Part of the Apple Family

by volrathxp

First published

Applejack and Apple Bloom share a sad moment together.

A younger sister asks a question. An elder sister answers.

Truth is learned, stories are told, and two sisters share each other's pain.

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Part of the Apple Family

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Part of the Apple Family

By: volrathxp

“You wanna run that by me again, Sugarcube?” Applejack said, cocking her head to one side. Across from the orange mare, lying in her bed was Apple Bloom, her little sister. Applejack had just finished tucking in her sister for the night when the filly had asked a question.

“Ah just wanted to know if Ma and Pa were comin’ for Hearth’s Warmin’ Eve,” The yellow filly said. “They weren’t at the reunion.” Applejack turned away for a brief moment, wiping away a stray tear from her eyes. It was a question that the mare knew was coming ever since the Apple Family had gathered for their reunion several weeks ago.

“I… I can’t answer that right now, Apple Bloom,” she said shakily. Apple Bloom scowled.

“Why not?” She asked. Applejack inhaled and let out a deep sigh.

“Because I said so,” the mare replied. “Now get to bed. You’ve got school in the morning, and you don’t want to be late.”

“But –“ Apple Bloom started to say.

“But nothin’, little missy,” Applejack said, the volume of her voice getting a bit louder. “I said no, and that’s the final word.” Apple Bloom huffed angrily at her older sister before turning over and burying her face into her pillow. Applejack sighed once more and stood. As she trotted to the door, something outside her sister’s window caught her eye. Out over Sweet Apple Acres, two shooting stars soared across the sky. Blinded by the brilliant light put off by the two stars, Applejack turned away and hung her head low. She hadn’t meant to yell at her sister. It was only natural for her to be curious and to ask questions, but not those kinds of questions. Applejack wasn’t sure she was ready to answer that question yet. She closed the door behind her and stepped into the hallway. As she walked downstairs to do another quick check of the house before going to sleep, she heard the soft clopping of hooves coming from the kitchen. Much to her surprise, she found her brother, Big Macintosh, pacing the tiny room.

“Mac?” She said. “What’s the matter? Can’t sleep?” The stallion looked back at his sister, and nodded solemnly.

“Eyyup,” he simply said, pausing for a moment before deciding to elaborate further. “Got a lot on my mind, AJ.” Applejack nodded as she took a seat at the kitchen table.

“I know what you mean… Apple Bloom just asked me about… well, you know,” she said. Big Mac sat down at the table across from his sister.

“Eyyup,” he said. Applejack sighed and took off her hat, laying it on the table.

“I don’t know what to do, Mac. I can’t lie to her. But I don’t know if I can tell her either,” the orange mare said. “She’s growin’ up awful fierce, and she sure does ask a lot of questions for a filly her age. What do I do?” Mac pondered his sister’s words for a few moments as silence settled around the two.

“You should tell her,” he finally said.

“But, Mac… She’s just a filly, she doesn’t need to be thinking about that,” Applejack said.

“And still, she wants to know,” her brother replied. “I’ve been thinkin’ bout Ma and Pa too lately. With the reunion and all.” Applejack nodded.

“Me too… I guess that’s why this bothers me so much,” she said, placing her forelegs on the table and resting her head on them. Her eyes fixated on her hat, which sat in between the two siblings. “I still remember the day he gave that hat to me. It was right after I got back from Manehattan.”

“Eyyup,” Mac said. “AJ, we can’t keep Apple Bloom in the dark forever. And who better to tell her the truth than her own sister?”

“I… You’re right,” Applejack said, grabbing onto her hat and placing it back onto her head. She stood, smiling softly. “Thanks, Mac. You’re right. I should be the one to tell her.” Mac nodded, the hint of a smile creeping onto his face as well. “Now, don’t you stay up too late, y’hear? We still got that west field to plow tomorrow.”

“Eyyup,” the stallion replied.

* * *

“I’m home!” The filly’s voice rang throughout the old farmhouse. Apple Bloom looked around curiously as she realized none of her family was around at the moment. The filly ran upstairs to her room and looked out the window. Out far from the house she could see her brother in the west field, plowing as he always did. Her sister was nowhere to be seen, and Granny Smith was conspicuously absent as well. Apple Bloom sighed, sitting on her bed. The night before had confused the filly. Applejack had always been there to listen to her whenever she had a question about something, so what made the question she had asked last night any different? Something didn’t add up. As the filly sat there, a soft rapping at her door brought her out of her thoughts. She looked back, seeing Applejack standing there.

“Hey, Sugarcube,” her sister said softly. Apple Bloom could tell that her sister hadn’t slept well. Her eyes were a little red and puffy, but she had a smile on her face that seemed to say that everything was alright.

“AJ?” The filly asked. Applejack walked into the room, placing her hoof onto her younger sister’s shoulder.

“Come on. I wanna show you somethin’,” she said. Apple Bloom nodded, shuffling off of her bed to follow the mare. The two made their way from the house to the fields. They walked in silence as they headed in the direction towards the south fields. The awkward moment was spoiled by the filly’s curiosity.

