“Fluttershy, I’m fine,” Twilight insisted for the umpteenth time. She was propped up against the headrest of her bed with pillows giving her lumbar support. A book she had been reading was laying face-down on her lap as her friends milled about, worried expressions on their faces.
“Oh, but you’re not fine!” Fluttershy insisted. “Why, if you were one of the little bunnies I take care of, I would have prescribed you a lot of bed rest a long time ago! If that was okay with you, of course…”
Twilight half smiled. “Fluttershy, honestly. I feel much better than I did this morning.” Hoping to reinforce the point, Twilight smiled hugely, fluttering her eyelids. Fluttershy gasped, leaning back.
“Oh, you poor thing! Your eyes are completely bloodshot!” Fluttershy said worriedly, digging through her pack of medical supplies.
Twilight gave an exasperated sigh and fell back against the pillows. Applejack slowly walked up, skirting around the objects that were flying out of the pack Fluttershy was submerged in.
“Hey sugarcube, anythin’ Ah can get ya?” Applejack smiled kindly, which Twilight returned in kind.
“Some coffee would be nice,” Twilight mused.
“But Twi’, it’s in the smack middle of the day!” Applejack protested. Twilight just gave her a look.
“Oh, don’t mind Applejack, darling,” Rarity flicked her tail, lightly hitting Applejack on the side. Applejack rolled her eyes. “How would you like your coffee?
“Three sugar cubes and enough milk to make the coffee a light brown, stirred well,” Twilight said, a guilty smile spreading across her face.
“Ah’m not sure Fluttershy will be dandy with such sweets,” Applejack said nervously. Fluttershy was still digging through her pack.
“I wouldn’t worry about it, dear,” Rarity said reassuringly, “though it is a bit sweeter than I usually prefer mine…”
Twilight brought a hoof to her face, giving another exasperated sigh.
“One coffee with light cream and three sugars, coming up!” Rarity dashed out of Twilight’s room…
…and collided with Rainbow Dash, who was just standing outside.
Rarity and Rainbow landed in a graceless heap at the bottom of the stairs. Twilight plugged her ears. Applejack just looked at Twilight in confusion.
“Eep!” Fluttershy’s hair stood on end as she went to hide under Twilight’s bed, but ran smack dab into Twilight’s hoof.
“Fluttershy,” Twilight said gently. “It’s only Rarity.”
“O-oh. I knew that…”
“You absolutely RUINED my hair!” Rarity shrieked.
“Yeah? Well, maybe if you weren’t such a klutz and actually looked to see where you’re going, this wouldn’t have happened!” Rainbow yelled back.
“Me? A klutz? I am a LADY! And words such as klutz do not apply to someone who conducts themselves with as sophisticated a manner as I! Now, if you’ll so kindly excuse me,” Rarity shook the dust out of her mane, returning it to a sparkly sheen that it usually had, “I have coffee to make!” And with that, Rarity whirled around and trotted into the kitchen.
“Jeez, who put a thistle in her hay?” Rainbow muttered as she floated up the stairs. “Hey Twilight. Wow, you look awful.”
Twilight just smiled. “I look much worse than I feel, honest.” Rainbow just rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, if you say so.”
“I do say s- HEY!” Twilight protested as Fluttershy climbed up on Twilight, pinning her hooves to her side with her hind legs. If she heard Rainbow mutter “That’s hot,” she chose to ignore it.
“F-fluttershy! What are you doing?”
“Just hold still, Twilight. I need to administer these eyedrops,” Fluttershy carefully uncorked a bottle with her teeth.
“Oh, then why do I need to be restrained?”
“Well, they might not be the most comfortable eye drops in the world,” Fluttershy admitted sheepishly. Before Twilight could react, Fluttershy quickly put two drops in each of Twilight’s eyes.
“Aauuugh!!” Twilight screamed, her eyes burning like fire. The urge to rub her eyes was unbearable, but Fluttershy kept her hooves pinned. She writhed like a snake, tears streaming from her eyes.
Then, suddenly, the pain was gone. Twilight’s second scream was cut off briefly as she blinked her eyes rapidly.
