As the bearers of the Elements gathered round to discuss solutions with Equestria's immortal rulers, Button stood nearby with a troubled look on her face. She looked down at the milling throng of tiny eqimorphs below, and then cast a long look at Davenport, who was preoccupied with holding the door shut with his hind legs. The beige mare took a deep breath and walked over to him, a solemn look on her face.
He met her gaze with a gentle smile as she approached. "How're you holdin' up there, sweetheart?"
She glanced behind her at the princesses and heroes in deep consultation, and leaned in to speak to him in a low voice. "Davenport, open the door. There's something I have to do."
The smile fled from his face as he looked in his wife's eyes. "Wh-what do you mean?"
Button's face was serene with terrible resolve. "Discord was wrong. Twilight Sparkle and the Elements of Harmony didn't pull out the 'plug' and unleash this catastrophe. I pulled myself out. And I think that I'm the only one who can stop it."
Her voice faltered as she reached up a hoof to caress his cheek. "I'm afraid this'll be the third time I'll be leaving you in the lurch. Three strikes and I'm out." Tears began to well in her eyes. "I hope you can forgive me."
Davenport's green eyes went wide in disbelief. "But... but..."
She reached up with her other hoof and held his face between them. "I wanted so much to open that store with you, to go on more wonderful trips with you, to give you a house full of beautiful foals, and to grow old sitting next to you on the best couch we could find. But right now nopony's dreams are gonna get to come true if I don't put a stop to this madness."
With that she leaned in and kissed him, tender and lingering and sweet as tears rolled down both ponies' faces. It was a tremendous act of will for the beige mare to disengage, averting her amber eyes before she lost all her resolve. The tan stallion stepped aside from the door, choking back a sob, and allowed her to slip through.
Rainbow Dash drew herself up and crossed her forelegs in front of her chest. "I say we take a big boulder and just block it off. Easy peasey, mild and breezy."
Rarity huffed and turned up her snout. "And I suppose you're implying that I should supply the boulder."
Applejack gave the alabaster unicorn a wry look. "Sugarcube, y'all gotta git over the whole Tom thing. Nopony blames ya fer gettin' hornswoggled by that patchwork sidewinder. He got us all the same with his bamboozlin' ways."
Twilight sadly shook her head. "I doubt Discord would make it that easy to stop. If I were to hazard a guess, any obstruction would face a build up of pressure as more and more little creatures popped into existence behind it, until the object's structural integrity failed or it was blasted free."
Dash frowned, giving her forelock a petulant toss. "Nuts! There's gotta be something out there we could seal it off with."
Pinkie Pie's voice sounded out, her usual chipper tone quite absent. "Not some thing, some pony..."
They all turned to see her craning her neck over the railing, her mane and tail draping down in leaden sheets around her slumped shoulders.
They all exchanged uncertain glances, as Applejack spoke up. "D-don't be silly, Pink. Ain't no pony could keep that sorta thing under their hat..."
Pinkie turned to them with tears welling in her eyes as she pointed toward the street below. "I'm not being silly, I'm being the opposite of silly. Look!"
They all crowded to the edge of the balcony with the princesses looming behind them. Down below, the distant beige figure of Button Stitch trotted out through the shimmering force field of magic that Twilight had laid down earlier that day. The bright yellow and green propeller beanie bobbed in the grip of her teeth.
When she stepped out into the horde of little pink and purple creatures, they parted before her, their babble raising in intensity as she went out among them. They formed a circle around her as she stopped and sat on her haunches, raising the beanie over her head with her hooves.
Twilight Sparkle's eyes went wide in horror as she reached out a hoof. "NO! Stop her!" An instant later she winked out in a flash of white light as two princesses and two pegasi dove over the rail with flaring wings.
The cap settled on Button's brow as the lavender unicorn burst into existence beside her. "Button, take that off right now!"
Her horn sparked with magic as she tried to yank the beanie away, only to find herself thrown through the air by a backlash of kinetic energy as the bizarre headgear remained firmly rooted in place.
