67w, 6dCoffee, Tea, and Everything Else
66w, 1dDoubled Fun
67w, 3dAlicorn Twilight
64w, 6dTwilight, Alicorns, and Awsome
58w, 1dTwilight is Best Pony
64w, 4dTwilight Sparkle
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53w, 3dKeeria's Library
32w, 3dfimfiction's favorites
37w, 5dAlternate Perspectives
7w, 6dSolitary Confinement
She still remembered their dead faces. Twilight had made a decision, and ponies had died. She had failed again. Every decision she made killed Equestria a little bit more.
But it was not the time for such thoughts, and dealing with them was beyond her. She pushed them to some deep corner of her mind and tried to maintain a royal image of serenity.
Princess Twilight Sparkle was seated on her throne and was smiling down at the colt standing at the base of the stairs leading up to her dais. Sun was streaming through the windows, and many ponies would swear that it was brighter than it had ever been since their princess had first come to power. The throne room was packed with ponies.
Everypony was whispering excitedly. They were gathered to celebrate a discovery that would mean great things for Equestria, and the day seemed absolutely perfect. The air was warm and skies were clear. It was most certainly a sign that the pony they had all come to recognize that day would accomplish much more in his life. Hundreds of disparate elements seemed to come together to make the day inspirational. Twilight heard the phrase ‘new dawn’ whispered more than once.
They were ignorant to the pain in their rulers heart.
Twilight was dressed in her finest regalia. She was wearing a ceremonial saddle that most ponies assumed was to commemorate the event. Only Dash, Vigil, a handful of the castle staff, and Rarity - who had made the saddle - knew the real reason she was wearing it. The saddles purpose was to hide the unsightly bumps that marked where her wings were coming in.
The pain was a constant buzz drilling into the back of her mind.
With a slight pulse of magic she caused a breeze to blow through the room carrying on it the scent of apple blossoms, and her sides throbbed in response to the energies flowing through her body. Everypony suddenly ceased their talking, recognizing that their princess was about to speak.
“Apple Seed, we are gathered here to recognize your great accomplishment. Through selective crossbreeding, you have managed to grow a type of apple tree that not only grows well in the limited light of Equestria’s day, but rather thrives in it. Your Shade Apple trees will help to feed ponies across all of Equestria. In recognition of this, the Magistarium has recommended to me that you be awarded the Equestrian Royal Medal of Harmony. This is the highest honor that can be awarded to a civilian. Theirs is a recommendation I wholly agree with.”
Twilight paused for dramatic effect. It had only taken her around twenty years before she began to learn how to make a ceremony memorable. Now she liked to think that she was quite good at it.
“It is with great honor that I, Princess Twilight Sparkle, award to you this Equestrian Royal Medal of Harmony.”
Twilight rose from her seat and lowered the medal over the earth pony before her. Apple Seed’s coat was orange and mane was blond just like his father and grandmother. His cutie mark, which he had just recently received, was two saplings intertwined. The pony’s smile looked like it could split his face in two. Twilight was beaming back down at the young pony.
The room erupted into cheers as Twilight stepped back. As the young colt turned around to face the crowd, he looked down at his parents and grandmother. Twilight smiled down at the the proud ponies a well.
The ceremony proper was over soon after. It was only a short time later that Twilight found herself ambling through the royal gardens. Besides her walked one of her oldest friends, and as always, two guards were shadowing behind.
“Apple Seed seemed to be happy.”
“Ya’h think? He was awarded a medal in front of all a’ Canterlot. He’s been wantin to see this place for ever. Most a’ his relatives were in attendance watchin his big day. Plus the pony ta give him his award was his aunt Twilight who happens to be his hero and who he’s been wantin to meet since Ah’ started readin him your letters to him. Na’h, I don’t see how he could be happy.”
Twilight smiled at Applejack and felt a pang of regret.
“I’m sorry that it has been so long since I have been able to visit Ponyville.” Twilight nearly laughed at her understatement. “ I wish I could be there more for you all. I’m just so-”
“Busy? Ah’ know. Ah’ don’t doubt if there ain’t no pony in all of Equestria more busy than you are Twi. Ya were there for his birth and first birthday and ya write to us at least once a month. That’s more than anough for me, and it's been plenty enough again to inspire m’ah little Apple Seed to accomplish what he did.”
