• Member Since 12th Dec, 2011
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Impossible Numbers


"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying, And this same flower that smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying."

E

Some might think Twilight Velvet is the luckiest mother in the world. Yet she hasn't seen her daughter since her little girl was crowned princess. Velvet isn't even royalty herself. How can she be a mother to someone so radically different? So far away? So unreal?

Worse, it's now Mare's Day - a day for celebrating motherhood - and the situation is so bizarre that Velvet is in the odd position of having to go visit her little princess in Ponyville, by appointment, to bring the flowers that Twilight will then give back to her as a Mare's Day gift.

Twilight Sparkle's mother, they call her. Always and always. Princess this and princess that. Wouldn't it just be nice if someone looked at her life from any angle other than "Twilight Sparkle's mother"? For a day, at least. A few hours. Anything.

So who should she stumble across in Ponyville but the oddest and most extraordinary mother of all: Derpy, a mail mare capable of looking from all kinds of angles indeed. Sometimes in ways other ponies can scarcely imagine...


Written for the May 2020 Pairing Contest. Full details can also be found here.

Chapters (19)
Comments ( 50 )

A few author's notes, for those who might be interested. :twilightsheepish:

Firstly, this is part one of three. (Don't worry: I do have a finished draft, so this isn't going into limbo like my older incomplete projects).

Normally, I'd prefer to release such a sizeable story more gradually over time, but it took me most of May to write this, and since the deadline for the contest is the end of the month, I'm afraid my hand has been forced somewhat. I'll at least have enough opportunity to refine the last two thirds over the next couple of days.

Also, a minor point about timelines, though I hope it's possible to infer this from the text naturally: this is set during Season Five, i.e. shortly after the ascension in Season Three and the creation of the castle in Season Four. If anyone's confused by the chronology even after reading the story, then I hope this comment at least clears it up for you.

Lastly, the contest in question is for stories featuring rarely paired characters. Given the common motherhood theme and how obvious the comparison seemed, I admit I was utterly surprised to find that these two character tags had been paired up only once before, and in an unfinished fic that featured multiple characters and, from what I could tell, didn't have these two interacting much anyway. Only one fic, on the whole of the site! I hope my contribution here goes some way to rectifying this astonishing shortage.

Thank you, and I hope readers will enjoy the fic as much as I enjoyed writing it (or, given how some days went, a lot more than that!). :rainbowlaugh:


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Thank you! And I certainly hope you enjoy the rest of it soon enough. :twilightsmile:

What if the dart of destiny had missed Velvet? Had hit that mother unicorn over there? What if that white unicorn daughter – trying to stride with more dignity than her skipping sibling – had become the scourge of monsters, the princess of ponies, the master of her own castle?

Heh. About that...

What if Ponyville was like that too? Twilight Magic Emporiums and Twilight Cafés and Twilight Research Centres and so on?

No, no, the Twilight Research Center won't open for another fifteen years. And it won't even be named after that Twilight Sparkle.

Also, Horrid History Lessons for Horrible Little Horses is a brilliant title for an Equestrian book series. Perfectly in keeping with the setting.

(Rest assured, I'm loving the emotional beats, both heavy and light. I'm just saving most of the analysis for when I get to the end of what's here thus far.)

Magnificent stuff thus far. This is a great Derpy, and Velvet's internal turmoil is quite the sight to see. It's clear to see where Sparkle got her anxiety, to say nothing of her tendency to let certain important figures in her life fall off her radar. Great interactions, great pathos. Looking forward to seeing where you from here.

I’m a little surprise they never at least try having another kid. But who knows that kid could become another big celebrity :rainbowderp:

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Ha, I love it when a comment asks and then answers its own question. Although it is, to be fair, a fascinating question, and I think some fanfics have explored the idea of Twilight having more siblings.

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Thanks for the comments! Though I wish I got the reference in your first one. Call me dim, but is it a reference to one of Monochromatic's works? Seems familiar somehow...