“There, now, that wasn’t so bad, now, was it?” Fluttershy said sweetly, “And your eyes look much better now, too.” Rainbow Dash nodded in agreement.
“Shoot, girl,” Applejack looked at Fluttershy, amusement plain on her face. “Ya could have at least warned the poor thing.”
Twilight just blinked again and sat back. “What is in those eyedrops?”
Fluttershy scuffed a hoof against the ground. “Oh, water, mostly. Some aloe extracts to soothe irritated skin. And…maybe…some firesbane…”
“Firesbane?” Twilight’s eyes opened wide, then closed again in acceptance. “Well, that does explain the burning. I wouldn’t have thought of it as a catalyst to speed up the healing process of the aloe.”
“Well, it was your idea,” Fluttershy said timidly.
“Oh, Fluttershy. I think I’d remember something like that,” said Twilight, waiving a hoof dismissively.
"Hay, where in tarnation is Pinkie Pie, anyway?" Applejack looked around, noticing a distinct lack of confetti, streamers, and other party paraphernalia.
"She went back to the rock farm for a couple of days to check in with the fam'," Rainbow Dash said casually.
Twilight just shrugged. "Maybe it's better that way. She's exhausting sometimes," the unicorn said, leaning back into a pillow. Then she shot a glance at the three ponies in her proximity. "You won't tell her I said that.
"Of course not, Twi'," Applejack said. Rainbow Dash glanced at Applejack, who just shrugged in turn. “Sugarcube, Ah hate ter leave ya like this, but Ah got some serious work to do on mah farm, so…”
“It’s okay, Applejack. You don’t need to stand vigil over me,” Twilight smiled. “It’s not like I’m dying.”
“Shoot, Twi’, don’t jinx yerself,” Applejack said, stamping three times against the wooden floor, amusement on her face. “Alright, get better now, ya hear?”
Twilight just waved a hoof lazily as Applejack, still chuckling, wandered out of her room, tail swishing behind her.
“Yeah, as much as a blast this has been,” Rainbow Dash started, stretching her wings.
“Yes, Rainbow, you can go too,” Twilight interrupted whatever excuse Rainbow had for leaving. “I know you get restless when you don’t fly.”
“Yeah! Thanks Twilight. You’re, like, the most understanding friend I’ve ever had!” Rainbow grinned, noticing Fluttershy’s face falling. “Besides you, of course,” she said, flicking her yellow pegasus friend in the nose with her tail. “See ya guys!” Rainbow flew out the window.
“That pony needs to learn how to use a door,” Twilight said with amused irritation. Fluttershy just nodded in agreement, scuffing a hoof against the floor again. Twilight just smiled kindly at her. “Let me guess, you need to go, too?”
“Oh, no, Twilight. I’d be happy to stay here. I mean, I’m sure the little bunnies will be fine on their own for a while, and the squirrels don’t need a new tree home right away, and…”
“Enough,” Twilight said firmly, reminiscently sounding like Princess Celestia. “Fluttershy, you don’t have to cater over me like a sick animal. I’m a grown mare, you know. I can handle myself.”
“Oh, I know, Twilight, I just…” Fluttershy just smiled a little bit.
“I know, you’re the kindest pony I’ve ever met, even if you didn’t have the Element of Kindness,” Twilight said with a smile. “But it would be selfish of me to hoard all that kindness for myself, wouldn’t it?”
“Well, since you put it that way,” Fluttershy hugged Twilight, adding, “You’re sure you don’t need my help? With anything?”
“Yes, Fluttershy,” Twilight replied. “Besides, I think that Rarity is still downstairs…” her ear flicked in the direction of her door as clanking and muted curses came from the kitchen.
“Well, then I guess I can go ahead and leave. You know, if you want me to…” Fluttershy smiled sheepishly at Twilight.
“Go on,” Twilight said firmly. “Those little bunnies need you.” Fluttershy just nodded and walked towards the door.
“Oh, and Fluttershy,” Twilight added, grinning. “You can use the window, too.”
The pegasus went slightly red from embarrassment and nodded, wings fluttering as she lifted herself out the window.