Rainbow Dash arrived a split second later, clapping her front hooves on the propeller. It started spinning rapidly, turning her into a wailing multicolored disk before flinging her away in a spiraling trajectory over the rooftops of Ponyville.
The soft thud of a pony crashing through a thatched roof echoed in the distance, followed by a faint, sandy voice calling out in shaky reassurance. "I'm okay!"
A trickle of syrupy pink liquid began to trail down Button Stitch's forehead, winding into her eyesocket and blending with her tears as they rolled down her cheek.
Fluttershy touched down beside the prostrate unicorn and helped her to an unsteady sitting position. The beige shopkeeper gave them a sad smile. "I'm sorry about that. I guess it wants to stay where it is."
Twilight shook her head to clear it, looking at her with pleading eyes. "Why? Why are you doing this?"
The princesses landed beside her, their delicately chiseled faces eloquent with shock and dismay.
Button shrugged and waved a hoof at the beanie on her head as another trail of pink started down from the brim. "Discord said that I was meant to be a plug for this thing. I just thought it was time to put myself back in my proper labradoodle pimento."
She let out a long, shuddering sob as a torrent of pink with white and purple swirls oozed out over her face, as if a can of paint had been overturned on her head. As the horrified ponies looked on, it flowed over her shoulders and back and dribbled down her legs and haunches, until she was completely covered. It seemed to seep into her coat, going from shiny and damp to dry in seconds. The lank curls of her mane began to twirl and flow with an uncanny life of their own, going purple with white spirals. On her flank, the image of a screw and baseball resolved out of the vanishing pink glaze.
The creature bowed its head, sounding a mournful piano chord. Transparent cubes appeared at the corners of its eyes and dropped with a rattle to the cobblestones at its rubbery hooves as its shoulders shook.
The two princesses and their faithful pony subjects had not been aware of the hush that had fallen over Ponyville as they stared aghast at Button Stitch's transformation, but their ears perked up as the sound of tiny sniffles and whimpers arose from the carpet of miniature pony creatures around them.
The full sized version rubbed its fore hoof across its eyes, knocking away a few small cubes, and opened them to reveal a pair of spiraling purple irises. It stood with a resolute look on its face, and turned toward the center of town, rearing up with a raised front hoof. "Ba weep graw neep ninibong! Kelbo normunchis qwalabimbingy datootle! Watanka mooty! Diddy wah diddy!"
As one the sweeping pink horde of miniature ponyoids turned to face their interlocutor, replying in unison with a multitude of squeaky voices. "Diddy wah diddy!"
Princess Celestia leaned in and nudged Twilight with a look of puzzlement on her face. "Could somepony tell me what diddy wah diddy means?" The lavender unicorn could only shrug helplessly at her mentor.
Princess Luna pawed at the ground, her brow furrowing beneath her ebon tiara. "T'would further behoove us to know whether this creature intends us weal or woe..."
Screwball looked over its shoulder, straining to focus its swirling eyes in their direction. It spoke slowly, painstakingly squeezing out each syllable. "Doo knot bea afrode... af... afrayed. Thay umdurstind. Diz warld knot foar theb. Thay gow hmoe nou!"
With that, it turned away, reaching up with its fore hoof to grasp the brim of the propeller beanie and giving it a tug. The cap lifted it off with an audible pop, releasing a dome of mane into writhing spiral shapes that almost resembled a twisted sort of tiara. With a look of concentration on its face, it took hold of the edges of the cap and turned it inside out, and then held it down at ground level.
With its free hoof it beckoned to the horde of little creatures, who approached it with a subdued gibbering. One by one, they walked into the inverted cap, vanishing in a soft puff of smoke, the propeller turning a quarter turn like a turnstile with each tiny ponyoid that passed through.
As dusk began to gather, the final tiny duplicate stood at the entry to the inside out beanie. It looked up at Screwball with a crooked toothed smile, and spoke with what could be termed a solicitous tone. "Bing?"
