A Taste of the Good Life

Main Course is a successful chef and restaurant owner. Or he was, anyway, until a fire tore up his life's work and left him adrift. When he visits his sister in the rural backwater town of Ponyville, he discovers an abandoned building that's perfect for a quick fix-up so he can flip it for a profit. But the building comes with an unforeseen tenant, and when he lets her stick around he discovers that maybe, just maybe, there's something out there more important than wealth and fame.

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13. Happy Birthdays

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS

“Rainbow Dash! Glad you could make it!”

Scootaloo poked her head out of the kitchen as she heard Main Course’s words, and trotted over to greet the first guest to arrive as well. Main Course kept a close eye on her as she stepped gingerly across the room, making sure she didn’t trip over the too-large apron she’d borrowed from him. Even tied as tightly as he’d been able to make it, it still wrapped nearly around her entire body and draped over the base of her tail. “Heya, squirt. Happy birthday!” said Rainbow Dash.

Scootaloo gave her a hug. “Thanks for coming, Rainbow.”

“Think I’d pass up a free meal? No way, kiddo,” she said, returning the hug. “I saw Applejack and Apple Bloom on their way to Rarity’s a few minutes ago, so I bet they’ll be here any second too.”

“Ooh, I better put out the appetizer stuff, then,” said Scootaloo. She turned and ran back for the kitchen.

“Remember to wash your hooves again!” Main Course called after her.

The door opened again, and sure enough the others were there, as well as Ebby following some distance behind them. “Hello, Main. Thank you so much for the invitation,” said Rarity.

“Ah brought some cider from our last batch. Wouldn’t be neighborly to come empty hooved,” said Applejack.

“Oh, you didn’t have to do that, Applejack,” said Main Course.

“Ignore him, AJ,” said Rainbow Dash. She was practically salivating with anticipation. “Please tell me it’s the good stuff, and not just the watered down kind.”

“Dash, we got fillies here who’ll be drinking it with us,” answered Applejack with a disapproving frown. Then she gave Rainbow Dash a sly wink. “I bet a few bottles of the stuff that’s got a bit of kick to it slipped in by accident, though. I’ll split one with you.”

“Yesssss!” declared Dash, pumping her hoof in the air. “You’re the best, Jackie.” Applejack began unloading bottles from her saddlebags, checking labels and leaving a few conspicuously off to one side as Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle looked around. When Scootaloo appeared pushing a large cart of appetizer fare out into the dining room, Main Course took over for her so she could greet the fillies herself. He waved to Ebby as she walked in, and she smiled at him before hanging up her own saddlebags as well.

“Happy birthday!” Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle said in unison.

“Thanks,” replied Scootaloo. “I know the big party isn’t until tomorrow, but I’m glad you could come to both.”

“Did you get any cool presents?” asked Sweetie Belle. “Rarity said I had to leave ours at home so we could give it to you with the others.”

“Dad said I had to do presents after dinner, but Aunt Silver Scroll came by and gave me hers earlier. Check it out!” Scootaloo ran into the kitchen and returned a moment later with a carved piece of wood. She took a deep breath, and blew into it as hard as she could. A blast of sound like the whistle of a train filled the room for several seconds.

“Whooooooooa,” said Apple Bloom. “That’s loud!”

“Will Silver Scroll be joining us tonight, Main?” asked Rarity with a hint of a manic twitch in her eye.

“She had a meeting she couldn’t get out of,” explained Main Course. That was fine with him, though. It gave him more time to plan out the slow, painful demise he’d be putting her through the next time he saw her, after all.

Main unloaded the cart onto the buffet table where Ebby was chatting with Rarity as she sipped her cider. “Thank you again for finishing the alterations so quickly, Rarity. Your work is amazing.” He took a moment to examine what she was wearing, a red dress that sparkled as she moved around and tiny little gems woven into the fabric itself caught the light. Something about her appearance seemed off, but he couldn’t put a hoof on it.

Rarity smiled, pleased with the compliment. “It was no trouble at all, dear. I know how you feel about being...” she glanced over at Main Course for just an instant, “...well covered. Anything to help a mare look her best.”

Main Course realized what it was that he found odd about Ebby; she wasn’t wearing the pendant with the orange gemstone he was used to seeing her with. Before he could ask her where it was, Applejack and Rainbow Dash came over carrying their drinks. They placed their cups down and gave a low whistle. “Whoa, nice spread,” said Rainbow. “Scootaloo made all this?”

