“So there’s actually a creature inside that statue and you let ponies just wonder around in the gardens alone without any protection?!” I exclaimed that Monday as I had my lessons with my Aunt Celestia, and she explained why I had become overwhelmed by that strange sculpture. It turns out there was an evil being imprisoned inside it, which she had found no reason to tell me, or any other pony about.
“Cadance, don’t yell at me.” She scolded, but I still was angry. That statue had attacked me in the worst possible way, ruining my day out and bringing me to that café where those stupid colts screwed everything up. If it hadn’t made me sick, if I hadn’t been so weak and pathetic none of that would have happened and I wouldn’t be so miserable now.
“That thing tried to get into my head. All I could feel was evil everywhere and it was scary…so scary!” I lost my voice in a sob as I suddenly burst into tears. My aunt gathered me up in a hug and let me cry into her chest like my mother would do.
I missed her. She had always been my best and only friend. I wished she were there to explain what all was happening to me lately. But in this case Princess Celestia probably knew more.
“Cadance, I know it must have been frightening. I’m so sorry that had to happen to you. But that sculpture has been there for hundreds of years and no pony has had such a reaction. Even I don’t feel anything…anymore.” She soothed me gently, and I looked up at her.
“You could feel it too?” I asked.
“Once… a long time ago.” She replied, distantly, as she always did when she spoke about her past. She’d lived so long I sometimes wondered if she had forgotten things. Or was it she just didn’t want to recount them?
“You have the gift of feeling emotions and healing them. You can spread love and joy to other ponies. But no gift of great magic like that comes without a price. I know you suffer when others suffer, as we all do in empathy to each other, but not the way you do.” She paused, floating over a tissue for me and I wiped at my tear filled eyes, sniffling.
“We need to find a way to help you focus your magic so that the emotions of ponies don’t continue to overwhelm you. I don’t want to see you get hurt from them.” She continued, resolutely and I nodded, cuddling closer to her, just needing somepony to hold me for a little while.
“But don’t go to that statue again. It’s not dangerous to anypony as far as I know, but with your ability I don’t want you to take that chance.”
“I won’t. I don’t ever want to go near that thing again.” I murmured, shivering against her warm embrace. She covered me with a wing and I felt a bit better.
“Now, that can’t be all that’s bothering you. You didn’t leave your room yesterday. I never got the chance to hear how your time out with Shining Armor and Twilight went besides the incident with the statue. Did something else happen?” she asked me with interest and I sighed before reluctantly telling her what had happened with the rude colts and Shining Armor. I tried not to name names, for as much as I was angry at all of them I didn’t want anypony to get expelled. Then I realized I had told her that Shining Armor had started the fight, endangering him, and I covered my eyes with my hooves to hide from my own stupidity.
“Oh Cadance, did you really leave that poor colt all alone like that?” my regal aunt asked, disapproval evident in her shocked tone.
“Yes. But he shouldn’t have hit that colt and started that big fight. It was stupid.” I mumbled, angrily.
“Maybe so, but he was protecting you. What that other colt said to you goes against all the rules of being a knight, maybe more so than what Shining Armor did. Why, if you had given me his name I might have had to talk to the school about him.”
My heart skipped a beat in fear. “No! Please don’t!” I cried, desperately.
“Alright, but only because you’re my favourite niece.” She winked at me, but I just scowled, making her frown. “Don’t you think it was cruel of you to just leave Shining Armor like that? What he did was wrong, but he stood up for you, you should be grateful to him, not angry.” She paused and then grinned. “It’s actually quite romantic if you think about it.”
“It is not!” I retorted, but my face betrayed me by growing warm in a blush. I couldn’t win. “He’s just another colt and all colts are stupid.” I grumbled, aware that I sounded like a foal, but not caring in the least.
My aunt sighed. “Just promise me you’ll talk to him. Don’t leave your first real friend like this.” Her tone grew serious again and I rolled my eyes, crossing my hooves across my chest.
That day being Monday I had foalsitting duty which I did not want to do. I didn’t want to deal with Twilight and her annoying precociousness, or run the risk of somehow seeing Shining Armor, even though I was pretty sure he was at his camp job.
I was angry and depressed and didn’t want to deal with anypony, especially with how things had gone over with my aunt. I wasn’t even sure what I was angry at anymore. Was I really angry at my only friend when he stood up for me? Or was I just pouting because everything seemed to have gone wrong that day? I had just wanted to be a normal unicorn, but I couldn’t because I was constantly assaulted by powerful emotions that incapacitated me. And if being a normal unicorn meant I was going to be treated this way by colts I was glad I was a princess and a shut in.
Twilight was not bothered by what happened at all. In fact she seemed to be more cheerful than usual, which just made me more depressed. I let her do whatever she wanted, which was obviously to just sit there and read a book all day, but even she got bored of that after awhile. So we went to her house where she decided to play with her toys in her room while I sulked by her bed.
