With Celestia as My Witness

by Irrespective

Chapter 2: Friends

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“Hey, new kid.”

Stone glanced up from his hooves and the grass, and he found the plum-colored pegasus filly from yesterday staring at him with a thoughtful smirk. “Yeah?”

“You got a name? I don't want to keep calling you ‘new kid.’”

“Stone Spring.”

“I'm Raspberry Vine, but you can just call me Berry. What are you looking at?”


Berry scoffed. “You've got to be staring at something. Your eyes are open.”

“Fine, you caught me. I’m the one colt in all of Equestria who likes watching grass grow. I also enjoy a little paint drying action, but only if I’m in the right mood.”

“Is there something interesting going on in the grass? Oh! Don't tell me you found a worm.” Berry stuck her tongue out and pulled a disgusted face. “Worms are gross.”

“No, I didn't find any worms.”

“Why are you over here? Nopony can see you when you hide on this side of the school. Don't you want to come play with us? You're not one of those rich, snobby types, are you?”

Stone shook his head. “I just don't feel like playing right now.”

“Why not? Are you sick? Don't breathe on me!” Berry retreated a step and put both hooves over her mouth. “I don't want catch it! Are you contagious? Did you wash your hooves?”

“I'm not sick! I just …” Stone paused for a long moment. “I just don't want to play.”

“Oh.” Berry stood and studied him for a moment. “Well, if you don't want to play, why don't we just talk?”

“Why?” Stone gave her an irritated glare. “So you can make fun of me later?”

“No! I wouldn't do that. I just want to get to know you better. If I was the new kid, I'd want to tell you about me.”

Stone believed every last word in that sentence. “I don't think you'd be interested. I move a lot, so I haven't really done much.”

Berry scoffed again. “That can't be true. What about all the cities you've lived in? That's interesting. Where did you live before here?”

“Baltimare. My dad was an actuary, but he got laid off.”

“Huh. What about before that?”

“This and that jobs. My dad has been moving us around a lot ever since—” Stone hesitated, shuddered, and swallowed hard. “—ever since he left the Royal Guard.”

“Your Dad was a guard? No way.” Berry gave Stone a shove. “Nopony ever leaves the Royal Guard. That’s, like, the best job there ever could be.”

“He just couldn’t do it anymore one day,” Stone murmured to the grass. “He came home, and just threw everything we owned into a moving wagon. Next thing I know, we’re in Manehattan.”

“And your Mom was okay with all of this?”

Stone didn’t reply to her question. He was too busy fighting back the tears and the crushing tidal wave of emotions.

“Oh,” Berry said after a moment. “I’m so sorry.”

“S’kay. You didn’t know,” Stone whispered.

There was a sudden shift, something initially akin to a bump that seemed to linger. It was warm, and not entirely unwanted, but it was unexpected just the same. Stone looked and found himself in a rather peculiar situation. Raspberry Vine was … hugging him? Why was she hugging him?

“I’d miss my mom a whole bunch if she ever left. I bet it really hurts to not have her, huh?”

Stone nodded slightly.

“I'm sorry, Stone.” Berry pulled back and offered a bright smile. “Let's talk about something else. Did you live in the palace? What was that like? My mom says we’re going to visit Canterlot one day.”

Stone sniffled and wiped his nose on his fetlock. “No, we lived in a regular house. Dad was just a Corporal. It was a nice house, though.” He paused for a long moment. “I miss that house.”

“Did you ever meet Princess Celestia?”

Stone glanced up and started to reply that he had not, but then he realized that he had met her, but not in the way that Berry would expect. “I did, once.”

“What was she like?” Berry asked, and her wings buzzed with excitement. “I bet she was so nice, and kind, and that she knows all of the guards by their first names, even though they all look alike. Did she give you all sorts of treats and toys whenever you visited?”

“She’s the Princess, not Santa Hooves,” he retorted. “She’s really busy, and she can’t just give out stuff out like that. Who pays for all of it?”

“Can’t she just make it appear? She raises the sun, after all.”

Stone put a hoof to his forehead. “It doesn’t work that way.”

“Well, how am I supposed to know?” Berry snapped. “You’re the one who’s met her, not me.”

“Look, I didn’t mean it like that,” Stone replied. “I just meant that she doesn’t just make things appear out of thin air.”

“I bet she does,” Berry said while folding her arms tightly. “I bet she totally does, and you just don’t want me to know about it so I won’t feel jealous.”

“Why would I lie about that?”

“Why would you tell the truth?”

