• Published 7th Apr 2020
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Consonance and Dissonance - applezombi



After an unfortunate injury while hiking, Pinkie Pie accidentally sets into motion of a chain of events that leads to new friendships, romantic encounters, and even the salvation of an old enemy.

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Chapter 7

“Absolutely not, Sunset.”

“Princess, I’ve already decided.”

“No. Absolutely no. It’s completely irrational.”

“Twilight, please. It’s not like we have much time.”

“Sunset, don’t you dare. You know how important education is, and missing even one day…”

“You didn’t seem to mind so much when the map called me away for an entire week, Princess. A week that turned out to be one of the best, most magical, and most important weeks of my life.”

“You’re trying to manipulate me. Butter me up. It won’t work. Spike tries these tactics at least once a week to finagle extra gems out of me, or more comic books, or later bedtimes. But I’m wise to his tricks, and yours.”

“But Princess, you forgot one thing. Spike doesn’t get to do this.”

“Mmm…” Princess Twilight resisted the kiss at first, before finally melting and leaning into Sunset. Sunset’s hands went up to curl themselves in Twilight’s purple hair, luxuriating in its silkiness while her lips pressed against her marefriends’. With a jerk, Princess Twilight finally broke away, flopping back into her seat across from Sunset. “N-not fair! Your argument has no relevance to this conversation!”

“Twilight, I’m going to skip school today. You need to come to terms with it,” Sunset sat back, smugly. She felt the gaze of the other café customers, mostly young people coming in for a quick coffee before classes started, sending curious glances their way after her aggressive PDA. She made a show of licking her lips and humming appreciatively. The Princess’ jaw dropped and her face colored cutely.

“Stop it. You’re terrible, Sunset.” Twilight tried to hide behind taking a sip of her Americano, her expression thoroughly embarrassed.

“It’s why you love me,” Sunset said smugly, leaning back in her own seat and crossing her legs. Princess Twilight muttered something grumpily. “What was that?” The Princess rolled her eyes.

“I said, ‘that’s not entirely inaccurate,’” Twilight repeated, louder this time.

“Oh?” Sunset leaned forward, resting her elbows on the Formica table. Princess Twilight sighed.

“You drive me crazy, Sunset, and sometimes I think you just don’t listen to what I’m telling you to do. You’re so headstrong and independent, and sometimes even borderline disrespectful. And…” the Princess took a deep breath. “I kinda love that.”

“Oh really?” Sunset said smugly, leaning forward even more, so that her face was mere inches from Twilight’s.

“I’m trying to be serious, Sunset. Can you stop teasing for one second so I can make a speech about how much I love you?”

“Sorry,” Sunset said, slumping back into her seat with a faux chagrinned apologetic look on her face. Twilight rolled her eyes again, not buying the innocent look for a second. “I’d love to hear it. Go on.”

“In Equestria, I don’t really have any peers. There’s my friends, my fellow Princesses, and of course my ‘subjects’.” She injected the final word with a fair amount of bitterness. “Nobody who sees me as me. You? You argue with me, you tease me, you tell me when I’m wrong. The only other ponies who do that with me are my friends, the other Elements. And I couldn’t even begin to see one of them as a romantic partner.”

“So what you’re saying is, I was your absolute last option?” Sunset smirked. Twilight’s eyes flew wide, full of denial and panic.

“No! That’s not what I meant!” she nearly shrieked. When she caught sight of Sunset’s expression, though, she frowned. “You tease. I know what you’re doing, Sunset. You know exactly how much power your teasing has, and you’re using it to change the subject and distract me.”

“First of all, you’re exactly right,” Sunset said, holding up one finger. She held up a second, her grin widening. “Second, thank you so much for admitting how much you like my teasing.” She lifted a third finger as Princess Twilight sputtered. “And thirdly, maybe I just think you’re cute when you pout.” There was a flash in the Princess’ eyes; Sunset thought she might be starting to get a bit upset for real. “Seriously though, Twi. I’m kinda trying to give the other Twilight a little bit of space to come to terms with us. I already spoke with all of my teachers and made arrangements to have Rarity and Applejack pick up my homework. And I really, truly, deeply, honestly missed you desperately and wanted to spend a day with you.”

