• Published 28th Nov 2019
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Quantum Leap Forward - Halira



Cheerilee wakes up twenty years in the future, in the body of Big Mac's daughter. Now she must find out how to get back to her proper time and body.

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Chapter 4: Aunt Applebloom

She watched as her very pregnant former student slowly made her way to them. Applebloom looked like she was laboring to be moving around, hopefully she didn't go into actual labor, as she looked more than ripe enough to have that happen. Dinky and Silver watched with equal concern.

"Are you alright? Do you need to sit down and let us get you something?" Silver asked as Applebloom reached them and sat down, huffing as if out of breath. Cheerilee could imagine Silver Spoon was harshly criticizing herself for having called upon Applebloom right now.

Applebloom sat for a moment, breathing heavily while shaking her head and waving them off with a hoof. "It's my own fault. Shouldn't… shouldn't have tried runnin' after him like that. Just-just give me a minute. I'll be right as rain after I rest a sec."

Applebloom was nearly identical in appearance to how she'd looked as a filly, with a minor exceptions of a shawl she had over her shoulders, being taller, and the large package she was carrying. Her voice was only the tiniest frequency deeper than it had been as a filly, and it was hard to tell if that was due to the extra age or the fact that the mare had just exhausted herself.

Applebloom licked her lips and took a final deep breath or two. "Even when that colt is just hopping around like a cricket on a spring day, he's fast. I thought I could keep up, but I was foolin' myself. I'da been good if I'd had some sense." She rubbed a hoof across her stuffed undercarriage. "I've been wondering as of late where ma senses were at when I decided I wanted to have a foal. This'll be my only one; I promise you that. I ain't goin' through this again."

"I'm sorry, Applebloom. If I'd stopped and thought for a moment about how far along you are I would have called someone else," Silver said, ears hanging low.

Applebloom waved off Silver's concern. "I already told ya; it's my own fault. If I'd been takin' my time like I should'a I wouldn't be so gosh darned tired right now. Applejack is gonna give me an earful for runnin' like that. Don't worry, I'll be alright," Applebloom's eyes focused on Cheerilee. "Speakin' of ponies that are gonna get an earful, what's Candy gone and done now?"

Silver gave Applebloom another concerned look, before gesturing at Cheerilee. "Your niece seems to have taken a number of potion supplies from you and made quite a mess in my classroom. I have no idea what she was trying to do, and she's pretending to be Cheerilee now, so she's acting like she doesn't have a clue. You know how her acts go; there's no breaking character."

"She probably took from the more basic supplies that I use for teachin' my introductory class in potions," Applebloom said thoughtfully. "The more dangerous stuff I've got an enchanted lock on, and keep separate. Ain't no way she went and broke that lock, but getting to the basic stuff might not be too hard."

"I've got shattered glass and things I can't identify at the front of my classroom," Silver continued. "I didn't want to touch anything without consulting with an expert on potions first, just to be safe."

"That's the right thing to do," Applebloom agreed with a nod. "Give me a minute or so to rest up, and I'll go take a look at it. Have you noticed anythin' funny? Smoke, smell, things that just ain't right?"

Silver shook her head. "Just Candy pretending she's Cheerilee, but that's par for the course with her."

"I am Cheerilee!" Cheerilee protested with a shout. "From twenty years in the past." She pointed a hoof at Applebloom. "From right after your potion show and tell literally blew up in my face!"

Applebloom blinked. "My potion from show and tell… oh golly… who told you about the Great Plaidening?" For some reason Silver Spoon shivered at the mention.

She raised an eyebrow, unsure if she really wanted the answer to her next question. "The great what?"

Applebloom got a faraway look and shook her head. "We don't discuss the Great Plaidening. Needless to say, it's'a great reason why little fillies shouldn't be allowed to be playing with making potions unsupervised by somecreature that knows what they're'a doin'."

The name conjured up nightmare images of tablecloth colors and flannel, but Applebloom actually turning her plaid was small potatoes compared to getting sent through time. "I don't remember being plaid, but the last thing I recall before I woke up in this body was trying to throw your concoction away-- after dousing it with a fire extinguisher."

Applebloom rolled her eyes. "And that's an excellent example of why you shouldn't add random ingredients to an already alchemically active potion. The Great Plaidening wouldn't have been half-so-bad if Cheerilee hadn't done that. Even grown ponies that don't know what they're'a doin' can screw up."

