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Friends Together

Winter. Winter was always a cold time in Canterlot, even as a town on the coast of California, as the climate could be very variable. Usually, the springs were cool, the summers were incredibly hot, and people went to other parts of the country when summer came around, or else stayed indoors or in some place that was cool, usually only emerging, lizard like, in the cool of the evening or at night. Autumn would often bring with it an Indian summer, a last glorious blaze of light and heat, before things went a bit weird in November. It was usually around that time that the snow began to fall, covering the city and the surrounding area in a blanket of white. It may have been cold, but it was never a miserable time, for the townsfolk had much to celebrate, as Christmas was just around the corner.

And it is at that most festive time of the year that we commence our story, for it was Christmastime in Canterlot, and the entire city was most festive. Everywhere you looked, was a beautiful mantle of alabaster, silvery, pure white snow, powdery and soft underfoot, the sort you see in those old Christmas commercials. On most days, children could be seen playing in this snow, making snowmen or engaging in snowball fights. In the town itself, most of the streets had been cleared of the silly soft stuff, but it continued to fall, meaning that the street sweepers were kept busy, and the streetcars were fitted with snowploughs in order for them to cope with the sheer volume of snow on the ground. The cold weather caused more problems for Canterlot’s public transport network than just snow, however. Due to the regular sub-zero temperatures, frost accumulated on the overhead power lines that the streetcars used for power, and the intense heat from the wires, combined with the frost, caused sparks to shower from them and onto the ground. It looked beautiful, but was also somewhat alarming and led to health and safety concerns from the townsfolk.

The buildings in the town also looked most festive, as decorations hung from every shop and home in Canterlot, which helped to increase the festive cheer even further, as every building radiated a sense of warmth and community, happiness and unity abounding in great measure. In a town such as Canterlot, everybody knew everybody else, and this helped keep them together, even more so since the events that had transpired at Canterlot High School that November. A somewhat more irritating facet of the Christmas season was the constant playing of Christmas music in every conceivable public and private space, meaning that by now people were very much sick and tired of hearing ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ being played constantly. As a consequence, many residents brought ear muffs with them when they went indoors.

Canterlot High School, at the heart of the town, proved to be the epicentre of the Christmas season. The entire school was covered in snow, with the white stuff on top off the Wondercolt statue that dominated the courtyard, as well as sitting on top of the roof and the canopy that covered the main entrance, which had recently been rebuilt to enable the doors to open outwards, thereby complying with US building regulations. The snowfall had been a little heavier than usual, and the canopy was positively groaning under the weight of all the snow, the alabastrine wonder of Canterlot. And it is here, on a calm, crisp morning, two weeks before Christmas, that our story begins.


On a typical school day, just in the morning before school began, Sunset Shimmer got off the streetcar service from the northern end of town, and began to walk into the school courtyard toward the main entrance. As she walked along, her hands crossed across her chest, she encountered Applejack, also walking across the snow toward the entrance. The sight before them caused the apple girl to gasp. “Wow!” she said, in wonder at the winter wonderland arrayed before them.

“Yeah,” Sunset deadpanned, as the two of them walked toward the main entrance, bags slung on their backs as they pushed the door open.

“Ah love winter,” Applejack smiled, as they rounded a bend and turned left toward their lockers. “Hot cocoa, the smell o’ new snow, buildin’ a fire in the fireplace-”

“You sound like a Christmas commercial,” Sunset replied, as she stopped in front of her locker and began to adjust the combination. “And sorry if this sounds like a silly comment, but wouldn’t building a fire outside of the fireplace lead to problems?”

Applejack laughed. “Ya said it, Sunset! But still, mah favourite part is just bein’ home with all mah family fer the holidays.”

Now it was Sunset’s turn to laugh. “Sounds fun!”

“Ah know, isn’t it just the best?”

There was a loud clunk as Sunset’s locker swung open, and she deposited her bag in the locker alongside her scarf. “I wouldn’t know,” she replied sadly. “I haven’t been home for our holiday in a long time.”

“What do ya mean, ‘yer holiday’?” Applejack asked, confused, as her own locker opened. “Don’t ya have the same holidays in Equestria, where ya come from?”

