84w, 5dCadance: Devoted and Loving
I hope you’re enjoying finishing school. It’s lonely without you and Shining, but I’ve made a new little friend. It’s not the same, though. Will you come home soon? I don’t think you need any finishing at all...
The next day was the hardest of my life. Shining and I walked with Fleur to the train station, where Mrs. Lilly was waiting with Fleur’s bags. We walked slowly, as if dragging our hooves could drag out the time we had left.
“There you are! Do you know how close to being late you are? Honestly Fleur de Lis, finishing school is the best place for you. At the very least, they’ll teach you how important punctuality is. Good morning dear! I do hope you enjoyed camping, but I had the guest bedroom all made up for you.” Mrs. Lilly wasted no time when she saw us, launching straight into her usual stream of babble.
I ignored her and hugged Fleur tightly instead. “Promise me you’ll write. Promise!” She hugged me back just as tightly. “Of course I will, every day!” Shield said nothing, just held us both tightly and tried to stay stoic. But we all had tears in our eyes as we faced our first real goodbyes of our life.
It was Shield who starting crying first. But once he had started, nothing could stop me or Fleur from bawling our hearts out. Mrs. Lilly tutted and tittered, but we held each other tightly until the sharp screech of the train whistle sounded out.
Fleur broke off from the hug and looked straight into my eyes. “Whatever happens, we will always be best friends Cadance, alright?” I nodded, too choked up to speak. “Goodbye, both of you. I’ll be home soon.” And so she turned and left, leaving only her lie.
Fleur never came home. She never said why in her letters, but I got the impression that she hated boarding school much less than she hated living with her mother. It didn’t take long for the letters to stop either.
It was easier to say goodbye to Shining Armor. I knew he’d be back; he had a little sister to take care of. Little Twilight Sparkle was heartbroken to see her brother leave, but she tried her best to not cry, to see her brother go chase his dream with a smile. He kept a straight face, but he was close to tears too.
“Twily, what are you all torn up about?” His voice caught in his throat as he gave her a half hearted noogie. “I’ll be back for Hearth’s Warming Eve, you know that!”
“I know,” Twilight said with sniffle. “It’s, only, th-three months and 27 days away.” Unable to keep herself from crying, she buried her face into his mane.
Shining Armor’s face fell, and he looked at me with a pleading look. “Cadance, you’ll look after Twily for me, won’t you? Make sure the little egghead doesn’t study too much?” he said with a forced smile.
“Of course I will, don’t worry.” How could I say no to those eyes? Or to Twilight’s, who was looking at me now with eyes full of hope.
Shining sighed and gently pushed Twilight off of his shoulder and into one last hug. He gave us one last wave as he boarded the bus with the other recruits. The two of us waved back, until the bus had disappeared into the sunset.
True to my word, I went to Shining’s house the first thing the next morning. Mrs. Twinkle gave me a nod as we passed in the driveway, but she was in a hurry for work and couldn’t stop. She’d left the door ajar behind her, so I let myself in. Mr. Twinkle was fumbling with his tie and his coffee, his stack of papers dangerously high.
But when he saw me, he stopped to smile and say, “why, Miss Cadance! What a pleasure to see you!” The Twinkles were always polite beyond fault, in a charming way that was much warmer than Mrs. Lily’s pet names.
“It’s lovely to see you too, Mr. Twinkle! Have you heard anything from Shining?” I replied, while not so subtly eyeing the phone that laid half buried under his case files.
Mr. Twinkle shook his head no. “Don’t fret, it has only been a day, he shall call soon.” His smile dropped. “ Twilight Sparkle has had a hard time adjusting though.” His eyes glazed over as he looked around the kitchen, searching for something. He wandered randomly, checking everywhere from the breadbox to the dishwasher, until finally he floated his case files off the counter to find a slightly crumpled white box underneath.
“If you could be so kind as to make sure Twilight Sparkle eats a few of these?” He levitated the box to me with the utmost seriousness. “She might protest, so I understand completely if you have to take a few yourself to convince her. But I need this box empty by the time I return.”
Before I could say anything, he balanced it on my back. “Just see that she gets these. I am in your debt, Miss Cadance.” Without further explanation, he trotted out the door, his tie still askew. Wondering what was so important, I snuck a glance into the box. Of course, I thought with a smile.