“What excuse did you give your instructors? If you lied to them…”

“Every teacher at Canterlot High is at least passingly familiar with some of the magical events that have been occurring recently. I told them I needed a mental health day, that it was closely related to the magical goings on, and could I please have my assignments early to plan ahead? All completely accurate, and it doesn’t hurt that I’m a straight A student.”

“I still don’t like it,” Princess Twilight muttered, and Sunset slid her seat around so she was right next to her marefriend. She reached out, snaking a hand around Twilight’s shoulder before pulling her into a close squeeze.

“That just means I’ll have to try extra hard to make this day memorable,” Sunset said, and the Princess smiled.

“You never give up, do you?” the Princess said. Sunset grinned.

“Nope!”

* * * * *

“Hey, Pinkie, good to see ya!”

“Pinkie! Welcome back! Feeling better?”

“Pinkie Pie! Awesome cast, brah!”

“PINKIE PIE’S BACK AT SCHOOL! YEEEEAAAAH!”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie is reluctantly pleased to see you here, Pinkie Pie. School is just too boring without her cast of interesting supporting characters.”

“Pinkie! Need help with your bags?”

Pinkie let all the greetings, well wishing, and general celebration of her presence wash over her like a refreshing balm. It had only been a few weeks confined at home (besides a single rebellious trip to work, but that had turned out to be a great decision) with only her closest friends to visit (but also inter-dimensional sleepovers!) had been a real trial. Even her eternally patient family members had begun to show signs of impatience with her budding cabin fever. It had been a morning of great relief and celebration in the Pie household this morning. Momma Pie had even made pancakes, with caramelized bananas and almond whipped cream.

For the most part, Pinkie just responded to the well-wishers with a smile and a wave. She did take Sweetie Belle up on her offer to help carry her bags, and Apple Bloom and Scootaloo bounced ahead of her, ostensibly to clear a path for Pinkie and her crutches in the wave of students coming to say hi. The three freshmen may have been overexcited, but they helped her with her locker and were on their way to her first class when the P.A. sounded with Vice Principal Luna’s voice.

“Pinkie Pie, please report to the Principal’s office. Please take your time to get here,” the Vice Principal said in a dry tone. The students milling in the hallway around her laughed at the added note of caution, and Pinkie giggled along with them.

“Do ya need us to help you to the principal’s office?” Apple Bloom asked. Pinkie shook her head.

“No thanks, girls. But could one of you please run my bag and books to Mr. Cranky’s classroom? I don’t think Vice Principal Luna needs to see what’s in my bag.” Unless she did. Maybe she should…

“We’re on it, Pinkie!” Apple Bloom exclaimed, dashing off with Pinkie’s bag in her hands. Oh well. No use crying over spilled chocolate milk.

The first bell rang, announcing a five minute warning to all students, and the hallway began to clear as cheerful, chatty teenagers drifted away to their first classes. She really hoped the extra errand she’d set for Apple Bloom and her friends didn’t make them late for their first classes. Slowly, just like Vice Principal Luna had asked, she began to make her way towards the Principal’s office. She wondered what was up; maybe there was some sort of paperwork, or medical excuse so she wouldn’t have to do P.E., or something like that.

She reached the door to the principal’s office and paused just outside, looking at the twist handle of the door with distaste. Crutches were awfully inconvenient. Leaning on one side, she reached out and knocked on the wood part of the door, just under the opaque glass.

“Come in, Pinkie,” she heard the principal’s gentle voice call from inside. “Oh, right. Sister, could you…” There were footsteps, and the door swung open from the inside. Pinkie saw Vice Principal Luna standing at the door.

“Sorry to make you come this far out of your way, Pinkie. How are you doing?”

