• Published 29th Jun 2019
  • 2,709 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.

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Meet The Family...

Author's Note:

If you haven't already, make sure you read the revised Chapter 3 before reading this one.
Also, slight spoilers for the Series Finale.

Luster Dawn was not, nor ever was, a student at the School of Friendship. But many of her friends from Ponyville were. As such, whenever the School had it’s annual reunion, she could be sure she would end up being at least one of her friend’s Plus One.

This year, it was her Kirin friend, Maple Cinder, who asked her first. While Luster spent the majority of the event with her whole circle of friends, she did make a point to stick with the one who invited her, if only out of courtesy.

“So many great years spent here.” Maple said, walking down the hallways with Luster at her side. The actual ‘party’ part of the reunion would not be until later that evening, so many of the former alumni were encouraged to explore their old haunt, reminiscing and reuniting with their former classmates. “So many wonderful memories. My only regret is that you didn’t come down to Ponyville sooner so we could share some of those memories.”

Luster blushed. “Oh, I doubt you would have liked me all that much back when I was in school. I… wasn’t exactly the most sociable pony.”

Maple wrapped a foreleg around Luster. “All the more reason I wish I had gotten to know you sooner. I can’t imagine one of my best friends being as lonely as you were.”

Luster shook her head. “No, it wasn’t exactly ‘loneliness’. It was… this is hard to explain. I guess it was… misanthropy?”

“Misanthropy?” Maple parroted, clearly not understanding.

“What I mean is… I kind of knew I was becoming a shut-in. I knew I was becoming isolated from everypony else. But… I just couldn’t find a reason to care. I didn’t fully understand what I could practically gain from having other people in my life.”

Luster looked to the ground, embarrassed. “I actually had to have the Princess of Friendship herself take time out of her day to set me aside and straight up tell me that, yes, there are benefits to having friends.”

Luster groaned as she looked up sheepishly at Maple. “It… sounds kind of silly when I say it out loud, huh?”

Maple kept her warm smile for her friend, shaking her head softly. “Never apologize for how you feel. It’s honestly not that different from how my village used to be back when I was just a little kindling. At least you never tried to magically induce an emotionless silence on yourself.”

Maple gave a soft laugh, but Luster’s eyes screwed in thought. “Maple… You ever stop to think what a weird world we live in?”

“Weird, but wonderful.” Maple said, hugging Luster tighter. “I’d much rather be with you in a weird world than without you in a boring one.”

Luster hugged her friend back. “I’m with you on that one, at least.”

Their embrace was cut short when a shrill, high-pitched noise, loud enough to sting the inside of their ears, reverberated across the halls of the School.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

The two friends quickly pulled away from each other to cover their ears in vain, wincing in pain at the piercing screech.

Just as quickly as it came, the noise subsided as the two slowly uncovered their ears, looking at each other in shock.

“What in Tartarus was that!?” Luster demanded.
---
Within the white and purple spires of the city of Canterlot, high above Ponyville and nestled comfortably within the side of a mountain, a blue unicorn with a silver mane tied back into a tight ponytail, a few errant strands framing the side of her face, was going down the list of all the necessary arrangements that still needed to be made before the show was ready to go on the day after tomorrow.

Trixie huffed to herself as it started to dawn on her just how much work still needed to be done. At this rate, she wouldn’t be on the train back to Ponyville until much later that night.

Made all the worse as Trixie reminded herself yet again that Gallus was coming home today. She wanted so desperately to see him when he arrived, having not seen her son in person since the last Hearth’s Warming. Had she’d known how much time this was going to take, she never would have agreed to come up to Canterlot to help lighten the load. At this rate, Gallus might already be asleep in his old room before Trixie could get home, and that’s assuming she didn’t crash from exhaustion herself as soon as she stepped through the door. What kind of mother was she that she couldn’t be there to actually see her son until the day after he actually arrived.

Trixie took a deep sigh to calm herself. She knew when she was working herself up, especially when she didn’t have her Emotional Support Starlight to calm her. Part of her wanted to blame Coco Pommel for requesting her ‘expertise’ in special effects for the play, but Trixie knew that was just being catty on her part. She knew full-well how swamped the seamstress was pulling double duty organizing the Midsummer Theatre Troupe. All without pay, either. Coco had that special talent for pulling others into charity work without making it feel like she was guilt-tripping them.