“AJ, where are we goin’? And where’s Granny Smith at?” She asked. Applejack smiled.

“Granny went into town to pick up more jars for next year’s Zap Apple season,” The orange mare replied. “She’ll be back to the house by the time we’re done. As to where we’re goin’… well you’ll just have to wait and see.” Apple Bloom sighed. Normally she would have challenged her elder sister’s answer, but something about all of this was making her feel a little uneasy. By the tone of her sister’s voice, this was something serious. The two sisters continued on in silence once more, passing through the clearing where the Cutie Mark Crusaders Clubhouse was located. They went even further, to the very perimeter of the southern tip of the orchard, until they stopped at an apple tree. Apple Bloom’s eyes widened. She had never been this far away from the house before, so she had never seen this particular tree.

The tree itself was nothing special in its own right. It was a strong and healthy looking tree, with plenty of red delicious apples hanging from its limbs. What set this tree apart from the others around it were two gray stones set in the earth immediately below it. Applejack stopped at a distance from the tree.

“Apple Bloom… wait here a moment, will ya please?” She said softly. The filly nodded, unsure of what was going on. Applejack smiled and walked up to the tree in front of the stones. She slumped to her haunches in front of the two markers.

Here Lies:

Zap Apple

Loving Father and Kind Soul

Here Lies:

Honey Crisp

Devoted Mother and Loyal Friend

Applejack stared at the two stones, letting the feeling of being there sink in as she studied the inscriptions on them. Despite their age, the stones were still readable, and the fancy rock the family had the stones cut out of still looked like it was brand new.

“Ma… Pa… It’s me, Applejack,” the mare said softly. “I… I brought somepony today with me. I know it’s been a while since I’ve visited, but this here’s a special occasion. It’s Apple Bloom… she’s growing up so fast. I wish you could see her. I…” The words caught in the mare’s throat as she choked, tears beginning to freely flow down her face. Not caring who heard her, the cowpony wept openly. Apple Bloom’s voice rang out from behind her.

“AJ?” She said. Applejack turned, tears flowing and with a smile on her face. She motioned for her sister to come over. The filly trotted up, gazing in wonder at the two stones. Once she was close enough, her sister latched her foreleg around her, pulling the filly close into a warm embrace.

“Apple Bloom… this here’s your Ma and Pa,” Applejack said, motioning at the stones. Apple Bloom stared at the two stones for a long time in silence, the reality of all of it finally sinking in. She turned to her older sister with tears in her eyes.

“How…?” She asked. Applejack reached out and began to caress her sister’s mane with her hoof. They stayed silent for a few moments before Apple jack began to speak again.

“It happened right after you were born,” the elder mare said. “It was… it was an accident. Barn fire… I was about your age, just gotten my cutie mark. Mac was a little older than me, but still pretty young. To this day, we still don’t know how the fire started… but we know how it ended. Ma and Pa were trying to get all the animals out when… when…” More tears flowed from the mare’s eyes, dripping down her face onto the yellow filly below her, who simply stared at the two stone markers. Applejack held tight onto her sister, giving her the strength to carry the story forward. “A beam… it came loose due to the fire… they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The doctors did what they could. They… they passed on, Apple Bloom.” Apple Bloom looked up at her sister and back to the stones, and began to cry along with her sister.

“But… but why?” She finally managed to choke out. Applejack pulled the filly closer.

“Ain’t no reason why,” she said. “When our time is up, our time is up. Could have been that day, could have been the next.”

“You don’t… you don’t think that I’d…?” Apple Bloom said, fear showing in the little filly’s eyes. Applejack pulled her sister back, staring at her hard.

“Now, don’t you get no ideas in that little ‘ol head of yours like that, Apple Bloom. Ain’t no reason to think that way, neither,” she said. “Just because it happens, don’t mean that we don’t stop livin’ in the first place. We keep on moving forward, and we live life to our fullest.” Apple Bloom nodded mutely, continuing to stare at the stones.

“AJ? Why didn’t you want to tell me?” She finally said after a few more moments of silence. Applejack let out a soft chuckle through her tears at this.

“Inquisitive as ever,” she said. “To be honest… I was afraid… and not afraid for you. You’re a strong filly, Sis. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders and one day you’re gonna grow up to be a fine young mare, I just know it.” Apple Bloom smiled at her sister’s compliment.

“So what were you afraid of?” She said. Applejack sighed and hugged her sister tighter.

“I was afraid what comin’ out here would mean for me. I haven’t been out here in quite some time, and I was honestly afraid of the pain that it would bring up,” the elder mare said. “I didn’t… I didn’t want you to see me like this.” She pulled back from her little sister, who nodded.

“It… it hurts,” the little filly said. Applejack looked down with tearful eyes at her sister’s sudden declaration.

“I’d be worried if it didn’t, Sugarcube. But you know what?” She said. Apple Bloom shook her head. “No matter how much it hurts to have lost somepony, you never truly lose them.”

“What do you mean?” Apple Bloom asked.

