Spectacular Seven

by The Albinocorn


3. Cold Complications

“Spring break, spring break, spring break, spring break!” Pinkie chanted, banging her fists against the lunch table. “Oooooh, I’m so excited!”

Rarity lifted her tray up. “I’m glad, Pinkie, but could you please stop that? You’re making the jello shake right out of the bowl.”

Pinkie clapped her hands together and bounced in her seat instead.

“Good enough. Anyway, my parents said I can’t go unless there’s a responsible adult. And Moondancer’s butler doesn’t count.”

“Same,” Applejack said. “And there’s no way Big Mac is going up the mountain again. Not after what happened last time.” She got a faraway look in her eye, then shuddered.

“I could ask Shining,” Twilight said. “He has some vacation time saved up. And he’s a detective. That should be good enough for all our parents.”

“Oh yeah, I should probably tell the Lulamoons I’m going to the mountains with their cousin,” Sunset mused. Part of her begged to go along with them to Las Vegas instead, but that would mean leaving Twilight with Moondancer in the mountains. Potentially alone. I’d rather get mauled by a bear.

Just because it was the last day before break didn’t mean any of the teachers let the students slack, especially the seniors.

“I expect you’ll begin receiving your acceptance or rejection letters from your colleges of choice,” Ms. Vector said in Sunset and Twilight’s last period. She walked down the rows, handing them test packets. “Even if you do get accepted, they can still revoke it if your grades slip in the last few weeks.”

Sunset looked down at the tiny equations crammed onto the first page. These definitely weren’t in last night’s homework.

“Consider this a taste of what you can expect next year at your prestigious universities. You have one hour. Begin!”

Sunset tapped her pencil in the blank space under the first answer. The closer time moved to their graduation, the more teachers talked about what they would face after school, usually college or universities. Sunset leaned on her arm. She didn’t have that luxury; she didn’t even have the option of joining the army like some other students planned. She couldn’t go home, no matter how much she wanted to.

She was stuck.

In a few months, all of her friends, even Trixie, would move on to something bigger and better. What would Sunset do then? Keep living with the Lulamoons and work in the Emporium? Even if the Lulamoons did think of her as family, that felt awkward.

Stop thinking about it. That’s still months away. You have time. You’ll think of something. Maybe. But there were only so many moves she had left in this game. And even if she found an out, she was going to be separated from her friends and Twilight. Nothing could stop that. Could she let go when that time came? Say goodbye to the girls who had taught and given her so much?

Say goodbye to Twilight?

She snuck a glance to her left, watching Twilight as she pressed her face close to the paper, pencil racing to keep up with her mind. How could Sunset give up her favorite person in the world? The truth was, she couldn’t. Sunset loved Twilight too much.

Her hand jerked, leaving a black line through question four. Whoa, hey, you can’t use that word! You can be smitten, you can have a crush, you can be head-over-heels, and you can be in love. But you cannot, cannot love her! Especially now! You know what we do to people we love.

“Thirty minutes left!” Ms. Vector barked from her desk.

Sunset looked down at her paper. She had only solved two of the problems, and the packet was three pages, front and back. Daydream later, get to work!

Half an hour later, she turned in a nearly complete packet; only the last two questions went unanswered. Pretty good for a cram test. They spent the last forty-five minutes reviewing old material before Ms. Vector named the pages they had to complete over the break.

The bell sounded their freedom, and the students of CHS bolted for the front doors, cheering and raising their hands to the bright blue sky. Sunset stretched her arms up and let them rest behind her head. “So how should we spend our newfound freedom, Sparky? Join the girls at Sugarcube Corner? Another magic lesson?”

Twilight clasped her hands behind her back. “Actually, I was thinking we could just hang out. We haven’t gone on a date in a while. Plus, I have more than enough magic notes to go through for the time being.” She kept her head bent toward the ground.

Sunset thought to tell her she didn’t need to feel guilty about what had happened last night, but pushed past it. “It hasn’t been that long since we went on a date, has it?”

“Valentine's Day.”

Sunset clapped a hand over her eyes. “Wow. Horsefeathers.” She reached and took Twilight’s hand, giving it a squeeze. “I’d love to go on a date with you. What did you have in mind?”

“You pick. You always come up with good ideas.”

Her intentions were more than obvious now, but if it would make her feel better, Sunset would take the bait. “It’s a nice day. How about some ice cream on the terrace?” You’re really gonna have to try harder in the future.