“Doing just great!” Pinkie exclaimed. She glanced into the room. Principal Celestia was sitting at her desk, and somebody else was sitting in a chair in front of the desk. Pinkie gasped. She recognized that hoodie, and that two-tone light and dark blue hair. Something inside her wanted to shout for joy. “Is that…?”

“Come inside please,” Luna cut her off, stepping inside and motioning at a second chair, this one empty. Pinkie maneuvered herself into the room, and the Vice Principal discretely closed the door behind her, standing next to it with her arms folded. Pinkie made her way over to the chair, glancing curiously at the other girl. She was right! It was Sonata! Sonata was here at Canterlot High! She beamed at Sonata, who gave her a shy smile and a little finger wave.

“So we have a new student here at Canterlot High,” Principal Celestia began. Pinkie was bouncing up and down in her seat, though maybe a bit less energetically than before her injury. “I’m sure you remember Miss Dusk. She’s going to be attending school with us. I know that there may be some difficulties involved with integrating Sonata into our school, due to thing that happened last year. We called you here to ask you for your help and insight in smoothing those difficulties.”

“Oh wow!” Pinkie exclaimed, leaning over to wrap an arm around Sonata’s shoulders, squeezing her with one arm in a motion that nearly pulled the both of them off their chairs. “I’m so happy you’re here.”

“Well, at least one of our students won’t have a problem integrating Sonata into our school,” Vice Principal Luna said wryly.

“Aw, Vice Principal Luna, don’t sound so snarky. Your students will surprise you. Remember, we have lots of experience making friends with people who did shady stuff in the past.” Sonata looked away sharply, and Pinkie made sure to squeeze her friend extra tight again. “Don’t worry, Sonata. You might get some weird looks, but there will be plenty of smiles and friendly looks, too.”

“Maybe we did underestimate just how welcoming and accepting our students can be,” Principal Celestia said. “Pinkie, do you think Sonata will experience much negativity?”

“Nope!” Pinkie cheered. “Everybody’s going to be so nice, and she’ll make tons of friends…”

“Pinkie, while I love your optimism and enthusiasm, I think we do need to prepare for the possibility of some students not reacting as well to Sonata’s presence,” Vice Principal Luna said. “Pinkie, we’ve arranged Sonata’s schedule so that she shares all of her classes with you. And I want to be informed if other students are not treating her well.” There was a stern note of steel behind the kindness in Luna’s voice.

“Yes, ma’am!” Pinkie said, saluting with one hand. It happened to be the hand that was holding her crutches, and the two metal tools clattered to the floor. Pinkie cringed. “Oops, sorry…”

“I got it,” Sonata said, speaking up for the first time since Pinkie came into the room. She reached down and swiped Pinkie’s crutches, handing them back to her. “Here. Is there anything else you needed, Principal?”

“No. We never removed your enrollment from when you first arrived at our school. I suppose I always hoped that you’d find a way back, you and your sisters. I’m so glad you did.”

“Not much hope of them showing up,” Sonata muttered.

“If that’s everything, the two of you had best hustle off to your class. Mr. Cranky isn’t exactly the most patient English teacher in the world, even if we provide him with an excused tardy.” Vice Principal Luna said. “We’ve already called ahead and informed him you will be on your way with Miss Dusk. Do you need any help getting there?”

“I’ve got this, Vice Principal Luna!” Pinkie said, giggling as she made her way to her feet. Despite her claim, she did let Sonata pull her to her feet. Taking a moment to arrange her crutches, Pinkie smiled encouragingly at Sonata. “Well? Let’s go meet your first teacher!”

The hallway outside the Principal’s office was now completely empty of students. The click of Pinkie’s crutches echoed down the hallway. Sonata was silent, and Pinkie eyed her, searching for any signs of nervousness or fear.

“You don’t need to be too nervous,” Pinkie said as they slowly moved down the hallway.

“Really? Cuz I’m pretty sure as soon as they see me in there, I’m gonna get burned at the stake. Which is weird, because I didn’t think public schools could afford steak.” Sonata’s voice was a little shaky, but Pinkie giggled at the joke.

