Three Knots

by Minds Eye

Three Knots

“S-so then he ate one of the cookies,” Twilight said, trying to fight down her snorts, “and-and Shining Armor says, ‘You’re not selling these to ponies, are you?’”  The three ponies around the table laughed along with her, but it was the polite sort of volume. Rainbow Dash caught her attention from across the table and playfully rolled her eyes.  Blasted snorts. They stepped on the punchline.

Cloud Dart, Rainbow’s mother, shook the short strands of her mane out of her eyes.  “I used to have a brother. Not by blood, but on the playground. Fast Track. He was a year older, and he looked out for me when I was growing up.”  She grinned. “He stuck his hoof in it all the time, too. He once asked my friend if she wanted to clear the sky by ‘Bucking on a cloud or two.’ She slapped a tooth out of his mouth.”

“What—” Rainbow Blaze blinked, and forced down his laughter.  “I never heard that before! Why didn’t you tell me anything about a brother?”

“It never came up.  He moved away before we met at the Flight Academy.”

He shook his head and shot a smirk at Twilight.  “You see what I had to put up with all those years?  Secrets!”

While Twilight sucked in a breath, Cloud Dart showed no reaction to her former husband’s crack.  Rainbow Dash smacked her father’s shoulder. “Maybe it’s just stallions in general who stick their hooves in it, not brothers.”  She winked at Twilight. “Glad to have you instead, babe.”

Twilight just sighed and shook her head.  It had been a surprisingly pleasant lunch before that little scare.  A shouting match was the last kind of scene they needed in front of a crowd.  The Hayburger was starting to fill up with colts and fillies trickling in from school, and she looked to the lengthening shadows outside the window with surprise.  She would have sworn she left her castle merely an hour ago.

She scooped up the last bite of her long-cold sandwich from the veritable ruins of paper trays and wrappers littering the table, and she pondered the scene as she chewed.  Cloud Dart had been a somewhat regular visitor to Ponyville over the past months, but she never laughed so much as she did today, even with Rainbow Blaze joining them. There was a light, an excitement in her eyes that Twilight hadn’t seen since Cloud welcomed her daughter to San Franciscolt for the first time.

For his part, Blaze still seemed quite content around Cloud Dart, so much that Twilight had a hard time believing this was the first time they had seen each other in a year.  He even stole a glance at his daughter when he thought no one was looking, and a wan smile spread on his face.

The inevitable parting had to come however, and Twilight tried to forestall it after she swallowed.  “Are you sure you can’t stay? Just until tomorrow? My parents are coming in, and you haven’t met them yet.”

Cloud Dart grimaced and shrank away from her.  “I’ll try. I swear I’ll try and make it back, but I made a promise up in Cloudsdale.”

“Same for me,” Blaze said.  “My ticket up to the track meet in Fillydelphia is already booked through.  The kids are counting on me.”

With that, the four of them stood to leave, and Twilight smoothed over the hairs in her tail.  “I wish Mom and Dad gave me more warning. It’s not like them to come spur of the moment.”

“Eh, they just can’t wait to get back in your castle,” Rainbow said, stretching her wings.  She led the party outside, and fixed her stare on said structure towering in the distance. “Spike won’t be done sprucing up the place yet, will he?”

Twilight laughed to herself.  “With Mom coming, no way. He likes impressing her.”  She judged the position of the sun again. “I’d say another half hour at least.”

“A half hour sounds good,” Cloud Dart said.  “Give the young boy a little more privacy.” She wrapped Twilight in a hug.  “It’s always a pleasure, Twilight. Take care.” Blaze followed her lead, then they said their goodbyes to Rainbow and were gone, leaving in their separate ways without a word to each other.

“I didn’t have the heart to ask if they were seeing anyone,” Twilight said.

“Good,” Rainbow snickered.  “That would not have been a fun talk.”

Twilight followed her away from the restaurant, and she had no need to ask where she was going.  After a big meal, there was only one place Rainbow would go: the sky. And the fields outside the Everfree Forest just happened to be her favorite launching pad.  “Would it have been that bad? They seem comfortable with each other again.”

“Well...”  Rainbow cocked her head.  “Yeah. This wasn’t so bad.”  She shrugged. “Still though, might be good not to blab about something like that in front of each other.”

