Silver Swirl's Obligation or Silver Swirl's Obsession?
written by Princess Silver Swirl


Silver Swirl, unicorn princess of Friendship Gardens, was moping. To be exact, she was curled up in a window-seat, with a dragon by her side and a Mew on her head. She sighed deeply, causing two pairs of eyes to focus on her.

"You think about you-know-who, no?" asked the Mew slyly in halting English. Being a Pokmon, English was not her first language.

"Am I that easy to read, or are you just perceptive?" the pony wondered.

"Both," teased a third voice, this one speaking directly into the minds of the other two. Its source, the dragon Jade, grinned mischievously. "Or else Melisande is just using her psychic powers."

"I am not!" replied the Mew indignantly. "I wouldn't intrude on someone's privacy like that."

"I know, I know," assured Jade. "But really, Silvie, you've been rather melancholy lately. Not that you don't have a good reason to be, of course..."

"If you ask me, it's the princess thing. You have too much time... how is it said... ah, yes, time on hooves." Silver Swirl grinned at Melisande's use of the expression. "If you have things to do, you not always think of this faraway pony."

"Hmm," mused Silver Swirl, "I do often feel guilty that we princesses are just living off of other ponies' taxes, especially when there are so many problems in the world. I wish there was something we could do for Friendship Gardens."

"I'm sure there is, if you seriously want to help," said pragmatic Jade. "It's certainly an admirable goal." She smiled a toothy dragon smile.

Silver Swirl was once again silent, but this time from thought rather than depression. Her quick mind was already planning ways she and her friends could do their part to make the world a better place.

* * *

At dinner the same evening, Silver Swirl was enthusiastic and bursting with her new idea. She broached the subject gently. "You know, I've been thinking..."

"Of course you have," interjected Princess Ivy. "What else would you be doing? You've hardly left the castle in days."

Silver Swirl sighed. "I have my reasons for what I do. Anyway, I was thinking about all of us royalty." She turned the last two words over in her mind, wondering if they were grammatically correct. "Queen Sun Sparkle rules over Friendship Gardens and protects the general welfare" (the said ruler smiled at Silver Swirl) "and other important things. The ordinary ponies have jobs. But we," her glance took in all of the princesses, "just sit around, pursue our hobbies, and look pretty. Not that that's so bad, but the other ponies are paying for it." She stopped talking to allow her words to sink in.

"What do you suggest we do, go out and get jobs?" questioned Princess Morning Glory.

"Actually, no," replied the unicorn, enjoying the attention of the others. "I was thinking more along the lines of volunteer work."

Princess Twinkle Star grinned. "That's just like you, Silv, trying to help out. But it's a good idea. Elaborate."

"Well," continued Silver Swirl, "I was thinking we could each find a charity to help in some way, or volunteer somewhere."

"Oooh, I could give a fashion show and donate the profits to charity!" enthused Ivy.

"Maybe I could entertain the baby ponies at the hospital," considered Trixiebelle. The other princesses buzzed to each other about various opportunities.

Silver Swirl smiled, radiant with happiness for the first time in a week. "So are we set for, maybe, next Tuesday?" she asked eagerly.

"Sure!" replied the others, not quite in unison but almost.

* * *

Silver Swirl twirled around her tower room. "I can't believe it! One of my plans to help save the world actually worked!" She stumbled and tripped over a toy Bulbasaur, getting up again without missing a beat. "What an auspicious occasion!"

"You know where you are going?" questioned Melisande.

"But of course! The Friendship Gardens Animal Shelter."

"Secret Tale runs it, doesn't she?" queried Jade.

Silver Swirl nodded and got the expression on her face that meant she had remembered something. "I'm going to find a phone and call her!" The unicorn flashed a smile and winked away. The two remaining beings grinned at each other, a grin that meant about twenty things at once. They had barely finished grinning when Silver Swirl returned.

"She was delighted at the offer of help, of course, and I'm all set for Tuesday," she responded, answering her friends' silent question. "I'm so glad I can help all those wonderful animals!"

"Hey," projected Jade, affecting a hurt look, "aren't we wonderful animals?"

Silver Swirl chuckled and hugged the little dragon. "Oh, Jade, you know you and Melisande mean everything to me. You're my family." Touched by the sentimental statement, Melisande floated over and joined in the hug. The little family of a unicorn, a dragon, and a Mew-- different in species but connected nonetheless-- had the same thought in their respective minds: how lucky they were to have each other.