Silver Spoon's grey fur seemed to have a green tinge to it. "I still get sick just thinking about those colors. Zecora laughed her flank off about that one."

"And then made me clean her hut for a month for trying out makin' potions that are supposed to effect a pony's mane color," Applebloom said, with a suppressed chuckle at her foalhood antics. "Messing with a pony's mane with magic is a lot more complicated than ya'd think, let me tell you."

"Wait, what happened?" Dinky asked with confusion and interest.

Silver Spoon whispered into the principal's ear, and Dinky's eyebrows raised. "I think I might remember that. School was delayed getting out for the summer for about a week, and nopony was allowed in the classroom."

"And everypony that was there ended up having to spend a week sick in bed because just seeing all the colors like that made them ill," Applebloom said with a groan. "Cheerilee never let me bring a potion in that schoolhouse again, even after I got to where I knew what I was doin'."

Well, she had that to look forward to when she got back. Applebloom was definitely never bringing another potion in either, so no fear of changing history. Still, this was another chance to try to prove who she really was. "Did I-- I mean me as Cheerilee-- act differently right after that potion went wrong?"

Applebloom looked at her quizzically. "For the whole week after she was sick, just like the rest of us. I was surprised when she agreed to letting us apprentice under her after that, I thought I blew it."

"I didn't behave differently at all?" She asked.

"It was twenty years ago, so ya can't expect me to remember it perfect, but I'm pretty sure Cheerilee didn't act any different," Applebloom replied, emphasizing the name. "Only thing that changed was that after we officially graduated from elementary school she insisted we just call her Cheerilee instead of Miss Cheerilee when we weren't helping her in her classroom. She said if we were going to apprentice under her that we should view each other as friends."

That last part was believable. She never had an apprentice before, but it was easy enough to imagine she'd want to let some of the classroom formality down in private, and start treating the Crusaders as young mares instead of fillies. What was hard to believe was that there was absolutely no change in her behavior. If it was her, then she would have just gotten back from dealing with this entire experience. If it was Candy she couldn't imagine Candy would be able to imitate her and do her job flawlessly. Candy might be a good actress, but that didn't mean she could just step in and know how to run a classroom or know what to teach just because she was imitating a teacher. Nor would Candy know her life so well she wouldn't make slip ups, even with things like not knowing her way around Ponyville as it was in Cheerilee's proper time.

"Are you sure?" She asked pleasingly. "I didn't seem forgetful about anything, or act weird in any way?"

"E'nope," Applebloom responded. "Cheerilee was just perfectly normal Cheerilee." The pregnant mare then smiled at her. "I know what you're trying to do, but you can see it ain't workin'. Your story just don't hold water. Can you just drop this act early this time?"

"It's not an act!" She shouted, growing increasingly angry and frustrated.

"Well, you sound like an upset filly, rather than a grown mare who spent most of her life dealing with foals," Applebloom replied calmly. That comment rankled, mainly because it was true. It was just that this situation was breaking her ability to be calm and collected. A second later, a scary thought occurred to her. What if being in the body of a foal was impacting her thinking and emotional state?

Applebloom was right. She needed to calm herself down, and try to be a reasonable adult. She was a Ponyville mare, she dealt with craziness and insanity all the time. This was just another crazy bit of insanity, and it was only taking a little longer than normal to resolve it. "I can tell you any number of details about things that happened back then. I know about that love potion you gave me and your brother for Hearts and Hooves Day. I can tell you in detail about the Foal Free Press incident. I can tell about the day Scootaloo's parents showed up in class with a cragadile. How could I know these things if I wasn't really Cheerilee?"

Applebloom gave her an unreadable look, then turned to Silver Spoon. "Do you have a copy of it, if you catch what I'm talkin' about?"

Silver Spoon seemed confused for a moment, then the light of realization dawned in her eyes as she facehooved. "Duh, of course. Yeah, I know what you're asking for. Seems pretty obvious now that you mention it. It's on the main bookshelf, closest to the chalkboard."

"What are you talking about?" She asked, suspicious of what was going on. Probably some new obstacle. It had been nothing but new obstacles so far, what was another tossed on the pile?

