Pinkie had been randomly trotting around Ponyville for almost two hours, her gaze constantly checking the sky above her, looking for a cotton candy cloud, a drop of chocolate rain, something that could tell her that Discord was floating somewhere nearby. But that didn't seem to be a lucky day: she let out a deep sigh, sitting on the ground and finally lowering her look: only the sharp pain she felt on the back of her neck made her realize how long she had been inspecting the sky.
When Discord converted to the good side (as much as a Spirit of Chaos could do), she couldn't be more happy about it: she always felt like the draconequus would have been such a great partner to have fun with. Chocolate rain, balloon gardens, popcorn fields, he surely did speak her language! Moreover he was also so random and crazy, topsy-turvy just like her, whose behavior was always shrugged off with an "She's just being Pinkie Pie". And now, there was someone else being Pinkie Pie… Or being Discord… Being random just like her.
Sometimes Discord popped out of nowhere, pinching her cheek and encouraging her to join him in one of his minor, chaotic expeditions. Nothing too dangerous of course, but whenever a situation was too peaceful and harmonic, Discord's nature urged him to distort the momentarily balance, and that's why he was most often flying up and down all over the place. And sometimes, he asked Pinkie for an advice.
"You ask me to help you?" she said the first time, with a mix of excitement and disbelief "Even if I'm one of the Elements of Harmony?"
"Wasn't that the reason why you had to reform me? So Harmony and Chaos could cooperate?" Discord reminded her with a wink: he didn't need to say more, 'cause Pinkie immediately jumped on his back, and in a minute they were both floating above Ponyville.
Yes, having him back was great.
But there was a question still outstanding, one she couldn't get rid of. The one that always made her smile waver whenever Discord mentioned Fluttershy, or made her teeth clench whenever Fluttershy greeted him. She always tried to ignore it, but it kept coming back and echoing in her head, so loud that she always had to do something extremely random to keep her mind busy with something else. Once, Discord showed up during one of these moments, let out a big laugh and said: "I thought my presence was needed here, but I see it's not necessary anymore!".
Pinkie glanced one more time at the sky: no, not a single cotton candy ball. Maybe it was better getting back home. She stood up with another sigh, and slowly walked toward Ponyville, kicking up cloud of dust from the ground at every step. Gradually, the light filtering from the trees increased, as the path went out of the wood and into the city, followed by the familiar chatter echoing from every corner. Pinkie's mind was still buzzing with unsolved questions while she kept walking, her eyes still looking at the ground, moving around the streets simply following the way she routinely walked through, when she suddenly bumped into something: she startled and shook her head, raising it to meet a pair of green eyes looking down at her.
"Watch out, Pinkie!" exclaimed Applejack "I have been calling you since you were twenty feet far away"
"Oh, I-I'm sorry Applejack. I just didn't see you…" the apologize died on her lips when Pinkie realized how impossible was to not notice her friend: she was carrying a big wagon full of apples, enough to loom over the pony herself. And still, she didn't even realize she was standing just in front of her.
Applejack raised a brow: "You okay, sugarcube?"
"I'm okie dokie lokie!" Pinkie tried to reply in her most energetic tone, but what came out was just a lame attempt to sound like she was fine. She was not okie dokie lokie at all.
"Somethin' troubling ya?" asked again Applejack with an encouraging smile. Pinkie let out another sigh, the umpteenth that day.
"Just... A teeny tiny little question I can't seem to find an answer to" she admitted, looking back at the ground. Applejack looked at her, and then scratched her chin with a hoof.
"Well" she smiled then "If there's someone who has an answer to everything, it's nopony else than Twilight". Pinkie raised her head and widened her eyes: why hadn't she thought about that?! Nopony could solve a problem like Twilight Sparkle! The solution was always so close to her, and she was so lost in her misery that she didn't even realize that.
"Oh my gosh, you're right!" Pinkie bounced toward her friend and squeezed her in one of her most energetical hug "Thank you, Applejack! Thanks for solving my problem about who could be able to solve my other problem!"
"Glad I could help" said Applejack with an humble tone "Good luck with your other problem, Pinkie…" but the rest on the sentence wasn't heard, 'cause Pinkie was now galloping toward Twilights' library at top speed, eager to solve the problem that haunted her for so long.
Pinkie slammed the door without a single "hi", making the purple unicorn jump for the scare. She turned to face her friend with the most irritated frown.
