Sweet Valley Twins: Friendship is Magic (Chapter 4)
Title: Sweet Valley Twins: Friendship is Magic
Summary: All the trouble started right after Lila saw the purple Unicorn in her backyard.
Dedication: For Raven and @buffywatcher23
Timeline: Factory reset, just like almost any book.
Notes: This won’t be as aggressively meta as my last NaNo, so if you were anticipating me leaning so hard on the fourth wall that it falls over, I’m sorry. This still will be a bit sassy, but honestly, I peaked with the Hunger Games crossover. Wait. No, I lied. I couldn’t get past the first page without doing my usual thing.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
8,410 / 50,000 words. 17% done!
The school was abuzz with excited gossip about talking ponies when Jessica arrived. Sarah Thomas waved at her on the way to her homeroom, and Jessica wouldn’t ordinarily stop to say hi—Sarah was definitely one of Elizabeth’s friends—but she couldn’t wait to tell someone about the talking ponies.
“Have you heard?” Sarah asked breathlessly. “Lila’s brought two talking ponies to school today!”
Jessica sagged slightly. It was so frustrating when the gossip got ahead of her. “I know.” She tossed her hair and imitated the arch tone Lila used when she wanted to put someone down. “I met them last night. I’m already very good friends with the Princess.”
“Oh, I’ve met Twilight already. She was with your sister,” Sarah said. “I didn’t get to meet Applejack yet.”
Jessica’s eyes narrowed. Was there nothing she could gloat about? And why was a unicorn befriending her sister? “Princess Twilight Sparkle told us an amazing story yesterday—a legend from her world.”
“Oh, the Smooze? Yes, she mentioned that. I think she’s hoping that May Gan is somewhere in our world.” Sarah checked her watch. “Anyway, I have to go. I want to check my math homework with Sophia.” She smiled slightly. “I guess you don’t have that problem.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jessica snapped.
“Well, you know, you don’t really take homework seriously.” Sarah shrugged and straightened her hair. “I didn’t mean anything by it.”
Jessica turned on her heel and strode off without another word. She was getting heartily sick of everyone thinking she was hopeless at everything. Yesterday her mom and Elizabeth had made fun of the way she tried out new hobbies, Lila had made that comment about Elizabeth being more likely to save the pony world than Jessica, and now Sarah Thomas had made a comment about her homework!
It was time to make Sweet Valley take Jessica seriously again. The best place to start would be ensuring she was best friends with the Princess of Friendship. And then she was going to make sure that her Mother’s Day project was better than her sister’s ever could be.
Elizabeth made sure that she arrived at school with plenty of time to speak to Twilight Sparkle about the problem she was sure Tammy had. She had pointed Tammy out on the way to the library, but Tammy didn’t hear when Twilight called out a greeting.
Elizabeth led the purple pony to a quite area to the back of the library, and told her as much as she knew about Tammy—which wasn’t much, just that she didn’t live with her real parents at the moment.
“I just think she needs to be reunited with her real family. She must be so unhappy to be away from them,” Elizabeth said piously. She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “I think that’s why she looks the way she does.”
Twilight pulled back slightly, with a frown on her face. “What’s wrong with how she looks?”
Elizabeth realized that Twilight wasn’t familiar with the standards that applied to Sweet Valley, and it might sound strange to someone outside of their world that everyone grew up to be a size six beauty, and only people with problems were heavy or ugly. She thought of a way to word it so that Twilight would understand. “I just mean that she’s obviously distressed, and it shows that she’s preoccupied with something bigger than how she looks.”
“Oh.” Twilight nodded. “That makes more sense. Well, I have several ideas ready to go. My first thought was to find out her hobbies, and if we found a shared interest, our friendship could grow from there—”
Elizabeth did not like where this was going. It sounded very much like Twilight was muscling in on her broken person. She wasn’t sure she believed in a deity, but if there was one looking over Sweet Valley, she felt a bit insulted that they had sent backup in the form of a purple unicorn. If there was a Princess of Friendship in Sweet Valley, it should surely be Elizabeth.