“You can’t be too nervous, because you just made a pun! It was punny!” Pinkie laughed. Sonata smirked a little, but still looked incredibly uncomfortable. “So what made you decide to start going to school?”

“Still Waters suggested it,” Sonata said simply.

“He’s great, isn’t he?” Pinkie mused. “He and his wife both. I’m so glad you’re getting some help there.” Sonata blushed, so Pinkie dropped the subject. Some people could get really touchy about receiving any sort of assistance or charity. “So your sisters aren’t gonna be joining us?”

“They don’t even know I’m here,” Sonata whispered. Deep inside Pinkie’s decidedly overactive imagination, a very frowny girl with very flat dull pink hair and an angry look was waving a giant red flag at her. She filed that thought away for later. Maybe it was something to discuss privately with Sunset Shimmer? But Sunset was off on her day long Playing-Hookey-and-Maybe-Kissy-Time party with Princess Twilight. That had been quite the bombshell to drop on their sleepover when Princess Twilight had dropped by to offer her well-wishes and bring a get-well-soon card. It was one of her favorites ever, mostly because it was written in crazy magic pony language and Pinkie couldn’t read a word of it. The colors were nice and bright, though. The Princess had said it was claw written by dragon Spike himself, dictated by the Princess. With a start, she realized she was getting mentally off track, and tried to refocus in on Sonata.

“Their loss, I guess,” Pinkie said, not wanting to dwell on the topic for long. “So you’re joining me in all my classes? It’ll be so much fun!”

“I guess so,” Sonata said, managing to sound both hopeful and a bit down at the same time. “The principal thought it would be best to be close to somebody I felt comfortable with, and yours was one of the names that came to mind.”

“Aw, that’s so sweet,” Pinkie cooed. “Wait, one of the names?” She could perfectly imagine Rarity’s face, her eyebrows arched in an inquisitive stare, her eyes sparkling with her innate sense for gossip. Pinkie’s friends may think it weird that she had a Pinkie sense, but nobody questioned the fact that Rarity seemed to have a built-in radar for good gossip. Maybe Rarity had rubbed off on her? Because she was certainly sensing some good gossip.

“I don’t wanna say any more than that just yet, okay,” Sonata said, but she was smiling as she blushed, so Pinkie figured whatever it was, it was a good thing.

“Well, I’m more than happy to be your tour guide for the day, as long as you don’t mind that I’m a tad bit less mobile than usual,” Pinkie said.

“No problem,” Sonata said. “Lemme know if you need any help.”

“Aw, thanks, Sonnie. Can I call you Sonnie?”

“No.”

They reached the door to Mr. Cranky’s room. Pinkie hesitated in front of the door.

“Need me to get the door for you?” Sonata asked.

“Sure, Sonnie. But uh, I think it’s going to go great with all the nice and friendly people here at Canterlot High,” Pinkie moved her crutches close enough to twiddle her thumbs. “But just warning you, there’s a teeny tiny smidge of a chance that some of them might be a little bit mad or rude. So if that happens I don’t want you to be sad, okay? Because no matter what, I’m your friend, got it?”

“Got it,” Sonata said with a smile. “Thanks, Pinkie. I mean it.”

“Also Mr. Cranky can be a little… cranky. Fair warning.”

“Can’t be any worse than Aria,” Sonata muttered sotto voce, though Pinkie didn’t think she’d been meant to hear it. Sonata reached for the door and pulled it open. The sounds of Mr. Cranky’s gravelly voice, lecturing about passive voice versus active voice in essays, flowed into the silent hallway. When the door was open, Mr. Cranky paused.

“Oh there you are,” he said. “Well, come in. We don’t have all day, and we’re already behind schedule as it is. Class, we have a new student. Sonata Dusk. Welcome, good to meet you, and all that. We’ve got a spot for you next to Pinkie’s desk in the front. Pinkie, welcome back.” It was possibly the least welcoming welcome that Pinkie had ever heard, but she knew deep down that Mr. Cranky was really a softie. He just didn’t like to show it much.

