• Published 29th Mar 2019
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A Hearth's Warming Story; Limestone Daphne Pie Saves Hearth's Warming - Jay Watson



Twilight has invited her all her close friends and families to her castle for a big Hearth's Warming celebration

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Together Again

Grand Pear checked his pocket watch again. It was a few minutes past eleven on this all important Hearth’s Warming Eve day. He had spent the better part of the morning mustering up the courage to do this, having avoided it for so many years. He wasn’t sure what he’d find but was sure it would be peaceful.

Tottering up the small hillside, he made for the wrought iron fencing up ahead of him, sure it was the place he was looking for. He came closer, the headstones now visible on the ground, marking each plot. From afar, the iron fencing surrounding the small parcel of land looked whole but upon arriving at the Apple family grave site, Grand Pear could see its state of disrepair and how it was rusting away, almost to the point of dilapidation. Respectfully, he stepped inside the fenced off sanctified ground, a bit of unease in him. He felt like he was trespassing.

Some eight previous generations of Apple family members were buried on the family farm plot, but Pear Butter was the only Pear family member allowed burial alongside her husband. He read the names on the headstones as he passed by. Most of the names he did not know but one or two he did, lending a sense of great gravity to what he wished to accomplish today.
This day was far too important to him. It was long overdue to start making things right. He arrived at the spot he sought out, finding some of the marker’s engraving covered by the wispy layer of snow that had fallen last night.
Grand Pear brushed off the white powder with a hoof, reading the names of his daughter and son-in-law on the marker. He sighed wearily, missing his only child and upset with himself for the decisions he’d made in anger and in the heat of the moment. He placed the small bouquet of flowers by the grave marker, recalling the sound of their voices from that fateful night long ago...

“Pear Butter, enough of this nonsense! We’re moving, and you’ve got to stick with your family!” Grand Pear growled at his child, putting his hoof down.

“But,” she softly objected, “the Apples are my family now, too.” Bright Mac, hearing Pear Butter defy her father’s wishes, came to stand beside her and put a foreleg around his one true love in unquestionable support. Grand Pear was shocked and infuriated by her defiance.

“You can’t be serious?” He angrily stepped right up to her, pointing a hoof in Bright Mac’s face. “Are you choosing to be an Apple, over being a Pear?” He saw his daughter begin to cry.

“Are you making me choose?” Her voice quavered. She could not believe her father was forcing such a decision. Bright Mac stood stunned.

“Yes, I am.” Grand Pear would brook no insolence from his family members. He demanded their loyalty. He was sure Pear Butter would fall in line, like a good daughter.

“Then, yeah, I guess I am.” She tearfully stood up to her father, refusing to give up her heart’s desire just to please him. Grand Pear could not believe what he was hearing. His own daughter was saying ‘no’ to him? Well then if she wished to betray his love and choose another family to be loyal to, so be it.

“Fine!” He yelled at her, stomping off to return home and finish his packing. As he left the clearing, he could hear Pear Butter sobbing at the breaking of family ties but he blocked the sound out of his ears, refusing to acknowledge his own stubbornness.

All he had left now were the memories and the haunting feeling of having abandoned his child when he should have been there for her. As he stood there in the silence of memory, the soft crunching of snow beneath approaching hoof steps caught his ear.

Granny Smith came hobbling up the hillside, a holiday wreath in one hoof as she made her way to the family gravesite. She got to within a few yards of the site before recognizing Grand Pear standing in front of the same marker she’d come to visit.

She stepped inside the fenced off area to stand beside Grand Pear and silently lay the wreath on the marker, like she had done for many years.

“Wasn’t expectin’ ta see you here today.” Granny Smith croaked, breaking the silence between them. She was pleasant to him, aware he’d never been to this place in all the years since.

“I wanted to come and pay my respects to your son, Bright Mac, and to Pear Butter. It’s been a long time coming.” Grand Pear made sure to show Granny Smith respect for her family, mentioning her son by name. Both elderly ponies looked down at the marker before them, thinking of their lost loved ones.

“He was a good and honorable pony, that boy of yours. I wish I could’ve gotten to know him better.” Grand Pear confessed to his old rival.

“Pear Butter was such a loving, caring mama to all three of her children. I wish you could’ve seen her with them when they was young n’ all.” Granny Smith could see how broken up inside Grand Pear was over the loss of his daughter and for never having given Bright Mac a chance to show he was a good husband and father.

“Forgive me, Pear. Forgive me,” he begged softly, still grieving for his daughter, remorseful for having valued his pride more than his child. Granny stepped closer to him and put a foreleg around his shoulders, showing how she understood his pain.
“You... you know what the worst thing about that whole dumb feud was?” He looked at her, seeing in her eyes how much she missed her son was the same as much as he missed his daughter.

“What’s that?”

“I… I can’t even remember what it was we were squabbling over to begin with.” His confession was the most brokenhearted thing Granny could’ve imagined him saying. She gave him a small pat on the shoulder, trying to let him know that it was all in the past and he should not linger on old thoughts.

