Author's Note: I am so sorry for the month this chapter took to make. With finals coming up, and many final projects to complete, my life has been a nightmare. It will be a while for the next chapter, but not nearly as long. I hope you all can forgive me. Finally, I'd like to thank Therizzen for lots of support and help editing this chapter (Oh, and my friend Joseph for supporting me as well! I know you will read this!). I wish you all a belated Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Shortly after the incident in the library, Applejack said her goodbyes and left. Even though she was accepting of her friends being together, she did not want to stay for what she knew might come next.
As the door closed behind the earth pony, Dash wandered out of the bathroom. She had finally come to grips with what had happened, and she felt good. It was almost as if a weight had been lifted off of her wings. The support AJ and Pinkie gave Rainbow some strength, but she still seemed to held the fear of openly admitting to everypony about herself.
Twilight wandered up to her marefriend and nuzzled her neck. “I'm sorry that Applejack saw us like that. How are you holding up?”
“”It..it wasn't really that bad...” Dash admitted after a moment. She looked towards the floor and shook her head. “I'm sorry, but I still don't want to tell everypony. Applejack almost gave me a heart-attack!”
The purple unicorn managed to hold her smile while her heart sunk. She had worked so hard, and Dash still wasn't willing to reveal her true self! What am I doing wrong!? Geez, I'm gonna have to trick everypony, won't I. She might catch on eventually... Twilight thought while trying to maintain her composure. “I'm just glad to know that you're OK with what happened.” She lied.
Dash paused for a moment before speaking, trying to build up some courage. “Twi, do you...um...want to go for a walk? It's something I think I could manage.”
Twilight's heart started to rise again. Maybe there's hope for her yet... She smiled and leaned onto the pegasus. “Dash, that sounds wonderful. Just let me get my scarf.”
- ~ -
Leaves were beginning to drift off of the trees as the two ponies trotted by. The Running of the Leaves was coming, and the town was preparing. Markers had started to be placed along the route, and the banner declaring the Start/Finish line was in place.
Twilight and Dash wandered out of the town, and towards the Everfree forest. During this time of year, any fear the pony folk had towards the wooded area started to drift away like the leaves from the trees. The two wandered and talked, not really looking where they were going.
“I can't get enough of this time of year!” Twilight said, breaking the silence they had been sharing. She seemed to be talking to both Dash and the trees. “The leaves look wonderful, and the stars shine so bright at night.”
Dash looked at her marefriend and smiled. The enthusiasm of the unicorn was really rubbing off on her.
“You're really into nature, aren't you?”
Twilight blushed slightly. “Ever since I was a little filly, my parents always took me out to the country for the summer. We went for a week the first year, but just kept coming to stay for longer and longer.” Twilight began to stare off into space, thinking of the time with her parents. “Shortly after I got accepted to school, I stopped going. This year in Ponyville has brought back so many memories. I mean, it's those summers that got me interested in astronomy.”
“Well, I've always heard you talking about the stars, but never really looked for myself. Would you want to come over to my house and watch them some time? With me?” Dash sounded more than a little nervous.
Twilight leaned onto the pegasus, looking up into her eyes. “Dash, I would be honored to go star gazing with you. How about tonight? I don't have anything planned...”
Dash smiled, happy her idea was so openly accepted. “That sounds great! We could pack some stuff for the night when we get back to the library. What would we need?”
“I can’t really put my telescope on a cloud, so not very much. I'll grab some blankets, and snacks...” Twilight's words began to trail off once she noticed the new scenery surrounding them.
“What's with all of the stone?” Dash asked.
“It looks like we wandered into the castle that held the Elements Of Harmony.” Twilight said, looking at the walls that now surrounded them. In the light, the stone looked weathered and beaten. Memories of an adventure from what felt like a lifetime ago. “It's so weird to see it again.”
The two wandered up the tower and found a seat, gazing out over Equestria. The sun was beginning to dip in the sky, signaling evening would soon be there. As they waited, they leaned against one another for warmth and comfort.
Once the sun had finally gone down, Dash rose to her hooves. “You want to go watch the stars, right?” Twilight simply nodded in response. “Why don't you climb on my back? I can fly us back to town.”
She unfolded her wings as the purple unicorn hopped on, clinging to her neck for dear life. With a small struggle for balance, Dash soon took off and they were soon soaring back to town.
The route was surprisingly long, and the stars were already visible once they returned back to the library. Twilight disappeared inside, returning with a basket full of snacks and blankets for the pair. “I cast the cloud walking spell, so we should be ready to go!” She said, her voice barely able to contain her excitement. She clambered onto Rainbow's back once again, and together they set off towards Dash's cloud house.
