Through hard work, commitment, trust and love, life was slowly returning to normal for the Apple family in my Equestria dreamscape. The events of the last fall and winter had been a true test of character for every family member, but through it all they had stood their ground.
Now it was spring and the crops needed tending along with a never-ending list of chores and jobs, all essential to the successful operation of a farm.
As usual the Apple family had help from their neighbors and in return the Apple’s help them with their planting. In spite of the events over the winter, the Apple’s neighbors had been very supportive of the family despite all the strange happenings.
Through the remainder of the winter Applebloom had been frantically trying to catch up with her classmates in school. Unfortunately all of her fall/winter homework was considered invalidate due to possible tampering by the Deception. Applebloom didn’t want to be held back a year so she’d been working at home to complete over three months of back homework.
Cheerilee had continued throughout the winter to come out to Sweet Apple Acres and give the little butter cream filly her assignments and review her homework. However with Applebloom’s situation continuing to improve it was decided that in the early spring the little filly would have to start attending classes at school if she was to have any chance of not being held back a year.
Applebloom did not want to be held back a year since all the other Cutie Mark Crusaders were in the same grade as her. Sweetie Bell and Scootaloo had helped their friend with her homework, and would standby her side at school but they all agreed that Applebloom would probably face some difficult times when she returned.
The Apple’s neighbors had been very understanding of what the family had been through. But there were still many a pony in Ponyville who wondered what state the littlest of the Apple family was truly in.
Was it safe for her to be out in public with their foals? In spite of what the Royal Sisters had said at the press conference, had the prolonged contact with the Deception made Applebloom mentally and emotionally unstable? Had the Deception left any more traps behind to snare some other poor, unsuspecting pony? After all while being possessed the little filly had almost killed Twilight Sparkle and had apparently seriously injured several members of the Royal Guard. She’d even seriously injured her own big sister! The bandages had long since come off but AJ and Twilight’s scars would remain a part of them for the rest of their lives, and in a world where most folks don’t wear clothes those scars were visible for all to see.
Despite the best efforts of the Royal Sisters, the Mane Six and the Mayor to address and calm these concerns, these questions and rumors still were discussed over an over again at café tables, the market square, in the town pub and in kitchens, dining rooms, and bedrooms throughout Ponyville.
So one sunny Monday morning Applebloom arrived at the Ponyville schoolhouse. Big Mac was staffing the family market stall so Applejack could escort her little sister to her first day back at school. The other Cutie Mark Crusaders made up the rest of Applebloom’s entourage. AJ noticed that it seemed like quite a few parents had decided to “escort” their foals to school that morning. AJ sighed and shook her head, apparently another rumor had leaked out over the last few days.
Cheerilee was there to greet every one of her pupils with her signature smile and sunny personality she greeted Applebloom.
“Good morning Applebloom! I am so happy to see back in my class!”
AJ was not certain but it seemed that Cheerilee had made that declaration with a bit more volume than usual. As if she wanted everypony in earshot to hear it.
“Thank you Miss Cheerilee.” Replied Applebloom. “Can I have my old desk back?”
“Of course!” Said the fuchsia colored schoolpony. “Please come in class is about to start! ”
After taking roll call Cheerilee took a brief moment to welcome Applebloom back and then got on with the morning lessons. Applebloom couldn’t help but notice that her classmates were quieter then the last time she was in school. And the few times she looked around the class she could not help but notice Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon watching her intently.
When lunch break finally came Applebloom, Sweetie Bell, and Scootaloo found themselves a table in the playground to enjoy of their lunches. The three were engaged in the age-old pastime of swapping and trading for different parts of each other's lunches when the moment Applebloom had been waiting for finally happened.
“I can’t believe they actually let a monster like you attend school!” Said the number one bane of the CMC, Diamond Tiara. Tiara’s constant companion and partner in crime Silver Spoon snickered at her friend’s comment.
With out turning around to face her Applebloom replied while chewing on her sandwich.
“Hi Tiara.” Munch, munch. “Hi Spoon.” Munch, munch. “Yep! The doctors and the Royal Sisters say I’m not a danger to anypony now so I can attend school again. How ya two been? Haven’t seen ya in months.”
“We’re fine!” Replied Silver Spoon. “Unlike you. I’m amazed that they don’t keep you locked in a cage now! A creep like you shouldn’t be loose and running around!”
Tiara giggled under her breath, Sweetie Bell and Scootaloo started to get down from their seats. Scoot looked like she wanted to knock Tiara into next week. Applebloom raised her front hoof.
“Girls don’t. I’ll handle this. We all knew this was going ta happened when I came back.”
Applebloom turned around and looked at her two tormentors and around the rest of the schoolyard. A crowd of foals was peering around the corner of the schoolhouse watching the drama unfold. Applebloom sighed. Whether my chance or design this whole scene was playing out with all her classmates watching.
Funny thing is that a year ago she would’ve dreaded having to confront Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon like this, now she had no fear of them. Slowly Applebloom got down from her seat and calmly strolled over to her two tormentors. Neither of her two antagonists moved but little Bloom saw them both swallow nervously, when she was about five feet away she stopped. The schoolyard was dead quiet.
Applebloom just stared at them for several seconds. Finally Diamond Tiara spoke with a somewhat trembling voice.
“Well you little freak what do you have to say for yourself! Why should anypony feel safe being around you?” Tiara hissed the last words.
Applebloom looked up at the early afternoon sky. It was a beautiful shade of blue. Her mind went back to the words Luna had said to her when she’d been finally freed from the Deception. link
"I believe you Applebloom, for I to have succumbed to dark forces in the past and now walk the path of acceptance and understanding myself. I will walk this path with you but understand it is path that you and I may have to walk for the rest of our days. In time many a pony will forgive and believe us, but our actions from now on will be scrutinized in more detail than those of an average pony.”
Applebloom looked again Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon. She wasn’t afraid of them, she wasn’t even mad at them, and if she was going to be rebuilding bridges this was as good of a place to start as any.
“All I can say is that I ‘m sorry I let that thing deceive me when it had the chance, and because of a poor decision I ‘ll have spend a very long time working to earn everypony’s trust again.”
“That’s it!” Exclaimed Diamond Tiara. “You just think saying that makes it all better? You think by saying that everypony in this town will forget what you were involved with?” The pale mauve filly looked at her with disgust.
“No.” Said Applebloom. “I said I’d have to work to earn everypony’s trust again and that is what I plan to do.”
Applebloom slowly took several more steps forward until she was just a couple feet away from the two fillies. Once again the butter cream filly just stared at her two accusers. Both were trembling slightly now. When Applebloom spoke again she did not yell but her voice had a certain intensity that carried across the silent schoolyard.
“But understand ya two. If ya just came over to try and taunt me you’re wasting your time. For your little attempts to hurt me for your own fun ain’t working. Because I’ve been shown things, been told things, and have had things done to me that would make your hearts stop and your blood run cold. I’ve fallen into the heart darkness link"
and have come back to the light.”
Applebloom took a couple more steps forward until her muzzle was almost touching theirs. “I’m no longer afraid of ya two or your silly little games.” Then she turned around and without looking back she went back to her seat and resuming eating her lunch.
Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon just stood there frozen. Applebloom’s words kept repeating in their heads. There had been no anger in her voice, neither had there been any fear. At that moment they both realized that Applebloom was out of their league. Without a word they turned around and sulked away.
From a nearby partial opened window Cheerilee smiled and nodded her head. Little Bloom was doing just fine.
To be continued.