Sonata had stepped nervously into the classroom, with her hands folded tightly around herself. Pinkie clicked in behind her as quickly as she could. She was met with dead silence. Everybody in the entire room stared at them. There were a few open mouths. Pinkie began nervously listing the positives. Number one: nobody had reached for torches or pitchforks yet. Number two: Nobody was frowny or mad, just shocked. Number…

“Miss Pie, do you need some help finding your seat?” Mr. Cranky’s voice cut through her distraction.

“Nopey nope nope, Mr. Cranky, I remember where it is!” she said with a giggle. Sonata had already sat down in the empty desk next to hers. Everybody was staring at the new girl. Pinkie moved over to her own seat. Mr. Cranky gave the two girls just enough time to locate their books (he grumped just a bit when he realized Sonata didn’t have one yet. Fortunately there was a spare in the bookshelf behind his desk).

“Now if there are no more interruptions, I’d like to resume our lesson. If you could all please turn with me to page forty seven…”

* * * * *

“Huh. My phone’s blowing up,” Sunset Shimmer mentioned to her marefriend (or was it more properly girlfriend, since they were in the human world? Sunset didn’t know) while the two of them lay, face up, on a blanket Sunset had spread on the chilly grass in the public park where they’d spent most of the morning, just laying side by side looking up at the clouds.

“Blowing up?” Princess Twilight yelped. “Why would it do that? How dangerous is it? Is there a minimum safe distance we need to…” she trailed off to Sunset’s giggles.

“Human colloquialism, Twilight. It just means I’m getting a lot of messages really quickly. It might be something important, though, so if you’ll give me a second…” She had to extract her arm from underneath Princess Twilight’s head from their cuddles. She rooted around in her backpack for her phone, pulling it up to see at least fifteen new messages. Quickly she scanned through them. “Oh. Oh wow. That’s kinda nuts.”

“What’s up, Sunset?” Twilight asked, leaning up on one arm so she could glance at the lit screen.

“Looks like one of the Sirens signed up for school at Canterlot High. The blue haired one. Sonata. She was the one that was always getting bossed around by the others. Kinda ditzy.”

“I don’t think she was ditzy,” Princess Twilight replied, her voice tinged with just a hint of disapproval.

“Well, whatever,” Sunset said dismissively. “I just need to know if she’s up to something. You know, if this is a new plot to steal Equestrian magic, or take over town, or whatever.” She glanced over at Princess Twilight, her face mournful. “I’m sorry, Twilight. It sounds like duty calls. I might have to go back to school to sort out what’s going on. We’ll have to cut our day short.” The Princess looked worried for a moment, than reached out and grabbed Sunset’s shoulders.

“No, Sunset. You shouldn’t worry too much about it. It’s only one, right? And not even the ringleader of the gang. We should just let things play out on their own. Your other friends will let you know if they need you, right?”

“Twilight,” Sunset deadpanned. “Did you take lying lessons from Applejack?”

“Um, no, Sunset. What are you talking about?” Princess Twilight’s eyes were shifting back and forth, and she let go of Sunset’s shoulders to wring her hands. It was like she had a neon sign over her head screaming ‘Up to Something’ in bright yellow over her head. Sunset cocked an eyebrow.

“Just a bit confused by the fact that a few hours ago you were dead set on not letting me skip school. And now you’ve completely changed your mind, pretending like you haven’t, and you clearly don’t want to tell me why.”

“Heh heh heh,” Twilight laughed falsely, her mouth twisted in a grin that looked about as real as a three dollar bill.

“If you don’t want to tell me what’s going on…” Sunset said, putting on her own pout. Princess Twilight might be terrible at manipulation and deception, but Sunset was a master, even if she didn’t really use those talents any more. It was all about subtlety; the slight curl of the lip, the gentle lift at the end of the eyebrows, the slightest quiver in the voice. Princess Twilight could be a bit of a pushover, but Sunset knew even she’d suspect something if Sunset pushed things too far into Rarity levels of melodrama.