The spiral eyed gatekeeper nodded, reaching out to pat the little creature on the head. "Bada bing! Cromutney klaatu, barada nikto." In response, the diminutive pony surged up and hugged the larger being's outstretched hoof, then let loose and skipped through the opening, causing the propeller to make one final quarter turn.
Its task complete, Screwball let out a sound like a descending xylophone scale and flipped the cap right side out once more, then placed it on its head, recapturing the loose tendrils of its mane beneath the yellow dome.
It climbed to its feet and faced the princesses and the bearers of the Elements, who had gathered to keep vigil as it went about its task. The swirling ponyform scrunched up its features as it struggled to articulate its words. "Thair, jsut mi gnou. Mi awer teh ownley wan lepht."
The princesses stepped forward, the elder casting a soft glow as her younger sibling sparkled in the deepening gloom. They had been watching solemnly all afternoon, only excusing themselves briefly to raise the moon and lower the sun.
Celestia gave a nod to her sister and addressed the pink and purple creature. "And what are we going to do with you? You are no longer a thing of this world, and we are uncertain if you are a danger to it or not."
Screwball heaved a sigh resembling a morose, off key harmonica, and stumbled out a response. "Mi umpderstab. Mi gow fahr alway. Kno bi dagner to pnomies."
It raised its hoof to its mouth and blew on it, puffing out its cheeks as its eyes went crossed. Its flanks expanded as if they were being inflated and it began to rise up from the ground. The thing hung its head as more glittering cubes dropped from its eyes and clattered on the paving stones.
A fierce cry sounded from the doorway of the library tree, startling everypony who stood about bearing witness. "NO! You are NOT going anywhere!"
Davenport galloped up to the floating pink poniform and reared up, throwing his forelegs around the creature's neck in such a tight embrace that its swirling eyes bugged out as it made a sound like a squeaky toy. He buried his face in its dull pinkish coat, tears streaming down his face. "You are coming home with me, Button Stitch."
The creature raised a shaking hoof, trying weakly to pry him loose. "D-dabenporp... Mi knot Bupdon endymoor."
He held her tighter, dropping to his haunches and pulling the bobbing equimorph down toward the ground. "I don't care how you look or how you talk. You're still my wife, and I still love you."
Princess Luna shared a glance with her sister as she stepped up beside her, and cleared her throat for attention. "We are touched by the faith thou dost keep with thy beloved, but..."
Davenport turned and fixed both princesses with a steady gaze. "If you're planning to banish her, your Highness, then... then I'm ready to give you plenty of reason to banish me too."
Screwball squirmed in his grasp, the cubes from its eyes tumbling down over the earnest stallion's shoulder. "Dabvney pleatze. Mi knaut worp itz. Phind anober myar, phorket haboud mi."
The tan stallion closed his eyes and began rocking the stunned being back and forth. "No! I'm never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around or desert you..." He squeezed tighter, causing the pink and purple creature's swirling eyes to bulge. "Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never tell a lie or hurt you."
A strangled honk bubbled up from the depths of the equine thing's chest, and suddenly its head and rump began to rapidly expand on either side of Davenport's embrace like a balloon with a string tied around its middle.
The gathering of onlookers stared aghast as the tan stallion held on tight, oblivious to the alarming inflation of the spiraling ponymorph. Its limbs and features vanished into the swelling pinkish membrane, save for its wide, spiraling eyes that went crossed as cracks began to form in the surface, streaming coruscating beams of multicolored light.
Pinkie Pie's frantic voice galvanized them all into action. "HIT THE DECK!"
Everypony, including the princesses, threw themselves to the ground as Screwball exploded in a burst of shimmering rainbow sparkles.
As the report sounded in the distance, echoing off the surrounding hills, they all looked up to see Davenport, blinking in confusion with his face tinged with soot and his mane and tail blown straight back behind him. His forelegs were wrapped around an equally disoriented, beige coated mare whose mane stuck out in all directions as she stared into space with slightly crossed amber eyes.
Shreds of pink and purple were slowly drifting down from the sky all around them, and there was a scorch mark on the ground at their feet. The pony couple tottered, and fell stiffly sideways like ponikins that had been shoved over.
