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Borrowing a book
“Twi is what now?” Applejack voice rose even as she gave Rarity an all mighty penetrating look.
Rarity had managed to keep the secret for almost an entire week. But her own nature to disperse gossip, along with the fact that the subject of said gossip involved her friend in a life changing manner, had placed an almost unbearable and ever increasing pressure on the fashionable Unicorn to remain silent. Finally it had grown too much, and she had to speak to somepony or risk exploding.
The first pony she contemplated confessing to was Fluttershy, but she simply couldn’t burden the poor timid Pegasus mare with a such secret. Then there was Rainbow Dash, but the brash mare was liable to react fast, furiously, and decisively without much forethought. She didn’t want a front page article in the Canterlot Chronicle of Ponyville’s Weather Manager assaulting the Captain of the Royal Guard. That left Pinkie Pie and Applejack.
“Hush and not so loud,” Rarity hissed. They were still in the confines of her home and business, The Carousel Boutique, but nonetheless, Rarity was not going to take any chances that they might be overheard. She had promised dear Spikey-wikey, and though she was breaking that very same promise, it would go no further than their close circle of friends.
“Ah still think you’ve been drinking too much of our special distilled apple brandy. Twi couldn’t just have a foal without anypony knowing. That’s simply hog wash. Ponyville is a small town. Why, there are only about 500 ponies in the entire village. How to do you explain nopony seeing Twi in an expecting way, when she was up and about town last month, or the month before that? Pregnant mares are rather obvious months before giving birth.”
“Applejack dear, we are speaking of Twilight Sparkle, the personal student of Princess Celestia. A simple illusionary spell is not out of the question.” Rarity replied. She then took one of many slips of iced tea from her tall glass, which did contain a dash of Sweet Apple Acres brandy. “I am just concerned that after a week, she hasn’t confided to us about the birth of her daughter.”
“Maybe there ain’t no foal.”
“You must certainly have observed that Twilight has been acting peculiar this past week. I’ve noticed she hasn’t left her library at all.”
“There’s nothing strange about Twi not leaving her books.” However, honesty compelled the orange Earth Pony to continue. “But ah’ve noticed that Twi hasn’t been coming around to do her grocery shopping. It’s always Spike on his lonesome now.”
“Poor Spikey-wikey. I would bet 5 bits that Twilight… well, Spike has been buying more food that usual if anypony kept records.”
“Ah still think you might be mistaken.” Applejack held up her hoof to stop Rarity and let her finish. “Ah’m not saying that Spike lied to you by making up a story, but it could have been some kind of misunderstanding.”
“I don’t see how this could be any sort of misunderstanding. Spike clearly stated that Twilight had just returned from the hospital with a newborn foal. He even admitted that the sire of the foal is Shining Armour and that Princess Cadance is in the dark.”
“What did ya just say!?”
Rarity found fore hooves covering her mouth. Oh, dear sweet Celestia, what had she done? All she wanted to disclose to Applejack was Twilight’s new foal, and nothing about the foal’s father. If the full secret was known, she feared the apple farmer might be too traditional to accept their fallen Twilight Sparkle or her poor disfigured and inbred foal. She shouldn’t have added that brandy into her tea but she needed a little something to calm her nerves. “Please forget what I just said.”
“Ah can’t simply forget on yer say so, Rarity.” Applejack drew in a sharp breath. “And yer saying Twi had a foal with her own brother!”
“Please whatever you do, don’t tell Pinkie Pie. She would just throw a big welcoming party for Ponyville’s newest resident. She isn’t one of the most discrete ponies.”
Rarity looked away and pushed away her tall glass of iced tea. “I am just concerned that Twilight feels so ashamed that she has gone so far as to hide her pregnancy and foal. We are her friends and friends support each other, good times and bad.”
“Ah reckon we should just go to Twi and asked her straight and proper.”
“And if she denies her forbidden, incestuous love triangle, the kind that is only found in the most sordid of Canterlot romance novels?”
Applejack was suddenly not so certain any more. “Umm… well… ah reckoned we would drop the matter. Surely Twi will tell us if we ask her.”
“I don’t think that it is a prudent course of action to confront Twilight. She has already gone to such measures that nopony even suspects there is a new foal in Ponyville.”
“So what do ya suggest?”
** *** **
Applejack peered out from behind a low leafy green bush. ”Ah feel mighty darn foolish,” She commented. “We look like a pair of ponies that are up to no good.”
“Nothing of the sorts!” Rarity whispered just a tad louder from her hiding place beside the orange Earth Pony. “You must admit, closer observation has already yielded results.”
