• Published 11th Apr 2013
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The Many Uses of a Brush - Crimson Brush



A store that sells designer and custom hairbrushes opens in Ponyville with a very peculiar owner.

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The Other Side of the Spoon

The Many Uses of a Brush
Chapter 7: The Other Side of the Spoon


A year had passed since Crimson Brush first opened her new shop in the little town of Ponyville. On the whole, her business had prospered; between local word-of-mouth from satisfied customers, and Rarity’s helpful cross-promotion of Crimson’s Brushes through Carousel Boutique, the zebracorn had soon found herself with as much work as she could handle and then some. There had even been a few times when she’d had to make customers wait longer than she would have liked, simply because she’d run out of stock of a particular type of wood, or she just wasn’t able to take yet another rush order on top of the half-dozen she already had.

Fortunately, most of her local customers had been fairly understanding of the occasional delays. One of the advantages of living in a smaller town like Ponyville was the slower pace of life; small-town ponies generally didn’t get too worked up about such things. After all, it was just a mane-brush, not a busted water pipe or a broken cider press. And small-town ponies were often self-employed artisans and small-business owners themselves, so they understood only too well what it could be like to have more work on your plate than you had hours in the day. If they had to wait a few days to get a mane brush, well, it wasn’t as if the roof would cave in because of it.

Filthy Rich had eventually taken notice of her shop’s success, and had paid her a visit, hoping to strike a deal with her to produce a line of brushes exclusively for Barnyard Bargains. The offer had been generous, but Crimson wasn’t interested in mass-producing a hoof-full of generic designs like that, and had politely tried to explain that the whole appeal of her brushes was that each was individually crafted as a unique piece of art. Selling the same design to multiple customers, she felt, would be missing the whole point of why ponies wanted her brushes in the first place.

Rich had tried to persuade her by increasing the offer, but after several attempts to sweeten the deal had failed to change her mind, he’d finally given up and left, and she hadn’t seen him since. She could tell he wasn’t used to being turned down, and didn’t quite understand why she wouldn’t take the offer – but she didn’t really expect him to. His business was all about supplying the largest number of ponies with as many of the things they needed as easily and inexpensively as possible, and he was used to dealing with ponies who wanted the same thing. Not that there was anything wrong with that – but it wasn’t what she wanted to do. She was an artisan, and she enjoyed being able to get to meet and know each customer as an individual, and then crafting each brush specifically to please them. Mass producing a few designs over and over, for a large number of anonymous customers she’d never even meet, might fill her saddlebags with bits more easily, but only at the cost of taking much of the joy out of her work.

One of Filthy Rich’s competitors, Dirt Cheap, had come to visit her not long afterwards, suggesting a similar deal – although his proposal had been more modest; he’d merely asked if she’d consider making some plainer brushes for him to carry in his convenience stores, and had offered to give her some preferred pricing on various supplies for her shop in return. She’d politely turned him down as well, giving him much the same explanation as she’d given Filthy Rich – and to his credit, she thought, he’d seemed to understand her rationale, and hadn’t pushed nearly as hard to get her to change her mind. She somewhat suspected that Dirt Cheap hadn’t really expected her to accept the offer, and that he’d only approached her about it because his competitor had; once he was convinced that she had no interest in mass-producing brushes at all, for him or for Rich, he’d dropped the issue entirely, while still offering her the preferred supply prices as long as she’d agree to buy them exclusively through him on a long-term contract. After some friendly haggling, they’d worked out a deal, and he’d bid her farewell and taken some business cards to display in his stores. They’d bumped into each other occasionally since then, out on the streets of Ponyville, and he’d always been cordial to her.

Eventually, business had settled down to a modest but steady flow. Between the local Ponyville business and the orders from specialty shops in Canterlot and Manehattan, Crimson had more than enough bits coming in to get by, and even enough to put some more away in her investment savings. She wasn’t getting wealthy, to be sure – but she had enough to be comfortable on, and bits weren’t everything. What mattered more to the zebracorn mare was the wonderful ponies she’d met, and the lives she’d changed, since coming to Ponyville.

Such as the lives of Twilight Sparkle and Trixie Lulamoon. Their new and much-improved relationship was going well, and the two mares had become not just frequent customers, always willing to try out new things, but dear friends of Crimson’s as well. Twilight had even coerced Trixie into purchasing a special brush of her own – a large, oval-shaped brush stained in azure-blue to match the showmare’s coat, with some swirls of glitter added to the clear varnish, and the words “The Consequences of My Actions” prominently engraved in silver script on the back. The brush also had the same “royal treatment” bristles as the sapphire-studded brush Crimson had made for Rarity, and she recalled with amusement how Trixie’s eyes had nearly popped out of her head at the discovery that her new brush could be a source of such exquisite pleasure as well as punishment.

“This side is for ‘good Trixie’,” Twilight had explained with a wicked grin as she’d run the brush through Trixie’s mane, producing an involuntary moan and shiver of pleasure from the azure unicorn as the soft bristles massaged her head and neck. “And this side is for ‘bad Trixie’,” she’d added as she suddenly brought the brush down swift and hard, right at the tenderest spot of her marefriend’s backside, making her gasp and squeal at the stinging pain. “Both of those will be the consequences of your actions, Trixie. Your behavior will decide which side of this brush I use on you. Remember that.” It was a firm, no-nonsense tone Crimson had rarely heard Twilight use, and Trixie had responded to it by simply nodding humbly, accepting Twilight’s domination of her, and even thanking her for it. Quite a change from the arrogant, boastful, and somewhat rude mare Crimson had first met – or from the awkward, bookish, insecure mare she’d first met Twilight as, for that matter. Crimson was happy for them both; they were clearly good for each other...

“...a little longer, Miss Brush?” a pleasant voice asked, breaking into her reminiscences. Crimson startled slightly and opened her eyes as she remembered where she was. The zebracorn was in a small room with rustic log-cabin walls, lit by several pleasantly-scented candles, with the relaxing sounds of wind chimes just barely audible somewhere outside... and submerged up to her neck in a sunken, brick-lined tub full of warm volcanic-ash mud. The voice belonged to the rust-brown earth-pony stallion who was taking care – very, very good care – of her spa treatments this morning.

Trixie and Twilight had insisted on showing their gratitude to her for helping them to overcome their problems and bringing them together, and had sent her on an all-expense-paid vacation to a spa and resort up in the northern Coltlorado mountains. She’d protested at first, feeling she hadn’t really done anything to deserve such an expensive gift, but they’d firmly refused to take “no” for an answer. Twilight, true to form, had even pulled out a book on social etiquette and pointed to a highlighted passage to bolster her case that, as it had been given voluntarily and not in association with any socially-dictated gift-giving occasions, the gift was deserved by definition, since in such cases a gift would only have been offered by the giver if they truly felt the recipient had merited the gift and wanted them to have it.

Rarity, who had been sharing lunch with them at the time, had chuckled and shaken her head. “Only you could turn an act of generosity into a doctoral thesis, Twilight,” she had teased. “If it helps, darling,” she’d added to Crimson, “I chipped in some as well, for what you did for me and Sweetie Belle. Our relationship has gotten so much better over this past year, thanks to you. We don’t get mad and frustrated with each other nearly so much anymore. Now, when she misbehaves, I discipline her – and that’s the end of the matter. We hug each other, she apologizes, I make sure she knows I still love her... and we put it behind us and move on, instead of letting all those little resentments and frustrations build up and boil over into fighting over everything because I never knew any other way to deal with her.” Crimson had smiled and nodded her understanding as Rarity described how taking a firmer hoof in giving her overly-excitable and somewhat headstrong little sister the firm but loving discipline that she needed, and which their parents had failed to provide for her, had helped to turn the sisters’ formerly strained, antagonistic relationship into the closer, more loving bond they now shared.

“So please, darling,” Rarity had added, “do accept this, from all of us. The Coltlorado mountains are gorgeous this time of year... and if a week at the Wellhouse Resort doesn’t leave you feeling like a whole new mare, I shall... dye my mane bright green for a month!”

Crimson had to admit, Rarity had been absolutely right. Only three days into her stay, and already she felt as if every care in the world had melted away. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt so completely relaxed. Every inch of her body had been massaged, groomed, and pampered in every way possible; every meal had been exotic, plentiful, and mouth-wateringly delicious; the mountain vistas outside the windows were, indeed, gorgeous to look at; and several of the other spa guests had proven to be very pleasant company. And in a peaceful, quiet place like this, a full day’s walk away from everything, with the rush of the modern world kept well outside the hoof-hewn wooden fence-lines where it belonged, even a unicorn or a pegasus could sense a small taste of that special connection to nature and the earth that came so naturally to the earth ponies. Even this mud bath felt absolutely heavenly just now, surrounding and warming every inch of her as the thick mud pressed in gently on all sides, making her feel almost weightless within it...

“A few more minutes?” she asked the spa attendant hopefully.

“Of course, Miss Brush.”

\/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/

Crimson smiled to herself at the familiar sights of Ponyville coming into view as the train slowed to a halt at the station. The seven days she’d spent at the Wellhouse Resort had truly been heavenly – but like any artist, she was always happiest when she was creating, and with her mind and body relaxed and recharged, she was looking forward to getting back to work.

She caught up her luggage in her magic and settled it across her back, then strolled through the streets of Ponyville, nodding greetings at the other ponies she passed, and taking in the welcoming air which the town always seemed so happy to share with visitors and residents alike. Her shop came into view, and she increased her pace a little. It would be good to be home.

Pausing at the front door, she dug into her saddlebag for her keys and started to unlock the door – then froze as the act of merely sliding the key into the lock caused the door to move inward, as though it were already...

No... There’s no way I left the door unlocked... she thought to herself uneasily. I distinctly remember locking it when I left... I know I did...

Carefully, she set her luggage and saddlebags down on the ground, then slowly pushed the door open, ready to unleash her magic or bolt for safety if any threat remained inside. As the sunlight slowly illuminated the store, her eyes grew wide at the sight before her.

Her beloved shop was a disaster area.

Every shelving unit had been tipped over, and their former contents scattered all over. Many of her most prized designs lay broken or shattered on the floor. The walls and counter-top had been defaced with vulgar and insulting graffiti. Crimson took a few shaky steps into the wrecked showroom and raised the curtains, as if letting in more light would somehow cleanse the destruction and wake her from this nightmare, but there was no such blessing to be had. She stepped gingerly over the debris as she made her way to the back of the store, tears forming in her eyes as she passed each broken brush.

Who would do such a thing!? she thought in numb shock, biting her lip to fight back the tears brimming in her eyes as she continued her exploration. She took some small comfort in discovering that the back rooms, as well her workshop and the stairs leading to her living quarters upstairs, were still securely locked. Either the vandals had been interrupted before they could force their way into the other rooms, or they’d been content with wrecking the storefront itself and hadn’t bothered going any further. That was something, anyway. At least they hadn’t destroyed everything she had...

Her eye caught the shattered remains of one particular ivory brush lying near the counter, and her breath caught in her throat as she picked up the broken pieces in her magic. It was the very same brush that she’d used to help Twilight through the unicorn’s long-repressed guilt, all those months ago...

For some reason, seeing that particular brush ruined hit Crimson right in the heart. She fell to the ground, covering her eyes with her hooves as her body shook with deep, heartbroken sobs, surrounded by the wreckage of what had once been her joy and livelihood.

Nearly an hour passed before she finally cried herself out, and felt able to pull herself back together. She wiped the tears from her eyes, then slowly pushed herself back up to her hooves and forced herself to look around the wrecked showroom once more, letting out a heavy sigh as she took in the full extent of the damage. Now that the shock had worn off somewhat, she was able to tell herself that it wasn’t quite as bad as it seemed. Yes, there was a lot of damage, and it would take a lot of work to clean up – and yes, some of the brushes probably couldn’t be repaired. But it did look as if some of them could still be salvaged and, as she firmly reminded herself, the vandals hadn’t gotten to the other rooms, or to her home. She still had a place to live, she still had her workshop... she could always make more brushes. She could even make new replicas of the ruined ones, given time and materials.

