The sun rises, entering the open window, shining directly on your face. Celestia had a way of ensuring this always happened. You stir awake, climbing out of bed. No time to waste, today was a pretty special day after all.
It was your special somepony's birthday! Cadance is turning 16, same age as you. The royals have planned a huge party, and you're to attend, of course. She wouldn't go anywhere without you. It's been that way for years.
You throw on your casual clothing, swipe your backpack, and head downstairs for breakfast. As usual, a grand feast lies before you, and Celestia sits at the head of the table.
"Anon, good morning!" She recites cheerfully.
"Good morning." You sit down, and start chowing down on some pancakes. Celestia does the same, albeit with more etiquette.
"So, excited for the party tonight?"
No. "Mmhm." You swallow. "Is it going to be as big as last year?"
Celestia laughs lightheartedly, "Even bigger! She'll only turn 16 once, you know."
"By that logic, shouldn't EVERY birthday be this grand?" You smirk, eating a banana. She smiles at your wit.
After a few minutes, you clean your plate and get up. "Thanks for the grub." You sling your backpack over your shoulder. "Heading to the academy now."
Celestia smiles and waves. "Have a wonderful day!" It's nice when your caretaker can trust what you say.
Stepping out, the royal guards wave you off. You turn back, bidding them farewell. They've lightened up to you recently, for sure. As you keep going, your turn your gaze left for a moment, glancing at the Royal Gardens.
'...just keep walking, Anon.'
About a half minute of walking later, a certain special somepony finally makes her way to you.
"Hi Ano~n!" Cadenz- Cadance runs up, giving you a big hug.
"Hey you." You return the hug, then let go. "You're a bit later than usual, eh?"
She frowns. "I'm sorry, I was held up by my family this morning because I-" Stopping herself, she gets a big grin. "Besides, shouldn't you be saying something to me~?"
"Hmmm...can't think of it." You feign ignorance, and begin walking towards the academy.
In a quick moment, she catches up. "HEY! Don't tell me you forgot!" She whines.
Leave me alone. "Is it...your cute-cinera?" You joke. This makes her frown.
"That's mean!" Apparently Cadance was a late bloomer for cutie marks, she still hadn't received hers. Neither had Shining.
"If it makes you feel better, I don't have mine yet!" This makes her giggle. Gotta keep her happy... "How about we wait for a certain somepony's party?" You nudge her in the shoulder.
She pouts. "Fiiiine. But that present better be nicer than last year. I mean, an apple, really?"
Chuckling, you rub the back of your head. "Yeah, didn't put too much thought into that one..." I did.
You both arrive at Canterlot Academy, and the ponies greet you happily.
"Hey, there's the cute couple!" They would say. Shut up.
As you walked into the prestigious school, Shining was there. "Hey Cadance, Anon." You give a wave, as Cadance gives him a small hug.
"Enjoying guard training?" You ask.
"Yeah, it's pretty awesome. My defensive magic is becoming pretty potent." He bows his head, and a spark of pink comes from his horn. After a moment, he's surrounded by a translucent sphere.
"Whoa..." Unicorn magic always impressed you. Maybe it's because you can't do it yourself. You give the sphere a knock...pretty darn solid. He lifts his head, and the shield dissipates.
"How about you Cadance?" He asks. Cadance, being an alicorn, can fly AND use magic. Sort of. Her magic's not too good. Suddenly, you feel a pressure behind your head. It pushes you sideways, and before you know it, you're liplocked with your special somepony.
After a moment, you're allowed to pull back, the pressure gone. You see Cadenza's horn spark, and stop glowing.
"Mine's coming along nicely." She smirks, giggling. An awkward silence is shortly interrupted by the ringing of the academy bell.
*ding, dong, ding, dong*
A changeling girl wakes up alone. She knew it was morning. Certainly not thanks to the sunlight, it never reaches this far into the caverns. The light of the crystals are so ambiguous, it could be night to anyone else. However, this changeling has woken up at this precise moment more times than she'd care to recollect, but still can.