“If there are results, ah don’t quite see them. We’ve been under this here bush since this morning. Ah should be out with the apple stall, but instead ah’m here and leaving it to Caramel. And Caramel doesn’t have a good head on his shoulder when it comes to sales. Carrot Top is going to be enjoying her lack of competition today. As a matter of fact, ah don’t know why ah’m following you around.”
“You are doing this because deep down, you know that I am at least partially correct. Something isn’t right with Twilight, and she has gone to great lengths to not allow even her best of friends close. Furthermore you want to know if I am right.” Rarity turned back to the library. “Have you noticed that every curtain in the library has been drawn shut?” The Unicorn pointed with her hoof
Applejack scrutinised the entire building, and Rarity was right. Not one window was opened. It must have been dark as night inside. Why would any pony want to do that on such a bright and sunny day?
Meanwhile Rarity had already begun to move. She crept closer toward the library in her green camouflage hat and olive speckled vest. The Earth Pony could only shrug her withers and follow the white Unicorn to the library window.
Once against the library wall, Rarity ducked below the window ledge. Slowly, she rose up level to a window on the library’s ground floor. Expertly, she fished out a glass cup, and placed it against the shaded glass window. She then pressed her ear onto the impromptu listening devise. Applejack looked at her friend and held up her empty fore hooves. Rarity rolled her eyes and levitated a second glass from out of nowhere, although it probably came from her saddle bag which she wore across her back.
“Spiiiike….Spike,” The two mares could hear. “Has Shining Armour replied to my letters yet?” Twilight Sparkle sounded both agitated and nervous. “I need to see him immediately. Didn’t I stress it was of the utmost importance”
They then heard the pounding hoof beats of somepony walking down the stairs.
“Have you been routing directly to my brother? I can’t risk Cadance reading my letters.” Twilight then continued. “If she even suspects, it’ll be all over. We cannot afford to be discovered.”
Rarity bit down on her fore hoof. So it was true! Scandalous but true, not that she needed more evidence that Twilight had involved herself in a forbidden, incestuous love triangle. She could hardly say a word as she glanced quickly to Applejack. The Earth Pony seemed as riveted as herself to the glass cup and the conversation beyond.
“Nothing except his first reply,” Spike answered. “I think your brother has been ignoring all your other letters.”
“Grrrh…” They heard Twilight let out an irritable frustrated neigh.
It was a sound Rarity imagined that a mare scorned would make after she had been used and then cast aside. It only made this affair all the more tragic, and utterly sordid, that the stallion in question was her own brother.
“Well he did promise to meet you without Cadance’s company tomorrow. That’s something isn’t it? He did take a day off work to go to Ponyville.”
A secret rendezvous! Rarity pressed to hear the faint conversation.
“And he told us that three days ago! Did I not write that this is a matter of the utmost urgency?”
“If every letter you write is labelled urgent, nothing becomes urgent.”
Twilight Sparkle huffed. “I’m taking Wisp for her appointment. Are you coming or not?”
** *** **
“She’s gone. I just felt her blink away.” Rarity stood up and straightened her neck. She reached out to the library window with a blue glow of her magic.
“What the hay are you doing?” Applejack yelped. “You just can’t go breaking open windows of other pony’s homes.”
“It’s a public library.” Rarity coolly replied. Somehow her magic undid the latches and locks inside the library, and the window swung open. “I am going to borrow a book. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.” The Unicorn jumped up and pulled herself in through the opened window.
“Ah just hope you remember that excuse when Police Constable Blue Copper has us in her jail cell.”
“That will only happen if you must dally so.” Rarity answered back “How hurry in.”
Despite her not so small misgivings, Applejack did as she was told and leaped in. She didn’t go very far. She was simply too solidly built to jump that high. The apple farmer was stuck halfway upon the windowsill.
“Rarity! Some help please.” Her hind legs dangled outside the window while fore hooves did the same inside.
The Unicorn replied quickly, and pulled the orange Earth Pony in.
“And where in the hay did you learn to jimmy open a window?” Applejack asked the moment she got back onto all four legs.
“You should meet my paternal grandmother. She is quite the jeweller and amateur acrobat.”
** *** **
The library was dark.
It was much darker than the two mares remembered from their previous visits. Gone was the normally warm glow of the library’s main floor. The wide opened space and its many shelves of books, was hidden in a dark claustrophobic gloom. Their first instincts was to draw open the curtains to let in some light. However, that would have made it obvious to anypony outside, that there somepony inside.
“Do you smell that?” Rarity’s question hung between the two mares.
