The next day was a busy one. After breakfast, Johnathon headed over to Twilight Sparkle's home to get the translation spell renewed. He stayed several hours, studying the fundamentals of magic in Equestria. It wasn't so much that he felt like he could help Twilight with her research, as that it was such a fascinating subject. Nevertheless, after only a few hours, he was pretty sure that he was nearing the limits of what he could learn on the subject without any ability of his own. He had errands to run in any case, so he excused himself and walked into town to see about getting furniture for his room at Cheerilee's home. Mostly, he wanted a nice chair and a desk to work at. The desk wasn't difficult, as the average pony tables and desks were at a comfortable height for a human sitting in a chair. But of course, it was a chair he was missing.
Johnathon went to every furniture store in town, which included a store for bedrooms, one that sold nothing but couches and quills for some odd reason, and an actual furniture store. Nothing was quite right. There were a few chairs that would be comfortable... if perhaps a bit larger than he was looking for, but nothing that would fit under a desk so he could sit and write. He finally settled for one that he could at least sit and read in comfortably, and asked the ponies at the store to have it at Cheerilee's house at around five that afternoon.
The ponies he dealt with were nervous but polite around him, although their moods tended to thaw quiet a bit when he brought out the bag of bits Twilight had given him. Heading into the center of town for the town market, however, was a different story.
As he entered the busy market square, a hush passed over the crowd from one side to the other as everypony caught sight of him. Everyone was frozen for a long moment, wondering what the human might do, when a loud, cheerful voice rang out, breaking the silence as clearly as ringing a bell.
"Why howdy, Johnathon!" Applejack said with a pleased expression from her apple stand. "Come to buy some apples?"
Johnathon sighed in relief as the crowd started to move again, and life returned to the city square. "In fact, yes." he said as he crossed the road to her stand. "Your apples are fantastic. Better than anything I used to get back home." he told her honestly, reaching her stand and looking around the various types of apples she had for sale with interest. "I think I'll take half a dozen today." he told her with a nod. "I'm moving into Miss Cheerilee's place, and I thought I'd bring some groceries with me." he said with a grin. "I don't have much in the way of luggage, after all."
Applejack blinked. "Moving in with Miss Cheerilee? I thought you were living with Fluttershy?" she narrowed her eyes a bit. "Did you two have a fight?"
Johnathon shook his head quickly. "Oh no. It's just that her cottage is a little small for the two of us, and, frankly, most of her animals don't like me very much. I've been missing having a bit of privacy as well. You know, having my own room? It does look like I'm going to be staying a while, you know."
Applejack nodded. "Makes sense, I guess." she looked up at him, looking slightly cross. "You could have asked us! We do have some extra space down at the farm, you know."
Johnathon shrugged. "Well, my first thought was to ask the Mayor if there was any pony wanting to rent a room, and Cheerilee's name came up. If I'd known you had room, I'd have asked you first." he smiled. "But honestly, I think Cheerilee and me will get along fine."
Applejack frowned, looking at him sidewise, then grinned. "Well, I guess you two do have a bit in common, being scholarly types and all. Applebloom told me how Cheerilee helped you with your writing... stuff..." she shrugged. "And I suppose, if you're not used to it, it might get a bit much, waking with the roosters every morning on a farm."
Johnathon grinned. "Well, I sometimes do tend to stay up pretty late, but I have lived on a farm before, you know."
Applejack nodded. "Oh yeah, you did say." she looked curious. "So, when are you going to come down and visit us at the farm? Not that I'm holding you to helping out or nothing... but Applebloom likes listening to your stories an' all."
"I'll try and come by tomorrow." he told her. "Trust me, it's on my list. But I've still got to pick up my new clothes from Rarity, and move into Cheerilee's place today." he glanced around at the busy market. "And food shopping." he picked out six apples from Applejack, paid her, and, borrowing a basket, started making his way around the rest of the market stalls.
Johnathon carried his purchases to Rarity's place, as Cheerilee wasn't due home for several more hours, and walked into the boutique, arms full of produce. He set his baskets down just in time to catch the piece of fabric that seemed to be about to attack him.
