• Published 6th Aug 2019
  • 8,751 Views, 544 Comments

Cozy - ferret



Once upon a time, ponies locked a little filly in Tartarus and forgot about her. This is not that story.

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Little Piece of Compassion

Cozy Glow refused to sign some stupid intake form, because who gives prisoners a form to fill out? That’s what Cozy was, no matter what these ponies were trying to make her think: a prisoner. So she complied. She walked where they ordered her to. But she was not. Going to fill out a form. Condemning herself to this place.

They didn’t care. They filled it out for her, all under the watchful eye of Starlight Glimmer, who was clearly the mastermind of this whole operation. The halls were... weirdly quiet and empty.

“That’s because we just built this facility,” Starlight explained as Cozy once again demanded answers, “You’re not the only pony with problems, so I thought why not build a place that’s better than a dungeon, because our goal here is to get you out, not keep you in.”

“Well then just let me go, and I promise I won’t do anything bad,” Cozy said hopefully.

“Of course!” Starlight said agreeably, then less agreeably she said seriously, “After you prove yourself.”

“And how do I do that?” Cozy demanded, wanting any advantage she could get in this situation.

“I’m not telling!” Starlight said in amusement, “You need to get used to living here first, and then I’ll tell you how to get out. Okay?”

“How do I get used to living here,” Cozy asked, very unamused.

“It’s more about what you don’t do that I care about,” Starlight replied, “If you don’t try to escape, and you don’t skip any meals, and you don’t bite anypony, then that should be a good start. If I know anything from the last time I tried this, what you need is time to yourself, to wrap your head around all this. Plot my doom, or whatever.”

“Would you like to hear the plot I’m not going to use?” Cozy asked in a sweet benevolent amusement, “Because I’ll never tell you the plot I am going to use.”

“Right now, I’d like you to spend some time in your new room,” Starlight replied, and her magic opened a door among several in the hallway. She nosed Cozy forcefully into the room, then levitated over a key. Cozy watched as one manacle broke loose, and then another, and then the chain lifted and Cozy charged forward at the door while Starlight shouted,

“If you don’t run, then I promise you, you’re gonna get out of here.”

Stopped in her tracks by the unicorn’s forceful and very confusing words, Cozy declared, “That doesn’t even make any sense!” It was too late then. The manacles floated through the door, and the door closed with a solid click.

“A good friend of mine taught me that there’s not much fun in making sense,” Starlight Glimmer gloated from the other side of the door, through a little window in it, “So you go ahead, freak out and rage, and curse my name. I’ll be back to check on you in a while. Dinner’s at sundown~!

“You can’t do this to me!” Cozy shouted, but the mare was already walking away. “This is worse than Tartarus!” Cozy screamed, looking around at the... well, there wasn’t much in terms of decorations, but there was a bean bag, a small empty bookcase, another little window outside, with bars on it, and a... bed. An actual bed, with sheets and a blanket. She couldn’t see around a doorway to the side, but this room was much, much better than Tartarus. “Worse!” she shouted impotently, and she didn’t even have the heart to scream. Nopony answered.

Cozy smashed the bookcase onto the ground, and of course it was bolted to the wall so she couldn’t do that. She picked up the beanbag and tried to rip it, and its thick canvas laughed at her puny muscles. She tried to move the bed, and it was bolted to the wall too. She pulled off the mattress, sheets and all, pulled it all the way off the bed onto the floor, then started kicking it. It was useless. She felt weak, and exhausted, and the only thing keeping her going was her anger. So Cozy Glow just... made a tactical decision, and fluttered up onto what was left of the bed, walking in a circle on it, to find it not nearly soft enough. Then she lay down on it, just to test it out, and was asleep before her head hit the mattress.

Cozy woke up because of her hunger. She did that a lot in Tartarus, because they wouldn’t bring her more food after she threw it at them. Well she didn’t care, because they ruined her plans, so she didn’t even want to be nice to them anymore, not one single stupid pony. They thought she was so ugly, or mean, when they were lucky that she was so nice. Cozy Glow opened her eyes groggily, surprised to find herself in a well lit, pastel colored... oh right.

“Starlight Glimmer,” Cozy growled into her foreleg, then crawled to her hooves. Normally she would pace around her cage then, but this room was a lot bigger, so Cozy Glow had some options. She checked over each edge of the mattress, finding ordinary floor beneath it, then hopped off to the side with the doorway into the other room. Cozy Glow had to admit that two rooms were better than one cage, and it looked like they couldn’t see her, if she went into this other room, which was a...

A little bathroom.

