• Published 5th Jun 2020
  • 1,751 Views, 112 Comments

Slice of Velvet and Pear - David Silver

We walk down our long roads of life, but what of the roads not taken? Twilight and Applejack are carried along a different path, where their fates were bound in new ways.

  • ...

2 - Consequences

It couldn't be. The force set the book down a moment, its essence coiling in a knot. It wasn't close to the time when that would happen, but already it could feel a great mistake, a terrible consequence to its actions. Twilight's course was already diverting off its path.

"Most of her friends are durable," it spoke without witness. "They will adapt. Friendship can survive this."

But one, just one. It was too small, too unformed. It needed Twilight to come into being. What would happen to it?

It was too late. The events were unfolding. To make another alteration would be to admit abject failure. "I will require faith." Not faith in some higher being, but in the lesser ones, in the fictional characters the being held so dearly.

They would have to figure it out... or not. It would not dishonor them by losing that faith. It would read on.

The page turned.

"Did you try it out?" Velvet was smiling at her dear friend. "I got it from my own mother, but you seem to have so much more of a hoof at cooking. How'd it come out?"

Pear Butter walked casually towards the fridge. "I certainly did that, but did ya think ah'd do that and not save a taste fer the pony what gave me the recipe?" She nosed the door open with a sweep of her face and reached inside, grabbing a small plate in her teeth. "Which I now present, so ah hope ya brought yer tastebuds."

Velvet began clopping her hooves with excitement, clearly ready to try the treat. "Now, I did make it myself once before, but I can already see the chef makes a difference!" When the plate was set before her, her horn began to glow, grabbing a fork and plunging it in, cutting off a portion. "Down the hatch."

"It's about time to go," noted a deeper male voice.

"Oh, honey." Pear closed with her husband, giving a gentle nuzzle of his cheek. "Ah told ya today was a visit day."

"And ah told ya moons ago we had to deliver today." Bright Mac pointed towards the door. He sighed almost instantly. "Sorry, ah shouldn't get testy like that. It's right good ya found a friend." He returned the nuzzle he had just been given. "Ah can haul a wagon."

"You are a strong stallion," agreed Pear with a complimenting tone. "Hurry on back, ah'll miss ya while yer away. She watched him walk off and looked back to Velvet. "Now then, how a--" She trailed off, noticing the plate had been reduced to just a few smudges of the food. "Well, guess ya liked it?"

"It's like it was a different thing altogether." Velvet licked her lips clear with an appreciative mmm. "Now where did our fillies run off to?"

"Applejack's a good little filly. Bet she and Big Mac are off showin' Twilight how to do a chore, if ah had to guess." Pear grabbed the plate in her mouth and carried it easily to the sink to join a few other dirty plates, but she never got to clean it.

Velvet was already next to her, glowing horn grabbing at the abandoned dishes. "I won't stand for it. Cleaning these is the least I can do for you. You go relax and let a friend lend a hoof."

Pear looked uncertain, but also didn't stop Velvet, backing up a step. "If yer sure? Doesn't feel like good hostin'."

"Cleaning a few dishes won't hurt me," assured Velvet. "I have two foals of my own, they make plenty of dishes to clean, just like your family." She began tending to them, the water running and sudsing action starting. "I'll have this done in a jiff."

"You take care of yerself now, and watch your sister." Bright Mac nodded with appropriate gravity at Big Mac. "Yer the stallion of the house while ah'm gone."

Little Big Mac inclined his head. "Yes'ir! Mom ain't goin' with ya?" They usually went off together.

"Her friend stopped by." He walked into the hitch and wriggled into place, attaching the wagon properly. "Ah'll let her have fun and get this delivery done pronto."

Twilight waved a little hoof at the stallion. "Where are you going?"

Bright smiled at the little unicorn filly. "Just makin' a delivery. There are ponies a fair bit away that need some good apples, and ah'm gonna get some to 'em."

A small book circled around Twilight's head into view and she began taking notes, a bit better at words than that first time. "I see." She wandered off, apparently satisfied with the answer.

Applejack shook her head. "Ain't she a curious one? Gonna show her how to barrel thin's up." She took off at a dash. "Good luck with the delivery!" she called on the way.

