++ Twilight ++
With great muscular effort, Applejack jumps up and shakes off the clinging wet, small droplets flying off like shooting stars in the moonlight. She gleams in the silvery light an enticing shade of gilded gold. Had I noticed how beautiful she was? Even before she confessed her attraction and tempted me into take this chance with her? I can’t imagine that I did, or I would have seen the attraction coming. Really, how could I miss it?
Shaking off my distraction, I look around until I spot her hat in the weeds nearby and snatch it up with my teeth. Her mouth curls when I stretch up to place it behind her ears and tug it into place as best I can.
“Thanks, Sugar. Mah head feels naked without mah hat,” Applejack grins and tosses her head a bit to settle the thing exactly where she wants it. I wonder if she’ll ever let me borrow it? Just to be able to say that I got to wear it, of course. Honestly, I’d probably look silly in it, for perhaps no other reason than the horn. “Should we head back to yer place?” she asks me and we turn to head into the forest grove northwest of the town. “We’ll have ta do this again before the weather really sets in.”
“Anytime. I like your company.”
“Me too, Twi.”
I want to be closer to her, but I feel so awkward. In fact, I had run off earlier because I was jumpy with nervous energy. Having the filly games be so much fun had been an unexpected bonus. Little things like this are proof what I missed as such a solitary, studious foal.
All of my near fruitless research has made me realize that this sort of relationship is outside of the norm and the unknown of it all makes me second guess myself. Honestly, it’s not entirely unlike when I first arrived here so lacking in social skills that I didn’t even recognize friends as I made them. Sure, stopping a thousand years of magical darkness had distracted me, but still!
What do I do now? There are so many things I’m so curious about that only she can help me with. I’ve never paid attention to attraction before, I’m not even certain that I really have been attracted to anypony before.
“You still with me, Twi?”
Her voice snaps me out of my thoughts only an inch away from walking right into her and I blush furiously. “Lost in thought. Sorry.”
Applejack sounds just a little bit anxious and I regret that I caused that. Her honesty and integrity makes me want to be the same way and I nod vigorously. “Just trying to figure all this feelings stuff out. It takes practice.”
That soft grin makes my stomach feel like it’s full of butterflies. A wonderful, tickly sensation that makes me want to be close to this extraordinary pony. “That it does.”
On the way back to the library, we talk about nonsensical things, letting the emotional waters settle. It’s a good mental breathing space and calms my nerves. After all, first and foremost, I’m completely comfortable with this mare as my friend. Wading into a deeper connection is what's making me nervous. Despite that, I’m drawn to her heat, sidling close enough to feel her brush against me as we walk. It's becoming obvious that keeping this a secret will be nearly impossible and utterly undesirable.
“Hi guys!” Both of us squeak in shock as Pinkie Pie appears from nowhere, hanging upside-down from a tree branch. “You haven’t been around and there’s snow now and we need a party to celebrate ‘cause we haven’t had one in forever and what fun is winter without parties? Here’s your invitations and you know where to find me, ‘kay, goodnight!”
Our pink-coated pal bounces off into the darkness, leaving behind my and Applejack’s bafflement. “Well then,” my date murmurs matter-of-factly, “ah guess we’re goin’ to a party.”
The invitations flutter down to land unerringly on our noses, exploding lightly into glowing sparkles and confetti. It tickles and the absurdity of the typical Pinkie encounter makes me dissolve into laughter. “I guess we are.” Cross-eyed and squinting, I try to make out the time on the little card that sticks tenaciously to my snout. “I think this says seven o’clock.” With a shake of my head and magic lift, the card tucks itself into my mane. Applejack amuses me by pawing off the card stuck to her and shaking her hoof, now adorned with the persistent thing. Finally she gives up and reluctantly places her hoof down so that the wet ground can claim the invitation.
“Feel bad ruinin’ the thing,” she comments. “But she had ta go and make it all sticky.”
Snorting and breathless with laughter, I can’t walk for a long moment, I can barely stand. Listening to tough, strong Applejack complain about the card being sticky is just too funny. Applejack just looks at me with bemused tolerance, which makes me laugh until I’m winded and wobbly-kneed. Applejack’s chuckling winds down with my own laughter and we rest there, beneath the huge tree that shielded Pinkie Pie.
“Hey, cowgirl,” I manage to say somewhat breathlessly, half leaning up against her. “Can I make you dinner tomorrow night? Before we go out and be social? I’ll bet that I can get Spike to go over and help set up so that we can be alone.”
"Ah’d like that, Twilight.”