It was a setback, but she’d been through worse. She’d just have to pick herself up and go on.

With another sigh, she fetched her luggage from outside and carried it into the workshop where it would be out of the way for now, then began using her magic to raise the shelving units back into their rightful places one by one. She had just finished putting the last one into place, and started picking up the shattered remains of the prized replica brushes from the floor, when she heard the familiar ding of the shop’s doorbell from behind her.

“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid the store is... closed until further notice...” she said without turning around, in as polite a tone as she could manage, trying not to choke on the words as she continued to pick up the broken brushes.

“I... I know, Ma’am,” a small, soft, hesitant voice said from behind her. “I... I was told to come talk to you. I... I don’t need a brush, Ma’am.”

Crimson huffed impatiently as she set down the brushes she was holding, then turned around to see who it was that couldn’t take the hint. It should be obvious to anypony, she thought, that she was busy cleaning up the damage to her home, and that she really wasn’t in the mood for conversation just now.

She blinked in surprise as she saw that the voice belonged to a small, pewter-grey filly with a lighter, silver-streaked grey mane and tail, wearing an expensive-looking pearl necklace and large glasses with mother-of-pearl frames that probably cost as much as the necklace did, if Crimson was any judge of such things. Her flanks bore a cutie mark in the shape of an elegant silver teaspoon with a pink heart inset into the handle, and her mane was worn in a single thick braid that fell to one side. The filly halted in mid-step as Crimson turned to look at her, then cautiously stepped all the way through the doorway and into the shop, flinching a bit as the door swung shut behind her.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart, but... I really am very busy at the moment,” Crimson said, trying to be polite as she gave the elegant-looking filly a weak smile. Something about her seemed familiar, but Crimson couldn’t quite place her... “Could you... come back another time, perhaps?”

The little filly glanced around at the destruction that littered the floor, and shuffled her hooves nervously. “I... um... no, Ma’am, it can’t wait. I... I really need to talk to you...” she said in a small, strained voice. Crimson couldn’t help noticing that the filly didn’t seem to want to look directly at her – a sure sign of a foal who was feeling very guilty about something.

Crimson took a deep breath and let it out slowly, to calm her nerves, then brought herself down to the filly’s eye level so they could talk. “Very well, my dear. If it’s that important... What’s your name, little one?”

“My... my name’s Silver Spoon, Ma’am,” the filly said, glancing hesitantly at Crimson. “And I... um... I know what... happened here...”

“Well, it’s not that hard to figure out, little one,” Crimson replied with a sigh, not yet making the connection between the filly’s words and her guilty behavior.

Silver Spoon flinched a bit at the zebracorn’s depressed tone, then shook her head. “No, I mean I... I know who... who did it, Ma’am,” she said.

This time, Crimson caught the guilt in the filly’s voice. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying, little one?” she asked, unable to keep the note of accusation out of her tone.

Silver Spoon swallowed nervously, then forced herself to look back at Crimson. “Yes, Ma’am. It... it was m-me. I... I did it.”

Crimson blinked as she looked over the filly once more. Wait a moment... she thought to herself. Now I remember where I’ve seen this foal before. She’s friends with Filthy Rich’s little... brat. Her face twisted through a series of emotions from rage, sorrow, confusion, and disbelief as she made the connection, and followed the filly’s words to their only logical conclusion. “If that’s true, little one...” she finally said, narrowing her eyes a little, “then why are you here? Did you come to gloat with your little friend?”

Silver Spoon flinched again at the obvious anger lacing Crimson’s soft voice and quickly looked away in shame, taking a deep breath to try to steady herself as she cautiously reached into her saddlebag. “M-my Daddy... s-sent me...” she said, as she took a note from her saddlebag and offered it to Crimson with a shaking hoof.

Crimson raised a brow as she caught up the note in her magic. Keeping a suspicious eye on Silver Spoon, she brought it closer, and read it carefully.

Dear Crimson Brush,

I wish this letter were under better circumstances. It has come to my attention that my daughter was involved in the very inappropriate vandalism of your store. I have not seen the destruction first-hoof, but I am told there was a great deal of damage, and I felt it was in our best interest to send my daughter to apologize for her actions.

I’m sorry to say, I have not taken a very active role in disciplining my daughter since her mother passed. For whatever it’s worth, I am very disappointed in her, and I thought I had raised her better than this. All I can say is that she took her mother’s death hard – we both did – and perhaps because of that, I’ve been too lenient with her these last couple of years, and let her get away with more than I should have.

Still, that is no excuse for her shameful behavior. As a father, I can’t help asking that you forgive my baby girl for her transgressions, of course – but at the same time, I know that a mere ‘sorry’ is insufficient for what she’s done. I’ve heard of your... assistance... in other matters of lesser scale, and since you are the one who has suffered injury due to her actions, I give you my full permission, if you feel it necessary, to discipline Silver Spoon as you see fit.

To our continued cooperation,

Dirt Cheap

Crimson sighed heavily as she read the note, and shook her head wearily. When will parents learn? she thought to herself with a mixture of sadness and irritation. You can’t force a foal to feel guilty for their actions. If an apology comes from the parent, it’s meaningless to both the victim and the foal. But I suppose as a fellow businesspony, I can’t really fault him for worrying that her behavior will reflect badly on him and make him lose my business, if nothing else...

“I’m sorry, little one,” she finally said, startling Silver Spoon as she looked up from the note to give the filly a withering look. “But I cannot accept your apology. Your actions were reprehensible... and while I might have been willing to accept a sincere apology, even under these circumstances, I’m not in the mood to deal with a filly who’s just going through the motions because her father forced her to. You can tell your father that this won’t affect our business together... but I don’t ever want to see you anywhere near my shop again. Is that understood?”

Silver Spoon winced and bit her lip at the zebracorn’s harsh tone, then huffed indignantly as Crimson simply turned her back on her and went back to cleaning up the debris littering the floor. How dare she! she thought to herself. I come here to apologize, and she ignores me? Who does she think she is? I don’t have to put up with –!

She opened her mouth to snap out a scornful reply, then quickly caught herself. That kind of attitude was what had gotten her in this mess to begin with. I guess if I were in her place... I probably wouldn’t believe me either, she thought, as her guilt won out over her indignation. My actions haven’t exactly been a shining example of a well-raised filly, after all...

“I didn’t have to come here, Ma’am,” she said quietly, almost too softly for the zebracorn to hear.

Crimson paused and turned to face the silver-maned foal once more. “What did you say, little one?”

“I said... I didn’t have to come here,” Silver repeated with a small sigh. “This... isn’t the first time my father’s sent me somewhere to apologize for something. But he never really checks up on me, so... I usually just toss the note in the trash somewhere...” Her voice carried a note of regret, almost as if she wished she couldn’t have gotten out of apologizing for things so easily...

“Then why are you here, little one?” Crimson snapped, a bit of her anger slipping through. “Why didn’t you just throw this note away, too? You obviously would’ve gotten away with it.”

Silver couldn’t help taking an involuntary step backwards as she heard the disapproval and dislike for her in Crimson’s voice. “B-because I... I r-really am sorry, M-Ma’am,” she stuttered, biting her lip as she forced herself not to run away from the zebracorn’s anger. “I... I know what I did was very w-wrong, and... and I wish I had never done it...” she said, her eyes starting to brim with tears behind her glasses.

“Well, you did, and it’s done!” Crimson shouted angrily, without thinking. “So why don’t you just go find your little friend and have a good laugh?!” She regretted the words immediately as she saw the tears in the filly’s eyes, but it was too late to take them back.

Silver Spoon backed away fearfully under the zebracorn’s sudden fury. “I’m sorry! You don’t have to yell at me!” she sobbed, hanging her head in shame as she stared down at the floor, trying to wipe the tears from her eyes. I just wanted to apologize! Why is she being so mean...?!

...I don’t know, Silver Spoon. Why were you so mean? Look at what you did, and tell yourself she doesn’t have a right to yell at you for it...

Crimson’s anger dissipated in an instant as she saw Silver Spoon starting to cry and tremble in fear of her. “I’m sorry, little one,” she said gently. “You’re right... I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I’m... still a little upset, that’s all. But I shouldn’t have yelled. I’m sorry.” She gave the filly a small smile as Silver risked a quick glance upwards, then motioned for Silver to follow her as she led the way over to a pair of chairs. “Come over here and have a seat, little one, and we’ll talk.”

Silver sniffled as she wiped the tears from her cheeks, and nodded. “O...okay...”

She followed Crimson on shaky legs, then settled into one of the two chairs as Crimson lifted them up in her magic and placed them facing each other. Crimson studied her for a few moments, noting the guilt and sorrow in her violet eyes. She doesn’t seem like a mean-spirited filly... she found herself thinking. Certainly not like that arrogant, stuck-up little friend of hers, anyway. So why would she have done all this? And why would she come back here and admit it, when she could’ve easily have gotten away with it? Something didn’t add up.

“Little one... You didn’t do this all by yourself, did you,” she finally said. It wasn’t a question.

Silver Spoon’s eyes widened as she fidgeted in her chair. Should I tell her? I don’t want to get Diamond Tiara in trouble too... “I... um... Yes, Ma’am. I did it,” she said in what she hoped was a convincing tone.

Crimson gave the little filly a warm, knowing smile. It was obvious by the way Silver Spoon had looked away as she’d said the words that they weren’t true, and that confirmed what the zebracorn had suspected. “It’s not good to lie, little one.”

“I’m not –!”

“Sweetheart, we both know that even as an earth pony, there’s no way you did this much damage on your own. And I don’t think you’re the kind of filly to do mean things when left to your own devices.” The expression on Silver Spoon’s face at that last comment spoke volumes to Crimson; the little filly was clearly all too used to everypony assuming the worst of her. She raised a thoughtful hoof to her chin as she considered something. “You care for Diamond Tiara, and don’t want her to get in trouble too, is that it, little one?”

“Wh... what’s she got to do with anything?!” Silver Spoon asked, just a little too quickly.

Crimson chuckled softly at the filly’s attempt to cover for her friend. “I’ve seen you hanging around with her on more than one occasion, my dear. And she would have reason to want to do something like this. After all, I insulted her father, by not accepting his generous offer. Isn’t that so?”

“You didn’t accept Daddy’s offer either,” Silver insisted stubbornly, still trying to keep up the facade. “So I have the same reasons.”

“That’s true,” Crimson agreed. “But there’s one difference. Your father understood my reasons, and took it quite well. And, we still struck a deal to do business together, even though I declined to make brushes for his shops.” She sighed softly, and decided to take a different approach. She was still upset about her store, but the guilty filly’s well-being was more important now. “Look sweetheart, I promise I won’t do anything to your friend. If she isn’t genuinely sorry for what she did, nothing I can do to her will change that anyway. I just want to know why the sweet filly who is sorry for what she did, and who did come to apologize, would have ever considered vandalizing my store like this in the first place.”

“You... You think I’m sweet?” Silver asked in disbelief. Me? Sweet? I’ve done nothing but terrorize and bully half the foals in town... and I wrecked her shop!

“Why wouldn’t I?” Crimson asked gently.

Silver stared at the zebracorn for a moment, then looked away in shame. “Because I... I’m just a bully...” she said, almost too softly to hear, as a few tears trickled down her cheeks once more.

“Now, I don’t believe that, little one...”

“But I am! And I... I wrecked your shop!” Silver Spoon insisted. “How... how can you say I’m sweet when I... I did all this?”

“Because I don’t believe, deep down, that you’re really as mean a foal as you pretend to be, little one,” Crimson said. “But Diamond is your friend, and you’re afraid she won’t like you anymore if you don’t do what she says... am I right?”

