Apple Bloom offered to keep me company, at least until we'd reach the farm, but Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo had to go in different directions and we said our goodbyes after I said I would definitely see them in school again the next day.
So there I was, walking flank-to-flank with Apple Bloom down the dirt road leading up to Sweet Apple Acres. With the last of Ponyville's buildings behind us, we were basically the only ponies on the road for miles. I looked over at the cute filly beside me and felt my cheeks turn red again as I saw how her mane moved in the wind. So cute!
Apple Bloom noticed me staring and looked back with a confused look on her face. "What? Do I got anythin' on my face?"
"No.. I just.. er.." I stammered, then looked away again at the road we were walking on.
"Whaaat?" Apple Bloom wondered, turning into my path and staring me down.
I had to stop so I wouldn't bump into her, but I still looked away while scraping at the floor with my forehoof. "It's nothing.."
"Nothin' is nothin'. You were starin' at me for a reason." Apple Bloom demanded, and I duck my head lower.
"I just thought you looked cute, is all.." I mumbled, feeling so very embarrassed to admit it.
"Huh?" Apple Bloom blinked, but then smiled up. "Why thank you! I think you look pretty darn cute yourself as well, Fuu! But that ain't no reason to stop lookin' at where you're goin'.. you might bump into somepony an' spill their apples!"
I blushed and turned my attention forward again, but fell into a slower trot, letting Apple Bloom take the lead. Even her butt looked cute! Oh, if I'd only been human again and she and I a few years older..
I snorted at my own thoughts and banished them. Exactly those thoughts caused me to be a little filly now! Emphasis on the little. Both Apple Bloom and me were like.. What.. five? Six? I had no idea how to count pony years.. Whatever my age, it was farther below the age of adulthood than I dared to go. Even while I was still a human. Anypony above 16 years of age was fair play, really.. but below that? Never!
I quickly cantered up to Apple Bloom's right side, trying to hide my blush. "So can we meet up again tomorrow?" I wondered, trying to make some smalltalk to get my embarrassment under control.
"Aww, I wish. But Granny Smith wants me ta be home early tomorrow 'cause of Nightmare Night comin' up soon. She wants ta make mah costume, as usual.." Apple Bloom sighed, clearly not looking forward to it. "I'll probably end up getting Sweetie Belle ta get me a better one from Rarity."
I perked up my ears at that. "Nightmare Night? What's that?"
Apple Bloom stopped and I stumbled to a stop myself, blinking at her reaction.
"Ya haven't heard of Nightmare Night? Ya haven't heard of Hearth's Warming Eve.. Where have you been hidin' away?" Apple Bloom decried, shaking her head in disbelief.
"I'm.. er.. sorry?" I tried, my ears drooping low. "I'm not from here.. Trixie only recently brought me over."
"But from where? Ya never said! An' ya knew 'bout cousin Braeburn's farm. Are ya from Appleloosa?"
I scraped a forehoof over the ground. "A bit further than that.."
"How much further?"
"I can't tell you. Sorry."
Apple Bloom narrowed her eyes at me for a moment, but then shrugged. "Well, okay then. If ya can't tell me, ya can't tell me. But it sure must be a strange place if they ain't even heard of Nightmare Night."
"Well, I haven't.. maybe some others may know." I shrugged. "Just never paid much attention to what was going on in Equestria."
Apple Bloom snorted at that, but thankfully left the topic at rest. She started off towards the farm again in a slow trot, keeping half an eye on me. "So ya never heard of Nightmare Night?"
I rolled my eyes as I moved to fall in with her pace. "I think we established that.."
"Ok, well.. here's what ya need to know to survive:" Apple Bloom started, and I lost a step, stumbling to find my hoofing again.
"On Nightmare Night, Nightmare Moon comes down in search of all of us. We gotta get candy from everypony and give 'er the candy so she won't eat us. And we have fun scarin' each other and such." Apple Bloom continued despite my stumbling, and I blinked uneasily at her.
"Nightmare Moon? Comes down from where?"
Apple Bloom poked a hoof up. "From the Moon, of course."
"You mean Princess Luna, right? From the moon? Where she was imprisoned for a thousand years?" I could not hide my disbelief.
"Well, duh." Apple Bloom frowned. "That's what I said, ain't it?"
"And you collect candy to have her not eat you?" I continued, to Apple Bloom's nodding. "So it's like Halloween?"
"Hello-whatnow?" Apple Bloom replied, looking at me as if I had gone crazy.
I sighed. "Never mind.. I guess it's a different name for it. So it's October here?"
"All month long!" Apple Bloom grinned.
"See, I didn't know that.." I mumbled, falling quiet. The farm's entrance was coming up, and soon I'd be walking the last bit home to face Trixie and her confusing whims. "It doesn't look like October.." I decided, "Far too green."
Apple Bloom shook her head. "October always looks like this. I ain't seen it any other way yet."
"Well, where I'm from? October always came with a bunch of cold and snow and stuff."
"Ain't ya glad you moved out here?" Apple Bloom grinned, then turned into the farm's entrance and then around to face me again. "Well, I'll see ya at school tomorrow?"
I nodded at that. "For sure. I guess I'll go work on my own costume after school then."