Cozy Glow discovered shortly during her stay in Tartarus that her cage did not come with bathroom facilities. She thought they were going to magically suppress her metabolism or something, but it turned out that was just one of Tirek’s many amazing powers that he kept all to himself. It wasn’t long before Cozy Glow had to poop. She demanded to use the bathroom, and the guards brought her a... bucket.

She refused to use it of course, and just... held it in because she didn’t know what to do, but then she woke up at one point because it was getting really insistent. Cozy’s whole belly hurt, and her tailhole even hurt from trying to hold it in. Her panicked cries for the guards didn’t summon them nearly fast enough, so Cozy just... Cozy just lifted her tail and pooped right on the floor. What was she supposed to do?! It hurt so bad, and it–it was such a relief coming out, and... Tirek had laughed for so long.

So Cozy peed on her poop too, because why not? Then she sort of sat on the other edge of the cage from that... stuff that had come out of her butt. She had to sleep like that, and wake up hungry. Then the guards finally decided to check on her, and she hated them but she was afraid to move or she’d get some on her. Then Cozy Glow became acquainted with how cages were cleaned in Tartarus, with their occupants still inside them.

The next time the bucket was offered, Cozy didn’t resist. She just stuck her butt over it, and... they watched her while she did it, but she didn’t care. They took the bucket then, and Cozy felt even more violated somehow than when they’d turned the hose on her.

Now Cozy Glow was looking at an actual toilet, with an actual button that looked like it might even flush. She didn’t even realize she’d get her own toilet, that she’d never have to use the bucket again if she just... gave in to Starlight’s demands. Cozy hated it, but this toilet was the most precious thing in her whole life right now. She touched it to make sure it was real, and her hoof clunked solidly on its metallic surface. She stuck her hoof in the water... it was wet. “...never gonna be able to do that again,” Cozy supposed, looking at her dripping hoof.

Then she turned her pretty pink rear to the bowl of the toilet, looked around, and... the door out wasn’t even visible from in here. They couldn’t see her, and she didn’t have to do this in front of anypony. How many dozens of times had she...? Cozy Glow didn’t know how long she had been in Tartarus, but as she released her bowels and felt her poop fall into a real toilet, without anypony there watching her do it, she couldn’t help but feel like there was something horribly right with this situation.

Too bad Cozy was feeling pretty good about herself at that point, because as she strutted away from the toilet that really truly did flush, Cozy Glow noticed the mirror. By a small hoof sink, there was a mirror on the wall, and Cozy jumped back as she saw a monster coming at her in it. Then she realized it was a mirror.

Lifting one skinny, filthy, cracky hoof to meet the one in the mirror, Cozy’s curls were... gone. She couldn’t even curl her mane anymore. It was just hopelessly tangled and plastered against her skull. Cozy’s coat was dingy and soiled, and she couldn’t remember the last time she had been brushed. And this filthy, scruffy, ruined pony in the mirror, it didn’t even look like a pony. “I—I was eating!” Cozy protested at the mirror in shock, “I mean so I s-skipped a day or... a few days I was just so tired of the same... h-help. No.”

What was left of Cozy’s cute and adorable face twisted into the awful rage that she never wanted to see, and she smashed the mirror shouting, “No! No! No!” It wouldn’t smash! “No, no no no!” Cozy declared in panic, as the mirror wasn’t... was it some kind of plastic? She couldn’t smash it! She couldn’t make that weak, pathetic, horrible little filly go away. She couldn’t make that monster go away. Cozy backed out of the bathroom in terror, and... her stupid pooping butt ran into the mattress behind her, but fortunately Cozy had already pooped.

She turned around to attack the mattress, or... or something. She climbed on the mattress and scrabbled all the sheets and blankets into one big giant armful and fell on her side, hugging it to her chest and rocking there on the otherwise bare mattress. She was dead. They were going to kill her. They knew what she really was. Cozy didn’t even have her cuteness anymore. There was nothing left that was stopping them from hating her and just killing her. Just like... just like... Cozy wanted her mommy. They’d taken that away from her too. They took everything, and now they were just gonna stop feeding her, and let her die, and she’d never be able to use the power of friendship to force anypony to care for her ever again. Cozy Glow was ugly inside and out. Nobody loved her, nobody was under her control, nopony thought she was a good friend at anything, and she just didn’t know what went wrong.

Some time passed, before Cozy absolutely panicked there on the bed, when there was a knock at the door. Flipping over herself, pulling the mattress frantically on its side back against the bed, trapping herself between the two, Cozy was hidden by the mattress when she heard a strange mare call out, “Hello there! How’s our first new... oh dear.”

That mare of course would be seeing a room in as much disarray as possible, with blankets and sheets wadded together in a poorly hugged lump, the mattress tilted on its side, and a little filly’s bright blue tail sticking around the side of it as she hid herself back there.

