Twilight moaned in ecstasy. “Oh, Rarity. You were right about this being a good idea,” she said, looking into the eyes of the other mare.
“Yes, well, it feels so good that I—ah!” Rarity’s eyes glazed over and her mouth hung open with a blissful expression. “Oh, yes! That’s the spot!” she cried out. “—That I think we should do it more often.”
Twilight couldn’t help but grin. “It certainly takes the tension out of all the studying I’ve been doing lately.”
“So you wouldn’t mind coming a second time once we’re done?”
“I already can’t wait to come a second time!” Twilight replied, smiling broadly.
They both closed their eyes and let out a relaxed sigh as the masseuses caressed their backs. Twilight and Rarity each lay on a table with a small purple pillow to rest their heads on. Their coats were slick with oil that smelled of almonds, and the practiced hooves of the two sisters, Aloe and Lotus, rubbed the oil into Twilight and Rarity’s skin, relieving their tense muscles.
“So... is that really all you do all day?” Rarity asked.
Twilight’s eyes opened and she lifted her head to glance over at her friend. “Huh?”
“Studying books and such. It’s not healthy you know. A girl has to go out and live a little.”
“Well... I do get out of the library once in a while,” Twilight mumbled. “Just the other week I had tea with Fluttershy!”
“You had tea,” Rarity stated.
“‘The other week.’”
“Yes. Eight days ago in fact!”
“Dear Celestia, it’s worse than I thought.” Rarity covered her nose with her hoof and cringed.
Twilight flinched and sunk her chin into her pillow. The masseuses towelled off the excess oil from their backs in preparation for their mud bath.
The towel lifted away from Twilight's back and she slid off the table. "Well... what am I supposed to do?"
“Go out, have fun, drink so much you wish you were dead the next morning!” Rarity waved her hooves around her table as she was towelled off. “My stars, Twilight, have you truly never done any of those things?”
“Er, well, I can’t say I’ve done that last one...”
Rarity slid off her table gracefully. She nodded to the masseuse, before turning to walk side by side with Twilight to the mud baths. “Honestly, darling, have you even been on a date since you got here?”
Twilight stopped in her tracks. She blushed and looked at the floor, drawing small circles on the ground with a hoof.
Rarity rolled her eyes. “Well no need to be embarrassed, dear. It’s simple to fix really.” One of the sisters wrapped a pink towel around Rarity’s mane to hold it up and out of the mud.
“What do you mean?” Twilight asked. The other twin mirrored her sister’s actions, tucking Twilight’s mane away in an identical pink towel.
Rarity stepped down into the bath, lowering herself into the mud after all four of her hooves were in. “We just need to find you a date!”
Twilight paused with one hoof in the mud. “A date? But Rarity, I’ve never been on a date before!”
“Never?” Rarity asked, taken aback. “Well in that case, we definitely need to find you one! It’s practically scandalous for a mare your age to have never been on one. And somepony with your looks—I mean, really—you’ve never been asked out before?”
“No, never,” Twilight replied, looking down at the bath. She tentatively placed her front hooves into the bath, and fidgeted as she lowered herself into it. The thick liquid restrained her movement, and coated her a shade of brown.
“One small question, Twilight,” Rarity piped up again.
“Do you fancy mares or stallions?”
Twilight’s face heated up. “Uh, well, I’ve never really thought about it, actually.”
“Well, we can’t go shopping if we don’t know where the market is now can we?” Rarity lifted a muddy hoof out of the bath, and thoughtfully held it just under her chin. “Question is, how do we find that out...”
Twilight watched with bated breath as the gears in Rarity’s head turned. “I really don’t think you need to help me with this. Honestly, I can go find somepony on my own! I’ll get started on it first thing next week!”
“Oh, but I insist, dear. You’ll most certainly benefit from my guidance.”
“Aha!” Rarity exclaimed. “I have just the idea, Twilight! Once we’re done here, we shall go get lunch, and there you will ask somepony out! Surely with a whole crowd you’ll be able to pick from you’ll find someone who strikes your fancy.”
“Well, I’d like to go on a date, but I can’t just ask somepony out!” Twilight protested.
“Back in Canterlot I practically locked myself away in the castle towers, practicing and refining spells. I never had time for dating or friends.” Twilight let out a long sigh. “Who would want a bookworm like me anyways?”
“You truly do yourself no justice, Twilight. I’m sure there are lots of fantastic ponies who would date you.”
Twilight tried to hide by sinking herself lower in the mud. “But what if I ask somepony and they say no?” she asked in a small voice.
“Then you buck up and try again!” Rarity said, passionately raising her mud covered hooves into the air. “Above all else, you have to be persistent in the face of adversity. That is probably the most important thing I can teach you.” Rarity lowered her hooves back into the mud. “So if we don’t manage to catch anyone at lunch, I shall take you out to a bar tonight, my treat. And there, I’m sure ponies will be simply begging to court you.”
A sheepish smile spread on Twilight’s face, her blush dying down a little. “I’ll give it a try.”
“With your expert advice, I’m sure I’ll find somepony to go on a date with,” Twilight said with a small grin.
“Why of course. Where would you be without my advice?” Rarity said, playing along. The two grinned at each other, bursting in a fit of giggles.
As the laughter quieted down, Twilight looked at the mud around her with disinterest. “When should we go?”
“Anxious are we?” Rarity asked, grinning.
“Maybe a little.”
Rarity stood up. “Come now, that’s not a bad thing. We can go get cleaned up right now if you want to.”
“Really? I mean, I wouldn’t want to cut this short if you’d like to stay for a while longer,” Twilight said, fidgeting with her hooves.
“Nonsense. I dare say I might be as eager about this as you are.”
Rarity left the bath first, leaving muddy hoofprints across the slate gray tiles. She walked with a peppy gait, her hips swaying back and forth as she walked to the showers. With a bit of magic, she undid the towel holding up her hair and let down her stylish indigo mane. Twilight sighed wistfully as she watched her walk away. It would be easy to get a date if I looked like Rarity, she thought, letting out a small huff.
I wonder how different hugging somepony you like is compared to hugging a friend? Twilight mused, leaning over the side of the bath. I haven’t fallen asleep in somepony else’s hooves since I was a little filly. I wonder if it feels as warm and safe as it did back then.
“Are you coming?” Rarity’s voice called, snapping Twilight out of her daydreaming.
Twilight hurried out of the mud bath. “In a moment!” she shouted back, following her friend’s hoofprints. A left turn followed by a right turn and the sound of sprinkling water was right beside her.
Rarity hummed a gentle tune as she stood in the shower with her eyes closed, letting the water run over her. Drips fell from her mane. It was straight, her usual styling undone by the water. All the shades of violet and indigo in her mane cascaded together under the water, and her light gray coat was slick with water. Unintentionally, Twilight found herself tracing her friend’s curves with her eyes.
It’s not fair, Twilight thought, even without having her mane styled she still looks so gorgeous.
“Are you alright, Twilight?” Rarity asked, making her jump.
Twilight blushed. “Y-Yes, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure? You look a bit flustered.” Rarity tilted her head, looking at her. “Here, let me get that for you,” Rarity offered, her horn glowing.
The towel wrapped around Twilight’s head came undone, and her mane spilled out. “T-Thank you,” Twilight stuttered.
She took a spot at the shower next to Rarity’s and turned it on. As the hot water blasted the mud off her back, she tried to picture what kind of pony she would like to go on a date with, but as she tried to picture their face, their personality, their voice, she drew a blank.
Beside her, Rarity had already turned off the shower and walked across the room to a counter. She picked up one of the blow dryers lying there and began to dry her hair. No doubt Twilight would still finish before her though, as Rarity always spent an agonizing amount of time on her mane.
“Do you have any preferences on where we go for lunch?” Rarity shouted over the sound of the blow dryer. “Because if not, I think I know the perfect place for our endeavor.”
Twilight smiled and shrugged. “Lead the way.”
“—And that’s why you never date a rodeo star. I had to wash the sheets practically every night!”
“I see...” Twilight said uncertainly as the two of them walked through Ponyville.
“I asked him to take his boots off before coming to bed, but no, he just didn’t listen.” Rarity sighed dramatically. “It’s the little things that will irritate you the most—Ah! We’re here!”
Twilight glanced around nervously. She could see why Rarity had chosen this small, crowded cafe. It was the lunchtime rush hour, and what seemed like more than half of Ponyville had already walked past them. The sun warmed the streets, and everypony was out making the most of it.
“Now, remember to smile, but not too much. And act confident. No pony wants to go out with a meek pony who will barely utter a word during their date.” Rarity took a sip from the complimentary glass of water the waiter had left at their table. Her large beige hat tilted back slightly and the green peacock feather sticking out of it danced in the warm summer breeze. “Let’s try a bit of a warm up shall we?” Rarity glanced around the cluttered cafe, before her gaze stopped just over Twilight’s shoulder.
Twilight followed her gaze to see the waiter who had brought them their water. “The waiter?” she asked, looking back at Rarity.
“Yes, he’s quite cute don’t you think?”
Twilight turned back around for a second look at the stallion. His coat was light blue, slightly darker than Rainbow Dash’s, and his mane was short, black, and messy in an attractive and boyish way. His muscles were toned, despite his tall and wiry build. His whole body seemed athletic, and made for speed, which was mirrored by his tornado cutie mark.
“Nah,” Twilight said after a moment’s consideration.
“Well you don’t have to ask him out. Just bat your eyelashes at him while he takes our orders and give him a wink.”
“Why would I do that if I don’t want to go out with him?”
“Oh...” Twilight paused, searching for the right words. “Isn’t that a little... cruel?”
“Not at all. Relationships are a very serious thing, but courting is little more than a playful game. And like any game or sport, it takes a bit of work to get good at it.” Rarity raised her glass to take a sip, but then lowered it with a start. “Oh! Here he comes now. I’ll let you do the talking.”
Twilight looked over her shoulder to see the waiter walking toward their table.
“Good afternoon, are you ready to order?” He asked. He gave them a gracious smile as he took his pencil out of the pocket on his black barista uniform with his mouth. He stood ready with a notepad in his hoof to write down their order.
“I’ll have a toasted lettuce, tomato, and avocado sandwich,” Rarity replied.
“And what will it be for you miss?” He asked Twilight.
Realizing that was her cue, Twilight fluttered her eyes at him and tried to smile at him in what she hoped was an alluring manner. “Do you think you could bring me a caesar salad with extra sunflower seeds?”
“Is there anything else I can get you?”
“Maybe, but that’s all for now,” Twilight replied, and winked at him.
The waiter shuffled nervously. Twilight barely noticed the faint blush he had.
He cleared his throat. “I’ll, uh... I’ll be right back with those.”
He glanced back and forth between her and Rarity nervously, before glancing down at his notepad and hurrying off.
Twilight turned to Rarity, seeking some kind of approval. Rarity was resting her chin on a hoof and looking at her with a bemused smile.
“Not bad at all,” she finally said, making Twilight beam. “Although you may want to not be quite so seductive and clear with your message.”
“What do you mean?”
“There’s a fine line a woman must tread when flirting. You need to seem nice, and your intentions not overly clear, yet you shouldn’t be too subtle or he won’t pick up on it. At the end of it he should remain wondering if you are interested in him, or simply being nice.”
“Um...” Twilight stared at the glass table, looking at the designs etched into it. “I don’t get it.”
“You have to sprinkle compliments that leave him wondering. And also you have to make sure he’s comfortable.” Rarity glanced over Twilight’s shoulder.
Twilight followed her gaze to see the waiter rushing about, nearly knocking over one of the other baristas.
“In case you didn’t notice, you made him a little nervous with how forward you were,” Rarity commented, taking a sip of water.
“Is that... bad?”
“Not exactly, just... sub-optimal.”
“Ah.” Twilight took a sip of her water, the ice cubes clinking together as she lifted it to her muzzle. She stared intently into her glass, pondering. After a few moments, she came to a conclusion.
“I still don’t get it.”
Rarity let out a frustrated sigh. “Here, I’ll show you what I mean. Here he comes with our food.”
The waiter was walking towards their table again, carrying a large tray in his mouth with Rarity’s sandwich and Twilight’s salad. He set the tray down on their table. “Caesar salad,” he said, smiling at Twilight and placing her bowl in front of her, “and an avocado-lettuce-tomato sandwich for you, Miss.”
“That certainly was quick!” Rarity exclaimed. “I hope you weren’t playing favorites.”
He chuckled nervously. “Maybe a little...”
“Well it’s certainly chivalrous of you. There’s so few waiters as quick as you.” Rarity smiled daintily at him, and batted her eyelashes. “So few as cute, too.”
“Well, thank you. You’re quite gorgeous yourself, Miss...”
“Rarity. Just, Rarity.”
“Miss Rarity,” he finished.
The two of them smiled at one another for a moment, before the waiter abruptly remembered that it was still very busy at the cafe. “It was nice meeting you. Enjoy your meal,” he said, before leaving to go serve another table.
Rarity turned to Twilight with a small satisfied smirk. “Good flirting makes them interested in you, while suspecting, but not being certain, of your intent.”
Twilight silently mouthed ‘wow’ with a bit of awe as her eyes followed the waiter, who was walking with a bit more bounce in his step. “I think I get it now.”
“Good, now lets find somepony else to test what you have learned...”
Rarity’s eyes began to search the crowd. Twilight patiently twiddled her hooves while she waited, anxiously trying to follow Rarity’s eyes and wondering who she would pick out next.
“Aha!” Rarity exclaimed, pointing a hoof to her right.
Twilight followed her hoof to see a pale yellow mare with a curly orange mane, selling carrots alongside several other vendors.
“Don’t spread this around,” Rarity whispered conspiratorially, “but a little birdie told me that she is into other mares.”
“Carrot Top is?” Twilight asked with interest.
“Unless my sources fail me, yes.” Rarity took a small bite out of her sandwich and swallowed before speaking again. “Consider this an experiment. You said you weren’t sure whether you liked mares or stallions, and this should help us find out.”
“Well yes, but...” Twilight glanced over at the smiling vegetable salespony, who was completely unaware she was being talked about. “Is it different?”
“Not overly so. Most of what I’ve taught you still applies. Although, you will most likely receive different responses and signals from a mare than you would a stallion, but it shouldn’t be too hard to pick up on since you are a mare yourself.” Rarity paused and looked expectantly at her. “Well, go on. Just flirt a little. You don’t have to ask her out if you don’t want to.”
“Oh, okay,” Twilight answered shakily. Another mare? The idea of a having a relationship at all had been pushed aside by years of studying. Celestia was a mare. Her friends were all mares. What did it mean if she liked other mares? She gulped, and walked slowly through the busy street towards the salespony on the other side. She swallowed the lump in her throat as she approached the stand.
“Hi, Twilight, right? Can I help you with anything?” Carrot Top’s voice was lively and cheerful. If she wasn’t a gardener she could have easily been a singer.
“Did, um... did you grow these yourself?” Twilight asked, wincing at her stutter.
“That I did! I take the best of what comes out of my garden to the market to sell.”
“Wow, that must be a lot of hard work. I bet you’re really muscular and strong.”
Carrot Top’s smile faded. “Are you... making fun of me?”
“W-What? No! I find that a—um... desirable trait in somepony!” Twilight shut her eyes in frustration. “Gah! I’m just trying to compliment you!”
Twilight caught a cute blush on Carrot Top’s face as she hung her head and looked down at the ground. Twilight walked around the side of the stand and cleared her throat.
“Can we start again?” Twilight asked, receiving a small nod from Carrot Top, who still refused to meet her gaze. Twilight put on a gentle smile. “My name’s Twilight Sparkle. What’s yours?”
“Carrot Top,” she murmured, but Twilight already knew that.
“That’s a pretty name, Carrot Top.”
Carrot Top looked up at Twilight, her blush glowing a little brighter. “Thank you,” she mumbled, a smile shyly tugging at her lips.
“So how long have you been a gardener?”
Carrot Top glanced at the busy street. “Well, I moved from Fillydelphia as a filly, deciding to leave the city behind for the county. My passion always was gardening. I spent a lot of time working on somepony else's farm before I bought the one I have now. I love it here in Ponyville. I don’t think there’s any place I’d rather be.” Carrot Top looked at her. “And what about you?”
“You’re the Ponyville librarian, right? How did you wind up discovering that your passion is reading?”
“Oh, well, actually, it’s not. My special talent is magic.”
“Oh wow! That’s a really cool talent to have!”
Twilight blushed slightly, waving a hoof dismissively. “No, it’s not very cool. I mostly do a lot of reading.” Twilight glanced over at Rarity, who was still sitting at their table with an empty plate and a slightly bored expression. “I’ve got to get going, but maybe I’ll tell you all about it if we run into each other again.”
“That sounds nice,” Carrot Top replied with a light rosy hue on her cheeks.
“By the way, Carrot Top...”
“You’re pretty cute,” Twilight said as she turned to walk away, throwing a wink over her shoulder.
Carrot Top turned bright scarlet, but smiled and waved at her as she walked away.
Despite what Rarity said, a bit of guilt gnawed at Twilight as Carrot Top waved. She felt bad for leading her on, but it was what Rarity had told her to do. Besides, Twilight thought, she’s smiling isn’t she?
Twilight walked back to the table and sighed as she sat down in front of her salad. Its lettuce sagged and the tomatoes had gone limp. She hated wasting food though, so she began to eat it anyway.
“Well that looked like it went well,” Rarity piped up. “Especially at the end there, where she had that bright blush as you walked away. What did you say to her?”
“I told her she was cute.”
“And you don’t want to go on a date with her?”
“She was nice, beautiful, and interested in me, but I just... didn’t feel anything click... you know?” Twilight paused while eating her salad. “Something is supposed to click, right?”
“Of course. There’s no sense dating somepony if you two don’t have chemistry.”
“Chemistry?” Twilight asked, perking up slightly.
“If your personalities mesh well.”
“Oh...” Twilight frowned.
“Here’s a quick question that may help us a bit.” Rarity placed a hoof out to either side, as though she were weighing two objects. “Between the barista and the market pony, which could you see yourself with more?”
Twilight put her bowl down to think, licking a couple sunflower seeds from around the edges of her mouth.
Rarity released a frustrated sigh. “I’m mostly wondering that between a mare and a stallion, which do you fancy more?”
“... Mares,” Twilight answered firmly after a moment’s hesitation. The answer came naturally, yet still surprised her. It was an epiphany. She liked mares.
“Excellent! Then we’ve narrowed things down quite a bit. Now listen, when we go the the bar tonight, we’re going to have to—”
Twilight tuned her friend out as she looked at all the ponies around her. The cafe was still crowded, but it had died down a little since they had first come here. It was strange, like she was seeing everypony in a brand new light. She looked at each of the mares in the cafe and couldn’t help but trying to picture herself in a relationship with each them. Each pony she looked at though, mare or stallion, failed to strike any sort of chord.
And then her eyes drifted to the mare sitting across from her.
Could she be with any of her friends in that way? It was difficult to picture. All of them knew her so well, and she knew all of them so well, that such a drastic change would be weird. It would probably be weird even for her other friends, for two of them to suddenly be in a relationship. The possibility of things not working out frightened her, too. She treasured what the six of them had. It was the most unique and amazing group of friends she could ask for, each of them with their differences and similarities rounding out each others faults. The possibility of destroying that terrified her.
“Hello? Twilight? Are you even listening?” Rarity asked, waving a hoof in front of her face.
Twilight snapped out of her thoughts. She looked at Rarity and realized she hadn’t heard a word her friend had said for the past minute.
“I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?” Twilight asked with a guilty cringe.
Rarity shook her head and let out an exasperated sigh. “Never mind all that then. I’ll clue you in when we get to the bar.” Rarity stood up and placed a few bits on the table to cover her food. “I’ll pick you up from the library at about nine. I have in mind the perfect place to take you.”
“Right!” Twilight stood up, leaving a couple bits on the table as well. “It’s a date!”
Rarity gave her a coy smile, and playfully batted her eyelashes at her from under the rim of her hat. It dawned on Twilight what she had said and her face began to heat up.
“I-I mean not that kind of date, just a date, as in a time and event, rearranged by two or more parties to be the point in time when—”
“I know, dear. I’m just teasing.” As Rarity walked away, she called over her shoulder, “I’ll see you at nine, darling.”
Twilight flushed as Rarity walked away, giggling.
As she turned to head back to the library, she began to question whether trusting Rarity with her love life had been a good idea to begin with. She suddenly froze mid step.
They were leaving at nine? Oh sweet Celestia, she needed to get some sleep while she could.
Twilight blinked, looking at herself in her bathroom mirror beside a few of Rarity’s cosmetics she had borrowed. She had made sure her hair was nice, but not done anything different with it. She had put on a small amount of perfume, but only a little bit. She had put on some blush, but as she moved her head side to side she wondered if it was too little. Also, was it just her imagination, or did her butt look a little wide?