Twilight squeezed Sunset’s hand back and leaned into her shoulder. “That sounds great.” They stayed like that, walking in sync all the way to the ice cream parlor four blocks down. Sunset got two scoops of strawberry, paid for by Twilight who got a bowl of mint chocolate chip. They ate on the terrace outside, watching other kids and couples mill about the plaza of the small shopping outlet.

Sunset bit into the top scoop, using her lips instead of her teeth. Cold and creamy silkiness slid down her tongue, leaving the strawberry flavor to dance on her taste buds and make her shudder in sweet delight.

“Is it berry good?” Twilight asked with goofy smile.

“It was until you said that, you dork.” Sunset went for another bite and hummed in contentment. When she lifted her face, she saw Twilight giggling behind her hand. “What?”

She reached for a napkin and stretched her arm across the table, wiping Sunset’s mouth. “You’ve got strawberry all over your mouth.”

Sunset licked her lips and leaned closer. “The better to kiss you with, my dear.” She wiggled her eyebrows.

Twilight snorted. “And you think I’m a dork.”

“Yes, and a very cute one at that.” Sunset began taking licks out of her ice cream instead of bites, savoring the flavor. “How’s yours?”

“I’m enjoying it e-mint-sly.” Twilight took another spoonful, trying to look as nonchalant as possible at Sunset’s half-lidded stare.

“If this ice cream wasn’t so good, I’d shove your face into it.”

“Now that’s just cold.”

“Twilight!”

She broke into a fit of laughter, clutching her sides before her hands shot to her head. “Ahhh! Brain freeze!”

It was Sunset’s turn to laugh as she watched Twilight curl in on herself and massage her temples. She scooted her chair over to provide assistance, rubbing the top of Twilight’s head. “And that’s a sign from the universe telling you to cool it with the puns.”

Twilight raised her head, giving Sunset a pseudo-annoyed look. “Was that on purpose?”

“You’ll never know.”

Once Twilight’s brain freeze subsided, they resumed enjoying their frozen treats, their silence broken by the occasional giggle or slurp, until Sunset started munching on the cone. She popped the last piece of it into her mouth when Twilight spoke again. “Sunset, when the portal opens again… are you going to go back to Equestria?”

Sunset slowed her crunching, enjoying the sweet flavor before facing the bitter question. “I… well… what brought this on?”

Twilight stirred around the last remains of green and brown. “I was just thinking. I know you didn’t apply to any colleges… you couldn’t really. I just wanted to know what your plans were for the future.”

Sunset crossed her arms and legs. “I don’t have a plan yet. But I’ll think of something. I always do. I could go back to Equestria. I mean…” She loosed some of the tension in her shoulders. “It’s home. I have an identity there. And I’d love to see my parents and Princess Celestia again.”

“Would you stay there?”

Twilight had kept her voice even, but after their time together, Sunset could pick up on the smaller wavers in her tone. Sunset looked away from her, focusing on the plaza fountain. “I don’t know. The time dilation between our worlds is weird. Time looks like it moves faster in Equestria. Sure, it’d be two years for you guys, but for me… it’d be a while. I’d be older when I came back. Unless the mirror decides to age me down again. It’s... complicated right now, Twilight. I don’t have an answer,” she said, rubbing the space between her eyes.

“It’s all right.” Twilight played with her fingers over the table. “I kinda sprung it on you out of nowhere. I was just curious. I… I want to spend as much time with you as I can.”

Sunset grinned. “It’s a good thing we’re going on vacation together, huh?”

“I can’t wait! There’s so many things we could do up in the mountains! I could get flora and fauna samples and…” She dropped her hands and stared intently at Sunset. “Wait, ‘again’?”

“What?”

“You said the mirror could age you down again. What do you mean?”

Sunset reflected on her words, then smacked a palm to her head and shifted in her seat. “Oh… that. Heh… funny story. Ummm, out of curiosity, how old do you think I am?”

“Seventeen? Eighteen?” Twilight answered, her voice getting higher.

“And how old do you think Shimmer is?”

“I don’t know, twenty-five maybe?” Twilight’s mouth hung open. “Wait… What?

Sunset let her arms drop as she sighed. “Yeah, I don’t get it either. But when I came through, the mirror took a few years off my life. Maybe the default setting is ‘teenager’ so you can fit in to CHS. But, I should be whatever Shimmer is. So… yeah.” She smiled in the face of Twilight’s paralyzed shock.

“That means our age difference is… at least eight years,” she said, dazed.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier, Twilight,” Sunset said earnestly. “I was afraid you’d, well, react like this.”

