Spectacular Seven

by The Albinocorn


2. Moondancer


Twilight sat at her usual table, hunched over with her nose in a book. The silence of the library gave her optimal comfort for her reading.

At least, it would have if that girl would stop staring at her.

Twilight tried her best to ignore her, but this was the third time this week she had followed Twilight into the library and sat at the table across from her, pretending to read a book.

It was normally easy for Twilight to get lost in her literature. But every time the girl looked at her, Twilight could feel it. She had half a mind to go find somewhere else to sit and read, but the lunch hall and the quad were far too noisy for her liking.

Glancing over her book again, Twilight saw the girl quickly look away. Twilight slowly retreated behind her book again, twisting her face into a scowl. What does she want? She’s ruining my concentration! Twilight tried to read again, but found herself staring at the same line over and over. She made a tiny growl and snapped the book shut. Maybe reading something else would get her reinvested.

She adjusted her glasses and selected A History of Shakespeare from the pile of books next to her. It didn’t take long for her to get sucked in; she couldn’t even feel the girl staring at her anymore.

“Shakespearean history. Quite a pristine choice of reading,” a light and regal voice said.

Twilight jumped in her seat and jerked her head. The mysterious girl stood over her shoulder. Skin pearly as the full moon with nary a blemish, long red hair which curled and turned purple at the ends and decorated with a blue bow, and curious violet eyes that gazed at Twilight.

“My apologies, did I startle you?”

“Yes, you did,” Twilight snapped. “I’m trying to read in peace.”

The girl dipped her head once. “Forgive me, I was merely interested in your book of choice. It’s not everyday I see someone trying to read up on the great Shakespeare.”

Twilight was about to ask her to leave, but froze, her interest piqued. “You read Shakespeare?”

The girl held one hand against her breast and held the other up high. “‘By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap to pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon, or dive into the bottom of the deep, where fathom-line could never touch the ground, and pluck up drowned honour by the locks.’” She smiled at a speechless Twilight.

“That… that was amazing. You quoted Henry IV perfectly!”

“Well, any thespian, Broadway or otherwise, should be well-versed in their Shakespeare. Not only was he the greatest playwright of all time, but he was a philosopher of the spoken and written word.” Her eyes twinkled in admiration.

Twilight nodded her head so fervently, her glasses almost fell off. “That’s what I think too! But the way the students around here react when we have to read Romeo and Juliet, you’d think they were being punished.”

“Plebeians, the whole lot of them. They have no taste for the finer arts of life.” She flashed another radiant smile. “But not you. I can tell you are quite cultured.”

Twilight blushed. “Well, I do like to read a lot.”

“So I’ve noticed.”

Twilight couldn’t believe what she was about to do. She had thought herself above friend making; the only ones she needed were her brother and Cadence. She had come to school to learn, not socialize. Yet here was someone who shared her love of Shakespeare. Maybe, just maybe…

She pointed to the seat next to her. “Would you, uh… I mean, if you want to keep talking…”

The girl dropped into the seat and scooted closer. “I’d be absolutely delighted.”

Twilight smiled, then sputtered, “Oh, w-what’s your name?”

“Hmmhmmhmm.” The girl held a hand over her mouth as she giggled. “You may call me Moondancer.”

*******

Sunset’s alarm went off at 6:45 A.M., ringing three times before she slapped it off. She turned over and nestled deeper into her warm bed.

Something wet tickled her cheek. She tried to push it away, but the slimy appendage just kept coming back. “Okay, okay, I get it, time for school.” She pushed herself into a sitting position, finding Spot looking up at her with eyes that were impossible to be mad at. She scratched him under the chin before rolling out of bed.

She selected some warm clothes for the day, then went to the bathroom. Unfortunately, she opened her door the same time Trixie came from her bedroom. They locked eyes for a moment, then both ran to the bathroom between their rooms.

Their shoulders shoved into each other as they tried to fit through the door.

“I saw it first, Trixie.”

“Well, Trixie was here first!”

“No, I was!”

“Trixie meant in this house!”

“Oh… well you got it first last time!”