Rarity walked in to the sight of Twilight’s posterior high in the air, Twilight shaking it at the mirror. Looking away with a small blush, she announced her presence by gently clearing her throat.
Twilight froze and whipped around to look at her, firmly planting her rear back on the ground with a blush. Rarity for her part simply stood there looking at her with a small knowing smile. Twilight was just thankful she didn’t comment.
“Ready to go, dear?” Rarity asked, fluttering her eyes at Twilight. She wore a small amount of blush, in addition to her usual eyeshadow and mascara.
“Do I look good?” Twilight asked.
“Stunning as ever. You don’t want to put on too much, or it covers up all that natural beauty you possess.”
Twilight couldn’t help but blush slightly, despite that being the way her friend always spoke.
“And for the record, your rear looks fine too,” she added with a teasing smile.
Twilight huffed, but smiled back at her. She took a deep breath and gave herself one last glance in the mirror. “Okay. I’m ready.”
Rarity waited for Twilight to leave the bathroom, before following her outside the library. Dim light from the early night faintly lit the streets of Ponyville as the two of them walked side by side with Rarity leading the way at a leisurely pace.
“Now, as we walk there I’m going to have to go over some things we haven’t covered quite yet.”
“For example, since we are going to a filly-fooler bar, you may have other ponies come onto you instead. Previously you were the one doing the courting, but you must know how to act when somepony else comes onto you.”
Twilight prepared herself for another lecture, and asked, “It’s not the same?”
“Heavens no. You have to know when to play hard to get, when to be receptive—oh! And you will definitely have to learn how to convincingly fake a laugh. A pony trying to pick you up may try to be funny, and if you’re interested in them, you have to laugh even when you don’t find them funny. It’s a way of letting them know you’re interested.”
Twilight looked down at the cobblestone as they walked, kicking a small pebble. “That sounds stupid.”
“It is. But that’s how it works. The rules of courting were established long ago, and other ponies will expect you to play along.”
“Okay, what else do I need to know?”
“Flirting in a bar is much different than flirting in the street. At a bar it’s expected to flirt and you can be much more forward in how you go about it. Remember how I said you came on to that barista too strongly?”
Twilight recalled the way he had nervously shuffled away after taking their orders. “Yes.”
“Well something like that would be fine at a bar. Everyone’s a bit tipsy and they’re hoping to be flirted with—at least, at a filly-fooler bar like the one we’re going to.”
“This is a lot to remember.” Twilight groaned. “And none of it makes much sense.”
“It can be confusing. It takes time for anyone to get good at it, especially if they are stumbling through it on their own. Luckily you have me, and all my experience, to guide you.”
“How did you learn?” Twilight asked, turning to look at her.
“Romance novels and practice,” Rarity answered simply. “There’s the bar now.”
Twilight looked to where Rarity pointed with her nose. It was a deep navy blue establishment, with chrome metal poles lining the doorway. A neon sign with a white and pink martini next to bright green letters, “The Salt Around the Rim.”
“It’s a terrible double entendre isn’t it?”
“Think about it for a moment, dear. You’ll get it.”
Twilight tried to figure it out, but her gaze was torn from the sign as she approached the door, her ears swivelling to the dull thrum of bass coming from it. Rarity entered first. As she opened the door the music became louder. Twilight followed her inside, swallowing the lump in her throat.
The music was deafening. Her ears throbbed to the beat and the thundering bass sent vibrations throughout her entire body. Bright colored lights flashed on the dance floor to her left, as she stumbled while following Rarity across the floor to the bar itself.
“Two martinis to get us started!” Rarity shouted over the music.
The bartender was a short mare with long pale green hair that looked dyed and a pale yellow coat. She winked, nodded, and began to mix their drinks. Twilight sat at the bar next to Rarity and turned to her.
“How am I supposed to talk to anypony over this music!?” Twilight shouted, struggling to make herself heard.
“You don’t! You’re supposed to ask them to dance and take it from there!”
Twilight could barely hear her friend over the music. “Fake it from there!?”
“That too!” Rarity replied with a laugh, confusing Twilight.
“But I can’t dance!”
“Everypony can dance, Twilight!”
“No, I mean it! I really can’t dance!”
“Just go ask somepony to! You’ll do fine!”
Twilight opened her mouth to protest, but instead let out a defeated sigh and dropped her head on the counter. Her throat was already sore from shouting.
It had been years since she had danced. The last time she had, she was just a little filly, playing a bit part in a school pageant. She had managed to trip no less than four times, and her part was less than a minute long.
Swallowing her fears and her pride, Twilight stood up and scanned the dance floor. She spotted a good-looking mare with a sleek blue coat and short, straight dark blue hair. She was standing to the side of the dance floor and watching other ponies dance with a small smile on her face, holding a nearly empty drink.
Twilight began to make her way to her. The other pony spotted her walking over and threw her a flirtatious smile.
“Hey,” Twilight said once she got in range. It was nice to be away from the other side of the bar, where the music was loudest.
“Hey, yourself,” she replied with a small giggle.
“Would you like to dance with me?”
“How formal!” she shouted, bursting into a fit of giggles. If Twilight had to guess, she would say that was not her first drink of the night. “Sure, you’re pretty cute.”
Twilight blushed, taken back by the compliment. Rarity had been right about things working differently at the club. Sticking a hoof out for the blue pony to take, Twilight led her out to the dance floor, hoping the dim lighting hid her blush.
She watched as the blue pony began dancing first. She seemed to flow with the music, sticking out amongst the other ponies on the dance floor. It was an intimidating performance to try and match.
Twilight gulped as she began to move. First a little bit, then more as she began to get into the flow of things. She closed her eyes and danced, a big smile on her face as she shook her hips and waved her hooves.
She opened her eyes to see several ponies around her had stopped dancing and were watching her. Twilight slowly stopped dancing, as she began to realize she had made a fool out of herself. Her dance partner had slipped away, probably not wanting to be seen with her.
Head hung low with a nervous smile and a scarlet blush, one so bright it was probably visible even in the dim lighting, Twilight slunk away from the dance floor in shame. She hung her head low all the way back to the bar, where Rarity was looking at her with a cringe as well, though a little bit more sympathetic in nature.
“I’m sorry,” Rarity said as Twilight took a seat back next to her. She reached a hoof over and patted Twilight on the back. “I shouldn’t have made assumptions. Not everypony is a natural dancer. Maybe I’ll teach you how before the next time we go out to someplace like this.”
Twilight let out a sigh and lifted the martini that had been waiting for her to her lips. It was a strange taste, but not wholly unpleasant. It made her nose tickle and her tongue feel a bit funny. She lifted it to her lips again and finished the rest of it in two big gulps, before setting it back down on the counter. She turned to Rarity with a determined look.
“What’s plan B?”
The bartender interrupted Rarity by placing another two martinis in front of them. “Compliments of the two mares at the end of the bar,” she said, pointing to the end of the counter where a pair of mares waved at them with a smile.
Rarity waved back with a small smile on her face before turning to Twilight and asking, “Which one do you want?”
“I’m giving you the lion’s share, darling. Now, which one of them do you want? I’ll take the other.”
“That’s...” Twilight let out a sigh, and took a sip of her drink. She set it down and looked at Rarity. “You don’t have to do this.”
“Nonsense. I owe it to you after making you walk out on that dance floor. Besides, that’s how these things work. It’s double or nothing—and they were nice enough to buy us drinks.”
Twilight glanced at the two mares down the bar, one dark purple, with a deep scarlet mane, and the other one light pink. The pink pony caught her looking and gave her a wink. A hair clip with a daisy on it sat on the left side of her mane, pulling her hair over her ear. Her mane was the same color as her coat, but it shimmered with different shades of silvery pink, all woven together. She had a round face and bright blue eyes that twinkled with the drinks she’d had.
Twilight turned back to Rarity and asked, “Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure. I can simply play along long enough for you two to hook up.”
“I’ll take the pink one then.”
“Shoot. I wanted to ask her how she does her mane,” Rarity said pouting slightly. “Well, maybe I’ll get a chance to anyway. Now let’s go over and thank them, shall we?”
Twilight nodded, following as Rarity led the way to the other end of the bar. The purple mare’s eyes zoned in on Rarity while the light pink mare’s eyes were fixed on Twilight. It seemed they had already decided who they wanted too.
“We figured we should come over and thank you girls for the drinks,” Rarity said, smiling warmly at the purple mare. “I’m Rarity and this is my friend Twilight.” She pointed to herself and Twilight respectively.
The purple mare introduced her and her friend as well. “My name’s Chalice and my friend’s name is May Flower.”
“You can call me May, though,” May Flower added, taking a small sip from her drink.
“May, may we take a seat?” Rarity asked with a small smile. The pair laughed and moved to make room. Rarity took the seat between them and Twilight sat at the end of the counter next to May Flower.
May Flower turned away from the other two and focused her attention on Twilight. She reached down a hoof and began to stroke Twilight’s leg, earning a blush from her. “So, Twilight, what’s your special talent?”
“My special talent is magic. What’s yours?”
“I’m a model.”
“Really?” Twilight asked with surprise. She looked down at May Flower’s cutie mark, spotting a vanity mirror with gold trim. “You’re actually a model?”
“For about a year now, yeah.” May Flower took another sip of her drink as Chalice slammed her hoof on the bar counter, grabbing their attention.
“So, girls,” she began, putting her hooves around Rarity and May Flower. “What would you say to us four heading back to my room and having some fun?”
Twilight blanked, looking over to Rarity to she had a similarly bewildered expression. “By fun you mean...”
“Probably exactly what you think we mean,” Chalice finished with a grin.
Twilight shared a look with Rarity. If the color could have drained out of her friend’s face, Twilight was fairly certain it would have. Twilight felt the hoof May Flower had on her thigh slide a little higher into her uncomfort zone. Twilight looked down at the hoof, then up at her with a scarlet blush.
May Flower winked at her.
“Rarity?” Twilight called out to the other mare with a bit of fear in her voice.
Rarity snapped out of her shock induced stupor and shrugged the hoof resting around her shoulder off. “Now listen,” she began, “I don’t know what kind of girls you took us for, but we are not looking for any one night stand, and we are most certainly not looking for one with a group.” Rarity stood up and gave them a courteous bow. “Now I’m sorry if there has been some miscommunication, but we must get going.”
With that, Rarity turned to leave. Twilight stood up to follow her, May Flower’s hoof falling from her leg as she did so. Twilight looked back at May Flower and Chalice, seeing them look slightly disappointed as they left.
Twilight followed Rarity out of the bar. The brisk night air immediately seeped through her coat and began to chill her.
Rarity turned to her, slightly shivering. “Well that was unexpected,” she commented, glancing around the empty streets.
“Four ponies...” Twilight said through chattering teeth. “How does that even work?”
“I’m not quite sure, Twilight. It isn’t something I plan to find out either. That sort of polyamorous relationship is not my cup of tea.”
The two of them quietly stood outside the bar shivering, and not quite sure what to do. The pale green bar sign gave off a dim, but comforting light. Twilight half expected Rarity to have another plan. She always seemed to have another plan. But Rarity was silent.
Twilight huddled close to her friend. Their sides were pressed up against each other, and their body heat helped dispel some of the coolness of the lonely night.
Rarity wistfully sighed. “I could certainly go for another drink right now. But we left them on the counter next to those two.”
“Well, they were the ones who bought them,” Twilight pointed out.
Rarity giggled. “True. I suppose it’s best that we left them there.” Rarity’s smile faded as she stood in the lamplight, shivering. “I’m sorry about all this mess, Twilight. I just wanted to try and get you a date, but I’m afraid all I’ve done is probably embarrassed you.”
Twilight placed a hoof around her. “Not at all, Rarity. It was embarrassing at times true, and I don’t think I’ll be going near a dance floor again soon, but I had a lot of fun today.”
“You did?” Rarity asked hopefully.
Rarity gave her a beaming smile, but her lips quivered as though she was on the verge of crying. “Thank you, Twilight,” Rarity said, closing her eyes and resting her head against Twilight’s neck.
Twilight gave her friend a squeeze, resting her chin atop her head and closing her eyes. The evening was made better by Rarity being there. And the chilly night air was warm when she was by her side.
Rarity raised her head with a sniffle, looking into Twilight’s eyes with a gentle smile. Twilight found herself thinking about how beautiful she looked again, even with tears in the corner of her eyes.
“Would you like to go back to my place so that I can teach you how to dance?” Rarity asked tentatively.
“Sure,” Twilight replied, smiling.
Rarity smiled, and turned to lead the way to her carousel.
As Twilight went to follow her, she whispered under her breath, “It’s a date.”
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.
Crickets chirped as Twilight stood frozen on Carrot Top’s doorstep, staring at Rarity.
“Y-you were watching?” she asked, looking at Rarity with panic. “But you were—Coral, she—We walked all across town and you...” Twilight stopped, realizing her words were coming out as little more than rambling. “How did you find me?”
Rarity gave her a small shrug and casually walked towards her. “It wasn’t too hard to follow the sound of nervous blushing,” she teased. “So do you like her then?”
Twilight looked down and played with her hooves as she replied. “Well, I think I already like another mare—another type of mare, I mean, but...” Twilight looked over her shoulder, staring at Carrot Top’s door with a blush and a small smile gracing her face. “But she was nice...”
Rarity smiled and cocked an eyebrow, but said nothing.
Twilight snapped out of her thoughts in her own time, and turned away from the door. “Sorry,” she said, offering Rarity an apologetic smile.
Rarity turned to leave. “Think nothing of it, dear.”
Twilight followed, falling in step beside her and leaving Carrot Top’s cottage behind. She decided to voice a question that had been bugging her.
“Oh, the two of us simply chatted for a while after the show, and then she left saying something about ‘an early day tomorrow.’”
“Chatted?” Twilight asked, staring at her friend’s face.
Rarity turned to look at her, perplexed at first, but her mouth slipped into a smirk as she saw something in Twilight’s look. “Yes,” she said, a giggle escaping her throat. “We chatted. And I assure you that’s all that happened.”
Internally, Twilight let out a sigh of relief.
“No,” Rarity continued, looking ahead. “We’ve known each other for a while, but I find her far too... pushy to be one of my close friends, or, well,” Rarity rolled her eyes, “something more.”
Twilight bit her lip, debating. “Who...” She stopped to be extra careful with her wording. “What kind of mare would you date?”
Rarity faltered. “Me?” she asked, pointing to herself, although she seemed to realize it was a stupid question as she looked around. “Well, I haven’t given it much thought, actually. Hmm...” She chewed on her bottom lip, looking up thoughtfully. “You see, I actually tend more towards stallions. As a filly I read all the fairy tales with a prince charming in them, the one who rescues the fair damsel.”
Twilight noted, and mentally jotted down every word she said. “So you’d be looking for a princess charming who rescues fair damsels?”
“No, no, not at all,” Rarity scoffed. “What I look for in a mare is that she’s graceful, and elegant, and carries herself like a true lady.”
Twilight winced at the words graceful and elegant, thinking back to her horrific experience on the bar’s dance floor.
“Beauty is a virtue,” Rarity continued. “But I’d also like some mare who is smart and talented.”
“Smart and talented?” Twilight asked, a glimmer of hope returning to her eyes.
“Yes,” Rarity said, nodding. “I would also like a mare who looks good in a dress, so I can design dresses specially for her and watch her try them on. We’d spend hours talking as she tries on dresses for me, and in return I’d give her the one I think looks prettiest on her.” Rarity looked at Twilight and smiled foolishly at herself. “That sounded a lot less strange when I was thinking it.”
“No, no, it sounds...” Twilight looked up, as though the word she was looking for would appear over Rarity’s head. “It sounds nice.” Twilight cringed inside, her words coming out far weaker than she had hoped.
Rarity seemed to appreciate the thought though, her smile widening ever so slightly. “I love talking to you, Twilight. Everything that you say can simply be taken at face value.”
Twilight’s brow furrowed. “Thanks... I think?”
“It was a compliment,” Rarity said. “You have a sort of open honesty that’s so rare to see.”
Rarity’s statement dangled in the air as they walked down the dark cobblestone road back across town. Twilight stole glances at her as they walked, just small ones out of the corner of her eye.
“I don’t like Coral very much,” Twilight blurted, breaking the silence.
Contrary to how Twilight thought she would react, Rarity cracked a grin. “I can see why.” Her grin faded to a slightly more serious frown. “I’m sorry about how she acted tonight. I hope it didn’t ruin anything.”
Twilight shook her head. “No, it’s alright.”
“Good,” Rarity said, slipping into a smile once more. “Because truth be told, I think she’s quite jealous of you.”
“Jealous?” Twilight said, stopping dead in her tracks. “Of me?”
Rarity stopped and looked back at her. “Undoubtedly. She barely even made an effort to hide it.” Rarity flipped her mane, standing impatiently in front of her. “While I may like her as a friend, she wants us to be closer than that.” Her mouth widened to a grin. “And can you believe she sees you as a threat? I haven’t a clue where she gets some of her notions.”
Twilight bit her lip, not trusting herself to not say anything conspicuous. Instead she simply fell back in step next to Rarity, slightly quickening her pace home. The two of them walked in silence for a few minutes, Twilight lost in thought, and Rarity, noticing the far off look in her eyes, left her alone.
Twilight was imagining the scene that Rarity described, the two of them at the boutique, and Twilight trying on dresses. Rarity would have her put on something extravagant, with lots of gems and feathers, and Twilight would stand there with a bright blush on her face, feeling silly in such a ridiculous outfit, as Rarity inspected her work. Then Rarity would hand her a simplistic blue dress, her favorite out of the ones she tried on, and Rarity would smile as she put it on.
“How about tomorrow night we go somewhere?” Rarity asked, breaking the ice as they came within eyesight of the library.
Twilight jolted out of her thoughts from the sudden question. “Huh?”
“Just the two of us,” Rarity said, smiling and nudging Twilight’s shoulder. “We can take a night off all this dating nonsense and just have a fun night out.”
They stopped in front of the library door, turning to face each other.
“Just the two of us?”
“Yes, I think it would be quite fun,” Rarity said, giving her a delighted smile.
“That... that sounds wonderful, actually,” Twilight said, looking around her doorstep. “What time should I expect to be picked up? How should I dress?”
“How about seven o’clock? Dress as little or as much as you feel like.” Rarity gave her a nod. “I’ll see you then!” she said, and turned to walk away.
“Alright,” Twilight said, grinning. “I’ll be there!” Her grin faded, and she looked down at the stone steps leading to her house, unable to shake the feeling that she was forgetting something.
“Wait!” she shouted as she remembered.
Rarity stopped and looked back at her with an arched eyebrow, the one that always made her feel like Rarity already knew what she was going to say and was simply playing along to make her think otherwise.
Twilight gulped. “Where will we be going?”
Rarity’s face shifted to a mischievous smirk, and she turned to walk away. “Who knows?” she shouted as she walked away. “We could go anywhere!”
And with that, she left.
Twilight slumped, but found a smile pulled at her lips as she thought about the now upcoming night out with just the two of them.
“It’s a date,” she said under her breath, wistfully.
Saturdays. The market square was always jam-packed on Saturdays. Twilight let out a small squeak as yet another passerby bumped into her, nearly knocking her off her hooves. Ponies moved around the market square like a school of fish, and any stray pony caught standing still became a point of congestion in the traffic.
Which is the situation Twilight Sparkle currently found herself in.
Twilight stood in the middle of the square looking at her shopping list, but ponies constantly bumping into her were making it exceedingly difficult.
“Five carrots, two stalks of celery, eight apples, a bag of—” Somepony knocked her side, breaking her concentration and making her drop her shopping list. “Oh no!”
She stuck her neck down to look for the note, but all she could see was a sea of trampling hooves. She lifted her head and groaned, stamping her front hooves in a pouty display. So much for getting any shopping done today.
“Is this yours?”
Twilight spun around, spotting somepony she recognized almost instantly. May Flower stood in front of her, a demure smile on her lips and Twilight’s shopping list in between her teeth. A hair clip with a daisy fashioned on it tucked her silvery pink mane around her left ear.
“Oh! Yes, yes it is!” Twilight said, smiling at her. Ponies pushed their way around them, and Twilight’s smile faded as May Flower made no move to give back her shopping list. “May I have it back?”
May Flower turned her head and tucked Twilight’s shopping list in one of her saddlebags. Her mouth free, she spoke. “Absolutely!”
May Flower’s sickeningly sweet voice hinted at something more, and Twilight’s mouth pulled into a thin line.
“Would you like to get lunch?” May Flower asked innocently.
Twilight sighed. “I don’t have much of a choice, do I?”
May Flower giggled, tilting her head to the side as if she didn’t have a clue what Twilight meant. “Come on, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee,” she said, turning and walking through the crowd.