These caverns were her favorite spot. Right under the Canterlot Castle, she could perfectly fulfill her assigned mission. Follow him. Watch from afar. Do not be seen. Even though her parents had told her she could cease...
Every day her mother would await Chrysalis' return, and absorb the faint green glow she seemed to bring home every day. 'Love', her mother called it. Her parents would never tell her what love was. Once, while her target and his...special somepony...went off to school, she decided to find out.
Her Cadenza transformation was still flawless, without regard to age. After all she watched the Princess almost as much as she watched him. After she left view, the freshly transformed changeling went to Cadenza's mother, and asked. She remembers the response ever so clearly.
"Love, my dear Mi Amore, is the warm feeling when you think of somepony whom you can't be without. When your insides wrench when you think of losing that somepony, never wanting them to leave."
Was this what her mother craved? That feeling? Every time the changeling would spy on her target...she would remember what she had been told. About 'love'. Is this what she felt?
And if so, why did the glow stop? Once Chrysalis began returning home empty, her mother ignored her. She even sent out many changelings to collect 'love', since her daughter was 'so inadequate' as she had not-so-gently put.
But she still felt the aching. The wrenching inside her as he passed. Was this not 'love'?
That didn't matter though. This was her mission and she would do it diligently. Even if she wasn't asked.
*ding, dong, ding, dong*
And that's a wrap. Ponies flood out of the classrooms, and rush out to the streets. Many of them are rushing home to prepare for tonight's festivities.
You're no exception. A bit of preparing is left to do-
Of course. You turn to see Cadance shoving her way through the crowd.
"Where are you going?! I was hoping we could spend my birthday together!"
You smile, shrugging. "Sorry, Cadance. I have some last minute things to do."
This doesn't please her. "WHAT? But today is my BIRTHDAY!"
"Exactly, and there's a couple things that need-"
"I don't CARE." She stomps a hoof to the ground. You notice the look in her eyes.
That look is familiar. Never again.
Quickly, you give place your hands on her shoulders. "Cadance, trust me, you'll want to see what I have planned."
A few seconds pass, and her anger subsides, replaced by her happy disposition once again. "Okay! You better come early to the party!"
"It's in my house, how could I not?" You joke. She laughs, and starts trotting away.
"Bye~!" Good riddance.
Well, better get her gift before it's too late. She's a princess, so gift giving isn't easy. Chocolate, flowers, an apple, jewelry...these were things she could have anytime. To make sure she wouldn't pop a gasket, you had to get her something meaningful. Something that would leave her speechless. Something that would shut her up.
Instead of walking home, you walk through town, glancing at the marketplace. You notice plenty of odds and ends available, and jewelry for sale. You silently judge each as you walk by.
Too tacky. Not original. She doesn't deserve that. Not enough flair. The choices get worse as you continue.
Eventually, the marketplace ends. You're left empty handed, and the sun's starting to go down.
Walking back to your home, you see Celestia helping prepare the festivities. By helping, you mean ordering her guards to put up decorations. She notices you out of the corner of her eye.
"Anon, you're home." She walks up to you. "I bet your special somepony is ready for tonight."
Couldn't care less. "Yeah, almost everyone is. Gonna be a big party."
"Have you decided what to give her for a gift?" She can still read you like a book.
"I've, uh, had a bit of trouble."
She smiles warmly. "Whatever you get her, I bet she'll love it."
Returning to her decorating duties, you walk upstairs to your room. Tossing your bag on the floor, you take this moment of peace to relax. Sitting on your bed, you look out your window. The sun is close to setting, meaning the party will begin. And you're without a present. Oh well, you'll have to bite the bullet on this one...
With a sigh, you get up, walking to the window. The sunset looks particularly nice as it looms over the royal gardens, and the labyrinth...It's been years since you've been in there.
One more visit couldn't hurt.