"Thank you for being such a gentlecolt, Big Mac," said Cheerilee as they enjoyed daisy sandwiches together while watching the sun set on a rather too interesting February day for the pair. "And I apologize for this silly little incident. It's going to be quite the embarrassment after the entire town saw us like that."
"Eeyup," drawled Big Macintosh, prompting a laugh from the former impromptu couple. "And for what it's worth, Miss Cheerilee, I'd like to apologize for my little sis' bein' a part of getting us involved in, well, bein' involved."
"Oh, think nothing of it. You know how those three are always causing trouble. It was inevitable that they'd do something like this eventually. Besides, I believe it was little Sweetie Belle who was the ringleader on this particular scheme of theirs."
"Heh, I suppose you're right. Trouble does seem to follow wherever those girls go."
"And speaking of trouble, I think I may have to have a word with Sweetie Belle's sister about keeping her romance novels out of plain sight," chuckled Cheerilee.
"Romance novels?" a perplexed Big Mac asked, raised eyebrow and all.
"Oh, you should have seen Sweetie Belle when she was talking about how the 'gifts' I'd be receiving from my special somepony would be better than the one those three girls gave me." Cheerilee stated with a suggestive look on her face, hoping to make the apparent euphemism even more obvious.
"I suppose Miss Rarity would enjoy those kinds of books, wouldn't she?" Big Mac said bemusedly.
"Indeed," laughed the magenta mare. As the two finished their sandwiches, Cheerilee stood up and readied to depart for home after an eventful day. However, before she could leave, Big Mac spoke up once more. "Please, Miss Cheerilee, let me walk you home. It'd be the only polite thing to do."
"Of course, thank you. As I said before, you are quite the gentlecolt." Cheerilee smiled.
"You're welcome, ma'am," said Big Mac with a rustic charm.
As the two walked to Cheerilee's home, the school teacher thought to inquire something of Big Macintosh just as Sweetie Belle and her friends had inquired of her: "Hey, Big Mac, why don't you have a special somepony? You are quite the charmer," giggled Cheerilee.
The workhorse blushed, pink showing through his red coat. "I, uh, thank you kindly. I suppose I've always been single because I'm always busy with the farm."
"You can't always be busy. There is a such thing as an off-season, you know. Which I'm pretty sure is going on right now, actually." The magenta mare wore a sly grin.
Big Macintosh's blush grew even brighter. "Well, to be honest, I'm a mite shy. I don't usually talk so much, neither."
Cheerilee gave him an amused eye-roll. "Well then, I think you should get out more!"
"Um, well, I don't know, Cheerilee." While it hardly seemed possible for such a large stallion, Big Mac shrunk, and his ears drooped down the side of his head.
"Oh come on! I'm sure if you tried, you could find yourself a nice marefriend in no time at all!"
"Well, I suppose you do have a point." The stallion perked up slightly. "And thank you for the little confidence boost."
"Of course! And I mean it, too." Cheerilee gave the stallion a sincere smile.
"Why, thank you. Though, if you don't mind me asking, what about yourself? As you said, this whole debacle was caused because those little fillies caught wind that you're a single mare."
It was Cheerilee's turn to blush. "Well, I guess you could say I'm married to my job, so at least for the time being, I'm really not interested in pursuing a relationship with anypony."
"Well, whenever you do decide to look for a good colt to settle down with, I'm sure you'll be able to get yerself plenty of good choices."
"Aww, that's sweet of you to say." The two shared a warm, friendly smile.
A short time later, the two finally arrived at Cheerilee's abode. However, before departing into her home, Cheerilee said, "Thanks for being so understanding about this whole mess. I'm glad it didn't turn out any more awkward than it already did. I'd hate for our friendship to be ruined."
"Eeyup." Replied the ever insightful red stallion. The two shared one last smile, which turned into laughter, after which the two said their farewells and each resumed their own life.
* * * * * * *
"So girls, who do you think we should prank this year for April Foal's Day?" asked a mischievous Scootaloo to her two almost equally mischievous friends Applebloom and Sweetie Belle as they planned at the treehouse for tomorrow's upcoming shenanigans.
"Huh, I dunno," said Applebloom, "Maybe Pinkie Pie? She always loves a good prank!"
