Celestia’s companion came later than usual this day. There were certain ponies in the kingdom that had earned an extra hour or two of sweet slumber, and the ponies seemed to appreciate and take advantage of this. Most of Ponyville was using it to spend a few extra minutes enjoying that egotistical fantasy that resided within the deep recesses of a pony’s mind. It meant something different to every pony. For some it would mean a spare moment to run around a gorgeous meadow on a sunny day and for others the extra time in that same meadow to enjoy the embrace of their special somepony. Ponies dreamt of mountains of cake and sweet things; of fame and fortune; of being young again. Sometimes it was to Celestia’s advantage to let Luna have her time to shine, even if nopony knew it.
Twilight’s form lay unconscious and sprawled on the floor of the library. Her hooves spread out awkward and sporadic. Anypony looking at the scene would wonder how somepony could rest comfortably in such a position, but there she laid, in her deepest sleep in half a decade. Something about the combination of the spell she used the night before, the events of the last few days, and the late arrival of the morning sun had aligned to create the perfect night of rest for the unicorn, even if her place of rest was less than ideal.
Twilight’s dreams during the night were varied and unpredictable. At times, the dreams clearly referenced the day before, and she saw clear visions of an older Rainbow Dash coaching a squad of Wonderbolt cadets on the importance of discipline, hard work, and other things that the real-world Rainbow Dash knew little about.
There were gaps in her slumber where she replayed memories of her filly days. She saw the days when Shining Armor and she would waste the day away playing make-believe. Twilight always wanted to play Starswirl the Bearded, while her brother would take the storyline towards a war-oriented fantasy. Being the older sibling, he always got his way, and before long the story would progress to a point where Twilight would injure herself. Shining Armor hated nothing more than seeing Twilight cry, and would use his already impressive magic skills to heal his sister, and then they’d play Starswirl until the sun set.
Twilight’s dreams of days past progressed. Now she was a full grown mare. It was one of her first missions as the Royal Hoof that had taken her away from the kingdom. During one dark evening, as her party rested on their journey to the outer kingdoms, she had snuck away from the royal guards that kept her from enjoying the new world she now had the opportunity to see. She wandered through trees of various colors unlike anything in Canterlot, and saw animals her books had taught her were long extinct. Her memories focused on a lake, and on music. She remembered a stallion with a stringed instrument that played sweet melodies that echoed across the ripples in the water. She spent a long night talking with the stranger, exchanging stories about their homelands and each showing deep interest in the others background. Twilight felt at ease being around a pony with a thirst for knowledge like herself, and it reassured her that her mission would be a success.
The sun was becoming clear on the horizon in Ponyville, and the first residents were groggily waking up. A blade of light pierced the small gaps between the curtains in the library. It slowly eased its way towards the unconscious pony in the center of the room.
Twilight’s dream was growing more vivid with each moment. The mysterious stallion and she had spent the entire night talking about this and that, and the sun was rising on the edge of the lake. The burst of light gave Twilight the clarity to realize she was supposed to be back at the camp, as her traveling companions would soon be waking and wondering where she was. Her new friend urged her to move quickly, understanding the gravitas of the situation simply from the sight of Twilight’s pupils shrinking with the realization of what was happening. He pointed out the quickest way back from where she came, and Twilight took off at a quick gallop. She had only gone a few steps before she came to a quick halt, turned back and gave the stallion a rushed, but gentle kiss. Before the stallion realized what had happened, Twilight had reared around and galloped into the forest towards camp.
The sunlight that made its way through the library paused before reaching Twilight, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When it had decided she had slumbered long enough, it made its presence known. The warmth softly pulled Twilight back from her dream world, and a drawn out yawn crept it way out. The real world slowly came into focus, and as her eyes tried to line up the images around her, she peered to see if the stallion she was just next to was beside her. Once the setting of the Ponyville Library became clear, she realized it was just a dream, and wondered to herself how long it had been she had dreamt of that magical night on the lake.
Twilight lay on the floor for a while longer, still getting her bearings. Despite the long, deep sleep, her flank was aching, and she realized how far she had wandered from her bed. She got up from the floor, and her hind legs quickly gave way beneath her, as she realized her awkward sleeping situation had compromised her fragile frame. She sighed heavily and pulled herself to her feet.