“Did not!”

“Did too!”

“Girls!” Artemis’ voice rang out from down the hall. “It’s too early for this! Get dressed and go to school!”

During that brief distraction, Trixie shoved Sunset back and claimed the bathroom. “Victory for Trixie!” she said behind the door.

Sunset grumbled a few choice words then retreated to her room to wait. She sat on her bed, rubbing Spot’s belly to pass the time.

Her eyes wandered over to her bedside table. With her free hand, she reached over and scooped up the necklace sitting by her photo. A shining red and gold sun with eight rays hung from a silver chain: Sunset’s old cutie mark. Trixie had given it as a Christmas gift—a small gesture that told Sunset while they might not get along, Trixie accepted her in the house.

I guess she can have the bathroom this time.

*******

Twenty-five minutes later, Sunset was out the door and heading down the road. Canterlot High being in comfortable walking distance was another perk that came from living with the Lulamoons. She didn’t need to ride her motorcycle unless she absolutely wanted to.

The streets were sleek and shiny from the melted snow, and younger children splashed in the leftover puddles on the sidewalk. Small pockets of snow hid in ditches or shaded areas, too stubborn to melt overnight. The clouds had begun to break apart, returning sunlight and warmth to Canterlot. Sunset pulled her new leather jacket tighter around her. Another Christmas gift, this one from Twilight and now one of her most treasured possessions. She admired the spiked cuffs on her long sleeves, and traced a finger along the embroidered S on the left breast pocket before hiding her hands away from the cold.

Trixie drove past her in her blue buggy, honking as she went. She had offered Sunset a ride, but Sunset had preferred to walk today. Besides, it was only an extra ten minutes by foot.

She saw a few students on her way to school. None of them waved to her, but they didn’t look at her with contempt like they had before she organized the Winter Ball and formally apologized for her past actions.

I suppose I’m just neutral now. Sunset smiled. She was perfectly okay with that.

Like everywhere else, the lawn of Canterlot High School sat brown and limp. Students milled about, catching up with some of the friends they hadn’t seen over the break. As she approached the front entrance, Sunset stopped and looked at the statue of the Wondercolt horse atop the marble base.

Sunset rested a hand against the cold stone, her thoughts turning to Equestria hidden away on the other side. Just two years to go, she thought humorlessly. She faced the brightly painted school. Well, I’ve got plenty of things to do in the meantime. So stop with homesick shtick. You’re getting on my nerves.

Students overflowed in the central rotunda, laughing, swapping stories, and trading pictures on their phones. Little banners were posted on the walls that read, “Welcome back, Wondercolts!” Below it was a list of all the upcoming activities: soccer matches, the school musical showcase, an orchestra recital, and the Spring Fling.

“Hey, Sunset!”

Sunset turned around and saw Flash Sentry slip through the door, his guitar case in hand. “Morning, Flash.” She and Flash had been on much more amicable terms after Sunset had heartfeltly apologized to him.

Flash ran a hand through his spiky hair and smiled. “So, how was your break?”

“It was pretty good.” Sunset tugged at her jacket. “Got this for Christmas. Hung out with my friends and Twilight. Couldn’t ask for much more.”

“That’s cool.” Flash sighed. “I asked for a new guitar for Christmas, but my dad keeps saying ‘music isn’t a career, it’s just a hobby. Knuckle down and do something productive.’” Flash’s mouth rose into a grin again. “He won’t be singing the same tune after my band wins the showcase.”

Sunset had a mind to poke a hole in his dream, but thought against it. She gave him a thumbs up instead. “Go get ‘em, tiger.”

They said goodbye and went down opposite ends of the hall. Sunset packed her bag away in her locker before traveling a bit further and finding Twilight, folding up her thick jacket and stuffing it away. Sunset leaned next to the locker and crossed her arms. “Morning, Sparky,” she said with a grin.

Twilight gave her jacket one final shove and slammed the locker shut. She gave an exhausted sigh before acknowledging Sunset. “Morning. How are—mmmph!” Twilight was cut off by a surprise kiss. When Sunset pulled away, Twilight’s cheeks were bright red. “S-Sunset, are you… sure about, you know…” She looked up and down the hall.