There are no more ambushes on the short walk to home, where we hesitate, unsure how to end the wonderful evening. Shyly, after a long moment’s hesitation, Applejack steps close, twining her neck around mine, rubbing her nose against the back of my sensitive ears. It makes me shiver pleasantly with so many new sensations. Following her lead, I nose under the hat, tickled by her pale mane, and return the caress. “Thank you for tonight,” I whisper and can feel her smile.
“Mah pleasure. And thank you, pretty girl.”
Reluctantly, we each take a half pace back and I realize the date is indeed ending. I want to kiss her, I really do, despite the small research I managed to find saying that good ponies don’t. Now, I’m not one to break the rules, really I’m not, but my friends have taught me that sometimes, you have to change the rules.
Applejack gasps when I lean in to try the experiment of kissing her.
It’s brief, and pretty chaste, but I get the experience and the thrill that goes with it. Soft and lightly calloused, her expressive mouth is warm and, to my amusement, tastes faintly of apples. Honestly, I will never be able to eat those again without remembering this moment. Terrified I’m going to giggle inappropriately, I back up, watching her blink in surprise.
“’Night,” I hear her say softly as I retreat to my safe haven and magically slam the door closed to rest my forehead on the wood. My heart is pounding and I’m weak-kneed with all my erratic emotions, but I’m also pleased with myself. I did it! No ‘fraidy pony am I… at least not this time.
Again, my heart races as I whirl like a ‘fraidy pony and Spike looks oddly at me. “S… sorry, Spike. I didn’t realize you were home. How’s Rarity doing?”
Does my voice really sound that nervous and high-pitched? Really, I need to get a grip before he thinks I’ve lost my mind.
“She’s good. Looking forward to tomorrow.”
Tomorrow? What’s tomorrow? My mind is a blank and that’s not like me, causing something that feels like panic in my gut.
“Pinkie’s winter party?” Spike’s sarcasm would be grating if I were in my right mind. With my rump pressed to the door, I can cover my eyes with both front hooves and blush with embarrassment and rattled nerves.
“Yes, of course, Pinkie’s party. It should be fun.”
“Are you feeling okay, Twilight?”
It’s a fair question and I’m at a quandary. Spike is my oldest friend, hatched into my life by the unusually powerful magics that I wield. I can’t really think of myself without him as a natural extension. He really must be the first one that I tell about this, but I find myself without the words. It makes me feel ashamed and I hang my head.
Now, Spike can be a pain in the tail, but he can also be incredibly sweet. When short, scaly little arms wrap around my head in a hug, I know this is one of those later times. “I’m sorry, Twilight. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“Oh Spike, it’s not that.” Gently holding his small body between my hooves, I look at him seriously. “Can you give me time to think things over? I promise to tell you what’s got me acting so weird in the morning. It’s important, but not a bad thing. I have to talk to the girls too, but you’re first on my list.”
That pleases him, I can tell. With another hug, he nods and lets me be. For such a young dragon, he can be quite grown up sometimes. “Okay. It’s late anyway and we probably won’t get much sleep tomorrow night. Goodnight, Twilight.”
For a few long minutes I remain there at the door, lost in thought. As much as I’d like to keep this between myself and Applejack for a bit longer… obviously that’s not to be. Fighting for a sense of normalcy, I do my usual routine before climbing into bed. In my window, the moon is dim behind gathered clouds. Do the pegasi have rain scheduled for early morning? My memories play over the almost disastrous slumber party after Rarity and Applejack were stranded with me during a storm. They fought like cats and dogs until they overcame their differences. Does my attraction go back that far? It’s hard to say, as I was so caught up in trying to make the sleepover go book-perfect.
Despite my fluttering nerves about tomorrow, I fall asleep with a smile at the memories of today.
That night, my dreams are chaos, a mix of my heightened emotions with Applejack’s company, climaxing in my impulsive kiss, and the ‘what-ifs’ of tomorrow.
The scent of baked apples wakes me to sunlight streaming in my window. By the angle, it’s late for me. When I stumble sleepily down the stairs to the kitchen, Spike greets me cheerfully. “Good morning, sleepypony. Hungry?”
The table is laid out for what looks like four times our small numbers and reminds me of our arrival day in Ponyville when the Apple clan tried to stuff me until I couldn’t walk. They pretty much succeeded. It’s a scrumptious layout of apple based treats; oatmeal, pies, pastries, and a bowl of applesauce that my dragon pal has already nibbled. “Wow! You’ve been hard at work. This is a breakfast worthy of an Apple family reunion.”
“Not me. Applejack stopped by and dropped all this off. She said something about you both needing your strength today.”
