The Library of Palace was in absolute silence. Many of its corridors smelled of old books, of dust and the old air caught in its walls, despite there being open windows near. Compared to a normal library, it was messy, with books and parchments scattered around in every shelf. Every work in there had been the result of hundreds of years of collecting and careful keeping. From the time when the Sisters had their home in the Everfree Forest, up until the Canterlot era. They brought Celestia many memories as she walked through the aisles. Distinct books were covered in her yellow aura as she picked them and carried them with her. She scouted several shelves until having a considerable amount of books for studying. She had appointed one of the Royal Advisors so that in her stead, he would take care of the Day Court for some days, as she did research. She headed to her chambers and sat down to work, floating the first book in front of her.
Twilight blinked as she sat down back in her seat. Her senses worked functionally once again and she caught note of the world surrounding her. Now, all the audience had its eyes set on her instead of the stage, which was now empty anyway. She felt herself shrinking down in the very same place where she was standing. What had she done? Why had she done such a thing? It all came back to her in a rush. She looked down at the stage, but Lyra was not there anymore. Twilight’s head fell down and a single tear fell from her eyes. She then felt a hoof in her head, and looked up to see Cadence looking at her, a soft and kind expression in her face.
“Come on, Twilight, Rarity. Let’s go to palace.” The two unicorns followed her, widely conscious of all the gazes following them, until they found a carriage waiting for them outside of the park.
They all climbed and headed towards the Canterlot Castle. Rarity opened her mouth to talk, but was stopped by Cadence, who shook her head. The rest of the journey was made in complete silence. When they arrived, only members of the Night Guard could be found. Neither of the Sisters seemed to be around, and so Cadence, Twilight and Rarity made it to bedrooms that the Princess of Love indicated.
Twilight slipped into her bedroom and locked it. She did not care even for taking a bath, instead hopping straight into bed.
Through the window, the light of a pale crescent entered the room, filtered through blood red curtains.Her thoughts then, as she laid in the bed in silence, drifted back to the unicorn musician. She remembered the feeling that pulled her and that intensified just before she cast the night lights spell. It was the same feeling that her mind was occupied in as she looked at the ceiling. She had first noticed it the day before, when she recalled her days with Lyra. While she laid down on the bed pondering her feelings, sleep eventually caught up with her and she drifted into unconsciousness.
The knock on the door woke her up as it resounded on her door, louder each time.
“Twilight, wake up! We must go back to Ponyville.” Rarity’s voice called to her. She dragged herself out of bed.
“I’m going, Rarity!” She walked out of the room, where the white unicorn waited for her, and went to a nearby bathroom, washing herself. They both walked to the Castle’s Dinning Hall, as none of them had eaten anything since the past afternoon. Once again, neither Celestia nor Luna were around at the table, which consisted only of Cadence, who greeted them warmly.
“Good morning, girls? Did you sleep well?”
“Yes, darling, I had a wonderful night of sleep. I must say, the castle rooms are indeed exquisite. I’d like to have something as special as that.” Twilight chuckled internally, knowing very well the quality of her friend’s bedroom.
“I had a quite good sleep as well,” she lied, while reaching for a large serving of oats.
“I’m glad to hear that. The concert was quite good, don’t you agree?” asked Cadence, seemingly convinced of Twilight’s words. “Lyra’s always one of the best. My aunt Celestia likes her very much as well. I know her quite a bit, that’s why she was one of my bridesmaids.”
“Speaking of the Princess, where is she?” asked Twilight, looking at Cadence. “I haven’t seen her for a while, and Luna wasn’t around last night either. Are they fine?”
“Oh, yes, don’t worry. Aunt Celestia has been quite busy for a couple of days now, reading in her own rooms. Aunt Luna is sleeping as usual.”
Twilight ate slowly from her plate.
“So, Twilight, how did you come up with such a marvelous idea? I absolutely loved what you did in the sky, darling!” Rarity’s sudden words almost made her jump on the spot. She managed to catch herself and brought out an awkward smile.
“I just wanted to … show some support to her. She played quite well, after all, and I thought that she deserved a little something.”
“I see. That was a little surprising, anyway, but very beautiful, I must say.” Rarity looked at her with barely suppressed curiosity while Cadence algo glanced at her; the eyes of the Princess shone for a brief moment, her lips curved in a slight smile.