Sunset’s smile slid off her face. “Why, are you not comfortable with this?”

Twilight quickly shook her head. “No, no, it’s not that! It’s just, well… I mean, I think the school just stopped harassing you and—”

“Hey, it’s one thing if they hate me for making their lives miserable.” Sunset raised a fist. “If anyone wants to say something about me dating another girl, I’ll gladly knock their teeth out.”

Twilight gave her a critical look, one that Sunset had become very familiar with.

Sunset lowered her fist. “I mean, sit down and have a nice talk with them.” She made minimum effort to keep the sarcasm out of her voice.

Before Twilight could respond, a loud voice sang from across hall, “Twily!

Looking over Twilight’s shoulder, Sunset saw her first. She wore a long white winter gown that traveled down to her ankles, and had large open sleeves where slim, fingerless gloves stuck out. A blue bow sat in her red and purple hair. But what struck Sunset the most, what struck everyone else in the halls as they turned to look at her, was her face.

Flawless skin the color of fresh milk, a slim nose, thin painted lips, long eyelashes and round purple eyes. Sunset loathed to admit it, but upon first sight, this girl was beautiful. And not just in appearance, the way she sauntered down the hall, even at a hurried pace, displayed extravagant elegance.

Twilight turned around and let out a shriek of delighted surprise. “Moony!” She ran and met the girl halfway. They clutched hands and jumped up and down before wrapping each other in a warm embrace.

It was a harmless, friendly act, but Sunset couldn’t help but snort like a bull, quickly regaining her composure as the two came back. As ‘Moony’ drew close, Sunset couldn’t help but feel there was something familiar about her.

“I can’t believe you’re here!” Twilight gushed. “I missed you so much! I got all your letters! Oh wait, I mean, obviously since I wrote you back, but still! Oh, I missed you so, so much, Moony!”

The girl cupped Twilight’s face, gazing lovingly into Twilight’s eyes. “And I missed you, my little star! It was as if my heart had been rent asunder when we were separated! But lo! Here we are again!”

Sunset briefly narrowed her eyes to dangerously thin lines. She cleared her throat as loud as she could. “So, Sparky, who is this?” This time, she put maximum effort to hide her annoyance.

“Oh!” Twilight grinned sheepishly, gesturing between the two of them. “Sunset, this is Moondancer, Moony, this is Sunset Shimmer… my girlfriend.”

Moondancer’s eyes twinkled, but Sunset saw a muscle twitch when she smiled. “Ah yes, Twily has told me a lot about you.”

“Funny, she’s never said anything about you.” Sunset met Moondancer’s smile with her own shark version.

Twilight’s eyes dilated. “What? No-no-no, that’s not true! I’m sure I’ve said something—”

Moondancer placed a finger on Twilight’s lips, instantly silencing her while Sunset watched, her stomach filling with molten tar. “Shh, my little star, it’s all right. In fact, I’m almost delighted.”

“You are?”

Moondancer moved her finger away and said, “Yes. After all, one cannot adequately describe my being.” She placed a hand over her breast. “One must see it—no!” She raised her hand to the ceiling. “One must experience it—no!” She clenched her hand into a fist and brought it back down, bowing her head. “One must live it for themselves—the full majesty that is I!”

Sunset stared blankly at her, the molten tar cooling in her stomach and being replaced by… a bumpy and confusing road. “What?”

Moondancer looked up, her eyes sparkling with what Sunset believed was pure narcissism. “Allow me to properly introduce myself!” She jumped back and spun in a circle with her arms spread wide, her large sleeves billowing in the breeze. She stopped and posed, one hand raised above her head with the other across her mouth. “I am the girl with many faces.” She moved her arms in slow, wide circles and swayed her body to an invisible song. “I am the goddess of dance.” She held her arms perpendicular to her body and placed one foot in front of the other. Her body subtly leaned forward, then she sprang up into the air with a backflip and landed again on her feet. “I am she who walks on stardust.” She crossed one leg in front of the other and gave a deep bow.