“Back in Equestria, we have a festival called Hearth’s Warming,” Sunset explained. “It’s sort of like Christmas and Independence Day rolled into one, minus the flying saucers and Presidents flying fighter jets. During the festival, everyp-everybody gets together with their families to see out the cold winter days and just have fun together.”

She sighed. “Even before I came here, I was never very close to my parents or my brother Sunburst. And the last three years since I came here, well...I wasn’t close to anybody for obvious reasons.” She paused, letting the information sink in, before speaking once again. “Well, I can’t exactly blame anybody for not wanting to hang out with me. I did sabotage friendships, manipulate people, and generally was a bitch, after all.”

Normally Applejack would have chastised Sunset for the use of bad language, but chose to let it go. “So, you’ve been alone durin’ the holidays, fer all that time?”

Sunset nodded. “Yep. Why are you so opposed to calling it Christmas? It’s almost as if the person who wrote this wanted to appeal to as many religious demographics as was possible.”

“Sunset, you’ve been spendin’ WAY too much time with Pinkie,” Applejack said quietly, a frown on her face. “But that’s just plain awful, you bein’ alone all this time!”

“Yep,” Sunset said again, her voice devoid of emotion as per usual. Although she was now a lot more popular than she used to be thanks to the Battle of the Bands, she was still cautious around people, as she suspected it would take little for people to be hurling insults at her. Or worse, rubbers.

Her tone suddenly changed, as she drew Applejack into a hug. “But don’t worry about me! I’ve got you guys now!” She headed off down the corridor, smiling. “I’ll see you later, AJ!”

Now it was Applejack’s turn to look glum. “Yeah. See ya, Sunset,” she said sadly, as her friend vanished into the crowd of students. Christmas really was an awful time to be alone, and Applejack regarded Sunset (as well as her other friends) as effective sisters. She wanted to do something to help out, as Sunset was clearly miserable.

Just then, she had a brainwave. She took out her phone and brought up MyStable. Although Facebook and Twitter were still popular mediums for communication, MyStable had taken the social media world by storm due to its adaptable nature and ease of use. She loaded her account, typed in her friends' names, and created a group message.

Applejack: Hey girls! Friendship emergency! Secret meeting in the library after school! DON’T TELL SUNSET!

The message was sent, and was then followed by several beeps on several phones across campus, the message having received its intended recipients.


Later that day, shortly before school ended, Cheerilee was finishing up some grading in the library office. Although she was principally a music teacher, she also oversaw the library on some days due to the usual librarian being on maternity leave. It had been a fairly quiet day, mostly trying to get the younger 7th graders interested in the fundamentals of music. However, they had been less than receptive, meaning that Cheerilee had resorted to combining such teaching with Christmas songs, which had instantly made them much more interested. Being able to play the guitar was an added bonus for her, which made teaching and interacting with the students a lot easier. After all, it was this interaction with students, watching them grow and develop, which was the main reason she had become a teacher. That, and to more easily be able to keep an eye on her daughter, who was one of her own pupils, which could get a little awkward at times.

Her train of thought was suddenly interrupted by a loud, persistent tapping coming from one of the computers. It was rather irritating, and Cheerilee got up to go and investigate. After all, these question papers on Tallis that were somewhat poorly answered could wait a few minutes. Sure enough, she entered the library proper, and sitting at one of the computers was the source of the disturbance.

There was Pinkie Pie, typing loudly and incessantly, and up on the monitor was her MyStable page, complete with some pictures of her. Cheerilee walked over to her to read what was on it.

“Oh, Pinkie!” she called, causing the pink haired girl to swing her chair around suddenly.

“Yes, Miss Cheerilee?” she asked.

“I hope you're not using a school computer to go on MyStable!” the teacher cheerily replied, before walking over to a bookcase.

Pinkie laughed nervously. “Ha ha ha! Of course not, Miss Cheerilee!” she replied, doing a terrible job of covering her tracks.

Cheerilee just facepalmed. Honestly, some students were just a nightmare to keep under control, and Pinkie Pie was one of them. “I think I’ll need a drink when this day is over,” she sighed.

Pinkie paid no notice, as suddenly her friends appeared. Rarity arrived first, then Rainbow Dash, and finally Fluttershy. “Hey girls!” Pinkie called. “Over here!”