"Uh uh, no way!" A look that could only be described as abject horror overcame Sweetie Belle's face as she spoke. "We do not, under any circumstances, want to prank Pinkie Pie."
"Well, why not?"
"Because, if we prank her, she'll prank us like ten times worse," Scootaloo explained, her face sharing Sweetie Belle's expression of sheer terror.
"What do you two know about it that I don't? I don't remember ever prankin' Pinkie before," a somewhat confused Applebloom inquired.
Sweetie Belle began, "Well, one time, when you were sick, me and Scootaloo were really bored, so we decided to visit Pinkie, and we had the brilliant idea to mix some rotten milk into the frosting she was making for her daily cupcake fix."
"Which was totally my idea!" interjected a boastful (one could even say prideful) Scootaloo.
"Yeah, so as I was saying, we had this huge bowl, no, cauldron of pink frosting we made with rotten milk, and Pinkie Pie was too busy singing about cupcakes-"
"Again," groaned Scootaloo as she rolled her eyes at the pink pony's typically strange behaviour.
"-to notice what we were doing," continued Sweetie Belle.
"How'd that go?" asked Applebloom.
"It was awesome! ...Until she tasted the stuff and found out about our little prank. Then she got this crazy smile on her face and declared a prank war. Then all of a sudden me and Sweetie Belle were completely covered in all that pink gunk."
"It was totally gross, and it took us all day to get cleaned up," Sweetie Belle grimaced at the memory.
"For a while there I was afraid my coat was going to be permanently pink!"
"Not to mention the smell." Sweetie Belle scrunched her nose.
"Yeah, ugh," retched Scootaloo in agreement.
"Huh, then yeah, maybe prankin' Pinkie ain't such a bright idea after all," stated Applebloom, ever one to point out the obvious. "But then who?"
"Well, since last year we pranked my sister Rarity..." pondered Sweetie Belle, remembering the fashionista running around in a panic as she saw all of her current projects had been tie-dyed, screaming that those girls were going to be dead when she got her hooves on them (fortunately for the three fillies, they had made sure that the dyes washed off with water). Her eyes brightened as she came up with an idea. "Oh, I know, why don't we prank somepony in your family Applebloom?" exclaimed an excited Sweetie Belle, her eyes sparkling at the thought of getting a laugh or two from the down-to-earth Apple family.
"Sure, why not? Sounds like fun!" agreed Applebloom. "And Ah think I know just what we should do!" The grin of a pony ready to cause trouble graced the three fillies' faces.
"CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS APRIL FOALS PRANKSTERS YAY!" shouted the three as they leaped into the air before heading to town to prepare.
* * * * * * *
The next day, the three fillies met at school, ready to discuss their plans for the afternoon. However, just as they were really starting to get into all the many hilarious possible outcomes their escapades could lead to, their teacher Miss Cheerilee walked into the classroom. Now, normally this wouldn't be cause for the three to stop talking as class hadn't formally started yet (not that they would normally stop talking at that point either), but today, the moment their teacher walked into the room, they had the feeling they should silence themselves if they knew what was good for them.
Cheerliee's expression said it all. Her eyes were narrowed, eyebrows slanted, forehead creased, and she was frowning in a most frustrated manner. She did not at all look like the sweet and kind teacher she usually was, and on this day of April Foals, it was easy to tell she wasn't going to take any nonsense from her students, which was unfortunately what most them had on their minds. Even at that very moment, Diamond Tiara was pestering Twist.
A thunderous thud filled the room as Cheerilee dropped her heavy books flat onto her desk, causing the class to snap to attention, startled by the noise. Cheerilee then began writing rather violently some problem on the blackboard for her class to solve before her ear perked up as she heard Diamond Tiara's tormenting of Twist. Having already come to the class with a dearth of patience, she snapped at the pink filly: "Young lady, just what do you think you are doing? Class is starting!"
"I, uh, was just..." stammered Diamond Tiara.
"She wath picking on me!" Twist explained.
"Hey, you tattler!" retorted Diamond Tiara.
Cheerilee had had enough of this. "Both of you, be quiet!" The two squabbling fillies instantly silenced themselves as they shrunk down into their desks. "I don't have any patience for tomfoolery today, class. I mean it." Cheerilee glared at her students, willing them to stay silent.