“Still, I have missed so much of his life. When I first began to expect that I wasn’t aging I made a decision. I was going to watch over the children and grandchildren of all my friends. Then I was going to watch and protect all of their children - generation after generation. I’ve failed in that duty just as I have failed in all of my other duties.”
She remembered their dead faces. An entire village just gone.
“Ya’ tryin to hard suga’h cube.”
“I don’t think that’s true at all.” Her voice raised in agitation. “It isn’t that hard for me to clear my schedule once a year to attend a birthday party. Or even easier would be for me to invite everyone to the palace for a private party. But-”
The aging earth pony cut off her friend before the unicorn could begin to ramble.
“That ain’t what Ah’m talkin about.”
Twilight was confused. What else could the earth pony had meant?
“Ah’m talkin about the sun Twi-darlan. Ah’m a farm pony, and ah’ live my life by that big ol’ ball a' fire. I appreciate y’ah tryin to make my Apple Seed’s special day all the more special, but I don’t want y’ah to be straining yourself to do so. Ah’ know that if it was easy, the sun would be like that every gosh darn day.”
The berated unicorn looked at the ground in embarrassment at having been found out.
“It wasn’t just for Apple Seed that I made today sunnier than normal. It was for all of Equestria. I hope that someday ponies remember this event as a turn towards a brighter tomorrow. Apple Seed’s Shade Apples could solve the food shortages. It could mean that we will have more than enough to share with our neighbors. Your grandson is a hero Applejack.”
Twilight watched as Applejack stood up straighter, beaming with pride.
“That he is. Ah’ just wish his grand-pappy was still around ta see him today.”
Applejack's voice did not seem to carry with it any sadness. Her tone was just matter of fact. Still, Twilight was uncertain.
“You still think about him a lot?”
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about m’ah Golden Cyser. Ah’ still miss m’ah love so much, sometime Ah’ think m’ah heart is gona ta burst. But then Ah’ just need to think about the grandfoals. Haven’t had a chance ta tell y’ah yet, got another one comin on the way.”
“That’s wonderful news Applejack. I’m sure Cyser would be very proud if he was still here.”
“Don’t fret none. He’s at peace in the great pasture in the sky, and Ah’ know he’s proud of all our kin’s done accomplished.”
Applejack’s heavy sigh made Twilight need to say something more.
“Still it must be very hard for you.”
“Ha! Hard for me? A’h guess? You're the one this type a’ stuff must be hard for.”
Twilight’s head whipped around from the flower she was looking at.
“What do you mean?”
“Ah mean that y’ah probably goin to start loosin the rest of us sooner or later. Ah’ know that eventually Ah’m goin to be reunited with m’ah Cyser. But you? Yah're gona have to keep on goin without any of us.”
Twilight was floored.
“I... No. I mean, you all have plenty of time left.” Her words came out in a rush.
“Don’t kid yourself suga’h cube. We’re all approaching seven decades. Ah’m plannin to live to see myself at least have great-grand-ponies scampering about, but don’t know if Ah’ll make it much past that.”
Twilight could not help but remember the conversation she had recently had with Rainbow Dash. Why were all of here friends suddenly thinking about these things. She did not want them to leave her. The unicorn had already lost Pinkie Pie. Had that not been enough?
“Why?” Her voice broke. “Why are we talking bout this?”
“Aww Twi darlin, don’t y’ah cry none. Ah’ didn’t mean to upset y’ah. Gosh y’ahd think after all this time Ah’ would be better with all of this emotional stuff. Ah’ was just tryin to say that y’ah are always worried about everypony else but yourself. Y’ah need to make sure you’re prepared for whatever the future holds. Rather than stretchin yourself too thin - frettin over everypony, it seems to me that y’ah need to take some time to make sure that Twilight Sparkle is ok. Are y’ah ok sugarcube?”
Applejack hugged her princess and old friend using her forelegs. Twilight shut her eyes to stop the tears that had begun flowing. All of her friends loved her so much. They were so important to her, and she was going to miss them so much. However, the unicorn thought she understood what her friend was saying. Besides, with any luck it would be decades until she would need to attend another funeral for her friends. Twilight vowed to make the most of the years she had left with them.
And then she remembered the earth ponies question. Twilight realized that for the first time in what may have been a long while, she actually felt ‘OK.’ She still wanted to cry and did not want to let her friend go. She had still gotten ponies killed, and Equestria was still in dire need.