Twilight followed her, slipping into the small space behind her as she wove through the streets. What was it she said she did again? Acting?
May Flower walked with a small bounce in her step, and Twilight found herself watching her light pink rump as it swayed back and forth.
Right. Modeling. She tore her gaze away with a blush, staring at the cracks in the cobblestone road.
The cafe was predictably crowded when they arrived, but they lucked out, finding a table near the outskirts on the far side of the cafe. May Flower sat down at it and took off her saddlebags, placing them firmly behind her forelegs to deter Twilight from trying to snatch them back.
Twilight sat down opposite her. “So what is this about?”
May Flower leaned forward, placing her hooves upon the table. “You know, I very rarely hear ponies say no to me.” She inched forward until she was leaning across the table, a sultry smile on her face. “Even rarer do I find myself thinking about somepony for more than a day.”
Twilight gulped, her ears growing hot under May Flower’s stare. “M-m-me?” Twilight squeaked, her blush intensifying as May Flower slid around the table and sat next to her.
“Is that so hard to believe... Twilight Sparkle?” May Flower asked, whispering her name in her ear.
Twilight shivered as May Flower’s breath tickled her ear, and she felt May Flower trying to reach a hoof around her shoulder to draw her closer. “Stop!” Twilight’s shouted, drawing more than a few stares.
May Flower pulled her hooves away like they’d been burned. Shuffling a safe distance away from Twilight, she turned and flashed everyone a nervous smile, reverting to her more well-behaved self.
Twilight breathed a sigh of relief. “What do you want?”
May Flower’s eyes turned up in a smile, and she tilted her head slightly. “I want you, and me, and I want us to do things that...” She stopped, looking around the cafe. “That shouldn’t be said in public.”
Twilight’s eyes quickly drifted up and down May Flower’s body, unable to help herself.
May Flower spotted her looking and smirked. “Here’s your shopping list,” she said, taking it out and leaving it on the table. Standing up, May Flowers turned to leave, but stopped to look back at her. “Oh, and, Twilight?”
“I tend to get things that I want.”
Despite it being a warm summer day, Twilight shivered.
May Flower walked away, hips swaying, with a cute—but fake—smile on her lips.
Putting other thoughts aside, Twilight read her shopping list.
“A bag of flour, yeast, a ruby...” Her words died in her throat, reading the next line. “G-g-go to May’s apartment, b-bring lotion and cuffs!?” Twilight read aloud, face turning red as a rose. There was an address next to May Flower’s writing, ending in an elegantly drawn heart. Twilight stared after where she had gone. “When did she even have time to write that?”
Twilight was in the middle of the library common, reading a book and trying very hard not to think about Rarity.
Because when she thought about Rarity, her thoughts inevitably drifted to Carrot Top, Coral, and May Flower, along with the whole pandora’s box that came with those thoughts. Twilight groaned, sinking her chin into her hooves. Rarity had forgot to mention just how difficult dating was. Twilight shook the thoughts out of her head and turned to the next page of her book.
Twilight didn’t know how she felt about Carrot Top. She was sweet, kind, and adorable, and when they had kissed she felt something. It was a whole different feeling than when she was around Rarity.
She did feel some relief knowing that Rarity knew about Coral and didn’t like her back, but that left her wondering if Rarity knew how Twilight felt about her too.
Twilight paused on the word she was reading, her mind racing. There’s no way Rarity knows. If she did, she would tell me, right?
Silence answered her.
Twilight gulped, looking at the page and trying to remember where she’d left off. If Rarity knows, then what does tonight mean? The two of us, taking a break from dating, just a girl’s night out.
The more Twilight thought about it, the more it seemed like a possibility.
Twilight’s eyes drifted to the saddlebag she’d taken out earlier that was lying by the door. She stood and walked over to the saddlebag, pulling her shopping list from earlier out with her magic.
She read the address with a heart drawn next to it.
And that was how she came to be standing in front of May Flower’s house, waiting for the door to be answered.
She shuffled on her hooves, peering up at the tall, modernized building. It looked like a smaller version of the celebrity houses in Las Pegasus.
May Flower answered the door, her smile widening as she saw Twilight.
“Twilight! I didn’t expect to see you so soon!” she said, fluttering her eyelashes at her. “Come on in!”
Twilight bit her lip and stepped inside, May Flower closing the door behind her.
The living room was massive, and it had lush, beige carpeted floors upon which sat leather chairs and sofas centered around a wooden and glass coffee table. The whole room faced a wall made entirely of glass panels that let the sun pour in, giving the home a very open, outdoors feeling. The glass wall had a sliding door, which lead to an outdoor pool that had sun basking chairs around its edge.
“You... live here by yourself?” Twilight asked, her eyes lingering on the pool.
May Flower giggled. “Of course not! Me and Chalice split the costs.” She stepped out into the middle of the living room, Twilight following. “Can I get you anything to drink?”
Twilight nodded. “Do you have any apple juice?”
May Flower laughed, reaching out to touch Twilight’s cheek with her hoof. “You’re too precious.” She dropped her hoof, turning away. “Feel free to make yourself comfortable I’ll be right back.”
Twilight watched her go, a puzzled look on her face.
Shaking her head, she looked at the sofas, deciding to climb up on the long, red one, lying on her side and resting her head on the arm of it. Looking around the house, she rolled her eyes. Geez, how much do models even get paid? Every fixture and every piece of furniture looked as though it were hoofpicked by an interior designer.
Although, considering May Flower was in the fashion business, that wouldn’t come as a surprise.
“I forgot to ask if you wanted ice or not, but since it’s a hot day, I figured you probably would,” May Flower said as she walked into the room, balancing a tray with a pair of drinks.
“Oh, that’d be great!” Twilight replied, as May Flower slid the tray off her back onto the table.
Twilight floated one of the glasses over to herself, while May Flower took the edge of the glass in her teeth and carried it over to the couch Twilight was on. The glass was narrow, but widened near the top, where it had a lemon wedge saddled in its rim. Twilight lifted it to her lips and took a sip. A strong, tangy taste filled her mouth. It was something familiar, but she couldn’t quite put her tongue on it.
“Does this have ginseng in it?” she asked, trying to remember where she recognized it from.
May Flower burst out laughing and wiped a mirthful tear from the corner of her eye. “It’s an apple cocktail.”
“Cocktail?” Twilight stared down at her drink. “As in... alcohol?”
May Flower just shook her head with an amused smile.
Twilight checked the clock. “But it’s only three in the afternoon!”
“I don’t have apple juice,” May Flower said through a smile.
Twilight looked down at her drink. “You could have just said so...” she mumbled, but hesitantly lifted the glass to her lips, taking another sip anyways.
May Flower’s eyes sparkled. “So when do you want to get to it?”
Twilight blinked. “Huh?”
“My room is just upstairs, but if you want, Chalice won’t be back for another hour at least, and if we’re still going by then, she can just join.”
Twilight’s face burned with embarrassment, heat rising behind her ears. “T-t-that’s not what I came here for at all!”
“Oh.” Instead of the look of disappointment Twilight expected to see on her face, May was smiling. “And here I was thinking it had been too easy. Then again, I think it might have been a bit disappointing if it were that easy.” She took a small sip from her cocktail looking up at her with two curious, cameo pink eyes. “So why are you here?”
Twilight looked uncertainly down at her drink. “I guess... I guess I’m just wondering why?”
“Hmm?” May Flower raised an eyebrow as she tilted her head back and took another sip of her drink.
“I mean, you’re a model! And look at this place!” Twilight said, pointing around. “Why me?”
Finishing her drink, May Flower placed her glass on the table and shifted closer to Twilight.
Twilight backed up, her rump hitting the arm of the couch. May Flower closed in on her with a sultry smile, a red tint from her drink painting her cheeks.
“Twilight Sparkle, ward and student of Princess Celestia,” May said, her eyes wandering up and down Twilight’s body. “And cute too. What’s not to like?”
Twilight sweated nervously. “I, uh, really think I should be going now!” she said, swallowing as May Flower drew closer, staring at her through half-lidded eyes. “Thank you for your time and everything, but I really think—”
Twilight was cut off by May Flower’s lips crashing into hers. Stiff with shock, Twilight simply sat there, and May Flower’s tongue took Twilight’s momentary lapse as opportunity to slip inside her mouth. Whereas kissing Carrot Top had been sweet and pure, May Flower’s lips burned with passion and desire for her. It made her feel weak in the knees.
She actually felt a small pang of disappointment as May Flower pulled away.
“I was right,” May Flower said, closing her eyes and touching a hoof to her lips. “It feels so much better to have to work for it.”
Twilight sputtered, “Y-y-you didn’t work for anything! You kissed me without my permission!”
May Flower giggled, a pure, angelic smile gracing her lips once more. “You didn’t seem so averse while it was happening.”
“I was surprised!”
“I felt you kissing back towards the end.”
“I was shocked!”
“I recall your tongue being in my mouth almost as much as mine was in yours.”
“Was not!” Twilight shouted, crossing her hooves in front of her chest, and watching May Flower with a bright red blush from her end of the couch.
May Flower looked at her with a predatory stare that frightened, yet excited Twilight. “I thought you said you were leaving, but if you want to go a little further and have a little fun, my room is—”
Twilight stood to leave.
May Flower chuckled, standing up as well. “Visit anytime.”
“I won’t,” Twilight spat, turning and heading out the door.
Twilight lay on her back in bed with her hooves spread out to her sides, and stared at the ceiling, each grain and knot of the roof having been burned into her mind from lying there.
“I tend to get things that I want.”
The memory sent a shiver down her spine.
Her reminiscing was broken by a knock at her front door. Her eyes widened, a light bulb turning on in her head, as she remembered her date that night with Rarity.
Although, it wasn’t really a date.
Twilight got off her bed and stood, walking to answer the door. When she opened it she was greeted by Rarity smiling brightly at her.
“Ready to go?” Rarity asked.
Twilight looked down at herself. She looked slightly plain, but that was exactly what she wanted at the moment. “Yes.”
“Excellent!” Rarity replied, turning and walking away.
Twilight followed after a moment’s hesitation. “So where are we going?”
“I know this isn’t supposed to be a for picking up other mares, but I thought we’d go to Salt Around the Rim.” Rarity paused inconspicuously. “Their drinks were quite good.”
Twilight shook her head, smiling. “You’re just hoping somepony tries hitting on me.”
Rarity cracked a grin. “Well would that be such a bad thing?”
Twilight hung her head and sighed. “No, I guess not,” she replied, following Rarity down the road.
Her eyes drifted to the mare she was with, who was trotting down the road with a small, carefree smile. Whenever Twilight thought she was beginning to understand her, it seemed as though Rarity would do something just to prove her wrong.
“Are you alright, darling?” Rarity asked, snapping Twilight out of her thoughts.
“I asked if you were alright,” Rarity said, giving her a worried look. “You seemed like you had your mind elsewhere.”
“Oh, no, I’m fine,” Twilight said, pushing her thoughts to the back of her mind. “I’ve just had a lot to think about lately, that’s all.”
“Well,” Rarity said, tossing a hoof around her shoulders. “I won’t be having any of that tonight! Tonight we’re going to have fun, and you’re going to have a reprieve from all that thinking you do all the time!”
Twilight felt a smile tug at her lips as The Salt Around the Rim came into view.
Rarity pointed at the bar. “And what better way to do that than to go drinking?”
Twilight lifted a hoof to her mouth to stifle her giggles as they approached the bar. Muffled club music blared through the doors as they approached.
“Ladies first,” Rarity said as she pushed open the door, and they walked through it together.
The music blasted in Twilight’s eardrums, pushing any worried thoughts out of her head as she and Rarity made their way to the bar.
“I’ll have a martini!” Rarity shouted as she sat at the bar, turning to Twilight.
Twilight cleared her throat. “I’ll have an apple cocktail!” she shouted, surprised at how quiet her voice came out.
As the pale yellow mare with a green mane behind the counter walked over to make their drinks, Rarity turned to her. “Why the change in drink?”
Twilight blushed, trying not to think of May Flower. “I just wanted to try something different.” She stole a look at Rarity out of the corner of her eye. “Don’t you ever want to try something different?”
“I suppose, but I’ve always liked to stick to one thing at a time.”
“What about experimenting?” Twilight asked, her hooves fidgeting as she looked over at her. “I mean, finding out new things can be... interesting.”
“I like experimenting sometimes, but usually I have to be convinced,” Rarity said, her eyes wandering over to the ponies on the dance floor as Twilight went back to nervously staring at the bar counter.
Twilight wasn’t sure if they were still talking about alcohol anymore.
Their drinks arrived in two martini saucers, and the apple cocktail Twilight ordered was sour green with cinnamon around its rim, while Rarity’s drink was clear, aside from the twist of lemon peel that sat at the bottom of it. The mare behind the bar sat down after placing their drinks, looking at the two of them with wide smile that showed a pair of dimples in her cheeks.
“I remember you two,” she said, and pointed at Twilight. “Last time you were here you were blushing all night, right?”
As if to validate her claim, Twilight felt her cheeks begin to burn. “Yes, I guess I was,” she said with a small chuckle.
“Name’s Joy,” the barmare said, reaching a light yellow hoof over the counter.
“Twilight Sparkle,” Twilight said, shaking her hoof.
“Hah!” Joy smirked. “So you’re the one May has her eyes on.”
Rarity poked her nose forward, blinking. “Pardon?”
Joy took a white towel draped around her shoulders and began drying out glasses as she spoke. “She was in here the other night, talking about you.”
Twilight chuckled, shrugging her shoulders. “How strange...”
“After today, I was planning to again,” a voice from behind them said.
Twilight whipped around in her seat, spotting May Flower walking toward her with her eyes upturned in a smile.
“Can I buy you a drink?” May Flower asked, stopping in front of Twilight.
“No thank you. I already have one,” Twilight said, glancing at Rarity out of the corner of her eye.
May Flower looked between them, her lips forming a small circle as realization dawned on her. “In that case, I’ll leave you two alone tonight.” She turned, looking back over her shoulder at Twilight. “Let your friend know that the invitation extends to her too, if she’s interested.”
Twilight watched May Flower waltz away, most likely looking for some other source of fun.
Rarity turned back to her drink. “What did she mean ‘I’ll leave you two alone tonight’? I swear, everypony’s seems to jump to conclusions about us for some reason.”
Twilight let out a shaky laugh, taking a large sip of her drink. “Yeah...”
She really couldn’t tell if Rarity knew and was playing it up, or if she was truly oblivious to it.
Rarity glanced at the ponies dancing over by the music, and turned to Twilight with a grin. “Care to put that dancing lesson to use?”
“Huh?” Twilight glanced over at the dance floor, a sense of dread filling her. “But you only gave me one lesson!”
Rarity took a large swig of her martini and stood, offering her hoof out to Twilight. “C’mon, it’ll be fine!”
Twilight bit her lip, looking over at the small crowd of mares dancing and rubbing up against each other. She pictured her and Rarity doing that, and the thought quickly blew her apprehensions aside. She downed the rest of her apple cocktail in two large gulps, pinching her snout as the alcohol hit her all at once.
“Alright,” she said. “Let’s go.”
Rarity beamed, dragging her away from the bar and over to the dance floor.
The music was deafening, and the bass from the speakers shook the floor. Twilight turned to Rarity. Neon colors played off her white coat, making her body flash red, blue, and green.
Wordlessly, they began to dance.
Twilight closed her eyes and felt herself falling in rhythm with the beat, just like the last time. Only unlike last time, she remembered what she had learned from her lesson, and changed her hoofsteps accordingly. She opened her eyes, half expecting everypony to be looking at her with pained expressions, but instead, nopony was watching her. Nopony except Rarity, who was dancing along with her with a carefree smile.
Twilight felt an equally wide smile split her lips, and continued to dance her heart out next to Rarity. The song changed several times, and her dance with it. Although no pony was looking at her anymore, a few were looking at Rarity. She carried herself with the same grace and elegance when dancing as she always did, moving in perfect harmony with the song as the strobe lights danced off her coat.
The next song had a slower tempo, and Twilight looked around to see ponies dance around the room as they held each other, some in more modest ways than others.
Rarity sauntered up to her with a playful twinkle in her eye.
Twilight gulped, heat rising to her face. “I never learned how to dance like this!” she shouted over the music.
“I’ll teach you!” Rarity simply answered, walking forward until the front of their chests were pushed against one another.
Twilight looked down at Rarity’s hooves, taking a step back as Rarity took a step forward, and following the push and pull of the other mare’s chest. Twilight fell into a trance, watching her, and mirroring her actions as she did them. They stepped back, turning and walking past one another until they stood shoulder to rump. Twilight spun back around to face Rarity, and saw her do the same.
Rarity grinned at her. “I think you’re getting the hang of it!”
A humble blush painted Twilight’s cheeks, as she stepped forward and met Rarity, pressing the front of their chests against each other once more. They strafed and spun, Twilight watching her hooves and Rarity’s almost the entire time, as the song wore on.
Finishing with one last harsh tug on the violin strings, the song ended. Rarity and Twilight stood facing each other, panting slightly.
The club music blared up again.
“Would you like to go back to the bar?” Twilight asked.
Rarity fell in step beside her. “Yes, I think I ought to check if some filly has stolen my drink while I was gone.”
The music grew quieter as they walked back to the bar, both sweating and panting lightly.
Rarity took a seat in front of her half-full martini glass. “Ah, good, it’s still here.” She lifted the drink to her muzzle and downed what was left, eating the olive off its skewer afterwards.
“That was really fun,” Twilight said, sitting down beside her. “I’m glad you taught me how to dance.”
“Yes, well I’m glad I had you to dance with,” Rarity replied with a smirk.
Joy walked up to them, a damp white rag slung over her shoulders. “Anything else for you, girls?”
“I’ll have another apple cocktail,” Twilight said.
“And I’ll have one as well,” Rarity chimed in.
Twilight turned to look at her with a raised eyebrow. “I thought you didn’t like experimenting?”
“Let’s just say I’m convinced,” Rarity said, looking at Twilight out of the corner of her eye. “For now.”
Twilight looked at her carefully, chewing her lip. Rarity’s coat glistened with a light sheen of sweat, the fluorescent lights of the club making her coat shimmer like silver, and making the gems on her cutie mark look like real diamonds.
Joy came back, setting two apple cocktails in front of them.
“Thank you,” Twilight said, raising her glass to her lips.
Joy smiled and nodded, before leaving to attend to a pair of orange mares at the other end of the bar.
Twilight turned to see Rarity set her drink down, licking her lips with a thoughtful expression.
“This is quite good actually,” she said, eyeing the sour green liquid. “It reminds me a bit of Applejack’s baking.” She lifted the glass back to her lips, taking another sip and setting it down with a refreshed sigh. “The cinnamon is a nice touch, too.”
“The apples it’s made with probably come from Sweet Apple Acres,” Twilight said, taking a sip of her own drink.
“I suppose that would explain it, wouldn’t it?” Rarity said, setting her muzzle down on the bar counter and gazing up at the wall over the bar. “We should go somewhere.”
Twilight looked at her. “Huh?”
“We should go someplace quiet after this. Just the two of us. We could go for a walk down by the lake.”
Twilight felt her voice beginning to go hoarse from all the yelling. “That sounds like a great idea.”
Rarity lifted her drink to her muzzle, finishing the second half in one go. She placed it down on the counter along with a few bits, and turned to Twilight. “Shall we go now, then?”
“Sure,” Twilight said, downing her drink with the same gusto as her friend before turning back to her.
Rarity stood and walked away from the bar, Twilight following behind her as she wove her way past other mares to the door.
They stepped outside into the warm midsummer eve, the music fading to muffled rumbling as the door swung shut behind them. The fresh air was a breath of relief from the hot, musty atmosphere in the club. Twilight glanced over at Rarity, seeing the other mare smile at her.
“Shall we go?” Rarity asked.
Twilight nodded, turning and walking with Rarity down the road, a halo of dusk at their backs.
“I don’t think I’ve ever gone swimming this late before,” Twilight said. “Is the water cold?”
“Not cold, no,” Rarity said, looking up at the sky. “The water’s just a bit more... crisp.”
Twilight bit her lip, glancing up anxiously at Rarity before her next question. “So considering you’ve been trying to get me a date, how come you don’t have anypony?”
Rarity flinched in her step, and even in the dim light, Twilight saw a brief flash of pain in her eyes.
“I-I’m sorry,” Twilight stuttered, as she came to a stop. “I shouldn’t have asked.”
Rarity cleared her throat. “No, no, it’s quite alright.” She resumed walking. “Honestly, maybe I just need to get over myself. I’ve been waiting all this time for someone perfect, expecting them to just come along one day and sweep me off my hooves.” Rarity stifled a giggle. “I suppose it’s all part of some childish notion that I never got rid of.”
