Big Macintosh packed up his things. Wasn’t much—pictures of the family, fetlock trimmers, the doll he’d got from Twilight Sparkle that time. It seemed like awfully little to make up a life.

Hooves sounded in the corridor. Steady enough, but gentle in spite of themselves. Even now, Applejack stepped quietly when approaching the others’ bedrooms, so as not to wake them or disturb their slumber. There was no mistaking the cautious tread.

Big Macintosh stopped, Smarty Pants in his teeth. He knew Applejack wasn’t here to call him to dinner—and he knew that, whatever was about to happen, he had no idea how to handle it.

She appeared in the doorway, her jaw set, and stopped. She stared at him, at the saddlebags he’d been filling. She blinked.

“Packin’?” she said, coldly.


“That’ll save time,” she said.

Big Macintosh looked down. He couldn’t meet her blazing eyes.

“Goin’ to Fillydelphia? Reckon there’s good memories in Fillydelphia…”

Big Macintosh gulped. “Nope.”

“You sure?”

He glanced up, meeting her eyes for just a moment. It was horrible, and he could only stand a moment of it.

“I reckon,” he said, “I best move into the barn for a spell.”

“Half measures,” said Applejack, contemptuously, and Big Macintosh cringed a little more. He didn’t dare try to meet her eyes again. It was like looking into pony hell.

“Got to stick around th’ place, Applejack. Y’all need me.”

“Die,” she hissed, between gritted teeth.

Big Macintosh’s psyche rocked. He stared at the ground, his face burning, and found words coming to his mouth. “How would you like it if Granny heard you say that?”

An intake of breath, from beside him. He continued.

“What would Apple Bloom think if she heard you tell me that?”

“Hey, what’s going on?” came a childish voice from down the hall, and Applejack’s head jerked to the side, listening—and then as little hooves approached, she kicked the floor with a vicious bang and bit her lip.

Apple Bloom appeared in the doorway, beside the frozen Applejack. “How ya doin’, big sister? Stompin’ a bug?” She blinked. “Oh no, what’s wrong? Big Mac, why’s she cryin’? Hey, how come you’re packin’?”

“Ain’t quite packin’, Apple Bloom,” said Big Macintosh. “Jes’ fixin’ to stay in th’ barn. Thought I’d try somethin’ new…”

Applejack’s face twisted, and she backed out into the hallway, whirled and ran. Apple Bloom reared, about to give chase.

“No, let her go!” said Big Macintosh.

Apple Bloom pleaded, “What happened?”

“It’s grown-up stuff, lil’ apple blossom…” said Big Macintosh. “We can’t really tell you.”

Apple Bloom looked stricken, but immediately began thinking, rubbing her chin with a speculative hoof. “Is it because Rainbow Dash got mad at her and bust out our window? ‘Cos our window’s all busted out. An’ there’s a blue feather.”

“Ah can’t tell you! I already said so, Apple Bloom. You run along.”

Apple Bloom gave him a suspicious look, but relented. She backed out of his room, still giving him the suspicious look, and clattered off down the hall to Granny Smith’s room, where Big Macintosh heard Granny call, “What? Settle, child!”

Shaking his head, he threw the saddlebags on and headed out of the house, looking around as if it would be the last time he saw it, and feeling sorry for himself and out of his depth.

There was a spare room in the barn—the family had used it as a guest room before. He settled into it, laying his Smarty Pants doll on the pillow, looking out the window. Off in the fields, he could see a cloud of dust—Applejack was tilling and harrowing the earth. Big Macintosh considered this—it was a task that his giant muscles were usually called upon to do. His sister was apparently blowing off steam by starting it.

“Applejack!” he called, out the window.

The cloud of dust subsided, but there was no answer. Big Macintosh continued.

“Tell you what, I’ll work when you ain’t around. Okay?”

There was a pause, and then he heard the faint, distant reply. “Deal!”

She would be good to her word. Big Macintosh settled back and waited for her to tire, and leave the field.

