• Published 3rd Mar 2024
  • 1,069 Views, 43 Comments

Sickness to Health - David Silver

His life had become pain and sickness, but a bright new world offered an alternative path where not only it glittered, but it offered him the chance to shine as well. He would never be the same again, but life as a hippogriff can't be worse.

  • ...

2 - Straight As

There felt like no avoiding it. "My new name is Ariel. I was Aaron."

"Ariel and Silverstream! Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?" Silverstream lifted her arms up to the sky. "Two ponies in the sea!" With a great splash, she sent a small wave crashing against Ariel. "Nothing wrong with the old name, but you look more like an Ariel, if you ask me." She let herself float on the surface for a while. "Isn't this relaxing?"

"I already love it." Ariel floated upside down, finding it to be easy. "I don't feel like anything is pulling at my feathers." She swished her tail. "Except for you, of course." She realized a moment later. "Not that I have feathers right now."

"Feels so nice and smooth, huh?" Silverstream circled Ariel easily with soft giggles. "In the water, we are sea ponies. On the land, hippogriffs. Either way, it's us. So welcome to both!"

Ariel took the invitation and began exploring the ocean depths, swimming through kelp beds and chasing after fish with Silverstream, delighting in their new bodies. In the sunlit zone she leapt out of the water with joy and crashed back in, letting the saltwater wash away the tiredness of their previous illness.

Under the light of a rising moon, Ariel settled next to Silverstream. The sand was different in the shallows, wet and clinging to her body, but that didn't bother either of them. She had her full arms and legs back, stretching them. "My legs are my tail."

"Basically." Silverstream shrugged. "I don't think about that too much." She sat next to Ariel. "Now that the day is done, we should rest. I have so much more to show you. It's gonna be great." She grinned ear to ear. With a half-pounce, she hugged Ariel close with undisguised warmth.

Ariel returned the hug without complaint. "Thank you for finding me." She stroked her hair. "That would have been a bad way to die."

"You were glowing," whispered Silverstream. "I can't just ignore glowing things." She nestled in warmly, nuzzling into Ariel's neck with happy little chirps. "Don't worry about it. I wanted to help, and I'm really glad you're okay."

"More than just okay." Ariel breathed in deep and held the breath for a while. With a woosh of the released air, Ariel snuggled in closer. "This is a life worth living. Just that, despite it all, I am getting tired. Can we sleep as a seapony?"

"Oh, sure, sure!" Silverstream hopped up though. "We have beds down there, but even without one, just close your eyes and relax. You'll float along, peaceful as can be. Trust me, it's super comfy!"

"And you'll be there?" Ariel stretched, standing up. "It's new. I like new things, but... I want you near me."

"Aw!" Silverstream grabbed Ariel's closer hand. "Come on, we'll sleep together then. You've had a super full day. You might sleep for days!"

Ariel stumbled after Silverstream into the palace they had started from, back up the hill. The climb was easy, with no pain shooting up her legs or making it impossible to breathe. Her body worked just fine, and if she wasn't actively struggling, she hardly noticed it existed.

Back in Silverstream's room, the door shut with a creak behind them.

Ariel was in a plain, simple, yet large bedroom. There were posters of various hippogriffs she didn't recognize, books on shelves, toys and trinkets about the place. It was clearly lived in, with little touches of personality sprinkled about, but it didn't strike her as excessively girly.

Silverstream led Ariel to that warm bed and the two settled. With a whistle, the lights went out. In what felt like an instant, Ariel's body surrendered easily to a blissful sleep, dreaming of potential futures ahead.

When she woke, the bed was empty, and the morning sunlight was bright, filling the room with natural luminescence. The world was clearer today, though Ariel wondered how much of that was the improved vision of a hippogriff and how much was the passing days.

She rolled from bed and bounced once just for the joy of the motion. "A new day!" With a happy smile, Ariel emerged from the room. She spotted a hippogriff walking past and waved at them. "Excuse me? Do you know where Silverstream ran off to?"

The hippogriff stared at Ariel a moment, blinking, and pointing off in one direction. "Said she had something to take care of. Never seen you before. I suppose you're the new arrival? Congratulations on your recovery. The queen would like to have words with you when you can manage, but you look spry enough for that."

Ariel imagined Queen Novo's face, that wise and tall figure. "Of course! I will, um, find you later." She scampered off down the hallway. "I need to go swimming first." She needed to do anything first, if given the opportunity. "I miss it." Being alive, really alive, was just great. She opened the door to the audience chamber and peeked in. Queen Novo was seated on her throne and smiled as she spotted Ariel. "Hi! Your majesty."

