Twilight walked home with a small bounce in her step, humming to herself. Dancing with Rarity had been fun, and she didn’t feel as nervous dancing with her as she did dancing with the stranger she met at the bar.
She cantered down the dark cobblestone road with a soft pink glow from her horn lighting the way. It wasn’t until Rarity and her could barely keep their eyes open that they decided to call it a night. Her throat was sore from laughing, adding a slight rasp to her humming as she walked.
The large, hollow tree she called home came into sight. The windows emitted a faint light, the candles she lit before leaving had mostly dwindled out. As she came to the front door, she stopped humming and skipping. She slowly opened the door with her magic, making sure to keep the scraping of the rusted lock quiet as possible.
Stepping inside, she closed the door behind her with a soft click. The main room was dark, and melted pools of wax sat in golden candle holders around the room. She took a deep breath in, and let it out slowly.
A sinister voice hissed from the darkness. “How was your date with Rarity?”
“Gah!” Twilight jumped into the air, spinning to face the voice.
Standing behind her holding a candle, was a small green and purple dragon.
Twilight clutched her furiously beating heart, her mouth pulled tight, and her eyes twitching. “Oh,” she said, calming down and taking her hoof away from her chest. “It’s just you, Spike.” Twilight glanced around the dark library. “I’m sorry, what was the question?”
“I was just asking, ‘How was your night with Rarity?’”
“Oh.” Twilight laughed nervously. “It was great! Well, parts of it were.”
“Did she talk about me?” Spike asked, leaning forward. The hope in his eyes shone in the candlelight.
“I—well...” Twilight lifted a hoof to the back of her neck, tracing the grain of the wood floors. “We talked about a lot of things...”
“So that’s a no then,” he said, letting out a small sigh.
“No, it’s just that...” Twilight looked around the dark library for ideas, but unsurprisingly, there weren’t any. “It’s just that we talked about so many things!” she finished, smiling. “You definitely came up somewhere in one of our conversations, I just can’t remember where!” Twilight beamed. “Because we talked about so many things!” she added as an afterthought.
Spike would have skeptically raised an eyebrow if he had one. “So she did mention me?”
“Yep!” Twilight instantly replied, still smiling widely. “In fact, the more I think about it, the more certain I am that she mentioned you!”
“Oh.” Spike looked down at his claws, tapping his talons together. “You can’t remember what she said?”
Twilight smiled a bright toothy smile. “Nope!”
Spike snapped his claws. “Shoot.”
Twilight let out the breath she had been holding with relief. Wondering how late it was, she glanced at the clock. Her eyebrows furrowed as she saw the time, and she turned back to Spike. “Shouldn’t you be in bed by now?” she chided.
Spike flinched. “Yes.”
Twilight shook her head and walked over to him, nudging him towards the loft with hoof. Spike sheepishly rubbed his arm, and walked up the stairs to his basket at the foot of her bed. She followed soon after, tucking his covers in with her magic, before sliding into her own bed.
Twilight lay tightly wrapped up under the covers on her back, a hint of a smile poking at the corner of her lips. She closed her eyes, and started to drift off to sleep.
“Do you think she might like me?”
Her eyes opened. “What?” she asked, sitting up in her bed.
“Well,” Spike said, his little claws poking up over the frame of her bed and pulling him onto the mattress. “Do you think she might like me back?” He looked down at Twilight’s bedcover, grabbing a clawful and squeezing. “I mean, I feel this connection when I’m with her, and I can’t describe it, but it feels real.” He let go of the sheets, patting them smooth with a claw. “I guess I’ve just been wondering about it a lot lately.”
“I...” Twilight looked at the dragon at the foot of her bed with a clueless expression. “I don’t know?”
Spike stood up and walked over to her. “Do you think you could find something out for me? I mean, you’re her friend, so you could easily find out!”
“Spike,” Twilight said, shuffling against the backrest of the bed. “I don’t know if I’m comfortable with—”
“Please, Twilight! You gotta!” he pleaded, clasping his claws together in front of her.
Twilight took a deep breath. “Alright,” she said. “What do you want me to do?”
“Alright.” Spike glanced around the the bedroom, making sure no one but the two of them were there. “I need you to find out if Rarity knows I like her.”
