To anypony outside, Fluttershy's cottage was as unassuming as could be as animals of various types came and went as they please. But nopony knew what was going on inside.
A small white rabbit by the name of Angel gazed out the window, chewing a carrot, keeping an eye out for Twilight Sparkle. Behind him, in Fluttershy's living room, Rainbow Dash recounted last night's events to the six other ponies present.
"...which was awesome, by the way," Dash pointed out. "After Scootaloo got back home, I decided to stay out for a bit longer. But when I was flying over, I see Twilight running faster than..." She paused, trying to find a good comparison, but failing. "Anyway, she was running pretty fast. I tried to catch up with her but she walked into somepony's house before I touched down. I hid and listened to her talk to this stallion like she just found out he burned down the library!"
"Oh, my," Fluttershy winced.
"That's not the worst of it. The WORST was when she started screaming at him. Then..." She breathed deeply before lowering her voice volume. "Then she told him she hated him. I couldn't believe it. To hear Twilight Sparkle, of all ponies, flat-out tell someone she HATES them."
Cadance held a hoof to her mouth the whole time, almost unable to comprehend the story.
"Well..." Applejack struggled to begin. "Reckon she gave a reason as to why she hated him?"
"Oh, geez, almost forgot!" Rainbow put a hoof to her forehead. "It sounded like he bullied her when she was a filly. Took her books and her toys and all that."
Shining Armor and Cadance widened their eyes at this revelation. Twilight was never good at socializing when she was younger. But very few foals bullied her.
It was three young troublemakers that always seemed to cause her grief.
"Dash," Shining started his question. "Did you ever see this 'Comet Tail'? What he looked like?"
"I saw him with Twilight once, a few days before she got your letter," She tried to remember. "His coat was kind of a green-yellow. Mane...blue? really dull blue."
Cadance gasped lightly. "Shining...it couldn't be..."
Her husband looked down. "It looks like it."
"But she could've been mistaken!"
"No she wasn't," Rainbow Dash argued. "He was confessing to it all. It was him alright. But he was saying how sorry he was about it. Not that Twilight was listening." She thought for a moment. "She was pretty happy too, when she was with him. And by the sound of it, he did change. We just need to get Twilight to hear it from him."
Cadance could only sigh. "So, does anypony have any ideas?"
Pinkie Pie immediately stood up. "Sugarcube Corner has new recipes to try out! I can get Twilight and Comet to be taste-testing partners!"
Fluttershy winced. "Um, Pinkie? Don't you think it's too soon?"
"Too soon? But me and the Cakes have been planning the new flavors for a month!"
"Not the food, the 'getting them together' part," Dash groaned. "At this point, it won't take much for an angry Twilight to turn a taste test into a crime scene."
"Oh yeah..." Pinkie's mane deflated slightly. "And I was gonna make them heart-shaped too..."
Shining Armor suddenly spoke up. "I'll talk to him."
"WHAT?" The five other ponies asked.
Shining elaborated. "I want to get to know him better anyway."
Rarity started to giggle nervously. "And we're certain that 'getting to know him' isn't a code phrase for 'getting revenge for all the torment he put my sister through'?"
Shining glared at her. "No, it isn't. You have my word as Royal Guard Captain."
The five of them looked at each other uncomfortably, until Cadance walked up to him and placed a hoof on his chest. "Please don't hurt him, dear." She kissed Shining on his forehead. "Please."
Shining smiled and nodded before turning and leaving for the door, Angel merely glancing at him and watching as he disappeared down the path to Ponyville.
The ponies sat there before Rainbow Dash darted upwards and ran out the door after him. "WAIT! I STILL NEED TO TELL YOU WHERE HE LIVES!"
Dash's instructions were as clear as could be for Shining Armor. He found himself standing at a wooden door that was engraved with a comet design on its front. Raising a hoof, he knocked on the door three times before listening for a response.