How right that is. “Well, eat up then. This all looks and smells so good!”
Even with our growling stomachs, we can only dent the feast. Oh, it’s a good-sized dent certainly, but there’s a mess of food left. Groaning in happy distress of my fullness, I magically help Spike put away the leftovers and suddenly, my time to confess is upon me. He’s trying to not look expectant, but we know each other too well.
“Spike? Did you ever wonder what might happen if I found someone special?”
The question startles him and makes him think. “You mean like a boyfriend? Well, I guess I would have to learn to share. I did it with our new friends.”
“That you did.” Really, I knew this was going to be hard, but this is hard. What would Applejack do? She earned the Element of Honesty with her straightforward personality. I can only strive for that, taking a deep breath. “What if that someone special wasn’t a boyfriend?”
Not the right path to take, as Spike looks completely confused now. “What are you talking about, Twilight?”
“A couple of days ago, Applejack asked me out. On a date. I accepted and had a wonderful time. We’re dating now.”
I could wish my voice wasn’t so quiet, almost meek. But the ring of truth behind the words is what I need, what Spike needs to hear. For a long moment his expression doesn’t change and fear tickles up my spine. Then his brows draw closer in confusion and I realize that this is really it. My moment of truth has truly arrived.
“Wait… you’re dating Applejack? I don’t understand. You’re both girls!”
“I know, Spike. The idea took a little getting used to for me too. But when I really stopped and thought about it, looked at my feelings, it just feels… right. She makes me smile and feel special and I get butterflies in my stomach when I’m around her.”
Still baffled, Spike just stares and I begin to despair. If I can’t convince him, who can I convince? Crossing his arms on the table, Spike rests his chin on them and I can almost see the wheels spinning in his head. “So, that’s why you’ve been all weird and we got breakfast today. Well, we’ll eat better, that’s for sure.”
I want to laugh, I really do, but I still feel that I’m on shaky emotional ground. “So, you don’t hate me for this?”
“Hate you?” Spike is authentically startled, his head shooting up to stare at me. “Why would I hate you?” The strength of his reaction reassures me.
“Because the relationship isn’t really… normal. No, that’s a bad word choice. Oh! I don’t know what I’m trying to say. There are a lot of ponies that will think I’m a freak now.”
“Twilight,” he says wryly. “There are already plenty of ponies who think that.” Before I can get past shocked to offended, I see the glint of mischief in the emerald green eyes. Then he looks thoughtful and a little uncomfortable again. “I didn’t mean that. I’m sorry. Listen, it is a shock, but I still love you. This will be a little strange for a while, but if it makes you happy, then I’m good.”
Tearfully, I reach across the table so that he can touch taloned little hands to my hooves. “Thank you, Spike. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been accepting.”
“Well, it’s going to take some getting used to for sure, but I like Applejack. And, I guess she’d be the best choice. I mean, Fluttershy is so, well, shy and Pinkie is so, well, Pinkie and Dash is so…”
“Dash?” I can’t help but chime in and we chuckle. “And I’m quite certain I’m not Rarity’s type. Though, she’s the one that convinced Applejack to finally approach me, so I owe her a special thanks.”
Abruptly, Spike claps his hands over his mouth and his eyes get round. “You’re going to tell the others tonight. That’s why you told me now.”
“Yes. If Applejack and I sneak around, feelings could get hurt, simply because it would be keeping a secret. And I don’t want to keep it a secret, even if I’m scared. I feel so good, I want everypony to know!”
I hadn’t meant to get so loud and exuberant and blush furiously, making Spike laugh. “Well, if you and Applejack can make this work, then maybe there really is a chance that Rarity might accept me someday.”
“Stranger things have happened.”
The thought pleases his romantic little heart, that much is obvious. “You’re going to have to come to some sort of compromise on magic. Applejack and her family, well, the whole town really, is so very… earth pony.”
“True,” I muse and realize that I hadn’t even thought of something so mundane. My magic is oversized and I can do things that even other unicorns can’t, but Ponyville was settled by earth ponies and there are many traditions that reflect that. My recent studying up on their Winter Wrap Up customs prove that. Changing the seasons with no magic? It’s unheard of in Canterlot! The Spring Equinox will be fascinating for certain. Will Applejack be accepting of my magic as we get to know each other better? So many questions.
“I’m sure she’ll be cool,” Spike says and I startle.
“Was I speaking out loud?”
“No, but I know your expressions. You helped bring in the apple crop with a little magic and she was okay with it. “
“Well, I guess as long as we talk things out, it’ll be okay, right?”
Oh, how I hope it will be so easy…