“I am Moondancer.”

The onlooking students broke into tremendous applause and whistles of affection, of which, Moondancer soaked in with a triumphant smile.

Sunset just continued her blank stare, unsure whether to burst into hysterics or throw up. The girl gave Artemis a serious run for his money in terms of sheer hamminess. Sunset was going to make a smart remark to Twilight, only to find her clapping along with everyone else.

“I see you’ve been working on your introduction.”

Moondancer stepped closer, brushing her hair back. “Of course. I aim to capture my audience and leave them speechless.

Sunset crossed her arms. “Oh, I’m speechless all right.”

“As you should be,” Moondancer said. “My dream is to perform on every stage of the world, enamoring audiences from every culture until all come to revere my brilliance!”

And Twilight thinks I’m narcissistic? Well, this explains why she put up with me.

Twilight put a hand on Moondancer’s arm. “Okay, Moony, I think you can tone it down a little.”

“Ahem, of course. You know how I can get sometimes.”

“I know.” Twilight smiled. “It’s so great to see you again, but what are you doing here?”

Moondancer took Twilight’s hands and clasped them together. “I’m here to enroll of course!”

“You are?” Twilight asked excitedly.

“You are?” Sunset groaned.

“I am!” Moondancer draped a hand across her forehead. “When you left, Twilight, my entire world became dim. So close we were, you and I. Closer than sisters. The world was so less radiant without you in it, for how can the moon properly shine without the stars?”

“Well, technically—” Sunset was cut off by Moondancer’s continued ranting.

“Though you were still in the same city, you seemed a galaxy away, and I shuddered to think what the Fates had in store for you without me by your side.” She moved her hands over her heart and closed her eyes. “And fate would tear us further apart, for how could I say no to an opportunity to model abroad? Thus, I was forced to embark to France, opening the maw between us even further.” She let out a dramatic sigh. “Twas only your letters that sustained me. I held onto the dream that we would be united again someday.”

She opened her eyes and twirled around before taking Twilight’s hands again. “And the first thing I did upon my return was beg father to let me transfer. So voila! Here I am—here we are! Together again!”

Sunset was now certain she wanted to throw up. There was also an urge to strangle Moondancer with her bow. Not even for the excessive touching of Twilight (though that was a large part of it) just to get her to shut up.

Twilight wiped a tear from her eye. “Wow, Moony, I can’t believe you did that for me. I know how much you loved the academy.”

A dreamy sigh escaped Moondancer’s lips. “Yes, I shall dearly miss the hallowed halls of that palace of enlightenment. But you are more important than any of that, my little star!” She threw her arms out wide. “Besides, it is high time I descend from my place in the heavens. Mingle with the commoners, see how the lower half lives.”

Twilight narrowed her eyes, a sight that gave Sunset much satisfaction. “Moony, you’re doing it again.”

“Am I? My apologies.”

“And really, the suburbs aren’t that different from the Upper Villa. There are plenty of smart and sophisticated people here.”

“Yeah,” Sunset said, snickering, “here comes one right now.”

Rainbow walked down the hall, laughing and wiping her eyes. “You guys missed it! Snips just finished belching to two-hundred off of one can of soda! Then, he totally heaved! It was awesome, disgusting, but awesome!”

Sunset looked back to Moondancer. Her face remained neutral, but her eyes beheld disgust and horror. Oh, Rainbow, you never disappoint.

Rainbow looked from Sunset, to Twilight, to Moondancer. “So, who’s the new girl?”

Moondancer curtsied. “I am Moondancer. Pleasure to make your acquaintance. And how shall I address you, good sir?”

Sunset bit down on her lip.

Rainbow slowly furrowed her brow while her cheeks matched the red in her hair. “I’m a girl, you dingus!” She stomped her foot.

Moondancer’s eyes wandered to Rainbow’s chest, and her mouth formed an O which she quickly covered. “My sincere apologies! I thought, ahem, well, I shouldn’t have assumed… at any rate, I apologize.”

