edited by Reevsie and shad0wstalker
A cloudless and moonless November night hung over Equestria, the vast swathes of land were silent and frozen with a thick layer of fragile frost, and illuminated only by cold starlight. This was by far the coldest night of the winter so far and the majority of the country's ponies were huddled under warm dense blankets to shield their flanks from the bite of winter, ideally with a fuzzy hot water bottle and a flask of cocoa.
However, one particular pony lay wide awake in her bed, buried under satin covers. Normally, the Princess of the Night would be sharing the burden of ruling Equestria with her alabaster sister, but tonight, after much pleading and badgering, she'd managed to get the night off.
Under candlelight, Luna was reading The Legend of the Silver Arrow, a well read fantasy novel she was very fond of. Casually flicking a dog eared page with her magic, she leaned over to her bedside table to retrieve her bowl of strawberry ice cream. The alicorn soon discovered it was not the wisest idea to try to read and eat ice cream at the same time, especially when both were suspended by tenuous magic. She set her book down for a moment and enjoyed her treat instead. She sat idly, looking around her midnight blue room for something interesting to focus her attentions on.
The room was a simple affair, oval shaped and large, featuring a jet black bed, cupboards full of accumulated possessions and shelves with many a curious celestial instrument, such as her globe of the Moon or her mysterious glass spheres, glowing faintly with an alien light.
Luna's eyes had drifted over the other-worldly light source, though she looked, she didn't see; her eyes were somewhat vacant as she became lost in her thoughts.
I do like pudding, she mused as she slowly masticated, yes... masticated... who doesn't like pudding after all? I wonder whether if... oh what's her name again... Pinkie Pie! Yes, I wonder if she enjoys pudding as much as I? I doubt it really, but she could certainly contend... The Princess eagerly had another spoonful and it trickled down her cheek slightly without her noticing. I should put more effort into getting to know Twilight's friends if I can't even remember their names well.
"Wait, hang on," she said aloud, "what date is it?"
She levitated one of the glass orbs towards her, looked into its glowing depths for a moment, then tapped it smartly with a hoof. She drew an ear to the ball and listened to the clear note it produced.
"29th," she murmured, putting it back where it belonged, "which means it's Twilight's birthday soon." She shut her eyes in thought, "Oh my, only four days away!"
The faithful student gave her head a little shake, trying to give her brain at least a semblance of coherent thought.
I think... I think I may have overdone it...
Twilight Sparkle was lying on her side in her bed, with a fluffy, purple hot water bottle warming her belly in a most delightful fashion. Her eyelids felt as heavy as a thousand suns, and were drooping more and more with every passing minute. Her head was beginning to protest against the obsessive studying she had subjected it to all day, mind throbbing painfully with every pulse of her heart.
"I guess I can leave Equestrian Herbal Medicines for another time," she said, yawning widely, looking at the clock on the wall. Half past two.
"Oh goodness!" she exclaimed, yawning again, "I've lost track of time, it's way way past my bedtime! I didn't even write to the Princess tonight, urgh!"
Her eyes widened manically as panic began to descend upon her, then she caught herself.
No. Remember what happened that last time you did that...
She cast her mind back to that eventful day, the day when her Smarty Pants doll 'mysteriously' disappeared. Mysterious in that although Twilight knew exactly who was in careful possession of the doll, she was tactful enough not to embarrass him by bringing it up. She knew it was in safe hooves with Big Macintosh.
She shook her head again, stopping her train of thought abruptly.
"Okay, I need sleep. I have lots to do tomorrow, as usual. I'll just have to add writing to the Princess to the list, somehow."
She was due to be up early the next morning to visit Applejack, who was holding a 'Let's help Twilight organise her birthday party so that she doesn't have another mental breakdown' meeting, or LHTOHBPSTSDHAMB for short.
With many a happy thought of things she would like to do, she closed her eyes and drifted to sleep.
In what seemed like no time at all, she woke abruptly from dreamless sleep. A small claw was tentatively prodding her cheek.
"Twilight, it's time to get up," said Spike.
"Mrrrrrhmmm, five more minutes..." she said sleepily.
"But Twilight, you might be late-"
"Just five, pleeeaaaase?"
"Hmmm, okay, but if you're late, don't blame me."
"Spike, why did you let me sleep in?" asked Twilight for the fifth time. Spike's neck was beginning to hurt as he snapped it this way and that due to Twilight rushing around him.
"I told you, I woke you up and you went back to sleep!"
"That doesn't sound like me, are you sure?" she said suspiciously as she dashed past him.
"Yes, Twilight I am- ouch," he said as his neck twinged, "what are you even doing?"
"I am, um, g-getting ready?" She realised she was doing all this running around, without actually getting anything done.
"You're making everything more complicated than it need be. Again. You did everything that was necessary ten minutes ago now."
"Hang on, let me check my list."
She levitated a scroll of parchment over and scrutinised it.
List of things to do today:
Make list (check)
Do morning exercises (check)
Eat breakfast (check)
Make sure Spike has cleaned his teeth (check)
Make sure I have cleaned my own teeth (check)
Make bed (check)
Fluff pillows (check)
Water the Fuchsia regia on the window sill (check)
Check to see if we have custard for this evening's dessert (check) Edit: we don't.
Dress warmly, it's freezing outside.
Go to Applejack's for LHTOHBPSTSDHAMB
Write to Princess Celestia
Edit: Get some custard for tonight.
Twilight's eyes stopped darting over the paper and instead looked over her shoulder to her bare purple back and hooves.
"Well, I still haven't dressed warmly it seems, I should probably do something about that."
"You think?" said Spike, as Twilight flew up the stairs to her bedroom.
The lavender mare opened a drawer with her hooves and searched in the left, where she kept her winter clothes. She retrieved a fluffy, dark blue scarf, light blue saddle and yellow boots. The scarf and boots were a simple affair to put on, but she struggled with the saddle, as usual and ended up rolling around on the floor in a desperate attempt to strap it to her back.
From downstairs, Spike wondered what all the banging and exclamations were about, he looked up to the ceiling.
"Oh for pony's sake!" he heard a muffled yell.
"What in Equestria is she doing?" the dragon muttered to himself. With a sigh, he got up to investigate. At the top of the stairs, he could see Twilight's flank sticking out of her bedroom door. Her hooves were flailing about as she rolled around in increasing frustration, snorts of impatience occasionally punctuating the general struggle.
Her body froze, then her behind zoomed back into her room, and her head stuck out, wearing an embarrassed smile.
"Aha, Spike... Yes?"
"Do you, er, need a hand with that saddle?"
"No, no, I'm fine."
Spike simply looked at her.
"Okay," she said, folding.
"Good, now hold still a sec."
Within ten seconds, the dragon had secured the saddle to Twilight's body.
"Thanks Spike, I don't know what I'd do without you."
"You'd be a little colder?"
"Oh, Spike you know you're a lot more important than that! You're my number one assistant after all," she said affectionately, nuzzling him.
"Thanks Twilight, I don't know where I'd be without you either."
The purple mare smiled warmly at him, then looked around.
"Now you'll be fine running the library while I'm out, won't you?"
"Yes Twilight," said Spike monotonously, she asked this every time she went out.
"Good, have a great day Spike, I'll be back later."
"Okie doke, you too Twilight!"
I wonder if she'll ever think to use magic to put on that saddle...
The journey to Sweet Apple Acres was a treacherous one for poor Twilight Sparkle. Slipping and sliding on hard ice and cold frost the entire journey, and occasionally falling on her flanks, much to her annoyance and soreness. She arrived at the farm with a slight limp and a bruise just below one of her cutie marks; thankfully hidden by her purple coat.
The icicles that hung off Applejack's house glistened and sparkled in the early morning light, making it shimmer as if somepony had poured glitter all over it. Twilight stood, upright this time, admiring it for a little while.
She heard a noise behind her.
Rarity was struggling as much as Twilight to stay upright on the slippery ground.
"Oh, Rarity, are you okay?" asked Twilight in concern, gingerly walking up to her fellow unicorn.
"Good morning Twilight," said the white unicorn briskly, getting slowly to her hooves, "I'm fine, thank you. How are you today?"
"I'm good, thanks. You having trouble on the ice too?"
"Yes indeed, I don't like this weather. Not only does it make me fall over, but this cold, dry air is a nightmare for my mane!"
"Is it? I never noticed myself."
"You must be one of the lucky ones then. My hair always dries up."
They were interrupted by a bouncing sound behind them. Pinkie Pie had arrived.
"Hey Twilight, hey Rares, what'cha doing?" she bubbled.
"What exactly are we doing?" asked Rarity.
"Exchanging greetings of course," said Twilight happily.
"Outside? That's a super idea!" said Pinkie, jumping up and down excitedly, completely unphased by the ice.
"How in Equestria are you doing that?" asked Rarity incredulously.
"Earth ponies have a great sense of balance," said Twilight and Pinkie simultaneously.
"We don't find ice and snow super slippery like unicorns and pegasi do."
"Well, I didn't know that," said the white mare, "can we go inside now? I'm getting rather chilly out here."
Twilight knocked on Applejack's door, wobbling with only three hooves instead of four to hold her up. The orange cowpony opened the door to greet them.
"Howdy gals, come on in! Rainbow and Fluttershy are already here."
"S'up!" came Rainbow's scratchy voice from inside the house, followed by a faint mumble that was barely audible.
The four ponies, led by Applejack, made their way into the living room.
It was a pleasant and cosy affair, a merrily crackling fire was burning away, suffusing the room in a warm, orange glow.
Fluttershy was sitting demurely on a squashy armchair, whilst Rainbow Dash was lounged over an entire sofa close to the fire, eyes closed, and basking in its heat as if it were Celestia's Sun itself.
"Good morning girls," said Fluttershy.
"S'up?" said Rainbow again, eyes still closed.
Pinkie Pie leapt into the remaining armchair, leaving Twilight, Rarity and Applejack with nowhere to sit. The orange mare walked up to Rainbow and prodded her in the stomach, making the pegasus flinch in surprise.
"Quit hogging the sofa RD."
"Huh? Oh, right, sorry guys."
"S'alright sugar cube," said Applejack, sitting next to her, Twilight joining after. Rarity sat on a cushion on the floor, as a good lady should.
Applejack handed everypony tea or coffee, Pinkie insisted on both mixed together. After giving the pink party pony a few mildly concerned looks along with her drink, she joined Rainbow and Twilight on the sofa.
"So," she began, "y'all know why we're here today."
Everypony's eyes turned towards Twilight, who blushed slightly.
"I-I don't want to make too much of a fuss," said the purple pony, "just a small party round the library will be fine."