"Twilight!" Pinkie bounced all around her in excitement "Please please please please! You have to help me, Twilight, I need your help!". The moment where she could have finally hear the truth was close, and she couldn't wait a single minute more: she was eager to get rid of those hateful seeds which kept infesting her mind.
"Alright Pinkie, I'll help you, just… Stop bouncing up and down" Twilight replied, trying to keep the pink pony firmly stuck to the ground. "What do you need?" she asked then, in a kinder tone.
Pinkie opened her mouth wide, then shout it close the second after. She suddenly realized how much that question could have sounded wrong to Twilight's ears. She still remembered what Twilight said when she told her about Gilda, suggesting that she, Pinkie Pie, was being a big jealous judgmental jealousy-jealousy-pants. Yet, that time she managed to prove she was right, that there was something wrong about Gilda. But this time… This time there was apparently nothing wrong with the situation. Everything was perfect. And still, she couldn't help but feel otherwise.
She did it again, she got completely carried away with her thoughts. Pinkie let her breath go, and took one more to gain some courage. "Please, Twilight" she said "Please, promise no one will know about this. Pinkie Pie Promise! No one, not even Spi-- By the way, where's Spike?" Pinkie looked around, but there was no sign of the baby dragon.
"He's helping Rarity sewing new dresses" Twilight reassured her "Come on Pinkie: what did you want to ask me?"
Pinkie looked into her friend's eyes, bit her lips and finally said: "Why didn't Celestia ask me to reform Discord?"
There. She said it. She finally gave a name to the doubt that have been her torture for the last two months. The sense of unfairness that stung her heart when Celestia put Fluttershy in charge of reforming the Spirit of Chaos.
Twilight stared at her, eyes widened in astonishment: then, she let out a little cough, lowered her look for a while, and finally let out a little embarrassed smile.
"Well, Pinkie… " her voice sounded insecure and, somehow, amused "That's because… You wouldn't have reformed him at all".
Pinkie raised and indignant brow: so, Twilight thought she couldn't handle big responsibilities. Again. She already proved her that it wasn't true, yet she kept thinking she was nothing more than a troublemaker, a random goof. That she wasn't good enough to keep an eye on Discord, no, even worse, to convince him to be their ally. She had never been so hurt in her proud until now.
"So this is your opinion? Your answer to my problem?!" she yelled "You know that I was the first one to appreciate Discord's magic! To see the good in it! I was the one who didn't want to take him down at first! But in the end I agreed with you, 'cause you are my friends!" she underlined each of the last words stomping her hoof on the ground, her voice now hysterically high-pitched "And you all thought I wasn't good enough!"
"Pinkie, that's not what I meant…" Twilight fretted, trying to calm her down, but Pinkie was too angry, too hurt by being once again underestimated by her friends, to let her justify that.
"If you only gave me a chance to prove you I could do it!" tears of anger were about to shred down, but she proudly held them back "That I could convince him to be good! But you didn't want to trust me, like you didn't trust him at first!"
"Now Pinkie, this isn't about that at all" Twilight replied, this time frowning at her reaction. Of course, Pinkie said to herself, Twilight surely thought she was "just being Pinkie Pie". As always.
"Oh, it is about that Twilight" Pinkie grinned sarcastically "It's about you not taking me seriously, not one single time!" and with these last words she turned her back at her, and walked out of the library.
"Wait!" she could hear Twilight yelling at her "Pinkie Pie!" but the door closed behind her one second later.
Pinkie didn't even turn to look back at her. Come to think she really trusted her word. But if Twilight Sparkle didn't have the answer to her problem, there was just one pony who could solve it. Pinkie let out a resolute smile: she only needed a parchment and a feather. And Spike's fire to deliver her letter.
The sun was setting, the warm, orange light playing through branches and leaves, casting dancing shadows on the ground. Pinkie was once again in the woods, where that terrible day had begun, not looking for someone this time, but hoping that nobody would find her, a parchment soaked with tears laying on the ground in front of her.
After arguing with Twilight, Pinkie ran to the Sugarcube Corner, grabbed the first sheet of paper she found and simply wrote:
Dear Princess Celestia, why didn't you ask me to reform Discord?