Twilight stared blankly at him, the corners of her mouth beginning to turn up into a grin. “Are you kidding?” Twilight burst out laughing, pounding her hoof against the bed and tears coming from the corner of her eyes.
“Twilight, I’m serious!”
Twilight rolled off the bed with an unceremonious thunk, wheezing on the floor with laughter. Spike crossed his arms, watching her roll around on the carpet and gasp for breath in between pained laughs.
Twilight’s laughter winded down. She sat up and wiped a tear away. “Oooh.” She chuckled a few more times. “I’m sorry.”
Spike looked at her with his mouth pulled thin and his brow making a straight line across his forehead. “Are you done?”
“Yes,” Twilight replied, a giant grin plastered on her face that she was failing miserably to hide. “You want me to find out whether Rarity knows you like her?”
Twilight’s smile faded, and she bit her lip, his seriousness beginning to affect her a little. “I’m sorry, Spike.” His mouth creased into a frown. “I can’t help you with that.”
“What?” He looked down at the covers, and then back up at her. “But why not?”
Twilight breathed in deeply through her nose. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling you these sorts of things about my friends behind their backs.”
“But you agreed!”
“That was before. I thought you were just going to ask something like ‘does she like roses?’ or ‘does she like ties, or bowties?’” Twilight looked at him with an apologetic frown. “I’m sorry.”
Spike glared at her. He silently stood up, walked to the edge of the bed, and hopped down.
“Whatever,” he said, stomping around the bed to his basket.
He climbed into his basket and pulled the covers over his shoulder, turning away from her. “Goodnight, Twilight.”
Letting out a sigh, Twilight sat on the rug and stared at his basket with a worried frown. She looked to her own blankets, and crawled up onto her bed. He will be fine eventually, she thought. His pouting rarely lasts longer than a few hours. He’ll probably forget all about it by the time he wakes up, and instead be asking me to buy him some sapphires next time I’m at the market.
Lifting the sheets with her magic, she wrapped them around herself and closed her eyes.
He’d forget all about it by tomorrow morning.
Twilight sat at the round dining room table opposite Spike. Her front hooves rested patiently on its cedar surface as she and Spike stared each other down. His tiny purple arms were crossed in defiance, and his gaze calmly met hers.
“Eat your cereal, Spike.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Of course you’re hungry,” Twilight said assertively. “You haven’t eaten your breakfast yet.”
Spike stared at her from behind his folded arms like a statue. Twilight rolled her eyes and sighed, propping her head up on a hoof, and glancing over at the clock to see how much time had passed.
She reached over and pushed his bowl closer to him. “Eat your cereal.”
Twilight bit back the urge to scream, and took multiple deep breaths to calm herself. “If you eat your cereal I’ll buy you some sapphires at the market today.”
“Yeah,” Spike said, rolling his eyes. “Because if I’m not hungry maybe you just need to offer me more food, right?”
Twilight leaned over the table and got right in his face. “Spike, we have been sitting at this table for—” She looked at the clock. “—For thirty five minutes now, and if you do not start eating in the next minute, I’ll—”
Spike flipped his bowl of cereal in her face.
For a few moments as milk dripped from her mane, and bits of cereal scattered across the table, during the amount of time it took for her to blink slowly three times, Twilight didn’t believe what just happened.
And then she snapped.
“Fine!” Twilight shouted, throwing her hooves up in the air. “Don’t eat!”
Spike didn’t so much as flinch at her outburst. He simply kept looking at her with his arms crossed.
Twilight glared at him through narrowed eyes. “I’m going out,” she announced through clenched teeth, walking over to the fridge. “But before I go out.” Her magic opened the door with a suction induced pop. “I’m going to look at everything in the fridge so I’ll know if anything’s missing while I’m gone.” She closed the fridge door and opened the freezer. “And then I’m going to seal it shut until I get back.” The freezer door slammed shut. “If you would rather waste good food than eat it, fine!”
Spike sat at the table with his arms crossed, the same infuriatingly indifferent look upon his face. Although, Twilight could swear there was a hint of a self-satisfied smirk playing in the back of his eyes.
He hid it well, though.
“Fine,” Spike said, meeting her glare.
Twilight held his stare for a moment longer, waiting to see if he would crack. But it was clear he was fully committed to whatever foalish notion he had that not eating would make her feel more guilty.
