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.
17,389 / 50,000 words. 35% done!
Everyone in Ms. Arnette’s sixth grade class took a seat on the stage, and looked nervously out to the sea of parents. Melissa could see her father, and a row behind him was Mr. Fowler. They seemed to stand out in a sea of mothers—she recognized the twins’ mother near the front.
Melissa glanced over at Lila. They hadn’t managed to talk at all yesterday—she’d stayed for about an hour, helping Mr. Fowler pick out the best pictures for Lila’s present, and then she’d realized that she would be late for dinner, so she hurried home. When she got there, Andy told her that Lila had stopped by.
Just knowing that Lila had made the effort warmed her—they still needed to talk, but the first steps had been made. She gave Lila a big smile, which Lila returned with equal enthusiasm. Melissa glanced out into the crowd, and saw that Applejack was smiling encouragingly at her. Next to Applejack was Twilight, who looked incredibly interested in the goings on. Melissa hadn’t spent much time with her, but Applejack had mentioned that Twilight was fascinated by almost anything new.
“Hello everyone, and a big welcome to all the mothers…” Ms. Arnette glanced up from her notes, and hurriedly added, “and fathers. This week my class has been doing a very special project on the everyday heroics of their mothers. They have paired up and interviewed their partner’s mother, and now they are ready to report their findings.” She checked her notes again. “And today we’re going to start with Lila Fowler, who interviewed Mrs. McCormick.”
There was a painful silence, and everyone turned to stare at either Melissa or Lila. Lila quickly rose to her feet and took her place in the center of the stage. She began speaking in her usual imperious tones.
“I have never met Melissa’s mother, Mrs. McCormick, because she sadly passed away a few months ago,” Lila announced, pausing to give Ms. Arnette a very solid staredown. When it became apparent that Lila had won (of course she had—every cashier at Valley Fashions was terrified of her), she turned to face the audience once more. “I wish I had. I don’t really know much about her, but I do know three very important facts about her:
“The first is that her favorite vegetable was carrots, and for quite awhile she really did believe they would help her see in the dark. Finding out this wasn’t true didn’t stop her from passing the story on to her kids—and I’m led to believe that Melissa has excellent night vision.”
There was a ripple of surprised laughter. Melissa herself joined in. She had forgotten about the time she had convinced herself she really could see in the dark after eating carrots every day for a week.
Lila continued, “The second fact is that Mrs. McCormick worked tirelessly on an embroidered cushion cover. While it’s not the prettiest cushion in the world, I can personally attest that it is very comfortable.”
This time the laughter was a little more confused. Melissa was surprised that Lila hadn’t been more savage in her description of the cushion. It was truly a monstrosity.
“Finally, and this is the most important fact of all, Mrs. McCormick raised two wonderful children, one of which is my best friend, Melissa. So if you want an example of everyday heroics, look no further than Mrs. McCormick.” Lila finished almost defiantly.
Melissa suddenly felt a lump in her throat. Her eyes filled with hot tears. She never would have guessed that Lila would do such a nice report—and proclaim to the whole school that they were best friends. She got to her feet and threw her arms around Lila.
“Oh,” said Lila. “A hug. Yes, I like these.”
Lila took a seat once more and noticed Jessica glaring daggers at her. “I thought I was your best friend!” she hissed.
Lila ignored her as Melissa took center stage for her half of the report. She didn’t really care what Melissa said, she was too pleased with her own report. She’d seen her father nodding along and joining in the applause. She’d done well, and Melissa looked happy.
“Hello everyone, I’m Melissa McCormick, and my partner is my friend—my best friend—Lila Fowler.” Melissa turned to grin in Lila’s direction, and she couldn’t help but smile back.
Melissa then continued. “I also haven’t met Lila’s mother… exactly.”
Lila leaned forward, interested to see where this was going. She noticed Elizabeth Wakefield do the same, and sardonically noted that Elizabeth probably felt left out of all the revelations going on so far. She usually orchestrated the emotional moments in Sweet Valley.
“Because I dropped by Lila’s house last night to see Lila, and see if we could come up with a way to do a project on mothers when neither of us have them. But she wasn’t home, so I ended up talking to her father, who had cut his business trip short to spend time with his daughter, and I realized that he’s not just her father, he’s both parents. And I find that pretty heroic.”
Lila saw her father turn pink at the compliment. After a few more facts about Lila’s father, Melissa returned to her seat and mouthed, “Was that ok?”
Lila nodded enthusiastically.
Ms. Arnette announced that the next pair would be Tammy and Elizabeth. Tammy glanced over her report one more time. She didn’t care what the assignment was, she was going to do a report on Rita, because she knew that Elizabeth wouldn’t do a fair report. She just had to be the first to speak.