“Well, you see…” she began delicately. “I’ve been invited to Tammy’s house after school today, so I think we can make real progress there—”
“That’s wonderful!” Twilight exclaimed. “Would it be ok if I came along?”
“Well, I was just getting to that,” Elizabeth said in her softest possible voice. “I’m afraid in our world it’s rude to bring uninvited guests to a visit like that.”
“Oh,” Twilight nodded. “Well, I wouldn’t want to be rude, but maybe you and I can talk afterwards? You should try and ask her about her hobbies. Try to get to know Tammy, rather than just her problems.”
Elizabeth pasted a smile on her face and nodded. As if she needed advice on how to make friends!
“Hey, there, sugarcube!”
Melissa turned to see the peculiar sight of Applejack walking down the school hallway. All around them, people turned to stare. Some couldn’t help but reach out and pet Applejack as she walked through. Though she kept a fixed smile on her face, Melissa thought she could see Applejack’s skin twitch at each unfamiliar touch.
“Hi, Applejack. How are you finding Sweet Valley Middle School?”
Applejack looked around and shook her head slightly. “It’s big and it’s nice, but I’m more of an outdoors kind of pony.”
More people bustled through the halls, jostling against Applejack. Her smile started to look strained. “Don’t suppose you’d like to sit a spell outside with me? I could do with some fresh air.”
Melissa gave one last look along the hall. She had been waiting for fifteen minutes and Lila had not shown up. They were supposed to have lunch together to work on their project. “I’d love to. I know a place under the trees where it’s a lot less crowded.”
The look of relief on Applejack’s face was evident. “That sounds just the thing.”
Melissa led the way out of school and to a place on the edge of the field, where the trees provided some shade from the glorious sunshine that Sweet Valley was famed for.
They sat down at the base of a tree trunk and Applejack leaned against it contentedly. “This feels better. Your friend Lila has some mighty fine digs, but for a simple country girl like me, the grass and trees are what I need.”
At the sound of Lila’s name, Melissa sighed. She was getting fed up of being stood up or forgotten by Lila.
“Is everything ok?”
Melissa nodded. “I guess.”
“Well that sounds more like a no than a yes. If you want to talk about it, I’d be happy to try and help.”
Melissa didn’t mean to talk about it, but somehow the words just fell out of her mouth. “Lila stood me up. We were supposed to have lunch today. And last night she didn’t even say goodbye to me—which, I guess, I can’t really fault her for, because it’s not every day a talking pony walks into your yard.” She paused and looked at Applejack. “Has anyone told you we have horses and ponies in this world? But they don’t talk. And they don’t have cutie marks. They’re pets. People ride them—though they’re generally a bit bigger than you.”
“Huh,” Applejack said slowly. “So I guess that explains why everyone keeps petting me?”
Melissa shrugged. “Well, yes, and you’re new and very exciting and interesting to us. I guess you’re like celebrities. People always try and touch them too.”
“Would it help if I explained that touching and petting is a gesture of friendship, and all this attention is a bit too much for me?”
“It might a bit, but for the most part, no,” Melissa said after a moment’s consideration. She remembered seeing an interview with an actress called Roséy, who had said that she quite often found being grabbed frightening. It didn’t stop her from being mobbed every time she went out. Every fan thought they were the exception to their idol’s preferences. “I’m sorry. But I won’t grab or pet you. And I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen too.”
“Thank you. Now, let’s talk about Lila. What happened?”
Everything seemed so small and feeble when she thought about it. Was she over-reacting?
“Don’t you overthink it, just tell me,” Applejack added.
Melissa took a deep breath. “I guess I just feel like I’m not supposed to be in Lila’s life.”
Applejack reached out with a hoof and gently touched Melissa’s arm. “Go on.”