Then, she galloped toward the Carousel Boutique and asked Spike to send her letter to Princess Celestia. The baby dragon was so mesmerized while admiring Rarity that he blew some fire on the letter without even realizing that, and still without realizing it, he burped the reply not more than two minutes later. Finally, Pinkie grabbed her precious reply and dashed into the woods, near the lake, where she was sure no one would have bothered her while reading the letter. She could already imagine what Princess Celestia had written: that she apologized for not realizing earlier that no one could understand Discord better than Pinkie herself, because they were so alike; that she didn't see at first how appropriate she was for that role; and finally, that she never doubted of her skills, and she knew she would have handled such a responsibility just fine.
She was licking her lips while removing the royal seal, slowly unrolling the parchment, ready to receive the apologizes she deserved. But what she read weren't apologizes, not even the praises she was looking for. The only thing written on the parchment was:
Don't you already know it?
Pinkie had been turning the letter up and down, front and back, looking for any other possible word, but the rest of the parchment was completely blank. She stared at the letter with a confused, shocked expression, until the answer finally struck her mind, and she understood what that sentence meant: Princess Celestia's reply was exactly the same one Twilight gave her that morning, and there was no need to explain it further. They thought she wouldn't have been able to reform Discord. Princess Celestia expected her to fail, and didn't want to take a risk by giving her a chance. No, she chose Fluttershy instead; she thought Fluttershy was worth her trust, and the honor to reform the Spirit of Chaos. Fluttershy, not Pinkie.
She had spent the last two hours fixing the letter, tears running down her cheeks and plunging into the paper, ashamed of her arrogance and harshness toward Twilight and toward the Princess. She had really believed she was capable of reforming Discord, and that early confidence now tasted like a ridiculous claim she wasn't allowed to have: and because of that, she haven't only argued with one of her best friends, she even made a fool out of herself in front of the Ruler of Equestria. She rolled the parchment into a ball and threw it into the lake: maybe the other ponies were right, she thought as her fluffy mane slowly turned into a sleek one, maybe she was really "just being Pinkie Pie".
A little thunder rumbled above her head, and little drops started raining upon her. She stood up with a groan, and slowly walked toward the city, grieved by all the disappointments of that day. Another thunder, and the rain intensified, the drops grew thicker, making her coat sticky and wet: Pinkie tried to shake her mane to get rid of the water, but after a weak swing the mane slapped into her face, stealing her a groan. It was then when she felt a sweet, familiar taste on her lips: she licked them once, then twice, then looked all around to see that the trees around her were still dry, that the sun was still lighting up the wood. She swallowed, suddenly realizing what was going on, and slowly raised her eyes up to the sky.
"Nice manecut, Pinkie Pie, though I prefer you with your natural one" smiled Discord, resting on a small cotton candy cloud just above her head; he then raised a brow: "Aren't you happy to see me?" he asked with a note of dismay.
Pinkie realized that she was staring at him in terror: of all the moments he could show up, he chose the worst one ever.
"Hi Discord" she said, her voice trembling of apprehension: she didn't want him to see her like that. She just wanted to hide far away from him and the rest of Ponyville for a long while.
Discord glided lower, still rolled up onto the cotton candy cloud, his mismatches arms crossed on the soft surface, his long face resting on them. He looked down at Pinkie, and tilted his head on the side.
"What's the matter, Pinkie Pie?" he asked with a calm smirk, his eyelids half closed "I thought you liked chocolate rain. I even added a final touch to it" he added snapping his fingers, and delicate dollops of whip cream started snowing mixed with the chocolate rain. Pinkie looked at the delicious rainfall, but didn't reply: facing Discord always made her nervous and happy at the same time. But in that moment, she could only feel the nervousness trying to shake out of her body.
"Is this the reason why you look so miserable?" he asked then, pulling his lion paw toward her and slowly opening it. Pinkie gaped: it was Princess Celestia's letter, shrunken but dry, and perfectly readable. She fretted, her mind racing to find any good answer to what would have happened next, as she knew that it wouldn't have been good.
Discord's smile grew larger, strengthened by Pinkie's evident panic which was more than a sufficient answer to his question. "Come on, Pinkie Pie" he said "Tell Discord what's troubling you"; his voice was smooth and persuasive, just like one year ago, when he hypnotized her. Pinkie wasn't sure if he made some sort of trick, but it seemed to work once again, because she slowly opened her mouth and said: "I just asked Princess Celestia why she didn't ask me to reform you". Her voice was barely a whisper, and she prayed he didn't hear her, so he would have asked again and she could have come up with a better reply, possibly a lie. She slowly raised her eyes from the paw, looking at the draconequus: apparently, she stated as their eyes met, he heard her just fine.
