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Behind Closed Doors · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
What We Wanted to Do
What we wanted to do was earn our cutie marks investigating legitimate mysteries of genuine interest to the people of Ponyville. As everypony now knows, we had some problems with this, primarily conceptual problems, that resulted in a few unfortunate incidents that caused embarrassment for innocent ponies. Once again, I would like to apologize to everypony who was negatively effected by our investigations, and I hope you will give us a chance to explain ourselves before deciding on any punishments that we may or may not deserve.

Many of you think you know everything about our recent actions, based on the accounts we published in the Foal Free Press. And yes, those articles were written in good faith. We had no reason to believe, at the time, that we were doing anything wrong. This was my fault and I take full responsibility for it.

I have heard some ponies suggest that Miss Cheerilee, as our academic advisor, should also be held responsible. They say that Miss Cheerilee should have read those articles before we published them and printed and distributed them to every business and street corner and doorstep in Ponyville. They say that Miss Cheerilee, as an adult, bears more responsibility for this incident than we three young, innocent, foals who had no way of comprehending the magnitude of our error.

Are these ponies correct? I do not know. I only raise this point because I have heard it mentioned in passing by wise adults who understand the world far better than a hapless, naive foal such as myself.

Think back to when you were a foal. Do you remember how frustrating it was to always hear, “I”ll tell you when you’re older”? That is not, I would submit, an answer that will satisfy the minds of inquisitive young fillies. Quite the opposite, in fact – it just prods us to want to learn more. You cannot toss mysteries in front of us like sparkling shells and expect that we will simply sit beside them, unmoving, unwilling to reach out and peer beneath them. We are not sheep, mares and gentlestallions. We are ponies.

And when a pony sees a closed door, it is natural for them to wonder, “What is on the other side?”




Sweetie Belle was sulking atop her bed’s blue-and-silver quilted covers when a tiny sound caught her ear. It was sharp, like a click or a tap, and it came from the direction of her glazed window. Outside the sun had already set, shrouding Ponyville in the oppressive gloom of a cloudy night. Orange streetlamps held back the dark and painted the low clouds like smoke above a distant fire.

She turned to the window, her ears up and alert, just in time to catch the noise again. It sounded almost like hail, if hailstones fell one at a time on an otherwise dry evening. Curious, she trotted up to the window, undid the latch and swung it open, letting in crisp autumn air.

The third pebble caught her directly on the snout. She squealed, rubbed her nose, and glared out into the darkness.

“Hey!” she hissed.

“Sorry, sorry!” the darkness whispered back in Apple Bloom’s voice. “Can you play? We’ve got a bunch of leaves out at the farm and we made a big pile and now we’re gonna go through them looking for slugs.”

Sweetie Belle blinked. “Why?”

“We made a bet with Snails. He said he and Snips could find more slugs than us by the time school starts tomorrow, and we’re gonna give them all to Miss Cheerilee for Show and Tell.”

That seemed like a good reason. Miss Cheerilee was always encouraging them to explore the natural world, and she loved when the foals gave her gifts. Even if she sometimes looked a little queasy and shoved their gifts into her desk drawer as fast as she could, she said she loved them. Miss Cheerilee was a great teacher.

But… Sweetie sighed. “I can’t. Rarity said I can’t leave my room tonight.”

There was a pause. She heard a rustle as something moved through the bushes beneath her window, and then Scootaloo’s voice emerged.

“Why not?”

“I don’t know!” Sweetie leaned on the window sill, letting her neck and head hang out into the night. “She said I had to go to bed early and that I could use the bathroom if I needed and I can get some water downstairs but her door is closed and I am not allowed to knock on it or make any noise or get her unless the Boutique is on fire and then it had better be a big fire not like the ones in the oven when we bake cookies.”

There was another pause.

“Why can’t you go in her room?” Apple Bloom finally asked. “Is she keeping secrets from you?”

Sweetie Belle glanced at her door. The very idea was silly. Why would Rarity, the bestest big sister ever, keep secrets from her? Rarity loved to talk about other pony’s secrets, but she never told Sweetie Belle any of hers, because she didn’t have any. Right?

“I… I don’t think so,” she said.

There was a scrabbling sound outside the window, as of hooves scratching against wood siding, and Apple Bloom’s head suddenly popped up over the sill. Her mane was a mess, tangled, with leaves and twigs poking out. “We’re coming in.”

