Pony POV Series
"Adventures in Foalsitting"
Written By LZ0291 and Kendell2
How did I feel about foalsitting? Well, if I'm honest, I felt quite proud of it really. Auntie had outright said it was a lesson to be learned... Well, as close to outright as Auntie gets. I can't say I figured it out right away - Humility and friendship were the main goals, but there was also the lessons to my self-confidence and letting me know I was trusted.
I was barely a teenager myself by that point of course, so no doubt Auntie and my parents probably worried I might start getting rebellious or big-headed... Goodness knows most of my cousins were well on their way, and them being jealous of me probably wouldn't have helped.
It had been fairly simple. I would look after the foals of important ponies. That often translated to nobles, parliamentarians, guardsponies -not Captive Audience though. I was a little puzzled about a Colonel with a foal following him around occasionally but mystery solved I guess. But all these foals... they were delightful enough but I never clicked with them. They were used to getting different foalsitters all the time. Even an alicorn princess wasn't a big deal to them sometimes. It was usually more a novelty or honour for the parents than anything else. The kids normally just asked a ton of questions, ask me to do some 'Alicorn tricks' (normally music ones), but mostly saw me more as a toy than a friend.
And since I know this is why you were asking, yes, that did change with Twilight. She'd never had a foalsitter before really - it seemed her brother had usually looked after her or her mother had been able to be around, but it appeared there was a major need for them to both be at the observatory during that time, and her brother was in the Guard Academy. Since it was the Royal Observatory, well... Their boss recommended a good sitter, shall we say?
The first time we met I'd found her an interesting challenge, to be honest. She was curious about me being an Alicorn and didn't ask to see any 'tricks', which was rare enough... then she just went back to reading, talking more to her smarty-pants doll! I was patient though, and it helped that I knew her book as well. Though I was a little surprised a filly her age was able to read Daring-Do (yes, those books are that old, and no, I don't know who writes them).
Long story short, I got her to open up to me. And we just clicked. It's hard to describe without going into too much detail. I think it was a bit like how Shining describes himself and Thunderchild; we started talking and just hit it off. For the first time since I'd started, I wanted to foalsit for a foal again. However, about three weeks after I first met her, a complication entered into it. I wouldn't be needed... but I was wanted. Twilight had become a favourite of mine in that short time, and I had clearly rubbed off on her. So it was I went to foalsit only to find that I wasn't the only one with a Guard escort that day (Yes, I knew they were there, even if they did stay outside).
I was a little startled when a colt opened the door... after a pause like it was being checked.
"H-Hello, um, I'm Cadence, I'm here to foalsit Twilight?" I said first.
"Good morning, Cadence. My name is Shining Armor, I'm Twilight's brother. Please come in."
I was used to this sort of approach, the stiff but not rude kind of aura. Most Guards gave it off. And that was the first impression I got. He wasn't trying to be formal and polite to a princess, he was wary of someone he didn't know getting close to his sister.
My wings and horn meant nothing to him at that point. His priority was his sister. He had my respect pretty much instantly. Twilight had often spoke about him, so I knew they were close (plus, as seen when I had to teach Makarov a lesson, strong bonds tend to call out to me, and boy was theirs strong) - and if he was ready to be on guard to a princess to keep his sister safe, I knew he'd be ready to guard her from anything. Like any good brother or sister who loved their younger sibling. Almost made me wish me and my relatives got along as well, or that I had siblings (my mom almost died giving birth to me, and my parents didn't want to (or couldn't) risk it happening again).
Yes, he started relaxing, though for most of that day he did seem to be phrasing himself to ask a fair few questions... and yes, I thought he was kind of cute. I was only about thirteen in my defence... And besides, it's not like I can honestly say he's not a handsome stallion today. Minny, Sunset, and Twinkle Shine are not to know I said that! When you're the Alicorn of Music, cheesy love songs are even more awkward! So it became somewhat routine. I'd come over to foalsit on saturdays, and that was fine. Shining was a good friend - he made sure to always correct himself if he said princess or highness, and even if he did give us a funny look at the ladybugs-awake thing, he didn't comment. Me and Twilight just kept getting closer, I think she was almost like the little sister I'd never had.
However, one day we hit a snag. I'd been with Auntie learning some focusing exercises when Mrs. Sparkle came to tell me that there would be a change of plans.
"Yes, and, er, the problem is... Twilight kind of wants to go with her BBBFF too," Mrs. Sparkle said.
Yes, I actually knew by then it meant Big Brother Best Friend Forever. It was one of the first things Twilight told me about Shining.
"Oh. So, I won't be required..." I tried not to sound too disappointed.