It was a scent that was familiar. Both mares had younger sisters who had come late into their lives, and they both knew what it was. It was a very specific and unmistakable scent. The conclusion was obvious and the apple farmer was forced to accept it.
“Twi has been nursing,” Applejack exclaimed. “Landsake, ah didn’t believe you, but you were right. She has a foal.”
“That is not the only evidence, look at reading table. It is piled high and covered with books on newborn care and parenting guides.”
Applejack just stood there, partially in shock. If Rarity was right on this, did it mean she was also right on that matter with Shining Armour too?
“Diaper cloth being boiled clean.” Rarity noted from the kitchen. They were the very same sheets of muslin cloth she had gifted to Twilight, and had obviously been in use.
“Enough! Yer convinced me already. We should be leaving.”
Rarity, however, was in a world of her own as she crept across the darken library. “I know I shouldn’t.” The Unicorn whispered to her self as she started up the staircase. “But I must really know. What did Twilight’s brother write to her?”
“Rarity, we shouldn’t be doing this.” Applejack said warningly.
“We have to protect Twilight from making another mistake.” Her voice drifted down from upstairs. “She is obviously too much in love with her brother to see clearly. I want to know if Shining Armour really thinks he can string along two mares. Princess Cadance and Twilight, an alicorn and his own sister. At the very least he should pony up and add Twilight to his herd. But that…oh… the scandal. It is wrong by every convention. Would Princess Celestia even bless such a union?”
Applejack just felt mildly ill. She had to sit down.
Meanwhile, Rarity was going through the many sheets of parchment on Twilight’s desk. Finally she picked up one sheet, and held it to the light “Ah ha,” She exclaimed. “They are going to meet at Pokey Pierce’s restaurant at 1pm tomorrow.”
“I forgot something! I’ll be back in a moment Spike!”
Applejack’s ears perked up. “Twilight’s at the door! We’ve got to go now!” She urged quickly. “The window?”
Rarity was already on the main floor, having rushed down the stairs. She swiftly shook her head at Applejack’s suggestion. “We will never get though that window quickly enough.”
“The backdoor, hurry.” Applejack moved.
The door swung open as quietly as possible and Applejack stepped out under the cover of…well… the shade of an overhanging branch. She glanced back to Rarity to make sure she was following, and when she looked forward again she came nose to nose with another white Unicorn.
It wasn’t Rarity. This white Unicorn had a red mane, striped with black, and wore a disapproving frown on her muzzle that reached all the way to her eyes.
“Hello, hello, hello, what do we have here?” The Unicorn opposite Applejack said. Although no taller than herself, she somehow seemed to loom over the Earth Pony. It might have been the custodian helmet she wore upon her head, with its moon silver and sun gold crest of the Royal Equestrian Police. It certainly added an extra hoof of extra height. Or perhaps it was the foreign Trottingham accent, with its somewhat superior and sometimes condescending tone. Some ponies would point to the four nightsticks that orbited the Unicorn constable in lazy circles. Whatever it was, the intimidating visage was completed by a dark crisp, blue uniform with long sleeves that ran down the length of her forelegs
“PC Blue Copper. Fancy meeting you here.” Rarity smiled confidently as she stepped from behind Applejack. “Nice weather we are having.”
“Snooping as usual I see, Miss Rarity.”
“Why in the world would you even suggest that? My friend and I were just enjoying the shade after a short mid morning stroll. Weren’t we Applejack? It is ever so hot”
Now in the spot light, the orange Earth Pony stood very still, glancing quickly between the two white Unicorns. The Element of Honesty was not in a happy place.
“I am sure.” PC Copper narrowed her gaze. She had caught a glance of somepony climbing into the library window. But she hadn’t been fast enough to the library’s backdoor to catch the crooks with their proverbial hooves in the cookie jar. She had nothing that would incriminate the two in an act of burglary.
“Mum, did we apprehend those dastardly thieves?” Pipsqueak changed forward. The brown and white pinto coloured colt stopped beside his mother and looked to the two mares that he had helped apprehend. “Ms Rarity! Ms Applejack!”
He recognised them immediate as the big sisters of his schoolmates Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom. He did not share the same class with the two fillies, as they were two years his senior. But every pony in school knew of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. There was only one word on his mind, “Why?”
“That wasn’t Twi at the front door.” Applejack blurted.
“Voice emulation spell,” Blue Copper, the Trottingham native answered with a grin. ‘Ooh happy days’. “It’s the latest development from Shetland Yard. I believe you fine, upstanding mares would not mind accompanying me to the Police House for a spot of tea and crumpets while we discuss our very interesting meeting.”