• 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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May I Have This Dance...

Gallus will say one thing about going back to school at his age: The parties were much more livelier.

While there was an impromptu bar set up for some of the faculty and alumni to ‘wet their whistle’ as it were, it was pretty regulated and the servers made sure that everyone didn’t have too much. Just enough to loosen everycreature up a bit and get them in a more festive mood. Ambient music played over the auditorium’s sound systems. A good enough beat to get some of the more rhythmic attendees swaying to the music, but not enough to start a full on dance-party. Though, the night was still young.

But, more than that, was the sense that there wasn’t that teenage judgement anymore. When you’re a teenager, everything you do is reflective of your social image. While Gallus and his friends didn’t buy into that mentality as much as most kids their age, a benefit to having such a tight group of friends who loved and cared for one another unconditionally, that doesn’t mean they were immune to their hormones nor the culture of high school.

Here and now, though, everycreature had moved passed such concerns. They had all grown up, gotten jobs, settled down. For some, high school never truly ended. Gallus recognized some of the usual cliques from those days naturally congregate towards each other, seeking familiar faces. Still, it was a testament to the name ‘School of Friendship’ that when these cliques did start to intersect, there was no tension nor resistance. Everycreature was meeting each other jovially under the common banner of studying within this school.

Growing up, Gallus always felt as though the school was his true home. Much more so than Griffonstone, in any case. So this sea of faces from nearly every sentient creature under Celestia’s sun felt less like a reunion of former classmates and more like a homecoming of a massive, extended family. Siblings and cousins Gallus either remembered fondly or couldn’t wait to get to know.

And he knew he wasn’t alone in feeling that sentiment, even if it was just a tad more literal on his part.

Still, he did start to notice it when more than a couple pairs of eyes landed on him and Smolder when they crossed the doorway into the auditorium, Smolder scanning the crowd for their friends.

It took a few seconds before Gallus realized that Smolder was still holding his hand.

Gently pulling his talons out of Smolder’s grip, he jutted his thumb over to the refreshment table.

“Hey, uh, you go ahead and find the others. I’m just gonna get something to drink. D’you want anything?” He asked.

If Smolder noticed his recalcitrance from the knowing looks of the other party-goers, she didn’t show it. “Oh, sure. Whatever they got in the punch-bowl, I don’t want to get tipsy with Brim over in the play-room, y’know?”

Gallus gave a thumbs up before leaving Smolder to her search, making his way to the table.

Calm down. He thought to himself. People here know you and Smolder used to be tight. They’re not gonna look too deeply at some friendly hand-holding between friends.

Gallus had to let out a slight chuckle as the ridiculousness of the situation started to get to him. Him and Smolder? His mother’s wild imagination was starting to get to him too.

A cup of punch in hand, Gallus almost turned to walk towards the bar, but then thought better of it. He did promise Smolder he’d go with her whenever she needed to check on Brim. She probably wouldn’t appreciate Uncle Gallus being a bit too ‘happy’ around her kid. Instead, he merely grabbed another cup for himself and turned to head into the crowd, spying Smolder quite easily over the majority of ponies heads.

He came within earshot of the gang right in the middle of Sandbar and Yona reassuring her.
“Don’t worry. Brim is safe and sound and Sorrel and Nettle are keeping a close eye on him.” Sandbar said, placing a hoof on Smolder’s arm.

“I know, I know. I shouldn’t worry. I mean, this is Ponyville! What can really happen to him here? Just… better to be safe than sorry, y’know?” Smolder said.

“Yona understand perfectly. Yona knows Sorrel and Nettle are in no danger, but still smash Ponyville to pieces if anything happened to them.” Yona said, much more happily than her destructive words would imply. “Yona knows will never come to that, but Yona prepared to unleash Hell, regardless.”

“Oh my Scorch, yes! Thank you for putting it to words!” Smolder said.

“Did they just bond over annihilating Ponyville over their children?” Ocellus asked, more than a little concerned.

“You’ll understand if you ever have larva of your own, Cell.” Sandbar said.