"Oh, you should. Nightmare Night is only a week away." Apple Bloom offered, then waved and pranced off towards the farmhouse, where a worried Applejack was standing in the doorway. I gave a wave to her as well, then continued on my way around the farm towards where our cart was.
Heh. A costume. Little did they know I was already wearing one. But this surprised me. I thought it had been summer. It certainly felt like summer. All the leaves were green, the sun was nice and warm, even the cool wind of the falling night did nothing to take away the feeling of a warm blanket just wrapped snuggly around me in the way the perfect summer days always do.
And it wasn't just that I was now wearing a coat of fur around me all the time. I can assure you!
Of course, it had been September when I'd backed out of that driveway and hit Trixie.. When was it again? The 25th? 26th? With a week left before supposedly the 30th of October, that would put today at the 23rd? Time really had gone by faster than I realized. I'd been here a month already and I hadn't even noticed.
So.. Halloween in Ponyville.. I wondered if Trixie would allow me to even attend it. And, if she did, what as? With my collar snuggly around my neck, I would have to choose my costume carefully. Not everything would fit. And I really didn't want to go as a ghost.
Night was falling faster than I had anticipated, and while I could see the cart in the distance, it was quickly becoming nothing but a shadow amongst other shadows, half hidden by the shadows of the copse of trees we were parked next to. I quickened my pace to a canter, which soon turned into a gallop as Trixie stuck her head out of the cart and put a lantern up on the hook beside the door.
I made it to the cart in under a minute, and fell up against the steps leading into it while trying to catch my breath. Trixie, who had followed my approach with a raised eyebrow, just looked down at me laying there with a broad smile on my face.
"You barely made it before nightfall, Fuu. Trixie was getting worried." she offered in a chiding tone, pushing the door open for me to come in and using her magic to drag me up by my collar.
I didn't care. I let her drag me in, then heard the door fall closed behind me. Even with her acting like I did wrong, I knew she cared. Just by hanging out a lantern like that. Her split-second honest worry for me was all I needed to remind me I was home. I picked myself up from the floor and walked after Trixie as she climbed up on her bed again, and before I knew it I had jumped up after her and had wrapped my arms around her waist, my face happily buried up against her larger form.
"Fuu! What are you doing?!" Trixie meeped, trying to detach me by poking me with her forehooves.
"Thank you." I whispered up at her, looking up at her confused face. Her expression softened as I did, and she managed a weak smile, but then she poked me lightly on the cheek and nodded towards my collection of pillows on the floor. "I know, I know.." I blushed, tearing myself away from her and hopping down onto my pillow-pile instead.
"Just because it was getting dark and the Great and Powerful Trixie put a light out, does not mean you should climb up on Trixie's bed, you know?" Trixie tried to get her composure back, and I giggled a little as I settled in a comfortable position.
"I'm just glad to know you care about me." I smiled up, and found Trixie looking at me with affection in her eyes and a little blush on her cheeks.
"Hmph.. just as long as nopony else finds out." she snorted, picking up the book she was reading and pretending to be fully absorbed by it already.
"Trixie?" I asked, and she looked sideways past the book at me.
"Apple Bloom says next week will be Nightmare Night. Did you know?"
"Yes, Fuu." Trixie nodded, returning her attention to her book.
"Trixie?" I started again, and Trixie sighed out in mild annoyance, looking back at me again.
"Everypony's wearing costumes on Nightmare Night, you know?"
Trixie sighed again. "Yes, Fuu. Trixie knows. Trixie is reading a book."
"Yes, Trixie. But I was wondering if I could too?"
Trixie reluctantly put her book back down and stared at me. "If you could what?"
"Wear a costume and collect candy?" I answered, looking up hopefully.
"Will you let Trixie finish reading her book if she says yes?" Trixie grumbled, and I nodded quickly.
"Oh, yes! Definitely!"
"Hm.. Trixie guesses it's fine then." Trixie answered, picking up her book again. "Now let Trixie read." I fidgeted a bit on my pile of pillows, and Trixie's attention drifted from her book back to me. "Out with it."
"THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHAN KYOUTHANKYOU!" I exclaimed, while Trixie's ears fell flat on her head.
When my excited thank yous finally subsided, she perked her ears up again and raised an eyebrow at me. "Are you done now? Can Trixie go back to reading Trixie's book? Or does Trixie have to silence you again?"
I blushed and shook my head at the last question. "I'm done, miss Trixie. I'll be quiet."
Trixie smiled at that and flicked her tail in my direction. "We'll talk about it tomorrow after school. Go read your own book if you're not tired yet."
"My own.." I started, but Trixie's face made me shut up and look around myself a bit for the book she had mentioned. After a moment I saw the book peeking out from under one of my pillows and I nosed the pillow out of the way to look at the exposed cover.
The cover read "Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone" and the picture on the cover showed a grey-maned pegasus dangling from a jungle vine above a pool filled with crocodiles. I stared at it a moment, but then tried to push the cover open with my hoof, resulting in the book sliding over the floor a bit.
"Magic." Trixie simply said, and I blushed as I hadn't thought of using my magic for this purpose. With a glow of my horn and careful focus, I lifted the cover and leafed through the first few pages to where the story finally started, then rested my chin on my forehooves and started to read.
