selection of Rarity's spring line, a rack both of them had been thoroughly through. She made the decision to join her friend. It would help pass the time until Rarity finished helping the unimportant pony.

The two fillies made small talk, interrupted by occasional impatient glares over their shoulders at the stallion who was wasting their precious time. After their serious conversation outside, both were content to stick to light hearted subject matter, about such things as the latest follies of classmates and the merits of Rarity's designs versus the ones in the latest fashion magazines from Canterlot.

"Okay, girls, just a second while I get your dresses," Rarity said, as she quickly trotted off into a backroom.

"Finally," whispered Silver Spoon.

"Yeah, she kept us waiting for minutes," Diamond Tiara whispered back. "This dress will be the one good thing to come out of this. And I'm really looking forward to see you in yours, the colors you picked are going to go so perfectly with eyes."

Rarity reentered the room, floating two dress covers which she carefully hung on a stand. Opening the first bag, she brought out a stunning black and purple dress with a flourish. "And here is the first one. A perfect mix of colors, combining the latest styles from Canterlot with some timeless classics. It will be absolutely stunning on you."

Silver Spoon gasped and stamped her feet in approval. "It looks even better than I imagined it would. You truly do the best work!" Rarity practically glowed from the compliment.

"And now for your dress, Diamond. I think you'll be quite pleased. It came together quite nicely, and I think the white and yellow will look absolutely stunning on you." The dress floated out of the cover, in front of Rarity, for Diamond Tiara to admire. Tiara looked at what was the one thing about her day tomorrow that was supposed to go right and her jaw dropped.

Rarity continued on, as yet oblivious, "Why, every filly will be jealous of the two of you. Just look at--" Rarity stopped, noticing that the fillies' reaction was not what she expected. She spun the dress around and gasped in horror at the large red stain that covered the front of her magnificent creation.

"Oh my. No no no. Of all the... This is not happening. I spent hours, hours getting the stitching just right..." Rarity's legs pulled together and, for a second, Diamond Tiara thought Rarity might just faint. Instead, she stood silently for a second, her eyes shifting from side to side as her mind raced.

"Well, I'm sure it'll come right out with some water" Rarity gave a laugh that was half an attempt to ease the worry of her customers and half insanity. "Just give me a sec."

A bucket and rag floated over and the seamstress began scrubbing at the stain. At first, carefully, but with increasing anxiety as the stain refused to come out. She muttered to herself, quietly at first, but the volume and franticness that increased as the stain resisted her best efforts. Finally, she gave up.

"I'm sorry, Diamond Tiara. I don't suppose you want this dress in red? No, I thought not. I'll make this up to you somehow. Of all the worst possible things... I don't even know how this happened. I don't even know what this..." Her brow furrowed and she sniffed the stained area.

"Wildberry punch? Now when could that... SWEETIE BELLE!"

"It's just not fair," Sweetie Belle complained. "It's not my fault punch got spilled on Tiara's dress."

"So that's why she's making you serve punch at the dance, all night?" Scootaloo asked.

"Yup, and now I won't be able to have any fun dancing with you girls," Sweetie pouted.

"Well, at least you'll still be able to spend all night staring at Snails," Apple Bloom said.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sweetie asked.

"Oh come on, you know you've got a crush on him. You've practically been as bad as my brother when we gave him that love poison."

"She has?" asked Scootaloo.

"I have?" came from Sweetie Belle a second behind.

"Ever since you started giving him those dance lessons," Apple Bloom replied.

"Nu-uh," denied the unicorn.

"Let's look at the facts, shall we? You've been watching him non-stop during lunch. And constantly humming or singing while doing so."

"I wasn't watching him, there were lots of our classmates in those games. And you know I often sing little songs, Apple Bloom."

"Yeah, but the songs? They've been love songs, Sweetie."

"Not true, I sing all sorts of stuff," the white filly adamantly denied.

"Um, actually, she's right, Sweetie." Scootaloo looked apologetically at her friend. She shrugged her shoulders at her friend's look of betrayal.. "Sorry, but you have been singing those sappy songs more of late. I've almost asked you to stop a dozen times. You know I love your singing, but... well, too much sappy stuff."

"And you've blown us off to study with Snails," said Bloom, continuing with her list.

"I invited you guys to study with us as well. We're all in the same class. It just makes sense to study together."

"Lastly, there's this." Apple Bloom continued, ignoring Belle's latest denial. She reached into Sweetie's school bag and pulled out Sweetie's notebook, then tossed it over to her. "Open it, look at what you've been sketching."

Sweetie Belle reached hesitantly for the notebook. Flipping through the more recent parts, her eyes went wide, unblinking, as she looked at large quantity of poorly drawn doodles of Snails she'd drawn in the more recent weeks.

"Sweetie Belle, you okay? Are you okay?" Scootaloo asked.

Sweetie Belle just stood there, even when Scootaloo waved her hoof in front of the unicorn's face. The gears of Sweetie Belle's mind whirred frantically as she looked at her activities of the last week in a different light and felt things clicking into place.

"Oh horse apples."