• Published 25th May 2021
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Through Despair and Hope - Blue Writer



How does one help a grieving child? How does one heal from losing everything?

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Chapter 6

Applejack’s mind was elsewhere for almost the entire time she did her chores that day. Her focus had been split between farm work and how Ben was doing. She wanted to help the colt, but did not know how. Her resolve did not waver, however, which was why she had asked Pinkie to assemble their friends. Surely, the six of them together could find a way to help Ben.

A rhythmic knocking on the front door put Applejack’s thoughts on standby. Pinkie, no doubt. Opening the door confirmed Applejack’s guess.

“Hi, Applejack!” greeted Pinkie, “I brought everypony!”

The four remaining Elements of Harmony stood behind Pinkie. Applejack promptly ushered them all inside.

“Ah’m much obliged y’all came,” said Applejack as they moved into the living room. “Ah need y’all’s help.”

“Anytime,” said Rainbow, “Pinkie said something about you planning a party? Not exactly your style.”

“Whatever is the occasion, darling?” asked Rarity.

“There’s somepony new in town and Applejack wants to have a little Welcome to Ponyville party!” Pinkie explained. “It’s gotta be small, but really special, and that’s what she needs our help with!”

Applejack sighed. “That ain’t quite it, Pinkie. Yeah, I’d like to have a party for ‘im, but there’s a lot more to it.”

“Him?” Rainbow asked with a smirk.

“He’s a little colt,” Applejack clarified, shooting a quick glare at Rainbow. “His name’s Ben.”

“Oh,” said Rainbow, slightly embarrassed. “Weird name.”

Twilight spoke up. “You want to throw a party for a colt? Is he a relative?”

“No. Ah ain’t rightly sure his family’s still around.”

Fluttershy gasped and put a hoof to her mouth. Pinkie’s mane slightly deflated. The others frowned in concern.

“Ah found him in the orchard last night,” Applejack continued. “He was nearly coat and bones; had bruises and scratches all over ‘im. When he saw me, he got scared right to death. He started mumblin’ a lot, then he was laughin’ and ramblin’ about havin’ nothin’ left. Next thing Ah knew, he was cryin’ his eyes out.”

“Oh, the poor dear,” Fluttershy said mournfully.

Applejack proceeded to tell them everything about her time with Ben. How he fell down the stairs that morning and started hurting himself. She highlighted Ben’s rant about his family being taken away from him. Everypony was horrified when she recalled Ben saying everything that mattered to him was gone.

By the time Applejack finished telling them how Ben had asked her to let him die as he cried in her forelegs, everypony was shaken. Pinkie’s face was devoid of its trademarked smile and her mane was straight. Fluttershy openly wept. Rarity held back her own tears. Rainbow and Twilight tried to console Fluttershy, but it was clear that they weren’t doing so well either. Applejack herself wanted to cry, but fought it. She needed to be stronger than that. She refused to break her promise.

The farm pony pressed on, relating that Ben didn’t seem to know he had magic or even that he was a unicorn. Everypony’s sadness shifted to confusion as she recounted Ben’s sudden excitement. Ben’s goal to get his body back and go home baffled them.

“Ah dropped ‘im off at the hospital this mornin,’” Applejack finished.

“One minute he’s saying everypony he loves is gone, the next he’s talking about going home?” asked Rainbow. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Perhaps he was separated from his family and he thinks there’s a spell for finding them?” Rarity suggested. “As you know, I can find gems as my special talent. Who’s to say there isn’t something similar for family members?”

“Ah thought of that,” replied Applejack, “But what did he mean by gettin’ his body back?”

“Maybe he got turned into a unicorn,” suggested Pinkie, whose mane was slowly regaining its curls.

“I’m positive that there’s a spell for finding ponies,” mused Twilight. “I’ve never heard of a spell that can turn somepony else into a completely different pony, though. I’m not sure what he’s talking about.”

“You gave me wings that one time,” Rarity recalled.

“Yeah, but all I did was add a few extra limbs and they were only temporary. Ben makes it sound like he was permanently transformed into a unicorn. You can change coat and mane color with the right spell, but it’s impossible to give somepony a horn, much less a permanent one.”

“Are ya sure, Twilight?” Applejack asked. “We’ve run into a lot of stuff we thought was impossible.”

Twilight thought for a moment. “Well, theoretically, the princesses might be able to do it, but they’d never do something like that to a colt.”

“Do you think Ben still has anypony out there?” Fluttershy asked softly. “How can he have a home to go back to if he said his family’s… gone?”

“Ah wish Ah knew for sure,” Applejack said dejectedly.

“I think Rarity might be onto something,” said Twilight. “You said that he said his family was ‘ripped away’ from him. That could imply they’re dead, but what if he actually meant that he was separated from them somehow?”

“How somehow?” asked Pinkie.

“Like Ah said, he was real skinny and bruised all over when Ah found ‘im,” Applejack said worriedly. “Ah think he might’ve been foalnapped.”

Everypony else reacted with fear and sadness at Applejack’s theory.

“It explains almost everything,” Twilight lamented. “The bruises, how skinny he looked, the fact that he was so scared, the… things he said about himself.”

“How long has been away from his family?” sniffled Fluttershy. “A month? Years? The poor, helpless little colt.”

Rainbow fumed in anger. “If I ever get my hooves on the monsters that did this to him…”

“Later, darling,” said Rarity. “Right now, we have a colt that needs our help. Why don’t we go visit him at the hospital? I’m sure he needs some cheering up.”