Casting a look over her shoulder, Twilight couldn’t see either of them.  They still had time, she thought. Their marriage may have frayed without their daughter as a cornerstone of their lives, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t love another pony.  She rested her head on Rainbow’s shoulder for a heartbeat. “I’m just glad you’re feeling better about them.”

“That too.  I still wish they stayed—” She balked and took a deep breath.  “I wish they could have stayed together. But they looked happier today, didn’t they?  I have to live my life, not theirs.”

They made their way through town and into the outskirts of the forest, and Twilight took a long sniff of the fresh air.  “Oh, that’s nice. I miss the smell of a good tree in the morning sometimes.” She watched Rainbow lean to the side and cross a foreleg over her head, and her attention turned to the creek in front of them that she knew ran by Fluttershy’s cottage.  Fluttershy had borrowed one of Twilight’s old favorites last week, she recalled. “I think I’ll check in with her. Have a good fly.”

“Huh?  Oh, Fluttershy?  She’s not in today.”  Rainbow switched legs over her head, leaning over to stretch her barrel, face scrunched in though.  “Uh... I think she had something with Discord planned?”

“Oh.  Huh.” Twilight tapped a hoof.  “I guess I’ll help Spike then. Maybe I’ll remember to use the crystal varnish on the floor instead of the polish this time.”  She frowned. “Wait... or was it the other way around?”

“Nah, Mom had a good point,” Rainbow said, rolling her shoulders.  “Let him have some more alone time. He can handle things without you looking over his shoulder.”  She flashed a smile. “Or the other way around. Why don’t you take a lap around town with me? The castle’ll be there when you get back.”

“What?”  Twilight blinked.  “You mean, flying? With you?”

“Yeah.  Flying. You know, the flappy-wing thingy?”

Twilight rolled her eyes.  “Thank you for clarifying.”

“It’s what you love about me.”  Rainbow slipped a kiss on her cheek, grabbing Twilight’s hooves.  “Come on, join me. It’ll be fun. We haven’t flown together since the castle sprouted.”

It couldn’t have been that long, but Rainbow had a habit of asking how much she flew on her own, and the answer never seemed to satisfy her.  Going up for books every now and then when she had a perfectly good horn wasn’t enough to be considered flying, apparently. Nor did Rainbow ever understand the problem of reading while flying, if Twilight got high enough into the sky so she wouldn’t have to worry about all the walls.

But right now, Rainbow’s pull on her legs was insistent, and once she spread her wings, Twilight knew she had little choice but to follow suit.  They flew along the forest’s edge, Rainbow keeping a sharp eye out for any rogue clouds along the way. Nothing interrupted their flight except an occasional gust from somewhere among the branches, and Twilight stretched her feathers out for a steady glide, letting the sun at their back warm the sensitive nubs between.

She looked over the rolling green canopy of limbs and boughs.  The sight was, for lack of a better word in her mind, picturesque, with nary a gnarled branch or discolored leaf in sight—and certainly not a claw mark from some beast below.  She wondered if the treetops had always been this way and she merely never had the opportunity to see them from on high, with nothing at all to hint at the dangers or corruption she knew lurked beneath.  Or was this a recent change?

“Wow,” Rainbow interjected into her thoughts, “it has been awhile.  What’s the first rule of flying?”

“What do you—” Something brushed against her belly, and Twilight arched her back like a cat to jerk herself away from the leaves jutting into her underside.  “Er... where the head goes, the body follows.”

Rainbow grinned, nipped her wingtip, and tugged her back towards open field.  “I haven’t seen you get lost like that in the forest before. Already looking for your next royal conquest?”

“You’re joking, but that might just happen.  It’s possible that the Tree of Harmony’s magic could spread out to calm the forest now that it has all the Elements to power it.  It won’t happen overnight of course, if ever, since the Elements were removed even before Luna’s thousand year banishment. You can’t just erase that long a period of influence.  Magic at rest tends to stay at rest, after all. If you apply Conjecture’s Hypothesis of Thaumaturgical Latency, the millenium of chaos may never be truly gone at all. Every living thing has adapted to it in their evolution by now, and their behaviors might reintroduce the old ways into the newfound harmony all over again.”

