• Published 29th May 2020
  • 705 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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Haute Cuisine: Why Derpy Never Cooks

Haute Cuisine sounded like the sort of sterilized Canterlot endroit pour manger that Velvet had always steered well clear of. To her delight, it turned out to be an outdoor café with toadstools for tables. She otherwise only told it apart from the surrounding cottages because it had a sign over the door.

Derpy paid for the meal, once Velvet helped her count out the change correctly. Hay fries piled up so high they looked like a corn dolly’s secret fortune, and an oat burger so thick and stodgy she was surprised each bite didn’t clang when it hit her stomach.

All that, and yet the waiter – cuffed of hoof and oiled of mane – seemed incredibly out of place, a piece of Canterlot dropped in the middle of this rural outback… up until he opened his mouth.

“Dur-pee ‘as a fine appetite, mademoiselle,” he choked around his own accent, but as if he was proud to choke for her honour. “Is alway a play-djure to see ‘er.”

“Naigh d’see ‘oo doo!” shouted Derpy through a boulder of a burger.

Not from the other side of the table, Velvet had to admit. Derpy’s gung-ho approach to life became extra generous around food. There was a ring of ketchup around her mouth, and around her plate.

“If’sh goouh!” she said around her current mouthful. To Velvet’s horror and admiration, she swallowed the lot without the slightest pinch of pain on her face. “I’m always starving after a shift. Thank you, Savoir Fare!”

The waiter beamed at her, but tastefully, as a proper gent might beam at a diamond in the rough. Then he discreetly bowed away to go and greet a new customer.

“Excuse me, I don’t…?” Velvet sadly watched him go. She turned to Derpy. “I take it we don’t need cutlery here?”

Derpy’s face signalled message not received. “But you’re a unicorn, right?”

After a while, Velvet shrugged and ate with her hoof as best she could. At this rate, she’d finish her pile of hay fries within a week.

“I haven’t eaten like this for a long time,” she admitted. “In Canterl– Where I come from, you draw unwanted attention if you don’t eat correctly.” Wondering how that must sound, she corrected it to, “If you don’t eat with cutlery, I mean.”

“Mm hm.” Derpy swallowed another bowling ball of grub. “Oh, they keep wooden knives and forks and things next to the sauces, if you want me to go back and get them.”

Velvet stopped eating one fry at a time and shrugged. When in Ponyville, she guessed, do as the Ponyvillians do…

After a hungry while, she noticed Derpy’s wide eyes had locked onto hers, or at least one of them had.

“Whad?” said Velvet, muffled.

“Er… do you usually suddenly start eating like that?”

Velvet wished she had left enough room to talk.

“I didn’t think anyone else ate like me,” said Derpy.

Neither did the other patrons, it seemed. They were giving Velvet funny looks.

Velvet swallowed. A nervous giggle. Thereafter, she settled for a happy medium portion per mouthful.

“Um… so…” she said, hoping she wasn’t blushing. A few apparently uninterested ponies laughed suddenly, unintentionally catching her by the shame.

Derpy surfaced for air. “Mm hm?”

“You often eat out?”

“Oh, this?” Derpy looked down at the ruins on her plate. “Sometimes. Well, it’s just not fair on Dinky and Ammy, you know?”

“How so?”

“Asking them to cook lunch. Dinky’s got the day off school today, and Ammy’s always working so hard –”

“Don’t you cook?” Velvet asked before she remembered who she was talking to.

A flicker of embarrassment reddened the skin under Derpy’s eyes. “I… try it. Now and again. Like when my friend Golden Harvest was sick.”

“Oh?” Velvet propped her hooves on the table’s edge to look sufficiently interested, but… “Who’s Golden Harvest, sorry?”

“My first best friend since I moved into Ponyville, of course! She farms carrots.”

“A carrot farmer, huh?” Velvet leaned closer. Farmers were a distant myth in Canterlot.