"Ariel." That was her name. She had picked it herself. "Yes, Silverstream told me about your name. Welcome to our home, truly. Now, you are likely wondering where my niece went." Novo sat up tall. "She is preparing to return to her schooling."

"Is that nearby? I can walk there." Ariel made a walking motion in place.

"You look far more eager today, in every positive way." Novo's voice was thick with warmth and affection. "I can only assume it was the transformation that was ill fitting. I had not considered that your species' anatomy differed. I trust it's not bothering you, from the way you're behaving."

"Nope." Ariel shook herself out. "I'm loving it, every bit of it. But seriously, where's Silver?"

"Silverstream is going to school, which is not near here. She'll have to catch a train, and go to Ponyville, and attend classes. She does this sort of thing regularly, going to a pony school. She returns for holidays, but lives most often there."

Ariel froze at the thought. "Did I—"

"No, this was not because of you." Novo spread her hands. "She enjoys the school. She learns lessons of friendship, and other things besides, to raise a teen into a proper adult." She considered Ariel a quiet moment. "You appear to be a late teenager yourself. You could attend a local school."

Ariel clapped her hands to her mouth. "I couldn't!" The idea of that struck her as terrifying, to leave Silverstream and dive headlong into that life, with friends and the possibility of romance and so many more things she hadn't thought about.

"Can't you?" Novo gestured for Ariel to join her.

"I made friends, with Silverstream." Ariel stood before Queen Novo, shuffling nervously. "I don't want to lose her that quickly. Can't I just go with her? Would that make her mad?"

"Mad? I should imagine not." Novo smirked at the idea. "She adores a good friend, and you two hit it off quite nicely. But, to be clear, you are both going to school, not to play. You will have to learn, and perform schoolwork. Are you ready? This is your choice."

Ariel's face set. "I already learned a lot yesterday, and I think I can handle it."

"Well, why not?" Novo spread her hands. "Go to the train station. I imagine Silverstream is there, waiting for the next train. Tell her I said you could go with her. Oh, one moment." She drew out a quill and began writing busily. "Headmare Twilight will need to know why she has another student, and that I am aware of it. Give her this, and do not lose it."

"I won't lose it." Ariel took that letter reverently in both hands, bowing deeply. "Thank you, your highness."

With her almost literal ticket to remaining at Silverstream's side, Ariel dashed from the hallway. "I'll get straight As!"

Novo inclined her head at where her newest citizen once was. "Straight As? I don't think they teach pengriffonship there." She shrugged and leaned back in her seat. "Send in the next supplicant, if we have one."

Ariel galloped from the palace towards the station she could see down the hill. That same scent of the city wafted through the streets, strange and alien to her nose. Hippogriffs passed by in droves, all living their lives. None paid any attention to Ariel other than a brief nod or idle wave.

A train whistled as she approached the platform, boarding passengers. That included one Silverstream, who stood alone at one end of the carriage.


Silverstream looked up, catching Ariel in a tight hug. She didn't expect to catch a flying Ariel, but didn't look unhappy about it happening. "What are you doing here? I have to get to school."

"You mean we both have to get to school." Ariel squeezed one of Silverstream's hands. "I got permission, so let's study, together."

"Oooooh. We get to be in class together?!" Silverstream bounced on her talons. "This is exciting!" She waggled her feathered brow at Ariel. "The teachers call me 'slow'. They make me do extra homework."

"You're smart!" Ariel pumped her fists in the air. "You saved me."

"That's just one thing!" Silverstream stepped onto the train, drawing Ariel along to share seats on a bench. "I get a little overwhelmed sometimes. I want to learn, but I don't, um, always. Not the same way as others, that is."

Ariel relaxed at that, folding their arms. "You are perfect."

Silverstream blushed a little, unable to shake a grin. "Perfect? Mmmm. I don't think I'm that, but, wow, thanks." She leaned against her new friend. "You sure do know what to tell somegriffon to make them happy. I'm still kinda worried. Will you be okay if you have to do the homework too?"

"I have a letter." Ariel whipped it out of her pocket. "I hope they accept it. But, yes." She gently tapped the letter on Silver's beak. "I am alright doing some homework. If I pay attention, I won't have to do as much, and I can spend more time helping you do yours."