She knew Rainbow Dash had never read Grandiose Conjecture, but that still didn’t wipe the patient little smile off Rainbow’s face while Twilight contrasted the two schools of thought.  The influence of the Tree versus the biology of its neighbors set the stage for one of the grandest experiments of environmental magic in recorded history, and Ponyville had a front row seat to observe it all.  Rainbow kept herself amused through the one-sided discussion with the occasional barrel roll around her, but Twilight appreciated the chance to let out her excitement.

“Oh, I hope it doesn’t take a thousand years,” Twilight said.  She flicked her eyes over the leaves again—keeping her neck and body in line as Rainbow demonstrated in her displays to stay on track.  “Can you imagine how many thesis projects Celestia and Luna’s old castle would be worth if we can make it perfectly safe? Never mind magical theory, we could see a new generation of archaeology right on our doorstep!  They couldn’t have been the first ponies to settle under the shade like that.”

Perhaps she would have to fly with Rainbow more often.  Maybe the next time she needed to bounce calculations of a passing comet’s velocity.  Rainbow might enjoy hearing how big a boom it would make if it struck Equestria.

Rainbow banked away from the forest’s edge, Twilight just a hair slower in following her turn, and they sailed over farmers at work in their fields.  “Big changes are coming, huh? And Twilight Sparkle at the center of it all! You can’t tell me you don’t want to lead some expeditions out there to see what’s going on.”

Twilight smiled at the thought, even as she let out an exaggerated sigh.  “I’d love to, but I’m too much at the center of things, I think. I got a letter from Granny Smith yesterday.  She wants tax exempt status for Sweet Apple Acres. She wants to, uh,” Twilight narrowed her eyes in focus for a moment.  “‘To preserve Ponyville’s natural and proper history in the face of any imminent outside expansion.’”

Rainbow laughed.  “Old girl’s still thinking like a shark, huh?  Are you gonna give it to her?”

“Maybe.  I don’t know.”  She shook her head.  “I can’t just give it to her like that.  I’d have to go through the ERS in Canterlot for her, but that’s a pretty big reach of royal authority.  I think Celestia has cancelled taxes before, but it was always to help a town recover after an emergency.”

“You can’t blame her for trying.  First a new princess, then a whole new castle pops out of the ground?  A lot of attention could be coming Ponyville’s way.” Rainbow turned, flapping her wings harder to fly on her back, and she held up her hooves in front of her eyes like a camera.  “Not every change is gonna look as good as you, babe.”

Twilight giggled.  “And no one dives into something new quite like you do.”  Even now, she could scarcely believe how easy it had been to convince Rainbow to move into the castle with her.  It always seemed such a hurdle in the past months, almost as if she would be asking Rainbow to lose a piece of herself, it was so hard to imagine her staying on the ground so long.  But lo and behold, once Twilight finally gathered the courage to broach the subject over lunch one day, Rainbow was there just a few minutes after she returned home with a stuffed bag and a question about which drawers were hers to use.

Not that Twilight objected to her sudden company.  The castle had given her and Spike far more space than they ever knew what to do with, more than enough to give the two of them privacy together once Rainbow settled in.  Nor had Rainbow gotten rid of her old cloud house just yet.

Maybe if Twilight got stronger in the air, the two of them could push it around Equestria as a vacation home someday.

“Hey, I’m not the only one who’d dive in on a good thing.  Don’t sell yourself short, Twi.”

“Who, me?”  Twilight sputtered and laughed, nearly at the same time as she tried to react to that.  “No, no, you’re the risk-taker here. Isn’t that practically a Wonderbolt’s job description?”

Rainbow poked her in the ribs.  “And how long have we been dating?  You don’t think I’ve rubbed off on you a little bit?”

Twilight shook her head with a sigh.  “Rainbow Dash, there is no way in Equestria you can prove that I’m anywhere close to you in that department.”

“Challenge accepted!”  And Rainbow was gone, climbing higher and higher to a lone cloud above.

“But I wasn’t—oh boy.”  Twilight muttered a curse under her breath, but fought to keep herself from laughing.  She knew Rainbow better than this by now, better than to speak so carelessly about what she couldn’t do.  Once there was an idea in her head, there was no getting it out. Indeed, Rainbow poked her head back over the side of the cloud and beckoned her up.  She fluttered her way there. “You know I didn’t mean anything by that, right?”

