The ponies of Ponyville gathered in a semi-circle around the train station. Party balloons hovered above their heads as a pink pony zipped about planting further decorations.
Twilight had spread the word rather quickly that the princess was visiting. The Apple family members had set up stalls and put on uniforms on and gone ''all official like'' for the princess's arrival, and Fluttershy had assembled a choir of birds to sing for her.
"Good, good. Everything looks good," she mumbled and ran a hoof through her mane. She was visibly on edge, everypony could tell. "Everything has to be perfect, we don't want the princess thinking we're just a group of ponies living out in the sticks, now do we?" she chuckled nervously.
Applejack rested a hoof on her friend's shoulder. "Take it easy, Twi. She won't think that, an' if she does, what then? We'll just go on back to our work and lives."
Twilight's eyes flickered around and spotted a speck, no more than the current shape of her pinprick pupil at the moment, of dust on the train platform in front of her. She immediately dropped and began scrubbing it off with part of Applejack's uniform.
The earth pony grunted in annoyance as she tugged at her clothes and forced Twilight to take a breath and sit down. "Sugarcube. You're actin' all weird for nothin'. Calm down."
"I know, Applejack, it's just... she's got a friend coming too," the unicorn whispered. "From... somewhere else."
The farmer's eyes narrowed. "Whaddaya mean, ''somewhere else''?"
"Heh... not... Equestria," Twilight whispered, her lips curling up into a mad, science induced grin.
AJ rolled her eyes. "So you mean like a griffon or somethin'? Like Gilda?"
"Noooo. Not... quite like Gilda." Twilight dropped her grin. "She's, um... human."
The orange pony blinked. "Beg pardon?"
More clueless blinks.
"Human. Biped, live on-" Twilight continued, before she was interrupted.
"Live on Earth, also known as Sol three. Humans are bipedal, as in walk on two legs, they are very scientifically advanced and much of our own technology was designed from human technology."
Applejack and Twilight turned to see the newcomer. "Oh... hi, Lyra," the latter mumbled.
Lyra Heartstrings took a small bow. "Hello, Twilight, hello Applejack. Talking about humans, are we? Whatcha wanna know?" she giggled.
To the ponies of Ponyville, Lyra was the local ''nut''. Screw Loose came close, but Lyra was... Lyra. Mildly obsessed with humans and convinced everything they did was worthy of being called godlike. Needless to say, her ''human sense'' was a-tingling as soon as Twilight finished reading her letter from the princess.
"Whatcha wanna know?" she repeated with a gleam in her eyes.
AJ scratched her head. "Uh, what is there to know?"
Lyra opened her mouth in a wide grin. "Wellllll, there's this-"
"Ha, ha, that's great and all, Lyra, but I can see the train coming," Twilight interrupted, and pointed down the tracks to the fast approaching train. The two ponies with her turned to look at her and stifle giggles at her stressed out mane and wide eyes. "And that means the princess is here, so we all have to go get ready. Your... knowledge... will have to wait, Lyra," she apologetically told the lyre player.
"Yeah, sure. Sorry, Twilight. I gotta go get Bonnie. Big day today. Talk to you soon," Lyra merrily said and trotted away.
Twilight grumbled something under her breath, making Applejack's ears prick up. "Sugarcube? Anythin' the matter?"
"Fine," the lavender mare snapped.
AJ frowned. "It doesn't sound fine." She turned her gaze and saw Lyra laughing and talking with Bon Bon some ways away from them. She turned back to Twilight, noting the dilating of pupils and short breaths. "Twilight... do you... not like Lyra?"
Twilight shook her head. "No, no, of course not. It's just... how does she know so much about humans? There's little to no information about them in either the library here, or in the Canterlot Archives. It just... how does she know so much?" she whispered, her words laced with contempt and jealousy.
The farm pony chuckled and draped a hoof around her friend's neck. "Ah guess somethings you just can't explain. Like Pinkie Sense. Nothin' ta go about bein' jealous for."
"I guess so."
Fluttershy's bird chorus started up as the train pulled into the station.
Twilight straightened up as Applejack went to join her family.
Pinkie Pie sat with a huge smile on her face.
Rarity bobbed her mane and dashed about, making sure she looked absolutely spiffing. The gems on her new dress sparkled in the morning sun.