“Oh, Sunset,” Princess Twilight said, her voice dripping with sympathy. Inwardly Sunset celebrated. Hook, line, and sinker. “Maybe I do know a little bit about what’s going on. But Pinkie once told me that breaking a friend’s trust is the best way to lose that friend forever, and some secrets aren’t mine to share yet.”

Oh. Now Sunset felt guilty.

“I can tell you this much. I’m not surprised that Sonata Dusk is trying to socialize more with other people. I think it’s a good thing, and I don’t think its part of any sort of evil plot,” Princess Twilight said nervously, like she was worried she was giving too much away.

“How do you know?” Sunset couldn’t help but push just a little. Princess Twilight shook her head.

“I’m sorry, Sunset. You should find out soon enough, though. Trust me on this one?” Princess Twilight pleaded. Sunset couldn’t ignore those eyes.

“Of course I trust you, princess,” she said, and leaned over to gently kiss the blushing girl on the cheek.

* * * * *

“C’mon, come sit with us. All my friends will love you!” Pinkie was finding it very awkward to try and drag a gently resisting Siren towards the table she and her friends usually shared at lunch.

“I don’t think so, Pinkie. I…”

“Don’t argue! Today hasn’t been that bad, has it?” Pinkie asked. Sonata sighed.

“Everybody just stares. I wish at least somebody would shout at me, or throw something, or… I don’t know. Anything but just the silent shock.”

“But I want you to come meet my friends! Rarity will be there, and Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy, and Applejack, and Twilight Sparkle…”

“Okay,” Sonata interrupted suddenly. Pinkie eyed her suspiciously.

“Wow, you sure change your mind quickly. Well, come this way then, it’s hard to drag you and walk on crutches at the same time.”

“Don’t we need to get our lunches first?” Sonata asked. Pinkie giggled, slapping herself on the forehead with one hand.

“Of course, duh!” she said through her laughter. “That way I can introduce you to the lunch lady. Granny Smith is super nice.”

“Okay,” Sonata said, and the two of them headed towards the back of the line.

“Pinkie! Pinkie! Over here!” called a voice from the front of the line. Flash Sentry was waving them over. Pinkie worked her way over, Sonata trailing silently behind. “Cut in front of me, Pinkie. You and your… uh… friend. It can’t be good for you to be standing on that foot for long.”

“Flash, I can’t…”

“Anybody in line have an objection to Pinkie cutting in front?” Flash called out to the odd dozen or so students standing behind him. Octavia Melody shook her head, smiling at Pinkie. Vinyl Scratch gave a thumbs up. Lira and Bon Bon were so involved with their flirting that they didn’t even look up from the goo-goo eyes they were giving each other, and most of the other students just shook their head or waved. Trixie, at the very back of the line, looked a little grumpy, but when she glanced at the assent the others in line were giving, she merely folded her arms and pouted. Since that was sometimes the closest Pinkie could get to a smile from the Great and Powerful Trixie, Pinkie shrugged and accepted the gap in the line Flash was providing for her.

“Howdy, Pinkie. Leg treating ya okay?” the lunch lady, Granny Smith, called out as she slopped a generous square of lasagna onto a beige lunch tray. She snagged another tray from her stack and dished out a second portion.

“Yupperroni, Ms. Granny Smith,” Pinkie cheered.

“Really? Cuz I heard from my granddaughter that you were gallivanting about, going to work before yer doctor said you could.” The lunch lady pinned her with a stern gaze. “Don’t you go about hurtin’ yerself extra, ya hear? Or you’ll have to answer to me.” She waved a threatening spatula, before using a pair of tongs to dish both of the trays up with a hefty helping of green salad. “You there. New girl. You make sure she’s taking it easy, okay? And I don’t want any musical shenanigans this time around, ya hear?”

“Yes ma’am!” Sonata almost yelped, looking fearfully at the kitchen utensils being brandished threateningly in her direction. With a suspicious eye on both of them, Granny Smith finally scooped up two brownies from a dwindling tray and placed one each on their trays.

“I got that,” Sonata said, picking up both of them while Pinkie was trying to figure out how to transport her lunch tray to her seat.