Stone inhaled deeply. This illogically logical roundabout they’d gotten stuck in would get them nowhere. He needed to prove to her, somehow, that Celestia was just a regular pony, in the end, and that she had to follow her own rules and regulations. Berry wouldn’t believe anything he could say, so the only options that were coming to him were to somehow take Berry to Canterlot, or …

“What if Princess Celestia told you herself?” Stone asked with some concern. “Would you believe her?”

“Yeah, but I hope you’re not suggesting that we go to Canterlot.”

“No, not that. I could probably have her come here.”

Berry scoffed. “Princess Celestia, here? There’s no way you knew her well enough to make her come to you on demand.”

“I can too!” Stone protested. “I can have her show up, right here and now!”

“Oh yeah? Prove it.”

Stone stammered for a moment. He hadn’t expected her to call him out like that, and he wasn’t completely sure if asking for Celestia to be his witness would work again, especially since he had nothing for her to actually witness. “Um, well …”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. You can’t do it. You’re a big liar.”

“I am not.” Stone stomped a hoof. “With Celestia as my witness—”

Stone was both startled and relieved when the Princess did, in fact, appear again with the same bright flash of light and burst of magic that sent both of them tumbling.

“Good afternoon, Stone Spring!” Princess Celestia gave the young colt a smile that filled him with a warm inner peace. “It's good to see you again. Who is this? Have you made a new friend already?”

“Stone!” Berry grabbed him by the shoulders and began shaking him furiously. “It’s Princess Celestia! You actually brought her here!”

“Should I take that as a yes?” Celestia asked with a small giggle.

“I didn’t mean to call you again, Princess,” Stone replied, once he had broken free from Berry and her hyperventilating. “It just kinda slipped out.”

“I understand, my little pony, and no harm has been done. Now, who is this energetic friend of yours?”

“This is Raspberry Vine, Your Highness.”

“And I have wanted to meet you for the longest time!” Berry surged forward in an explosion of excitement, and she danced on the tips of her hooves while her wings buzzed in delight. “You’re even more pretty than the paintings show! Do you have any gifts for me? I’ve been a good little filly, I promise I have!”

“My dear little pony, I think you have me confused with Santa Hooves,” Celestia replied. “Though, if you would like, I can put in a good word for you the next time I see him.”

Berry’s eyes shrank to pinpricks. “YOU KNOW SANTA HOOVES?!”

Celestia didn’t reply, but she did offer a sly wink before turning back to Stone. “Now, Stone, I know it may be difficult, but I need you to be careful about summoning me. I do have a kingdom to run, and while I am happy to offer my witness, I cannot neglect the needs of my other ponies.”

“I know; I promise it was an accident. I won’t do it again.”

“Good. I do have a few minutes I can spare, however, so why don’t we take a moment for proper introductions?”


“Stone!” Berry grabbed her new friend and shook him in excitement yet again. “Why didn’t you tell me you knew Princess Celestia?”

“Because I don’t?” Stone replied.

“Oo! Wait ‘till I tell everypony else about this! Torque will be so mad when he finds out he missed her!” Berry released her helpless victim, and they both began walking back to class. “And Sweet Berry will freak out! Light Heart will be grouchy about it, of course.”


Berry either didn’t hear the question, or simply chose not to answer it. “Stone, you have to introduce Princess Celestia to everypony else!”

“I can’t do that! I promised her that I wouldn’t call her again!”

“Stone, you gotta!” Berry gave Stone a shove that nearly knocked him over. “Once I tell Sweet Berry—”

“No! You can’t tell anypony what happened here!” Stone pleaded. “I'll get into so much trouble if my dad finds out about this!”

“Why? Didn't you say he used to be a guard?”

“Yeah, but he was on city patrol. He never guarded anything in the palace.”

“C'mon, Stone! Do you wanna make new friends or not?”

“Well, yeah, but—”

“But nothing. Most of the other kids already have you labeled as a loner, and they’re not going to talk to you. Unless you do something super spectacular, you’re already sunk.”

Stone snorted, and he stared at his hooves in frustration while they continued to walk. “I used to have friends. Lots of friends. Then all of this happened.”

“Hey, at the very least, let me tell my friends about what happened. I gotta tell them about this! I’m gonna explode if I have to keep this a secret.”

“No! Not a word, please!”

“Fine, fine,” Berry grumbled. “But this isn't very nice, you know.”