Silver bit her lip as Crimson seemed to read her like an open book. Nopony had ever seen through her facade so easily before, and she wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about that. “She... Diamond Tiara’s my only friend...” she finally admitted. “Our fathers know each other, since they’re both pretty rich businessponies. They go to a lot of the same parties and conventions and stuff...” She sighed and looked down at the floor again. “I... wasn’t very popular with the other foals, because of... well... my status, and my... my glasses,” she said, blushing as she remembered the constant teasing she used to receive before Diamond Tiara had taken her under her hoof and protected her. Her eyesight was so poor, she’d had to start wearing thick glasses before she was even old enough to start school, and the other foals had been all too quick to make fun of the clumsy “four-eyes” filly whose rich parents probably spoiled her rotten with everything she wanted. “She was the only one who ever talked to me like she actually wanted to be my friend...” Silver added with a helpless shrug.

Crimson nodded in understanding. I see now. She feels indebted to her friend. That’s a bit sweet in itself... Silver Spoon’s choice of friends could have been better, she thought – but then, it didn’t sound as if she’d had much choice of friends, if the other foals had ostracized her like that. “I think I understand, sweetheart. I’m sure she cares for you as well.”

“I guess...” Silver said uncertainly, as she found herself questioning if that were really true any more. Sure, she’s my friend... at least, she says she is... but it seems like she never really cares much about what I have to say, or what I want to do... and I’m not so sure a real friend would’ve dragged me into something like this. “I didn’t want to destroy your store, Ma’am,” she finally said, hanging her head in shame. “I just... didn’t want to lose my only friend. I... I’m sorry.”

Crimson nodded again and gave the filly a reassuring smile. “I understand, little one. Our friends are precious to us, and even if we don’t agree with them, we still want to please them. Thank you for being honest with me.”

Silver Spoon gave the mare a small, hopeful smile. “Um... does that mean... you accept my apology?” she asked hesitantly.

“I’m afraid it’s not that simple, little one,” Crimson said, kindly but firmly. “While I understand your reasons... your actions were still your own. And you need to accept the consequences those actions bring.”

Silver Spoon gulped and gave a small nod. The zebracorn brush-maker’s ideas on discipline were no big secret, after all, and Silver hadn’t had any illusions about what might happen if she came here, especially with a note from her father that explicitly gave Crimson a free hoof to punish her however she saw fit... but now that the moment was upon her, she felt a hollow, sick feeling growing inside. “I... I understand, Ma’am,” she said in a soft, nervous whimper.

Crimson gave the filly a caring smile as she reached out and lifted her chin. “I’m sorry I got angry with you earlier, dear. But now that I know the whole story...” I suppose I can’t really blame her too much, she thought sadly to herself. In some ways, the poor dear’s just a victim of her own circumstances. But still... in the end, it was her own choice to do what she did, and that is a lesson she needs to learn...

She raised her hoof, and pointed to the Demonstration Room. “I want you to go into that room there, little one. You’ll find a bed inside. You are to sit on that bed, and wait for me there, until I’m ready to speak with you,” she said as she floated the key over to the lock and unlocked the room for her to enter. “And while you’re there, I want you to think on what has happened here, and why you’re in trouble. Is that clear, little one?”

Silver Spoon swallowed nervously and nodded. “Y-yes, Ma’am,” she said, not trusting herself to say anything else as she slid off of the chair and slowly made her way across the shop to the opened door. She paused for a moment at the threshold, then forced herself to enter the room. Once she was all the way inside, the door closed behind her with a soft thump that sounded, to the nervous filly’s ears, like the sledgehammer of doom. Oh, Celestia, why... why did I do this...? she thought frantically to herself as she climbed up onto the bed to wait.

Crimson watched as Silver obeyed her instructions, then nodded to herself as she got up and went back to work cleaning up the mess. She was still more than a little upset over the senseless destruction of her shop, and she didn’t want to punish Silver Spoon until she’d had a little more time to cool down. Besides, it would do the filly good to wait, and to have some time alone to reflect on what she’d done and why she deserved what was coming to her.

Alone with her thoughts in the “demonstration room” (which Silver Spoon had no doubt of what it was actually used for, after seeing the furnishings; she’d never been placed on one of those spanking pillows herself, but it was all too obvious what the purpose of those four indentations were and what position it would put a kneeling foal in!), Silver began to cry softly to herself. Not just from fear of the punishment she was about to receive, but from shame as her guilty conscience began forcing her to think about the things she’d done. Wrecking Crimson Brush’s shop, just because Diamond Tiara didn’t like the zebracorn turning down her father’s business offer? That was way, way beyond schoolyard teasing. How could she have let Diamond push her into doing such an awful thing? Crimson hadn’t done anything to deserve that...

Some of those brushes really were beautiful, too, she thought guiltily. And now they’re all ruined... because of me... I never should have done it... Oh, Celestia, why did I do this...? Why...? With nothing but her own guilty thoughts for company, she found that she couldn’t stop thinking about how wrong she’d been to go along with Diamond Tiara’s petty revenge against the zebracorn brush-maker, and those thoughts inevitably led her to thinking about all the other times when she’d let Diamond pressure her into doing things she shouldn’t have done...

I’m a bully. She’d said it before, but here, alone with her thoughts, with the prospect of an unknown but undoubtedly painful punishment for her shameful actions hanging over her head, the words truly struck her in the heart. Just a mean, selfish bully. Do you... do you think Mother would be proud of you turning into this, Silver Spoon? Are you proud of what you are, now? Are you?

Silver Spoon had no answer for that, as the tears of shame and sorrow filled her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. All she could think of was how disappointed her mother would be now, if she were here to see the awful things her daughter had done...

It took Crimson a good half-hour or so to finish picking up the brushes scattered all over the floor, and deciding what to do with each one. Seeing so many of her brushes back in their proper places on the display racks had her feeling somewhat better; once she’d had a chance to properly inspect them all, it looked as if a little over half of her display samples had managed to escape the vandalism relatively undamaged. A bit of cleaning here, a little polish there, and they’d be presentable again. A fair number of the rest looked like they could be repaired, with some work. Alas, more than a few sad cases, including the shattered ivory brush, were beyond salvaging. She would either have to re-make all-new copies of them, or just let those particular ones go. She decided to leave that question for later.

With that task finished, she retrieved a broom and dustpan from her workshop, and swept the floors clean of the remaining debris, so that nopony would accidentally step on any bits of broken glass or splintered wood. When she was done, she had to admit things were looking decidedly better now. The walls and counter-top were still defaced with graffiti – everything needed a good, deep cleaning, really – and she would have to do a proper inventory to make sure nothing had been stolen. And get some better locks for the front door, too, she grumbled to herself. But those, too, could wait until later. Right now, there was a guilty young filly who needed to be dealt with, and Crimson figured she’d made Silver Spoon wait just about long enough.

Silver Spoon very nearly jumped out of her own fur as she heard the door click and creak open slowly. If the sound of the door closing behind her had been the hammer of doom, hearing it opening again was like hearing the end of the world. It had barely been an hour since she’d been sent inside this room to await her punishment, but every minute had felt like a lifetime to the ashamed, scared filly as she’d been left alone with her racing thoughts and guilt-ridden conscience. I wonder how hard she’s going to spank me...

And she was going to be spanked. Of that, she had no doubt whatsoever. She’d sealed her own fate the moment she’d stepped into Crimson Brush’s shop and passed over that note from her father. The only question left was just how how hard she’d be spanked, and how much it was going to hurt...

She shook the thought away as she looked up to see Crimson standing in front of her. She knew she couldn’t really expect lenience, but somehow, the look in the older mare’s eyes had a calming effect on her. Crimson was no longer looking down at her with anger or contempt; instead, she wore a look of motherly caring for a foal who had simply made a mistake, who had disobeyed, and simply needed to be corrected. Silver’s breath caught in her throat for a moment as that look reminded her so much of the times her mother had looked at her just the same way, making her feel so very small and ashamed of herself for behaving so badly...

Crimson smiled down at the grey filly sitting on the bed, and reached over to rub her head affectionately, tousling her mane a little. She could tell Silver had been crying off and on while she’d been waiting; the filly’s violet eyes were filled with fear and guilt, her cheeks and muzzle were wet with tears, and one of the bed’s pillows had a visible wet spot from where Silver Spoon had obviously been crying into it for quite some time. “I’m sorry it took me so long, sweetheart,” she said. “Now, little one... why are we here?”

Silver blinked a couple of times, confused by the question. Why is she asking me? Isn’t it obvious? “Because I... I’m being punished...?”

“That’s not quite what I meant, sweetheart,” Crimson said gently.

Silver Spoon’s mind raced as she searched for the answer she hoped would please her disciplinarian. “Because I... I destroyed your shop...?” she ventured hesitantly.

Crimson nodded. “Yes, that’s part of it, my dear. You also tried to lie about how it happened. You may have been trying to protect your friend, but there is never a good excuse to lie. Especially when you are already in so much trouble, little one.”

Silver whimpered softly as another transgression was added to what she was now certain was going to be a very harsh punishment. She brought a hoof to her mouth and nibbled on it nervously as she gave a humble nod. “Y...yes, Ma’am,” she said meekly.

“Now, again... why are we here, little one?”

Silver closed her eyes and looked away, her cheeks turning red with shame as Crimson forced her to spell out her sins in full. “I... we’re here because I... I helped m-my friend t-... to wreck your shop, and... b-because I... because...” She stopped and swallowed nervously, then tried again. “B-because I lied to you about h-how it happened, Ma’am.”

Crimson nodded again as she sat down on the edge of the bed. “And you knew it was wrong to do those things, didn’t you, little one.”

“Y-yes, Ma’am,” Silver Spoon said miserably. “I... I’m sorry, Ma’am. I’m s-sorry I wrecked your sh-shop, and I’m s-sorry I lied...” She knew the apology wouldn’t get her off the hook, but she hoped Crimson would at least believe she really, really did mean it...

Crimson smiled to herself as she heard Silver Spoon offer a sincere apology this time. She pulled Silver closer and gave her a hug, just holding the scared, guilty filly in a gentle, comforting embrace for a few moments. Silver let out a startled squeak and tensed up, not quite sure how to respond to the unexpected gesture of affection and comfort. Why is she being so... nice... to me? she thought, bewildered. I destroyed her stuff, and lied to her... why does she care how I feel? Hesitantly, she tried to let herself relax into the embrace, and wrapped her forelegs around Crimson to give her a weak hug in return. It was a strangely reassuring feeling, even with the fear of what she knew had to be coming next. The older mare was disappointed and upset with Silver Spoon for what she’d done, but she didn’t seem to hate her...

That thought made Silver Spoon feel a little better. Not much, but a little.

“Over you go, little one,” Crimson said, patting her lap as she released Silver from the comforting embrace. “I think we’ve waited long enough.”

Silver Spoon whimpered as she heard the words she’d been dreading. The time had come, and there was nothing she could do to stop it now. Not that she would have, even if she could. She had long since admitted to herself, while wrestling with her guilty conscience, that she deserved whatever punishment the zebracorn mare decided she deserved. There was no getting around it – she had done something very, very wrong. Destroying Crimson’s shop was wrong, and she’d known it was wrong, and she’d gone ahead and done it anyway because she’d been afraid to stand up to Diamond Tiara and say that it was wrong. And now, she had to pay the price for that. She had tarnished and shamed herself by her foolish actions; maybe, just maybe, accepting the punishment she’d earned would redeem her, even if only a little bit...

That thought didn’t exactly comfort Silver Spoon either, but it did help her to accept it as she obediently laid herself down across Crimson’s lap, positioning herself so that her rump was raised up just so. She hesitated for a moment, then reluctantly lifted her tail as high as she could, baring her flanks, blushing softly in embarrassment and shame as she settled into the position every foal instinctively dreads, trembling in fear as she waited for her punishment to begin.

Crimson raised a brow, noting with interest how Silver Spoon had automatically assumed just the right position, without having to be told to do so. This obviously wasn’t the first time she’d been spanked, then, even if her father had been somewhat lax in disciplining her lately...

She brushed Silver Spoon’s pale, silver-streaked tail aside with her left hoof, pinning it firmly against her back to secure both it and the filly herself in place, then tilted her head curiously as her hoof bumped up against a strap buckled around Silver’s body. Was she wearing that pack when she came in? she wondered. She supposed she must have been, and Crimson just hadn’t noticed. Carefully, she undid the buckle and removed the small pack with her magic, then rubbed her right hoof lightly over Silver’s raised hindquarters as she set the pack down on the bed, out of the way. “Are you comfortable, dear?”