Rainbow Dash flexed her wings, just in case the princess asked for a sonic rainboom.
Lyra stood beside her fillyfriend Bon Bon, grinning from ear to ear. Bon Bon looked less enthusiastic, but still held a smile for the sake of royalty.
The crowd held their breath as the train's brakes screeched to a halt. They all craned their necks towards the caboose as the carriage doors opened.
A few hours earlier.
Lulu and Luna stood anxiously in the luxurious throne room waiting for the latter's sister to bid them farewell.
"Where is she?" grumbled Luna.
Lulu didn't hear her. She was too busy gazing out the window and trying not to laugh with excitement.
Several of the servants bustled past, dusting this and brushing that. One of them accidentally waved his duster in front of Luna's nose, making her snort, and then making himself almost dampen his uniform with fear.
"So, so sorry, princess, I didn't see you there. I am not worthy of serving your illustriousness. Forgive me," he wailed.
The Night Princess waved a hoof. "It's fine," she muttered, peering over his head. She glanced down at his whine and looked upon his horrified expression. "Oh, right. You are forgiven. It is no bother at all, I assure you."
He scurried away in shame.
Luna snorted and turned to her friend.
Lulu's raised eyebrows marked a question to be asked.
"I forget, sometimes, that the servants look upon myself and Tia as nothing more than royalty. If we address them like we would each other, or a friend, questions tend to be raised," the princess explained.
The human nodded. "I guess -HA!" She clamped her hands over her mouth.
Luna bit her lip to keep from laughing herself. her friend's red cheeks made that very hard though.
"Sorry. I'm just so excited. Ponyville! Twilight and Applejack, and Dash and Fluttershy! I've always wanted to meet them," Lulu said as she removed her hands slowly.
The princess sidled up to her and batted her eyelashes. "Oh? Am I not good enough for you?"
Lulu's eyes widened. "No! I didn't mean it like that, you twit!" she cried, moving forwards and putting an arm on the princess's wing. "I just meant that, they're all very awesome, but you're still awesome. I'd just love to meet them, though," she hurriedly said under Luna's scrutinizing gaze.
Finally, the princess curved her lips upwards into a smile. "I know what you meant," she chuckled and leant forwards for nuzzles. "I wonder where Tia is..."
The clip-clop of hooves made them turn and look.
"Speak of the devil."
Celestia happily cantered towards them with a smile on her face. "Hello, you two. Sorry I'm late."
Luna pulled away from Lulu and glared at her sister. "Hmmph. We thought you'd never show up," she retorted.
"She doesn't mean that, princess!" Lulu quickly put in, waving away Luna and starting up a sweat.
Celestia just grinned. "I know. I almost didn't, why, if Philomena hadn't notified me of the time-"
"Puh-lease. That infernal bird causes nothing but trouble," Luna snarled, ruffling her wings at the mention of the phoenix. "besides, the train is here and now we are late. Come on Lulu. Before we miss our train."
Lulu cast a cautious glance at Celestia.
"She is right," the latter said. "You will be late if you wait around any longer."
The human nodded and the two set off after the younger princess. The train was just about to pull away, and the princess in question was staring out at the crowd.
Celestia nudged her and smiled warmly.
Lulu approached and put a hand on her back, also smiling. "Ready to go?"
"Yes. It's just... all these ponies have come to see us off. It's just a bit... overwHelming."
The human blinked. "Over what, sorry?"
"Why are you saying it weird?"
Luna frowned. "Saying what weird?"
"Overwhelming. You're putting loads of emphasis on the H," Lulu replied.
The princess furrowed her brow even further. "No I'm not. That's how we've always said it, Tia and I. Tell her." She turned to her big sister. "Tell her, Tia."
Celestia grinned. "I have no idea what you are talking about, Luna. But your train is here. Time to go." She quickly ushered the girls onto the caboose with barely contained giggles. "I love you both. Take care. Make sure you don't upset Twilight too much, play less of the games and work on... yourselves. Have fun, take care, byeeeee!" she added as the train took off.
Luna and Lulu stared at one another as the crowd on the platform whooped with joy and waved them goodbye.
"Agreed. Lets find ourselves a compartment and get some sleep. This train might take a wHile."