Damn him. It was working.
Twilight broke the stare and marched to the front door. She opened it and slammed it shut behind her without so much as looking back.
She let out a monumental sigh, and all the anger vanished from her face.
She began walking down the road to the market, her head hung low. Ponies walked by her on either side, cheerfully talking to one another about nonsense.
Spike had never stayed angry at her after going to sleep before. He had to be really upset with her this time, and it made her worry. Whenever she took away his gems because he was eating them too fast, or left him behind at home while she and the girls went somewhere dangerous, he would pout, and then he would sleep on it. She had theorized that it was a dragon thing. That sleeping was one of a dragon’s favorite activities—aside from hoarding gold—and that whenever he went to sleep angry he would wake up the next day, no longer angry at her.
She decided to buy him some gems at the market and try apologizing. The key to his heart had always been through his stomach.
“Why, Twilight! I was just heading over to see you!”
Twilight lifted her head to come eye to eye with Rarity, who was looking at her with her lips puckered out and her eyes frowning.
“Why so down in the dumps, my dear? Do you still have a hangover from last night?” Rarity tsked and looked down at the pavement angrily. “This is all my fault! I told myself that I would keep an eye on how many drinks you had and make sure you didn’t overdo it, but at some point I’d lost track of how many drinks I’d had.” Rarity looked at her, chewing on her bottom lip. “Are you drinking lots of water?”
“No, Rarity, it’s not that,” Twilight said, shaking her head. “It’s Spike. I made him upset, and now he’s throwing a temper tantrum.”
“Well, maybe I can help!”
Twilight reached up and rubbed the back of her neck. “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea...”
“Nonsense. You know how he is around me. I’m sure I’ll be able to cheer him right up,” Rarity replied, walking past her towards the library.
Twilight gave a small shrug and followed.
“So what’s getting our little dragon down?” Rarity asked while they walked.
“Oh, he’s just...” Twilight glanced around for ideas. “He’s just...” She chewed on her bottom lip, and Rarity looked back at her, one elegant eyebrow raised in question. Twilight spotted two colts playing next to the road, cardboard pieces of armor drawn on with black marker to look like the royal cuirass. “He’s just sad that I keep leaving him at home when we go on our dangerous adventures!” Twilight finally finished. “He keeps insisting he can help.”
“Oh, of course he is,” Rarity said, smiling and looking ahead. “He’s such a little hero.”
“Yeah,” Twilight said, a shuddering nervous laugh coming from her.
The library came into sight, and the two of them walked up to the front door. Rarity stopped and knocked on it.
There was a wood on wood screech followed by a thump of Spike getting off his chair, before they heard the pattering sound of his tiny footsteps approaching the door.
Spike opened the door. His blank annoyed look vanished when he saw Rarity, his eyes widening and his mouth forming a small circle.
“Oh, Spike, darling!” Rarity shouted, leaning down to nuzzle his cheek. A bright pink blush appeared on his face. “Twilight told me you were upset, and she thought I might be able to make it better.”
Spike glanced around her at Twilight, and then back up at her. “She did?”
“Of course!” Rarity looked back at Twilight and smiled. “She told me all about how upset you are that you don’t get to come on some of our adventures.”
“Huh?” Spike asked, looking at Twilight.
Rarity sat down and swept Spike up in her hooves. “Oh, it’s just so wonderful to know how you want to keep us safe! You’re such a charming hero!”
Spike’s face turned beet red as Rarity smothered him in her hooves. “I-I, uh—”
Rarity brought one of her hooves to her mouth and made a shushing noise. “I understand. You just want to keep Me, and Twilight, and the other girls safe.” Rarity let out a wistful sigh.
Twilight couldn’t help but admire her acting talents. It was actually kind of scary to watch.
Rarity set Spike back down on the doorstep. He was the color of a tomato, and a fool’s grin was stuck on his face. “Don’t worry, Spikey-wikey. We’re big girls, and we can take care of ourselves. It’s of utmost importance that you stay here and keep Ponyville safe in our absence. You’re a very important line to the Princess after all, with those letters you can send her.”
Spike nodded drunkenly with a grin.