“It’s umm... dinner time,” the mare said, “You don’t look like you’re ready to come out yet.

“Go away!” Cozy shouted at her. Then terror gripped at Cozy as she realized she needed that food. She needed that food to be beautiful again. “No wait, please!” she cried out hopelessly.

“...I’m still here, miss Cozy,” the mare said.

“I would be ever so grate–grateful,” Cozy said politely where she hid her little monster filly form behind the mattress, “If you would bring the food i-in my room, and not... look.” Cozy cursed her own stupidity. Her mind wasn’t working good, probably because she’d stopped eating! She had to be smart, and pretty, otherwise she wouldn’t be able to get anypony to love her at all. Cozy had nothing else going for her!

“Sure?” the mare said cautiously, “There’s a slot for a meal tray. Do you want... uh... I’ll just... go get you some dinner then.”

Cozy didn’t answer. She was afraid of ruining her chances at victory. The mare just left then, and Cozy peeked out, then inched out from behind the mattress. She frantically fumbled with the mussed up blankets, pulling out the sheet and furling it to land over her. There, Cozy Glow lurked in wait, until she heard the mare approaching, saying, “Okay, it’s ready. Can I... put it through the slot now?”

“...you may,” Cozy granted. The sound of a tray sliding through a slot entered Cozy’s ears. She approached the tray, still covered in a sheet, barely peeking out of it, looking down at... beans and carrot sticks, and a bowl of... of applesauce. Cozy hadn’t had apples since... before Tartarus.

Making sure she stayed covered in the sheet, Cozy made sure to eat each and every bite of food. After so long without anything worth eating, it was as flavor explosive as the grass. Cozy finished everything, even when it hurt to swallow, and then she... looked at her swollen belly. The rest of her was still skinny. It would take some time, it seemed, to make herself cute and lovable again.

“Well, you... sure ate all of it,” the mare said encouragingly, looking down at the sheet covered pony through the little window in the door.

Cozy didn’t answer.

“Was it pretty tasty then?” the mare asked.

“This sheet is only temporary!” Cozy declared furiously, “There is nothing wrong with me, and you can go now!”

Cozy was afraid the mare would try to be kind to her or something, but she just left without a word. And Cozy was... okay. She got the mattress back up on the bed, because there wasn’t any room to pace around with it lying on the floor. Then she made the bed, because why not. Then she... tried to... clean herself in the hoof sink. For her efforts, she got her arms soaked, and marginally cleaner. The sheet was also getting wet though, so Cozy backed out of the bathroom, and... took off the sheet.

She had to wring the sheet out in the other room, since she couldn’t think of a way to avoid that bathroom mirror yet. Why was everything in here so unbreakable? It was infuriating! But she looked at the sheet, and... then was bored for a while, but the room wasn’t any more unbreakable than that cage in Tartarus, so it was... nothing new, really. Well, until Starlight came back, that is.

“Hello!” Starlight Glimmer said brightly, snorting Cozy Glow out of a doze.

Cozy scrambled around in a panic, yanking the sheet over her and replying, “What are you doing here again?!”

“I said I was going to check on you!” Starlight protested, from the little window into the hall. “Why are you wearing a sheet?”

“Why didn’t you tell me I looked like this?!” Cozy demanded in return, glaring at Starlight with the sheet wrapped tightly around her, “I didn’t know I was in Tartarus long enough to starve to death!”

“Oh, yeah you are pretty skinny,” Starlight said bemusedly, “Not quite starving, but you know, certainly not healthy.”

“I look horrible!” Cozy shouted tremulously, “Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you let all those other ponies see me like this?”

“Sorry, I guess I was more worried about getting you here than appearances,” Starlight said apologetically. “Have you taken a shower yet?”

“How am I supposed to take a shower when all I have is a little sink?” Cozy said, feeling horrible for disparaging her bathroom like that, but Starlight was really asking for it here.

“There’s showers down the hall?” Starlight offered in puzzlement, “There really isn’t any need for a shower in every room.”

“There is no handle on the door on this side,” Cozy spelled out for the stupid mare. “I can’t go out in the hall.”

“Nurse Tenderheart should be able to let you out, under supervision,” Starlight said critically, “You didn’t attack her or anything, did you?”

“What? No! I—I can’t be seen like this!” Cozy attested desperately.

“I really am sorry,” Starlight said regretfully, “I’m just not the sort of pony who pays much attention to looks.”

Cozy shouted in exasperation, “Looks are all I have left!”

At Starlight’s silence, Cozy blushed, but stated angrily to her, “I was doing fine! I was gonna rule all of Equestria, and everypony was gonna be my friend. I was gonna be the most powerful friend in the whole world! Then those stupid creatures ruined everything, and now that everypony knows what a stupid, hateful little monster I am, my looks are the only thing keeping me alive, because I’m too cute to die!”