Rainbow Dash was the first to speak. “So, what’s the emergency, AJ?” she asked, as the cowgirl entered the room. “What’s up with Sunset?”

“Well,” Applejack began, “Ah think she gets a little lonely durin’ the holidays, an’ Ah think we can help her with that!”

“Well,” Rarity started, with a smile. “What’s your plan dear?”

“Two words!” Applejack replied. “Slumber parties!” She then began to speak again before anybody could interject, her words getting faster and faster as her mouth tried to keep up with the speed at which her brain was working. “We should have parties at everybody's houses, leadin’ up ta everybody comin’ over ta Sweet Apple Acres for the holidays!”

“Yeah!” Rainbow Dash cried, punching the air as she did so.

“Why, Applejack, that’s a wonderful and simply splendid idea!” Rarity exclaimed.

“Oh, I’d love to!” Fluttershy beamed. Her parents always loved having guests around, even if her mopey brother didn’t. It always stunned people that she was the older sibling, given Zephyr Breeze had grown like a weed during puberty and stood a lot taller than her.

Rainbow Dash then addressed her. “Ya know, Fluttershy, I don’t know if I’ve ever met your family.”

Fluttershy beamed. “Really? Well, they’re-”

Before she could finish, Pinkie interrupted. “Ooh ooh ooh ooooooooooh! Me first! Parties are my life!”

Applejack was stunned at Pinkie’s enthusiasm, but chose to roll with it. “Uh...sounds good ta me Pinkie!” she answered.

The pink haired girl flew into action. “Great! I’ll tell Sunset!” she cried, before vanishing in a puff of smoke. The other girls followed suit fairly promptly, heading toward Sunset’s locker.


Just then, Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle entered the library, putting their bags down and sitting at one of the tables. Cheerilee smiled when she saw them. Those three were some of her favourite students, although she did have a personal bias. “Good afternoon girls!” she said.

“Good afternoon Miss Cheerilee!” Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle chorused.

“Hi mom!” Scootaloo said instead. It surprised many to learn that Scootaloo was Cheerilee’s daughter, but after a while the idea seemed less odd. The girl was exceptionally close to her mother, a side effect of her father being away with the military in Germany for long stretches at a time. It was sad not seeing much of him, but the pay certainly helped keep the family going.

Cheerilee smiled, her face full of warmth and love. “How’s your day been, dear?” she asked.

“Mr Cranky Doodle gave us some REALLY hard math homework,” Scootaloo replied. Whilst Scootaloo was good at some subjects, sadly math was not one of them, as she struggled with it greatly due to her autism. “Say, have you seen Rainbow Dash anywhere?”

“Oh!” Cheerilee replied. “They were here a few minutes ago, planning some sort of social occasion. Something about a slumber party.”

Apple Bloom groaned. “Well, there goes mah hopes ta spend time with Applejack.”

Sweetie Belle smiled. “Don’t feel so down! We’ve at least got each other, and we’ll get PLENTY of time with our siblings over Christmas break.”

Apple Bloom nodded. “S’pose yer right.”

Just then, Sunset entered the library, and put her bags down, having come from her last lesson via a detour to the art department. “Hi girls!” she said.

“Hi Sunset!” they chorused. Like most of the school, the Crusaders-Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle-had once been hostile towards Sunset, but after she had saved them from the Dazzlings, they had become close friends.

Sunset sat down at the table and looked at them. “So, what did you want help with this time?” she asked, an eager and friendly smile on her face.

“We were asked ta find the hippopotamus or somethin’,” Apple Bloom said, “but we don’t really get it.”

“Hypotenuse,” Sweetie Belle corrected.

Sunset laughed gently. “Oh yes. I struggled with this when I was your age.” She took a piece of paper, and drew a triangle on it, marking three sides A, B, and C.

“As you can see,” she said, “each of these sides is a different length. The formula for finding the hypotenuse is that it is the square root of the sum of the squares of the opposite sides.”

“Say what now?” Scootaloo asked, now even more confused than before.

“Or, put more simply, A2 +B2 = C2.” Sunset wrote the formula down under the triangle. “Now, let’s say that A is 2, and B is 5. What is the answer?”

Sweetie Belle was first to speak. “We need to square both 2 and 5.”

“Which works out to 4 + 25!” Scootaloo added.