However, the young Applebloom spoke up, against her better judgement. "Miss Cheerilee, what's wrong?" The little filly frowned. "You're always nice and kind and sweet. I don't think I've ever seen you... well, just downright mean like you were just now! Is something wrong?" Applebloom's face pleaded with Cheerilee to open up and share her troubles.
The teacher sighed and sat down on her haunches. "...You're right Applebloom. I'm not myself today. I'm sorry class; I'm just not feeling well today. In fact, I've been feeling sick all week, and well, with April Foals Day here, and with how stressed I am right now..." Cheerilee seemed to drift off in worried thought for a moment before continuing. "...Uh, because of how this sickness has been making me feel, I just didn't want to have to deal with any of it. Can you forgive me, my little ponies?"
Everypony in the class nodded and gave Cheerilee a smile showing they understood.
Cheerilee returned the smiles with her own. "Thank you. Now, let's start over, shall we?"
The rest of class time went peacefully, but three particularly perceptive friends could tell their teacher was deeply worried about something.
* * * * * * *
Later that day at Sweet Apple Acres, Big Macintosh was finishing his daily rounds of the vast Apple family orchard, making sure each tree was healthy and strong, and keeping them expertly pruned for ideal growth during the upcoming season. Satisfied with a day's work well done, he headed home to the Apple family residence. The stallion had some freshening up to do.
The red stallion had a big day ahead of him, and for the past twenty minutes he had been getting ready. He had even replaced the harness he was constantly wearing with a handsome black bow tie. He checked his mirror to make sure his mane was tidy, his coat was well-groomed, and most importantly, to make sure he didn't have anything between his teeth on this important day. As it turns out, he did have something between his teeth, but after abolishing the offending particle of oatmeal from the morning's breakfast, he felt ready to tackle the day head on. Grabbing the picnic basket graciously prepared for him by his grandmother and a bouquet of flowers for the occasion, he headed out the door to make his way to his day's big event.
* * * * * * *
The magenta mare staring back at her through her bathroom mirror looked miserable. Her mane was in disarray, her eyes were baggy and bloodshot, and at a glance it was obvious that she was completely exhausted. As if that wasn't enough, she felt like her stomach was trying to jump up out her throat and as if a hammer had been spending all night pounding the inside of her head. In short, Cheerilee felt and looked terrible.
It was almost the end of March (March 30th to be exact), and while Cheerilee had already felt somewhat off during the past couple of weeks, it was the beginning of this week when it all seemed to hit full force. The school teacher sighed and washed her face before stepping on a her scale to note another upsetting fact: Cheerilee had gained almost ten pounds in the past month. Now, she wasn't a mare that constantly fretted over her weight, but this development was alarming, if not entirely unexpected, as Cheerilee had noticed that she had been eating more almost subconsciously. She had tried to stop herself, but her body just wouldn't let her.
Yes, something was definitely wrong with her, and it was beginning to affect her teaching ability. With the headaches she'd been getting, she could only tolerate so much. Fortunately, her class was usually well-behaved, so she had been able to hide it so far. But with how she seemed to be becoming increasingly irritated with the world in general as her condition grew worse, she knew it wasn't going to last, especially with a certain holiday that was less than a week away. Cheerilee lamented this fact, as she would much rather not have to spend April Foal's Day a miserable pile of seething frustration with the universe.
She continued on preparing for her day over in the kitchen, where she was readying herself some breakfast, despite her nausea, which in a way actually made her feel even hungrier than she would be otherwise. On this particular morning, she had decided some toast with butter and honey would hit the spot perfectly. Just the thought of it was enough to perk her up. After putting herself a couple of slices of bread in the toaster, she went about opening her refrigerator and getting herself some milk to drink. However, when she opened up the milk jug, the smell was almost enough to make her lose the contents of her already somewhat upset stomach.
"Ugh, disgusting! And didn't I just buy this gallon the other day? Surely it can't be bad already!" Indeed, after checking the date printed on the gallon of milk, she saw it was supposed to be fine for at least another week and a half, despite what her nose must be telling her. However, she told herself that if it smelled that bad, something must be wrong with it, so she unceremoniously threw out the better part of a gallon of milk.