“Do changelings still have larva?” Silverstream asked, cocking her head. “Like, did that stay the same even after the whole ‘Mass Metamorphosis' thing?”

“Of course we still have larva! Why would our metamorphosis change such a fundamental part of our life-cycle?” Ocellus said.

“See, now I’m just imagining a little grub version of Ocellus, and I can’t tell if that’s cute or unsettling.” Gallus said, inserting himself into their circle. “Here’s your punch by the way.”

“Thanks, G.” Smolder said, downing the red, plastic cup in one swig.

“Aw, no punch for the rest of us?” Silverstream pouted.

“I only have two claws, sheesh.” Gallus said.

“Um, excuse me?” The group was brought out of their reverie by a pink hoof tapping Gallus on the shoulder. Gallus turned to face whoever this newcomer and was hit with a strange sense of deja-vu.

Standing right behind him was a hot-pink mare with her sunflower-colored mane done up in a loose ponytail. For whatever reason, Gallus couldn’t help but feel like he had seen her before.

“Uh, hey. What can I do for you?” Gallus said, trying to be polite.

“Sorry for just coming out of nowhere with this, but have we met each other before?” The mare asked, clearly studying Gallus’ features to try and jolt her memory. “I’m sorry, it’s just… I know I’ve seen you before and it’s driving me crazy trying to place where.”

“Uh…” Gallus trailed off. “Y’know, it’s funny. I was just thinking the same thing. You a former student, too?”

The mare shook her head. “No, I’m here with a friend who is. We wouldn’t have met then.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t… Wait…” Gallus screwed his eyes in thought, the memory just at the cusp of recollection. “Oh! Wait, I do remember you! Didn’t you have, like, a meeting with Princess Twilight or something bout four years back?”

The mare’s eyes lit up, realization dawning on her as well. “Yes! Now I remember! You were that Royal Guard who escorted me to the throne room! Um… Hey!” She said, now suddenly aware that she didn’t have much more reason to interrupt their conversation.

“Hey, yourself.” Gallus said with a smirk. “So, you live in Ponyville now?”

“Since that fateful meeting, yep. You too?” She said.

“Naw, just visiting for the Reunion. I live up in Griffonstone these days.” Gallus said.

“Griffonstone? Aren’t you still a Royal Guard?” She asked.

Gallus rubbed the back of his head. “Not for a few years now. I was really only a guard to pay my way through getting my Teaching Degree. I teach Griffon History to a bunch of cubs back home.”

“Oh, that sounds nice! I’m sorry, where are my manners?” She said, shaking her head, chuckling, before offering her hoof. “I’m Luster Dawn, nice to meet you… Again.”

Gallus, always happy to make a new friend, accepted the hoof with a shake. “Gallus. These are my friends: Sandbar, Yona, Ocellus, Silverstream…” He said, pointing to everycreature who each gave Luster a friendly wave in turn.

“And this is Smolder.” He said, gesturing to the dragoness who watched the whole display bemusedly.

“Sup.” Smolder said. “You know Twilight?”

“Ah… I guess not as well as you.” Luster said, raising an eyebrow. “Certainly not well enough to forego the ‘Princess’ title.”

“Heh, yeah, the Princess was the school’s old Headmare back in the day.” Gallus explained. “We… got a lot of ‘exposure’ to the Princess of Friendship. Let’s just say the Grandeur and Mystique of the Princess… kind of lost it’s novelty after the first year or two.”

“You’re telling me!” Smolder said, reminiscing. “You guys remember when she asked Princess Celestia to be in our school’s Hearth Warming Pageant, and she was way too ga-ga over her to tell her she couldn’t act her way out of a wet paper-bag?”

“Oh, our poor Headmare.” Ocellus said, cringing at the memory. “I know exactly how she felt. I don’t know if I could have done that with King Thorax or even her, for that matter.”

Sandbar shrugged. “Still, it was kind of… comforting in a way. Seeing the Princess being just another schlub like us, working through life one day at a time, and not always doing the best job. Kind of made me feel better about myself, y’know.”

