Twilight’s world flooded with vast and deep sensuality. She lost herself in sensation as all she perceived flowed through her. Every aspect of each experience was new and exciting, the feel of cool humid air, the roar of rain beyond their shelter, the aroma of the evergreens, the vividness of colors, and even the taste of her own saliva on her tongue. The most exciting among these experiences was the simple joy of snuggling there next to her friend.
The restoration of her senses inspired her with a reverence for this new world. She felt she could appreciate anything. Anything was better than the struggle she had endured. She was now free. She was no longer trapped with her silent thoughts. That was the past. It had only been three years, not twenty. Amid these changes, she had found love. So many questions came to her, but she could only take in so much at once.
She closed her eyes, hoping this might allow her mind to regain some semblance of composure. There were so many emotions at once. A few tears escaped from under her lightly closed eyelids.
AJ’s warm breath wafted over her face as she spoke in that sweet southern voice. “Ya alright, Twilight? You’re not mad at me or somethin’ are ya?” Her breath tasted of apples and sent tingling sensations along the hairs of Twilight’s muzzle.
She felt her eyelids slide open and the light and the colors flooded in. She stared dreamily into the green of AJ’s compassionate eyes. “Mad? I’m not mad at you at all. You’re the one who saved me. You’re my hero. You came to rescue me.”
AJ laughed at this. “Ah think you’re the one who saved yourself. You did the spell. All Ah did was watch.”
Twilight shook her head. “Do you know how hopeless my life would have been without you? I had no idea that I would ever be able to break the enchantment. I wasn’t always sure if I was even making progress. I had to design the spell in my mind. Normally, spells should be written out on paper and need to undergo a rigorous process of experimentation before they should ever be cast. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I worried I had designed the spell ineffectively, but, even with my doubts, I always pressed on, forever and ever, and it wasn’t just for me, it was for you. I wanted to breathe free, if for nothing else, only to thank you for being there for me all this time.”
“Aw there’s no need ta thank me.”
“AJ, I still want to thank you. All of those times I felt your sadness, I also felt how deeply you cared about me. I knew you wished me back to life. It was like you were feeding me encouragement and your encouragement was my life force. I used to imagine you saying ‘don’t give up, please don’t give up,’ and I would resolve to fight even harder against my prison, even if it meant suffering through the long periods of mental exhaustion, and even though I did not know who you were.” Twilight breathed deeply, almost in a gasp, as she realized she had forgotten to catch her breath between her sentences. The air tasted of so many delightful flavors.
She feared she would eventually learn to ignore the vast complexity of her sensuality—like a filly growing up and numbing to the world in order to focus on more cerebral goals—but why worry about that now?
AJ smiled warmly. “Ah did often wish ya back ta life, in spite of thinkin’ it was hopeless.”
They lay there quietly for a time. As the rain abated, Twilight wished AJ was more inclined to converse. Perhaps she is enjoying the beauty of this moment. There will be time to talk. She stroked AJ’s mane affectionately. This seemed to make her friend self-conscious once more, but she grinned back awkwardly, perhaps a bit flattered and unused to the attention. She reciprocated by batting playfully at Twilight’s mane, tangling the highlights so they mingled with her darker hairs. Twilight could not help but giggle at this. Could anypony find fault with me if I turned up in Ponyville looking a bit of a mess? More than likely they would not even consider her appearance. They would just be glad to see that she was alive.
The sun broke through as the clouds shifted away to water adjacent hills and the evanescent colors of a rainbow played across the sky. It reminded Twilight of another friend she had missed.
AJ stood and offered a hoof to help her up. “We’d best get back ta Sweet Apple Acres,” she said, pulling Twilight to her hooves and trotting ahead, beckoning her to follow.
The thought of reconvening with their friends caused Twilight’s heart to skip a beat. She had almost ceaselessly lamented her inability to be with them. They would all be so excited to see her again.
“You’ll have to help catch me up on what’s been happening,” she said, following AJ. “I’m sure I’ve missed a lot. I felt left out, knowing you’d probably still be having adventures every week.”
