Throughout the house, many animals were sleeping as the sun was rising. Some of them were snoozing in holes in the wall, others in birdhouses, and some were sleeping in sleeping bags out on the floor.
Angel was one of them, passed out on the sofa. He was in the middle of a dream when he heard the sound of hooves trotting on the stairs, and he woke up to see Fluttershy coming down.
"Oh, hi Angel. Did you sleep well?" Fluttershy whispered as she arrived in the living room. "I hope I didn't wake you up coming in."
He shrugged and stretched out his arms, pushing the blanket away and getting up. Fluttershy trotted down the stairs slowly after that, careful not to wake any other animal up, while she pushed the front door open and sneaked outside. Angel gave a thumbs up to signal he would take care of the rest, and she shut the door behind her.
It was looking to be a nice day outside. The Pegasi in Cloudsdale didn't have any rain scheduled for a while, so Fluttershy took advantage of it by taking a walk. But she had left right when the mail pony was making his rounds, so she waved as he approached her mailbox.
However, her verbal beatdown during her "new Fluttershy" phase was still fresh in his mind, and he almost ran away when he saw the pink pony waving. But he had a job to do, so he slowly edged to her doorstep, shaking the whole time.
"Please don't hurt me. I promise this is your mail," he said as he dug into his bag and handed a stack of letters. She looked over them and saw that they were all addressed to her, so she smiled and grabbed them in her mouth, but she could see he was terrified of what she might do to him.
"It's OK, that was New Fluttershy, and she's not coming back," she mentioned as she put the letters on the ground to talk to him. "You're a good mail pony, I promise."
He didn't say anything though, and instead he slowly backed away, still shaking in horror. This was the first time he was afraid of somepony that was being friendly to him, but he wasn't taking any chances.
It got to her, thinking "was New Fluttershy that rude?" She pushed it away and looked down at today's mail, and there were a lot of things that came in.
The first was some advertisement to Inside The Palace Weekly, a tabloid over the things that happened inside the Canterlot castle, with false rumors that Cadence was pregnant. Next. A call by nature fans to plant more trees. Twilight lives in a tree, she remembered. It's nice and cozy inside...
Then she saw it. Nopony could avoid it, as it was bigger than most letters, as it was a poster. Its color palette of pink with a hint of purple demanded attention, and the main illustration was a couple of lovebirds dancing together.
"The Ponyville Palace Dance, in the old school gym room. Come and bring a stallion to the best dancing night of your life. Next Tuesday, formal attire is required, and a partner as well," she read.
She jumped at the name of the place. The Palace Dance was the closest event to the Grand Galloping Gala the town of Ponyville had, and she heard nothing but good things about it from Rarity. An event like this was something she slowly wished she could attend one of these days, and now that she finally had been invited, she was excited, but looked over her shoulder and remembered the animals sleeping inside, so she ran off to a meadow and hollered.
"It's here! I'm going to the dance! Wait a minute," she realized slowly. "I don't have a special somepony to take with me. And...I don't know many stallions in Ponyville."
Nevertheless, she enjoyed the thrill of going for a second longer, before the crushing defeat of acknowledging she would have to find somepony to take. And she wasn't the greatest at meeting new friends all that well. Twilight seemed like a good pony even when they first met, and she still couldn't find the words to say.
"Doesn't matter, Fluttershy. You're going to the Dance with somepony, and nothing is going to stop you," she assured herself. She started to trot over to Ponyville, her spirits uncharacteristically high for going into a social event like this.
Since it was a Saturday, Ponyville was crowded throughout its streets, especially with fillies all over. This was going to be a little harder than she hoped for.
She looked around nervously and looked at a high enough level to ignore them and just pay attention to the adults. There were a lot around, all unfamiliar to her. She looked around and spotted Thunderlane, remembering him from the tornado performance, and decided to see if he was available.
But as she got closer, she realized this was a bad idea when she witnessed him giving a kiss on the cheek to Cherry Blossom. It was too late to back away, as she had already poked him on the shoulder beforehand.
Thunderlane turned around to see who was doing that, but she was gone, flying off into the trunk of a tree.
"He didn't see me, right?" she quivered. "Wait, no he didn't. Whew. You really need to pay attention, Fluttershy."
She hopped down and tried again, but as she looked around it became a blur, with a stallion around every corner and every step. She started to hyperventilate, before she spotted Twilight Sparkle trotting around with a book in her face. She trotted as fast as she could in her general direction, and Twi heard her coming and lowered her book to get a better look.
"Oh hi Fluttershy. What are you doing out here?" she greeted.
"Twilight, I'm so glad to see you. Can we go to your house for a minute?" Fluttershy asked.
"Yeah, but are you feeling well? You look like you have a fever or something."
"I'll be fine, just take me to your place."
After a while, they went inside Twilight's treehouse, and Spike was upstairs sleeping. "I always let him sleep in on Saturday mornings, I read that's what you're supposed to do with fillies his age. Are you sure you don't need anything to feel better?"
"No, but thanks for asking," Fluttershy said. "But there is a problem that I need help with."
She took the poster and spread it on the table. Twilight looked over it and saw the problem as soon as she read what kind of event this was.
"You need a pony to take with you to the dance?"
"Yes, but I don't know who I should take. It needs to be a stallion, but I don't know many in Ponyville. You know many?"
"Oh, this is easier than you think. You should try--"
Twilight was interrupted when they heard a belch followed by a fire errupting, and they both looked up to see Spike was awake and waddling down the stairs.
"What's with all the noise? Oh, it's you Fluttershy."
Fluttershy's eyes lit up and she started to grin, and Twilight looked at her and realized what she was thinking. "You gotta be kidding..."
"Spike, do you think you could come with me to a dance next Tuesday?"
"A dance. It's a place where two ponies dance together, but I'm sure they'll allow a dragon if you dress up in a tux."
The thought didn't register, and he nodded his head a little. "Sure, next Tuesday you said? I can do that. I'm going back to bed."
He did so, going up the stairs and Fluttershy was hopping a little in glee, and Twilight couldn't believe what she was seeing. Placing a hoof on her head, she walked out and took a Daring Do book with her.
The whole idea was so weird to her. Yes, it seemed like Fluttershy was just being desperate and Spike was going to be a good friend. But at the same time, the whole idea of the two of them dancing...it was almost hilarious. Then again, she was told she wasn't the best dancer either...
Since this seemed like something Rarity would talk about, she put off reading Daring Do and went for the Carousal Boutique, surprised that there were so many stallions around today. When did the male population explode so soon?
The door swung open and Rarity was sitting on the front desk, going through her supplies before noting Twilight had come in. "Hello Twilight, is there anything you want to buy today? I just finished another lineup of dresses and I want to see how they look before I put them out in the store."
"No, not right now Rarity," Twilight mumbled. "It's been a weird morning, and I'm not sure how to feel right now."
"What's the matter, dear?" Rarity inquired, pulling up a chair for Twilight to sit on. "Go on, tell me anything."
"If you say so. You see, Fluttershy came in and said she wanted to go to this dance that's coming up, and she invited Spike to come, and he said yes--"
"Pardon me for interrupting, but is it...that dance?"
"What dance, Rarity? I didn't know until today we had dances in Ponyville."
"But is it...the Palace Dance?"
Twilight nodded, not sure what this meant. But when she did, Rarity's eyes exploded, and she dumped a huge glass of water in her face. "Really...THE Dance? With Spike of all people?"
"Seriously, what is it about the Dance that's so special?" Twilight puzzled.
"Why, you don't know? The Ponyville Palace Dance is one of the most romantic events of all of Equestria! It's a place where legends say everypony that attends will fall in love with their partner, and sometimes the stallions even ask the mares their hoof in marriage!"
It took a while for Twi to get the idea, but when she did her jaw went slack. "You...you can't be serious..."
"But I am, Twilight." She levitated Twilight's entire frame over to the couch, and the purple unicorn sank inside the cushions in disbelief. "I just didn't know she had feelings for..Spikey Wikey of all ponies."
Twilight's head was shaking all over the place, trying to process it. "There's no way...no way Fluttershy likes him in that way. There's no possible way!"
"Well, I always thought she had the potential to be romantic one of these days," Rarity noted. "She does seem to fancy--"
"You thought Fluttershy could be romantic one day? What's that supposed to mean?"
"Come on, just look at her. She's the kind of mare that when she does fall in love, she falls in love deeply--"
"But with a dragon."
"You still can't believe it?"
"I'm surprised you're so quick to think that. You know Spike doesn't like her like that. He likes you, and he was half asleep when he said he wanted to go out with her."
Rarity paused her thought, and sank back into her sofa, thinking about it a lot. It seemed weird when they really put thought into about it. There was no sign before today that Fluttershy loved him, and it did seem sudden. But it was so awkward that Rarity changed the subject and levitated three suitcases over to Twilight's field of vision.
"Let's put it away for a while. I did find everything I needed from that last trip in Canterlot, so tell me what you--"
"But why would she even like him the first place?" Twilight asked. This wasn't going to go away with fabric and string. And Rarity knew it.
As if to make the whole thing more uncomfortable, Applejack came in, laughing like she heard the funniest joke in the world. She had trouble saying anything for a while, and Twilight placed another hoof on her forehead.
"Can you believe it?" Applejack said. "I never knew Fluttershy likes dragons after all!" Then she saw Rarity grinning and Twilight shaking her head in disapproval. "Oh, so the word's out already?"
They nodded silently, and the three of them sighed with angst over the whole ordeal. It was getting more uncomfortable by the second, before they couldn't take it anymore.
"Why are we even upset over the whole shebang?" Rarity pointed out. "We should be happy that Fluttershy has found someone that--"
"But why would she like Spike in the first place?" Twilight said.
"I...I don't really know," she admitted. "Uh...could we talk about this in a more personal place? This really shouldn't be something we say out in the--"
Then, Spike burst through the doors, panting and sweating and looking like he had committed a terrible crime.
"I didn't know that was a romantic dance! I just thought it was someplace where they dance to music, not kiss and say they love each other! What do I do?" Spike panicked.
Applejack's suspensions were confirmed: Spike had no real idea what Fluttershy was doing.
"I reckon we all go upstairs. Don't let Fluttershy know about this yet," she commanded. They all did were they were told, while Spike found the nearest paper bag and breathed into it in panic.
"It's alright Spike," Twilight said as she patted the dragon on the back. "We'll get this straightened out."
He nodded in hope, as they went upstairs into the hallway. There they went to Rarity's bedroom, right next to Sweetie Belle's but much bigger. They went in one at a time, and Spike hopped up on the bed and kept breathing into the paper bag.
It took a while for the sheer awkwardness to fade away before anypony was willing to talk again. Whenever or not they admitted it, none of them were prepared for something like this. It was out of their expertise because not one pony had any real experience in it.
Eventually, Twilight was the first to speak, but her voice was not as certain as it usually was and instead was a little shaken up.
"Now...let's try to make sense of all of this, and whatever you do, don't worry about it. Be honest with each other, and don't be afraid to call one of us out on something."
Applejack and Rarity nodded in agreement, while Spike started to calm down and put the paper bag down to his side.
Tensions were going down, as Twilight had taken out a chalkboard into the room and drew the heads of Fluttershy and Spike together, with a line connecting them and a question mark in the middle of the line.
Rarity, Applejack, and Spike looked over the drawing, in the same manner that the players on a sports team looked over the game plan.
"Now, as of now let's assume Fluttershy likes Spike," Twilight said as she wrote a heart shape above Fluttershy and pointed it at the dragon. "Now the only question is, why?"
"I have an idea, if you don't mind," Rarity volunteered to answer. "I personally find Spike to be adorable, with his cute little cheeks and purple scales, and he is so helpful around."
The dragon was blushing at every line, but he was grateful his crush even remotely liked him a little.
"Good, that's a start." Twilight marked in the words "ADORABLE" and "HELPFUL" underneath. "I agree, he does make for a good assistant. What next?"
"I hope I don't ruffle any feathers around these parts," Applejack said, "but Fluttershy's special talent is taking care of animals, right? That's the reason she has butterflies for a cutie mark...what if she wants to 'take care' of Spike by--"
Immediately she found Rarity in her face, noses pushed against each other. "Spike is the best dragon around, and doesn't deserve to be treated like one of the pigs in your barn!"
"I didn't mean that! I just thought--"
They were interrupted as Twilight used her horn to shut their lips with rope, forcing them to turn back to the chalkboard.
"Girls, I know tensions are high, but stay focused. And no, it's not fair to him to call him a pet, but that's besides the point," the purple unicorn noted.
"I'm going out for a while," Spike groaned. "I can see where this is going."
He left through the door, and Applejack turned around to see Rarity looked like she was in the mood to teach her a few lessons on pain. But somehow, by the grace of Celestia, they went back to business.
"Fine," Applejack said. "I'm thinking the same as Twilight and Rarity. He does help out a lot, and for that I'm thankful. But he does that to everypony. Why would Fluttershy fall in love with him over anypony else?"
"I don't know," said the white unicorn, then she went up on the chalkboard and wiped away Spike's head and replaced it with Big Mac's. "If anything, this makes more sense."
She drew up a bunch of traits, ranging from "SHY" to "GREAT WITH ANIMALS".
"Look at them!" Rarity declared. "They share so many traits like these, and don't they look cute together?"
She went to work and drew a quick art piece of Fluttershy and Big Mac snuggling by a fireplace. "See what I mean?"
"Now hold your saddle for a moment," Applejack snapped back. "The last time a pony thought Big Mac was the one for a mare, it ended with a potion and a lot of things I won't mention behind his back. Don't get my brother back into this."
"Oh, but I'm not. I'm just thinking out loud, I wouldn't do that to him. Even if he is a little smelly..."
Without warning Applejack leaped into the air and lunged for Rarity with hooves extended, before Twilight grabbed her with a spell and lowered her slowly.
