The day started like any other day, with Diamond getting up and going about her morning duties. After showering, brushing her teeth, and getting breakfast, she filled her saddlebags with her books and made for school. It was uneventful, until she heard ponies in an alley, conversing in whispers. That should have tipped her off to keep walking, but she was curious, and as she approached, she heard snbippets of what they were saying. One word in particular stayed in her mind. It sounded like a funny word to her, nothing bad, so she put it out of her mind as she continued on to school.
Nothing else happened as she came to the school and resolved to ask Miss Cheerilee about the funny word, but every time she tried, she was interrupted, like the universe itself was trying to keep her from learning its meaning. As she sat next to Silver Spoon and Cheerilee took rolecall, the door opened and she came in: Zecora. The local Zebra shamaness and resident of the Everfree. Sure, she never went, but she heard of her skill in potions and magic from Apple Bloom. As Miss Cheerilee introduced the zebra, Silver Spoon leaned over.
"So, what did you want to ask Miss Cheerilee?" Silver asked in a whisper. Now, many ponies would remember how sharp equine ears are and shush Silver until after class, but Diamond really wanted to know what the funny word meant, so she spoke in similar whispers.
"Nothing much. I just wanted to know what Zigger meant." That's when it happened. All activity stopped as if a thief broke in. Diamond didn't notice until MIss Cheerilee was right next to her, but she was stern, as if Diamond had attacked Zecora with the word.
"Diamond, I will not stand for racial slurs in my classroom. I told you I would answer your question after class. Had I known the nature of the question, though, I wouldn't have waited." Cheerilee said as Zecora approached.
"It is alright, Miss Cheerilee, she meant no disrespect to me." The zebra said in rhyme. That was her only rhyme, though, as she grew serious. "I suppose I can explain the meaning, though I would have preferred better timing. See, that word is a slur from times when Zebras were slaves to other races. At the time, it was used to refer to our coats, and how they'd zig-zag white and black. Now, it is considered very serious to refer to another with that word, and even using it when a Zebra isn't around carries a heavy punishment." She looked at Diamond with a faint frown.
"Despite you not meaning any harm, your father must still be told, and punishment enacted. We wouldn't want you to believe it is okay to use that word whenever, right?" She then looked at Cheerilee. "What do you normally do when a student swears in class?"
Cheerilee frowns. "They get an amount of detentions equal to the number of swears uttered.. However, I must ask where you learned that word." Diamond looked down, tears brimming in her eyes, just picturing how angry her father would be. And this was without her using it as an attack.
"I learned it from some ponies in an alley. They were whispering, and looked like the ponies you'd find among the Canterlot Elite." Diamond explained. "I didn't mean to hurt anyone."
"Because you didn't know the meaning, and you didn't mean harm, I'll retract the punishment. However, because you still used the word, I will be telling your father. Let's hope you don't say it again." Cheerilee said as Diamond looked around, noticing the surprised, and angry in Apple Bloom's case, faces.
After class, Diamond met her father at the schoolhouse door, who was speaking with Cheerilee. "I'm glad you could come. I'm afraid your daughter uttered a slur in class today. It wasn't directed at anyone, which makes it a bit better, but if she doesn't learn that some words are not meant to be said, then she could get in much deeper trouble than she did."
Mr. Rich nods. "I understand. Now, which word did she use?" He asked as Cheerilee leaned close and whispered. Nearby ponies turned in shock as Mr. Rich's eyes widened. Before facing Diamond, he addressed the other ponies. "She was answering my question. Now move along." As the ponies moved on, Rich turned to his daughter. "When we get home, you'll get your mouth washed out and you will go to your room. You'll have dinner brought to you. After dinner, you'll write Zecora an apology letter, which you will deliver to her personally to her in the morning."
Diamond sighed as she flopped back onto her bed as there was a knock on her door. "Come in!" She called, anticipating the food. Well, she supposed, it could be worse. She could be forced to help Zecora out with her potions.
The next day, Diamond made her way to the Everfree with Apple Bloom as her guide her saddlebags on her back. "Ya need to be careful as ya walk, so ya don't step in any Poison Joke flowers. While they won't actually hurt ya if ya don't have an allergy, they will play a prank on ya. It can be anything from bein' shrunk to havin' your voice made masculine." Bloom explained as they walked.
Diamond sighed. "Listen, I'm sorry about using.. that word. I honestly had no idea what it meant, and if I went back home to look it up, I'd have been late for school. I tried asking Miss Cheerilee, but every time I tried she just told me to wait until after class, no matter how much I tried." She looked at Apple Bloom. "At least Zecora was understanding."
Apple Bloom nods. "Ah forgive ya, if only because ya didn't use the word to attack 'er. But if ya ever do, Ah'll beat ya into the ground so hard, yer grandbabies will feel it."
Diamond shivered. "If I ever use a racial slur to attack another, I'll seek you out just for that. I'd have to be pretty crazy, after all."
It was soon after that they arrived. Diamond looked at Bloom. "Don't go thinking we're friends, though. I have an image to repair." With that, she knocked on the door to Zecora's hut, which opened to reveal the Zebra.
"Ah, Diamond Tiara and Apple Bloom, please do come into the living room." She stood aside to let them in.
Diamond frowned. "As much as I'd like to stay, I only came to deliver my letter of apology." She opened her bag and pulled out her letter giving it to the Zebra.
"Very well. I do hope you'll visit another time, but I understand some are put off by my rhyme." the Zebra said, nodding. "Give your father my regards."
Diamond nods and turns to head home, making sure to avoid the poison joke. Yeah, she supposed, better than helping with potions. She was sure she'd screw that up, somehow.