The Somber Start.
The Ponyville House for Girls was not a very nice place, as orphanages often aren't. It was run by Mrs.Watcher, a dour unicorn who wore her glasses on pearls around her neck and her mane in a bun, as all dour mares seem to. It wasn't that she was cruel pony, she just simply didn't see much of a point in being nice. Nice didn't get little fillies to bed on time.
Scootaloo arrived, perhaps it was on a Thursday, as bad things always happen on Thursdays. Mrs. Watcher opened the door to find a rather scorched looking Creme Cake standing on the doorstep with a basket. Mrs. Watcher had done this many times before. She took the filly without a word, put the basket in the orphan basket closet, and set Scootaloo down with the other young ponies. Same as always. Mrs.Watcher liked things to be the same, she didn't see much of a point in change. She thought it was a nasty habit. She noticed several odd occurrences that were very much not the same on that particular day, one of which involving a strange stallion who came bearing a letter. But that story will come in it's time. Besides, Mrs.Watcher didn't see much of a point in dwelling on strange things.
Scootaloo had her father's rebellious spirit, and as she grew it became more and more prominent. She had no brothers or sisters like the others as far as she knew, so she often had to make her own fun. The other girls avoided her, it was not often they had a Pegasus come through the house.
It is something one might notice that even at the bottom of the social ladder there are rungs that stick tightly together, as though someone has put glue on them in order to trap a writer attempting to escape an evening party. These rungs do not take kindly to new additions, or new horseshoes.
Scootaloo had been at the house for several years. She had gotten other traits from her father, though she never knew him. She had his stubbornness, impulsiveness and various other ness-es, that contributed to her not fitting in very well. Around the time she was old enough to be expected to have a cutie mark her flank remained blank. Further ostracizing her. She often caused trouble, picking fights with other girls and generally doing very un-ladylike things. This earned the ire of Mrs.Watcher, who didn't see much of a point in being un-ladylike. So she was often made to clean the kitchens and sent to bed without supper. Mrs.Watcher also didn't see much of a point in feeding those who misbehaved.
On the particular day it all started, at least from Scootaloo's perspective, a word which here means 'A very small part of the picture'. She was sitting in the mess hall, eating the daily gruel. It was grey, the same grey as the walls, the floors, the ceilings and in ways that were in no way healthy, the air. It was the kind of grey that is less of a color and more of an occupant, like an old uncle that refuses to leave. She sat alone as always, the other fillies sitting on the opposite side of the table chatting about nothing in particular, a favorite topic of such ponies. She stared at the stuff on the plate, generously called 'food', and sighed.
A small mouse climbed up the table leg and sat next to her plate.
She smiled, an increasingly rare thing. "Hello, Dash." she said.
It is quite uncommon for Pegasi to have any connection with animals, and in fact Scootaloo was quite normal in that respect. Dash just happened to be an animal who had a particularly strong connection to Pegasi. She kept him hidden from Mrs.Watcher and away from the traps in the kitchen. He thought it was a pretty good deal. She'd named him after her idol, a rainbow colored Pegasus she would see on occasional trips into town. He did not mind this as he only knew two words, 'Cheese' and 'Hide'.
"Would you like some...." she hesitated to call the thing in front of her any word that might mean edible. "Grey stuff?" she finished lamely.
Dash turned his nose up. Even mice have standards.
"Yeah, me neither." she looked around, the other fillies were too engrossed in their talks of nothing to pay her any mind. She quickly took her plate and dumped its contents onto her neighbor's. It fell with what could only be described as a *Gloop*.
One of the fillies heard this and turned to look. Dash quickly hid among the feathers on Scootaloo's back.
"Deal with your own food blank flank." said the filly. Her name was Vafrous, simply that. No one was quite sure if it meant anything.If you were to ask Scootaloo which word she might use to describe Vafrous, she would probably choose the word 'nemesis'. She was a shrill grey and brown pony, whose cutie mark was a rather odd looking flower. She picked up her plate and dumped both servings back onto Scootaloo's. It overflowed and splashed up into her face. I'm very sorry to say some of it went into her mouth.
"Bleh!" she spat and sputtered trying to rid herself of the foul substance.
The other fillies laughed and pointed.
"Look! It's Scootaloo the swamp creature!"
"Don't let her touch you, you'll catch the uglies!"
Scootaloo's cheeks burned red under the sludge.
Vafrous smiled in that Vafrous-y kind of way that Scootaloo had come to despise.
"Call the janitor, we have to clean up this mess." she said. "Tell him to get the gruel off of it first though."
The laughter started again, ten fold, at that.
Scootaloo sunk into her chair. There is a time in everypony's life, in which they wish they could disappear, sink into the ground and vanish like a villain pursuing somepony through he jungle who doesn't watch his footing. Scootaloo thought that this was that point. Sadly I must say she will feel this way several more times before the end of this story.
Her sadness and embarrassment soon gave way to rage. She was her father's daughter after all.
The laughter stopped abruptly when the plate hit Vafrous in the face. Scootaloo stood there, arm still in throwing position suddenly feeling quite a lot better. Vafrous sat there for while in shock. None of the other fillies laughed this time. Nopony laughed at Vafrous.
The gruel dripped down her scowling face. She turned a deep red, a very hard thing to do when you start from grey.
Scootaloo ducked before Vafrous could retaliate and her plate went sailing into the wall where it stuck fast.
"Food fight!" sompony called, as somepony always must in such situations.
Scootaloo ducked beneath the table as the gruel began to fly. She made her way towards the door.
