69w, 4dWriting Gold
64w, 2dThe Writer's Group
62w, 1dOrganized Shipping (Most Common)
64w, 5dTwilight is Best Pony
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49w, 3dTwilight Sparkle
58w, 2dF/F ships
56w, 6ddark soul
51w, 3dgood stories
23w, 1dTwilight's Library
51w, 3dThe Usual
3w, 1dBest Stories Ever
I always used to believe
That beauty was skin-deep
Now I need a new word
To describe you
Before The Storm
The floor of the bedroom was strewn with half-unpacked bags and boxes, their contents spread out across the rug. There were a few sundry pieces of weather control equipment, along with toiletries and several well-thumbed magazines, mostly related to flight or to the Wonderbolts in some capacity. Aside from these, the majority of the items were of no obvious purpose or value; however it was these seemingly worthless items that Dash handled with the greatest care.
Twilight and Spike were out attending to various duties around the town, and had left Dash alone in the library to begin her unpacking. She sighed a little, as she inspected the random collection of disparate objects. She wondered if perhaps it was unhealthy to hang on to these things, given the memories that they invoked. There was a tarnished silver chain with a small pendant dangling from the end, and beside it were several dusty photograph frames, lying face-down so that their subjects were hidden. A few folded pieces of paper of varying sizes were scattered beneath the frames, and, strangest of all, a long multi-coloured scarf, that had clearly been knitted by hoof, by a pony who knew fairly little about the art of scarf-making.
Dash reached into the nearest box to extract more objects, and then changed her mind, withdrawing her hoof with a shake of the head.
This stuff’s the past. Maybe it should stay there.
She gathered up the photographs and pieces of paper, and dropped them back into the box. Determinedly, she took the remaining few bags and boxes, and pushed them haphazardly beneath the bed. There was plenty of space under there, Twilight never having resorted to it as a form of storage. She kept the scarf and pendant, however. She placed the silver necklace carefully onto the bedside table, and hung up the scarf in the wardrobe. Relieved to have everything of sentimental value safely dealt with, Dash began looking around for somewhere to shelve her magazines and store her cloud nets and wind-speed meters.
At that moment, there was a gentle knock at the door behind her, and Twilight put her head around into the room.
“Hey, Twi’,” Dash smiled. “Get everything done?”
Twilight nodded. “More or less, I just thought I’d come and see how bad the mess was…” Her eyes moved pensively over the strange equipment and magazines spread over the rug, then she breathed a small sigh of relief. “I’m amazed, I was expecting somewhere on the mess scale between ‘earthquake’ and ‘hurricane’.”
“Sorry to disappoint,” Dash smirked, also looking around at the room. “Seriously? You actually invented a mess scale?”
“Of course,” replied Twilight, winking, deliberately playing up her bookishness. “It goes from ‘minor breeze’ at one end, all the way up to ‘Cutie Mark Crusaders’ at the other.”
“Sounds pretty accurate,” Dash remarked, with a grin. “Any idea where I can stick this weather stuff?”
Twilight thought for a few moments. “There’s a science equipment cupboard in the basement, that’s probably got some free space.”
“Awesome, I’ll do that.”
Twilight gestured towards the pendant lying on the bedside table. “Did you bring that over as well?”
Dash saw where she was pointing, and her heart sank a little at the sight of it. “Yeah,” she said, almost evasively, turning her head away.
As Twilight walked closer, she could see that it was not in fact a simple pendant, but a locket. The front was a small, oval-shaped door mounted on hinges that were a little corroded with age. Twilight could see that Dash was a little uncomfortable, and did not touch it. She realized that it had to be of some sentimental value to Dash, as she would have no other reason to keep it given its obviously low material value. She opened her mouth to say something further, but decided against it. If Dash wanted to talk about it, then that was her decision, but Twilight did not want to not pry.
Casting around for a change of subject, Twilight alighted on something that she had been pondering over as she had walked through Ponyville with Spike. She had realized that neither she nor Dash had seen much of their other friends over these last few days, and knew that it fell to her to rectify this. It was her, after all, who had asked to keep their relationship quiet for a while.
“Dash…” she began, tentatively.
The pegasus looked up from the magazines that she had begun sorting. “Yeah?”
Twilight paused momentarily before replying. “I’m ready now. I’d like to tell our friends about us, if you’re okay with that.”