"What's this?" he held what appeared to be a blue teeshirt with 'The Wonderbolts!' written across it and an image of a pegasus with a yellow mane wearing a dark blue bodysuit and goggles on it. "Ah...." he blinked. "Er... Rarity?"
The white unicorn was frowning to herself, and her horn glowed, causing the shirt to fit itself against his chest as if she was holding it there. "Mmm hmm?" she said with a distracted expression.
"When I said I would like a teeshirt, I didn't actually mean one with a picture on it... just a plain solid color would have been fine." he blinked. "Er... where did you get the image, anyway? Don't tell me you did this yourself?"
Rarity blinked. "What?" she shook her head. "Oh no, I simply purchased one from the market yesterday. Some pony was selling Wonderbolt merchandise, and I thought, if I AM going to do a... teeshirt..." she said the word with mild disdain. "I might as well do one right." she shrugged. "I just altered it to fit your measurements."
Johnathon glanced down at the shirt. "Well... it does look like it will fit." he said with a raised eyebrow.
Rarity frowned. "I don't know. It looks a bit big. Try it on!"
Johnathon agreeably pulled the colorful shirt on over his own collared shirt, and turned around for her. "I like it." he said with a grin. "I don't really know who the Wonderbolts are... but it's not a bad picture."
Rarity was shaking her head. "Oh my no, as I thought, it's too big."
Johnathon grinned. "That's hardly a problem. It's a little big on me, but it'll be quite comfortable. It doesn't have to be form fitting, after all."
Rarity frowned. "Well, if you like it, I suppose that's what matters. I'd like to try again, however, if you don't mind."
Johnathon shook his head. "I could use more than one, certainly." he held up a finger as he spoke. "Although, honestly, they don't have to have pictures on them. I'd be just as happy, happier, with something in a solid color. Blue is nice... a nice shade of red... or dark green?"
Rarity nodded thoughtfully. "The pattern is simple enough. Wait a moment, and I'll whip them up for you."
Johnathon blinked. "Wait a moment?" he repeated.
Rarity's horn glowed again, brighter this time, and fabrics, measuring tape, and scissors floated from various places around the room. Her eyes grew intent as she worked with a speed Johnathon could scarcely credit. In under two minutes, the first one was done. He leaned against a wall and watched in fascination. This was magic... like something out of a movie. Mary Poppins, or... Cinderella. He had teleported with the princess, seen Twilight levitating multiple objects simultaneously, and he had seen Rarity working before, but when she wasn't distracted by other thoughts, when she had a clear goal in mind, her talent was breathtaking.
When she was done, he clapped, slow but with a genuine smile on his face. "Just... wow, Rarity. You should charge admission. Your skill is truly amazing."
Rarity was blushing slightly. "Oh go on...." she said with a demure smile. She waited a moment. "Well? Go ahead, tell me more!"
Johnathon chuckled. "You're every bit as modest as I am, my dear. Perhaps even more so!"
She chuckled. "Well, you do know how to flatter a lady." she winked. "I do know I can be a bit of a Deva, but were you serious? Did you really like watching me work that much?"
Johnathon grinned at her. "Honestly, I could watch you for hours." he shrugged. "But unfortunately, I do have a few more things to take care of today before it gets too late."
Rarity nodded. "Well, let me get you your first pair of pants. I finished them last night, but I want to make sure they fit properly before you go!" Rarity had a dressing room, which Johnathon used to change into some of the clothing Rarity had created, and he patiently allowed her to take measurements and make adjustments here and there while she made sure that the first pair of pants she had ever created actually fit as they were supposed to. It took nearly half an hour before she was finally satisfied, but compared to what he had originally expected, it was a short and mercifully painless experience.
Seeing how much he had already been carrying when he came in, Rarity loaned Johnathon a set of saddlebags, in which he stowed his groceries and new clothes. The man put the bags over his shoulder and headed for the door.
Rarity frowned slightly as he was opening the door to go. "Hmm... well now, what's wrong with this picture?" she tilted her head to one side slightly and looked thoughtful. "Johnathon, dear, tell me, what sort of bag would be more comfortable for you? I was thrown off for a moment, as you seem familiar with that bag, but it's not really suited for your... frame, now is it?"
