“Muffins, for the last time, these ponies don’t live here anymore!”
Sunburst was currently outside arguing with Muffins the Mail Mare. For the fifth time in a row this week, she had delivered mail to the previous owners of the house that Starlight and Sunburst had bought.
“But this is the address written on the envelopes,” the derp-eyed pegasus replied, presenting one of them as an example.
Sunburst sighed in defeat, wondering how Muffins was able to keep her job after almost 3 decades. “Alright… I’ll send these to their new address myself.”
“But that’s my job.” Muffins said in response.
Sunburst couldn’t help but face-hoof. “Then I will just relabel these so that you can make sure they go to the correct address.”
“Ooh. Okay then!” Muffins said happily as she continued flew off to continue her work.
Sunburst sighed in frustration. He was starting to miss the Mail Pony back in the Crystal Empire. As he walked back into their new home, closing the front door behind him, there was another knock at the door. Sunburst turned around and opened the door back up.
To his surprise, the one at the door was a familiar bright blue griffon, wearing a brown mail hat identical to Muffins’ hat and a saddlebag on his back.
“Gallus?!” Sunburst said in surprise.
“Hey, Sunburst,” Gallus replied. “Long time no see!”
“You’re right about that! What are you doing here?”
“Well, Muffins left this at the post office.” Gallus gave Sunburst a pink envelope with their address, but the addressees written on the envelope were Starlight, Sunburst, and Hope.
“Oh, well, thank you, Gallus,” Sunburst said.
“No problem,” Gallus replied. “I better get going. See you later!”
Sunburst waved goodbye before going back inside. At the dining room table, Starlight was helping Hope with her homework. At this time during the day, she would probably be closing up her office at Twilight’s School of Friendship, but that school wouldn’t be starting there for another week; even then, Twilight had insisted on Starlight taking her time to get settled in and helping Hope socialize more.
Sunburst came over to his wife and daughter, levitating the pink envelope that Gallus had given him. Opening up the envelope with one of his antique letter openers, and pulled out a small card with the words “You’re Invited” written on it.
“Who do you think it’s from?” Starlight asked.
“I dunno,” Sunburst answered as his horn creaked the card open. “The letter didn’t have a return address.”
The answer to their question, however, would soon be answered.
A small burst of colorful confetti and streamers exploded out of the card, showering. Sunburst’s face and mane with party trappings. A noisemaker landed conveniently on Sunburst’s lips, and a reflexive blow from his mouth caused the instrument to sound out from his flat, unamused face.
Hope burst out with laughter. Starlight too chuckled, although not as much as Hope was. Still, she could tell from the smile that formed on Sunburst’s face seconds later that he didn’t mind as long as his daughter was happy. Starlight then proceeded to brush the confetti off of her husband, while he read the card.
“‘You are invited to a very special, super-duper, spectacular party over at Sugar Cube Corner,’” Sunburst read. “‘There will be delicious baked goodies, tons of super-special games, and tons of friends who haven’t seen you in years! Please come over to Sugar Cube Corner at 6:30 this evening.’”
At the bottom of the note, there were two tiny markings printed: a grilled cheese sandwich stretching out like an accordion, and three balloons.
Starlight and Sunburst looked at each other and smirked.
It was 6:30 pm by the time Starlight, Sunburst, and Hope arrived at Sugar Cube Corner. Of course, they had not left until after Hope had finished her homework. Then again, it was a Friday, so she could have left it and finished it on Sunday.
Nevertheless, Starlight went up and knocked on the front door.
Starlight and Sunburst looked at each other in confusion, while Hope tilted her head with a raised eyebrow. Starlight then shrugged and knocked on the door again.
This time there was a faint voice from behind the door that sang, "Come on in!"
Starlight looked back at Hope and Sunburst, the latter of whom gave a shrug and said, "I guess we just ‘go on in.’"
Starlight gave a shrug too and then used her magic to open the door. She held it open for Hope to enter first, and then followed her in with Sunburst. Upon entering the building, the unicorn family came into a very dark and quiet room.
As soon as Starlight closed the door, however, all the lights came on.
Starlight, Sunburst, and Hope were greeted by what looked like a surprise party. There were balloons, confetti, presents, cupcakes, and party games. The place was packed with ponies! The Mane 6 and their spouses, Sunset Shimmer and her husband, the CMC and their spouses, Sandbar, Ocellus, and Gallus, and even Thorax, Trixie, Cobalt, and Flurry Heart were there. But the five ponies that stood out the most were Hope’s friends, Blue Angel, Silver Lining, Astral Flame, Typhoon Blast, and Lakefront.
“P-Pinkie Pie!” Starlight exclaimed. “Wha… What is all this?!”