“Now there’s that charming smile I like so much,” Rarity said, tilting her head and giggling. “Oh!” She covered her mouth and looked at Twilight. “I forgot there is some fabric I needed to pick up at the market. Would you mind coming with me?” She smiled in a way that made Twilight melt. “I could use a second opinion.”
“Well, I don’t know how much help I’d be...” Twilight traced the cracks in the cobblestone.
“You’ll be fine!” Rarity reassured her, walking over to her and throwing a hoof around her. “Now come along. I want to get there early. The material on sale gets snatched up faster than food thrown in a chicken coop.” Rarity chuckled. “And we have to get to it before the other clucking hens do.”
Twilight smiled and nodded, walking away from the library at Rarity’s side. They strolled briskly through town, the ponies around them increasing in number as they got closer to the center of it.
Twilight turned to Rarity. “So is this an order for a client?” she asked.
“Hm?” Rarity asked, glancing at her. “Oh, no. That was just some story I threw together to get you away from Spike so we could talk about things.”
“Oh.” Twilight looked around at the shops near them. “What things?”
“Why dating, of course!” Rarity said, bringing them around a bend to the small cafe they had lunch at yesterday. “I was thinking tonight.”
Twilight sat down at an unoccupied table away from the street. “Tonight?”
“Yes,” Rarity answered, as a barista quickly slipped two menus onto their table, before walking away. “I know it’s soon, but this is a learning process. And I believe it would be best if we try to cram as much experience into you as quickly as possible.”
“That sounds, um...” Twilight grabbed her menu and opened it. “Lovely?”
Rarity nodded with a smile, ignoring the hesitance in her voice. “I promised I would find you a date, and I’m going to work tirelessly until I do!” she said, opening her menu. “Now how about a little practice with one of the waiters again?”
“I’m sorry. I’m not really in the mood right now,” Twilight said, glancing at Rarity over her menu.
Rarity scoffed. “Fair enough,” she answered. “We’ll wait until later tonight.” Her eyes flickered back and forth across the menu, and she turned the page. “We’ll meet at your place, go somewhere, and then go back to my place.”
A blush covered Twilight’s cheeks. “Go back to your place?”
“Why yes,” Rarity replied. “I hardly think one dancing lesson will teach you the art.”
Twilight let out the breath she had been holding.
Yet she couldn’t help but feel a bit of disappointment.
“So where are we going?” Twilight asked, setting down the menu with her mind made up as the waiter approached their table.
“I’ve arranged a double date.” Rarity folded her menu and set it down, addressing the waiter. “I’ll have a small glass of pear juice, chickpea soup, and a piece of focaccia bread to go with the soup.”
“Uh...” Twilight glanced between Rarity and the waiter and set her menu down. “I’ll just have what she’s having.” The waiter nodded and left. “A double date?” Twilight asked. “With who?”
Rarity smiled mischievously. “It’s a surprise,” she said, giggling as Twilight groaned and rested her head on the table.“Don’t worry. I know you two will have lots to talk about.”
Twilights eyebrows rose and she guessed. “Is it Cheerilee?”
“She’s already got a marefriend,” Rarity said. She closed her eyes and huffed, turning her nose up to the air. “Goodness, Twilight, would you stop asking? You aren’t going to guess it.”
Twilight pondered for a moment. “Princess Luna?”
Rarity cracked open one eye, a feline smile splitting her face. “Princess Luna?” she asked with amusement. “You would date a royal princess?”
Twilight blushed and looked away. “Well, you said I wouldn’t guess it, so...”
“And you aren’t. As amusing as it would be to sit here and have you list off your forbidden desires, we’d be here all afternoon before you’d guess who it is.”
Twilight bit her lip and glanced at the tables towards the center of the cafe. “Is it somepony I know?”
A smile crept across Rarity’s face.
Twilight sat at a table waiting for Rarity to come pick her up for their double date. She kept tapping her hoof on the floor impatiently. She’d told her after lunch that she would pick her up at seven.
“I’m just making this very clear,” Spike said, standing in front of her giving her a stern look. His heart wasn’t really in it though, and she could tell. “Using Rarity against me like that was low. Real low.”
Twilight rolled her eyes, and glanced at the clock again. It was now six past seven.
“And don’t think that puts you in my good books,” Spike continued, ignoring her eyeroll. “It just got you out of my bad ones.”