"Don't be ridiculous darling!" exclaimed Rarity. "This is your twenty-first birthday, it should be a special occasion."
"Rarity's right," chirped Pinkie, "you need a super duper funerrific party to celebrate!"
"B-but, I'll fall behind in my studies-"
"C'mon Twi, you could do with letting yer hair down," said Applejack.
"Well, if you insist. Where?"
Everyone sat in silence while they thought.
"There is always Canterlot," said Fluttershy timidly.
"Hey yeah, that's an idea," said Pinkie, "there's loads of fun clubs and bars and things."
The others nodded in agreement, except one. Rainbow was quietly snoozing in her place, apparently having fallen asleep while they were thinking. Drool was slowly dripping from her mouth and Applejack looked interestedly at a hoof, because that's where it had landed. Applejack wiped her hoof clean and jabbed Rainbow in the ribs, jerking her awake.
"I'm up, I'm up! What're we on about?"
"Do you think Canterlot would be a good place to celebrate my birthday?" asked Twilight.
"Yeah, sounds great actually, it's been ages since I went out in Canterlot."
"Excellent, now my birthday is in four days, is everypony free that night?"
They all nodded in unison.
"I'm also going to write to the Princess later, should I add a bit asking if we can visit the Castle beforehand in the afternoon? It would be nice to see her and Luna on my birthday."
"That's a good idea, Twi," said Applejack, "you should invite them out too ya know."
Twilight giggled at the suggestion.
"I doubt Princess Celestia would want to go out to bars, Applejack. Luna might though, I'll ask."
"Then are we all done?" asked the orange mare.
"It certainly looks like it," quipped Rarity.
"Then who wants apple pie? Straight from t'oven?"
"Me!" came five eager voices at once.
Chase Your Dreams
"Spike, I'm home!" called Twilight, stamping her numb hooves and boots free of ice. "How's dinner coming along?"
Twilight immediately realised her question was unnecessary as she inhaled the enticing smell of vegetable soup wafting from the kitchen.
"Mmmm, Spike, that smells delicious!"
"Thanks, Twilight. This looks like it'll be one of the best yet."
"That's wonderful, I could use something like that to warm me up again after plodding around out there."
"Did you get the custard for dessert? Because I got a cake in the oven ya know."
"I did. Eventually. They were fresh out at Sugar Cube Corner, apparently Pinkie Pie ate it all before coming out to Applejack's this morning. I looked around the Bridle Market, Reinsburys, Stable Prices, I even asked Doctor Whooves, and no custard to be found!"
"So, uh, how did you get it in the end?"
"I shouted down Rainbow Dash when I saw her overhead to ask if she had any. Luckily she did, and even though she tried to give it to me for free, I insisted I pay her, and here I am," she concluded, holding up the tin.
"At least you got some in the end."
"I suppose, but finding it wasn't very fun, I was cold even with my clothes."
"I thought you might be, so I lit the fire in the living room for you."
"Spike, you are amazing, thank you."
"No problem, you go do whatever it is you do while I get dinner ready."
Twilight sat on a soft rug by the fire, pointing her frigid hooves to the warmth radiating from the hearth. She sighed as the heat seeped into them, returning the feeling.
Once suitably warmed up, the lavender mare set about writing a letter to the Princess. She got herself into an extra comfy position as she levitated a quill, ink and parchment to her side.
She unfurled the paper and stared at it blankly at it for a moment. It stared blankly back, with it being blank and all.
Her mind immediately ground to a halt, trying to think of what to say and how to say it.
"Urgh, I hate when I get like this! Right, okay..."
Dear Princess Celestia,
I'm writing to ask if I can come see you in four days, with it being my birthday, and I would like to ask-
She screwed it up and launched it magically into her bin.
"Pathetic attempt," she muttered under her breath, "I could have written better than that as a filly for pony's sake. Let's try again."
Dear Princess Celestia,
I hope you and Luna are well. Today, we all used one of the lessons we learnt in friendship to use teamwork and communication to help organise my birthday party together, so I didn't get too stressed by overworking myself and going crazy... again.
Anyway, it went really well, and we decided to go to Canterlot for the night. If I may request, would you be so accommodating to allow us to visit the Castle at some point in the day? I would really love to see you and Luna, I haven't seen either of you since that time the firecracker went off in Luna's bedroom, which was a while ago now.
One last thing: I am going to invite both you and Luna to join me in the frivolities of my birthday, I know full well that you don't particularly enjoy such activities, so feel no obligation to agree, but do please ask Luna, it would be nice, to coin the modern phrase to 'hang out' with her.
Your faithful student,
She reread it and nodded in approval.
"That'll do nicely, Spike can send it after dinner."
Right on cue, Spike walked into the living room with a large pot of steaming soup. Twilight eyed it hungrily, licking her lips in anticipation, moving from the rug to her armchair. She used her magic to switch on the radio, and adjusted the knob until it came to rest on Furlong FM, where there was a song playing called Show Me the Moon Tonight.
"Hungry?" asked Spike, seeing the look in her eyes.
"A little," Twilight said, "it looks delicious."
"It tastes delicious too," said Spike teasingly as he ladled out a bowl for Twilight.
Twilight squirmed in her place.
"Can I have some now?"
"Here," he said, handing the bowl, "eat up."
"Oh, I will," she said as she dove into her meal.
The mare thoroughly enjoyed the soup Spike had made; the tasty treat warmed her belly nicely, and the little dragon seemed to enjoy it just as much, though he didn't enjoy the radio debate nearly as much.
"Well Spike," sighed Twilight, after she had finished, "that was lovely."
"Glad you enjoyed it," said Spike, "shall I get the cake?"
"Please, don't forget the custard!" she called as he got up and left.
"I won't! Anyway, what are you actually doing for your birthday?"
"We're going to Canterlot for a night out."
"Oh really? Not your usual cup of tea there, Twi."
"Hehe, I know, I'm usually not big on nights out like that, but I do enjoy it occasionally; a mare has to let her mane down every now and then," she said, remembering what Applejack had said.
"Again, not like you," commented Spike.
"Just hurry up with the cake."
"And could you send this letter to the Princess?" she asked.
"I sure can," said Spike taking the scroll and breathing a lick of flame onto it.
"So tell me, what have you been up to today, Spike?"
Princess Celestia was surrounded by lots and lots of frothy bubbles. The evening bath was extremely relaxing for the alabaster alicorn, who had had a busy day meeting and greeting many important and tedious ponies. She was tired, not from exertion, but from the effort required to maintain an expression of mild interest when in reality, she was bored to tears.
Thank goodness it's over; for today at least.
She exhaled slowly and sank a little more into the hot water, letting her mind and body relax as the welcome heat suffused into her body. Her respite was interrupted however, by a flash of emerald green fire and a scroll dropping out of the air. Celestia managed to catch the letter with her magic before it hit the water.
Aha, a letter from Twilight, I was beginning to wonder if she would send one this week.
The Princess' eyes ran over the parchment and her lips curled into a soft smile.
"That is sweet of her," she said to herself, "wanting to see me and Lunes on her birthday. I must discuss this with her."
The Princess less than graciously hauled herself out of the enamelled bath, wobbling slightly as she got to her hooves to dry off.
Celestia walked up to her sister's bedroom, all manner of cosmetic items floating around her. She walked down the dimly lit corridor to Luna's room, passing the curious artefacts that lay upon shelves all the way down; a fair few of them emitted sporadic puffs of smoke, others lay silently, collecting dust. The alicorn knocked on her sister's large, ebony doors, which were emblazoned with a softly glowing symbol of a crescent Moon.
"Luna?" Celestia called, running a brush through her flowing mane, "Are you in there?"
"Yes, come in Celly!"
The white alicorn opened the doors to Luna's chambers and slipped inside.
"My, my sister," said Luna, looking up from the crossword puzzle she was enjoying and eyeing the objects orbiting Celestia's head, "are thou going somewhere this evening?"
"Oh, this? No, I just felt like I needed to take care of myself more than usual," she replied, unscrewing the bottle of horn polish she had, pouring a little on a cloth and setting to work.
Luna began giggling uncontrollably.
"What's so funny?" asked Celestia curiously, while Luna watched the motion of the cloth on Celestia's horn.
"Oh, nothing," said Luna with a very bad attempt at a straight face.
Then it clicked.
"Oh, grow up Luna," said Celestia playfully.
"Forgive me," she said, giggling slightly, "besides, is there a reason for your visit up here?"
"In fact, yes there is. Twilight has sent me a letter, and asks if we want to go to town with her on her birthday," she said, looking at the letter again.
Luna's ears perked up.
"Oh really? I was meaning to ask her about that myself to tell the truth, it seems that is unnecessary now. Are you going to accompany us Celly?"
"Me? Hmmmmm, as much as I regret to say, I think I shall decline; you know I've never really been one for 'partying.'"
"Indeed I do, several thousand years of imploring haven't worked thus far, I'm not going to try again now."
"Well, that saves us some time. I'll send a letter back to Twilight now and-"
"That won't be necessary, sister," said Luna, somewhat abruptly.
"Yes, I shall inform her."
"As you wish," said the ivory alicorn, slightly confused, but agreeable nonetheless. "Any reason why?"
"I'd like to take a more active role in Twilight's life, is all. And her friends."
"You want to be closer to her you mean?"
Celestia studied her sister's expression closely. She had a certain air about her that she had had before, and she remembered what happened with that...
"Well, it would be lovely for you to get to know her better if you ask me, you are both so similar in many respects."
"What art thou suggesting, sister?"
"Who said I was suggesting? Goodnight, my dear sister."
And with that, Celestia took her leave.
Luna was left alone with her thoughts, wondering if her sister was actually suggesting anything.
"She has a habit of being elusive and vague... Not that we can say much about that."
Luna got up and paced to her large windows, which commanded a spectacular view that stretched far into the distance; she looked into the dark twilight to see the small collection of lights in the distance that was Ponyville.
"All we have to do is wait a few hours before we can speak to Twilight."
The clock struck eleven, and Luna looked up from a book as it chimed rhythmically.
"Let's see if this works," she said quietly.
She set her book at her side and closed her eyes tightly. She had a unique gift, which allowed her to enter the very dreams of ponies, all very normal and ordinary from the alicorn's point of view.
Her eyes glazed over as she descended into a state of near unconsciousness from the physical world, and entered the ethereal world of dreams and nightmares, where everything is never as it seems.
The purple unicorn galloped gaily through a field of lush, tall grass; the wind rushing through the blades, Sun beating down on her neck and back.
"Come on Rainbow Dash!" she called, looking up at the brilliant blue sky to see the feisty pegasus flying overhead. "We need to hurry or we'll be late for J.K Foaling's book signing!"