He couldn’t help but beam with pride as he surveyed what she’d made. Grilled vegetable kebabs with a little bowl of peanut sauce for dipping. A loaf of garlic bread still warm from the oven. “What’re those?” asked Applejack, pointing a hoof at a plate on the edge of the table.

“Fried jalapenos,” answered Main Course. While he’d been happy to let Scootaloo do almost all of the preparation work, he’d drawn the line at letting her use the fryer herself. Grudgingly, she had eventually given in and let him assist her with that one step. “Careful. They have a lot of kick.”

Rainbow Dash nudged Applejack’s side. “Hey. Bet I can handle more of them than you can.”

Applejack grinned. “You? Ha! I bet I can eat twice as many of ‘em and not even break a sweat.”

“No, really,” said Main Course, “they’re quite spicy.”

The mares ignored him. “Rarity, you want in on this? It’ll be fun,” said Rainbow Dash.

“I think not,” said Rarity. “I happen to pride myself on a refined palate, and I see no reason to sully it for some silly competition.”

“Ah, I knew you’d be lame about it. What about you Ebby? Come on, I’ll even tell Scootaloo that you were cool enough to try to keep up with me.”

Ebby’s ears perked up at the offer. She thought it over for a moment, then put her own cup down next to the others. “Sure, why not?”

“Ugh. Really, Ebony?” asked Rarity. “Well, it seem Main Course and I are the only sane ponies here, but I will watch you realize what foals you’re making of yourselves.” She reached across the table and took one of the kebabs, daintily dipping it into the sauce before hovering it over a small cocktail napkin.

“Alright, load us up three plates, Dash,” said Applejack. “Ebby, here’s the rules. We’ll each pop ‘em in at the same time. You gotta chew ‘em up and swallow for it to count. First pony to grab their drink or spit one out loses. Oh, and if you puke ‘em up before the end of the contest you’re disqualified.”

“What an appetizing mental image,” said Rarity. “Why am I friends with any of you, again?”

Rainbow Dash put a plate with a little pile of the fried peppers in front of each of them. “Ready? Alright, round one, go.”

All three mares picked up one of the hors d'oeuvres and tossed it into their mouth. Ebby’s face flushed as the fried crust broke open and the juices hit her tongue. She coughed, but choked it down. “You weren’t kidding.”

“Careful. It builds,” said Main. Though Applejack and Rainbow Dash had gone red in the face as well, they stuck out their tongues at one another to prove that they’d swallowed.

“Piece of cake,” said Rainbow Dash, but her cocky smile wasn’t quite as broad as before. “Ready for the next one, or are you quitting already?”

“Heck, no. You?” asked Applejack. She removed her hat and started to fan herself with it.

“You wish. Let’s do it.”

A second pepper followed the first, then a third, then a fourth. None of the mares seemed to be doing very well. “You... ready... to give up... yet?” panted Applejack.

“Never... felt... better,” replied Rainbow Dash.

They all picked up their fifth pepper, as Rarity shook her head at the display.

“Go Applejack! You can do it!” cheered Apple Bloom from where she and Sweetie Belle had come over to watch the impromptu competition. The three mares bit down on the peppers, and a little rivulet of juice ran down Rainbow Dash’s chin.

Applejack, it seemed, had reached her limit. With a final, sputtering cough she spit the half-chewed pepper back out onto her plate and reached over to grab her drink. She guzzled the entire glass in one chug, before belching and slamming a hoof down on the table. “Consarn it!”

“Ha! Yes! I win!” declared a triumphant Rainbow Dash, until a hoof tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around to see Ebby standing there sticking her tongue out.

“Aren’t you forgetting somepony?” she asked. Her confident tone was undermined by the worrying gurgle that her stomach gave off.

Rainbow Dash gave an appreciative whistle. “You’re tougher than you look, I’ll give you that. But I don’t lose.”

Ebby winced, but picked up a sixth pepper with a shaky hoof. “If you’re talking you aren’t chewing.”

Rainbow Dash grinned and picked up a pepper of her own. At some unspoken signal they both put them into their mouths and bit. Ebby made a strange, high pitched whining sound as she contorted her face. Tears ran down her cheeks. Then her eyes opened wide and, deciding she couldn’t take any more, she spat the pepper out and started to hack and cough. She grabbed one of the other cups and drank it just as quickly as Applejack had.