“Okay. I get it, Spike.”
Spike nodded at her, and went upstairs to his bed, since it was already half an hour past his bedtime.
The soft noise of gossiping laughter drifted to Twilight’s ears. She sat upright and smiled, looking to the front door. One of the laughs she recognized as Rarity, the other she didn’t recognize, and the third she recognized, but couldn’t figure out where she recognized it from.
The laughter grew loudest right outside her door, and she heard Rarity shushing the other two girls.
Then there was a knock at the door.
Twilight hopped to her hooves and darted around the table to her front door. She swung the door open, beaming at Rarity and her date.
And Carrot Top.
Carrot Top smiled and waved at her, a pale, pink blush on her face. She might have looked more cute if she wasn’t so frozen with fear. “Hello again!” she blurted, and giggled nervously.
“Twilight,” Rarity said pointing to Carrot Top. “This is Carrot Top. But I believe you two have already met.”
“Yes, we have,” Twilight said, but her eyes were focused on the other mare with Rarity. She stepped outside the library and closed the door. “And who’s your date?”
Twilight sized her up with a scrutinizing gaze hidden behind a thick veil of friendliness. A deep-blue silk hairband pulled back sea-green hair that flowed down like a waterfall behind her ears. Her coat was a shade of pale blue that was very close to being white. Her smile was beautiful, and she reminded Twilight of the tales she had heard about sea ponies who lured stallions from their ships and dragged them to the depths.
Twilight instantly disliked her.
“Twilight, this is Coral,” Rarity said.
“Hello!” Twilight said, the corners of her eyes wrinkling from her smile.
“Pleased to meet you,” Coral replied with a small nod.
“Coral runs the Ponyville spa. It’s one of the reasons I get so many discounts. Well, that and how often I visit.” Rarity turned to Coral. The two of them shared a look, and they both had to stifle their giggling.
Twilight bit back the urge to roll her eyes, instead she smiled with them and took a spot between Rarity and Carrot Top. The four of them turned and began walking away from the quaint little library.
Twilight turned to Rarity. “So where are we going?”
Coral also turned to Rarity. “Oh my, you didn’t even tell her where we’re going?” she asked.
“Well, where’s the fun in that?” Rarity asked with a grin. “There’s an open air concert over by Blueberry Fields. It’s quite a talented group playing, and I thought we could watch and lay on the grass.” Rarity winked at Twilight. “But you two could always roll in the grass. If you would prefer that.”
Twilight blushed slightly, while Carrot Top burned bright red and looked at her hooves. “Oh, please, Rarity.” Twilight scoffed. “It’s the first date.”
“Yes, well that rule isn’t in effect if you already know each other.”
“I’m starting to think you just make these rules up as you go along,” Twilight said, shaking her head with an amused smile. “So what’s the group we’re going to see?”
Coral took that as her cue to speak up. “The Manehatten Philharmonic Orchestra. I’ve seen them perform in Canterlot, and let me tell you, there isn’t music like it anywhere else. They’re a bit of a peculiar group. They never announce what they’re going to play, but they get away with it because they're lauded as the best musicians in Equestria.” She gave a conspiratorial glance around. “But a friend of mine told me they would be playing a few of the Princess’ favorites in honor of the upcoming Summer Sun Celebration.”
“Oh,” Twilight said, trying to sound uninterested. “I wonder if they’ll play Ode to the Gold Rye. The Princess always said it was her favorite.”
Coral rose not one, but two eyebrows. “You sound rather familiar with the Princess.”
“Oh, yes, well,” Twilight said, looking over at Coral. “I’m her student and ward.”
A smile of somepony who solved a riddle spread across Coral’s face. “Oooooh,” she said in a high pitch. “That explains why you’re friends with Rarity here.”
Twilight’s smug grin vanished. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Hm?” Coral asked, batting her eyelashes. “Absolutely nothing. Forget I ever said it.”
Twilight had to grind her teeth together to prevent herself from yelling at her right then. Rarity was not just friends with her because of her connections to the Princess, and it was insulting to both her and Rarity that Coral would even think that.
Twilight tried to smile sweetly, and turned to her date. “So, Carrot Top, have you ever been to see an orchestra play before?”
