• Published 27th May 2021
  • 358 Views, 11 Comments

A Lesson in Romantics - The Red Parade

Cheerilee loves Meadowbrook. Meadowbrook loves Cheerilee. Hopefully nothing gets lost in between a thousand years of translation.

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Cheerilee All Over

3 Months Later

“Miss Cheerilee?”

Cheerilee blinked, looking up at the whiteboard where the Cutie Mark Crusaders were holding a pose and a smile dramatically.

“Miss Cheerilee,” whispered Sweetie Belle harshly from the front. “We’re done!”

Done with wha— “OH!” Cheerilee smiled widely as her mind kickstarted itself. “Oh! Yes! Wonderful presentation! Let’s give them a round of applause!”

“Again? It wasn’t even that—”

Cheerilee cut off the disgruntled student by clapping loudly, and a few others joined in.

The three foals bowed and Cheerilee stood from her desk, trotting back to the whiteboard.

Apple Bloom tapped her on the shoulder. “Can we see your notes Miss Cheerilee? We really want to know how we did!”

Cheerilee looked down at her notepad. A blank sheet of paper stared back at her.

“Uh… I’ll get those to you later!”

Satisfied, Apple Bloom returned to her seat, leaving Cheerilee to rapidly reassemble her lesson plans. She turned to the whiteboard, reading the chalked words to herself and wishing she hadn’t mentally checked out half an hour ago.

“Okay! What a wonderful presentation by the Cutie Mark Crusaders on… their topic! Remember class, we’ll be having a short math quiz tomorrow, before we move into our unit on biology and the Everfree Meadows!”

She turned around to see a hoof in the air. “Yes, Sweetie Belle?”

“What are the Everfree Meadows?” questioned the unicorn.

Cheerilee blinked again. “The what?”

“You just said next week we’re going to learn about the Everfree Meadows!” Sweetie Belle said. “I never heard of that before!”

“Did I?” Cheerilee tilted her head in confusion. “Oh, I’m sorry class, I meant the Everfree Forest. Just a slip of the tongue!”

The class reacted with general ambivalence, minus Sweetie Belle who was attempting to erase something in her notes but only smudging the text further.

With that, the bell rang, and the class beelined for the door.

Cheerilee sighed, a wistful grin on her face as she gathered her materials and checked to see if any students were lingering to ask her a question. Satisfied with the lack of questioning foals, she exited the classroom and headed for the desk outside.

Amethyst Star greeted her with a nod, hooves still clacking away at her typewriter. “Hello, Miss Cheerilee. Good class?”

“Oh, great!” Cheerilee replied enthusiastically. “The class presentations are going splendidly.”

As the days went by, Cheerilee was increasingly glad she had hired Amethyst as a personal assistant. Not only was she great at helping with the administrative duties the EEC was dumping on her, but she was also great at keeping out… unsavory ponies that Cheerilee was never in the mood for. Particularly one such president of the parent-teacher association.

“So any plans for the rest of today, Miss Cheerilee?” asked Amethyst as she turned to file away some folders.

Cheerilee giggled. “Oh, not much. Meadowbrook and I are going to Roseluck’s shop to observe some of her new plant varieties! I admit biology isn’t one of my strong suits, but Meadow makes it so interesting to learn about!”

Amethyst turned around slowly, a wide grin forming on her face. It was the kind of grin that reminded Cheerilee of Diamond Tiara whenever she was struck by a particularly devilish scheme. “So… sounds like you two are getting rather close then?”

“I suppose,” Cheerilee hummed, flipping through some of her notes. “Her presence has been so wonderful!”

“What was it she wanted?” Amethyst asked, drawing a small circle on the desk with her hoof and continuing to grin. “Did she ever finish that love poison study?”

“Oh yes, ages ago I think,” Cheerilee replied.

Amethyst laughed. “Well then! I wonder why she’s still here.”

Cheerilee tapped her chin in thought. “I… you know, I’m not certain. I suppose she’s found the Everfree Forest an interesting venture to study?”

“Are you sure it isn’t you?”

Cheerilee turned slowly to look at Amethyst and blinked several times, trying to process what she had said. “What do you…” Her eyes went wide as the realization hit her, resulting in a flush of red to her cheeks. “Why! I… I certainly don’t think that!”

“Oh come on, Cheerilee! I’ve worked with you for almost a year now, and you have definitely been happier since meeting her,” Amethyst said, poking Cheerilee in the chest. “You should ask her out!”

“Amethyst!” Cheerilee cried. “I… I couldn’t possibly ask out one of the Pillars of Equestria!”

“Well why not? I’ve seen how you two are! She makes you happy, Cheerilee,” Amethyst pressed. “Happy in a way nopony else can. Come on, at least try!”

Cheerilee stared down at the wooden floor. “But… what if she says no?”

“Well, what if she says yes?”