"I'm flying more slowly than usual, so that I don't leave you behind, Twilight," said Rainbow.
"You know what I mean, I'm just so excited for this!"
Then, suddenly, she was falling, falling far, falling forever.
She landed painlessly on a polished wooden floor.
"Hmmm, how odd," she commented.
She looked up, to see the outline of an alicorn lurking in the shadows.
"You appear to be mistaken Twilight Sparkle," said Princess Luna, emerging from the darkness.
"Oh Luna! I'm so sorry!" said Twilight sincerely. "How are you?"
"We are well, thank you for asking. A more important question is, how are you, my friend? And-" she looked around at the surroundings, "where exactly are we?"
"I'm good too, and I think we are in a library. Not just any library either, it looks like the Royal Library in Canterlot."
"Good gracious, really?" said the alicorn curiously, inspecting the shelves that had seemingly just materialised from the aether.
"Why? Is there something wrong?"
"My dear Twilight, I have no idea. This is your dream after all."
"Oh yes, I can assure you of that," said Luna sitting down on a conveniently placed set of chairs and table with an equally convenient tray of tea resting on it. "Would you care for some tea, Twilight?"
"Oh, yes please," said the unicorn eagerly.
Twilight sat in thought as Luna prepared the tea.
"If this is all a dream," she began, "does that mean I can do anything I like?"
"I suppose you could, though don't get too wild, because I'd know about it."
"Hmmm? What do you mean?"
"This is me, Twilight, I'm the 'real' Luna if you will. I am no figment of your imagination here."
"H-how is that possible?" asked the very confused unicorn.
"You see, we are granted with a unique gift that allows us to enter ponies' dreams. I do not make a habit of it, ponies are entitled to their privacy of course, but every so often when I'm particularly bored or what have you, I'll have a look at what my subjects are dreaming about nowadays. For example, I notice that in these times, dreams seem to be shorter than they used to be, but are far more interesting, with much more variation, imagination... liberation... Oh, listen to me go on, I must be boring you."
"On the contrary, Princess, I'm finding all this fascinating! I never knew you could do this, or that it was even possible! Why have I never heard of this skill of yours?"
"Living on the Moon... was utterly isolating. My very existence fell beyond living memory, let alone my abilities," she said sadly, head drooping.
"Oh Princess, I'm sorry! I-I didn't mean to bring that up!"
"My dear Twilight, I know you would never intentionally remind me of that particular... episode of my life, do not feel bad on my behalf; the important thing is that I am back now, and subsequently, have had the pleasure of meeting many new and wonderful friends, such as yourself."
Twilight blushed slightly at the Luna's praise.
"Thank you, Princess-"
"Please, call me Luna."
"Thank you, Luna."
"'Tis no problem. Besides, I would like to have a word with you."
"Did I do something wrong?" asked Twilight, suddenly fearful.
"What? No! No, no. Though it seems somepony has a guilty conscience," she teased.
Twilight wasn't sure what to say, in case she made herself look more silly in front of the alicorn. She scratched an ear with a hoof, drank a sip of tea and decided to go with:
"What do you want to talk to me about then?"
"The letter you sent to the Castle this evening."
"Oh yes, that letter! Are you coming with us Luna? Because that would be great! My birthday would be the best birthday ever!"
"Yes, I would love to accompany you. Though, I must say this, we are not familiar with modern night life, from what I've heard it is nothing at all what it used to be."
"Don't worry, you'll be fine, just have a few drinks and enjoy yourself."
"If you say so," said Luna, still a little doubtful.
"We'll be visiting the Castle before we leave anyway, so you'll get an idea of what to expect before you even leave; we might have a little to drink before we leave."
"Now, you say a little..."
"And we mean a little, others may get drunk before even leaving, but we have at least a little common sense."
"Ah, that's good to hear."
The library around them flickered into darkness.
"What's going on now?" asked Twilight.
"Your dream is coming to an end it seems, you'll either start another dream, or wake up in a minute. I should go."
"Okie doke, I'll see you soon, have a nice evening!"
"You too, Twilight Sparkle, have a good eve- er, a good night's sleep!"
They waved to one another as they became separated, fading into the night...
Twilight's eyes snapped open. She turned in her bed, twisting her blankets around her body. She yawned, and fell asleep again.
Happy Birthday, Twilight Sparkle
Twilight opened her eyes. The low winter Sun, with unerring and irritating accuracy, found its way through the gap in her curtains, illuminating the purple mare's face and consequently waking her up. Shielding her eyes from the harsh light, Twilight rolled over, groaning, and fell out of bed.
She removed herself from her blankets and picked herself up.
"Great start to the day," she muttered, trotting clumsily to the mirror that was on her dresser. As she hummed and dragged a brush through her mane, her eyes drifted to her calendar. The third of December.
"Oh, it's my birthday," she commented, continuing her ministrations. The brush however slowly came to a stop as the realisation hit her.
"It's my birthday. It's my birthday!" she squealed, dropping the brush and scrambling down the stairs, bursting into the kitchen where Spike was waiting for her with breakfast.
"Happy birthday, Twi-"
"It's my birthday!" she yelled, barrelling into Spike and knocking him to the floor.
"You don't say?" said the dragon, getting to his feet.
"Heh, sorry, I guess I got a little bit carried away."
"You don't say?" he repeated. "Anyway, happy birthday, Twilight! I made you your favourite breakfast!"
"Aww, Spike, that's sweet of you," she said, nuzzling the dragon affectionately and looking at her breakfast.
"You have a bowl of Canterlot Crunch, with the special milk, you know, the one with the gold top? Also, here are some pancakes, with plenty of syrup to spare, pineapple juice, and last, your favourite of the favourites-"
"This is just wonderful, thank you so much!"
"No worries, this is your day, Twilight. Oh, nearly forgot to mention, your family will be visiting soon to see you."
"Exfellenf!" she said, with difficulty, on account of having a mouth fit to bursting with pancakes and flapjack. Then a thought struck her. She swallowed painfully.
"Though why are they coming over here, and not just having me visit them in Canterlot later today? I'm going there anyway."
"Something about 'to keep the plot moving forward.' Didn't make any sense to me."
"Who's plot? Sounds a bit rude to me, you sure that's what they said?," asked a puzzled Twilight.
Twilight shrugged and returned to her breakfast.
Not long after Twilight had finished, there came a soft knock on the door.
Twilight got up from her armchair, setting down 'The Lord of the Horseshoes,' to answer the door.
"Happy birthday, kiddo!" said Shining Armour as he crossed the threshold.
"Thanks, Shining," said Twilight as they both reared up to hug.
"My lil' sis ain't so little anymore is she?"
"She'll always be our special little filly though, happy birthday dear," said Twilight's mother as she entered the library too, giving her daughter a kiss on the cheek.
"Make way!" called her father as he slowly backed into the library, levitating a large, spherical object wrapped in blue paper, adorned with a bright red bow on the top.
"Happy birthday, kiddo!" he said, dropping it in the middle of the room.
"Uh, dad, that's what I said," said Shining.
"Oh, I see, well, uh... Happy birthday, Twilight." he said with a grin.
"Thanks daddy," she said, nuzzling him. She turned her attention to the mysterious package. "Is this for me?"
"Sure is, honey," said her dad, "we're sure you'll love it."
Burning with curiosity, the unicorn pulled at the bow, and the wrapping fell away with it. She gasped as her gift was unveiled: it was a globe. But not just any old globe, it was made of colourful and valuable stone, inlaid together and polished to make a perfect sphere. She examined it and found Equestria, made of green jade, the Griffon Kingdoms, in black onyx, the Savannah, home of the zebras, represented in topaz, and the seas of lapis lazuli. It was suspended upon a mahogany axis, and Twilight gave it a few spins.
"It's fantastic! It's practical and looks good too!"
"Just like you dear," said her mother.
"Oh stop it mum, but seriously, thank you so much!"
"Our pleasure, Twily."
"Do-do you think Twilight will like our presents?" asked a timid Fluttershy, twisting her hoof nervously upon Ponyville's train station's platform.
"She better, mine took me a lot of trouble to get!" said Rainbow indignantly.
"And mine was very expensive I'll have you know," said Rarity.
"Calm down y'all, Twilight will love all this and you darn well know it, she ain't no ungrateful pony."
"AJ's right, these are all super presents for a super friend!" bubbled Pinkie, bouncing on her hooves.
"Okay, I feel a bit better now," said Fluttershy, checking her saddlebag again to ensure that her present hadn't run away.
Twilight meanwhile was saying goodbye to Spike.
"Right, Spike, your lunch is in the fridge for you, the books that need re-ordering are in the middle of my room, the returns are in a pile to the left, the books that I used last night are in the big pile on the right and-
"Twilight, stop! I'll be fine. Stop fretting and get going. Don't get too drunk though tonight eh?"
"Oh Spike, you do know who you're talking to right?"
"Yeah, I do. And I remember you collapsing on my bed that time, thinking it was yours, and you said the room was spinning..."
"Yes, well, ahem-"
"And then you threw up and-"
"Anyway! Look after the place while I'm gone won't you?"
"Yeah, yeah, I will- Ooh! Almost forgot, I got this for you. Didn't think you weren't gonna get a present off me did ya?"
He presented her with a large, elegant and fiery coloured phoenix feather quill.
"Happy birthday, Twilight," he said, a little embarrassed.
Twilight looked at the quill. To the average pony, it was just another feather that was useful for writing, just a little more colourful. But to a Twilight Sparkle, such a gift was beyond words. She ran through quills as fast as they bought more, but the phoenix quill would last her many years at the least. They were so incredibly rare that Twilight wondered how Spike had obtained it, but thought it better not to ask.
"Spike, I- Come here."
She reared onto her hind legs and gestured for a hug, Spike leapt up and the two tumbled over laughing.
"Thank you, my little number one assistant," she said, kissing him on the cheek.
"No problem, Twi."
"Urgh, what's taking her so long?" said a bored Rainbow Dash, pacing in circles around Applejack.
"She's only one minute late," remarked the earth pony. They heard hurried hoofsteps behind them,
"I'm here!" said Twilight, panting slightly.
They all spun around and said as one:
"Happy birthday, Twilight!"
Several other ponies who were on the platform turned their heads in curiosity at the noise they were making.
"Oh my, thank you so much, girls."
"Wait till you see your presents!" said Pinkie excitedly.
"That'll have to wait for now, train leaves in five," said Applejack.
They boarded the train together, and got into an empty compartment.
"Have you had a good day so far, Twilight?" asked Fluttershy, shutting the door.
