It had been a while since Pinkie had run through the sand barefoot. She decided right then and there that she was going to make it a super important part of her routine! Once a week, Pinkie would go running in the sand barefoot.
Well, as long as Skystar would come with her.
It wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without her. And it wouldn’t be nearly as special without her.
As the girls ran down the beach, a chill wind flowed off the waves. Moonlight and starlight reflected off of every ripple stretching out as far as the eye could see. It was a perfect night for laughing and playing on a quiet stretch of beach.
Skystar darted up a slope into the drier sand, Pinkie close on her heels, but not too close. She happened to like the view, after all! She giggled at the thought and wondered how this had all happened in less than a day.
It had been weird. After the “Jazzbooms” had finally taken an intermission, Skystar’s mom had come down—still followed by the grumpy-looking Stratus. She’s stared at Pinkie for a super long time, though Skystar had never let go of Pinkie’s hand. That had helped a lot.
Pinkie had done her best to look brave. She didn’t really know if she succeeded. She thought she had though.
Then, out of nowhere, Novo had ordered Stratus to drive Skystar and Pinkie to the beach where they’d first met. After that, Novo had walked away, humming “My Kind of Crazy.”
Stratus was still glowering down at them from the parking lot overlooking the beach. Pinkie didn’t mind, especially since Skystar didn’t seem to mind. So, she let the grump be a grump and focused on Skystar.
Neither saw the half-fallen sand castle until it was too late.
Skystar yelped as she tripped over the enormous lump and went crashing to the ground in a huge geyser of sand. Pinkie squealed in fear, but Skystar laughed and flopped back on the sand with a delirious little happy sigh.
“You look comfy,” Pinkie said she walked up.
“I am!” Skystar said. Moonlight reflected off her grin. “I am super comfy. I am super sandy. And I am super happy.”
“Yay!” Pinkie bounced up and down. “Sounds super perfect!”
“Almost!” Skystar sang and offered a hand to Pinkie. “You can help make it super perfect though!”
Now, Skystar had a little glint in her eye. Pinkie was pretty sure she knew what was going to happen. She grabbed her new friend’s hand anyway.
Sure enough, Skystar yanked Pinkie right off of her feet. Pinkie landed on top of Skystar and they both fell into huge giggling fits.
After a little bit, they made themselves comfortable, set their purses to the side, then stared up at the bright stars and the cheerful moon.
“You know, it’s funny… I thought this would be just another city. Another boring old town.” She let out a really long sigh. “I haven’t danced in a super long time.”
“Why not?” Pinkie asked. Her hand went for Skystar’s and found it easily. “Everyone should dance!”
Skystar hummed a little bit of a song. Pinkie didn’t recognize it at first, because it wasn’t a swing song. In fact, it sounded a little bit like a country song.
Then Pinkie smiled and squeezed Skystar’s fingers.
“My mom loves that song.” Skystar sounded a little wistful. “She’d sing it to me when I got sad we were leaving somewhere. It helped a little. Some parts, it still helps.”
Skystar lifted her head to look out over the water and giggled. “I do still feel small when I stand beside the ocean.”
“Well, the ocean is pretty big.”
Skystar gave her a sidelong glance, though she was still smiling. “You know what I mean.”
Pinkie blushed a bit. “Yeah, I do.”
Skystar’s head flopped down.
“So, whatcha think of our magic?” Pinkie asked with a smirk.
“I still can’t believe it.” Skystar turned over in the sand to study the top of Pinkie’s head. “You actually have pony ears.”
“Yup!” Pinkie wiggled her ears just a little bit. It was weird, like her brain just automatically knew how to use them. Probably magic. “We have ever since Princess Twilight arrived and helped save the school!”
“So, magic’s real, huh?”
Pinkie nodded. Skystar reached out and touched an ear gently. Pinkie giggled and shivered a little and Skystar yanked back her hand.
“Sorry! Did that hurt?”
“No, silly. It just tickles!”
Skystar’s hand gently traced the line of bright blue through Pinkie’s mane. “And the color?”
“That one’s special!” Pinkie replied. “That only happens when there’s lots of music involved… and some other stuff. Twilight could tell you all about it. And I mean all about it. She interviewed us all for like… weeks when she first came to the school.”
Skystar’s smile grew. “They looked like they were having a good night, too.”
“Sunny and Twi?” Pinkie nodded. “Yeah. They did! I knew they’d be cute together.”
“Still wish I hadn’t just blurted that out… like… blah.” Skystar looked a little awkward. Okay, a lot awkward. “But I know, you already said, it worked out okay.”