Applebloom stood up. "You'll see." She turned to the principal. "Dinks, mind comin' inside with me and givin' me a little help with your horn? I ain't the most graceful and balanced of ponies right now, no matter what my hubby might say."

Dinky nodded and made motion that she'd follow. "No problem. You just tell me what needs to be done, and I'll help get things back in order."

"Thank you, kindly," Applebloom replied, before leading the principal into the original Ponyville schoolhouse.

That left Cheerilee sitting outside alone with Silver Spoon again, with little hope of convincing the teacher of her identity. Still wanting to be productive, she decided to try to gather a little information, without spoiling the future too much. "So ah, Candy pretends to be different ponies a lot?"

"Yes, you do," Silver replied, again stressing she didn't believe she wasn't Candy.

"You mentioned Sombra and a changeling, were there others?" Cheerilee asked.

Silver sighed. "You know the answer to that, young filly. You've been doing this regularly every few weeks for the last year. You've pretended to be other ponies-- not always ponies actually-- more than you have been yourself. I've honestly lost track of them all. I think in total you've only been Candy for maybe a month to month-and-a-half in total this school year, and that's adding up individual days." The teacher paused and gave her a concerned frown. "Is everything alright at home? Do you feel like your parents don't give you enough attention. You're the youngest foal, and I know it can feel rough having to share your parents with your brothers. Applebloom having a foal of her own is also drawing some attention, I'm sure. She announced she was pregnant around the time you started this. Do you want to talk about it?"

She resisted growling in frustration. Silver Spoon was just trying to take care of her student, and showing concern for Candy's home life. It was again a sign of a great teacher, but in this rare instance it wasn't necessary. "I don't know anything about that. I'm not Candy, I'm Cheerilee. I know you don't believe me, and have no reason to believe me-- given everything I have heard about Candy, but I'll find a way to prove it." She paused briefly. "For what it's worth. You seem like a very good teacher, and even though you didn't show any interest in teaching in my time, I'm very proud of how you turned out compared to the spoiled filly that first came into my classroom."

Silver's eyes widened. "If I didn't know you better, I could almost believe you were Cheerilee. That's very close to what she told me after I started teaching here."

Hope dared to rise in her, but was quickly dashed as Silver's expression went stern again. "But I do know you, little filly. You're the best actress I've ever seen, by a wide margin. If you don't turn out being a star performer on a stage or in movies, or perhaps maybe a writer, I'll eat my glasses. I just wish you'd let ponies help you, instead of acting out like this."

"There's got to be something I can do to prove who I am," she sulkenly muttered.

Silver Spoon just shook her head. "I wouldn't put it past you to come up with something convincing. You are clever. It's just that everycreature in Ponyville knows it."

Then maybe she needed somepony who didn't live in Ponyville. She was at a loss of who would fit the bill, how she could get to them, or if she could be be sure anypony she thought of would actually be where she thought they'd be when she got there.

No, there was one pony who would be able to confirm who she was, and that she knew where they were. The one she was told took off to Vanhoover a few months ago, herself-- or Candy, there was no sure way of knowing who was currently occupying her body. Actually getting to Vanhoover would be difficult though. She doubted she could just take off on her own by train, and even if they allowed foals unaccompanied on trains, which she doubted, she didn't exactly have money for a ticket.

Applebloom and Dinky emerged from the classroom. Dinky had a trash bag floating in her magic to one side, and to her other side she had a large hardbound book. Applebloom was eying the trash bag with a frown on her face, and her brow creased in thought, though the pregnant pony seemed to have recovered her energy after her ill-advised chase after Cheese.

As Dinky put the trash badly into a nearby garbage can… Ponyville must have regular garbage service now… Applebloom walked back next to Silver Spoon. "Judgin' by the ingredients I spotted, she was tryin' to make a disenchantment potion. Just a general one, that covers a lot of simpler enchantments, nothing too fancy. Also found the remains of an apple, pear, and strawberry jam sandwich; guessing that was her lunch. It looks like some of it got mixed into the potion, that is probly made it go all crazy-like."

"Her lunch made the potion explode?" Silver asked skeptically.

Applebloom nodded. "Can't mix no extra stuff into a potion, or there'll be unintended side effects. A sandwich is made of a lot of extra stuff; not just each main ingredient, but what each of them ingredients are made of. It's like tossing a cupboard full of unknowns in the brew."