"This is no time for name calling! Let's get back to...wait a minute..."
Whenever or not they were willing to acknowledge it, the whole business had turned something on in their brains. Something that wasn't going to let go for hours.
It was obvious as Twilight wiped away Fluttershy's face and the trait lists, and drew Cheerilee's face instead.
"AJ, did Big Mac and Cheerilee ever stay together after Hearts and Hooves Day?"
Applejack's eyes widened, as she got up and dusted herself off with her hat. "Pardon...oh, those two. Um, I don't know. They did become close friends, and sometimes they like to go eat out, and sometimes he likes to greet her with a hoofful of flowers--"
Whatever kind of rage she was in was nothing compared to this. Steam came out of her ears and her hat flew off to land on Rarity's head. "I should have know! I thought he was better than that, dating that pretty teacher behind my back! Now you're going to get it!"
Twilight trotted for her life as the Earth Pony went straight for the chalkboard and wiped away her brother's face, and put in...Twilight's face instead.
"What?" she screamed. "Why would you pair me with Cheerilee? I barely even know her all that well!"
"But it makes too much sense!" Applejack explained. "She's a teacher, and you're learning right now. You could even say you're a know-it-all that could be a teacher if you wanted. Heck, by Celestia's mane you both even act alike!"
"I'm not interested in dating mares!" Twilight finally exploded. "I know what you mean, however, I'm more interested in stallions than anything else. I'm sorry."
Applejack mouthed an "oh" with her lips, and grabbed a cloth and wiped away Twilight's face from the chalkboard, Cheerlie's after that, and put Fluttershy's back on there.
Then she did something to destroy any sense of sense: Drawing Rainbow Dash's head on there.
"What?" the unicorns said in unison.
"Now give me a moment to explain," Applejack mentioned. "Now, we all know that they have been friends for a while, right?"
They nodded, that was true. Rainbow and Fluttershy were friends as long as they could remember.
"And best of all, Rainbow seems to help Fluttershy around with her...shyness. Right?"
"But if they were together, why would Fluttershy ask Spike out on a date?" Rarity asked.
"Does Rainbow Dash ever like to dress in style?"
Rarity couldn't help but laugh, rolling around on the sofa in delight, almost as if it was a joke. Even Twilight couldn't help herself, Rainbow hated dresses with a passion.
After they had calmed down, they shaked their heads in agreement.
"Exactly. She doesn't. So maybe this was something Rainbow didn't want to go to, and so she had to pick a stallion but settled for Spike."
"I don't think so," Rarity disagreed. "For one, he is much too young to know about the ways of a lady, and two, I still seriously doubt that they're together, regardless of your reasoning."
"Still," said Twilight as she approached the chalkboard and wiped the board clean. "That does raise a question." This time the heads of Spike and Rarity themselves went up. Twi drew a line from Spike pointing to Rarity, writing a "confirmed" note, then putting a line from Rarity to Spike with a question above. "Rarity, we all know Spike has a crush on you, and you know it. We all know it. But the question I have is, do you have feelings for him?"
To Rarity it felt like the temperature skyrocketed, and she was in an oven. She was sweating like a pig, and even though only Applejack and Twilight were staring at her, it felt like she was drowning in a sea of peering eyes, begging, watching, waiting for the next words.
I can't lie to them, she thought to herself. But I really shouldn't speak of such matters like they were mere gossip. But in the end, they are my friends...
"No," she finally admitted. "I don't love Spike in that matter."
Surprisingly, the other unicorn took it well, writing a "not happening" note above both heads on the board.
"If I must explain myself," she continued, "it's for the same reasons I cannot picture Spike going out with anypony yet. Have you seen him lately? He's as small as a filly, as he's just as mature as one. Even though he will always be my Spikey Wikey, I can't put him through that yet. And..."
She looked around the room and shut all the windows, made sure the door was extra tight, and then she looked like she was comfortable to start talking. "I...I already have a special somepony."
"What? Why didn't you tell us about this? And who is he?" Twilight exclaimed.
"If you insist, I haven't told you yet because I started to go out with him not that long ago. He is a charming stallion for sure, but I'm not ready to go public with it yet."
"That's nice and dandy, but you haven't told us who he is yet," Applejack said.
Once again Rarity made the rounds to make sure nopony would hear what she was about to say, even shrugging the windows to make sure there wasn't one crack that air could pass through. "I will tell you, but do not mention this to one more soul. I do not know if he is as he appears, but I do love him so far..."
She slowly trotted over to the chalkboard again, and something about this felt extra special. The way she was walking, it felt like a ceremony in design. Applejack and Twilight eyeballed her every movement, as it was turning to a revelation event.
When Rarity started to draw the stallion, it wasn't just a head shot, it was a full drawn model. She started with the legs, and the hooves were shaven like Big Mac's. Then she did the body, and whoever he was, he was bigger than most Ponyville ponies yet slender in his build.
The unicorn kept going painfully slow, finishing the head and went to the clothing. It was becoming clear with his expensive tux that he was from Canterlot, and Twilight was starting to get the idea, but wanted to be sure.
Then it came at last. Rarity drew the mane, a slicked back head of fur...and finished it off with a monocle.
"Fancy Pants," Rarity huffed. "I have to come clean about it. Ever since we met right before Twilight's birthday party, I always found him a fascinating character, so much so that at Shining and Cadence's wedding reception I tracked him in the crowd and spent the night dancing with him.
"I didn't just travel to Canterlot recently for supplies, no, I went out on a date with him. And he is the most charming pony I have ever met...and I think I am in love with the stallion."
Twilight's face went blank, like the first moment she heard the first news of a tragedy. Applejack's jaw was down all the way to the ground, and they couldn't believe it when they heard it.
"I had no idea," Applejack responded. "You were always one I suspected would be the mushy type, but I can't believe I didn't catch it sooner."
"I'm happy for you, I really am," Twilight mentioned. "But eventually we have to tell Spike. He's going to be devastated, but he has to know sooner or later."
"I know, he is a sweet little dragon," said Rarity. "But I'm not for certain Fancy is the one, that's the only reason why you're the first two to know."
"I think we should call this a day for now," brought up Twilight. "We're all a little stressed out, so let's go outside for a while."
"Good idea," Applejack said as she finally got her hat back from Rarity, dusting it off of the mane care products that had gotten on it. "But Big Mac better not have gone fooling around with Cheerlie like that..."
The three ponies exited out the room and went down the stairs to the base level of the Boutique. Rarity noted that it was a few minutes before noon, so they decided to go out for lunch in the town square.
Today was shaping up to be a beautiful day, with a gentle breeze keeping it cool and crisp, almost to jacket weather. It was the beginning of spring, and for this year the season would be sunny with a few thunderstorms here and there to make it not a dry year. The winter would make up for it by having a soggy start.
Since it was such a beautiful day, they opted for an outdoor sit-down restaurant, in what amounted to little more than a high-end coffee shop. On the way to the place, they did spot Spike inside another store, but decided not to bother him to give him time to think.
They took their seats and made their orders. Twilight went for the cheese and hay soup, Rarity went for a light sunflower sandwich, and as you could predict, Applejack went for a salad that had apples mixed in, in her mind apples were awesome.
"I am grateful that we're able to talk about such personal matters, even if it means the occasional hat flying to my carefully treated mane," Rarity laughed it off.
"Yeah, there's still a little bit of gel left over here, but I don't mind," Applejack laughed as well. "It was interesting, I had no idea about you and...that other pony."
"It is a nice day outside, I'm glad we thought about this," Twilight said as her mane was fluttered with a little gust of wind. "But I was thinking about something when Applejack said that Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash might be a couple."
"Yeah, Twilight?" Applejack leaned.
"What if Fluttershy doesn't really like Spike all that much, but just wanted to have a partner to the dance?"
"Never thought of that," the earth pony confessed. "But this isn't some old high school dance, it's the one where you're supposed to take your love and go have a date."
"She did seem pretty happy that Spike said yes. Oh well, let's just drop it for a while. I think they're coming with our orders!"
And yes they did, as a unicorn waiter came to the table hovering three plates of food. "Is this order 29? I got a sunflower sandwich, a hay and cheese soup, and an apple salad. For Applejack, right?"
"Yes, that's us," said Twilight. The waiter came and put all the plates to the corresponding mare, and they suddenly realized how hungry the last 15 minutes had made them, as their stomachs all rumbled to the smells of the plates in front of them.
They dug in, and enjoyed their meals, easing into the lunch hour and were able to talk about something other than pairing couples together.
"I don't know how your soup and sandwich was, but this is the best salad I've had in a while," complimented Applejack. "But I don't think these are my apples..."
"Yeah, it's always good for a quick bite, trust me," Rarity mentioned. Then something caught her eye, and she looked past Applejack as she looked close to the corner of a street.
What was going on that was so interesting, was that she caught Big Mac and Cheerilee, together walking out around the corner to their field of vision. Somehow they didn't see the group sitting down, as they were snuggling each other and even teasing a kiss.
"Applejack, look," she said, pointing at the couple. Applejack turned around to see what Rarity was so concerned about, and she couldn't believe her eyes. There they were, and right when she turned around they had one of the longest kisses in Equestrian history. Then they found a poster to the Ponyville Palace Dance, and Cheerilee did a fake dance, and he laughed and did his own dance.
Cheerilee mumbled something about having to be back at school, and they exchanged another kiss as they went their separate ways. He never noticed his sister watching the whole thing, and went out to the direction of Sweet Apple Acres.
The coast was clear, and Applejack sighed a long sigh of anger. "How does he find the time, the courage to do something that serious without telling the family?"
"I...wow," Rarity said, dumbfounded by what they saw. "How are we supposed to handle this mess on top of the FlutterSpike one?"
"FlutterSpike?" Twilight said in confusion.
"It's what I'm calling that pairing now. That way I don't have to say both names. But nevermind, what should we do now?"
"I have an idea," Applejack said in a grim manner. "I'll fix this before the sun rises tomorrow."
The day was a long one, even for somepony as experienced as Big Mac. Planting the seeds for the next harvest took its time, and while the plowing was fun and all, the seed planting was always tedious and boring after time. That's why he was grateful it only took one day to finish that step in the harvest cycle.
The sun had set, and his body was exhausted and sweaty from the wear and tear of the day. He went to the outdoor shower and took care of business with the hoofsoap, and soon he was as clean as he was at the start of today.
He was starting to get hungry, having not eaten at all except for a treat in the form of an apple. There wasn't a lot of room to slack off when it came to seed planting, and he was looking forward to eating dinner all day.
Once his shower was over, he walked to the front porch and arrived at the front door. He couldn't hear Applebloom inside, as she went to Twilight's for another Cutie Mark Crusader sleepover. But it was odd for it to be completely silent. Applejack and Granny Smith were very talkative, at least when Smith wasn't napping, so he rushed inside to see what was wrong, thinking there could be an intruder inside.
Nope. It was much worse than that.
Inside, it looked like a scene from one of your mobster movies. The lights had dimmed down lower than usual, and Granny Smith was sitting down on her chair, grim eyed and staring right into her grandson's soul. Applejack was standing next to her, appearing like Smith's righthand pony.
"Take a seat, Big Macintosh," Applejack said without a hint of comfort in those words. "We have a lot to talk about."
After seeing what was going on, Big Mac was sweating out of fear, but he still had no clue was the hay Applejack and Granny Smith were doing, so he took his seat on the floor.
"What is going on inside your heads?" he questioned. "I don't know what it is you have in mind, but I can assure you--"
"You're not sweet talking yourself out of this one, little colt," Granny Smith coldly delivered.
Colt. That was the word Smith always used whenever he was in big trouble, and that was it. He bailed for the door, his eyes widened in pure terror.
"Don't let that colt leave this farm in one piece!" Smith shouted.
"Already on it!" Applejack responded. She pulled out a lasso behind herself and swung right for Big Mac, right when he opened the door, and he fell in a big THUMP as AJ's lasso wrapped around his back leg. She pulled his body to the base of Smith's rocking chair, ready for questioning.
The old mare looked down at Big Mac, seemingly peering into his very soul and not liking much what she saw.
"Now, Applejack has been telling me things, and don't deny them if they're right," she said, knowing how everypony in the family were notorious for being terrible liars.
"Have you not been telling us everything you've been doing when you're out doing your hooligan chores?"
He got up to face his grandmother, and pulled the rope off his hoof to go back to a sitting position. His shoulders cringed when he heard the question. That was all the answers Smith needed.
"And have you or have you not been dating a mare and not telling us?"
There was no good way to hide from this, and he was aware of it. He took a big gulp, and barely opened his mouth enough to speak. "Ee....eeyup."
"Big Macintosh!" Applejack groaned. "Why would you hide this from us? From your own family? You should've told us, instead of having me find out about your little flirt at lunch today!"
He wasn't afraid of what was going on anymore, but now he was surprised. "You saw me with Cheerilee today?"
She nodded, and placed a hoof on his shoulder. "It was Rarity who spotted you out in the shops today, and I can't believe you're the kind of man who would hide something this important as this."
That sucked out all of the tension out of the room, and he started to get more comfortable around his family. "You...you mean you're not mad that I have a special somepony?"
AJ shook her head. "No, you can meet up with anypony you really like. But you have to tell us next time."
Granny Smith got up a little out of her seat, and pointed an accusing hoof at Big Mac. "But when did this Cheerilee started to tickle your fancy?"
He took a deep sigh, and the story began. "You remember Hearts and Hooves Day? How I went around Ponyville acting like a school filly?"
Applejack gagged a little, after hearing some of the things her brother was saying when he was poisoned. "Eeyup, Applebloom told me all about it."
"After I wasn't poisoned anymore, I went and did my regular business for a while on the farm. But I had become close friends with Cheerilee during that time, we both thought that time was funny as anything we've done.
"So we went and did what friends usually do." He was getting giddy going over this part. "Nothing special. Play in the park, go to a movie, and go out with Cheerilee's friends at times.