However, she was ‘OK’ with all that. Twilight did not have much choice. Despite all the bad in her life, no matter what happened, her friends would love her. Slowly she nodded her head as she returned the hug. As they pulled apart she could hear the guards shifting. Obviously Applejack’s sudden show of affection had made them tense.
Applejack’s next words were spoken in nearly a whisper and banished the ‘OK’ feeling that Twilight had just discovered. Twilight winced - Applejack never could seem to leave well-enough alone.
“Dash tells me you’re still sleepin by that statue?”
The embodiment of the element of honesty took the ensuing silence as permission to continue.
“Ah’ know it can be tough. When my ma’h and pa'h passed away it was hard. But you need-”
“It isn’t like that AJ. It’s not like that at all.”
Twilight’s curt words left behind an awkward silence until Applejack thought she finally understood. Still, she was nervous to suggest her conclusion.
“When I lost Golden Cyscer, it was even-”
Twilight felt her face turning crimson. Her friend did not understand; nopony could understand.
“It wasn’t like... I mean yes, she was... I... It was - is complicated.”
Twilight hoped Applejack did not read too much into her sigh.
“Princess Celestia had other students, but I was special. I was her ‘most faithful student.’ In all of Equestria’s history, I was the only - the ONLY pony whom she watched over from fillyhood to marehood. I was the only pony who received one-on-one education year after year. The only pony whom she would sing lullabies too when I had nightmares. The only one who could curl up under her wing while reading on a cold winter evening.”
She wondered if the earth pony was understanding what she was trying to say.
“We were student and teacher, master and apprentice, pupil and mentor. She was...”
Twilight looked at her friend with pure desperation in her eyes. She felt like she was drowning and no matter what she did, there was no way she could keep her head above water. Above everything else though, she wanted the other mare to understand. Even if it was just a little bit, Twilight wanted her friend to grasp what she was sharing. They were words she had never spoken to anypony. It had taken the element of honesty to draw them out.
“I don’t have any idea of what I’m doing AJ. When I first recreated the sun I was running on pure instinct. Suddenly, I was surrounded by ponies looking to me for guidance because I had been the Princess’s student. She had told ponies in passing that she felt I could make an excellent leader. They took that to mean that I should be the one in charge if something happened to her and her sister apparently.” Twilight laughed at the absurdity of it all. “For more than the last forty years I have been stumbling my way through this.”
She was not even sure what she was saying. Twilight knew that she was rambling, but her heart hurt so much. And the pain in her sides was fogging her mind. She could not wait until her wings would be done coming in. Why was she always in so much pain? What had she done to deserve it?
She remembered the dead ponies. The creatures of the night had made no distinction between foal or adult, mare or stallion. She had earned her suffering.
“Princess Celestia has been my model. I try to do what I think she would. I try to make decisions that I think would make her proud. I don’t know if she ever went through something like this, but she had always seemed so confident. But even with her memory guiding me, I’m absolutely lost. That’s why I can’t get over her death even if I wanted to. She is my compass, and if I forget that, then it won’t be just me that is lost but all of Equestria. She’s gone, but I still need her...”
Twilight was crying again, but this time Applejack did not move to hug her. The earth pony wanted to tell her friend that everything would be OK. She wanted to provide comfort. But she was the element of honesty.
Applejack had finally realized how narrow of an edge Equestria was walking along. Over the years, Twilight had maintained her facade well. The element of honesty could not lie to her friend. She could not tell Twilight that things would be fine.
“I’m sorry to dump all this on you AJ. I just needed to...”
Twilight was sniffling now, but the majority of the tears had subsided. The unicorn wished that the guards had either been further away or that she had been talking quietly. Her guards had seen her at lows before, but she had not wanted them to ever need to deal with all the self doubt she harbored.
“Let’s talk about happier things sugah cube.” Applejack paused until she had Twilight’s attention. “How’s Rarity and Stone Edge gettin along?”
The lavender pony was more than willing to discuss something else and put her outburst into the past. However, Twilight frowned when she though of the fashionista and the white unicorn’s husband. They had been going through tough times. Twilight did her best to minimize her sniffling.
“Well enough, I suppose. Stone Edge is still getting over his surgery. That had been hard on them. Also, Rarity recently started seeing a new doctor who thinks he knows why they were never able to have any other kids after Diamond Justice. Apparently that fever Rarity came down with after Justice had been born was probably what left her barren. It’s brought up some bad memories for them. However, Rarity is just trying to focus on how lucky they were to have Justice before she had fallen ill.”
