Nothing Special

by hironakamura

Chapter 1: Two Little Ponies

A cool night breeze blows through a campsite of two tents. One tent is decorated with the theme of the sun, another is with the theme of the stars, both illuminated by a small campfire. The surrounding grass lands with few and far between, brightly colored, crystal outcroppings can be seen as far as the eye could see. Two little ponies rest by the campfire.

A light heliotrope unicorn pony with purple mane rests prone on the grass enjoying the warmth of the campfire before her. A Cutie Mark of four pointed glimmering stars with turquoise radiance is displayed on her flank. "So... This is what you normally do on your off days." She said looking at her companion with persian blue eyes. "I mean, I wouldn't know. After all, you don't respond to my letters, you don't show up to my dinner invites-"

"Look, I already said, I'm sorry okay?" Interrupted the other unicorn pony resting across the campfire. His brilliant gamboge yellow coat and wild vermilion mane reminds of warm sunshine. He wears a blue wizard's cloak adorned with many five pointed stars. The cloak covers the Cutie Mark on his flank. His dark cornflower blue eyes behind his round glasses looks back at his companion. "I meant to get back to you about it but I was just... busy."

"Doing what?" The mare asked, annoyed about her friend's vague reason. "Wizarding? Because if you use that excuse one more time, I swear..."

"Fine, I won't use that excuse." The stallion answered, rolling his eyes. "I was doing research on ancient unicorn settlements that were lost in time."

She frowns at her friend from across the campfire. "Okay... And that's more important than spending time with me because?"

"Its... not." He scratches the back of his head with a hoof feeling embarrassed. "Let me explain. If my research is reliable, and it has been in the past, we're not far from the ruins of an ancient abandoned unicorn settlement that predates the era of the Two Sisters."

The unicorn stallion's horn glows with golden light. His magic levitates a book that he takes out from his saddle bag and opens it at a specific page in front of his friend showing her details about an old unicorn city. "Its also reported to house a large library of old forgotten magic. Imagine all that ancient knowledge we could learn and uncover. I might even have enough resource material to complete a couple of spells I'm working on. Isn't this exciting?"

"I don't understand how your explanation justifies your research to be more important than quality time with me." She replied, unimpressed.

"B-but its about magic... And spells." He sighed, levitating the book back into his bag, looking away a little upset. "I thought of all ponies, you'd understand."

"Alright, I was just teasing you. Maybe it is a little exciting." The mare, now starting to share the stallion's enthusiasm, if only to humor him. "Who knows? I might even learn a new spell or two."

The stallion smiles weakly at his partner's response but his expression slowly fades to nervous curiosity. "So, um, how'd you even find out about this trip? N-not that I don't want you forcing your way- I-I mean, coming along or anyth-"

"Your boss told me." She interrupted her friend. "I wouldn't even be here if Princess Cadence didn't invite me in the first place."

"She's the one that invited you?" He pushed up his glasses that were now sliding down his face."I'm surprised the Princess of Love never told me anything until you showed up this morning."

"Why would she?" The mare said and points at her friend with an accusing hoof. "I bet if you knew I was coming along you'd ditch me for that Crystal Guard friend of yours... What's his name again?"

"N-no! Of course not." He quickly replied to dismiss any misunderstanding and potential bodily injury. "I would've invited you. I-I just thought you'd be too busy. You know, with you being the Princess of Friendship's student, reforming an entire brood of changelings and having their former queen vow vengeance on you, among other things."

"Busy? No." She said, feeling amused. "Twilight taught me that friendships are like plants. If you want them to grow, you gotta water them. Just cause I'm taking care of a few more plants than I used to, doesn't mean I should forget about my first weed." She smiles at him warmly. "And I gotta say, as a weed, you've grown on me a lot."

"I'm your first weed." He chuckled. The stallion stands up, moves closer to the mare and rests beside her. "Sorry if it feels like I've been ignoring you lately. I'm not." He looks at her with a warm smile. "I'm just working on some really complicated spells for... Some pony special. I-I promise, when they're done, we'll have an all day magic practice session. Together."

"You're lucky I even put up with you." She said, playfully. "After the session, will you have dinner with me this time?"

"Why not? And maybe breakfast." He answered, not thinking.

"Congrats on making it sound weird, you big nerd." She blushed. "Are you sure your special some pony won't mind?"

Noticing the other pony's blush, the stallion nervously looks at the campfire thinking to avoid further embarrassing her after realizing what he just said. "W-what I meant was... Um, speaking of magic practice... Learned any new spells lately?"

She thinks about her friend's comment. "New spells? No, nothing new. But I did recently discover something interesting about my magic." The mare begins to twiddle her hooves together. "I found out my magical abilities are tied to my emotions. The stronger I feel about something, the stronger my magic gets. I-isn't that strange? I don't know other unicorns like this with their magic."

He looks at her curiously. "Hm. That's fascinating but its not strange at all. There have been several documented cases in Equestrian history of prominent unicorns that had this exact same condition. They did really monumental feats with their magic during their time." He explained, interested in this new discovery about his friend.