Twilight cracked a forced smile. “React like what? I’m fine! Totally fine! Why wouldn’t I be fine? Age is but a number! So what if my girlfriend’s a magical pony turned into a human and is actually eight years older than me? I’m not bothered, nope, not one bit!” Her eye twitched.

Sunset shook her head, feeling a headache come on that wasn’t from the ice cream. “Twilight, please tell me this isn’t going to affect us? I look like a teenager, hell, I act like one more often than not. But I know we’re both mature enough to not let this be an issue.”

Twilight took deep breaths, bringing her hand in and out from her chest. Her pupils returned to normal size and she exhaled one final time. “You’re right. You’re right, I’m sorry. I just got… a little overwhelmed. Every time I’m getting used to this ‘dating a magical girl from another dimension’ thing, there’s another twist thrown in.”

A heavy pall settled on them, weighing down their shoulders. Sunset looked down at the back of her hands and bit her lip. That’s why I waited so long to tell you. I didn’t want to unload so much at once. And I really hoped it wouldn’t matter. Twilight’s fingers drumming on the table made Sunset look up, but Twilight still had her head down.

So much for our nice date. Sunset lifted a hand, wanting to put it over Twilight’s, but held back. “Sparky, you’re right. I know it’s overwhelming at times, and I’m sorry. I guess it’s not just my personality you have to get used to, it’s… everything about me.” She dropped her hand.

Twilight snapped up. “No! That’s not… Sunset that’s not what I meant! You’re not hard to get used to… I mean, you were, and the whole situation is weird…” Twilight cupped her face, pushing her glasses into her hair. “This is all coming out wrong. I should have never brought any of this up.”

“No, you had a right to know, and it’s okay to be frustrated.”

“I don’t want to be frustrated because now you’re upset! And I know this age difference shouldn’t matter, but I can’t just ignore it! You’re technically twenty-five! And I just turned seventeen! But you’re in the body of a seventeen year-old! So it shouldn’t matter, but it just keeps piling up and I keep thinking how different we are and—” Twilight snapped her mouth shut and slid her glasses back down. “I’m going to stop talking before I say anything else I regret.”

Different. Sunset couldn’t deny Twilight’s point; they literally came from two different worlds. Still, it stung like a barb. Sunset rose slowly from her chair, deciding now would be a good time to cut her losses. “Look, it’s been a long day. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, and I’m sorry I come with all of this… you know, weird stuff. I’ll give you time to process all of this.”

“Sunset wait!”

Sunset stopped and kissed Twilight on the forehead. “I have to go pack for our vacation. I’ll see you later” She made a brisk walk for the exit, leaving Twilight halfway out of her seat. It wasn’t the best way to leave her girlfriend, but Sunset knew it was the least painful or awkward.

I don’t know who you’re trying to fool. We both knew this was never going to work, her conscience whispered into her ear. Like Twilight said, you’re too different from each other. She actually has a future, you don’t. It’ll all come crashing down sooner or later. Even now, the foundation is starting to crumble.

Sunset picked up her pace while clenching her fists so her nails dug into her palm. “Not even home and I’m already bugging me.” But her voice had a point. She and Twilight were on two different paths. What happened when they diverged too far? Twilight had potential, she could make something of herself. And Sunset would be damned if she held Twilight back.

*******

A few short texts were the only communication Sunset had with Twilight leading up to the day of the trip. On Sunday morning, Sunset slipped in her portion of the supplies for Pinkie’s surprise party into her suitcase, then lugged it downstairs, maneuvering her way past three other bags while Spot circled around her legs. She parked her bag by the front door, pausing to catch her breath and give her puppy a goodbye hug.

“A four day ski trip!” Artemis said, popping up behind her. “Not quite Las Vegas, but sure to be a good time!” He clapped Sunset on the back. “Go ‘shred those slopes’ as you kids say.”

Trixie facepalmed for Sunset. “Dad, no one says that.”

“Bah, I can’t keep up with your lingo.” He waved his hand, putting extra motion into his fingers. “Give Moondancer our love. When we all get back, I’m going to pay her a surprise visit. I’m ashamed to say I’ve been failing in my duties as an uncle.”

Sunset made a tiny nod of her head. The only thing she would give Moondancer was a cold shoulder. And a shove down a hill if she got lucky. “Thanks for lending me some snow clothes, Selena.”