(Also, I am so inordinately pleased you singled out the Horrid History Lessons little titbit: I spent way too much time going back and forth on that one. Just a little nod to a book series I myself happened to grow up on).

I'm especially happy you liked Derpy in this. A few times before, I got the impression you weren't overly keen on my prior interpretation of her, and since I think I know why (too much comedic ribbing, not enough depth), I had that detail in mind when writing this story. So thanks for the feedback there too. It really does help a writer! :scootangel:

More on the way later today. The rest of the story's still in the editing stage, but I think I can get the next third released before midnight in my timezone. Wish me luck!

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With regards to that first comment, more than one dart of destiny went out that fateful Summer Sun Celebration. Rarity is certainly the scourge of monsters, as well as a leader in the fashion world and mistress of her own chain of boutiques. I just found the dramatic irony of Velvet thinking "Maybe she could be normal, like that unicorn" delightful.

The next round of chapters is ready. Part two of three is complete!

The conclusion will be published tomorrow, before the end of the month (and thus the contest deadline). In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy the half-time entertainment! :scootangel:

After a while, Derpy said, “Are you going to say hello to T– to your daughter now?”

SHE KNOWS.

Fearing your child is never a pleasant feeling, but in real life it's usually reserved for teenagers who have mixed with the wrong crowd and become dangerously unpredictable.

I can't imagine how much worse it feels to fear your pre-pubescent child just because they are just innately more powerful than you and not yet mature enough to handle it.

This frankly sounds like food snobbery. "No, good food doesn't come from getting cook books and following the instructions! It's about the Magic of Improvisation! It's about Always Experimenting!"

If you can't make good food by following the instructions, the problem is that you have a lousy cook book.

(And it's fine to experiment, but the problem with experiments is that there are failures, too. I bet Sweetie Belle is very much an experimenter. :pinkiecrazy: )

“I don’t hate you at all, honey. But you know why it’s wrong to do things like that. Imagine if someone did that to you."

Who? Velvet thought grimly. No one’s strong enough.

img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20121113142910/mlp/images/3/33/Twilight_hypnotised_eyes_S3E2.png

Pure love for Lyra

Also wonderful story!!

All right! We should have the last third of the story ready within the hour. I'd like to thank everyone who's commented and given feedback thus far; even if I didn't always agree with it, I find it both entertaining and instructive to see what stands out or works/doesn't work for some people.

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Shhh... spoilers... shhh...

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I wonder how many fics have looked at Twilight's childhood from this more horrific angle, though I'm willing to bet not many. In fact, this was an idea I came up with about a year and a half ago for a contest, but the scope of said contest didn't give me much room to expand on it there, so the idea's been resting in my head for a while.

And yes, an immature kid with nigh-unstoppable superpowers would be horrifying. :twilightoops:

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Hm. :applejackunsure: "Snobbery" seems needlessly pejorative here, especially for a largely comedic vignette.

That's not really the takeaway I intended, among other things, at least not given Velvet's situation. For starters, at no point in the chapter do I (or rather, does Velvet) actually say Night Light's cooking is not good. Quite the opposite, if you check the specific wording. It's supposed to be more nuanced (and specific to the characters) than that (e.g. I wasn't trying to make some grander point about cooking practice in and of itself).

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Cute, but hasn't happened yet chronologically anyway. I'd have pointed to Celestia as a more obvious counterexample. :rainbowwild:

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Gosh, yes. One of the days, I hope to get my own longfic involving Lyra out there (I've had a couple of shorter ones published). Until then, any excuse for a cameo! :scootangel:

Thank you very much for the compliment, too. :twilightsmile:

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Shhh... spoilers... shhh...

Okay, I covered it up for you.
;)

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.

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:twilightsmile:

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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.)

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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).

Came here because "Beyond the Herd" was Featured, and your name seemed familiar, so I looked at your catalog.

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

Cool way that they meet!

And interesting way to segue to Mare's Day as a topic, but that's the point...

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

I wonder if Derpy will think she's Rarity's mom...

----

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!

The horrible part of her whispered: you haven’t passed a test when you’ve never been tested on it.