I trotted upstairs to Twilight’s room, only to find it empty. “Twilight?” I walked back into the hallway, puzzled. But then, with a flash of insight, I walked to Shining Armor’s room. Twilight was there, sleeping like a little kitten in the middle of his bed.
As gently as I could, I sat down beside her and nuzzled her awake. She woke up slowly, blinking the sleep from her eyes. “Hey there sleepyhead!” She blinked at me, adorably confused. I grinned and opened the white box. “How about some of Pony Joe’s donuts to start the day?”
And so started my new routine. Every morning, while Mr. and Mrs. Twinkle rushed around, Twilight Sparkle and I would happily munch on donuts or muffins. I would walk her to magic kindergarten, and then walk back to my own house, to be tutored. I’d finish later than Twilight, but she never minded the wait. She would always be reading when I came to get her, absorbed in a world of her own.
I had given us each hooficures and had just finished putting her face mask on when out came her book. I peered over her shoulder to see what she was reading.
“So, photography this week?” Twilight nodded, still focused intently on her book. “I didn’t know you liked art.”
“I don’t,” Twilight said, turning a page. “But this book is fascinating! It describes how the first cameras were made, how to develop film, and even x-rays work.”
“How interesting.” I couldn’t make heads or tails of some of it, but she seemed fascinated, and I couldn’t bear to burst her bubble. I trotted over to my mirror to apply my own face mask, only to see the purple filly instead. I gasped, dropping the bottle with a splat. She took no heed, and pointed forcefully over my right shoulder.
I glanced over my shoulder. There was Twilight, oblivious. Confused, I turned back to the mirror. The filly sighed and turned around herself, to trot further into the reflection. She went to my closet, and took out something from the top shelf. I leaned in closer to see what, only for her to vanish, leaving me peering at myself.
I retraced her steps, rearing up on two legs to reach the top shelf. Of course, this where was I had hidden the envelope and film canister. I hadn’t thought about them for months! Why now? I picked them up and carefully fell back onto four hooves.
In the mirror, the filly was back, hovering over Twilight. Keeping one eye on the mirror, I asked, “hey Twilight, you’re reading about how to develop pictures, right?” Twilight nodded slowly, and the filly nodded excitedly. “Could you look at some pictures for me, then?” Twilight set down her book and bounded off the bed.
“Oh, of course Cadance! Anything!” She looked at me adoringly. “What pictures?”
I gave her the envelope and the canister. Her smile disappeared, replaced by a look of intense concentration. She opened the envelope first, drawing out one of the pictures and holding it up to the light.
“Hmmm.” She drew out a notebook from nowhere and scribbled down a few notes without even looking away from the picture. She drew out two more of the pictures, her pen still writing notes while she levitated the photographs behind a light of her own making.
“Uhm, Twilight?” I asked quietly, a little awed by her ability. She didn’t react, still intent on the pictures. I edged off the bed, as gently as I could, and walked to the mirror. The filly was long gone, leaving only me and Twilight. I looked over my shoulder at Twilight, but she was still mumbling notes to herself. Figuring that she wouldn’t notice, I stepped out of the room to tell my father goodnight.
He was on the balcony as always, but his customary whiskey had been replaced by a glass of wine. His serenade to the sky was so lively, so happy, I could hardly believe it was his own music. When I told him goodnight, he stopped playing, noticing me for the first time.
“Cadance, mi amore! Sit down for a spell with your Papi. See how beautiful the stars are tonight? “ They looked the same to me, but my father was enchanted by them, hardly looking at me to talk. He soon seemed to forget I was there altogether, and resumed playing his violin.
I trotted back to my room. Twilight hadn’t noticed my absence and was still horn deep in photographs, as well as an impressive number of large books that I was sure she didn’t have before I left. I gave her an affectionate pat on the head. “Aren’t you tired yet little bookworm?” She shook her head no and resumed studying. But when I turned my back to find my favorite ladybug pajamas, I heard a stifled yawn from behind me.
I smiled to myself and went to take a shower. When I came back she was fast asleep, her pencil still scratching out notes. I put the photographs away and tucked Twilight into bed, then snuggled in beside her. And so we slept, like two bugs in a rug, while my father’s song played on into the night.