“Yeah, whatever. Name’s Rainbow Dash.” Rainbow stalked away before Moondancer could follow up.

“Hmm. Well, that could have gone a lot better.” Moondancer brushed her hair back. “Such is life I suppose. Not every encounter is a positive one.”

Twilight tried to smile. “I’m sure she’ll come around.”

Sunset turned her head to allow herself a victorious smirk. That had gone better than she could have ever planned. When she turned back, her fleeting victory was spoiled by Moondancer swooping around Twilight, closely examining her.

“Little star…” Moondancer tapped the rim of Twilight’s glasses. “Why do you hide your radiant face with these lenses? I thought you liked contacts?”

Twilight pushed her glasses up. “Well… um…” Her eyes flickered to Sunset. “I just wanted to change things up a little. I think they make me… stand out more.”

“I think she looks great,” Sunset said, crossing her arms.

Moondancer leaned back and hummed. “Well, I do like this look for your hair,” she said, playing with one of Twilight’s tresses. “I must admit, this look does reflect your inner you: the sparkling genius I know you are!” She raised her hands above her head. “Look at my little flower, blossoming into her own!”

Twilight blushed. “Thanks, Moony.”

Moondancer held a hand over her mouth and giggled. “I’ll spare every compliment for you.” She pointed down the hall. “Now, I must adjourn to see the principal for my class schedule. Would you do me the honor of accompanying me, my dear Twilight?”

“I’d love to!” She looked to Sunset. “You don’t mind, do you?”

“Oh no, of course not,” Sunset said, her voice an octave higher than usual, and a smile stuck on her face. “Go and catch up, have a good time!”

Twilight leaned up and kissed her on the cheek. “I’ll see you at lunch. Come on, Moony.”

Moondancer crossed and arm over her chest and bowed. “It was lovely to meet you, Sunset Shimmer. I can’t wait to learn more about your character.” She rose and draped an arm around Twilight, leading her away to Celestia’s office.

Sunset continued to stand there, staring after them, still painfully smiling. She didn’t stop until Fluttershy tiptoed up and tapped her shoulder.

“Sunset, are you okay?”

“Yep! Totally fine! Peachy!” Her voice was still an octave too high.

Fluttershy took a half-step back. “Are you sure?”

Sunset’s shoulders dropped and she uncrossed her arms. “No. But, I’m just being, you know, me. Twilight hasn’t seen her friend in months, I should be happy for her. Instead, I’m…”

“Jealous?”

“I am not jealous!” She saw Fluttershy flinch back, and cupped a hand over her eyes. “Sorry. I’m not jealous, I’m just… annoyed. And… and... “ Sunset stomped her foot. “I mean, did you see her? You can’t deny she’s beautiful!”

“I wasn’t going to,” Fluttershy mumbled, her cheeks reddening.

Sunset released an aggravated sigh. “It’s okay, I’ll get over it. Is it a little suspicious that she transferred from some private school to here, just to see Twilight? Yes. But, I’m going to be reasonable and responsible, and trust Twilight.”

Fluttershy smiled. “That’s good.”

“And if this Moondancer tries anything, I’ll snap her like the twig she is.”

Fluttershy frowned.

*******

The new semester began with no fanfare or excitement other than the murmurings of Moondancer’s acrobatic feat earlier. Vice Principal Luna greeted the students and read off the morning announcements, repeating much of what had been on the posters.

Sunset took her seat in the front of her history class next to Rarity, who flashed a radiant smile. Before they could exchange a proper greeting, Mr. Noteworthy cleared his throat, ceasing all side chatter.

“I hope you all had a good break,” he said, scratching chalk against the blackboard. “Now, just because you’ve turned in your college applications, doesn’t mean you can slack off. I won’t tolerate ‘senioritis’ in my class. Now then…”

Sunset began taking notes, her mood made more sour by the mention of ‘college applications.’ She filed it away under ‘bridges to cross when she got there.’ Unfortunately, that just left her filled with images of Moondancer backflipping in the hallway. Had Sunset still been the iron-fisted hate monger she had once been known as, she’d already be conspiring to find ways to drag Moondancer through the mud, figuratively, and if she got the chance, literally.