There was no real introduction to this Daring Do. The book immediately threw you into the action. Here we had Daring Do exploring the jungle in search of a big sapphire, and she had to fend off plants and animals alike at every turn! Before I knew it, I was so lost in the story that Trixie had to throw a pillow at me to get my attention!
"Fuu! Bedtime!" she grumbled, "And give Trixie her pillow back."
I blushed and closed the book, levitating Trixie's pillow back towards her and managing not to plant it right in her face.
The story had been so exciting, and I was now forced to end on a cliffhanger. Daring Do had only just escaped a pack of jungle creatures wanting to tear her to shreds by some lightning-fast thinking, grabbing a vine to swing over a ravine in which a pool with alligators had hidden, barely escaping their snapping jaws before she landed on the other side. And then she found..
Darkness, really, as Trixie turned off the lights. I felt for the edge of my book and pushed it down under one of my pillows, then curled up in the darkness to go sleep.
And then I dreamed. For perhaps the first time since I arrived in Equestria, I had an actual dream! Well, a nightmare. It had all the elements of a real nasty one too; different worlds and scenes blending together in ways reality would never allow.
It all started innocently enough; I was walking home from school but had chosen a different path than usual. Instead of heading past the farm, I was finding myself head into the Everfree Forest. It made sense in my dream. Afterall, I knew that Trixie's cart was just through here even while knowing it was parked on the other side of Ponyville. Dreamlogic.
Of course, as I passed through the trees which got closer and closer together, it became darker and darker. And the undergrowth got more and more tricky to get through. There were shadows and eyes hidden within them forming all around me. But just as I was getting scared, Daring Do swiped me off of my feet and took me through the trees while swinging from a jungle vine. It was very Tarzanesque.
We landed in a clearing and Daring Do told me she was on a quest to find Candy, one of my former girlfriends from the human world. I asked her to repeat that, but she told me there was no time and that Nightmare Moon was going to eat us if I didn't get in my car!
So I looked behind me and my car was there, with Trixie laying on the backseat moaning in pain. "But how do I drive with hooves?!" I asked, climbing in through the passenger side and over to the driver's seat. I sat down awkwardly as Daring Do sat down on the passenger seat, and stared at the steering wheel. Yeah, that's not going to work. I couldn't look over it. So I stood up on the seat instead, placing my forehooves on the wheel. "How am I going to drive?"
"Use the magic, Fuu." Trixie's voice said, very much like a Jedi-master would tell their Padawan apprentice.
With Nightmare Moon's maniacal laughter quickly approaching behind us, I focused my magic and started to drive out of the Everfree Forest and into the human world, in search of Candy.
I couldn't even remember her house, and did all the houses start to look the same? Why were their shadows growing? What was that up ahead on the road?
I strained my eyes to find Apple Bloom standing there right in the path of my car, her eyes wide as she stared at us like a deer caught in the headlights.
"Apple Bloom! Get out of the way!" I called out in distress, finding I could not steer my car away, nor stop it! But Apple Bloom just stood there, unmoving, my car approaching without any signs of stopping until the hood seemed to swallow her..
..and I woke up sweating and crying out in anguish!
"Hn.. Fuu? What's wrong?" Trixie wondered sleepily, stumbling around to find where she left the candle so she wouldn't magically torch the entire carriage.
I just wheezed as I tried to get my emotions back under control.
"I.. I just.. I think I just had a nightmare.. I.. I'm fine." I stammered, and I heard a thud as Trixie's head must've fallen back on her pillow.
"Oh. Well, don't have those.." Trixie muttered, and I heard another thud as her hoof landed on the bed. "Mush bedder to juss.. hm.. hnm...mmh.." she continued, but it was mostly unintelligible as she fell back asleep.
I rubbed at my eyes a moment, curled up, and tried to fall asleep again.
Stupid nightmare.. what was that even all about? It just didn't make sense.. Find a girl I couldn't even remember? Get chased by Nightmare Moon? And then hitting Apple Bloom? So stupid.
I woke up with a headache, not having slept well at all. My pillows had spread out across the floor and I was clutching the Daring Do book for some reason.
Trixie was still asleep, so I quietly pulled my pillows together and stuck the book underneath the pile, then walked over to push the door open and take a good whiff of the morning scents to clear my head. It looked like the sun had only been up for a little while, the morning dew still lingering on the wood surface of the cart. A few early birds were chirping and flying around in search of food, but the rest of the world still seemed to be asleep.
Knowing Trixie would want her morning tea, I reached back into the cart to take our water bucket's handle between my teeth and dragged it up on the small landing before tipping out the old water. With the empty bucket dangling in front of me, my head held up a bit more than usual so the bucket wouldn't drag over the ground, I pranced on over through the small copse of trees to the river behind it.
I filled up the bucket by simply dunking it under water, but then had to use my magic to get it back on the bank again as it was just too heavy for a little pony like myself. I still had a headache, and decided to walk into the water to immerse myself a little, drinking some of it as the cool flow rushed past me. Maybe I was just a little dehydrated because of the sweating I'd done through the night? I took a deep breath and ducked my head under the water, feeling my mane get washed out as I did.