“I’ll go first,” Tammy said.
“No, let me, I promise you won’t regret it,” Elizabeth said, with a smile that made Tammy want to knock her off the stage. Tammy did some quick thinking—if Elizabeth went first, she could get her snotty little report over and done with, and then Tammy could read hers, which would mean that Elizabeth’s mother didn’t get a report—and Tammy was fine with that. Given the fumes she smelled on Mrs. Wakefield when she met her, she wasn’t sure she’d even notice nobody talked about her. And she had the nice twin’s partner, so that would be ok.
But Tammy really didn’t want Elizabeth to say a word about Rita. Rita was the only person who had ever accepted Tammy just the way she was. She took her in and made her feel welcome without any agenda. She didn’t just endure Tammy’s shaved head, she actually went with her to the hairdresser, and even suggested Tammy got patterns shaved in—and Rita bought her a hat for sunny days because a sunburnt scalp was not fun. She never felt the need to push her own narrative at Tammy.
Just seeing those multi-colored ponies in the front row made her feel like screaming—especially the orange one. Applejack had featured in quite a few of her birth mother’s stories. Every time she caught sight of a pastel pony in the halls, she wanted to run home, hide under her bed, and cry until there was nothing left of her.
“No, I’ll—” Tammy started.
“Elizabeth, why don’t you go first?” Ms. Arnette suggested.
Tammy reluctantly took her seat and looked out into the crowd for Rita. There she was—at the end of the second row. Easy to spot because of her height and bright hair. Tammy gave her a smile that she hoped adequately conveyed that she had no control over what Elizabeth was about to say—she had prepped Rita last night, but Rita had seemed unconcerned.
Elizabeth smiled, and Tammy saw that this smile had scaled new and epic levels of smugness. She hoped Elizabeth fell off the stage.
“Hello, I’m Elizabeth Wakefield. I’m sure most of you know me because I’ve helped your kids in some way. My partner is Tammy Amerson, and she is a dear friend who was in special need of my help with this project.”
Tammy’s jaw dropped. What on earth was that stupid brat going to say about Rita? She got to her feet and took a step towards Elizabeth. A very small part of her hoped Elizabeth would say something stupid, which would give Tammy a reason to knock her off the stage, but for the most part, she was dreading what Elizabeth would say next.
“You see, Tammy had lost touch with her mother.” Elizabeth paused and gave a particularly smug smile. “I was able to find her, and thanks to the improbably fast turnaround of the Sweet Valley postal service, she is here now, so come on out, Megan Williams, Tammy’s real mother!”
Tammy froze on the spot. A door to the side of the stage opened, and through it walked her mother. She was tall, slender, with long blonde hair tied back in a pink ribbon—the same style she’d had since she was eight, Tammy knew because she’d seen the pictures in the family album. Megan still wore a red locket around her neck—that had been in place since she was twelve.
How on earth had Elizabeth found her? Tammy hadn’t even spoken her mother’s name, she hadn’t told anyone any personal details about herself, she had deliberately changed her name to a surname picked at random out of the phone book. There was a court order stating that she was to have no contact with Megan. How on earth could she be here?
And then, despite everything, Tammy felt a tiny sprig of hope. What if maybe this time it was different? Maybe Megan had realized that in her obsession with the ponies, her past, the whole magical land thing, that she had lost her daughter, a real person who did—at least at one point—love her. Tammy tried to squash it down, because that hope was always in vain. No matter how it was pitched, nothing ever changed.
Everything always led back to the ponies. When Megan taught Tammy to swim, it was because they might want to visit the sea ponies one day. When Tammy fell over, Megan told a story about a baby pony getting hurt. When Tammy got scared, Megan told her there were real monsters in Ponyland, and the baby ponies were braver than her. When Tammy asked for a bike for her birthday, she got a pony instead, because she needed to learn the riding skill. When Tammy wanted to go for a walk and spot birds, she was kept home and told stories of all the times Megan saved Ponyland.
When Tammy needed to do her homework, Megan was there, throwing away real maps and testing her on her Ponyland geography. When Tammy did badly at school, it didn’t matter, because there was no use for algebra in Ponyland. When Tammy did well in school, it didn’t matter, because there was still no use for algebra in Ponyland. When Tammy wanted a haircut, she wasn’t allowed one, because she was starting to look like Megan did at that age, and the only hairstyle allowed was a ponytail tied back in a pink ribbon. When Tammy wanted to join the swim team, she wasn’t allowed, because what if the ponies came back and she wasn’t home?