Sweetie jumped back as Apple Bloom pulled herself in, followed by Scootaloo. They brushed their coats to dislodge some more leaves and dirt and even a slug or two, which Sweetie swept up with her weak magic and tossed back out the window, except for the slugs, which she saved in case they needed them for tomorrow morning. She put them under her pillow so she wouldn’t forget them.

“So, what are we doing?” Scootaloo asked. She turned and nipped at an errant feather, tucking it back in line with the others.

“Rarity is keeping secrets,” Apple Bloom said. “Why?”

“We don’t know that,” Sweetie said. “Maybe she’s just tired.”

“Did she look tired?” Scootaloo asked.

Sweetie frowned. Rarity hadn’t looked tired, in fact. She’d been smiling, and carrying candles in her magic, and she smelled like that expensive perfume that Sweetie tried to use once but ended up getting grounded for a week because that was the nice perfume and fillies shouldn’t touch it until they were older.

“No, she didn’t.”

“I knew it!” Apple Bloom stomped a hoof on the carpet. “Applejack does this sometimes. When I ask what she’s doing, she just sends me to my room! She’ll tell me when I’m older, she said.”

All three grimaced. Those five words, so hated, so often heard. What, they all wondered, was so wrong with learning things now?

“Okay, so, maybe she is.” Sweetie said. Her voice had lowered in both volume and pitch, taking on a conspiratorial tone, and she leaned closer to her friends. “What are we going to do?”

“We—” Apple Bloom paused, drawing out the tension with a grin. “Are going to investigate.”




Yes, that is how it started. Rarity, my friend’s dear sister, was the first innocent pony whose privacy we breached. Rarity, as you all know, who is an exemplar of every virtue we hold dear – she is generous, and kind, and loving, and forgiving. She is very forgiving, especially of young, innocent foals, who did not know what they were doing, or that it was wrong. She is very forgiving, which is the highest praise anypony can offer.

We wanted nothing more than to penetrate the veil of secrecy we thought was being draped over our eyes. This is, of course, a natural want for any young filly.

The three of us followed my lead – yes, my lead. What happened was my decision and I accept responsibility for it. The three of us sneaked out of Sweetie Belle’s room, through the darkened hallways, until we came to Rarity’s door.  And there we listened, with our ears pressed against the wood.

I will not again describe what we heard. That has, unfortunately, been hashed and rehashed in the pages of the Foal Free Press in exacting detail. In retrospect, we should not have included verbatim transcripts of every sound and word we heard, or drawn up a list of the suspected identity of the other pony in Rarity’s room. That was a mistake. An unfortunate mistake, but if you consider our perspective, it was unavoidable. We thought we were doing the right thing.




The three slipped quietly back into Sweetie Belle’s room. Scootaloo closed the door slowly, an inch at a time, to keep the hinges from squealing. When it finally shut, she gave it another firm press, just to make sure.

They were silent for a while. All three frowned, staring at the floor between them. Their ears flicked, perhaps remembering the odd sounds they had spent the past hour hearing. They had not spoken a word the entire time they crouched outside Rarity’s door, and the questions in Sweetie Belle’s heart had piled atop each other, begging for release. The same questions crowded in her friend’s chests, she imagined.

“What… what was that?” Scootaloo finally said.

“I don’t know,” Sweetie mumbled. “It sounded like she was giggling at first.”

“But then she was moaning,” Apple Bloom said. “Do you think she was in pain?”

“I think I heard her scream, once,” Scootaloo said.

“But then there was talking,” Sweetie said. “Somepony was in there with her!”

“Maybe they were practicing for a play?” Apple Bloom said.

They were quiet again. Sweetie turned that idea over in her mind – it made sense, or at least, it made more sense than anything else they might have been doing. “But why would they keep it a secret?”

“Maybe…” Scootaloo frowned. “Maybe it’s a surprise play?”

“You can’t have a play with just two ponies,” Apple Bloom said. “And why would Applejack do the same thing in her room? She doesn’t like plays much.”

“That’s it, then,” Sweetie said. “Girls, this is a mystery, and we are going to get to the bottom of it!”




Before I continue, I want to address a question that several townponies have raised. Namely, what happened to all the copies of the special Cutie Mark Crusaders Private Investigators/Mystery Solvers edition of the Foal Free Press that we printed and distributed throughout Ponyville?

As most of you know, the Foal Free Press’s normal print run consists of 35 copies, which we give to students and their parents for free. It is four or eight pages long, and is filled with articles, pictures, drawings, poems, and short stories by our classmates. One weekly edition costs approximately 10 bits for paper and ink, which is covered by the newspaper club’s budget.