Mmm... Yeah...

Cool how all we get are Velvet's thoughts as an open book, and all we get from Derpy's the cover...

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

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

Da fuk.

Sweetie Belle offers lessons??!?

This is hilarious! Unfortunate for Golden Harvest, but if someone better were to have given her lessons... Things would likely be better. She's a adequate postmare, after all.

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

...

Where Velvet had put her foot down was with seating arrangements. The two of them would sit at one end of the table together. None of this rubbish about shouting across the room, “Dear, I say, dear, could you pass me the salt, please!?” “What? Speak up!”

Ha!

“You must cook some more. I’d be honoured. In fact…” Night Light dropped his spoon in the custard and rushed around to kneel next to her. “Velvie, will you marry me? Again?”

Hm, Velvet had thought, an honest marriage or a happy one? Well, why not both?

Nice!

“Well, you have a husband, don’t you?” she said.

Radio Derpy broadcast definite static.

Derpy's lack of mention of him implies no... But really, did Velvet only mention Night Light at this point?

Another fact about Derpy, which she was slowly learning, was that hierarchies didn’t sit well with her, and neither did Derpy whenever someone talked about them.

Interesting.

Dinky lay on her back on the sofa, scowling at a comic with a large enough “KABLAM!” on the cover to get Derpy worried about its violent content.

:rainbowlaugh:

...

gateaupie

:pinkiecrazy::pinkiehappy::derpyderp2:

...

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

Hopefully a different, better cookbook...

...

The fact that the amniomorphic spell had been invented as a weapon, or a sort of intimidation tactic… that was by-the-by…

Interesting, though...

Eyes around the table pulsed as hearts.

Yeppp. I was right. Yeesh...

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

...

A gentle tinkling bell of a laugh eased her. Derpy stopped and then added, “Don’t mind me. I just do that sometimes to see if ponies are paying attention. Ammy always falls for it.”

I thought that might've been it!

...

The thing that killed Velvet was that this wasn’t the first time.

WOW. The reveal after that sentence!

“Your cover story! Where you came from, what you do, that sort of thing. Can’t do undercovering well without a cover story. I know that from experience.”

HEH!

...

Velvet opened her mouth, then shut it. “Visiting my daughter,” she eventually said.

Puzzled, Lyra glanced at Derpy.

“No, no, not her!” Velvet noticed Derpy waving again, and weakly waved back.

:rainbowlaugh:

...

“Are you going to say hello to T– to your daughter now?”

HAHA!

Velvet wilted. Against all expectation, she was losing the “Don’t Be An Idiot” Contest against Derpy.

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

...

Amethyst, so intriguing, that reaction and stuff!

HUH.

Lol. Odd Job / No Identity.

“I know what it’s like to want to be someone else for a while,” she admitted.

“Even if my someone else is, in fact, me?”

Really helps with that "I'm acting like myself" bit from the previous chapter!

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.

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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:

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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?

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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.

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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?

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

I really liked this chapter! The contrast between Mr. Meticulous and Mrs. Innovation is amusing.

I love how Shining Armor's formality shows up every time he speaks.

You sure do know how to write an uncomfortable scenario...

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.

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

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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.

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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).

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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:

10261721
In addition to Malandy's comment:
Velvet didn't say it was BAD. She said it was GOOD. Precisely executed.
Cookbooks, by their nature, are meant to give a final product that appeals to the greatest number of tongues. in other words: Inoffensive. But a good home-chef takes that recipe and changes it to suit the tastes of the household and the realities of the pantry. e.g.
"Well, it was a little too sweet, I'll cut back on the sugar."
"Gah! We're out of Hoisin! I'll toss in some soy sauce instead and add a bit of sugar."
"Mm... That was good, but it needs more vanilla."
"My Significant Other hates bell peppers... what can I put in with a similar texture that won't literally cause them to flee the house screaming?"
"My child is demanding stroganoff but isn't picky about the meat and my coworker gave me 30 pounds of venison this afternoon. Let's do this."

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: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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