Conversations in a Canterlot Café

Frothy Brew is the barista in the Canterlot café owned by himself, his wife, and his daughter. Years of hard work had made the café a successful and modestly popular place to stop and get a drink or a snack. Nothing prepared him though for it to become a hub of interaction with the undisguised changelings that were being seen more often in the streets of Canterlot. Can he put aside his feelings for the species though after witnessing the most horrifying aspect of the invasion years ago?
This story runs concurrently with the latter part of my Change of Life story. While reading that and Prelude To Change is not necessary, they do give valuable background that is glossed over in "Conversations". Cover art and story illustrations are all done by Foxenawolf.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/192085/conversations-in-a-canterlot-caf

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8. Chapter 8: Aftermath

Frothy did not usually buy a newspaper because the vast majority of news was readily spread by word of mouth of the multitude of customers that came through his doors every day. This morning he made an exception to that practice. After all, it was not often that you were part of the lead story. The Canterlot Chronicle’s banner headline read:

PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE ATTACKED!

It was a bit sensationalist, and Frothy had to shake his head over the slightly misleading headline, but he had been convinced by the others that a shock story had more impact. He continued to read the article that had a picture of a rather disheveled Twilight accompanying it. The carefully posed photo highlighted the cuts she had received, the blood on her fur not yet cleaned off.

 

 

The article read:

“Last night, Princess Twilight Sparkle and several citizens meeting with her at the True Brew Café, were the victims of an unprovoked attack by an unknown perpetrator(s). Injuries ranging from life-threatening to bloody gashes were inflicted on most of those present for informal discussion of changeling-pony relations and community awareness.”

Frothy had to admire the way the writer had implied that Twilight had been more seriously injured than she had been, while still sticking to the truth. Hopefully whoever had done the deed would be shocked by what he or she had actually done. At the very least, ponies would think twice about taking violent action against changelings and their supporters. When innocent bystanders such as their beloved princesses were victims, community outrage would be sure to turn against them. Or at least he hoped that would be the case. Frothy had to admit that he had been very pigheaded in his own prejudice until recently. He continued reading:

“Recent tensions in the Canterlot community came to a head when a sizable piece of masonry from an adjacent construction site was hurled through the window of the café, sending shards of glass flying into the midst of the gathering. The stone had been inscribed with the words - ‘NO MORE CHANGELINGS’ - an obvious reference to the growing popularity of the café as a haven for Canterlot’s changeling citizens who have been facing much discrimination from many other merchants.”

“Hmm, the writer was quick to point out that as citizens, changelings have been getting short-changed lately,” Frothy mused aloud. “I wonder if that will prick any consciences?”

He was about to read more when a familiar voice spoke up behind him.

“My goodness, Frothy, what happened to your shop?”

Frothy turned to face Fancy Cuts, the local mane stylist. She had an odd expression on her face - somewhat concerned, but hardly as shocked as he thought she should be. “We had a nasty bit of vandalism by some racist pony last night, and there were several people injured.”

“Oh dear, I hope they weren’t hurt too badly?” Fancy Cuts said.

“Judge for yourself,” Frothy replied. “It’s front page news.”

Frothy held up the newspaper for her to see. Fancy’s eyes widened at seeing Twilight’s picture and she blanched after reading the headline and first paragraphs.

“Th-this is t-terrible!” she stuttered. “I… I have to go… um… t-tell the others. Th-the other shop k-keepers.”

Fancy Cuts hastened away, while Frothy cast a suspicious eye on her. Fancy Cuts’ stutter only manifested when she was nervous. A guilty conscience perhaps?

Frothy continued walking back to the café, but paused at the neighboring shop to have a look at the progress of the renovations.

“Morning, Frothy!” boomed the voice of the forepony, a sturdy earth pony whom Frothy knew to actually be a Red Changeling. The strongly built Reds did not all choose to serve in the Guard, and a strong physique was useful in the building trade.

“Good morning, Sharp Angle. Have you heard the news?”

“If yer talkin’ about last night’s unscheduled remodelin’ of yer shopfront, yeah, we all have. Mighty bad stuff brewin’, I reckon. No pun intended.”

“You haven’t happened to overhear anything suspicious lately?” Frothy asked.

“Who, me? A simple earth pony like me don’t hear nothin,” he loudly replied, then he lowered his voice and added conspiratorially, “But my comrades have been hearing rumors of a campaign being organised against us.”

Frothy nodded and said, “Well, if you hear anything more definite, let Peach know, please.”