Twilight looked down, watching her hooves as she walked. “I think before this I was the same way. I just expected it to happen on it’s own eventually, but after these past couple of days, I’m starting to see that it’s something you have to go out and look for yourself.”
Rarity let out a loud sigh. “As much as I pretend otherwise, even I haven’t had very much success with dating. I seem to be able to draw eyes, but never keep them interested for long.”
How could somepony ever get tired of looking at her? Twilight thought, glancing at the other mare out of the corner of her eyes.
“It’s all too complicated. I wish it were simpler,” Rarity said.
“Maybe it’s not as complicated as you think.”
Rarity shook her head, smiling. “I like being around you, Twilight. You always seem to say the right things to put me in a good mood.”
Twilight stopped, her hoof hitting sand. She looked up, and made her horn glow bright pink, lighting the area around them to reveal a shore just a short distance away from where they stood.
Rarity turned and gave her a silly half-drunk grin. “Last one in’s a rusty horseshoe!” She turned, kicking sand in the air as she sprinted to the water’s edge.
Twilight closed her eyes and shielded her face as some of the sand kicked up in her face. “Hey, wait! That’s cheating! You have to do a countdown!” she shouted with a smile, chasing after Rarity.
Up ahead, Rarity’s hoofsteps became accompanied by splashing as she ran through the shallows, her hooves sloshing slowly as she went deeper into the water. By the time Twilight put her first hoof in the water, Rarity was up to her shoulders with only a small part of her back still poking out of the water.
Twilight stopped, taking her hoof out of the water and whining, “It’s cold!”
“Don’t be silly! It’s the middle of summer!”
Twilight waded in slowly, first a quarter of the way up to her knees, then half, then—
“Oh come on!” Rarity shouted, rolling her eyes.
“I’m just being careful!” Twilight shouted back, inching further into the lake. “Don’t rush me!”
“You’re going to get wet sooner or later, you might as well get it over with.”
Twilight chewed her lip and closed her eyes. She gritted her teeth as she began taking larger steps into the water, walking out until she was at as deep a part of it as Rarity. She opened her eyes to see Rarity smiling at her.
“There, that wasn’t so hard, now was it?”
“I-it’s c-c-cold,” Twilight chattered, shaking beneath the water.
“Well, I feel plenty warm. Maybe I should stand next to you.” Rarity walked over to Twilight, pressing her side up against her. “Better?” Rarity asked, turning to look at her.
Twilight turned pink. “Y-yes.” She didn’t know if it was because she was getting used to the water, or if it was because of Rarity, but her legs stopped shaking. “Do you go swimming often?” Twilight asked lamely.
“Once in a while.”
Rarity closed her eyes and her horn began to glow bright white like a pearl. She left Twilight’s side, wading further out into until she was swimming.
Twilight swam out to meet her. “Um...”
“I just wanted to say these past few days have been really fun.” Twilight swam up closer to Rarity, until their horns were almost touching. “I know you must be busy.”
“Don’t worry, dear. It was my pleasure.” Rarity’s smile soured. “And as for the shop, I haven’t been all that busy.”
“O-oh, that’s g-good.”
“Twilight, dear, you’re shivering!” Rarity swam to her side, pointing her towards shore. “Let’s go get dried off.”
Twilight nodded, swimming after Rarity to the shore. Water dripped from their manes and coats as they walked out onto land, the sand clinging to their hooves.
“S-sorry,” Twilight said, water dripping from her muzzle. “I’m used to the mountain lakes in C-C-Canterlot.”
“Ah, yes, all those hot springs.” Rarity tossed part of her mane out of her face. The weight of the water had made her mane straight and curvy, giving Rarity an exotic look. “Feeling any warmer?”
A gentle breeze went by, but to Twilight it felt like a blizzard’s wind against her wet coat. “N-no.”
Rarity sighed. “I guess it can’t be helped.” She lay down on the sand with her legs curled beneath her. “Come, lay down.”
Twilight bit her lip, walking over to the other mare and standing frozen there, for a moment. She closed her eyes and lay down next to her. Her coat was wet, but it radiated heat.
“I hate getting sand in my coat.”
“Not your fault, dear.”
The sand became warm the longer they lay there, and Twilight began to feel the chill leave her. She glanced at Rarity out of the corner of her eyes. “Have you...”
Twilight blushed and looked down at the sand. “Have you noticed anything different about me lately?”
“Of course,” Rarity said, smiling down at her. “You’ve grown much more confident than when we first started.”
Twilight sighed. “That’s not what I meant.”
“What did you mean?”
Twilight looked up at her, and from the look in Rarity’s eyes she knew for certain the other mare hadn’t clued in on her feelings yet. It was so tempting, right then, to just tell her everything.
But her mouth felt numb.
“Nevermind, I’m just being silly,” she said, smiling and trying to shrug off the concerned look Rarity was giving her. Twilight stood first, caked bits of sand falling off her as she looked down at Rarity and gave her a nod. “I think I’m feeling better now.”
Rarity gave her one last worried glance, before she stood, wincing as she looked at the sand clinging to her coat. “Oh, I’m going to have to have a shower once I’m home.”
Twilight looked at her own coat, seeing a lot of sand still clinging to her hairs. “I think I’ll have to have one too.”
“Oh, well,” Rarity said, “it was fun.”
Twilight felt a smile tug at her lips. “Yes, it was.”
Rarity looked back at the water. “You know...”
“I think I’d like to try sex on the beach.”
Twilight turned bright red. “I-ba-wha?”
“Next time we’re at The Salt Around the Rim. I bet they mix a good one.”
“Oh.” Twilight laughed nervously, rubbing the back of her head with a sand-stained hoof. “Right. The drink.” She looked at Rarity from a sidelong glance. “So would you like to go again tomorrow night?”
Rarity smiled. “Sounds lovely,” she said with a sweet and polite voice. “It’s quite late. I suppose it’s time for the two of us to head home.”
The two of them walked up from the beach back onto hard land.
Rarity turned to look at her, her eyes smiling. “I’ll see you tomorrow!” she said, waving as she began to walk away.
Twilight didn’t turn to leave quite yet, instead sticking around to watch Rarity walk away. Her shoulders slumped, and she let out a wistful sigh. “It’s a date.”
“So which do you think Rarity would like more, a necklace, or a bracelet?” Spike asked.
Twilight pretended not to hear him, and continued sorting the library shelves across the room.
“Because, I think a necklace would look good on her, but that might be coming on too strong.” Spike paused to blow the dust off the cover of a worn leather bound book. “And do you think she’d like roses or carnations?”
“Uh, carnations, I guess?”
Spike hummed to himself, tapping a claw against his chin. “White or dark chocolate?”
Twilight sighed, barely suppressing a groan of annoyance. “Why are you asking me this again?”
“Oh.” Blushing deeply, Spike cleared his throat and opened another box of books to put away. “No reason in particular.”
There was a knock on the door, and both their heads swiveled around to the sound. Their eyes met for a moment, but Spike only shrugged and shook his head.
“Keep sorting these. I’ll be right back,” Twilight said, slipping a pair of books in her grip onto a shelf, before going to answer the door. She could faintly hear Spike grumbling at being left to do all the work behind her as she went to the door.
Twilight opened the door to see Carrot Top standing in front of her with a nervous, but eager smile. Her mane was a rich, glowing amber in the sunlight, and seemed bouncy, like she’d just had it washed.
“Hello, Twilight!” Carrot Top chirped.
Twilight looked around to see if anyone else was around, before looking back at Carrot Top and blinking. “Erm... hi...” she replied. Carrot Top stood there, fidgeting on her doorstep, and Twilight gave her an quizzical look. “Can I... help you with anything?”
Carrot Top cocked her head at the question, and then her eyes lit up. “Oh! I was just wondering if you were free and if we could talk, or maybe go out for lunch...” she trailed off, looking up at Twilight hopefully.
“We’re in the middle of sorting and shelving a new shipment of books we got,” Twilight said, glancing back over her shoulder at where Spike was working.
“Oh, I could help!” Carrot Top offered with an open, friendly smile.
“Thank you, but...” Twilight said, sucking air in through her teeth. “It’s really more of a two person job.”
“Oh, of course,” Carrot Top replied, her smile fading as she gave the ground a dejected look. “I would probably just get in the way... and stuff.”
Twilight felt her walls crumbling from looking at Carrot Top, and she let out a sigh. “You can come inside while we sort them, if you want. It shouldn’t take too much longer.”
“I wouldn’t want to get in the way,” Carrot Top said, poking the dirt with a hoof.
“It’ll be fine,” Twilight reassured her, almost regretfully.
Carrot Top looked up and gave her a small, tentative smile. “Really?”
“Absolutely,” Twilight answered with an affirmative nod.
Carrot Top began to beam at her with no trace of her former anxiety. “Okay!” she said, skipping in through the library door.
The two of them walked back to where Spike was sorting and stacking books. Upon seeing their guest, Spike stopped what he was doing and threw Twilight a questioning glance.
Twilight lifted a hoof to her mouth and cleared her throat. “Spike, this is Carrot Top. She’s, uh...” Twilight poked her temple with her hoof as she tried to think of a way to put it. “She’s somepony I met recently.”
Carrot Top giggled. “Hello, Spike!”
Spike looked queerly between the two of them. “Uh, hi.”
The three of them stood there, looking at one another as an awkward tension filled the room. Twilight bit her lip and glanced at the medium sized pile of boxes that still needed unpacking. “Hey, Spike, why don’t you go into town for a bit? I think I can finish unpacking and shelving everything.”
“Really?” Spike asked. “But you never let me get out of library work!”
“Well, it’s a nice day out,” Twilight said as she walked around behind him and began pushing him towards the door, “and a dragon your age shouldn’t spend it cooped up inside, so just go and have fun, and don’t come back for an hour or two, okay?” Twilight pushed him out the door and closed it behind him, before darting over to look at the front door from a window.
Spike stood at the door for a moment, scratching his head, before he gave a shrug and sauntered away from the door with a smile, his head held high as his little tail swayed behind him.
Twilight turned back to Carrot Top to see her waiting with a nervous smile.
“I hope you didn’t shoo him out because of me,” she said, shuffling her hooves.
“Well, yes, I did. But he likes any excuse to get out of work,” Twilight replied, glancing at the door. She looked back at Carrot Top, and began to shuffle nervously herself. “So... how have you been?”
“Oh,” Carrot Top gave a sidelong glance at the stacked book boxes in the room. “Not as busy as you’ve been. Harvest was a few weeks ago, and it’s the start of the off season now. I’ve got more free time than I know what to do with!” She turned, gave Twilight a smile, and chuckled, before pausing and lifting a hoof to cover her mouth “Oh, not that I want to brag, or—” Carrot Top cut herself off and stamped the floor, blushing. “Oh, geez! I’m making a foal of myself.”
“No, it must be nice to have so much spare time.”
“Um, yeah...” Carrot Top rubbed the back of her head with an embarrassed smile. “I guess why I came by, is...”
Twilight looked at Carrot Top in confusion, as the other mare twisted her hoof into the floor while mumbling with a bright red blush on her face. “Sorry, can you repeat that?”
Carrot Top’s blush only deepened, and she began to stutter. “I-I-I...” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath. “I-I was wondering if you’d like to go on another date!”
Twilight took a step back in surprise. Looking around, she wracked her brain for a reply. “Well, uh...” The hope in Carrot Top’s eyes as she waited for a reply was too much for Twilight to bear. “I, uh...”
A knock from the door saved her from having to answer. Twilight smiled, letting out a breath of relief. “I’ll go get that.”
“It could be important!” Twilight shouted over her shoulder as she ran away to the door. She put on a pleasant smile and opened the door.
May Flower stood on her doorstep with a coy smile, her coat and mane groomed to perfection and just a touch of blush on her cheeks.
“Hey, Twilight,” May Flower said, batting her eyelashes.
Twilight felt her heart skip a beat. “Um,” she stalled, swallowing the lump in her throat. “Sorry, the library is closed.”
“Twilight? Who’s at the door?” Carrot Top’s called from inside, walking over to see what was happening.
Twilight winced and glanced over her shoulder, before very slowly turning back to May, who was looking at her with an amused smirk.
“My, Twilight, you’re already taking after me, bringing innocent mares home. I don’t know if I should be jealous or proud.”
“Listen, May, I really don’t think this is a good time—” Twilight was cut off as May Flower walked past her. “Hey!” Twilight chased after May Flower, only to butt into her rear end as she suddenly came to a stop.
May Flower stood face to face with Carrot Top.
“Oh, Twilight, who’s your friend?” Carrot Top asked, staring at May Flower with a smile.
“Yes,” May Flower said, looking back at Twilight with a grin creeping onto her lips, her voice full of mirth. “Do introduce us.”
Twilight looked anxiously at May Flower, wondering what the pony was planning. “May Flower, this is Carrot Top,” she said, gesturing to the pale orange farm pony, who gave May Flower a small wave.
“Hi,” Carrot Top said.
“Well,” May Flower said, glancing back at Twilight. “Isn’t this just fun?”
Twilight looked nervously between the two of them. May Flower had a devious grin, glancing between her and Carrot Top, and no doubt already planning how to convince them to have a threesome. Carrot Top just stood there dumbly, looking blissfully unaware of what was going on.
May Flower’s grin grew as she turned back to Carrot Top. “You know what would be a good idea?” she asked, smiling with her eyebrows arched mischievously. “We should go back to my place.”
Twilight cut in between them, her smile twitching. “That sounds lovely, May Flower,” she said with a small chuckle, “but I think now is a really bad time.” Twilight began pushing her towards the door. “Maybe we could try it sometime next year!”
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous.” May Flower wove around Twilight, and moved to stand back in front of Carrot Top. “It’s summer, and I have a pool. It would be a great place for the three of us to go and have fun,” she said, finishing the last word with a waggle of her eyebrow.
Carrot Top leaned forward slightly. “A pool?”
“Oh, yes,” May Flower said, nodding. “The three of us could go back to my place and get wet.”
Twilight blushed beet red. “May!”
May Flower gave her an innocent look, as though she didn’t have a clue what Twilight was getting so worked up about.
“That actually sounds like a lot of fun,” Carrot Top said, looking at Twilight eagerly. “Can we go?”
“No!” Twilight shouted.
“Oh, come on, Twilight,” May Flower whined. “It was so much fun last time you came over, and we—”
Twilight shoved her hoof in May Flower’s mouth. “—That time we went swimming, and she splashed me with water, so we had a water fight! I remember that!” she finished, chuckling nervously.
May Flower licked Twilight’s hoof, making the unicorn pull it away from her mouth and shoot a sharp glare at her. May simply gave her an innocent smile and stuck out her tongue, as if she was inviting her to do it again.
“We should go, Twilight!” Carrot Top said, taking a step towards her and looking up at her with large, round eyes. “Please?”
Glancing back and forth between the two mares, who were both looking up at her with pleading expressions, Twilight gnawed her bottom lip. May Flower seemed all too keen to tell Carrot Top all about what Twilight had been up to.
She practically had to do it. For Carrot Top’s innocence.
“Fine,” Twilight relented with a sigh. “Let’s go.”
May Flower and Carrot Top beamed at each other and cheered, as Twilight’s shoulders slumped and she sat on the floor.
Twilight, May, and Carrot Top walked into May’s place, the light from the glass wall by the pool streaming into the living room. Carrot Top walked ahead of them and looked around at the lavish decorations in awe.
“Your place is amazing!” Carrot Top exclaimed.
May Flower gave a small curtsey. “Why thank you.” She watched Carrot Top wander around the living room with a gleam in her eye. “Feel free to make yourselves at home.”
May Flower was about to walk into the living room and sit down, but Twilight yanked her back by the tail using her magic, and stuck her nose in May Flower’s face.
“Listen,” Twilight hissed, “I don’t know what you’re planning, but leave Carrot Top out of it.”
May Flower arched an eyebrow. “Are you two dating?” she asked, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips.
Twilight blushed, and glanced over at where Carrot Top was still looking at various things around the room, oblivious to their hushed conversation. “No, not exactly.”
“Then what exactly are you two?”
“We went on one date. One. And I think she’s sweet, but...”
A look of knowing dawned on May Flower’s face, her mouth forming a small circle. “But you like that other mare, Rarity?”
“Yes.” Twilight’s blush deepened, wondering why she was even telling May Flower about it.
“So you don’t want to crush poor Carrot Top’s feelings, and break her itty-bitty heart.” May Flower glanced at Carrot Top with a smirk. “I can see where you’re coming from. I’d almost feel wrong taking such a sweet and innocent girl for a romp around the block.” May Flower paused, watching Carrot Top tilt her head to look at a painting on the wall. A devilish smile spread across her lips. “Almost.”
Twilight rolled her eyes and scoffed. “Look, do you have any idea what I should do?”
May Flower looked back at Twilight with an incredulously raised eyebrow. “You’re asking me for advice?”
“Well, you must really be lost then,” May Flower said with a light chuckle. “But you shouldn’t keep leading her on. Anypony would tell you that.”
“I know, I know, but how do I tell her that?”
May Flower tilted her head and stared cluelessly at her.
“You don’t have a clue, do you?” Twilight asked.
“I’ve never actually been one to have a marefriend,” May Flower said, shrugging.
Twilight let out a sigh of exasperation. “Great. Thanks for the pep-talk. It’s been really enlightening.”
“No need to be sarcastic,” May said, pursing her lips.
Carrot Top bounded up to the two of them, a wide smile on her face. “Hey, what are you two doing over here? The pool’s outside!”
The two of them glanced at Carrot Top and then at each other, silently agreeing to continue their talk later, before following Carrot Top out to the pool deck.
The surface of the water sparkled in the sun, and Carrot Top wasted no time galloping up to the pool and jumping in, splashing water up on the deck with her jump. She came up to the surface, her hair wet and flat against her head, and gasped, before looking back at the Twilight and May with a smile. “The water’s really nice!”
Twilight smiled and held a hoof up in a placating gesture. “That’s okay, I think I’ll just sit over on the—” she was cut off by a hard push from behind that sent her crashing into the pool. Swimming to the surface, sputtering, she looked back to see May Flower looking up at the sky and innocently whistling.
Twilight glared at her. “Hey!”
May Flower began to snicker, but froze as a magic glow surrounded her. She looked at Twilight to see the same color glow around her horn, and her eyes widened. “No, wait—”
There was a gigantic splash, as Twilight tossed her into the pool.
May Flower surfaced and immediately swam to the edge of the pool, taking out her hair clip and placing it on the tiling before turning back to Twilight with a glare. “I was going to say, ‘let me take out my hair clip first.’”
Twilight smiled innocently, doing her best to imitate the way May Flower did, and shrugged.
“So what do you do, anyway?” Carrot Top asked, looking at May Flower. “I mean, to have a pool and such a nice house and everything.”
“Modeling,” May answered as she began to swim across the length of the pool.
Carrot Top’s eyebrows rose, her mouth dropping open slightly. “Oooh, what’s that like?”
“Well, I’ve caught ponies staring a few times,” May Flower replied, glancing at Twilight. “But I don’t mind. They’re free to look any time they’d like.”
Twilight blushed and sunk down below the water, leaving just enough of her muzzle above water to breathe.
“But other than that, it’s a living. And I find ways to have fun while on the job.”
“Like trying on dresses and stuff?” Carrot Top asked.
“Sure.” May Flower chuckled to herself fondly. “Let’s go with that.”
The three of them swam aimlessly in the pool for a while, simply enjoying the cooling water on a hot summer day, until Carrot Top came up with the idea of playing a game of keep away using a beach ball that had been lying uninflated in a corner of the pool deck. She’d managed to coax Twilight and May into playing, although Twilight had been slightly more reluctant than May Flower to agree to play.
They decided to go with having the one pony with the ball try to run away from the other two, and set down some basic rules. Carrot Top easily managed to hold onto the ball the most. Whenever Twilight managed to get it, May Flower would leap at her and tackle her underwater, usually leaving Carrot Top to pick up the ball. She could have sworn the mare had only gone along with the game as an excuse to cop a feel as she tackled the ball away from Twilight.
Still, she was laughing and having fun as she ran away with the ball. It was rare that she had a chance to forget about her responsibilities and just have fun.
May Flower tackled her into the water from behind, causing Twilight to relinquish her hold on the ball. Carrot Top dove between them and grabbed it, quickly swimming away with it before the other two surfaced. Twilight broke the surface of the water with a gasp, and looked to see May Flower standing in the water beside her with her hoof covering her mouth and a guiltless smile on her lips.
Twilight groaned, swimming to the edge of the pool, and climbed out of the water.
Carrot Top stopped swimming away with the beachball, and turned to watch her go. “Are you getting out already?”
Twilight stood on the deck, dripping head to hoof, and gave May Flower a look, before she turned back to face Carrot Top. “I’m just a little thirsty,” she apologized.