“Well, Rarity, is normal that Twilight wants to do something for a new friend she has, isn’t it? I’ve heard a couple of things about how you’ve gotten along well with her.” Cadence’s smile grew wider, while Twilight could feel a blush coming to her cheeks, that she did her best to fight off. She dove into her plate and did not say another word until they were all finished, while Rarity and Cadence chatted amicably.
Finally, all was over. Cadence accompanied them out of the castle, and into the station, waving them goodbye when they entered the train. She spied the two unicorns’ profiles in a nearby window. Her smile didn’t falter as she watched the train leave.
“Catch up soon, Twilight Sparkle.”
“Well, darling, drop it,” said Rarity, putting her hooves in the table and resting her head in top of them. Her mane swayed back and forth as the train speeded along the mountains.
“Huh?” Twilight looked at Rarity in front of her, confused. The white unicorn had a satisfied look in her face as she returned the gaze to her friend.
“Come on, Twilight. Did you really believe I was going to buy your story? We’ve been the biggest friends for a while now, and I know you. You don’t have to worry about anything with me.”
“I don’t know what are you talking about, Rarity...”
“Do you have feelings for Lyra Heartstrings?” asked Rarity bluntly.
Twilight blushed, gawked and looked at her friend, unbelieving. Rarity’s azure eyes pierced into hers.
“I... I think I do. I don’t know anything about this, Rarity and I’m confused. My chest aches and swells when I think about her, but I feel... happy. And, don’t get offended by this, but I’m lonely when she’s not around. I have such great friends as you, but I can’t stop thinking about her.”
Twilight was in the verge of tears, and effectively, she started crying copiously. Rarity walked around the table and caught her friend in a soft embrace.
“That’s completely fine, Twilight. Is what one feels when one’s in love. We’re your friends and we’ll always be there for you. We understand, darling. The important thing is what you’re going to do. I think we need to have a friend reunion soon.”
Twilight slowly calmed, rubbing the tears out of her eyes, and nodded quietly. Rarity smiled and nuzzled her softly.
“But first, dear, there’s another thing we must take care of. before.”
The two friends made it to Ponyville. They trotted to the park, where they found that a big oven was being set up in the middle of it, as well as two huge tables. A really big ice box could also be found in the floor. Suddenly, Pinkie jumped in front of them. A big smile was etched on her face, but they could tell there was something wrong about it.
“Hello, Rarity! Hello Twilight! I hadn’t seen you two in a while! Are you ok? “ chirped the party pony, jumping from one place to other, checking the preparations. A couple of stallions were there as well, making connections, putting down the heavy stuff and carrying things around.
“Er, yes, Pinkie. We’re fine. How about you?” asked Twilight quietly.
“Oh, I’m finey-winey girls. I’m just helping set this up. The contest will begin in a couple of hours. You’ll be here, right?”
“Of course, Pinkie. Just let us check our homes and we’ll be here shortly.”
“Okie Dokie Lokie!” Pinkie jumped away and the two friends continued their walk. They met Bon Bon and Lyra in the way, as the two mares carried some bags around. Bon Bon just looked at them resigned, while Lyra waved enthusiastically to Twilight, who felt her heart jumping around.
They made it to the Library and found that Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Fluttershy were already there, waiting for them. They were sitting at one of the table, along with Spike.
“Hey, girls, good to see you around!” called Dash, as she beckoned them to come over to the table.They complied and sat around. Twilight looked at all of them sitting around the table.
“Well, this should be finished today...”
Half of Ponyville was out in the park, contemplating the stage that had been set for the contest. A table covered with a large pink cloth and quite a quantity of ingredients and pans had Pinkie Pie behind it. Mr. and Mrs. Cake were near her, carrying Pumpkin and Pound safely secured, though Pumpkin constantly attempted to release herself, requiring her mother’s full attention.
A light violet cloth covered the other table, also full of ingredients. Bon Bon was standing behind it, with her parents and Lyra near. Bon Bon’s parents were a couple of normal earth ponies who doted on their girl.
The group arrived and saw everything ready for the competence. Pinkie waved at them from the front and they sighed, sitting there.
Suddenly, Scootaloo appeared out from nowhere and Pinkie passed a microphone to her. The small filly cleared her throat and screamed.
“Is this thing on?” A huge screech resounded around the park, causing all present to cover their ears. Scootaloo smiled apologetically.
“Heh heh, sorry, everypony.”
Once the instrument had been checked up, she started again.
“Fillies and gentlecolts, welcome to Ponyville’s Premier Pastry Pony Contest, held today to determine who’s the best baking filly in our town! You know our two contestants! From the Candies and Pastries’ Shop, a very gentle earth pony, who quietly but with a big heart works to make delicious confections. She’s Bon Bon!”