She considered the options carefully before sighing. “Well. I will… think about it.”

“As if you haven’t been thinking about her already,” Amethyst giggled. “You should get going! You don’t want to be late!”

Cheerilee gasped, glancing up at the clock. “Oh goodness! You’re right!”

With that, Cheerilee galloped off down the hall, with Amethyst calling after her: “Tell me how it goes!”

As she left the schoolhouse, Cheerilee couldn’t deny that something was fluttering inside of her chest.

She hoped it was nothing.

Meadowbrook sighed, leaning back in her chair and staring up at the ceiling. She counted ten Equestrias in her head, then stood up, went into the other room, and glanced at the pony seated on the ground. “Somnambula? Are you done yet?”

“Have patience, my friend,” replied Somnambula, causing Meadowbrook to suppress a groan.

At first she had been delighted that her old friend had come by to visit, and for the first few days it was comforting having a familiar face in her room at the castle. But as the days marched on, Meadowbrook was quickly reminded of Somnambula’s rather strange habits.

She sighed and began pacing the floor to occupy herself. “Well, I don’t want to rush you, but I’m meeting with a friend soon, and I really don’t want to be late.”

“Ah. Would this friend be the Cheerilee pony you have told me about?” asked Somnambula without opening her eyes.

Meadowbrook nodded before realizing that Somnambula couldn’t see the action. “Er, yes,” she answered. “Cheerilee’s been a dear friend of mine in fact! I should really introduce you two to each other.”

Somanmbula let out a low hum. “Are you certain, my friend, that she is merely a friend?”

“What?” Meadowbrook tilted her head in confusion. “What do you mean by that?”

“I have read your letters from these new times,” Somnambula replied with a smile growing on her lips. “And they bear in them a hope and light I have not seen from you before. Not even in the span of a thousand years.”

Meadowbrook turned away, mostly to hide the blush creeping onto her face. “Why! Whatever are you saying?”

Somnambula only smiled. “I mean no harm. I am happy for you, Meadow. Happy that you have found love in this world.”

“L-Love?!” Meadowbrook almost tripped over hooves. “Love is a… strong word!” she insisted. “Cheerilee and I are only friends!”

Somnambula cracked open an eye but didn’t speak.

“Seriously! Don’t look at me like that!”

When Somnambula only grinned wider, Meadowbrook threw her hooves up in the air. “Ugh! Whatever.”

“You could be.”

Meadowbrook glanced over her shoulder. “What?”

“You are merely friends, but you could be more,” Somnambula said, shutting her eye again. “The choice is in your hooves, Meadowbrook.”

Neither pony spoke until Meadowbrook turned for the door. “I… I will think about it. But I really must get going.”

“Of course,” Somnambula replied. “Enjoy yourself.”

As Meadowbrook stepped out into the hall, she paused to consider Somnambula’s words.

Could they really be more than friends?

Meadowbrook wasn’t certain, but something inside her chest tingled at the thought.

“These are beautiful!”

“Oh, they’re wonderful, Rose!”

“The horror! The horror!

The three ponies ignored the shrieks from behind them as Daisy wailed.

Meadowbrook held a magnifying glass up to her eye, taking in the beautiful aura of the rose in front of her.

Cheerilee scribbled a note in her book, sketching in the details and curves.

Roseluck nodded proudly, standing a little bit taller. “Thank you, Mage. It was definitely a challenge to grow, but I’m so proud of it!”

“I can only imagine,” Meadowbrook replied. “It reminds me of the variety that used to grow near the swamp all those years ago.”

“The swirling on the petals is stunning,” Cheerilee affirmed. “I’ve seen flowers like these in books, but never in person.”

Meadowbrook giggled. “I’m not surprised, Cheerilee! You spend too much time with your books, you need to get out into the world more!”

“Oh, please,” Cheerilee retorted. “Look where books got Princess Twilight!”

They threw back their heads and laughed.

“Oh, my chrysanthemums! The horror!” The cry was followed by the crashing of flower pots onto the floor, but none of the three batted an eye.

“May I hold it?” asked Cheerilee.

Meadowbrook nodded and passed the flower over to her gently. Cheerilee held it up to her face, inhaling gently and letting the fertile scent reach her nose. Meadowbrook’s head was a blurred silhouette behind it, but as the seconds passed Cheerilee found herself looking past the flower and at her friend instead.

As Roseluck prattled on about how she had created this particular flower, Amethyst’s words echoed in her mind.

Little did she know that Somnambula’s words were hunting Meadowbrook’s mind as well.

“She was right… I think I love her,” they both thought.

“Please, won’t anyone think of the flowers?!”

Both of them were yanked from their heads at the same time and game to a crushing realization as to their position: each had a hoof on the flower with their faces in close proximity: inches from the flower stem and inches more from the other.

They reacted by pulling away instantly, the flower almost tumbling to the floor.