Comfortable? How could I possibly be comfortable, when I’m about to have my flanks spanked... “Um... I guess so...” She startled a bit as she felt her pack being removed from around her waist. She’d almost forgotten she was still wearing it, and bit her lip slightly as she remembered exactly why she’d brought it. I wonder if I should –

Her thoughts were interrupted as Crimson suddenly raised her hoof and brought it down with a light swat to her right flank, then another to her left... then another to the right side, then to the left again, working her way into a quick but steady rhythm, alternating flanks with each clap of her hoof.

Silver jumped at the first swat, giving a soft whine as she felt the spanking begin. It took her a moment to realize the swats were actually rather light. Not that they didn’t hurt at all; each clap of the zebracorn’s hoof stung quite noticeably, and left a definite warmth in its wake, but it wasn’t anywhere nearly so bad as she’d been dreading. Is... is this all? she wondered, after several minutes of steady spanking had done nothing but gently warm her flanks and make her squirm across Crimson’s lap. The experience seemed more embarrassing than painful...

Just when she started thinking perhaps Crimson Brush was going to be lenient with her after all, though, any such hopes were quickly dashed by a much harder clap! of hoof against flank, and another, and another. The rhythm slowed, but the spanks were much harder now, and they hurt... oh, Celestia, they hurt! Silver Spoon realized with dismay that the light spanking had just been a warm-up, to make her hindquarters more sensitive, and now the real punishment had started. Each hoof-clap sent a fresh burst of stinging pain blossoming across her flanks, and each one built on the one before it, and each swat really, really hurt...

...of course they hurt, stupid. And you deserve it. You knew what you did was wrong! Mother would be so ashamed of you...

Silver Spoon bit her lip as she tried to fight back the pain, trying not to cry out loud as swat after swat after painful swat set her hindquarters on fire until her flanks were burning from dock to thigh, all the way out to her cutie marks. “Please... s-stop... I’m s-sorry...” she whimpered, tears spilling from her eyes and rolling down her cheeks again as her composure began to crack under the relentless punishment, every spank hurting worse than the one before as the spanking went on, and on, and on... “I’m... s-sorry... p-please!” She could feel herself breaking little by little with each swat, and she began to wriggle and squirm across Crimson’s lap in a vain attempt to shake off some of the pain.

“I know you are, little one,” Crimson said gently, without breaking the rhythm as her hoof clapped firmly and steadily against each flank in turn, making sure to spread the glow evenly as Silver Spoon’s hindquarters slowly turned redder and redder underneath the fur. Each swat cracked the filly’s will to resist a little more as stinging fire blossomed across her rump again and again... until finally, she broke down into guilt-ridden, hiccuping sobs as as her defenses crumbled under the relentless claps of Crimson’s strong hoof against her helpless, burning flanks.

“Please! I’m s-so sorry! I’ll neverhic! – do anything... so stupid ever again...! I – hic! – I promise! Please!! I’m sorry! I’M SORRY!!” she cried, lying weak and limp across the zebracorn’s lap as she buried her face against the mattress, sobbing in pain and shame. “Please, I – hic! – I’m so – hic! – sorry, I – hic!I’m S-SOR-RYYY!

Crimson stopped her hoof in mid-swing and brought it down gently, rubbing Silver Spoon’s red-hot flanks to soothe the pain a little as Silver hiccuped and sobbed her way through her apologies, then pulled the crying filly a little closer to rock her gently back and forth while making small, soft shushing noises to reassure her that she was still safe and secure... that she was still loved, and cared about, even though she’d done something so very wrong...

After a few minutes of helpless sobbing, Silver slowly began to pull herself back together, and cautiously reached up to wipe the tears from her eyes with a hoof. Risking a glance up and back towards her disciplinarian, she was surprised to see a look of caring and warmth in Crimson Brush’s eyes as they gazed into her own. That loving look, and the soft caresses and gentle rocking, reminded her so much of how her mother had cared for her when Silver had been in this very same position across her lap, so many times before... almost as if...

“Mom – hic!... Ma’am?”

Crimson couldn’t help smiling a little as she caught the slip before the filly corrected herself. You really do miss your mother, don’t you, little one... You even miss her discipline, I think. And your father never really filled that void when she was gone... Her father had probably thought he was being compassionate by letting Silver Spoon get away with bending or breaking the rules after her mother died, not realizing that the little filly had needed those rules more than ever. Foals want to know where the rules and boundaries are. Even when they try to test them or get around them, they still want to know the boundaries are there. And when your mother died, little one, the rules went away, and you were left without any guidance... Oh, my little one... how lost you must have felt...

She looked down at the little filly, feeling a deep sorrow as she imagined how much pain and confusion Silver Spoon must have been carrying deep inside her since then. “Yes, sweetheart?” she asked gently.

The humbled filly looked up at the older mare, and bit her lip as the nostalgia of the moment reminded her of what she had brought along in her saddlebag. A memento she’d stolen from her mother’s things before they were packed up or given away, so she would always have something special to remember the love and care they’d shared. She swallowed nervously, wondering if she really wanted to go through with this...

“In... – hic! – Look in my bag, Ma’am,” she said quietly, turning away from Crimson’s loving gaze to stare at the wooden floor once more, fighting back the tears as she took a deep, shuddering breath and held it for a few moments before letting it out slowly, trying to steady herself and stop the hiccups.

Crimson gave Silver Spoon a curious look, then shifted her hooves so she could stroke Silver’s mane reassuringly with one hoof while still keeping her held down with the other against her back, and turned her attention towards the saddlebag she’d set aside earlier. Catching it up in her magic, she carefully slid the zipper open, raising a brow as she saw the single item inside. She lifted the object from the saddlebag and floated it over to her, studying the long silver spoon with interest and no small bit of amusement as she saw how closely it resembled the mark on Silver Spoon’s flanks. It even had the pink heart inset into the top of the handle. But this large, nearly flat spoon was clearly meant for an entirely different purpose than stirring tea...

Her mother knew just how to care for her little filly, Crimson thought affectionately as the unusual, obviously custom-made spoon’s purpose became clear to her. I almost feel bad for touching something that must have so much special meaning to her. But if it’s what she truly feels she needs... “You really are a good filly, sweetheart,” she said, still stroking Silver’s mane, as she tapped the rounded side of the spoon lightly against the filly’s cutie marks. “I’m honored you would ask this of me. Are you sure this is what you want, little one?”

Silver Spoon flinched a little at the unexpected touch, tensing for a moment, then slowly relaxing as she felt the touch of her mother’s preferred implement tapping her cutie marks. It had been so long, she’d almost forgotten what it felt like, but those few taps were enough to bring the memories back. I miss you, Mommy... A few tears trickled down her cheeks as she braced herself, knowing only too well what was coming next. Just the sight of that wicked spoon had always been enough to humble her...

She wrapped her hooves tight around Crimson’s leg, inadvertently raising her flank a bit higher in the process. “Yes, Ma’am...” she whispered, biting her lip as she willed herself to take this part of her punishment with what little dignity she could. You earned this, Silver Spoon, she told herself firmly. What you did was wrong. You shamed yourself, and your family, and this is not the kind of filly your mother raised you to be! She could almost hear the words in her mother’s voice, gently but firmly scolding her daughter for doing something so very, very wrong... She had crossed a line that was absolutely not to be crossed, and she was about to receive a very painful lesson that would stay with her for a long, long time...

...and I deserve it. I... I let you down, Mommy. You... you taught me to be better than this... you must be so... so ashamed of me...

I’m sorry, Mommy... I’m so sorry...

Crimson smiled softly as Silver Spoon clutched herself tightly to her, raising her rump higher without having to be told. She kept stroking the filly’s mane with her hoof until Silver got herself settled, while she raised the spoon into position with her magic... and then, with no warning, she brought the spoon down onto Silver’s flanks, swift and hard.

Silver Spoon gasped sharply as the first swat landed. The spoon was far, far worse than even the hardest swats Crimson had given her by hoof alone; it felt like a dozen angry hornets had stung her all at once, right on that spot where the spoon had landed. And then another dozen hornets stung her on the opposite flank, and a dozen more, and a dozen more after that, as Crimson spanked her in a swift, steady rhythm, the swats coming so quickly after each other that Silver could hardly differentiate between them.

She gritted her teeth, trying to hold on to her dignity and take the punishment without complaint, but it was a losing battle, and she knew it. In less than a minute, the pain in her hindquarters went from a mere slow burn to a blazing, scalding fire, as though she were sitting in a pot of boiling water... and still the pain grew, as the spoon clapped against her flanks again and again...

Crimson watched her little charge intently as she spanked her with the precious silver spoon, adjusting the strength of the swats as she covered the filly’s backside several times over, until the rosy glow visible under her pewter-grey fur had turned to a furious, scalding-hot red. She could tell by the way Silver was hissing through her gritted teeth and involuntarily kicking out with her hind legs that the spoon was extremely painful for her, especially on top of the lengthy spanking she’d already taken so far – but she wasn’t fighting it, or pleading for mercy, or trying to get away from it, either. In truth, Crimson hadn’t originally intended to punish Silver Spoon quite this severely; had the filly not specifically asked her to use the spoon on her, she probably would have just finished off with some sharp hoof-claps to the “sit spots” and been done with it. But if this is what you truly feel you deserve, little one... then so be it.

The spoon clapped steadily and quickly against Silver’s flanks, on and on, until finally she broke down once more, burying her face into the bedcovers and sobbing brokenly as the pain overwhelmed her, driving every thought from her head except for the unbearable sense of shame and guilt as the spoon seared its corrective lesson into her backside. “I’m sorry! I’M SORRY!” she howled into the thick covers,

Crimson paused for just a moment, looking over the furious shade of red the spoon had brought out on Silver’s flanks, and decided enough was enough. It was time to end this. Silver Spoon had paid the price for her misbehavior, and now all that remained was to make sure the lesson wouldn’t be forgotten...

She rotated the spoon in her magic, aiming the spoon directly at the cleft between the filly’s flanks and thighs, then delivered a dozen solid strokes to each side. Silver’s head shot straight up at the first swat as the shock of pain hit her, leaving her breathless. Her glasses flew off and clattered to the floor, but she didn’t even notice it as she desperately tried to beg for forgiveness, in between her broken, hiccuping sobs and howls of pain, with every white-hot strike of the spoon against those most sensitive spots.

“AAAAHH!! I’M SORRY! PL –hic!– PLEASE!!! I’M –hic!– SORRY, MOMMY!! –hic!– I’M S-S-SORRYYYYYY!! –hic!– PLEEEEASE, –hic!– MOMMY!! I’M SORRY!

Crimson smiled with a mixture of tenderness and sadness as she heard the little filly crying out for her mother under the final swats of the spoon. Quietly, she slid the spoon back into Silver’s saddlebag, then pulled the sobbing filly close against her once more, stroking Silver’s mane while rocking her back and forth to comfort her while Silver cried herself out.

I’m so sorry, Mommy...! I never meant to hurt you...! I’m just so... lost without you! Silver’s thoughts raced as she buried her head back into the bedcovers and sobbed, not just from the awful pain of the spanking, but from the heartbreak of having done something so very wrong, something her mother would be so terribly disappointed in her daughter for doing. The thought of her mother looking down at her with such sadness, such disappointment and shame for her daughter’s misbehavior, hurt far worse than any spanking ever could...

“I’m s-sorry, Mommy, I’m –hic!– s-so sorry...” she whimpered, her voice muffled by the bedcovers. “Please –hic!– f-forgive me, Mommy... –hic!– please...”

Crimson just kept rocking the crying filly back and forth, gently stroking her mane while making soft little shushing noises, a few small tears running down her own cheeks as Silver Spoon continued to cry for her mother’s forgiveness. “That’s it, my little one... let it out,” she whispered quietly. “It’s all right... Just let it all out now, little one...” She knew only too well the kind of heartbreaking pain Silver Spoon must feel. Crimson had been a grown mare when she lost her own mother, and it had still been like a knife in her heart; to lose her mother as a young filly, right when she needed her love and guidance the most, must have seemed like the end of Silver’s whole world. You’ve been hurting every day since then, haven’t you, little one... not knowing what to do without her there to guide you...

