Itchy - that was the one thing on Twilight's mind right now. She was itchy. In the middle of the night, her wings and back had both begun to itch horribly, and it had been enough to wake her up. She sighed and stared out into the darkness of their tent, ever mindful of the pair of legs that were wrapped around her. After their ordeal, Applejack thought it was only fair for them to switch so that Twilight could be on the receiving end of the hug, and her turn was long overdue. The unicorn carefully wriggled out of the earth pony's grasp and slipped out of the tent, pacing about the camp as she tried to get her mind off that horrid itch. She knew it wasn't from Applejack - though she was a farmer, by no means was the orange mare particularly dirty. If the itch wasn't from Applejack, then where did it come from? As the answer dawned on her, Twilight groaned and closed her eyes.
The spell was beginning to dissipate. That had to be it. Acting quickly, she pulled her journal and a quill out from her saddlebags and hastily began to add it to her notes, scrawling furiously as she raced against the clock. "The flight spell signals its expiration with an unbearable itching sensation, which can be felt throughout the back and the wings themselves. If anything, this acts as a-" The lavender mare let out a yelp as she felt herself pulled upwards by the spell itself, dropping her quill as she ascended. She felt herself slowly began to spin in the air, and little by little, the feathers were plucked from the wings and swirled around her. Thankfully, it was a painless process - such an experience certainly couldn't be fun for an actual pegasus. With most of the feathers swirling about her, the wings themselves slowly began to withdraw into her back. It was an odd feeling, and it even tickled slightly. As the wings finally disappeared, the feathers exploded outward once more, and Twilight gently fell to the ground. The unicorn shook her head and slowly made her way back to her journal, picking up the quill and resuming her notes. "If anything, this acts as a warning and a deterrent of sorts, so that any pony under the effect of the spell is not airborne when the spell fully dissipates."
She sighed and shut the journal. As eager as she was to get back to simply being 'Twilight Sparkle the unicorn', she had gotten used to the wings. Now she would have to get used to not having them. She frowned and looked off towards the horizon, watching as the sky steadily changed from dark purples and blues to bright pinks and oranges. At least it was almost sunrise - it meant Applejack would be up soon.
Now was a good time to get started on breakfast.
As the first light of dawn began to shine upon the tent, Applejack slowly woke up. The earth pony yawned and stretched, though the sleeping bag felt oddly empty - Twilight must have already been up. She slowly pulled herself out of the sleeping bag and stepped outside the tent, rubbing her eyes as she took a seat beside the campfire. "Mornin', sugarcube."
"Good morning, AJ. I've already got breakfast made." The unicorn set a sandwich down in front of her with a smile, and Applejack gladly accepted it, returning a smile of her own.
"Thanks, Twi. How long ya been up?"
"Just a few hours. The flight spell decided that the middle of the night would be a good time for it to go away." Twilight looked over her shoulder, briefly glancing at her back before returning to her meal. "I wasn't really feeling tired afterwards, so I simply stayed up and took some notes."
Applejack leaned over and peered at the lavender mare's back. There certainly wasn't anything left of the wings. "Did it hurt or anythin'?"
"Nope! It was just really itchy, and it kinda tickled." She levitated her sandwich up in front of herself and took a bite, quickly chewing and swallowing. "I think I know what I wanna do once we get back to Ponyville and get Granny Smith cured. I wanna go to the spa and just... relax. I think it'd be nice."
The earth pony had taken several bites out of her sandwich already and put it down, turning to face her friend. "Ya know what, Twi? I think I jus' might join ya fer that. I'm not really one fer spas or nothin', but after everythin' you an' me have been through? I think we deserve it."
"Really now?" Twilight grinned and raised an eyebrow. "You hardly ever go to the spa. I thought you were going to sleep in anyways?"
"I jus' don' like goin' ta the spa 'cause Rarity is usually there. I'm not sayin' I hate her or anythin', but she can get on mah nerves sometimes." Applejack idly shrugged and took another bite from her sandwich, swallowing before continuing. "Besides, it'd jus' be th' two of us. An' I can always delay mah sleepin' in by a day or two."
The unicorn slowly nodded, the grin still on her face. "Fair enough. If we're lucky, we should be able to get to Ponyville before the day is over - or get close to it, at least. When do you wanna head out, Applejack?"
"Eh, lemme finish this sandwich, Twi. I ain't about ta let some daffodils go ta waste." She smiled and scarfed down the rest of her sandwich, letting out a belch after finishing it. "Alrighty, let's get packed up an' get movin'. I got a Granny ta save."
Twilight nodded and stood up, her horn beginning to glow as she picked up and shuffled about much of the camp. The tent was folded, the sleeping bag rolled up, and all of it was neatly placed within her's and Applejack's saddlebags. Another brief burst of magic, and the saddlebags were already hefted onto the backs of both mares. The earth pony kicked up a plume of dirt, snuffing out their campfire, and soon the two of them were on their way once more.
"Twi, are ya sure about this? I mean... I know yer awful good with yer magic an' all, but this still seems a lil' dangerous."
