• Published 29th Jun 2019
  • 2,701 Views, 61 Comments

The More Things Change... - SugarHoneyIceTea123



The School of Friendship is having its annual reunion! And while Gallus is ecstatic to see his old friends again, he may have to deal with some changes he wasn't prepared for.

  • ...
1
 61
 2,701

Counseling...

“‘Burned into our memories’? I’m pretty sure that’s what you said, right?” Smolder said, passing a not-too-subtle look towards Gallus.

Gallus rubbed the back of his neck as he took another look at the school’s directory. “Hey, you’re just as lost as I am, so I don’t want to hear any lip.”

Gallus bit his beak a bit when he felt Brim starting to get restless in his arms. He looked down to see the yellow babe was clearly put off with Gallus’ tone.

“Oh, nono little guy! I’m not mad at your mom, I swear.” Gallus said to Brim, wiggling his talons in his face to entertain him.

“Hmm, ten minutes carrying him and he’s already got you wrapped around his claw.” Smolder said, smiling.

“Hey, took Sorrel and Nettle half that time.” Gallus said, giving Brim a grin as the baby dragon grasped at Gallus’ teasing talons. “What can I say? Kids love me.”

Smolder said nothing, just gave a giggle of her own as Brim tried his hardest to maul Gallus’ talons, leaving dribble all over them.

“Gah… This stuff come off with soap?” Gallus winced.

Smolder rolled her eyes. “Geez, you’re a bigger baby than the baby. A little drool never killed nobody.”

“Smolder? Gallus?” A new voice spoke behind them.

The two looked behind them to see quite the familiar face: Their old school counselor, Starlight Glimmer. Of course, she traded up from her desk in the counselor’s office for the Headmare’s desk some time ago, but she never really got out of the habit of helping students deal with their personal problems.

Of course, Gallus knew her by another title.

“Oh, hey Mom.”

---

It was Summer, and all of Gallus’ friends were getting ready to go home for vacation. Gallus sighed as he stared up at the ceiling of his dorm room. That should be including him, too. He was supposed to be gathering his things, what little knick-knacks and personal effects he had managed to scrounge up or were gifted to him by his friends, and packing up for his trip back to Griffonstone.

Griffonstone… That was home for Gallus.

And he wished every single day it wasn’t.

Legally, he was still homeless. Griffonstone’s infrastructure was so dilapidated and slipshod from generations of apathy and greed that the very concept of civil aid, much less child protection laws, may as well have been as foreign to the griffons as a cutie mark.

The best Grandpa Gruff did for him, being the closest thing Griffonstone recognized as an authority on the matter, was set him up in an abandoned house off to the far edge of the city-state, checking in once in a while to make sure he hadn’t starved to death and occasionally bringing him food and fresh toiletries. It was as generous as griffon’s usually came.

At least he didn’t sleep in the rain, and the house was only slightly worse living quarters than what most griffons lived in.

That was the best life Gallus could hope for in Griffonstone. He’ll say this about Grandpa Gruff, when Princess Twilight was looking for representatives from the other races to enroll in her school, Gruff immediately chose Gallus as the one most deserving and most needing.

He cared, in his own way. He cared enough to send Gallus where he would have a better chance at a happy life. But that was where it ended. He didn’t care enough to take Gallus in under his own wing, despite being, for all intents and purposes, his legal guardian.

Things were getting slightly better, Gallus admitted to himself. Gilda and her friend Greta often came by and offered fresh scones from their cart. For free, no less! They definitely garnered some stares over that. Just because Gallus was a homeless orphan doesn’t he can’t pay for his own share.

And Gabby was as un-griffon as griffons come. She was probably the closest thing Gallus had to a friend in Griffonstone, and she always made sure to bring Gallus something from her regular mail rounds to Ponyville. But those mail rounds were a double edged sword as they ensured she was gone just as often as she was there. Still, Gallus did appreciate her carrying correspondence between him and Sandbar so they could keep in touch.