Finally, Silver Spoon’s anguished, heartbroken sobs quieted down to soft whimpers, and Crimson stroked a gentle hoof over the filly’s cheeks as Silver slowly raised her head off of the bedcovers. “There now, my little one...” Crimson said, her voice soft and warm with sympathy and affection.

Silver’s eyes widened slightly at the older mare’s tone. She even talks like her... “Th... –hic!– Thank you, Ma’am. I –hic!– I’m so sorry...”

“It’s all right now, my little one,” Crimson said with a soft smile. “All is forgiven.”

Silver Spoon took a slow, deep breath as she released her hold on the older mare’s leg, looking up at her with an adoration she had only shared with her own mother until now. Crimson felt a few more small tears run down her own cheeks as she saw that look in the filly’s eyes, and carefully lifted Silver off of her lap to hug her tightly against her chest, trying to keep Silver’s backside from touching anything as she held her close, rocking her back and forth. “I love you, sweetheart,” she murmured into Silver’s ear as she gave her a soft, loving nuzzle. She really is a sweet foal. I wish I could do more for her...

Silver Spoon gasped softly, then melted into the embrace, weeping into the mare’s shoulder. Nopony had held her like this in so long... I miss you so much, Mommy... maybe if... if you were here... I wouldn’t be such a... such a rotten excuse for a filly...

Long minutes passed as the pair held each other close, neither wishing to end the embrace, as Silver Spoon finally cried herself out completely and settled into a warm, affectionate snuggling against the zebracorn mare who somehow seemed to care so much for her, despite the awful things Silver had done to her. “Thank you, Ma’am,” she finally whispered. “For... for everything...”

Crimson Brush felt her heart jump a little at that, and slowly the pair released each other from their embrace after a final nuzzle of affection. Without thinking, Silver Spoon leaned back and started to slide down to the floor, then gasped and winced as her rump protested every movement loudly and painfully. Crimson smiled and gave her a look of sympathy as she caught the filly in her magic and carefully lowered her to the floor, making sure Silver could stand on her own hooves. “Here, sweetheart,” she said, as she started to levitate a bottle of healing gel from the beside table. “This will help...”

To her surprise, Silver Spoon held up a hoof to stop her. “No, Ma’am, I...” She paused for a moment, surprising herself with what she said next. “I don’t... I mean... I deserved what I... what I got. All of it,” she said in a softer tone, clearly humbled by the whole experience.

Crimson shrugged and put the bottle back on the stand. “As you wish, little one,” she said agreeably. Normally, she felt that soothing some of the pain after a punishment was over helped the foal know they’d truly been forgiven... but if this was how Silver Spoon wanted it, she’d respect her choice.

Silver blinked, then squinted and frowned a bit, as if only just now realizing that she’d lost her glasses and the world was nothing but a blur around her now. “Um... did you happen to see where my glasses went, Ma’am?” she asked with an embarrassed little laugh, grateful for an excuse to change the subject.

Crimson glanced around the room, and saw the mother-of-pearl frames lying several feet away. Fortunately, they’d somehow managed to land right on top of the spanking pillow, so no damage had been done to them. With a soft chuckle of her own, she caught them up in her magic and floated them over, settling them back into place on Silver Spoon’s snout. “There you are, my little one. Better?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Silver said, blinking as the world came back into focus. She reached up for her pack, wincing as every moment ignited little sparks of pain in her flanks, and almost reconsidered asking for some of that soothing gel after all...

No. You earned this, Silver Spoon, and you deserved a lot worse than this for what you did, she told herself fiercely. And that’s not even counting all the other rotten things you’ve done...

Crimson was tempted to use her magic to fasten the saddlebags for her, as she saw how Silver Spoon was struggling to overcome the pain in her backside with every movement she made, but the look of determination in the filly’s violet eyes stopped her. She thought it over for a moment, then smiled as an idea occurred to her.

She bent down to Silver Spoon’s eye level again, and ran a hoof affectionately through the filly’s mane. “There’s still quite a bit of mess to clean up, sweetheart,” she said. “Would you like to help me?”

Silver Spoon smiled and nodded eagerly. She couldn’t undo the awful thing she’d done... but maybe she could help make up for it, a little. “I’d love to, Ma’am,” she said, trotting happily beside the zebracorn as they walked side-by-side to the doorway. Despite the fiery pain in her rump, and the lingering shame of her punishment for what she’d done, somehow she felt happy, in a way she hadn’t felt since her mother’s death.

Somepony cared.

\/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/

A few short hours later, the shop was nearly back to normal, thanks to the work of several pairs of industrious hooves plus the magic of three unicorns. (Or perhaps two-and-a-half, seeing as how one was just a filly whose magic was still somewhat limited.) Rarity and Sweetie Belle had dropped by to welcome Crimson home from her vacation not long after she and Silver Spoon had started the cleanup work, and both unicorns had gasped in shock when they’d seen the state of the place. Upon hearing what had happened, Rarity had immediately insisted on helping to put the shop back in order. The elegant ivory unicorn normally avoided getting her hooves dirty if she could help it, but Crimson was a friend, and it went against Rarity’s nature (not to mention her Element) to put her own comfort ahead of a friend so clearly in need of help. A little dirt and sweat was nothing that a nice, long soak in a hot bubble bath couldn’t cure, after all.

Sweetie Belle had rushed off, then returned in a flash with Scootaloo and Apple Bloom in tow, announcing themselves as “Cutie Mark Crusaders Cleanup Crew, YAY!” and setting to work with a will to help put the shop to rights under Rarity and Crimson’s supervision. To the two mares’ mutual amusement, unlike the “terrible trio’s” usual rambunctious and occasionally disaster-prone efforts at being “helpful”, the three eager fillies were all being extra-careful to carry out their assigned tasks exactly as they were told to do. Which was hardly surprising, really. They all knew what was in that one back room, after all, and none of them wanted to end up with their flanks as fiery-red as Silver Spoon’s...

Silver Spoon had cringed and tried to hide herself away when the Crusaders had arrived, blushing in mortified embarrassment at having her sworn enemies see her humbled like this, and the atmosphere in the shop had been fairly chilly for a while once everypony had learned that she’d been responsible for a share of the destruction. But to her relief, things had thawed a little once they’d heard how she’d willingly apologized and accepted her punishment for her part in it, and had seen the formerly-snobbish, prissy rich filly digging in, working up a sweat, and getting her hooves dirty trying to undo the damage she’d caused. The Crusaders trio hadn’t even made fun of her for the hot shade of red that had still showed all too clearly across her well-spanked hindquarters...

...well, not too much, anyway. She’d had to bite back the urge to snap out a “blank flank!” insult a few times in retaliation for the occasional bit of teasing and snickering, but bite them back she did. Being a bully was how she’d ended up here to begin with, she told herself firmly, so she could hardly blame them too much for enjoying seeing her get her painful comeuppance after all the rotten things she’d said and done to them. Plus, she had little doubt that starting a fight would earn her another trip to the back room, and that thought was more than enough to keep her humbled. Her flanks still stung too much to even think about sitting down as it was.

And oddly enough... she had to admit, it really didn’t seem like they were being mean about it. The occasional teasing seemed almost... friendly? As though they were trying to get her to laugh with them, rather than simply laughing at her?

Finally, as she found herself working in the same corner as Apple Bloom, she worked up the courage to ask why...

“Well... I s’pose I could say it’s ‘cause we ain’t bullies,” Apple Bloom said.

Silver Spoon winced and looked away. I guess I had that coming, she thought sadly.

“But...” Apple Bloom went on, softening her tone, “I reckon that’d be a pretty mean thing to say, too. So, how ‘bout we just say... we feel your pain, Silver.” Silver Spoon blinked and looked back up, tilting her head in confusion as she found Apple Bloom grinning at her with genuine humor. “I mean, it ain’t like you’re the only filly here that’s ever got her flanks spanked ‘cause she did somethin’ dumber’n a box of banana peels. Heck, you got off easy,” Apple Bloom giggled in a low, conspiratorial tone as she leaned in closer. “‘Least you didn’t hafta go out into the orchard an’ pick out the switch you were gonna get spanked with. That’ll make you think about your choices in life, let me tell ya!”

Silver Spoon’s eyes widened as Apple Bloom shared that embarrassing revelation with her – and surprised herself by actually giggling along with the pale-yellow farm-filly. “Well... no... but I did bring my own spoon...” she admitted.

Now it was Apple Bloom’s turn to look confused. “You brought a spoon?”

“The spoon my mo–... my mother... used to use,” Silver said, choking a bit as she looked away again to wipe away the small tears that tried to form in her eyes. A moment later, she let out a small gasp of surprise, as she felt the other filly’s hooves going around her neck and across her withers, drawing her closer for a soft, sympathetic hug.

“Hey... I miss my mama too, Silver,” Apple Bloom whispered. Her mother had died when she was so little, she only vaguely remembered her, really... but she still missed her.

Without thinking, Silver Spoon found herself returning the brief hug, taking comfort in the small gesture. Somehow, just for the moment, Apple Bloom no longer seemed so much like a sworn enemy... she was just another filly, one who understood what having that aching hole in your heart was like. Well... Diamond Tiara’s sworn enemy, really, she thought. Did I ever really have anything against her, or her friends? Or... do I just hate them because Diamond does? “Thanks,” she whispered back.

“Now, let me ask you a question, Silver,” Apple Bloom said as they separated. Silver Spoon hesitated for a moment, then nodded. “How come you let Diamond Tiara bully you into doin’ mean things all the time?”

Silver Spoon blinked, not having expected quite that particular question. “I...” she started to say, then stopped as she realized she didn’t really have an answer.

“I mean... you actually seem kinda okay when she’s not around,” Apple Bloom persisted. “You hardly ever start stuff with us when she ain’t with you. And seems to me if you were really as mean an’ nasty as you act, you wouldn’ta come back here an’ apologized to Miz Brush, an’ stuck around to help her clean up even after she spanked the tar outta you... an’ you ain’t even called us ‘blank flanks’ once, all afternoon. Heck, look at us right now! Here we are, just talkin’, like normal ponies, instead of rippin’ into each other. So... What gives, Silver?”

Silver Spoon thought it over, and realized she still didn’t really have an answer. “I... I don’t know,” she finally said with a helpless shrug. Hesitantly, she explained how Diamond Tiara had been the only one who had ever really offered any kind of friendship to her when the other foals had ostracized her for her clumsiness on the playground, her glasses, and her wealthy background. “She’s my only friend, Apple Bloom, and it’s just... easier to go along with whatever she wants, I guess. She has a way of making it seem like... like it’s okay to do it, if she wants to. I’m not sure how to explain it, but it just... didn’t seem wrong when she was convincing me to do all this,” she said, nodding towards the graffiti as she and Apple Bloom resumed scrubbing. “It wasn’t until after I got home afterward, that it hit me how wrong it was, and if... if I’d run into her on the way over here, she probably would’ve been able to talk me out of feeling guilty about it, and... I wouldn’t have come at all...” she admitted, her voice trailing off in shame.

“Sounds like a sociopath to me,” Scootaloo said from behind them. Both fillies startled and turned to look at her. “I’ve read about ponies like that... what? I read books!” the orange pegasus added defensively at their raised brows. “Reading’s cool. Rainbow Dash reads books...”

“I didn’t say nothin’, Scoots,” Apple Bloom chuckled.

“Anyway. That kind of pony’s very, um... cara... carriza...” Scootaloo stumbled over the word.

“Charismatic?” Sweetie Belle piped up as she trotted over, curious to see what her friends were talking about with Silver Spoon.

“Yeah, that. They can get ponies to do all kinds of crazy things and make it sound like a good idea at the time.”

Apple Bloom chuckled at that. “You mean like when ya talked us into goin’ zip-lining?”