“I’ll help you get a drink,” May Flower offered, and climbed out of the pool beside her. She turned back to Carrot Top and smiled. “We’ll be right back.”
Twilight grabbed two towels out of a small wooden cupboard near the edge of the pool, and handed one to May Flower as they walked inside.
“Impatient to pick up where we left off?” May asked in a whisper.
May Flower paused, thinking for a moment. “Pick up where we left off with the conversation earlier today, or where we left off that time we were making out?”
Twilight shot her a flat look.
“Okay, okay,” May Flower said, as she dried off her hair with the towel. “Just checking.” She stopped and gave Twilight a grin much like a gossiping school filly would. “So Carrot Top wants to get together with you, but you like Rarity.”
Twilight glanced around to make sure the topic of their conversation wasn’t listening. “Yes.”
“And you need some way of letting Carrot Top down gently.”
“But how do I do that?”
“See how she’s outside right now?” May Flower said, gesturing to the mare swimming back and forth aimlessly in the pool. “Well, if we were to wait until she’s about to open the door,” she said, as Twilight leaned in closely and nodded. “And then we start making out right in front of her.”
Twilight’s hope plummeted, and she fixed May Flower with an irritated glare.
“What?” May Flower asked innocently. “I’m fairly certain she would get the idea.”
Twilight stamped her face with a hoof, groaning in exasperation. “Can’t you take anything seriously?” She let out a sigh, regretting what she was about to say. “If we kiss, will you actually help me?”
May Flower’s eyebrows rose, and she touched a hoof to her chin and thought for a brief moment, before pointing it at Twilight. “Deal.”
Twilight took her hoof and shook on it. “Later though,” she said, glancing back outside, where Carrot Top was doing backstroke across the length of the pool. “When she’s not around.”
May Flower pouted for a moment, but quickly relented. “Fine.” She gave a sidelong glance to the pool, before looking back at Twilight. “I know her type. Awful in bed, since they don’t have much experience, but they listen to a kind and confident voice, and there’s tons of fun in teaching somepony for their first time.”
Twilight’s brow furrowed from trying to sort through the sex for the useful information. “So how does that translate to this?”
“She’ll listen to you if you’re convincing enough,” May Flower said, taking the damp towel from around her shoulders and tossing it on the carpet. “Tell her how much better it would work out if you were friends, offer to take her to a bar and introduce her to other mares.” A smirk crept up on May Flower’s face. “I certainly wouldn’t take you as first pick for a wingmare, but I’m sure she’ll be happy to have you.”
Twilight frowned at the small jab, but still mulled over what May said. “So... basically try to show her what a great time the two of us could still have even if I wasn’t her marefriend?”
“I think she’ll appreciate the honesty and the friendship. Plus, it opens an avenue for her to adventure and have fun a little, rather than locking herself down to the first mare that shows interest in her.”
“Huh?” Twilight faltered, pointing a hoof at herself. “What makes you think I’m the first?”
May Flower shrugged. “You’re the first, or at least one of the first. It’s painfully clear that she doesn’t show interest in you like an adult would. She shows interest in you more like how a filly crushes on some boy at school, blushing and giggling, and she twiddles her hooves anxiously whenever you talk to her.”
Twilight raised a hoof, wanting to speak up and defend Carrot Top, but found herself lowering it as she realized what May Flower said was true.
“So... offer to take her out somewhere to meet other mares?”
“Well, yes, after you clear the air between you.”
Twilight took a deep breath and thought it over. The plan actually sounded surprisingly good, and she was about to turn and head out to the pool deck to call Carrot Top over, when she felt a tug on her shoulder. She jerked her head around to look at May Flower, who had her hoof on her shoulder. Stepping a little closer, May Flower gave her a kiss on the cheek.
Twilight felt a blush rise to her cheeks. The action didn’t hold any of May’s usual lust or desire. Rather, it seemed genuinely thoughtful and sincere, and Twilight looked at her in surprise.
“For good luck,” May said. She turned and picked up her towel off the carpet, before disappearing with it down one of the hallways and leaving her alone to talk with Carrot Top.
Twilight shook her head and looked back through the glass sliding door at the pool. Carrot Top spotted her looking and stopped her swimming to wave.
Gulping, and repeating what May Flower said over and over in her head, Twilight opened the glass sliding door and walked to the edge of the pool, where Carrot Top had already swum over to, and was resting her front hooves on the deck.
“Hey,” Twilight said.
“Hey,” Carrot Top replied, and Twilight couldn’t help but notice the way she fidgeted with her hooves.
“You remember that thing you were talking about before May came over at the library?”
“Oh,” Carrot Top said, her voice reducing to mumbling and her face becoming bright red. “A-about the date?”
“Uh, yeah.” Twilight tried to give her a warm smile, but it only caused her to look away nervously. She winced ever so slightly, letting her smile drop. “I was wondering when you’d like to do that?”
“Um... does the day after tomorrow work for you?” Carrot Top asked, climbing out of the pool and dripping water all over the pool deck. “I-I was thinking we could go someplace for lunch.”
Twilight did a quick mental check of her schedule. “Sure, I’m free for that part of the day.”
“Great! So, uh...” Carrot Top sidestepped over to the cabinet with the towels and stood next to it with one hoof on the back of her wet hair. “I’ll see you then?” she asked, about to reach for a towel before she froze. “I mean, I’m seeing you now—I mean—” Carrot Top cut herself off before she rambled any longer. “Can I call you my marefriend?”
Twilight couldn’t help the small giggle that escaped her lips, which only seemed to embarrass Carrot Top even more. “Maybe we should talk about it over lunch.”
Carrot Top nodded, reaching once more into the towel cabinet and pulling out a fluffy pink towel to dry her mane. “Okay!” she said, grinning from ear to ear. Her smile faded slightly, and she stared at the pool tiles with her front hooves crossed over one another. “Well, I should probably head home. I was planning to do some baking tonight and I still need to pick up a few things from the market before ponies start closing their stalls.” She walked towards the sliding door, and threw a glance and a smile back at Twilight as she opened it. “I had a lot of fun. And if you could, tell May Flower I had a great time, too.”
Twilight waved goodbye to her. “Feel free to drop by the library any time you want.”
Carrot Top nodded, her face lighting up at receiving an invitation to visit her. She picked up the towel off her back and hung it over a wooden rack by the pool entrance, before opening the glass sliding door. She crossed the living room with a small bounce in her step, and exited the house.
“Well, that went quite well, didn’t it?” an amused voice said from behind her.
Twilight jumped and whirled around to see May Flower standing by the pool with a broad smile. “H-how did you sneak up on me?” Twilight’s eyes narrowed. “Were you eavesdropping?”
“There’s another door to the backyard around the side of the house,” May Flower said, blatantly ignoring the second question. “So,” she said, rocking back and forth on her hooves. “Are you sticking around?”
Twilight gulped at the thought of being alone with May Flower in her house again. She let out a false laugh. “I’d love to, but I really should go back to the library and sort those books.”
May Flower raised an eyebrow, and her lips pulled into a thin line of amusement. “Well, I wouldn’t want to keep you from your book sorting,” she said with a hint of playful sarcasm. “Just don’t forget about our deal. I’m looking forward to our kiss.”
“I know, I know,” Twilight said. Although if she were to be honest, a small part of her was looking forward to it.
“Try not to sound so uneager,” May Flower said as she walked past Twilight, and brushed Twilight’s face with her tail in a teasing manner. “I’ll be sure to make it enjoyable.”
Twilight shivered as May Flower’s tail slid away, leaving a tingling sensation where it touched her cheeks.
May Flower giggled at the look on her face as she held the sliding door for her. “See you soon.”
Spike stood in front of a mirror that was leaning against the library’s wall, posing one arm and cupping it with his other hand to feel his muscles, or lack thereof. “Hey, Twilight, do I look muscular to you?”
Twilight lay on a rug in the center of the room, her cheek propped up on a hoof, and her horn glowing as she sifted through a botany encyclopedia she’d pulled off the shelf after she’d finished sorting all the new books. “You’re still a baby dragon, Spike. Just give it some time.”
Spike poked one of his short, stubby arms with a claw and deflated. “But I need to impress Rarity!”
Twilight rolled her eyes and groaned, considering zipping his mouth closed with a spell.
“I’m tellin’ you, she was sending me some serious signals yesterday,” Spike said, baring his teeth at the mirror and using his claw to pick something out from between his fangs. “I think I should act on it. Like, maybe now is the perfect chance to tell her how I feel.”
Twilight glanced over from her reading to see Spike wetting his hand and brushing back back his spines. “Wait, you aren’t seriously thinking of going over there right now, are you?”
“So what if I am?” he asked, walking towards the door.
Twilight stood and ran in front of him, blocking the way. “You shouldn’t!”
“Huh?” Spike asked, scratching his head. “Why not?”
Twilight swallowed, glancing over her shoulder at the door, and she didn’t want to admit it, but a small part of her was jealous of the way Rarity coddled Spike, but more importantly, she knew Rarity had just been patronizing him the other day, and she didn’t want to see him to get hurt. “She’s...” Twilight paused, trying to think up an excuse. “She’s really busy with an order today.”
Twilight nodded emphatically.
“Oh...” Spike tapped his claws together. “Well I wouldn’t really want to try doing this at a bad time for her...” He looked up at Twilight, his eyes large and round and pleading. “Do you think you could go over there and find out when she’s free?”
“Uh...” Twilight rubbed the back of her neck, but then her eyes lit up with an idea. If she didn’t know what to tell him to keep him from going to Rarity’s, maybe Rarity would. “Yes, actually I can!”
Twilight’s eyes were turned up in a smile as she nodded at him. “Yep! Just wait right here, and I’ll be right back!”
Spike clasped his claws together. “Oh, thank you so much, Twilight. You’re a life saver!”
“No problem,” Twilight said, laughing nervously and inching towards the door. “Just, uh, stay right here, and I’ll be back, okay?”
“Right!” Spike said, giving her a thumbs up.
Twilight stepped outside and closed the door, before rushing over to Rarity’s to talk with her.
“So you see the problem,” Twilight said, sitting in the carousel boutique and taking a sip of the tea Rarity had laid out for her.
Rarity was staring at her own cup from across the table, tapping her hoof to her chin. “That is quite the dilemma.”
“I could just say you’re really busy for the rest of the day, or maybe that you seem frustrated at the moment, and convince him it’s a bad idea to try right now.”
Rarity put a hoof to her chin and hummed, mulling it over. “I think we should invite him over here.”
Twilight froze with her teacup partway to her lips. “Wait, really?” She set the tea down and fixed the pony across from her with a hard stare. “But you know what will happen!”
“Now, Twilight, I promise to let him down in the most gentle way I can,” Rarity said, holding her hooves in a placating gesture.
“You know how he is! He’ll still be heartbroken!” Twilight shouted, getting up out of her seat. She looked at Rarity and felt a pang of guilt for yelling at her friend, and sitting back down, she hung her head and sighed. “Sorry,” she mumbled. “It’s just a childish crush. I think we should just wait it out.”
“What if it isn’t though?”
Twilight looked up. “Isn’t what?”
Rarity was still staring intently at the surface of her tea. “You and I both know I’m not going to return his feelings. And as much as I sometimes... exploit his kindness, I do think he’s a sweet kid, and I don’t wish to see him hurt either, but if we simply ignore this, it could turn into an obsession.” Rarity reached across the table and rested her hoof on Twilight’s. “What he needs is to move on.”
Twilight bit her lip looked at the table cloth. “I... I guess you’re right.”
“Now run on back to the library and invite him over,” Rarity said, taking a sip of her tea. “I’ll just be... thinking on what to say, I suppose.”
Twilight nodded and stood, leaving her half finished cup of tea and walking to the door, but she stiffened on the way there, and turned to look back over her shoulder. “You’re really sure about this?”
Rarity took a sip of her tea nodded. “Absolutely positive.”
Twilight left the boutique with a small frown, hoping she was doing the right thing. Rather than sprinting back, like she had to get to the boutique, she walked and tried to puzzle things over in her head.
She couldn’t let her feelings about Rarity cloud her judgement on how to handle the situation, and for the time being she decided to put the crush on her friend out of mind and focus on Spike.
Twilight walked into the library to see Spike checking himself over in the mirror, and adjusting a red bow tie he’d put on. “Oh, hey, Twilight!” he said, waving at her. “How do I look?”
“Great!” Twilight walked over to him. “I’m sure Rarity will love it,” she said, inwardly frowning upon what she was about to do.
“Huh? You okay Twilight?” Spike asked, leaning on his tiptoes to peer at her.
Twilight took a deep breath. She shook her head and gave him the best reassuring smile she could. “It’s nothing really. I’m fine. In fact, we can go and visit Rarity right now if you want.”
“Yes!” Spike hissed, pumping his fist. “That’s great!”
Twilight swallowed, trying to force down the feeling of guilt building up in the back of her throat. “We should go right now, though. She did still seem a little busy.”
“Oh, right.” Spike glanced at the mirror. “How do I look?”
Twilight’s mouth slipped into a small frown as she looked him over. She could only hope, and trust in Rarity to let him down easy. Surrounding Spike’s bow tie in a pink glow, she adjusted it slightly, and smiled at him. “There. Perfect.”
“Hey, uh...” Spike scratched the back of his head. “I’d rather go and talk to her alone, since... you know...”
“Oh, uh, right,” Twilight said, searching her brain for an idea. “How about I just wait outside?”
“Well, I guess that’d be alright.” Spike turned and walked to the door, Twilight walking alongside him. “Just don’t get spotted by her. I want to seem more grown up, and having you walk me there would definitely not help with that image.”
Twilight stifled a giggle. “Sure, Spike. Whatever you say.”
The walk to Rarity’s was quiet. Twilight kept looking away, and wondering if she was making the right decision in leading Spike there. It seemed like it took forever, and no time at all for them to arrive at Rarity’s place, and Twilight stopped on the path leading to its door.
Spike walked to the boutique’s doorstep, and turned to Twilight with a smile. “Wish me luck!”
“Good luck!” Twilight said, as Spike stepped inside the boutique and closed the door behind him.
When the door closed, Twilight let out the breath she had been holding since she’d gotten back to the library, and her smile faded. Sitting down next to the boutique’s doorstep, she looked over her shoulder at the building, hoping Spike wouldn’t be too heartbroken by what Rarity was about to tell him.
After a moment of waiting by the door, doing nothing, she heard the sound of Spike shouting inside, followed closely by a Rarity’s slightly more subdued voice, trying to calm him down, and then the boutique went silent again.
Next to Twilight, the door opened, and Spike walked out. His head was hung low, and he refused to meet Twilight’s eyes.
“I...” Spike paused and sighed, his shoulders slumping. “She just wants to be friends. And she told me to move on.”
“Spike...” Twilight trailed off, looking down at her hooves in shame. “I’m so sorry.”
“I’ll be alright. I think. It hurts though,” Spike said, looking down at his claws and twiddling them. “It just seems unfair that I could feel so strongly about her and she just didn’t feel the way back.”
Twilight stared out into the distance and sighed wistfully. “It’s scary how you can’t entirely choose who you fall for.”
Twilight looked at Spike out of the corner of her eye. He was kicking his foot back and forth and staring at the ground, and he let out a sigh. It was all too easy for Twilight to see herself in his exact position, and she couldn’t help wonder if Rarity would return her feelings.
Once she got around to telling her them, that is.
They were both brought out of their thoughts by Sweetie Belle, who came skipping up to the shop.
“What have you been up to?” Twilight asked, wondering what trouble The Crusaders had been up to lately.
“I just got back from seeing if I’d get a hair styling cutie mark!”
Twilight chuckled. “Who did you get to model for you?”
“Oh.” Sweetie Belle glanced around nervously. “Uh, I did Applebloom’s hair, but it didn’t turn out so well.” Sweetie Belle glanced at Spike, noticing how dejected he looked. “Hey, Spike, you look sort of down in the dumps. Would you like to go get ice cream?”
Spike glanced up in surprise at the offer. He looked at Twilight, silently asking for permission, to which Twilight gave a small nod. “Sure,” he said with a shrug. “I could use some treats to get my mind off something.”
Twilight floated a small handful of bits into Spike’s claws, extra enough for him to buy Sweetie Belle an ice cream in case she didn’t have enough. “Just make sure you head back to the library before dark.”
Spike nodded, and turned to walk away with Sweetie Belle.
“So what’re you at my sister’s for?” Sweetie Belle asked.
Twilight watched the two walk away with a subtle smile on her face. “Eh, it’s a long story,” she heard Spike say.
Beside her the door opened, and she turned to see Rarity leaning against the door frame and watching Spike and Sweetie Belle walk away.
“How did he take it?” she asked with concern, glancing at Twilight.
“He took it pretty hard,” Twilight answered quietly, “but I think he’ll be okay.”
Rarity tore her eyes away from the two children walking away from the boutique and sighed, looking at Twilight. “Would you like to go for our drink early?”
Twilight glanced at the sun, the horizon was just starting to become tinted orange. “What time is it?”
“I don’t see why not.”
Twilight stood, brushing the dirt off her backside with her tail, as Rarity closed the boutique door behind her.
“I just wanted to let you know I took no joy in that,” Rarity said, flipping her mane and looking at one of her hooves. “He’s a sweet young boy, and I hope he finds a girl that’s right for him.”
“Yeah, me too.” A frown spread across Twilight’s face. “I led him straight into a trap. It took every bit of my willpower not to make up an excuse for him not to go.”
“You did what was best for him.”
“That doesn’t make it any easier,” Twilight said, walking side by side with Rarity to the bar. “You remember that thing about ‘drinking so much you wish you were dead the next morning?’”
“I think I’d like to try that,” Twilight said.
A smirk that Twilight couldn’t help but feel had sinister intentions came to Rarity’s lips as she snaked a hoof around Twilight’s shoulders. “Then let’s go have some fun!”
Twilight danced, shaking her head and swinging her hips to the beat of the music being played at The Salt Around the Rim. The dance floor was hazy from smoke machines that had been set off earlier, and the air was hot and humid, and smelled of alcohol and sweat. It wasn’t exactly a terrible smell, though. Twilight wasn’t sure if it was the drinks, the air, or the music, but she felt light-headed and off balance, and she was loving every minute of it.
“I really think I’m starting to like this kinda music!” she shouted, dancing next to Rarity.
“What?” Rarity asked, swiveling an ear in her direction.
Twilight waved her off dismissively, focusing on the dancing. She moved around the floor and danced with other mares, but she’d lost track of how many she’d danced with at somewhere around two. The bar was packed, and she saw one or two faces she’d recognized from the other nights there, but the place was largely filled with mares she’d never met before.
Twilight’s eye caught the glistening shine of the strobe lights off Rarity’s silver-white coat, and she found herself, not for the first time that night, watching her friend dance. Rarity moved in a way that almost wasn’t suited for the music being played, but that didn’t matter, because it was suited to her, as if she danced to her own music.
Rarity turned and spotted her looking. She kept dancing, shooting Twilight a small smile, before closing her eyes and losing herself in the music.
Twilight gulped, feeling the liquid fire from the cocktails she’d had running through her veins. Slowly, and with a small strut in her step, she walked closer to Rarity, until their flanks were touching, and began to dance. It didn’t seem like the unicorn minded, and she made no move to stop her.
Emboldened by the drinks, and the hot and heavy atmosphere, Twilight began dancing with her the way she’d seen some of the other mares dance together. The touch of their bodies sent electric jolts across Twilight’s skin, and the way she was dancing made Rarity open her eyes and give Twilight a second glance. She seemed unsure, hesitant. So Twilight smiled and played it off casually, looking anywhere but at the mare she was dancing with.
Rarity slowly eased back into dancing, growing more comfortable with their proximity, and the two continued to dance the night away. A long, and particularly exhausting, song finished, and the two of them stopped dancing, and looked at each other panting.
“You want to stop?” Twilight asked between huffs.
“Yes, I think that’d be best,” Rarity said, equally short of breath.
The music began to pick up once again, but the two of them walked away from it and headed back to the bar, intent on buying another few rounds.
“Oh, what to go with this round...” Rarity hummed to herself, looking at the drinks written on a black chalkboard over the bar as the bartender walked over. “Long island tea, thank you,” Rarity said, watching the bartender go to fetch it.
“You were really great back there.” Twilight leaned on a hoof on the bar counter, staring at her. “You do this thing with how you move, that—” Twilight tried waving her hooves around to show it. “It’s just so amazing.”
Rarity covered her mouth as a small giggle escaped it.
“No, really! I could watch it for hours!”
“Why, thank you, dear, but I do believe you’re exaggerating,” Rarity said. The bartender placed a tall glass filled with what looked like tea, ice, and a few lemon wedges. “Everypony has their own way of dancing.”
“Hey, excuse me,” Twilight said, flagging down the bartender. “Could I get one of those, too?”
