It was a particularly warm June day when I first laid eyes on the small, lavender filly that would forever change my life. I stood with my aunt on a grassy hill just outside the castle in front of a small, but still affluent looking house of polished ivory stone, a midnight blue thatched roof, with a well-kept garden of colourful flowers and vegetables.
I may have been sweating from the heat, or the nervousness of taking on the important job of watching out for one of my aunt Celestia’s trusted advisor’s children who had her nose buried in a complex looking book and hadn’t bothered to look at me yet as she stood by her proud and important looking parents; Mrs Twilight Velvet and Mr. Night Light. They both took turns helping the princess and the rest of the royals run the night court from early evening to dawn, while one stayed home with their filly for the night. It was a fitting employment with their nocturnally inspired names and cutie marks. Even the little filly, who shared her mother’s first name of Twilight, had the coat and mane colours of the evening sky.
“Cadance, I’d like you to meet my most trusted advisors, Night Light and Twilight Velvet along with their filly, Twilight Sparkle.” Aunt Celestia said warmly as she introduced me to the family. Even though I was a princess myself I felt a little intimidated to be standing in front of these important unicorns and being charged with the care of their little filly, although they both bowed and smiled at me.
Little Twilight still didn’t seem to realize she was in the presence of other ponies and continued to read her book until her mother poked her gently and she startled, revealing large, inquisitive, violet eyes that seemed to peer into my own, deciding whether or not to grant her trust to me.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you both.” I replied, offering a hoof, but forgetting their bow had sufficed. They still took my hoof so as not to leave me hanging and I smiled, gratifyingly. I looked over to the filly again and offered my happiest grin to her searching wide eyes. She just blinked.
“My name is Princess Cadance,” I began, letting the shortened name be enough for now. “I’m honored to be able to foal sit for your daughter.” I could feel the little filly watching me as if she could see through my embellishment of the truth, knowing I would rather be doing anything but standing on that hill and taking this responsibility on. My wide grin turned into a sheepish smile and I turned to the child. “Hello Twilight. It’s nice to meet you.” I said, and the filly’s blank look immediately turned into a toothy grin, emitting a small squeaking sound that I would have found adorable if I didn’t have the strange suspicion she was mocking me in some way.
“Hello. Let’s play!” she cried, and then, picking up her book, she galloped off. Shocked, I stared after her, and then looked to her parents and my aunt who didn’t seem fazed in the least and nodded me on.
“I’ll be home tonight by eight. Dinner’s in the fridge. Have fun.” Mrs. Twilight Velvet said quickly, waving a hoof, while Night Light and my aunt gestured for me to chase after the quickly disappearing filly. I took one more look at them all, wondering if this was some kind of joke from my fun loving aunt, but finding nothing in their encouraging smiles, I took off down the hill toward the castle where the lavender blur had headed to.
This summer of independence was starting off just perfect, I thought to myself as I felt the heat beat down on my flanks from the particularly hot sun (thank you, auntie) in my struggle to catch up with the energetic young filly.
I found her sitting in a patch of grass at the bottom of the hill just in front of Canterlot castle, again reading that big heavy book. She seemed oblivious to the world when I trotted up to her, but she mumbled a greeting to me without moving her eyes from behind the tome.
“You found me. Good job.” Her disinterested voice did not sound right coming from the lips of such a small little filly, and I raised an eyebrow.
“Uh, yeah.” I started. “So I guess you’re it now?” I thought I should scold her for running away, but didn’t want to start our already precarious relationship out on a bad note, so I played along. At least, I thought I did.
“Nope.” She muttered, never looking away from her book.
“No? Do you want to play something else?” I asked, confused, and wishing she would at least look at me.
“Do you want to go to the park?” I offered, glancing in the direction of the Canterlot Hide Park and feeling sweat on my brow that had nothing to do with the heat.
“No.” her eyes moved away from the book only to roll back over in irritation.
I didn’t get it. She had seemed totally nonchalant at first, then she turned into a regular excitable filly and ran away from me, and now she was back to being indifferent and only interested in her book, which looked like something I was forced to read while wishing I could have the companionship I was offering her. It was starting to irritate me, but I had more patience then that, and sighed before sitting down beside the strange little bookworm.