"As a matter of fact I have, my family visited me earlier, which was lovely."
"Why?" asked Rainbow, and everypony looked at her indignantly. "I mean, why didn't they just come up to the Castle while we were there?"
"Something about somepony's plot."
"Who's plot?" asked Rainbow interestedly. "'Cause if it's your brother's-"
"Rainbow!" scolded Rarity, "That's no way to talk about Shining in Twilight's presence! Though I do have to admit, he does have a ni-"
"Can you please talk about this while I'm not around instead?" said Twilight awkwardly.
"I'm with Twi on this," said Applejack, "I'm not very fond of when you gals talk about Mac that way as y'all know."
"He's pretty hot too," said Pinkie blatantly.
"Anyway," said Twilight hurriedly, before Applejack could answer back.
"Yes," said Rarity, "you have presents waiting for you! Open mine first!"
She passed Twilight a small velvet box.
Curious, Twilight took the box and prized it open with her hooves. Inside was an elegant silver horn ring, inlaid with a single sparkling sapphire.
"I thought the colour would go well with your eyes and coat, looks like I was right," she said as Twilight tried it on.
"It's beautiful, Rarity; thank you!"
"The pleasure is all mine darling," said the fashionista graciously.
"Me next, me next!" squealed Pinkie.
With mingled feelings of curiosity and trepidation, Twilight took the large and neatly wrapped box that Pinkie was proffering.
"Oh wow, Pinkie, these look delicious!" said Twilight, looking at the six cakes that the pink pony had baked herself, each one iced with the cutie marks of the six girls. The spaces between the cakes were stuffed with brightly coloured candy of all descriptions.
"They are delicious! I had some batter left over and made an extra one, it was super yummy, that's how I know you'll love them."
"I'm sure I will, thank you Pinkie."
She beamed as Fluttershy leaned over, an expression of thinly veiled worry etched on her face.
Twilight opened the box and gave an 'ooooh' as she picked up an elegant and very shiny new pair of binoculars, along with a beautifully illustrated and extensive book on birds. The pegasus sighed and smiled when she saw Twilight liked it.
"Thank you Fluttershy, this will come in handy for when I study aviary animals in a few weeks, it will also be useful if I ever want to know what a certain bird is!"
Fluttershy nodded happily. Applejack picked up the basket by her hind hooves the contents of which were covered by a cloth.
"Haffeh birffay Tifighf!" she said, placing the basket in her lap.
Twilight lifted the fabric manually and looked inside. There were apples of course, one of each type the family grew, there were two large apple pies that looked as though much care and effort had gone into baking them. There were also several differently shaped bottles. Applejack noticed the slightly puzzled look on Twilight's face as she tried to differentiate them.
"This here's good ol' apple juice," she explained, "these three are sweet apple cider, 'cause I know ya like it. That one's a lil' stronger, and this..." she pulled out a cuboid bottle. "This here is a well kept secret, but I trust you girls with my life, so ah can certainly trust ya with this. This is Sweet Apple Acres Whiskey. We only ever distribute it amongst the family, or Princess Celestia, but ah am making an exception for the birthday gal today. Hope you enjoy it, sugar cube."
"Saving best till last I see," said Rainbow jokingly, passing Twilight a heavy stack of something that looked suspiciously like books. Twilight tore open the wrapping and unveiled the smart gilded covers of a complete special edition set of Daring Do novels.
"Look on the inside of one!" said Rainbow excitedly.
Twilight examined the inside cover of one of them and read, in curly writing:
To Twilight Sparkle, always believe in yourself, because you are awesome. This was followed by the author's signature.
The purple mare took volume two, and this one read:
To Twilight Sparkle, the most magical of friends and awesomest of ponies.
"Each one says something different, you have no idea how difficult this was, but that doesn't matter."
"Rainbow... I... This is... All of you."
Tears began to form in the unicorn's eyes.
"Oh darling, are you alright?" said Rarity, placing a comforting hoof on her shoulder.
"Yes," Twilight sniffed. "Yes, I'm fine. I'm just so touched by the kindness you have all showed me. You've all gone out of your way just for me."
"It's your birthday, Twilight," said Fluttershy, "you deserve it."
The others nodded in assent, and Twilight burst into happy tears. The others gathered around her and embraced her tightly.
"Hey, Twilight," whispered Rainbow, who's mouth happened to be right next to Twilight's left ear, which flicked when Rainbow spoke, "can I have your old Daring Do books? Seeing as you won't need them anymore."
The purple mare nodded as best she could.
"Thanks, Twi," she whispered, hugging all the tighter.
At Canterlot Castle
The train arrived in Canterlot. The Elements got off, Twilight was carrying her presents, and the Sun was shining with its feeble winter heat through the clear, crisp air. The purple mare ought to be happy, and indeed she was, being in extremely good spirits, and yet... there was something definitely missing.
"Shall we get going?" asked Rainbow, as the rest of them waited patiently on Twilight to make the first move. The unicorn however had been staring into the distance and thinking.
"Hmm? Sorry," she said apologetically, leading them out of the station and up to the Castle.
The trip up to the gates was wholly uneventful. At the gates themselves, however, they were stopped by two guards.
"By order of Her Majesty Princess Celestia and Her Majesty Princess Luna, none may enter without permission."
"Do you know who we are?" said Rarity indignantly.
"Miss Rarity, we know who you appear to be, but after all that changling business, security has had to be tightened, I hope you understand."
"But the Princess knows we're coming," said Twilight, puzzled.
"Yes, we know, and were expecting you. But nevertheless, Princess Celestia handed us these questions that apparently we have to ask you."
"Fire away then, boys," said Applejack, with an air of impatience.
"Twilight Sparkle," said a guard, holding out a short scroll in front of him, "can you prove that you are real?"
"Well, I can't prove it as such, but I can give a well reasoned argument backed up with empirical evidence and data-"
"It also says, 'can you prove that you're not?"
"Wh-what?" said Twilight, suddenly teetering on the edge of an existential crisis.
"That will do," said the guard. "Applejack."
"What is the square root of five hundred and forty six?"
Twilight bit her tongue so as not to blurt out the answer.
"Now how in the hay am ah s'posed ta know that? Stop using yer fancy mathematics on me!"
"Mmmhmmm. Fluttershy, where's the weakest point on a bear?"
"Well, I suppose it's the back of the nec- why? Does the Princess want to hurt my animal friends? She can't do that! She can't! Oh dear, I have to hurry home at once to make sure they're okay!"
She actually motioned to leave, but Twilight stopped her.
"Hang on," she whispered.
"Pinkie Pie, what time is it?"
"It's party time," said Pinkie in a sedate manner.
"Rarity, what if I said your dresses looked tacky and outdated?"
"Then I would destroy you!"
"Rainbow Dash, Spitfire says you suck."
"What!?" she squeaked. She was torn between hurt and anger, which was readily showing on her face.
"Well, that concludes the test, and you all passed, with flying colours."
They all looked confused, except Rainbow, who was looking smug because not only did she pass, but it was with flying colours, and she was all about flying colours.
The guards opened the gates for them and bowed them through.
"Well, that was weird," said Twilight, "though I have a bone to pick with the Princess."
There came a gentle knocking on the mahogany doors of Celestia's study.
"Enter," she said.
The door opened and Pinkie Pie bounded in, the other five following in a more ordinary fashion.
"Ah, good afternoon girls!" said the alicorn cheerfully. She looked at Twilight warmly. "Happy birthday, my faithful student."
The unicorn trotted up to Celestia and hugged her.
"Thank you, Princess. Can I ask you something?"
"Why of course you can my dear."
"What was that test outside about?"
The alicorn smiled inwardly at her mischievous questions.
"Did my guards not explain?"
"Well, they did, but-"
"So you understand that it was necessary then, yes?"
"I do, but did it have to be so... odd?"
"I had to ask particular questions I knew your reactions to. I hope that answers you, Twilight dear, but please, I have something to give you," she said, giving her an exquisite leather bound photo album. "So you can recall all the fond memories you make with your friends, I already started it off for you, with some pictures from your foalhood."
She suppressed an awkward smile and gave her a box.
"I also baked you a cake, I hope you like it," she said.
A shadow of anxiety crossed her face as Twilight opened the box to see a slightly wonky and misshapen cake, with icing which someone had attempted to spread evenly... but which wasn't even at all. In spindly letters of green icing the words "Happy birthday, Twilight," were just about legible.
"Do, um, do you like it?" asked a not at all worried Celestia.
Twilight nibbled lightly at the edges.
"As long as it tastes good, that's all that matters, right?" she said, winking and wiping her muzzle of crumbs.
"I suppose you are right," said Celestia, relaxing.
"Thank you for the gifts, Princess."
"You're more than welcome, my dear."
The door creaked slightly as it opened, Luna stuck her head in, wearing a hoodie and watching from a distance. She took a second to look awesome before entering quietly. All had their backs to her except Celestia, who noticed her but kept quiet, a knowing glint in her eyes at what Luna was planning; she was like a lion stalking it's prey, creeping up upon the Elements, all the while keeping her eyes fixed upon Twilight.
"Guess who?!" she shouted, pouncing on Twilight and covering her eyes with her hooves.
"I have no idea!" said Twilight, playing along.
"Luna!" she said excitedly. They turned to face each other and hugged.
"It's been too long, Twilight Sparkle; how are you?"
"I am fantastic, thank you Luna. How are you?"
"Well enough. Well enough. We have a present for you. Happy birthday, Twilight."
"Thank you!" she said, accepting the box that was proffered to her.
Twilight unwrapped it to uncover a mysterious, glowing orb, with swirling, sparkling light stirring in its depths.
"It's gorgeous! What is it?"
"It's a calendar!" she said enthusiastically. "I'll show you how to use it later, there's a knack to it, but once you've got it, it's easy."
"Where did you get it from?"
"I made it myself, from moonbeams, starlight and crystal many years ago. It's quite precious to me really... take good care of it."
"Why are you presenting me with it if it's so valuable?"
"Because... you're worth it, Twilight Sparkle," she replied, blushing slightly.
"Thank you," said Twilight quietly, for what felt like, and probably was the hundredth time that day.
It was late afternoon, and while Pinkie Pie was bouncing around the snowy gardens, under the careful supervision of Fluttershy, and while Rarity admired Luna's thousand year old dresses, and while Applejack and Rainbow Dash chatted to Celestia in her study, Twilight and Luna retired to the alicorn's bedroom.
"Do take a seat Twilight," she said, "would you like anything to drink?"
"Hmmm, what do you have?" asked Twilight, sitting in the middle of the Princess' bed.