Rarity rolled her eyes with a small smile on her face. “Twilight, dear, I think you’ve had quite enough.”
“No way, I’m not drunk yet! Besides, I still have perfect pronunciation,” Twilight said, sticking her tongue out.
“With all the reading you do, I doubt that’ll change no matter how much you drink.” Rarity’s had a drunk-red hue on her cheeks as she grinned. “Have it if you wish, I’m not the one who’s going to have to deal with it in the morning.”
The two of them sat in silence as bartender came back with Twilight’s drink and set it down on the counter in front of her.
“So how are things with Carrot Top?” Rarity asked, rotating her glass on the counter.
“Oh, uh...” Twilight trailed off, wondering what she should say. “Good, good. She’s really sweet, and kind, and... um...”
“It’s great to see you two getting along so well after that date.”
“Uh, yeah.” Twilight took a sip of her drink through her straw, and looked at Rarity out of the corner of her eye. “I was wondering...” Twilight looked down at the counter, where she was fidgeting with her drink, and felt heat rising to her face. “If... well, I’ve only kissed Carrot Top—” she paused, an image of May flashing to mind, “—and one other mare, and I’m just worried that I might not be a good kisser or something, and...” Twilight stole a glance at Rarity to see her smile had faded.
“What are you getting at?” she asked, slipping into a small frown.
“C-could we kiss?” Twilight asked. The words had fumbled out of her mouth. No timing, a shamble of a lead up, and she even stuttered on the delivery. She immediately saw the uncomfortable look on Rarity’s face. “It could just be as friends, I mean. You know, uh... practice!”
Rarity slipped back into a smile and shook her head. “I think you’ve succeeded in becoming quite drunk.”
“No! I, uh...” Twilight stumbled, trying to think of something to say, but the music and the alcohol were muddling her thoughts. “I just always thought you were pretty, and I always wanted to kiss you.”
Rarity took a deep breath and sighed. “I think you’re pretty, too,” she admitted, giving her a comforting smile. “But I don’t think now’s the time to go down this road. And I don’t think these are the circumstances that you wanted while trying to go down it, either.”
“I...” Twilight wanted to crawl up somewhere and hide. Now she knew exactly how Spike had felt. “Yeah, whoo!” she hollered, pushing her drink away. “I’m really drunk!” She stood up and laid some bits on the counter, and turned to Rarity with a smile, trying to hide the pain she felt. “Just, uh... you should probably forget all that stuff I said,” she said, giggling perhaps a bit too much. “I don’t even know where my mind is right now! I should probably head home and sleep it off.”
Rarity nodded, and smiled at her, though Twilight could see it was forced. “That’d probably be for the best.”
Twilight’s smile slipped off her face, and she reached a hoof up to scratch the back of her head. “So...” She looked anywhere but at Rarity. “Thanks for the night out,” she finished lamely.
Rarity took a large sip of her drink, and turned and replied. “Take care.”
Twilight nodded and turned to make her way across the bar, every once in a while stealing a glance back at the white unicorn sitting down at the counter. She was about to open the door when a pink hoof planted itself in front of the doorway. Twilight followed the hoof back to its owner, and she saw May Flower, leaning against the door frame with smile on her face.
“Hey,” she said, lowering her hoof and stepping closer to Twilight. “I don’t suppose you’d be interested in coming back to my place tonight.”
Twilight opened her mouth to say no; turning down May Flower was almost a reflex at that point. But something made her stop, and look back at Rarity, who was sitting back at the bar and making small talk with the bartender.
Twilight shook her head and turned back to May Flower. She gave the mare a smile, and shrugged. “Well,” she said, her eyes tracing May Flower’s body as slightly drunken blush rose to her cheeks. “I do owe you a kiss.”
Twilight awoke, opening her eyes to a slate blue ceiling that had white stars painted across it. Her head throbbed like it was stuck in a vice, and she sunk beneath the covers, trying to hide from the light filtering in through a nearby window’s blinds.
She paused to sniff the silken light blue sheet and thick navy blue duvet she was tucked under. It smelled of freshener, sweat, and daisies, and she was trying to figure out why she recognized it, when she felt a pair of hooves wrap around her side, one of them drifting dangerously close to her rump. She froze, turning slowly to see May Flower snuggling against her side.
Oh, Twilight thought, as she realized where she recognized the scent from.
May Flower half opened her eyes, her lips curving into a smile that held a sensuous flame. “Good morning,” she whispered, her breath tickling Twilight’s ear.
Twilight leaped out of the bed, eyes wide and searching around May Flower's room.
May Flower let out a groan at having her source of warmth leave. She shifted in bed, propping herself up and raising an eyebrow at Twilight as she lazily flicked her tail back and forth.
Twilight backed up against the wall and gawked at May Flower. “Me and you—you and I—we... Oh no, no, no!” she moaned, sliding to the floor and covering her face with her hooves. “What would the others think? What would my parents think?! I was raised better than this!”
“I’m sitting right here,” May Flower said, smirking, her voice carrying a mock hurt to it.
“Ugh, I can’t believe I’d do something like this!”
May Flower giggled, causing Twilight to shoot her a glare.
“How much of last night do you even remember?”
“Well there was...” Twilight trailed off, sitting down and trying to recall last night’s events. “I was about to head home for the night, but you stopped me as I left the bar. . .”
Twilight shook her head and turned back to May Flower. She gave the mare a smile, and shrugged. “Well,” she said, her eyes tracing May Flower’s body as slightly drunken blush rose to her cheeks. “I do owe you a kiss.”
May Flower’s smile tipped up into a smirk and she bashed her eyelashes playfully. “Oh? I forgot all about that,” she said with a giggle.
As they walked out of the bar, Twilight glanced over her shoulder back at the counter at Rarity to see she was looking her way and biting her lip with a look on her face that Twilight couldn’t identify.
And then the bar door closed behind her. Twilight returned the smile to her face and turned back to May Flower, stumbling slightly as she began to walk alongside the mare. “So is your place far from here?”
“You’ve been to my place before,” May Flower said, raising an eyebrow.
Twilight slapped a hoof onto her face. “Right,” she groaned, “of course I have.”
May Flower stifled a chuckle and glanced down at Twilight’s hooves, watching the way she stumbled drunkenly about. “Are you going to need help getting there?”
“I think—” Twilight tripped, nearly falling over. “I think maybe I could use directions,” she said, putting her hoof around May’s shoulders for balance. A breeze blew chilly night air past them and Twilight nuzzled her cheek against May Flower’s side, gravitating towards its warmth.
May Flower smiled and reached up, putting a hoof around Twilight’s shoulders to help steady her—and pulling her a bit closer. “So about that kiss you owe me...”
Twilight moved her head from May’s side and tilted it as she looked up at her.
“Well,” May said, looking innocently off to the side. “Is that all you want to do?”
Twilight blinked. “I thought we were going to have sex.”
“Oh, good,” May Flower said, grinning down at her. “Just making sure we’re on the same boat.”
The two burst into giggles, and Twilight nuzzled back against May’s side as they stepped onto the path to May Flower’s house. “So,” Twilight said, glancing at the trees lining the path. “I don’t—uh...” Twilight scratched the back of her head and looked at May Flower with a small blush. “I haven’t really done this before—and I’ve read about it, but I don’t really know how it works with mares?” she said, ending in an upward inflection.
An amused smirk slipped onto May Flower’s lips, only helping to make Twilight blush harder. “And what do you want to know?”
“Well, I mean...” Twilight trailed off. “Neither of us have a—” she said, leaning down and looking back between her legs.
“That’s why you put one on,” May Flower said, her smirk growing, “or use other things.”
“Other things?” Twilight asked. May Flower leaned over and whispered in her ear and Twilight’s blush grew to a legendary shade of red as she felt all her blood rush to her cheeks. “Oh...” she murmured, looking down at the ground.
They arrived at May Flower’s doorstep, an automatic light turning on as they approached, and May Flower turned to Twilight with a serious look that seemed out of place replacing her usual smirk.
She walked up to Twilight, until her mouth was right beside Twilight’s ear, and whispered, “You sure you want this?”
Twilight shivered from her hot breath on her ear and the lusty words spoken into it. “Yes.”
Twilight sat on the bed with May Flower, opposite her, with a hoof to her chin. “Everything’s a little foggy after that,” she said, shrugging.
“You don’t remember anything after that?” May Flower asked, a hint of disappointment seeping into her voice. “I think you owe me another kiss then, because it doesn’t really count if you don’t remember it.”
“What?!” Twilight asked, rearing back a little. “If you got your kiss, why does it matter whether or not I remember it?”
“Because the whole reason I wanted you to kiss me is because I wanted to make you remember it,” May said, crossing her hooves in front of herself. “There’s not much point if you don’t.”
Twilight’s eyes narrowed and her mouth hung partway open as she tried to make sense of what May Flower was trying to achieve. “I don’t get it,” she said, giving up.
May Flower let out a groan of frustration, throwing herself on the sheets and burying her face beneath her hooves. “You are the most difficult person to have sex with that I’ve ever met!”
“Wait, was I that bad?” Twilight asked, kneading her hooves into the bed nervously.
Sighing, May Flower raised her head out from under her hooves. “After that, you leaned forward to kiss me. . .”
“Yes,” Twilight said, getting drawn into May Flower’s eyes. She leaned forward slowly to kiss her, but May Flower didn’t meet her halfway and instead stood there, smirking at her, and making her work for it and go all the way.
Twilight didn’t care if May was being cheeky, she just wanted to forget about her rejection at the bar in the lips and hooves of another mare. For half a moment as she leaned forward and kissed her, she pretended it was Rarity she was kissing. That illusion was shattered however, the second May started kissing back.
May’s tongue skirted around Twilight’s lips, teasing and prodding, but never committing, and she could feel her already wobbly legs grow weak as May Flower lead her inside and shut the door behind them.
Twilight broke the kiss and gasped for air, her brow drawing together with May Flower’s teasing becoming increasingly frustrating.
Spotting her look, May Flower shot her a toothy grin and leaned forward, running a hoof up the side of Twilight’s neck and resting it beside her ear. “Do you want me to kiss you right now?” she asked in a low, sultry voice, just inches away from her muzzle. “Do you want my tongue inside your mouth?”
Twilight shot her a glare, but it only seemed to amuse May Flower even more.
May Flower leaned forward and licked Twilight’s cheek. “All you have to do is ask.”
Twilight was half tempted to just turn and try to catch May’s tongue, but she restrained herself and played along with May Flower’s little game. “Make out with me,” Twilight said with a small pathetic whimper at the end. “Please.”
May Flower moved her tongue along Twilight’s cheek to her mouth and then kissed her, entering her mouth and almost instantly making her brain shut down.
Twilight moaned against her lips, a constant stream of shivers traveling down her spine as May worked in a way what Twilight could only describe as magic.
The two of them moved through the living room, kissing, to the couch, where May Flower gently pushed Twilight down onto it and followed shortly after, climbing on top of her.
Twilight lay on the sofa with her hooves tucked to her chest, looking up at May Flower with a blush and a smile. Her eyes shone with eagerness and she felt herself grow hot as May Flower’s body pressed down on top of hers.
Stopping with her lips hovering over Twilight’s, May Flower kissed the sides of her mouth and pressed her lips against Twilight’s in a ghost of a kiss, leaving Twilight aching for more.
Twilight moaned and shot May Flower another glare. “Why do you keep doing this?”
May Flower’s smirk spread and she leaned down, touching her nose to Twilight’s. “I want to feel in control,” she said, lightly grazing Twilight’s jaw with her teeth, causing the unicorn to gasp. “I want to see you pushed to the edge.” May traced a hoof down Twilight’s stomach, making her arch her back. Leaning forward, May whispered in her ear. “And I want to hear you scream,” she said, before biting down on Twilight’s ear.
“Ah!” Twilight shouted, unable to hold it in.
May Flower backed up and looked at her with a coy grin. “But if you want it so badly...” she trailed off, leaning down and locking her lips with Twilight’s.
Twilight felt a jolt of electricity run through her from head to tail as she opened her mouth to let May inside. Her eyes fluttered closed and she squirmed against the couch, rubbing her body up against May Flower’s—
“Do you have to describe everything in detail?!” Twilight shouted, blushing as bright a red as a barn wall.
May Flower gave her a wide grin, taking amusement in her embarrassment. “Yes,” she said, swishing her tail behind her. “It’s about to get to the good part.”
May Flower was roaming Twilight’s mouth when she felt a rough push at her side, upsetting her balance and causing her to roll over onto her back, which Twilight quickly capitalized on, climbing on top of her, pinning her hooves above her head, and giving her one of her own patented smirks.
“Have you ever lost control?” Twilight asked in a husky whisper, her face painted with a drunk hue.
May Flower struggled beneath her, trying to take back her position, when she noticed a faint glow coming from Twilight’s horn. “Really?” May Flower laughed. “You’re using magic to pin me down?”
Twilight leaned down and began planting sloppy kisses along her neck and roaming May’s body with her hooves, feeling her way around it.
“Oh, come on! This isn’t fair!” May Flower said clenching her teeth and struggling against Twilight’s magic.
“I think it’s only fair that I get a turn,” Twilight replied, propping herself up over May Flower. “Besides,” she said, leaning down just inches from May Flower’s lips. “How am I going to learn if you don’t let me experiment?”
May Flower shivered and looked at Twilight with a bit of fear, but also excitement.
Twilight leaned down and kissed her, her tongue skimming along May Flower’s lips, asking for entrance. May Flower kept her lips sealed shut, determined to get the better of Twilight. Seeing her resistance, Twilight frowned against her lips and looked at May Flower’s eyes, seeing a look of triumph in them and feeling May’s smirk against her lips.
Wrapping her hooves around May Flower’s back and squeezing the mare’s body against her own, Twilight bit May’s lip. The mare beneath her gasped and Twilight shoved her tongue into her mouth and began sloppily roaming around May Flower’s mouth—
“T-that doesn’t sound even remotely like me!” Twilight blurted out, sinking into the bed and burying herself under the bed covers, wishing she’d just die of shame right then and there and get it over with.
May Flower poked her head under the bed covers and came nose to nose with Twilight, a huge grin across her face and her eyes turned up in a smile. “Well then let this be a lesson to you about drinking too much,” she said, before thoughtfully looking off to the side. “Although to be fair, I wouldn’t mind if you drank like that and decided to fool around more often.”
Twilight blushed and glared at her, reaching a hoof out and bopping her on the nose.
“Ow!” May Flower backed out from under the bed covers, rubbing her offended snout.
“Just hurry up and finish the story already,” Twilight mumbled, looking off to the side, her face still beet red.
Twilight roamed May Flower’s mouth, poking and prodding with her tongue and taking note of which places made May Flower softly moan against her lips. Seeing May’s hooves relax, she canceled the spell she had pinning them and almost instantly May Flower wrapped them around Twilight and pulled her closer.
Twilight felt all the built up tension from the past week unwind as she kissed May Flower, forgetting about the rest of the world and experimenting with a new experience. She felt May’s back arch beneath her hooves and their legs intertwine.
Twilight broke the kiss, leaving a trail of saliva hanging from her bottom lip. She looked down and saw May Flower lying there with her mouth open, panting slightly. A smirk tugged at the corner of her mouth, and May smirked back at her.
“You know, you’re a pretty fast learner,” May Flower said.
“I like to study a lot,” Twilight replied, bursting into a fit of giggles. “Come on, let’s take this up to your room. I wanna keep going.”
Twilight tried to hop off the couch, but stumbled and tumbled off instead, landing on the carpet with a small “Oomph.”
May Flower got up off the couch a bit more gracefully and looked down at Twilight and giggled. “Need help?” she asked, offering a hoof.
“Sure,” Twilight said, taking the hoof and standing shakily on four hooves.
“C’mon, this way,” May said, motioning with her head for Twilight to follow.
Walking down a dimmed hallway, Twilight caught up to May Flower and began planting kisses along her neck as they went into May’s room. May Flower turned and captured her lips, leading her and pulling her back towards her bed, until her rump hit it. Breaking the kiss, she climbed onto the bed and turned onto her back. “I’m just going to let you experiment and give you pointers if you’re doing anything wrong.”
Biting her lip, Twilight nodded and hopped onto the bed, leaning down to kiss her. She ran her tongue along May’s lips, before delving deep inside her mouth, sending a warm numbness coursing through her body.
Rather than focusing on the kissing, Twilight concentrated on her hooves running up and down May Flower’s body. The mare tensed beneath her every time she ran her hooves lightly over her cutie mark and she shivered every time Twilight ran a hoof down her back all the way to the base of her tail.
Twilight broke the kiss and began brushing her lips along the surface of May’s neck.
May Flower giggled, burying her chin in Twilight’s shoulder. “Stop, it tickles!”
May Flower felt Twilight cease her ministrations along her neck and she frowned. “Hey, I was only saying that.” She noticed Twilight’s weight on her body had gotten heavier. “Twilight?”
Soft snoring answered her.
Twilight groaned and covered her face with a pillow. “I fell asleep in the middle of making out with you?”
“Probably not one of your better moments,” May said, stifling a giggle.
“Ugh, I’m actually kind of glad I can’t remember that,” Twilight said, flopping down on the bed and resting her chin on the pillow she was holding and mumbling into it. “Ponies aren’t meant to get drunk. It impairs cognitive thinking and reasoning and lowers chances of survival in a variety of ways.”
“But it’s fun!” May chimed in, smiling.
“I guess,” Twilight mumbled, pressing her ears flat against her head and moaning. “My head is killing me. I haven’t had this bad a headache since forty-eight hour studying marathon I did back in Canterlot.” She looked up and saw May Flower giving her a flat look. “What? I really wanted to study the effects of temporary paralysis so I could alter a spell to—” Twilight cut herself off, cringing in pain and holding her head. “On second thought, maybe I’ll try explaining it some other time.”
“Good,” May Flower said, shifting under the covers and lying down alongside Twilight with her head propped up on a hoof.
Twilight tensed and glanced down at herself. “You didn’t... do anything, while I was asleep, did you?”
May Flower shook her head. “I’d only do something like that if you gave me permission to.”
“Oh... ok.” Twilight relaxed slightly and saw May Flower looking at her expectantly. “No you don’t have permission to.”
Twilight lifted her head up and looked at May Flower, chewing on her bottom lip. “Let’s say hypothetically,” she said, scratching an ear, “that I didn’t fall asleep in the middle of last night’s... activities. Would we have had sex?”
“Maybe?” May Flower answered, giving her a shrug. “I was a bit unsure about the whole thing. I mean, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through with it.”
“Wait, really? Why?”
“Well, I don’t know... It hasn’t been long, but I feel like we’ve grown close over these past few days,” May Flower said, giving her a warm smile.
“May...” Twilight looked at her with wide eyes, her mouth curved into a grateful smile.
“And I thought, since I spent all this time trying to bed you, it would have felt like cheating to do it when you’re that drunk,” May Flower said, tossing her mane. “Hardly the challenge I was looking for when I decided I’d get you to have sex with me.”
Twilight’s mouth formed a thin line and she snorted, swishing her tail behind her.
May Flower patted her on the head. “Don’t worry, I’m still going to get you to have sex with me eventually.”
“Nope,” Twilight said, turning her nose up. “Never going to happen.”
“Yes it will, and struggling is only going to make it that much more fun for me,” May Flower said, smirking. “Everypony falls to my charm eventually. Even you, oh great and powerful unicorn, student of Princess Celestia.”
“Don’t call me that,” Twilight growled, tossing her pillow and hitting May in the face.
May Flower took the hit and fell over onto the bedsheets, giggling like a filly.
Twilight sighed and rolled onto her back, sinking into the bed and staring at the ceiling. She wondered if Rarity was up yet, and wondered what Rarity would say next time she saw her. Whether she would want to sit down and talk, or pretend it never happened, or write it off to the alcohol, or try to avoid her until it became a distant memory.
“Thinking about that white friend of yours?” May asked, bringing Twilight out of her thoughts.
“Huh, how’d you know?”
“The way you seemed to be looking off into the distance and the way you were sighing.” May covered her mouth as she yawned and stretched, reaching her hooves out as far as they’d go. “What happened last night anyways? I only saw it from a distance, but it didn’t look good.”
“I asked if I could kiss her. I tried to ask it in a sort of casual way, but she turned me down. Afterwards, she was really tense and she seemed uncomfortable, so I told her to forget about it and left,” Twilight said, letting out another small and woeful sigh. “Maybe I should just forget about her.”
“I think you just went about it wrong the first time around,” May Flower said. “I mean, if I asked to kiss you back when we first met, you wouldn’t have done it, but what about now?”
The edges of Twilight’s mouth pulled downward in a frown. “You asked me to be in a foursome with you when we first met.”
“Oh yeah...” May Flower said, tapping her chin. “Still, unless she says something final, I’d keep trying to pursue her, if that’s really what you want.”