“No, no, you made yourself clear.  I, Rainbow Dash, now have to prove something to the genius Twilight Sparkle!”  She sat down and patted the cloud. “Come on, settle down and take a look.”

“Look at what?”

Rainbow swept a hoof in a wide arc.  “Ponyville.”

Twilight sighed and sat down.  The town lay at an odd angle under their cloud, her castle twisted away from her in the distance.  The market square looked more like a triangle with the Carousel Boutique jutting in front of a piece of it.  “Okay, it’s Ponyville. What am I looking for?”

“Nothing.  Just soak it in.”  Again, she waved a hoof.  “Soak it in. Really soak it in.”

“O-okay.”  She laughed to herself, nodding along.  “Soaking. Soaking.” The streets looked wider from up here for some reason.  She had walked down them so many times, but now that she looked, there was room enough for another building in most places, another home or shop to grow the community.  It would be a nightmare to zone them with the other structures long in place already, but she wondered how many architects in Canterlot or Manehattan had begged for more room when designing their buildings.

She kept looking, trying to spot and name as many ponies as she could milling about.  Her shoulders bunched up into a shrug every moment, until she deflated with a sigh. “Okay.  I’m soaked. What is this about?”

“I’m proving that you are like me.  Now, look over there.” Rainbow pointed back to the Everfree Forest.  “Think about everything you said a minute ago. Think about all those plans you’ve got in that big, beautiful brain of yours.”


“And now I’m going to ask you something.  Think about everything—Ponyville, me, the future, everything!  I’ll bet you anything you get the same answer I did.”

Twilight grinned, ready to get this little thought experiment over with already.  “Fire away.”

“Will you marry me?”

Her stomach lurched as if she were in freefall.  Twilight nearly fell over all the same, snapping her forelegs out to keep herself upright and balanced on the cloud.  Yet she couldn’t look away from Rainbow’s eyes, and they showed no hint of mockery at her clumsiness. Even though the question was asked as casually as discussing the weather.

And Twilight laughed.  She dropped her face to her hooves and laughed.

And Rainbow joined her.  She laughed a way Twilight had never heard from her before, not the squeals of a prank well executed, nor the nervous, raspy Heh-heh of a boast coming back around to bite her.  She just lay her head across Twilight’s back and laughed with her.

She wondered—so many times—she had wondered how this moment might come.  Flowers, no, never from Rainbow, but maybe if she had asked the question first.  Inviting her into the castle, though, that was her trial run. But here Rainbow was, jumping ahead of her again.  Ponyville? The future? There was nothing to think about. Twilight pushed herself up, and when Rainbow had pulled away to let her stand, she dove in, wrapping her hooves around her.

Rainbow stroked her back.  “See? We’re just like each other.”

Twilight buried her face in Rainbow’s neck as more laughter shuddered through her body.  Already, her head was swimming with minutiae. The location. Ponyville, Canterlot. Spring or summer.  A full royal ceremony? Maybe. She tried to banish the thoughts away. There would be time for that latter.  Right now, only one thing mattered. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Rainbow whispered.

They held each other for a long moment, Twilight doing the best she could to keep herself at bay.  They had to tell Spike first. They had to tell Spike first. But Rarity was right there, between them and the castle.  And why couldn’t Rainbow have done this two hours ago when her parents were still around? They deserved to know about a moment this special.

Special, that was her way out.  If she couldn’t stop herself from thinking, then at least she could think about this mare in her embrace.  She remembered the Tornado Day, Rainbow Dash holding her hoof at the celebration afterwards, and neither of them letting go.  Those nights after, her heart had been in her throat. Rainbow was a true friend, but as someone she could love? Did she ever know what she was getting into?

No, if she was being honest with herself.  But yes, when she thought back to their spot on the hill, Rainbow’s disgust at her parents’ failure.  Their surrender when they fell apart. Twilight promised that wouldn’t happen to them. Of course this was where that decision would lead them.  She eased herself away, cupped Rainbow’s face, and kissed her.

Rainbow just smiled, took her by the hoof, and led her back home.