AJ glanced back at her with a weak smile. “Not nearly so much now as when you were still with us,” she replied.
Twilight’s heart sank. “You’re all still friends, right?” she asked tentatively.
For some reason AJ was running and Twilight was struggling to keep up. Her magical confinement did not seem to have diminished her physical fitness, but AJ had always been the superior runner. “Hey, wait up! Why are we running?” Twilight called. She felt terrified she might lose sight of her friend and never see her again. AJ had come and transformed her whole world. She could not lose her.
AJ doubled back and trotted up to Twilight. “Oh, sorry about that. Ah’m just in the habit of runnin’ to and from this place. It was just second nature for me ta start gallopin’ once Ah decided ta head home. We can walk if ya’d like,” AJ said as she helped steady Twilight in their climb down a particularly steep slope among the trees.
“I was just wondering if our friends are okay. I’ve been dying to know what’s been happening all of this time. I hope nothing bad...” She feared she was being too optimistic. A lot can change in three years. Perhaps the magic of our friendships has been broken.
An uneasy look crossed AJ’s face as they trotted out of the woods and into a meadow. “Well, uh, everything’s fine more or less. It’s true most of us don’t spend much time together like we used to, but we’re still friends for whatever it’s worth.”
“You died... Ah mean, it was no fault of yours, but it changed things… What actually happened to ya exactly? Do ya know why ya turned into a statue or where Spike is?”
Spike! Twilight realized she had not even considered him since AJ broke her free and she immediately felt guilty. Spike had been there when the terrifying sensation crept through her body and she knew a powerful magic was sealing her away from all that she loved. Maybe he knew what had happened. “I don’t know what turned me to stone… or where Spike is?” she told AJ.
“Nopony’s seen him. We all tried searching for him. Ah remember that Fluttershy tried especially hard ta find him, but we never found a trace of the little guy.”
“Well, now that I’m back, we’ll have to find Spike and find out what happened to me. Whatever petrified me is dangerous and might still be out there somewhere. I’ll have to see if I can set things right with our friends too.”
“Ah promise ta help ya all Ah can.”
As they passed through the meadow, Twilight stopped to pluck a dandelion from the grass. She blew the fluffy seeds into the air as if making a wish. She watched as they floated out into the breeze, drifting apart.
AJ stopped beside her. “Ah reckon Ah may as well catch ya up ta speed as we make our way back... Uh, well, let’s see. Fluttershy hasn’t moved. Me and her are still friends. Everypony else is gone though. RD got invited ta join the Wonderbolts near as soon as they had an opening. Pinkie went ta live with her sisters on a sheep farm… and Rarity moved shop up ta Canterlot. She’s risen pretty far in the world of high fashion from what Fluttershy tells me.
“Ah ain’t seen RD or Rarity in about two years. Ah visited Pinkie several months ago. She seemed ta be doin’ fine, maybe a bit out of place bein’ away from all of the excitement of Ponyville, but she’s made some new friends ta be sure… well, sheep mostly, and they all do whatever silly thing she tells them ta do.”
Little of this really sounded bad to Twilight, but a twinge of disappointment gnawed at her as they trotted down the wooded slopes. It seemed her friends’ dreams had been coming true, but she had not been there to see it. She resolved to be grateful for her new life despite all she had missed. “Don’t worry, AJ. I’ve had a lot of time to think lately. I thought things would be different if I ever broke out. I worried that, even if I ever escaped, I would find that some of you might have died. I mean, there are five of you and some ponies pass before their time. Luckily that hasn’t happened, but still, I think I was being too optimistic and some part of me wanted to believe that everything would be the same.”
“Don’t feel bad about bein’ optimistic, Sugarcube. Ah was bein’ foolishly hopeful myself, always runnin’ out here to see ya. Ah’m none too sure what Ah expected or what Ah wanted.”
“Did you come because you wanted to kiss me?” Twilight asked, immediately realizing how tactless the question sounded aloud. I could have just hurt AJ’s feelings. Has my isolation made me so out of touch?