But all of these were small comforts in a city in massive strife. While in Griffonstone, Gallus could do little more than count the days till he could come back to the school. Back to his true home.

His friends certainly tried to help him when they learned the gravity of his situation, all of them offering their homes to the young griff and promising him sanctuary. Of course, they couldn’t just DO that. There were legal concerns to consider, official citizenship status that couldn’t be ignored. It was one thing to travel abroad to study in a prestigious school, it was another thing to be ‘held captive’ by the inhabitants of another nation. He was still a minor, after all. He legally could not make those decisions for himself.

Giving another hefty sigh, Gallus figured he had put off the inevitable long enough. He got up from his bed and began packing.

He was just starting to make decent headway when he heard a knock on his door. Probably one of his friends offering condolences and promises to see each other when their vacation was over.

Opening the door, mentally and emotionally preparing himself for the onslaught of hugs and tears, he was surprised to find the school’s former counselor standing outside.

“Hello, Gallus.” Headmare Starlight said, looking quite pleased with herself. As though she were privy to a joke that she was waiting to tell Gallus.

“Oh, er, hello Headmare. What can I do for you?” Gallus asked. Starlight rarely brought herself to her students, preferring to let them come to her with their concerns.

“I understand that, right about now, you’d probably be preparing to head back to Griffonstone now?” Starlight said.

Gallus rolled his eyes. “Yep. Caaaan’t wait.”

“Before you get too involved with your packing, might I see you in my office? I would actually like to discuss something with you regarding your situation in Griffonstone.” Starlight asked, moving aside so as to let Gallus pass.

“My situation? Er, sure.” Gallus said, walking side-by-side with Starlight towards the Headmare’s office. “Why didn’t you just call me over the P.A.?”

Starlight’s smile widened. “Because this isn’t technically a school matter. It’s… more of a personal concern.”

“Okay…” Gallus said, more confused than ever.

When they reached the office, Gallus saw that the two of them would not be the only ones present during the meeting. Trixie Lulamoon, the School of Friendship’s new counselor, was already sitting by Starlight’s chair, clearly waiting for them to arrive and wearing the same smile as Starlight.

“Please take a seat, Gallus.” Starlight said, taking her own seat at the head of the desk. “There’s something we would like to discuss with you.”

“Okay…” Gallus repeated, unsure of what else to say. Taking a seat as requested, he saw Starlight pull a folder of papers from her desk.

“Now then, let’s get right to it, shall we?” Starlight said, placing the folder in front of her. “It’s no secret that, ever since we've learned the full extent of your… living conditions in Griffonstone, the entire faculty of this school have been working non-stop to see if their were any legal avenues to improve your station.”

“You mean, no longer homeless. Right?” Gallus said, bluntly.

“At the very least.” Starlight said. “Well… what if I told you that Trixie and I may have found an avenue for you. Right here, right now. You wouldn’t ever have to go back to Griffonstone. You could live here, in Ponyville, as a full citizen today.”

“Today?” Gallus parroted. “That’s… How?”

“Trixie, do you want to take this?” Starlight offered. Trixie gladly took the invitation, making a show of clearing her throat.

“It was about half a year ago, now, when the thought was first planted in Trixie’s mind. During The Great and Powerful Trixie’s… less than stellar venture into becoming Vice-Headmare of the School.” Trixie said, giving a grandiose wave of her hoof.

“Oh yeah, I remember that. Best nap I’ve ever had in your class.”

“Quite.” Trixie grumbled, Starlight giggling a bit at the wind being taken out of her sails. “Point is, do you recall Trixie’s rather ill-fated conference with your legal guardian, Grandpa Gruff?”

“How could I forget.” Gallus said, fighting back a laugh remembering the flabbergasted look on Gruff’s face. “You railed into him so hard, I thought he was gonna blow a gasket.”

Gallus rubbed the back of his neck. “Um… Thanks for that, by the way. It was nice to see somecreature put that old buzzard in his place.”

“Oh, think nothing of it!” Trixie said. “Trixie quite enjoyed shouting at him. But this brings us back to Trixie’s original point. An idea had struck in her head, a bolt of inspiration that Trixie would not recognize it for what it was until now.”