“Whoo! I’m the champion!” declared Rainbow Dash. “Who’s the best? I’m the best. Who’s number one? I’m—” she suddenly snapped her mouth shut and doubled over clutching her stomach. “Uh, where’s your bathroom?”

Applejack rolled her eyes. “Come quick. And try not to get anything on me while I’m holding your mane out of your face.” She whisked Rainbow Dash away towards the restroom.

“Ebby? Are you alright?” She was still hacking and coughing, and it was beginning to sound worse instead of better. She looked up at him with desperate eyes and shook her head before running off, still coughing, towards the other room.

“You’d best go and check on her,” said Rarity as she herded the two curious fillies away.

“Ebby?” asked Main Course as he stuck his head inside the door to the small secondary dining room she’d run through a moment ago. She was standing in the far corner, her back rising and falling like she was hyperventilating.

“Stupid. I’m so stupid,” she muttered without turning around.

“Come on, it was just a dumb contest. There’s no reason to be upset. Scootaloo will probably be impressed that—”

“Not that,” said Ebby. “I drank out of the wrong cup, Main. I must have grabbed one of theirs without realizing. It was the hard cider, I can taste it.” She started to beat her forehead against the wall. “Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. My last chance. I can’t believe I blew my last chance, and like that?”

“Hey. Hey!” said Main Course. He walked over to her and grabbed her cheeks in his hooves. “It was an accident, and it wasn’t like it was that much. One cup of cider isn’t going to get you drunk.”

“That’s how it starts, though,” she replied, and Main could see the panic growing in her eyes. “You said it yourself, remember? I can’t have ‘just one.’ That’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that it feels really, really good.”

“Ebby, you drank it thirty seconds ago. It’s all in your head, okay? You’re stronger than this. You’re gonna get through the rest of this dinner just fine.”

“I’m not strong. I’m weak. I’m a horrible, weak pony. I’ll never be strong enough.”

“That’s just not true,” said Main Course. Ebby tried to turn her face away, but Main held it firmly in place. “You are one of the strongest ponies I know. Your love for your filly? That’s even stronger. She wants you here, Ebby! You’ve come so far already, don’t you dare even think about throwing it away. Now say it.” Ebby muttered under her breath. “Louder. I want you to hear yourself say it, and I want you to believe it.”

“I’m not thirsty,” she said, barely above a whisper.

“That’s right. Now again.”

“I’m not thirsty,” she repeated, in a normal speaking voice this time. She looked him dead on and gave a slow nod. “I’m. Not. Thirsty.”

Main Course pulled her into a hug. “You’re gonna be okay, Ebby. Promise me you’re gonna be okay.”

“I promise,” she said as she leaned into the hug. “Thank you, Main. For a second there I thought I was going to lose it, but I’ll be okay. How can I not be, with you looking out for me?”

“Well, I’m not going anywhere,” said Main Course. He felt the tension in his shoulders seep away.

“Why not?” asked Ebby. She pulled back from him. “Really, Main Course, why not? Your life would be so much easier if you hated me. One word from you to Scootaloo and she’d gladly cut me out of her life forever. Why are you taking such a crazy risk by being so good to me when I don’t deserve it?”

Main Course smiled at her and ran a hoof through her dark mane. “Because I’m a selfish jerk, you make me happy, and love makes ponies a little bit crazy.”

“Main, don’t—”

“I’m sick of pretending that I’m not, Ebby. I don’t want to keep lying to myself when the truth is so obvious.”

Tears welled up in her eyes. “I love you too. Celestia preserve me, I know I shouldn’t but I love you too. If Scootaloo decides never to see me again after tonight, I’m glad that I at least told you that.”

They both stood up to return to the party, but then froze when they saw a third pony standing in the doorway watching them.

Main Course recovered first. “Geez, Rarity. Don’t sneak up on ponies like that. For a second there I thought you were Scootaloo.”

Rarity grinned. “I was enjoying the show too much to interrupt. I do bring a message, though. Dinner is served.”

Ebby chuckled. “Can you imagine if she’d stumbled in right then? She would have freaked out.”

“Rarity, if you could not mention this...”

“Your secret is safe with me,” promised Rarity. “Now hurry before the stew begins to grow cold.”

Main Course suppressed a groan. He’d suggested dozens upon dozens of dishes for an entree, but Scootaloo had fixated on one right from the start. A carrot goulash that Main Course had no idea how to make. He’d tried playing with it all sort of different ways, but he’d never gotten it to taste good. Everything else Scootaloo had made had come out so well, and Main Course just hoped she wouldn’t be disappointed if this didn’t.