“Well,” Carrot Top said, chewing her bottom lip. “We used to own a grand piano back in Fillydelphia. My mother would sit down each day and teach me how to play it. She had hoped that I would become a professional musician one day. I attended a few recitals, but I’ve never seen a professional orchestra play.”
“Oh, so you play?” Rarity asked. “I’m sure you’ll be able to appreciate what we’re about to see much more than us.”
“Maybe,” Carrot Top replied, a shadow of a smile on her lips. “It’s been forever since I’ve played.”
Their chatter died as they stepped off the cobblestone onto Blueberry Fields. Over a hundred ponies had come out to see the show. Twilight was surprised she hadn’t heard about it earlier, considering the turnout.
A grass hill sloped down towards the stage. The stage was lit by lanterns with translucent white shields propped up on black metal stands that had iron leaves sticking out of them, giving them the image of daisies waiting to bloom. The curtains were blue, made darker by the setting sun, and the orchestra all sat on stage with their instruments, waiting to start. Ponies had all taken seats on the grass, some of them on blankets, and quite a few of them wore suits and dresses for the occasion.
Twilight and Carrot Top found a good place to sit down, where their view wasn’t blocked by taller ponies. Rarity and Coral took a seat next to one another several paces to the left of where Twilight and Carrot Top sat, leaving the two of them to talk to each other.
“Listen,” Carrot Top said, turning to Twilight. “I noticed the way you looked when you saw me back at the library, and if you aren’t interested in this, then...” she trailed off, looking at the ground uncertainly.
“No, it’s not that at all!” Twilight insisted. She sighed and shuffled closer to Carrot Top, wrapping a hoof around her. “You’re very sweet, and very pretty. I was just a little surprised.”
Carrot Top blushed, but continued to avoid her gaze.
Twilight smiled and looked to the stage, but inwardly she sighed. Carrot Top was so timid and fragile, Twilight felt like she had her hoof wrapped around porcelain.
She hated herself for it, but she kept stealing glances over at Coral and Rarity. The two looked like they were having a good time, chatting and laughing at each others’ jokes. She wished she could hear what they were saying.
“Those two look like they’re having a good time,” Carrot Top piped up.
Twilight snapped her head around to look at her. “Huh?”
“Rarity’s smile seems sincere and happy. But hers...” Carrot Top trailed off, looking at Coral. “I don’t think I like her very much. Everything she says has two meanings. And her smiles look forced.”
Twilight blinked, looking at the mare she had her hoof wrapped around.
“O-or, well,” Carrot Top stuttered. “Maybe I’m just reading into things too deeply.”
Twilight gave Carrot Top a small squeeze. “No,” she said, her eyes curved up in a smile. “I don’t like her very much either.” She could hear Carrot Top let out a small breath of relief, and she returned her smile.
Neither of them talked much. Both of them liked staying quiet, unless asked about a particular topic that gets them going, Twilight with her magic, and Carrot Top with her gardening and her life in Fillydelphia.
Coral had been right; The music was phenomenal. Each musician worked in harmony with one another that spoke of years of practice together. The songs that Twilight enjoyed the most, were the fast, cheerful ones that seemed to hold a spring in their step, and so did Carrot Top, if the smile that sprung up on her face when one came on was anything to go by.
When the final came to be played, the orchestra played Ode to the Gold Rye. A feeling of familiarity rushed through Twilight as they began to play. The Princess often listened to the song on vinyl when she was in her private study, attending to important matters. The tune sounded more magnificent when it wasn’t muffled behind a door.
The song ended on a long drawn out note, and ponies stood up to applaud.
Carrot Top wore an illuminating smile while stomping her hooves. “Encore! Encore!” she shouted, drawing a few chuckles from the stallions around them. She blushed and stopped applauding, hanging her head with a guilty smile.
“I don’t think orchestras do encores,” Twilight said, laughing softly at her.
“I can always hope,” Carrot Top replied. “They were magnificent. The songs made me dream of the piano lessons I took with my mother.” Carrot Top sighed longingly. “And that one haunting tune they played towards the beginning. It sent shivers down my spine!”
“Or maybe it’s just the cold.” Twilight grinned. Ponies around them began to leave the field, the show they came to watch done and their warm beds calling them.
Carrot Top sidestepped closer to Twilight and leaned her body against her. “Maybe it is.”