It’s not like she twisted Trixie’s foreleg to come down. Truth be told, with the School shut down for the holidays and both Starlight and Sunburst having pretty much the organization of the Reunion on lock, Trixie really just needed something to occupy her time.

She just wished it didn’t end up occupying so much of her time.

Oh well, Trixie thought. Those lights weren’t going to calibrate themselves. If Trixie actually just buckled down and did the work rather than ho-humming the whole time, she might be able to get wrench a favor out of Twilight and have the Princess teleport her back to Ponyville to save some time on the commute.

Trixie was just about to head back to the stage the Midsummer troupe had set up in the Public Park when a high-pitched noise stopped her in her tracks.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Whatever the noise was, it was definitely coming from somewhere far away as Trixie couldn’t place the direction of the screeching cacophony. Indeed, many of the other passing ponies on the streets also looked up from their own reveries, trying to place where the ungodly noise was coming from.
---
Far, far away from the constant trials and tribulations of Equestria, sitting silently amongst the shimmering blue waters of the ocean, lay a small, tropical island paradise hitherto unknown from nearly all voyagers and explorers.

Indeed, this island was in fact enchanted to keep it hidden from prying eyes to maintain its status as a bastion of solitude and peace for the only two ponies to call the island their home.

Celestia and Luna, the now long retired former monarchs of Equestria, were currently sunbathing on the beach of their private island, adorned in tropical-print shirts and sipping Mai Tais from hollowed out coconuts.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

“You hear sumthn’? Celestia asked.
“Nope.” Luna replied.
---
“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! HE’S SO CUUUTE!!!” Silverstream exclaimed.

Her five friends, all gathered close to her in the library, all groaned in pain as they did everything in their power to block out the explosion of noise that came from the hippogriff upon seeing the baby dragon currently cradled in Gallus’ arm. Gallus in particular felt the full force of the sonic blast as one of his arms was trying very hard not to drop Brim out of neural shock.

“GAH!! Geez, Silver!! Turn it down a couple of Hertzes!!” Gallus admonished, trying to calm the now thoroughly frightened babe in his arm.

“Honey, is safe to open ears?” Yona asked Sandbar, smushing her face between two large almanacs.

“WHAT!?” Sandbar asked, having sacrificed his own hearing to cover Sorrel and Nettle’s young, impressionable ears.

Smolder dug a claw into her earhole, trying to work some feeling back into them. “Yeah, that’s about how I thought that was gonna go.” When she finally received a satisfying Pop! In her ear for her efforts, she tapped on an inconspicuous, periwinkle rock sitting on top of the group’s usual table. “It’s okay, Ocellus. You can come out now.” Smolder said.

The baby-blue rock blinked two iridescent blue eyes before being engulfed in a flash of magical green flames. When the flames subsided, the group’s resident changeling, Ocellus, wobbly sat on top of the table.

“I kind of feel bad that the rest of you can’t just shapeshift your ears away.” Ocellus said, grimacing at the fact that the rest of her friends were still recovering.

“WHAT!?” Sandbar said.

Silverstream blushed as she tried to force her smile down into an ashamed frown, but the corners of her beak kept twitching back up with every attempt. “I’m so, sooo sorry guys! But… Look at him!”

Silverstream gestured to the baby dragon in question. “He looks like an adorable plushie come to life!! Oh, come to Auntie Silver you little cutie!!” She called out, reaching her arms out to grasp Brim away from Gallus.

Brim’s eyes widened as the screeching creature came closer to him, causing him to bury himself deeper into the crook of Gallus’ arm, hiding his face from ‘Auntie Silver’.

Gallus took the que and pulled Brim back away from Silverstream’s grasping claws. “Silver, would you calm down!? You’re scaring the poor kid!” Gallus snapped, before yelling a rather savage growl at Silverstream, clutching Brim close to him.

The simple fact that one of her friends just growled at her managed to snap Silverstream out of her cuteness-induced stupor, causing her to double-take on just how startled the little drake actually was.

“Ohhhh… Oh my gosh, I am so, sooo sorry sweetie!! Auntie Silver didn’t mean to scare you, honestly!” Taking another approach, Silverstream knelt down to eye-level with Brim, calmly holding out her talons within reach next to Brim.

Seeing that Silverstream was actually making an attempt at being calm this time, Gallus reluctantly lowered Brim down so he could actually see the waiting talons.

While Brim recoiled slightly seeing that Silverstream was still rather close to him, he did slowly reach out and grasped at one of Silverstream’s talons, exploring this new person with his tiny, baby claws.