"But the more we went out, the more we started to like each other. I thought she was very pretty, always have, and she was charming and had a sense of humor around herself. I thought I might have been falling in love, so one day I asked her out on a date."
He paused for effect, and Applejack was on the edge of her hooves. "She said yes, didn't she?"
"Eeyup. She was flying like a bird because I asked her out. I found that she was fancying me at the same time. And..." He eyed Granny Smith, once again afraid of what she might say. "That was seven months ago. And now we've been invited to the Palace Dance, and we've been getting ready for it for a while now. Dancing is harder than it looks."
Smith smirked with a laugh, finding the whole thing amusing. "Well now, my grandson is finally becoming a stallion. I've met Cheerilee once, and she looked like a nice filly."
Applejack nudged him on the side, laughing a little too. "Don't sweat it next time. We'll be fine no matter who you choose to call your special somepony, but try not to keep it a secret for so long, please, big brother?"
"Eeyup," Big Macintosh responded. "I promise."
"Now that we got this silly business over with," Smith said, "Let's eat! I made too many apple pies for the stands, so I need to get rid of them tonight."
The family went into the dining room, and as Smith had said, there were way too many apple pies in the room, like close to a dozen. Big Mac tore into them like a machine, while AJ was fine with just one.
It was a good meal overall. The pies were cooked perfectly, crisp but not burnt, and there were a few glasses of cider to down them with. And judging from how they tasted, this year's batch was going to the the best yet.
Yet, something kept bugging Applejack throughout dinner. She tried to push it away as no big deal, but what just happened proved it wasn't always the case. After all, when Big Mac came out clean, she and Smith took the news well, given that it was actually good news and not some bad secret like hiding that you have some pony's fillyhood doll or anything.
No, it was how Rarity forced AJ to keep her romance with Fancy Pants a secret like Big Mac's was. This whole experience taught her how painful keeping something of that nature a secret can hurt friends and family, and it would make for a great friendship report. But she knew that Spike would be crushed if he found out, and it felt wrong to keep the news away from him.
But what could she do? She made a promise to Rarity, and she had always honored them. However, she also valued honesty.
The whole experience was starting to make her dizzy, and her face began to pale. It was so visible that Smith noticed it, and looked down to see AJ had only eaten half of a pie.
"You feeling well, Applejack?" Smith asked. "You look like you just ate a Poison Joke flower and...oh, what I was I talking about? Oh yeah, maybe you should get some shut eye."
"Yes ma'am, that's what I needed," AJ said, slurring her words together. The stress of the mess was starting to make her feel physically ill, so she went out of the room, leaving Big Mac and Granny Smith alone.
Big Mac looked content with himself, as he went for his third pie.
"Don't think you're getting away clean," Smith eyeballed. "I'm still putting some kind of punishment for hiding your feelings like that."
Meanwhile, AJ trotted up the stairs, a little dizzy but nothing to be too worried about. She went for her bedroom and climbed inside the sheets, sweating like a pig in a summer's day. The Element of Honesty looked outside her window, and she suddenly remembered that Applebloom was sleeping over at Rarity's house.
This can't end well, she thought.
"I found Rarity's diary!" Applebloom proclaimed. "Who knows what kinds of secrets could be inside?"
"Not so fast!" Sweetie Belle shot back. "She'll kill me if she found out I was snooping through her diary again. She hated it when I reprinted it the first time, there's no way I can do something like that again."
"What's the big deal?" Scootaloo mentioned. "Rarity's too busy making a bunch of dresses, and you know how she's like when she makes anything. She could be down there for the rest of the night!"
It was late at night in Rarity and Sweetie Belle's house, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders were inside Rarity's bedroom, looking around to see what they might find, with Sweetie Belle protesting at every minute.
And as they had said, the Element of Generosity was on the first floor, busy making her next lineup of dresses. She would be so occupied that she would turn it into another all-nighter later on.
"But the minute she finds out we've been reading it, that's the end of the Crusaders!" Sweetie Belle exaggerated a little. Only a little.
Encouraged even more so by Sweetie's protests, Applebloom peeked her head outside the door to the hallway. "Coast is clear! Come on, while she's not in the know!"
Scootaloo grabbed the diary in her mouth and dashed for the door, Applebloom holding it open for her. Sweetie forgot she didn't know anything about magic for a moment and tried to levitate it back to the room, but failed and the pair made their escape.
She sighed and went outside to see they fled to her own bedroom, the door was still open and with a few hoofprints on the cover. Looking down the stairway to make sure Rarity didn't know what was going down, she went inside to confront the girls.
It had been a few weeks since the Gabby Gums fiasco, and since then there were so many more pages of feelings, drama, attempts at cartoons and jokes, and other things.
"Oh oh oh, listen to this one!" said Applebloom. "'Today, I found Fluttershy the perfect thing of flowers, only to find out too late that they attract bees. Sadly, the bees found the flowers only when she had taken them inside. I shall design a dress when she comes out of the hospital to make up for it.' Why don't I remember this?"
"Probably because it was in the middle of winter break," Scootaloo countered, taking the diary herself. "What about this one? 'Isn't Spikey Wikey the cutest dragon that's ever stepped inside Equestria? He's got those cute little cheeks, I love to snuggle to them every day.' This is amazing, I have to read more!"
Sweetie Belle blushed when she heard the description of Spike, and yanked the diary out of Scootaloo's mouth, placing it behind herself. "Girls, we can't be doing this to my big sister. She's the best sister I could have, and I'm putting this back in her room."
She turned around to pick the diary up, but it was wide open on one page, and the pony's name mentioned on it caught her attention. It was dated to yesterday, right after Rarity had arrived back from Canterlot.
I must confess something, if only for myself in the time being. Even if it is a little silly, I cannot keep this to myself anymore, and must say it before it consumes me: I have a coltfriend, and not just any run-of-the-barn filth, but...Fancy Pants. Just saying his name excites me like nothing else ever has.
When I arrived at Canterlot, Fancy Pants was waiting at the train station for me, and we engaged in the best week of my life. He was so caring, treating me like a true lady, that our first date together was...I cannot even put the words to describe it!
I must, I must see him again. I heard the Ponyville Palace Dance is soon approaching, so today I asked Spike to deliver a letter to Fancy Pants himself, and inside it is an invitation to the Dance. Oh Fancy Pants, a night within your hooves is all I want right now. Please come rescue your leading lady from despair, for the thought of being away from you is my biggest fear.
There was no right or wrong way for Rarity's sister to respond to something this intimate. She could put the diary away and pretend this never happened. Or she could scold Scootaloo and Applebloom for trotting over to see what was keeping Sweetie's attention.
Heck, acting like she had received the biggest secret ever would be reasonable. But no, she did something much more interesting.
"She doesn't love Spike after all! Yes! He's all mine!"
Then she realized what she had just done. She put a hoof over her mouth like as if it would stop the damage, but it was too late. Sweetie turned around to see her friends dumbstruck, and she smiled to act like nothing was wrong.
"Details. Now," Scootaloo and Applebloom demanded together.
Sweetie Belle sighed, "Oh alright, just let me put this away first." She raced with the diary in her mouth into Rarity's room and came back just as soon as she left.
"I admit it. I have a crush on Spike," she finally said. "Rarity wrote all I wanted to say. He's just so cute, and I really like him. But I didn't tell him because I knew he had a crush on Rarity. And now, we know she wants Fancy Pants. You think I should tell him now?"
Applebloom thought about it for a while, and so did Scootaloo. Sweetie Belle waited with nerves, hoping it wouldn't be wrong to do such a thing.
"I got it!" Scootaloo shouted. "We're not supposed to say Rarity likes Fancy Pants, because that's in her diary. Right?"
"So how about you don't say that to him, but what you do say is 'I have a crush on you,' and that's it. What do you say?"
"That's a perfect idea! I'm going to Twilight's house first thing tomorrow, and say I love--"
"You have a crush on him," Applebloom corrected.
"That I have a crush on him! It's the perfect plan! What could go wrong?"
Applebloom shrugged, and felt a rumble in her tummy. "Does Rarity have something to eat downstairs?"
"She has some leftover cookies, but they have too much icing--"
In no time the Crusaders rushed down the stairs, and found Rarity working on a new dress in her workstation. "Hello, Crusaders. How it's going up there?"
"It's great sis," said Sweetie Belle. "You think we could have some of those cookies in the fridge?"
"That's fine, as long as you don't have more than three apiece. You wouldn't want to get sick from all that sugar, would you?"
"Nope," Applebloom said from the kitchen, taking a plate full of cookies with her and going back to Sweetie's room with Scootaloo, leaving the sisters alone in the main room.
Rarity's newest dress was a modified version of her Grand Galloping Gala one, not with as many layers as the first version but a lot more colorful, with teal and purple for the main colors. She was finished with the design the parts, now she had to stitch them together.
Sweetie looked around the place before she went back upstairs, before noticing a poster for the Palace Dance tacked onto the wall. The Palace Dance. The place where she's going out on a date with her special somepony!
"What's the Palace Dance?" she asked.
"Oh, that thing on the poster? It's the premiere event of Ponyville, where couples go and they have a dance, but it's so much more than that. It's the event where a pony takes her special somepony when they want to get closer. That's all there is to it."
"OK." Then the thought crossed the little filly's mind. "Are you going?"
Rarity gasped and remembered Sweetie had no idea, as least she thought she did, about Fancy Pants. "Eh...maybe...I have to check my schedule..."
"But isn't that like your Gala dress?"
She sighed in defeat. "Yes, Sweetie Belle, it is. I am going, but it's just with a friend, nothing more, nothing less."
Sweetie Belle covered her mouth with her hooves, trying not to scream "I KNOW ITS FANCY PANTS!" Instead she turned around and went up the stairs, a little silly-minded now that she knew her sister's secret.
"I do know Fluttershy is going out with Spike over there," Rarity mentioned.
"Didn't anypony tell you today? Fluttershy asked Spike out, and he did say yes, even though he really doesn't fancy the--"
She wasn't able to finish the sentence before Sweetie ran up the stairs and into the bedroom, tears going down like rain drops.
"He likes Fluttershy! He likes Fluttershy! What was I thinking?"
The other Crusaders dropped their cookies mid-bite and came around to comfort the sobbing pony, grabbing a tissue box for her. She kept sobbing endlessly, and the rest tried to do their best to bring her spirits back up.
"It's fine, so what if he doesn't like you?" Scootaloo assisted. "You're still one of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and our friend."
"And besides," said Applebloom, "You haven't even started to use your horn yet for anything!"
Sweetie cracked the smallest smile, and blew into the tissue. "Yeah, you're right. I still need to tell him, but I don't need him. And we still have our Crusading to do!"
"That's the spirit! Cutie Mark Crusaders forever!" shouted Scootaloo.
They did a high five altogether, and one by one they finished their cookies and went straight for bed. It took a while for them to calm down enough to fall to sleep, with Sweetie Belle being the last to go.
But before she did, she looked around to make sure the rest were sleeping on the floor below in their sleeping bags. As she made sure, she stuck a hoof underneath her pillow and pulled out a drawing she made. It had her and Spike holding hands, with a heart above the two of them. She hugged it tightly, and the paper was stained with tear drops before she finally went to sleep.
"What do I tell Fluttershy? I haven't done anything like this before!" Spike complained, within the confines of Twilight's house.
"There's only one thing you can say to her," Twilight answered, "and that's 'I can't do this, it's not right, I don't like you in that manner.'"
"But what if she gets upset and never talks to either one of us again?"
"I'll be there for moral support. Don't be afraid to say your feelings, and everything will work out in the end."
The dragon took a few deep breaths, and sat down on his bed. "Yeah, that sounds good. Thanks a lot Twilight, I couldn't do it without you."
"Don't mention it," she said as she went for her own mattress. "This will all be a distant memory by Wednesday, you'll forget about it soon."
It was midnight by now, and the moonlight was filtering through the windows and giving the unlit house a dark blue glow. With nothing left to worry about, they drifted off to dreaming not long after lying down.
Spike's mind was looking forward to going back to routine, however chaotic it was. It ended up being worth any pain it caused, and he was waiting for the next gem when he woke up.
Twilight's mind was already busy getting ready to schedule next month, as the next month wasn't that far off now. And in her mind, the hard part was over, and it was going to get smoother after today.
Oh hell no, it wasn't. It was going to get much worse, and nothing she went through with the thought of being matched with Cheerlie would compare to what was about to happen. If anything, this was just a warmup to a world of emotional hurt, and Twilight would feel the blunt of it.
And it all started with a crown.
Overnight, the original posters for the Palace Dance were torn down by crews from the castle, and revised ones went up in their place. It kept the original date and most of the original design, but the bottom third read much differently.
The last third was coated in dark purple and black, and advertised with a familiar moon crescent that the Princess of the Night herself, Princess Luna, would be attending in person to the Dance, the first appearance by royalty to the event in its 23 year history.
Mayor Mare and her staff had to work overtime in the next forty-eight hours, as the announcement created a surge in attendance, the likes of which the Dance had never seen before.
But that was lost for the moment, as the sun rose over the sleepy town for Sunday morning. It would be cooler than the day before, but not by much and still as sunny as it had always been.
Inside Twilight's house, she opened her eyes and looked outside the window. Seeing it was another beautiful day, she stretched out her hooves and rose up for the time being. The unicorn caught Spike snoring down below, and left him alone as she went down to make breakfast. He deserved to sleep in this morning, Saturday was rough on everyone.
She opened the fridge door to find out they were out of nearly everything, expect milk and a bunch of other things. Groaning a little, she took the milk carton and decided to make cereal. But she heard Spike come down the steps as she was prepping the bowls.
"Good morning Spike," she greeted. "Did you sleep well last night?"
Spike blinked and looked around, grateful this didn't look like...his dreams. "Yeah, I slept well, but I had a bunch of nightmares. I gotta tell Fluttershy about this now!"