Grand Pear shored up his emotions, getting a handle on himself and trying not to let the sorrow tinge his intentions. “But I’m going make things right, starting today. No more waiting and wondering about the ‘what ifs’ or ‘why nots’.”

“How’s that again?” Granny was not sure what Grand Pear was going on about.

“I might have been away from my grand-foals for their growing up but I’m going to make it up to them, if it’s at all possible. There’s something I brought,” Grand Pear pointed to the saddle bag he was wearing. “I think they need to see. They deserve to know more about their mother’s side of the family.”

“Well,” Granny rubbed her chin, contemplating. “It’d be a good first step in bringin’ them closer to the Pear family, not to mention talkin’ ‘bout somthin’ that we ain’t never talked about ever.”

“How’s that grand-stallion of mine doing? Does he remember anything about what happened to his parents? He was a pretty young pony to have gone through all that.” Grand Pear had only heard from second hand sources of what had transpired and wanted to get the truth from Granny Smith.

“Well, he was busted up pretty bad inside about it. When he finally got home, he was a wailin’ and a cryin’ something awful. He couldn’t talk about it. He didn’t eat a scrap of food for more than a week, didn’t leave his room for more than a month. I had to hire some help for the farm in the meantime.” Granny explained gently. “He went real quiet like; barely talkin’ to anypony for more than a year, not speakin’ more than a word or two for answers.”

“So how did Big Mac manage to get through it? It was such a traumatic experience for him.” Grand Pear did not recall seeing or hearing anything wrong with Big Mac when last visiting in the fall.

“I ain’t really sure how. It was just, one morning Big Mac came out of his bedroom, came down to the kitchen for breakfast and then went out to the barn to take care of his chores. Nopony said nothin’ about it to him or asked any questions. It was as if it never happened.”

Grand Pear understood how it must have devastated Big Mac and offered some help. He handed Granny a business card from his saddle bag for an individual in Ponyville he thought would be helpful.

“This might be somepony who can help. I lost my wife a few years after moving to Vanhoover with my family and I fell into a bad depression. With the help of a special kind of doctor, she helped me to work through my grief and find closure. Dr. Fox gave me this card of a fellow specialist that lives in Ponyville whom I could see if I needed to.”

Granny read the card’s printing aloud. “Dr. Wolf; certified Clinical Psychologist and Curative Hypnotherapist.”
At first, she didn’t really understand what this doctor was about but recognized a part of the title: Psycho. She took offence at the perceived implication.

“What’re you tryin’ ta say, Grand Pear? You sayin’ Big Mac is off his rocker, or somethin’? You sayin’ he’s crazy?”

“Granny, you’ve got it all wrong,” he wasn’t expecting her reaction. “I just wanted to offer a suggestion of somepony who might be good for Big Mac, in fact for all three of our grand-foals, to talk to about their parents. That’s all.”

It took a few seconds for Granny to understand what he meant and realized he was just trying to help. He was as worried about the three of them as much as she was.

“Would it be too much to ask if I could spend some of today with them? I know it’s the holiday and all, but I thought today would be a good day to share with them what I could.” He hoped this would be possible, he did so want to share some time with them.

“We’ve been invited by the princess to her castle to spend the holiday with her and her family. Apple Jack is a good friend of the princess after all. Maybe we can ask her if it would be alright if y’all came along.” Granny didn’t want to say no to him but knew she couldn’t just show up with another guest in tow.

The two elderly ponies headed back to the barn on Sweet Apple Acres where the rest of Granny Smith’s family awaited her return. All three Apple siblings were surprised to see Granny Smith returning from the family plot with Grand Pear alongside her.

“Grand Pear Pear!” Apple Bloom called out to her grandfather, overjoyed to see him again. She leapt out of the wagon and ran over to him, giving her grandfather a huge hug.

“Hello Apple Bloom. It’s wonderful to see you again.” He hugged his granddaughter back. Apple Jack and Big Mac were just as happy to see him too.

“Happy Hearth’s Warming, Grand Pear!” Apple Jack, too, jumped out of the wagon and joined in on the hug.

“Happy Hearth’s Warming, Apple Jack.” Grand Pear held onto her as well, relishing in the love they shared with him. He looked around at who was standing close by and watching.

“And who are your guests? I’ve never met them before.”

Apple Bloom did the first introduction. “This is our cousin, Babs, from Manehattan. She was invited along with us to spend the holiday at Princess Twilight’s castle.” Apple Bloom turned to her cousin.

“Babs, this is my Grandpa, Grand Pear. He’s my mama’s daddy.” Apple Bloom was beaming with pride to have her grandfather with them today.

“It’s delightful to make your acquaintance, Babs.” Grand Pear gave her a big grin and Babs joined in on the hug.

“Aaay, how you doin’? Nice to meet more of da family durin’ da holidays, ya know what I’m sayin’?” Grand Pear chuckled a little when hearing her thick Manehattan accent.

“I’m doin’ fine, Babs.” He tried to pick up her accent, making her smile with his impersonation. A realization suddenly popped in her head, turning to face Apple Bloom.

“Wait, so like, if he’s ya Granfatha’ an’ all, does that make him my…” Babs tried to figure out the family linage. “My great-uncle once removed or somethin’?”