"Where is she!? Where is that blank flank!?" Vafrous called, looking around wildly.
Scootaloo crawled faster. The sounds of the commotion going on above her head growing louder.
Vafrous was quite angry, like a bear who has returned home to find sompony has been hiding in his cave with a flashlight and a book of case files. Fortunately Harry the Bear is a pleasant sort. Vafrous was not. She spotted the Pegasus trying to escape and picked up the nearest plate. Scootaloo hurriedly crawled forwards avoiding various hooves as she neared the door. Dash squeaked behind her as he was jostled and bumped. She made her way out the other side and quickly stood up, reaching for the doorknob.
"Leaving so soon, blank flank?" said a voice behind her.
Scootaloo turned to find Vafrous had sent a plate spiraling towards her head.
Accounts say several things happened at once in that particular instance. For one, in a cave on the outskirts of ponyville a bear was aiding in the escape of certain wanted pony. And in the orphanage, that as the plate hurtled towards Scootaloo's head, the door opened and she ducked.
Mrs.Watcher was silent for several minutes. Mrs.Watcher possessed a particular kind of silence, the kind of silence that only teachers, librarians, parents and the occasional unskilled pianist ever truly master. The kind which is in fact not the lack of sound, but a sound in itself that eats all the other sounds in the room like so many smaller fish. This silence ate them very quickly. The only sound that could be heard was that of the gruel dripping from her face.
Her voice was calm when she finally spoke. Mrs.Watcher didn't see much of a point in raising her voice.
"Who started this." she asked. Somehow she managed to avoid question marks completely.
Everypony in the room pointed directly at Scootaloo, who stood defiantly at her hooves.
"Ms.Scootaloo, come see me in my office." Mrs.Watcher said flatly. She turned and walked out of the mess hall.
Scotaloo looked back at the other fillies who set about cleaning up. None of them looked back. There is one word to describe how Scootaloo felt in that moment. It is a very obvious and very sad word that all of us have felt at one time or another.
She was made to wait outside of Mrs.Watcher's office, though there was no one else seeing her that day. Scootaloo sat there, waiting for her to come out and begin the lecture. She'd been through this several times. The dour mare would come out, tell her everything that was wrong with her in the most precise way possible, then put her to work for the rest of the week. If she was lucky. Dash scampered out from her feathers and sat on the floor in front of her. She regarded the small mouse with a sigh.
My research into Dash says that he'd been with her for a around a year and a half at that point. He'd been here several times, more than enough to know it wasn't good. In his little brain this was the place she went before the 'Sleepy lady who smelled of pickles came and said many words'. Dash didn't like this place.
The door opened. Dash quickly scurried back to Scootaloo. Mrs.Watcher walked out, now free of gruel, and opened her mouth to begin the lecture. The doorbell cut her short.
It was quite an odd thing. The doorbell hardly ever rung at the Ponyville House for Girls. Even less so in the middle of lunchtime. In Scootaloo's entire time there the records show this only happening three times. Once when she arrived, another time when a strange stallion bearing a letter visited, and this time.
Mrs.Watcher left to see who it was.
Scootaloo sat there again, saved by the bell, in the literal sense, which is always better than figurative. Figurative things never saved anypony from being lectured.
Dash poked his head out and squeaked.
"Well, that was fortunate." said Scootaloo. "With any luck it's someone coming to take the old bag away."
They sat there for several minutes, unsure what to do. Mrs.Watcher returned shortly, she came back in wearing an expression that Scootaloo never seen before. Confusion.
"Pack a bag, make sure you get everything." she said.
"Why?" asked Scootaloo. "Are you sending me off to the coal mines?"
"I've thought of doing that." She wasn't joking, Mrs.Watcher didn't joke. "But something's come up." She said the next few words as though they were in another language, most likely Clideshish, which is particularly hard to pronounce. "You've been....adopted."
This came as quite a shock to both of them. In the files of the The Ponyville House for Girls, I found that while it was indeed an orphanage a word which here means 'A place where one adopts orphans' they'd never gotten the adoption part quite right. Mrs.Watcher took girls no one wanted, she never planed on someone suddenly wanting one. It simply wasn't done. Most of the girls who came in stayed until they were old enough to leave. Often putting their manes in buns, wearing glasses on pearls around their necks and becoming accountants, or something equally as boring. The last adoption had been almost a decade back, and the adoptee has been a point of debate. This is because the foal's parents weren't dead and it had simply wandered in off the street. They had in fact, simply given it back.
"Pack up your belongings and come to the door." Said Mrs.Watcher, still a bit unsure about this whole 'adopting' business.
"Who's adopting me?" Asked Scootaloo.
"Someone of high rank," said Mrs.Watcher, who was quite out of her depth. "Count Blueblood."
"Count Blueblood?" Scootaloo hopped up. "Count of what?"
"I'm not here to ask questions. I'm here to take care of little fillies. Now, he signed the paper, so pack your stuff and go."
She did as she was bid and walked off to her room to gather what little she had. She couldn't believe it. She'd been adopted. For the first time in a long time, she was hopeful. Maybe he lived somewhere nice. Would she have sisters? Perhaps there was a Countess who would make dinner and tell her stories before bed, tucking her in and giving her a kiss goodnight. Maybe she'd have a family, and everything would be alright.
As will happen many times, I sorely wish this were true. I could end this story right here, and she would live happily ever after, in happiness and love. Sadly, I cannot type this. The day she was adopted was a Thursday. Bad things always happen on Thursdays, and unfortunately, bad things also come in threes.
To Be Continued.