- ~ -
Rainbow touched down, allowing the unicorn to test the cloud before climbing off. Twilight set the basket down, and pulled out a blanket. She laid it on the fluffy cloud before resting herself on top of it and patting the space next to her invitingly.
Dash didn't hesitate, quickly snuggling next to her marefriend as another blanket was magically placed upon them. She looked up towards the sky, once again amazed by the dots of light above her. “It kinda makes you feel small and insignificant, doesn't it”
“That's what everypony says, but I think I've found a more positive outlook on it.” Twilight smiled, seeing her marefriend transfixed on something she held so dear. “As far as we know, this is the only place in the whole universe with life. That means that, out of everything we can see now, we are some of the most intelligent beings.” Twilight brought Dash in for a hug, eyes flicking between constellations as she continued. “If that's true, than I wouldn't say we're insignificant. Quite the opposite. It's amazing that we can be here, now. We're all so important, and so special.”
“Wow, that's deep. Even for a filly like you!” Dash grinned while Twilight playfully pushed her away. “Seriously, I do get what you mean. It really puts things into perspective. Heck, everypony is a mini miracle if you think about it.”
“Dash, I couldn't agree more.” With that, the ponies pulled each other in tight, their lips pressing together. The stars shone down, illuminating the two as they displayed their passion for each other. Nothing seemed to matter except for what was going on at that exact moment.
After what seemed like an eternity, Twilight broke the kiss. Dash didn't move, her rose eyes gazing in towards Twilight's. The purple unicorn smiled, and turned so she was staring back up to the sky. “Now, what do you say we do some star gazing?”
The night was spent with Twilight explaining anything and everything she knew about space to Rainbow, who's recent interest in astronomy was steadily growing. She absorbed all of the information, from the constellations to the way stars were made. The only thing she had ever been so focused on was flying. However, it wasn't too long before the two fell asleep, cuddled together under the blanket.
- ~ -
Twilight awoke with the sun, and opened her eyes to find Dash staring back at her. “Morning, sleepy head.” the pegasus said, while giving Twilight a soft kiss on the cheek.
The purple unicorn smiled and rubbed some sleep from her eyes. The night had been fun, and she only wished she didn't have to move just yet.
Rainbow slid out from under the blanket, stretching both her hooves and her wings. “I had an idea on what we could do today.” She said. “Something we could do together.”
From how she was acting, Twilight could tell she had been awake and thinking for a while now. “Oh? And what might that be?”
“Well, I thought we could go jogging. We're both going to do the Running of the Leaves, so I thought we might be able to run it together.”
A smile broke out on Twilight's face. This was major for Dash. Sure, there was nothing strange about two friends running together, but this was special. This was something that Dash was willing to do with her! In public, no less! Heck, any progress was good progress! “Dashie, I would love to.”
“Great!” Dash exclaimed. “Now, lets go get some breakfast.”
Twilight sighed as she rose from their makeshift bed. “You know, for our first real date that went pretty well.” Rainbow looked over at the unicorn, who smiled sheepishly. “What? All we did before was have a meal together. For me to call it a date, we needed to do a bit more than eat together.”
Dash shook her head, and gazed out over the town. “You know, I bet we can make today even better.”
- ~ -
The breakfast was basic, with pegasi not known for their cooking abilities. Soon enough, the pair was on the ground and ready to run.
“I'm gonna run this with you, Twi. No wings, no way.” Dash stood proudly, her wings staying flat against her side for once.
An expression of mock surprise played across the previously mentioned unicorn's face. “Really?! The great Rainbow Dash will run with little old me?!” She fluttered her eyes, trying to look adorable.
“Hay, there's no need to be mean about it...” Dash said, pouting slightly. She quickly regained her previous composure, focusing on the path ahead. “Are you ready?”
“Ready!” Twilight cried as they took off, following the future race path. For the most part, she was able to keep up with the speedy pegasi. After the race last year, she had done SOME training.
Dash was considerably quick for one who doesn't walk very often. Only occasionally did she have to slow down, allowing Twilight a moment to catch her breath and observe the scenery. They jogged together, keeping pace. By the end of their practice run, they had agreed on a new strategy for this year. Get ahead, and walk until the others caught up.
The town around them was finishing breakfast by the time they were finished. “Wow, I never knew how much fun running in the morning was!” Twilight exclaimed, slightly out of breath.
“That's nothing.” Dash tried to act as if she wasn't tired, breathing as normally as possible. “You should see the Manehattan Mareathon. With all of the buildings, it's simply spectacular!”
“I guess that's something to plan for...” Twilight said as she got up off the ground. “...but for now, lets see what our friends are up to. I have a feeling Pinkie's doing something strange...” Smoke was rising from a distant Sugar Cube Corner.
“Eh, it's Pinkie. She's always up to something strange.” Dash said. “But I like the sound of hanging out with the others. Come on, lets go.”