Scootaloo blushed. “I still say that should’ve worked,” she grumbled. “No, I mean they do stuff like making up crazy lies, then believing their own lies and getting other ponies to believe ‘em too, so that they’ll do anything they say. Like this one I read about – there was this pony up in Vanhoofer, ‘bout a hundred years ago, who got a whole bunch of other ponies to believe he’d found the secret to making ponies live forever, like Princess Celestia. He got ‘em to give up everything and go out into the frozen north somewhere... ‘Bout three months later, a weather-patrol team in Whinnypeg rescued one survivor while they were out doing winter-flight training maneuvers somewhere, and found out what’d happened. The crazy pony had talked ‘em all into setting themselves on fire so they could be reborn from their ashes like a phoenix – and they’d done it, just ‘cause he said to!” The other three fillies gasped, horrified, and Scootaloo put a hoof over her heart. “True story, I swear! I’ll show you the book if you don’t believe me!”

“Dang, that musta been one gruesome book, Scoots,” Apple Bloom said with a shudder.

Silver Spoon shuddered as well, for a different reason. Hearing it put into words, it made more sense than she wanted to admit. Diamond Tiara certainly could be charismatic when she wanted to be, especially when she wanted somepony to do something...

“Yeah, well... I was kinda looking for a book of scary stories for our next camp-out, and that book wasn’t quite what I thought it was from what it said on the cover,” Scootaloo admitted, rubbing the back of her head with a hoof. “Anyway, ponies like that, they don’t have any conch... um...”

“Consciences?” Sweetie Belle said helpfully.

“Yeah, that. They don’t care if anypony gets hurt, as long as they get what they want. Remember the Gabby Gums thing? How Diamond Tiara had us feeling like it was all okay at first, then blackmailed us as soon as we started having second thoughts about it, and how she didn’t care a molted feather about how many ponies’ feelings got hurt by it? And when we all finally got in huge trouble for it, she acted like she hadn’t done anythi–”

The front door opened with a loud bang!, interrupting their conversation. “Silver Spoon! Are you in here?!” a small but arrogant voice yelled from the doorway. They all whirled around to see an all-too-familiar pink filly with a white-streaked, pale-lavender mane, wearing a fancy tiara that matched the cutie mark on her flanks, glaring angrily around the shop.

Silver Spoon gasped, and she quickly tried to hide behind the other three fillies. Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle exchanged surprised looks as Silver Spoon actually cringed behind them, staring at them with wide, worried eyes as if she were silently pleading with them to protect her. Even Scootaloo couldn’t find it in her heart to leave Silver to face Diamond’s wrath alone, after seeing that look of fear in her eyes, and with a quick, shared nod of determination, the trio quickly moved to put themselves between her and Diamond Tiara.

“There’s no need to shout, little one,” Crimson Brush said evenly as she, too, moved to keep Diamond Tiara from getting more than a few hoofsteps through the doorway. “We can all hear you just fine.”

Diamond Tiara just glared at the zebracorn mare as if she were beneath contempt. “Fine, whatever,” she snapped haughtily. “Now where’s Silver Spoon? I was told she was in here!” She glared around the room again, then stopped as she caught sight of her friend cowering behind the Cutie Mark Crusaders. “HEY! What do you think you’re doing, blank flanks? Get away from her!”

The Crusaders exchanged glances again as they looked back and forth between Silver Spoon’s wide-eyed, pleading expression and Diamond Tiara’s angry contempt... then lowered their heads and scuffed their hooves against the floor, glaring back at their tormentor as they kept Silver shielded behind them. “No. You stay away from her.” To everypony’s surprise, it was gentle Sweetie Belle who stepped forward to issue the challenge, with such unexpected steel in her soft voice that Apple Bloom and Scootaloo couldn’t help staring at her in astonishment for a moment.

Silver Spoon could hardly believe what was happening. Her former enemies, suddenly becoming her protectors? Why... why would they care what happens to me? Don’t they... don’t they hate me, too?

Rarity glanced over at Crimson Brush, raising a brow as if to ask whether they should intervene, as the angry fillies stared at each other across the shop. Crimson returned the look with slight shake of her head. Let them settle it themselves, she seemed to be saying with a look. She had a feeling that this showdown had been a long time in coming, and Crimson remembered her own foalhood well enough to know that if she or Rarity stepped in, it wouldn’t really solve the conflict, it would just postpone it until some other time when there weren’t any adults around to step in. As long as things didn’t turn violent, the best thing to do was to let the fillies have it out and settle it now, on their own.

Diamond Tiara glared at the trio with contempt as she started forward – then halted in her tracks as a light-green aura began to crackle around the unicorn filly’s horn. She didn’t think Sweetie Belle’s magic was strong enough to actually be useful in a fight, but... Stupid unicorns, she thought nastily to herself. “If you blank-flank losers so much as touch her,” she snarled threateningly.

“You’ll what?” Apple Bloom said. “Trash Carousel Boutique, too? Or set fire to our barn?”

Diamond’s eyes widened in shock, then blazed with anger as she realized that Apple Bloom’s statement, and the looks she was getting from everypony else in the room, must mean they all knew exactly what she and Silver Spoon had done. She took an involuntary step forward, and the Crusaders took one step forward as well. “You... you told them?” she said dangerously, turning her glare to the cowering Silver Spoon. “How could you –? What did you tell them? How much trouble did you get me in?! Did you try to blame it all on me? You did, didn’t you! How could you be so stupid, Silver! What did you tell them?!

And at that moment, something inside Silver Spoon just... snapped.

“I told them everything, Diamond!” Silver Spoon suddenly jumped up and stood on all four hooves, wincing at the pain in her still-sore flanks as she stepped forward. “I told them everything.”

“Stupid!” Diamond snapped, just before she saw the wince of pain on Silver’s face and the tinge of heated pink that still lingered under the fur on her flanks. “Hey! What did – what did they do to you?!” she yelled angrily.

“What I deserved, Diamond,” Silver said, her eyes brimming with tears at the prospect of losing her only friend, even as she stood her ground alongside her former enemies. “And they didn’t do it. She did,” she said, nodding towards Crimson Brush.

“That... that freak assaulted you?” Diamond said in disbelief and rage, clearly having forgotten that the “freak” in question was standing right next to her listening to every word.

“She’s not a freak,” Silver Spoon said quietly. “And she didn’t assault me. She disciplined me.” She caught a slight smile from Crimson Brush as she emphasized the difference, but kept her violet-eyed gaze squarely fixed on Diamond Tiara. “And I’m glad she did! Because what we did was wrong, Diamond! What I did was wrong, and I deserved to be punished for it. But I guess... I guess you can’t understand that, can you.”

“What are you saying, stupid? She deserved it, not you!”

“Why?”

“She insulted me! She turned down my Daddy!” Diamond snarled. “Nopony turns my Daddy’s business down!”

“And what are we going to do to the next pony you don’t like?” Silver asked sadly. “Dig up Miss Cheerilee’s garden because she gives us too much homework? Trash Sugarcube Corner because they didn’t get your birthday cake with exactly the right shade of pink icing on it? What awful thing are you going to make me do next, Diamond?!” she said, yelling the last question with such sudden, unexpected anger that even Diamond Tiara was taken aback by it. “How many more ponies are you going to – !”

She choked for a moment, and swallowed before continuing in a soft, sad voice once more. “How many more ponies are you going to make hate me, because of the things you make me do to them? How many times are you going to... m-make my mother ashamed of what I’ve turned into because of you?”

Diamond Tiara just stood there, seething. Her silent glare of rage told Silver Spoon everything she needed to know. Scootaloo had been right. Diamond simply didn’t care about any of that. She didn’t care how many ponies got hurt for her to get whatever she wanted. She didn’t even care if her supposed best friend got hurt, or got sent away to a youthful-offenders’ correctional school, or even went to jail, as long as she got her way. And if she didn’t get her way...

“Just go, Diamond,” she said sadly, looking away. “Just... go.”

Still boiling with anger at her former friend’s betrayal, Diamond Tiara took another step forward... then recoiled as a light-green blast of magic left a scorch mark on the floor not six inches in front of her. Instantly, all eyes were on Sweetie Belle.

“You heard her, Diamond Tiara,” Sweetie said, her soft voice still holding that hint of steel underneath it while her magic aura crackled ominously around her horn in the sudden silence. “Leave. Her. Alone.”

Even Diamond Tiara could see how this was going to go. Three against one, even if they were just “blank flanks”, weren’t exactly the most favorable odds for her, especially with one of them being an angry unicorn firing green lightning from her stupid horn. Horseapples! When did that useless blank flank figure out how to do that, anyway? Add two adult mares, including that zebra-striped freak who’d probably be all too happy to see Diamond get her flanks handed to her, and suddenly this confrontation didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.

“Have it your way, Silver Spoon,” she said. “But don’t think I’ll just forget this when you come crawling back to me.” Diamond turned to leave, and practically kicked the door open. Halfway through the door, she turned to look over her shoulder for one last parting shot. “And we both know you will, Silver. I’m the only friend you’ve got.” And then she was gone.

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo just stared, slack-jawed, at their unicorn friend as she stood there, absolutely rigid, her horn still crackling with magic. “That... was... totally awesome!” Scootaloo cried, clapping Sweetie Belle on the back with a wing. “You went, like, completely badass on her!”

“Dang... you sure showed her, Sweetie,” Apple Bloom said admiringly. “Wish I’d had a camera to catch the look on her stupid face when you shot that lightnin’ at her... Sweetie Belle?” she added cautiously, after Sweetie continued to just stand there, unmoving, staring blankly at the space where Diamond Tiara had been standing a moment ago. “Hello? Equestria to Sweetie Belle?” she asked, waving a hoof in front of her friend’s eyes. “Are you okay?”

“I... can’t... feel... my legs...” Sweetie Belle squeaked, just before the crackling aura around her horn suddenly fizzled out in a shower of sparks, her eyes rolled back, and she keeled over in a dead faint.

\/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/ * /\ * \/

A vial of smelling salts and a sheepish apology for the scorch mark on the floor later, the three friends plus one (former) enemy were finishing up on the last bits of graffiti staining the counter-top. Crimson Brush had allowed them into her workshop to start putting things away, with strict orders not to touch anything except the one closet where brooms, mops, rags, and cleaning supplies were stored. The fading, but still visible warmth on Silver Spoon’s flanks was more than enough to insure all four fillies obeyed without question, no matter how interesting the rest of the workshop looked.

“She’s wrong, you know,” Apple Bloom said as they put the last items away. “Diamond Tiara, I mean.”

“I know... we were wrong to –” Silver Spoon started to say.

“That’s not what I meant, Silver. I meant... she’s wrong about her bein’ the only friend you’ve got. And you’re wrong about that, too.” Silver Spoon blinked and looked up at Apple Bloom with wide eyes. “We could be your friends. If ya want to, that is.”

“But... even after I... I’ve been so mean to all of you?” Silver could hardly believe her ears.

“Well... look, I know there’s been a lotta rotten apples between us, but... that don’t mean we can’t at least try to give each other a second chance, does it?” She glanced over at Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, raising a brow at Scootaloo in particular, knowing her pegasus friend had always been the most bitter about the teasing they’d taken from the two rich bullies – especially the way they’d always made a point to viciously mock her lack of flight skills whenever possible. “Right, girls?”

“Well...” Scootaloo rubbed the back of her head with a hoof, then shrugged. “Aw, why not. If we could forgive Babs for being a such a jerk, then... sure, okay.”

Sweetie Belle just gave a smile and a nod, as she put out her hoof. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo put their hooves against hers, and Apple Bloom gave Silver Spoon a smile of encouragement. “We’re willin’ to try bein’ friends if you are, Silver,” she said.

Silver Spoon hesitated for a moment, then slowly reached a hoof forward to touch the hooves of... her new friends. “I... I’m...” She bit her lip, then gave them a hesitant smile. “I’m sorry.”

Crimson Brush smiled as the four fillies trotted back into the main showroom. The happiness in Silver Spoon’s eyes and the renewed bounce in her step, so different now from the fearful, ashamed, and lonely filly who’d practically dragged herself into the shop only a few hours ago, warmed Crimson’s heart. “All finished, little ones?” she asked.