Stone Spring glanced over the sea of cardboard that was his room from the exalted position known as The Top of His Bed, puzzling over the uselessness of it all. He had finished his homework and had enjoyed yet another silent dinner with his father, and now the few remaining hours he had before bedtime were his to whittle away. There was the temptation to simply crawl into The Bed and be done with it, but he didn't feel tired and he would rather sit up with his thoughts, since he had a choice.

“Stone? You in here, bud?”

“Yup,” Stone replied while his father walked in and surveyed the mess.

“You're not unpacking?”

“Nope. I don't know why I should.”

Slate Grey let out a long breath, and he sat next to his son with a heavy whumpf. “Hey, look. I get this has been hard, and I really thought that last job would last longer. I liked Baltimare too, but this is home now, and we're not going to go anywhere for a long time.”

“That's what you said in Baltimare,” Stone shot with a bit of anger in his words. “And in Vanhoover, and in Manehattan, and in—”

“I know,” Slate cut off the rant, “but this is different. Mister Budget likes my work so far, and the other ponies in accounting have already asked me to look over a few other accounts. Things here are going a lot better than they have anywhere else.”

Stone didn't have any reply for that.

“Stone, I need you to help me out with this, okay?” his father continued. “We gotta work together on this, just like the Royal Guard works together.”

Stone closed his eyes. He didn’t want to hear yet another lecture on how working together as a cohesive unit was the only way to fly. “You're right, Dad. I'll work on pulling my own weight and giving you the backup you need.”

“I appreciate that, son.” Slate gave him a pat on the back, then stood and moved to the closest box. “Why don't you unpack your books first? That way, you can…”

Slate's words died in his throat he beheld the item he had grabbed. A small purple picture frame with seashells hot glued around the edge held a photo of Stone building a sandcastle, with his mother happily placing a flag on one tower and his father dutifully engaged in shoving more sand into a bucket with a smile.

“Our trip to Seaward Shoals,” Slate murmured while a hoof gently touched the image of his wife. “You couldn't be any older than four in this picture.”

“I made the frame in school,” Stone added. “Missus Willow told me Mom would love it.”

“I, um…” Slate gently placed the picture back and moved to the door with a not-so stealthy swipe of his nose and eyes. “I've got some work to get to. Why don’t—” Slate cleared his throat and inhaled sharply through his nose. “—why don’t you get unpacked, and I’ll check on you when I’m done.”

“Sure thing, Dad.”

Slate looked like he wanted to say something more, but he clamped his mouth shut and moved quietly out of the room instead of sharing. Stone’s gaze went back to the boxes after his father’s retreat, and after a few minutes, he simply crawled under his blankets and buried his face in his pillow.

That way, his dad wouldn’t see his tears.

Stone dutifully trudged down the sidewalk towards school, eager to forget the maelstrom of nightmares that had overrun his dreams last night. They had been growing in intensity over the past few weeks, and Stone was scared that they would never stop.

“Hey, Stone!” Berry called out, and she gave him a playful shove once she caught up to him. “Good morning! How are— wow! You look awful!”

“Thanks,” he grumbled.

“What happened? Did you get into a fight with a puckwudgie and lose?”

“No. I just didn't sleep well last night.”

“Oh. Your mane is all over the place.”

“Yeah, well, I don't really care,” Stone replied while taking a swipe at the mess that was perched on his head.

“Hey, you know how I promised not to tell anypony about Celestia?”

Stone instantly didn't like where this conversation was going. “What about it?”

Berry's ears folded back, and she offered a nervous chuckle. “In theory, how bad would it be if I did manage to tell somepony about that? Would it be just a little bad, or like a really big bad?”

Stone stopped in his tracks and put a hoof to his forehead. “Really really bad. Who did you tell?”

“Wait, now see, get this,” Berry replied. “I just had to tell Sweet Berry. She's been my bestest best friend since preschool. But I told her not to tell anypony else, so that makes it okay, right?”

“Until she tells somepony else about it, like you did.”

“Nah,” Berry waved a dismissive hoof at Stone. “Sweets is better than I am about keeping a secret. She won't say a thing.”

“Berry! Wait up!” A pale yellow unicorn dashed out from a house, across the lawn, and fell into step next to her friend.

“Hey Sweet,” Berry greeted the newcomer with a smile and a rhythmic five tap hoofbump.

“You must be Stone Spring,” Sweet leveled her gaze at him and tutted to herself. “The Bringer of Princesses.”

“It was all an accident, okay? I really didn't mean to.”

“When are you going to talk to her again?”

“Um, never?” Stone replied.