Bright nodded one final time at his family and trotted along the road, soon lost to sight on his work trip.

It was only one change, such a small one. It would upend Equestria's favored in countless ways.

It would save one life, but only one. That delivery still had to be made. Before, both had gone, walking side by side. When the ground gave way on that narrow path, they had fallen together, their flames extinguished just as they had lived, together, unified in even that moment.

There had been a poetry to it. That was no longer the case. Bright Mac was extinguished alone, broken as surely as the wagon he had been pulling.

"I'm sorry ma'am," reported a pony, their hoof held against their breast, their eyes down turned.

Pear staggered back, her vision swimming with tears. "It can't be... Tell me yer fibbin'! He... Is this his way of gettin' back at me fer makin' him walk alone?!" She suddenly advanced on the deliverer of bad news, a scowl on her face. "This ain't funny!" She raised a hoof, looking ready to hit the pony.

Granny's hoof was suddenly in the way, drawing her daughter back. "Shhh, shhh, no use beatin' the messenger like that." She looked past Pear Butter, nodding at the messenger who took the cue to flee. "Come on inside... we got some plannin' to do..."

Pear broke down into inconsolable sobs, collapsing against Granny. There were things to do, for her husband, who was gone. "Apple Bloom ain't gonna have no pa," she sniffled out. "No pa a'tall!"

The name had altered between conception and birth. Granny nodded with soft comforting shushes. "She'll have a family. She has a right fine mother, and a brother, and even a granny if she'll have 'er." She snorted with a half joke. "She won't be alone, not alone."

Granny led Pear to her room and soon had the distraught mare tucked in. "Now, ya just... relax a moment. Ah need to go talk." She turned away. "Ya still got me, baby girl."

"Thank you," she whispered out, curling on herself miserably.

Granny set off on a determined march, peeking into rooms as she strode past them. There was Applejack. "Get yer brother and meet me out front, pronto," she ordered, marching past her.

Applejack jerked upright. That tone was not one granny used without a reason. "Yes ma'am!" She dashed off to find her brother.

Soon they were all gathered in front of the house, the two Apple siblings side by side, looking at their grandmother curiously and cautiously. Big Mac rubbed a hoof behind his head. "Is somethin' wrong?"

Granny shook her head slowly. "This ain't easy. What ah'm about to tell ya ain't no joke. Ah got some really bad news, but ya deserve to be told it straight." She took a slow breath, wrinkled folds undulating in the heavy motion. "You two know what it means to... die?"

Big Mac nodded first. "When somethin's too hurt and it never moves no more." He pointed at Granny. "What happened to yer stallion."

Granny cringed softly, but a little smile appeared. "That's exactly right... and I got powerful sad when that happened... But ah had to keep walkin'. Ya get me?"

Applejack inclined her head. "Are ya feelin' bad about grandpa? We're here for ya!" She bounced upright with a big smile, offering a hoof to her grandmother. "We're Apples to the core!"

A tear escaped Granny. "You are just such a treat... No, this ain't fer me, not exactly... My loss is old... This is a new thing." She looked between them. "I'm 'fraid to say your pa won't be comin' back." She had wanted to say it softly, somehow, but there was no sugar coating that.

Both stared at her. Big Mac broke the silence first, "What happened?"

Applejack began to bob her head furiously in agreement. "It was jus' a delivery! Ain't nothin' to get hurt over! Ya sure he's hurt so bad? Maybe ya just need to shake him a little. He's a deep sleeper ya know."

Granny took a hissing breath. "We're sure... sure as ya can be... he's... he's not comin' back." She shook her head with a slow finality. "But he ain't gone."

Bright Mac inclined his head. "If he ain't comin' back... how ain't he gone?" Suddenly there was something pressing into him. Applejack was leaning against him, shaking like a leaf in the breeze. He reached an arm around her, holding her firmly.

"Because of you two." Granny smiled wanly at the two foals. "You two and little Apple Bloom. He's right inside ya. Now... yer mom's in an awful state, and if ya need to cry, go on, get it out... but we have to be strong, for her. It hurts... but we have to walk."