“Miss Peach? Why not you?” Sharp Angle replied with surprise on his face.

“I’m just a simple café owner, Sharp. Last night’s events made me realize that while I am sympathetic to the changeling cause, I’m not an activist. My daughter, on the other hoof, is very much the gung-ho type, ready to commit herself heart and soul to whatever it takes to champion changeling rights. Despite the threat made last night though, I’ll continue to host any meetings they want to hold. I can’t see it making any difference at this point because I reckon I’ve been indelibly marked as a sympathizer, and I won’t be a hypocrite and start turning away changelings.”

“No worries, Frothy. We appreciate what ya do. The guys’ll have the damage fixed soon – no charge.”

“That’s generous of you. Thanks!”

“Don’t mention it. Gotta do somethin’ for all them free coffees ya give us,” the forepony replied with a broad wink.

Frothy grinned, taking the hint and heading off to the shop to start brewing.

* * *

Seeing Princess Twilight Sparkle again so soon came as a big surprise to Frothy, but there she was walking through the front door like any regular customer. She was sporting a lot of bandages, and she drew gasps of dismay from the various customers that were there at that time. Twilight ignored them all though, and she approached the counter, greeting Frothy with a smile.

“Good morning, Frothy. I’d like a cappuccino and an apple danish, please.”

“Coming right up, Your Highness!” Then in a much quieter voice, he asked, “What happened? I thought you weren’t that badly injured?”

Twilight gave him a surreptitious wink and replied softly, “I had the doctor bandage every trivial cut just to make things look worse than they are. It’s an extension of what we did for the newspaper.”

“So that’s why you’re out here in public – so everypony can get an eyeful?”

“Exactly! I want ponies to think twice about the consequences of violent action. Dealing with the prejudice and bigotry will be hard enough without adding that to the mixture.”

“Sounds like a good idea,” Frothy replied, and then in his normal voice added, “I hope you enjoy your coffee, Your Highness.”

“Thank you, Mister Brew.”

Twilight took her cappuccino and danish to a free table, and started drinking. It was not long though before a customer came over and politely asked to talk to her. Then a second joined them, quickly followed by a third. Before long, the princess was basically holding court in her corner of the café. Frothy knew that before long, everything that was said there would soon be disseminating throughout the neighborhood, and not long after that, through the rest of Canterlot. Gossip was certainly a powerful tool to fill in the gaps that newspapers could not reach, or did not satisfy.

Frothy mused that if Twilight continued to use the café like this, he might just have to ask for royal endorsement. He chuckled to himself as he pictured the words: “By Appointment to Their Highnesses” lettered over the café’s sign.

* * *

“I’ll be leaving as soon as Archer turns up, Dad,” Peach reminded him.

Frothy nodded. The aborted meeting was being continued tonight, but was being held at the palace instead. As Frothy had told Sharp Angle, he had no intention of being part of that meeting, but Peach was certainly fired up. “Ask him to see me before you go, please.”

“Okay,” she agreed.

Twenty minutes later, the Red Changeling arrived in his unicorn guise, and was promptly sent over to see Frothy.

“Did you want to talk to me, Frothy?” Archer asked.

“Yes, Archer. I’ve been giving you a hard time still about taking out my daughter, but you realize that I haven’t really been serious lately?”

“Yeah, I figured that out.”

“Well, let me be perfectly serious right now. Peach has chosen to get involved in championing changeling rights, but that has already proved to be potentially dangerous. You’re closest to her away from the family, and I’m relying on you to keep her safe.” Frothy poked Archer in the chest with one fore hoof. “So nothing better happen to her while she’s with you; got it?”

“Got it,” Archer replied with a nervous smile. He walked over to where Peach was waiting for him and said to her, “Your dad can be downright scary sometimes, y’know?”

Peach grinned. “What? The big, bad Royal Guard is scared of a café barista?” she teased.

“Tartarus, yeah! That’s one pony I don’t ever intend to cross. There’s nothing more dangerous than a loving parent with the courage of his convictions.”

“That’s one reason why I love him. Now come on! We don’t want to be late for the meeting.”

Frothy watched them leave, not without a twinge of concern, but convinced that they were the hope for a better future, with ponies and changelings living and working together in harmony. In a world of magic, there was none greater than that of Harmony, and those two exemplified it. He was sure that the future was in safe hooves with them.

Meanwhile though, he had a café to run, and customers to satisfy. Let his daughter fight the big battles if that was what she wished. He was content to make his small corner of the world better one latté or cappuccino at a time.

* * * * * * * * *

 
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