Dash stood, walking over to her. “Are ya sure?” she asked, seriously. “You’re really comfortable with it, you’re not just doin’ it for me?”
“I’m sure,” Twilight nodded.
“Great,” Dash smiled for a moment, then looked a little concerned. “I hope they’re okay with it. I’d hate to lose any of them as friends over somethin’ like this.”
“They’re all real friends,” Twilight said, reassuringly, trying to convince herself as much as Dash. “I trust them, they’ll be fine with it, I’m sure.”
“Well then,” Dash was evidently steeling herself. “No time like the present. Wanna go now?”
“Might as well,” Twilight laughed, nervously. “Wouldn’t want to lose my nerve.”
The weather had lately taken a turn for the warmer, the pegasus teams evidently deciding to show mercy and let up on the recent spate of freezing days. Despite the warmth, Twilight still nestled close to Dash, held closely beneath the latter’s wing, as they walked together towards Rarity’s boutique. She noticed a few passers-by eyeing them with distaste or surprise, and one loutish colt wolf-whistled at them from an upstairs window.
Dash rolled her eyes at this interruption, continuing walking with a slight shake of the head. “I dunno if I’m meant to be flattered or embarrassed…” Twilight giggled, leaning her head against Dash’s, happy enough to ignore the opinions of the rest of the world. After all, she and Dash had helped to save Equestria on more than one occasion. She felt that they were at least entitled to walk down the road together, platonically or otherwise.
As Carousel Boutique came into view around the corner, Dash removed her wing from Twilight’s back. “Might be a bit of a giveaway, if she sees us coming,” she said, apologetically.
Twilight hesitated a moment before ringing the bell. “Wish us luck,” she muttered to Dash, pressing the button.
After a few moments of melodic chiming, the sound of hoofbeats could be heard approaching behind the door, and it swung open to reveal a somewhat flustered-looking Rarity. “Welcome to Carousel Bout- Oh! It’s you two!” Her mood visibly brightened at the sight of her two friends. “Come in, come in!” she said with a relieved smile. “I thought you were that insufferable colt again. He’s come in six times today to change his order; he simply cannot make up his mind.” She rolled her eyes. “Some ponies… Anyway, what brings you two here? It’s been a while since I’ve seen you.”
Twilight took a deep breath. “Rarity, we’ve got something to tell you.” She paused, surprised at the excited look that had suddenly appeared on Rarity’s face.
Dash picked up where she had left off. “I know this might kinda come as a surprise, but me an’ Twi’ are… We’re together,” she said in a rush, blushing a little but smiling proudly nonetheless.
To Twilight and Dash, Rarity’s immediate reaction was a strange one. Her eyes were sparkling excitedly. “Ah, you’ve decided to tell-” she began, then stopped, worry forming in her eyes, evidently trying hard to reword what she had begun to say. She did not quite clap a hoof over her mouth, but it seemed to be a close-run thing. “Ah, that’s to say,” she cleared her throat, smiling again. “You’ve decided to be together?” She looked excited again, but still a little worried, as if she had almost made a serious faux pas. “That’s wonderful! I must say I’d never have expected for it to be you two…” She looked from Twilight to Dash. “I’m so happy for you!”
“Uh, thanks,” Twilight smiled, a little confused by Rarity’s strange behaviour, but mostly relieved that she had not taken it badly. “You don’t think that matters, then? That we’re both mares?”
Rarity waved a hoof airily, her composure now well-and-truly reconstructed. “Of course not, my dear. What kind of friend would I be if I took offense at where you directed your affections?”
“That means a lot, Rarity.” Dash grinned, clearly also relieved that their first port of call had been a success. “Thanks.”
“In any case,” Rarity leaned forwards, conspiratorially. “If I were to take exception, it might be somewhat… hypocritical of me.” She blushed a little, grinning nervously.
“Huh?” Dash spluttered, cottoning on to what she meant. “But I thought… Blueblood?”
Rarity sniffed, haughtily. “If you remember, that particular prince withdrew from our last encounter wearing a significant quantity of cake. Anyhow, I’m not saying that stallions are not perfectly acceptable to me, merely that I’m… flexible, shall we say?”
“No kidding,” Dash still looked surprised by this news. “I thought I was the only mare in Ponyville who even liked mares. Turns out half of ‘em are at it!”