Johnathon grinned. "Well, I've carried saddlebags like this before... I did have horses on my farm, after all, but yes, a satchel, or backpack is more convenient."
Rarity wrinkled her nose. "A backpack?"
Johnathon blinked. "You know... I'll have to draw you one sometime. They're a bit difficult to describe simply."
Rarity nodded. "Very well, I suppose it will have to wait."
Johnathon shook his head. "I don't get it. Not that I don't appreciate it, but why are you so eager to help me? Every time you see that I need something, you want to make it for me."
Rarity blinked. "Well... I just... I can imagine what it must be like, being away from everything familiar to you, with no possessions of your own. I simply could not allow you to remain so destitute!" she smiled. "Besides, dear, working on designs for you has inspired me! I've had dozens of ideas in the last few days alone! One of them is sure to take the fashion world by storm, I'm certain!"
Johnathon smiled. "Well, I hope so. Regardless, I really do appreciate it."
Carrying his load, Johnathon headed toward Cheerilee's home, and was pleasantly surprised to see the teacher waiting for him outside. "Hello Johnathon, I saw you coming from the kitchen window!" the purple pony said pleasantly. "Can I help you with anything?"
Johnathon shrugged. "Well, I have some groceries, so show me where things go in the kitchen. I've got some new clothes here, and a couple pieces of furniture... and I need to go back to Fluttershy's place for the rest of my stuff...."
Cheerilee trotted to the door and opened it for him. "You seem to have been busy today!" she commented cheerfully.
After putting his groceries away in the kitchen, and his new clothing away in the closet of his room, Johnathon headed back to Fluttershy's cottage. Cheerilee remained behind to keep an eye out for the ponies delivering his furniture.
When he got back to Fluttershy's home, the yellow pegasus was collecting eggs from her hen house. "Oh Johnathon." she said with a slightly sad expression. "I suppose you are here to pick up your things?"
Johnathon sighed. "Yeah, looks like this is it. I'm pretty much all moved into Cheerilee's place now." he met her in front of her front door, then knelt down and gave her a hug. "I'll visit." he promised. "We'll see each other all the time, I expect."
She smiled softly. "It is a small town."
He nodded, then chewed on his lower lip, as if thinking. "Actually... I've been wondering... could you help me out with something?"
Fluttershy looked curious. "What is it, Johnathon?"
The archeologist shrugged, looking a little embarrassed. "Well... I'm really dying to see Cloudsdale sometime... but I have no idea if it would even be possible for me. Do you think, if we can figure out how to do it, you might come with me?"
Fluttershy smiled happily and nodded. "Of course, Johnathon! I'd love to!"
He grinned. "Thanks, Fluttershy. I'll be a lot happier with a friend along." Fluttershy blushed slightly, hiding behind her hair again, but looking pleased. Johnathon impulsively brushed her hair back with one hand. "You don't have to be so shy around me, Fluttershy. We're friends now, right?"
She nodded slowly, blushing slightly harder. "Yes." she nodded again, firmly. "Yes, yes we are." she smiled. "Maybe we can visit Rainbow Dash's house tomorrow? I bet we can borrow Twilight's balloon, and I can pull you."
Johnathon grinned. "Absolutely, if you have the time. How about I come by after lunch some time? Around... oh, three?"
Fluttershy nodded. "It's a date." Johnathon's eyebrow rose at that, and she winced slightly. "Er... a friend date, because we're friends!" she explained quickly, looking slightly panicked. Johnathon opened his mouth as if to speak, looking slightly confused, and raised a finger as if to ask a question, then closed his mouth, frowning slightly. Fluttershy stumbled on quickly, still slightly panicked. "Not that you're not a very nice human, but of course you're a human and I'm a pegasus... and..."
The archeologist's eyes went a little wide at this, and he held up a hand to stop her, shaking his head slowly. "Fluttershy, I get the idea. Seriously, I knew what you meant. We're friends, we're going to meet to go someplace fun together, AS friends... it's a date. Not a romantic date. I never thought anything else."
Fluttershy blushed again, hard, laying on the ground and putting her hooves over her face. "I'm an idiot." she mumbled softly.