Selena set down the duffle bag she was carrying. “You’re welcome, sweetie. Have a fun time up there. And remember, you’re getting back before us.” She gave Sunset a sharp look. “So don’t do anything irresponsible while we’re gone.”

“Yes, ma’am.” After hearing what Selena had done the night of the concert, the last thing Sunset wanted to do was make her mad. She picked up her suitcase and headed out the front door, giving everyone one more wave goodbye and Spot a peck on the head. Rarity waited in the driveway, popping open the trunk of her car as Sunset walked up.

“Good morning, Sunset!” She already had a baby-blue scarf wrapped around her neck.

“Rarity, it’s still, like, sixty degrees. Aren’t you hot with that on?” Sunset asked, packing her suitcase away.

“Never too early to accessorize.” Rarity closed the trunk and jumped into the driver’s seat. “Oh, I’m so excited! It’s no day spa, but a mountain resort with my favorite friends in the world? Heavenly!”

“And Moondancer.”

“Don’t sound so pessimistic, darling. I know you two don’t see eye-to-eye, but we’re on vacation. Enjoy yourself, have fun, go skiing with Twilight.”

Sunset kept her head toward the window as they rode up to the Upper Villa to meet the others. She had to share a mountain with Moondancer while her and Twilight were… awkward. Is it too late to go to Vegas? Forty-five minutes later, they were driving past the expensive and gaudy houses to the manor sitting at the top of the Upper Villa. Everyone was already there, including Shining and Cadence.

Rarity and Sunset got their luggage out and joined the group by the fountain. “Cadence, I’m surprised to see you here, though it is a delight,” Rarity said.

“I convinced my producers to give me a bit of a vacation. I told them it would be good practice for my intern.” Cadence looked out to the city like she was trying to find her radio station. “Vinyl can handle a few days without me. I hope.”

Sunset shuffled her way toward Twilight and Moondancer. Twilight waved. Sunset smiled and waved back. Twilight didn’t make eye-contact but said, “I’m glad you’re here.”

“As am I!” Moondancer said, cutting off any response Sunset might have had. “Everyone’s gathered! Now we’re just awaiting the arrival of our mode of transport.”

Something told Sunset to watch the skies. “Please tell me we’re not taking a private jet there.”

“Of course not,” Moondancer said with a laugh that only fueled Sunset’s desire to kick her. “Father’s using it for business. We’re taking the helicopter.”

I hate you. Sunset heard the beating of propellers before she saw the copter itself. It rose up from behind them, making a full lap around the manor before touching down at the front of the large driveway, wind whipping everywhere. Sunset had to shield her eyes to prevent any debris from blinding her. The propellers of the white, executive helicopter slowed but didn’t stop.

“Hop in, everyone,” Moondancer said, leading the way. “Porter will take all your bags, don’t worry. Find a seat; there’s room for all of you!”

Sunset climbed in, finding two rows of reclining seats along an aisle of plush red carpet. With an exasperated huff, she sat down in the second row and kept her head resolutely toward the window. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Twilight take the seat on the opposite aisle of her.

“All right,” Shining said, stepping onto the helicopter, “it should go without saying that I expect all of you to be on your best behavior. I get the pleasure of reporting back to all your parents. And the police station if necessary.”

“Stop trying to intimidate then,” Cadence said, coming up behind him. “I’m sure we’ll all have a nice wholesome time.” She looked over them with a mischievous glint in her eye. “But when you girls turn twenty-one, I’ll show you how to really party.”

Moondancer climbed in last, wearing a pilot’s cap. “Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking.”

Sunset slumped against her window. Can I go home yet?

“Thank you for accompanying me on this trip! I do hope you enjoy yourselves. Our helicopter ride should only be a little over an hour. Should you feel airsick… don’t throw up on the upholstery. Enjoy the ride!” She took the seat in front of Twilight, twisting around to talk to her.

Sunset heard the propellers quicken their rotation, and the ground start to sink beneath her window. Canterlot spread out before her, from the sprawling downtown metropolis to the quiet suburbs rich with tall, budding trees. The helicopter turned northwest, heading beyond the Upper Villa and into the mountain range beyond Canterlot.

Pinkie played music from her phone, and her, Rarity, and Rainbow danced in their seats. Twilight pulled out a book, occasionally indulging Moondancer in conversation. Applejack tilted her hat over her eyes and took a nap, while Fluttershy knitted, her body turned as far from the window as possible.

Sunset craned her neck around. “You okay, ‘Shy? You look a little pale.”

“Mmmhmm.” She kept her lips pressed together and stared intently at her project.