The eight ponies sat down around the table, a big pot sitting in the middle with a bowl set at each place. Scootaloo wiped her hooves on the front of the apron she was still wearing and settled into her seat with a tired but happy grin on her face from the hours she’d spent in the kitchen. Rarity took it upon herself to ladle out the portions and pass them around, first to Scootaloo and the other Crusaders, then Applejack, a not-so-healthy-looking Rainbow Dash, Main Course, Ebby, and finally herself.

Seven of the ponies started eating right away, but Ebby just stared down at the goulash in front of her. “Scootaloo, I can’t believe you even remembered this.”

Main Course looked between them, confused. He took a bite, and sure enough the stew was just... not that good. The noodles were practically disintegrating, the carrot chunks were still much too firm, and the paprika was overpowering. “Have you made this before, Scootaloo?”

Scootaloo shook her head. “No, but Uncle Snare Drum used to make it for us all the time when my father was out of town and he came over.”

Ebby slowly lowered her spoon and rested it on the plate, squeezing her eyes shut while the others watched. Then she took a deep breath and scooped up a big bite of it.

“Sorry it isn’t very good,” said Scootaloo. “I don’t know if I used a different kind of broth, or he knew a better recipe—”

“It’s absolutely perfect,” said Ebby. “It’s what I ordered the night that we...” she blushed. “Well, it was a dinner that he told me reminded him of the two of us.”

“Those were the nights I felt like I had a family,” said Scootaloo softly. “I wanted to see if it would work for my new family too.”

“Well I think you pulled it off,” said Main Course. “We’ll practice it together until it’s perfect. Maybe it won’t be exactly the same as it was back then, but it’ll be special in its own way.”

“It’s, umm...” said Sweetie Belle, grimacing as she swallowed. “I really like the pattern on the bowls?”

Applejack and Rarity made a valiant effort, and their bowls ended up half empty before they declared themselves full. Rainbow Dash managed almost three quarters of hers before she gave up, citing the lingering aftereffects of the jalapeno eating contest from earlier.

Ebby and Main Course, though, ate every single bite.

Ebby swallowed the last spoonful of the stew and let her spoon fall into the now empty bowl. “I guess it’s about time for birthday presents, then,” she said as she got up from the table and went to retrieve her gift from her saddlebags. When she returned she was carrying a little jewelry box with a ribbon wrapped around it, tied into a bow at the top. She knelt down on the floor next to Scootaloo’s seat and placed it on the table in front of her. “Happy birthday, sweetheart.”

Scootaloo pulled the end of the ribbon, untying it with a confused look on her face. She opened the box, and only grew more puzzled when she saw what was inside. “This looks like your pendant,” she said as she lifted the orange stone up in front of her face, letting it dangle gently on its silver chain.

“That’s because it is my pendant, Scootaloo. Only now it’s yours,” said Ebby with a little smile.

“But you wear this all the time. Why are you giving it to me?”

Ebby didn’t answer for a long moment. “Scootaloo, have I ever told you where I got this? My father gave it to my mother on the day I was born, and she passed it on to me the day you were. I wear it so much because I liked having a little piece of you close to my heart.” She leaned forward and nuzzled Scootaloo’s cheek, and Scootaloo didn’t pull away. “It might be a little early, but I hope someday you’ll be a mother too. You... might have decided by then that you don’t want me around to meet my grandfoals, so I needed to give it to you now.”

“But I... I don’t... I can’t,” stammered Scootaloo, holding the pendant out towards Ebby. Rather than taking it back, Ebby gently took Scootaloo’s other foreleg and placed her hooves together around it.

“Even if you don’t want to wear it, please keep it somewhere safe. It’s very precious to me.” Scootaloo stared down at the piece of jewelry without saying anything.

“Would you—” her voice cracked and she had to stop and collect herself. “Would you help me put it on?”

“Of course,” said Ebby. Her horn glowed as her magic undid the clasp and she guided both ends of the chain around Scootaloo’s neck with her hooves. There was a little click as they came together again, and Ebby released her grip. She rested her hooves on Scootaloo’s shoulders and let the pendant hang free. It gently swung from side to side before coming to rest near a faded pink stain on the white cloth of the apron over her chest.