All right, reel it back, girl. You’re not a vindictive megalomaniac anymore. As fun as it would be to entertain the thought, she hasn’t even done anything yet. ‘Yet’ being the key word.

And besides, what could Moondancer actually do? Sure she was an overdramatic ham like Artemis, and could backflip while wearing pumps, but that didn’t make her a threat. Yet.

And furthermore, Twilight had picked her, Sunset, right? She had known Moondancer years before, and apparently nothing had come of it. Heck, maybe Moondancer really was just Twilight’s best friend and Sunset was reading too much into it.

‘Hi, Sunset. Moondancer just confessed her love to me and I realized, I’ve felt the same way and didn’t notice until now. So, I’m leaving you for her. Bye!’

There was a tiny crick as Sunset gripped her pencil a little too tightly. Okay, you’re being stupid. You know Twilight isn’t like that. Don’t turn this into the stupid dramas Rarity’s into. Just relax. If Twilight picked you after learning how terrible you were before, there must be a reason.

As the period progressed, Sunset relaxed to her usual indifferent contentment. History remained her least favorite subject and the only one of her classes that wasn’t advance placement. Having Rarity as a work partner was the only thing that made it bearable now.

“So, tell me about this Moondancer character everyone is whispering about,” Rarity asked when the class broke into group work.

Sunset tapped her cracked pencil on the desk. “You know how you have some of your ‘drama moments’ from time to time?”

“Yes?” Rarity said, raising an eyebrow.

“That’s her. Set to eleven. It’s like, she thinks we’re in a play or something.”

“I see. Interesting.” Rarity looked through her textbook and wrote an answer on their assignment paper. “So, what was she wearing?”

Sunset pushed the eraser against her forehead. “Rarity, I’m honestly trying not to think about her right now.”

Rarity gave her a cat-like smile. “Sunset Shimmer, you’re not jealous are you?”

“No, I am not jealous!” Sunset said in a raised voice, getting half the class to look at her. Her cheeks burned, and she said in a quieter voice, “I’m not jealous. Sure, she’s pretty, but I know Twilight isn’t going to run off with her at first sight.”

“Good.” Rarity nodded sagely. “Although, you shouldn’t discredit your own beauty, Sunset. You’re a very attractive young woman.”

Sunset looked down at her paper, blushing. She didn’t know why. She knew she was sexy! Still, it was nice to hear it from her friends.

Rarity closed her book and dug through her bag to find her nail file. “And personally, I think a smidge of jealousy is healthy for a relationship. It lets your partner know you care about them. Just a smidge, mind you.”

“I know, I know.” Sunset waved her free hand as she she finished her paper. “Don’t turn this into some friendship lesson. Jealousy is bad, leads to anger, blah, blah, blah, she-demon.”

Rarity paused her filing to give Sunset a concerned stare. “Well, I wasn’t going to go there, but… as long as you understand.” When Sunset kept her head down, Rarity asked, “Is something else bothering you, darling?”

“No.”

“Sunset…” Rarity pursed her lips and tapped a newly manicured nail against the desk.

Sunset sighed. Next to Twilight, Rarity could read her best. Not that Sunset was making the best effort to hide her emotions. Honestly, there were a plethora of things bothering her. Still, Rarity had proven time and again to be a good shoulder to lean on. She looked up and met Rarity’s eyes.

“You know at New Years, I said I wanted to be a good friend?”

Rarity nodded.

“Well…” Sunset inwardly kicked herself. She felt like a five year-old. An insecure five year--old learning how to ride a bike without training wheels. “I’m just worried about how long I can go without messing something up. You know how I can get sometimes: snippy, abrasive, angry. What if I do take this jealousy thing—which I’m totally not by the way—too far and do something stupid? I don’t want to go back to being mean, but sometimes, it feels so easy.”