"Well, actually, Cadenza, I was wondering if you may have been open to somewhat altering the deal a little. You see, Shining was being taken by his Uncle, but... It's a rather big game, and it seems young Twilight is rather difficult to refuse on this matter," Auntie said.
"I've no problem if it's to help look after Twiley!" I tried not to smile too much, or mention my four guards.
Lucky I hadn't, there were actually eight. But anyway...
"Well then, that's settled. You shall go there as normal, and Sergeant Sparkle will come to collect you all after lunch." Auntie nodded.
"Oh, thank you, Princesses! Twilight was so worried about breaking the routine..."
Once Mrs. Sparkle had left, Auntie had her Mark Three mischievous look.
"Dearest niece, do you perhaps have an ulterior motive for being so enthusiastic?"
I sighed. Auntie could always read me.
"Yes, Auntie... You know I don't like the VIP box when my parents aren't there. This seems like the only time I'll ever be able to just sit in the regular stands... And it's against Trottenham!" I tried not to sound too happy at the last part - I was pretty excited by that!
The one derby match I'd been to was almost ruined by how dull the VIP box was. Applause and quiet conversation. I yearned to be in with the crowds chanting and singing, cheering every goal and jeering every foul. To be in with the crowd, not watching it from a secluded box...
...That might sound strange, I guess, but it's a part of who I am - what I am. I didn't really feel much harmony or a connection to stuffy old stallions and mares who barely paid attention to the game. And they never sang - not even when we won!
"Yes, I thought it was something like that. I hope you enjoy yourself with little Twilight and her brother."
"If we win that's a certainty, Auntie!"
I took my leave from Auntie's throne room singing to myself.
"They're going down, they're going down, they're going, Trottenham's going down..."
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): So you liked hoofball prior to that?)
Of course! It's pretty much the ideal sport for me. A team sport, popular across Equestria and the world, anypony or anyone can play it, and part of the crowd experience is singing. Admittedly that includes rude songs about rivals but it's all in good fun. For all our drama, ponies generally don't take it that personally. We're ponies, it'd take a lot more than a game to make us hate each other. We just get excited for the game, and if you think me and Shining can overreact, you should see Minotaur crowds… I got into it though because my dad took me to games when I was younger - and not only was it a routine way I was able to bond with my parents but it only really felt like at hoofball games people saw me as a filly, not an Alicorn princess.
I later realised at any event where they were easily distracted ponies could look past it a little more, but, er, that sort of led to an... incident once, but we won't get into that...
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Aw, but we've got lots of questions about-)
And this isn't the time!
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): So, Cadence, the hoofball match... how'd it turn out?)
Disastrous! I was worried my disguise plan (wearing a slightly larger shirt to hide my wings) would go wrong somehow. I worried the fake name I picked would be silly (Cady, for the record - which is why I didn't use it in Triana...and why I had to make one up on the spot, I've never been good at aliases). I worried I'd annoy Shining and their uncle by being there, being an unwelcome guest. I worried if I was recognised somehow it'd cause a scene. I worried that maybe even I'd distract Cool Sun's attention and he'd focus more on me instead of his nephew and niece. On top of that, Twilight and Shining didn't care I was an Alicorn, to them, it was just a bonus. I didn't want the first time we really had a day out together, as friends, to get ruined somehow!
I didn't ever worry we'd LOSE!
If I wasn't a Princess, if I hadn't been raised to be polite, if an impressionable young filly hadn't been there, I would have said lots of very rude things about the referee. As it was I only said a few.
"One-nil... to a dive in the last minute of the game! Why is every referee either wall-eyed, blind, or just plain daft?" I groaned.
"I'm trying to hold my true feelings on the matter," Cool Sun muttered.
Shining was silently fuming. Twilight was giving everypony odd glances.
"Um, maybe we should go... cheer up somewhere?" She suggested after some silence.
"Good idea, Twilight," I said.
"Where do you think we could go, uncle?"
The stallion, ostensibly the mature one here, seemed about ready to say something different from what he did say.
"...Well, I know where I'd go if I wasn't with three foals, but maybe P... Cady has an idea?"
"Seems... Yeah, sure. But we might want to go a bit further away from the stadium," Cool Sun noted.
"I know a good place near the castle actually..."
(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Pony Joe's Donut shop!)
I see you know it too.
We walked along the way, and I managed to spot the four concealed Guardsponies following us (sending a griffin was cheating, I told Auntie later. She just smirked and asked if I'd spotted the Diamond Dogs), so I was pleased. It wasn't until I entered the store I realised - Joe would recognise me.
"Er, maybe you guys should go first and, uh..."