Johnathon reached down to pat the top of her head softly. "Not at all." he pulled his hand away. "Actually, it's probably my fault. I've been a bit too personal with the physical displays of affection. I didn't mean to give the wrong impression." he scratched the back of his head with a perplexed look. "I apologize if this sounds weird... but... did you actually think I might have had romantic feelings for you?"
Fluttershy hesitated, peeking out from behind her hooves. "Er... no? I mean... maybe? I mean... I didn't know?" she shook her head. "I've never known a human before, and... well, I didn't want to insult you or anything...."
Johnathon shook his head. "Don't worry about it. I'm surprised we haven't had more weird moments, being from different worlds and all. I just never really considered that anypony might think I was... er... interested in them."
Fluttershy groaned softly and hid her face again. "I wasn't really thinking that... only you hugged me, and... moved my mane out of my eyes, and just for a second I wondered if you could possibly... but of course that's silly.... and...." she sighed. "I'm just making this more and more awkward, aren't I."
Johnathon chuckled. "It is a bit awkward, huh?" he sad down in front of her, and took a deep breath. "Well, heck with it. We've broached the subject now. Damn the torpedoes, I'm going in."
Fluttershy blinked and looked confused. "Er.. what?"
Johnathon shook his head. "Just an expression. I mean, let's talk about this."
Fluttershy grimaced slightly. "Do we have to?"
He laughed. "Not if you really don't want to, but we've already gone and embarrassed ourselves, we might as well make things clear." his face softened. "And, frankly, since you've brought it up, I'd like to make sure I can avoid this sort of misunderstanding in the future... weird as it is."
Fluttershy sniffed slightly, halfway between a laugh and a sigh. "Well, if it'll help."
Johnathon nodded. "It just might." he started to speak, stopped, then, taking a breath, tried again. "OK... I'm going to make some assumptions, and you tell me if I'm right or wrong." he wrinkled his nose. "And please, if I say something stupid, just tell me." he made a circular gesture with his right hand. "You have... lots of different sentient races on your world, right? I mean... I know of Dragons, Pegasus, Earth Ponies, Unicorns... and... Griffons, at least. Are there more?"
Fluttershy blinked. "Well, you met Zecora... so Zebras too. And Donkeys, and Cows, and Goats, and Minotaurs, and..." she hesitated. "Well, quite a few more, although not many live in Equestria."
Johnathon nodded. "Equestria is just one part of the world right? There are lots of other areas." Fluttershy nodded, and Johnathon blinked. "Cows? Huh." he shook his head, ignoring that. "Anyway... I've read a lot of fiction... fantasy... science fiction, and the idea that there are other sentient races is pretty much universal, but on my world, humans are the only ones." Fluttershy nodded slowly, and he continued. "Inter-species romance is something you find in our fiction.... although usually only between species that are pretty similar, physically." he shrugged. "I guess I'm asking, is there romance between different species on your world?"
Fluttershy hesitated, then nodded. "We have stories like that as well, Johnathon, and mostly they're just stories, but there are occasionally romances between species that aren't really physically... er... compatible." she was trying to stay detached, but Johnathon could tell she was having to make an effort to do it. "I... er... I probably shouldn't tell you this, but Spike actually has a bit of a crush on Rarity."
Johnathon blinked. "What... really?"
Fluttershy giggled softly. "Everypony knows about it... he's not very subtle. It's actually kind of sweet. I think even Rarity knows how he feels, although she pretends not to notice."
Johnathon shook his head. "Huh." he looked thoughtful. "I guess it does make a certain amount of sense. I mean, he's been raised by unicorns, right? He's been with Twilight since he was a baby. I guess he's never been around his own kind."
Fluttershy nodded. "That's true." she sighed. "I'm afraid he's just going to have his poor heart broken someday, but dragons do take a very long time to mature. It's just as likely that by the time he's old enough to have anything more than a crush he'll have grown out of it."
Johnathon shook his head again. "Well now... I guess that answers my question." he raised an eyebrow. "How common is it, exactly?"