The memories she had relived during the night had quickly left her mind and been replaced with the desire for coffee in large quantities. She took a glimpse in the mirror at her disheveled mane, and tried to tame it with her hooves before heading outside. A single tuft refused to straighten itself, and after a few attempts, she decided coffee was more important than hygiene and wandered into town.
Outside her makeshift hotel, the town was already bustling. Twilight wished she had taken more time to refine her appearance, but her craving grew stronger with each passing moment, and it was now demanding not just java, but muffins as well. She made a beeline for the bakery she visited after her arrival.
The door to the bakery swung open, ringing a small bell to announce the arrival of a customer. Apple Bloom looked up and saw the starving unicorn and smiled. “Couldn’t keep away, could ‘ya?” she said as she motioned her old acquaintance inside. “Finished the rest of that pie already eh?”
Twilight approached the counter and let her stomach do the talking. A long, audible groan signaled that her stomach knew food was near. Twilight blushed deeply before answering. “Actually, I was so preoccupied yesterday that I forgot to eat. I’ll take whatever’s fresh this morning, and bring me some coffee please.”
“Morning? Lunch rush has already come and gone darlin’.” Apple Bloom fetched a plate of treats as Twilight approached the nearest table. “I know you’re on vacation, but wastin’ all your time in bed’s no good.” She left the treats at the table and poured Twilight a cup of coffee.
Twilight stopped Apple Bloom before she could retreat back behind the counter. “Leave the pot,” she requested, knowing she would consume the entire container before it grew cold.
Apple Bloom laughed as she complied, “You look like you had a run-in with Discord on the way here darlin’. Sure you don’t wanna talk ‘bout it?”
Twilight stuffed a muffin and a cookie in her mouth, and let out a long, satisfied hum. Her stomach temporarily silenced, she was at last able to answer. “It’s nothing. I just,” she paused to take a bite, and her cleared mind recalled her dreams, “didn’t sleep well.” She stared for a moment at the black brew in her cup before consuming the contents in a single gulp. Twilight searched for a way to change the subject. “Thanks again for the pie the other day. All this stuff is delicious. It’s good to see you’re doing so well.”
“Wouldn’t have none of it if it weren’t for A.J. and Big Mac’s help.” Apple Bloom’s smile grew wider as she spoke about her siblings. “They bring me the freshest apples from the farm ev’ryday so I can make my tasty treats. I dunno how Big Mac finds the time between the farm and Apple Bushel.” Before Twilight could inquire about the details, the bell rang, and the two looked up to see Fluttershy in the doorway, saddlebag in tow. “Howdy, Fluttershy! The usual?”
“Yes, please,” Fluttershy saw Twilight eating one of the muffins she had come for, “um, that is…if there’s any left.”
“Come now, Fluttershy. I’d never let you down,” said Apple Bloom as she went toward the back to fetch a box of her favorite zucchini muffins. She pulled out a tray of cookies and set them on the counter. “You look right near famished girlie. Take one.”
“Oh, thank you. I’d love to if you don’t mind.”
“’Course not darlin’. Eat up!” A loud ringing came from the back room and a puff of smoke crawled across the entryway into the front of the bakery. Apple Bloom stamped her hoofs on the ground in disgust. “Not again! I swear I’ll never get this right! ‘scuse me ladies.” She dashed away into the kitchen.
Twilight recalled how she had coldly pushed Fluttershy away the day before and tried to apologize. “Hey Fluttershy. I’m really sorry about how I acted the other day. I was just so upset, but it was no excuse to treat you like that.”
“Oh no,” she said in her soft voice, trying to turn the apology back towards Twilight, “I’m sorry you had to find out about Rainbow Dash like that. I must have ruined your welcome back party.” Fluttershy fiddled her hooves a little bit and hesitated as she spoke, “Did you find her? Is she doing ok?”
“Yeah. It was tough to see, but it turns out she’s in good hooves,” Twilight said with a slight somber tone that then proceeded into a snicker, “and she’s been keeping a close eye on you girls too.”
“Oh yeah,” Fluttershy paused and kept staring at her hooves, “we already knew about that.”