It wasn’t a restful wait. He lay on the bed, and stumbled over an uncomfortable thought. What had he done that made Rainbow Dash so mad that she busted out a window in a fit of rage? Apple Bloom said it must have been Rainbow that smashed the window.

Big Macintosh turned this question over and over in his mind, because he knew he’d had terrible things done to him, had turned into a terrible thing, and had done terrible things when turning back. He wasn’t used to thinking about that sort of stuff, but he labored over it, alone, not consulting anyone as his thoughts struggled along like three-legged cows.

Why would Rainbow Dash be that mad at him?

His face fell as his thoughts tottered awkwardly into even more unwelcome territory.

If she was that mad at him—what would happen to his terrible secret?

Apple Bloom looked up at Granny imploringly. “But if y’all know what’s happenin’, why in the world can’t you tell me? I want to help!”

“Never you mind! Some things ain’t for your hooves to mend, child!”


“You heard me!”

Apple Bloom fell back a step, but then she rallied. Applejack had looked so dreadfully upset, and Big Macintosh seemed mighty sad too, and there just had to be a way to help them. She took a breath, and hit Granny Smith with the most tearful, eye-glisteny, beseeching gaze she’d ever put out, and lifted her head just right, so her hair-bow would bob adorably.

“Pleeeeeease?” she begged.

Granny Smith compressed her lips, transfixed by the gaze. She looked away, which was unusual. Apple Bloom tossed her head very slightly, to bob the hair-bow again, but it wasn’t needed—Granny’s eyes had softened, and somehow she looked even older now.

“Child, I don’t know. I’ll explain what I kin. That good enough for you, lil’ whipper-snapper?”

Apple Bloom nodded, holding her expectant pose.

“Well now… sometimes ponies do things that ain’t quite right. No, I take that back, din’t mean that exactly—let me say, things that ain’t quite normal. It’s no concern o’ yours, I’m jes’ sayin’. One day you’ll understand. Now, your sister with that Rainbow Dash, I never figured that would end well, but they done surprised me. Child, I saw that Dash out there doin’ field work to help us, an’ jest about spit my teeths with soo-prise. Your sister ain’t good all th’ time but there’s no changin’ her, and I thought for a while there she was teachin’ old Granny new morals.”

Apple Bloom listened attentively, trying not to look too confused.

“I’ll tell you this, child—we don’t know exact jes’ what happened lately, and if I’m any judge they don’t know themselves. Hah! Y’all young ponies jump to conclusions like jumpin’ over fences after each others’ whatsises…” She coughed, and her tone, which had become sharp, gentled again. “Whoa, pree-tend I din’t say that, all right, lil’ scaper? That ain’t the important part of it no-how, and don’t you never forget that. What they’re doin’… or no longer doin’, as it may be… that ain’t the important thing.”

“Then what IS the important thing, Granny?” asked Apple Bloom.

Granny gazed into space. Her eyes were misty, as if she was looking back over the years. “I wish I knew how to put this. Consarned old pony brain ain’t what it used to be if I’m honest… well, it’s like this, child. Ponies can do right things, and they can do wrong things, or git confused with themselves and waste their days on, hah, fruitless occupations… mind you, it seems like there was always some of them ones as far back as I can remember, I just never thunk our Applejack would be like that…”

“Be like what?” said Apple Bloom, but she shrunk back, for Granny had turned on her, her eyes sharp again.

“No concern of yours, and that ain’t what I’m talkin’ about! What am I talkin’ ab… oh, yes. Child, you listen up good! All good ponies got good hearts, whether that’s your sister, or your brother, or that crazy Rainbow Dash pony—if I didn’t know that, I learned it when I saw that one helpin’ in the fields. I know good hearts when I see ‘em, and I learned somethin’ that day. But all good hearts don’t speak th’ same languages, and when they don’t understand each other, you can’t force it! Somethin’ went wrong, child. Happens we’ll have to let them ride it out, so you leave ‘em be and let ‘em work it out when they kin!”

Apple Bloom blinked. “But… you mean I have to do NOTHING? But, Granny!”