He rushed for the door, before he stopped and felt a tug at his tail, and saw that Twilight was holding him in place with her magic.
"Now wait just a minute," she said back. "You know how Fluttershy is like at Sundays. She always has a routine with animal feeding, and you know how Angel is when you say something bad to Fluttershy."
He mumbled something as he sat down at the table, Twilight levitating his bowl over to him with a spoon. "Is it bad that I like Rarity? She might be the most beautiful pony in all of Ponyville, but..."
"Yes, it's fine Spike," she sighed. "As long as you really like her in the end."
They continued their breakfast together, and Spike's attitude was lighting up, even making a joke about the whole situation. It seemed like this whole confessing episode might not be so bad after all.
It was then 10 in the morning, and by now Fluttershy would be done feeding all the animals. Spike stood by the front door, as if he was in a roll call for the military.
"So what are you going to say to her?" Twilight barked.
"I'm sorry, but I have feelings for Rarity!" Spike said proudly.
"And what are you going to say if she starts crying?"
"Please stop haunting my dreams!"
She put a hoof over her forehead in disbelief, but continued anyways. "No, the other thing."
"You are a nice pegasus, and I hope you find that special somepony!"
"Great, now let's go!"
They ran out the door, and rushed ahead throughout the streets to the direction of Fluttershy's cottage. They went with beaming faces, like soldiers charging for war.
Midway through, Spike halted and hid behind the corner. Twilight turned around to see what was keeping him up, and he pointed to show that Fluttershy was already here. She was clueless about what was going down, and saw Twilight out in the open.
"Hi Twilight, what are you doing here?" Fluttershy greeted.
"Uh...I...I...had to give something to Pinkie Pie!" Twilight gasped. "You see, her birthday is coming up, and I wanted it to be something to remember, so I'll be going to the Boutique to ask Rarity what it is Pinkie likes for gifts, since she knows that crazy pony better than I do."
"That sounds nice. Oh, I forgot all about it! Do you think she's going to be upset that I forgot?"
"No, no she won't, she's really forgiving. I guess I should be going then."
"Can I go with you? I should get something for her as well."
Twilight panicked for a moment, and looked to see Spike behind the corner's cover. She mouthed "should I?" to him, and he nodded. Fluttershy turned her head to see what Twilight was looking at, but Spike went back to hiding.
"I don't have any problems with it," she said.
Fluttershy giggled as they went to the Boutique, and Spike followed suit a few feet away. He watched nervously, and now he wasn't as confident with Fluttershy right before him.
Still, he waddled on to the Boutique, careful not to be spotted by the yellow pegasus anytime soon. As they got closer, he took a few more breaths and encouraged himself again. This is all you now. You can do this. Don't let anything get in the way and she'll still be your friend.
The two mares found themselves at the entrance of the Boutique, and Twilight held the door open as Fluttershy walked in. She winked at the dragon before going in herself, and now it was all up to Spike.
He approached the door, and looked up at the building. It was all Rarity's work, from top to bottom. It reminded him of his real crush, and hopefully this would give him a chance to also show how much she meant to him. Maybe.
Spike took one last deep huff, and pushed the door open.
The bell rang as he walked in, and Fluttershy turned around from her conversation to see the dragon coming in. "Good morning Spike, nice to see you," she said. "Are you still good for the dance in two days?"
The world froze around Spike, as the moment of truth had arrived and he still had no idea how to react. He had rehearsed his reaction for so long, but didn't think the actual moment would be like this.
His scales felt like they were made of ice, and it seemed like the whole world was watching him, waiting to see what he would do wrong and how soon. Twilight waved a hoof to encourage him, but he barely noticed and blinked a lot.
Fluttershy was confused, not knowing why Spike was acting so weird at first. Then she recalled that this always happened in the movies, and guessed the reasoning behind this.
"I'm sorry, do you not want to go to the dance?" she asked.
"Oh Celestia no!" Spike shouted. "I can't do this, I'm sorry, I just can't! I can't go out with you, I love Rarity!"
Now she was even more confused, as Twilight buried her head in the desk in complete disbelief that it was going so sour.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," Fluttershy cried. "But...what do you mean you love Rarity?"
Both Twilight and Spike couldn't believe it. "You...you mean you didn't ask me out because you liked me?" said the dragon.
"What? I do like you, but it's not a date," she finally realized. "I didn't have anypony to go with, so I asked you to go to the Dance because you are one of my friends."
Again, Twilight and Spike joined together and fell onto their backs on the floor, sighing in relief like they never would again.
"Thank Celestia and Luna!" Spike laughed. "I thought you were in love with me, so did Twilight, but it's so much better!"
For that brief moment, they all laughed together and it seemed like the universe was right again. Rarity came in to see them in laughing fits, a little taken aback and assuming she came in right after Fluttershy said a funny joke. She had to find out about that joke later...
However, not long after harmony was restored, everypony's world would come crashing in.
It all started with a certain trio of fillies watching from a certain bedroom, hearing every word with full intent. When they found out that Spike didn't really have feelings for Fluttershy, Sweetie Belle galloped down the stairs, screaming "SPIIIIIIIIKE!"
Spike had no idea what hit him as Sweetie Belle tackle hugged him, burying her head in his chest. "I knew it! You didn't ask Fluttershy out on a date after all! Isn't this great? We can go together!"
"What is going on?" he screamed, gasping in sheer terror.
"Sweetie Belle!" Rarity shrieked. "Get off Spike Wikey right now!"
"But I love him!"
Seriously, Spike just couldn't catch a break to save his life. He gasped in surprise and looked at the filly lying on top of him, holding him as tightly as possible. Out of all the ponies to have a crush on me...her?
Rarity dropped her jaw in complete surprise, Fluttershy fainted as she thought it was too adorable, and her body kicked in before her blood sugar shot up, and Twilight's eyes exploded in size. What the hay was she supposed to say to THIS?
Sweetie got off of him and offered a hoof to help. "I just find you so adorable, and you're the best dragon ever! Are you OK if I say I love you?" She didn't give him a chance to respond, kissing him on the cheek.
"WHAT? Sweetie Belle?" Twilight screamed, trying to wrap her head around it. "Spike? You have a crush on Spike? What? Sweetie? What? What?"
"You like ME?" Spike blushed, his cheeks redder than they had ever been. "But...I like Rarity."
"What, don't you know?" Sweetie Belle answered. "She's in love with--"
As if he wanted to make this the most awkward meeting of all time, Fancy Pants opened the door, arriving with a boutique of flowers of all kinds. "Hello, my lady. I took the pleasure to bring you--"
He looked around at the scene, and everypony was looking at him. The boutique had a blatant card with an overblown "For Rarity" message on it.
"Am I interrupting anything? I will step aside for the moment, please go as if I was never here." He dropped the flowers on the desk for Rarity, and left.
All eyes were on Rarity now, and she looked around in sheer terror as she looked at Spike, with puppy dog eyes that were starting to tear up.
"Just say it, Rarity. He needs to find out," Twilight whispered.
Rarity nodded and walked next to Spike, who was now in tears of his own, and sat down to his face level. "I'm sorry, Spike, but it's true. I am dating Fancy Pants, and I invited him to the Dance for that reason."
His eyes were tearing up, and Rarity wrapped a hoof around him in comfort, but he pushed it away. "I understand. He's got what I don't have--"
"Don't say that," Rarity shot back. "That doesn't mean I don't like you either. You are cute, like Sweetie Belle said, and you will always be my Spikey Wikey. But you're too young for this. I don't think you're ready for something like what Fancy and I have, and that is why we can't go out together. Do you understand?"
He nodded slowly, and stopped crying as much. "I understand. I'm too young, and I need to learn more about everything. We're still friends, right?"
She smiled, and gave him a kiss on his other cheek. "Yes, we're still friends. We will always be."
"Just don't let Fancy Pants hurt you, or he'll have to answer to me."
Rarity laughed at that, and wiped away what was left of Spike's tears. Sensing this would be a really bad time to say anything else, Sweetie Belle smiled and started to trot back to her bedroom.
"Wait," Spike stopped her. She turned around and tried her hardest to show that she was thrilled that he was still talking to her, trying to be sensitive to Spike's plight.
"What is it, Spike?" she answered.
"Are..." He gritted his teeth, and focused on the here and now. "Are you wanting to go with me...to the dance?"
That was it. Any signs of good taste had left, as she launched from the steps and aimed for Spike, glomping him to the floor. Once he was down on the ground again, she snuggled his cheeks and giggled the whole time. "Of course I want to go! You're the bestest coltfriend a filly could have!"
"Ow...thanks," Spike said, slurring his words together. "I...I do like you, but can you get off of me?"
"Oh yeah, sorry about that." She got him back to his feet, and immediately she went back to hugging him,
Coltfriend, Twilight shuddered. Somehow, I like this better than having Fluttershy go out with him, but I still feel ashamed about it.
"Well, this has been...interesting," she said. "Don't you think we should leave for lunch now, Spike?"
"Actually, I think I'm going to stay for a while," he answered. "I think Sweetie and I should get to know each other better."
Twilight groaned, seeing where this was going, and levitated Fluttershy's unconscious frame out the door. "Have fun, and tell me how it goes."
Rarity waived as they left, and watched as Sweetie grabbed Spike and took him upstairs to the rest of the Crusaders. Remembering that Fancy Pants was outside, she went outside the door to find that he was still waiting for her.
"I appreciate the flowers, Fancy Pants," she said longingly. "It's great to see you again, love."
"Yes, it's always a pleasure," he responded, lifting one of her hooves and kissing it. "But I dare say, what happened in there? I saw one of your friends leave with a snoring pegasus. Was everything all right?"
She looked at the ground, with what happened still running through her mind, but looked back up to Fancy Pants. "Yes it was. It was weird and unexpected in times, but it went well. I imagine you're coming with me to the Palace Dance?"
"Of course, my lady. I can't wait to see what you'll be wearing there, I'm sure your newest dress is bound to impress. Shall we go off for lunch?"
"You always know what to say, Fancy Pants."
After FINALLY getting Fluttershy's heavier than expected frame home, Twilight opened the door to her house, and collapsed into the floor. This was madness. This was even worse than being paired with Cheerilee. This was shipping at its finest. And she still had no idea how to respond to it.
She rolled around and looked straight up at the ceiling, the shelves spinning around in her view. How was she supposed to know Sweetie Belle had a crush on Spike? And worse yet, he was willing to find out how it went with each other?
Was this what ponies do when they're in love? Act as crazy as Sweetie Belle when she became a pony rocket TWICE?
There was only one solution to the craziness, and that was a Daring Do book. Nothing else mattered, all she needed was to go to the jungle in a fedora and the problem will solve itself.
She went to the fiction shelf and pulled the third book in the series, Daring Do and the Temple of Diamonds. It was as good as any in the series, so she climbed into bed and started to read.
It was a long and difficult trek up the snowy mountains for Daring Do, as the howling winds went down to hit her in the face, and she couldn't use her wings because the winds were so strong.
To make things worse, the snow on the mountainside was so unstable, that one false step could create an avalanche, one big enough to spell the end of our adventurer.
Yet she pushed through, body shivering, as she had to stay one step ahead of the gryphon adventurer Krio, as he threatened to use the Temple's riches to fund his evil plan to invade Equestria.
Soon, she found cover inside a cave, and there was Spike inside. "I have always loved you, Spikey Wikey--"
Twilight pulled back and blinked. The last paragraph was a figment of her imagination, but every time she tried to keep reading, she kept hallucinating and thought of Spike and Sweetie Belle again.
She gave up soon after, and put the book away. Before she could find that book on medieval Equestrian history, she heard a knock on the door. Twilight went downstairs to see who it was, and noticed the knocking was on a low level, meaning it was either a filly or Spike at the door.
When she opened it, it was the dragon with a letter in his hand. "I'm still going to be at Sweetie Belle's, but I got a letter from Luna. It's for you, so I thought you should have it now instead of later."
Twilight levitated the letter down to her back, before returning to Spike. "How's it going with you and Sweetie Belle?"
He giggled a little. "Wonderful. Once you get to know her, she's adorable and beautiful and--"
"So you like her then."
Spike couldn't get a word in, blushing a lot and shrugging.
"Then go ahead and spend some more time with her!"
She shut the door, fearful that even her best assistant might turn into another lovebird. And she couldn't believe it all started with Spike being a good friend to Fluttershy. Sometimes, good deeds can backfire in the most beautiful ways.
The unicorn went for her desk and unraveled the letter, reading over the letter from Princess Luna. It seemed to be formal in design, so she thought it might be something about business or an update on Shining and Cadence.Instead, it was this:
To a fair Twilight Sparkle,
As thee might know by know, we will attend the Ponyville Palace Dance in person. This premiere event will mark our first public appearance in Ponyville since Nightmare Night, and we wish to make a better impression than before.
Therefore, we request that you, Twilight Sparkle, one of the Elements of Harmony, to attend as well, and act as our assistant for the festivities. All needed resources thee might need will be provided as demanded, to make the appearance as painless as it should be.
We await to meet you there, and good luck.
The Princess of the Night
It seemed harmless enough to Twilight when she read it. Being an assistant to a princess in person again seemed like a great opportunity, and it seemed like it could be fun.
So she wrapped up the letter, and wrote one of her own for Spike to deliver:
To Princess Luna,
Thanks so much for this chance. Everypony here has grown to like you since Nightmare Night, so don't worry about making a good impression. You're fine as you are.
Anyways, all I'll need for the Dance is a new dress. Rarity looks like she's going to be busy up to the day, so could you have your subjects make one for me, please?
She made another trip to the Boutique, and pulled Spike off of Sweetie long enough to deliver the letter. She sighed, and went back to the house, thanking Celestia the worst was over.
Almost, but not quite. It was going to get better before it was all said and done.