“Don’t dig too deep into it, Babs.” Apple Jack saw how confused Babs looked when trying to figure out the relationships between their families.

“Oh, and who might your other guest be?” Grand Pear was curious about the quiet unicorn mare who had been waiting off to the side with Big Mac.

Apple Jack made the next introduction. “This here’s Sugar Belle, Big Mac’s steady girlfriend.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. So nice to meet more of Big Mac’s family.” Sugar Belle was very polite and proper with her first meeting of her beau’s grandfather.

“The pleasure is all mine, miss. That Big Mac must be some special pony to catch the eye of a lovely unicorn such as yourself.” Grand Pear’s old-world charm made Sugar Belle titter, a little embarrassed by the praise.

“Granny informed me you are all headed to the princess’ castle. I probably should have stopped by the farm sooner to see what your holiday plans were. I was hoping we could all sit together and share some of our family’s history. I’d like very much to hear more about your branch of the family tree, Babs.” Grand Pear spoke from the heart, wanting to reconnect with his grand-foals and make new connections with family members he never even knew he had.

“Aw, shoot! It ain’t a problem, Grand Pear. Twilight would be glad to have another guest for the holiday celebration.” Apple Jack thought it a great idea to have him join them. What would the holiday be anyway if there wasn’t somepony else from the family to share it with?

“Are you sure? I don’t want to impose on the princess.” Grand Pear thought it awful impolite to just show up with an uninvited plus-one.

“I’m pretty sure Princess Twilight wouldn’t mind at all. She always has an ‘open door’ policy for her friends.” Apple Bloom backed up her sister. None of the Apples seemed to think this would pose any problem and that was a relief for him to hear. He was going to get the Hearth’s Warming gift he wanted; spending time with them and sharing what he remembered about their mother.

“Well then,” Granny chimed in. “It’s settled. Let’s get goin’ ‘cause I got a hankerin’ for some o’ that bean dip I spent three days makin’ for this here shindig. The more we stand around jawin’ away, the longer I gotta wait.” She climbed up the wagon steps to the front seat, eager to start the celebrating.

Apple Jack took Grand Pear’s two saddle bags from him, putting both in the back of the wagon along with the rest of their things. He handed her the last item he’d brought along, catching Apple Jack’s curiosity.

“What’s this?” She studied the diminutive oak cask she held in her front hooves, wondering what it could be. Whatever it was, it was old. She could tell by just the aged appearance of the wood and the dust embedded in the grain. She could hear some sort of liquid sloshing around inside.

“Something I’ve been holding onto for fifty years and felt it was time to share with everypony.” Grand Pear’s answer didn’t really tell Apple Jack what it was but it really didn’t matter. She placed it among the rest of the stuff they had loaded up for the party. Apple Bloom hopped up in the back of the wagon as Apple Jack lent a hoof to help Grand Pear up.

“Please, take my seat, Grand Pear. I’d like to walk next to Big Mac today, most of all.” Sugar Belle felt very kindly towards the elderly pony and wanted him to be comfortable for the ride. Besides, it gave her the chance to show off a little at being Big Mac’s girl in front of other ponies of Ponyville.

In the back of the wagon along with the overnight bags were the eight apple pies, a huge assortment of baked apple treats and three big jars of Granny’s special holiday fixings of nine layer bean dip. It had taken almost three days of steady cooking with both Granny and Sugar Belle to make it all. Both Apple Jack and Apple Bloom had pitched in by jarring the dip to keep it fresh. It was, as Apple Jack put it, the dog-gone best batch of dip Granny had ever made. Just a little heat to simmer on the stove for a few minutes would make it perfect for eating.

“Gracious me! Just how big is this party the princess is planning to have? There’s enough food in here to feed a family for a month.” Grand Pear was stunned by the sheer amount they had made.

“There’s a whole bunch of ponies gonna be there. All my friends and their families are joinin’ in for the fun and food. It’s gonna be the best Hearth’s Warming ever!” Apple Jack made no bones about how she was looking forward to this.

“I’ve never met royalty before. This is going to be quite the experience for us all, I must say.” Grand Pear felt somewhat under prepared to meet such high ranking ponies of Equestria.

“C’mon, Big Mac! Let’s get this show on the road!” Granny hollered and gave a loud whoop.

“Yee-haw! Time to celebrate!” Apple Bloom shouted, eager to start having a good time after so much hard work in preparation.

“E’yup!” Big Mac reared back on his hind legs, excited to spend time with his family and full of joy for the holiday. With Sugar Belle by his side he practically swaggered as he pulled the wagon, his family carrying on behind him in excitement of the coming party.

Author's Note:

For this story I liked having all the CMC's present including Babs. I like her toughness; she can add some Manehatten muscle to the group. Having Grand Pear there was important to me as I wanted as wanted to touch on the story of Bright Mac and Pear Butter and do a scene that was a little bit of a deeper moment of reconciliation between Grand Pear and Granny Smith.
My desire for the beginning chapters of this story was to include all of the immediate family members who could not be at Twilight's party; though honestly it's my 'head-cannon' about what happened to Starlight's mom and no pony really knows.