Granny Smith fixed her with a gimlet eye. “That is jes’ exactly what I do mean, child, and you best do what I say. I am tellin’ you that’s what they need from you right now. Them’s some wounded ponies, and I would have you respect that—in fact, I dee-mand that you don’t pester my other grandchildren. They’re all scabs and bandages, th’ silly fools. Prob’ly their own faults. Don’t you go rippin’ off them scabs just because they’s ugly!”

Apple Bloom gazed into Granny’s irate eyes, and gulped. “Yes’m.”

“Now, you run and play with your friends, y’hear? And you take a moment to be grateful. Be grateful that you ain’t that kind of complicated yet!”

Apple Bloom nodded. “You can say that again! Are you sure they’re gonna be okay?”

Granny Smith squinted into space. “Big Macintosh looked mighty sick earlier, gave me a turn, but it seems like sleepin’ in the barn will ease his mind—he looks better now. Applejack, well, ain’t no changin’ her. I promise you if she needs it, I will attend to her, even if it’s lookin’ after her like a little filly. My sakes, last time I did that, it was just after you was born. Understandable… well, she fought it off back then, and she’s been fightin’ ever since. Y’all leave her to it, lil’ blossom. Better to cheer her on—she needs you believin’ in her, now more than ever, I reckon.”

“I do!” squeaked Apple Bloom. “I really do!”

“I know,” said Granny Smith. “I guess that girl done made a believer out of me, too. You keep out of her way, an’ trust. Run along now!”

Apple Bloom trotted from the room, leaving Granny to gaze out the window. She stared at Applejack, working alone in the field, and at the barn, where Big Macintosh sulked, most likely.

After a while, she watched Apple Bloom head into town—and stop briefly, to answer a question from a lovely white unicorn mare who seemed to be paying a social call.

Good, thought Granny Smith, preparing to doze off. Applejack’s little friends can sort this out.

“He’s in th’ barn, Miss Rarity!” piped Apple Bloom.

“Goodness! Really? I mean—I’m pleased he is at home, but why is he in the barn?”

“I dunno! Granny tole me to leave ‘em be, ‘cos somethin’s wrong. Are you here to fix it?”

Rarity’s eyes dropped, and she blushed. “I do certainly hope so, Apple Bloom. It’s rather personal. I can but try, and hope for the best.”

“Yay! Well… good luck! See ya!”

Apple Bloom trotted off toward town, content that things were in adult hooves. Rarity glanced with trepidation toward the barn, far from content.

But there was nothing for it—she simply had to apologize, and hope fences could be mended.

She walked toward the barn, inspecting it, cringing a little at its overly bucolic nature. It was clean enough, true, but there wasn’t a speck of decoration, and she wasn’t going to make the error of calling it rustic—rustic, too often, meant ‘didn’t bother to put in the effort’. Especially now, that seemed inadequate. There was effort to be made, even in these bumpkin surroundings.

“Darling?” she called. “It’s me.”

She stepped closer to the barn, seeing a door that hung slightly open. “Big Macintosh?”

Her magic took hold of the handle, and opened the door inward—revealing her lover, looming and sullen. He glared at the door handle, enveloped in her magic, and she released it, cowering back a pace before rallying and trotting in with her head held high.

“Darling, I…”

“What’re you doin’ here?”

Rarity stammered. “Please allow me to finish, darling. I sense I have perhaps given offense…”

He looked so fierce. She’d never seen him so fierce. It turned her on dreadfully. He snorted. “P’raps?”

“Per-haps,” corrected Rarity automatically. “If there is anything I can do to put your mind at ease…”

“You done enough!” retorted Big Macintosh.

“Have done, darling, we worked so hard on grammar… and forgive me, but I don’t understand. We have always taken refuge in audacity. I thought you valued that in me. Again, what must I do, darling? To have you again?”

“Oh, no you don’t. I ain’t havin’ this. Not now.”

Rarity blinked. Such attitude, such language! “First of all, are you intentionally trying to piss me off, darling?”


“May I ask why? What have I done to deserve this mistreatment and rudeness?”

Big Macintosh glowered. “I tole you. You done enough!”