Scootaloo looked at it, and then her whole body began to tremble. The first little sob cracked the dam, and a torrent of tears followed after. Scootaloo nearly launched herself off the chair into Ebby’s waiting forelegs, the orange stone of the pendant pressing into both of their chests. She clung to her as the sobs assaulted her body and the other ponies seated at the table looked on quietly. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom had found their way close to their sisters’ sides. “Please be real,” Scootaloo finally whimpered when her sobbing had gotten under control.

“Real? What do you mean?” asked Ebby.

“Please be the real Mom,” said Scootaloo. “We came back from the trip and Uncle Snare Drum was gone and then it was like you were gone too. You were gone but there was... it was like there was this other mare who looked like you but she was always angry and sad and drunk, and I hated her. I hated her so much. I had to get stronger and learn to do everything on my own because there wasn’t anypony to help me. I got really good at it, but I don’t want to anymore. I just want my Mommy back.” She broke down into sobs again, rocking herself back and forth against Ebby’s chest. “I want my Mommy.”

For a long time they sat there like that, with Ebby stroking Scootaloo’s mane as she just repeated the last phrase over and over again. Finally she trailed off, and Ebby bent down and kissed the top of her head. “I’m here, and I always will be. I promise.” She looked over to Main Course, and through her tears gave him the happiest smile he’d ever seen on another pony.

The spell of the moment broke, and Main Course got up from his own chair to walk around to them. When he gently placed his own hoof on Scootaloo’s back, she immediately spun around and wrapped a foreleg around his neck, pulling his face against her and Ebby’s side with surprising strength. Once the initial surprise wore off, he shifted positions so he could get a foreleg around each of them. Ebby leaned her head against him as they held Scootaloo, still swaddled in the oversized apron, between them.

“Aww!” said Apple Bloom. She’d climbed into Applejack’s lap and snuggled up in a hug of her own.

“Do you think this means Scoots’ mom and dad will stop pretending they aren’t dating now?” Sweetie Belle asked her. She had edged over even closer to Rarity and was holding her hoof.

“Wait, what?” asked Main Course.

“I’m not stupid, Dad,” muttered Scootaloo from below. She sniffled and looked up. “Mom, I... I didn’t get you anything for your birthday. I’m sorry.”

“Sorry?” repeated Ebby, squeezing her a little tighter. “Scootaloo, this is the greatest birthday present I’ve ever gotten.”

“I’m not sure I can top this, but I got you something too, Scootaloo,” said Main Course. He quickly trotted into the kitchen and pulled the gift from where it had been hidden atop a high shelf, bringing it back to where Scootaloo was still seated in her mother’s lap.

Scootaloo prodded the bundle experimentally, and it flexed under her touch. “It feels soft, what is it?” she asked.

“Open it and find out,” said Main Course. Scootaloo tore the paper off, and held up a clean new chef’s hat and apron. “You look a little silly wearing one of mine. These should be more your size.”

Scootaloo’s eyes lit up. “My very own? Thank you, Daddy!” She reached behind her and groped around for the strap on her back holding up the one she was already wearing, and after a few tries managed to untie it and let it fall to the floor.

Apple Bloom began to shriek.

“Apple Bloom? What in Equestria’s gotten into you?” asked Applejack, covering her ears. Instead of answering, Apple Bloom met Sweetie Belle’s questioning look and pointed at Scootaloo. Sweetie Belle’s eyes lit up and she started shrieking too.

“What’s the matter? Is something...” began Main Course.

He trailed off when he spotted the little picture of a black pot over a white apron that had appeared on Scootaloo’s flank.

“Is that...” started Ebby before she trailed off too.

“My mark! I got my cutie mark! Mom, Dad, look!”

Scootaloo jumped up and started running around in little circles trying to get a better view of it, before she was dogpiled by the other Crusaders. All three of them started talking over one another at once, and Main Course couldn’t make heads or tails of any of it.

“That’s awesome, Scoots,” said Rainbow Dash, flying over to give her a hug too.

Scootaloo’s smile faded a bit. “It’s okay that it isn’t in flying or something like yours is, right?”

“Are you kidding? It’s better than fine. It means that you’ll be an awesome cook and an awesome flyer someday. Nopony who I’m teaching is ever gonna be less than double-awesome,” promised Rainbow Dash.

Main Course placed a foreleg over Ebby’s back as they sat there watching Scootaloo show off to all the ponies gathered around her. Then she looked up at them with a huge grin.

“Happy birthday, Scootaloo.”