“When I was your age… after the accident I used to come out here all the time, just to sit and talk to them. It hurt so much to know that I’d never see them again. Granny Smith got worried awful sick about me after a while. One day, she came down and sat me down just like we are doin’ right now,” Applejack said, pointing her hoof at the filly’s tiny chest. “She told me that just because we’ve lost somepony, as long as we keep their memory alive in our hearts, then they’ll always be with us.” The younger sister mulled this over for a little while, processing her elder sister’s wisdom.

“What were they like?” She finally said. “I mean… I vaguely remember Ma, but I don’t know anything else about them.” Applejack smiled, her tears drying as she spoke.

“They were… kind. And loving. Best Ma and Pa you could ever have asked for. This hat actually belonged to Pa,” she said, tipping her Stetson. “He gave it to me right after I got my cutie mark, said I was a real and honest cowpony and told me that when I was bigger I’d take over for him and Ma runnin’ things.” Applejack sighed before continuing to speak. “Ma, she was the kindest pony you had ever met. Most hard-workin’ too. She’d be right out there with Pa in the mornings bucking apples with the best of them…”

Applejack spoke for what seemed like hours, and Apple Bloom listened as her sister told stories about their parents. Granny Smith had told Applejack many more about how her daughter had met the clever young stallion that became her husband. As Celestia’s sun began to dip into the clouds, making way for Luna’s moon, the two simply sat there, talking and laughing as only two sisters can. Finally, Applejack looked to the sky, realizing how late it truly was. She shivered as a breeze of cold air whipped around her.

“Apple Bloom?” She said quietly, looking down at the filly in her warm embrace. Apple Bloom, for all her attentiveness, had been fighting a losing battle against sleep and had finally succumbed. A soft snore came from the filly as Applejack smiled. She looked back again at the graves in front of the two sisters.

“Ma… Pa… I love you, and we miss you so much down here. I promise, I’m… no… we’re gonna start comin’ by more often,” she said as she stood, carefully lifting her sister and depositing her onto her back, where the filly curled up and yawned before falling asleep once more.

* * *

2 weeks later

* * *

Apple Bloom skipped her way happily through the orchard, a bouquet of fresh cut roses held in her mouth. The filly stopped for a moment, waving at Big Mac as he was plowing through the south fields. She continued on through the field, making her way to the southernmost point of the orchard, where two familiar stones sat underneath an apple tree. Apple Bloom stopped before the two stones, and deposited the roses in between them before sitting down.

“Hey Ma, Hey Pa. It’s me, Apple Bloom. It’s just me today. Applejack’s off in town, dealing with some crisis with her friends,” The filly began. “Just another ordinary day in Ponyville, Ah guess. Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, an’ me went crusadin’ the other day. Still no cutie marks, but we’ll get them, Ah’m sure of it. Just have to keep tryin’.” Apple Bloom smiled. She had been coming down here with Applejack and even Big Mac and Granny Smith since the night that Applejack had brought her the first time. The filly had an ache in her chest as she spoke, but it was a good ache. She knew that somewhere up above that her parents were looking down on them and smiling, proud of the legacy that the Apple Family would continue for decades, nay centuries, to come.

“And Babs is comin’ in from Manehatten to visit during Hearth’s Warmin’ Eve,” The filly continued on. “She’s mah favorite cousin in the whole wide world. When we first met, though, she turned into a big old bully…” Apple Bloom started relating the story about how her cousin had bullied her and the other Crusaders, and how in the end everything turned out and how now the two fillies were inseparable friends. “And then, Applejack had us runnin’ this big relay race all around the farm! By the time we was done, we was plum tuckered. Ah barely had any time to sit with Babs and talk at all!” Apple Bloom smiled, remembering the recent reunion fondly. She stood, stretching her legs out.

“Well… Ah guess Ah better get goin’, Applejack’s gonna be wondering where I am. And then Ah gotta go meet up with Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo at the clubhouse. We got a great idea to get our cutie marks this time!” She said, turning to leave. A brisk wind swept across the orchard, catching the little filly’s mane. She stopped, and looked back at the grave stones.

“Ah… Ah love you, Ma and Pa.”

Apple Bloom smiled, skipping along back towards the farmhouse in the distance. As she did so, her eyes caught the familiar red gleam of the barn on the other side of the fields. In a way, her heart felt much like that barn had when it had broken down. The truth had hurt, knowing she wouldn’t be going home and seeing her parents waiting there for her. But much like the barn, it had been built up by the support of her family. Her sister, Applejack. Her brother, Big Macintosh. Granny Smith. Babs. Her family from all over had helped build that barn, and Apple Bloom couldn’t resist humming the song that Applejack had sang while they did so. It was a happy tune, and as Apple Bloom skipped along she realized that no matter what, her parents were with her, as long as she lived and loved and remembered them. By the time the filly arrived back at the house, she was singing the final verse of the song, the one that had been shared by the entirety of her immediate and extended family.

“We raised this barn, we raised this barn, oh yes we did…

Together we sure raised this barn, oh yes we did…

Being together counts the most; I still miss them the most…

All I can strive to be…

Is part of the Apple… Family…”