“We’ll have a Get Well Soon party!” Pinkie proclaimed, mane now back to normal. “That’ll cheer him up!”

“Ah was going to go check on ‘im and bring Applebloom with me,” said Applejack. “Figure Ben needs some friends his age.”

“I’ll bring Sweetie Belle,” said Rarity. “Scootaloo can come too, of course.”

“While we’re there, maybe Ben can explain what he meant when he was talking about his body,” said Twilight.

“Ah’m sure he will. Ya know, he was just dyin’ to meet ya as soon as Ah told him about ya. He’s mighty eager to learn magic and Ah think he wants ya to teach ‘im.”

Twilight’s face turned a light red. “Me? Teach? But I’m nopony special. Definitely not a teacher. There’s got to be some better qualified magic tutors in Ponyville.”

“Nopony believes you, Twilight,” Rainbow said with a teasing smile.

“Ah didn’t say ya had to teach anypony. Ah just want ya to meet ‘im is all.”

“Oh. Well, I’d be happy to give him some books for beginners.”

Applejack nodded with a smile. “Ah’m sure he’d like that.”

“To the hospital!” declared Pinkie.


After fetching the Cutie Mark Crusaders, the nine headed for the hospital. Upon arriving, the group could not help noticing some semblance of tension among the staff, though they did not know why. They walked up to the front desk and were welcomed by a unicorn nurse. Her name tag read “Amethyst Stone.”

“Hello,” she greeted, “Are you visiting or here for an appointment?”

“We’re here to see Ben,” replied Applejack, “The little unicorn colt?’”

Amethyst tensed.

“Somethin’ wrong? Is he alright?”

“Well,” the nurse said hesitantly, “The hospital was put on alert earlier today because Ben tried to run away.” Applejack was about to speak, but the nurse continued. “We managed to find him, but he got a concussion and sprained a fetlock. I believe they had to move him.”

“Move ‘im where?”

Amethyst looked at the three fillies standing nearby, who stared up in curiosity. She then turned back to the adults, unsure of what to say in front of the children. “Um, I’m not assigned to Ben, so I can’t say for certain, but I believe he was moved… somewhere he could be observed more closely. Doctor Graymane wanted to make sure he couldn’t run away again or hurt himself any further.”

“So, can we see him?” asked Twilight.

“You’ll have to ask Doctor Graymane. I’ll page him now.”

A short time later, the doctor arrived. Introductions were exchanged, followed by Applejack asking whether they could visit Ben.

“I’m afraid not,” said Graymane. “After what happened today, he’s to be under close surveillance for at least twenty-four hours. Furthermore, given what we know, I don’t think it would be good for him to be in a room with so many adults. It might overwhelm him. Hopefully, you can see him tomorrow, but only after he’s had at least one session with a counselor and there haven’t been any more incidents. In addition, he can’t meet all of you at once unless his counselor clears it.

Naturally, everypony was disappointed by the news. The adults grew all the more worried about Ben. The foals, however, did not fully grasp the situation.

“What’s a counselor?” asked Scootaloo, “And how come Ben needs one?”

“A counselor is a special kind of doctor,” Graymane explained, taking the question in stride. “They’re good at helping sad or angry ponies feel better.”

“Oh.”

Rainbow moved over to the three fillies. “Why don’t you guys go out and play?” she suggested. “We’re just gonna talk about boring adult stuff in here.”

Without hesitation, the crusaders headed out the door.

“Any idea why Ben tried to run?” asked Applejack, getting back to the matter at hoof.

“The most logical explanation is that he’s paranoid,” Graymane replied. “I believe he’s worried that we might hurt him, which raises questions about his background.”

A moment of silence passed as looks were exchanged. The doctor and the six mares silently pondered the implications. Applejack’s theory fit, and that grieved them all.

“What about his family?” asked Rarity.

“Nopony’s come forward yet. We’ll have to reach out to neighboring areas. Even if he has family, an investigation will have to be held by foal services.”

“You think his own family might be responsible for his bruises?” Rainbow asked, an edge in her tone.

“According to Ben himself, the bruises were from tripping and falling over too many times.”

“He did fall earlier this mornin,’” Applejack commented, hoping against hope that the injuries were purely accidental. Perhaps he hadn’t been foalnapped, but the chances of that were slim at best.

“He could very well just be accident prone,” the doctor conceded. “However, it’s also entirely possible that he’s trying to cover for somepony else.” Graymane decided against mentioning Ben’s delusions. He was already treading the line of how much he could reveal about his patient. That could always come later, provided the mares in front of him were cleared by Ben’s counselor.

“Why would he want to protect somepony who hurt ‘im?” asked Applejack, worried and confused.

“There are a number of factors, none of which are my area of expertise. It could be anything from fear of punishment to an unhealthy attachment.” Another possibility was that Ben had tricked himself into thinking his injuries were caused by clumsiness as a means of repressing traumatic memories.

Rainbow sighed heavily, righteous anger giving way to sadness. “He’s gonna get all the help he can, right?” she asked the doctor.

“Absolutely,” came the reply.

“How long before he sees a counselor?” asked Rarity.

“As soon as the surveillance period ends. Come back tomorrow. There isn’t anything you can do for him right now.”

The six left the hospital feeling emotionally drained and somewhat powerless.

“I hope Ben will be alright,” Fluttershy said sadly.

“He will be,” declared Applejack, filled with determination. She had made a promise and she was going to keep it.

Author's Note:

This chapter was a real pain to write. I don’t know how much doctors are allowed to reveal about patients, so I hope I kept it realistic. Feel free to correct me if I did it wrong.