Twilight cocked her head in confusion. “You did? How?”
A loud crash came from the kitchen, followed by clearly audible, “Dag’nab it!”
“Um,” the quiet pegasus continued to speak nervously around her old friend, “Pinkie figured it out. She said her hiding spots had become,” Fluttershy searched for the right word, “compromised.”
Twilight remained puzzled. “If you had it figured out, why didn’t you confront her?”
“Um, well. Applejack and I told Pinkie to stay quiet about it.” Her eyes grew wider and she attempted to redact her statement, “I mean, it was mostly Applejack. I wasn’t going to make anypony to anything they don’t want to, but I did agree with Applejack that we should ‘just let Dash be Dash.’”
Twilight agreed with the kind pegasus. “Well, after my visit with her last night, I think you made the right decision, but I hope she gets a little bit more social about her ‘visits’.”
Apple Bloom emerged from the kitchen, her face and hooves marked with soot and white foam. “Sorry ladies. I’m gonna have to close up shop for a bit. We gots a bit of an emergency in the back. Probably gonna take me ‘til mornin’ to clean up the mess.”
Fluttershy and Twilight both offered to stay and help, but Apple Bloom insisted nobody see her kitchen until her ‘secret experiment’ was successful. The two customers barely had time to leave their bits on the table before Apple Bloom was quickly shoving them out the door, then rushing back to contain the fire that had returned for a second round of battle with the pastry chef.
Twilight hoped she could spend a little more time with Fluttershy since the opportunity had presented itself. “Do you have anywhere else to be right now Fluttershy?” she asked, knowing the naïve pegasus wouldn’t refuse any request made of her.
“Well I still have a couple hours and need to go get some carrots for Angel and his family, and some medicine for a nervous little skunk before he makes my cottage uninhabitable.” She hoped Twilight wouldn’t mind, but retained her usual meek demeanor, “You can come along, I mean, if you don’t want to, I’ll understand. It’s just that, I’ll be making dinner tonight, and maybe you’ll stay?”
Twilight was delighted with the idea. “I’d love to! I was hoping we’d get to spend some time to catch up while I’m here. I’ve been dying to know what you’ve been up to,” she said as the two headed towards the nearby farm stands.
Twilight was engrossed in a story as they approached the cottage. Despite her curiosity about how the years had affected Fluttershy, it was Twilight who did most of the talking. She told Fluttershy a tale of when Celestia had decided she was bored with the royal food and decided to try her hoof at cooking herself. “So when the cake still came out soggy and undercooked, she thought she could firm it up by sticking it in the freezer!” Twilight laughed so hard she almost dropped the groceries she was helping Fluttershy carry.
“Oh dear, that’s no good. Someone could get sick from eating that,” Fluttershy politely giggled with her friend, but she seemed more concerned with the well-being of the royal subjects that were victimized by the princess’ cooking.
“She said she was the greatest cook in the kingdom five hundred years ago, but hadn’t had the time to practice in two centuries.” Twilight made a queasy face as she continued, “She took the first bite and immediately her face started drooping and she went to throw it out, but I tried to reassure her and took a big piece. I was sick for a week, and Celestia swore never to cook again.”
“Well I guess there’s something’s even a princess can’t be great at.”
“That’s not even the best part!” Twilight said as Fluttershy opened the door to the cottage, “Luna found the leftovers that night and ate the whole thing! Celestia had to do her job for a month while Luna was bedridden with stomach aches,” she howled with laughter while she set the bags on a table.
“Oh dear.” Fluttershy was not nearly as amused by this detail as her friend, and showed genuine concern for the princess. For a moment, it seemed that her face expressed that she hadn’t comprehended that these events had already come and gone.
Fluttershy’s cottage was remarkably similar to how Twilight remembered it. She had an old style to her that never changed much, and Fluttershy didn’t really have time to redecorate even if she wanted, due to all the young creatures that occupied her time. Twilight couldn’t pinpoint the reason, but it did seem cozier than she remembered. The space seemed a bit less spacious, and in some places a bit messy, which was quite uncharacteristic of the pegasus, but it seemed otherwise unchanged.
Fluttershy hovered towards the kitchen. “I’m going to make some tea. I mean, that is, if you want some.”