Twilight smiled. “Maybe you should’ve looked at your choices before going for the bookworm, eh?” she joked.
“Already did, you were just the first choice.” Dash winked, planting a cheeky kiss on the end of Twilight’s nose, making her giggle.
Rarity smiled at the display of affection, apparently genuinely pleased for her friends. “Well,” she said, “I’m very glad you both seem so happy together!” She looked at the clock, nervously. “I’m really sorry, I know how rude it is of me,” she said, “but I have three dresses on the go, to be done by tomorrow. I’ll never get them finished unless I get back to work.”
“No problem,” Twilight replied, “we needed to be on our way, anyway. We’ve got to tell the others.”
“I gotta admit, this is going well so far,” remarked Dash, quietly.
“I’m really glad you’re okay with us, Rarity. Thanks,” Twilight smiled at the white unicorn, and Dash nodded in agreement. As they headed for the door, the bell rang again, and the grinding of Rarity’s teeth could be heard audibly over the chiming. Dash opened the door, and they walked hurriedly past the russet earth stallion standing in the doorway, trying to clear the building before Rarity boiled over at this new interruption.
As they walked away across the cobblestones, they could just make out the first few words spoken in the doorway behind them.
“Hi again, I’ve decided I’d like the collar to be in velvet instead of…”
“Oh, for goodness’ sake!”
There was the sound of the front door slamming. Unable to stop herself, Dash burst out laughing.
As they approached Sugarcube Corner, Dash was still chuckling at the troublesome stallion’s reception.
“I think that went well,” Twilight said, thoughtfully.
“Yeah,” replied Dash. “Never have expected Rarity to be into mares, though. She never seemed the type.”
Twilight shrugged. “I guess Blueblood could put anypony off stallions for life.”
“True…” Dash suddenly halted in her tracks. “Hang on a second,” she said, dropping her voice so that the passing ponies in the street could not hear her. “Shouldn’t we be tellin’ them about Sunset, too? About what happened at ‘Shy’s place?”
Twilight shook her head, a little sadly. “I don’t think we should. The more they know, the more danger they’ll be in if Sunset show up again. I hate keeping secrets, but I can’t have them all on my conscience like that. It’s bad enough knowing you got mixed up in this because of me.”
“I’ve already told you,” Dash reminded her, “I’m in this because I want to be. Besides, even if they were just after you, I’d sure as hay be right there with ya, fighting ‘em. If somepony’s out to get you, they’d better be ready to get me too.” She looked defiant. “I think our friends would feel the same way.”
Twilight sighed, looking down at the cobblestones. “I know they would, that’s why I don’t want to tell them yet. I could stop this experiment at any time, and they’d leave us alone. It’s only a sense of right and wrong that’s keeping me going, and keeping us in danger. I know there’s no dissuading you, but I’m not going to put any more friends in danger. I’d like to tell them, but I only want to do it after Sunset’s finished for good.” She looked up, staring Dash in the eyes. “But… Thankyou. Thankyou for sticking with me through this.” She blushed, breaking eye contact again. “It means so much to me,” she whispered, feeling tears pooling in the corners of her eyes.
“Twi,” Dash smiled at her, gently cupping a hoof under her chin, bringing their faces level again. “It’s an honour.”
Twilight wanted nothing more than to kiss the pegasus there and then, in the middle of the street, but she felt that both Dash and the passers-by might object. As it was, she embraced Dash tightly, a tear breaking free and rolling down her cheek. Dash hugged her back, gently stroking her mane.
They broke apart after a minute or so, although they still leant their heads together as they headed up the steps of Sugarcube Corner. The sign on the door read; ‘Open’, so they entered, setting off a small, tinkling bell above the counter. Evidently, the Cakes were either out or in the kitchen, because Pinkie Pie was manning the tills. She greeted them with a jaunty wave as they entered the shop. “Hey, you guys!”
Twilight and Dash both halted in surprise. Not because of Pinkie, but because of the fact that the shop already contained a customer, who was currently paying for a small bag of various pastries.
“Well hey there, not seen y’all in a good few days,” said Applejack, turning to face them with a friendly smile.
Uh oh. Twilight and Dash looked at one another. They had expected to visit Sweet Apple Acres last, and devise some kind of contingency plan on the way over. They expected Applejack to be the most difficult pony to break the news to, and as such had saved her until last. They were not prepared for this.