Trixie got up from her chair to walk around to the front of the desk, sitting off the corner directly in front of Gallus. “The truth is… something sparked inside of Trixie that day. Defending you, protecting you from some… feather-brained fool who had no business being your caretaker. It made Trixie realize… that there was more she could offer you. There was more she could do to protect you.”

“I… I don’t…” Gallus tried to say.

“So! Trixie conferred with her lovely partner in all things…” Trixie said, gesturing to Starlight. “And an accord was reached. All we need now… is your approval.”

With that, Starlight gently nudged the folder to Gallus, gesturing Gallus to open it.

Gallus hesitated, having a sinking suspicion what was inside. He shook those thoughts out of his head. No, he thought. They wouldn’t go to those kinds of lengths. Not for him.
He looked up and saw the two mares were patiently waiting for him, waiting for him to cross that threshold.

Without realizing it, Gallus held his breath as he opened the folder.

A breath he released in a sharp gasp as he saw the contents inside.

An adoption form, with quite literally his name on it. Not just his name, but Starlight and Trixie’s names as well, marking them as his prospective guardians. It even had Grandpa Gruff’s scratchy signature declaring his consent to transfer rights of guardianship to the two mares.

Gallus looked up, unable to stop the tears from forming in the corners of his eyes. “I… I can’t… why would you…?”

Starlight leaned forward, placing a gentle hoof on the paper. “If you sign this, you will officially be recognized as a dependent minor in mine and Trixie’s care. Thus, you will officially become an Equestrian citizen and can immediately move in with me and Trixie. We’ve already done all the political heavy-lifting with the Princesses and Grandpa Gruff has already given his full consent. We can have everything finalized and in the system by tonight.”

Gallus shook his head, still unable to accept this as anything other than a cruel joke. “I’m… I’m only sixteen. I’ll only be a minor for two more years.”

Starlight shook her head. “I don’t see how that affects anything. Even after you become a legal adult, you will still need time to find your path in life, especially if you choose to pursue higher education once you graduate. Eighteen or not, you will still be a young man in need of a support structure. Trixie and I can provide that for you.”

“We’re certainly not gonna throw you to the curb the second you turn eighteen.” Trixie added. “Besides, do you really want to live in Griffonstone for the next two years?”

“But… Why?” Gallus said, finally getting to the root of things. “Why would you do this for me? Why would you stick your necks out like this. I’m…”

Gallus looked down towards the floor, unable to meet their eyes. “I’m not worth this…”

Everyone was silent for a second, before Trixie broke through. “I thought the same thing about myself once.”

Gallus looked up slightly, but still did not look at her.

“Trixie… I have done a lot of things I’m not proud of. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and made a lot of ponies hate me.” Trixie started. “For a while, I believed I was beyond saving. Beyond redemption. I was content to merely wallow in my failure and embrace my fate.”

Trixie smiled as she grasped Starlight’s hoof in her own, not even needing to look back at her to know her hoof was waiting. “But then I met this arrogant know-it-all who did something for me that nopony had in a long time. She gave me a chance. A chance to be a friend, a chance to be a confidant, a chance to be… well, much more than that. She gave me the chance to be a better me. A happier me.”

“And… that’s what we want to offer you Gallus. But… only if you want it.” Trixie said, patting the adoption form next to her.

“If it helps…” Starlight began, still sensing trepidation from the young griff. “You don’t have to think about it as getting adopted. You don’t have to see us as your… Ahem. You can make this as informal and professional as you want it Gallus. If you just want to see it as us letting you stay in our house, we’ll follow your lead. This, after all, is for you, and the last thing we want to do is make you uncomfortable in what should be your home.”

Gallus took a good, hard stare at the foreboding document. How could a little piece of paper hold so much of his future inside of it. “If I sign this… what happens next?”

Starlight gave a warm smile. “You come home.”

Gallus sat there thinking for what felt like hours. He wiped away his tears and grabbed a quill from a cup of quills on Starlight’s desk, and wrote his name where the document asked for his signature.