Fluttershy giggled slightly. "Well, there are a lot of more romance novels about it then actual relationships, I think." she hesitated. "Well, relationships between the different kinds of ponies is a bit more common. It's not unheard of for a pegasus and an earth pony, or a unicorn, or any of the three to... er... have a relationship." she blushed slightly. "My grandmother had an earth pony sister, actually. Apparently her mother's mother had a relationship with an earth pony, and every once in a while a filly is born in my family who is all earth pony." she looked thoughtful. "Maybe that's why I'm so comfortable on the ground? And I do seem to have a knack with animals."
Johnathon nodded. "Well, that actually makes a lot of sense." he smiled at her. "Thanks for explaining, Fluttershy. I was bound to put my foot in my mouth sometime, so I'm glad it was you I... er... embarrassed first." Fluttershy's eyes went wide, and he explained. "I mean... I couldn't think of a pony more understanding. I'd hate to have blurted out something stupid in front of the Princess, for example!"
Fluttershy shivered. "Oh my... that would be bad." she hesitated. "Although the Princess IS very nice. I mean... Pinkie Pie once grabbed a cupcake right off of her hoof at a party and ate it, and the Princess wasn't mad at all!"
Johnathon chuckled. "Pinkie Pie is always going to be... Pinkie Pie, I expect. I've never met a more... irrepressible pony... or human for that matter. She's quite the character."
Fluttershy smiled softly. "She's so silly sometimes, but that's just part of who she is."
Johnathon nodded. "Well... now that the awkward part is over... would you like to walk me to Cheerilee's house? I'll make you dinner again, if you like?"
Fluttershy nodded slowly. "OK. That sounds... nice." she hesitated. "So... just to be sure, you're really not interested in any pony?"
Johnathon shook his head. "No. You and your friends... well, you're great. And I'm already made a lot of friends here, but I'm pretty sure that my... er... romantic interests will always be towards members of my own species." he shrugged with a slight grin. "Well, unless you know any cute angel girls?"
Fluttershy looked confused. "Er... aren't those the evil statue things from your story?"
Johnathon blinked, then shuddered. "Oh, ick." he laughed. "Angels are... er... well, it depends on what you believe, but they are supposed to look like humans with wings." he shrugged. "It was just a joke. I mean, since you have pegasi here as well as regular ponies without wings... I just thought, if a human girl had wings, it wouldn't put me off dating them."
Fluttershy blinked, then giggled. "Oh, I see." she shook her head. "I'm sorry, no angels." she raised an eyebrow. "What about a human female with a horn?"
Johnathon looked thoughtful. "Well... maybe. There was a science fiction story about humanoid unicorns that I liked..." he grinned. "Well, if you see any, let me know. Who knows? Stranger things have already happened to me." he hesitated. "Wait... you were joking, right?"
Fluttershy giggled. "Yes." she admitted, then giggled again. "So... I should keep an eye out for female creatures that walk on two legs, and have hands?"
Johnathon chuckled. "At the minimum, yes, although I expect my luck on your world is going to be pretty bad in that area."
Fluttershy looked thoughtful. "Well, Diamond dogs have hands and walk on their hind legs." she saw the incredulous look on the man's face and giggled. "I'm just kidding."
Johnathon rolled his eyes. "Seriously. Unless I meet a creature that's as much like me as Earth ponies and Unicorns are to you, romance is probably not on the menu." he shrugged. "Of course, even if there is another human woman... or something very similar someplace on your world, the odds are pretty good that we'll have nothing in common otherwise." he shrugged. "I mean, I'm kind of picky about my girls. I'm not just interested in any pretty face."
Fluttershy raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
Johnathon nodded seriously. "Really. I may have married the first girl who I really dated seriously, but it wasn't casual. There were a few others I might have pursued, but... not many, and the first one that I really liked, and who liked me? Well, I didn't even meet her till I was in my thirties. I never even really dated before that."
Fluttershy blinked. "Is that normal for humans?"
He shook his head. "Not really. I guess I was kind of shy growing up... and when I was older, I got really focused on my studies. I went on a few dates... but never a second date. I just didn't meet the right one for a long time."
Fluttershy nodded slowly. "I haven't found the right one either. Sometimes it feels like the good stallions are all taken."