They lay there for a bit longer, neither saying anything. It didn’t bother Pinkie. She wasn’t usually a big fan of silence, but right then, it felt like the thing to do.
“So… if magic is real, are mermaids real?” Skystar asked.
“When we first met… you asked if I was a mermaid!”
“Oh yeah.” Pinkie snorted and looked over at her. “I don’t know if they’re real. That would be cool, though, right?”
“Yeah…” Skystar played with her hair. “I’ve kinda always wanted to be one.”
“Yeah! I think it would be super cool to be able to swim around underwater, see all those neat fish and plants—not to mention all the shells. Just to be there… up close and see it with my own two eyes! Just… something magical about the sea…”
“Welllll…” Pinkie said hesitantly, stretching the word like a piece of taffy. “So far, we’ve seen raging she-demons, teenage zombies, flying fish girls who also did a zombie-lite thing, more demon girls, a crazy plant girl, and… some giant movie star? That last one confuses me.”
“You’re not even joking are you?”
“It’s funny, but I totally believe you now.” Skystar giggled.
“Who knows?” Pinkie chirped. “Maybe we’ll find you some sort of special magic that lets you turn into a mermaid! I mean… crazier stuff has already happened!”
“We could always ask Sunny or Princess Twi!” Pinkie replied. “I’m sure they’d be happy to help.”
“I think I’d like that.” Skystar went back to staring at the stars, sounding far away. “I’d like that a lot.”
Pinkie pushed herself up and started gathering sand from the fallen sand-castle. Without ceremony, she started dumping it on Skystar’s legs.
“Uh… Pinkie?” Skystar giggled, watching her. “What are you doing?”
“Well, duh, turning you into a mermaid!”
Skystar’s smile was like the sun coming up. “You’re a genius.”
“You know, a lot of people say that! Though they usually sound more surprised.”
“I’m not surprised at all!”
As Pinkie went to work, Skystar lay there in the sand. Rarity would probably be a little mad that they’d gotten sand in their dresses, but it wasn’t like they were going swimming in them! And Pinkie knew a really good dry cleaner.
“So, heh…” Skystar fiddled with her hair. Sand fell from it, glittering faintly in the moonlight as waves crashed a little ways down the beach. “I think my mom likes you.”
“Really?” Pinkie stopped constructing the tail around Skystar’s legs for a moment to look up at her. “You think so?”
“Well, um… don’t you remember? She was there when we… you know… um…”
“Oh!” Pinkie giggled awkwardly. “Right. Heh.”
“Since she sent us out here with Stratus… yeah, I think that’s a good sign.” Her smile faded a little. “But for all I know, all this could be letting me have some fun before we leave tomorrow.”
“Don’t talk like that.” Pinkie frowned. “You can’t be sure. Can’t you just…”
Pinkie blushed and cut herself off as she finished the fin. She knew she was being silly.
“What?” Skystar asked, her voice super encouraging and gentle. “You can say it! Please?”
Pinkie hesitated. It sounded kinda needy. And not all stuff with friends could be controlled.
“Can’t you just be here? With me?” Pinkie asked in a teeny tiny voice. “Just for now?”
Skystar looked like she wanted to jump up and hug Pinkie, but she also didn’t want to ruin all of Pinkie’s hard work. So instead, she just said, “That sounds like a great idea!”
“Mmhm!” Skystar nodded. “I’m totally okay with just being here. Right now. With you. Especially with you.”
Pinkie continued her delicate work of transforming the stunning Skystar into a stunning… err… sky-mermaid? Skymaid? Mersky? Something like that. She was extra careful to make all the little shapes in the sand, even going down to get some wet sand—though she made sure there was enough dry sand on Skystar first—to make all the scales and other details on the fluke. It was kinda like working with really finicky sugar frosting! Kinda.
They talked about everything and nothing as Pinkie worked. They talked about Pinkie’s life back when she’d been a kid and the legend of her family finding Holder’s Boulder. They talked about Skystar’s life on the Aris Islands and the first time she’d gone kayaking in the ocean. Pinkie talked about some of the adventures she’d had. Skystar talked about some of the places she’d seen.
Pinkie hadn’t really been paying attention to the clock on her phone. It didn’t seem important. All that was important was making Skystar into the perfect mermaid.
She had just about finished on Skystar’s hips when she heard the sound of feet sliding through sand.
Pinkie looked up and hesitated.
Ambassador Novo walked toward them, barefoot. She’d changed into a simple-looking dress of pink with purple and blue bands running around the hem. She didn’t look like an ambassador right now. She looked like just a normal lady.
“You two seem to be having a good time,” Novo commented dryly.