“Yeah, and she works way too hard at it, at least I think so. Like this one time, when she got sick, and her little sister was away for…” Derpy chewed her lip. “I forget. But what Golden Harvest had done to make herself so sick was…” She chewed her lip again. “I forget. Anyway, I went over to cheer her up, make her house tidy, and cook up a nice big…” She chewed her lip again.

“You forgot that too, I guess?” said Velvet sympathetically.

“No, it’s just super-embarrassing. OK, it was supposed to be breakfast, but it went something a little like this…”

*

“It’s the middle of the afternoon, Derpy,” moaned Golden Harvest over the table.

Derpy had wrapped her in a blanket (“It’s one of Ammy’s old ones, she doesn’t like the kitten pattern anyway!”), guided her down the stairs and helped pick her up afterwards, finally to sit her up at the table on the second go and repeatedly tie a hot water bottle to her head (“Derpy, I appreciate the effort, but I don’t think it’s supposed to go on the bottom…”).

Golden Harvest’s home wasn’t a beacon of Canterlot decadence. It barely qualified as Ponyville naughty. The kitchen consisted of the table, cupboards, and whatever was needed to burn or freeze grub. It was so bare-bones, it looked like the kitchen needed feeding.

Derpy hummed happily over the hob.

“I’m prepar-ING! Something EXTRA SPECIAL! JUST for YOU!” she sang over her shoulder. “It IS! The best BREAKFAST! That your MONEY can BUY!” She stopped singing after the twelfth whimper from the table. “By the way, shouldn’t you have more food in your cupboards?”

“Business ‘m slow,” groaned Golden Harvest. She sniffed at maximum industrial snot levels and mumbled something about a headache.

“You’ve only got to ask. Ammy and I would love to give you –”

“Couldn’t pud you out,” said Golden Harvest and her blocked nostril.

“Honestly, you’re getting as silly as Applejack sometimes, and she has a big farm –”

*

“Wait,” said Velvet, getting up suddenly. “I’ve heard that name!”

“Hm?” said Derpy.

“That name you just said. How do I know it?”

“Applejack?”

“Yes! Yes! Now I remember! It was in one of TwiiiiiiiiI mean, in one of my daughter’s letters!”

“Oh, she’s a friend of Applejack’s?”

“Y–” Only then did Velvet think: what if it gives the game away? Too many details would ruin a good cover. “She’d… mentioned them. In a few letters. Big name around here?” she asked, innocent as an actress.

“One of the biggest! She runs the biggest farm in Ponyville. It was so big, the farm was here before the town was!”

So Twilight has a farmer friend too, Velvet thought. Perhaps I am overreacting.

“And Golden Harvest’s not so big, but she’s a big name around here too. Not as big, but…” Derpy shrugged, helpless between economic honesty and a refusal to make a friend sound less important. “Anyway, I was saying…”

*

“I’m just saying,” Derpy had said, scooping something onto a cracked plate, “you should take better care of yourself first.”

Golden Harvest grunted something.

As Derpy flew closer, she hummed a little more brightly in a vain attempt to dig up the carrot farmer’s buried happiness. She twirled, plate held aloft, flapped her wings gently, and landed the plate in front of Golden Harvest, with all the grace of a blind ballerina.

For her part, Golden Harvest took one look at it and groaned until her chin had to rest on the table.

“What is it?” she said in a sigh.

“One cheesy omelette, one tin of baked beans, two slices of toast, and tofu-bacon! Wait, hold on.”

Derpy flew back to fetch the frying pan. It had blackened chunks stuck to the bottom.

“Only I don’t think tofu’s supposed to do that,” she said. She tried to flick the chunks out with a spatula. Several pinged off the ceiling. One embedded itself.

Golden Harvest sighed. “Did you put the oil in?”

“Whoops! Knew I forgot something!” When Derpy came back, she offered three bottles. “Olive, sunflower, or flaxseed? I hear flaxseed’s good for big brains!”