Johnathon nodded sympathetically. "It does seem that way sometimes." as they walked through the now quiet town, Johnathon glanced at the yellow pegasus. "Fluttershy, was I crossing a line earlier? I mean, hugging you, and patting your head and all."
Fluttershy shook her head. "No. I didn't mind. I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions, even if only for a second, but no, hugging is fine between friends." she smiled at him. "I like hugs."
He grinned. "Me too." they walked in a comfortable silence for awhile. The evening air was pleasant, and the moon was rising slowly, and neither of them felt the need to speak. As they were almost to Cheerilee's home, however, Johnathon thought of something. "So... how many of those... inter-species romance novels have you read, anyway?"
Cheerilee wanted to ask why Fluttershy kept blushing during dinner, but was too polite to ask until the shy pegasus had left for home. "Well, thank you for fixing dinner, Johnathon." she said after Fluttershy had said her good byes. "I've never had a baked potato before! It certainly was... interesting!"
Johnathon shrugged. "It's one of my favorites, but I can't expect you to share my tastes. We're different species, after all."
Cheerilee smiled at him. "Well, it wasn't bad. Different is not always bad, after all. I do like being able to try new things, however, so don't hesitate if you want to show me a few more of the dishes from your world sometime."
Johnathon nodded. "I won't feel insulted if you don't like something, but I'll be happy to cook once in a while." he grinned at her. "There are quite a few pony dishes that I don't care for in the least myself. I'm assured that a daffodil sandwich is delicious, but I highly doubt I'll ever develop a taste for them."
Cheerilee looked thoughtful. "It might be a good idea to let you have a cupboard or two in the kitchen for your own food. You won't want to go shopping every single day, after all."
The archeologist nodded. "I was thinking that as well. Good idea."
Cheerilee hesitated, then asked. "May I ask what Fluttershy was blushing about when you two got here?"
Johnathon chuckled, then shook his head. "You'll have to ask her. I said I wouldn't talk about it."
Cheerilee raised an eyebrow at that, then sighed. "Ah well." she peered at him over the kitchen table. "What if I guess?"
Johnathon laughed. "You must really want something to gossip about."
Cheerilee giggled lightly. "You caught me." she shrugged slightly. "Actually to be honest, Fluttershy is a little famous around here."
Johnathon looked at her thoughtfully. "You know... I really do love this town. You have six ponies here that have saved the world, what is it now, twice...."
Cheerilee blinked. "Yes, that's true...." she looked slightly puzzled, then shook her head.
Johnathon nodded, not really noticing the strange expression on the school teacher's face. "And you treat them like any pony else."
Cheerilee nodded slowly. "Well, to be honest, most of them grew up here, so everypony already knows them quite well... but...." she shrugged. "Well, it wouldn't be right to make them feel like they're not part of our town, so we make an effort to treat them as normally as possible." she frowned slightly, as if something was still bothering her, but it was hardly noticeable to the archeologist, who was still lost in his own thoughts.
Johnathon pointed at her. "And that's why I love it here! I mean... I can't imagine any... any ponies like them being living in a small town and not being bothered...."
Cheerilee nodded, again. "Well, it really is a nice town, although I'm a bit prejudiced, of course." she frowned slightly, as if something had just occurred to her. "Although, to be honest, I have wondered a bit about how little recognition those six have gotten. Rarity has had a bit of notoriety due to her fashion designs, and for a while, Fluttershy was extremely popular...." she smiled, changing the subject. "Can you believe that shy little thing was a famous model for awhile?"
Johnathon blinked. "Really? Wow! I had no idea."
Cheerilee nodded. "She just gave it up... only a few weeks after it began. But it's strange. Aside from being praised for their... well, ordinary successes...." she raised a hoof and gestured with it. "Like the award Applejack got for stopping a stampede that would have gone right through town last year... no one really mentions the really incredible things they've done. I mean, I don't mind that our little town isn't overrun with press wanting to talk to the ponies that saved the world... but...." she shook her head. "It's strange that there never has been any real press about it."
Johnathon blinked. "That does sound strange. I mean... it would be extremely odd on my world, anyway."