“Sure. That sounds wonderful.”
Twilight was still admiring the cottage as Fluttershy returned, and the pegasus was worried her friend had noticed something wrong. “Oh, I’m sorry it’s such a mess right now. I just haven’t had the time or help lately.”
Twilight quickly tried to reassure the high-strung pony and giggled, “No Fluttershy, I was just surprised how little has changed here. You cottage looks as beautiful as I remember it.”
Fluttershy felt reassured, but still struggled with the compliment. “Um, thank you. It’s been a bit crowded, but I try to keep it nice.”
As Twilight kept peering around the cottage, she caught a glimpse of herself in a nearby mirror, and realized she had forgotten about her unkempt appearance. “Oh dear,” a horrified look appeared on Twilight’s face, “I forgot what a rush I was in this morning.”
Fluttershy felt a little more at ease around her friend’s imperfections. She directed her towards the powder room, and Twilight rushed away. The kettle began to whistle in the other room, and by the time Twilight returned with her mane back the way it should be, Fluttershy was returning from the kitchen with two steaming cups of bergamot tea.
Twilight took a sip of tea and was wondering where to begin asking Fluttershy about her experiences over the past few years when she heard the front door to the cottage opening. She turned and saw a small filly standing in the doorway. Twilight was intrigued by the small pony’s resemblance to her friend Applejack. Her orange color was a near identical match, and the only differences Twilight could pick out other than size and age were the shorter, tamed tail and small wings sprouting from her back.
“Who’re you?” the filly spoke with an attitude also reminiscent of Applejack.
Twilight was about to ask the same question, as well as why the filly was looking at her like some sort of intruder. The filly looked at Fluttershy to answer the question, and Twilight followed her lead. The filly entered the cottage and was getting a closer look at the stranger. She was uncomfortably close to Twilight, sizing her up from every angle.
“Apple Bushel, that’s not how we treat guests. Please, be a little nicer” Fluttershy addressed the miniature pegasus.
“Apple Bushel?” Twilight’s gaze wavered between the two ponies searching for answers. Suddenly the resemblance to Applejack was making more and more sense. Even the freckles were in the same place. Twilight picked up the small pegasus with glee, “Oh my goodness! You look just like your mother! I can’t believe Applejack had a filly.”
The filly was a bit perturbed by the stranger picking her up, but she was more confused by her phrasing. “Auntie A.J.? What are you talkin’ about lady? Put me down this instant!”
Fluttershy was giggling at the interaction between the two, but needed to clear things up and properly introduce the two. “Apple Bushel, this is my friend, Twilight Sparkle.”
“Wait, you mean THE Twilight Sparkle? The one Auntie A.J. tells all those stories about?” The young pony’s confusion over the stranger’s identity turned to shock that the pony she heard about was real. She looked at Twilight with a newfound interest and began barraging her with questions. “Oh my gosh! Is it true? Did y’all really fight with Auntie A.J. against Nightmare Moon? Were ya scared? How’d ya do it? Tell me everything!”
“Apple Bushel!” Fluttershy tried to stop the filly, but her voice was too soft to be heard by the inquisitor.
Twilight wasn’t sure which question to answer first. The filly she held in her outstretched hooves had stopped struggling and the two stared at each other. A large smile was forming on Apple Bushel’s face over the fact that the pony before her was real and not just an element of Applejack’s stories.
“Twilight?” Fluttershy tried to get her attention, and after a couple moments, Twilight acknowledged that someone was addressing her and turned her head. “Twilight, this is Apple Bushel, my daughter.”
There was a loud crash as Twilight lost her grip on the small pegasus, whose wings were still too small to prevent her from hitting the floor with great force. “Ow! What’d ya do that fer?” she asked as she rubbed her sore flank.
Twilight sat frozen and stared at the filly in shock. Sure enough, the wings couldn’t have come from the Apple family of earth ponies, but the resemblance was just too uncanny. “But, she looks just like Applejack! How is this possible?” Twilight asked as she stared at Fluttershy in shock.
“I guess that’s no surprise. She does get more of her looks from her father.”
“Eeeyup,” came a voice from the front of the cottage.