Golden Harvest conspicuously examined anything else on the plate. The omelette was a good attempt at a sunflower – hints of yellow, but mostly brown and black, clearly rounded because Derpy had put in as much egg as possible without the pan overflowing. When the carrot farmer stuck a fork in it, the fork stood up.

And it looked as though Derpy had taken chunks of cheddar and fired them at the omelette. Some were still embedded like unexploded missiles.

“‘S that the beans?” mumbled Golden Harvest.

“I thought I’d save some for later. Did you want more? I got more. See?”

Derpy fetched the pan and showed it to her.

Slowly, like a size ten head out of a size nine hat, the jelly of tomato sauce and pockmarked beans slid out of the pan and plopped on the plate. The perfect mould wobbled slightly.

“Oops.” Derpy stopped tilting the pan. “Sorry.”

“An’ th’ toast?”

“Whoops, knew I forgot something!”

What she came back with was a bowl. The contents bubbled.

“I’ve been taking lessons from Sweetie Belle!” said Derpy.

*

“I think I’ve heard that name, too,” said Velvet, here and now. “But I didn’t hear much else. Is she a famous cook?”

“Famous… ish,” conceded Derpy, rubbing the back of her neck. “Let’s just say everyone knows about her cooking skills by now.”

*

Derpy eyed the gloop. “Sweetie Belle made it sound so easy.”

Golden Harvest blinked, slower than Derpy’s baked beans, at the result.

“Um…” said Derpy, dropping slowly with each wingbeat. “At least the toast chunks won’t get stuck in your throat, right?”

Golden Harvest made a noise like something small and squeaky was stuck in her throat and had resigned itself to being stuck there until the fire department came.

“Thanks.” She sniffed miserably, snot and tears in one go. “I’ll remember your friendship when I eat it.”

“You’re so kind!”

“It’ll keep me going.”

In fact, it was barely one bite later when Golden Harvest was forced to give up, owing to a blast up her nose, a titanic sneeze, and the concentrated force distributing the mass of meal so that Golden Harvest’s face, table, ceiling, and far cupboard doors could have a taste.

“Oopsie,” said Derpy, helping her wipe it off. “Too much pepper?”

*

“And that’s why I never cooked there again,” said Derpy, and then stopped.

Velvet was laughing so much when Derpy finished that it took a while for Derpy to wipe the tears out of her eyes and assure the other patrons her friend hadn’t suddenly dropped her sanity when no one was looking.

“Sorry!” Velvet said, wiping her eyes. “Sorry, Derpy. I know you’re a good soul, but…” Another fit of giggles took over shamelessly. “The pepper…” she whined helplessly.

Nervous giggles were Derpy’s offerings to the table. “It was a bit much, wasn’t it?”

“And then she sneezed… AH-hahahahaaaaaaaaaaa!” Velvet tried not to wheeze herself to death. “And it ended up on the ceiling… ahaha… ah-hmhm… hm…”

Both wings and forelimbs were folded. Derpy’s jaw skewed away as though prepared to take her business elsewhere.

Velvet coughed and tugged at her own pearl necklace. “S-Sorry. You were very sweet to go over – sneeze on the ceiling, hahaha! – er, no, no, I’ll stop now. It’s only fairahaha! No! Stop! Sorry. Won’t –” Velvet had to clamp her lips shut for a moment. “Won’t do it again. I promise. Canterlot honour.”

“I guess you cook fine for your house, is that it?” said Derpy, a little miffed.

“I really am sorry. I wish I had anything that funny to say, but cooking in my house hasn’t been a problem that much. After I married Night Light, he took over the kitchen for a while. And I won’t say a word against him, his heart was in the right place and all…”

“There’s going to be a ‘but’, isn’t there?” Derpy relaxed slightly. She’d never looked comfortable being miffed anyway.

Velvet sighed, the drudgery of memory leaning on her back like a husband who didn’t realize how much he weighed. “Ish. Well, at least you have something exciting to talk about. Meals from him could be a bit… dull. Like this one time –”