“Hi Mom!” Skystar waved at her, though Novo looked upside down from her point of view.
“Hello, Skystar,” Novo said, her voice tender. “Mind if I join you?”
“Sure! Pull up some sand!”
Skystar giggled at her own joke. Pinkie joined in. Even Novo chuckled. Then, the big fancy ambassador plopped down on the other side of Skystar. Novo held her knees to her chest as she looked out over the ocean.
“You okay, Mom?” Skystar asked.
Pinkie watched Skystar’s mom. Her eyes seemed really distant, but she had a sad sort of smile. She had something on her mind. Something big. Something… something she wasn’t sure of! That was it! But that wasn’t all of—
That’s when Pinkie realized where she’d seen that expression before.
She’d seen it this morning.
“I’m fine, Seafilly.”
“Mom!” Skystar protested, her cheeks going red enough to be seen clear as day in the bright moonlight. “Don’t call me that!”
Pinkie blinked. “Seafilly?”
“On our first trip away from home, we ended up staying at a large ranch complex along a beach. Skystar begged me every single day to take her out riding on the beach.”
“Mooom…” Skystar whined.
“She had a favorite little horse too, a young mare by the name of… what was it, Skystar?”
“Griffy,” Skystar muttered, crossing her arms all pouty-like.
“Right, Griffy.” Novo chuckled. “Anyway, she was sad when we had to leave, so I started calling her Seafilly to cheer her up. It made her laugh at the time.”
Pinkie giggled so hard she almost fell over.
“And now it’s super embarrassing!” Skystar said. “Can we talk about anything else? Please?”
“Yes, actually,” Novo replied. “We can.”
Her voice had changed. Now, it was serious. Completely serious. Not like ‘Ambassador’ serious, but ‘Mother’ serious.
“Mom? What’s going on?” Skystar sounded worried.
Even Pinkie was worried.
Novo took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “I’ve been watching you all day, Skystar. Or having Stratus report on you. The whole time.”
Skystar didn’t seem upset. She looked confused. Pinkie couldn’t blame her.
“I’m sure you’ve wondered why our visits to cities in the last month have usually only been a few days long,” Novo said.
Pinkie hesitated, then put the final touches on Skystar’s tail. She quickly brought out her phone and snapped a few pictures. Novo didn’t seem to notice, but Skystar did give a big smile for each one.
“Yeah…” Skystar shrugged, shifting some sand around her. “I thought things were just busy.”
“They have been, but not that busy. I’ve been watching you. Watching how you interact with others. You’ve been so quiet in the last few months—” Novo’s voice suddenly broke. “I’ve… I’ve missed my baby.”
Skystar’s mouth dropped open. So did Pinkie’s.
“When we first started doing this, you loved seeing the world. You loved meeting new people. Until… you had to say goodbye too many times. Then you started to hide in your shell like a sea turtle, staying a little deeper every time.”
“Hush, let me finish,” Novo said, though she didn’t sound angry. In fact, she wiped a tear away. “Three months ago, I sent a message to the Governor’s Office. I gave them an ultimatum.”
Skystar stared at her mom. She looked really scared. “W-what was the ultimatum?”
Novo licked her lips and stared down at her daughter. “For them to arrange for a permanent embassy here.”
“A permanent… you mean you won’t be an Ambassador-at-Large anymore?” Skystar obviously couldn’t believe her ears. “You’ll be… an Ambassador-In-Residency?”
“Ambassador-in-Residence,” Novo corrected gently and then nodded. “Yes, Seafilly.”
“Does that mean…”
A smile slowly spread on Novo’s face. “No more moving.”
Skystar squealed and tried to haul herself up to tackle her mom—but Pinkie had done a really good job on Skystar’s tail and she was totally stuck.
Skystar looked down at her lower half. So did Novo. Pinkie did too. Then all three burst into laughter. Novo instead came down to her daughter and squeezed her tightly in a hug. Both of them started to cry and Pinkie found herself crying, too.
Skystar is going to finally get a home with real friends and everything! Pinkie thought.
Novo pulled back, now sitting cross-legged on the sand. “I’m sorry these last few years have been hard on you. I got so caught up in my duty to our country that I forgot my duty to be your mom.”
“It’s… it’s okay Mom…” Skystar said through sniffles and tears.
“No, it’s not. But I’m going to make it okay.”
Novo’s eyes turned to Pinkie. Pinkie swallowed hard.
“Since I started looking for a place to use as an embassy, I’ve been watching my daughter, Miss Pie. In six months, you are the first person to draw her out. You made yourself her friend instantly. You gave me back the daughter I loved. The happy, bubbly and cheerful girl that loved to dance on the beach when she was little. You were even willing to stand up and fight for her happiness back in that lab.”