Author's note: This is the part where the story shows why it's got a Teen rating. It's not explicit enough for a Mature rating, but you can tell what's being implied at the end.
It was Monday morning, and whoever was going to the Dance tomorrow would be making final preparations throughout the day. There was a thundershower out today, so most ponies took cover inside their houses unless it was necessary to go out.
Twilight opened her eyes, a little grouchy after some interesting dreams last night. So that's what Spike meant by asking Fluttershy to leave his dreams alone.
By instinct she looked over at Spike's bed, but he was still at Sweetie Belle's house. Were they hitting it off that well?
No matter. She went and did her morning preparations, and brought a saddle with an umbrella attached outside. The least she could do was say hi to Spike before bringing him home, and ask how the day went.
She opened the door, and a huge gust of wind blew inside, pushing books off the shelves and blowing the saddle off of her back. It turned into a storm, to get any rain out before tomorrow, she imagined. Twilight sighed and put the books back where they belonged, and merely teleported herself over to the lobby of the Boutique.
Once the purple unicorn had arrived, she looked behind herself and saw that the door had a closed sign on the door. Why would Rarity close her store on the beginning of the workweek?
"Rarity?" she shouted. "Are you there, Rarity? I'm here to pick Spike up!"
From the second floor, she spotted a white pony in white sleeping clothes and a cover over its eyes, but saw that it was Fancy Pants. "I dare say, who could be up and about at 6 in the morning? And the Boutique is closed!"
Oh Celestia no, Twilight thought. Fancy Pants spent the night here...were they THAT steady?
"Fancy Pants, what is the matter?" Rarity stumbled in, with a matching sleeping coat to match. Yep, going REALLY steady. She pulled the cover out and waved at Twilight. "I imagine you're here for Spike?"
Twilight nodded. "How did it go with him and Sweetie Belle?"
"Like you wouldn't dream. They were doing so many things together yesterday, and they were the most adorable thing I had ever seen. And that's no small feat," she said, nuzzling the side of her stallion.
"Yeah, I can tell. Where is Spike right now?"
"Twilight? You're here!" Spike emerged from the bedroom, with more than a few lipstick stains all over his head. He ran down to hug Twilight, and he had the most genuine expression of joy. "Thanks so much for letting me stay here! It was the best day of my life and--"
"I'm so happy for you," she muttered, trying to hide that everything about this scene, from seeing Fancy and Rarity together, along with Spike covered in lipstick, was making more than a little uncomfortable. "You can tell me all about it when we get home."
He nodded, and the unicorn couple waved them away as they went out the door. Hearing the bell ring, Sweetie came out and saw them leave, sighing.
"I can't wait to see him again," she breathed.
Rarity hid her laughing as she went back to her room for other Crusader activities.
"Young love," she said. "It's always the sweetest thing, isn't it?"
"Yes, of course," Fancy nuzzled back. "But I personally find you sweeter than anything in Equestria."
She giggled, waiting for him to say something like that since the last time they were together. "But you must admit they were meant to be together, much like we are."
"Indeed, I haven't found anypony that has fallen love as they have. But do you think Fluttershy will be fine? She was the one who gave Spike the idea to attend the Dance after all."
"I wouldn't worry about her. She might still be shy as a bat, but in the end she will find a stallion for herself. I just know it."
"You let her kiss you for HOW long?" Twilight Sparkle shrieked.
Ever since they got home, Spike spilled all the beans about his time with Sweetie Belle. While it seemed to be as harmless as puppy love, some certain details were a little more outrageous.
"Yep! Best fifteen minutes of my life!" Spike gloated. "I didn't know much about her when we started, but oh boy..."
She lost it for a second and slapped him with a broom, before realizing what she did. "Oh, I'm so sorry Spike. I don't know what happened, I guess this is all new to me."
"That's OK," he said as he recovered from the broom wacking. "But is that why you've been acting so strange lately?"
There was no trying to hide it, ever since the Fluttershy incident it was on her brain throughout the week. She nodded, and lowered her head in shame.
He looked around and leaned back on his feet. It was a weird time of all of them. From him to go to liking Rarity to Sweetie Belle was as strange as anything they had experienced, as well as literally everything Fluttershy had unintentionally uncovered.
But he knew Twilight had stayed the same, so he came to the pony who had become the closest thing he had to a sister, and tilted her head back so their eyes met.
"I can't explain what just happened, but you are always going to be family to me," he said. "Nothing's going to change it, no matter who's my special somepony."
Her spirits went back to normal, and she returned the favor by hugging the big, scaly dragon. "Thanks a lot, you have no idea what that meant to me."
She hopped off and backed away, and Spike went back to sharing all the details. He said it with such enthusiasm that it brought a tear to her eye, as he was showing signs of growing up throughout his long speech.
Meanwhile, Spike was in the best place that his life had ever been. Granted, it still hurt to realize Rarity was taken, regardless if he hid it as well as he did. But at the same time, Sweetie Belle sent his heart flying, and he was already talking about how they were going to have the best night ever at the Dance.
But before he could finish, they heard a knock on the door, and it sounded like whoever was knocking was a strong fella. "I'll get that," she said.
She went to see who it was, and found a Royal Guard waiting for an answer, along with two more waiting inside a carriage with a package inside. They remained unfazed through the storm, not moving one inch from the thunder piercing their ears.
"Are you Twilight Sparkle, the leader of the Elements of Harmony?" the Guard asked.
"Yes, that's me. Is that from Princess Luna?"
He nodded and told the other two to bring the package inside. It was a big box, big enough for a full grown pony to be encased inside. There was an address written for Twilight Sparkle on the top.
The Guards carried it on their backs, and lowered it slowly on the middle of the living room. It didn't appear heavy, just that they were trying to be careful with what they were delivering.
"These are the things that you had asked Princess Luna for through your letter," he reported. "Also, she wanted me to deliver this to you myself."
He pulled out a letter from inside a pocket in his armor, locked with the seal usually from Celestia's writings. "That is all I have to say. We ask for our departure from you, Princess Luna's love--I mean, assistant."
The lead Guard turned around to leave, but Twilight stopped him, saying "What did you say about me and Luna?"
The rest of the pegasi looked at the leader, realizing he slipped up by accident. "That you are Luna's assistant. Nothing more."
"But didn't you say--"
They all flew off before she could get another word in, disappearing into the eye of the storm.
She was even more confused by what had occurred than ever before. That had to be a mistake, she thought. But what about the letter she had personally sent for Twilight?
Spike watched eagerly as she went and unwrapped the letter, using her horn to hold it in the air. It read:
To dear Twilight Sparkle,
I have enclosed the demands you made inside the box for the Dance. It is the best dress anypony could find within the city of Canterlot, and I hope that it pleases you so.
In the meantime, I do await the moment we meet in Ponyville, for we have much to discuss. It has been a long time since the Royal Wedding and much has changed. When you receive this letter, I shall only be a few hours away from arriving, and request that I spend the night of Monday in your place.
Carry on with your studies,
"That doesn't seem too bad," Spike said. "But we're house NIGHTMARE NIGHT of all ponies--"
She shot him a look that stopped him in place, fidgeting his fingers in shame. "You are right, it doesn't seem too bad, but why would she be looking forward to meeting me?"
"Mmm, uhh, I got nothing. Let's see your present already!"
He tore through the paper covering on the box, stripping it bare. Just as fast, he dug his claws on its top plane and ripped it off. When he looked inside, he was taken in awe from the content's beauty and shiny build.
Twilight looked inside, and was just as awestruck as the dragon was. Somehow this made her Gala dress look backwards and ranked among Rarity's best.
The dress was one big flowing gown, and covered head to toe with a care to detail that was unbelievable. The chest area was in a satin-coated purple color, with a necklace made of star designs at the top. The bottom area was brighter, with a spot of black like the one on Luna's flank, but the moon was full and yellow. The whole dress had a modest amount of sparkles all over, and shined once the sun trickled through and into thee box.
"Oh my...it's so beautiful," she studdered. It was like getting a dress for the first time during her high school prom, the sheer excitement of wearing something she thought was so magnificent to such a big event. "Spike...write a letter to Luna..."
He couldn't stop staring at what was inside, but got back to his senses and got a quill and parchment. "Ready...how did she made that..."
"Dear Princess Luna, thank you thank you thank you..."
Before the dragon could write one word down, there was another knock at the door, and he walked over to let the guest in. She towered over both of them, and spoke with a voice that was still louder than most.
"Greetings, Twilight Sparkle and the dragon Spike," Princess Luna announced in her Royal Canterlot Voice. "Does thou enjoy the dress we hath delivered?"
The Voice shook Spike down to the core, flying back to the bark wood. Twilight was more used to it, and was able to stand her ground.
"Thanks so much for the dress!" she exclaimed. "It's one of the best dresses I have ever seen, and that's saying something knowing Rarity. You really didn't have to do that for me."
"Oh, but I had to," Luna responded, in a lower, more personal voice. "I understand how important this dance is to the citizens of Ponyville, and I wanted my assistant to make a good impression out there."
Twilight laughed. "It's going to be nice out there tomorrow. It's been a crazy time for all of us."
"Oh Celestia, where to begin..."
"And then Spike realized that Sweetie Belle had a crush on him all along! Isn't that crazy?"
"We have been alive for milenia, and rarely do we hear of a tale as ridiculous as this one," Luna finally said, after hearing nothing but the story for a whole hour. "But does he love her?"
"Love her? You have no idea!" Spike answered back.
"I see. You still have lipstick on your face," said Luna. "But we must depart for the time being. Mayor Mare is requesting our aid to finish the final preparations for the Ponyville Palace Dance, but we shall soon return. Farewell, Twilight and Spike."
They bowed in respect, and Luna departed for the town hall. The rest looked at each other and grinned.
"Well, this has gone better than I had planned," said Twilight.
"Me too," said Spike. "I have a dance to get ready for!"
"What? How long have you been keeping this a secret?" Mayor Mare questioned.
"Since last Nightmare Night," Luna answered. "But that is not the matter at hoof. That is the reason why I want to make this night the most memorable you can make it."
Within the walls of the Mayor's office, things were getting heated as the two finished the last details of the plans.
"I understand what you mean, but this is on such short notice! A chandelier to be put in an old school gym, Celestia's personal band from Canterlot, and a redecoration? How are we supposed to pay for all of this, let alone put it together, in one day?"
"That will be my burden to handle. I'll do it all myself."
"Are you sure? This is ambitious, even for you."
She skirted a hoof around on the ground. "Do you doubt what we can accomplish, when it burns through our hearts to do such a thing?"
"I never question a pony who raises the moon and keeps this country together with her sister. You know that. But this...this is personal."
"I am aware my intentions are unusual for an event as modest as this, but it's all I ask for you, to approve this deed."
Mayor Mare paced around her desk in frustration. Granted, she believed the money could be placed in better places than this. But on the other hoof, she really couldn't question Luna in this. Luna was far and away above her in every conceivable way.
Then again, this was something Luna herself would take care of, right? And she had bottomless resources, not to mention this would make it the best Palace Dance ever. That was something she was wanting, ever since she met her future husband there.
So without further hesitance, she grabbed the blueprints Luna had delivered, inked the stamp well, and pressed "APPROVED" on it.
"You are aware that when what you're doing becomes public, everypony will know it in five minutes, right?" she asked.
"I will not say anything until I know my assumptions are correct. You're the only other pony to know, and I ask that you can keep it a secret for the time being."
"I can. But if you're right..."
"Then I will tell everypony that needs to know."
The stitching machine was furious within Rarity's Carousal Boutique. Her own dress was finished by now, but she had received another special request from Cheerilee, just for the Dance. She said in her request that it would be her first dress in years, so this had to be extra special.
She levitated all the pieces she would need in a single file row on the table, getting the sewing machine fired up. Thank goodness the storm was still going, as nopony would come over and ask why the store was closed.
But somepony did come over and knock at the door, right before she knitted the first pieces together. "Who could that be, in such a fierce storm?" she asked.
She went to the front door, and found Cheerilee trying to hide underneath a hilariously small umbrella from the rain. "Let me in, please!" she pleaded.
Rarity hurried to change the lock, and opened the door for her, wind trying to get in. Cheerilee ran inside, her mane and tail dripping wet.
"I've been living in Ponyville for years, and never have we had a storm like this before," said Cheerilee, receiving a towel from Rarity to dry herself. "How's the dress coming along?"
"Oh, it's coming along splendidly!" said Rarity. "I got all the materials ready, all I have left to do is to put it together myself. And that's not always the hard part, darling."
Cheerilee looked around the workstation, and found a drawing of the proposed dress on a bench. It was very modest indeed, and it looked like it wouldn't take long to do after all.
Once she was all dried off, she pulled up a chair next to the sewing machine to watch Rarity do her work. The designer went back to work, and sewed together the first part of Cheerilee's evening attire.
"So are you going to the Dance yourself?" Cheerilee said, pointing at the finished dress Rarity made for herself.
Rarity grinned and nodded. "I've been waiting for this day for months, in matter of fact. I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"I know what you mean. That's why I wanted you for this, because I want to make a good impression on Big Mac."
"Oh, that big stallion? I already know about it, I cannot deny I am a little surprised that you would choose him as your suitor."
"How did you--"
"But that's not the important thing. What does matter is that I am proud that one of my old friends has finally found the one. So have I, recently."
"Are you going to say who it is?"
"Fancy Pants," she moaned in a dreamy accent.
Wait a minute, THAT Fancy Pants? Cheerilee had seen him on magazine covers before, naming him one of the most influential ponies in Canterlot, and that place was flooded with characters that all of Equestria was aware of, Octavia, Photo Finish, and now Fancy Pants, dating a Ponyville citizen...
"Are you sure it's Fancy Pants you met?" Cheerilee couldn't help but ask. "You are aware of who he is, right?"
"How are you doing with those dresses, Rarity?" Fancy Pants asked, coming in from the back to deliver a roll of material for his mare to use.