"Wow." Silverstream beamed at that idea. "I mean, if it's too much for you, you could sit with some of the others. They're nice too."

"I'll get to meet all the other kids at the school."

Silver burst into fresh giggles. "Ha, wow, do not let them hear you call them kids. But let me tell you about them!" She eagerly began explaining the Young Six, from big Yona to the shapeshifting Ocellus. "Some of them are boys, like Sandbar, he's a pony, and Gallus, he's sorta like us but not really. Griffon, not a hippogriff, big difference. Smolder's a dragon, a girl. It's fun!"

"And I'll meet them all." Ariel hugged herself, wiggling with growing excitement. "Is one of them a boyfriend?"

Silverstream scratched at the back of her head. "Not that I know of, but I do have my eye on somegriff." She rubbed at her own chest. "Not one of the kids, either.

That got Ariel's attention. "Who is it, if it's not one of the students." She started suddenly. "Is it me?! If it is, I—"

"No!" Silverstream shook her head furiously. "It's not you. You're a wonderful, gorgeous hippogriff, but, nah. Don't worry, we're still best friends."

Ariel relaxed, but laughed all the same. "Already best friend? I'm glad to hear that. So who is it? Maybe I can help you get him?"

Silverstream flapped a hand. "Ehhhh... Maybe later." She sat back, smiling faintly. "I haven't asked her name yet."

And yet, that was a clue. Silverstream had her eyes on another hen. A griffon, or a hippogriff? Ariel almost vibrated with curiosity. She wanted to help her new friend so badly, but pushing them away by being nosey felt like the wrong thing to do. "So, how long is the ride to the school? Is there food on this train? How many stops does it make?"

"So many questions." Silverstream spread her hands. "But that's okay! I want to know all these things too, and we have plenty of time." Silver hopped to her hooves. "They have a snack bar. Let's get something to nibble on."

The two went to do just that and watch the scenery pass by in relative silence.

Ariel could feel the train slowing after a while. "I hope that's our stop."

"Hmm?" Silverstream perked up at the sound of brakes, moving to one end to peer out the window. She clapped at the sights of Ponyville slowing to a stop before the window. "Yup! This is the part where I'd say to get your bag, but neither of us have any, so..."

Ariel rushed out to stand with Silverstream as the doors hissed open.

Before them stood a purple unicorn. "I hope you had a lovely train ride. Welcome to Ponyville station." Her eyes were on Ariel specifically, though they did dart towards Silver. "Who's your friend? I don't think I've seen her before."

Silverstream waved cheerfully. "Hey, Twi. This is Ariel! She's my new hippogriff friend and she's coming to school with me, but I don't think she's a student, yet."

Ariel pulled out that letter and handed it to the strange unicorn, who unfolded it, glowing with their magic. "I see. Silver, you know I'm to be called Headmare Twilight."

Silver colored, cheeks darkening. "Sorry! I thought it was alright since we're not at school." She pulled Ariel closer. "Ariel wants to become a student. What's the letter say?"

Twilight's eyes scanned quickly across it. "It would appear Queen Novo knows you're here, which is good, and she would like me to accept you as a student, which is less good." She smiled ruefully at that. "A little warning would have been nice, but welcome." She turned away from both, starting the walk from the station towards the school. "You are entering my School of Friendship. Are you familiar with the concept and how it shapes the world around you?

Ariel thought on that a long, quiet moment, walking with Silverstream. "I understand it well. The more friends I have, the happier I'll be."

"Exactly, but it's not so simple. Friends don't make friends." Twilight kept walking on that cobblestone path, past strange buildings with carved wooden signs and windows open to let in the breeze. "Except when they do. Friendship is a complicated path, and our school is about learning all the ways it can interact." She looked over her shoulder. "Do you have many friends?"

Ariel brushed her side against Silverstream's. "One right here. One day, many more, I hope."

"Even without knowing their names or faces, you can have a friend." Twilight lifted one hoof. "Maybe you saw them on the street, or spoke to them in the at the store while doing chores. But, it looks like you two are good friends, and having one is a great start. In fact, I'd like to make it your first assignment to meet the rest of Silverstream's friends."

Silverstream clapped at that idea. "Yay! I can show you around. See, they have lunch around this time. We can visit the cafeteria! Then there's the dorms, where we live when we're not going home." She giggled with growing excitement. "This is going to be so fun."

Author's Note:

Welcome to Friendship School. Ariel looks ready to live their life completely, which involves friends.

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