“Thanks, Sonnie! Or would you prefer Nata?”

“Just Sonata, please.”

“Okay, Sonnie. This way!” Pinkie led the way to the table she shared with her six bestest friends in the entire world. There was already an empty spot, thanks to Sunset being on a date with the pony Twilight. Applejack, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash sat on the opposite end of the table from where Pinkie was approaching, so they were the first to see her and her new friend. Twilight and Rarity had their backs to them. Applejack raised her hand to wave, then her eyes locked on Sonata, and her jaw dropped. Rainbow’s eyes narrowed with suspicion and outrage, and Fluttershy sunk down in her seat.

“Hey guys. Guess who’s going to our school now. I mean, again. I mean, for real this time.” Pinkie announced. Rarity and Twilight turned to look. Pinkie just remembered that this Twilight had never met the Sirens under the unfortunate circumstances of the Battle of the Bands. “Oh yeah, Twilight. You’ve never met Sonata before. Sonata, this is our world’s Twilight Sparkle. Twilight, this is Sonata Dusk, my new friend!”

“Nice to meet you, Twilight,” Sonata said with a genuine smile.

“Gah…” Twilight said articulately, which made perfect sense to Pinkie Pie. After all, their Twilight Sparkle was a bit more shy and reserved than the pony princess.

“What’s she doin’ here?” Applejack asked suspiciously, pointing a fork that still had a bit of green beans speared on it at the two standing girls.

“Silly Applejack, I told you. She’s going to be attending school with us,” Pinkie said. “Scooch over, Rarity. Sonata, you can sit here next to Twilight. Can you put my tray down here?” she pointed to an empty spot to the right of Rarity.

“Gah…” Twilight articulated again. Rarity’s eyes were wide as she slid over far enough to make room for Sonata, who slid into the seat next to Twilight. Rarity continued to gape as Pinkie handed her the pair of crutches and delicately maneuvered her cast-bound leg past the other chairs so she didn’t bump it. With glee, she attacked her lasagna. Granny Smith was a great cook, even when limited by the ingredients and logistics of cooking in a school cafeteria. It took Pinkie only a few bites to realize nobody else was eating.

“C’mon, guys, I promised you’d be nice. It’s not like she’s up to anything this time,” Pinkie pleaded, beginning to grow worried.

“Yeah, but, it’s a Siren,” Rainbow stated bluntly. Applejack nodded. Fluttershy seemed to be shrinking further under the table, and Rarity and Twilight simply stared.

“It prefers ‘she’,” Sonata muttered, but Rainbow heard, managing to look both embarrassed and angry at the same time. “Maybe I should find somewhere else to sit.” She made no move to stand, though.

“She can sit with us,” Twilight said out loud, confidently. The others stared at her. “C’mon, Rainbow. Remember how nice you were to me, even after what I did?”

“You apologized! It’s not like she’s ever said sorry!” Rainbow protested.

“Or maybe it’s just because I happened to already look like one of your other friends,” Twilight countered quickly. Rainbow opened her mouth angrily before Twilight’s words finally hit her. Open mouthed, her shoulders slumped and she silently stared at Twilight.

“Twilight’s right, y’all. Everybody deserves the benefit of the doubt,” Applejack declared suddenly into the silence that followed. She leaned across the table and offered a hand to Sonata. “It’s nice to greet you as a friend, Sonata. Welcome back to Canterlot High.”

“Uh, thanks,” Sonata took Applejack’s hand and shook it while Rainbow Dash pouted.

“She still never apologized,” Rainbow muttered angrily.

“Rainbow, maybe we should…” Fluttershy whispered.

“Are you gonna apologize for amputating my music from me?” Sonata shot back, ignoring Fluttershy.