"Oh you are kidding me."
They glared at each other for a few moments before breaking into giggles as they walked down the train to find where they'd spend the next few hours.
Their fellow passengers stared at them with open mouths as they walked past. The Princess of the Night, and a strange alien creature, on the same train as they? Madness. Yet it was happening. And the alien thing appeared to be a friend of sorts to the princess.
Lulu waved at a group of ponies as they passed in the caboose. She even flashed a smile at them, much to their fear and suspicion.
Luna turned into an empty compartment. "This one's free."
The human nodded and followed her in.
They both nestled down on a large, comfy cushion as they prepared for the journey in almost silence, save for their breathing.
The princess reached up and stroked the human's hair, smiling as she did so. The human placed a hand over the hoof and smiled back. "How long is the journey?" she asked.
"Few hours," Luna replied with a wink. "Plenty of time -if you want to that is."
"Of course I do."
"Good. Me too."
Their heads touched together in a tender gesture. And then...
Lulu leapt up and dove from the room, wrenching the door open and tearing down the corridor, her friend followed close behind with a wide grin on her face.. "Sorry!" she called as she knocked over the tea-mare's tray, sending cookies and tea flying.
Luna snorted and charged after her, spreading her wings as wide as she could without knocking anypony's face off. She reached out and just touched her friend's back. "Tag! You're it!"
The chase continued for most of the journey, and most of the train's passengers fled to one end to avoid the mad princess and her alien companion.
"Convenience!" cried Lulu as they sat, feasting on a pile of thieved cookies.
"Mmm?" asked Luna through a mouthful of biscuits.
"We're here. Doesn't time fly with transitions?" the human giggled as she stood up and dusted herself off. "Shall we?"
"Mmm," replied the princess, still with a mouth of biscuits. They picked up the empty packets and tidied up after themselves, then as the train pulled into the station, they made their way towards the exits.
Luna took a deep breath and placed a hoof on the door. "Ready?" she asked.
Lulu nodded eagerly. The fangirl inside of her was just about to explode from sheer awesomeness of meeting her favourite characters. It took most of her self restraint to stop from squeeing all over the place as the door opened, and a sea of eyes and technicolour coats met them.
A purple pony stood at the front beaming with pride. "Hello princess. Nice to see you again," she said. "I take it this is Lulu?"
Luna nodded. "Hello Twilight Sparkle-"
The human covered her mouth up and turned bright red.
"Uhh... yeah... hello Twilight, this is indeed Lulu. She's a very good friend of mine and she's very excited to meet you all." The princess smiled, making a few of the crowd shiver.
Twilight extended a hoof. "Hello Lulu. My name is Twilight Sparkle."
Lulu's eyes turned to dinner plates. "H-hi... " she murmured as she tenderly shook the hoof in front of her.
Suddenly, a cry went up from the crowd. "I BUCKING KNEW IT! HUMANS DO EXIST!"
Twilight facehoofed. "Oh dear..." she mumbled.
Luna frowned. "What? What is it?"
Lulu's face lit up as she spotted the speaker. A mint green unicorn with the largest smile you've ever seen.
The lavender unicorn gaped. "Lulu, this is Lyra, Lyra this is-"
"Lulu, I know. Thanks Twi! Wow a real human!" Lyra excitedly said, practically shoving the princess out the way in order to examine the human in front of her. Several of the crowd began murmuring amongst themselves.
"Humans are real?"
"Lyra was right..."
"What else is she right about, I wonder?"
Lyra Heartstrings stopped in front of Lulu and smiled again. "My name is Lyra Heartstrings, a pleasure to meet you, Human Lulu."
Lulu's eyes went wide. "Likewise." Oh gods, she really is obsessed with humans, isn't she? "Wanna see something cool?" she chuckled, and raised a hand.
The green pony gasped as she grabbed the outstretched hand and began inspecting all the joints in and around it. "Humans are so cool!" she giggled. "We have to hang out more."
"Well, I think Luna wants us to get settled in first. Get started on our friendship lessons and all that." Lulu flexed her hand as the pony released it.
A cream coloured mare coughed nervously. "Uh... Lyra? We need to go, like, now."