“Thank you…” Was all he said.

Starlight and Trixie both leapt from their respective seats, practically smothering Gallus as they wrapped their forelegs around him.

“Welcome home, Gallus.” Starlight said, softly.
“Welcome home.” Trixie added.

Gallus said nothing, merely wrapped his own arms around the two mares.

---

Headmare Starlight certainly looked pleased to see them, all things considered. “Oh my Celestia, I will never get over how much bigger you guys get every year.”

Smolder chuckled. “You’re telling me. Give it a few hundred years, and we’re gonna need to move the festivities up the mountain, just so I can fit through the door.”

The three shared a laugh at the joke before Starlight’s attention suddenly fell on the wide-eyed youth currently nestling in Gallus’ arms.

“Oh! Well hello there, little one! Smolder, is this one yours?” Starlight asked. She took a step forward and lit up her horn, causing tiny sparks and lights to dance out. Brim’s eyes lit up at the display as he reached out from Gallus’ grip to claw at the lights.

“Yep. Grew him myself.” Smolder said. “His name’s Brim. We were actually just on our way to introduce him to the gang when someone…” Smolder said, giving a not-too-subtle nudge of the head towards Gallus. “Got us up and lost.”

“Hey, It’s not my fault this place is a maze. I could barely find my way around when I actually lived here.” Gallus said, trying to defend himself.

Starlight giggled a little at their antics. “Where are you guys heading? I don’t mind playing escort for a bit before I have to get back to the organizing.”

“Thanks Mom.” Gallus said. “We were trying to find the library. You would think after all the time we spent there…”
Starlight grimaced. “Yeah, the library is in the same place it always was, but we’ve had to… renovate some of the hallways due to an… incident earlier this year.”

“Incident?” Both Gallus and Smolder parroted.

“Let’s just say Pinkie Pie is no longer allowed to sub for Chemistry and leave it at that.” Starlight said, and Gallus could swear she looked five years older from saying that one sentence alone.

“Say no more. So, about that escort?” Gallus said.

“Right, right. Just follow me and I’ll get you there.”

---

“Oh Smolder, that’s terrible!” Starlight said, giving her former student a look of sympathy.

“Eh, It’s honestly not that bad.” Smolder said, shrugging. “Like Gallus said, it’s probably better that he’s NOT here influencing Brim. Plus, it’s not like this is something unheard of. Lot’s of dragons end up getting raised by only one parent.”

“Still though, no one should have to go through something like that.” Starlight said, shaking her head. “I just want you to know that if you and Brim ever need any help-”

“Gonna stop you right there, teach.” Smolder said, raising a claw. “I didn’t tell you all of that for a sob-story. Brim and I… we can’t just get by on charity. I appreciate the gesture, but I’m not looking for any handouts.”

Starlight held out a hoof, stopping the dragoness in her tracks. “It’s not charity, Smolder. It’s one friend offering to help another friend. I would like to think your time at this school has taught you a little something about, oh say, Generosity?”

Smolder rubbed her arm and looked askance as Starlight continued. “And I’m sure every single one of your friends would make the same offer.” Starlight looked over to Gallus expectantly. “Right?”

Gallus nodded. “Doesn’t even need to be said.” Gallus gave an affectionate rub to the top of Brim’s head. “She knows any one of us would jump at the chance to help her, whether she needs it or not.”

Smolder sighed. “I know. And I… I love you all for it. This is just… more of a pride thing than anything else. I want to go at this for my own sake, and for Brim. I want him to know how tough his momma is.”

Gallus shot her a confused look. “How tough you are? Smolder, all Brim has to do is look at you any day of the week to see how tough you are. And if he ever forgets that, you send him to me and I’ll set the record straight.”

Starlight nodded. “Gallus is right. Relying on others isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength. I can understand wanting to go at things yourself to prove that you can. Just promise me that if you ever do need help, you won’t turn it away.”