“This is about your tremendous orgasm, isn’t it?” said Rarity, acidly. “You’ve never minded giving ME those. Forgive me for wanting to spread it around a little bit…”

“Spread it around town, more like!”

Rarity blinked. She sat back on her haunches, shocked, not even noticing that she’d sat in the dirt. Her jaw dropped. “I never! I, of all ponies… how dare you impugn my discretion! I thought I could deliver a special illicit delight. It was for you. And it worked. Or is that the problem? Tell me!”

“Th’ problem is, now th’ whole town will think I’m a big fag-pony, Rarity! I guess it don’t worry you, but you done stole my manhood! An’ there you sit, pleased as punch…”

“I am not pleased,” snapped Rarity, biting off each word.

“You run along. Nothin’s private anymore, so you needn’t sit so pretty. You ruined my life, Ah hope you’re happy! You’ll git yours! Jes’ you wait!” Big Macintosh glowered, imagining Rainbow Dash’s expected gossipy ways.

Rarity didn’t look happy. Her eyes were wide and panicky, she licked her lips, she raised a hoof in a conciliatory gesture. “L… let’s not be hasty, darling. Private is private. Right? You know I wouldn’t dream of revealing your intimacies, all the exciting things we’ve done. I understand now that I have inadvertently overstepped, for which I apologize. But let’s not do things we shall regret! I’ll be quiet as a little mouse, and we shall work through this…”

Big Macintosh shook his head. “Bit late for that now, ain’t it?”

“Isn’t… and why would you say that? I promise, whatever it is, we can manage it. All things can be managed. Right? Ahahaha… now, can we talk about possible strategies for making everything all better?”

Rarity stared desperately at Big Macintosh. She was trembling, and her eye twitched. The big fool seemed to be saying he’d already told on her. But that couldn’t be—that was rule one, the first understanding they’d reached. She couldn’t have lost that. Could she?

Big Macintosh still glowered, but he seemed to be thinking. Then he spoke.

“Well… If I kin make folks understand that y’all a sick perverted hussy and it weren’t my idea…”

Rarity nearly wet herself. She screamed, as if she’d been abruptly stabbed. She stared at him, pleading with the universe, thinking ‘please let him not have said that’—but he wasn’t done.

“Well, you are!” he roared.

Rarity banged her hoof on the ground, soiling it, beyond caring.

“Fine! So be it!” she shrieked, and whirled, springing to her hooves. She rushed out of the barn through the still-open door, not even slamming it behind her—galloped full tilt down the road, heedless of sweat or the state of her mane, weeping until her lovely lashes ran, and cursing savagely and obscenely.

Passers-by stared as she ran through town, but she didn’t care. Were they laughing? Had he told them already? There was no time to lose! Not if she wanted her last desperate attempt at salvaging her reputation to work…

She burst through the doors of the Carousel Boutique, barely noticing as her little sister and her bumpkin friend squeaked and scrambled out of the way. The inner sanctum awaited, and her greatest challenge yet. If only there was time to get out in front of it, to control the news cycle!

The room’s door slammed in Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom’s face.

“Rarity!” cried Sweetie.

“Gosh,” said Apple Bloom. “Her too? Sweetie Belle, maybe we best take a lil’ walk. Them grownups is all goin’ crazy today.”

Sweetie didn’t want to go, but Apple Bloom was determined. She trusted what Granny had told her, and it surely applied here as well. “Come on! Let’s go find Scootaloo. We’ll go do somethin’. Let’s git away from these here grownups for a spell.”

Reluctantly, Sweetie allowed herself to be coaxed out of the boutique, staring back suspiciously at the locked sanctum door the whole time.

“Remind me why this is a good idea, Mistress,” said Trixie.

Twilight sighed. “Not all of it is. You’ve got me there. Remember, I think you should hang back, in case she’s angry. But Pinkie said she broke up with Rainbow Dash—that can’t be good. We don’t know why, but I promised to try to help.”

“And then poked yourself in the eye?”