There was hoof stumping from everywhere in the park. When it calmed down, Scootaloo continued.
“And a mare that doesn’t need any presentation! She has thrown everybody around a huge party at least once! Ponyville’s Party Pony and apprentice at the yummy Sugarcube Corner, Pinkie Pie!”
The stomping resumed and Pinkie smiled, waving at everypony. When it died once again, Scootaloo screamed normally.
“Well, then, let’s roll with it. They both will begin working on their confections without a time limit. Once they’re both done, there will be a judging round. The judges will be you all, tasting their creations and voting for who is the best candy maker in Ponyville. Have at it!”
Scootaloo jumped out of the table, mixing with the crowd, and both ponies put hooves to work.
Bon Bon’s table had on top of it a hoof-ful of apples, a bottle of milk, another bottle with honey, sugar, butter, and flour. She picked up a knife with her mouth, and began peeling the apples, holding them between her hooves.
At her side, Pinkie had milk, cream, bananas, soda crackers and vanilla ice cream. She began peeling the bananas, when the first slipped out of its skin and fell to the floor. She turned around the table, picked it up and washed it with some water from a jug Mr. Cake passed to her. When she peeled all the bananas, she picked up a knife to slice them up. She made a wrong movement and cut her hoof, not deeply, but with enough bleeding. She washed her wound and Rarity floated a piece of white cloth from her saddlebag, with which she covered Pinkie’s hoof, given that there weren’t band-aids available. Her mane was slightly deflated, but she kept on working. Her friends followed her every moment from the back.
Pinkie resumed her cutting, She dropped them in a glass container, spacing them around. She applied a coating of ice cream over them and then began to create a cover of crackers over it. When she was done, she aplied another cape of ice cream coating. She smiled, readying the jar with cream.
Pumpkin Cake had finally relented from her escape attempts. Instead, she fixed her sight into the familiar shape of her pink caretaker. Seeing how she grabbed a strange container, she waved her hooves and cried happily. She grabbed the container magically and floated it around. Everypony followed it as it travelled the air.
“Pumpkin,no!” cried her mother. The small filly looked up at her mother, and then cut the flow of magic. The cream jar fell straight to the floor, breaking and losing its content. Pinkie looked down to it, then to her preparation and back to it. Everypony looked at her. Bon Bon, who had already completed the first steps and poured the mix into a container for the oven, approached her.
The pink mare jumped, shaking her head.
“I’ll just go and get another cream bag from the Corner. Wait a moment!”
And then she disappeared and came back in a flash, holding a bag in her mouth. She opened it and poured its content on her dessert, while Bon Bon took her cake to the oven. Pinkie covered the glass recipient with plastic and took it to the icebox. She picked up some more ice and covered the recipient with it, sealing the box. She then went to clean the dropped cream and broken glass. While time passed, everyone chatted among themselves, waiting.
Finally, Bon Bon’s oven timer rang and she opened the oven. The smell of delicious fresh baked cake made it to everyone through the air, and they licked their mouths, expectantly. Bon Bon carried her cake to the table, and adorned it with some remaining apple slices, ending it with a final bath of milk.
Pinkie got her dessert out of the box and uncovered it. Mr. Cake gave each mare some plates, and they began to serve their creation. A line was formed in front of the two, who gave a plate of each to each eater.
When all the presents had been served to, they waited for the testing phase. Finally, they all finished and all that remained was the voting. Both contestants were sweating profusely, despite the fact that the day was not very hot.
After the deliberation of all the “judges” , Bon Bon was declared the winner by an ample margin of victory. The consensus of the majority was that, though Pinkie’s dessert was delicious, the touches of apple and honey that permeated Bon Bon’s cake, so much in the inside as in the outside had touched them, bringing a certain nostalgic feeling, as well as having an amplified taste.
Pinkie’s hair deflated completely. Her smile vanished from her face and she soon broke down in tears.
Everypony around in the plaza looked at each other and then at Pinkie, to gaze at each other once again. A small rumble could be felt, and a dust cloud rose from the floor. Once it dissipated the only ponies remaining in the park were Pinkie Pie, Bon Bon, Lyra, the Cakes, the Elements and the Crusaders.
Twilight and her friends approached Pinkie. Twilight spoke soflty.
The pink mare bawled strongly, silencing her friend. Nopony knew that to do, they just stared each other, pawing their hooves at the floor.