"Let me see," said Luna, as she searched a cabinet close to the bed, "there's tea, coffee, um, hot chocolate- oooh, what's this?"
She pulled out a small bottle that seemed to glow in the low light.
"What in Equestria is that?"
"This, Twilight, is Moonshine."
"Yes, it's a very rare liqueur, made by myself, spun from moonlight you see."
"Not really, but it looks bizarre to say the least."
"Would you care to try some?" asked Luna, a mischievous glint in her eyes.
Twilight paused for a second, then remembered it was her birthday.
"Sure, if it tastes as curious as it looks, I bet I'm in for a surprise!"
Luna poured a small measure into two glasses, picked up Twilight with her magic, moving her over slightly, and joined her on the bed.
"Have you enjoyed your birthday so far, Twilight?" asked the alicorn, taking a sip of the drink.
"Oh yes, it's been so nice, everypony has been lovely to me, it feels odd in a way, I'm not really used to it."
"It's always nice to have something like that for a day, but believe me, having it every day becomes a burden."
"When you're a princess, nopony would dare speak ill of you, everypony is always so polite and well mannered when they address me, it makes us wonder you know; how many of these ponies would extend the same courtesies if we were a 'common' mare. How many of the niceties I receive are actually genuine?"
Twilight looked into the troubled face of the Princess.
"Well, I'm not sure I can answer that... But I do know that I wouldn't treat you any different, to me you are Luna, not Princess Luna, if that makes sense?"
"I think it does, and that means a lot to me, Twilight."
She leaned over and nuzzled the unicorn affectionately.
And so it followed, as the evening progressed, Twilight and Luna had a good catch up with one another. Twilight told Luna all about her adventures and learning she had had with her friends, including the test she took and the crystal ponies. Luna didn't have quite as much to say in return, she told Twilight of her almost daily surprises about modern life she was experiencing as she continued her adjustment into present day society. She also told of the many pranks she played on her sister as the Sun began to set.
"And then," Luna chuckled to herself, throwing her hooves high up in the air, "she stumbled backwards in fright, and fell straight into the bath!"
Twilight giggled as the image formed in her mind's eye. Luna's hooves came down, and accidentally placed one on top of Twilight's. The two mares locked eyes for a moment, each flushing a brilliant shade of crimson. Luna hastily moved her hoof and coughed loudly, Twilight looked resolutely at the opposite wall like it was the most interesting thing she'd ever seen. Then she hiccoughed and launched on that to start a new subject of conversation.
"How much have we drunk?" asked Twilight, looking for the bottle.
Luna pulled it up and they both saw it was half gone.
"Oh dear, we may have had a bit too much," said the unicorn.
She stood up and felt a bit dizzy. The room seemed more wonky than it was before.
"Definitely too much... Should we go down to the others you think?"
"Good idea," said Luna, checking the time. It was later than she expected.
The others had not been idle on the alcohol front, and had shared a glass of wine each that Rarity seemingly pulled out of thin air. Instead of immediately going to a club, it was only early evening after all, they made their twisty and turny way through Canterlot's winding streets to a well renowned pub called The Cross and Arrow. Twilight and Rarity had to combat the icy roads again on the way, the pegasi and alicorn looking on with sympathy from the non slipperiness of the air, and the earth ponies too, wondering what it must be like to have the ground move beneath your hooves.
Upon arrival, a shivering Applejack opened the door and they were all welcomed with a wonderfully warm wind. They filed inside and moved through the friendly looking pub to the back, because that's where the fire was. Luna and Pinkie broke off to get drinks from the bar.
A young couple got up to leave as they approached and Applejack leapt forward to claim their table before anypony else could. Her enthusiasm was justified, it was a table that was close to the fire. Twilight sat down at its head, Rainbow sat to her left, Applejack to Rainbow's left, then Fluttershy. There were three empty chairs left, and Rarity looked decidedly calculating, looking to the bar and then back.
Which seat can I take? she mused.
She sat in the middle seat, leaving two empty seats either side of her.
"What in the hay was that about?" asked Applejack.
"Tactics," said Rarity simply, she looked at Applejack sitting next to Rainbow and allowed herself a small smile. "I see you have employed similar tactics."
"Tactics? What tactics?" asked Rainbow.
"Let me put it this way, Twilight? How did your little private conversation with Luna go earlier?" Her eyes sparkled with the anticipation of gossip.
"We had a catch-up and drank a bit, why?" said an oblivious Twilight.
"Is that all?" said Rarity, looking crestfallen.
"Yes? We're you expecting something else?" she asked curiously.
"Well..." began Rarity, carefully picking her words, "you just seem, to, well, get on with Luna so well, and we thought-"
"Hey, don' drag us into this!" said Applejack.
"I thought you would look just gorgeous together and-"
"What?!" spluttered Twilight. "I don't like Luna in that way- at least, I think so. I've never really liked anypony to tell the truth, or read any books on the matter, so I don't know."
"Huh? Twilight?" said a stunned Rarity, "You mean you've never had a coltfriend?
"No, I haven't," she said nonplussed.
"Please tell me you've at least kissed sompony before."
"Why? Was I supposed to?"
Rarity looked like she was about to faint.
"Twilight Sparkle, twenty one years old and you have still never been kissed?"
"Implying that's a bad thing."
The words were heard, but it was hard to believe they came from Fluttershy. All eyes were suddenly on her.
"I-I'm sorry. It's just, I've never been kissed either..." she all but whispered. "I... I was saving myself for a special stallion."
"I'm sorry Fluttershy, and to you too Twilight, it was an insensitive thing to say."
"That's alright Rarity."
"So Twi," said Rainbow, "do you want to get it on with Luna?"
"I don't know, how do you know if you like somepony?"
"Um... Do you always think about her?"
"Sorta, I think about her more than I do most ponies."
"That's a good start. Do you get all tongue tied whenever you look into her eyes? I know I do when I like somepony."
"No, I don't."
"Hmmmm. Do you wanna kiss her?"
Twilight gave the thought time to mull over, she really wasn't used to this kind of thinking; the answer arrived and she blushed.
"Okie doke, do you ever feel like you're a deer in the headlights?"
Again, she thought hard.
"Well, there was a moment earlier where she touched a hoof, and I all froze up and didn't know what do."
"So girls, what do we think, do you think she likes Luna?"
They all nodded.
"Twilight dear, when she touched your hoof, however accidental it might have looked, she might have done it on purpose to test the waters. Keep an eye out for anything similar during the evening."
"Oh, okay," said the purple mare in light of this new information.
"Don't worry darling, I'll keep an eye out too," she said soothingly, "anyway, act natural, here she comes."
The white unicorn moved the bowl of sugar that was on the table to her right. Pinkie Pie made a beeline for it, setting the drinks on the table and diving her snout into it.
Just as Rarity had planned with her tactics, Luna took the last available seat between the white and purple unicorns.
"I got three red wines," said the alicorn tentatively, hoping she got it correct, "for me, you, and Rarity. Was that right?"
"Yes, thank you Luna," said Twilight graciously, as she stood up, "excuse me though, I have to go to the little fillies room."
"As do I," said Luna hastily. "This is what mares do nowadays, right?" she whispered into Rarity's ear when Twilight's back was turned. She nodded encouragingly.
Luna entered the large, clean room to see Twilight adjusting her mane in a mirror and adding a little blush to her cheeks.
"Hello, Luna," she said cheerfully.
"Twilight," she replied, a small burst of confidence igniting somewhere inside her that gave her the courage to say: "I like what you've done with your mane tonight."
"Do you think so?" she squealed. "I made it just a little more wavy this morning, and added these little star shaped clips this evening."
"I noticed, it is most becoming for you. I- I rather like it."
Twilight beamed at the compliment.
"It'll never compare to yours," she said, "mine can't flow about so prettily. Have you put in some extra stardust?"
"Why yes, I have." It was now Luna's turn to blush, "I didn't think anypony would notice."
"It looks lovely," said the unicorn sincerely, "are you done?"
"I will be in a minute," she replied, studying her mane closely.
"Okay, I can wait."
As they left, Luna held the door open for Twilight, who thanked her both verbally, and with an 'accidental' brush of her body against hers as she walked past. Luna's eyes widened as she felt pleasant sparking shivers race up and down her spine at the contact.
Pinkie Pie noticed their approach.
"Hey Twilight, could you light this up for me?" asked Pinkie, pointing to her small drink.
"What is it?"
"It's sambuca! It tastes great after it's been lit on fire."
She shut her eyes and a spark leapt from her horn, igniting Pinkie's shot glass. The pink pony gazed at the small licking flames for a moment, then she then drank it in one.
"Ahhh, Pinkie?" said Applejack, "you didn't blow it out."
"So you just drank burning liquid."
Applejack was about to ask 'how?' but then she remembered how. This was Pinkie Pie.
Twilight caught eyes with Luna, and both giggled.
On the Town
Rainbow Dash and Applejack were at the bar together, the earth pony drumming a hoof on the counter as they waited to buy the fourth round of drinks. Rainbow Dash suddenly sneezed violently, making Applejack jump.
"By Celestia, Rainbow, dun' do that! You startled me."
"I can hardly control that, AJ," said Rainbow playfully, nudging her with a hoof.
"True, you enjoying tonight so far?"
"Yeah, it's nice seeing Luna again, she's awesome. It's also good for us all to do something together, how long's it been since we last all met up?"
"Uh, last week when we cleared the snow drifts between mah farm and town?"
"Oh yeah! I don't have a good memory."
"You're telling me," said the cowpony. "Hang on, drinks are here."
As Applejack conversed with the barman, Rainbow looked around, and inadvertently caught the eye of a light grey stallion pegasus.
"Good evening," he said smoothly, if a little drunkenly.
"S'up?" said Rainbow.
"Name's Silver Wind," he said, extending a hoof.
"Rainbow Dash," she said, bumping it.
"I'll see you in a minute RD," said Applejack.
"Sure thing, AJ."
"So, what brings a pretty mare like you to a place like this?"
Despite the clichéd words, Rainbow felt a stirring inside herself as her ego was massaged gently.
"I'm here for a friend's birthday, what about you? S'not everyday you see a stud in here."
"Why thank you, I'm here because I had a tough day at work," he said leaning closer.
"Oh? What's your job?" said the cyan pegasus, subconsciously leaning away.
"Let me show you," he said, grabbing her with his hooves, trying to kiss her.
"That doesn't even make sense! Get off me you freak!" she shouted, tumbling to the floor and beginning to panic as both her and another pony smacked him hard in the face.
Rainbow turned around to see the incensed face of Applejack looking at him in disgust.
"You dare touch her again, and ah'll kick your ass from here to the Sea. Ya got that pardner?"