“It’s a special weird kind of promise Pinkie makes, and you really don’t want to break one, trust me on this. But it goes beyond that… I hope you can understand, this is important. It’s about friendship. We’re friends. I know you didn’t have many friends before now, but I want you to have them, and you should understand what it means. Yes, we’re going to go to talk to Applejack. I’d want to talk to her even if I’d promised Pinkie nothing.”

They trotted on, through the early-evening crowds, heading toward the Carousel Boutique and beyond it, Sweet Apple Acres.

“You’ve left Spike cleaning the place alone, Mistress, and he probably can’t get it all done in time, and Princess Celestia is arriving tomorrow morning…”

“Nggh!” growled Twilight. “I know! There’s all kinds of cleaning, Trixie! Princess Celestia isn’t going to be that offended by a little dust on the shelves. Libraries are supposed to be dusty! The real problem here is my friends. Could you have a little sympathy? Never mind that they’re upset and hurt—do you realize how embarrassing it would be if the Princess gets here and everypony is acting all crazy?”

With a resounding bang, the door to the Carousel Boutique was bucked open, and Twilight and Trixie froze, as did the other passersby.

They hadn’t long to wait.

Through the door came a vision out of Fillydelphia nights—or perhaps Canterlot’s darkest, most wicked alleyways. It pranced, chin scornfully high, gleaming with buckles and laced with straps.

Rarity strutted out amidst the evening crowd, decked out in the kinkiest erotic gear anypony there had ever seen, and her prancing hooves thumped the grass in total, shocked silence from the onlookers.

“Fashion was never like THIS!” she cried, proudly.

Black straps wrapped her hind legs, in a crisscross pattern. They were tight, defining the curves of her ass, reshaping it to emphasise her alabaster pubic region. Other straps hung loosely from D-rings that ran up the inside of her legs, and it was plain that if the straps were drawn tight, Rarity’s legs would be bound together rendering her motionless, unless she chose to hop.

Her face was made up like a scary, sexy mask, eyelashes far too heavy, and she gazed sensuously from under them with a smouldering, haughty glare.

“You thought my fabulousness was limited to refinement and grace! Well, tremble, for fair Rarity will blow your minds! You might ask Big Macintosh—oh yes, perhaps you have heard rumours of it!”

The assembled ponies stared in shock, their jaws hanging open.

Rarity strutted in a circle. Her waist was bound up tightly in a shiny, black corset, and the effect was to exaggerate her ass. Her forelegs bore cuffs with spurs attached to them. The onlookers stared at the pointy things in fascinated horror, but their attention was divided, and not just by Rarity’s continuing sales pitch.

“Ponyville, it is time to enter a new world of daring! These are Rarity’s creations as you have never imagined them! This is Rarity as you have never imagined her!”

The corset pressed up between her hind legs, causing her breasts to bulge out and tilting the nipples rearward for suckling or licking—but the ponies could not focus on that, for their wide eyes were drawn to the final kinky detail.

Further straps, these ones more delicate, stretched across her ass and led to small clips, which grasped Rarity’s labia. They were stretched tight. So were Rarity’s labia. All Ponyville stared in polite horror, as Rarity presented her rear end, gleaming pink spread vagina displayed wantonly.

It was gleaming for a reason. Rarity was lubricating so hard she was dripping onto the grass, and her hindlegs were trembling like mad. She panted, dropping her head, seemingly done… and then bared her teeth, a strange madness seeming to take her, and she twisted her head back and cried at the assembled crowd of speechless ponies.

“Now, who wishes the most amazing, epic fucking you will ever know?”

She heaved deep, passionate breaths, her gaze bold and wild behind the shocking, heavy eyelashes. A cricket chirped, in the distance, as she met their wide, wide eyes. It chirped again.

Then, the air was split with screams—and the crowd fled in a panic, galloping past Twilight and Trixie, who didn’t move.

Twilight’s face was indescribable, though ‘her countenance appalled beyond imagination’ got close to it.

Trixie blinked. “Interesting. I had those once. Mistress? Uh… Mistress?”

Before Twilight could say anything, the air was split again, by a piping little voice that emitted an enraged squeak that should have shattered windows by its sharpness.