“Daddy!” the little filly exclaimed with joy and rushed to the newcomer’s side. There stood the largest stallion in town. Despite the dirt on his face from a hard day’s work, there was no mistaking Big Mac with any other pony around. Even with the large basket of apples hanging from his mouth, a smile formed as Apple Bushel ran up to him.
“Welcome home Mackie,” Fluttershy welcomed him in with a nuzzle and tried to help him with the basket of food he had brought from the farm for dinner. The weight was too great for the much smaller frame of the pegasus, and she nearly spilled the entire contents across the floor.
Twilight hadn’t moved an inch as she watched the scene before her unfold. The three together looked just like the setting from a family portrait. Her mouth agape, she failed to form words as she pieced the details together. Her gaze shifted from pony to pony, but spent most of its time fixed on Apple Bushel. The shade of her hide wasn’t from her relation to Applejack, but a perfect mix of the deep red stallion and light yellow pegasus. The filly was an odd mish-mash of her mother’s weak wings and small frame, and her father’s stance and charisma.
Apple Bushel tried to flap her wings hard enough to get atop her father’s back, but her age and the wing ability she inherited was too weak to get her more than a couple inches off the ground. Big Mac gently grabbed her mane in his mouth and flung her swiftly aboard as he entered the cottage. The family of three began to take notice at the odd silence from their guest, and their attention turned to her.
Twilight spoke each word slowly as she took in the reality of the situation, “You mean you?” as she pointed at Fluttershy, then towards Big Mac with her other hoof, “and you? And this?” Her hooves convened in the direction of the filly atop Big Mac’s back.
“Eeeyup,” Big Mac spoke with pride and excitement as he turned his head to nuzzle the filly riding him into the cottage. He was still a pony of few words but strong emotions.
Apple Bushel giggled at the gesture, “Daddy that tickles! And you’re going to get my wings all dirty!”
Fluttershy agreed, “She’s right dear. Go wash up, and Bushel and I will start on dinner.” Fluttershy flapped her wings and picked up Bushel off his back, and Big Mac headed out the back of the cottage towards the well. “Bushel, go wash the carrots in the kitchen. I’ll be there in a minute.” Fluttershy turned her attention back to her ignored guest, and decided it was only fair she get some sort of explanation. “Sorry if I shocked you a bit.”
Twilight began to regain her composure a bit. She was still shocked, but now it was by how different Fluttershy acted around the other two members of her family. Her meek attitude drifted away and now she was noble. Romantic. Motherly. It was nothing like the Fluttershy in Twilight’s memories. “Wow. I can’t believe this,” Twilight corrected her words as she spoke, “I mean, I’m so happy for you, but how did this happen? I mean Big Mac is,” she paused but couldn’t find the right adjective to describe the stallion, “he’s Big Mac.”
Fluttershy giggled and understood why Twilight might not understand the love that had bloomed between her and Big Mac many years ago. Her voice still soft, but confident, she addressed her friend’s concerns, “Yeah, he’s quite the stallion, and he makes me so happy.” She peered out the back door at Big Mac as he splashed water on his face. Their gaze met and he smiled back at her. “He’s a pony of few words, but somehow I just understand him. It’s kind of like how I understand the woodland creatures that wander around. He’s a lot more than you think, and different than any pony I’ve ever met.”
“But how did it happen in the first place?”
A boisterous voice came from the kitchen, “Auntie A.J. says she tricked Big Mac into it!”
“Apple Bushel, hush!” Fluttershy glared at the filly.
Unlike most creatures that got stared down by the woodland whisperer, Bushel just giggled. She ignored her mother and spoke towards Twilight, “Auntie A.J. says Fluttershy can stop any animal in ‘der tracks with ‘the stare’, but ma forgets that ‘the stare’ is in my blood. Whatever that means.” Bushel glared back at Fluttershy and then puffed out her cheeks and formed a silly expression before returning to her chores. Twilight found herself laughing at the little filly’s defiance.
Fluttershy sighed before returning to her conversation with Twilight. “Applejack keeps putting these ideas in her head, but she’s kind of right.”
“About which thing?” Twilight queried.
“Both. The stare just isn’t effective anymore since I grew close to Mackie, and Bushel is just completely immune,” Fluttershy snickered a little bit, “but you should see how obedient Angel is when she stares at him.”