Cheerilee hesitated. "Well... I'll be honest. It is a little odd here as well. It's not like it was a secret, after all. It's almost like..." she frowned. "It couldn't be... could it?"
"Magic." Johnathon finished the thought for her. "It's almost like magic. Like someone wanted Twilight and her friends to be able to have normal lives. Someone powerful enough to make it so that everypony treats them normally."
Cheerilee blinked. "Do you really think that...?" she didn't seem to be able to continue.
"That Princess Celestia might do something like that?" Johnathon frowned. "I think she just might, actually." he shook his head. "Not that I disapprove. Not at all." he sighed. "But... perhaps we shouldn't mention this particular thought to anypony else."
Cheerilee frowned. "Why not? It IS strange that the girls haven't been recognized as the heroes they are. Everypony should honor them, shouldn't they?"
Johnathon frowned. "Honor? Yes, I agree. But I think that allowing them to live their lives as normally as possible, well... that might be the best reward they could have. Fame can be rather destructive."
Cheerilee nodded slowly. "Yes, I suppose so." she frowned. "But why haven't I ever thought about this before now? I mean... I've always known that they saved the world, but until you brought it up, I... never really wondered about why they weren't more famous."
Johnathon hesitated. "Perhaps it's because I'm from another world? If there is some sort of magic to make Twilight and the others less famous, well, maybe it doesn't effect me because I wasn't here when it was... cast?" he shrugged. "I have no idea... well, not much of one, I HAVE been studying magic recently." he frowned. "But the magic required... it had to be enormous!" he shook his head. "On the other hand, I keep underestimating magic on this world. Every time I think it can't do something, I find out I'm wrong."
Cheerilee looked thoughtful. "I can't imagine what it must be like for you. You grew up in a world with no magic! Even here in Ponyville, we're always aware of it. Every filly growing up learns about magic. It's just part of our world."
Johnathon shrugged. "I'm adapting, slowly but surely. I'm still really just... suspending my disbelief. I'm not going to say any of the things I've heard about aren't real, but it won't be until I see them that I'll really, truly believe in them." he grinned. "I'm planning on going to Cloudsdale as soon as I can manage it. If anything will shock me into really believing... heart as well as head, in magic, that place ought to do it, if it's halfway as magical as I've heard."
Cheerilee nodded. "I've heard stories, although I've never seen it myself." she sighed, looking a little jealous. "Are you really going to go there?"
Johnathon nodded. "I'll find a way. I can't imagine leaving your world without seeing it at least once."
The purple school teacher looked interested. "Have you made any progress on finding a way home?"
Johnathon shrugged. "Well, Twilight is the only one who can say for sure. She's got a lot of ideas, and some good leads, I think, but she's the expert. It does seem like it could take a good long while, though. And there is no certainty. It is very possible I may never get to go home."
Cheerilee looked surprised. "Pardon me, Johnathon, but you don't seem sad about that."
He sighed. "Oh, I'm worried about my folks, and my son... my co-workers, and my friends, but...." he shrugged. "Well, if I had to be stuck in another dimension, I think I could have done a lot worse. This world seems... quite peaceful, and you all have been very welcoming." he smiled slightly. "I won't be terribly unhappy, I think."
After cleaning up the dishes, they said their good nights, and Johnathon went to his new room. His desk and chair had arrived, and he took a few minutes adjusting them to his satisfaction. He couldn't use the desk from the chair very well, but he found that if he pulled the desk up next to the bed, he could sit on that and reach it easily enough.
"Not perfect, but it'll do." he decided, then flopped down on his bed.
"Did Celestia really cast some sort of spell to keep her world from recognizing Twilight and the others as the heroes that saved their world?" he frowned. "Well, it must be more subtle then that. Its more like ponies know it, but don't act on it." he shivered slightly. "I can't imagine the power required. I'm starting to wonder if she really can raise the sun and moon?" He frowned. "And if she really has cast some sort of mind spell on this whole world... or at least the part of it that Twilight and her friends live... isn't that... wrong?"
He frowned. "She's a tyrant. But is a benevolent tyrant really such a bad thing? Still, I should be more careful. I can't see Princess Celestia simply allowing me to undermine her, even accidentally." he sat up. "Damn."