"Fan--Fancy Pants..." Cheerilee gasped. It was true. Rarity had somehow managed to land the ultimate stallion, and there he was, sitting right in front of them!
"Who's this? Oh, beg your pardon. You must be Cheerilee," he greeted her. "I've heard many things about you. You were quite the teacher, Rarity tells me."
"Oh my...is this really happening?"
"Indeed," Rarity said, as she and Fancy nuzzled their heads together. "That was what I was saying during our first date. He is really quite the charmer."
"Rarity...Fancy...I don't know what to say. I'm happy for you, that's all I have."
"And that's all you need to say, Cheerlie," said Rarity. "Aw, here we go. Your dress is ready for tomorrow!"
Rarity moved the dress to a mannequin, and the dress was appropriately purple all over, matching with Cheerilee's coat. It was decorated with the designer's signature gems, green and yellow in color range, and it was made with material comfortable enough that it felt like it could be worn anytime she wanted to look nice.
The earht pony thought it was amazing, and she couldn't wait to see how Big Mac would respond when he saw her in it.
"Thank you, it's even better than what I wanted!" she exclaimed. "How many bits for the outfit?"
"You can have it for free," said Rarity. "It's for a friend after all, and I received enough business to last me a while. But you probably should keep it here until it clears up tomorrow, I'll keep a good eye on it."
But that wasn't the focus anymore on Cheerilee's mind, as the thought of having Big Mac see her in that dress evolved to whenever or not Big Mac was safe through the storm, and the idea of seeing how he was doing crossed into her head. "You're very kind, but I gotta go. See you tomorrow, Fancy Pants!"
He had no chance to give a reaction, as Cheerilee dashed outside and went out the door inside the ravaging heart of the storm. She was shocked as the animal had gotten worse over time, with tree branches swirling all around, and sheets of rain falling down to the ground.
She panicked and wondered if it was worth the dash to Sweet Apple Acres, as Rarity held the door open for her to come back in. "It's too terrible out there, dear!" she shouted. "It's not worth it, whatever it is!"
But it didn't matter, as Cheerilee went ahead and galloped for Big Mac. With every step she took, the storm ravaged on, acting as if it was furious somepony would resist its power. She kept pressing through, keeping him in his thoughts. She had to make sure he was safe through the weather, it was getting worse by the minute.
After struggling through the first round, she managed to escape downtown Ponyville, and Sweet Apple Acres was in sight. It was even more pessimistic than she thought, with a tree down here and there, and debris everywhere. She had to help him somehow.
As she entered the compound, she spotted Big Mac by one of the barn buildings, struggling to get all the cows back inside. They were almost all in, expect for one stray one that had taken a hit by a branch to the back leg, and even he had trouble moving the heavy calf forward.
"Sweetie!" Cheerilee cried. "Let me help you with that!"
His eyes bulged in surprise when he saw her coming forward to help. "No, you can't be here! There's bark flying everywhere!"
"No, I'm helping you get this one in!" She went and got the other half of the cow covered, and began to push. The cow still hesitated to move fast, but with Cheerilee he was going a little more now.
"Push!" she commanded, as they finally made movement. Big Mac watched her face, with absolute concentration in her eyes. With that, he kept pushing too, and they finally got the cow inside. He hurriedly pushed the barn door open, and looked around to see the sky light up with lightning everywhere.
"Inside, now!" he commanded, to the direction of an empty barn building. The house was too far away to be safe, and they galloped inside and shut the door all the way.
They caught up with their breaths inside, with Big Mac laying down and Cheerilee doing the same next to him. "You know how foolish you were, running in the middle of the rain like that?" he complained. "You could've died, and I mean it!"
"I know, but I had to see if you were fine," Cheerilee huffed, hugging Big Mac as they continued to catch their breaths.
"But I can take care of myself!"
"It didn't look like that when I got over here."
Her words stumped him, and he said nothing as their coats were dripping wet in the hay floor. The wood of the barn shaked violently with the wind, somehow sticking together through the test.
Neither said anything to each other for a while, as they witnessed the storm's fury through the building's one open window high above, at a second-story level. All they could see was the color grey, and occasionally white when there was a lightning strike.
She felt safe as she held onto Big Mac, confident they could handle whatever would come their way for that one moment. He just paid attention to the rain, not realizing she was snuggling up to him more and more.
"You think they'll still have the dance tomorrow?" she brought up.
"Eeyup. It might be a doozy of a downer, but the Dance is indoors. Always have been."
"I know. But it looks so bad outside."
"Don't worry about it. We'll just stay here until it's over, and--"
"Cuddle with each other?"
A part of him wanted to gag, as it sounded just like something she would say when she was under the love poison, but the winning part thought it was the most adorable thing ever. He smiled and wrapped his hooves around Cheerilee in a hugging motion. "Eeyup."
With the green light, she came up and kissed him directly on the lips, placing a hoof on his cheek. He kissed back, continuing to hug her.
She moved on to wrapping her hooves around his neck, as the cuddling session continued. It was one of the best kisses she ever had, and he thought the same too. They kept going, rolling around in the hay as they were lost in each other's touch.
What happened next was the most magical moment of their lives.
After the moment was over, they looked outside the window to see the storm was over, and the night sky took its place. They got up and went outside the barn, and over to the doorstep of the Apple Family's house. There was a note on the front door from Granny Smith, saying that the family was taking cover inside Fluttershy's place, since it appeared to be more sturdy than theirs.
Because of that, Cheerilee ended up sleeping over inside, sleeping in bed with Big Mac by her side.
The Dance was almost here at last.
It was finally here. After weeks of preparation, the day of the Ponyville Palace Dance had arrived. The storm had created a lot of debris, but it was cleared when everypony had woken up, as Luna used her unit of Royal Guards to clean things up overnight. Since all the structures remained intact, it was almost as if it never happened.
The princess went inside Twilight's house around four in the morning for a quick rest, looking forward as much as anypony to tonight. She didn't have the need to sleep as she was a demigod more or less, but it still helped to get some shuteye.
As she went to the floor of the hollow tree, she caught Twilight Sparkle snoring high above her, muttering something from a dream Shining Armor was in. It seemed to be a good dream, so Luna left her alone for the time being.
Meanwhile, Cheerilee was snug in bed with Big Mac, for what was their first time in bed together. Sweetie Belle was sleeping inside the Boutique dreaming of Spike, and so was Rarity even as Fancy Pants was laying next to her.
Once the day had started, everypony was up and about with their regular business, but the Dance was in every discussion being held. As it was a Tuesday, the fillies went to another round of books and lessons, much to their disappointment. They wished they got a day off just for today, like every day in the final months of the school year.
However, Luna was hard at work on the final touches to the school gym. It was designed like any classic basketball court, but could also double as a stage arena for any plays the school had scheduled. Redesigning this place to contain the splendor of the Canterlot castle took a lot of work, yet she had managed to do it. Now it was just the minor details left to arrange.
She had invited the Royal Canterlot Symphony over around noon, and gave them specific instructions on the song list. It played up to their skill set, so they were content with the task. But Octavia had noted one of the songs had a star next to its name, and all Luna did to explain was "It will be the last song you will play tonight, but do not play it until I tell you to."
Many banners had gone up, decor was in every spot imaginable, and Luna took the honor herself to use her magic to put the chandelier up on the ceiling. It didn't matter that she would need to use her horn throughout the night to keep it up, she could handle it. If she could raise the moon, this was nothing.
The theme of the Dance this year was that of the cosmos, of an otherworldly atmosphere. It took a light black and white color scheme, and occasionally there was a planet hanging up, but tastefully done as to not go overboard.
Once it was 15 minutes until the doors would open, Luna waited near the main lobby, acting as the greeter for all newcomers. It was a ticketed event, so she knew when to stop...still, with over three thousand tickets sold, a new record, it could take a while.
She invited Twilight Sparkle to arrive early, to begin her role as Luna's assistant for the night. The wait was killing her, every second feeling like a minute to her. The Royal Guards standing watch outside were given orders to let Twilight in as soon as they saw her, and Luna began to wonder what was taking the unicorn so long.
Then the doors swung right open, and Twilight Sparkle had arrived. The alicorn was shocked when she saw her, looking even more beautiful in her Canterlot-designed dress than she had pictured.
"Twilight Sparkle...you look amazing. Are you ready for tonight's festivities?" Luna asked.
"Ready as I'll ever be," Twilight responded. "But...I am a little nervous."
"The last time I've been to an event like this, it was the Grand Galloping Gala, and things didn't turn out so well. I acted as Celestia's assistant there, and I'm your assistant here. I really hope it doesn't get as crazy as the Gala."
Luna smiled, finding the Gala catastrophe amusing when Celestia told her all that happened. "If things went as 'crazy' as they did then, it would be very entertaining. But I don't believe you should fear such things."
Twilight pawed at the ground with a hoof, covered in purple-coated glass slippers. "I guess you're right. I should try to have some fun!"
Then the doors swung open for real, and the first guests of the party filed in, within a single-file line to the Princess and the Element of Harmony. There were many ponies within well made dresses and tuxedos, and they looked ready to dance.
"Hello, and welcome to the Ponyville Palace Dance. Enjoy the festivities, and your special somepony," Luna said like clockwork. She had been given a card written by Celestia to memorize, and it had the phrase she was told to say to every new guest, and she rehearsed it well. She seemed genuinely thrilled to be there, and Twilight greeted every pony as well.
It was weird at first, because Twilight knew everypony that came in, which was almost required to every citizen of Ponyville. When she saw Fancy Pants with Rarity, Sweetie Belle with Spike, Cheerilee with Big Mac, and Fluttershy with Angel, it was especially odd, as she had to remember AGAIN the most insane three days of her life.
Eventually, Luna had counted up the the three thousandth guest, and turned to Twilight, "That is every guest we have on the list. Let's go on to the gym, there is a long list of activities tonight."
"Right," Twilight cheerfully responded. "Wait, what's the first thing they do again?"
"First, we allow everypony to get accustomed to the theme. That way, when it's time to dance, they'll be very comfortable with planets and galaxies everywhere. Then, we begin."
She nodded as they went through the lobby and into the main hall, and her breath was taken away by the splendor and expense of what she saw inside. Everywhere she looked, there was something else that was demanding attention, to the point where it almost overwhelmed her.
The way it was arranged made the gym look huger that it really was, as the area was wide open, and the purple and black color scheme really helped the decorated stars and swirls stand out more.
On top of that, the Symphony, playing a slow song from a boxed stage above the main section, helped establish the mood with their first song, which was designed to be a mental picture of a flight in space.
Meanwhile, the ponies inside were just as surprised as she was. They enjoyed just gazing at the decor for this year, remarking that Luna's involvement seemed to be much more than just showing up, as the uncanny similarities between this and a Canterlot party were obvious.
"I don't know how you did it," Mayor Mare said, greeting Twilight and Luna, "but this is incredible, and everypony's saying the same thing! I don't know how to repay you, but I will somehow."
"That is not necessary," Luna responded. "As long as you appreciate our services, that is all the repayment I desire."
"You have no clue how much. I hope you enjoy yourself tonight," she winked at Twilight, moving on to find her spot with her husband.
Twilight didn't understand then what the Mayor meant by that, thinking she meant to wish her good luck with tonight's job. She trotted by Luna's side as they found a place outside the crowd.
"So what's the first part of being the assistant?" Twilight asked.
"You'll see soon enough," responded Luna. "Don't worry, I won't throw you unprepared, like I know you fear."
The unicorn gulped, wondering if the alicorn could read her mind. That was exactly her biggest fear about tonight, since she had no idea what was going to happen, as it wasn't just Luna's first Dance this year.
Using her size to tower over the crowd, Luna approached the crowd to begin, and they stayed silent and watched her every move, knowing she had something on her mind.
"Greetings, citizens of Ponyville!" she said, in a voice that wasn't as rough as the Royal Canterlot Voice, but still loud enough to count as shouting. "Welcome to the 23rd annual Ponyville Palace Dance, and I, Princess Luna, along with my friend, Twilight Sparkle, will be the hosts for tonight!"
Twilight waved, hoping she wasn't looking like a fool, as the ponies stomped the ground in applause. Maybe she would do well after all.
"And now, with music from our fairest sister's Royal Canterlot Symphony, let's begin the Dance!"
Octavia nodded and picked up her bow, and began the opening notes for the first song in their playlist. The other band members joined in a fast-paced song that instantly sent the audience in a dance rage.
Other in one corner, Sweetie Belle began to trot around the floor, and she was moving so fast, Spike found it hard to keep up pace. He tried his hardest, but she became a little ball of energy, almost going to Pinkie Pie levels of intensity.
"Um, can we slow it down?" he asked, hoping their first "date" went well.
"Oh, yeah!" she shouted. "If it helps you from not falling over!"
She joined her hooves inside the dragon's claws, and swung around so hard, his feet lifted off the ground, freaking out before he landed back, only to be swung around again and praying he could hang onto her hooves.
"SWEETIE BELLLLE!" he screamed, hoping the swinging would end soon. She saw what she was doing and stopped, crashing Spike to the ground.
"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean it!" she said, dusting the dirt off of his tuxedo. "Are you OK?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, just need to get back up..."
He sluggishly got back up to his two feet, but as things looked better, he accidentally belched and sent a fireball to the ground, turning that section of floor into ash.
"Maybe we should see what they have to eat..."
"Yeah, let's do that," she laughed, dragging her dragon friend over to the snack bar over by the side.
In another place inside the dancing arena, Big Mac and Cheerilee were holding each other's hoof, joining with each other step in step, as they were both trying their best not to fall over on each other. Even after many lessons he had troubles getting the most basic moves right, and this was the first time since she had braces on her teeth that Cheerilee was dancing.
And it was obvious from the start, as both of them were shaking throughout their moves. Big Mac tried to sidestep, but he slipped and almost tripped over his own hooves. Cheerilee joined in the move, trying to keep with the pace with him, yet she slipped and left him alone for a moment.