"Princess, if you were paying attention you'd notice that everypony here right now already knows who you are," Cool Sun grinned.
Sure enough, the few ponies around were all Guards looking at me in confusion. Everypony inside was either a guard or another government worker.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): You were so busy looking for plain-coats guys you missed the uniformed ones.)
"There was a shift change about ten minutes ago, Cady... er, Cadence," Shining noted.
"Oh... right, yeah..."
Joe actually recognised Cool Sun first as it happened. Nopony else seemed too bothered anymore by me, but the plain coats guards were now facing a conundrum because they stood out now since the place was packed with guards in barding.
"Hey, Shining, have you ever read the RoboGuard graphic novels?" I finally asked after a few boring minutes of letting the adults talk and Twilight trying to make sure her ice cream was symmetrical before she started eating (yes, Twilight still had a bit of a compulsive streak even back then).
He gave me a rather surprised look, before I realised what I'd actually just asked. Before I could think I'd made a fool of myself he replied.
"Uh, yeah, why?"
"Well, this kind of reminds me of the bit at the start of the third one..."
"Yeah, but nopony would ever try rob the place. And that was pretty much the only good bit in the whole story..."
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Say, what do you think of that reboot that's coming out?)
Ugh, that's almost as disappointing as Before Watchmane... What is it with reboots these days? I don't object to trying to get a new audience and I don't reject them out of hoof like someponies I know, but they just... They're never really anything as special as the originals, something gets lost in translation. Heh, maybe we should try get Running to help.
Anyway, the only robbery had been the penalty we'd unfairly conceded. Cool Sun nodded to a few of the other guards, and we sat down to ice cream. Quite a lot of it.
Naturally, somepony had an ice cream headache before we were done.
"Gha, uh... I don't think I can finish mine..." Shining said, pretending he hadn't given himself brainfreeze. Badly.
"Ooh BBBFF can I have it?!"
"Uh, better not, Twilight, you seem to be having a little bit of a sugar rush," I warned, watching the filly spinning herself around on the barstool due to pent up energy.
"Oh okay it's just it was really tasty and I was trying to eat slow so I didn't get a headache!"
"Smart thinking, Sprite. You could learn something from your sister, Kiddo," Cool Sun chuckled.
"I don't have a headache, I, uh, just... too much."
"Sure, whatever. You forget, you're gonna be an officer someday and I'm a Sergeant, I know when officers are making it up. All NCOs do, right, Corporal Harper?"
A nearby pegasus nodded.
"So, do we maybe still need cheering up? Or sugar-rush burning off?" I asked.
"Maybe we could go to the library there's some new books out every saturday but I usually get there late on Monday so I never get to see them until they're back a few weeks later!"
"Try to breathe, Twiley," I warned.
"I'm okay with that. I mean, it'll be quiet..." Shining nodded, then winced.
"Don't need to worry about Twilight being quiet, sugar rush or not."
What we forgot was the new books were scattered around. She moved so fast we thought she'd learned to teleport. In fact I'd checked with Shining just to make sure.
"This one... this one... ooh this one has bunnies on it... look at that book no that other book..."
One pile of books and a confused librarian later...
"She really gonna read through all these?"
"Yup. She's actually got less than usual..." Shining noted.
Cool Sun looked to me for confirmation. I nodded.
"And they're normally a bit bigger too," I added.
"Yikes, Sis said Twilight liked to read but..."
"Is there something... wrong with reading, uncle?" Twilight said, a note of worry.
"Not at all, Sprite. It's good you read so much really."
"BBBFF used to read them all with me, but now he's in the academy he can't, but he and mom and dad taught me to read by myself years ago so it's not so bad."
"Oh. You two getting anything?"
"I don't have a card," I said.
"I've actually got some homework to do," Shining spoke up.
"Ah, right. I'd better take you guys back then. When is it you're picked up, Cady?"
"Mom said she could stay for dinner I think but, I'm not sure," Twilight pipped up.
"That's right, I'm being collected at about eight or so."
"Alright then, I guess..."
A Guardspony came up to us.
"Sergeant Sparkle? We've got an alert, there's been some kind of event in Krakohzia, you're to report back to barracks ASAP."
"Dang. Thanks, Corporal..."
"Krakohzia's in Western Equrope!" Twilight said, happy to have a factual tidbit to share.
Me and Shining however understood it a bit better.
"Event? What kind of event causes the Guard to have to cancel leave?" Shining asked first.
"The kind of event someday you two will probably both work together to avoid, Kiddo and Princess. We'd been expecting trouble there for a long time ever since the Hooviets... Ah, it's a long story and I doubt it's anything more than a precaution right now. Guess we're lucky there's a foalsitter for Twilight then, I'll have to head back once you guys are back home safely. Now, I bet there's somepony knows what Bus Carriage Line we should catch..."