“RARity!” shrieked Sweetie Belle.

Rarity blinked, stunned. “Oh, no… oh, no! Sweetie Belle! This isn’t a good time, dear!”

“Rarity, you get back inside this instant! This INstant!” The squeaks rattled your brain, seemed to resonate in the very horns of the three unicorns remaining on the scene.

“But, darling…”

“You keep that stuff in your room and locked up in closets like you usually do! How DARE you? Some sister you are! You’re embarrassing everypony! My FRIENDS might see you!” shrieked Sweetie, hopping with rage.

“But, but…” sputtered Rarity, and then she burst into tears and first stumbled, then ran, back into her shop.

Sweetie Belle pursued her, squeaking “Get back in there right now!” and the door slammed behind both of them. Faintly, from inside, another door slammed, then opened, then slammed again.

Twilight gulped, staring at nothing, her ears back. Trixie nuzzled her.

“Mistress? Do you still wish to check on how Applejack is doing? Trixie suspects that little filly has Rarity in check for the moment…”

Twilight shook her head. “Wow. Uh… yes, let’s do that…”

It was getting dark, and at first they didn’t see her, for she was in the far corner of the fields, her head hanging low in front of the massive horse-collar. Trixie spotted her first, and drew Twilight’s attention by gesturing with a hoof.

Twilight trotted over to Applejack—but as she neared, she broke into a run, crying “Applejack!” and Trixie cantered to keep up.

The earth pony didn’t lift her head. Her entire body was thrust forward, hooves dug into the ground, trying to drag the massive harrow through the earth. Behind her, the entire field had been done, a task that would have taken Big Macintosh more than a day to complete.

Twilight ran up, staring in horror at the sight. Applejack’s shoulders bled from chafing. Her legs shook as she tried to pull the harrow another inch. Dark, dark circles had formed under her eyes. Her jaw was set.

“Lil… busy right now… Twilight…”

“Applejack, stop this! What is going on?”

“None ‘a… yer business!”

“Sorry, as a friend I’m making it my business! Stop it right now! Tell me what’s the matter,” said Twilight, as Trixie drew nearer.

“Won’t!” gritted Applejack.

Twilight kicked the dirt with a forehoof. “I have had it with crazy ponies today, you have no idea! Fine. Don’t tell me. I’ll tell you! Applejack, you broke up with Rainbow Dash. I came here to help!”

Applejack’s glance was sullen fury. “Hah! You can’t even pull!”

“Mistress?” said Trixie softly. “She can’t either. It’s not moving…”

“I’d gathered that,” sighed Twilight. She looked more sympathetically at Applejack. “Back to this stuff again? You know what? I’m going to sit down and just wait for you to talk.”

Twilight did so, but in an unexpected way. She walked over, and plopped her curvy rump down directly in front of Applejack, facing her as she strained against the harrow.

Applejack was dripping sweat. Her scent from such heavy exertion was piquant, but that meant nothing to Twilight given the situation. She struggled to shift the harrow another inch, and she hissed at Twilight, “Git outta… th’ way!”

“Not until you tell me what happened,” yawned Twilight Sparkle. “I can be as stubborn as you when it matters—and boy, does it matter. I really do need to get to the bottom of this. By tomorrow, even… so there’s two reasons I’m not going to move. One is that you haven’t explained yourself yet.”

Applejack leaned harder into the unyielding horse collar. “And th’ other?”

Twilight regarded her levelly, unmoved by Applejack’s furious glare.

“The second reason is, I don’t have to. You’ve run out of strength, Applejack. It’s not moving any more. You’re done.”

The only sound was the rasp of Applejack’s breathing for a few seconds—then, she screwed her eyes shut in despair, and Twilight and Trixie watched her sag, and slowly collapse to the earth, unable to even stand any longer. Rage and grief chased each other across her face.

“Okay,” said Twilight. “Okay. Now… Why did you dump Rainbow Dash? I’m still trying to figure out how many things went crazy around town when you did that. Let’s just say things are happening that I really didn’t expect.”