I blew the water out of my nostrils and shook my head to get it out of my ears, splashing water all over Trixie who'd joined me on the bank.
"Hm.. good morning to you too, Fuu." Trixie sighed, walking into the stream herself and carefully dipping her head under for a brief moment, blowing bubbles up out of her nose as she did.
"I'm sorry, miss Trixie." I sighed, lowering my head into the water again as my headache came back. The cool water helped a little, but it wouldn't stay away.
Trixie looked at me for a moment, then approached and put a hoof to my forehead. "You don't look so well, Fuu."
"I just have a headache, miss Trixie."
Trixie nodded, brushing some hairs out of my face with her hoof. "It shows." I looked away, but winced as the pain shot through my head again and fell my ears falling flat against my head. "Did you sleep at all last night? Trixie remembers waking up from something, but she doesn't remember what happened exactly."
"I had a nightmare yesterday." I whimpered, stepping forward a bit to nuzzle my head up under Trixie's for comfort.
Trixie awkwardly returned the nuzzle, then walked back onto the bank and used her magic to drain most of the water from her mane, tail, and coat. "Hm. Come up here, Fuu. Let's head back to the cart. You'll feel better after a cup of tea and some breakfast."
I followed onto the bank, and Trixie's magic washed over me to dry me off a little. Just enough so I wouldn't be dripping wet, but was still damp. Trixie grabbed the water bucket with her magic as well, and we passed back through the copse and up into the cart again where I basically collapsed on my pillows again. The little walk had only made my headache worse and I felt as if my head was about to split in half.
Trixie put up the kettle to boil some water for tea, but then sat down beside me and started to gently brush my mane out. The little tugs at my hair hurt, but it still felt nice to know Trixie really cared. Her brushing went from my mane to my tail before the water was done cooking. Trixie poured us both a cup of tea, then continued brushing her own mane and tail as the tea cooled down to drinking temperature.
"Thank you, miss Trixie.." I mumbled, focusing to get my cup up to my lips after blowing at it for a while. It wasn't halfway yet or it started to wobble as my headache got worse, but then stabilized and gently bumped into my lips as Trixie took over from me. I sipped at it but then just lay my head down on my pillows and whimpered. "How can a nightmare give me this kind of a headache?"
Trixie put my cup down and dabbed a cool wet cloth to my forehead instead. "Nightmares bring our deepest thoughts to the surface, Fuu. The fears we tell ourselves we don't have, the pain we buried so we would not cry, the questions we have no answers for." she said in a gentle voice, "It's not uncommon for somepony to get hit harder than others. Especially us unicorns. Our magic makes us more susceptible to thoughts wanting to pass into reality."
"It does?" I wondered, looking up at her.
Trixie nodded slowly to that. "We usually learn to control it while we're still little foals. It's when we have most of our magic accidents and headaches. Trixie guesses you're getting to that point now. It will pass, but you're staying home from school today."
I let my head sink back onto the pillow and sighed. "Yes miss Trixie."
We had our breakfast after that, and I drank three cups of tea while Trixie dabbed cool damp cloths to my forehead, but Trixie had to go let miss Cheerilee know I wasn't going to show up, and buy some new apples as she passed by the farm, so she left me alone after telling me to just focus on getting better.
I really just curled up and closed my eyes, trying to get some sleep. Sleep usually helped when I got sick back in the human world, and it should have a similar effect here. With the relative Equestrian peacefulness helping a great deal, I was out before I knew it.
I woke up again as night fell, with Trixie having moved me up onto the bed and letting me drink some water from a cup. My headache was a lot less already, and I made some protests about being on the bed where I usually wasn't allowed to go, but Trixie hushed me (fortunately without changing my mouth around again) and gave me more water to drink.
Seeing as how I wasn't fully recovered yet, Trixie then got up on the bed as well and lay down beside me, pulling me to her and just shushing me to sleep again. I was feeling too awful at the time to really appreciate it, but remembering it later really helped me to focus on Trixie's good side.
Thanks to Trixie's care, I felt a lot better in the morning, especially waking up snuggled up to Trixie's form, with one of her hooves draped over me. I nuzzled in to her a bit more, cherishing the moment, and closed my eyes with a happy sigh. Trixie leaned her head down as I did, pulling me a bit closer and mumbling something unintelligibly in her sleep.
We rested like that for.. some time.. I need a watch. But then Trixie started to stir as she woke up and pushed me away again. I whimpered in disappointment, but then shared a yawn with Trixie and stretched myself out as much as I could. "Good morning, miss Trixie." I offered, giving her another nuzzle.
Trixie responded in her usual awkward fashion, giving me a few odd pats on my head. "Feeling better, Fuu?" she wondered, an eyebrow raised.
I nodded a bit at that. "The headache's gone, miss Trixie."
"Would you kindly get off of Trixie's bed then?"
I drooped my ears at hearing that. "Aww. Yes miss Trixie.." I sighed, rolling over to get up on my hooves and jump down on the floor.
"And if you're feeling better, make Trixie her tea, please." Trixie continued, and I sighed out. Back to the old Trixie then.
I took the kettle and felt its weight, checking to see if it still contained any water. I topped it off so there would be enough water in it for four cups, then put it on the stove and turned the fire on underneath it. Only then did I notice Trixie looking at me with an odd smile. "Er.. I did do ok, did I not?"