“See, little guy? I’m not scary, just a little… loud.” Silverstream said in a soft, cooing voice

“That’s putting it mildly.” Smolder said, chuckling. As annoyed as she was at Silverstream for freaking out her kid like that, she was happy she managed to salvage her first-impression well enough. Besides, if Brim really was going to grow up knowing all of his ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’, chances are he’ll just have to get used to Silverstream’s excitable nature.

Gallus, however, was a bit more miffed, maintaining a firm grasp on Brim even as Silverstream continued to make gentle baby-talk with him, clearly winning the babe over if his happy garbling was any indication.

Smolder saw how tense Gallus still was and walked over to him, placing a gentle claw on his shoulder. A silent ‘thank-you’ for looking out for her son.

Gallus’ arms finally relaxed from Smolder’s touch as the rest of the gang said their own ‘hello’s to the newest member of their hodgepodge family.
---
A few moments passed and the group was starting to settle down into their usual ‘Reunion’ routine of catching up.

“...So during our trip up to Yakyakistan for Snildar Fest, Yona’s mom took me up to one of the family’s favorite ice-fishing spot.” Sandbar said, leaning against his wife on the floor with both of their children nestled within their forelegs.

The rest of their group was arranged in a casual circle on the floor as well, Brim currently crawling around on all floors in the circle to and from each of his new aunts and uncles, greeting and studying each of them at his own leisure, with everyone making sure he didn’t stray too far from the group. Brim was currently cuddling between Ocellus’ forelegs during Sandbar’s story.

“I didn’t realize until later that her dad put her up to it to, apparently, challenge me. See how well I could provide for my family.” Sandbar said.

“And husband did very good showing up Yona’s father.” Yona said, nuzzling a blushing Sandbar. “Father went to family’s real ice-fishing spot and caught big trout for dinner.”

“So what did you catch?” Gallus asked, making sure to keep Brim to at least the edge of his vision.

“Nothing! I recognized from the layout of the rivers feeding into the lake that the spot was smack-dab in the middle of the ice-bed salmon’s migratory routes. They’re called that because, unlike how most fish will sit on the bottom of a lake bed when it freezes over, ice-bed salmon will actually stay near the surface and purposefully get themselves caught in the ice.”

“Why on earth would they do that?” Smolder asked, cocking her head in confusion.

“Ice-bed salmon have this crazy-weird metabolism. The cold from the ice actually puts them in a soporific state that induces a bizarre infusion of chemicals in their cellular make-up that essentially supercharges their natural redundancy and-”

“Sandy! We’re not all marine biologists, buddy.” Gallus remarked, smirking.

“Oh, right.” Sandbar said, blushing. “Uh… Basically, hibernating in ice makes them live longer. Well, I realized that and I told Yona and her mother to help me carve out a block of ice near the mouth of the lake and, lo and behold, the block was filled with salmon!”

Yona giggled at the memory. “Sorrel and Nettle actually rode block of ice back down to village, bowling over Father. Yona will never forget the look on Father’s face when he saw all the fish in the ice. He thought Sandbar was pony-wizard who conjured fish from nothing!”

The group shared a laugh at the story, happy to just be near each other again to share such stories after nearly a year apart from each-other. Brim even gave a trilling laugh as well, though clearly he was just happy to be involved.

“Okay, okay, I got that beat actually!” Silverstream said, holding up a talon. “So, I was visiting Terramar and his husband back at Mount Aris when-”

Silverstream’s story was cut short when a chiming ring came from one of the many bags laid haphazardly on the library table next to them.

“Oh… Sorry guys, that one’s mine.” Silverstream said, getting up off the floor as she rummaged through her bag.

“Silver, you promised!” Ocellus admonished.

“Yeah, Silv! No work during Reunion Week! You know the rules.” Gallus said with a smirk.

“I know guys, I know. Trust me when I say I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t important.” Silverstream said, finally pulling her personal, compact scrying mirror out of her bag. She lifted a talon up to her beak asking for silence while she opened the mirror up to her ear.

“Go for Silverstream… Uh huh… Uh huh…”

Gallus will say this much: It took a lot to suck the joy out of Silverstream’s face. Whatever was going on at her business was clearly a big deal to make even Silverstream completely dour-faced.

Gallus thought back to the humble beginnings of Silver Steel Plumbing. Evidently, Silverstream’s fascination with pipes and plumbing didn’t stop after graduation. Having put so much of her extra-curricular time into studying the subject, it made perfect sense to her to make a career out of it.