“So is it really Applejack’s doing that got you two together?”
“Well, kind of, but she shouldn’t have gone about it the way she did. I was pretty lonely at the time. Angel and a lot of the other woodland creatures were starting families, and while their young ones still needed my care from time to time, there just weren’t as many creatures around. Applejack noticed that I wasn’t coming around as often for food for the animals, and I was too shy to admit the whole truth about the issue, but she knew I wasn’t being fully honest, and took it upon her to fix things.”
Bushel’s voice echoed from the kitchen, “All done ma! When we eatin’?”
Fluttershy put her story on hold for a moment. “Soon dear! Go see if you can help your father with anything.” Bushel trotted out the back of the cottage and Fluttershy turned back to Twilight. “Mind helping me a bit?”
Twilight wasn’t about to leave Fluttershy’s side until she heard the rest of the story. “Only if you tell me the rest of what happened.” The two headed to the kitchen and began work on a stew. Twilight helped the best she could, but wasn’t much help as her attention was focused more on Fluttershy’s story.
“Applejack was determined to get me alone with somepony, and tried to urge Big Mac to visit me with an apple delivery, but he’s a lone stallion himself. He prefers the work in the fields to the work with the customers, and wasn’t too interested in letting Applejack set him up with another pony, especially one of her friends. So she got crafty.”
Fluttershy held one of the apples Big Mac had brought home and eyed it closely as she continued. “Applejack took a bunch of bad apples to Rarity, and asked her to use some magic to make them look edible. Then she tricked Mackie into eating a bunch, and he got pretty sick. Rarity’s magic was so good at making things look pretty that even Applejack ate one without realizing it.”
Twilight laughed a bit as she imagined the expression Applejack would have on her face before realizing she had eaten one of the bad apples. Her laughing distracted her, and she nearly cut herself with the knife she was wielding to dice the potatoes.
“Applejack got a little ill, but Big Mac was bedridden. I showed up the next day for a crate of apples, but Applejack begged me to help with her brother. I couldn’t stand seeing him so sick. At first I forgot I was taking care of another pony, and treated him like any other woodland creature. I ended up staying there the whole weekend, never leaving his side. He talks a lot in his sleep, and I felt like I got to know him without him knowing me. Even when he was awake, he was too sick to know what was going on. I think he thought Applejack was taking care of him.”
Fluttershy blushed as she continued, “I was asleep when he finally came to. Applejack said Mackie looked so confused when he saw my head dozing off at the foot of his bed. He was afraid he’d done something terrible, but Applejack cleared it up and told him that I was there the whole time making sure he got better. He insisted on repaying the favor to me, and after all I knew about him by then, I wanted him to know me instead. For once I wasn’t afraid to let someone know who I was and Mackie was such a great listener. It wasn’t long before our friendship grew beyond, and then Bushel…”
Fluttershy paused and Twilight became ever more curious about the young filly. The two ponies could see Mac and Bushel outside the kitchen window. Bushel was trying to buck trees like her father, but her pegasus body didn’t house the strength to knock even a leaf off the trees outside the cottage. She was becoming frustrated and walked back towards the cottage, giving up. Mac stood in her way and with a simple, “Nope,” he turned her back towards the biggest tree in the backyard. Bushel only looked at her father like he had lost his marbles, but just pulled the sprig of wheat from his teeth and nodded. When her back was turned, he made his way to the other side of the tree. He let out a strong buck simultaneously with Bushel, and there was a sudden rain of fruit descending upon the filly. It quickly piled up around her and she was consumed by a mountain of apples.
Once the shower of fruit subsided, she poked her head out of the top, proudly proclaiming her accomplishment to Mac. “I did it! I really did it! I’m gonna get an apple cutie mark in no time!”
“Eeeyup!” Mac exclaimed as he pulled Bushel from the pile of fruit.
Twilight and Fluttershy were giggling as they watched. Fluttershy had little else to say about her relationship with Mac, and as the father-daughter duo returned to the cottage with their harvest, she said to Twilight, “Bushel just kind of happened, and we couldn’t be happier about it. She’s been a blessing, and just brought us closer together.”