“29!” Apple Bloom added. “If only you were our teacher, Sunset!”

“We’re not quite done yet, girls.” Sunset pointed to the 29. “29 is C2, not C. So now we need to get the square route of 29, and for that you’ll need your calculators, or calculator app on your phones.”

The three girls took their phones out, and punched in some numbers. “5.38516480713!” the three girls chorused at once.”

“Unless the question tells you otherwise, you should always round to two decimal places,” Sunset added.

That they did, and the answer came out as 5.39. “Thanks, fer the help Sunset,” Apple Bloom said.

“Yeah, the homework ought to be a little easier now,” Sweetie Belle added.

Sunset got up, and picked up her bag. “Well, glad I could help,” she smiled, and turned to leave the library.

“Sunset?” Cheerilee called. Sunset turned around.

“Yes, Miss Cheerilee?”

The music teacher turned librarian smiled. “You’ve come so far since October. I’d go far as to say that you’re a model student here.”

“Thanks,” Sunset replied. “But I never got a chance to properly apologise for messing up the carpet that time.”

“You are forgiven,” Cheerilee answered, as Sunset walked to the door.

Scootaloo looked at her mother. “Was that why you were home late on my birthday?” she asked.


Sunset walked back down the corridor with a warm feeling in her heart. Since she had become friends with the Crusaders, she had become, in a way, their personal tutor, helping them out with homework and the like. She pulled some stuff out of her locker, and then closed it.

Suddenly, Pinkie materialised in front of her, as Pinkie was known to do from time to time, and squealed. Before Sunset knew what was happening, she was in Pinkie’s bedroom! “Welcome to party central!” the hyperactive girl cried.

Sunset pushed Pinkie’s ability to defy any known law of physics and space-time to the back of her mind. “Wow, Pinkie!” she exclaimed. “You went all out!”

“Only the best for my gal pals!” Pinkie replied, a smile on her face so wide it would give the Cheshire Cat a run for his money.

“Dibs on the games!” Rainbow Dash cried, landing in front of Pinkie’s TV and booting up her XBOX 360. “Hey,” she asked, “anybody wanna play me in Project Gotham Racing 4? Here Fluttershy, try a round!”

Fluttershy looked nervous as a controller was handed to her. “Um, thanks, but I don’t think-”

Rainbow Dash was having none of it. “Oh, c’mon! It’ll help you relax!”

Fluttershy was still nervous. “Thank you, but-”

“Look, you can spray any vehicle with a bunny pattern!”

Fluttershy’s manner immediately changed, fire appearing in her eyes. “I will destroy ALL my enemies!” she cried.


About an hour later, things had changed little. Drinks had been served, and the six friends were just happily chatting.

“I know I went to one of these a while back,” Sunset asked, “but I’m still not entirely familiar with the concept here. This is all we do at slumber parties? We just...hang out?”

“Pretty much!” Applejack replied. “Eat, gossip, watch movies, tell scary stories.”

“Don’t forget the pillow fights!” she and Pinkie Pie chorused.

Elsewhere, Rainbow Dash called a break on the game. “I think Fluttershy needs to lie down for a while.”

“Use your drift, Mr Fuzzles!” Fluttershy answered, having taken to calling her car of choice, a Callaway Sledgehammer, Mr Fuzzles, for some odd reason.

Just then, the doorbell went. “Oh, I’ve got it!” Pinkie Pie cried, jumping up and sprinting over to the door. Upon opening the door, she was greeted by the sight of her sister Maud holding a pile of boxes.

“Hello Pinkie,” she said, in her typical flat, emotionless tone. “The sixteen pizzas you ordered have arrived.”

“Oh Maud!” Pinkie replied. “You’re the best sister ever!”

“They’re dripping grease on my shoes.”

Applejack looked over. “Why precisely did you order sixteen pizzas, Pinkie?”

“Simple!” Pinkie Pie said. “Six for now, six for the next slumber party, and four left over!”

“How many slices per pizza?” Rarity asked. “Two to three is usually enough for me.”

“Six!”

“Oh boy,” Rainbow Dash replied. “I’m so glad I didn’t get anything out of the machine...”


About an hour after that, they were done with eating pizzas, and Rarity took to applying nail polish to Applejack’s fingernails. “And, done! Now, don’t touch anything until they dry, Applejack!”

