• Published 29th May 2020
  • 689 Views, 50 Comments

Mothering, Someday - Impossible Numbers



Mare's Day, a tribute to motherhood. Twilight Velvet is the ordinary mother of an extraordinary family; Derpy is the opposite. They normally wouldn't cross paths, but in a town where an outsider can become Princess of Friendship, anything's possible.

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To Twilight's Castle, and a New Home

Then, unto Twilight.

Princess Twilight Sparkle, and her castle of cold crystal.

No matter how close she got to it, the frozen oak of a building still looked like it had nothing to do with the rest of the town. An ice sculpture in a honeyed beehive.

Her saddlebags chafed to the point she marvelled she had any skin left. The pricks of golden rose thorns reminded her they could puncture her side at any moment.

Velvet slowed the closer she came. The mere front door resembled a portcullis, already locked down against the presumed hostile invaders. She almost imagined the archers waiting on the battlements.

Princess Twilight Sparkle. Or little Twily?

Her little girl had to be in there somewhere, didn’t she?

For a moment, the last few hours stung her, as though someone hugging her had suddenly produced a knife. She’d let them get so close… how could she approach Twilight, not knowing if the knife would be anywhere…

And then, in an instant, it turned out the knife was a big misunderstanding and would she like some homemade cake?

She’d been spoiled, that was it. For a while, she’d been part of Derpy’s family, a family she’d barely known existed, yet a family that had waited patiently and naturally for her to show up so they could get started with that cake.

Velvet halted by the door.

She reached out to knock. Then stopped.

What if –?

No! Enough “what ifs”! Was she daredevil Twilight Velvet or not!?

Still, she hesitated.

She wondered if it was too late, if Twilight would be angry, if it was safer to turn tail and run.

All right.

She braced herself.

Whatever else happened, her day so far had been a day in the sun. She remembered how Derpy’s face shone. Nothing else that happened could take that away from her.

“Come on, Velvet!” she told herself. “Come on…”

She knocked.

There. It was done.

She waited. Idly, she rearranged the golden roses in her saddlebag, then hastily stopped and choked on her heart when the door started opening.

Smile, or don’t smile? Honest, or happy?

Just as she opened her mouth to say hello, a male voice said, “Mom?”

Velvet dropped the smile in shock.

It was…

“Shining Armor!?”

“Hey, Mom! Long time no see, huh?” By the time Velvet recovered, he’d already finished hugging her in one strong forelimb. “Sorry about that. So many plates to juggle, you know?”

“What – What are you – I mean, it’s very wonderful, Shining, but how –?”

All her doubts settled down under Shining Armor’s patting little laugh. He always liked sharing the joke.

“Twilight arranged for me to come over today,” he said. “Cadence and the others are waiting inside too. Spike’s made us all cookies!” In a whisper, he added, “Don’t eat the ones that sparkle, and you should be all right.”

“Oh?” said Velvet, on safe ground but still not sure if it’d hold. “H-How is Spike? All right, is he?”

“Ah, you know him. Tough as iron. Likes his independence, and all that.”

“I remember he liked baking things,” she said, too far gone to think about her words carefully.

“Don’t worry. I’ve been giving him tips. Who knows? He might even be as good as me someday.”

Velvet found it impossible to manoeuvre politely around the sticking point. “But… why are you here?”

Shining Armor looked as though he’d been asked if he liked coal cookies, extra crunchy.

“Twilight wanted everything to be perfect for Mare’s Day.”

“Twil–?”

Hoofsteps echoed around the entrance chamber.

An auditorium might have thrown around the tiny, modest sound until it resounded like a gathering army, but in that vast entrance chamber to a crystalline castle, the approach of one dark princess would have terrified anyone into surrender. Cold, clicking, clinical, clipped like a luckless pegasus wing, leaving her alone as the shadow of the horn drew near.

Then it shrank. Became reasonable. Was just the hesitant step of any pony.

Shining Armor beamed and stepped aside.

The wings folded, and there, standing and staring nervously, was just Twilight Sparkle. Her Twily. Her little princess.

Something levitated beside her. It shone in the light, enchanted.

“Mom?” Twilight’s voice barely echoed.

This time, Velvet let the tears bleed freely to mingle in the sweet, satisfying sea of her life.