-------------------------------------

Scootaloo panted for breath as she ran into the kitchen, the strings of her apron trailing behind her. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to sleep so late,” she said as she stopped to tie the garment, covered in a collage of stubborn old stains, over her back with a few quick, well-practiced motions.

Main Course just chuckled. “Relax, Scootaloo. It’s your birthday. I think it’s fine for you to sleep in a little bit.”

“Do you need help prepping anything for lunch?” she asked, glancing over the pans on the stovetop.

“Hang on. Just stop for a second and let me look at you.” He put a hoof on his daughter’s shoulder to keep her steady on the ground. If he didn’t she’d be flitting through the air around the kitchen before he could really take stock of her. What a difference the last year had made. He still remembered the young filly he’d discovered that night, eating crackers in a dark, drafty old loft. He was starting to wonder how much longer he’d even be able to call her a filly. “Who gave you permission to grow up, young lady?”

“Daaaad, stop embarrassing me,” she whined with a blush. “Mom, make him quit it.”

“Sorry, hon,” said Ebby from the other side of the kitchen. She was slowly and methodically slicing vegetables into large chunks. She walked over and gave Scootaloo a peck on the cheek. “Happy birthday.”

“You too,” replied Scootaloo. Then her attention snapped back to the stove and the onions sizzling away. “Are those for the french onion soup?”

“They are,” answered Main Course, glancing around the countertop. “Have you seen my corkscrew?”

“No need,” said Ebby. Her horn glowed and magic wrapped around the bottle of red wine sitting on the nearby table, popping the cork out. It floated past them until it hovered over the deep pan, and then upended itself as the wine poured into the onion mix with an angry hiss of escaping steam. Ebby smiled as Main Course darted his head in while she was focusing and stole a kiss.

“Perfect,” he said, and returned to stirring. The three ponies watched as the heat burned the alcohol away, leaving the translucent onion sporting a pink tinge as the only evidence it had ever been there at all.

Their attention was pulled away by a loud knocking on the front door. “I’ll get it,” said Scootaloo, trotting out through the main dining area. When she returned a minute later, there were two other mares in tow. “Dad, Grace and Aunt Silver are here.”

“Hey Main,” said Grace, giving him a quick hug as he wiped his hooves off on a dishtowel. “Thought we’d get this over with before you had to open.”

“I appreciate it. Silver, you have all the paperwork?” he asked.

“Sure do,” said Silver Scroll. She pulled a sheaf of papers from her saddlebags and laid them out over a clean patch of counter. Main took the quill she offered him. “Just sign here... and here... and here... and one more right here,” she said, as he scribbled down his name in each spot. “There we go! That was pretty painless, right? You have now been officially demoted to silent partner of the Manehattan Knoll.

“So no complaining about what we put on the menu,” said Grace with a grin.

“Don’t tell me the new guy’s changing my menu already,” said Main Course.

“It’s our menu, not yours, thanks very much. Besides, he’s got some really cool new ideas.”

“Does he have any idea what he’s getting into? I would have thought you’d want somepony with a little more experience to help you.”

Grace shrugged. “That’s my problem now. He was the best student I taught at the academy, and a pretty hard worker. I’m willing to take a chance on him.” She looked over at Ebby, and grinned. “My, aren’t you here early for somepony who supposedly lives across town. Every time I come down here I half expect you two have picked a date to go ahead and make it official.”

“Umm... actually...” said Main Course. He glanced at Ebby and raised an eyebrow. She blushed, but then gave him a little nod. “...how clear is your schedule around midsummer?”

Grace frowned. “That’s barely two months away. Nowhere near enough time to plan a wedding.”

“It’s just that, well, depending on how a doctor’s appointment the day after tomorrow goes we might be in a bit of a hurry,” said Main Course.

Silver Scroll looked at him, confused, until a huge grin began to slowly spread across her face. “No way,” she said.

“We don’t know anything for sure,” said Ebby, “but... yeah. I’m almost positive.”

“Omigosh, Main! That’s amazing!” Grace ran over and gave him a hug, while Silver did the same to Ebby.

Scootaloo looked back and forth between the four happy ponies. “What? What’s going on?” she asked.

Ebby returned Silver’s hug, then trotted over to Main Course. “Let’s tell her together,” she said, nuzzling his cheek.

“Scootaloo,” said Main Course. He stopped and closed his eyes. For the last week, he’d been too nervous to even say it out loud. It wasn’t real yet, in a way. That was about to change. “You’re going to be a big sister soon.”

 

 

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