"Just a minute!" The Western accent called back from the inside. About a moment later, the door opened to reveal just the unicorn Shining was looking for.
"Oh, hello. How can I..." Comet Tail trailed off, staring at his visitor, before his mouth dropped open. "Oh no...no no no no no...not you!"
Shining Armor raised an eyebrow. "You...remember me?"
"How can I forget you?!" Comet Tail asked, his voice now a squeak. "You came flying out of nowhere! You were in my nightmares for a week!"
Shining narrowed his eyes. "I want to come in."
No questions asked, Comet allowed the white stallion into his home. Shining looked around.
It was a fairly simple home, if one overlooked the various-sized telescopes standing upright and star charts laying about on the floors, as well as hung up on the walls. Over the fireplace stood a large framed photograph showing a young Comet Tail and two ponies Shining assumed to be his parents. The guard captain turned to the unicorn. "You remember what I did. But do you know my name? Or why I was there?" Comet only shook his head, prompting Shining to answer his own question. "My name is Shining Armor. I am Captain of Princess Celestia's Royal Guard." He paused to read the look of shock on Comet's face. "And the reason I showed up that day...was because the filly you were bullying...happened to be my sister."
Almost all of the color drained from Comet's face. "Horseapples."
"And now," Shining began again. "I'm here because of Twilight again. Now you'll-"
"PLEASE DON'T HURT ME!!" Comet Tail cried out, landing on the floor and grasping one of Shining's forelegs. "I WISH I COULD TAKE IT ALL BACK, I REALLY DO!! BUT SHE WOULDN'T LISTEN!!" He then, to Shining's surprise, started crying. "I wanted to apologize for years now. And days ago, I thought she forgave me. But she hates me now more than ever." He let go of Shining and sat on the floor, looking down. "I just want to set things right. But she won't let me."
The whole time, Shining looked on with a skeptic's face. Being the captain of the Royal Guard meant being ever-vigiliant for threats. This included those who tried to lie their way to completing whatever deeds they had in mind. But the unicorn stallion didn't detect a single cue that Comet Tail was lying. Sighing, Shining sat down with him. "What if I told you I wanted to help?" Comet's head sprang up. "That I can try and make it so Twilight can listen to you and your apology?"
"You...you can do that?"
"I can. Allow me to, and I will."
Comet began to reach out to embrace him. "Oh, thank you! Thank you so -GACK!" Comet then felt a hoof pressing against his throat.
Shining's voice became a low growl. "But if I EVER hear that you did anything to my baby sister...I'll hurt you. In ways you'd never dream you'd hurt."
Terror washed away the coloring in Comet's cheeks again as he nodded his understanding. Shining removed his foreleg from his neck, allowing him to breathe. "Good to hear we're on the same page," Shining simply replied. "What did you have in mind?"
"You did?" Cadance asked, amazed. She and Shining were walking down the street, conversing about the arrangement Shining and Comet had.
Her husband nodded, smiling. "We have everything worked out. All we need now is to make sure he's where he's supposed to be. I overheard Twilight talking about the parties Pinkie will be hosting for the Siblinghooves winners. We just need to make sure Pinkie invites Comet to the parties, and we're set!"
His smile faded as he heard Cadance's sharp intake of breath. She spoke again. "Uhm...Shining, there might be a problem."
"While you were with Comet Tail, I went back to Twilight...and she told me how she made Pinkie promise NOT to invite him."
Shining's hope began to fade. "Really?"
"As a matter of fact, she mentioned a 'Pinkie Pie Promise'. It sounded serious."
"Tartarus," Shining muttered. Then he had an idea. "Wait...Pinkie promised not to invite Comet?"
"As in, Pinkie Pie herself is not allowed to directly invite him?"
"What does..." Cadance then began to understand. She smiled. "You're an awfully sneaky unicorn, Shining."
"Yeah," Shining agreed, then put his neck over hers. "But I'm YOUR sneaky unicorn."