* * *

Silver Swirl looked through her bag one last time. Treats? Check. Yarnballs? Check. Rubber toys? Check. "All set! See you at four!"

Melisande looked peevish. "Why we can't come?"

The unicorn sighed. "I don't want you or Jade getting hurt, or catching anything if an animal is sick, or being mistaken for the animals, or any other bad things like that."

Jade gave a skeptical glance. "But it doesn't matter if those things happen to you?" Silver Swirl smiled with a strange glow in her eyes.

"It's different for me. It's so much better for me to go through small discomfort for all those animals-- those animals..." Silver Swirl struggled to put in words the love and responsibility she felt for all of the creatures at the shelter, and finally settled on adding, "This is an obligation for me. I could never just stand by and let them go un-helped." The two other creatures nodded, not quite understanding but willing to believe. Silver Swirl waved and winked out of sight.

Silver Swirl materialized outside the Friendship Gardens Animal Shelter. She flipped her mane and pranced inside, where she was greeted by Secret Tale at the front desk.

"Hi!" exclaimed the red-and-purple-maned earth pony. "I'm so glad you came! So are the animals!"

Silver Swirl smiled broadly and displayed her bag. "I brought toys and treats for them. Let's go; I want to get started right away!" She skipped behind the other pony, who led her to a large area filled with animals. Silver Swirl gazed, delighted, while Secret Tale began to talk.

"Well. The cats are getting groomed right now, the dog cages are being washed, the rabbits and guinea pigs are being played with, and food is being prepared. Which would you like to do?"

Silver Swirl looked eagerly towards the adorable rabbits and guinea pigs; she loved playing with animals. However, duty was duty... "What do you need the most help with?"

"Probably the dog cages," replied Secret Tale, "but you can do something else if you prefer."

"No, no, that's fine," assured Silver Swirl and rushed off to start scrubbing.

* * *

Four dog cages later, Silver Swirl mopped her brow and grinned. "Done!"

Wingsong, another worker, grinned back. "Great. Would you mind helping us set them up for the dogs-- you know, with cushions and such?"

The volunteering princess agreed readily and made the cages extra homelike and comfortable, adding one of the toys she had brought to each one. She thought of the dogs' happiness in discovering new playthings, and felt herself smiling yet again-- or was it one smile that had been on her face all day?

"May I go meet the animals?" she requested of Wingsong.

"Sure, go right ahead!"

Silver Swirl winked over to the dogs. Sniffing the treats in her bag, they rushed toward her. She sank to her knees and proceeded to give them her gifts. A horrible sadness mixed with her joy as she hugged a little collie. They were such nice animals, and they needed homes so badly. What could she do? Her eyes wandered toward the cats and she had an idea.

"Hey!" she called to Hip Holly, who was grooming the felines. "Do you have any purebreds over there?"

"Let me check," the translucent pony shouted back. "Um... yeah, we've got a little Maine Coon. Very docile; he'd make a great pet. And he's already gotten all his shots!"

"Can I use your phone?" Hip Holly nodded and tossed Silver Swirl a cellular phone. The unicorn caught it (but just barely!) and dialed Tabby's number.

"Hello, Tabby. Can I have Tamara's number? I found a purebred cat here at the shelter. Okay, thanks." She quickly dialed another number.

"Hi, Tamara? This is Silver Swirl. I'm at the animal shelter and there's a little purebred cat here, a Maine Coon. I was wondering if you would be interested... yes, Hip Holly says he's really sweet, and he's gotten all his shots. Really? This afternoon? Great! Bye!" She hung up and tossed the phone back to Hip Holly. "Tamara says she'll come see the cat this afternoon."

"That's fantastic!" bubbled the other pony. "Nothing makes us happier than when a pet gets adopted!"

Silver Swirl nodded enthusiastically. She was glowing inside. The cat would be one more animal with a good home if Tamara adopted him. She, Silver Swirl, would have perhaps saved a life. If that wasn't helping, nothing was!