Then Bon Bon came forward. “Pinkie, why did you came up with this ridiculous contest in the first place?”
Pinkie looked at her, choking back her sobs. Two pairs of blue eyes confronted each other.
“I just wanted to be recognized as a top candy maker...”
“But Pinkie, you are. I bet everypony around here has told you that, haven’t they?”
“Y... yes... they have...”
Bon Bon looked at her, using the very same gaze she employed when Lyra was being incredibly silly. “So, listen to me. I’ve tasted your sweets myself, and they’re delicious. Not me, nor anypony has the right to tell you the contrary. So stop this silliness and just be happy. In fact, if you want, I could work with you...”
Pinkie looked at her. “You’re serious...”
“I always am, Pinkie.”
Pinkie cleaned her face, and smiled briefly, her mane recovering some of its poofiness.
“I’ll do it, then. And I’d like to think about that...”
“Do think it, then, and talk to me. I’m available at the shop.”
Bon Bon helped Pinkie back on her feet, and embraced her softly, breaking free soon after. She looked around, at the disaster left behind by the pony audience.
“I think we need to clean all this soon.”
“Honestly, darling, I wasn’t sure we’d come out of that one.”
“Yeah, I was thinking about what we’d have to do.”
“It isn’t pretty to see you come down, Pinkie...”
The six friends were reunited at the Library, by Rarity’s instigation. Spike had been sent off to stay with the Crusaders at the Apple farm. They had spent some time discussing the day’s events, after spending a couple of hours cleaning. Lyra and Bon Bon had said goodbye amicably and everything had come out ok. Pinkie had sent out a friendship report to Celestia about believing in yourself and your friends.
They were drinking tea with some candies the Cakes had given them. Rarity lowered her cup.
“Well, now that we can have this uncomfortable incident behind us, I think there’s another issue that requires our attention, girls. “
They all turned to look at her like one. Twilight felt the heat rising inside her. Applejack spoke.
“And just what might that thing be, Rarity?”
“Applejack, darling, I think that is more proper of Twilight to respond to.”
All gazes then shifted to focus their attention on her. Twilight swallowed a gulp. “Well, girls....”
They all looked at her, expectantly. She cleaned the sweat from her forehead.
“You’re making me extremely nervous here, you know?”
The four ponies looking intensely at her relented.
“Yeah, sorry, Twilight. It’d be cool whenever you’re ready.”
“Sorry for making you uncomfortable, Twilight. You can talk if you feel like it, we’ll listen to you...”
“Yeah, we’re not some snooping ponies, we’re your friends! So it’s good to talk when you feel like it!”
Twilight smiled. “Thanks, girls, you’re the best friends I could ask for.” She inhaled deeply and looked back at them. Rarity nodded quietly.
“Well, I think I might like Lyra. As in, like like.”
Four pairs of mouths had their jaws fall open.
Rainbow recovered and zoomed to her side. “Are you talking for real, Twilight?”
The unicorn nodded silently. “Wow...”
Applejack lowered her hat from her head, letting her hair dangle free. “Well, Sugarcube, what can Ah say... Ah’m not much into this mare datin’ business, but Ah’m not seein’ anything wrong with it and can always feel happy for ya’ll. How’s it goin’?”
“Thanks, Applejack. I just discovered it yesterday, and discussed it briefly with Rarity, but I haven’t done anything... This is the first time I’ve felt like that.”
“Shush, Sugarcube. Sometimes Ah forget that you haven’t been into too many experiences.” Seeing Twilight deflate a little with her words, she hastily corrected herself.
“Ah mean, ‘s not like Ah has too much either. A crush in school, and maybe something else. But not too much these days, as busy as the farm is.”
“Yes, I can relate to that. The work at the Boutique is simply too demanding. And truth be told, I am only too happy to lay that aspect off for a while after the whole Blueblood aff... incident. But do not let that be a deterrent to you, darling. You must absolutely at least give it a try. We will all support you, right?”
Five heads nodded.
“I’ll be happy if everything goes fine, Twilight.” Fluttershy smiled, blushing a little at the thought.
“And then, and then, we can throw a party for you both! It has to be an spectacularizing party, as I think Dashie would say. Oh, I can’t wait for that.” Pinkie bounced around, having recovered all her cheerfulness.
“Thank you, Pinkie, it will surely be very nice. I’ll have to talk to her, though. Well, I’m going to have many opportunities.”
Her gaze wandered over to the statue that stood in the middle of the Library, quiet and patient. Her smile grew wider.