It felt strange to fly over Ponyville with their hooves entwined.  Rainbow had to fly a hair below her to keep their wings from colliding.  But it was their hooves she pondered over when she knew it signified so much more than any pony looking up might think.  But they couldn’t know. No one knew, and Rainbow took her straight for the castle rather than Rarity’s, or even over to Sugarcube Corner.  So it would be Spike first, and Twilight wondered aloud, “I wonder how he’s going to take this?”

Rainbow threw her voice and said, “What took you so long?”  She snorted. “Can you believe he asked me what I’d do if you said no?  Like you’d say no to me!”

“He asked you...?”  Twilight pulled away, grinning.  “You told Spike you were going to propose before asking me?

“Well, yeah.  I needed his help with something.”

She quirked an eyebrow, but held off her question while they landed.  Dusting herself off, she tried to ask, but Rainbow made a beeline for the doors.  “Hey, hang on.” Twilight chased after her. “What did you need help with? You were with me all day!”

“Exactly.”  Rainbow Dash grabbed the handles to her castle and threw them open, springing back.

Twilight stumbled back with her.

Spike had done far more than spruce up the castle.  Dozens of bouquets hung from the ceiling, lilies and roses and orchids, all of them white.  Silver candelabras decorated all the windows, all of them lit for show and sparkling in the light of the setting sun, which cast itself over the all ponies inside smiling back at her.

Celestia caught her eye first with her brilliant coat, and how she towered over her parents.  Twilight Velvet held a hoofcloth to her eyes, and Night Light held her close, both of them beaming at her.  A question rose in Twilight’s throat, but she found no breath to voice it, for next to her parents sat Cloud Dart and Rainbow Blaze, all the way back from their trips so suddenly.  Yet none of the five paid any attention to each other. They all just waited for her.

As did Luna, on the other side of the entrance hall.  And Rarity, in a resplendent citrine-crusted, golden gown.  Applejack beamed beside her with Spike standing on her back in a dress shirt, and even Pinkie Pie—positively vibrating, bound tight in a rope that even strapped her muzzle shut.  The icy blue fire of her stare made Twilight feel very small indeed.

And still she could not breathe.

Cadance stood tall and proud at the head of the congregation, wings spread in all her regality, her eyes as keen as Pinkie’s—perhaps even more, alight with a triumphant joy that sent Twilight’s heart racing.  Fluttershy stood to one side of her in a modest dress, and Shining Armor to the other, dressed to the nines in formal uniform. Even from the doors, Twilight could see his eyes were red.

She managed half a breath.

Rainbow stepped ahead and turned, smiling.  “I really don’t like waiting.”

“Y-you... planned... this?”

She smiled at the ground, a tinge of color in her cheeks.  “Fluttershy helped, but yeah. You rub off on me too a little bit.  Besides, you’ve never been the type for big fancy to-dos anyway.” Rainbow met her eyes.  “This can just be an engagement party if you want, but all I want is you. We’ve got the world ahead of us, Twilight.  And we don’t have to wait for it.”

Rainbow Dash held out a hoof for her.  “Will you marry me? Here? Now?”

The mouths of several ponies in the background moved, but something strange happened to Twilight’s ears.  She felt them tremble with the sound of voices, but nothing came through the words already swirling within her.  Here. Now. How dare Rainbow Dash do this to her. This was their moment, and she was the last to know? And now all her friends and family waited for her to make this kind of decision.

She begged them for help, each and every one, but they all said something she could never possibly hear.  Encouragement, she knew, she never doubted they only wanted the best for her. But she didn’t need platitudes.

Finally, Cadance winked at her.  Your face was just precious, the twinkle in her eyes said.

Help! the gulp in Twilight’s throat cried.

Cadance stiffened, her eyes widening the slightest bit.  And then she tilted her head. With what? Her eyes flicked over to linger on Shining Armor.  I wasn’t any different.

Twilight let her jaw slump open an inch or so.  Maybe you weren’t different, but THIS is!

Cadance leaned her head forward, nearly until her muzzle was perpendicular with the floor, and she stared deadpan at her.  It was a gesture Twilight had not seen in years, reserved for whenever she quintuple checked her calculations before circling an answer on her homework.  You already know the answer. She placed a hoof over her heart. And you’re the only one that knows.