Princess as she was…

…ordinary as they were…

…and without a drop of gold anywhere in sight…

Twilight offered the humble red roses. “Happy Mare’s Day, Mom.”


Comments ( 16 )

And there you have it! The entirety of Mothering, Someday is complete and now ready for full perusal. :yay:

Last few author's notes:

Although I'd come up with the concept pretty early on, the original plan was a lot smaller and simpler than this, but the more I wrote, the more I wanted to flesh out and develop the growing relationship (and the cast that surrounded it). I mean, wow: I haven't enjoyed writing like this in a long time! :raritystarry:

While I did so, I wanted to put into practice a few theories I'd been considering for writing stories. For instance, that a character is just as much defined by the cast they associate with as by their individuality. That was what led me to emphasize the family as a whole (especially for the motherhood theme) in this last third, building on the groundwork of the first two thirds of the story.

Also, the scarcity of Velvet-Derpy fics left me feeling that a lot of catching up was due. :twilightsheepish: Most obviously, the vignettes in the Haute Cuisine third of the fic gave me a chance to try a laid-back slice-of-life framing device, both to include amusing vignettes in their own right and to provide a way to unify and make sense of them from a characterization standpoint. I wanted to make the fic a showcase for the possibilities these two characters have, in isolation and as a duo.

Overall, it took three weeks to write this one, and it's become one of my most successful ambitious stories yet (in that it's one of the few longfics I've actually completed). There were difficult days, yes. I can't pretend I didn't stop-start a lot whilst writing this. Overall, though, I'm immensely happy with how this one turned out.

So I hope you the readers thoroughly enjoy the final result! Please feel free to leave comments: for me, constructive feedback (and any encouraging good news, of course!) are always welcome.

Thank you for your time! :scootangel:

This story was really cute. Very organic interaction between the characters too.

10262806

:twilightsmile:

10263619

Character interaction is one of the leading causes of my joie de vivre. I just love putting different characters in the same room and watching the fireworks fly, so I'm especially glad you singled it out here. Thank you for the compliment. :scootangel:

My word, but this was exquisite. The meetup, the respective airing of insecurities, the strength of Derpy's family, the strength of Velvet's...

Honestly, all that's missing is Derpy getting the treatment Velvet did, though I imagine that'd be a little weird going the other way. On the other hand, maybe she and Flurry Heart actually cancel one another out.

Or they'd reduce the Crystal Empire to rubble. Either or.

In any case, outstanding work. Thank you for it. (And I'm just glad Twilight the Younger didn't fly off the handle and turn the town upside down when her mom was late.)

10271584

When I see the word "exquisite" in a comment to one of my stories, I stop worrying, for I know I have done a good deed. :ajsmug:

Thank you so much for this, especially regarding the strength of their respective families. It's a theme I had firmly in mind when I set out to write this, especially when family doesn't stop with blood ties.

Though Derpy and Flurry Heart? Don't go giving me any funny ideas, now... :pinkiegasp:

And what? Twilight? Fly off the handle? Perish the thought! :trollestia: (That said, I like to think Shining's calmer influence prevented any trouble).

Wow! That's a surprising, but great ending!

OH~! It's a Surprise Party! ... I wonder how Pinkie Pie is feeling right now...

It is Mare's Day, so she likely went back to the rock farm...

...

And the mystery of Amethyst and Dinky's fathers are unsolved. Hmm.

10290130

Hey, thanks for the comments! It's a pleasure to get so many for different chapters of the story. Can't guarantee I'll respond to every single one, but I'll see if I can do the overall contribution justice.

Likely gonna read Beyond the Herd, after this, in a day.

I certainly hope you enjoy it. :scootangel:

Cool way that they meet!

Thanks! Getting them to meet was the hardest part, at least in the early going. It had to feel natural and interesting, despite the fact they live far apart and never cross paths in canon. The other requirement I set myself was to do it in a way that showed off their characters to good effect. Velvet's trick with the letters was an "aha" moment that made it click into place (I'm particularly pleased with the idea that this was Derpy's first clue that Velvet was Twilight's mom, because of the spell's similarity to a library trick).

Hmm. In this universe, Velvet hasn't much to do with Spike, at all...