Applejack buried her face in her brother's side. "Like ya did, for grandpa, for us? Gotta... keep movin'... What if ah'd rather have pa back?!"

Big Mac gently patted his sister. "Ah'm the stallion of the house now... Ah won't let ya down."

Suddenly he was bopped on the head by granny. "Now ya don't go doin' that. Ya got two perfectly able ponies that love ya to pieces. Ya still got a ma, and a granny. We're here. So, go on, cry, get it out."

It was a heavy day for the Apple family, but they would endure, together.

Twilight trotted along with her book floating nearby. "Applejack? Big Mac?" she called, patrolling the apple orchard in search of them. There! That back end of a pony was right. "Applejack, there you are." she scurried around the tree to see Applejack's face and skidded to a halt. Applejack was looking... down. "What's wrong?"

"My pa..." She rose up to her hooves with a shaking breath. "He ain't comin' back."

"He moved away?" Twilight inclined her head, confusion written clearly on her face.

"Somethin' like that..." Applejack shook her head. "Gone off somewhere ah can't go..."

"Oh..." Twilight silently approached her friend and reared up, putting both arms around Applejack and sinking against her in a firm hug. Applejack tensed, and Twilight felt something wet. Applejack was crying silent tears in the embrace and Twilight squeezed harder, as if she could just hug the pain right out of her friend.

She sure tried, and soon Applejack was returning the gesture for a moment before pushing Twilight back. "That's enough ah that." Applejack rose and turned. "Plenty of chores ta be done." She refused to talk more about it, leading Twilight on a round of apple bucking (which Twilight was a little better at, but still a pale shadow compared to the Apples).

As they moved to deliver the harvest to the barn, Twilight glanced around, musing. "My grandfather... passed away," she suddenly admitted.

Applejack turned an ear towards Twilight, but her face was forward and her steps certain on the task of delivery. "Ya huh?"

"I was really sad," explained the filly unicorn as she walked alongside her friend. "He was so nice... He'd always bring a treat."

Applejack faltered, the wagon wobbling with her unsure steps. "Did he now?"

"I really... loved him." She suddenly reached out an arm, hugging her friend. "I still do."

Applejack didn't respond, but didn't shove Twilight away again, walking along with her draped over her.

"It's my fault." Pear had her face in her hooves. "I shoulda been there! Ah coulda saved him!"

Velvet slowly shook her head. "It doesn't always work that way." She reached for her friend but slowed her hoof before touching. "You couldn't have known."

"But what ah did know was that I wasn't there, and ah normally woulda." She thumped one hoof down on the dining room table. "I would have."

"Except I happened," awkwardly admitted Velvet. "I can't even put into words how sorry I am."

Pear sniffed softly, but her eyes suddenly opened wide. "Oh, Dear Celestia! You're blaming yourself!" Her own sorrow was thrown aside in that instant. "No! No no no no!" She leaped at her friend, the two crashing to the ground in a painful heap of affection. "You didn't do it!"

Velvet smiled faintly, ignoring the new aches for the time. "I'll believe that if you agree. This... was a terrible thing... but terrible things, they happen sometimes." She wrapped her hooves around Pear, hugging her firmly. "But we can't go around blaming ourselves."

Pear sat up on Velvet, pinning her to the floor. "Ah see how it is. Holding me hostage. Ah can't be sad or you'll be sad." She poked Velvet, hoof on her nose directly. "What a friend you are."

"I try," sang out Velvet. "Now let me stand up. We're gonna make lunch, together. Tears make for horrible condiments."

Pear rolled her eyes as she slid off Velvet, offering a hoof of assistance. Soon they were cooking together. "I'll come by more often," promised Velvet as she worked. "You need a little company."

The tragedy did not break them apart. Twilight had plenty of opportunity to get closer to Applejack.

Twilight waved a letter excitedly in her magic. "Look! I've been accepted!"

Applejack reached up a hoof as she leaned in to examine it, eyes sweeping left and right. "Ya been allowed to apply, not quite the same thing as 'accepted', Sugarcube."

"Not every pony even gets this far," explained Twilight, bouncing in place. "I'm so excited! But also nervous... Do you think I'll pass?" She pointed at the floating paper. "It'll be a test of magic!"