Applejack didn’t respond. She just lay in the dirt.

“Why, Applejack? It tore me up to lose you. I’m good now,” she hastened to add, with a quick glance at Trixie, “but I thought she was important to you. I’m guessing she’s kind of flipping out, to hear Pinkie tell it.”

Applejack stirred, as if to speak, and then gave up and lay there some more, staring dully forward.

“Why did you dump her?” pressed Twilight Sparkle.

Applejack coughed. She took a breath. She answered. “M’ brother fucked her.”

Trixie gasped. Twilight blinked, drawing back in shock. “What?”

“M’ brother’s been fuckin’ her. EX brother.” Her voice was bitterness incarnate.

Twilight shook her head. “But… just like that? Big Macintosh is not exactly forward! Why would he… How? I’ve seen her buck holes in buildings, Applejack! How is that even possible?”

Applejack shook her head weakly. There was only one answer. It had been roaring in her head all the time, but she hadn’t said it out loud, daren’t say it out loud, ever.

Twilight stared at her. Applejack looked up at her friend. She opened her mouth.


Applejack’s face twisted in agony.

“…let him.”

With that, she buried her face in her hooves, and her cry was a howl of pain, the horrible words out there in the world and real. Rainbow let him, thought Applejack. She felt like a discarded toy, a spare part. Her feelings meant nothing, her faithfulness was a sick joke. Rainbow let him. She felt eviscerated. Rainbow let him. They fucked. Why not?

Twilight looked on in horror, and then turned to Trixie. “Come over here! Help me get this collar off her. Now!”

They worked at it. Applejack didn’t resist. All the fight had gone out of her, all the rage had flared up and popped, leaving behind utter despair. She lay in the dirt like she was just some more worthless dirt. She trembled from the force of the emotions that racked her—emotions that she couldn’t cover with fury any longer.

“Can you walk, Applejack? We can’t leave you here. Come with us—we could go wherever you want, or we could stay with you if that would help,” said Twilight.

Applejack looked up as if seeing them for the first time—Twilight, and her weird unicorn lover. Her gaze was piteous. “What’s th’ point? Y’all go home. I ain’t shit to nopony.”

Twilight nuzzled, then hugged her where she lay. “Not a chance! Trixie, how’s your levitating? Would you assist, please? I think we’d better just put her to bed.”

“Of course, mistr… Of course, Twilight,” said Trixie, with a glance at Applejack. She couldn’t feel jealous, couldn’t be harsh or the least bit defensive of her lover. The country pony was in no position to be a rival, and Trixie’s heart went out.

They tried to hold her gently. Applejack dangled from their telekinetic support in despairing limpness, hooves dragging the dirt. Sweet Apple Acres beckoned, light coming from inside. A rocking chair creaked, going back and forth, back and forth.

As they approached the door, it creaked more sharply, and there was a clunk—Granny Smith had gotten to her hooves. “What’re you doin’ with bringin’ that magic in h… oh!”

“We’re sorry, Granny Smith!” pleaded Twilight. “But she won’t walk, and I don’t think we can carry her up the stairs any other way, and…”

“Hmph,” grumbled Granny Smith. “Never you mind. You girls amuse yourselves for now.”

As they floated Applejack up the stairs, her hooves bonking weakly on the stairsteps, Trixie whispered to Twilight, “She thinks this is amusing?”

“Who knows,” whispered Twilight. “I guess we’re on our own.”

They put her in bed, dirt soiling the nice clean sheets, and tucked her in, and sat beside the bed gazing at her. Applejack looked back, helplessly.

“What am I gonna do?” she asked.

“I guess you’re going to get some sleep, first of all,” said Twilight.

Trixie nodded. “Yes. Sleep—and you should have water, Trixie thinks you are probably dehydrated, from crying and from all that work…”

“Oh! Right!” said Twilight. “I’ll get some right now!”

She trotted downstairs, and they heard Granny Smith expostulating again. Applejack and Trixie stared at each other. As Trixie was about to look away, Applejack spoke.

“Are you good to her?” she said.