Smolder looked as though she was going to continue arguing against them when Starlight held up a hoof. “If not for us, and if not for you: Then do it for Brim.”

That caused any more words to die in Smolder’s mouth. She merely sighed and nodded her head. “Okay. You’re right, and I know you’re right. It’s just… hard.”

Starlight smiled. “No one ever said being a mother is easy. But I’m pleased to say it looks like you’re doing a fantastic job so far.”

Smolder smiled as the scales on her cheeks turned red. “Thanks, teach.”

Gallus sniffed. “Still though, if I ever do run into Brim’s dad, I’m gonna give that deadbeat a piece of my mind.”

Smolder chuckled at the griffon’s bravado. “Are you kidding me? Gallus, he’s a dragon! He would literally, and I do mean literally eat you alive.”

Gallus’ pride deflated a little. “Yeah, well… I’d give him horrible indigestion.”

Smolder rolled her eyes as she scooped Gallus’ head into her chest, giving him a crushing hug. “Oh, my hero…” Smolder said, dripping with sarcasm.

“Gah! Careful! Do you want me to drop the kid?” Gallus admonished.

Starlight giggled at the display before turning to the two, standing in front of a familiar oak door. “Well, here we are. Sorry to cut and run so soon but I need to get back to getting everything ready for tonight.”

Smolder nodded. “Of course, don’t let us keep you. Thanks again for the help.”

“Don’t mention it!” Starlight smiled, before turning her attention to Brim, still lying comfortably in Gallus’ arm. “And goodbye to you too, Brim! I’m sure I’ll see you around!” Starlight said in a high, happy voice, lightly booping Brim on the snout.

Smolder smiled at the display before opening and leaving through the oak doors into the library. Gallus was about to follow her inside when Starlight held a hoof out in front of him.

“Oh, Gallus. Might I have a word real quick?” Starlight asked.

“Sure, what’s up?”

“I just... wanted to let you know how proud I am of you. With everything Smolder is going through, it takes real bravery on your part to step up like this.” Starlight said, eyes brimming with admiration for her son.

“Uh… Okay?” Gallus said, confused. Like they both said, all of Smolder’s friends would have ‘stepped up’ as she said, so he didn’t really understand what prompted this praise.

“And I can already tell how much Brim has taken a liking to you.” Starlight said. “I’m sure Smolder’s very happy about that.”

“I guess?” Gallus said. “She did joke about how quickly he’s got me wrapped around his claws.”

“Oh, I can imagine. Still I never thought, out of everyone in your little gang, that it would be you and Smolder. You two make a lovely couple.”

With that, Starlight turned on her hind-hoof and trotted away, leaving Gallus dumbfounded at her statement. It took a few seconds before it finally registered to Gallus what exactly his mother just said to him, and when his brain finally caught up to his mouth, he yelled out.

“What!? Nonono!! It’s not like that at all!!”

But Starlight was already gone and out of ear shot.

Grumbling to himself, knowing this was gonna spread like wildfire throughout the school grounds, Gallus looked down at the baby dragon in his arms, who looked up at him with a calm smile and a happy trill.

Despite himself, Gallus couldn’t keep his own smile off his beak as he gave another rub to Brim’s head. “Come on, little guy. Time to meet the family.”

---

Starlight was about halfway back to the main hall when she stopped in her tracks, her conversation with Smolder still playing in her mind.

Deciding she had a few minutes to spare, Starlight reached into her saddlebag and pulled out a small, circular mirror. With just a slight charge of magic from her horn, the enchantment within the mirror sparked to life as her reflection was replaced by the image of a young, dark blue filly with a short, messy purple mane. Starlight smiled as the filly took notice of her own mirror activating back at their house, a wide grin stretching across her face as she saw Starlight.

“Hi Mom! What’s up?” The filly asked.

“Oh, nothing Mirage. Just felt like calling. Guess who I just bumped into…”

Author's Note:

So here's the new Chapter 3. Got the idea from the new Vice-Headmare episode. Trixie chewing out Grandpa Gruff got all kinds of fanfiction gears turning.