Johnathon moved through the house to Cheerilee's bedroom, and, after a moment's hesitation, knocked on the door. "Hello? Cheerilee?"
Cheerilee's voice came back through the door, sounding surprised. "Yes Johnathon?" she paused. "Oh, please come in!"
He opened the door to see her sitting up in bed. "Sorry to disturb you, I just..." he hesitated. "I was serious when I said I don't think we should bring up the subject... you know, about Twilight and her friends. Not to anypony."
Cheerilee looked curious. "Well, I don't have a problem with it, but why, exactly?"
Johnathon hesitated. "Well, for one, there isn't any point behind ruining their lives, and well, if there is a spell protecting them, we shouldn't break it."
Cheerilee looked thoughtful. "And you think talking about it would break it?"
Johnathon shrugged. "It's a guess, but.... well, how do you feel about Twilight Sparkle and the others now that we've talked about them?"
Cheerilee frowned. "Well... hmm." she blushed slightly. "Oh my. I suppose I do feel a bit nervous about the next time I talk to them for some reason." she frowned deeper. "Oh."
Johnathon sighed. "Damn. It is a spell."
Cheerilee looked disturbed. "I... I think it just might be." she looked at him. "What should we do?"
Johnathon shrugged. "My suggestion is, nothing. It is my fault that the spell is gone for you, but... is it our place to ruin those six ponies' lives?"
Cheerilee looked troubled. "But... Johnathon, this means that Princess Celestia really did cast a spell to effect how every pony feels! That... I don't know how to feel about that."
Johnathon sighed. "And that's my fault as well, I think."
Cheerilee was quiet for a long time, and the archeologist waited for her to think things through. "I have never considered not trusting Princess Celestia. Everypony loves her, and I always have as well." she frowned. "I still trust her... but... I don't like what I've found out."
Johnathon sighed. "Cheerilee. I don't think the Princess means anypony harm. I'm certain she doesn't, in fact." he shrugged. "Maybe we should just... trust her."
Cheerilee looked upset. "I wish you hadn't...." she lowered her head, then shook it. "No... I won't blame you for this. You didn't do anything but ask some innocent questions. You didn't even bring up the subject!" she sighed. "And you're right, I'm sure that the Princess does not mean us harm. I just wish that... she didn't need to do... what she did. What she obviously felt she had to do."
Johnathon frowned. "We could be wrong, you know? It could be something, somepony else. Maybe something to do with the Elements of Harmony themselves!" he shrugged. "I don't know... they're supposed to be incredibly powerful, ancient magical artifacts... who knows how they really work?"
Cheerilee blinked, and smiled slightly. "That's true." she sighed. "But... now I want to know for certain. I'm not sure if I will ever be truly completely content without knowing the answer."
Johnathon hesitated. "This is my fault, Cheerilee. Let me try and figure it out."
Cheerilee shrugged and smiled at him. "I wouldn't know where to start, myself." she nodded. "But you're right. We shouldn't mention this to anypony else. Even if it's some sort of effect of the Elements... and nopony did it on purpose, I can't see what good it would do to worry anypony else about it."
Johnathon nodded. "And... in case there is something to worry about... we do know, and if we have to, we can say something."
Cheerilee grimaced. "Johnathon, did you just involve me in an adventure? Please tell me you did not just involve me in an adventure."
Johnathon shrugged. "Er.... I hope I didn't?" He rolled his eyes. "I'm starting to think I've got a curse."
Cheerilee looked worried. "Really?"
Johnathon nodded seriously. "Ancient curse from my world. May you live in interesting times!"
Cheerilee blinked. "May you live in interesting times?" she shook her head. "Why is that a curse?"
Johnathon grinned. "Just think about it for a moment."
Cheerilee did, and the color slowly faded from her face. "Oh." she glared at him. "Oh great, and it's contagious!" she held the glare for several long seconds, before they both started to laugh, louder and louder, unable to stop.
When Johnathon finally managed to get himself under control, tears leaking from his eyes, he shook his head, one last strained chuckle forcing itself out as he did so. "Sorry Cheerilee. I guess we're cursed." he grinned at her. "At least it'll be interesting!"