After all, it’s not like she needed the money, having come from royalty. She definitely had the financial security to make an occupation out of a passion project. Though what kind of warped brain you had to have to be passionate about clogged toilets, Gallus didn’t even want to think about.

Still, she took to the job with gusto. Starting off with just herself, a toolbox and pair of custom-made overalls. With her family’s backing, however, it didn’t take long for Silverstream to get her own start-up company going. It took more than a few years, but the transition from plumber to CEO of a plumbing manufacturing firm was a steady but natural one for Silverstream.

Who knew that courtroom political training transitioned so easily to business management?

“I see… Look, just… Tell him we’re sorry, but…” Silverstream gulped. “But it was his fault to begin with. Tell him we hope he finds work elsewhere but we can’t keep employing him with his history with us.”

That took the group by surprise. Silverstream was laying someone off? Usually, Silver was pretty fair with her company’s employees. Even when they screwed up, she usually took it upon herself to fix the problem and help her employees learn not to make the same mistake again.

What kind of colossal mess did this employee make that Silver had to personally oversee his departure?

“Okay… Yeah, thank you for taking care of this, I appreciate it.” Silverstream finally said before closing the compact mirror. Sighing, she looked back over to her friends who were clearly waiting for an explanation. “Sorry, that was my assistant. One of the floor managers of my factory up in Manehattan just got fired. We’re… trying to make the transition as easy as possible for everyone involved.”

“So, what did he do?” Gallus said, asking the question on everyone’s mind.

Silverstream sighed again, leaning against the table. “We found out he had been abusing his authority over the factory workers under him. Long hours without overtime, safety negligence, just generally being a jerk to the workers. We only just found out recently when one of the workers called our office to make a formal complaint. The manager was actually falsifying reports to keep us from knowing about it.”

“You’re kidding! That’s corporate fraud, he would go to jail for something like that.” Ocellus said.

“Only if we or one of the factory workers sued him over it, but I arranged for the workers to get generous reparations if they didn’t press charges and just let the guy leave quietly.” Silverstream explained.

“Why in Tartarus would you protect that lowlife?” Smolder said, getting a little upset over how cavalier Silverstream was being. “If the guy broke the law, shouldn’t he be rotting in a cell right now?”

Silverstream pinched the bridge above her beak. “It isn’t that simple. The guy has a family he needs to take care of. I looked them up and he’s their only source of income. I can’t punish them because of something this one jerk did! So I’m… just sort of hoping he’ll learn his lesson and find someplace else to work.”

“And if he doesn’t?” Sandbar asked.

“Then his next boss will fire him and maybe then he’ll go to prison. Point is, I didn’t feel right not giving the guy a second chance.” Silverstream huffed. “Even if he really, really didn’t deserve it.”

“Look, the last thing I want to do is bring everyone else down.” Silverstream said, forcing a smile. “This is Reunion Week! We’re supposed to be forgetting about all this stuff! I’m sorry I answered that call, I shouldn’t have. But trust me when I say that is the last call I’ll be taking all week!”

Before anyone could say anything in response, Silverstream slid back into a sitting position in the circle, carrying on as though the call never happened. “So, like I was saying, I met up with Terramar at the skydock, and I see he has a pie with him. At first, I thought the pie was a gift for his favorite big sister, but it was a lot more sinister than that…”
---
The group carried on discussing this and that, telling stories and reminiscing about the good ol’ days, when it came time to get ready for the real event of the night.
The Reunion Party.

The hallways of the school were awash with chatter as alumni and faculty started to migrate to the auditorium where the festivities would be taking place. Gallus and his friends were just now emerging from the library to join the crowd.

“Hey Smolder, why don’t you hand Brim to me and Yona and I can take him to the play-room with the kids.” Sandbar said. With more and more former students growing up and settling down, it became common practice by the school to set up a room for their children to be entertained and watched over while their parents enjoyed their own celebrations. Games and toys and kind-hearted faculty members were all waiting to make sure the young had just as much to entertain them as their elders.

“You sure they’re prepared to handle a baby dragon?” Smolder asked, having finally taken Brim back from Gallus. “I don’t want to put Brim there if they don’t know how to take care of him.”

“You’re not the only dragon who went to this school, y’know?” Sandbar said. “They’ve taken care of baby dragons before.”