Lyra sighed. "Sure Bonnie. Nice meeting you, Lulu." As she hopped towards her fillyfriend she couldn't help but giggle. "A real human! Real! I told you, didn't I say so?"
"Yes, Lyra, you did."
The two mares trotted away as the crowd began to disperse. A few remained, however.
A white unicorn, a yellow pegasus, a blue pegasus, a pink earth pony and an orange earth pony. You know who they are. Lulu did too, and nearly fainted as they all approached.
Luna caught her with a wing and up-righted her.
"Oh my! Are you alright? Oh, we didn't scare you did we, I'm so sorry..." the yellow pegasus whimpered.
The human bounced back and swooped her up in a hug. "You don't have to be sorry, Fluttershy. It's so awesome to meet you all," she cried as she buried her face in the pink mane. She didn't notice Luna scowling at them and turn away.
Fluttershy squeaked as she wriggled in the grasp of her hugger. "Um... that's... nice. Um... please let go?"
Lulu released her and stepped back. "Right, sorry. Hi. Hi Fluttershy, I'm Lulu."
"Nice to meet you," the pegasus murmured, pawing at the ground and turning pink in the cheeks.
"Nice to meet you too."
Rarity stepped up next. "Hello, Lulu. I take it as you know Fluttershy's name as to know ours too, yes?" she asked.
Lulu nodded. "Yeah. Nice to meet you, Rarity. You really do look beautiful."
The unicorn blushed. "Well, now. I do try," she giggled as she patted her mane. "Rainbow? I take it you're next?"
The blue pegasus flapped forwards. "How is it you know all our names anyway?" she demanded. "Is it like Scootaloo following me around all the time? 'Cause that's a bit creepy. No offence, Scoots."
From a distance away from them came the very muffled cry of "None taken!"
Lulu grinned. "Oh no, nothing like that. I am a fan, though."
Rainbow Dash furrowed her brow in thought. "That's cool then. I guess. Name's Rainbow Dash." She eyed the human up a bit before continuing. "Did Lyra go all... crazy on you?" she asked, making a motion with her hoof and spinning her eyes around like Derpy.
"A bit. But nothing as bad as in the fanfics."
Applejack strode up next and tipped her hat. "Howdy partner. Ah reckon ya'll know everypony else's name, includin' mine, so ah won't bother with that. How do ya do, Lulu?"
Lulu chuckled at the small rhyme, whether it was intentional or not. "No "Ya'll" don't need to, Applejack." They shook hoof and hand with smiles and friendly gestures.
"How much do ya reckon a human can hold her cider?" ventured the farm pony.
Luna and Lulu glanced at one another and grinned. "Well... we sort of... we've been mostly drunk since I've been in Equestria."
The ponies gaped.
The princess coughed and turned her head slightly. "It's allowed for a princess to indulge herself every now and then. And if she has guests, then even more so," she added with a little grin.
The human extended her arm around the princess and beamed. "And I enjoyed every moment of it."
Twilight watched as they gazed into each other's eyes and slowly put the pieces together. "Princess... are you and Lulu... dating?" she asked quietly.
Rainbow Dash stopped flying and stood with an open jaw next to Applejack.
Fluttershy turned bright pink in the cheeks.
Applejack tipped her hat and whistled. "Whew... my, my, princess. Ah never had you fer a filly fooler," she murmured.
Luna nodded. "It is true. A mare has always seemed more appealing than a stallion to me. Anyway, if there are no more of your friends, Twilight Sparkle, should we not move to this library? We have some things we'd like to unpack."
Twilight looked around. "Where's Pinkie? I'm sure she'd love to meet you, Lulu."
"And I'd like to meet her. Where is the little party animal?" Lulu laughed. "Actually, she's probably setting up a party for me somewhere, right?"
They thought for a moment.
The girls broke into a chorus of laughter and giggles as they trotted off towards Twilight's home. Twilight pushed the door open and was immediately greeted by a large, happy and very excited pink face.
"SURPRIIIIISE!" she yelled, knocking over the purple unicorn with the sheer volume of her cheer. "Hi! I'm Pinkie Pie and I threw this party-"
"Just for me," finished Lulu. "Hiya Pinkie Pie! I'm Lulu."
Pinkie gasped. "How did you know what I was gonna say? Can humans read minds? Oh oh! What am I thinking now?" SHe stuck her tongue out and forced strain onto her face.