“I… I just did what I always do!” Pinkie protested.
Novo waved the comment away. “When Skystar came back to the hotel after seeing you this morning, I could see the cracks in her mask. I could see the girl she’d been peeking out. You let her out. You fought to let her out and keep her out. And for that… I owe you my thanks… in a… a way I can’t really express.”
To Pinkie’s surprise, Novo stood and reached out a hand. Pinkie took it—a little scared—and let Novo pull Pinkie to her feet. Then, to Pinkie’s utter shock… Novo hugged her.
Novo was crying again. “Thank you for giving her back.”
Pinkie tried to comfort the way taller woman, but it was kinda hard. Even she didn’t know what to do right now.
Then Novo pulled away, wiped the tears from her eyes and glanced between Skystar and Pinkie.
“And because of that—and my own research into this city—I’ve decided Canterlot will be the home of the new Aris Islands Embassy. I don’t care if it apparently has magic pony girls. I don’t care if it’s a hundred miles away from half the other embassies in the country. This is where I found someone who brought my daughter back to me. And this is where we’ll stay.”
Then Pinkie dropped down and gave Skystar a huge hug. Skystar returned it with just as much force as Pinkie. Pinkie could feel both of their ribs protest, but they didn’t care.
Now, everyone was crying again. Seemed to be a lot of crying tonight. Silly, happy crying. The good kind. The best kind.
Then Skystar yanked her down to give her a kiss on the cheek. Pinkie went bright red and sputtered a little.
“Skystar, your mom is like… right there!” she hissed.
“I don’t even care. She can ground me for a month!”
“I could,” Novo commented. “But, as I think you two make a cute couple, I think I’ll let it slide. For now.”
Pinkie looked up and saw the warning in Novo’s eyes.
“I’ll be good!” Pinkie squeaked.
“Me too!” Skystar added
“You I trust,” Novo said, pointing at Pinkie. Then she pointed at Skystar. “You, I know better.”
“After all, you did just meet this morning,” Novo continued. “Still, you don’t get as far as I have without learning to read people. Skystar, honey?”
“Hold on to this one. She’s got a good heart. And the pony ears are pretty cute, too.”
Novo winked—she actually winked—at Pinkie and walked off, humming “My Kind of Crazy” again.
Then, it was just the two of them again. Pinkie slumped to the sand beside Skystar.
“I… I can’t believe that just happened,” Skystar whispered. “I… this is my new home?”
“Looks like it!” Pinkie said. She was a little bewildered herself! She hadn’t been expecting this.
“So… um…” Skystar flushed, stared at her sandy tail and fiddled with her blue hair. “I should probably tell you this… but I’ve never actually dated anyone before. Isn’t… this sorta fast?”
“Maybe?” Pinkie wiggled her toes in the sand. “My friends like to tell me I’m a little crazy. I think that’s great, because normal’s boring.”
“And what about me?” Skystar pulled out her purse and brought out Sheldon. “Am I crazy?”
“Yup!” Pinkie replied, pulling Shelly out of her purse. “But you know what?”
Skystar rolled her eyes. “You’re so silly, Pinkie.”
“I haven’t even said it yet!”
“You were going to.”
“Okay, yeah, maybe!” Pinkie pouted a little. “Does that mean I can’t?”
“Depends, are you going to help me break out of this sand prison?” Skystar stuck out her tongue at Pinkie. “Or did you actually use your magic to turn me into a mermaid?”
“That would be super cool,” Pinkie admitted. “But kinda awkward to explain to your mom.”
“Probably,” Skystar nodded. “So… um… help me up?”
“You gonna let me say it?” Pinkie put on her best puppy dog eyes and unleashed them on Skystar.
“Only after.” Skystar giggled. “Deal?”
“Deal!” Pinkie declared.
With that, Pinkie got to work breaking Skystar out of her mermaid tail. Pinkie thought it might be fun if they ever got enough magic to turn them both—because she was not about to let Skystar have that much fun on her own—into mermaids. But until then, she was totally happy with the cute freckled girl as she was right now.
About ten minutes later, Skystar did actually let Pinkie say the words. But only after Skystar had snuggled up against her.
Pinkie had wrapped her arms tight around Skystar. Shelly and Sheldon were nestled in former mermaid’s lap. As they looked out over the ocean together, Pinkie smiled to the world. Inside, she danced. Outside, she sighed happily. It was a new feeling, but definitely something she could get used to.
After all, it was the small things that usually turned to be a whole lot of fun.