“But what if it doesn’t work? And what am I supposed to do to make her like me?” Twilight asked, sitting up and looking at May Flower with a bit of apprehension behind her eyes.
“I don’t know,” May answered with a shrug. “Those things you’ll have to figure out yourself. You know her better than I do.”
“Right,” Twilight said, bringing a hoof to her chin and looking down at the bed cover. “So this is just some basic problem solving, right? I can do that. I can do that...”
May Flower rested her chin on a hoof and watched Twilight thinking with half lidded eyes. “Not to add more to your plate, but have you talked to Carrot Top yet?”
“We’re meeting tomorrow for lunch and I’m going to talk to her about things then,” Twilight said, waving a hoof dismissively. Her eyes widened, and she spun around to face May Flower, her face lit up by an idea. “Wait, that’s it! I’ll ask her to come to the lunch with us!”
“With you and Carrot Top?” May Flower asked, her face scrunching up with skepticism.
“Yes! Only, I’ll ask her there as backup and she’ll stay at another table across the cafe.”
“Okay...” May Flower said slowly, giving Twilight a sidelong glance and an uncertain frown. “I don’t see where this is going.”
“Well, I’ve been thinking about how she turned me down, and what if she did it because she was worried about getting between me and Carrot Top?” Twilight asked, receiving a flat stare with a raised eyebrow from May Flower, causing her smile to falter. “I mean, it seems like the kind of thing she’d do.”
“Well, I didn’t hear what happened, so if your gut’s telling you that, go with it,” May said, smiling and shaking her head. “Your friend didn’t seem like the selfless type, though.”
“She’s a bit hit or miss in that regard,” Twilight admitted. “Listen, do you think you could come to the date as well? I might need your help with either one of them.”
May Flower rolled her eyes and scoffed. “I don’t play matchmaker for other ponies."
Holding her hooves together in front of her, Twilight gave May a look, her eyes wide and her bottom lip quivering slightly.
May Flower let out a groan. “Fine, but just this once,” she said in a resigned voice.
“Great! Now I’ll just head over to Rarity’s, and—” Twilight stood directly into a ray of sunlight coming from the window and let out a groan as she felt her hangover come back full force. “Actually, can I stay here and lie this off for a few more hours?”
“Only if we have sex,” May Flower said.
Twilight gave her a flat look and crawled out of bed, heading for the door.
May Flower hastily sat up. “I was just kidding!” she said, causing Twilight to stop and come back. May Flower folded her hooves in front of her chest and added in a mumble out of the corner of her mouth, “Sort of.”
Twilight stood on Rarity’s doorstep, having sufficiently recovered from her hangover and her head no longer feeling like it was a ceramic jar somepony had taken a hammer to. She’d cleaned and tidied herself up a bit at May’s before heading out, and to an onlooker, it would appear as though she were perfectly normal.
On the inside however, she was sweating profusely and wondering what to say. She had been standing on Rarity’s doorstep for a while and it was already long past lunch—which she hadn’t gotten a chance to have yet.
Twilight lifted her hoof and pulled it back to knock on the door, holding it there, and chewing on her bottom lip.
Clenching her eyes shut, she finally knocked on the door. It took her a moment to realize she had actually finally done it. The sound of hoofsteps approaching came from behind the door. Twilight felt her heart begin to race in her chest as she thought over all the possible things Rarity might say to her. Panicking, she ran around the side of the house and hid, just as the hoofsteps approached the front door.
Rarity opened the door with a polite smile, showing the dimples on her cheeks, but her smile quickly faded when she saw that no one was there. She looked left then right, pursing her lips in a confused and annoyed manner before shrugging and going back inside.
Around the corner of the house, Twilight sat with her back against the wall, stretching her hooves out and pressing herself as flat as she could to it. Once she was sure Rarity was gone, she slumped against the side of the boutique, letting out the breath she had been holding.
A muffled mechanical whirring sound came from inside the boutique, and Twilight turned to peak her head up and look in the window.
Rarity stood in front of a sewing machine in her red pair of work glasses, her horn glowing as she carefully manipulated her fabric into the machine. Twilight watched her wistfully for a few moments. With Rarity standing there, concentrating on her work with a small smile on her face, Twilight could almost pretend she hadn’t blundered last night and asked the other mare to kiss her.
Taking a deep breath, Twilight turned away from the window and marched back in front of the boutique’s door. She lifted her hoof, hesitated for a moment with it over the door, and then finally knocked.
“Coming!” Rarity’s voice sang from inside. She opened the door smiling, but when she spotted Twilight at the door, her smile became visibly forced. “Oh, Twilight... what a pleasant surprise!” she said, biting her lip and glancing around nervously. “Did you see somepony here a few minutes ago? I heard a knock, but when I went to answer it no one was there.”
“Umm,” Twilight looked off to the side in avoidance. “It was probably just some kids playing a harmless prank,” she lied.
“Probably,” Rarity agreed, her lips pulled into a thin line as she looked around, as though she might spot the perpetrator. “I guess there’s no point in getting worked up about it. That’s most likely what they wanted.” She turned to Twilight and her brow furrowed as a flash of concern crossed her face. “Did you make it home alright last night? I shouldn’t have really left you in the state you were in.”
“Oh, May let me stay at her place for the night,” Twilight answered. Seeing the raised eyebrow Rarity gave her, she quickly added, “b-but nothing happened between us!”
Rarity nodded in a way that seemed not entirely convinced.
The two of them stood there for a moment, neither of them sure what to say, and each of them waiting for the other to speak first.
“So, uh I was wondering—”
“I need to get back to—”
They both cut off. Twilight blushed, and Rarity made a motion with her hoof. “Go on, you go first.”
Twilight cleared her throat. “Are you free tomorrow for lunch?”
Rarity bit her lip and cast her eyes downward. “Well, I—”
“It wouldn’t be just us,” Twilight hastily added, cutting her off. “I have a date with Carrot Top tomorrow. We’re meeting at the cafe and I was wondering if you could come,” Twilight said, but Rarity still seemed anxious. “As backup.”
Rarity blinked. “Well I’ll have to check with my schedule...” she trailed off, leveling a measured look at Twilight. “What do you want me to do there?”
“You could just sit at another table, and maybe give me some pointers before and after?” Twilight half said, half asked, giving Rarity an uncertain glance. “I’m just really nervous about it, and it would help if you could be there.”
Rarity glanced back inside at her workstation and gave Twilight a torn look. Eventually, she let out a resigned sigh and hung her head, looking at Twilight over her glasses. “I suppose I could move around a thing or two, if it means that much to you.”
“Great!” Twilight said and smiled, genuinely pleased. “It means a lot.”
Twilight stood on there, smiling, and Rarity gave her an uneasy look. “Is that everything you came here to ask me about?”
“Oh, um...” Twilight trailed off and looked at the ground, pawing at it with one of her hooves. “About that thing last night,” she said, a soft red blush overtaking her features. “I-I don’t really know what I was thinking. I mean, you’re really pretty, and I...” Twilight glanced up at Rarity and saw her wearing a look almost as embarrassed as her own.
“It was probably just the liquor talking, yes?” she said, and Twilight nodded. “Well then, why don’t we just write it off as one of those silly things one does when drunk, yes?”
Twilight bit her lip, fighting the temptation to say something and ruin everything, and nodded quietly.
“Good!” Rarity said, giving her a friendly smile. “If that’s everything, I have a project I need to get back to.”
“Oh, of course,” Twilight said, feeling meek and small.
Rarity turned back inside and gave her one last smile before shutting the door.
Twilight stood in front of the door for a couple minutes, just staring at it. For some reason, she didn’t feel like going back to the library yet. While normally she took solace in her books and in reading, right then she felt like wandering down the streets and maybe visiting the market to see if she’d run into somepony she knew—maybe Applejack or Fluttershy.
Leaving the boutique, she lingered as she passed a window, glancing inside and seeing Rarity working at her sewing machine with a few pins between clenched teeth. But shaking her head, she carried on, trying not to think of what a horrible train wreck tomorrow would most likely be.
Cobblestone clacked beneath her hooves as she made her way to the market. She arrived to find it somewhat subdued. It was beginning to get late and a few ponies were packing up their stands to go home for the day.
Twilight spotted a stand selling flat pastries with jam on them, and walked over. “One...” She paused and glanced at the menu written in chalk to the side. “One wheat-dough with blackberry jam, please.”
“Ooh! I’ll take one too, Mister Plum!”
Twilight turned to the voice and saw Carrot Top, smiling and waving at her.
“I just finished packing up for the day,” Carrot said, gesturing to a cart behind her that was full of wooden panels hinged together. Her smile had a kind of brightness and buoyancy that it always had when she was around Twilight. “It actually packs down quite small. My father made it! He was really handy with woodwork.”
“Oh, that’s neat,” Twilight said, glancing at the cart. It looked a bit large for somepony Carrot Top’s size to pull. “Do you take it home every day?”
“Yeah. A lot of the other ponies running stands like to just secure them and leave them overnight if it’s sunny, but I can never remember what days the weather pegasi report says it’s going to rain,” Carrot Top said, scratching the back of her head.
“Do you want help pulling it?” Twilight asked. “I could use my magic and help push to make it seem a bit lighter.”
“Oh that’s not really a problem. My father built the cart, too,” Carrot Top said, waving her hoof dismissively. “Um...” She glanced down and bit her lip, a small blush rising to her face. “I would like the company though,” she said with a timid smile. “I-i-if you’re not busy, that is.”
Twilight bit her lip and glanced around. With their date tomorrow, spending time with Carrot Top would only make things harder for both of them, but Twilight sighed; she looked so happy. “I have some spare time,” Twilight said with a weak smile.
“Oh, it shouldn’t take long. I live quite close to the market,” Carrot Top said. “It’s the only reason I haul this cart back and forth everyday.”
“I can still help with my magic if you want,” Twilight offered, eyeing the size of the cart with concern. “Really, it wouldn’t be a problem at all.”
“I’ll be fine,” Carrot Top reassured her, giggling slightly. “My garden’s more like a small farm and pulling the tools to turn the soil and plant seeds is a lot harder than this.” She seemed to become aware that she was boasting, and began blushing and kicking the dirt. “Not that I’m all that strong or anything. I’m sure Applejack is much stronger—she’s your friend, one of the Elements of Harmony, right?”
Twilight nodded. “Yep. I don’t think I could do even half the work she does in a day at Sweet Apple Acres.”
“Umm...” Carrot Top looked off to the side, thinking of how to word something. “And your friend Rarity, she’s one too, right?”
“Yep,” Twilight answered, smiling. “The Element of Generosity.”
“Oh...” Carrot Top turned to watch Mr. Plum take a pair of pastries out of a flat, specially-made oven, put them on plates, and spread blackberry jam over them before setting them on the counter. “Thank you, Mister Plum!”
The old friendly looking stallion behind the stand gave her a wave. “Anytime, kiddo!”
Carrot Top took the two pastries from the counter and handed one to Twilight, who accepted it with a small thank you before taking a bite. The pastry tasted sweet, almost like a doughnut, and with the blackberry jam adding a hint of tartness to it and a fruity flavor.
Carrot Top glanced between the pastry in her hooves and the cart full of painted wood behind her. “Would you mind holding mine? I don’t think I can carry it while pulling the cart.”
“Sure,” Twilight said.
Carrot Top took a quick bite out of the pastry before letting Twilight take it off her hooves with her magic. “Mmm.”
“Do you have these often?” Twilight asked, thinking back to how familiar she was with the stall owner.
“Oh, well, not too often,” Carrot Top said, looking up at the sky innocently. “But out of the fifty three flavor jams, the raspberry-lemon is definitely the best—I’ve tried them all.”
Twilight covered her mouth, giggling a little. “Only fifty three?”
“She comes here every day!” Mr. Plum chimed in. “Never seems to tell any of her friends, though.” He leaned over the counter and whispered quite loudly to Twilight, “Ah think it’s because she want’s ta keep ‘em all to herself!”
Carrot Top flushed crimson red. “Mister Plum!” she whined.
“Heck, Ah’m just teasin’, kiddo,” he said, grinning.
Carrot Top huffed and harnessed herself to her cart, blushing all the while. She turned and began to walk away from the stand. “Good evening, Mister Plum!”
“Take it easy!” he said with a wave, as Twilight chased after Carrot Top with the pair of pastries floating beside her.
“Sorry about that, he’s a complete goofball sometimes,” Carrot Top said, slowing her pace to fall in step with Twilight.
“He seemed nice,” Twilight said, tilting her head in a reassuring smile. “And the food he makes is good, too.”
“Yeah...” Carrot Top trailed off. “S-so I actually had a question I was thinking of asking, and I was going to do it tomorrow, but...” She bit her lip as she looked at Twilight.
“Yes?” Twilight asked, slight apprehension leaking into her voice.
“Well, I was wondering why you came up and flirted with me that day in the market,” Carrot Top said, blushing and looking at some unremarkable speck of dirt on the ground. “I haven’t ever really, um, well... I haven’t really been in a relationship before and I didn’t really expect somepony like you to ever be interested in me.”
“‘Like you?’” Twilight asked.
“You’re Princess Celestia’s student. You’ve saved Equestria a couple times and saved Ponyville probably more times than I can count and I’m just... me.”
Twilight frowned. “What if I like ‘just you?’” Her words made Carrot Top stop in her tracks and turn to face her. “And what about me? Apart from being Celestia’s student, and all those things I’ve done, I’m still just me.”
A blush returned to Carrot Top’s face and she frowned, looking ashamed of what she said. “S-sorry, I didn’t mean—” She cut herself off and took a deep breath. “I mean, I like ‘just you’ too.”
They began walking again, and Twilight felt heat rising behind her ears as a blush took over her face. She hadn’t meant to say she liked Carrot Top; it just slipped out. It wasn’t a lie, but the way she liked Carrot Top and the way Carrot Top liked her were different.
For some time neither of them talked. The wheels of Carrot Top’s cart clacked along the road as they sat in comfortable silence. Carrot Top didn’t seem to mind though, and whenever Twilight looked over the other mare caught her stare out of the corner of her eye and smiled at her.
As Carrot Top said, it wasn’t far to her cottage and as they came to the path leading to the house, she set the reins of her cart down and struck up conversation once more. “Well,” she said, looking at her home. “This is me!” There was a slight pause as the gears in her head turned. “Oh, but you were already here since that one... um...” she trailed off with a blush on her face, and Twilight could tell she was thinking about the kiss from last time.
Twilight rubbed the back of her head and glanced back in the direction of the library. “I should probably get going. Spike’s probably been wondering where I’ve been, and the library hasn’t been—” She cut off as she felt a pair of lips touching her own. It was just a peck—gone as suddenly as it was there—and she turned to see Carrot Top blushing and staring at the ground, but with a smile tugging at her lips.
“H-here’s your pastry,” Twilight said dumbly, trying to force down the rising heat in her cheeks as she handed Carrot Top’s jam covered sweet to her.
“Thank you!” she said, beaming as she took a bite of it. “Are we still going out for lunch tomorrow?” she asked with her cheeks puffed full of food.
“Uh, yeah.” Twilight chewed her lip. “So I guess this is goodnight?”
Carrot Top nodded. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah,” Twilight said, trying to keep the grimness out of her voice. She swallowed. “I’ll see you then.”
Carrot Top smiled and put the reins of her cart back on, taking it down the path to her house while balancing the pastry on her back.
Twilight turned and walked back to the library as the sun set over the village. At that moment to her, tomorrow sounded far too soon.
“—And I just really don’t know what I’m going to say, or do, or how everything is going to turn out!” Twilight shouted, lying on her back across a black leather couch as May leaned over the arm of a beige loveseat with a cup of coffee.
“Mhmm,” May Flower drawled, listening to her rant.
Twilight reached up and dragged her hooves across her face with a moan. “What if Rarity turns me down? She seemed disgusted when I asked to kiss her the other night, and she told me herself that she prefers stallions! She hasn’t ruled out the possibility of being with another mare, but still, what kind of chance do I have?” She sighed and sank into the leather cushions.
“Well, yeah, none of that really sounds good,” May Flower said, taking a sip of coffee. “To be fair though, you sort of dug your own grave on this one.”
Twilight sat up and glared at her. “Why do I come to you for advice again?”
“Because you secretly want to make out with me and won’t admit it,” May Flower answered with a grin.
Twilight snorted. “In your dreams.”
“Only last night’s ones,” May Flower quipped as she took another sip of her drink.
Twilight flopped back down on her back and stared at the ceiling, thinking. The room was quiet aside from May Flower sipping her coffee and a soft hum from the ceiling fan spinning round. Twilight traced the details in the trim on the fan, and watched its blades slowly rotate.
“I guess I did dig my own grave, didn’t I?” she said after a moment’s silence, resting her front hooves on top of her head. “I should have told Rarity how I felt that first night at the bar, or when we went back to her place and she taught me how to dance. Then she never would have set me up on that double date, and I wouldn’t feel like crud right now.”
“Do you think she would have answered differently if you asked that night?” May Flower asked.
“Maybe?” Twilight said. “I felt something between us that night. Maybe she felt it too?” A frown tugged at her lips. “All I can picture—imagining the date—is the worst case scenario, where I’m left with nobody.”
“Well, if it’s any condolence, I’m always here,” May Flower said, smiling at her.
Twilight felt a small smile creep onto her lips, despite her worrying.
“And I’m also not above rebound sex—if you want,” May added.
Twilight shook her head, smiling. “That’s... oddly comforting, in a way.”
“What are friends for?” May Flower asked with a grin.
Twilight got off the couch and stood, patting down her tail and mane. “Well, whatever happens, thanks for taking the time to listen to me.”
May Flower held an impish grin behind her cup of coffee. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in how this all plays out.” She set her mug down, raising an eyebrow. “Do you still want me to come to the cafe at lunch?”
“Yes.” Twilight paused. “Actually, do you think you could swing by the library a bit before? My nerves feel fried and it would probably help to have someone to talk to just before Carrot Top shows up.”
“Sure.” May Flower nodded, and stood to lead her to the door. “Where will you go now?”
“I don’t know,” Twilight said, watching her hooves as she walked towards the door. “Maybe somewhere quiet to think, but then again, that didn’t work the first time I tried it, so...” she trailed off with a shrug as May Flower opened the door.
“I’ll see you after lunch then,” May said.
Twilight stepped outside and began to walk away from the house when May called out after her, “By the way, you still owe me a kiss!”
Twilight rolled her eyes and shook her head, turning around and sticking her tongue out at the mare. “Not happening!”
Twilight strolled through the streets, looking around and walking in no particular direction. Ponies walked past her and waved—or nodded—and she would half-heartedly smile and wave back, but most of her time was spent following the cracks running through the cobblestone road, her head hung low, and a sigh escaping her every now and then.
Twilight’s head spun around at the sound of the familiar voice, and she spun around to see Carrot Top, bounding up to her with a spring in her step.
“It seems like we just keep running into each other!” Carrot Top said, smiling and giggling.
Twilight rubbed the back of her neck. “Yeah, we do...”
She fell in step next to Twilight. “Well, Ponyville isn't that big, so I guess it’s not all that surprising, but, uh...” She paused and wrinkled her nose, having lost her train of thought. “So where are you going?”
“I don’t know. I was thinking of going to the park,” Twilight answered, frowning and giving Carrot Top a sidelong glance.
“Mind if I come along?”
Twilight inwardly cringed, but replied, “Sure.”
Carrot Top looked at her out of the corner of her eye. “Are you sure? Because if you’d rather have some time alone, I can wait until later.”
Twilight sighed at the reminder of their date coming up in a few hours. “No, no, it’s alright.” She bit her lip, debating how much to tell Carrot Top. “Rarity and I... had a fight.”
Carrot Top’s eyes widened. “About what?”
Twilight glanced away. “Um, it’s a long story. One I’d rather not go over at the moment.”
Carrot Top nodded. “We can always talk about something else, if you want,” she offered hesitantly.
“It’s so hard to know what she’s thinking sometimes,” Twilight said, ignoring Carrot Top’s suggestion. “And it seems like she never just comes out and says what she means, and she sends mixed signals about everything! I know she does it because she doesn’t want to hurt anypony’s feelings, but it’s frustrating to watch her do that to herself just to avoid causing a minor inconvenience for someone else.”
Twilight stopped as they arrived at the park, realizing she’d been ranting to Carrot Top about somepony she barely knew. Carrot Top was staring at her, her eyebrows raised and a mild look of surprise on her face.
“Sorry,” Twilight said. “I needed to get that off my chest.”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Carrot Top said reassuringly, resuming their walk through the park. “So, um... are you mad at her about something?”
“No,” Twilight answered, letting out a small sigh. “Not really.”
“Is she mad at you, then?”