“And then the mean colts came up and started bothering the two princesses, and that made the knight mad.” I watched the filly as she set up some Pretty Pony dolls and stuffed animals in a makeshift scene obviously based on what had occurred the other day. Really, Twilight?
It was nice to see that she had her and I as the Pretty Pony dolls, while the others were all random stuffed animals. The ‘knight’ was a strange looking gray coloured stuffed pony with mismatched button eyes, a yarn mane and polka dot pants. It kind of looked homemade and not what I would expect her to have among her other extravagant toys and books, which must have been product of her parents working for the princess.
She picked up the stuffed pony in her hooves and made it trot over to a stuffed bear. “The knight came over to the colt and said, ‘don’t you talk to her that way!’” she mimicked Shining Armor’s deeper voice and I could feel a bit of a smile come on.
“Then, pow!” she shouted, maneuvering her doll’s hoof to connect with the poor bear’s face and knocking it over. “The knight hit the mean colt- I mean bear- in the face- bam! Pow!” she was starting to sound like a colt playing with his action figures and I didn’t think her parents would be too happy with her sudden fondness for violence. But it wasn’t my fault she had watched her older brother hit another pony.
“Then the knight said to the princess, ‘do not worry, for I have tamed the evil doer.’ And the princess said ‘oh thank you my knight in shining armor.’ because she was happy and absolutely not mad, and then they kissed.” The filly looked up at me with a smirk and then stuffed the pink Pretty Pony doll and the button eyed stuffed pony together and made smooching noises. Despite myself I started giggling then. She was the oddest little child.
“Then the other princess who was the knight’s awesome little sister, and much prettier than that princess said, ‘come, we must slay the dragons!’ and the princess and the knight stopped kissing and they all went off to slay dragons together. The end.” She put down the dolls and then looked down at the floor with a pout on her face.
“So um…” she started, mumbling so I had trouble hearing her. “Will you come slay dragons with me and Shining Armor still?” the little unicorn looked up at me with her big violet eyes filled with tears and I felt my heart melt as I pulled her into a hug.
“Of course, Twilight.” I reassured her, holding her close to me and cherishing the feel of her small hooves clutching my shoulders. “I still love you even if I’m angry or sad.”
“But why are you mad at Shining Armor? He likes you, and you said you liked him. He was just trying to protect you like a real knight would.” I sighed. Of course a child like her would see the situation exactly as it was.
“I know… I was just…upset.” I looked down at the three dolls still standing together as we had done the other day. “I’ll talk to your brother when I can. Don’t worry.” I smiled at her, happy to have the little filly to make me see things in a different light.
“Yay!” She grinned then hopped off me, picked up the stuffed pony and brushed its mane with her hoof. “I’m sorry for making you a colt, Smarty Pants. Forgive me?” I raised my eyebrow. I had not known that toy was a filly.
“Twilight, honey, I’m home!” I suddenly heard the bell-like voice of Mrs. Light call up the stairs, and my charge dropped her toys and ran out of the room shouting, “Mommy!” I sighed and wearily followed her down the stairs. I just wanted to get back to the palace, have a warm bath and think about nothing for awhile.
“Hello Cadance, how was Twilight today? Did she get a chance to enjoy this lovely weather we’ve been having?” the filly’s mother asked me, obviously hinting at whether or not I had got her to play with something other than reading all day. This was not one of those days.
“She did.” I replied, because she had been outside.
“Good. I’m glad you girls had fun.” She smiled at Twilight who emitted her innocent, toothy grin in return. “Oh, Cadance, Shining Armor is outside and wants to talk to you. I don’t know what he’s doing home from his job at this hour, but I’m so glad you two are friends and have been hanging out together.” Mrs. Light beamed and then added, “Don’t worry, I haven’t said anything to him about you being a princess. I know you’re trying to just be a normal filly this summer.” She winked at me and I grinned, weakly.
Yes, I had told her not to let her son know about my royalty. She thought it was cute as long as he didn’t do anything to offend a princess. My smile fading I tried not to face-hoof in front of the royal advisor. I thought I still had a few days before I would have to talk to Shining Armor. Ugh.
I trudged outside to the porch where I saw him waiting, looking shy and embarrassed. I tried to be cool and aloof as I trotted up to him, but I felt my heart flutter from seeing him again, and I felt bad for hurting him.
“Nice job getting your mom to come get me.” I muttered as I approached the white unicorn colt.
He smiled, sheepishly. “I figured you’d come out here if she asked you.”
I rolled my eyes and then we both lapsed into silence. I looked down at the ground, kicking my hoof at some stones. I didn’t know what to say and obviously neither did he. I wanted to ask him if he should be at his job but I felt that might be dismissive and mean and I didn’t want to mean. Not again.