He winced under her harsh glare, turned tail and ran.
"Well that escalated quickly," said Rainbow, standing up next to her earth pony friend and brushing herself off.
"You alright sugar cube?"
"Yeah, 'course I am!" Though Applejack could hear a trace of shakiness in her voice.
"Hey, forget him. You'll always get a few bad apples."
"Yeah, I know, I'm glad none of you guys are."
"If we were, would we be your friends?"
"I suppose not, heh. Let's get back."
They took their places again and Applejack patted Rainbow's leg reassuringly. Rainbow felt a multitude of shivers radiate from the epicentre where Applejack touched. She struggled for a moment to keep her wings in check.
"Thanks, AJ," she whispered.
"Um, what happened over there?" asked Fluttershy, pointing to the bar "I couldn't really see but it didn't look good."
"Some idiot tried 'the charm' on Rainbow; hmph, not on my watch."
They all looked at her curiously at what she just said.
"I mean he tried to take advantage of her," she said hastily.
"Oh! Are you okay Rainbow?"
"Guys, I'm fine. Thanks though. Applejack helped me before anything got out of hoof."
"Well, that's good," said Twilight, "do you think it's time to move?"
"Yeah," said Pinkie, "who's ready for a party? Hoof Beats?"
They all nodded, except Luna, who looked confused.
"What exactly is Hoof Beats?" she asked. Twilight answered.
"Hoof Beats is a night club," she said kindly, "Vinyl Scratch is playing there tonight."
A curious and excited Luna hovered by Twilight's side as they meandered to Hoof Beats. Twilight wobbled and would have suffered a nasty fall if she had not been caught by Luna.
"Twilight, would you like to, um, ride on my back? For safety purposes you understand."
Rarity's ears perked up at this, but she didn't turn around.
"Please, my rump has hit the floor all too often recently."
"Oh really?" she used this as an excuse to steal a glance at the purple pony's posterior. She knelt down with a slightly tipsy grin on her face. "Hop on then."
Twilight clambered up onto her back and held on as she took off to join Rainbow and Fluttershy a few feet from the ground.
The lavender mare saw Rarity still struggling, and so she lifted her up with her magic to hover alongside Twilight. The white unicorn looked at Twilight and Luna together and winked knowingly as a sign that it was going well.
"Twilight," said Luna.
"Yes?" she answered, moving further up Luna's body in order to hear her better.
"What should I expect at this club?"
"Loud dancey music with lots of bass, very loud. So loud it will be difficult to talk properly."
"I see, what of the atmosphere?"
"Well, there'll be lots of lights, it'll be warm, and it'll be quite crowded."
"This doesn't sound all that appealing..."
"Oh, I know, but it's good if you're drinking."
"I'll trust you Twilight, you are a very clever pony after all."
Now it was Twilight's turn to feel the warm stirrings of a massaged ego, albeit a much tinier ego.
"Why thank you Luna," she leaned in and murmured, "though I'm not half as clever as you."
"Oh please," she muttered back, "Twilight, you are an exceptional pony, and don't let anypony tell you otherwise."
"As are you," Twilight commented.
Their continued flattering came to a halt as Rainbow Dash cautiously waved a hoof in front of them, grinning.
"Girls? Drop the sweet talk for a minute will ya? We're here."
Luna and Twilight looked up at the rather inconspicuous building that stood before them. The only indication this was the right place was a small, green neon sign that said Hoof Beats, the muffled sound of loud music that reverberated through the walls, and the small notice that informed the reader that Vinyl Scratch and Neon Lights were playing.
"Oh boy! It's been a while since I've been here!" squealed Pinkie, bouncing to the doors.
As they entered, Luna's first impression was how unnecessarily dark it seemed to be. After they paid the lucrative sum of twenty bits, they descended a flight of stairs illuminated in deep purple light, that made Luna's eyes feel funny, and Twilight appear white. The dull, powerful throbs of the bass grew louder as they approached the 'main event' as it were.
"Princess," said Rainbow with a cheeky grin, pushing the double doors open at the bottom of the stairs, "welcome to Hoof Beats!"
She had to yell the last of her sentence, due to the deluge of sound that cascaded out of the doors. They entered and weaved their way straight to the bar before anything else. Luna looked around, amazed by the scene.
The club was a giant, two tiered, circular room, and it seemed to be designed so that the socialising and drinking could take place on the upper tier, and on the lower tier... she broke off so she could look over the edge at what was down below. She cautiously parted the crowd and peered over the edge to see what she initially thought was water. Then a beam of bright light shone through the misty smoke, to reveal that it was in fact a veritable sea of ponies, all jumping up and down, hooves pumping the air joyously.
Oh my, thought Luna, We've never seen anything quite like this.
Her eyes listed to the left, where there stood two unicorns, one white and one blue.
"Hey hey, Can-ter-lot!" the white one shouted through a microphone during a lull in the music. "This is VS and Neon Lights in the house tonight! So, you ready for us to. Rock. Your. World?"
A tumultuous roar came from the crowd.
"I can't hear you!"
They roared their affirmation even louder.
"You heard them Neon! Hit it!"
The shaking pulse of the bass immediately resumed as a new song started. Luna felt a tap on her withers.
"Luna, you're here. We were wondering where you'd got to... are you alright?"
Luna had a slight manic glint in her eyes.
"We have decided that we rather like this place," she said, beaming.
"Oh good, I was a bit worried you wouldn't. Here, I got you this," she hummed, handing her a beaker containing a lurid turquoise liquid.
"Twilight, this is your birthday, you shouldn't have. And pray tell, what exactly is this?"
"Just drink some," said the unicorn encouragingly.
Luna gave the drink an experimental sniff; a potent aroma of fruit laced with alcohol assaulted her senses.
"Oh my, Twilight, how strong is this?"
"I'm not sure," said Twilight smiling, sticking her snout in her own drink, lapping it up.
Luna drank a sip of the syrupy, curiously coloured cocktail, and found that it was most agreeable. A sharp sweet taste exploded over her tongue, followed by a swift bite as the alcohol powered through. She drank some more and licked her lips.
Twilight saw Rainbow hover above everyone else, she scouted out the unicorn, pointing down to the dance floor beneath them and waved her forelegs about in a dancing fashion. Twilight nodded in understanding.
"How much was this?" asked Luna.
Luna almost spat out the drink in her mouth.
"How much?!" she spluttered.
"It's worth it, it's good right?"
"Yes, but even so... I'll get us some more."
After four of these drinks and many bouts of giggles, the two mares walked down a long and shallow flight of stairs to the dance floor. The remarkable change in atmosphere shocked Luna as they gradually moved towards the front; she could smell the mingled scents of sweat and alcohol in the thick, hazy air, see strobe lights and lasers spin beautiful patterns above her in the smoke, and hear the deep thrumming music reverberate through her entire body like an earthquake.
The song ended and there was a short lull in the driving music.
"Twi- Twilight," said Luna with slight difficulty. "I can see the others over there."
She pointed vaguely towards the front. Twilight's mind sluggishly processed this information, and once it had they pushed their way up to the front.
"How are you feeling?" asked Twilight.
In truth, Luna's mind was fogged up in a warm alcoholic haze, her vision sometimes blurred a bit, forming coherent sentences became increasingly difficult, and she had all but lost the feeling in her hooves.
"WE ARE GREAT!" she shouted, bordering on dissolving into the Royal Canterlot Voice. "YOU?"
Twilight was in the same boat as Luna, except her horn felt tingly for whatever reason.
"Heya!" shouted Rainbow when she saw them, waving them over. "You alright?"
"Very good," said Luna, who suddenly seemed fascinated with Twilight's mane, giving it a little flick.
"Everyponay!" came Vinyl's amplified voice, "are you ready for some pony rock?"
A resounding cheer echoed off the walls of the club.
"Let's go, Neon!"
The beat started, the dancing began, the eclectic electric sound booming through the hot and sticky air like a knife through warm butter.
"Aawww yeah!" yelled Vinyl behind a turntable, jumping and hoof pumping with the crowd.
"Scratch and Neon's in the club tonight!
Oh yeah we're gonna have a good time!
So grab some pony don't be shy!
It's our job to make you feel alright!
Now let's raise the roof, tonight's the night!
We're gonna party till the morning's light!
The house is hot, the beat is tight!
We just wanna see ya...
As one, every pony in the club jumped up and down to the rhythm. Drawn together by some unseen force, and aided by a tactical push from Rarity, Twilight and Luna danced, exchanging some very friendly contact each other. As they rubbed against one another in the cramped conditions, both ponies felt the heat rising, both around them and inside their bodies. Both were thinking less with their head on their shoulders in their mutual intoxication of both alcohol and... something more.
Oh my, thought a hazy Luna. Her fur feels quite nice- did she just touch my flank? Her eyes look so very pretty.
Twilight gave her a smoky look, biting her lower lip, making the blue alicorn's heart flutter, both ponies picked up the pace of their dancing. The music continued:
"The name's Neon Lights and I wanna see ya shake it,
I'm the host of this party and I'm glad you could make it!
I've the music that booms, now show me what you got,
Now do your thing girls and flaunt that plot!"
There came a wave of high pitched squeals from the females in the audience.
"On the dance floor is where we're livin',
You keep movin' to the beat and the beat we'll keep deliverin',
Now that's a promise we're gonna commit,
Hey Vinyl Scratch, spin that sh-"
"Ayo what's up, I'm the other half of this duo,
Got my bass cannon set to max, it's gonna blow!
It's pony rock, so get them tails a-bouncin',
And get them hooves up in the air cause we are announcing, it is!
Scratch and Neon's in the club tonight..."
"Do it!" hissed Rarity in Twilight's ear. "Go on! Kiss her!"
"We just wanna see ya...
With a lurch of the stomach, Twilight steeled herself and leaned closer to Luna, nuzzling her neck. The alicorn, getting the message, gave Twilight an immobilising, smouldering look. The bookish unicorn grinned sheepishly, placing a hoof gently on Luna's neck and stroking it, leaning closer. The rising heat, that had been accumulating not just for that evening, but for the last few months that Twilight and Luna had met one another had caused time to boil to a point for them both. Their lips were mere inches apart, both were revelling in the unspoken desire that had finally bubbled to the surface in their inebriation. They closed their eyes...
"EVERY DAY I'M PARTYING!"
"Pinkie?!" they both said, the mood shattering like glass all around them, the shards reflected in the hopeful, sparkly look in Fluttershy's and Rarity's eyes that swiftly melted to disappointment.
They all looked up to the stage, to see Pinkie sharing Vinyl's microphone, looking totally at home in front of the large crowd of ponies, and of course, she started singing, as if there was ever any doubt.