* * *

When Silver Swirl winked home for dinner, tired but jubilant, she was greeted by all the other inhabitants. Everyone headed for dinner (most had worked up quite an appetite) and they went around in a circle, recounting the day's experiences. Ivy showed off a gorgeous lilac dress and confided the very large amount of money her fashion show had earned. Morning Glory passed around pictures of how lovely the park looked-- she had cleaned up all the litter and planted some new flowers, as well as repainted the benches. Trixiebelle had entertained the sick baby ponies a great deal; they had enjoyed her jokes and tricks and been excited at meeting "a real princess". Crystal and Twinkle Star described how they had made and delivered meals to housebound ponies, and Silver Swirl reported on her work at the shelter, including how pleased Tamara seemed with her new cat. Everywhere the princesses had gone, other ponies had expressed gratitude and admiration.

"So, same places tomorrow?" suggested Silver Swirl. The other ponies looked surprised. "Making the world a better place doesn't happen in a day, you know," she reminded.

"I guess I could see if the Dream Valley Park needs tidying up," agreed Morning Glory.

"Maybe I could give a jewelry show!" considered Ivy. Crystal, Twinkle Star and Trixiebelle approved the plan as well.

"Terrific!" declared Silver Swirl, and winked away to her tower room. She then winked back, cleared her plate and glass, and disappeared once more amid giggles.

Jade and Melisande were waiting in the tall east tower and delighted to see Silver Swirl again. "So, how was it?" projected Jade.

"Oh, it was great," replied Silver Swirl, removing her hair clips from her mane as she gazed out at the mountains through the window. "I'm going back tomorrow. And guess what; I found a purebred cat, and Tamara adopted it! Isn't that wonderful?"

"Very good," approved Melisande. "I am happy that the cat has home."

Silver Swirl yawned (which set off yawns from her two friends) and quickly brushed her teeth. The three creatures said good night to each other, Melisande used her psychic powers to turn off the light, and they all went to bed. Instead of tossing and turning as she usually did, the unicorn fell asleep within a few minutes.

* * *

Everything went well the next day at the animal shelter. Secret Tale and the other workers were quite pleased to see Silver Swirl return. The princess greeted the animals, many of which she remembered, and went straight to work. Cupcake gave lessons on how to make "gourmet pet food", which really did smell appetizing to Silver Swirl. Winking proved to be very useful in serving many animals swiftly. Millie the guinea pig's nails needed clipping, and Silver Swirl held her still during the process. The nervous animal gave the unicorn a couple of scratches, but nothing serious, and the marks felt like badges of honor to Silver Swirl-- they seemed to prove she truly cared about the animals.

Flash entered the shelter, contemplating the addition of a rabbit to her household. Silver Swirl spoke as persuasively as she could, singing the praises of a sweet little lop-eared bunny. To her supreme delight, Flash left the shelter with the rabbit, whom she named Snuffles.

Silver Swirl's mood was joyous when she came back to the castle. Once again, the princesses shared their stories, and once again Silver Swirl suggested that they return to their places of volunteering the next day.

"But I don't have any new fashions left!" protested Ivy.

"Oh, I guess you'd better take the day off," replied Silver Swirl.

"Um, Silv, there aren't really any more parks nearby to clean," explained Morning Glory. She had a worried look in her eyes.

"Oh," replied Silver Swirl. "Well, how about the rest of you?"

"I have a drum lesson tomorrow," said Twinkle Star very quietly. Silver Swirl looked at her friend, but the pegasus' gaze was lowered towards the floor.

"I'd planned to visit a friend," Crystal fidgeted with the pink part of her mane as she spoke.

"You know, I've been feeling really tired," Trixiebelle's voice was much less cheerful than usual.

"Oh." Silver Swirl then did what she had done the previous night, winking away, reappearing to clear her things, and winking off again-- only this time, there were no giggles.

* * *

"They just gave up!" Silver Swirl raged to her friends in the tower. She paced around the small room, stopping to smile sadly at a photograph of a filly, clearly a younger version of Silver Swirl, standing beside a colt.

"Not every pony has the time to volunteer every day," was Jade's response.

"But it's only been two days! Don't they care about helping and being good ponies? I'll show them all! I'm going to volunteer every day!" The Mew and the dragon exchanged worried looks as the unicorn punched the pillow with her hoof and hurled herself into bed.