She raced to rejoin him, her nerves almost shutting her body down. They rejoined hooves and tried to keep "dancing", but it was slip after slip after fall. Thankfully, nopony was noticing, up until Big Mac did a risky move that resulted in both of them flat on the floor, their bodies aching.
"Ow...what happened?" she asked, seeing stars everywhere. A few stallions came over to help them both up, and she saw bruises on the top of Big Mac's head. "Big Mac, are you OK?"
"Eeyup, I'll be fine," he moaned, more hurt than he would admit. He tried to rejoin Cheerilee, but he couldn't make two straight steps to save his life. She laughed and tried to dance along with him like that.
"Let's face it, none of us know how to dance," she giggled. "So let's try it this way, who knows, this might be better."
He kept trotting around in circles, and she circled around him in delight. Somehow, this was more fun than anything else they were trying, so even when his sight recovered, he continued to circle around like a drunken maniac.
Soon enough they were even beginning to have fun with it, as the song seemed to get faster and faster inside their ears. As they went with the silliest routine of all time, they stopped attempting to impress the other with their dancing and just went with whatever popped into their minds. And it seemed to work.
"Wow, you're getting good at this," Cheerilee commented. "Did you learn anything of THIS at the dance studios?"
"Nope," he breathed, keeping his breath up to not wear himself out. "Honestly, I don't think they taught me all that much, though everypony else seemed to."
"It's fine, you're doing great."
He nodded, and they kept circling around, with the minutes going by like seconds.
And finally, in the other place of the gym, Rarity was doing her best to pay attention to what was happening around her, and not get lost within Fancy Pants' gaze. He lead her into a simpler routine, where all they would have to do were simple hoof stomps on the ground.
But even then she was having trouble, thinking she would faint if they made direct contact again.
"And then, we take the right front hoof like this," said Fancy, doing as he said, "and then we take both of the front ones around to the right swimmingly! Rarity, are you feeling ill?"
"What?" she questioned, snapping back into reality. "Oh, you mean like this?" She did the corresponding movement with ease, hoping she was half as good as Fancy.
"Yes, excellent!" he complimented. "You seem to be getting the hang of it! Have you been practicing?"
"No, I'm afraid. But you make it look easy."
"Only because I practiced since I was a young lad. Practice is the only reason I've gotten good at any leisure activity like this."
She nodded, and danced around with her stallion. Rarity kept her eyes on his hooves, careful to follow along in what was the best instructional lesson of all time. When she did that, she was pretty good, breaking a sweat even, and she was wondering if she should pursue this "dancing".
But when she got a better hold of the routine, and Fancy repeated it to make sure she knew it by heart, she kept looking higher up on his frame. She admired his well-stitched tuxedo, before she fell for the trap of his dreamy eyes again...
Oh Fancy Pants, she thought as she gazed into them. I have met many ponies with charm, with charisma, and with handsome looks, but you are better than them all. Every time you breathe a word to me, I want to savor every moment I get to listen to your voice...
"And be there by your side when you wake up," she breathed, not realizing she was starting to think out loud.
"Excuse me, what did you say?" he asked, wondering what this had to do with the crossing backside move. Yet she couldn't help it, and kept thinking out loud.
"Is it fine if I kiss you now?"
He was surprised, as it registered for him to realize that's what she was thinking about the whole time. "Of course. Anything for you, darling."
"I love it when you call me darling."
She came up and kissed him right on the lips, and he kissed back, moving a hoof through her mane. Rarity moaned a little with that, thinking he had the most gentle touch.
He pulled back, blushing just a little. "Thank you, you are a good kisser. But can we return to the routine?"
"Oh..Oh! Yes, let's continue the dance. With the hooves! And the crossing," she stuttered, and she was clearly not thinking straight.
"Or would you like to go someplace else? I'm content with anything you choose to do."
"No, I apologize about all of that. I'll promise I won't get carried away next time."
"You don't have to apologize for that, dear."
They continued to dance, as the second song began. Octavia adjusted the strings on her cello to get ready for the next piece. It was slower in design, and allowed for waltzing patterns this time around. Not as demanding as the first, but it still provided a challenge for all.
Meanwhile, Fluttershy moved around as slow as the song, careful not to hit anypony as she walked around with Angel on her back, acting more as a chaperone because of their huge size difference. Last time they tried to dance in Fluttershy's house, she crushed him with a hoof and had to take him to the vet, but he made it out in one piece, and she promised not to force him through that again.
"Wow, everypony seems to be enjoying themselves," said Fluttershy. "Do you like it, Angel?"
Angel seemed to like what he saw, except when he had to shield his eyes anytime a strobe light was in his eye sight. He sniffed the air, and caught the scent of something familiar, something that was making his tummy rumble...
He looked towards the direction Sweetie Belle and Spike were lounging at, and found the ultimate prize in the snack bar: A whole plate, with every inch filled with carrots upon carrots. He went rabid, and hopped off and scurried around the moving hooves over to the table.
"Why are they serving carrots again?" Sweetie Belle asked, when she went from cupcakes to...that.
"Maybe they're serving healthy foods in schools again?" Spike shrugged. "They do look delicious. You want to try one?"
"Not in a million years. Do dragons like carrots or something?" she noted, since Spike was drooling over the plate.
He grabbed one in his claws, and threw the whole thing in his mouth. It tasted delicious to him, so he grabbed another, only to find that he also grabbed Angel, clinging onto the same carrot.
"Hey, let go!" he said, trying to shake the bunny off. But he never let go, and crawled up to the dragon's face and kicked him hard into the cheek. He yelped in pain and let go of the carrot, and Angel escaped with his prize, hiding over by the wall.
"Nobody does that to my Spike, NOBODY!" Sweetie Belle yelled, trying to find where the badly named bunny was hiding out at.
Fluttershy came in, thinking she saw Angel around the snack bar, when she saw the little filly looking prepared to tear into some poor creature. "Have you seen Angel around here? I saw him here, I know it!"
"He was just here," Spike moaned in pain, "and I don't think he likes me."
Angel was happy to see Fluttershy around, and he hopped over to her back. Sweetie Belle eyeballed him, huffing and ready for a fight to remember.
"Oh, thank you Sweetie Belle," Fluttershy said. "I don't think I would've found him without you."
"He kicked me in the face because I wouldn't give him a carrot!" Spike confessed.
"Did you really?" she questioned, turning to Angel. He hid within her tail, which answered the question for her. "That's it, we're going home, and you're in a lot of trouble, Angel!"
He quivered in her tail, hoping it didn't amount to more than a week without cherries. He loved cherries.
"Thanks again, I'll take care of him myself," she huffed, turning around to go to the exit. It was a good night for her anyway, not getting out that much.
The night continued on, with the main playlist lasting for six more songs with an intermission in the middle. Within it, Twilight's main job was more of an assistant manager, checking with Luna to make sure everything in the snack bar was well stacked, the decor was holding up, and to take care of the ashy spot Spike had left.
It went smoothly after the chaos of the first two songs. There were plenty of good moments to be had, and it was one of the Royal Canterlot Symphony's best performances to date. And with a tradition that seemed to form over the years, there were many marriage proposals made during the songs, to much buzz.
As every proposal was made before her eyes, Luna got a little more nervous as the dance marched on. It was just as amazing of a night as Celestia had told her, but she was still impressed by what she had seen.
But it added to the pressure of the final moment of the night, when everypony had left.
She and Twilight said goodbye to the guests as they made their way out the doors, with a lot of ponies asking her to return to next year's. Maybe I will, she would always say. I'll find out when the time comes. The couples Twilight knew well seemed happy with themselves, but she told Spike to go back to their house. Alone.
He groaned, but there was no point in arguing with her. He kissed her hoof, she was flattered, and they went their separate ways.
Now it was just Luna, Twilight, the Symphony, and a hoofful of Royal Guards keeping watch over the facility while there was a princess inside.
"I thought that was cool," Twilight mumbled, a little tired from the job. "You're right, it didn't go as wrong as the Gala. It must have been because I did a better assistant job this time, right?"
"I wouldn't know," Luna breathed, getting more nervous with the time, "but you were perfect tonight. For that, I thank you."
There was a pause, and the Symphony never left their instruments, waiting for the signal. Twilight stretched out her hooves, saying "Well, I think it's time to hit the hay. It's good to meet you again, Princess Luna. You really knew how to catch up with modern Equestrian society."
"Wait," Luna stopped her, as she was walking to the exit.
What now? Is there something else I forgot? I hope I didn't forget anything, Twilight thought. "What is it, Luna? What do you want me to do next?"
"It's not a task," Luna said, her breaths getting heavier. "There's something I want to say before you leave."
When Luna had said that, Twilight froze, afraid of what the princess might say to her. Did she do something wrong? Was she not as involved in the Dance as she should have?
And if she had done something wrong, would Celestia not be so happy about it? So many thoughts like that rushed through her mind, but no matter what, she still had to stand and face the sentence.
She walked back into the floor, and saw the grim stares of the Royal Canterlot Symphony. That didn't do any favors, suggesting they already knew what was coming.
"Twilight Sparkle, do you remember all that happened at Nightmare Night?" Luna mentioned, her expression as serious as it could be.
Twilight nodded, remembering that day vividly. Rainbow Dash in a Shadowbolts costume, Pinkie Pie doing a great job as a chicken, and how she herself had been there to help the alicorn with her problems with the infamous Royal Canterlot Voice.
"That was a night I wouldn't forget, either. That was...not the most wonderful night of my life. But you were there to help me throughout it all, when everypony was terrified at the very sight of me.
"I do not easily forget such things, and after I had returned to Canterlot, I recalled every moment of it for weeks. Everything that you had done for me."
The unicorn didn't understand what this meant. Yes, it was a good thing that she did was she did, but why did this mean that she had to stay after the Dance? Either way, she kept listening intently, careful not to appear like she wasn't listening.
"It wouldn't leave me alone, no matter what I had done. I didn't know why for months after it had happened, all the way to Hearth Warming's Eve.
"Shortly after that, I had learned of the friendship reports you and your friends were sending to Tia. I was curious about these when I discovered about them, so I asked Celestia if I could read the ones you sent after she was done with them. She agreed, and was generous enough to give every single one you had sent since you arrived in Ponyville.
"When I read them, I was touched, not just that you were paying attention to your studies like this, but I saw the way you were in those letters, every single letter. Your courage, your bravery, and your love..."
Twilight wiped the sweat off her forehead in relief. At least this wasn't because she wasn't lagging behind in studies...but she had an idea where this was going, and soon again she was sweating...
"It left me with a funny feeling. I didn't know what it was, I had never felt it before. It wasn't until your brother's wedding, when I heard of what you had done for Cadence, that I realized it.
"Twilight Sparkle, I...I..."
For the first time, Twilight had seen Princess Luna struggling to find the words to say. Luna moved her lips as if she was going to her next thought, only to choke and try again.
Finally, she took a deep breath. "Will you promise, no matter what happens after tonight, your view of me does not diminish?"
The unicorn's heart was pounding, as it had dawned on her what was coming up, and she nodded as much as possible.
"Twilight Sparkle, I love you."
Twilight's world had shattered when the words finally came out of Luna's mouth. She had no idea what to do next, because she didn't know how she felt. Was she supposed to return the love? Or was she supposed to run away and never talk to Luna again? She had no idea, it had been a long while since they had seen each other.
The alicorn watched as Twilight stood there, motionless, expressionless. She hung her head in shame, thinking it was a bust after all. All the preparation, all the money that had gone into the decor and bringing in the band, didn't mean anything if she was wrong. And it was turning out like she was.
She did her best to hide was she was feeling, and stood tall again. Octavia nodded and told the band that they were done for the night, and to put their instruments up.
"I apologize," Luna declared. "I know that not all mares have feelings for their own kind, and it is much to ask for, to say that you love a demigod. I shall proceed as if this had never happened, and thank you for your assistance tonight. Farewell."
She went and flew off to exit the building, ready to leave Ponyville and then let the tears go. But before she could leave, she heard a voice behind her, saying, "Wait."
It had come from Twilight Sparkle. The band realized where this was going, and got ready for the last song.
Luna turned around to see her assistant staring back at her, with watery eyes she hadn't seen before from the lead Element. Her hopes went up, but tried to not get carried away with things.
"You...you like me? You really like me?" she cried. "I...nopony ever liked me before...I'm not that special..."
The princess' heart sunk, hoping this meant what it looked like. "I know how hard it is to believe, that somepony like me would have feelings for you. But I do. I didn't know it, but now I know I always loved you, Twilight."
"But I'm nothing special...I'm just a student."
"Twilight Sparkle," Luna said with authority. "You are a remarkable unicorn, and I haven't seen somepony with as much potential as you. But that is not why I fell in love with you. I fell in love because of what you are, and what you are willing to do for those close to you. And I respect that."
"But...I don't deserve you--"
Twilight's thought was interrupted, as Luna decided words weren't going to work, and went and kissed her on the lips. The moment caught the unicorn off guard, and didn't do anything for a while.
But finally, like in Luna's dreams, she kissed back. She didn't know it either, but a part of her was in love with the Princess of the Night too. Her heart was aching for this moment, and she met Luna's kiss hungrily.
Luna couldn't describe the relief, the tension lifting, and the sheer joy that moment gave her. The fact that her love felt the same way...
She raised a hoof as a signal, and the Symphony began to play the song with the star at long last. This song was the slowest they had on their list, enough for the two new lovebirds to enjoy this as long as possible.
Twilight pulled back, her mouth agape at everything. "But what if everypony finds out? They'll be talking about this everywhere, and I don't know what I'd do--"
"I'll take care of that," Luna answered. "I knew that would be a concern, and this is worth the pain that will bring. Do not worry, I will be by your side when the time comes."