AJ blushed crimson under her freckled cheeks, but she did not hesitate to answer. “Ah sometimes wondered if that’s what it was. Ah told myself it was more than that… and honestly Ah think it was a lot of things. Ah don’t know how Ah came ta love you… uh, the way Ah do… Nopony needs ta know and we can forget it ever happened, if that’s what ya want.”
“It did happen and I think it’s sweet,” Twilight assured her. To prove her point, she nipped affectionately at AJ’s tail. She came away with a few burs and even a small twig in her mouth, but that hardly mattered.
“Well, everypony else thinks it’s strange that Ah hung onta your memory so desperately. Ah’m still not sure Ah wasn’t bein’ crazy myself, but Ah didn’t really have much else as our friends drifted apart.”
“We’ll go and find them. I can’t wait to see them all again. I want to hear their voices and find out how their lives have changed.” Twilight felt her resolve building and she knew she would face the world bravely, whatever may have changed.
“You’ll probably want ta go ta Canterlot and pay your family a visit. Ah’m sure the princesses will want ta see ya too. They tried all nature of magic ta break ya out of the statue. I don’t know if ya knew that or not.”
Twilight cringed. “I’ve come to some conclusions about Princess Celestia while I was trapped.” AJ gave her an uncertain look and Twilight continued. “I think the princess had the power to free me, but just didn’t do it.”
AJ’s face darkened perceptibly. “Why wouldn’t Princess Celestia want ta free ya? You were her star student. She paid ya a fair bit of attention when ya consider her position in the kingdom.”
Twilight frowned, seething with the familiar rage which came over her when thinking of the princess. She felt wounded just thinking about her. “The princess is lazy and jaded and her sister is even worse. Maybe being immortal has that effect. Either of them could have broken me out if they really cared enough.”
“Are ya sure? I saw them cast all manner of spells ta free ya, communicate with ya, or bring ya back from another dimension if that’s where ya were. They brought help too, other powerful unicorn sorcerers who graduated from the Academy for Gifted Unicorns a lotta years ago. They asked Zecora ta do what she does, but I’m not sure how much affect her rhyming and ointments had… Heck, the princesses even brought out the books and did a fair bit of research, tryin’ ta figure out what exactly happened ta ya.”
Twilight wondered if she had been wrong about the princess. She trudged alongside AJ for some time before asking “How long did they work on freeing me?”
“About a week maybe. Ah don’t rightly remember. Time seemed ta last forever then. It might have been a month for all Ah knew. We were all waiting ta see if the princesses could save you. We couldn’t really think of much else. Rarity was so sure the princesses would bring you back on account of their magic bein’ so strong.”
“You know that alicorns are immortal, right? What’s a week to them? What’s a month to them? It’s nothing.”
“It’s true we were all pretty crushed when they stopped trying ta save ya, but we knew the princesses had a kingdom ta run.”
“You don’t know Princess Celestia like I do. The only thing she really put much effort into was teaching at the academy. Even then, she spent most of her time napping and lazing about the palace. She’s a dictator, and, as such, she spends way too much time at celebrations in her own honor and too little time doing anything useful.”
Twilight stopped when she noticed the look of dismay on AJ’s face. Perhaps she has never heard anypony talk this sharply about our monarch. She might as well wake up to the truth though. Twilight decided to continue her tirade. “The princess is lazy and cowardly. Did you ever notice how useless she was whenever there was any real danger in the kingdom? She’s cynical too. Recall how she invited us to the Grand Galloping Gala just because she knew we would ruin it for everypony?”
“Uh, Ah’m not quite sure that’s why she invited us.”
“No think about it, AJ. Afterwards, when we were all at the donut bar, she said ‘The Grand Galloping Gala is always awful. That’s why I was thrilled you were all attending. I was hoping you could liven things up a bit.’ What do you think she meant by that? She wasn’t even mad when Fluttershy burst in and destroyed everything. Think about how much dedication and effort it took for the ponies of Canterlot to host that event and how many nights were ruined. Yes, the princess is jaded and callous.”