“Yes, Ma’am,” Silver Spoon said. “What do you need us to do next?”

Crimson made a show of looking around the room to inspect their work, then nodded in approval. “I think we’ve done everything we can for now, my dear. You and your friends can run along and play if you want to,” she said with a smile, gently emphasizing the word friends as she spoke. “Thank you all so much for your help, little ones. You all really did do a wonderful job.”

“YAY!” All three Crusaders quickly checked their flanks, then sighed. “Darn it. No cutie mark in cleanin’, neither,” Apple Bloom grumbled.

“Ahh, who’d want that as a special talent anyway?” Scootaloo scoffed. “So... milkshakes at Sugarcube Corner?”

“Sounds like a plan!” Apple Bloom said, her disappointment evaporating in a flash. “An’ after that – hey, Silver Spoon, we were gonna have a sleepover in our clubhouse tonight. Wanna come along?”

“R-really?” Silver Spoon asked with wide eyes. “You really want me to come to your sleepover?”

“Sure! You’re our friend, ain’tcha? It’ll be fun!”

“I’d love to!” My gosh... nopony’s ever invited me to a real sleepover!, she thought incredulously, as it suddenly hit her that in all the time they’d been friends, she and Diamond Tiara had rarely, if ever, actually slept over at each other’s houses. Just... one more sign that she meant more to me than I ever did to her, I guess... “But –” she paused and sighed heavily. “I don’t know if I can. Daddy’s probably still mad at me, and... well... I might be, um... kind of... grounded...” she said.

“Aw, really? Spanked and grounded? That’s rough,” Scootaloo said sympathetically.

Crimson Brush regarded the dejected fillies for a moment, then smiled to herself and caught up a quill in her magic to write out a note. “One moment, little ones...”

My dear Dirt Cheap:

Your daughter came to see me earlier this afternoon, and confessed everything to me. While her actions were indeed shameful, you may take some pride in knowing that she didn’t try to make any excuses for her misbehavior. She understood that her actions were very, very wrong, and she willingly accepted both responsibility and punishment for what she did. Afterwards, I put her to work helping to undo the damage she caused to the shop, and again, she did so willingly and without any complaint. (Indeed, she has spent the last several hours working very hard, and it’s possible the walls might be even cleaner now than they were when I first moved in!)

We spoke for some time, both before and after her punishment, and I do believe that she is truly sorry for doing what she did. I also believe that she was, at least in part, manipulated into doing it by a so-called “friend” who took advantage of their friendship for her own selfish reasons, and that Silver Spoon would not have done this were it not for this “friend’s” bad influence. Not that this excuses Silver Spoon, of course, but I bring it up simply to mention that Silver and this other filly confronted each other while Silver was helping me to clean up the shop, and while I see no reason to go into the details, suffice it to say that after that confrontation, I feel fairly confident that this now ex-friend won’t be exerting her bad influences on your daughter anymore. (I also won’t mention this other filly’s name, though I suspect you can figure out easily enough who she is.)

I do understand that you are probably still very disappointed in Silver Spoon – however, as far as I am concerned, the matter is now closed, and best put behind us. Silver Spoon made a mistake – a serious one, yes, but a mistake nonetheless, and every foal makes mistakes. Celestia knows I certainly made my share of foolish mistakes when I was a filly, and I doubt there’s anypony in Equestria who can’t say the same.

Again, Silver Spoon freely admitted her guilt, willingly accepted her punishment, and worked very hard to try to make it right. She is genuinely ashamed of and remorseful for her actions, and I am satisfied that she has truly learned her lesson. Therefore, I would ask that she not be punished any further for this unfortunate incident, and that you forgive her, as I have already done.

Your business partner, and friend,

Crimson Brush

Crimson folded up the note, then floated it over to Silver Spoon. “Give this to your father, my dear,” she said, giving the filly a wink as she slid it into her saddlebag. “I think he just might let you go on that sleepover after he’s read it.”

Silver Spoon smiled and rushed forward to hug the zebracorn tightly. “Thank you, Ma’am... for everything...” she whispered. “I’m sorry...”

“And I forgive you, little one,” Crimson whispered back. “Go on, now. Your friends are waiting for you.”

Crimson and Rarity watched, smiling fondly, as the four fillies hitched on their saddlebags, chattering happily amongst themselves as they made their plans. As they started to leave the store, Silver Spoon paused in the doorway at a sudden thought, bit her lip for a moment, then looked back over her shoulder.

“Ma’am?” she asked.

“Yes, little one?”

“Would it... be okay if I came back tomorrow afternoon and... um... helped you fix some of those?” she asked hesitantly, with a quick glance towards the brushes awaiting repair on the counter-top. “I know a little bit about silversmithing, and I saw the stuff for it back there in the workshop, and I... I’d like to learn more, if... I mean, if you wouldn’t mind teaching me...?”

“I’d like that very much, sweetheart,” Crimson said warmly. “Now go on, dear. Have fun with your new friends.”

“My goodness,” Rarity said from beside her, after the fillies had left. “I never thought I’d see the day when either of those two brats would come around...”

“Repentance and forgiveness can work wonders, my dear,” Crimson chuckled softly. “She just needed a firm hoof to put her back on the right path, that’s all. Much like a certain unicorn filly we both know, hm?”

Rarity laughed and nodded. “I suppose so, yes. Speaking of whom... I think perhaps I should have a word with Twilight about exactly what kind of spells she’s been teaching my little sister. I’m really not sure she should be teaching lightning spells to a filly who can barely manage to pour milk over cold cereal without burning it!”

The two mares shared a laugh at that. “Well, I think it was very brave of her, my dear,” Crimson said. “You should be proud of her.”

“Yes... she was, wasn’t she,” Rarity said fondly. “And I am. I always have been.” About time you stood up for yourself and kicked that rotten little bully’s plot, little sister, she thought to herself – though of course, she would never express such an unladylike sentiment out loud.

Instead, she turned, and placed a hoof on Crimson’s shoulder. “Will you be all right, darling?”

Crimson paused, and looked around her shop once more. It would still take some time, and a lot of work, before everything would be truly back to the way it was – but she still had her home and her livelihood, and friends to help her through the rough spots, and maybe... just maybe... she could even do a little more for Silver Spoon, after all. She could never take the place of the filly’s mother, of course... but maybe a friend and mentor would be good enough to help her become that fine young mare her mother would have been proud of.

“Yes, my dear,” she said. “I think I’ll be just fine.”

Author's Note:

What can I truly say about my feelings for this chapter.

Triskelion took a measly 7k word ending, and turned it into a masterpiece far grander than I could have ever hoped.

So I guess I'll just say Thank you to him and my... Our readers. And I'm truly sorry for the wait ^^.

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Comments ( 62 )

What started out as a simple idea has bloomed into something far more grand indeed. Glad to have taken the leap with this story. I will also be reading your other story, I have already gone through the first chapter and it seems very promising.

2882078

Very glad to hear you enjoyed it ^^. Couldn't have done it without Triskelion, though.

Sadly the other story will take far longer to write, and Triskelion is actually Writing one of the chapters while I work on the final 2.

If a co-authored story between you two results in anything like the last chapter of Many Uses of a Brush, and judging by the first chapter of 'Red'emption I think it will be, then I am confident that the coming work will be very satisfying.

2882290
Thank you for the compliments. :twilightsmile: We'll certainly try not to disappoint!

Actually, in some ways, pretty much the entirety of The Many Uses of a Brush could be said to be co-authored at this point; I revamped chapters 1-6 somewhat right about the same time as I helped him co-author chapter one of Redemption of a Showmare, and they all got got re-upped at the same time. (So a lot of the comments prior to about mid-June 2013 are actually referencing the earlier versions of the chapters.) If you haven't re-read them since they were originally posted... you might want to. :raritywink:

A lot of it was just fleshing out and expanding on what was already written, though, so if I had to put a number on it, I'd say it's about a 70/30 split between what he originally wrote and what I added. Chapter 7 of this story, plus Redemption of..., is where we officially got into the groove of co-authoring things on a more 50/50 basis -- although in many ways, it's still the same process; he gives me a chapter containing most of the basic ideas and plot, and I pick it up and run with it. :twilightsmile:

Well, whoever wrote what in whatever way they wrote it, good job! I enjoyed the story. I didn't go into it knowing it was anything like a "spank fic," though I suspected, but I was still pleasantly surprised by the contents of the story. Nicely done.

The thing that prevented me reading this final chapter was that it looked to be a grizzly beast of a read. But, damn, I'm happy I took the time, tired as I am, to make my cautious way into it.

It is a shame that this fic doesn't get the attention it deserves, really. The scene between Silver Spoon and Crimson Brush was one that I, as an author who has done spanking scenes before, can truly appreciate for how well it was handled.Better than mine, I think. Silver's reaction was very believable and her pain from feeling ashamed of becoming the opposite of what her mother wanted her to be was pretty moving, I ain't gonna lie. I might give this story another full read some day, as I haven't seen any of the previous chapters since before 2882397 put his magic touch to it.

It was a real treat seeing this reach its end, Crimson. I look forward to future work involving this subject matter if you intend to continue doing them (I've gotta check out that Twi/Trix fic sometime). Best of luck and I wish you all the best.

2956699

I'm really glad you decided to give it a read ^^. And thank you so much for the compliments. It was a blast having Triskelion's help to give my story the life it needed.

Redemption sadly will be slow going but I have little doubt it'll be worth the wait.

I'm sure the story would have gotten more recognition and maybe even been sponsored on the first page if I had Triskelion from the beginning.

2956699
Heh, yeah, the final chapter did run a bit long, didn't it. :twilightblush: It kind of morphed into a "Silver Spoon redemption" story while I was working my way through the original piece C.B. gave me. Knowing that this would be the final chapter of "Many Uses...", I wanted to wind things up with a Big Finish, and it seemed to me that this experience would be the kick in the flanks Silver Spoon needed to make her wake up and realize what she's become. Plus... I wanted Diamond Tiara to pay a price for this too, and having this become the bridge too far that finally breaks Diamond and Silver's friendship seemed appropriate. Diamond won't learn anything from it, of course, but at least it cost her something, and Silver Spoon now has the chance to start over and try to become the kind of filly her mother would have been proud of, instead of ashamed of.

Plus, it was a way to bring some of the other characters back into the story, and bring things full circle to close it out. (Sweetie Belle going all Dirty Harry on Diamond was just one of those amusing little ideas that comes to you out of nowhere, and once it gets stuck in your head, it's just too good not to use. :rainbowlaugh: )

Anyway, I'm glad you liked the result, and I do hope you'll get a chance to go back through the reworked chapters 1-6 at some point. :twilightsmile: I'm working my way through ch.2 of "Redemption of a Showmare" and hope to have it ready soon -- one of the challenges of this kind of story is to keep the spanking scenes from getting repetitive or predictable, so I've been juggling several different ideas to kind of shake things up a bit in that chapter... :trixieshiftright:

2993756

Heheh. High praise. Thank you ^^.

2993756
I thank you for the compliment as well. :twilightsmile: If you liked this one, don't forget to check out our other collaborative effort, Redemption of a Showmare, which picks up where chapters 5 and 6 of this story left off to follow Trixie and Twilight's new relationship. Twilight isn't the only one Trixie owes apologies and atonement to...

And also, I see the "sex" tag, but after reading the first three chapters, I haven't really seen anything with any sort of sex, aside from Twilight feeling incredibly exposed on the spanking stand.

3129407

Glad you enjoyed the story ^^. I put the sex tag against my own opinions on the matter for the Twi and Trixie chapter. Call it a safety measure.

3129460

Reference to an old trollestia joke.

As for the sex tag, I would take that off, because when possible readers see the sex tag along with some fillies as being main characters, many would assume that foalcon is taking place here, which (to my knowledge so far) isn't taking place.

I'll be honest, I thought this was a foalcon story, but against my better judgement I went in and read the first few chapters. And welp, turns out it's not foalcon, but an actual good, well-thought out story.