Not ten seconds later, hoofsteps started pounding up the stairs. “Twilight Sparkle, I could not get that coffee maker of yours to work. Honestly, how do you manage to run your entire home just on your magic?” Rarity walked haughtily through the door, and then paused, looking around. “Where is everypony?”
Twilight just giggled.
Twilight found that she was alone, curled up in her bed in the middle of the afternoon. Spike had gone with Rarity on a request to bolster her supply of gemstones, and had said he wouldn’t be back for the better part of the day. She was reading The Wonders and Mysteries of Luna’s Sky, her strange fascination with Princess Luna unabated by her sudden illness.
Hastily, Twilight levitated a quill, an inkpot, and a piece of parchment. She hadn’t heard from Princess Celestia all day, and could only assume that she was upset with Twilight about bothering her with petty troubles. She put the tip of the feather to her mouth, thinking of a good apology, and then began writing, iterating what she wrote aloud. It was Twilight’s own way of proofreading.
“Dear Princess Celestia,
“I really must apologize for my letter earlier. I was simply panic-stricken over a trivial nothing, and I am sorry for having wasted your time. I have, however, learned something new about friendship today. I learned that when the best of friends catch wind of something troubling you, they’re always first on the scene to make you feel better, even if you think that their assistance is unnecessary. Again, I apologize for my hastily written, panic-filled letter. It was irrational of me, and I’m deeply sorry to have inconvenienced you.
“Your faithful student,
“Thou hast learned a valuable lesson here today, I think,” said a soft, yet authoritative voice. Twilight nearly fell out of her bed, and quickly turned to see whom the voice belonged to.
“P-princess Luna!” Twilight squeaked, scrambling out of her sheets to bow. All she ended up doing was wrapping the sheets around her like a cocoon and hitting the floor with a soft thud.
Luna nickered in amusement. “Please, Twilight Sparkle. Such formalities from thou are not necessary. After all, I should think that we have already established a certain familiarity.”
“B-but, you’re a princess-goddess,” Twilight stammered, floundering out of her sheets and nervously standing to her feet, all her instincts screaming for her to bow. And somewhere, an unquenchable urge yelled at her to examine Luna more closely. Twilight just stood there and stared, wide-eyed.
The Princess stood there, her mane and tail brilliant carpets of stars. Her cutie mark, and matching insignia stamped on her necklace, glowed with an inner radiance that, Twilight thought, was only fitting of a goddess.
Shaking her head out of here reverie, Twilight asked, “H-how long have you b-been standing here?”
“Only long enough to hear thou composing an over-apologetic letter to my sister,” Luna said. Making a face, her ears flicked in annoyance. “And I seem to keep slipping back into the old tongue.”
“Oh, d-don’t worry Princess Luna, I find it…” Twilight froze. She had been about to say cute, but that didn’t seem fitting of a princess-goddess. What do you say to a princess of that stature anyway?
“Yes, Twilight Sparkle?” Princess Luna looked at her with a mix of amusement and curiosity. “What do you find it to be?”
Twilight just mumbled something incomprehensible, and then straightened up. “Never mind, Princess,” she said, her cheeks tinged with red. “I don’t mind it at all.”
The Princess just nickered again. The sound was like pealing bells to Twilight’s ears. “Regardless, Twilight Sparkle, your profuse apologies are not necessary.”
“W-why?” Twilight asked, unable to shake her nervous stammer. While Twilight was trying to hold an intelligent conversation, all her mind could shout was squee!!!
”My sister has sent me to oversee and, if possible, assist in your speedy recovery,” Princess Luna said very matter-of-factly, making a split-second decision to omit Celestia’s fears. It wouldn’t serve to worry Twilight Sparkle unnecessarily, Princess Luna thought.
“O-oh!” Twilight squeaked. “I-I’m honored, of course…”
Princess Luna walked up to Twilight and put a hoof on her shoulder. “You also seem flustered,” Luna said, not unkindly. “Rest now, Twilight Sparkle. You look tired.”
“Y-yes, Princess,” Twilight managed to break through her squee!!! mentality long enough to levitate her sheets back onto her bed. “And Princess?”
“Yes, Twilight Sparkle?”
“Just call me Twilight.”