Cozy sniffled, but refused to cry because she wasn’t even upset anymore! “And now that you ruined my looks with your stupid Tartarus, if anypony sees me they’ll just let me die, because there’s nothing left to save. How many ponies know how ugly I am now?!”

“I don’t know!” Starlight said anxiously, “I didn’t think it mattered that much! You’re safe now, aren’t you?”

Am I?” Cozy countered cuttingly, “As soon as that... that other pony sees me, she won’t give me food anymore, and then I’ll just die like a stupid rotting apple who was just too stupid to eat!”

“If Nurse Tenderheart won’t give you food, then let me know,” Starlight said seriously, “And I’ll find somepony who will.”

“She hasn’t seen me, so she’ll bring me food, so I’m safe. For now!” the ensheeted filly claimed.

“I’ve seen you,” Starlight said, “And I’ll bring you food. What do you say to that?”

“You haven’t brought me food!” Cozy said accusingly.

“Well... has your breakfast arrived yet?”

“What breakfast?” Cozy asked suspiciously.

“Tell you what, I’ll bring you breakfast, and I’ll make sure nopony else comes to this door, and you take off that sheet,” Starlight said, “I’ve already seen you, so I know how you’re kind of... ehhh icky. And then I’ll see you and I’ll give you food. If I can’t, then you can wear the sheet, and Nurse Tenderheart can feed you.”

Cozy couldn’t find anything wrong with that logic, so she didn’t say anything. “I’ll be right back,” Starlight said, trotting away from the door, calling before she left, “And you better not be wearing that sheet when I get back, or I won’t give you any food!”

Cozy wasn’t hungry anyway. She felt like she was going to throw up and she didn’t even have anything to throw up. She was only eating to get plump, and cute, and well groomed and... stuff. Then maybe she could start... pretending to be a nice filly again. She didn’t know how, but Cozy did know that Starlight was a particularly dumb pony, and she’d probably even feed a monster. So the first step was to take off the sheet.

Cozy noticed with a wince that she was getting the sheet filthy, with the road dirt and... stuff that clung to her from the trip here. She put it off carefully to the side where she could grab it in an emergency. Then Cozy Glow stood there waiting, taking care not to look at herself.

Starlight came back again, with a tray in her magic containing a bowl of something that smelled like oatmeal. Suddenly Cozy Glow was so hungry she thought she was gonna die of just that. Terrified that she wasn’t gonna get her oatmeal, she couldn’t stop from grabbing the sheet, clutching it in her hooves. Cozy tried to stand there and let Starlight Glimmer see her as she approached, and looked through the little window in the door to Cozy’s room. Cozy Glow looked up at Starlight’s face like she were a leaping panther, then shakily pushed the sheet aside entirely, sitting bravely on her haunches, and saying in a trembling voice.

“T-there. Now you have to feed me. You promised.”

The slot was kind of like a mail slot, except wide enough for a tray, and tall enough for a bowl. It slid up by some mechanism Cozy couldn’t see, then a tray glimmering in aqua colored magic slid into Cozy’s room. Cozy started for it, then looked up at the window, where Starlight was still watching with concern. Then Cozy looked at the food, then up to Glimmer.

“Don’t watch,” Cozy ordered, not feeling very authoritative at all as she did so.

“Ohh no,” Starlight replied, “This isn’t healthy. You look fine, so go ahead and eat.”

Cozy trembled in rage, but she was so hungry, and she just ignored the stupid window, and stuck her face in the oatmeal, eating it as sloppily as possible. It was warm and had cinnamon and sugar in it, and it was good as the oatmeal they served at the school, which made Cozy remember the school, which made her even angrier, because Starlight wasn’t punishing her.

As the empty tray slid back under the door, Cozy said accusingly up at the pony in the window, “I hate you.” Cozy’s face was all messed up with oatmeal, and Cozy didn’t care how ugly she looked. “I’m going to destroy you, if you keep feeding me,” she seethed, “You’re so stupid for doing this. You still want to feed me? I’ll eat your food, and then I’ll get cute and lovable again. Then I’ll destroy you because I’ll be too powerful for you to stop me.”

“I... don’t think that’s how it works,” Starlight said shakily, “Listen, you uh... I need to talk to a friend about a... thing, and you should be able to wash your face in the sink. So uh, back this afternoon maybe, or tomorrow at the latest.

“I don’t care if you come back!” Cozy declared irascibly as the pony just left her there, “Stop trying to be nice to me!”

Starlight was already gone.


“I’m back here darling~!”

...