“But she always seemed so nice and gentle, maybe a bit on the moralizin’ side, but nothing Ah can’t tolerate.” AJ looked shaken and Twilight hoped she was not hurting her feelings by arguing. She realized she had neglected to maintain her empathic magic which would have allowed her to feel exactly what her friend was feeling. She stopped herself before recasting the spell as ethical doubts accompanied the urge to get inside AJ’s mind.
Twilight caught a glimpse of a barn ahead in the wilderness, but it was no longer wilderness, they were in an orchard. It was much as she remembered, though brighter. From the grey world of her mind, she had emerged into a vibrant and inviting physicality reality. She felt acutely aware that she was already slipping back into the netherworld, a cerebral place where scholars often lost themselves, a place she had been trapped against her will. How could she have not noticed the moment when they entered the orchard? Perhaps it was because her thoughts were filled with resentment against the princess. She decided to focus on her love and gratitude toward AJ instead and sidled affectionately against her friend. “This is so exciting,” she whispered, hoping to put the unpleasantness of their little argument behind them.
In the path ahead, a red-haired earth pony lay with her back against one of the apple trees. She was reading a book on her lap. Her long, skinny legs sprawled out comfortably in front of her. AJ trotted right up beside her and tipped her green cowpony hat back, before she glanced up with wide, startled eyes.
“Why aren’t ya at school?” AJ asked, more playfully than reproachfully.
Apple Bloom merely stared dumbstruck at Twilight as if she saw a ghost. Is she afraid? Twilight attempted to allay any fears with a few cordial words. “Hi, Apple Bloom. Yes, I’m back. It’s a long story. You’ve grown a lot.” She glanced down at the young pony’s flank. A lovely pink blossom decorated her coat. "You have a very beautiful cutie mark."
Apple Bloom smiled modestly at the complement and clambered upright to greet Twilight with a hearty hoofshake, a hoofshake not unlike the one AJ had given her when they first met. "It sure is great ta see ya again, Twilight. We've all missed ya somethin' awful!” Apple Bloom exclaimed. “How did ya come back after all of this time?”
“I used improvised spells to break through the statue. AJ helped.”
Confusion flashed across Apple Bloom’s face. “How long have you been doing this?” She directed her question at AJ.
“Quite a while as it turns out,” she answered, a coy smirk slipping across her freckled face.
“Aw for cryin’ out loud, sis! Ya could have told me. I could’ve chiseled Twilight out of there in no time. You’re always sayin’ I’m good at that sort of stuff.”
Twilight gave a start, imaging a sharp chisel hammered through stone so close to her skin. “It wouldn’t have been that simple. AJ had a gentler method.”
“Well, you’re probably hungry after years of not eating,” Apple Bloom suggested, appearing to ignore the mares’ ambiguous words.
“I think we’re both hungry,” Twilight replied. She nuzzled up against AJ as they followed her sister toward the barnyard.
Glancing back, Apple Bloom seemed to notice their affection. She halted midstride and bit her lower lip as if thinking hard about something. “Hey, sis, a couple of solicitors showed up about fifteen minutes ago. They’re at the gate, talkin’ Macintosh’s ear off, but he’s too polite ta tell them ta go away. Either that or he can’t get a word in edgewise amid their babbling. One way or the other, ya think ya could help him out? Twilight and I can go start fixing up some lunch.”
AJ chuckled in that deep undignified way she sometimes did. “Yeah, I’ll bet Macintosh could use some help if that’s the pur-dicament he’s facin’.” She turned to Twilight and winked. “Don’t ya worry. I’ll be back soon enough.”
Apple Bloom raised an eyebrow at this and she did not continue toward the barnyard. Instead she waited for her sister to gallop from earshot before turning to Twilight with a curious expression. “Twilight, I hope ya don't mind me asking, but what’s going on here?”