The farm girl laughed. “Ah don’t know how y’all can use this stuff all the time, Rarity.”

Elsewhere, Fluttershy was combing Rainbow Dash’s hair. “Hold still, Rainbow.”

Sunset smiled happily, her heart content and her stomach full. “Thank you, girls,” she said. “We haven’t done anything like this in such a long time...it’s good to have friends.”

“Hey, I feel the same!” Sunset yelped as Rainbow Dash suddenly teleported across the room and appeared on her right-hand side. “I don’t know what I’d be like without you girls!”

“Same here!” Applejack added. “It means a lot ta me. Havin’ friends ta support me makes-”



“We're Apples forever, Apples together

We're family, but so much more!”



“Ah, goldarn it!” Applejack exclaimed. “That’s mah phone! Can somebody get that fer me?”

Fluttershy tossed Applejack her phone, and Applejack checked the number. “Ah great,” she said. “What’s she done now? Caused a boiler explosion?” She flicked the green icon to the right, and set the phone to speaker. “Whoever this is, you just ruined a real heartwarmin’ moment.”

The crackly voice at the other end made the speaker’s identity more than clear. "Hey big sis!” said the voice of Apple Bloom. "Granny just wanted me ta call and make sure ya doin’ alright. Ma an’ Pa are out in town in case y’all are wonderin’.”

“Course Ah’m all right!” Applejack snorted. “Ah’m with all mah friends! Tell Granny ta quit her worryin’!”

“We’re doing great!” Sunset answered. “AJ’s fine, she’s wearing nail polish!”

There was a laugh at the other end of the line. "Thanks, fer the help with the math, by the way.”

“You’re welcome!” Sunset replied.

“It were a real help,” Apple Bloom answered. "Ah’m just the messenger. Have a good night...piggly wiggly.” Just then, the line clicked shut.



Applejack sighed, as the entire room burst into sniggers.

“Did your sister just call you piggly wiggly?” Sunset asked.

“Uh, yeah. She did.” Applejack sighed. “Ah was hopin’ Ah wouldn’t have ta tell this story again.” And so, Applejack focused, and began to speak. Her words were rhythmical, and melodious, as if she had told this story many times before.

“This story comes from the early days, before Sweet Apple Acres became an orchard and Pa got his job in the city. About where the barn where we keep the locomotives fer the railroad is now, there used ta be a pigpen. Before Apple Bloom was born, Ma and Pa often had their hands full tryin’ ta keep things in order, meaning that Grand Pear and Granny often ended up lookin’ after me and Big Mac. We followed them around as they did the chores and kept the farm runnin’.”

She paused a moment, to check she still had everyone’s attention. “Fer some reason, Ah especially liked it when she went and fed the pigs. So, one day, I went in the pen and began playin’ with the pigs in the mud, and accordin’ ta Granny, Ah stayed in there fer hours! As a result, she began ta call me piggly wiggly, and it sorta stuck as a family nickname. The folks, Apple Bloom especially, use it when they think Ah’m getting' too big fer mah britches!”

There was another awkward pause. “Well, that’s family fer ya, Ah guess. Gotta take the good with the bad!” Suddenly, it became apparent that everybody else, barring her and Sunset, were asleep. “Maybe we oughta go ta sleep,” she added.


Later that night, Sunset took out her journal, given to her by Celestia as a means of contacting the other world, and began to write.



Dear Princess Twilight,

How are things in Equestria? Things here are pretty quiet after the Battle of the Bands, and Christmas is just around the corner. It seems as if everybody is all so happy, and I hope we won’t have to deal with any crazy magic as a result.

Please write back when you have the time.

Your student,

Sunset Shimmer.



Meanwhile, back at Sweet Apple Acrres, Apple Bloom looked at the MyStable account create page with grim determination. “All right then,” she said. “Time ta get ya outta the way.”

Author's Note:

Hello everybody, and welcome to my re-write of my very first Anon-a-Miss story. Whilst it was well received, there were some aspects of it I still wasn't satisfied with, and as a result have decided to revise it extensively. Safe to say, there are some surprises in store. As an additional bonus, whomever spots what song the chapter titles reference will get a mention in the author's notes!

Come back tomorrow for the next chapter!

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