Discord was staring at the pony, his eyes slightly widened in a surprised look, his lips reduced from a large grin into a curious pout. Pinkie's gaze wandered everywhere around, just hoping to not meet his: she wished she could disappear just like he often did, and never show up again; she wished there was a hole to bury herself in, hiding for a while, maybe forever. Fluttershy's words echoed in her head: "I'd like to be a tree". Right now, Pinkie thought, she really wished she was one.
"Ah" Discord said blinking twice, then raising the letter in front of his eyes "And apparently you already knew the answer, huh?". Pinkie nodded, and suddenly let out a sob, while a familiar feeling started itching her eyes: she tried to hold herself back, bit her lips hoping the pain would clear her mind, but the frustrations of the day seemed to charge all at once, blearing her eyes with a curtain of tears, and even if she hated to look like a weeper in front of him, another sob shacked her chest, followed by another one.
"They couldn't trust me to do it" she said lowering her head, her voice bouncing in her throat, making her explanation sound like a lousy whine, making her feel even more ridiculous in front of him "And they were right: I wasn't capable enough, I couldn't hold such a responsibility" those word felt so painful when pronounced, even more than thinking them, even more than hearing them from her friends "I would have never been able to reform you". She could still feel his eyes looking at her, and the feeling of incompetence became even heavier in front of him.
"Hm" Discord let out a quick cough "Well, I can't really say they were wrong"
Now, that was painful: hearing those words from him was possibly the worst, more painful way to hear them, and she realized that even Discord, who she always felt so close to, didn't believe she was capable enough to reform him. Tears became waterfall, and sobs grew loud and anguishing as Pinkie tried to cover her face, in a foolish attempt to hide her shame.
"Now, now" Discord stood up, and Pinkie felt his paws pulling her up and placing her on the cloud "Pull yourself together" he added with an encouraging tone, offering her a tissue after pulling it off from nowhere. Pinkie grabbed the tissue and energetically blew her nose in it while Discord kept patting her back: when she was done, the tissue disappeared in a cloud of icing sugar, and she let out a little, sad smile.
Discord gave her a moment to recover from her outburst. "Have you ever considered you might have misunderstood that letter?" he asked then, as the cloud grew larger to make enough room for both of them.
Pinkie sniffed: "Misunderstood?"
"Misunderstood, yes" Discord stretched, then rested on an elbow wrapping is long body around the cloud. He smiled lazily: "Why would you think your friends didn't ask you to reform me?"
"I told you" Pinkie lowered her sad gaze, rubbing an hood against the opposite shoulder "They… You think I'm not responsible enough to--"
"Did we ever say so?" inquired Discord, cutting off her reply. Pinkie looked up at him: he was still wearing his calm smile, but his eyes were peering into her. She closed her mouth, hesitating.
"No" she admitted then, with an insecure note.
"No, we didn't" Discord nodded "We just said you wouldn't have reformed me"
"But…" Pinkie was confused, her certainties wavered too many times that day, and she started feeling very tired "Then why…"
"Pinkie, Pinkie, Pinkie" Discord chuckled and shook his head, apparently amused by her confused look. He summoned a cup out of nowhere, filled it with the chocolate and whip cream that kept raining from the cloud, and offered it to her. Pinkie took it, more confused than ever, and gave it a sip: it was just delicious. She drank it up in a second, feeling the sugary taste slightly reviving her, then glanced back at the draconequus, seeing he was still looking at her with his cunning smile.
"Have you ever thought that maybe it has never been a matter of responsibilities?" asked Discord "That maybe you wouldn't have reformed me…" he paused, raising his brow to underline the last sentence "… Just because you thought there was no need to do that?"
Pinkie looked at him, more puzzled than ever, her head spinning and echoing with those words, while a small feeling of understanding started growing in her heart. She stared at Discord without saying a word, eager to hear more from him, feeling that the answer to her doubt was truly, finally close.
"Since I can remember, you never considered my… Chaotic inclinations as a threat" Discord picked the cup from her hooves, raised it above his head and opened his mouth wide; he then let the cup fall inside it and swallowed it in a single gulp "I'd dare to say you even kind of liked them" he added then, winking at the pony. Pinkie slowly nodded. Discord paused for a moment.