“Er, yes, we—”

“I think that—”

Both their eyes went wide as they cut each other off. Then their eyes fell away in embarrassment as they waited for the other to continue, resulting instead in a pregnant silence.

“I’ll be sure to send you samples when the rest bloom,” Roseluck finally offered as she returned the flower to her protective case.

“Yes!” said Meadowbrook. “Yes. Yes. Yes, um. Thank you, Roseluck.”

“Meadow,” Cheerilee said, her voice cracking slightly. “Perhaps we should go to dinner? If you’d have me, of course?”

Meadow smiled. “Of course, I’d love to!”

With that, they said goodbye to Roseluck and darted from the store, carefully stepping over Daisy’s sprawled body on the floor, half-covered in dirt, fertilizer, and flower petals.

“Oh, bury me with my petunias…” she whimpered as the door shut. When the bell rang to signal their exit, Daisy opened her eyes and stood. She shrugged, dusted herself off, and continued sweeping the floor while whistling a tune.

As they blinked in the midmorning sunlight, both Meadowbrook and Cheerilee thought over the past hours. They moved down the streets lost in thought, but realized at the same time how close they were to each other.

Simultaneously, they blushed and pulled away, instantly missing the warm comfort of the other.

“So,” Cheerilee said. “I was wondering… would you be interested in joining me tonight? For dinner, I mean! I was thinking we could go get some dinner tonight? At, um… Cafe Hay!”

She regretted the words as soon as she said them. Cafe Hay?! Cheerilee you idiot, why would you suggest there?

Meadowbrook failed to notice her friend’s crisis as her own mind began to spiral out of control. She… she wants to do fieldwork with me?! This could be my chance! “I… I would love to!” Meadowbrook almost shouted.

“Okay! I’ll meet you there? At, um… six?” Cheerilee stammered.

“Alright. Is there anything I need to know about the fieldsite?” Meadowbrook asked.

Fieldsite? Cheerilee blinked in confusion. “Um… it’s a restaurant?”

“Restaurant. Got it. I’ll see you then!” Meadowbrook answered, the gears starting to turn in her mind. “I need to go… get ready!”

Cheerilee waved mechanically, a fake smile plastered on her face. “Of… of course! I’ll meet you there!”

She stood with locked legs and Meadowbrook retreated into the town, trying to parse out what had just been said. Eventually, after a couple of seconds, the realization hit her. “Oh. Oh! She thinks I’m asking her to study something.”

Cheerilee perked up, then deflated a bit. “I guess… she didn’t realize I wanted it to be a date.”

“Miss Cheerilee!”

The mare recoiled as a booming voice dripping with snobbery shouted her name. Cheerilee glanced over her shoulder to see the devil herself marching towards her. “O-oh. Hello, Spoiled Rich,” Cheerilee answered with a thinly-veiled disgust.

She began moving, hoping that she could outrun Spoiled without looking like she was running, but Spoiled picked up her pace to stay right on her tail.

“I need to speak with you, Cheerilee!” Spoiled declared.

“I’m afraid I’m rather busy at the moment!” Cheerile replied, her eyes desperately glancing up and down the streets for somewhere to take sanctuary.

Spoiled laughed, pitched and snooty. “This will only take a second. Now I recall from our last meeting you found my donation… insufficient?”

“Yes, I refused to accept your bribe,” Cheerilee growled, locking eyes on the flower store and adjusting her course for it.

“Semantics, really,” replied Spoiled. “But if you found the bit sum to be insufficient, perhaps consider—”

“No!” Cheerilee exclaimed. “Your daughter has done absolutely nothing wrong! There is no feasible reason for me to punish her the way you’re suggesting, or at all for that matter!”

Spoiled gasped. “Why, Miss Cheerilee! You simply don’t understand the methodology of being a good parent! When your foal disobeys and disrespects you, you must right the course by whatever means. And my dear Diamond seems to have forgotten this, so I seek to remedy the issue. Now, about my offer—”

“One second,” Cheerilee said, pushing open the door to the flower store.

As the bell rang, Daisy snapped her head to the door and the broom fell out of her hooves. “Oh, the horror!” She fell backwards, knocking over several pots and landing on several bags of fertilizer.

Spoiled Rich gasped, her eyes growing wide as she saw the unsavory contents. “Er… I see you’re very busy, so I’ll come back later. But please, do consider this offer. I believe it’d be in your best interest, Miss Cheerilee,” she declared, passing her a sheet of paper while fighting back a gag.

As Spoiled left the store, Cheerilee glanced at the paper, eyes widening at the values typed onto it. “That’s… that’s absurd,” she muttered in disbelief. “All this to place Diamond in detention for a few weeks?”

She sighed, shoving the paper into her bags. Cheerilee decided to ignore the matter for now. After all, she had several chores to do before her date.

“Oh, my fertilizer! The horror!”

And possibly a shower as well.