“Yeah, right. You're obviously on a first name basis with her, so she's bound to come back eventually. Do you think I could meet her too? I want to ask her a couple of questions.”

“No, because she's not coming back.”

“Oh, c'mon! Please!” Sweet folded her ears back and stuck her lower lip out. “I wanna meet her! You let Berry meet her!”

“Yes, but—”

“Please? Please, please pretty please with extra whipped cream and a cherry on top?”

“She's not gonna stop until she gets to see the Princess,” Berry casually added with a grin.

“No,” Stone repeated with a hard edge. “I promised the Princess that I wouldn’t do that again. She’s got more important things to do than meet-and-greets with us.”

“But what if she likes getting away from all of that?” Sweet retorted. “My Mom says she hates all of the boring meetings she has to go to. I bet the Princess likes being outside and with her subjects a lot more than she likes being cooped up in the palace.”

Stone opened his mouth to offer a rebuttal, but none came. “I suppose she might…”

“And shouldn’t a Princess talk with her citizens every now and then? How can she make things better if she doesn’t bother to find out what our problems are? By bringing her here, you can help her know what she needs to work on.”


“And after this, I promise I’ll never bug you again for anything, not even a pencil or an eraser. This’ll be the last time you need to bring her here, I promise.”

Stone was then abruptly stopped by two fillies blocking his path. Two fillies with bright, eager eyes and playfully pleading smiles, two fillies who, when he really looked at them, did look kinda cute…

“Oh, fine,” he finally huffed. “But this is the absolute last time, got it?”

Two heads nodded vigorously. “Of course! We’ll never say anything about it again, will we, Berry?”

“Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye,” Berry added while adding some odd pantomime motions to the words.

Stone tried to hold out for a moment more, but his defences had been overwhelmed and he knew it. “All right, all right. But turn around.”

“Why?” Sweet asked.

“Do you want to meet the Princess or not?”

The two fillies quickly turned, and Stone inhaled. “Celestia forgive me,” he whispered, “and with Celestia as my witness…”

Stone remained impassive while the bright flash of light startled the two fillies and sent them scrambling for the nearest bush. Princess Celestia had her back turned to them, and in her magic, a piece of chalk continued to write on the no-longer-there chalkboard.

“...and make sure you let me know if you have any questions, Twilight. I will— oh!” Celestia turned to Stone, then glanced around the neighborhood in confusion. “Good morning, Stone. I’m afraid you’ve caught me at a bad time, so I’ll need to ask you to be quick. What is it that you need me to witness?”

“It’s her!” Sweet Berry rushed the Princess and began dancing on tiphooves in front of her. “I can’t believe it! I thought Stone was just making it up!”

“Stone?” Princess Celestia gave him a slight glare, and he wilted under the intensity of it.

“I’m sorry! I just wanted to get Sweet Berry to quit pestering me, I swear! I knew I shouldn’t, but she talked me into it!”

Stone glanced to the two overly enthusiastic fillies, and Celestia chuckled. “Is that the only reason?”

“Um, well…”

“Young love.” The Princess shook her head slightly, but with a smile. “I can forgive you for this time, Stone, but I will need to witness your promise that you will not call upon me again unless it is for a serious need. Can you do that for me?”

“I can, Princess. I promise not to summon you again.”

“Thank you. Now, I can answer one question from each of you before I need to return to Canterlot,” Celestia said to the bundles of bouncing energy. “Sweet Berry, what is your question?”

“How often you have to dye your mane? Mom says you're super old, and that it's impossible for you to not have a ton of grey hairs.”

Stone slowly opened his lunch bag, fearful that his father had packed nothing but celery sticks, given that his rush to get to work had resembled a hippopotamus breakdancing to Tchatrotvsky's Danse des Bouffons while trying to drink a glass of orange juice. Thankfully, there was a sandwich of questionable composition and a carton of apple juice with the celery, and he wondered if Berry or Sweet would be willing to swap while they approached.

“Hey Stone,” Berry greeted. “Can we sit by you?”

“Sure,” he shrugged, and Berry gave him a warm smile while they took their seats and unpacked their lunches.

“Hey, you wouldn't want to swap your celery for some chips, would you?” Berry asked, and Stone shrugged again before passing over his cache. “Thanks. My Mom always packs the same cool ranch chips. They're kinda gross after the first dozen bags.”

“You're welcome.”

“You know, you’re a lot more polite than I would expect,” Sweet remarked. “Most new kids are usually kinda rude.”

“You can thank my Dad for that. He drilled all sorts of etiquette rules into my head. ‘A good Royal Guard is always courteous and polite.’”