Trixie blinked, and then looked Applejack in the eye with real seriousness. “Yes.”

“Thank y’all for that…” said Applejack, and looked away, tearing up again.

Twilight trotted back up the stairs, a glass of water floating in front of her. “There! Now, you should drink this, and maybe you’ll feel better.”

Seeing the look Applejack gave her, Twilight gulped. “Or, well, not as thirsty… I don’t mean to make light of it, I guess that’s a lot to cope with, huh?”

Behind her, in the doorway, Granny Smith appeared, peering in on the scene.

Applejack shook her head. “I can’t stand it. I can’t, Twilight. Why can’t I just drop dead?”

Twilight’s eyes were wide. “Is that what you were trying to do out there?”

Trixie began to speak, but before she could get a word out, Granny was next to her. “That’ll do!”

“But, Granny Smith,” said Twilight, “we have to help Applejack think about how to get through this!”

“That will do, child!” snapped Granny.

Trixie began tugging on Twilight’s mane, but Twilight continued to protest. “I don’t think you understand, she’s really hurt, and…”

“I said that will do!” Granny was between them and Applejack now.

Applejack sighed forlornly. “Go on, y’all. I’ll take my medicine…”

“But…” said Twilight.

“Scat!” said Granny Smith, and the unicorns fled the house, arguing between themselves, led by Trixie, who had Twilight’s mane in her teeth. They headed out into the yard, and back towards Ponyville. As they left, they saw a shape in the distance—Big Macintosh, harrowing the rest of the field in pitch blackness, finishing where Applejack had left off.

“Sweet Celestia…” said Twilight. “Do you realise that now we are the healthy and well adjusted ones?”

Trixie reared and gave her a quick hug, and they trotted off toward home.

It was perfectly quiet in the house, except for Applejack’s sniffling. She rubbed her nose with a hoof, and let out another deep sigh.

Slowly, Granny sat by the bedside, and Applejack looked up at her.

“No, don’t you explain nothin’, child,” said Granny. “I ain’t here to make no argument.”

“Mac’s fuckin’ her, Granny,” managed Applejack.


“I’m sorry.”

Granny Smith’s face hardened, and she looked past her granddaughter. “Words will be had, girl, be sure of that. As for you—what did you expect? You got eyes, ain’tcha?”

Applejack sagged, and she looked dully ahead at nothing. After a little while, she spoke again.

“Ya hate me, Granny? Am I a bad pony?”

“Y’all make some funny choices, girl, an’ no mistake. I won’t be drawn onto that, not now…”

“I’m sorry, Granny… I’m sorry…”

“I told you, I won’t be drawn onto that, girl! Let it lay. I got somethin’ for you.”

“Don’t want nothin’. Don’t deserve nothin’,” said Applejack, stubbornly. Her voice was clearing, as she tried to control herself for her Granny.

“Never you mind. I got somethin’ for you. Old thing, like me. Might help you. Seemed like a good time to dust it off.” Granny’s voice was calm, level.

Applejack sniffled. “What thing is that?”

“Hush, now, quiet now…”

Granny’s voice was tender as she began to sing.

Applejack froze, with a look of shock—and, as Granny’s hoof gently stroked her shoulder, the tears flooded her eyes and wouldn’t stop.

“…it’s time to lay your sleepy head… hush, now, quiet now, it’s time to go to bed…”

Her soft voice was drowned by Applejack’s harsh, wracked sob, but Granny didn’t let that throw her. Nothing would shake her—at that moment, the family resemblance shone through and couldn’t be missed.

Applejack sobbed and shook and nuzzled her pillow, flooding it with tears, her grief inconsolable. It went on and on.

It didn’t matter, for Granny was staunch, her gentle song of love unwavering and unceasing—and for all Applejack’s youth, the old lady outlasted her. In the end, Applejack slept, the grief still in her face but the tension gone, and Granny Smith brushed her mane carefully away from her forehead and gave her a kiss.

She hobbled down the stairs, muttering under her breath, and sat in her rocking chair, and gave a great sigh.

“Land sakes,” said Granny Smith.