The four ponies joined around the table to enjoy the wonderful meal. Bushel was unusually talkative compared to her parents, and was talking about the latest pony in her class to get a cutie mark. She was debating aloud with herself about what kind of apple she wanted her cutie mark to be, and Fluttershy kept reassuring her that apple or not, her cutie mark would be as special as she was. Fluttershy looked to Mac to reinforce her point, only to get another, “Eeeyup,” from her love, resulting in resounding laughter from everyone at the table.
Fluttershy insisted on walking back towards the library with Twilight, so they could catch up a little more before the day ended. In her head, Twilight reflected on the romance her friends had found, and her thoughts drifted back towards her dreams from the night. She wondered if the pony she shared that kiss with forgot about her. Perhaps he had a special somepony already before that night, and she had crossed some line without knowing it. Twilight was beginning to regret how her years as the Royal Hoof had occupied her, and despite all the reading she had done, it was no substitute for the real feeling of affection. It was a form of friendship she hadn’t found since that night, and now she wished she had spent more time searching for it.
Twilight was brought back to reality by a pink flash that rushed past them. Fluttershy was nearly blown away by the resulting wind, and Twilight’s mane returned to the disheveled appearance she had worked so hard to correct. “What in the hay was that?” asked Twilight, a bit more scared than curious.
Fluttershy regained her footing and responded, “It must have been Pinkie. She plans too many parties at once and then this is the result.”
“Did somebody say my name?” Twilight looked down at the voice coming from beneath her. Pinkie Pie had somehow crawled between her hooves without her noticing and was staring at her with a wide grin. “Yay! Twilight! I need your help oh so badly! Quick! Streamers or balloons?” she exclaimed as she seemed to pull materials out of nowhere.
Twilight was taken aback and didn’t quite understand what was going on. She pointed at the balloons, and asked, “What are all these for?”
Pinkie ignored the question and took Twilight’s response as a valid answer for balloons before quickly moving to the next question. “Cake or cookies?”
Fluttershy responded this time. “Pinkie if you’re the mayor can’t you make these decisions on your own?”
Pinkie took an exaggerated, patriotic pose as she responded, “Pinkie is the mayor by the ponies, for the ponies! Pinkie means democracy! Pinkie means answers!” Something about her voice made it sound like she had said this many times before, and Twilight wondered if it was from a poster or some other election material. She let out a loud gasp before excitedly grabbing Twilight, “Quick, there’s no time! Sharks or bears?”
Now both Twilight and Fluttershy were confused, and at the same time quite concerned for the attendees of whatever party Pinkie was planning. “Pinkie, are we even talking about a party?” Twilight inquired.
“No silly filly, we’re talking about the greatest extravaganza Ponyville has ever seen! I just don’t know why yet, but my ‘Pinkie sense’ says something big is coming, and I need to be ready to celebrate!” Twilight and Fluttershy stared at her puzzled. Her answer still didn’t explain the broad range of questioning. “Come on you two! I need your help!” Still she only got questioned stares in response. She was hopping around faster and faster, and even for Pinkie, she seemed high-strung. “Fine. I guess it’s up to Mayor Pinkie this time.” Pinkie gave up and dashed away, leaving the two to try and piece together the mystery.
There was a long silence before Fluttershy decided it was no use worrying about Pinkie. “Well, thanks for coming over for dinner Twilight. I should be getting back and make sure Mackie isn’t letting Bushel stay up late again. She’s beyond control when she doesn’t get enough sleep.” Fluttershy and Twilight hugged briefly, with Twilight squeezing a little harder than she should have, and then parted ways.
Twilight returned to her chambers in the library and did a little bit of reading and reorganizing of the shelves before she realized how high Luna’s former prison was hanging in the night sky. She blew out the candles and crawled into bed, wondering if she would have anymore unusual dreams.
Before she could drift off to sleep, there was a loud scraping noise outside her window, and a startled Twilight fell out of the bed. She approached the window and saw Pinkie wearing a hard hat and holding a saw. She was building something and fast. It was too dark for Twilight to determine what it was or why Pinkie had to do it now, and she was too tired to question it. She dragged her tired body to the bed and pulled the pillow over her head to muffle the noise.
It was going to be a long night.