I tend to the idea that Spike's upbringing was (at least initially) owed more to Celestia than to Twilight and her family. Especially when so little about dragons was known back then, and Celestia's best-placed to handle any initial teething troubles from a dragon, it seems both more logical and more interesting as a reflection of his character (for one thing, I'll bet he was more comfortable mingling in Canterlot social circles than her, which might explain why he's more open to making friends early on than her too).

EDIT: Wow. I got so caught up in the Mare's Day tale, I forgot to say I was surprised about the interesting treatment of Derpy possibly being a young mother!

Interesting. I thought depicting her as a young mother was usual in the fandom. Some flashback scenes in canon hint that she's closer to the Main Six's age bracket, so I took it as a given.

If Derpy delivered the letter that went to Canterlot, I wonder...

I'd think that would be outside Derpy's jurisdiction. Mail delivery staff usually only operate in one area, don't they?

Sweetie Belle offers lessons??!?

Probably not formal lessons. Just "hey, wanna see what I can do?" and Derpy (and possibly a few other poor devils) took her seriously. Although if you're incompetent enough to see the result and want to try it anyway, you're already proving why you should never rule in the kitchen. :rainbowlaugh:

It's a Canterlot Cookbook. Very, very Canterlot. ... Also, likely made to Zesty Gourmand's standards??

That's a point worth following up on, but honestly I wasn't thinking about it when I wrote this chapter. I was thinking more that Night Light is big on rules and standardization, to the point that he produces food that's good but not particularly inspired. Plus, as a noble, he grew up in a family that emphasizes wealth and class over culinary pleasure... actually, not unlike Zesty, come to think of it... It's the same principle of conspicuous consumption, in a sense. Showing off what class you belong to. Interesting food for thought?

Wow, she can bake! Why not bake Alula a cake??

Simple: if you can do good, find someone who can do better. I like to think of Dinky as someone who'd go out of their way to get the best possible gift for their friends, even if it clashes with Amethyst's tight budget plan.

Lesson Zero has so much more impact in this universe...

I personally don't like the episode, but I'll admit it did shed an interesting light on her insecurities. Between that and "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", I developed the idea that Twilight as a filly was pretty darn terrifying to look after, especially when hardly anyone matched her powers. I'd toyed with the idea before, but this fic is the first time I've explored it in any depth.

In unrelated news, I'm now wondering if there's an AU fic where Twilight and Derpy turn out to be sisters. That'd be a hell of an AU. :trollestia:

So, no pegasine cold resistance, or not strong enough for that...

I always gave that trait to earth ponies. Seems to fit their tough nature more. Pegasi might get by on the move thanks to their flight muscles and speed, but it'd be a hindrance once they stayed still.

Amethyst, so intriguing, that reaction and stuff!

:raritystarry: Especially pleased you singled her out here! Of the three classic Derpy family members, she's always seemed to me to be left behind somewhat in the fandom (just compare how many fics she gets with how many Dinky and Derpy get, for starters). On the other hand, I myself had developed and possessed a clear personal interpretation of her for years, so this fic became an opportunity to give her some of the limelight.

Lol. Odd Job / No Identity.

I really wish I knew how I came up with "Odd Job" as a name: I thought it was an alternate fan name from years ago, but I can't find a source for it. In the end, I just stuck with it; the name had some use in fleshing out what kind of a character she could be in my other stories. I prefer it over "Noi", anyway, though I at least wrangled that into a nickname I could use.

Wow! That's a surprising, but great ending!

Thanks! The ending I had figured out from the start, and merely adapted certain details as I went along (for instance, Shining Armor being there was a detail I added after writing him during the Haute Cuisine section).

OH~! It's a Surprise Party! ... I wonder how Pinkie Pie is feeling right now... It is Mare's Day, so she likely went back to the rock farm...

Ha! Good idea! I hadn't even considered that, but it's the perfect explanation for why she hadn't ambushed Velvet yet. And a good seed for another story...

And the mystery of Amethyst and Dinky's fathers are unsolved. Hmm.

I felt this wasn't the fic to answer that question. I do have an answer of my own, but it's tied up with a secret fic I've long had in the pipeline, so it'll have to wait for another day, alas.