Applejack seemed to notice Twilight’s unease. “You alright, Sugarcube?”
At that moment, Pinkie vaulted elastically over the counter-top and bounced excitedly over to them. “Oh my gosh! I’ve not seen you in so long! Well, kinda like four days, which I guess isn’t all that long, but come on, that’s like aaages if you’re a mayfly or if you’re really, really, impatient, or…” Applejack nudged the babbling earth pony, interrupting her flow. “Oh yeah, right. Hi!”
Twilight looked uneasily at Dash, silently asking if they should go ahead. The pegasus seemed to understand, and shrugged, as if to say; hey, we might as well.
“We need to tell you guys something,” Twilight said, quietly, looking at Dash.
“What is it, Sug’?” Applejack looked concerned. “Is everythin’ okay? Ya’ll seem right on edge.”
Twilight sighed, avoiding Applejack’s eyes. “AJ… Pinkie… We’ve come to tell you that Rainbow and I are together. We’re dating.”
For a few moments, there was silence. Applejack’s eyes widened in surprise, and Pinkie Pie seemed to be inflating slightly, a grin forming wider and wider on her face.
“You guys! That’s brilliantly, amazingly, fabtamididdlyoociously awesome, can I throw a party for you? Can I? Can I?” Pinkie exclaimed, all on one breath.
Twilight was not particularly surprised that Pinkie had taken it in her stride. She had expected nothing less of the anarchic party pony. However, she finally plucked up the courage to meet Applejack’s eyes. The orange pony looked a little bemused.
“Ya’ll mean like, dating-dating?”
Dash raised an eyebrow. “What other kind is there?”
“Wow,” Applejack seemed almost nervous. “Well, ain’t that somethin’?” She cleared her throat, not quite meeting their eyes.
“AJ… Do you mind?” Twilight asked, fearing the worst from Applejack’s initial reaction.
Applejack was silent for a few moments, looking from Dash to Twilight, apparently conflicted. "Ah'll be honest, Ah don't rightly know," she said. "On one hoof, ya'll are my friends, an' Ah'm sure as hay not gonna throw that away over somethin' like this. On the other, Ah've always been told about that... kinda thing... that it's unnatural, ya know? I'm sure I can live with it, but I hope you can understand it'll take a bit of gettin' used to. Ah’m sorry, I know that’s gonna sound kinda disappointing to ya, it's just a surprise to hear that ya'll are both Fillyf-" She shied away from the mildly derogatory last word at the sight of the furious expression on Dash's face, and the hurt one on Twilight's.
Dash took a step towards Applejack. "So that's it, AJ?" She asked, contemptuously. "Yeah, I'm so glad you think ya can at least tolerate us. Just be sure to tell us if we get too unnatural for ya!"
Twilight rested a hoof on the hovering Dash's shoulder. "Rainbow," she began quietly. Applejack's words had felt like a stinging kick to the stomach, but Twilight had accepted that this might happen, and was prepared to show understanding for Applejack's preconceptions.
"No, I'm not gonna take this, not from a friend," Dash exclaimed. Pinkie pie had ducked beneath the counter, her exuberance evaporated, and was watching the exchange. Her wide, frightened eyes were the only part of her that was visible.
“Look, Rainbow,” Applejack raised a hoof in a reconciliatory manner. “Would ya'll want me to lie and pretend I was okay with this? Ah'm being honest with ya, that's all Ah can be.”
“Yeah, Honesty,” snorted Dash. “If ya had a bit of Loyalty then maybe ya wouldn't need to lie! Maybe you’d realize it doesn’t bucking well matter!”
Applejack stepped forwards, anger flaring in her face. "Ah told ya I'd do my best, didn’t I?" Her voice fell in volume, and she sighed, sadly. "Look, Rainbow, Ah wanna be okay with this, I really do. But I can't change the way I think."
Suddenly, the spark of indignation left Dash's eyes, and she dropped to the floor with a thud. Her eyes were wet, and there was nothing but sadness and disappointment in them. "Come on, Twi'," she said, quietly, turning towards the door. "Let's go."
But Twilight did not move. She was looking at Applejack, almost thoughtfully. “Fillyfoolers?” She said, at length. Her voice was not judgmental, it was simply curious. “That’s what you think this is? You think that this is just a bit of meaningless fun… that we’re just fooling around?”