“Ok, so what do you want to do?”
Twilight said nothing and pointed at her book. I groaned giving her a deadpan look I was sure she didn’t even see and slumped down, gazing out over the immaculately kept grass and rolling hills, perfect for picnics and galloping tag games, the sun high in the sky and too gorgeous to spend all of a ponies’ time reading a boring old book. This filly had everything I never had, the freedom to run and play along with another pony (even if I was older, I was trying) and she was wasting it just studying. Didn’t she do enough of that at school? Did she go to school? I suddenly realised I knew nothing about my strange little charge, but her name and her family’s connection to my aunt Celestia. So I tried a different approach. Breaking the ice.
“So, you like to read, huh?” I asked, pasting my fake little smile back on my face.
“Yup.” Came her curt reply.
“What do you like to read about?” She pointed to the title of her book; Star Swirl the Bearded’s Astronomical, Astrological Spells and Incantations. I smirked, I’d actually studied it. One crack in the ice.
“So you’re interested in magic. Me too. That’s what I’m studying with Princess Celestia this summer.” I explained, watching as suddenly Twilight’s right ear twitched at the mention of my aunt and she finally dragged her eyes away from the book to look at me. The ice had split.
“You study with the princess?” she asked, with real interest in her once placid voice.
“Sure, I’m a princess too, so she’s teaching me the magic that princesses need to know.” If she liked princesses, I was going to remind her I was one too.
“You’re a princess?!” Or she just didn’t know.
“Uh yeah, didn’t you hear Princess Celestia’s introduction just now?” I asked, confused now.
“Princess Celestia was here?” the filly cried, incredulously. She really had been buried in that book.
“You silly filly, she was just here!” I giggled. “You really need to learn to put down your book sometimes.”
Twilight didn’t seem to appreciate that remark and blushed, grumpily looking down at the book on the ground in front of her. “I don’t need a foal sitter. I just want to read.” She mumbled with a pout.
“Yeah, but look at what you miss. You missed meeting two princesses today.” I told her, smiling to cheer her up from her adorable little pout.
“You’re still here.” She muttered, impassively and I took back the adorable thought. Somepony needed to teach this filly some manners. “Sorry, but I know you don’t want to be here and neither do I. So let’s just pretend we played all day and Mommy will be happy.”
I felt a little guilty then, wishing this child couldn’t read me like one of her books. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there… I just wanted to be somewhere else. There was a difference, right?
“Did your parents hire me as a foal sitter for you to try to get you to play more?” I guessed, gently.
“Uh huh.” She nodded, gloomily.
“But you don’t want to play and just read.”
Twilight’s slack ears that had been hanging down perked up again as she explained her dream to me for the first and what wouldn’t be the last time.
“I wanna learn all the magic I can and become powerful like mommy and daddy and big brother and Princess Celestia and go to her to school and learn lots more magic and be the most magic of magic unicorns ever!” she shouted in one breath so that she ended up panting, her large eyes shining with the happiness that came from the thought of her most cherished wish.
I grinned. “Gotcha.”
She looked to me, those big shining orbs filled with more wonder and emotion then I had ever seen now that she finally was being herself.
“Tell you what.” I began, picking up her book with my magic which lit up those intense eyes of hers even more. “I’ll help you study magic for a while every day, if you’ll take some time to play with me too.”
“Really?!” she cried a smile gracing her cute little face.
“Really.” I replied, genuinely happy to have found some sort of compromise with this once difficult filly.
“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!” she whinnied jumping around me in a circle with so much excitement in her cries that it melted my heart. I hadn’t just broken the ice, I’d melted it too.
“But you have to teach me something too.” I said, and she stopped mid-bounce to stare at me.
“What I want you to do, Miss Twilight, is to show me what it’s like to be free.”
Thanks for the great response last night guys. I worked on this chapter as all your positive reviews came in so here it is. Yes this story is just Twilight and Cadance now, but Shining Armor is coming. Remember, she says both of them changed her life. Thanks for reading~!