I don't favorite many things, so don't take this lightly when I say good job! :moustache:

3129418 I read that chapter, and there is no explicit sex going on there, so I'd take the tag off.

HOWEVER! Twilight was held against her will, her magic was disabled, and she was spanked/tortured for who knows how long? I'd recommend changing the teen tag to mature just because of that. If the spanking was consensual, I'd keep it teen, but because it was forced, it really should be mature.

3129536

I understand the misconception can be there... I guess I could try removing it.

The reason I put it on there is while my views disagree spanking between adults is considered purely sexual by a good many people, at least in the US.

And I never take criticism badly. I'm a very opinionated person so I know what to expect from people.

3129549 Yeah, we wouldn't want a good story to be downvoted because ignorant people thought the wrong thing, right?

3129545

hrm... as for the mature tag. I'm not so sure. There's no intended rape, or even overly abusive violence. I think I'll leave that one to the mods decision unless my editor agrees.

3129556 Fair enough. It's right on the line though; it really can go either way. If it was meant to be sexual, then mature. If it was meant to be anything else, then teen.

Only trying to help here! :twilightblush::twilightblush:

3129562

I appreciate it ^^.

And yeah it was never meant to be violent or sexual. More venting for the sake of venting.

3129573

Make sure to give my other story a try when you finish this one. Its continuing the Twilight and Trixie chapters. It's mature, but it's not focused around the clop at all.

3129568 Funny thing is, I'm going to use some of the ideas from this story in my main one, There is a First Time for Everything, in later chapters, specifically the submission/trust idea.

3129582 Added that one to my read later list.

3129586

Feel free ^^. Use any part of my stories as you like (Goes for anyone) Even my OC. Sharing is Caring after all *chuckles*

3129586

And I think I'll have to give your story a read. I've been debating it for a few days, not really sure why, considering TwiDash is second only to TwiXie to me.

3129615 So I take it you liked it? :twilightblush: Thanks for the fav btw, and also, there is definitely going to be a full blown twilight x trixie story in the future; I just have to get better at writing if I am to attempt such a story. I write pretty dang good in my opinion, but there is ALWAYS room for improvement.

3129772

Humble too :P. Yeah it was pretty good actually ^^. I'll admit I'm not a great writer. I just have good ideas that Triskelion can make amazing ^^.

Wish I could say I was liberal with my favs but I have over 150 or so lol. But don't let that demean my fav for yours at all ^^.

3129805 Well you have the potential to be a great writer if you keep writing like that!

And as for the fav, of course not! Every time I see that someone has fav'd/liked/followed me or one of my stories, it brings a smile to my face, :pinkiehappy:

3129814

I appreciate the confidence but after the huge writers block I hit on Redemption ((Which is pretty much done and being edited)) I think I'm done writing.

I'm actually surprised I even tried. I tried writing a book a long time ago... but I kept getting a few chapters written, hating them and starting over, until I finally gave up.

3129556

I think I agree with 3129562 on this; while there may be some sexual implications in the one chapter between Twilight and Crimson, and the two between Twilight and Trixie, mostly due to Twilight and Trixie's respective feelings of exposure(*) when bent over, it isn't really the point of the story as such, and no actual sex (or even any actual fooling around) occurs – hell, we didn't even specifically name any "naughty" body parts :rainbowlaugh: – so I don't think a "sex" tag is warranted, and I think it can work with a "teen" rating rather than "mature".

Redemption of a Showmare, on the other hoof, is definitely "sex/mature". :pinkiegasp: (And about to update shortly. :pinkiehappy: :yay: )

(* as to why ponies would feel exposed when they walk around naked all the time anyway, my personal headcanon is that it's similar to the rules of social politeness at nude beaches or nudist resorts; yes, they're naked, and everything is visible if you look, but it's still considered just plain rude to stare at the "naughty parts" of others, and there's still a difference between just walking around casually vs. deliberately displaying yourself in a manner that has obvious sexual implications.)

2582101 There's a reason for that. As I come to the end of chapter three, and as one of the ones who reacted rather vehemently to your story, I can safely say that your story is more realistically written.

The scenarios in this are far too fantastical to really be believable. There are people like this in the world, but they're the exception rather than the rule. Most people are far, far too narcissistic to calmly accept that they "deserve" physical discipline. I don't say that as a bad thing, the level of narcissism expressed in the notion of "I don't deserve to be hurt" is normal. Honestly there's probably a better word to describe this, but it's the best one I can come up with.

On the whole, this story is a lot more fetishistic than yours. I can't bring myself to philosophical indignation. Yours was better, so it pushed some buttons.

That's not to say this is a bad story, but it's a different sort of story. And it doesn't strike me as being as likely as yours.

3216866

I do understand you point, I did write a few characters to be the exception, because I am one of the exception.

As for it being "Fetishistic", it was never intended to be, barring the Twixie chapters that lead to my other story. I'm just a firm believer in Domestic Discipline. While it can be a fetish, I know when to separate them.

3217113 well I haven't gotten to the fourth chapter yet and I won't tonight but so far all of your characters have been that exception. Rarity, Sweetie, AB and Twilight all expressed gratitude or longing toward the notion of physical punishment.

As for me I am firmly against the notion of physical punishment. My mother raised a hand to me one time and immediately regretted it. She was, frankly, very often beaten by her father and taught me that it was never acceptable. Far as I'm concerned, if you have to hit your kid, you've already failed. My mother earned my respect, and her displeasure with perhaps the removal of a privilege was more than enough to our me in line.

3217166

I respect everyone's preferences when it comes to rearing children. And I too was beat as a child... quite frequently and for little to no reason. But it was when I got out of the house and did a bit of soul searching that I realized something. I never hated my father for any of the punishments he gave... it was the lack of care or love that hurt me far more.

Spanking, with true love and care, should never be considered "Hitting" your child. Done properly it can build a bond that goes deep. Scolding, grounding, or time outs hurt me far more than any of the spankings, not just from my father, because they were impersonal, and usually left me feeling like they just didn't care and didn't want to deal with me.

I'm not trying to change your mind, I simply wanted to speak my own mind. Even with all I've been through, I still find proper spanking to be the truest form of love 2 people can share, both Parent to Child as well as between lovers.

I do appreciate your honesty. As well I'm happy you aren't one of the many ragers that cry "Spanking is Sex!" or "Abuse!", as I've heard so many times before. Speaking your mind is always welcome.

3217187 feh, I know people don't spank their kids as a sex thing. That's retarded. That said, pain is an effective but cheap method of negative reinforcement that has a load of negative consequences tied up with it. Shouldn't be necessary.

3217196

The few times I've used it for punishment myself, it was never about the pain, and rarely got to even the mildest extents of this story. It was simply an act of loving care. It's more about the love that is shown before, during and after, that does the most good. The act itself is merely a link, it helps the parent show they care enough not to go too far and helps the child realize there are true consequences for their mistakes, but that doesn't change the love I have for them.

I would never spank a child who didn't understand they did something wrong. No yelling, no scolding, simply talking with them about what went wrong, and what could've been better. But every child is different, and I know full well spanking doesn't work for all of them. Part of loving them is know the difference.

Simply scolding them, or grounding them doesn't help them to understand, they only want it to be over and forget they were ever punished. But to show them the love you have for them with direct contact, holding them close before, during and after, it sticks.

3287438

Cause Celestia's a Canon Troll and Twilight's picked up a few things.

3287438
Realistically, a safeword should be a word that's (a) easy to remember, (b) easy to say, and (c) something that you would not normally expect to hear someone suddenly shout out right in the middle of having sex. :twilightblush:

So... "bananas." :pinkiehappy: Rarity would probably use a word like "mud pies." (It does make you wonder what word Pinkie could use that wouldn't be mistaken for her usual randomness, though... :rainbowlaugh: )

Is this the end?:applecry:

3290487 Possible Pinkie safewords- Sanity, Politics, Restraint, Death, etc. Pick any concept without any lighthearted connotations and there you go.

I absolutely loved this fic. Oh and assuming your still granting permission I would like to use your oc in a upcoming fic.

3904373

I'd be honored. Send me a link when its done ^^

Thank you for this story. Some of the earlier chapters felt a bit haphazard, but our mutual friend asked me to finish it. He wasn't kidding when he told me that the last chapter was the best you had. It pushed me on a rollercoaster of emotions that I don't usually get from, well, just reading. Suffice to say that your writing got through to me and we share a lot of the sentiments and ideals you put forth in your writing. It kept getting better and better, until this finally broke me into tears.

“Mom – hic!... Ma’am?”

Crimson couldn’t help smiling a little as she caught the slip before the filly corrected herself. You really do miss your mother, don’t you, little one... You even miss her discipline, I think. And your father never really filled that void when she was gone... Her father had probably thought he was being compassionate by letting Silver Spoon get away with bending or breaking the rules after her mother died, not realizing that the little filly had needed those rules more than ever. Foals want to know where the rules and boundaries are. Even when they try to test them or get around them, they still want to know the boundaries are there. And when your mother died, little one, the rules went away, and you were left without any guidance... Oh, my little one... how lost you must have felt...

I do remember that feeling. Feeling lost when nobody cares what you do or how much trouble you are in. I also remember the unbelievable feeling of relief, love, and above all, safety, that comes after being disciplined like in this story.

Everything you also say about boundaries and rules I stand with 100%. This is one of the stories that my sister sometimes tells me: She is over ten years older than me and was a handful as a teenager, far worse than her nerdy little brother was at her age. She used to hang out with her friends late in the evening, but she had a curfew, unlike her friends. She hated the curfew and always cut it close with it, getting into trouble whenever she was even a bit late. One day her friends were bullying her about it, and she snapped and shouted: "At least I have someone at home waiting for me." Sounds simple to a grown-up. As a kid, I understood that even though rules sucked and I couldn't do whatever I wanted, it also meant that there was someone taking care of me and making sure I was safe. My sister can't tell that story without tearing up, because it was such a huge moment for her.

Now, here's the thing: I don't believe a spanking is right or wrong. It's about the child in question. Some push their limits so far that there has to be a tool for their guardians to use to make sure something never happens again. Some kids don't need it. What kids DO need is rules, routines, limits, and boundaries, so they can grow up into good people. I personally got a few spankings as a kid and know I deserved them. When I got into my teens, my parents pretty much let me do whatever, being too drunk or whatever to give a fuck. So I didn't give a fuck. I felt lonely and scared, but most of all, hollow. It took me years to understand that what I needed, even back then, were limits to make me feel cared for. Hell, I would have gladly taken a spanking or a hundred if it meant my parents cared more about me than a bottle of booze and sitcoms on the TV.

I think your story brought all those memories back for me and made me remember just how bad I felt back then. Thank you.

Oh, I also got the spanking that I so badly needed after years of waiting, and it was worth it. :twilightblush:

4158781

Wow... I kinda have to gush a bit here :twilightsmile:

You are honestly one of my favorite writers here on Fimfiction. Easily top 3. And Dominant Ideal is honestly what inspired me to even try my hand at this.

To have you even read my story... much less like it is just too much.

Anyways... now that I've got that out of the way. Thank you very much for your words. I do owe alot to Triskelion for helping this story shine and even more so on the sequel. But I will be honest the final chapter was my entire goal for this. I've always felt people put Silver Spoon in a bad light, and I wanted others to see her how I see her. A victim of circumstance. While I loved writing all of it Silver Spoon was my inspiration for this particular story.

The first few chapters were mostly me, but with Triskelions help and my passion growing from the small bits of praise I got, I can safely say its become a great success in my eyes.

I do wish I hadn't marked it with the wrong tags at first... I fear that may have stunted its growth but Triskelion helped fix that as well and I couldn't be happier.

The praise I've gotten for my stories makes me feel so very happy. I'm actually commisioning a Picture of my OC, Crimson Brush. I'll replace the pic here when its done.

Again I have to say Thank you. Both for your reply and for inspiring me to try my hand at writing once more.

Relly liked it you a good writer

Good stuff :pinkiesmile:

Thought this story would be just spanking. Wow, was I wrong. Not that I would've enjoyed it any less. . . :twilightblush:

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