When Tammy wanted anything, it always came back to Megan and her stupid ponies.
Megan made it to the stage and took two steps in Tammy’s direction, and then her mouth fell open as she spotted the ponies in the front row. She clasped her hands over her heart, and gently caressed the red locket with the ball of her thumb.
“Applejack! You’ve come back to me!” she cried. Then she rushed towards the pony, with such force that both Elizabeth and Tammy had to take a step back or be knocked over. Megan leapt down from the stage and threw her arms around Applejack, crying, “I knew it! I just knew if I waited long enough, you’d come back to me.”
Tammy felt her world cave in. Everything went dark and quiet, and all she could hear was Megan sobbing happily into that stupid orange pony’s hair.
“Uh, excuse me ma’am, but I don’t know you,” Applejack said, trying to step back from the embrace.
“Of course you don’t, I’m all grown up now. You look different too, but I’m the same Megan who used to come to Ponyland. I’m the same Megan who listened to your stories about the Jewel Wizard—I remember your bravery when you saved the Twinkle Eye ponies. I’m the same girl, I promise,” Megan wept into Applejack’s hair.
Tammy remembered the story in question. It was particularly horrific and she had nightmares about it for weeks after hearing it. Applejack was captured by the Jewel Wizard and forced to work as a slave in his mines. Other pony slaves were there and had gone blind from the constant darkness. Applejack tried to run for help but accidentally knocked the Jewel Wizard off his throne and into a dark crevice, where he died. The jewels embedded in the blind ponies’ eyes, and they became a new type of pony, called Twinkle Eyes, who had the ability to see with the jewels. Megan’s version had been very long, detailing the horror of being starved, living in constant darkness, and how the dust in the mine damaged the ponies’ lungs.
It was one of the many reasons that Tammy became scared of the dark.
(There’s nothing to be scared of here, Tammy. In Ponyland there are monsters and witches, but here you are safe. Now go back to bed. Do you want me to sing you the song I first sang to the baby ponies when they didn’t want to take their naps? Let me tell you how it started… )
It was one of the many reasons Megan was a terrible mother. She didn’t care about how Tammy felt about anything, her only goal was to tell Tammy every single thing about her precious ponies.
“Did you say Jewel Wizard?” Twilight asked in a squeaky voice. “Are you May-Gahn?”
The only thing that had gotten Tammy through the worst times with her mother was the certainty that the ponies would never come back. She was never really sure whether the ponies were real or a mental illness. Aunt Molly had let a few things slip out over Christmas a few years ago after several bottles of wine, but Uncle Danny had made it very clear it was just a game they played when they were younger. Tammy didn’t see either of them again after that Christmas.
Tammy felt an arm around her waist, and she realized that Rita had pushed through the crowd to comfort Tammy. “Come on, honey, let’s get out of her while Megan’s distracted by the ponies.”
As Rita spoke, Megan stiffened and turned to face them. When she saw Rita—she still hadn’t looked in Tammy’s direction—her face hardened into a mask of hatred. “You evil witch!” Megan cried, leaping to her feet. “How dare you steal my daughter?”
“She’s not stealing me!” Tammy screamed. “I walked into Social Services and begged them to take me away from you! You’re the witch!”
Megan moved towards them both. “No, Tammy. It’s going to be ok, I can see it now. You’re under her spell. I’m going to save you.”
“I don’t want to be saved!” Tammy flung her arms out to fend off her mother. “Save Saint Elizabeth Wakefield. She wanted to save me. You both like saving people—save each other. You’re both horrible people and you need to be saved.”
“No, darling,” Megan said softly. “You do. That’s not a foster parent, that’s Draggle, one of the evil witches from the Volcano of Gloom. She unleashed the Smooze that nearly destroyed Ponyland.”
“Oh, that’s enough!” Tammy turned back to her guardian, ready to protect her from Megan’s ongoing obsession with Ponyland.
But Rita had turned pale and was staring at Megan in horror. “I’m not that person any more,” Rita mumbled. “I changed!”
That was—that—no! No, Rita could not be part of this too! Everything was about those damned ponies! Tammy shoved Rita’s arm away with such force that Rita stumbled several steps and crashed into Ellen Riteman, who had been politely waiting to read out her report.
She let out of a scream of frustration—nothing was ever about her—and ran for the door.
Note: The story about Applejack and the Jewel Wizard is from the MLP G1 comics. You can read the horrible thing here. If you’re in the market for a great pony story that incorporates it (which is how I know about it, and where I got Megan’s extra details that weren’t in the comics), try A Mighty Demon Slayer Grooms Some Ponies by D G D Davidson.