“Ah’ still can’t believe they named him that.”
“Oh hush. Rarity wanted to name him after a gemstone and Edge wanted a strong male name. It was a compromise.”
Despite her words, Twilight could not help but agree with the orange earth pony. It was unusual for a pony’s name to combined abstract concepts along with physical objects. His name had also ended up being somewhat of a self fulfilling prophecy.
“So how is little Diamond Justice? He’s at university right?”
Twilight tried to glare at her friend’s snort of laughter as Applejack had spoken the name. However, she knew the effect was lost because of the twist of a smile on her own lips.
“Not so little any more, and he was finished with university years ago. He’s now considered the best prosecutor in all of Canterlot. Justice is even engaged to be married... How long has it been since you’ve talked to Rarity?”
Applejack looked away in shame at the question before shooting back with one of her own, a hint of venom in her voice.
“How long has it been since you’ve talked with Fluttershy?”
“Fluttershy doesn’t want to see me.” The response was quick and hard.
“Y’ah know that ain’t true suga'h cube. Y’ah two used to be so close. Y’ah need to go and see her.”
“I can’t do that AJ. Not until she forgives me, and I can’t force her to do so. I’ve apologize and now there is nothing else that I can do.”
Applejack just shook her head but decided to drop the issue. Twilight had been upset enough by their conversation already.
“It’s good talkin to y’ah again in person Twi. The letters are nice and all, but it just ain’t the same. I’m really glad I was able to steal you away from the ceremony and all those noble ponies.”
Twilight was more than happy for the change in subject.
“Well today really wasn’t about me. It was about Apple Seed. Speaking of which, do you think he will be accepting any of the offers?”
“What the hay are y’ah talkin about?”
“Well I know Trottingham was hoping that he might be able to help them create a shade variant of their potatoes and other root vegetables.”
Twilight continued on ignoring the snort coming from the farm pony. She was allready well aware of Applejack’s opinion on potatoes.
“I have also heard that the Hay Distribution Consortium is very interested in his talents. The development of a hay variant that could thrive in dim light could be all Equestria needs to solve its food problem once and for all. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the day he has at least a dozen job offers. The grandcolt of one of the most respected members of the council of farms makes such an amazing discovery? Apple Seed is going to need you watching out for him. His discovery is going to mean a lot of exciting opportunities, but many ponies are going to want a piece of him.”
“Ah well, shucks. Little Apple Seed already knows what he wants to do now. Even though the Apple Clan normally protects its secrets mighty fiercely like, Apple Seed wants to travel around Equestria helpin ponies plant Shade Apples. All he plans on askin for in return is a place to sleep and some vittles. Might not be what Ah’ would do, but Ah’ can’t fault his heart. He’s sure to help a lot o’ ponies.”
The unicorn could not keep the smile from her face, and her tears were nearly dried now. Ponies like Apple Seed gave her hope for the future of all of Equestria.
“That is very generous of him. Your grandson is a model for all ponies to follow. Before he leaves today, I need to make sure to tell-”
Twilight cut off what she was saying in a cry of pain as she stumbled to the ground. The world spun around her as she realized she was laying on her side panting in exertion. Her head throbbed as the pounding of her guards hooves echoed between her ears. She could hear yelling. Some of it might have been hers.
“Twi, you’re sides are bleedin!”
“My magic is going wild. I... I need to keep the flow to the sun steady - reduce the fluctuation. I can’t let it die again. I can't let her die again.”
“You, don’t just stand there, go get help. You, help me get this saddle off a her. We need to see what’s wrong.”
The pounding of hoovesteps rushed away.
“That’s the last strap.”
“Ma’h word. Look at her sides.”
The pressure was unbearable. Something was pressing against her skin from the inside. It wanted to get out. Twilight rolled herself up onto her hooves so that she was sitting up. The sound of her hide tearing was drowned out by her scream of pain.
By the end of the day, all of Canterlot would know that Princess Twilight Sparkle was now an alicorn.
Bam, have some Applejack!
Also, Echolesshowl has created some awesome fanart for this chapter. You should check it out (warning has blood): http://echolesshowl.deviantart.com/art/Then-the-Princess-grew-wings-286322206