“Well, it’s a load of little things really. Yesterday when the Unicorns came over—uh, the Unicorn Club, not Twilight—Lila said we’d been working on our science homework, but we weren’t. I was just there for dinner, it’d had been planned for days. This morning I said hi to her, but she cut me off and nearly ran away from me. And then she stood me up at lunch.” Melissa tried to end on an upbeat note, so that Applejack didn’t think she was completely feeble. “But at least I got to have lunch with you.”
Applejack looked thoughtful. “Why is Lila your friend if she does things like that?”
“I’ve wondered the same thing,” Melissa said with a laugh. “She can be a terrible snob, and she sometimes says the most tactless things without thinking. But on the other hand, she’s a good person, deep down. Even though she’s swimming in money, she still stops by the homeless shelter every now and then to volunteer. She donates there regularly. And she can be funny—maybe she doesn’t always mean to be, but sometimes she makes me laugh so hard. And she doesn’t really care that she didn’t mean to be funny either. She takes the joke well. She’s… I don’t know. She’s hard to describe, and it’s hard to work out why I like her, but I do. At times I think she might be my best friend, because we have that bond over not having a mother. I sometimes think Lila says things to me that she doesn’t dare say to her other friends.” Melissa took a deep breath. “Gosh, I really did ramble there.”
Applejack beamed in response. “Well, in that case, it sounds like you two are like peas in a pod. And I’ll wager that Lila has no idea that you’re upset by these things. And do you want to know why?”
“Why?” Melissa asked.
“Because you haven’t told her. If she doesn’t notice, then you have to be honest with her. If she knows how you feel and keeps on behaving this way, then it’s a different story. But right now, does she actually know how upset you are?”
Melissa shook her head.
“But just because she didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, doesn’t make them any less hurt,” Applejack added.
Melissa nodded, then gave Applejack a smile. “I can see why this is your calling.”
Jessica’s eyes glazed over and she stifled a yawn. Who knew that hanging out with a purple unicorn who happened to be a princess could be so boring? She had invited Twilight over to her house after school and they had headed up to Jessica’s room. Jessica had thought that asking Twilight for advice on how to make a school project really exciting would be an opening gambit, and quickly they would move on to talking about more princess-y things. Like cute boys and fabulous outfits, and maybe how many rooms Twilight’s castle had.
Instead, Twilight had wittered on for several hours about all the projects she had done over the years. It was just as boring as hanging out with Elizabeth. Although, just like Elizabeth, Twilight couldn’t help but straighten up Jessica’s room as she talked, so at least something was getting done.
“And that’s how I wowed Princess Celestia on my report on genealogy!” Twilight finished with a gleeful smile. “Do you want my top tips for eye-catching penmanship? It takes a little longer, but it’s so worth the effort.”
Fancy writing? How lame was that? Jessica wondered how someone as geeky as Twilight could be something as cool as a purple unicorn—and a princess too! “Uh, maybe later,” she said politely. “This is a spoken presentation, so how it looks on paper doesn’t really matter.” She saw Twilight’s face fall, and hastily added, “But I’m sure it would be super useful for a written report.”
As an awkward silence fell between them, Jessica found herself thinking that it didn’t really matter that Twilight was a purple unicorn. She was a nerd, and would probably be happier talking to utter dweebs like Randy Mason or Lloyd Benson, than someone as cool as Jessica. But it wasn’t fair! Shouldn’t a purple unicorn want to talk to a member of the Unicorn Club? (None of the Unicorns really cared much for Applejack, she wasn’t purple, she wasn’t a unicorn, and she wasn’t a princess.) Jessica had felt like she was a step behind for the past two days, and something needed to change.
“I wonder when your sister will be home,” Twilight said. “We have a friendship problem we’re working on.”
Jessica’s eyes narrowed. When she thought about it, all of her problems came from Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the one who finished everything she started. Elizabeth was the one who saved the day. Elizabeth was the one who did perfect homework. It was time for Jessica to out-Elizabeth Sweet Valley’s own Princess of Friendship.
She arranged her features into polite interest. “I would love to hear about it. As a member of a friendship group like the Unicorns, I’m all about helping people get along.” And if I happen to get ahead in the process, she thought, all the better.