“Oh, sweetheart.” Rarity laid a hand over Sunset’s. “That’s why you have us. We’re not going to abandon you over one little mistake you might make. Yes, you can be quite sarcastic and a little rough around the edges, but so is Rainbow, and we tolerate her.” That got a chuckle out of Sunset. “I’ve seen your growth, Sunset. I’m not concerned in the slightest about you turning back to the proverbial dark side. None of us would let you.”

Geez, we did turn this into a sappy friendship lesson. Though, Sunset supposed it was these moments that kept her from, as Rarity said, ‘turning to the dark side.’ Of course, now she just felt stupid for feeling worried in the first place. You’re just all over the place, aren’t you? 

Outwardly, she nodded and smiled. “Thanks, Rarity. I don’t know why I get so worked up. I guess between having actual friends and dating Twilight and everything I did before and…” Sunset slapped a hand over her eyes. “Ugh, I sound so pathetic right now.”

“Darling, it’s okay to be worried. Your life has changed rather dramatically in only a few months. But, I’ll be here for you, every step of the way.”

Mr. Noteworthy walked over, more papers clutched tightly in his hand. “If you girls have time to yammer on for ten minutes, then you have time to do extra work.” He slapped the papers onto their desks. “Less talking, more learning.”

Sunset groaned at the new set of short answer questions. She looked over to Rarity, who gave an encouraging smile. At least she didn’t have to do this alone either.

*******

Noisy chaos: the cafeteria’s usual state. Complimented by reheated pizza, veggie burgers, and open milk cartons melding together to create a pungent smell that could only be produced in public high schools.

Sunset sat down at the regular table, Rainbow, Applejack, and Pinkie already seated. It wasn’t long before everyone else gathered, including Moondancer. Sunset was glad to see she wasn’t the only one perturbed by this, if Rainbow’s scowl meant anything.

“It’s a delight to meet you all!” Moondancer said sweetly. She sat on Twilight’s other side, leaning too close for Sunset’s liking. “Thank you so much for taking care of my little star while I was gone. I hope she wasn’t too much trouble.”

“Are you kidding?” Pinkie said, leaning out of her seat. “She’s one of our bestest friends now! And besides, she always follows the rules! I don’t think she’s broken a single one!” Pinkie tapped a finger against her chin and looked at the ceiling. “Well, except for the time we all snuck into detention to throw Sunset a party. But is that breaking any rules? I don’t think there’s a rule saying you get in trouble if you break into detention…”

Applejack picked up the conversation while Pinkie dove into her own ramblings. “What she means is, we love havin’ Twi around, and any friend of hers is a friend of ours.”

Moondancer held a hand over her heart. “You’re all very sweet. I simply must repay this favor somehow.”

Rarity waved a hand. “Please, darling, it really was no trouble. You don’t have to do anything.”

“Oh, but I insist! ‘Twould be most ungracious of me to not show my appreciation.”

Rainbow looked between Moondancer and Rarity, a look of revulsion on her face. “Oh, God, they’re multiplying.”

Moondancer snapped her fingers. “I know!” She traced a hand through the air. “You are all cordially invited to my home this Saturday for afternoon tea. Does that sound enjoyable to all?”

Rarity bobbed her head. “A tea day sounds lovely! I can’t wait!”

“Moondancer!” an incoming voice shouted.

“Oh, God, here comes another one!” Rainbow said, looking at Trixie as she ran over.

Moondancer stood up and held her arms out. “Trixie, sweetie!” She kissed Trixie on both cheeks and gave her a squeeze. “My dear, it’s been so long! How are you?”

“Trixie is doing fantastic! She sees you’re looking just as good as ever.”

Twilight tilted her head. “You two know each other?”

Moondancer put a hand over her mouth. “That’s right, I never got a chance to introduce you to most of my family. Yes, Trixie here is my cousin.”

Sunset’s eyes widened in realization. She had seen Moondancer before, the first day she had walked into the Lulamoons’ house and saw their vast collection of pictures on their living room wall. Moondancer had been there, a little girl being measured next to Trixie, and jumping with her on a trampoline.

The idea settled over her like a cold fog: Moondancer hadn’t stepped into her life.

She had stepped into Moondancer’s.