Silver Spoon shuffled her hooves nervously. "That sounds like potion making in general is even more dangerous than I thought." The teacher eyed the trash can. "Is all that safe in there?"

Applebloom waved a hoof. "It's all inert now, you have'ta mix in a certain order or it won't start reactin' to anythin'. But yeah, potion makin' is dangerous, especially for unsupervised foals."

"I could have told you that," Cheerilee mumbled, then looked up at Applebloom accusingly. "You certainly did some unsupervised experiments with potions when you were a foal."

Applebloom lifted a hoof to her mouth and chuckled into it briefly. "E'yep, got myself into a heap of trouble more than once." She eyed Cheerilee. "Of course, I don't have to tell you that, you know all about those stories."

Cheerilee picked her ears up. "Do you believe me? Or at least humoring me?"

Applebloom shook her head. "Dinks, the book please."

She watched as the unicorn floated the fat book down in front of her using her yellow aura magic. The book landed with a slight thump on the ground, as Dinky released it a few inches from touching the dirt. Cheerilee carefully walked over and looked at the cover.

She read the lengthy title aloud. "The Journal of Friendship: Foal-Friendly Expanded Edition. Volume Ten. Now with additional segments from the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Starlight Glimmer, and Spike. Additional commentary for classroom use provided by…"

"Ponyville's own Principal Cheerilee," Applebloom finished. "I wonder if a determined filly could learn a lot about what happened in the past, as well as learn a lot about how a certain former principal of this school thinks? Hmm?"

She stared at the book in horror. "There's got to be something I can tell about that isn't in this book."

"If it was anythin' memorable I'm pretty sure me, Sweetie Belle, and Scoots already included it in," Applebloom said sagely. "If it weren't that memorable, then it ain't like anypony will remember it that well twenty years later to confirm or deny."

It just wasn't fair! She mentally made a note never to do commentary for any book. There was no way to convince anypony that she was who she said she was using knowledge of the past. There had to be something, something that could work. "What about teaching methods? Candy couldn't know the ins and outs of teaching. I could tell you things only an actual teacher would know, not a foal."

"Great idea," Applebloom agreed. "And if there weren't a public library where you could read up about those things in preparation for this role I might find it surprisin' you knew those things."

Argh! She had a bucking counter for everything! She wasn't down and out yet. "How about you just take me to my parents? I'm betting they will notice I'm not really their daughter."

"I'm sure your parents know you well enough to know that you can play these roles perfectly," Silver Spoon said with a smirk. "But we do need to take you to them to discuss what happened today. Are you ready for us to be on our way?"

She flicked her tail grumpily, not caring if it made her look even more like a foal. "Yes, let's just get this over with."

Silver Spoon nodded and then looked at Applebloom. "Did you want to come along?"

The pregnant mare shook her head. "E'nope, I'd best be moseyin' back home and restin' up. School year is over in two days, and I've about made it through it like I said I would. Family back on the farm can figure her out without me, I just want to relax as best I can before my little bundle comes out. A week and a half, doctor said."

"Will Tender be back home before then?" Dinky asked.

"E'yep, he's finishing up a stage show in Canterlot tomorrow, then headin' home," Applebloom said with a happy smile. "He'll be takin' off from road shows for a solid year once he gets back. It will be so nice havin' him here for a steady straight year. Gets lonely when he has shows to do in other places."

Cheerilee started walking off towards the path that she had seen everypony using, before they could say any more information she'd rather not know about. She knew exactly who they were talking about for Applebloom's husband, which now meant she would never be able to see him or Applebloom the same, especially in relation to one another. Though, at this rate, she might just have to accept she was going to be stuck as Candy Apple for good. She wasn't ready to accept that fate yet, but the universe definitely seemed to have it out for her.

Silver Spoon quickly caught up, not even scolding her for failing to say goodbye to everypony. Hopefully the teacher would let her sulk in peace on their way back to Sweet Apple Acres, which she was confident was where they were going, and that she didn't need any directions too no matter how the geography might have changed in twenty years. She did let her ears sag, as she realized she was about to need one piece of information.

"Silver Spoon… who exactly are Candy's parents?"

Author's Note:

Been a busy few days for me. My car broke down and I got saddled with a $1200 repair bill. Haven't really had a day off to speak of to get a lot of writing done.

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