Grumbling to herself about not having her morning glass of milk, she begrudgingly poured herself a tall glass of orange juice. Much to her relief, this particular glass of orange juice had a fragrance that helped to clear her head, a flavour that got rid of the morning's terrible taste, and a substance to it that helped settle her stomach into a pleasantly calm state. At that moment, she heard a ding; her bread was toasted.
Grabbing the butter and honey, she found that she was feeling generous with the amounts of those two ingredients she wanted with her morning meal, despite the fact that she knew this wouldn't help her weight gain she had been fretting over mere moments ago. She just couldn't be bothered to care in her current state. After spreading an amount of butter on her toast that could only be described as 'extra', and using about triple the amount of honey than would be considered sane, she took a bite into her (seemingly) long awaited breakfast. Overjoyed with the morning's culinary creation, she hungrily devoured her breakfast before grabbing the lunch she had prepared for herself the night before and then finally heading off to the schoolhouse, as ready as she would ever be for taking on a class of fillies and colts in her less than ideal condition.
* * * * * * *
Big Macintosh could barely resist the urge to gallop his way to his destination that April Foal's Day. He just couldn't wait to see the pony he knew was meeting him there, a pony he had been dating for several weeks now ever since they'd had a chance to really start to get to know one another. Although, it had taken a few days for him to work up the courage to formally ask her out, as he was at heart a very shy and quiet pony. Of course, that was a plus in the eyes of his very special somepony, something he was very grateful for, as he had never been forced to leave his comfort zone with her.
The weather was perfect for this day, the day he had decided to let his marefriend know how much he really cared for her. He supposed it was somewhat akin to taking the next step forward in their relationship, and although April Foals was a strange day to make this step, it allowed him and his date to get away from the town where they were much more likely to be safe from the prank barrage on Ponyville's residents Pinkie Pie was almost certainly orchestrating.
The stallion picked up his pace as he saw he was close to his destination: the same gazebo where he and his marefriend had enjoyed their first date.
* * * * * * *
Cheerilee found herself woken up by the ever more incessant-and-unbearable-each-day ringing of her alarm clock on this, the morning of March 31st. Cheerilee wished with all her being at that particular moment that she could just stay in bed, but she knew she had responsibilities to meet. A whole classroom full of them. Still feeling as sick as ever, she got up to ready herself even though she felt at her worst in the mornings. As slothfully as time allowed, she shambled over to the shower with hopes that the warm water would help her feel better. Sadly, it did not.
Soldiering on through her morning, Cheerilee was preparing the day's breakfast when she went to open the new gallon of milk she had bought yesterday to replace the one she had thrown away the morning before. She instantly regretted this action, as this milk smelled just as abhorrent to her as the last, and with her cranky stomach, she finally lost it, running to the bathroom to vomit. Yet strangely, she felt much better after getting all that out of her system (literally), and although still somewhat shaky, she continued on with the goal of eating a good breakfast so as to get the best start to her day still possible.
As for the offending dairy product, instead of chucking the whole gallon out like the day before, she made a note to return it to the store and see if there was somehow a mistake with the expiration dates on the milk she had been buying. After that unpleasant dairy-related event, the rest of the morning fortunately carried on much like the morning before, and soon enough Cheerilee was out the door and on the way to the school, ready to put on a brave face for her students.
Fortunately, despite her slowly cracking resolve, that was not too hard a task for Cheerilee at this point as she knew her calling was teaching, and she loved every second of it, so the day's class time went off without a hitch. However, Cheerilee did fear she would soon crack under the stress of her worsening mystery affliction, especially with the one of the hardest days for a teacher to keep children in line just around the corner. That fear led to the decision to see a doctor as soon as possible.
She made her way to the Ponyville Hospital's health clinic and was relieved to find there was not going to be much of a wait, if the scarcity of ponies in the waiting room was any indication. She made her way to the check-in desk, and was pleased to see a friendly face behind the counter.
"Ah, hello there Cheerilee!" Nurse Red Heart warmly greeted the schoolteacher. "I'd say I'd hope you're feeling well, but I suppose if that were true you wouldn't be here." Cheerilee gave the nurse a chuckle; the two mares were long time friends, having grown up together in Ponyville and occasionally seeing each other as Nurse Red Heart lent her services to the elementary school every so often.
"Indeed, I've been feeling quite sick recently. I was hoping I could set an appointment for later today."