Twilight felt herself blushing. Apple Bloom had blossomed into a wily little pony. She knew she would have to tell the truth. Why not tell the truth? Truth was AJ’s policy, so it was only a matter of time before Apple Bloom knew the full situation anyway. The words caught in her throat as she tried to begin explaining what had happened in the woods. She was not sure she really understood it herself. “Well, you see, when I broke out of the stone, I found that your sister had sort of fallen in love with me. I should have known it sooner, because I could share her feelings even while I was encased in stone. I think I’m in love with her too.”
“Huh? You and my sister are in love? How's the supposed ta work?”
This hurt more than Twilight expected such a sentiment would. “Everything happened so fast. I’m not sure how I really feel. I think it was AJ’s love that gave me the strength I needed to break free.”
Twilight was uncertain if her words had done anything to placate Apple Bloom. The little pony stared at the ground as if abashed. What is she really feeling? Twilight wondered. Apple Bloom fidgeted with her scaly green hat. “Well, maybe I'm forgetting my manners. I'm sorry Twilight, this is just a lot ta think about all at once . . . I’ll be honest with ya, I didn’t send my sister off ta help Macintosh just for his sake alone. I wanted to warn ya about something.”
“Warn me?” Twilight was intrigued. How had this filly grown so wise in so few years?
“Applejack isn’t right in the head these days. She took it worst of all when you were gone. No, she wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Pinkie and Rarity were about it, but she didn’t try ta be tough about it like Rainbow Dash either. It’s like she’s been lost in her loneliness and I haven’t been able ta help her. She cries sometimes when she thinks nopony is watching. I’m too young, I think. I haven’t known the right things to say.” A tearless grief was plain on her face as she confided in Twilight.
I don’t have to cast my empathy spell to feel what she feels. Twilight felt close to tears herself. I won’t cry. I have to be the strong one. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Sometimes things are beyond our power to help.”
“That’s what Macintosh said too, but it didn’t make me feel no better . . . Come on, I'll make you some lunch and get ya settled in.”
Twilight trotted beside Apple Bloom and thought what she might say to comfort her. "I knew what happened to me would be hard for my friends. I was very sad while I was trapped, but I was more sad for my friends than for myself."
Apple Bloom smiled weakly. “That's very thoughtful of you, Twilight.”
As they neared the backside of the barn-house, Twilight saw Pinkie’s massive painting, the one featuring her own pink likeness, laughing at a smiling sun surrounded in pink hearts. Some flecks of paint had fallen away, but the image still made Twilight smile.
Apple Bloom did not address Twilight again until they were dicing potatoes in the Apple family kitchen. “Ya know, if you and my sister being in love is what she needs ta pull her out of her rut, it’s probably a good thing, but think about this,” the little pony was deadly serious. She looked almost terrifying with that dark reptile skin hat and a vegetable knife beside her, gleaming in the dim sunlight that forced its way through smudged window panes. “Ya already broke my sister’s heart once, albeit it wasn’t your fault at all, but if ya break her heart again, it probably will be your fault. You’ve got to know that she’s been very lonely and her friends haven’t been able ta make her feel better. I don't like ta be so hard on ya all at once, but I hope you understand. I love my sister very much and I don't want to her get hurt.”
Twilight was nervous. “I’ll try my best to figure things out. I don't want to hurt anyone.”
Her life was more complicated now that she was out in the world again. As they finished making the soup—which was strangely devoid of apples—Twilight noticed she was not as sure on her hooves as she remembered being before her long petrification. She realized she felt far less confident performing basic tasks in this new world, even with magic. Her magic was stronger than ever though. She could feel it. There was no telling how powerful she had become over the past few years. She had certainly had no shortage of time for focused practice, though she had not always had the spirit to continue.
Big Mac gave Twilight a friendly nod as he and AJ entered the kitchen. "Good ta see you again," he said. "Feel welcome ta stay at Sweet Apple Acres as long as you like. Applejack tells me you've been through an ordeal, and we all want you to be as comfortable as possible." It was more words than Twilight could ever remember him ever saying to her at once.