They had stood at this same cliff for several minutes now, on the edge of the same river they had crossed before. Both of them were feeling rather apprehensive about having to cross it once more, especially after Twilight Sparkle's near-drowning. With the bridge out, however, there was only one possible way they were both going to get across.
"Look, AJ. I don't like this either, and trust me, I'd much rather cross a bridge if it still existed. But either I try and teleport us across, or we wander around until we find a stretch of the river we can wade through." Twilight sighed and carefully walked over to the edge of the cliff, standing at Applejack's side and staring down at the raging waters below. If she was nervous during the first crossing, this second attempt was certainly worse for her. After all, she had nearly lost her life to these same waters. Still, they only had two options in front of them - either Twilight could attempt to teleport herself and Applejack across, or both mares would have to try and find another way over. The former, if it succeeded, would only take a few minutes. Failure risked death, however. The latter might potentially take them hours, or even days, before they could find a suitable place to cross. With Granny Smith's current condition, they simply couldn't afford to waste any more time. They would have to teleport. "Okay Applejack, just... stand as close to me as you can. You have to be right next to me, or the spell is only going to teleport one of us and not both of us."
"And yer sure you can do this? Ya just need line-of-sight, right?" The earth pony glanced nervously over at her friend, still unsure if the unicorn would even be able to pull this off. She had the utmost trust in Twilight Sparkle and knew her friend was capable of spectacular feats, but this was still a risky maneuver.
Twilight eyed the opposite cliff and gulped before turning to look at the earth pony at her side. "I can do it, Applejack. I just need to try. You... you think I can do it, don't you?"
She hesitated for a moment as she thought it over, but Applejack was quick to reply. The orange mare scooted over towards Twilight, getting as close as possible in preparation for the spell. "You can do it, sugarcube. I know ya can. I got faith in ya."
"Right... okay. Here goes nothing!" The unicorn briefly braced herself and closed her eyes, her horn beginning to glow as she recited the spell. Unlike her normal teleports, in which she only transported herself, this one was a bit more complicated. It still wasn't a particularly difficult spell, but she still needed to make sure she had this right. With the spell successfully recited, the two mares both began to teleport. For Twilight Sparkle, she had done this numerous times, and it was no big deal. She knew what to expect, after all. This was Applejack's first real teleport, however - the world began to warp and stretch around her, and for the briefest of moments, she felt somewhat scared by everything that was beginning to happen around her. Twilight was still there, though. As long as the lavender mare was still there, Applejack would be fine. The earth pony felt herself hurtling forwards and over the river, with her companion right at her side the entire way, and the world soon began to return to its normal proportions. They had made it.
"There! See AJ, I told you I could do it! That wasn't so bad, was it?" Twilight smiled triumphantly, pleased with her work, but began to look around after she heard no answer from her friend. "...Applejack?"
"Maybe fer you..." The orange mare didn't necessarily feel nauseous, but her legs still felt a bit weak. She had hoped for a bit of a warning, but considering what might have happened otherwise, she wasn't about to complain. "That was jus' mah first teleport is all. I'm uh... feelin' a bit wobbly."
The unicorn sheepishly grinned, covering her mouth with a hoof to stifle a giggle. "Um... oops. Sorry about that, Applejack. I forgot that you haven't done this before. Do you maybe wanna... take a break?"
The break itself hadn't taken long - Applejack simply needed to regain her footing a bit. After a quick drink and snack, the two mares continued their journey home, and they made remarkably good progress. With the sun beginning to set, however, it was time to make camp once more. As always, Twilight had set up most of the camp while Applejack worked on the fire, and it wasn't long before the two of them were playing songs together again. Their own music-making was sometimes split up by short breaks for either food or water, and during one such break, Twilight Sparkle found herself looking off towards the horizon.
"I think I can see the lights from Ponyville, AJ."
"Really? Ya think we're that close?" The earth pony, despite carrying an apple in her mouth, was able to speak surprisingly clearly. She took a seat beside the unicorn and took a bite out of the fruit, quickly chewing it before continuing. "I thought we'd have further ta go. Shoot, we'll be back home before noon tomorrow if we're that close!"
"Mhm." The lavender mare plucked the apple from Applejack's grasp with her magic, taking a small bite out of it and passing it back to her. Despite the earth pony's disapproving scowl, Twilight couldn't help but grin while she chewed. "Oh, stop that. You're perfectly okay with sharing a sleeping bag, but not an apple?"
Applejack blinked for a moment, then sighed. "Why do ya always gotta make good points, Twi?"
"That's just what I do, AJ. Besides, we'll be home soon enough, and then you can help Granny Smith get better."
"...and then everythin' will be right as rain." She paused for a moment as she realized she had just repeated a statement used by her own brother, but Applejack soon looked up at her companion. "You up fer more songs, sugarcube?"
"Maybe just one more." Twilight smiled and nodded, and Applejack returned it in kind. They both knew it was a lie, but neither felt it was necessary to correct it. 'Maybe just one more' soon became 'Many more', and yet...
Neither of them cared.