“It’s okay, Fluttershy, we’ll be there soon.”

“Okay,” she squeaked out between her lips.

Sunset looked back out the window, watching the mountainous landscape pass underneath her. In her three years in this world, not once had she been outside of Canterlot. Everything she knew about Earth had come from books and the internet. If anything, she’d get to see something new.

Clouds gathered and thickened, and white fluff started to swirl past the window. After several minutes of staring at swirling grey clouds, the copter started its descent onto the snowy mountain top. It was like Sunset had stepped two months back into winter.

They floated over a small town of brown buildings with rooftops covered in snow, giving them the appearance of gingerbread houses. Just a little further, they could see the ski lifts heading higher up the mountain. At its base, next to a small forest was the resort, a three story wooden lodge surrounded by large looking houses, even from the height they were at.

The helicopter landed outside the main lodge, and everyone made a mad dash to the door, the freezing temperatures leaving goosebumps on their exposed skin. Fluttershy made it in first, collapsing on the closest couch and taking a deep breath while Rainbow rubbed her back. Moondancer brushed the snowflakes out of her hair and strolled to the front desk. The young man working looked like he had spent too much time in the cold. His skin was a pale blue with his spiky, slicked back hair a much darker shade. He didn’t appear to be too much older than the girls.

He looked past Moondancer to the helicopter parked outside the lobby. “I’m guessing you’re Moondancer checking in?”

“Indeed I am.” She flipped out a debit card and slid it across the counter. “Your ski resort looks very nice.”

“Yeah, it’s rad, right? It’s actually been in my family for five generations,” he said. Sunset thought he sounded more like a surfer than a skier. “So if you need to know anything, I got you covered.” He flashed his teeth and winked.

Moondancer didn’t bat an eye. She just smiled politely and opened her hand to take her card back. While she paid, Sunset wandered aimlessly around the lobby, looking at the fake plants in expensive looking vases and wooden carvings of bears, deers, and wolves. She stopped and looked at a carving of a white wolf near the window. It was on the prowl, body low to the ground, staring off to the left. Even as a carving, its deep blue eyes pierced into Sunset, like it was reading her soul. She shivered and rubbed her arms, despite feeling the full blast of the heater.

“Come along, everyone!” Moondancer called. “Soarin here will show us to our living quarters.”

Everyone quickly grabbed a jacket from their luggage and followed Soarin out the back door. Sunset looked back at the wolf, but couldn’t see its soul-reading eyes from her new angle. The houses were arranged in a semi-circle behind the lobby, and they were led to the one at the center.

“All the houses come with fully functional kitchens, and the store is only a twenty minute walk from here,” Soarin said as they walked. “The main building has a sauna and a spa tub.”

Rarity clapped her hands and giggled, her teeth chattering the entire time.

“Help desk closes at midnight, but we do have an emergency line you can call. Slopes close at nine. There are hiking trails through the forest and one that goes to the summit. Technically, they’re open all day, but we strongly discourage you from walking them at night. That’s when the animals come out.”

Their lodge was made from dark wood and had large circular windows in the front. It stood two stories high, but looked wide enough to fits Sunset’s house and Twilight’s right next to each other. The group walked up the log steps onto the wrap around porch and through the double doors. A spacious living room greeted them, light pouring in from the windows. A sunken fire pit took up the center with a couch curling around it. The living room opened up to a large kitchen with a nook separating to two rooms. Two hallways split off leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms, while a staircase took up part of the back wall.

“Hope you all enjoy it,” Soarin said. He winked again at the girls before leaving everyone to their house. “Let me know if you need anything.”

“Ain’t this the bees knees?” Applejack asked, crashing on the couch. “Won’t lie, Ah could get used to a place like this.”

“This place is awesome!” Rainbow ran upstairs and shouted from the balcony, “I’m mad we’re only here for half a week!”

“Speaking of our stay here,” Moondancer said, clapping her hands, “let us discuss room assignments. There are five rooms and ten of us. How fortunate! Naturally, the master bedroom will go to our esteemed chaperones who made this group trip possible.” She beamed at Cadence and Shining.

Sunset rolled her eyes. Kiss up.

“After that, well, I would assume Sunset and Twilight would share a room—”

“Hold on,” Shining said. “I trust you two, but not that much. You’re not sharing a room together.”

Sunset saw the advantageous gleam in Moondancer’s eye. “Oh! Well in that case, I’ll bunk with Twily!” She took Twilight by the arm. “Let’s see the bedrooms upstairs! I want a room with a view!”