Smolder was clearly still reluctant, but Gallus placed a comforting claw on her arm. “Hey, it’s only for a few hours. If it helps, I’ll even go with you anytime you want to check up on him. That way, you’ll always be hanging out with at least one of us.”

Smolder smiled at the offer. “Oh… Alright. But only because I don’t want the kid cramping my style.”

With that, Smolder held Brim up to eye-level with her. “You be good for Uncle Sandy and Auntie Yona, y’hear me kid? And don’t burn the school down.”

Smolder gave her baby a nuzzle with her snout, making Brim give a happy squeal at his mother. She finally, reluctantly, passed off Brim to Sandbar, who Brim already felt easy around enough to grip on tight around his neck.

“Don’t worry, he’s safe with us.” Sandbar said.

Smolder nodded. “I know. Just… make sure to tell Sorrel and Nettle to stay close to him.”

“We will.” Sandbar said, turning with his family towards the play-room.

“And… And make sure to tell the caretaker’s he only eats powdered gemstones.” Smolder called out. “He likes beryls the most.”

“We will.” Sandbar called back.
“And… And make sure you tell him he’s a good boy and that his mommy loves him!” Smolder yelled over the crowd.

“We will!” Sandbar yelled back.

And then Sandbar and his family turned the corner and Brim was out of sight.

Smolder huffed a breath out, staring at the spot where they were for just a few more seconds.

“You okay?” Gallus asked.

“Yeah, just… first time I’ve ever been separated from the little squirt. But it’ll be fine, he’ll be fine.” Smolder said, forcing a smile which immediately started to crack. “Right?”

“Smolder, he’s with Yona. That kid is in the safest place in Equestria right now.” Gallus said.

“Besides, like Gallus said, you can always go check up on him whenever you want!” Silverstream added.

“We better get going though, the party’s probably already starting.” Ocellus said, looking at a mounted clock in the hallway.

“You two get going, I need to make a quick stop.” Smolder said to the two girls before turning to Gallus. “Would you mind coming with me?”

Gallus rolled his eyes. “We’re not already checking on the kid, are we? Y’know helicopter-parenting is bad for kids, right?” He laughed as Smolder gave him a punch to the arm.

“Smart-aleck. No, I just brought some fancy clothes for the party and I need you to stand watch outside while I get changed. Their inside my bag back in the library.” Smolder said, pointing back with her thumb.

“Scale of one to ten, how frou-frou we talking here?” Gallus asked.

“Just wait here.” Smolder huffed, turning back into the library.

“What? I just need to know how many hours this’ll take!” Gallus called back towards Smolder, narrowly dodging a thrown book to the face.

Ocellus shook her head. “Right, you two have fun. We’ll meet you at the auditorium.”

With that, Silverstream hooked her foreleg around Ocellus as the two trotted off, Silverstream waving goodbye. “Seeya!”

With not much else to do until Smolder was ready, Gallus leaned back against the wall outside the library door, wondering what kind of ‘fancy clothes’ Smolder brought with her.

Back when they were kids, he knew about the incredibly fancy get ups she would wear for whenever she and Ocellus got together for their not-so-secret tea parties. The mental image of a young dragoness in the most frilly, poofy, dress imaginable was one that stayed with Gallus for a long time.

He doubted she would be wearing anything like that ensemble in public.

“Okay, ready to go when you are.” He heard Smolder say as the library doors opened.

Gallus turned to look at her… and his lower beak promptly smashed into the ground.

The last word Gallus would use to describe Smolder’s new look is ‘Frou-frou’. Smolder was adorned in a black, one-piece dress that hugged her form quite naturally. The skirt ended just below her knees, and it was held in place by a single strap over her right shoulder.

Smolder smirked at Gallus’ reaction, clearly hoping for something to the same effect. “Well? What do you think?”

“Uuuuhh? Lookin’... Good?” Gallus croaked out, unsure of how to react in this whole situation. “Holy crap Smolder. You trying to make everyone’s nose bleed here?”

Smolder rolled her eyes. “Oh come on, Gallus. Do you know how rare it is that I get a chance to feel pretty in the Dragon Lands? I’m taking advantage of this situation while I can!”

Pretty is not the word that came to Gallus’ mind. No, an altogether different word came to Gallus’ mind.

Before Gallus could even think about what he was thinking of thinking about, Smolder grabbed him by the wrist and started pulling him towards the auditorium, apparently much more eager of getting the party started.

“What are we waiting for? We got the whole night to look forward to!”