“No, no one’s mad at anyone.” Twilight paused, turning off the path towards towards a pond and taking a seat by it, Carrot Top sitting down next to her. “She’s been avoiding me because of something that happened.”
“What happened?” Carrot Top asked.
Twilight frowned and flattened her ears back, looking at the grass. She shifted and lay down, crossing her hooves in front of her and resting her chin on them. “It’s not that easy.”
Carrot Top looked at the ground, her mouth curving into a frown as scratched her head. “Sorry, I don’t really know that much about these things.”
“That’s okay. I think I just want to lie here for a while,” Twilight said.
Nodding, Carrot Top lay down next to her, shifting slightly closer to her so that their coats were touching, and then stayed silent. She lifted a hoof and rubbed Twilight’s back in small, comforting circles, as the mare stared at the pond.
The grass by the pond felt soft. Twilight closed her eyes half-way, a wave of drowsiness washing over her. “How come you’ve never dated anypony before me?” she asked, striking up conversation to stay awake.
Carrot Top took a moment before answering. “I don’t know. I’ve just never approached anyone. I’m a bit nervous about confronting other ponies. There were a couple times where I thought about talking to someone, but...” She looked to the side, an embarrassed blush painting her face. “Then I start thinking about them rejecting me or turning me down, and I get a bit scared.”
Twilight felt a pang of guilt and looked away from Carrot Top.
“So, uh...” Carrot Top trailed off, glancing at Twilight out of the corner of her eye. “D-do you want me to stay around for a while? I don’t have any plans—until lunch of course—b-but we could stay here, or go wherever you want up until then.”
“That sounds nice, but, uh...” Twilight stood, folding her ears and glancing around nervously. “Actually, I think I need to get going.”
“Oh... okay,” Carrot Top said, her disappointment leaking into her voice. “I’ll just see you at lunch then?”
“Yeah,” Twilight said, backing away from her. She couldn’t make eye contact with her. She felt an overwhelming amount of guilt when she did so. “Uh, bye,” she said, giving her a weak wave.
“Bye,” Carrot Top replied with a small frown, tilting her head as she watched Twilight walk away.
Twilight looked in the mirror, feeling much more tired than the pony that stared back at her looked. She parted the pink streak running through her mane around one side of her horn, and then the other, staring at herself with a frown.
Any minute now, Carrot Top would show up on her doorstep for their date, and Twilight found herself checking the clock again, watching the second hand countdown. In hindsight, she wish she had specified a more accurate time for Carrot Top to pick her up. And although she knew it was foolish, her mind raced with all the possible implications of just what that could mean.
There was a knock at the door. Twilight’s whole body tensed at the sound, but she patted down her mane, parting the streak to the left of her horn, and went to answer.
Rarity stood on her doorstep with a forced smile that spoke of the fact that she didn’t really want to be there. She raised a hoof to her mouth and cleared her throat, looking up at Twilight. “Do you mind if I come in?”
“Weren’t we supposed to meet at the cafe?” Twilight looked down, bringing a hoof to her chin and mumbling, “Actually, we weren’t even supposed to meet until after the date.”
“I wanted to stop by and clear the air between us first. Now can I please come in?” Rarity said through clenched teeth.
Twilight moved to the side and held the door open. “Come on in.”
Rarity stepped inside with a small thank you, and Twilight let the door fall shut behind her. Turning and facing Twilight, Rarity let out a sigh. “I didn’t mean to seem... unwelcoming the other day,” she began, her bottom lip sticking out in a pout. “I don’t want to beat around the bush. I think it’s time to be honest with each other.”
Twilight paused, waiting for Rarity to continue, but she didn’t. “And...?”
Rarity seemed to suddenly snap to her senses as she realized what Twilight said. “Oh, no, you first, darling.”
“What?! You can’t just—” Twilight cut herself off, puffing up her cheeks and trying to hold back her frustration. “Fine. I don’t want to write off what happened two nights ago as some alcohol induced delirium, and I want you to stop pretending it was.”
“Of course I know that it wasn’t just the alcohol,” Rarity said, her voice incredulous and high. “I’m not blind. I noticed how you changed the way you look at me for a while now.”
“‘A while?’ I only started feeling this way a few days ago!”
“Whether you realized it or not, you’ve been giving me looks since before I took you to the spa.” Rarity reached up and buried her face in her hooves, letting out a low groan. “The whole idea with trying to find you a date was so that you moved on to someone else.”
“B-but why would you do that?”
“None of the friends I’ve had are like you and the other girls, Twilight!” Rarity shouted, the frustration in her voice building to a peak. “You girls mean a lot to me, and I’m very afraid of anything that might change that.”
“It’s not like the girls will stop being your friends just because you’re with me,” Twilight said. “That doesn’t even make any sense!”
Rarity took a deep breath to calm herself. “It’s not because we’re together, but what if things didn’t work out between us? Don’t you see? It could create a rift in our friendship.”
“But didn’t you feel anything all those nights? Not even at the lake?”
A small smile broke onto on Rarity’s face as she shook her head. “If you’d asked me to kiss you that night, I think I would have.” Rarity rested a hoof on top of her head, biting her lip. “I can’t say if I feel anything for you. It’s hard not to look at you and see a friend, but sometimes it’s almost as if—”
Rarity cut off as the door opened. Twilight looked behind her to see May Flower, standing in the doorway and glancing between the two of them.
She stepped inside cautiously. “Did I interrupt something?”
Glancing between Twilight and May Flower, Rarity let out an aggravated sigh. “A little.” She turned back to Twilight, ignoring May Flower and continuing their conversation. “Listen, Twilight, I think it would be best if things carry on the way they had been before all this.”
“I don’t want to,” Twilight ground out. “You said yourself you felt something for me at times, so why are you running away?”
“I am not running away,” Rarity said, glaring at her.
“Oh would you two just hurry up and sleep together already?” May Flower whined. “Honestly, you’re both overcomplicating this.”
Rarity turned and directed her glare at May Flower. “Listen here, you, I hardly even know you, and Twilight has only known you for a few days, so you can’t act like you know what’s best for either of us!”
“Oh please, at least I’ve kissed her.”
Twilight reddened. “May!”
“Three times,” May Flower added with a smirk.
Rarity turned to Twilight with a raised eyebrow, causing Twilight’s blush to deepen.
“May, you’re not helping,” Twilight said, forcing herself to remain patient.
“You’re a bit voyeuristic, aren’t you?” Rarity asked in a condescending tone.
“At least I know what I want,” May Flower rebutted with a smile. “We both want to have sex with Twilight. The only difference is, I’m actually trying for it.”
Twilight looked at Rarity, who looked like she was about to blow her top. “May, please...”
May Flower ignored Twilight, smiling wider at Rarity. “Even right now, you’re jealous!”
“Jealous of you? Tch, hardly.”
“Whatever,” May Flower said, turning her nose up. “I just think you need to get your head out of your rump and see how much Twilight likes you.”
The room fell silent. Rarity stewed, glancing at Twilight with a thoughtful look. “Do you really feel that way about me? Strongly?”
Twilight looked at the floor, drawing circles with her hoof. “I—well I mean...” She swallowed. “Yes.”
Rarity put her hoof over her eyes, and Twilight didn’t know if that was good or bad. Rarity moaned. “Why do you have to do this?”
“Do what?” Twilight asked, furrowing her eyebrows.
Rarity sighed. “Why can’t you just be happy with Carrot Top?”
“I told you already how I felt about her already and you didn’t listen!”
Rarity wrinkled her snout in offense. “Well, then tell me again.”
Twilight groaned, sitting down and pressing her hooves to her temples. “I don’t like her that way! I mean she’s nice, and pretty, but she’s more like a friend!” she shouted. She noticed Rarity had a cringe on her face, but she wasn’t staring at her, she was staring over her shoulder. Twilight turned around and saw Carrot Top standing in the doorway, her eyes holding a watery sheen.
“S-sorry, I heard loud voices, and, um...” She stared at the ground, a few tears falling onto the wood floor. “Maybe I should just go.”
Twilight held out a hoof to stop her. “Carrot Top, wait!”
Carrot Top flinched and looked back over her shoulder at Twilight.
Twilight walked up to her tentatively. “Listen, I really do want to be your friend.”
“Why did you kiss me and lie about liking me then?”
“I wasn’t lying! I liked spending time with you, and I really tried to give it a shot, but...” She sighed, glancing back over her shoulder at the white mare watching her from across the room. “I already liked Rarity.”
Rarity fidgeted uncomfortably as all the other ponies in the room looked at her. A lavender shade of pink rose to her cheeks.
“I thought it seemed like there was something between you two.” Carrot Top’s shoulders slumped. “I never really kissed anypony before you, but still, I thought there was something there... maybe that was just me being naive.”
“No, I felt it, too!” Twilight interjected. “It just wasn’t quite... It wasn’t quite what I was looking for.”
Carrot Top sighed and hung her head. She looked up at Twilight out of the top of her eyes. “Did you mean what you said about having fun spending time with me?”
Twilight blinked, but nodded. “Absolutely.”
“Then, I guess I could give being friends a shot,” Carrot Top said, giving her a weak smile. “I do like being with you, even if it wouldn’t be as marefriends.”
“Maybe we can go to The Salt Around the Rim sometime,” Twilight offered, trying to smile encouragingly. “I could be your wingmare.”
Carrot Top wiped the tears in the corner of her eyes away, her smile becoming a little more sincere. “I think I’d like that.”
The two smiled at each other, and Twilight felt a warm glow in her stomach. It always made her feel a bit ridiculous when she said ‘friendship is magic’ but during moments like these, she knew there was a certain feeling of magic in making a new friend.
She glanced over her shoulder at Rarity, and then turned back to Carrot Top. “Sorry, I’ll be right back.”
Carrot Top nodded a bit sadly. “Go ahead.”
Twilight turned, rubbing the back of her neck, and faced Rarity. Rarity seemed to be fixing her with an apprehensive look, a look that she already knew what Twilight would say, but Twilight pressed forward anyways.
“I would have preferred to choose a better moment than this. Sometime when it’s just the two of us, or when there’s the right atmosphere, or the right buildup. I wanted to ask you out ever since that first night out, but I could never really figure out how to, so I guess... I guess...” Twilight swallowed the knot in her throat. “Will you go out with me? On a date?”
Rarity bit her lip, glancing around the room, meeting May and Carrot Top’s expectant gazes. “I... I don’t know, Twilight.” Her ears pressed against her head, her whole body rigid. “What if it doesn’t work out?”
“Then I guess it just doesn’t,” Twilight said, shuffling her hooves. “But I’d rather try and have it fail than spend time wondering what could have been. And if it really doesn’t work out, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll stop being friends, right?”
“Well, no, I suppose not, but still...” Rarity trailed off, chewing her lip. “So a date, then?”
Twilight couldn’t help herself as a small grin formed on her lips. “Yes.”
“And then we’ll see where it takes us from there?” Rarity asked. She received a nod from Twilight, and gave her a weak smile in return. “I guess I’m willing to give it a try.”
Twilight beamed, feeling a sudden urge to hop up and down on her hooves. She said yes!
There was a patter of hooves, and Twilight turned to see May Flower and Carrot Top stomping their hooves against the floor in applause. May Flower was smirking, and gave her a wink, while Carrot Top gave her a smile, albeit bittersweet.
“Congratulations, you two.” Carrot Top glanced nervously away, scratching her hoof with her ears pointed back and pressed flat against her skull. “I should probably get going... have lunch and everything...”
Twilight glanced behind her at Rarity and May Flower. “Why don’t we all go out?”
Carrot Top lifted her head. “Huh?”
“All four of us,” Twilight said. “We could go out to the cafe for lunch!”
May Flower shrugged. “Sure. Sounds like fun.”
“That seems like a fine idea, since we were all heading out to lunch anyway.” Rarity glanced beside her at May Flower. “Except for you, I still have no clue what you’re doing here.”
“Oh,” May Flower said, a smile playing on her lips. “I just came over to ask Twilight if she wanted to have sex, but now that I think about it, I’m a bit hungry, too.”
Rarity rolled her eyes, and turned to Twilight with a flat look. “I suppose you can count the two of us in. Though I’d preferably not sit beside her,” she said, pointing a hoof at May Flower.
Carrot Top looked away, an uncertain frown tugging at her lips. “Um...”
“I know it’s not exactly a date,” Twilight said. “But I did agree to have lunch with you, and we still can if you want.” Twilight glanced back at Rarity and May Flower, who seemed to be looking away from each other with their noses held high. “It’ll be the four of us... as friends.”
Carrot Top swallowed, and offered Twilight a shy smile. “A-alright.”
Twilight, May Flower, Carrot Top, and Rarity all sat around a cafe table, plates of finished—or nearly finished—food sitting in front of them.
“You’re a model?” Rarity asked with a raised eyebrow as she sipped her iced tea.
“Yeah, moved up here from Las Pegasus with a friend a few months ago. It’s a nice getaway from the city, but I do miss the nightlife,” May Flower said.
“I’ve never gotten to visit. What’s it like?” Rarity asked, leaning forward in her seat.
“I miss the fountains and lights.”
“You wouldn’t be interested in a bit of modelling work, would you?” Rarity lifted her drink to her lips and looked at May, her lips curving into a smile against the glass.
May Flower’s eyebrows rose. “Modelling work? From you?”
“Well, I don’t know if Twilight’s mentioned it, but I own the Carousel Boutique here in Ponyville.”
“You do?” May Flower asked, a mischievous smile forming on her lips. “I’ve heard about that place.”
A nervous chuckle escaped Rarity. “Good things, I hope?”
“Oh, absolutely. I’ll contact my agent and see if we can arrange something.”
Across the table, Twilight listened to their conversation, glancing at Carrot Top out of the corner of her eye. Carrot Top smiled as she listened to the other two talk, but her eyes seemed sad.
“Hey,” Twilight said quietly, reaching out a hoof and touching her shoulder. “Are you okay?”
Carrot Top sat up straight and rubbed her eyes, giving Twilight a smile. “Yeah. I’ll be fine.”
Twilight bit her lip as she looked at Carrot Top, trying to think of some way to cheer her up. “So would you like to go to Salt Around the Rim with me sometime? I could help you find a date.”
“Tonight?” Carrot Top asked.
“Sure,” Twilight replied without hesitation.
“Um, okay.” Carrot Top smiled at her with a genuine smile, the first that Twilight had seen since that morning. “Sh-should I come by the library at around eight?”
“Make it ten.”
“Should I wear a dress?” Carrot Top asked.
“Only if you can dance in it,” Twilight answered with a giggle, drawing a grin from Carrot Top.
“So it’s a date!” Carrot Top replied, before quickly realizing what she said with a blush. “Um, well, not that kind of date...”
“I know what you meant,” Twilight said, finishing her apple juice and setting it down on the table.
Rarity and May Flower were leaning over empty plates, engrossed in a conversation about last fall’s trends, and the food on Carrot Top’s plate looked like it was going to go untouched.
“You girls want to talk someplace else?” Twilight asked, interrupting their fashion foray.
“Like where?” Rarity asked.
“We could go back to my place and go swimming in the pool,” May Flower suggested.
“How about the lake?” Carrot Top piped up. “It’s not far from here, and it’s much bigger than a pool!”
“I like that idea,” Rarity said to Twilight, pointing a hoof at Carrot Top.
Twilight placed a small pouch of bits on the table. “Me, too.”
May Flower stood, holding her hooves out with a large smile on her face. “But there’s other things we can do at my place, too!”
“No,” Rarity and Twilight both said simultaneously. They turned to each other and burst into a fit of giggles.
“You’re no fun,” May said, crossing her hooves in front of her chest.
The four left the cafe, walking shoulder to shoulder down the street, chatting amongst themselves. Rarity and May picked up where they had left off in their discussion on the latest trends, going into great detail about which feathers best ornament different styles of hats, while Carrot Top and Twilight had their own conversation to the side.
“It’s nice to see those two getting along,” Twilight said. “I was worried they’d be at each other’s throats the whole time.”
Carrot Top chuckled. “I think they’re more alike than they realize.”
Twilight’s nose scrunched up. “Which one’s Rarity again?” she asked. “Anyways, I didn’t really apologize properly for leading you on. I didn’t mean for things to go as far as they did.”
“Um, do you think if—” Carrot Top hesitated. “Do you think we would have kept dating? If you didn’t like Rarity?”
Twilight was visibly taken aback by the question. She looked up to the sky, thinking. Carrot Top deserved the truth after everything she’d done. “Yes,” Twilight said firmly. “I don’t have those kind of feelings for you right now, but I think if it were given time it could...” she trailed off, seeing Carrot Top smiling at her, her eyes watering slightly.
Carrot Top sniffed and wiped her eyes. “It’s weird, that actually makes me feel a lot better about myself.”
Twilight wrapped a hoof around her. “You’re a great catch, and we weren’t even dating for a week! I’d be very surprised if you didn’t meet somepony else who you wind up liking more than me.”
“Will you help me find them?” Carrot Top asked.
The lake came into view and May Flower and Carrot Top galloped towards the water, May Flower turning and giving Rarity a small wave as she splashed into the water.
Rarity had a blush which her coat completely failed to hide, and Twilight gave her a curious look.
“What did you two talk about?” she asked.
“She, erm..” Rarity’s blush brightened. “She asked me to tell you that you may feel free to bring me along should you choose to take her up on her offer.”
“Oh.” Twilight looked at the lake, where May Flower was laughing and playing in the water along with Carrot Top. “But I mean, we’d never—”
“Most definitely not,” Rarity said. “It’s absurd is what it is.”
“And it’s presumptuous to think that we’d even consider such a thing!”
“Well...” Rarity said, tilting her head and looking away from Twilight. “It certainly wouldn’t be conventional.”
“It would be new and different,” Twilight agreed.
The two of them stopped and looked at each other, their blushes mirroring each other.
Rarity cleared her throat and forced her blush to die down. “Let’s just take things slowly for now. I mean, we haven’t even kissed let alone—”
Twilight cut her off by kissing her. Warmth spread from Twilight’s chest all throughout her body to the very base of her tail. Her eyes fluttered and her ears twitched with delight. Rarity’s eyes widened, her whole body freezing as Twilight’s lips met hers, but she quickly melted into the kiss and began to hesitantly kiss Twilight back. It was everything Twilight hoped it would be.
The two parted, breathless despite how brief the kiss was. Rarity was still looking at her with a bit of surprise, no doubt at her boldness.
“Sorry,” Twilight said, a bashful grin stretching across her face. “You just reminded me how much I wanted to try that.”
Rarity stifled a giggle, a playful smile tugging at her lips. “Well now you have to take me on a date.”
“I never planned not to.”
“Hey!” May Flower shouted from the water, waving at the two of them. “Are you going to spend all day making out, or are you coming swimming?”
Twilight wore a blue dress and an amethyst necklace lined with silver trim, both designed and made by Rarity. They were, after all, her favorites out of all the ones she’d tried on. She turned to May, who was looking out the library window at the lowering sun.
“How does it look?” Twilight asked.
May Flower looked at her and smirked. “Pretty enough to make me very jealous of Rarity.”
“Do my eyeshadow and mascara look alright?”
“They look good,” May said, glancing them over.
“Are you sure? Because I’ve never used blue eyeshadow before, and I don’t think it’s actually the shade they show on the bottle—”
“It looks fine,” May insisted, rolling her eyes. “Try to relax.”
Twilight closed her eyes and took a deep breath, and when she opened them, she looked at the mirror leaning against the wall with a newfound smile. “Sorry.”
“Think nothing of it,” May said with a wave of her hoof. “So what are you two doing for your date?”
“We’re going out to dinner at a restaurant.” Twilight levitated a pair of earrings to her ears, debating whether or not to wear them. “The nicest one in Ponyville, too. I had to delay our date for almost a week to get reservations. I’m hoping to surprise Rarity with it. If she likes it, I think it’ll have been worth the wait.”
A knock came from Twilight’s door.
“Coming!” Twilight shouted, setting down the earrings on a stand. She turned to May Flower. “How do I look?”
“Perfect,” May answered.
Twilight smiled as she turned and walked over to answer the door. “Wish me luck!”
“Have fun on your date.” A smirk slipped onto May Flower’s face, and she added, “And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”
Twilight stepped up to the door and opened it to see Rarity, wearing a slim purple dress and a simple silver necklace. Her hair was done up, a pair of white golden hair pins holding it in a bun.
“Ready to go?” Rarity asked.
“Yep!” Twilight answered, closing the door behind her.
Rarity giggled abruptly. Twilight raised an eyebrow and tilted her head.
“Sorry,” Rarity said, a demure smile spreading across her lips. “It’s just that after all this I still find it hard to believe we’re going on a date.”
Twilight smiled, stifling her own giggle. “I guess I convinced you to experiment a little.”
Rarity motioned to the road. “Shall we?”
Twilight nodded, and the two of them left for their date.