“Oh, okay!” Twilight said, caught off-guard.

Both Sunset and Cadence glared daggers at Shining. He held his hands up. “What?”

Rarity gently guided Sunset down one of the halls. “Don’t worry, darling, you and I can share a room. I always appreciate your company.” Their room sat at the end of the hallway, just past the bathroom. Sunset walked across the blue carpet and picked the bed further from the window. Rarity shut the door behind them and turned on the soft light. “Moondancer aside, is everything all right between you and Twilight?”

How does she always do that? Sunset climbed onto the bed and stared up at the wooden ceiling. “I don’t know. We kinda got into a… well, it wasn’t really an argument. Just a sort of… complication.”

Rarity opened the curtains, giving them a wonderful view of a thick cluster of trees. It at least added more light to their dim room. “What sort of ‘complication?’”

“Well… first we got onto the topic of whether or not I was going to go home and stay there or not, and that was left open-ended because even if I do, I still have to wait until the portal opens. Then I mentioned the time dilations between worlds and how I might get aged down again—”

Again?

Sunset grabbed her pillow and pressed it over her face. “When I first came through, the portal took a few years off my life I guess so I could fit into high school. I should be Shimmer’s age. When I told Twilight, she sort of got overwhelmed by all of this magic stuff again.”

Rarity sat on the side of Sunset’s bed and pat her knee. “Well, she’s been through a lot in the past few months. This is all still new to her.”

“I know. But everything that pops up, she thinks that makes us more different from each other.” Sunset sat up and threw her pillow to the side. “I mean, how much do we even have in common? We’re both smart and we like chess… that’s it! She’s sweet and caring, comes from a nice family, and actually has a future to look forward to! I… have none of those things!”

Rarity’s patting turned into a swat. “Sunset, you know I hate it when you degrade yourself like that.”

Sunset crossed her arms. “I won’t apologize for telling the truth.”

“Well here’s a truth for you: Twilight picked you for a reason.”

“Yeah, still trying to wrap my head around that. Ow!” Sunset pulled her knee out of Rarity’s smacking range.

“Twilight picked you in spite of your differences. And I would say both you having an incredible intellect is enough of a common ground. Furthermore, both of you are sweet and caring people, you just seem to want to think otherwise about yourself.”

Sunset pulled her legs up and rested her chin on her knees. “I just don’t know what to do, Rarity. I wish I didn’t have all this magic stuff affecting her and me, or any of you girls for that matter.

Rarity swished her hand. “So we’ve had two encounters with magical beings from another dimension and we pony up when we play music. It’s not like it’s interfered with our lives. Just made them more exciting.” She swallowed. “And perhaps nerve-wracking and soul-crushingly dangerous for a few weeks. But look, we’re stronger for it!”

Sunset groaned and pressed her face down.

“The point is, we can handle a little weirdness, Sunset. So you’re a few years older than the rest of us; age is but a number! You still look like a teenager, and you technically have the body of one, so anything you and Twilight do is still legal.”

“Rarity!” Sunset looked up, her face turning a bright shade of red.

“What? That’s clearly what Twilight’s worried about,” she said casually.

“No it isn’t! Twilight has more class than that!”

Rarity gave Sunset a patronizing smile. “Of course she has enough not to say anything right now. But she’s clearly thinking about later on down the road.”

“Can we please not talk about the future right now? I don’t even know if we’ll be together long enough for that to happen. She’s going off to some fancy college and I’m going to be stuck here.”

“Long distance relationships are a thing, dear.” She looked Sunset in the eyes. “If you really love her, you’ll find a way to make it work, differences aside. You do love her right?”

Sunset bit her lip and looked at the trees.

“Sunset?”

“I mean, love is thrown around so carelessly by teenagers. I definitely have strong feelings for Twilight that go past friendship, but do I call it love? I want it to mean something when and if I actually say it. I want her to know this isn’t some passing phase.”

Rarity stood and stretched, letting out her famous dreamy sigh. “Oh, Sunset. So mature… and so naive. It’s that kind of response that tells me you do love her. But, I’ll let you move at your own pace. For now, you should just go spend time with her. If you’re worried about being too different from each other, there are plenty of activities around here you can bond over.” She opened the door and stepped into the hallway.

“But if you do get around to using the ‘L’ word…” She narrowed her eyes. “You better tell me.”

She shut the door, leaving Sunset alone in their room, clutching a pillow against her stomach.