The alarm sounded and Pinkie Pie threw off her blankets. “Today’s the day! Today’s the day!” She slapped the clock, silencing the alarm. In a flurry, she brushed her teeth, combed her hair, and ran out the door. She would have greeted every pony she passed on the street, but it was too early for most ponies to be awake. She bounced all the way to Twilight’s castle singing “Today’s the day!”
She pulled the chord that rang the doorbell. Several minutes later, a sleepy-eyed Twilight answered. “Pinkie? Do you know what time it is?”
“It is 6:43 am on the day that Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, and Scootaloo return from their first semester at Canterlot University!” She bounced up and down a few more times.
Twilight yawned and rubbed her eyes. “Yes, but their train doesn’t arrive until 8:15. So come back later.” She tried to close the door, then stopped and looked at Pinkie Pie. “And five minutes is not later enough.” She knew how Pinkie Pie thought, and that coming back five minutes later is the kind of thing she would do.
“Okie dokie. I’ll come back at 8. That will give us enough time to get to the train station and greet them.” She bounced away, leaving Twilight to grab another hour of sleep.
All across town Pinkie Pie woke her friends. Applejack was the only one already up, probably up before Pinkie herself. “Oh, hi Applejack,” Pinkie said as she saw the orange earth pony pulling a cart. Pinkie was bouncing up the driveway.
“Howdy, Pinkie. What’s got you in such a bounce today?” Applejack asked.
“What? You mean you don’t remember? Today is the day that your sister comes back for her semester break.”
Applejack stopped. “Oh, I guess that’s today. I plum forgot. I better get some food ready for her. I know that college food ain’t no good.” She disconnected the cart and made her way to the house.
“Oh, ok. I was thinking we could go meet her at the train station.” Pinkie said.
“Uh, yeah. That sounds good, I guess.” Applejack wasn’t sure what to do. “How about I make breakfast and you go get Big Mac to meet her at the station?”
“That sounds great!” Pinkie exclaimed, as if it was the greatest idea any pony had ever had. She bounced up to the house and went inside. “Big Mac? Are you here?”
“Good morning, Pinkie.” It was not Big Mac, but Pear Butter. She had moved in to the Apple house when she married Big Mac. She was in the living room sitting on a rocking chair. “Big Mac is out back. What can I do for you?”
“Oh, hello Pear Butter. Wow, you look like you’re about the burst! That baby should be due any day now, huh?” Pear Butter smiled and nodded. “Well, I was just looking for him so he can go meet his sister and her friends at the train station because today is the day that they come back from their first semester at Canterlot University and I wanted everypony to meet them….” The sound of her voice trailed off as she went through the house and exited the back door. Pear Butter just smiled.
It was 8:15 as the train came to a stop, steam billowing and brakes screeching. Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, and Big Mac waited on the platform. They were scanning the crowd of ponies that exited the cars.
“Oh, oh, I see them! There they are!” Pinkie pointed to a group of young adult mares.
“Cutie Mark Crusaders, over here!” Pinkie waved.
Sweetie Belle blushed. “Pinkie, please don’t call us that. We aren’t fillies anymore,” Still, she gave Pinkie a big hug.
There were hugs all around. “Well,” said Rarity, “You’ll always be the Cutie Mark Crusaders to us.”
“And you’ll always be my big sister,” Sweetie Belle said, hugging Rarity.
“How’s my champ?” Rainbow Dash gave Scootaloo a soft punch in the shoulder. “Kicking flank and taking names?”
Scootaloo smiled, “Uh, yeah, something like that. I missed you, Rainbow Dash.”
“That’s Lieutenant Rainbow Dash, cadet,” Rainbow Dash puffed up her chest.
Scootaloo gave a mock salute. “Yes sir, Lieutenant. Is it true you saved your Commander’s life during the Border Wars?”
Rainbow Dash nodded and looked to her rear, right leg, which was noticeably scarred. “Yep, it’s true. That’s where I got this.”
“Come on, everypony,” Pinkie Pie said to the group. “There’s food at Applejack’s place. Everypony else is there waiting for us.”
At the farm Applejack, Fluttershy, Twilight, and Pear Butter had set up some tables where upon they had placed food. The group that had met at the train station was now gathering around the table. More hugs and greetings were exchanged.
“How are your studies going?” Twilight asked Sweetie Belle. “Is professor Pedantic Pants giving you a hard time?”
“Oh, a little. I think he has it in for me because I know you,” Sweetie Belle said.
“He’s always like that,” Twilight said. “Robotics engineering is a difficult subject, and he wants to challenge his students.”
“Say, where’s Spike?” Sweetie Belle asked.
“Oh, he’s off on some super secret dragon adventure,” Twilight said.
Meanwhile, “Now Apple Bloom,” Applejack said, “you said you were only taking a year’s worth of classes at Canterlot U before transferring to Ponyville Tech to study agriculture.”
Apple Bloom looked down, “Yeah, about that. I kind of want to study literature and history. Canterlot U has such amazing professors and subjects. Everything is so interesting there. Plus the night life in Canterlot is amazing.”
Applejack frowned. “I don’t know what is so appealing about a big city. You know Granny Smith would want you to stay in Ponyville if she were still here.”
The guilt struck Apple Bloom. Applejack had taken over as head of the family when Granny Smith passed. But Apple Bloom felt that Applejack had become over bearing and didn’t want her younger sister to choose her own path in life.
“Can we talk about this tonight?” Apple Bloom asked. Applejack nodded
Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash was talking to Scootaloo off to the side. “And how is the Wonderbolt Prep courses treating you, Scoots?”
Scootaloo avoided eye contact. “Yeah, I kind of don’t want to do that anymore.”
Rainbow Dash was shocked. “What do you mean? You’ve always wanted to be a wonderbolt. Why are you changing your mind?”
Scootaloo took a deep breath. It was hard for her to say, but she knew Rainbow Dash would understand, “I’ve met some pony.”
Rainbow Dash was speechless for a moment, then she grinned. “Ah, I get it. That’s awesome. So, what’s his name?” She nudged Scootaloo.
“Yeah, ‘his’ name. Um, you see…”
Fluttershy was watching Rainbow Dash talk to Scootaloo. She couldn’t hear what they were saying, she could only observe their reactions. Rainbow Dash was first shocked and Scootaloo was really embarrassed and almost started to cry. Then Rainbow gave her a big hug and held her. Scootaloo returned the hug and started to smile. Rainbow wiped away a tear from Scootaloo’s cheek.
That night, Twilight wrote a letter. “Dear Princess Celestia. Today I learned that as years pass ponies can change. Sometimes they don’t turn out the way you expected. But you should love them no matter what. I look forward to what the years ahead have in store for us.”