“Weeeeeeell,” Pinkie Pie said, just starting her answer, “after Twilight came home from the Crystal Empire, she told us that you were moving back to Ponyville. So we just had to throw you a ‘Welcome-to-Ponyville’ Party, or in your case, Starlight, ‘Welcome-Back-to-Ponyville’ Party.” Pinkie happily hopped around the family of three unicorns, the excess energy permeating from her hooves. “But after she told us about how Hope didn’t have any friends her age, I felt so sad, because no filly should ever have to celebrate their birthday without friends! I mean, okay, Thorax, Trixie, and Flurry Heart were invited, but they’re more like family than friends,” the party pony said, motioning over towards the honorary relatives. “Sooooo, after seeing Hope make new friends on Monday, Cheesy and I decided to not only make this a ‘Welcome-Back-to-Ponyville’ party for you and Sunburst, but also make this a belated, new-improved 7th Birthday Party for Hope!” Pinkie then presented a white banner that had ‘Happy Birthday Hope!’ written in purple, and the word ‘belated’ below the first two words.
“And… this couldn’t just simply wait until next year?” Starlight asked.
“Absolutely not!” Pinkie snapped. “Not only is it because we haven’t seen you in 10 years, but also because your own daughter deserves a better birthday party!”
Starlight looked over Pinkie’s shoulder to see Twilight smirking. Then the Princess of Friendship--who was now wearing golden and magenta regalia, which included sandals, a collar, and a crown--nodded, telling her former student to just go with it.
Everyone at the party was having a wonderful time, especially Hope. As much as she had enjoyed her birthday party in the Crystal Empire, she had to admit that this party was, as Rainbow Dash would probably say, “two-thousand and twenty percent cooler.” And what made it so were her new friends. Hope Glimmer laughed and played with them, shared cupcakes with them, and even got to meet their parents.
In the case of Blue and Silver, Hope got to meet their parents, and also their big brother, Thunder Blaze.
He was a 15-year-old pegasus with cyan fur and magenta eyes matching those of his mother’s. His mane and tail were as navy as his father’s, and he had a small red streak that ran vertically down the front of his short mane. His cutie mark was a winged basketball with a red, yellow, and blue curved lightning bolt for a tail.
“Hope Glimmer, we want to also introduce you to our BBBFF, Thunder Blaze,” Blue Angel said as she hugged Blaze, who wrapped a foreleg around her.
Hope only blinked in response. “Uh… what?”
“Big Brother, Best Friend Forever,” Thunder Blaze chuckled. “Princess Twilight once compared us to her and Prince Shining Armor. When she told us that what they called each other, we started ourselves that and it just… stuck.”
Next to the trio of pegasi was an orange pony-shaped creature with several interesting features. Instead of fur, the creature was covered in reptilian scales. His green eyes had slitted pupils, resembling those of a reptile. Also, he had claws with three digits on each. He also had a light green scales stretching all the way down from his chest to the tip of his orange dragon tail. Finally, he had dragon-like wings.
Of course, the pony-like creature did have pony-like features as well. He did have a cutie mark, an apple that's red on one side, light green in the middle, and lavender with green scales protruding from it on the other side. Finally, the pony-dragon hybrid had a yellow mane with purple highlights and stood up like a dragon’s scales.
“Howdy, there, Hope!” the orange-scaled creature greeted. “Ah’m Apple Scales, and welcome to Ponyville!”
“Uh… howdy?” Hope responded, surprised by the dragonic features of the teenage hybrid. “So… are you… part dragon?”
“Eeyup!” Apple Scales answered, and then he started talking to the little filly about himself and his family.
Like Thunder Blaze, Apple Scales was fifteen years old. He was the son of Spike and Applejack. Over the last twenty-five years, Spike had eventually gotten over his crush on Rarity. Granted, it hadn’t been easy, but he had been willing to let go. Over time, Spike had spent more time with Applejack, who not only had been grateful for his help at Sweet Apple Acres but had eventually developed feelings for Spike. The dragon and the apple farmer had been in denial about their feelings for quite some time. It hadn’t been until Rarity had first gotten married when he had realized that his heart had belonged to someone else, because it had been Applejack whom Spike had asked to dance with him. Of course, Spike and AJ had to wait until Spike was 18 for the two of them to have gotten married.
As for Apple Scales, he and Thunder Blaze had always been the best of friends; they have practically been brothers their whole lives. And, like mother like son, they’ve always had a friendly rivalry, competing in sports, games, dares, achievements, almost anything they could compete at. However, the two teen stallions have managed to keep their rivalry a friendly rivalry, never going too far, never letting their rivalry get in the way of their friendship and practical brotherhood.