"Put the lights on me. It's time for the only true party pony!
The name's Pinkie Pie and I know you all missed me,
But hey, wait! There's room for three!
"Let's get some balloons! The pretty ones!
Let's turn up the bass! Getting louder now!
Gummy's here with me! He's rocking out!
Now it's a party! With thanks to me!"
"Oh Pinkie Pie," said Applejack, "ah hope she never changes."
"Get up, get down, put your hooves up to the sound..."
Twilight gave Luna a cocky grin and took hold of her hooves, raising them to the air.
"Jump up, stomp down, everypony hit the ground..."
Their dancing built up steam again, all but forgetting Pinkie's interruption. Twilight looked at Luna to see that her eyes were alight with happiness, pleasure burning in their depths, and Twilight knew that she didn't want to be anywhere else right now. She smiled at Luna, and she smiled in return, causing Twilight to smile wider, until eventually the two ponies were laughing together. Everything around them faded from their minds, their surroundings didn't matter right now, the music seemed to die out into a deafening silence as all faded to black, and it was just Twilight and Luna, together.
Her words were muffled by a gentle touch of a hoof.
"I know," she whispered through half lidded eyes.
They threw themselves into a furious hug, burying their faces in one another's mane, smelling a strange mixture of shampoo and sweat.
There came a loud rushing sound as reality came mercilessly crashing upon them as the ground rushed up to meet them. They had lost their balance in their embrace.
"Uh, maybe you've had enough to drink?" said Applejack, looming over them and helping them up.
"Hmmmm, may-maybeh," said Twilight.
"Good night everypony!" said Vinyl from the stage.
"Huh? Is that all?" asked Luna. "WE DEMAND MORE!"
"More! More! More!" called the crowd, following Luna's hollering. Alas, Vinyl Scratch never did encores.
"A pity. What time is it?"
"It's midnight," said Fluttershy.
"Surely not!?" exclaimed Luna.
"Oh my, th-that went fast," hiccoughed Twilight, swaying on her hooves. "Mmm, perhaps we better get back to the Castle?" And in full view of her friends, she winked unashamedly at Luna, causing the alicorn to blush.
"Yes, well..." began Applejack.
"Hey guys!" chirped Pinkie Pie, bouncing up to them, providing a convenient distraction.
"Pinkie, how were you able to just walk up there and start singing?" asked Rainbow Dash, who was totally not jealous.
"I'm the party pony," she said simply.
"What does that even mean?" said Rainbow incredulously.
"It means what I say, and I say what I mean."
"I'm hungry, can we get food?" asked the pink pony.
"Now that you mention it, I do feel quite hungry," said Fluttershy.
"To the pizza parlour!" squealed Pinkie Pie.
In the Dead of Night
"This pizza really is delicious."
A long, hot string of cheese hung between Twilight's muzzle and the hapless pizza she was devouring.
"Ah yeah," sighed Rainbow after her first bite, "drunk pizza is best pizza, right AJ?"
"Yes mam!" agreed the farm pony, tucking into hers.
They were sitting in the surprisingly small and cosy living room of Canterlot Castle. Twilight had teleported them there from the pizza takeaway.
Well, thought Twilight. Near as good as.
Twilight had tried to teleport them to the great oak doors that were the entrance to the Castle. What had actually happened was that they'd all ended up in the Gardens in a pile, except Fluttershy who was stuck in a tree, and Twilight who materialised in an icy fountain. She promised them all to never try magic when drunk again.
On the plus side, mused the lavender unicorn, chewing slowly at least I don't smell any more.
She looked around at her best friends, all looking decidedly worse for wear, with ruffled manes and tired faces across the board.
"This pizza really is delicious," said Twilight for the third time.
"Yes, Twi," said Applejack patiently, "we're eating it too, remember?"
"Oh yeah," she said, comprehension dawning on her face, along with a happy grin.
Rainbow looked at Twilight, to ask her a question, but thought better of it; she addressed Luna instead.
"Uh, Luna, where exactly are we staying tonight?"
"Celly took the liberty of preparing Twilight's old bedroom for you, is that alright?"
"More than alright, I think, I've never actually seen her old room but it can't be that bad."
Applejack yawned widely.
"Sorry y'all, ah'm just plum tuckered out, ah think ah'll hit the hay."
"Hay?" asked Luna, "No Applejack, the beds are of fine goose down and- wait a minute, is this another one of those funny modern expressions?"
The farmpony shrugged as they all got up.
"Not sure, it means going to bed anywho."
"Going to bed..." she mused in reply, "I'll remember that one."
They trooped upstairs together and parted on a narrow corridor.
"Goodnight!" said Twilight and Luna simultaneously to the other five.
"Night," they replied. Rainbow gave Twilight a subtle wink and a grin, and the unicorn's cheeks became tinted with pink.
"Come," said Luna, leading the way through winding corridors to her room. They approached the doors emblazoned with the celestial symbol and stumbled in giggling.
Twilight's mind was a little clearer than it had been; she was now floating in the realms of comfortable drunkenness without a care in the world. Her face split into a grin as she sauntered towards the large bed, snuggling under the covers from the bottom and working her way up to the top. She felt somepony lying next to her, and with a flash of sudden confidence, leaned over and whispered, in as sultry a voice as she could muster:
"So, what do you want to do?"
"What?" said a confused Twilight.
There was a moment of chaos: Twilight felt the blankets being wrenched to the side of the bed, heard something large hit the floor, and the unicorn was dragged along by the duvet. She fell off and landed on something warm and firm. She looked up to see Luna rolling on the floor laughing.
But... thought Twilight, trying to piece together what had just happened, if Luna is there, then who...
She looked down, and was mortified to see that she had landed on Princess Celestia's hindquarters. The alicorn raised her head to look at Twilight, a pink nightcap swinging as she did so.
"Twilight? What is the meaning of this?" There was no hint of anger or annoyance in her voice, in fact, there was a glimmer of amusement, but Twilight still quailed out of sheer embarrassment.
"I- ah- we- um-" she stammered, hopping off. All she could think about was that she had not only got into bed with her mentor, but had whispered sweet nothings into her ear! The poor, purple pony looked down at her hooves in shame. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
Luna came to the rescue.
"Forgive us, sister. We appear to have come into the wrong bedroom."
"Oh my, girls, how much have you had to drink?"
She sniffed the air, and the potent scent of alcohol and 'club' rushed into her nose.
"Never mind," she said, "perhaps it's best I didn't know. Now Luna, your room is first left, straight ahead, and right; can you remember that?"
Celestia looked slightly dubious but nodded.
"Very well, take this delightful young mare with you," said the alabaster mare as she got back into bed. She gave Twilight a warm smile, which the unicorn returned as best she could.
"Goodnight, my faithful student, and goodnight, my dear sister."
"Goodnight," said the two ponies, somewhat sheepishly.
"Oh, and have fun!" said Celestia mischievously as they exited the door. Both ponies winced in embarrassment.
The alicorn shook her head in amusement.
Every time Luna gets drunk, she thought to herself.
"Did y'all hear that?"
There was a muffled banging outside, followed by a bout of giggling.
"I think it may be Twilight and Luna," said Rarity rolling her eyes, "really, how much did they drink?"
"Not enough, they're still concious," said Pinkie knowledgeably.
"Pinkie, hedonism may be all well and good for you, but a Princess should really behave as such, and Twilight, well, she should know better."
They were all in Twilight's old room, two extra double beds had been added by Celestia; Rainbow and Applejack shared one, Pinkie and Rarity shared another, and Fluttershy had Twilight's old bed. And all were enjoying a warm, alcoholic fuzz.
"So, how long 'til those two get it on?" asked Rainbow. "I'll give 'em seven weeks."
"Rainbow Dash! What a vulgar question!" exclaimed Rarity. "...Five weeks."
"Eleven," said Applejack.
"Ten," said Fluttershy.
"Tonight," said Pinkie, "my Pinkie sense tells me."
Four jaws dropped simultaneously.
"Just kidding you guys! Yeeesh, you need to lighten up!"
They started laughing in relief.
"But seriously, they'd be great together," said Rainbow, shifting her position and inching ever so slightly closer to Applejack.
"They look so beautiful when they're with each other," agreed Fluttershy.
"But the more pressing question," said Rarity, "is when are you two going to start going out?"
Rainbow Dash and Applejack looked up to see Rarity looking at them. Rainbow felt her face grow hot, Applejack's remained neutral.
"What do you mean?" asked Rainbow, trying to play it cool and failing miserably.
"Oh darling, don't be so silly, I've been watching you two for a while now and it's plain as day."
"It is kind of obvious," said Fluttershy meekly.
"I-I don't know what you're talking about," said Rainbow.
Rarity looked skeptical but dropped the subject. Rainbow chanced a glance at Applejack, the farm pony appeared to be deep in thought, simply staring at the wall opposite. Rainbow felt her heart sink. Yes, of course she had a bit of a crush on Applejack. How could she not?
We share so much in common, she thought, watching the others babble on about something unawesome and therefore unimportant. We both are competitive, that much is certain, we both love each other's company, she's gorgeous to boot. And I guess she doesn't feel the same way. The Pegasus felt a painful lump form in her throat.
Every bucking time, she thought bitterly. Every time I like some pony, they are never interested in return.
"Goodnight girls," said Fluttershy yawning widely.
"Goodness, is it that time already? I need my beauty sleep, goodnight everyone."
Pinkie Pie was already asleep, having managed to party herself out. Applejack blew out the candles and got into bed, her sides rubbing against Rainbow's, in a tortuously tantalising motion.
"Hey," came the quietest whisper from Applejack.
"Ya don't think ah forgot about you now, did ya?"
She extended a hoof , and after poking Rainbow in the tummy, she found a hoof and linked it with hers. Rainbow's smile could not have been wider.
Luna and Twilight eventually made it to the right room, the alicorn carefully checking that there was indeed a glowing crescent Moon on the doors.
"Yes, definitely mine," she said, turning the handle. The door stayed shut. She pushed the door, but it stayed resolutely still. "I think the door is locked," she said glumly.
"You have the key, right?"
"I put it on the throne before we left, I hoped I would remember where it was, alas."
"So, what do we do now?"
"Isn't it obvious? We have to break in."
"Break in?" said Twilight weakly. "Forgive me, but I can tell there's extremely powerful magic on these doors..."
"I know, that's why we're going to use the windows."
"But aren't the windows fortified too?"
"My dear Twilight, indeed they are, but nothing I cannot undo, I raise the entire Moon after all."