Twilight did the same, and her heart pounded under her touch.  That would never do. Calm, cool under pressure, that was what Cadance taught her.  She took a breath, exhaled while stretching her leg out again, and she placed her hoof in Rainbow’s waiting grasp.

“Yes.  I will.”  It felt like barely a breath was left in her, but the worry in Rainbow’s eyes vanished at the soft words.

Sound returned to her world with Spike blasting a whistle through his claws, and almost a dozen voices cheered like ten times their number.  Over the din was the sound of shredding rope, and Pinkie Pie bounced down the aisle with them, gushing like a waterfall, screaming incoherent excitement until an exasperated Applejack dragged her back to the side before she could start foaming at the mouth.

All Twilight could do was try to keep moving straight amid the whirlwind she had found herself in, not even trying to hold back her tears as they walked. Luna simply bowed as they passed, and Rarity apologized over and over for only having less than a day—less than a day—after Fluttershy finally clued her in to what was happening, and Twilight could only mumble through her smile that it was all perfect, just perfect.

She staggered into place under Cadance’s wing and met Fluttershy’s smile.  “You did this?”

Fluttershy blushed and turned away, and Rainbow stepped in front of her.  “I’m not as good as you are yet with everyone’s scheduling and stuff. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Shining Armor levitated a tissue to Twilight’s face and wiped her tears.  She grinned up at his face, spotting his bitten, quivering lip. “Just hold it together, okay?  You’re in the spotlight too.”

He answered with a nod and a gulp, and stepped back.

“Friends, family, loved ones,” Cadance began, “we have come here today to witness two lives become one, to witness two friends and lovers join together in the most happy and solemn bond imaginable.  Can anyone here object that these two swear this oath to each other?”

Not a voice in the room stirred.  Twilight chanced a glance to her parents in the lull.  Her mother rested her head under her father’s chin, and they both gestured for her to look back.

“Love is our strength,” Cadance said, “when we are at our weakest.  It is both succor and refuge. It is at once our greatest challenge and sacrifice.  Now, before these witnesses, I must ask you both.” She waved Spike forward, and he scurried up, clutching a long strip of cloth.

Twilight recognized Cloud Dart and Rainbow Blaze’s wedding band as soon as Spike unfurled his claws.  She gaped at them, but they both smiled and nodded.

“Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, do you submit to this binding?  Do you pledge yourself to each other without reservation, and accept each other in turn, accept the joys and challenges you will bring each other, and accept all the trials and triumphs that your life will lead to you?”

“Yes,” Twilight said, barely a whisper.  And stronger, “I do.”

Rainbow snorted.  “Of course.”

Cadance giggled.  “Then let it be so.  Remember that you started this path as friends.  Let those early lessons together guide you forevermore, and never forget the friends who stand by you.”

Shining Armor took the band of cloth and cast it around both of their necks.  Spike and Fluttershy both took an end and pulled them taught, pulling Twilight and Rainbow together before they started to fasten a knot.

For the first time, Twilight both heard and felt Rainbow’s rapid breathing.  It was a relief to know she wasn’t alone in her nerves. She brushed Rainbow’s cheek with her own, wondering if she remembered the first time Twilight had felt so nervous standing next to her.  But Rainbow had embraced her, and the secret she had let out. If only she could repay that gentle mercy right now in full.

The three finished tying the first knot, and Fluttershy threw her forelegs around them both.  Shining Armor nuzzled her and whispered congratulations in her ear. Spike tried to say something, but couldn’t find the words.  He rapped a fist on both of their chests, eyes watering, and walked back to Rarity’s side.

Cadance continued.  “Never forget the courage you find in each other, or the dangers you have faced.  And survived. Guard each other, guide each other, now and until the end of your days.”

Their fathers rose and came to tie the second knot.  Twilight and Night Light shared on smile on their way over, and she realized she had never told him Rainbow’s side of the lunch story, when she had leapt in front of Twilight when he had raised his voice.  It was a marvel when she thought about it, how such a moment of panic like that could bring a smile to her face now. She’s a good mare, he had said. If only he knew how seriously Rainbow had taken her promise.

When it was done, Rainbow Blaze clapped Twilight on the back and grinned.  “She’s your problem now.”