Being Silver Swirl (in other words, as stubborn as an ox), she kept her word. Every day she appeared at the shelter, working quietly and efficiently. She still smiled at the animals, but the only thing that seemed to make her truly happy was when a pony came in and adopted a pet. She was too busy with her mission to notice that the other princesses seemed to be avoiding her. When she talked to them, the subject was always how well things were going with the animals and how happy volunteering made her. She was exhausted at the end of each day, barely having time to talk with Jade or Melisande. If she had dreams, they were about the animals.

"Are you happy?" Melisande asked one day.

"Of course I'm happy! Can't you see how much good I'm doing? I think I've really been making a difference." She then proceeded to speak of a dog who had gotten a cold.

That night, after Silver Swirl fell asleep, Jade and Melisande had a conversation.

"This is very bad," Melisande intoned solemnly. "Silver Swirl needs help. She needs... she needs..." she tried to find the right words.

"She needs to learn that too much of anything is unhealthy, and that she doesn't need to spend every moment volunteering to be a good pony," Jade finished. "I think I know just who can teach her that. Melisande, the three of us are going on a little trip to the beach tomorrow." The small dragon curled up and closed her eyes, leaving the Mew to wonder what her friend had planned.

* * *

When Silver Swirl woke up the next morning, Jade was perched beside the princess's bed.

"I called Secret Tale and told her that you wouldn't be coming today," the dragon informed. "You need a day off, and there's someone I'd like you to meet."

"You what?!" gasped Silver Swirl. "Jade, how could you? I have to go today; the animals need me! Oh, Jade, you know how important this is to me!"

Jade looked into the unicorn's eyes. "Silvie, a while ago you said that Melisande and I are your family. If you still believe that, please let us, as your family, help you." Silver Swirl sighed and nodded. Melisande hopped onto her Silver Swirl's head and Jade sat on her back.

"Wink to the Friendship Beach," Jade instructed, "and I'll tell you where to go after that." The three disappeared from the tower room.

Friendship Beach had an air of tranquility that morning. A few seagulls circled overhead, shells were scattered over the sand, and a sea-green pony was frolicking in the waves. Jade immediately flew to the pony; and Silver Swirl, using her magical power of flight, followed.

"Seabreeze," Jade addressed the other pony, "I would like you to meet Princess Silver Swirl."

Seabreeze's green eyes twinkled. "Pleased to meet you," she said, and she did seem genuinely pleased. Silver Swirl couldn't help smiling.

"Jade thinks I need a day off," the unicorn explained. "I guess she wants me to spend it here." The dragon nodded and Seabreeze laughed.

"Well then, what do you want to do first? We could swim, or build sand castles, or look for seashells, or just sleep in the sunlight..."

The two ponies, the dragon and the Mew did all that and more. When it was time to leave, Silver Swirl felt refreshed and, in a strange way, healed. Jade suggested that they fly back to the castle instead of winking.

"Okay, Silvie," Jade said once they were on their way. Silver Swirl sighed; she knew that a lecture was coming. "Did Seabreeze seem like a happy pony?"

"Yes," replied Silver Swirl.

"Did she seem like a good pony?"

"Yes."

"Did she make any mention of volunteer work?"

"No."

"Do you understand the point I'm trying to make?"

"Yes."

Jade continued anyway. "Too much of anything, even helping, isn't healthy. You don't need to spend every minute volunteering to be a wonderful pony. And every pony helps in his or her own way-- don't try to force others to do things your way."

"What do you want me to do?" asked the unicorn humbly.

"I think you should only work at the shelter five days a week, and I would suggest apologizing to the other princesses for putting pressure on them."

"Okay," said Silver Swirl. "I do have a question, though. How do you know Seabreeze so well?"

"Seabreeze and I are sisters," answered Jade softly.

Silver Swirl blinked. "How exactly does that work?"

"I used to be a pony," Jade explained patiently. "It seems that my special power is to transform into a dragon. However, I'm not sure if I can change back."

"How come you never told me?" Silver Swirl questioned.

The dragon sighed. "I was afraid that your expectations of me would change when you found out."

"Oh," said Silver Swirl awkwardly. The rest of the flight was silent.

* * *

Silver Swirl apologized to the other princesses, and they didn't seem to be angry. Many of them had plans to volunteer again in the future, anyway.

Silver Swirl made a quick phone call before going to bed that night, and she fell asleep truly happy.


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