"Without so much as a wobble, Fuu. A sign your understanding of magic has grown." Trixie smiled, "Trixie is proud of you."
I blinked and looked back at the kettle. It had felt easier to move the kettle. I didn't really think about it. I just did it. "Huh.."
"As we grow our magical powers, our bodies adapt to accomodate the larger amounts of energy we use, Fuu. Some of us get nightmares, headaches, others just feel ticklish. It's something that's taught in Canterlot's kindergarten to the unicorn foals so they know it's a part of life."
I felt a shiver going down my back as Trixie's words settled. "So I'm gonna have nightmares and headaches all my life?"
Trixie smirked and climbed off of the bed, giving me a soft nuzzle. "Trixie can't say. It may be that the closeness to Nightmare Night gave you the nightmare. Or that your sweating during it dehydrated you and caused the headache. We have to see what happens next time. But while you're here with Trixie, she's going to take care of you every time it happens. Whatever it is that happens."
I gave a thankful nuzzle back up to Trixie's form, sighing out a bit. "And yet you'll always push me away again." I voiced my concern, to which Trixie responded by breaking away from me and checking up on the tea as if it was the most important thing in the world. I looked at her from the corner of my eye, then walked up to my pillow pile and dropped on it. "It just confuses me, is all. I never know when you'll be nice and when you'll be cold and distant."
"Drop it, Fuu." Trixie's voice came from where she stood in front of the stove, and I noticed she was trembling a little.
"Yes miss Trixie." I muttered, resting my head on my hooves and closing my eyes while trying not to cry. It was so confusing to see her act like that, to be the target of love and loathing in constantly switching random patterns..
We had our morning breakfast in silence, then Trixie told me to hurry on over to school since I was feeling better again. She hadn't come back from her closing herself off again, and I left home with a similar feeling as I had my former home in the human world. It just seemed like nopony wanted me to be around. Or cared whether I lived or died. My parents certainly hadn't cared, raising me on television and whatever food mom had managed to produce while dad wasn't looking. That I had even got an education was a miracle in itself. And now Trixie gave me the cold shoulder and made me feel just as wanted.
I kicked some pebbles aside as I dragged my hooves to school, feeling miserable. The sound of happy foals playing in the playground near the school reached my ears but I couldn't get my mood up enough to want to join them there. I know Trixie had said I should go to school, but as the bell rang to call us in, I found myself turning away from school and wandering over to the clubhouse. I was a cutiemark crusader myself now, so it was my clubhouse just as much as it was that of Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle.
I closed the door behind me after climbing up the ramp, and fell flat on the ground as I felt the wave of sorrow that I had tried so hard to push back come over me. My tears freed themselves from my eyes and I soon was sobbing uncontrollably, just wishing somepony was there who'd accept me for who I was. Somepony who didn't mind I had been a human before. Somepony to help me understand why Trixie could be nice and mean in the same minute.
I cried until I couldn't anymore, curled up on the floor and just sniffled to myself as I thought all my questions over again. Having met Trixie the way I did was probably enough grounds for her to hold a grudge. I should've looked in my rearview mirror and seen her. Or maybe taken her to a vet instead of the forest.. I dunno, I had been acting in a panicked rush.
But if I had taken her to a vet.. she would have been a cartoon animal in the hands of humans.. No good would come of that. Only test after test until her life would be spent. If I thought the situation over again, it probably was a good thing I went out to the woods. Fewer people, nopony to see what had taken up the backseat of my car.
Trixie's reaction also made more sense to me, as I thought it over. She would have woken in shock of the car running her over. I'd seen my mom act out in such situations after dad got to her. Erratic behaviour was par to the course.
And then my sudden arrival in Equestria. Trixie must have had just as much a shock as I had with her finding me changed into a pony like her. Somewhere in my mind her actions made a little more sense, but I still didn't get why she collared me, put so much effort in teaching me, and then acted like I wasn't worth paying attention to.
Something about Trixie just bothered me. Like I knew the answer but the puzzle wasn't coming together yet.
I closed my eyes and sighed. I was too tired from all this crying and thinking. Too many questions left unanswered, and nopony in Equestria was going to be able to give the answers to me. Except perhaps for Trixie.
I fell asleep from mental exhaustion, just laying there in the clubhouse, and only woke up because Apple Bloom threw the door open with a loud bang!
"Oh, there you are!" she exclaimed as I jerked up in surprise, and then turned her tail towards me to call back out: "I found her! She's up in the clubhouse!"
"I.. uh.. huh? What time is it?" I wondered, rubbing at my sleepy eyes with my forehooves.
"It's like close to nightfall already. Everypony's been lookin' for you!" Apple Bloom revealed, and I looked past her at the sky that was slowly turning a darker shade of mauve.
"I must've fallen asleep.." I mumbled, pushing up on my hooves and wobbling forward a bit. "Whaddya mean "everypony"?"
"Well, big sis Applejack, Trixie, Nightmare Moon.." Apple Bloom offered, and then faced me with a fanged grin as her eyes turned red.
"Er.. what's happening?" I asked, backing away from her a bit.