Applejack looked to the floor, pawing the wooden boards awkwardly with a hoof. “Shucks, Twi’, I didn’t mean for it ta’ sound like that.”
“That’s it, though, isn’t it?” Twilight continued. “That’s what you’ve been brought up to think. You think that two mares can’t be in a proper relationship, that it can’t mean anything, and it just turns into… gratification.”
Dash turned back to face Applejack, her eyes wide and surprised. Applejack opened her mouth to deny it, but could not bring herself to lie. “…Yeah. I know it’s not fair of me, I just don’t see how it’d work.” She looked dejectedly at the floor. Pinkie’s head was still visible over the counter, waiting with bated breath.
Her expression unreadable, Dash walked across to Applejack, who cringed away a little, apparently unsure of what Dash was going to do next.
“AJ,” Dash said, quietly, “I’ve been through some bad times lately. I was bitter, I was stupid, and I hated myself for it. If it hadn’t been for Twilight, I’d probably have thrown myself off a cloud.” Applejack winced at this, but Dash continued, without pausing, her voice growing in strength. “Twilight made me better. She showed me how wrong I was, and she never doubted that I could turn myself around. Not for one second. I love her for who she is, for what she’s done for me, and I don’t know where I’d be without her. Maybe that kind of love goes against your morality, but don’t you dare deny that it exists.”
Her eyes were alight, and she turned away from Applejack, walking back to stand beside her unicorn. Twilight was staring at her, wide-eyed. The pegasus never ceased to surprise her, and she felt as if her heart had expanded, and was blocking her throat. Pinkie Pie had emerged from under the counter, and her lower lip was quivering a little.
“Let’s go home, Twi’, I think AJ needs some time,” Dash said, quietly, and this time Twilight did not object.
As they reached the door, Applejack called after them. “You guys?” They turned, to see her looking down at the floor, a little shamefaced. “Ah’m sorry. Ah really am gonna think about all this. After what ya said, Rainbow, Ah’m starting to think maybe I was wrong. Whatever happens, ya’ll are still two of my best friends, and nothing’s gonna change that.” She pawed the floor, nervously. “If you’ll have me, that is.”
Dash smiled weakly at her. “’Course I will.”
“Me too,” Twilight added, with a nod.
“Yay!” exclaimed Pinkie Pie, looking hugely relieved that her friends seemed on decent, if a little shaky, terms once again.
Despite Applejack’s reaction, it still felt to Twilight as if a heavy weight had been lifted from her chest as they walked back to the library, knowing that at least one of her concerns had been more or less laid to rest.
She turned to Dash, halting on the cobbled street. “Do you think she’ll come round?”
“I hope so,” Dash sighed, looking back in the direction of Sugarcube Corner. “I can’t say I didn’t expect that, but it still hurt.”
Twilight blushed, remembering the pegasus’ words in the shop. “You were amazing, sticking up for us like that.”
“No, I was honest,” said Dash, meeting her eyes with a smile that was almost shy. Twilight stared back into the magenta pools, feeling as if she were falling, or perhaps flying.
She felt herself getting lost in Dash’s eyes. “You really are full of surprises, aren’t you?” she murmured.
“Just you wait,” whispered Dash, with a wink, making Twilight blush.
They continued walking, the library slowly appearing in the distance. Twilight knew that the next two weeks would likely be difficult, with the shadow of Sunset hanging over them, and the difficulty of Dash’s practice. As she looked at the pegasus, however, she knew that it would be worth every minute.
Suddenly, Dash’s eyes widened in mock-horror. “Uh-oh,” she muttered.
“What?” Twilight stared at her in concern.
“We might be in trouble, ya know,” Dash snorted with laughter. “I really, really hope AJ doesn’t tell Granny Smith about this!”
Twilight burst out laughing at this, imagining the elderly mare’s reaction. “That’d certainly be interesting…” Her voice tailed off, as she looked at her tree-home in surprise. The door of the library had opened, and Spike was running out towards them, his scaled feet clicking on the stones.
He was waving an unrolled scroll in his hand, and called out as a he approached them, sounding a little out of breath. “This just came through from the Princess!” He skidded to a halt in front of them, and Twilight scooped up the message with her magic, casting her eyes swiftly down it, her brow furrowed.
“What’s it about?” Dash asked, excitedly.
To her surprise, Twilight grinned, her face showing grim satisfaction. “Sunset.”