“Believe me, I know exactly what your talking about. I can still worm some minor concessions out of Primarch Gilda with the right embarrassing story from when she was just a scone-hocker.”
Gallus realized he earned a few judgemental stares for that. “Purely for the school’s benefit, of course.”

“Huh… I guess it’s good to remind myself every now and then that the Princess is still just another pony.” Luster said, more to herself than the others.

“You should go visit her sometime!” Silverstream said, suddenly. “I’m sure she’d love just a casual meet and greet from an old friend. Probably be a good distraction from all her royal duties and stuff.”

Luster looked down, embarrassed. “Oh, I wouldn’t exactly call us ‘friends’. It’s a pretty professional ‘Mentor-Student’ kind of relationship.”

Gallus shrugged. “Doesn’t mean it has to be that way all the time. We ended up becoming friends with pretty much all our teachers from back in the day. Heck, I can count a few students of my own who I could call friends.”

For her part, Luster did look hopeful. “Mmm, maybe someday. But for now, I should probably get back to my group before they wonder where I’ve wandered off. Sorry to bother you, by the way.”

Sandbar shook his head. “Nah, it was no bother at all. I was nice to meet you! You say you live in Ponyville, yeah? Maybe the Missus and I will see you around sometime?” He said, gesturing to Yona.

Luster smiled. “That… actually sounds nice. Take care!” With a final wave goodbye, Luster disappeared back into the crowd.
Time passed as the festivities continued on, everyone casually discussing this or that, reuniting with old friends and a few even making new friends.

About a third of the way into the evening, it was decided to kick things up a notch.

“Alright, alright, party-people!” A light voice called out over the P.A.

Curiosity took the crowd as they looked over to the auditorium’s stage to see who it was over the mic.

“Oh no…” Smolder said, snickering as she put a claw over her forehead. “What is that dork doing?”

“DJ Scalez is back in the Hizz-House, making his comeback debut for the annual School of Friendship Reunion!!”

Spike had certainly grown a lot over the years, and Gallus would be lying if he said he wasn’t envious of the drake’s workout regimen. But he was still the same lovable doofus he had always been. Case in point, as the large dragon was currently in the process of setting up a disc mixer, wearing a much too small sequined, paper-mache head of… his own head.

Still, there were plenty in the school who remembered exactly who ‘DJ Scalez’ was, and credit where it was due, he clearly had his fans as a bunch of loud, boisterous cheering came from the crowd upon recognizing the oversized head.

“Let’s clear the floor for anyone who wants to get down and funky!! Lights!! Smoke!! Boogie-down!!”

With that, the generic ambience was replaced with fast, upbeat, music that wouldn’t be out of place in a rave as DJ Scalez went crazy on the mixer, scratching records to and fro with reckless abandon. There was no Spike for the rest of the night, only DJ Scalez. Almost immediately, the majority of attendees had already started to cut loose and hit the dance floor, apparently just waiting for an excuse to make absolute fools of themselves.

Gallus had to smile when he spotted Luster Dawn again, very awkwardly sashaying next to a much more exuberant kirin.

“Honey, may I have this dance?” Sandbar said, making a dramatic show of bowing low, offering a gentlemanly hoof to his wife.

Yona giggled, taking Sandbar’s hoof and leading him to the dance floor. It didn’t take to long before their ‘dancing’ devolved into Yona’s usual yak-stomping. Thank Grover they expanded the auditorium in recent years, Gallus thought to himself.

“I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I’m not spending this dance as a wallflower like last time.” Ocellus said.

“Right there with you, buggaboo!” Silverstream said, giggling as she and Ocellus flew off to join Sandbar and Yona.

Only Gallus and Smolder were left behind, standing awkwardly next to each other as they watched their friend’s dance.

Smolder coughed into her fist, getting Gallus’ attention. “So, uh, I just remembered that I still owe you a dance from last time.”

Gallus cocked an eyebrow. “You do?”