Rarity scrambled to her hooves with a shriek. "Button! Davenport!" She rushed forward, with Fluttershy leaping up to follow close behind her, intent on rendering aid to the stricken ponies.
Both mares screeched to a stop as the yellow and green propeller beanie drifted down in front of them. The butter colored pegasus let out a terrified squeak and dove for cover behind her disheveled friend as it came to a stop at about eye level, the propeller on top spinning with a low, ominous buzz.
It shuddered and puffed out a gout of smoke, and with an abrupt "FOOMP" sound, a full sized pony creature popped out of it and landed on the cobblestones with a click of its hooves. It reached up, grasped the cap by its brim, and tipped it politely with a friendly greeting. "Bing!"
Rarity let out another squeal and spun on her hooves, retreating behind Applejack and Rainbow Dash, leaving Fluttershy momentarily exposed before she uncovered her eyes for a peek, realized her situation, and followed the pale unicorn's example with a squeak of terror.
Meanwhile, the princesses got to their hooves with as much dignity as they could muster, ruffling their wings and straightening their crowns as they drew themselves upright and stepped forward to face the newcomer.
The strange creature made a deep bow, holding its beanie over its chest. "Flangle quapookie, Pincenez Celepsterol, Pincenez Loomaw. Flangle noot, Elbermintz ov Harblebeens. Mi corm ing peets. Mi opfer mi hoopf ing fengsnip!"
The elder princess cocked her head, parsing the being's garbled greeting, before a guarded smile came to her face. "You... come in peace? In that case, we are willing to accept a hoof proffered in friendship."
She turned to her sister. "What say you, Princess Luna?"
The dusky ruler of the night cast a dubious gaze over the swirling creature. "We would understand what has just transpired, before we consider acceptance of thine offer."
Twilight Sparkle stepped forward, her brow furrowed in deep thought. "Harmony. Can you feel it, everypony? It's almost like it's in the air. It's like the feeling that lingers after we use the Elements."
Both princesses inclined their heads with their ears pricked. The younger binarch nodded thoughtfully. "Indeed, now that ye maketh note of it. Verily, I felt this sensation in the very roots of my teeth after thou and thy friends had rent asunder the darksome visage of Nightmare Moon."
Screwball stared at the princesses and the unicorn for a long time, its swirling eyes going slightly crossed as it furrowed its brow in thought. An audible "ding" noise sounded, and it smiled a broad, gap toothed smile. "Pleke! Yetz! Mi lurn abowd Harbongee!"
It turned and trotted over to where Button and Davenport were beginning to feebly stir, drawing them up to a wobbly seated position with its forelegs around their shoulders. "Thnaks tu Buptod and Daffenpunt. Mi leurn abwod kiemdnetz, abowd gemberoxity, adn loimalty, adn hodnestee, adn lappderp. Mi lurn abowd fremsnip."
It hugged the stunned pony couple tighter, its pinkish face flushing a bit as it planted a smooch on both ponies' cheeks. "Mi lurnd aboud lorve. Mi umderstang wat bieng ah pomee itz. Harbodee adn lorf fillub mi hearp, nu neeb two keeb Bupdon instide mi."
Twilight's head inclined one direction, then the other, mouthing the words to herself. "So you... you're saying that the magic of friendship filled you and left no more room for Button?"
Screwball shook its head, then nodded, then somehow moved its head diagonally. "Yetz. Beflor, mi nupting. Empdee. Dipscorn pupt Buptong id mi sew mi sumptink, nod nothimk. Thed mi lurn, mi bei somfrink bai mi selph."
Princess Celestia beamed. "And in deciding to be something, and more importantly, by deciding to be a pony with the elements of harmony in your heart, you found your place in this world."
Princess Luna nodded, a pensive expression on her face. "Verily. The lesson thou hast learned is a familiar one to me, one that unfettered mine own heart and soul from the cold and colorless void. I perceive thou art no longer a creature of chaos, and thus I accept thee in friendship as well."