“Oh hello, Starlight!” Rarity said with a delightful smile as the lavender pony trotted into her sewing room, before that cute little bell on her outside door even finished ringing. “What brings you here today?”

“Well, Rarity, you know how we’re friends?” Starlight asked hopefully, stopping beside the dressmaker at her sewing machine. “Not best friends,” she admitted, “But still pretty good friends. I like to think of you as a friend, and by the way I just want you to know that if there’s anything you need me to do, I’ll always be willing to help out my friends!”

Rarity’s smile fell flat. “This is about Cozy Glow, isn’t it,” she grumbled.

“I don’t know what to do about her!” Starlight said, pacing in anxious distress, “I don’t even understand what’s troubling her, much less how to help her with it, or if I even should help her with it. Is she just testing me? Do I aid her, or do I help her do it herself somehow? It’s getting her eating regular meals at least, but it’s just not something I’m prepared to deal with.”

“Darling, I’m afraid I cannot help you in your little...” Rarity didn’t know how to put this delicately, “...care facility. Twilight already has me run ragged trying to teach in her school on top of running a boutique and managing the ‘Rarity 4 U’ franchise.”

“Please Rarity, I know I can’t ask you to devote yourself to this on any permanent basis,” Starlight begged in measurable distress, “But could you just see what you can do with her? I think you might be the only one who can help her at this point!”

“And just how am I supposed to help an evil little filly who you cannot even deal with?” the pale mare griped at Starlight, “I have no experience in your particular form of rehabilitation, and reprogramming.”

“It’s not that,” Starlight said, gritting her teeth, “It’s just that she’s been in Tartarus for so long, and... I didn’t even think about it when she arrived. But now she won’t even let the nurse see her, because Cozy thinks she’s gonna kill her!”

Rarity griped irritably, “I’m afraid I cannot do anything about insane little ponies, who think such monstrous—”

“She’s hideous!” Starlight blurted out.

Rarity blinked.

“Cozy Glow is at a very unhealthy weight,” Starlight said looking anxiously at Rarity, “And we’ve got her eating, but she’s stuffing herself now. She looks like a... a very unhealthy pony. I don’t think she’s been brushed once since she got sent to Tartarus half a year ago! Her fetlocks are dragging, her mane looks even more pitiful and tangled than her tail. And she won’t even take a shower because she’s afraid somepony will see her, because—”

“Darling,” Rarity said steadily, “Say no more. Now if you will excuse me, I have a lot to prepare for.”

Then she galloped straight for the Ponyville day spa.


On the way to the spa, Starlight dogged along at Rarity’s heels, saying, “Cozy Glow thinks, well she said that she thinks ponies will kill her if they see her like that.”

“I thought I said ‘Say no more,’” Rarity grumbled to herself in vain.

“She said it because there wasn’t anything good about her other than her looks!” Starlight said excitedly.

“In this case I think your insane little filly may be right,” Rarity said dismissively, “Still, we can’t leave her looking like she just crawled out of Tartarus. Now if you’ll excuse me...”

On the way to the fabric store, Starlight said, “It got me thinking, and I think there is something good about her, even now.”

“And that is?” Rarity asked, glancing distractedly back at the other unicorn.

“I don’t know,” Starlight said. “It’s just... something in the way she said it.”

“I’m sure you’re correct, even if I cannot see any redeeming quality at all,” Rarity said, heading into the store.

On the way to the brush shop, Starlight said, “I should have never left her in Tartarus while we were building this place. I think it’s made her even worse than when they put her in there.”

“That’s not exactly winning points for the notion that Cozy Glow can be redeemed,” Rarity said, with a sigh, as Starlight followed her into the shop, saying,

“What I don’t get about Cozy Glow’s...”

This proceeded for entirely too long before Rarity finally excused herself, and had to shut the door to her boutique in Starlight’s face. At peace at last, Rarity went to her inspiration room, diagramming out an ensemble that would make even the ugliest monster in Tartarus look beautiful. Starlight was asking Rarity to put lipstick on a pig, but the stars would fall to earth before Rarity was willing to admit there was nothing she could do for a filly whose state of affairs was as Starlight described.

Rarity only hoped that Cozy wouldn’t—no, she knew that Cozy Glow would try to use her new dress as a way to manipulate Rarity. That’s just what ponies like Cozy Glow did. She would act sorrowful, or delighted, or grateful, if Rarity would do “just one more thing” for her. Rarity had gotten familiar with Cozy Glow’s modus operandi during the year Cozy spent worming her way into the heart of Twilight’s school, even if only in hindsight. She could only hope her hindsight would come quicker this time, before Starlight’s ill minded affair set Cozy Glow loose upon them all over again.