"Not a problem, since, as you may have noticed, we have a relatively open schedule today." Nurse Red Heart grinned and gestured towards the waiting room only occupied by one pony who seemed to have just a slight cold. "How does an hour from now work for you?"
"That will be perfect, thank you very much Red Heart," said Cheerilee as she gave the nurse a grateful smile.
As Cheerilee left, she thought to herself 'Things are finally going my way for once this week. I have an appointment with the doctor so I can get to the bottom of whatever is making me feel so unwell, and I'll be able to return that bad milk too!' And so, Cheerilee went off to the grocery store to solve her dairy-related conundrum.Shortly after she arrived, she found a store employee just standing around that seemed to have nothing better to do than to be pestered by a Cheerilee wanting some decent milk. Cheerilee made her approach to her unsuspecting victim.
The victim in question spotted her. "Hello ma'am," he said, "how may I help you?"
Cheerilee grabbed the gallon of milk out of the bag she had been carrying it in. "Well, I have this milk that I just bought yesterday which shouldn't be expired for another two weeks, but when I opened it up this morning it smelled like it had spoiled already," explained Cheerilee.
The employee confirmed that the expiration date was in fact not for another two weeks, opened up the jug, and took a good whiff of the milk. "It smells perfectly fine to me."
"Wait, what?" Cheerilee sniffed the milk herself, and still found the scent absolutely revolting, her face scrunching up at the scent. "How can you say that?"
"Well, it looks fine, and it doesn't smell any different than any milk I've ever drunk." He then took a sip of the milk. "It tastes just like any other milk, too." Cheerilee was stunned at this development, as from her point of view, the stallion should have been puking with how rancid the milk seemed to her, and this was very apparent looking at her expression.
"Ma'am? Is there, um, something wrong?" asked the employee.
Putting on a sheepish grin, Cheerilee said, "No, no. I, uh, I'll just be going now. Keep the milk." Hoping to save herself any further embarrassment, she fled the store.
She thought to herself, 'If there was nothing wrong with that milk, then why in Equestria was I so revolted by it?' Her eyes widened as she realized it must have something to do with the way she had been feeling, but she didn't know what that could mean. She did, however, have a premonition that it couldn't mean anything good.
After calming down, she made her way back to the health clinic, where she was shortly let in for her appointment.
"Right this way, Cheerilee, the doctor will see you now." Nurse Red Heart's smile helped calm somewhat the on-edge Cheerilee as she took her to be seated in an examination room. After a few more minutes of waiting, a caramel-colored unicorn stallion with a brown mane and heart monitor for a cutie mark walked into the room and shook Cheerilee's hoof.
"Hello, I'm Doctor Cardio. As today is a rather slow day, I'll be the one to attend to you, Miss Cheerilee."
"Thank you, Doctor," replied the magenta mare.
"Now, what seems to be the problem?"
"Well..." began Cheerilee, before rattling off her symptoms, as Dr. Cardio took notes.
After a few moments, the doctor said "Alright... morning sickness... chronic headaches... unusual tiredness and exhaustion... tell me, Miss Cheerilee, have your eating patterns changed? Have you felt like you've needed to eat more, or had any cravings or aversions to any foods?"
Thinking back on her apparent sudden revulsion at milk, and with how much she had been craving sweets lately, she answered, "Yes... all three."
"Have you experienced any unexplained weight gain?" Dr. Cardio asked.
Cheerilee didn't like where this was going. "Yes... about ten pounds." Cheerilee pouted at that fact.
The doctor checked a few things off on his clipboard, reset the glasses on his face, and said, "Miss Cheerilee, it looks like you're pregnant."
Cheerilee was aghast at this claim, "PREGNANT? But I haven't even had sex in ages!" She racked her mind for how it could be possible for the doctor to make such an absurd claim. She hadn't even had a coltfriend for the better part of the year, much less had sexual relations with anypony. But then it hit her.
'Oh no... that love poison... we were under its curse for hours without supervision. Oh Celestia, we were so foolish to assume nothing had happened! Then I guess that means the father is...
* * * * * * *
Big Macintosh was the first to make it to the gazebo for his April Foal's Day date, but after just a few minutes, he saw the beautiful mare he was waiting for.