Night Light choked off a laugh, shaking his head.  “Not the point of this, friend.” He put a hoof on Rainbow Dash’s shoulder.  “Take care of her for me.”

Rainbow sombered as she met Night Light’s gave, and she nodded.  “Always.”

Cadance waited for them to sit down.  “Finally, since time immemorial, the family has been the cornerstone of our herd.  Nurture each other so you might survive the winters to come. Together, nurture the ponies in your lives.  This is not the end of your journey. The strength of your bond is a strength for all of us as well.”

Cloud Dart helped Twilight Velvet to her feet, and the pair shuffled over.  Velvet kissed Rainbow’s cheek and whispered something in her ear. Then she kissed her daughter and stammered, trying to say something.

Twilight smiled at her.  “I know.”

Velvet shed fresh tears, then turned her attention to the knot.

When Cloud Dart turned to help her, Twilight wondered what Rainbow thought of using her parents’ band after their own marriage fell apart.  She decided it didn’t matter. Their union had been devoted to the mare she loved, and now it was her turn to take over that duty. She had also made Rainbow a promise no one else knew about.  Whatever the future held for them, they weren’t going to give up on each other. They swore it on this very band.

Cloud Dart bit down on her end of cloth, fastened her hooves on the first two knots, and pulled the third as tight as she could.  “And there it is.” She studied what she had done, and wiped away a tear. “Welcome to the family, Twilight. Such as it is.”

Velvet wrapped a leg around her shoulders as they turned away.  “That goes for you too, dear.”

“Three knots,” Cadance said, draping her wings over them.  “The ancient pegasi believed that no wind, no matter how foul or how hard it blew, could undo such a bond.”  Her horn glowed and bathed the cloth with her aura. “I am honored to bless this union. May whatever Fates heed my power show you every mercy and kindness.”  Lowering her voice, she said, “For what it’s worth, I bless you both as well. I wish you all the happiness you could possibly want. And now is the time.”

Rainbow darted forward before Cadance’s wings even pulled away, and Twilight was ready for her.  Every word that had passed through their lips to each other—every flirtation, every hope, every promise—they sealed them with their kiss.  It was everything Twilight could have wanted, yet nothing she expected. Rainbow restrained herself admirably under the cheers and whistles from their friends, though when her hoof snaked around Twilight’s head to pull her deeper, she responded in kind.

Her wife.  She had just kissed her wife.  Twilight kept her eyes closed, and they rested their foreheads together, Twilight laughing all the while.  She leaned into one more gentle kiss before looking at her wife for the first time.

“I told you you weren’t getting away from me,” Rainbow said.

Pinkie Pie slammed into them before Twilight could respond.  “Twilight! Rainbow! You! Each other! MARRIED! Can’t handle!”  From there, she devolved into one unintelligible sound as she grabbed them and swung around in a bearhug.

Peals of laughter poured over them before someone pried Pinkie away.  Twilight found herself thankful for the band around their necks soon after every soul in the hall followed Pinkie’s lead and rushed in on them.  She flailed for Rainbow’s hoof in the storm of well-wishes and questions, trying her best to answer or deflect, Rainbow’s voice joining hers after giving her hoof a squeeze.

“It was a lovely ceremony, Cadance,” Celestia said.  Even so, she waited until she caught Twilight’s eye with a sly smile before turning her attention to her niece.  Rarity soon piped in about the candelabras, and Twilight was able to breathe again with the momentary distraction.

Venting a sigh through clenched teeth, Rainbow Dash pressed a hoof to her temple.  “And we’re only getting started. No second thoughts?”

“Not a one,” Twilight said.  “But when do we sign the marriage license?”

Rainbow raised an eyebrow.  “The what?”

“The marriage license.  We need one to—”

A pink ribboned scroll with a crystalline blue wax seal popped into existence in front of them, hovering in an aura of faint blue.  Cadance winked at her from the crowd.


“Twilight!” Pinkie called, grabbing hold of her leg.  “You gotta see the cake!” She yanked Twilight towards the kitchen.

Rainbow yelped, stumbling after them.  “Pinkie! The band!”

Twilight helped her recover.  “I’ve got you, Rainbow. Always.”