Starlight Glimmer burst into existence in Rarity’s inspiration room, declaring, “Rarity, I got it! I know why there’s something redeeming about Cozy Glow!”

“...well?” Rarity asked reluctantly.

“Cozy Glow is not a monster, but she thinks she is,” Starlight said excitedly, “She’s afraid other ponies will hurt her, because they know the truth about her. That means she’s recognizing their feelings! She thinks there is nothing good about her at all and she hates that.”

“She’s not the only one,” Rarity said dryly.

“Don’t you see?” Starlight Glimmer declared intensely, “Cozy Glow doesn’t want to be that way. She knows what makes ponies cute and lovable, and she wants to be that! She wants to get better, Rarity, even though she doesn’t know it. She wants to get better!”

“You don’t seriously think she wouldn’t be leading you on, darling?” Rarity asked, “Cozy Glow is only making you think she wants to get better, so that she can take advantage of you.”

“Look, I... I can’t say she’s not some kind of genius actor, and she could be acting out to make us feel sorry for her, and I’ll be careful not to let my guard down, Rarity,” Starlight assured her as best as she could, “All I can say is I have this gut feeling that she’s being sincere. If she were that good an actor, it would be easier for her to act like Tartarus scared her into being good, or that she was too young to understand what she’s doing. Rarity, Cozy is too young to understand what she’s doing. She can’t be older than 12.”

“It... does seem unlikely that a cutie grader would have enough experience to know exactly how to act in the given situation,” Rarity admitted.

“Cozy Glow just doesn’t have that kind of self control,” Starlight urged thoughtfully, “She isn’t in control of herself, and I’m starting to wonder if she ever was.”

“You mean that entire year that she convinced you, and all the rest of us that she was the nicest filly in the whole world?” Rarity asked acidly.

Starlight stared down at the ground.

“Starlight?” Rarity asked with worry.

“When I met Cozy Glow, she was asking for my help,” Starlight quietly remarked, “She had deliberately failed her test, so she could lay the blame on her tutors, Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo. She wanted them in trouble.”

“And...” Rarity replied, looking highly unconvinced of Cozy Glow’s potential reformability.

“Cozy Glow thought in doing so, that Twilight would just... draft them as students,” Starlight said, “That’s what she said at any rate. That if they were so bad, Twilight would have no choice but to force them to join her school.”

“That’s... not how... school works, is it?” Rarity tactically asked.

“She seemed to think it was,” Starlight mused, “But the fact remains that Cozy put herself at risk, to save the CMC from getting in trouble. She could have just... not asked for my advice, and let the reputation of the CMC get ruined. They didn’t help her at all. In fact they helped defeat her, in the end, largely because she helped... get them in good standing with Twilight’s school.”

“It sounds like she had to act like she was remorseful, so that we would continue to trust her,” Rarity suggested.

“Then why did she do it in the first place?” Starlight asked, “If she didn’t involve the CMC at all, it would’ve been even easier for her to get Twilight to accept her as an assistant. There was no reason for her to come to my office at all, other than that she wanted to help her friends.”

“Perhaps Cozy Glow wanted to endear herself to you,” Rarity suggested, “The CMC were just a convenient excuse to speak with the guidance counselor.”

“I refuse to believe that Cozy Glow anticipated that I’d be the one breaking her out of Tartarus,” Starlight said flatly, “...but you’re right. It’s hard to tell where the lies begin and the truth ends. I just don’t think Cozy is in control of herself as much as it seems.”

Rarity nodded at that, the gears in her pretty little head turning at this whole state of affairs.

Sighing, Starlight went on, saying, “When she captured me, she didn’t have to act anymore. I was... done for, as far as she knew, so why pretend to be nice in front of me? She had so much rage bottled up inside her, I think she was only talking to me so she could have some way to let it out. If that was an act, I am thoroughly fooled. But if that was who she really was...”

It would have been uncouth to say something, when Starlight needed time to think, so Rarity waited by her table full of beauty supplies, and her silent rolls of fine fabrics, while Starlight composed herself.

“Cozy Glow is very good at acting sweet and kind, to cover up the anger she feels,” Starlight said carefully, “But she’s lying about herself in order to not be feared and hated, because she doesn’t want to be feared and hated.”

“Perhaps she should be feared and hated, considering what an awful pony she really is,” Rarity said disgusted, “I still don’t see why you want me to try and beautify something like that.”

“It’s just that Cozy Glow wants to look beautiful, because she wants to be beautiful, but she doesn’t think she ever can be,” Starlight said tremulously, “She hates who she is inside, but she doesn’t know how to get better, so that’s why she cares about her appearance so much. She doesn’t think there’s anything she can do other than hide her ugliness and pretend that nothing’s wrong. Just like... me.”