"Then you'll pass," stated Applejack bluntly. "Ya may not be the best apple bucker around none, but when it comes to magic, ya got that." She nodded with firm confidence. "Shoot, maybe you'll give the teachers a few tips."

Twilight burst into giggles at the idea. "That is very unlikely. I still have so much left to learn." She threw her fore hooves wide to encompass the enormity of the thing she spoke of. "That's why I'm going!" It hit her then. "Oh... we won't be able to see each other as often."

"Why not?" Applejack hiked a brow. "Yer mom's not stoppin' by?"

"I suppose she would do that." Twilight bobbed her head. "But I'll be at school. It's a biiig thing. I'll be busy! Just like you're busy with the farm." She waved a hoof in a slow circle. "You don't visit Canterlot much, right? It's the same thing."

"Huh..." Applejack sat and frowned at the thought, puzzling it through. "Well then. Ah figure it's time I made an exception."

"Huh?" Twilight inclined her head. "You'll start visiting?"

"Just once." She held up a lone hoof. "Ah'll be there when ya do yer test. Ah'll root for ya so hard they'll just have to accept ya!"

Twilight grabbed her friend with a joyful giggle. "You're the best, Applejack! I have so much to prepare for, but with you there, I'm sure I can do this." She nodded firmly and brought the paper closer to review it. "I just need..."

"What a big moment," appreciated Pear with a little smile on her face. "Ah just sent Applejack to the local school. She goes there most days." She pointed in the direction of the schoolhouse. "We don't have no specific school fer apple farmers or nothin' like that."

Velvet nodded in agreement. "They did raise you just fine," she assured. "And I'm sure they're treating your foals well too, but Twilight's such a smart little filly, and I want to help her reach as high as she can." She extended a hoof upwards to imitate the act. "I couldn't say no when it came up. Celestia's school is practically made for her! We're going with her, of course. It's traditional for parents to be there on exam day."

Pear put a hoof on her breast. "I'd love to come right along, but somepony's gotta keep an eye--"

The front door slammed, Applejack charging in. "Ma! Oh, hey Miss Velvet." She nodded at their guest respectfully enough. "Actually, guess it's good yer here." Not that there was much chance little Twilight would be there without Velvet. "I wanna go, for Twilight. I want to be there when she does her test."

Pear trotted over to her daughter and pressed her lips to the top of Applejack's head. "We were just talking about that. Ah can't go on account of things needin' done, but ah'd be delighted if you could go in mah place." She looked over her shoulder at Velvet. "Would ya mind takin' care of Applejack fer a few days?"

"It would be a delight." Velvet slid from the chair to her hooves. "It'll be a little sleepover. Have you ever been to Canterlot?"

"No, ma'am," she confessed, looking suddenly nervous. "Are they... all unicorns?"

"Reckon most of 'em?" Pear looked to Velvet.

"Most of them," she easily agreed. "But don't you worry about that at all. You're a pony, and my guest." She closed with the nervous filly with a kind smile. "You and Twilight will have so much fun."

Applejack smiled timidly. "Yeah! Tons ah fun." But she had made promises, and Applejack would not back away from them. "Ah'm ready!"

Applejack sat at a new table. "Uh, nice to meetcha." She was looking at the stallion she hadn't met before.

Night Light inclined his head at Applejack, smiling kindly. "And nice to meet you as well. So, you're the elusive Applejack. I had so many ideas, but seeing you is so much better."

Twilight leaned over to whisper to Applejack, "He loves his charts."

Applejack smiled at that. "Ya got that from your pa," she noted, looking amused. "So, what's fer dinner?"

Night pointed towards the kitchen. "Velvet insisted she handle it today, but it sure smells good."

Applejack inclined her head. "Today? Who cooks it the other days?"

Night turned his hoof back on himself. "Well, I do, of course. We take turns. Sometimes little Twilight has a turn."

Twilight sat up proudly. "I studied several books on culinary techniques so I could participate competently."

A hoof came down, Shining Armor giving Twilight a noogie. "You just like showing off so you can be sibling supreme."