"Well, we can't have Nightmare Night without a little filly to gobble up, can we?" Apple Bloom offered, while the door's opening filled up with more fanged ponies trying to enter behind her.
I backed into a wall that felt like taffy getting stretched out, until it suddenly gave way and I fell through it into a dark hole! All the light around me leaving as the clubhouse flew off into the sky, leaving just a dark bottomless pit for me to fall down through!
I flailed my hooves around as I fell, hearing Nightmare Moon's evil laughter coming from below. But as I looked down at where I was falling towards, I just saw Trixie's face below me, her eyes glowing and her mouth opening to reveal sharp fangs.
As I fell past them into her mouth, I screamed in terror..
..and woke up with the sun shining its rays down on me through the window. I looked around in a panic, realized I was still in the clubhouse, and quickly rushed to the door to pull it open and see what was outside! No Apple Bloom. No Nightmare Moon. No Trixie. Nopony out there threatening to eat me. Or gobble me up for that matter. Just a beautiful afternoon in Equestria staring me in the face as if nothing had happened.
I sighed in relief, wiping the sweat off of my brow, and went back inside the clubhouse where I sat down on the ground and tried to stop my heart from beating so fast. Another nightmare. No headache this time, but it was definitely a nightmare. During the day. What was going on?
I rarely had nightmares about anything! Not even dad gave me nightmares anymore, even if I had had them during my childhood. But now, in about the safest place in all of Equestria, I had two nightmares almost in a row? Both of which had featured Apple Bloom and Nightmare Moon.
I'd seen a show on daytime television once where a spiritual softy talked about dreams being the key to our subconscious and whatever. That they tried to tell us something. And what had Trixie said? Something about unicorns manifesting thoughts into reality? I wasn't sure I understood it. But I did know who would; Zecora. If there was anypony around in Equestria who would know about dreams and their meanings, it would be Zecora.
Where did she live again? The Everfree Forest somewhere, right? Right. But would I be able to find her on my own? Maybe Apple Bloom could.. No. Bad idea. Apple Bloom was in my nightmares! I would need to find a neutral party. Somepony who wouldn't ask too many questions.
I pranced over to the door again and stuck my head out, looking around over Sweet Apple Acres. Applejack would be out of the question. She was too responsible. Would probably shoo me off to Trixie. But I had to know what was going on and Trixie wasn't much help with her odd emotions.
Pinkie Pie would be too loud. Fluttershy wouldn't go anywhere near the Everfree Forest unless absolutely necessary. Maybe if I could find Rainbow Dash? I could offer it as a challenge.. She never turned down a challenge as far as I knew. But then I hadn't actually seen Rainbow Dash except for the few times she flew by through the air moving clouds this way or that.
Could I ask Twilight? She was responsible, but also a seeker of knowledge. And inexplainable nightmares could spike her curiosity.
I smirked at myself. "Heh.. "Spike" her curiosity. Good pun, brain."
So be it then. Twilight would really be the only pony I knew who could lead the way to Zecora. I just had to be careful not to reveal more about myself than absolutely necessary. And on no account should I mention Trixie.
I started down the ramp and turned back towards Ponyville, staying on the inside of the fence so I would evade most ponies on the main road. Any one of them could decide I should be in school and prevent me from getting anywhere near Twilight's treehouse, let alone speak with the mare.
I climbed over the fence when I was close enough to Ponyville and rushed over to the nearest building, then jumped from cover to cover in my best Pinkie Pie impression until I got to the treehouse library. Stepping out of cover, I first checked my coat for any leaves that may have stuck to it, before lifting my hoof and knocking on the door.
"Spike! Someone at the door!" I heard Twilight call out from inside, and then a muttering voice coming closer as Spike responded.
The door opened, and Spike looked at me with some surprise. "Er, yes? Can I help you?"
"Hi.. my name's Fuu?" I offered to him, feeling a blush creep up on my cheeks. Spike looked utterly adorable! His scales were shining in the light, his eyes were looking at me with that adorable confusion as he tried to place me among the faces he knew. "Er.. I was looking for miss Twilight Sparkle?"
"Oh! Sure, come in!" Spike smiled, stepping aside. He glanced into the library, then put his hand in front of his mouth and whispered to me; "She's reading some stuffy book about the history of magic. Good luck getting her attention."
I giggled some, walking further into the room and looking around to try and spot the unicorn. "I think I can grab her attention just fine, Spike. But thank you for the warning." I offered.
Spike made an awkward salute to me and then looked around shiftily. "Well, if you don't need me.. I got a gemstone with my name on it." I shook my head and he quickly rushed off to his precious meal. I watched him go with a little smile. He was too darn cute.
Said the cute little filly in the library.
Anyway, I found Twilight absorbed by a large tome after I headed into the next room, her pet owl Alo.. Alio.. Aloistitius... However you spell his name, sitting on a perch nearby.
"Miss Twilight?" I tried, but got no response. I moved a little closer, and Alo.. Alio.. The owl turned his head towards me and went "Who." I giggled up and went "Who." back. The owl seemed to like it, as he said who again, and the two of us spent a few moments who-ing back and forth until Twilight's twitchy ear got to her and she snapped free from her book, groaning at being disturbed.