For our special edition, we made some changes. Rather than 35 copies, we printed 4,550 copies. Also, this edition was 32 pages long. It is with some chagrin that I admit we would have printed more copies, but by that point we had exhausted the Ponyville paper mill’s entire supply of newsprint. We did order more paper, but based on the reception of our last issue, it will probably go unused. This is wasteful, and again, I apologize.

The cost of the paper and ink for this run was slightly higher than normal. Despite some efficiencies of scale, we ended up spending 11,450 bits, mostly on the paper. We also spent another 8,000 bits to order additional newsprint, which as I mentioned will probably go unused.

The newspaper club’s account balance at the time was 55 bits. In addition, we were able to sell ads for the special issue, which brought in a record-breaking 872 bits. This is, by itself, an amazing accomplishment, and I want to take just a moment to thank Pipsqueak for all the effort he put into selling those advertisements. I don’t want any negative impressions of our project to overshadow the tremendous work he put into helping us. Again, thank you, Pip. I hope you will be able to continue helping us in the future, if the newspaper club is ever reinstated.

Anyway, despite our success selling advertisements, we ended up running a negative balance of 18,523 bits, which was extended to us on credit. This sounds like a lot of money, yes, and I understand why it has been a source of consternation and anger for the members of the school board. All I can say in our defense is that we are still learning basic math in school, not advanced accounting. We did not properly understand the finances behind our actions. However, we already have a idea to recoup some of these bits, and plans are underway for a series of bake sales. Based on past performance, I project that after four years of daily bake sales we will have recouped most of our losses, not counting for interest.

Yes, I’m sorry, there is interest. It is only, however, 18 percent per year, which is actually a very good rate for young fillies with no credit history. That could have been much worse.

So, that is where the newspapers came from. What, many of you have asked, did we do with them?

A large number – and I want to emphasize this, because it is very important – a large number were collected by myself and the other members of the Foal Free Press staff when we realized we had made a mistake. We ran around Ponyville as quickly as we could, gathering up newspapers, despite being chased sometimes by angry mobs. This was stressful work and I want to extend a personal apology to all of the fillies and colts who had to help us.

All told, we collected nearly 800 unread papers this way. We stored them at our clubhouse until the mayor ordered us to burn them, which we did. Those papers will never trouble us again.

The remaining 3,700-some copies were either picked up by ponies before we could reach them, or were delivered by train to various distribution points across Equestria. This incurred an additional 1,200 bit fee for transportation, but I think you will agree that, compared with our other expenses, it is minor and barely worth mentioning.

I see there is some consternation over this new information. Yes, we did distribute copies outside of Ponyville. That was my decision and mine alone. I felt at the time that our journalism was of such high quality that it deserved consideration in other markets such as Manehattan, Fillydelphia, and Canterlot. We contracted with local papers in those cities, again for a small fee, and—

Yes, a question. Go ahead, princess.

Yes, I did say Canterlot. We sent 500 copies to each of those cities, as well as bundles of 200 to some of the larger suburbs. We tried to prioritize areas where relatives of our townponies lived, and of course the palace, so ponies would have something to talk about during holiday gatherin—

I see Princess Sparkle is leaving. Undoubtedly she has decided that this issue is of minor importance and not deserving of her time and attention. I think we can all learn something from that.

Anyway, to continue. All told, only 1,500 copies remain unaccounted for in Ponyville. I have placed a basket near the entrance – any pony who would like to return a copy may do so there. No questions will be asked.




Two days later, Sweetie Belle was crouched in the dark of Applejack’s home. The farmhouse was a far larger building than the Boutique, with a dozen rooms and high ceilings and ancient planks beneath her that squeaked if she stepped on the wrong spot. Apple Bloom led the way down the corridor, and they followed, placing their hooves in the exact spot she did. She had long since learned how to step quietly through the halls.

They came to a stop outside Applejack’s door. It was shut, but candlelight spilled out from under the gap above the floor. Inside they heard voices – Applejack’s, and somepony deeper. A stallion, Sweetie thought.

The door was thinner than those in the Boutique, and it let sound escape more easily. For nearly an hour they stood there, piled atop each other’s shoulders, listening as events inside progressed from conversation to soft sounds and giggling, followed by quiet moans and the squeak of bedsprings. Eventually those faded, and the voices returned.