After a moment of deep thought, with a bit of smoke rising from Screwball's ears, it smiled wide and made another bow, floating up off of the ground to hover over its former host and her husband.
The princess of the night shifted her turquoise gaze to Button and Davenport, who had recovered enough of their wits to prostrate themselves before their sovereigns, trying in vain to smooth down their disheveled manes and make themselves a bit more presentable.
She gave them a kind smile. "But lo, 'tis time we commend these most absolute and excellent ponies who did teach thee thy lesson. Arise, dear ones, o humble subjects, and be ye both exalted by thy deeds this night."
Her elder sibling spoke in a clarion voice, her coat and wings seeming to radiate a heartening warmth. "Indeed, my sister! Button Stitch, for your willing sacrifice of all that makes you who you are to save us from disaster, and Davenport Divan Stitch for your unconditional love, that brought not one but two deserving souls back from oblivion, do we honor you as heroine and hero of Equestria, to be remembered for all time, as long as we sisters of the sky may abide and keep our little ponies in our hearts."
Button and Davenport drew close together, holding hooves with their eyes wide in amazement, barely daring to breathe as both princesses stepped up and lightly tapped them on the shoulders with their horns. The two earth ponies bowed low, leaning on one another to keep from rolling onto their backs with their limbs as stiff as table legs.
Princess Celestia turned her attention back to the swirling form that floated above them. "And now, we would officially welcome you to Equestria, Miss... or Mister..."
The pink and purple creature grinned. "Mitz!" As soon as the word passed its lips her outline seemed to subtly shift to more feminine proportions.
The newly minted mare drew in a deep breath. "Mi nome itz Screwallamungadindipoptifindolallypolkaparanoopyballoomapingo!"
She gave them a wink. "Butz efreypomey kawls mi Screwball!"
The princess of the sun cast a wry glance at the princess of the moon, and then drew herself up, waving her gleaming horn like a baton. "Well, Miss Screwball, we proudly welcome you as a new citizen of our land."
A cheery voice erupted from among the assembled bearers of the Elements, along with a high jumping pink and magenta mare and a cloud of confetti. "In other words. IT'S TIME FOR A PARTY!"
Screwball leapt skyward and did a barrel roll, waving all four hooves with glee. "Odelay! Callooh Callay! Parptay!"
A week later, the elderly earth pony groundskeeper who kept the gardens around Canterlot Castle found himself scratching his head under his battered old hat as he stood in a gated off section of the royal sculpture garden next to his wheelbarrow.
He always got a funny kind of feeling when he came in here, mostly centered on the one weird statue of a snakelike mishmash of animal parts that sat on a low granite pedestal with a plaque that said "NO BICKERING" set in its base. The gardener usually shrugged his unease off as his just not getting this newfangled modern art, but this time somepony had snuck in and made some changes to the exhibit.
For starters, somepony had drawn a mustache on the creature's snaggle toothed, equine muzzle in pink paint. They'd also spelled out the word "LOSER" on the grass with shiny brass buttons, placed such that the statue's stony gaze could "see" it.
When he'd found the vandalism this morning, he'd done as he'd been ordered last year when the statue was placed here, which was to drop everything, immediately lock the gates, and go report any unusual occurances to the castle guards.
Word came back to him shortly afterward that he was to leave it as he'd found it until further notice. This, he accepted with his usual rustic ambivalence. It was his job to keep the garden as they wanted it, and if that's how they wanted it, then that's how it'd be. All he had to do was retrieve his wheelbarrow and lock the gates back up.
The only thing that made him pause, that caused him to stop and scratch his head, was the look on the stone statue's unmoving face. The thing's expression was normally one of wide eyed, open mouthed shock and dismay. Not the kind of face he'd put on a statue if he was a sculptor. Heck, it wasn't the kind of head he'd put on a statue either, but there was really no accounting for taste.
Today, however, it seemed slightly different.
The old groundskeeper couldn't help but feel like it looked more than a little bit cross.
The characters depicted in this fiction are copyright and trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. This is a work of fan fiction, and the author makes no claim on Hasbro's copyright or trademarks.