• Published 20th Aug 2020
  • 463 Views, 25 Comments

A Town's Story - RoMS

Luster Dawn hates field trips. Especially when it's about gleaning a story on an event that tore a no-name town apart: Ponyville.

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7. Regrets

“Always a drama-queen, my sister,” Sweetie said with a shake of her head.

Luster kept her mouth shut. She had seen Rarity before, when she visited Teacher Twilight. But Rarity has always shown a certain restraint. An upper class demeanor. That story… had been wholly different.

“I mean,” Cheerilee added abruptly, “we all thought you were dead.”

“True,” Sweetie Belle mumbled, nodding her head solemnly, “true.”

“It wasn’t my proudest moment either,” Pinkie mumbled. “Everything was breaking down in Ponyville. And not just figuratively, metaphorically...? Whatever. I couldn’t even cheer up my friends.”

Cheerilee leaned by her side and gave her a motherly smile. “Time has flowed under the bridge. Nothing good comes out from stirring the past up too much.”

Pinkie nodded and smiled, glancing over at the table in the middle of the living room. Tea was cooling again on a tray, untouched. Pinkie’s blue eyes crossed Luster’s for a second. Then drifted away.

Luster saw shame, something that didn’t fit the party pony whose tales Teacher Twilight had told her so many times before.

“It’s fine, Pinkie,” Luster surprised herself by saying, “Like, Sweetie Belle’s here, right? Everything ended well, in the end.”

Mare cleared her throat. “That’s relative.”

Luster deadpanned. Mare was again going against her wife. “Really? The town’s still standing and ponies live all around here. Water under the bridge, right?”

“Ponyville didn’t spring back up in a day, young lady,” Mare retorted, a tinge of annoyance in her voice. “Rebuilding a town, and even more its morale and population isn’t done in an evening of study.”

Luster pouted and hunched her head. “No, no. I get it. I was just trying to be helpful… or maybe reassuring.” She sighed. “You know, ponies are hard to deal with. I’m sure you’ve got the memo about my case a few hours ago.”

Cheerilee chuckled. “Admitting it is the first step towards redemption.”

Luster clapped her hooves together with a grin. “Eh, I’m not a villain yet!”

Mare gave Luster a look over, then turned to Cheerilee, who crossed eyes with her wife.

“I’m not betting on that.” Cheerilee grinned. “You always win.”

“Are you betting on me turning bad!?” Luster burst and earned amused smiles as an answer. Luster sunk into her pile of cushions, only to rise out of it, a sharp retort at the tip of her tongue. But a twinkle sound rose, and a blue aura gently pushed her back down.

“Don’t worry about these old loons,” Sweetie joked, a wide grin on her face as both Cheerilee and Mare gave her the stink eye. “They like gossiping more than Twilight likes to-dos.”

Luster chortled. “That’d be hard to achieve. She’s sending herself to-do lists via the mail these days.” She turned to Mare. “Anyway, what I meant is that you’ve dealt with that all your life, the Ponies. That’s quite a feat.”

Sweetie Belle squinted, and raised her hoof. “What do you mean via mail? What about Spike?”

“Oh, Spike outgrew the Canterlot library. To some extent. And–”

“Twilight doesn’t trust any other assistant?” Sweetie Belle finished.

Luster nodded. She drew her hoof to her chin and turned to Mare. “Speaking of letters. Didn’t you mention letters? Like that day in the city hall? Your father, Celestia...” As mare nodded, Luster continued, “What did they say?”

“Oh, uhm, I don’t really remember.” She audibly cleared a knot in her throat, quite embarrassed. “Not something I love to recall really. But I’m sure saying that wouldn’t satiate your curiosity... hmm?” Luster offered a guilty shrug. “I’m sure I have them somewhere in the attic. Let me try and get them.”

With a grunt, Mare lifted herself out of her sofa and walked off somewhere, Cheerilee following after. A few minutes passed, along with the sounds of a creaking staircase, and the ceiling started resonating with the clacks of horseshoes.

Luster shared a look with Pinkie, who passed it onto Sweetie Belle. Silence reigned, even if for a moment.

“How is my sister?” Sweetie asked Luster. “Since we’re on that topic.”

“You don’t talk to her?” Luster retorted, more quipping than she’d have liked.

“Yes. I. do!” That came a bit too quickly. Sweetie Belle sighed and looked askance, rubbing her shoulder. Gone was her smile and the assurance in her posture. She hunched over now and even Pinkie looked on with a sliver of a grimace. “I mean, yeah, I do. Sometimes. But… You know sisters right. We don’t always share everything in our lives.”

“She’s a single child,” Pinkie whispered.

“How did you know?” Luster asked.

“My hunches!” Pinkie beamed, a hoof barely hiding her smirk. “Also you raised your eyebrows. Either you didn’t have a sister, or you really don’t even socialize with your family.”

Luster pinched her lips. Pinkie was right. In any case, Luster was still ready to fight that truth back.

“Anyways,” Luster said, “I don’t see Rarity much — barely, I mean. Or at least, whenever she visits Teacher Twilight. She seems to... be doing fine? Though, whenever I see her she’s always talking about banquets, state visits, fashion shows, and business, business, business.” She trailed on, “Always business.”

Sweetie Belle chuckled in her hoof. “She never changes.”

“I mean, she does! Change I mean.” Luster combed her mane with her two hooves. “All the grey hair she’s gotten lately. You’d think she’d dye it, but noooo.”

Pinkie burst out laughing.

“She’d never stoop so low,” Sweetie Belle snickered, eyes closed. “She’s got pride, even in age.”