Rarity stared at Starlight for a full ten seconds, before hurling down her fabrics and shoving the beauty products off her table, moaning, “I am going to have to start all over again.”


Of course Starlight Glimmer couldn’t fix Cozy Glow’s problem overnight. She came back the next day like she said, but all she could say is that she was working on it. Well, Cozy didn’t need Starlight Glimmer. She had her own plan. And as long as she could keep them feeding her actually good food, there would be nothing they could do to stop her.

It was frustrating, because the nurse pony said that Cozy shouldn’t be stuffing herself, and now she only gave Cozy a little bowl of one serving of food, every few hours or so. That left Cozy pretty much perpetually hungry, but at least her stomach wasn’t hurting anymore. When Cozy Glow was forced to stop eating by those Tartarus guards and their runny gruel, she didn’t realize it would make her so ravenous. So it actually... wasn’t terrible that the nurse pony wouldn’t give her too much to eat. Not that the nurse pony cared about Cozy Glow, but it was a convenient coincidence.

Cozy had a plan, though. These ponies had practically defeated themselves by imprisoning her here. She was thinking about how this is supposed to be an insane asylum, and that means they mistakenly thought Cozy Glow was insane, even though she knew that she did everything on purpose. Cozy was probably the most sane pony in the entire world, but if she pretended to be insane, then they wouldn’t blame her for what she’d done. If she pretended to be insane, and then pretended to be cured, they wouldn’t even suspect that she meant to do that all along. They would let her go, and as long as nopony knew the truth, they would think Cozy was a good pony again. She could be cute and loveable again, and all she had to do was pretend that it was the big, mean insanity that made her act like bad pony.

First she had to stop looking crazy though, somehow. She couldn’t pretend she wasn’t a monster if she looked like one. Nopony would believe her! She gave up trying to wash herself in the sink, and the nurse pony still wouldn’t let her go to the shower alone, so Cozy was... honestly at a loss to figure out how to clean herself up. Her tail was ratty and tangled. Her fur was stuck half falling out in stubborn clumps that wouldn’t come off even with her teeth. And her mane... every time Cozy Glow reflexively tried to curl her mane on waking up, it was another jerking, unpleasant reminder that it was such a tangled mess, it looked like it was trying to escape her head. They were willing to give her a clean sheet to hide herself under, but she could only get so much off of her by rolling on it, especially after the dirt she’d accumulated turned to dust and could just be shaken off.

“Hey, Cozy?” Starlight Glimmer announced, out of view of the window.

Cozy was already safely under her sheet though, so she just said, grumpily, “What?”

“I uh, brought a friend, who might be able to help you.”

“I don’t have friends anymore, remember?” Cozy growled accusingly.

“Okay, I meant my friend,” Starlight admitted, peeking in through the window, “Actually, I don’t know if you’ve met her before, but I’m sure you’ve seen her around. Well, before the whole... Tartarus thing that is.”

“If you think that makes me feel better, it doesn’t,” Cozy replied, pouting.

“Enough, Starlight,” a familiar voice said on the other side of the door, but... it was not Twilight Sparkle. It was that one teacher at Twilight’s school, who Cozy had seen around before the whole Tartarus thing. The sewing machine lady? “I’ll handle it from here, so you can take your leave.”

Starlight left the window, and a few seconds passed before the pony said, “Go on, Starlight. I’ll be fine.”

“Okay, just...” Starlight said in a worried tone for some reason. “Just please... help her, Rarity.”

“Oh I will indeed darling, don’t you worry!” the mare named Rarity said sweetly. There was hooves down a hall, a door opening and closing, and another pony’s face looked in through the window.

Silence.

“Oh dear,” Rarity said in a worried tone that was probably very condescending.

“Shut up!” Cozy said, blushing as she peered out from under her sheet, “There is nothing wrong with me.”

“And I suppose if there were, then I would take advantage of that,” Rarity said dryly, “Perhaps I should make fun of you? Perhaps I should threaten you, that I’ll tell everypony how horrid you look if you don’t do what I say, and nopony will ever think fondly of you ever again?”

“S-shut up! What are you doing?” Cozy asked, her crippled wings hitting the blanket as her anxiety skyrocketed, “You think you can threaten me?”

“I think I can tell you the truth,” Rarity said seriously, “You are in a terrible way. You are locked in a room, in a facility run by the pony you tried to destroy. You have no friends. Your one ally is imprisoned so deep in Tartarus you’ll hopefully never see him again, a true monster who hates everyone other than himself, including you. Everypony knows about your little game now, and how much you pretend to be a good pony, when you secretly hate us all and want to bend us to your will.”