"Not getting it yet?" he asked. Pinkie was starting to understand it, yes. But she didn't dare to voice it out, too afraid that her hopes would have been deceived once more; so, she kept staring at him, her heartbeats running faster, ready to what would have come next.
"The reason why you weren't asked to reform me, is the simplest possible one" Discord summed up with a sigh "You thought there was nothing wrong with me. Nothing that had to be reformed"; he tilted his head, then smiled at her: "You had already accepted me the way I was. Except for the lack of dollop of whip cream" he added with another soft chuckle.
Pinkie stared at him in disbelief. It was so simple, the answer to her doubt was so elementary that it kept dancing in front of her eyes for the whole time, and yet she was unable to see it until now. It wasn't because she wasn't responsible enough: the only reason why she wasn't put in charge to reform Discord was because, to her, he was just fine the way he was. She wouldn't have lectured him, she wouldn't have corrected his behavior, she already liked and appreciated the Spirit of Chaos, and wouldn't have changed a single bit of him.
Pinkie felt the lump in her throat melting down, and finally took a deep breath and let out a long sigh, as her eyes started moistening again, but this time with tears of relief: her friends never doubted her, on the contrary, they knew her better than she did herself. Pinkie had felt so lonely for such a long time, and now her loneliness disappeared, replaced with the awareness of being surrounded by friends who she should have always trusted. She had to apologize with them as soon as possible, she thought, as her mane turned back to its usual flully look.
"So it wasn't a matter of capabilities" she smiled to herself, wiping tears from her eyes.
"It wasn't" Discord's smile softened up, as he patted the pony's head "And let's make it over with that sad look"; he raised her chin with his lion paw, making her look at him. He smirked: "Now, what is that you're always saying... Make that frown go upside down?".
Pinkie blushed madly as she looked into Discord's eyes: that sly look always made her heart pounding faster and louder, and she hoped he didn't hear it. Yet, she gave him the most energetic smile she was capable of, and he smiled back.
"The only reason why they didn't choose you is because you're a little pie of chaos, just like me, and we get along just perfectly" he reassured her. Pinkie felt her confident smile turning into an idiot one: those words sounded so pleasant, so soothing, so flattering that she couldn't help but let out a giggle of joy.
"Perfectly?" she asked, still incredulous and relieved.
"Perfectly" Discord's sweet smile slightly changed into a teasing smirk "Don't tell me that, just because Fluttershy was the first one to call me a friend, you thought you weren't my favorite Element anymore"
Pinkie widened her eyes, bit her lips once again and lowered her head, trying to hide the guilty blush, but she wasn't fast enough, because Discord let out an amused cackle, pulled her up and placed a smacking smooch on her nuzzle, making her blush increase.
"Enough with these insecurities" he said then, placing her back on the cloud "There's a lump of harmony at the north of Ponyville, and it calls for some good old chaos!" He stood up and snapped his fingers, and cloud morphed into a cotton cloud air balloon, causing Pinkie to gasp in awe; then, he look down at the pony and asked: "Wanna give me a hoof?"
"Sure!" Pinkie jumped up next to him and smiled; Discord smiled back at her and snapped his fingers again. The balloon raised above the trees, against the sunset and up in the clouds.
"So" asked Discord, turning once again toward her "Any suggestion for out little mission? What could we do to perturb the layer of harmony covering the north of Ponyville?"
"Uhm…" Pinkie tapped her chin before exclaiming: "How about a quick replacing? Hands instead of hooves? I know a pony who lives there, and she'd really enjoy it!". Discord thought about it for a minute.
"Yes… Yes, actually that's not bad at all!" he said, his eyes shining in excitement "So, hands replacing hooves will be!" he snapped his fingers again, and a sudden blow of wind pushed the balloon toward their destination. "Pinkie Pie, you're so random" Discord smiled proudly, patting her head. Pinkie giggled, glad she was able to help him.
The sunset had quickly turned into sundown, overlaying the landscape with tones of orange, pink, purple and blue. Pinkie had never seen anything so beautiful, and she placed both hooves on the edge of the cotton candy basket, enjoying the view: she glanced down, seeing the wood were she left all her sorrows and doubts, and distractedly rested her head against Discord's body, feeling his eagle talons caressing her mane. She let out a sigh, closed her eyes and smiled: for the first time since many days, she finally felt completely happy.