Twilight squealed with laughter, the two wrestling a moment with joyful laughs, their competition a lighthearted thing between them.

"Sure sounds like someponies out here are sure eager." There came Velvet, a tray floating along in her magic, covered and full of mystery. "But are you ready to chow down?" All eyes were on her as she lowered it into place and twisted her magic to grab the top and now the bottom of the tray, pulling up the cover out of the way. "I present, a peach cobbler with radish hints."

The unicorns gave an appreciative Ooo of a sound at once, already reaching with magic grips to serve themselves.

Applejack looked at it with less certainty. "Peach?"

Velvet nodded as she slid up into her own seat and began serving herself with a glowing horn. "A lovely fruit. Do you not like peaches?"

"They're alright, ah guess." She rubbed behind her head and forced a smile. "Time to try somethin' new." She had been looking forward to just that, new things, in a new place. She reached out towards the tray, the only hoof out there. It was hard to miss, and she hesitated, feeling awkward. "Uh..."

Suddenly some landed on her plate, Twilight grinning hugely. "There you are!" She served herself another portion. "Eat up!"

Another trick of unicorn houses. All of their cutlery assumed you had magic to pick them up and use them. None of them had hoof attachments. Applejack tried vainly to get a fork to attach to her hoof, but there just wasn't any way to force the stubborn tool to do so. When Twilight leaned over, AJ thrust up a hoof. "Ah got this!"

She muttered to herself as she worried with the fork a moment longer, sighed, and decided to do it like earth ponies always could. She buried her face in the food and began chomping. "Mmm." Even if she was the only one chowing down all personal-like, Applejack had to admit it didn't taste awful.

Twilight inclined her head left and right curiously before she set her fork down in her magic. She glanced over and saw Shining Armor looking back at her with understanding, both of their forks then set down.

"Now chil--," started Night Light, but it was too late. Both of them buried their faces in their food and began to eat just like Applejack was, giggling at how naughty they were being.

Velvet chuckled softly. "It's my fault. I'll get some earth pony things for you, Applejack. That was rude of me."

Applejack sat up, her snout smeared and stained with the sweet dinner. "Ya don't have to go outta yer way jus' fer me."


Night nodded quickly. "I'll bring some home tomorrow on the way back. It's not a problem, we promise."

Velvet nodded firmly. "But, for today." Her fork hit the table with a clatter. "Let's eat together." And down went her face, splatting wetly on the food and chomping as her children were.

That left Night Light out, looking increasingly uncertain. "This just isn't how it's... supposed to be done..." But he was one vote, outweighed by the rest of his family enjoying themselves. He did not join them, but he did not try to convince them either, accepting that he had a weird family. And he loved them.

A clopping came from Twilight's door. "The folks say they're heading out in half an hour," called a muffled Shining Armor. "You ready in there?"

"Ready!" called back Twilight, her eyes scanning the same paper, reviewing what little information had been given to prepare with.

"Ready," echoed Applejack, who had been bunking with Twilight during her stay. "Ya got this."

"I have this," agreed Twilight, nodding with firm conviction. "Let's go."

"Yer brother said half an' hour. We still got some time." She sat down and let out a breath. "I'll be honest... kinda glad we're almost done."

"Hm?" Twilight looked away from her paper. "Why's that?"

"No offense or nothin'..." She rubbed one leg with the opposed hoof. "But ah think ah like it better, you know, home..."

The paper slipped from Twilight's immature grip. "Were we bad hosts?!" She scrambled to grab a book of etiquette. "We'll get better!"

Applejack set a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "You ain't done not a thin' wrong. Ah just... It's me, alright? Pretty sure it's just me." She leaned in to press her nose to Twilight's cheek. "Now let's get you into that there school."

"Thank you." Twilight hugged her friend briefly before standing tall, her magic setting the book where it had come from. "Let's go take a test."

Together, they marched out of Twilight's room, ready to face the challenge of the day, and hopefully get Twilight into Celestia's school for gifted unicorns.

Author's Note:

And we advance. A life was saved. A life was lost. Friendships grow closer. Please, do leave comments. This chapter was an interesting challenge as my emotional state slid right into theirs and I was quite sad for our ponies.

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