Overall, thanks again for the lovely comments. Seeing your reactions to certain parts of the fic was an education - and entertainment - in itself. A gold standard. :twilightsmile:

10290607

Interesting. I thought depicting her as a young mother was usual in the fandom. Some flashback scenes in canon hint that she's closer to the Main Six's age bracket, so I took it as a given.

Yeah, it's the usual, it's just that I've never seen her so affronted about it? Usually it's a thing everyone knows and isn't commented on?

10290667

Is it? I might just be speaking from limited real-world observation, but I got the impression young motherhood tends to be slightly frowned-upon (because it implies lack of forethought, growing up too fast, or worse), or at least regarded with a bit of uncertainty. That might just be me, though.

Odds are that ponies generally accept it much more readily, being a tolerant bunch and all, and fanfic writers just go with that. But from a storytelling standpoint, I liked the idea that Derpy might be considered unusual or weird for it, and that she doesn't like any attention she gets for it either. That kind of concept also feeds into her feelings of inadequacy as a mother, so would be another thing she'd feel quite sensitive about.

10290717

Most Derpy fanfics I've seen, IIRC don't deal with her dealing with people who are total strangers to her. And so, Ponyville intra-community knowledge usually makes it a non-commented thing?

10290759

Oh, right. :twilightsheepish: Sorry, I misunderstood what you meant there. My mistake.

That was a nice account of the intrinsic differences between families. I think these differences emphasize the idea you presented that there is no correct way to be a parent. It is clear that as long as the family loves and supports each other, everything works out fine.

I really liked how you characterized Amethyst as stern and analytical. I think it works well with her cutie mark, being able to evaluate not just gemstones but also the motivations of others. I am curious about why you drew attention to the way Amethyst used her magic.

10358078

Ha, I might just pinch those names, actually.:rainbowwild:

10358203

A large part of my inspiration for Shining Armor here came from "The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows": I latched onto the idea that he was a lot dorkier/geekier in his youth, and since I otherwise included him more out of canon obligation than out of any particular affection for his character, it certainly helped me personally to write him this way.

One of the odder things about writing fanfiction (for me) is that I sometimes gain a new appreciation for a character just by writing about them.

10359853

I found Derpy's side of the scenario the hardest part to get right; her reaction had to balance a lot of factors, such as feeling natural in the moment, resonating with what she's already done in the fic, and getting her agitated without having her actually lash out at anyone (something that actually made Amethyst the easiest to write, in a sense, because she has no such reservations).

10360036

I've always been fond of portraying people* as, well, people: flawed and muddling mortals, not perfect paragons, but with their good sides to help them muscle through it. And I agree, though I'd rephrase it a little: It's generally been my outlook that there's no one way to be a good parent, any more than there's one good way to live a life or to be human. People are just too complex and diverse for a one-size-fits-all approach. But good intentions (love and support) and effort do count for a lot.

* (I'm using "people" here to include ponies; I've never come across a great term that captures both them and humans neatly).

As for Amethyst (really glad you singled her out, as it happens!), this is kind of tied in with other projects I haven't got off the ground yet, so I don't want to spoil too much. Having said that, some of this is scattered throughout the fic here and there, so in answer to your (implied) question:

Amethyst is basically acting like an earth pony. Since Golden Harvest is a part of the family, and since she gave Ammy her first job, I like to think there was a lot of earth farmer influence that rubbed off on her, particularly her work ethic. It ties in to my larger intention of showing how a character is influenced by the characters that surround them, and it also implies that there's a lot more going on behind the scenes (not every mystery gets solved in this one story, making it seem like part of a bigger universe, so to speak).

Of course, that was my intention: how well it comes across is a judgement I'll leave to my readers! :twilightblush:

Last but certainly not least, thank you for all the comments. It's great to hear from you again, and to know you got so much out of my story. Thanks, thanks, and thanks again. :twilightsmile:

10458910

:eeyup: Well said. Honestly, you put it better than when I tried to make a similar-sounding point earlier, especially regarding that part about suiting individual tastes rather than being more generic. I didn't even think of that.

Oh my stars this was such a sweet read! Admittedly I found the last chapter kinda anticlimactic as I wanted to see Velvet and Twilight reconcile a bit but maybe I was expecting too much. Still a wonderful story and I’m gonna give your other works a look for sure!

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