While listening to Apple Scales and Thunder Blaze, Hope Glimmer could barely contain herself at the mention of Spike. She had always heard of Spike, “the Brave and Glorious” while having lived in the Crystal Empire and had seen the famed dragon whenever he had visited; but Hope had never met Spike face to face or even talk to him.
Her chance, however, was just around the corner, as Spike and Applejack came over to the group after catching up with Thorax. Spike was now taller than the average pony, although still not as tall as Princess Celestia. The lavender dragon stood over the little filly, whose eyes widened in disbelief. It was really him!
Spike chuckled. “I don’t think we’ve properly met yet. I’m--”
“SPIKE THE BRAVE AND GLORIOUS!!!” Hope exploded in excitement. “OH MY GOSH, IT REALLY IS YOU!!! I’VE HEARD SO MUCH ABOUT YOU, BUT I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY HERE!!!” Hope hopped circles around Spike, making the whole group laugh, including Rainbow Dash and Soarin.
“So, she’s never heard of the Wonderbolts, but she has heard of Spike before?” Rainbow Dash asked her husband with a raised eyebrow.
“Well, to be fair, she lived in the Crystal Empire,” Soarin answered.
“Yeah,” Rainbow Dash shrugged in acceptance. “We’re gonna need to bring the Wonderbolts over to the Crystal Empire.”
It would take about five minutes for Hope Glimmer to calm down from her fangirling over Spike. In the meantime, Typhoon Blast was over with his parents, Sky Stinger and Vapor Trail. The latter was holding a teal-colored foal with light green mane and tail and darker green eyes. The little baby was the latest addition to Ty’s family, Aerial. Being Wonderbolts, Sky Stinger and Vapor Trail would be out most of the time, so guess who had to help take care of Aerial while they were gone. Ty was still not used to having a little sister, and all the whining, diaper changes, and messes that involved baby food did not help in the slightest. That’s not to say that Ty disliked his little sister in any way. While he did consider her a big nuisance, he still, at the very least, liked her. That was a start.
Currently, Ty was listening in on Vapor talking with Apple Bloom and her husband, Tender Taps, the former having a big round belly. Ty pitied the mare for what was to come, but then again, he did hope that she and Tender Taps wouldn’t have as much trouble as he does.
“Oh, she is just so precious!” Apple Bloom said while playing with Aerial, who giggled in Vapor Trail’s foreleg. “How old is that little foal, again?”
“She’s only about five months,” Vapor answered. “So when is your baby due?”
“Within the next few months,” Tender Taps said, wrapping a foreleg around Apple Bloom.
“Well, good luck, ‘cause you’re gonna need it,” Ty muttered.
“Typhoon Blast.” Sky Stinger scolded firmly.
“Nah, it’s quite alright,” Apple Bloom said. “We’re definitely gonna need it, because Ah’m still pretty nervous about the whole being-a-mother thing.”
“I’m sure you’ll do just fine,” Vapor assured her. “Plus, you’ve got a lot more help than we do.”
Apple Bloom and Tender Taps laughed, as what Vapor said was true. The two earth ponies still lived in Sweet Apple Acres with Applejack, Spike, and Apple Scales, but also with Big Mac, who had married Sugar Belle and now had four kids; their oldest daughter, Honey Crisp, was currently attending Celestia's School of Gifted Unicorns. Apple Tart and Apple Cake were the same age as Hope, were now going to the same school as her, and have been having quite a sibling rivalry lately. Last but not least was the newest, and most recent addition to the Apple Family, Little Mac. The little colt was already about three months old and was currently Big Mac's pride and joy.
Unfortunately, Big Mac and Sugar Belle had been unable to make it to the party tonight, as they were awfully busy on the farm. Nevertheless, they had asked Applejack to send Starlight their regards.
Meanwhile, Twilight was talking with Sunset Shimmer when Starlight and Sunburst walked over to them.
"Oh, Starlight! Long time no see!" Sunset greeted as she exchanged a hug with Starlight.
"It's good to see you too, Sunset! So, what have you been up to lately?"
"Well, ever since I graduated from Canterlot High, I figured I might as well come back to Equestria. It is my home after all," Sunset replied. "Since then, however, I have been staying in touch with my friends over in the human world."
Using her magic, Sunset pulled out a light blue, rectangular device. It had some sort of a black screen on it, and a button at the bottom. Attached to the device was a small black box with a red gem in the shape of Sunset's cutie mark.
"Aren't those... um... what did you call them?" Sunburst asked, adjusting his glasses to get a better look at the device.
"It's a cellphone, Sunburst," Sunset Shimmer explained. "And everypony-- I-I mean, everybody in the human dimension is addicted to these. I've been using this to keep in touch with my friends, and this gemstone I can connect with them across the dimensions."