Smolder shrugged. “Yeah, you know? I invited you to that dance all those years back, but then we just kinda bummed out at the table?” She scratched her arm. “Kinda feel bad for being such a crappy partner that night.”

Gallus looked up at Smolder before smiling, offering his claw. “Well, no time like the present. You wanna dance?”

Smolder smiled back, grasping Gallus’ hand as the two made their way to the dance floor.
Gallus will say this, he was never the most graceful griff. But it’s not as though there was any sort of competition happening. No one here was an expert at moving their bodies. Except for maybe Sandbar and Yona, but those two practiced dancing together for weeks before their wedding.

If nothing else, Gallus wasn’t as bad as Luster, who was now doing this weird, sprinkler-like move. Did Twilight also teach her how to dance? Gallus wondered.

No, no one was here to show-off any sort of skill. They were just having fun, moving wherever the rhythm took them, even if it took them bumping into other attendees, but it was always laughed off when it happened and the dancing continued.

All of that said, Smolder clearly had a bit more going for her than the others. She wasn’t ‘good’ by any traditional sense of the word. But she was certainly… energetic. She made good use of the fact that, unlike the majority of their friends, she could actually balance herself on two legs, waving her arms around the air.

It seemed like she was serious about making up for lost time with Gallus, often grabbing him by the hands and twirling around, both of them laughing at the sheer absurdity.

After a good long while, when everycreature had a chance to work up a decent sweat, did the music fade down as DJ Scalez took the mic again.

“Alright, party-people. We’re gonna slow it down a bit and give all of you some time to catch your breath. Everycreature, grab a partner and get cozy…

And with that, a slow song started to play. The kind that invited an altogether different kind of dancing.

Sandbar and Yona gave each other a glance before immediately wrapping their forelegs around each other, or as best they could in Sandbar’s case. Their eyes full of love for each other as they held one another close.

Others, who had no such ‘partner’ to get cozy with, like Silverstream, Ocellus, and Luster, deigned to head back to the walls and get out of the dancing couples way. Some headed to the refreshments for more food or drink, others just hanging back and resuming their conversations.

Gallus was about to head over to Silverstream and Ocellus place against the wall, when an orange, scaly hand held him back.

“Hey, where are you going?” Smolder asked, teasingly. “I thought I owed you a dance?”

Gallus looked back, seeing that Smolder was offering her hands for Gallus to take. “You… You serious?”

Smolder pretended to pout. “What, you don’t want to dance with me? I’m hurt, Gally.”

Gallus scoffed before finally taking Smolder’s hands in his own. There was a bit of awkwardness as the two worked to see just how far they wanted to take this. While they finally ended up with Smolder’s arms around Gallus’ neck and his own claws resting a ‘respectable’ distance above her waist, they still kept each other at arm’s length. They didn’t really ‘dance’ so much as sway back and forth, slowly turning while alternating between staring at each other’s eyes and looking away to chuckle.

“You, heh, you realize what this looks like to everyone else, right?” Gallus said.

“Oh, shush, let me have my fun. D’ya think dragons really go for this kind of schmaltzy stuff often? When am I ever going to get a chance to do this again?” Smolder said.

“Do you mean ‘get a chance to slow dance’? Or ‘get a chance to slow dance with me’?” Gallus wondered.

Smolder lidded her eyes. “Well… Like I said, I owed you a dance.”

“Right.” Gallus said, not really wanting to argue the point, lest it end the dance pre-maturely. For Smolder’s sake, of course.

On a lark, Gallus took a peek at some of the other coup- partners swaying to the music. He was surprised that the two of them, as well as Sandbar and Yona, weren’t the only… unconventional pairing out on the dance floor.

He saw a zebra with a hippogriff, another griffon with a changeling, even a diamond dog whispering sweet nothings to a giggling kirin. With such strange pairings, Gallus realized it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to the imagination to look at Gallus and Smolder and… get the wrong impression about the two of them.

However, despite that, he couldn’t bring himself to draw away from Smolder. Obviously, he wasn’t going to ruin her fun because of what others might think.

“So, uh… Thank you, by the way.” Smolder said.