“Shut up! Stop saying that about me!” Cozy shouted, “You don’t get to talk you’re a horrible pony who who attacks helpless little fillies and tries to hurt them! I’m the victim here, not you!”

“You almost starved to death in a prison that wasn’t meant for the likes of you,” Rarity continued, heartlessly, “You haven’t been brushed in months. You’re not powerful. You are not loved. You’re a helpless, scared little filly that everypony hates because they know what a horrible pony you really are. Does that about sum it up?”

“Shut up!!” Cozy sobbed, “You—you—!” She was crying! Cozy was crying!! She just started screaming because it was better than crying. She attacked the door and kicked it but it wouldn’t move. She tried to pull the bookshelf down again. She stomped on her sheet, biting it, and straining to tear it asunder, and at the sound of that horrible ripping, she bellowed, “I hate you!” at that awful pony, who was just trying to hurt her because ponies were awful and hurt her, and Cozy couldn’t think about that. She just bit her foreleg, and gritted her teeth at the pain, and refused to cry, glaring at the stupidest, most horrible pony who ever lived.

“Oh, I hadn’t known they clipped your wings,” Rarity said in quiet horror, “How awful...”

“You don’t get to talk!” Cozy shrieked, “You don’t get to—!” She wasn’t under her sheet!! Cozy was just standing there on top of her sheet! She frantically pulled it over her head, and it fell around her body as she did. Why did she rip it? Cozy pulled the pieces of sheet together, curling as far underneath them as she could go, and she couldn’t stop breathing in these huge gasps. Why couldn’t she stop breathing?!

“Do you have a problem with crying, filly?” Rarity asked in aggravation.

“Yes!!” Cozy shouted at her from cowering under the sheets. Wait, why did she tell her? Now Rarity was going to force her to cry!

There was a long silence, whereupon Rarity said, “I think you need some time to calm down, so I’ll just come back ...later. But before I go, I want to ask you, why haven’t I demanded anything from you?”

“What?!” Cozy asked, beside herself with confoundment.

“I have all the power here,” Rarity said, “I can ruin everything you have, if you do not obey me. I have the power to force you to do anything I want, and you can do nothing to stop me. So why haven’t I? Why am I just leaving and letting you go free, with no demands at all?”

At Cozy’s inability to answer, Rarity told the lump of blankets, “Take care, miss Cozy Glow. We shall meet again soon.”

Then Rarity strode down the hallway, and Cozy heard the opening and shutting of a heavy door.


“Why didn’t you tell me she hated crying?!” Rarity shrieked anxiously at an alarmed Starlight Glimmer, well out of hearing range of Cozy Glow, “I almost gave the poor filly a heart attack! I made her think I was her worst enemy! I didn’t get to brush one single hair on her horrible, disaster of a ma-ane!”

“C-C-Cozy Glow hates crying?” Starlight asked, backed up against a brick wall as she was, “How do you know that? I didn’t know that! What are you talking about?”

“I was just trying to impress upon the filly how dire her situation is!” Rarity said in horrified exasperation, “If she knew what I could do to her, but wouldn’t do to her, then she could trust me enough to let me give her some basic care. But no, as soon as she starts crying, she throws a fit! She had a temper tantrum, at her temper tantrum! She was biting her own leg to keep from crying! She might get an infection now, and it’s a-a-all my fa-a-a-ault!”

Rarity ran away sobbing then, and Starlight stood there in the alley on trembling hooves, murmuring in the silence, “What in Equestria...”


“So... you... want to get that leg over here?” the blue nurse asked hopefully. “I heard you... hurt it, and you might need a little bit of a bandaid.”

“Go away,” Cozy grumbled emptily.

“You don’t have to come out, you can just... stick your leg out through the slot,” the nurse suggested hopefully.

Cozy didn’t answer, and when she shifted, she had to pull the sheet up from where the tear fell open around her rump again.

“Oh, looks like you tore your sheet,” the nurse pony said unhappily, “You want me to get a new one?”

“I want you to go away!” Cozy growled in frustration.

Some minutes later, a fresh sheet pushed in through the slot in the door. Cozy Glow looked at it, then grabbed it, with unwanted flutters in her heart. She pulled it over herself, and kicked the torn sheet aside. Then the nurse pony asked,

“Now can you show me your hoof?”

...

Cozy stared in dazed disbelief at the bandaid covered in happy puppies, sealing off her own teeth marks in her arm. She didn’t know what was happening to her, but she didn’t like it. Those ponies weren’t asking her to reform. They were being as evil as she was, and then turning around and putting a band-aid on her booboos. Cozy had never had a bandaid before. It was obvious they were just pretending to be nice, but Cozy thought only she had to do that. All the other ponies were so stupid that they really were nice, weak, and easy to manipulate... weren’t they?