The candlelight vanished, plunging the hallway into true darkness. They waited until their eyes adjusted to the faint moonlight coming in the window, and slowly they walked back to Apple Bloom’s room. The door clicked shut behind them, and they hopped up onto the bed and crawled beneath the blanket, creating a little cloth fort where nopony could hear them.

“It was just like Rarity,” Sweetie Belle said. “How often does she do this?”

“Once a week, maybe?” Apple Bloom said. “It’s always on the days you two aren’t allowed to come over. Sometimes she gets really happy when I ask if I can have a sleepover at the Boutique with you.”

“Huh.” Sweetie frowned. It was bad enough that Rarity was keeping secrets, but Applejack too! She was supposed to be the Element of Honesty, not the Element of Lying to Little Sisters and Making Them Stay in Their Rooms for No Good Reason.

“That stallion, it sounded like Caramel,” Scootaloo said. “I don’t think he likes plays either.”

“It’s not a play, girls,” Apple Bloom said. “I don’t know what they’re doing, but we’re going to find out.”

“How?” Sweetie Belle asked. “We can’t sneak into other ponies houses.”

“Simple. We’ll get help.”




“Hey girls!” Spike shouted as they walked in the library. He set his broom aside and waved a claw to get their attention. “What’s up?”

“Hi Spike,” Sweetie Belle said. She trotted over to him, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo trailing behind her.  “We were wondering if you could help us with something.”

“Sure!” He pulled off his dusting apron, a white frilly thing with the words Every Day is a Good Day to Clean and Organize Your Bookshelves written in block letters on the front. “What do you need?”

“Just a few questions, actually,” Apple Bloom said. She circled around to his left side, while Scootaloo took the right, neatly boxing him in. “Is Twilight around?”

“Uh, no.” Spike “She’s in Canterlot for the day. Do you need—”

“Cool,” Scootaloo said. “Listen, we’re investigating a mystery.”

“A mystery?”

“A mystery,” Sweetie Belle said. “And we want your help.”

“Have you seen Twilight doing anything strange at night?” Apple Bloom asked.

Spike took his time before answering. “Twilight, right? When you say strange—”

“I mean, does she ever have anypony in her room at night?”

Spike shook his head. “I think I’d know if she did. My basket’s right next to her bed.”

“Oh,” Sweetie Belle mumbled. She frowned down at the floor, and out of the corner of her eye she saw Scootaloo and Apple Bloom frowning as well.

“Except when she has me sleep downstairs, anyway,” Spike continued.

Sweetie Belle blinked. “What?”

“Yeah, once a week she has me sleep down here, so I can guard the library.” Spike puffed out his chest. “She needs a big, strong dragon to guard the library while she’s doing research in her room!”

“What kind of research?” Scootaloo asked.

“Uh, well…” Spike’s chest deflated. “I’m not sure. She says its boring grown-up pony stuff that I wouldn’t want to help with.”

“I see.” Sweetie glanced at the others. They had the same knowing expression on their faces. “Okay, Spike. Here’s what we need you to do.”




I’ve heard some ponies comment that our articles were surprisingly well organized and detailed, with multiple footnotes and cross-references between the text, the accompanying charts, and the photo pages in the center of the issue. While I would like to claim credit for that work, most of it was done by Spike the Dragon. He has years of practice as Twilight Sparkle’s research assistant, and he was of tremendous help when it came time to organize our findings. Obviously, I wish we could have put his talents to work on a more appropriate topic, but that is a discussion for another time.

Many of the detailed accounts you read were based on Spike’s original notes, which he took outside Twilight Sparkle’s room. She has already left, so I assume she does not mind if I go into some detail on this point.

The accounts that Sweetie Belle and I wrote, based on what we heard outside our sister’s rooms, were rather haphazard. You can see they are in prose form, with little attention to specific details like times, accurate descriptions of the sounds we heard, and educated guesses as to who was making those sounds. Spike, on the other hand, was meticulous in his notes. He detailed exactly how long Twilight Sparkle and Unnamed Stallion #3 spoke, took verbatim transcripts of what they said – as best he could hear – and compiled a detailed list of every giggle, moan, shriek, sigh, and other sound, along with timestamps for each.

When we saw his notes, we knew we had to do better. So did all of the other foals we recruited.




Apple Bloom banged her hoof on the podium. “We’re here because the grown-ups are hiding something from us!” she shouted.