"GRR! That's enough, insert owl's name here." she told the owl, then faced me and her face went from annoyance to surprise. "Oh my, I'm sorry. I didn't know we had a visitor. Can I help you with anything?"
"Hello miss Twilight Sparkle. I'm Fuu." I introduced myself, and Twilight blushed and shook a hoof.
"No need to call me miss, I'm really not that old.." she giggled, looking me over. "That's an uncommon name, Fuu. You're not from around these parts, are you?"
My turn to blush, and I shook my head. "No, mi.. er.. Twilight Sparkle. I've only really arrived here a month ago?"
"Oh? From where, if I may ask? You're not from Canterlot, are you?" she wondered, but then started rattling off names of places I hadn't even heard of as I shook my head.
"Er.. miss Sparkle? I.. er.." I tried, and Twilight stopped with a blush.
"Oh dear, I'm sorry.. I just get so excited about ponies from far-away places, you know?"
I nodded and fidgeted a bit. "I kind of noticed that.."
"So, how can I help you? Did you want a copy of the adventures of Daring Do? Most foals your age want to read about her?" Twilight tried, walking over to her massive collection that was suspiciously missing the first volume.
"Er, no miss Sparkle.. I wanted to ask you about nightmar.."
"Nightmare Night? Oh, yes, I'm very excited about it myself. I'm putting my costume together myself. Let me see, where's that book. Spike! Spike?!"
I sighed as Spike came running in and Twilight asked him for a particular book about Nightmare Night, the name of which I really can't remember right now. They went through their motion of Spike finding the book and Twilight not appreciating his efforts, but when they calmed down again and Twilight held up the book towards me with her magic, I could finally voice my problem again. "I'm sorry, Twilight. But I didn't seek a book on Nightmare Night."
"Oh." Twilight responded, dropping the book on a random stack around her instead of putting it back where it came from. I could see how the poor little Spike would get exhausted from living with Twilight.
"I'm looking for information about nightmares, miss Twilight." I started, "I was hoping to ask if you could help me get to miss Zecora's house cause she knows a lot about it? I would go myself, but I don't know my way through the Everfree Forest and I heard you knew where Zecora lived.. so I wanted to ask if you could help me get to her?" I wondered, and Twilight raised an eyebrow at that.
"Do your parents know you want to go into the Everfree Forest?" she asked, being the responsible one and all that.
"I don't.. er.." I started, looking away. "My parents aren't here.." I ended up muttering, and I heard Twilight swallow.
"I'm sorry I asked, sweety." she offered, gently tousling my mane with a hoof. "Well, I do have some things I need to ask of Zecora myself.. I guess I could show you the way." she smiled at me, then looked up again and shouted "Spike!" while he was standing right next to her.
"Yes Twilight?" Spike answered, rubbing a hand over his ear.
"Oh, there you are Spike. Can you get me my saddlebags please?" Twilight asked, and Spike pulled them from under the table Twilight had been studying at just before, a mere two steps away from her.
"Here you go, Twilight." Spike offered without any sign of resentment in his voice for Twilight making him do these trivial things.
It seemed a little bit like my relationship with Trixie.. She'd tell me to do something and I'd do them. Mostly because I didn't want my mouth to get turned into a whistle again.. but I still did my best to do what she told me to do. And here little Spikey-wikey was doing what Twilight asked of him, if only because Twilight asked it of him. And Twilight didn't even thank..
"Ah, thank you Spike." Twilight smiled, using her magic to move her saddlebags on her back and pull the straps tight.
Ok, so maybe she did thank him. I wasn't feeling jealous, really.. Not me. Nuh-uh. Ok, maybe a little. Trixie's behaviour this morning just made me feel I deserved a bit better for all the coping and learning I had done since arriving in Equestria. Was that too much to ask?
With Twilight ready to go, I followed her as we walked across town and into the Everfree Forest, with Twilight trying to make smalltalk by explaining facts about who-knows-what. They were so booooooring to listen to, I quickly tuned her out.
The dark forest made me walk up a little closer to Twilight's side, as close as her saddlebags allowed, and I tried not to give in to the shivers of fear that ran down my spine. Nothing to fear here.. Before I knew it, I started to hum Pinkie's song "Giggle at the Ghostly".
Twilight looked at me in surprise, but soon we both were humming it and trying to remember the words to it. An attempt at which we both failed. We did get the whole giggling at the ghostly and ghoulie part down, but the rest was a little more difficult, with each of us trying to fit words in with the words the other had thought up would fit in the song.
With the right words or not, the song did help distract us so that we arrived as a cheerful pair at the tree in which Zecora had made her home.
"Zecora, are you home?" Twilight asked, moving up to the door and knocking on it twice.
"Oh my, is that Twilight Sparkle that I hear? Why of course I'm home, come in my dear." Zecora offered from inside, and Twilight pushed the door open, beckoning me to follow.
"I brought a little filly with a question, Zecora. Her name's Fuu." Twilight told Zecora as I carefully stepped into the hut, my nose getting hit with smells that I had no name for as I did.
"Ah, come in my little Fuu. And tell me, what can I do for you?" Zecora asked of me, and I looked up at her while trying to find a place for the smells and feelings I was experiencing.