"Ooh, ooh! The green line!"
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Krakohzia... That was...)
Yes. The place where most ponies discovered that 'massacre' wasn't just a word in history books after all. All of it in some way the Hooviets. They'd created factions, stoked tensions, and it all boiled over. I wound up having to follow it rather closely... or as close as everypony would let me. I'm sure someone else can talk about events there better than I.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): We've already spoken to... an expert on events there.)
"So, um, what is your homework anyway, Shining?"
Twilight had happily retreated to her room with all her new books, leaving her BBBFF in 'peace' to do his homework. And I figured maybe I could help out...
"Well, I've got to read a book called 'The Defence of Derper's Drift', and I'm also meant to do a multiple-choice quiz for history, the invasion of Dalmasca... And I was meant to read through a Dangerous Animals and Monsters guide to prepare for a test."
"Yeesh, they work you pretty hard."
"Well, the Academy tries to get students to college-level before it starts training them as officers, so it kinda crams a lot in."
"I thought all the etiquette, history, magical training, and legal stuff I have to learn when I'm tutored was heavy," I said, looking over some of Shining's pile of textbooks and manuals.
"I try to revise if I can, really. I would let Twilight try help me but, some of these history books and things don't pull punches..."
I looked at the introduction of a history book on the Griffin Wars. Even knowing now the truth about why they started, back then the fact it opened with 'they were some of the bloodiest and most violent conflicts on historical record' kind of proved Shining's point.
It was somewhat ironic that we'd made peace with the griffins (or tolerance with some of the more traditionalist nations) but in modern times the bigger threat came from the Deer and the biggest threat from them came from a Pony/Deer hybrid who was more bloodthirsty than any Griffin ever had been. Predators had become allies, and fellow herbivores had became the biggest threat to global stability around. The nastiness the Griffin Wars included reminded me to be thankful the Griffins are mostly peaceful now.
"So, uh, what's that defence of derper's drift book like?" I asked, putting the history book down.
"Well, it's a tactical thing. The narrator dreams of a battle and he does things differently each time, making big and small mistakes he learns from. Bit outdated at points though. We're meant to be trying to find some of the things in it that are outdated and figure out at least five ways modern thinking would alter it," He replied.
"So not really anything all that fun then."
"Well, the tutor wanted us to try figure out how to react like the narrator to some absurd changes to the scenario. We all drew straws to figure out what scenario we'd use. I got 'attack by a horde of robots' for mine."
"Not as such, they're meant to be like silver pony-skeletons left behind by an ancient race. One of my buddies got 'Attack by Dracozilla.' Commander Boreale is kind of... eccentric. "
"Yeah, uh, I've had my share of ... eccentric tutors."
One of them was large, white, rose the sun and at the time the moon. Auntie encourages the description, by the way. She says it's quite accurate.
He ran past a few ideas with me since I offered to lend a hoof, and had soon finished. He then noticed something.
"...Where's the book on the dangerous animals?"
I had a horrible thought.
"Um, how detailed is that book?"
"Pretty detailed, wh... Twiley!"
We rushed to her room, finding the offending book: Smarty Pants was sitting on top of a pile of other books carefully pinning it down, and Twilight...
"Twilight, what are you doing?" I asked.
"The munsters can't get me while I read now!" She said happily.
She'd built a little fort out of books. It was kind of adorable... even more so when she looked panicked as Shining began to try to get his book back.
"No, BBBFF, that book is where the munsters are!"
"It's okay, Twiley, I'm going to be a Guardspony, I can deal with them," He said gently.
"Positive. In fact, Miss Smartypants is actually a Guardspony you know. She already took care of the mon.. munsters, so you don't really need to have all those books around you."
"...The book fort is kind of adorable though," I commented quietly.
"Well, true, but... it's not exactly proper book care is it?"
That was more or less it, and more or less the sort of things that happened when I foalsat Twilight. I'm glad me and Twilight became friends through it almost every day... and I still find book forts adorable.
What was in the book that scared her so much? Ironically enough, a Cockatrice. The mascot of the team that had robbed us that same day. Fate has a strange sense of humour I guess.
Huh, you know, talking about Twiley just kind of reminds me how much I miss her and everypony back home at times. But I suppose I'm doing an important task for Equestria... and besides, we're heading home for a few days when we finish in Zebrafrica.
(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): And ya still got friends like Shining, the hoofmaidens, and the guards with ya!)
True. Still, I'll be happy to see them all again for a little while. I've never been to Ponyville so maybe I'll try heading there...