Lulu tapped her chin, humouring the pink one for a moment. "You are thinking... about cupcakes... and parties."
"Well duh! Hehehe, what else do I think about silly?" Pinkie giggled. She suddenly smacked her forehead and reached around. "Tadaaa!" she cried as she pulled a large, musical looking device out from nowhere and began to play.
♫ Welcome, welcome, welcome
A fine welcome to you!
Welcome, welcome, welcome
I say how do you do?
Welcome, welcome, welcome
I say hip hip hooray!
Welcome, welcome, welcome
To Po-ny-ville todaaaaay! ♫
Lulu laughed and gave a small applause. "Oh I've wanted one of those for a long time. Wasn't that nice, Luna?"
"Quite." Luna smiled as she tipped her head towards the earth pony.
Pinkie gasped again. "Ohmygosh! I totally didn't notice you there, princess! One second." She took another deep breath and began to sing again.
♫ Welcome, welcome, wel- ♫
"That's great, Pinkie, but we've really got to get their cases unpacked," interrupted Twilight before another song could spontaneously appear.
"Oh them? I already did that. Boooring."
They all stared at her. Luna leant over to Applejack and whispered, "How did she do that?"
"Don't ask," Rainbow responded.
Lulu shrugged too. "It's Pinkie Pie. You don't gotta explain shit."
Luna thought for a moment before agreeing. "Very well. Shall we, then?"
Pinkie moved aside to let them all in. Spike greeted them in the living room as they wandered forwards. "Hey guys." When he spotted the princess and her friend he immediately shot up and grovelled on the floor. "Hi Nightm- uhh, Princess Luna."
She waved a hoof and silenced his pleas of forgiveness.
Twilight chuckled nervously and placed a hoof on his head, scuffling his spines a bit. "Oh, you know Spike, princess. He's just a bit sleepy today. he doesn't really know what he's talking about."
Spike scowled and waved her away. His lizard eye fell upon Lulu and widened in fear. "T-Twilight! There's an alien in the house!" he yelped, and dove behind the unicorn.
Lulu giggled again and hunkered down. "Hey Spike. I'm an alien, yeah, but I'm nice. Trust me."
The baby dragon peeked out from behind Twilight's leg and eyed up the human. He glanced upwards at his hiding spot's face.
"She's fine, honestly Spike."
He gingerly stepped away from her and blushed. "Sorry. So what are you, exactly?"
"Human. Born and raised on Earth. Spelt ear-th."
Luna suddenly felt her eyelids droop as she looked out the window at the setting sun. "I must say... I am suddenly... *yawn* very... tired."
Twilight jumped up. "Oh my! Yes, of course, princess. Follow me and I'll show you your room." She darted up the stairs, practically dragging the princess behind her. "You can sleep in my bed. Both of you, if you want," she added quietly.
"That could be acceptable." The princess yawned again and smiled at her hostess. "Tell Lulu I've gone to bed early. See you in the morning, Twilight Sparkle. Send Lulu to bed soon, will you?"
"I will. See you in the morning, princess," Twilight replied and closed the door. She heard the snores almost immediately, and couldn't help but begin giggling softly as she made her way downstairs. "This should be fun. With Luna asleep I should be able to ask Lulu most of my questions about Earth, or how she came here in the first place."
Downstairs, Lulu was chatting to Spike about something. They hushed up as soon as Twilight entered the room, however. "Hello you two. Where is everypony?"
"They had to go home. It is getting quite late, you know Twilight," Spike replied. He cracked his back and stifled a yawn. "Anyway, I'm pretty beat too. See you soon, Lulu," he said as he began to ascend the stairs to his basket.
Twilight grabbed him with her magic. "Sorry Spike, that's Lulu and the princess's room tonight. We're sleeping down here."
Lulu yawned as well. "Actually, I'm tired too. Bedroom's just at the top of the stairs, right?" she asked.
Shoot, thought Twilight. Ah well. Questions can always be asked later. "Yes. Have a good night's sleep."
They parted ways. The human's footfalls made clunking sounds as she ascended to her bedroom and crawled into bed next to the princess. "I think I'm gonna love it here," she whispered as one of Luna's wings extended around her.