“Your dad is a Royal Guard?” Sweet gasped. “Get out! No wonder you know Princess Celestia so well.”

Was a guard,” Stone corrected. “He quit not long after my …”

“Oh, right. Your Mom. Berry told me about that. I’m sorry it happened.”

“S’kay.” Stone sniffled. “Anyway, I’ve got all sorts of guard stuff rattling around up here.” He tapped the side of his head. “And no, I don’t know Princess Celestia.”

“You don’t?” Sweet glanced to Berry, who held up a celery stick to her as a reply. “But, how did you get her to come visit with us this morning?”

“I kinda found that on accident. Apparently, whenever somepony says ‘with Celestia as my witness,’ she shows up to actually witness it.”

“But she didn’t show up just now.” Sweet took a bite of her celery and began to chew loudly.

“I think that’s ‘cause I didn’t need her to witness something.”

“But you didn’t have her witness anything earlier, either,” Berry interjected. “Why did it work then, but not now?”

“Search me. Honestly, I would be fine if it stopped. I don’t want to get in trouble for bringing her here.”

“Well, that’s too bad,” Sweet remarked. “You could make a lot of friends here with that, you know.”

“I could? How?”

It was just then that a blue earth pony cleared his throat and smiled. “Hey, are you Stone Spring? I heard you could summon Princess Celestia, and I wanted to see if it was true.”

Stone glanced to the two fillies, who both had eager expressions, and Berry nodded in encouragement. Stone mulled the thought over for a moment while telling himself he was trying to come up with a way to say no, but when two more ponies approached and asked the blue unicorn if Stone was really going to bring the Princess there, Stone made up his mind.

“With Celestia as my witness…”

Stone sat as the bright flash of golden magic cleared from the eyes of the four new ponies who had come to ask about Princess Celestia, but when he got a good look at the Princess, he instantly realized he’d gone too far. At that moment, she was singing a little nonsense tune to herself while her hooves worked the shampoo in her mane into a vigorous lather, and two brushes were hard at work on the undersides of her wings.

She then realized where she was, and with a small ‘eep!’ of alarm and a rapid burst of magic, Princess Celestia cleared the brushes and soap. Another flash restored her regalia, and she then stood before the crowd with a frown for Stone, despite the water that continued to trickle down her withers and pool by her hooves.

“Woah! It actually worked!” a pony exclaimed. “Princess! Can you come to Fillydelphia for the next Summer Sun Celebration?”

“Perhaps, my little pony, but may I have a word with Stone Spring in private?”

The small gaggle of ponies quickly parted, and Stone was sure he heard somepony proclaim that this meant big trouble for the small colt. Stone’s ears folded back and his eyes went to the ground, but he followed the Princess around the corner of the school and stopped with her when they were away from eager ears.

“Stone, this needs to stop,” Celestia said in a soft but firm tone. “I have been here six times in the last two days, and not once have you actually needed my witness for anything.”

“I know, I know,” he moaned. “But you don’t understand! It’s been so hard to make friends before now. Everytime I could get one pony to talk to me, my Dad would make me move to a new city, and I’d have to start all over again. I’ve got at least a dozen new friends now because of you, and I just …”

Princess Celestia waited for Stone to think through the end of his statement.

“I just want things to get back to normal, that’s all.”

“I understand, Stone, but imagine if every pony who had trouble making friends summoned me to assist them. I would have no time to take care of my other duties, now would I?”

“I suppose not.”

“Please also consider that you are making friends under false pretences. Your classmates want to be your friend because they think you have a personal relationship with me. What will happen when they find out the truth of the matter?”

Stone nodded slowly. “They’ll probably be mad and stop being my friend.”

“I realize this is difficult, but anything in life that is worthwhile tends to be so,” Celestia offered with a note of kindness. “I believe you will have great success just by being yourself, and by showing ponies who Stone Spring really is. Trust yourself, my little pony. Make your life the way you want it to be with your own actions, not because of anything I have done.”

Stone thought over this for several long moments. “Okay, Princess. I’ll try.”

“Good. Perhaps you should speak with your father regarding these frequent moves as well. The two of you can work together, and he may be able to offer a great deal of support, once he understands your predicament.”

Stone again hesitated, and when he replied, he could hear the hesitation in his own words. “I guess I could try, Princess, but I doubt he’ll listen.”

“Give him a chance. You never know.”

Next Chapter: Reconciliation Estimated time remaining: 12 Minutes
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