“Hmm? For what?” Gallus said, being taken out of his musings.

“For helping me with Brim tonight. Carrying him around, looking out for him when Silver got a bit too… excited.” Smolder said, looking down at the floor as she blushed. “He likes you, y’know? I can tell.”

“Yeah, well…” Gallus trailed off. “I got a soft-spot for the little squirt myself. Y’know if you need anything with him… I’m your griff.”

“I know… Thank you.” She said.

Suddenly, Smolder leaned forward ever so slightly. Gallus found himself freezing stock-solid, the gears in his brain grinding to a halt as it switched mid-clutch.

Only to resume normal procedure when Smolder merely reached down and tugged the hem of her black dress.

“Sorry, it was riding up just a bit.” Smolder said, placing her arm around Gallus’ neck again. “You alright? You look kinda… I don’t know? Surprised?”

“Ah… Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” Gallus said, shaking some very unwanted thoughts out of his brain. “I, uh, I thought I might have forgotten something back in Griffonstone, but it was a false-alarm. No worries.”

“Oh… Alright.” Smolder said, shrugging.

Finally, after a bit too long in Gallus’ book, the first song faded to a close. A lot of the more intimate couples, like Sandbar and Yona, sealing the end of their dance with a kiss.

While Gallus and Smolder merely pulled their arms away from each other, now standing awkwardly with no real idea what to do next.

“Do you mind if we check on Brim real quick?” Smolder asked.

True to Sandbar’s word, Brim was in good-spirits in the playroom, happily gnawing on a wooden letter-block while Sorrel and Nettle entertained him with a game of Pirates vs Ninjas.

Of course, the sides blurred a bit after the Ninjas got a pirate ship of their own and the Pirates started studying martial arts to even the playing field, but Brim was engrossed in his cousins’ make-believe all the same.

“You’ll never make it to the treasure, Captain Katana!” Sorrel said, a marker in place of a sword pointing straight at her brother. Nettle, adorned in an eyepatch made of black construction paper and tape, stood his ground against the interloper.

“Bwa-ha-ha! I laugh at you, Flying-Pegleg! See, I just laughed!” Nettle said from atop his cardboard pirate ship. “Before you can face me… You must challenge… The deadly Kraken!!”

Nettle pointed over to Brim who looked up at the gesture, still doing little more than drooling over the wooden block.

“Uh… deadly Kraken?” Nettle said, gesturing towards Sorrel. “Can you please devour her?”

Brim garbled non-committedly.

“...A-ha! As you can see, Captain Katana, I have tamed this mighty beast with my Kraken-Taming-Mind-Rays!” Sorrel shouted triumphantly.

“Curses! I knew I should have gotten those extra-large tinfoil hats at Krakens-R-Us!”

“I can’t tell if this is the silliest thing I’ve ever seen, or one of the coolest.” Gallus said, smirking along with Smolder at the display.

As Sorrel and Nettle realized they had an audience, they immediately dropped character to barrel into Gallus once more. “UNCLE GALLUS!!!”

“Oof!! Oh, come on kids! You’re gonna break poor Uncle Gallus in two one of these days!” Gallus said, giving the twins a tight hug all the same.

“Aw, no love for Auntie Smolder? Come on, this tough ol’ dragon can take it!” Smolder said, challenging the twins.

A challenge that was answered as the twins quite literally spring-boarded off of Gallus’ chest to tackle/hug Smolder with all of their might, sending all three of them careening to the ground, laughing.

Brim gave a trilling laugh himself as he crawled on all fours over to his mother’s face, lying on the ground as Sorrel and Nettle sat on her stomach.

Smolder giggled as Brim placed his paws all over her face, welcoming her back in the only way a baby could.

Gallus turned to lean on his side, watching with a content smile as Smolder sat up to pick up Brim off the floor, bringing in her muzzle to raspberry Brim’s stomach, a squeal of delight coming from the infant drake.

Gallus knew right away that the two of them were most likely going to spend the rest of the Reunion party playing with the kids.

And he was perfectly fine with that.