"I bet they didn't use their magic to enslave an entire village of ponies and steal their Cutie Marks like I did." She joked grimly.

"Um, n-no... One of them was a tyrant who used his magic to dominate an entire empire so... You could say he was much... Worse?" He choose his words carefully but it was too late. He couldn't help but notice the change in his friend's mood from bright to gloomy as she now stares silently at the campfire, deep in thought.

The stallion gently places a hoof on his friend's shoulder. "I-I, uh. The topic shouldn't have went there. I know how you hate talking about your past."

Her friend's touch and his apology snaps her back to the present. "What? No its... Fine. At least with you, it is. I'm not proud of those horrible things I used to do with my magic but I don't want to forget about them either. Lets just say they're big mistakes I don't ever want to repeat in the future." She said, reassuring him that there aren't any hard feeling.

The two ponies smile at each other, enjoying the other's presence as the night grows deeper. A few moments of silence between them passes. They quietly stare at the campfire, listening to the crackling sounds of the flame, enjoying its scent and its comforting warmth.

The unicorn stallion was in deep thought, pondering what his friend said about her magic being connected to her emotions. Finally, without looking at his friend, the stallion decides to break the silence. "I hurt you when I left for magic school all those years ago, didn't I? I didn't mean-"

"I know what you're thinking." She interrupted him. "When you left, all those strong feelings I had for that dorky little colt I like got bitter and twisted up inside. Yes, it made my magic do some really questionable things but it wasn't your fault." She explained but the hint of sadness in her tone didn't help to lighten the other pony's troubled thoughts.

The unicorn mare remembers one of her lessons with her teacher, the Princess of Friendship. When trying to make up with a friend after an argument, the success depends on their mutual mood. If possible, do not relive the logic of the argument in any way as it would trigger negative feelings in the present. Never mind the reasons, what's important are the feelings.

"Hey. My childhood memories with you are some of my most cherished experiences." She said, trying to sound as cheery as she could. "Do you remember the first time you taught me how to use a basic levitation spell? I couldn't even lift a single toy block without your help."

The unicorn stallion's face lights up behind his glasses. "Um, y-yes. After I explained the basics of the spell, you could cast it even better compared to most full grown unicorns. I loved it when you used your magic to do my chores. Cleaning the house was never easier."

The mare smiles shyly. "That's because of how I felt at the time... About you... Remember when I said my feelings make my magic stronger? No pony else would help me with my magic but every time you helped me, you made me happy. That happiness made any spell I cast do way stronger things than normal."

Eyes wide, a look of realization appears on the stallions face. He blushes slightly upon hearing his friend's explanation. "Wow. I've never been any pony's magical inspiration before. I-I'm flattered."

Sensing that her friend's mood has brightened, the mare decided to follow it up by appealing to their mutual interest. "If you really wanna thank me, you'll practice casting your own magic."

"Oh, but I have been practicing. Watch as I impress m'lady with thy magical talents!" The unicorn stallion joked, accepting the challenge. He closes his eyes and concentrates. His horn begins to glow with golden light. Soon, two unicorn foals, a colt and a filly appear before them playing with each other across the campfire. It was a projection of a moment from their childhood. "You aren't the only one that remembers our childhood fondly."

The mare gasps, impressed at the illusion. "That's a light manipulation spell, isn't it? I've never seen it used so creatively before. The projections look so real!" She couldn't take her eyes away from the mirage before her.

"Its a very simple spell. Not taxing but has a lot of room for creativity. And its great at parties." Boasted the unicorn stallion. Even though he knows that his own magical abilities are no where near as close to his friend's, seeing her smiling and happy by his demonstration makes him feel better about himself.

The projection continues to show the two blank flank foals play happily. Eventually, the colt's horn glows with gold light as he uses his magic to pick and levitate a small purple flower. He faces the filly and places it on her pig tailed mane. His gesture makes the filly giggle happily. Shortly after that, the projections fade into a blob of gold magical light. "I messed up so much when I left for magic school." Whispered the stallion to himself. He slowly stands and pushes his glasses up. "Well, that was fun. But we still have half a day's journey on hoof ahead of us tomorrow. I'm turning in for the night."

She smiles back at her friend but couldn't help feel a little disappointed that he dispelled the projections so early. "Oh... I-I think I'll stay up a few more minutes. I wanna look at the stars. I couldn't see them back at the city."

"Sure. Don't stay up too late. Good night, Starlight." He greeted as he walks towards his tent.

"Good night, Sunburst." She greeted back, looking up at the sky.

For a second, Sunburst looks at Starlight discretely over his shoulder. He sees her attention is to the night sky, just like she said. He thinks to himself for a second then smiles, looks away and steps into his tent. Half way in, he is unaware that Starlight was also looking at him. She watches until the very tip of his tail disappears in the tent. She thinks to herself, caught in her own private thoughts for a moment before dismissing them, smiles and looks back at the night sky.