Luster hummed with approval. “I don’t have much really. On your sister, I mean. She’s a socialite, I get it. But somehow, she keeps her private life quite private. She’s quite effective at that.”

“She’s a business pony to the core,” Sweetie Belle offered. “She knows when to give, and when to withhold.”

Luster nodded. Upon seeing Sweetie Belle’s evasive glance, she asked, “So, why did you ask about your sister?”

Sweetie Belle rubbed her leg and sunk deeper into the sofa. “Rarity took it badly when I disappeared… in such a fashion. I guess grieving over, uh, me affected her a lot. It changed how we related to each other in a sense. A very strong sense” She breathed in and held it for a long time, until she released a long-winded sigh. “I think she doesn’t want me around anymore.”

“You know that’s a lie, Sweetie,” Pinkie offered, along with a kind hug.

Sweetie Belle smiled and took Pinkie in. “I mean, not in the not liking me sense,” she said. “More like, she lost me once, getting close again and risking losing me again. That’s too much of a risk to her.”

“You mean she hates adventures?” Luster asked, recalling Teacher Twilight’s stories about her own adventures and the sempiternal Rarity pestering accompanying each excursion.

“No, Rarity does hate risk. In an economic sense. It’s got to be understood, contained, accounted for. I’m not a double entry on a financial statement. That’s how she is though she likes to pretend it doesn’t affect her. She thinks like a business mare more than just in a negotiation room.” She gulped down and scratched at her horn. “If you can’t contain a risk, you avoid it. If you catch my drift. To her, I’m still a teen who can’t cook.”

You still can’t cook, Sweetie,” Pinkie said. “Lil’ Cheese told me about those carb’ cakes from the last time you babysat him.”

Sweetie Belle crooked over, her sides painful with laughter.

“Carbohydrates?” Luster said, eyebrows furrowed.

“Carbonized.” Pinkie answered and glanced down at Sweetie Belle. She held her hoof in a motherly fashion. “Sweetie Belle is a terrible babysitter.”

Sweetie Belle laughed again, and between two bursts, managed to land a few words, “At least, I’m not Fluttershy.”

“What’s wrong with Fluttershy?” Luster interjected.

“Her eyes,” Sweetie Belle explained.

“Let’s segue a bit,” Luster told Sweetie Belle, hoping to escape the likely cryptic explanation that would revolve around Teacher Twilight’s kindest friend. How would she be an even worse babysitter? Luster couldn’t guess. “How was it?”

“How was what?”

“Well, inside the Wall. We totally drifted off-topic after Cheerilee told her story, and I’m sure you have so much to tell.”

“Oh, that will come up later,” Sweetie Belle said, a playful smirk on her lips as Cheerilee and Mare’s chatter filtered in from the hall.

“Come on, you actually have a neat paranormal story to tell, compared to outsider’s accounts.” Luster shut her mouth as Mare and Cheerilee entered the room. “So, found the letters?” she asked.

“I’m sorry, no,” Mare said, stopping when she laid eyes on Sweetie Belle. “You look like you’re about the cry. Are you okay?”

Sweetie Belle straightened herself. “Oh, I am. We were just talking about Rarity and I.”

“I’m sorry.” Luster said, and looked down. Being an adult sounded so worrisome. Having friends and family, anxiety-infused and regretful. Why would she wish for that? Then she held herself up mentally. She was being stupid again, wasn’t she?

“Oh, don’t be.” Sweetie Belle said after a cough in her hoof. She turned to Mare, who despite her words still held a small letterbox under her leg. “And that?”

As Cheerilee and Mare sat back on the sofa, Luster studied the small metal box. It looked like a rectangle biscuit tin, the kind that usually hid a sewing kit. But the lid had a quill symbol stamped onto it and, crinkled and sticking under, a laminated yellow paper torn at its top was peeping out. An envelope.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t find the specific letters,” Mare said. Cheerilee took the box from Mare and set it on the table top for Luster to parse through. “But I found these.”

Luster hunched forward and with her magic slid the box to her side of the table. She made sure not to tip over the few neighboring tea cups. She snapped the lid open, a faint plume of dust spitting at her face. She sneezed and Pinkie laughed.

The envelope stuck under the lid had hinted at a plethora of letters inside the box. But Luster was disappointed as she peered in. There were only four of them. No wax seals to find in there. Somehow, Luster was certain the juicy stuff had been kept hidden somewhere else, away from her. She swept the petty thought away and took the four envelopes out in the golden hue of her magic.

Before she opened the first one and retrieved the letter inside, Luster gave a quick glance towards Cheerilee and Mare.

“I mean, first, thank you for helping me with Teacher Twilight’s… uhm–”

“Task?” Cheerilee offered.

“Quest?” Mare echoed.

“Chore?” Sweetie Belle added with a grin.

Yes. Luster pointed at Sweetie to confirm, then kept on, “Thanks. But are you sure you want me to read these? I mean, it’s personal stuff.”

Cheerilee turned to Mare. “Told you, you should’ve looked at them before bringing them down.”

“Ah, flabbergasts,” Mare dismissed. “If I don’t remember them, I’m sure they’re fine. Also I left my reading glasses in the bedroom. And so did you.”

“Fair. Fair.”

Eyes turned to Luster, who suddenly felt small. “What?”

“Well, aren’t you gonna read them?” Sweetie Belle asked with a smirk, “aloud.”

Reading aloud wasn’t her forte. She sighed, licked her lips, and took the first letter out of its casing. Not without a slight pinch in her heart.

Luster wasn’t a good public speaker. That, she admitted.