“We did what we had to do!” Rainbow retorted, her palms flat on the table as she rose to her feet angrily. Sonata jerked to her feet angrily, and the two girls glared at each other. Pinkie was nearly panicking. This was not at all how this was supposed to go! She was about to do something! Unthinkingly, she tried to rise to her feet as well to try and settle the two of them down. Unfortunately, she’d forgotten one little detail. Her cast struck the ground as she tried to stand, the sudden motion and impact sending a jerking, bone deep pain up her entire leg. With a yelp, she fell back into her seat, and tumbled partially onto the floor.

Fluttershy’s response could have made Rainbow Dash gape. She was up and out of her seat nearly fast enough that Pinkie thought maybe she’d accidentally put on Rainbow’s magic geode instead of her.

“Oh goodness! Are you all right, Pinkie? Did you hurt yourself? You’ve been taking your pain medication like you’re supposed to, right? And you’re still taking it easy?” Fluttershy eased Pinkie back into her seat, her cyan eyes intent on Pinkie’s own.

“Um, Yes, a little, yes, kinda not really but I’m trying,” Pinkie tried to remember all the questions she’d been asked and answer them in order. Rarity scooted one seat over to make room for Fluttershy, giggling at Pinkie’s answer.

“Oh, sit down, you two. I don’t think Pinkie is up to all of your dramatics,” Rarity said. Sonata looked down and sunk into her seat. After an embarrassed glance around the table, Rainbow did too.

“If it helps, I wouldn’t have done the exact same thing as you guys,” Sonata said softly. “I wish things could have gone differently.”

“Sorry we, uh, took your music away. It meant that much to you, huh?” Rainbow muttered. Sonata just swallowed and nodded. “Sorry for being a jerk today, too. Um, start over?” Her voice ended on a hopeful note.

“Sure. Second chances, right?” Sonata grinned.

“Don’t look now, guys,” Pinkie said, looking around at the rest of the cafeteria. “But I think everybody’s staring at us.” It was true. Many people were still meeting, but nearly every eye in the cafeteria was locked onto their little group.

“Well, I’m not surprised,” Rarity replied. “It makes sense that everybody else at the school would take their cues from us in regards to Sonata. They’re waiting to see if we befriend her before deciding if it’s safe for them to do so. A bit shallow, perhaps, but we have set a precedent.”

“Precedent?” Twilight asked.

“Well, we were the first to befriend Sunset, the first to befriend you, even the first to befriend other…” Rarity trailed off, searching for the right words. “Other, um, types such as Wallflower, or Juniper Montage. It makes sense they would look to us first.”

“Does seem to be a bit shallow when ya put it that way,” Applejack remarked, scratching her head. “But shouldn’t matter none to us. At least you know we’ll be your friends, Sonata.” Fluttershy nodded, Twilight Sparkle smiled and patted Sonata’s hand. Even Rainbow gave her a thumbs up.

“Thanks, you guys,” Sonata said.

“So, what you got going on after school? We could all hang out together,” Rainbow offered. It was at least a little reluctant, but Pinkie could tell she was trying, and that was enough. Sonata looked away, down at her tray, sinking a bit.

“I’m sorry, Rainbow, but, uh, I’ve got something going on after school. I can’t,” Sonata said, her fingers fiddling idly with her fork.

“Oh yeah?” Rainbow asked, oblivious to the social cues Sonata was putting out. “What do you have planned?”

“Um,” Sonata replied, and several of Pinkie’s friends leaned in. Rarity in particular seemed to sense some juicy gossip just out of reach.

“Oh? Darling, you can share with us, we’re your friends,” Rarity said.

“I, uh…” Sonata stuttered.

“She has a date.” Twilight blurted out. Everybody went silent to digest that little fact.

“Silly Twilight. How would you know if Sonnie has a da…” Pinkie cut off right as the lightbulb turned on in her brain at the same second the rest of her friends figured it out. “YOU’RE GOING ON A DATE WITH TWILIGHT!?” she shrieked loudly enough for the entire cafeteria could hear. Thoughtfully, she reached into her hair and pulled out a single pin, releasing it to drop onto the cafeteria floor. Its ping echoed through the entire room. Of course nobody noticed the pin drop sound, because half a second later Rarity fainted dead away onto the floor.

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