The stallion began slurping away at his soup, taking ladleful after ladleful from a large bowl. It was probably still too hot, but, for some reason, Twilight was unsurprised that he would not balk at its temperature. He was even tougher than his sisters.
“Why didn’t ya put any apples in the soup?” AJ asked after taking a tentative sip. “Some tart ones might have given it a little bit of extra kick.”
“If we put apples in everything we’d risk getting bored with them,” Apple Bloom replied, breaking some salty crackers over her bowl.
AJ snorted. “Ya do talk somethin’ silly sometimes, little sister. How in tarnation do ya think Ah could ever get tired of apples?”
“I know you wouldn’t ever get tired of them. I’m more worried that Twilight here will get bored with the apples,” she said, looking seriously at Twilight.
I won’t mess this up, Twilgiht thought. “Actually, I haven’t eaten an apple in a really long time. I’d love to have one.”
AJ got up eagerly and sorted through a basket of apples on the counter. She seemed to be exercising considerable discrimination in her choice for Twilight. At last she produced a shiny red apple which contoured into a sharper than average point at its base. When she sliced it neatly in half, Twilight realized why she had chosen it. The apple slices resembled hearts. AJ presented her with the larger half, and she felt the heat rise in her face, hoping the Apple siblings had not noticed this little gesture.
Big Mac returned to work with few words beyond teasing Apple Bloom for sleeping past her alarm and skipping school. The filly claimed she was staying home to catch up on homework. After some prodding, Twilight convinced AJ that she should not neglect her duties on the farm just to spend the day with her. They would have the evening. Twilight claimed she just wanted some time to take in her surroundings and get used to being fully alive.
In all honesty, she longed for nothing more than to spend every last moment of the day with AJ, but she found she was too excited to think straight in her presence. Seating herself on an old sofa in the living room, she considered what Apple Bloom had said and what she had hinted at during lunch. If she loved AJ, she needed a plan. Twilight Sparkle rarely approached any situation without a sound plan detailed well in advance. This was no time to begin being reckless. Her new future depended on her level-headedness.
Do I truly love AJ? Not just in a silly romantic or physical way, but deeply and respectfully? There could be no doubt. She loved her, but was this love a good idea? Would it really work?
AJ was not the smartest pony, but she was no fool either. She was the most athletic pony Twilight had ever known. Rainbow Dash had claimed otherwise, but everypony knew she was a better showoff than an athlete. Certainly nopony was more dedicated and hardworking than AJ. Her honesty was a great virtue too.
Do I need a million logical justifications to love somepony? I’ve always read that love isn’t entirely rational. Kissing AJ in the woods had felt reckless… and thrillingly so.
I can’t charge into this head first. Twilight decided she did indeed need many justifications if she was to proceed, but she soon realized that the more she considered the situation, the less she felt as though she could gracefully back out of it. The damage had already been done. “Damage,” Twilight said to herself. It was an ugly word to describe something as tender as her love for AJ.
AJ is almost the perfect pony. She has flaws. She’s messy, and stubborn, and blunt. These were hardly flaws really. In a way, they just made her more endearing. AJ deserved love, maybe more love than Twilight could give. She knew she had always been too self-centered, cloistered away in her mind, traveling to esoteric places others did not understand or care to think about. Her brother had been there for her, but there were no friends in her past before she had been sent to Ponyville against her will. The princess had believed in her ability to make friends and Twilight had not let her down. Maybe she also had it in her to begin a serious and dedicated relationship.
Somehow she knew she had already made her decision. She would not let AJ down, she could not. Yet, deep in the non-impulsive part of her mind, she knew full well that any relationship could sour or become complicated by extraneous events. Even the princesses had fought with one another, placing the entire realm in danger. Whatever had cast the stone spell upon her was still out there too. It might hurt AJ if I am with her.
Love comes with risks, Twilight decided. I did not choose this—or maybe I did—but it’s what I want. AJ loves me and I love her. I’ve been in love with her for years and didn’t even know it. I may have to hunt down and confront my attacker to make sure we are truly safe together. We’ll also have to explain our love to our friends. AJ and I will face the world bravely, side by side, with a bond of undying devotion between us.