The foals gathered in the schoolhouse basement erupted with questions. Some leaned forward; others rolled their eyes. Apple Bloom waved them to silence.

“I know it’s hard to believe,” she said. “But my friends have already investigated several instances of unusual behavior among our sisters and other prominent townponies. There is a conspiracy at work here, and we are going to get to the bottom of it!”

While she spoke, Sweetie Belle walked down the aisles, passing out copies of their notes. There were several pages worth already, and the room dissolved into a quiet hush as the foals poured over them. A mumble began, near the back, growing louder and louder with each moment.

Finally, Diamond Tiara spoke. “What is this? Are you spying on ponies?”

“It’s not spying!” Scootaloo jumped in. “We’re investigating! It’s what good reporters do!”

“Well, It looks like snooping to me!”

The mumbles grew again. An angry cloud built on Apple Bloom’s face, but before she could explode, a colt spoke up.

“Um, it’s true, I think,” Rumble said. He shrank as all eyes turned to him. “Thunderlane does this too. He sends me to my room, but I heard him and Cloudchaser in his room. I thought they were practicing wrestling.”

“Sometimes mommy makes me go to bed early,” Dinky said. “But then I hear her and Time Turner talking about stuff.”

Like a dam bursting, every foal suddenly had their own story to tell. They stood on their chairs, shouting each other down, until finally Diamond Tiara shouted them down.

“Stop this! Stop it!” she yelled. “Don’t you remember last year? We got in trouble because you—” she pointed a hoof at Apple Bloom. “And you two—” She swung the hoof around at Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. “Printed all those lies in the Foal Free Press. I’m not getting in trouble again!”

“You’re right, Diamond Tiara,” Apple Bloom said. A sudden hush fell over the room at her pronouncement. “I don’t say that often, but you’re right. We got in trouble because we printed lies. But that’s not what we’re going to do this time! We are going to investigate the truth, and when we find out what ponies are doing behind those doors, we will publish the answer in the Foal Free Press, and everypony will cheer us as the Cutie Mark Crusaders Mystery Investigators!”




Looking back, I think that was when the situation spun out of control. Before then, we just listened outside a few ponies’ doors, which I fully admit was wrong of us. But afterward we – and by we I mean the entire school – started keeping detailed notes of who visited whose house, at what hours, and we put tape recorders in ponies’ rooms. We took pictures, sometimes through windows. And by the time the week was done, we had more material than I knew what to do with. We had to trim quite a bit out, and we still barely had room for everything in the paper.

I say this not to admit any criminal wrongdoing. And, again, I would like to point out that Ponyville’s municipal code clearly restricts criminal charges against foals under the age of 12. The wise ponies who drafted our laws clearly understood that young foals don’t understand the gravity of their decisions, and it is the height of folly to treat them as lawbreakers when, in fact, they are merely boisterous scamps.

The index at the back of the issue claims that we successfully uncovered 153 different liaisons, and states which page those accounts and/or pictures may be found on. I understand, now, that these ponies were not keeping secrets from us, or practicing for a play, or wrestling, or any of the other flawed theories we developed. They are ponies who simply enjoy each other’s company in manners that will be explained to me when I am older.

It is not our business what two ponies do in the privacy of their bedrooms – or, sometimes, three or four ponies. Again, I would like to extend a separate, particular apology to Mr. and Mrs. Cake.

To all of the ponies whose trust we violated, again, I apologize. This was a learning experience, but the most important thing we learned is to ask questions when we’re confronted with the unknown. Not to pry.

And if I may, I also learned something about the value of forgiveness. Already, Applejack has forgiven me for what I did, and she says that I can move back into the farmhouse after the first major snowfall. Until then, the hayloft in the barn is comfortable, warm, and far more than I deserve. Every time I fall asleep in it, listening to the lowing cows below me, and the bats in the rafters above me, I am reminded of her love.

I hear Sweetie Belle has likewise been forgiven. Ultimately, we hope Rarity will return to Ponyville, and again make beautiful dresses for us.

Before I turn the floor back over to the mayor, and you discuss whatever punishments may be appropriate for us, I want to remind everypony that we have already been grounded. In fact, the shame we have experienced, knowing the pain we unwittingly caused for our families, friends and neighbors, is ultimately far worse than any actual punishment you could decide upon. We’ve really already been punished.

Finally, I would like to once again remind everypony that there will be a bake sale outside the school starting tomorrow and lasting for the foreseeable future.

Thank you for your time.
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