The purple unicorn sunk her face into Luna's neck, blushing her cheeks as red as they could get. Then she felt her front hooves moving, and looked down to see that the princess was moving them to begin a dance. She looked up to see her new lover give the most comforting smile she had ever seen, and they began to dance.
As Octavia lead the Symphony into the first minute of the song, Twilight and Luna circled around each other throughout the room, and they did it well without anypony really watching it, as the band was just focusing on getting the piece right.
Twilight let her heart go fully into this, with no more secrets, no more revelations, no more realizing her friends were dating behind her back weighing her down. She lost herself within Luna's eyes, letting her do as they felt.
Luna went slowly with the moves, allowing Twilight to adjust as they kept going around in circles, and she loved that this was finally happening. She pulled back for a bit, bowing to the unicorn, before taking her hooves again and moving around in lines now.
"I didn't know dancing was this easy," said Twilight. "Were you a great dancer before...your castle was in the Everfree Forest?"
"Yes, but I didn't have a partner until tonight," Luna confessed. "I wasn't in love anytime before I was banished. I didn't know why, nopony seemed to capture my heart, and I just danced alone in my bedroom sometimes. It was still fun to move around, let your hooves stretch to music like this."
"Thanks for that. I wouldn't know how to dance unless it was you leading me."
"Don't say that. You're doing great."
"You think so?"
"I know so. The less you think about what you're doing, the better you do, trust me."
Twilight believed it, stumbling when they were talking about it, and she did a marvelous job when she focused on Luna. That was the easy part right now.
Octavia played on, a small tear in her eye, as this unlikely love was starting to remind her of Vinyl Scratch. She went against type and missed a note when she thought about it, but snapped out of it and went back to work.
As the two continued to move around in lines and circles, they seemed to glide around the floor, moving with an ease not matched by many. Twilight lost herself in the melody, and Luna responded by caressing her hooves around her neck, to the point where Twilight seemed to be hovering just above the floor.
Is this real? Twilight thought. Am I really doing this? I...I can't believe this is happening. But I don't want it to end...
With Twilight clinging to her, Luna took it as a license to waltz a little faster than before. She was careful to be not too demanding, and held on tightly as she spun around in a dash. Both of their manes flew around like the wind of the storm yesterday.
The unicorn was taken off guard by the spinning, but when it was over, she came over and kissed Luna again. The princess stopped dancing and returned it back, and soon it was just one big kissing fit, one that made the entire Symphony blush and turn away.
They didn't stop, and Luna part through Twilight's mane with a hoof. The unicorn moaned and kept her hooves wrapped around the neck.
It was ironic, she admitted to herself. She had spent the last few days uncovering so many romances, so many secrets, and yet here she was, engaging in the beginning of another romance. Not to mention, it was looking like it was staying a secret too.
The final note was played, and the area was filled with a silence. But they didn't know that, as it was coming clear this was going to evolve into something more intimate soon.
"Did they stop?" Twilight asked, suddenly realizing it was quiet. "I liked that song."
"I know," Luna said. "I didn't know it was going to be this deep. If I had known, I would have asked them to play another song after that one."
Twilight laughed, looking down and blushing at the thought. "That's alright. It was fine as it was. What happens next?"
"That's for you to decide," Luna answered, putting a hoof on the unicorn's chin. "But I did have something in mind, if it's what you want."
"What did you have in mind?"
The princess lowered her head to Twilight's level. "Would you like to come back with me to Canterlot, just for the night? I understand if you're not comfortable with that yet."
"Of course I would!" Twilight exasperated, with an enthusiasm that surprised them both. "But what about Spike? He's expecting me to come back any moment."
"I'll have a Royal Guard come in and say I have business to settle with you. It is the truth in a way."
Twilight nodded, and followed Princess Luna outside, to the crisp air outside, leaving the Symphony by itself.
"Wasn't that how you first met Vinyl?" asked Beauty Brass to Octavia.
"What?" Octavia shot back. "Not like that! Do you really think either one of us liked each other the first night we met? It just happened, I swear!"
"That's not what I heard."
"It's Vinyl. She has a wild imagination."
Back outside, the two girls arrived outdoors, and Luna nodded to the Royal Guard pegasi waiting outside. The Guards left and appeared to go inside a garage building down the street. The night was clear of any clouds, and the moon was a few days shy of a full moon.
"So how are we traveling to Canterlot?" Twilight asked.
"You'll see," Luna responded.
Soon, the Guards emerged out of the building, with a chariot tied to their backs. Twilight gasped, as the thought of going in something built for a princess...it was kind of a secret fantasy for her some nights.
"How many times have you been up in the air, getting the view Rainbow Dash has?" Luna asked.
"Not enough! Did you do this just for me?"
"I did come in here in that, and no matter what I would still be riding that. But I was hoping I would leave with you."
The student kept prancing around, and exploded inside the carriage area when Luna held the door open. This night was going to stay crazy throughout, the princess sighed to herself.
She got inside, and shook the reigns to give the Guards the green light to fly. They spread their wings and started to flap, lifting off the ground inch by inch. In time, they were high above the sight of Ponyville, and took off.
Twilight was looking down the entire time, getting a bird's eye view of that part of Equestria. This view wasn't new to her, having her own hot air balloon, but the thrill of it didn't wear off. And as the Guards sped away to Canterlot, this was even better, the speed of the movement adding to the excitement.
"I knew you would like it," Luna laughed, watching her lover raise her hooves in the air like she was on a roller coaster. "That's why I came by chariot."
"Oh Luna, I don't just like it, I love it!" Twilight cried, hugging Luna so tight she later wondered if she heard a rib crack. "This is so awesome, and you get to do this so often! It must be incredible!"
"It is, it really is. Maybe one day, you can use a spell that will give you wings for a moment, just to see what it's like."
"I know that spell, and it's really tricky. It takes a lot out of me to do."
"It isn't bad for me. But I'll save it for later."
The Element smiled, and leaned her head on Luna's shoulder for the remainder of the ride. It was a spectacular one, giving her a view of places she had never seen like this before. Even if it was just a standard night outside of this, it single handedly made the night awesome.
Within an hour, the castle of Canterlot was visible over the horizon. It stood quietly, and by now all but the night watch Guards would be asleep, Celestia included. The chariot landed on the ground before the city gates, and used its wheels to approach the entrance.
They watched with hooves intertwined as the night watch let the chariot in, on account of Luna alone, though Twilight would get a free pass too as an Element of Harmony. Soon, they were in the lantern-lit streets of the unicorn's hometown.
Yet the castle felt different as they arrived at its steps. Obviously it was because of her new relationship with Luna, but...she couldn't tell what it was, but it felt like the castle had a bunch of secrets she wasn't aware of, and only now were they willing to reveal themselves to her.
They piled out of the chariot, but Luna stopped Twilight with a hoof in her path before they got any closer.
"Twilight, you know that one day, we'll have to come public with this," she said. "But for now, you cannot tell a soul what happened tonight. And because of that, we can't let the Guards know why you're here. So we might have to take that dress off before we go inside."
Twilight nodded, and piece by piece Luna removed the clothing, giving them to a Guard to place back in a basement for now. She looked normal again, giving no hint that she was at the Dance tonight.
Soon, they went up the stairs, and Luna pushed the door open with her own hooves. The door swung open, and there wasn't a Guard here just yet. She motioned for Twilight to follow her, and she lead the unicorn throughout the hallways of the castle, over to the direction of her bedroom.
They did encounter a few guards, but every time Luna took care of the problem, and told them the story that she wanted Twilight as a consultant through magical studies. All the Guards believed it, and greeted the Element for coming around again. So far, so good.
After what felt like a few minutes of traveling through endless hallways and false doors, they had arrived at the opening doors of Luna's bedroom, marked with the same blotch of black with a crescent moon that she had for a cutie mark.
"Are you ready?" she asked. "I haven't had anypony done this before, so I'm just as nervous as you are."
Twilight nodded, and the doors opened in, revealing a room with more splendor than the decor the gym had featured.
Luna's bedroom was enormous, two stories tall and as big as a regular sized house. The walls were painted in a dark blue scheme, and even the chandelier above had blue lights, creating a surreal experience that felt like the night sky, as intended. The floor was marked to be a map of the cosmos known to ponies at the moment, with the galaxies on it more than a little familiar to Twilight, seeing pictures of them in some of her astronomy books.
Finishing it off, the canopy bed was massive, big enough for two full families to have all the room they wanted. It had silk sheets for the covering, and a wool blanket to boot. In general, it was really fancy.
"It just keeps getting better and better!" Twilight cried. "This is one of the best bedrooms ever!"
"Celestia's bedroom makes this look like a commoner's, but please keep it down," Luna warned. "There could still be a Guard around someplace."
She nodded, and they went to work on getting the doors shut. They locked into place with a click, and now they had the other all to themselves.
"I don't know what to say," Twilight admitted. "I...I love you too."
"I know," Luna said. "And I want to show it to you in the best way imaginable, if you don't mind."
"What do you mean?" Twilight puzzled. She wasn't as knowledgeable about such things as Luna was, because it wasn't on the top of her mind.
"You don't know?"
She shook her head.
"I...I want to do what they call 'merging of the souls', where two ponies become one. Do you know what that means?" she asked, levitating her crown and neck jewelry to a nearby table.
Twilight's heartbeat shot up, that WAS a term she had heard before. It was supposed to be so intimate, she had no idea at first if she was ready, which would be fine, because Luna gave her a door to just sleep in.
But the more she thought about it, the more she realized she was ready after all. She wanted this.
"I know what that means...and I want it."
"Are you sure? I love you, but if you do this, there is no going back. We'll be together in soul even if we decide to split, and it's going to stick with you forever."
"That's why I want it. I don't want to look back."
Luna nodded, and came over to Twilight. They quickly went straight for French kissing, their hooves glued to the other's neck. Twilight moaned through the kissing again as Luna stroked her mane with a hoof, as they slowly trotted to the bed.
In turn, Twilight rubbed all over Luna's backside, her mind starting to cloud up. The princess shuddered, not having anypony touch her like that. That only encouraged Twi more, slowly massaging around her saddle area, and getting to the neck as well.
To counter that, Luna took over and enveloped her in magic, and took her over to the bed directly, landing Twilight on her back. She climbed over the unicorn, and both their heartbeats pounded wildly as they kissed again.
"Stop," moaned Twilight.
"What's the matter?" asked Luna.
"Do you know what to do next? It's my first time..."
"Don't worry about it. I know what to do, let me take care of it."
"I trust you, just be gentle on me..."
After it was over, both of them were panting like dogs, and Luna collapsed by Twilight's side. They went over and kept kissing furiously, though not as crazy with the hoof patting as before.
Twilight pulled off and leaned her body on Luna's, crying in joy.
"That was the best moment of my life," she gasped.
"It was for me, too," Luna responded. "I...I didn't know what it was like to do that, merge the souls like that. But now that I do...I don't know if I ever loved somepony as much as I did then."
"Oh Luna, that's what I'm starting to love about you. You say exactly what you're thinking, and it's adorkable."
"What does 'adorkable' mean? Is this one of those words you ponies made while I was banished?"
"It merges the words adorable and dork together. It's a compliment, I promise."
"I hope so. My mother always said, if you ever want to keep somepony as your friend for life, you have to be honest all of the time. Does that apply for what this is?"
"I think so. I think Rarity and Fancy Pants started it off as friends, so it works."
"I agree. So what is it on your mind right now?"
"I'm really nervous about what happens after we wake up tomorrow."
"Why is that so? Did I not do so well tonight?"
"No, Celestia no. You were wonderful. But I'm still worried about what will happen when they find out about...us."
"How do you think they will respond to this, if you don't mind me asking?"
"I think my friends won't hang out with me anymore."
"Now that is preposterous. Did you break up with Rarity when you found out she was in love with Fancy Pants, or looked down on Spike when you found out he likes Sweetie Belle?"
"No, but this is different. I slept with a princess. The princess part changes everything, you know."
"It does, but do not think about it anymore than you already have. There is no reason why they would value you as a friend any less because you love me, and even if they do, that means they weren't really your friends to begin with."
"But I love my friends! I don't want them to shun me because of who I chose to love!"
"They won't. And even if they do, I will always be there with you, no matter what happens." She kissed Twilight on the forehead, cuddling her close in hopes she could feel her love for the unicorn.
They shared one final kiss together, before they snoozed off in each other's hooves, into the twilight of sleep.
FIrst, thank God it's completed now. Not that it was a burden, but for the last two weeks this was really the only thing I could think about, get the next part of the story written now. That was it. And now that the story's completed, I can finally read some stuff around here again.
But first, before I continue, I would like to apologize for something. Not for the quality, I'm happy how it turned out, but I am sorry about how this story transformed from a spoof of shipping into an actual shipping story. My original plan for Shipping Wars was much less ambitious than it turned out. It was planned to stop after Chapter 2, the chalkboard scene, but then the idea for Big Mac and Cheerilee made me believe I could reach higher than that.
And over time, I stopped activity trying to spoof shipping, and now the story ends with an actual shipping. The reason why I'm sorry is that I apologize for the readers expecting a farce and ended up with the final product. I do think there was some misleading with the early chapters, even if I thought i did a good job, so sorry for that.
One thing I will say, is that there is a possbility that I will continue this story in some fashion or another. If I do, the story will be entirely fixated on Twilight and Luna, and will be entitled "Within the Seas of the Galaxies", and be just a straightforward shipping story. I don't know when it will begin, but it's on my mind and if I do it, hopefully it won't be too far off.
Anyways, that's just about it, and I appreciate the positive feedback I did receive. Shipping is a tricky topic to write about, even if it's comedy, and anytime you do a shipping of any kind it's likely you'll piss someone reading off. So thank you, thank you for the love and support you gave, and a special shoutout to Destinae Spring, who gave me the final push into the last three chapters.
Now, just to see if Equestria Daily likes this shipping business...