The evening passed pleasantly. Twilight helped Apple Bloom with some homework and found that her math skills were still sharp. The time she had spent crunching numbers in her head had paid off.
She spent the rest of the evening with AJ. They laid on the floor, talking over a game of checkers neither of them was trying to win. Sometimes when their conversation lulled, Twilight found herself gazing into AJ’s alluring green eyes. Twilight bashfully turned away and blushed. Why was she embarrassed? Maybe it was the presence of AJ’s siblings.
It was hard to tell with Big Mac, but, as the evening went on, he seemed to be amused by the ill-concealed infatuation between Twililght and his sister. He seemed happy sitting on the couch, occasionally flicking his stalk of wheat from one side of his mouth to the other. Perhaps he was just too tired to do much else. If any pony worked harder than AJ, it was Big Mac.
After their unfinished game of checkers, Twilight found herself seated next to AJ as they swayed gently in a wicker swing bench that hung from the porch. Above the fields of towering apple trees, Twilight saw the stars sparkling in all their radiance. She and AJ spoke quietly to each other through the fading evening and deep into the night.
It was not all particularly interesting, but Twilight was more than grateful for every minute of it. Nothing was quite so sweet as watching AJ talking in the moonlight, her freckled cheeks pulling back when she smiled at something one of them said. Her voice and words comforted Twilight as she drifted toward sleep. She hadn’t slept in years and it was an unbelievably strange feeling, another newfound joy.
Twilight woke in the dark. She had been dreaming of AJ. They had been soaked in cool rain, but were warm from running as they kissed passionately under the deep green branches of the Fir tree. Now, all she saw was darkness. She remembered the reason she had wanted to wake up. There was something she wanted to share with AJ, but where was she?
Twilight slipped out of bed and crept through the darkness, stubbing her hooves a few times, before bashing her face into something painful. It was then that she thought to light her way with a faint lavender glow from her horn. She found herself in a hallway she had no memory of going through. Apparently she had run into a writing desk which partially protruded from an alcove in the hallway. I wonder if I’m the first pony to hurt myself on this desk.
Wandering down to the living room, Twilight realized she had no idea where she was going. She was trying to find AJ—that much she knew—but AJ had to be in her bedroom, sleeping, maybe even snoring those cute little snores of hers. The bedrooms were back upstairs, from where Twilight had just come. She turned to retrace her steps—making a mental note to herself not to run into the desk again—but she stopped misstep, hearing a little snort from the other side of the living room. She stood in silence for a moment and, in the light from her horn, she saw AJ sprawled out on the couch, dozing with her hat crumpled beneath her head.
Twilight’s lavender light faded as she crouched at foot of the couch. Focusing her magic once again, a white light pulsed across her horn. She sensed AJ’s dream space. It was surprisingly familiar to her. She realized she must have visited and shared her dreams with AJ hundreds of times while petrified.
In the white light, AJ’s eyelids began to flutter ever so slightly. Twilight imagined and shared her most brilliant and abstract mosaics of color. In the past, it had been difficult to convey perceptions like color and smell, because Twilight had not been able to experience those things herself. She infused the images with her feelings of hope, love, and longing. The magic felt much stronger at this closer range. AJ smiled in her sleep.
Twilight wanted to dive into AJ’s mind, to frolic with her among the colors, and to kiss her again; but that would not be subtle. Is this even ethical? Certainly some ponies would object. One way or another, the dream spell was her creation and she was proud of it.
Allowing AJ to lapse blissfully into her next sleep cycle, Twilight closed her eyes and searched with her mind, spreading pleasant dreams to other sleeping creatures in a successively larger area around Sweet Apple Acres. She could have been reaching dozens of miles away, but she was not sure. There were thousands of beings. She had no way of knowing their names, but she could feel the joy they shared. How much power have I gained over these years? She wondered as her eyes glowed white, allowing her to see the living room clearly even through closed eyelids.