She knelt down, inviting Twilight to hop on. Once she had, they flew outside to one of Luna's large windows, hovering for a moment while the alicorn considered how to break the spells. Twilight's breath rose in a mist before her. She looked up to see the majesty of her companion's night sky, twinkling masses of stars faling into the great band of the galaxy, which Twilight had never seen so bright before. Luna turned her head to see the depths of the heavens sunk into the unicorn's bright eyes as she gazed, the stars reflecting for eternity. It was clear to Luna that the lavender mare had a great passion for the night skies.
"Twilight," she whispered, and she looked down to lock eyes with Luna, "I broke the spell."
She fluttered into her bedroom, and landed softly on the floor. Twilight wiggled off and fell onto the bed with a soft 'flump'. Ah, how nice it was to finally cuddle up after a long, busy day. She looked up, to see Luna walking to a small, white door.
"Forgive me Twilight, but I won't be able to sleep until I've had a shower."
"No worries," she said sleepily, getting under Luna's many blankets and warming up. She would have joined her, but she had been washed clean in the fountain earlier.
Twilight closed her eyes and breathed deeply.
Today has been a good day, she thought. Everypony has been so nice to me! And Luna... Well, a lot of things have become clear tonight.
She lay there for a few minutes, lost in thought, her active imagination bursting with all manner of possibilities.
She was teetering on the edges of the waking world and dreams when Luna emerged from her bathroom, squeaky clean and slightly damp. Her mane was not flowing, but instead hung down in luscious blue curls. She gently nuzzled Twilight, who jerked back into full conciousness.
"Oh, hey Luna- wow, I like your mane!"
"Mmhmm, you look even more attractive than usual."
"Thank you Twilight," said a flattered Luna, getting under the covers with her. "And thank you for warming it up under here."
She placed a tentative hoof over Twilight, and after hearing no objections, drew her into a hug.
"Twilight," the alicorn began, "there's something I want- have to tell you."
Twilight remained silent, and was unnaturally still.
"I'm not quite sure where to begin, but I guess the best place to start is the beginning... A long time ago, a few thousand years ago now I should think, when I was the equivalent age of a late teenager, I knew a stallion called Silver Foot... He was a very brave pony, and saved my life when I foolishly went mountaineering in a blizzard. Celly was very angry about that, but that's not the point, he was a great pony, and, as is natural, I fell in love with him. We were happy for a time, but something strange happened, it might have been the death of his father, he started drinking after that, but he became cold, and distant, and eventually abusive. I told Celly what had been going on; her reaction scared me, I've rarely ever seen her so angry. In her rage, she banished him from Equestria to live in exile, I never heard from him again...
"I was distraught, not because of my sister's decision, because somepony I trusted so much could change so fast. I didn't think I would ever trust anyone again. I spiralled down into a depression, becoming increasingly isolated and lonely. The days and nights got progressively worse and my self induced isolation resulted in my not thinking in my right mind. I grew jealous of Celestia, and loathed the ponies who preferred her day over my night, until one night, which we all sadly know of, it boiled to a point and I confronted my sister in my insanity... I deserved my punishment for trying to overthrow her, and even kill her... it was the worst thing I ever did.
"I sometimes fear I have too much power Twilight, all that heartbreak and misery caused by a stupid stallion! And worst of all, my sister was dragged into it, and perhaps bore the brunt of it..."
She paused in her monologue to look at Twilight, who was watching avidly, and with sympathy. The alicorn's eyes were shimmering in the emotional outpouring, Twilight wondered how long it had been since she had told this tale.
"Why are you telling me this?" asked Twilight softly.
"Twilight, I know your heart is pure as purest gold, I know there is not a malicious bone in your body, and I know for a fact you are a wonderful mare, and you could never treat me like he did."
"You really think so?" she said, eyes bright and wide.
"Yes, you are a truly beautiful mare, and Twilight? Who broke the curse that lay on me and brought me to my senses?"
"M-me," she said in a small voice.
"And who has helped me integrate into modern society?"
"And who has helped me make lots of new friends?"
"Me, but you made some yourself."
"And who has always been there for me when I needed advice or somepony to talk to?"
"Who has cared about me and is always happy to spend time in my company?"
"So who, do you suppose, have I developed feelings for over the last year or so?"
"Me..." Twilight whispered, a small smile gently curling her mouth.
"Yes, Twilight, you. You've shown me kindness, you've shown me generosity, you've shown me laugher, you've shown me honesty and you've shown me loyalty.
The poor unicorn's heart started racing, as Luna leaned closer to her.
"And now," whispered Luna, "I'll show you magic."
Her soft lips brushed against Luna's as they shared their first kiss. Twilight's mind exploded at the new and alien sensations. It felt as though her heart had roared into flame and the fire was burning pleasurably through her veins. Luna was in the same boat, sharing your first intimate moment with somepony for over three thousand years tended to have that effect on you.
The kiss increased in its passion, and Luna hugged Twilight close to her, running a hoof through her soft mane, eliciting a sigh from the unicorn.
They eventually broke apart, and purple eyes locked with blue.
"Luna... this is all so..."
Words failed even her, and she just grinned widely.
"Happiest of birthdays, Twilight Sparkle," said Luna drawing her into a tight embrace. And there they lay, in each other's hooves, until they were both swept into the magic world of dreams.
Splendid Summer Skies
Six months later...
It was a balmy summer's day, and Twilight Sparkle was walking through a small, emerald green valley. The Sun shone through the canopy, dappling the ground in patches of light and shade. The lavender mare trotted down to a sparkling stream at the bottom and lay down in a patch of lush, thick grass that grew beside it. She inhaled deeply as she relaxed in her comfy spot, breathing in the wonderful scents of the forest, the lavender, the water, the grass, and countless others, all blending on the breeze.
What's taking her so long?
"Luna?!" she called, "Where are you?"
"We are coming!" called the alicorn from somewhere to Twilight's right.
There was a rustling noise, and Luna stumbled into view, shaking off brambles that were clinging to her hind legs.
"Let me get that for you," said Twilight kindly, horn illuminating as she picked off the prickles with her magic.
"Thank you, my dear," said Luna, joining her on the grass, resting her head on Twilight's back.
"Any time, honey."
"Have you got the picnic?"
"Huh? I thought you had it?"
"No no no, I gave it to you!" said Luna.
"Did we leave it behind when we had that stop?"
"We must have done... I'm sorry Twilight, I've spoiled the afternoon haven't I?"
"Oh no, it's not your fault! It was my picnic, I should've kept an eye on it."
"I'm the one who offered to carry it."
"Oh, hush," said Twilight, silencing her with a swift kiss.
"But what are we to eat?"
"Well," said Twilight, looking around. She spotted the lavender. "There is this?"
"Lavender?" asked Luna doubtfully.
"You got a problem with lavender?" said Twilight playfully, waving a purple hoof in front of her face. "Try it with grass, it's better than you'd think."
Luna looked dubious, but decided to give Twilight's opinion a chance. Twilight gave her a sprig of lavender, and the alicorn pulled up some of the long grass.
"Mmmm, much tastier than I expected."
"I'm glad you approve!" said Twilight happily.
"What about drinks?"
"Well, I dunno," said Twilight, making a point to stare intently at the stream.
"Yeah, why not? We may as well make this a properly wild lunch."
"Is it... clean?"
"I should hope so, we're in the hills, it's still a small stream, I've drunk from brooks like this before when camping with the girls, it's rather tasty."
"Well, you were right about the food..."
Luna joined Twilight at the water's edge, and drank from the stream, the cool water satiating her thirst.
"Perhaps I ought to try this 'wild' food and drink more often, it's delicious!"
Except for the mishap concerning the picnic, the mares' day out had gone smoothly. Twilight snoozed lightly in the sunlight, using Luna as a pillow. The alicorn merely rested her eyes, occasionally watching Twilight enjoy her slumber. It was a simple affair, and both ponies enjoyed it immensely.
Shadows slowly shifted across the ground as the day wore on, and eventually they were bathed in pink and orange light as the Sun set. Luna leaned over to her little purple unicorn and nuzzled her gently.
"Twilight dear, it's time to get up."
"Mrrrh?" said a sleepy Twilight.
"The day has ended."
"Goodness! I must've been asleep for a while."
"Get on my back: you look too tired to walk all the way back to Ponyville."
"I'll be fine, I-"
"I want you to, Twilight, I want to show you something."
With curiosity, Twilight complied, jumping up onto Luna's back: resting her hind legs just in front of her wings, and hugging her neck with her forelegs. Luna's wings flapped powerfully as she took off, Twilight could feel the regular rhythm of her flight muscles underneath her.
They burst through the canopy, leaves swiping Twilight's face, and she buried her head in Luna's mane, getting a noseful of the sweet scent of the Princess.
You know, I might just stay here, mmmm.
She closed her eyes, the hypnotic cadence of her wings lulling her close to sleep again.
I need to lay off the books if they're making me this tired...
"Twilight? We're here."
Luna sat down and Twilight slid slowly off onto something soft and fluffy. It was a cloud. Twilight yelped.
"Don't worry!" said Luna, "I took the courtesy of performing a cloud walking spell on you, I prefer my marefriends to be in the realm of the living, after all."
They were high in the heavens above Ponyville, the light was failing, and the lights both below and above began to flicker into life, from the lights of homes to the stars of the skies.
"This is beautiful," said Twilight with hushed tones.
"This is just a warm-up. Sit back Twilight, and enjoy the show."
With a slightly smug smile, Luna drew a hoof over Twilight as her midnight blue horn glowed softly. Rivers of green and blue light materialised from the aether, twisting into ribbons above all of Equestria. The aurorae shimmered in the darkening sky.
Twilight looked up, open mouthed- she had never seen the aurorae before in her life. The alicorn's horn blazed white and she shut her eyes tight.
Twilight watched as the Moon rose above the horizon, a full, giant disc of silver, pocked with countless craters, and magnified greatly by the atmosphere. Luna looked sadly at the celestial orb, then to Twilight, the Moon reflected twice in her eyes.
"Do you like it?"
Twilight looked around, at the seas of stars, the Moon and the aurorae. All of it had been crafted for her. Silver tears of happiness sparkled in her eyes. She lifted her head up and kissed Luna deeply, her lips alive with heated passion. She tried to pour all her feelings into that embrace, and she succeeded.
"I'll take that as a yes?" said Luna gently.
Twilight locked eyes with her, and uttered for the first time:
"I love you."
Now it was Luna's turn for glittering eyes.
"Oh Twilight, I love you too."
And from that small, cosy cloud, they enjoyed the simple act of talking to one another, about everything and nothing, often at the same time, under the majesty of Luna's night.