"That's amazing, Sunset!" Starlight complemented. "But, don't you think it would be better to talk with friends in... well, what do the humans call it?"
"Yes, that's it."
"I know, Starlight. That's why Twilight and I had the Mirror Portal moved to our house in Ponyville."
"Specifically, the basement," Comet Tail inserted as he walked over to his wife. "And guess who had to do most of the heavy lifting."
"Oh come on, Comet!" Sunset retorted. "It wasn't all that heavy. Besides, you only did half of the heavy lifting." Sunset then smirked and looked at Twilight, who also smirked. The two mares remembered well that it was actually Twilight's husband, Flash Sentry of the Crystal Guard, who had done most of the heavy lifting just to get the mirror out of their castle, and he had not let Twilight forget about his back pain for the next few weeks.
As for the Mirror Portal itself, Sunset would often use it to travel over to the human world, either for whenever she and her friends needed to take save the day for the thousandth time or just to meet up with them again. Sunset has even brought Astral and Comet over to the human dimension, but only for vacations. Sunset would not allow herself to put her family in danger.
"You know, Starlight, if you want to come back with me sometime, and bring Hope with you--"
"Absolutely not!" Starlight interrupted, her motherly instincts kicking into high gear. And this was the same pony who had eagerly begged for Sunset to bring her over to the other dimension with her. Then, she took a deep breath and said calmly, "Sorry. It's just that I'd like to take this one step at a time. I mean... we just moved here to Ponyville less than two weeks ago."
"Starlight, I was just kidding about the whole human-dimension thing," Sunset said. "But I understand."
"Thanks, Sunset," Starlight said, a smile returning to her face. Then she turned to her former teacher. "And, thank you, Twilight."
"For what exactly?" Twilight asked in confusion.
"We wouldn't be here in Ponyville right now if it wasn't for you. And you were right about Hope needing to make new friends." Starlight then looked at Hope as she was playing party games with her new friends. She and Sunburst were both happy to see their daughter happy.
"Well, to tell you the truth, she kinda reminds me of me," Twilight admitted. "I know what's it's like to be antisocial, and when Princess Celestia sent me to Ponyville to make friends, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and led to a very bright future. And I know that there is a bright future ahead for Hope as well.
"So, Princess Celestia was overprotective of you?" Sunburst asked.
"I wouldn't say she was as overprotective as Starlight," Twilight laughed, causing Starlight to give a deadpanned look. "But, on the day of your graduation, Starlight, she told me that it was hard for her to send me to Ponyville; she was worried for me and didn't want to let me go, just as I did for you." Twilight wrapped one of her forelegs around Starlight, who just smiled and hugged her back. The Princess of Friendship knew that her former student's hug was a sign that she knew exactly what Twilight meant.
As Starlight left the embrace, she looked back at Twilight with a smirk. "This party was also your idea, wasn't it?"
"Wha... what?!" Twilight stammered with a sheepish grin, darting her eyes left and right. "I have no idea what you're talking about!"
"Oh really?" Starlight replied, raising an eyebrow. "As I recall, Pinkie Pie had first heard about Hope's recent birthday party from you. Not to mention that you of all but four other ponies should know that Pinkie would do something like this if she were encouraged to do so."
"Okay, okay..." Twilight sighed in defeat. "The birthday party portion was my idea. BUT, the 'Welcome Back to Ponyville' portion of this party was Pinkie's."
Starlight, Sunburst, and Twilight laughed. Then they looked on to see the wonderful party that Pinkie Pie had thrown.
Later that evening, after the party, everyone was leaving Sugar Cube Corner to go back home. For both Thorax and Flurry Heart, it would be a long way, so they decided to stay at a hotel and then return to their respective kingdoms in the morning.
Starlight and Sunburst walked on the road back to their new home, Sunburst carrying a very tired Hope Glimmer. Said filly was all partied out, as she was lying down on Sunburst’s back, resting her head against the back of his. Perhaps she had too much cake and ice cream, or she was exhausted from all the party games she played, in addition to her abundant fangirling over Spike. Regardless, she let out a big yawn, letting her parents know that she was ready to go home.
About ten minutes later, Starlight and Sunburst were upstairs in Hope’s new bedroom. Starlight gently levitated Hope into bed, while Sunburst pulled the covers over her. Then Starlight slipped the teddy bear that Thorax had made for Hope under one of her forelegs, and finally gave her a goodnight kiss on her head.
Starlight and Sunburst then quietly walked out of the bedroom before looking back at Hope. The unicorns smiled as they were proud of her for her achievements this week. They could tell that Hope would have a bright future ahead of her.