The tree was.. Well.. it had.. There were masks and potions and things hanging around everywhere. A table and chairs was over in one area, with a bed close beside it, and there was a large cauldron in the center of the room. Smells and smoke wafted through the place in disorganized fashions, hitting my nostrils whenever I was expecting them the least. There was the lingering smell of incense of just about every flavor having been burned, wafts of herbal medicines with their potent scent (which somehow never smelled nice but always did their job) having been prepared, and flavors I could not distinguish from one another drifting in the background of the rest. It was a little overwhelming.
Knowing Zecora was waiting for my question, I focused back on her and looked up at her questioning eyes. "Erm.. hello miss Zecora. I was.. er.. I have been having these recurring nightmares.. and I was.. er.. hoping you would.. er.."
"Spooky dreams that give you fright, this close to Nightmare Night? It's not unexpected for foals to fear, as the festival of nightmares draws near." Zecora offered with a smile, but then narrowed her gaze in sudden wonder. "But what is this I see in you? Hm.. Twilight, could you leave me with this Fuu?"
Twilight perked up at hearing her name, then nodded lightly. "Er, sure.. But can I borrow that fake beard from you before I go? It's for my costume."
I looked between Zecora and Twilight in confusion as Zecora carefully dismantled a mask she had hanging on the wall to give Twilight the fake beard, and then said goodbye to the purple unicorn. Left alone with Zecora, I was suddenly feeling a lot less sure of myself...
Zecora moved past me and sat down on a seat at the table, and motioned for me to sit across from her. She looked closely at me as I did, and I fidgeted a bit with my hooves. "I sent Twilight away because this is not for her to hear, but I sense there's another reason that you're here." she spoke, but I knew she wanted me to verify her claim, so I nodded.
"Hmm. Do you think you can confide in me? Perhaps over a nice cup of tea?" Zecora asked, and I winced a bit at the tea-part.
"No tea, please.. I have to make enough tea as it is. Every morning it's "Fuu, make us some tea." and then she's all sweet and when I try to be sweet back she's all "Go do something else, Fuu." and I don't know what I did wrong! And now there's these recurring nightmares, even during the day! And I don't know what they mean!"
Zecora just stared in wonder, before raising a hoof just as I was about to open my mouth again for another sentence.
"Nightmares are no need to panic, but your friend sounds almost manic. Switching emotions like that's not good for any foal, stability and safety makes a pony whole. Did you ask why she's in doubt? Of whether to be nice or to shout?"
I nodded softly. "She doesn't want to say."
"There's not a lot that you can do, but I could talk with her for you?" Zecora offered, but I quickly warded that off.
"Nono, it's ok.. she doesn't really like strange ponies intruding upon her privacy. Nor zebras, for that matter." I sighed, rubbing at my forehead a little. "She's a complicated pony. I want to be there for her, but she keeps pushing me away. And I need her to be there for me, but well.. She tries, I guess. In her own way. But it's confusing when one moment I'm allowed to cuddle with her, and the next I'm told to stay away from her."
Zecora nodded softly while moving a couple of empty cups in front of us, then waved her right hoof over them and they were suddenly filled with a murky green liquid. Steam started to rise up from it, and she blew some air at her own cup while she seemed to think about what I had said.
I sniffed the drink that had magically appeared like that, and it smelled a lot like tea. Even with its murkiness. Having been out and about without having had anything to drink since breakfast, and with the sweating I'd done in the clubhouse, I lowered my head to the cup and gently breathed air at it myself. It really wasn't the tea that was the problem. It was Trixie's behaviour.
"So what you say is this; that there's a closeness between you that you miss?" Zecora wondered, and I nodded slowly.
"I guess so. She's the only pony in all of Equestria that knows what I've been through. I can really only talk with her about it, nopony else, because she was there when it happened."
Zecora hummed at that. "A trauma shared between you two, could cause the instability towards you."
"I dunno.. I just want her to make up her mind whether she's nice or stern.." I sighed out over my cup of tea, daring a little sip but finding it still too hot.
"Whether she acts nice or stern should not really be your concern. If you love her, straight and true, she will find it easier to be nice to you." Zecora decided. "The best way for worries of the heart to mend, is the constant support of a true friend."
I pondered Zecora's words as I sipped from my tea. Was that really all there was to helping Trixie? Just be nice to her, support her, and she'd be fine in the end? I didn't think anything could be that easy. And it probably wasn't going to be.
With the day drawing to a close, Zecora helped me to get back to the forest's edge and sent me on my way. I didn't get the help I needed for my nightmares, but Zecora did help me see I was whining too much about the little things.
There was no denying Trixie took care of me when I needed her most. Letting me sleep in her bed if I felt sick, gently brushing my hair while I lay hurting on my pillows, making tea when I couldn't.. She really was a caring pony. She just didn't want to be seen as one for some reason.
So now I needed to be nice to Trixie, support here where I could, get her to trust that she could show her nice side around me without me betraying her. I had no idea if I was up to the challenge, but I didn't really have much of a choice. I lived with her, I depended on her, I didn't know anypony else I could tell about my past. Without Trixie, I would be even farther from home.
And now I just had to figure out how to explain to Trixie where I'd been all day..