Twilight gulped and leaned away from her slightly, but it only prompted Carrot Top to lean on her more. She looked over at Rarity.
But Rarity was gone.
Her heart sank, and she stared at where Coral and Rarity once sat.
Did she and Coral... Twilight’s shoulders sagged.
She didn’t want to even think about that possibility.
So she turned to Carrot Top, and smiled, the weight of the smaller pony still pressed up against her side. Carrot Top was warm, and her coat was thick and soft. She looked very pretty in the low moon glow.
“Would you like me to walk you home?” Twilight offered.
“That would be nice,” Carrot Top said, a valentine blush on her cheeks.
A bit of her smile infected Twilight, and she felt the corners of her mouth tugging upwards. “What part of town?”
“It’s across town, about a five minute walk south of Sweet Apple Acres,” Carrot Top said, cantering towards town.
Twilight walked alongside her. “Maybe you could show me your Carrot Patch.”
“Oh, but it’s a bit late.” Carrot Top looked at Twilight out of the corner of her eye and her blush brightened. “Unless that means something else.”
“What?” Twilight shouted, nearly tripping over her own hooves. She looked away, and a blush to match Carrot Top’s sprung up on her cheeks. “I meant your gardening. I wanted to look at your garden.”
Carrot Top stifled a high-pitched giggle. “I’m sorry. I just wasn’t sure if...” she trailed off, clearing her throat. “I don’t know what I was thinking! It would be way too soon for anything like that!”
“Absolutely,” Twilight agreed, still blushing.
They walked across town in silence, Carrot Top blushing, and Twilight watching the stones in front uncomfortably.
They arrived at Carrot Top’s home. A lantern hung from a post sticking out of the wall by the small cottage’s door, lighting a small area around it.
Carrot Top turned and faced her on the stone walkway to her door. The candlelight made her autumn hair glow golden.
Carrot Top chewed her lip. “This is goodnight, I guess,” she said, her front hooves rubbing together nervously.
Twilight found herself walking up to her, until Carrot Top had to tilt her head up to look at Twilight, their muzzles inches apart. Carrot Top closed her eyes and stood on the tips of her hooves, waiting to meet Twilight halfway.
Twilight stood petrified.
When no kiss came, Carrot Top opened her eyes, and looked up at Twilight. “Is something wrong?”
“I... Yes. Kind of,” Twilight said. She sighed and shook her head. “Tonight was nice...”
Carrot Top gave her this look like her hopes were crashing against the shore. “But?”
“I have a lot on my mind right now,” Twilight answered.
Carrot Top let out a disappointed sigh. “I understand,” she said. Her eyes shone in the light, smiling, but her eyes were sad. She turned away and walked to her door, shoulders slumped.
“Wait, Carrot Top!” Twilight called, galloping after her.
Carrot Top stopped and back at Twilight over her shoulder. Twilight froze seeing the look of confusion in Carrot Top’s eyes. She walked slowly up to Carrot Top’s side until they stood shoulder to shoulder, the lantern light dancing in their eyes.
Twilight leaned down, capturing Carrot Top’s lips.
The smaller pony’s eyes fluttered shut and she melted into the kiss. Twilight could feel her body trembling. Her lips were warm, soft, and gentle, everything Twilight pictured they’d be.
She broke the kiss. Carrot Top opened her eyes, an adorable blush painting her cheeks.
And she smiled.
Carrot Top swallowed before speaking. “Would you like to do this again sometime?”
Twilight opened and closed her mouth, still trying to catch up to what just happened. “Um...” She looked down at the stone walkway. “Yes,” she finally answered. “I’d like that.”
A radiant smile spread across Carrot Top’s face. She walked to her door, her soft hoofsteps knocking against the stone.
She opened her door and stopped, turning and looking back at Twilight.
“Goodnight,” she said. And then she went inside, and closed the door.
Twilight stood on the walkway, a few paces from the door, like a scarecrow, thinking about what happened. The night air was frigid, and the wind blew gently down from the fields, carrying dandelion seeds that floated past her.
Her trance was broken by hoofsteps clapping against cement. She turned around to see Rarity standing on the road by the walkway to the house, stomping her hooves in approval.
“Bravo! Bravo!” Rarity shouted, grinning.
Twilight’s heart plummeted.