The sun was setting, casting shadows across the ground as the crickets started to sing. It was strangely fitting for our awkward silence and I sighed wondering when it would end.
“I’m really sorry for what happened on Saturday. I didn’t mean to upset you.” Shining Armor started, nervously, and I looked up at him, but didn’t reply.
“Those guys are sophomores at the royal guard training academy I go to and they like to torture freshmen. I’m technically a sophomore too now so I didn’t really appreciate their teasing, but when they insulted you it made me really angry. Not because they were teasing me, or because it went against the rules of a knight, but because they hurt you and I… I really like you and don’t want you to be hurt.” He looked down, bashfully. I could see him blushing in the dim light.
“But I shouldn’t have hit that colt in front of you and my sister, and I’m sorry.”
This time I was the one to have nothing to say. I was speechless. Did he just say he liked me? As in, like like me? My heart pounded in my chest, echoing in my ears, my face starting to burn in a blush. I was supposed to be mad at him but instead I was becoming the flustered little filly I was when I first met him.
This wasn’t what I had expected to happen at all, but I felt strangely warmed by it. I could feel his emotions a little, but they may have been overshadowed by my own. He was nervous, ashamed, but also, there was something like the affectionate emotions I could help ponies find within each other. My pounding heart suddenly leapt at the thought I could have inadvertently cast my spell and this was all my fault, something I had vowed never to do to a pony. But it passed as I realized there was no magical presence except for my own sensitivity. So this was real. This was real… love?
My thoughts were interrupted by a sudden sigh from the unicorn colt. “I- I really should go back to the camp. I’m sorry again.” His ears bent low, he turned to leave and I realized I had left him waiting too long, and quickly tried to find the courage to speak to him.
“Wait.” I managed, shakily, terrified of losing him suddenly. I didn’t want to hurt him again, or ever again. He turned back, and his expression broke my heart.
“I…I like you too, Shining Armor.”
The colt’s ears perked up. “You do?” he asked, eagerly and I smiled as he blushed and cleared his throat, trying to start again. “I mean, you do?”
I giggled. “Yes, silly. It’s just that-“ I paused and my heart clenched to see his happiness wilt at my hesitation. But it also endeared him to me more as I continued.
“I have trouble with strong emotions…it’s uh…its part of my special talent. So what happened that day really upset me and I didn’t know what to do.” I said, feeling the full force of the guilt for what I had done to him now and looking down in shame, feeling tears in my eyes. “I’m sorry I ran away.”
“Well uh… could we maybe try again?”
I looked up, confused. “What?”
“I mean, can you come out… with me again and maybe things will be better?” he asked, nervously and I got it.
“Are you asking me out?”
“Uh… yes?” he grinned at me, uncertainly.
I tried to keep the tone playful even though I was really just as nervous as he. “Is a little purple filly joining us?”
His grin widened. “Not if you don’t want her to.”
“Then… yes, I’ll go out with you.” I smiled, tenderly.
“Awesome! I-I mean cool. Uh, can you meet me here on Saturday? Or do you want me to come to the palace? Uh… what time is good for you?” he rushed to get the words out, anxious and joyful and I was indescribably touched by how much he seemed to care for me.
“Shining, calm down. It’s just me.” I tried to be calm for him. Somehow my own shyness wasn’t bothering me. I just felt content and sympathetic to his nervousness. “How about I come meet you here the same time as last week?” I offered.
Shining Armor seemed to compose himself then, and smiled. “Yeah. That’s fine. I’ll see you then.”
I returned his kind smile and then felt a little lost at what to do or think. Did I just calmly agree to go out on my first ever date? This kind colt I had liked almost from the minute I laid eyes on him had just asked me out, but I still felt a certain placidness, as if I hadn’t quite taken it in yet.
“Can I walk you home?” the gentle-colt asked as I tried to figure out my emotions.
Still confused, but feeling light and happy I thought I needed some time alone to walk in the cool night air. “I think I’ll be OK on my own tonight.” I told him. “You need to go back to your job don’t you?”
“Oh, yeah! Oh man, they’re going to wonder where I’ve been. Uh, see you Saturday!” he distractedly waved to me, a blush still apparent on his face, before quickly galloping off into the night.
I watched, somewhat dumbfounded, as the first colt I had ever allowed my shy heart to care for disappeared into the streets of Canterlot. This was real. I had a coltfriend. The most handsome, kind and special coltfriend I could have imagined, and he liked me for me. Not because I was a princess, or even a Sacred Alicorn, but just for the pony I was. My dearest wish had been granted in a way I had never thought would happen.
I skipped on my hoofs all the way back to the palace, grinning from ear to ear. and my heart fluttering in my chest. Finally, instead of magically spreading it to other ponies; I had found love.