Molded to Love

by Radiant Dawn

Chapter 2: The Breath of Life

Chapter 2: The Breath of Life

I woke as I normally did nowadays during my new life, pleased that things had luckily turned out well during the past few weeks.

The meeting between Mist Ray and Twilight Sparkle had gone off without a hitch, and though she knew who I really was, the unicorn was not keen to reveal that to any of her friends. When I asked for an explanation, she simply stated that if I truly was living a different life, she would leave it to me to reveal all in good time.

That would be an awkward conversation whenever that day came.

One of the things about Mist Ray’s meeting with Twilight Sparkle that stood out was the unicorn's reaction. She was impressed, and intrigued, though she wouldn’t say about what.

Today, I hoped to get some answers.

Twilight Sparkle had invited Mist Ray to some afternoon tea at her home.  This would be the first time she’s invited us into her own personal space, so I was curious as to what exactly she was thinking.  At one point in my life, I was so sure of myself and of my ability to read others that I feared little to nothing...but that life was over.  I had no illusions about knowing what Twilight Sparkle was thinking, nor what she was going to have waiting for me when I arrived.

So, after quickly cleaning myself and checking to make sure my guise of Mist Ray was in order, I took flight to the town of Ponyville.

Upon being seen with the Elements of Harmony, Starshine’s visibility in Ponyville had vastly increased, so she had decided to take a “vacation” of sorts in Manehattan, much to Rarity’s displeasure...but Mist Ray was different for some reason. When she was seen with Rainbow Dash or even Applejack, no pony looked at her any differently.

It must be a unicorn thing.

Still, as I flew towards the tree library in the distance, I couldn’t help but think about how much my life had changed in just a few weeks. Firstly, I had friends now - a luxury I had never been allowed to have before. Next, I was completely comfortable around other ponies, so much so that I no longer winced every time I heard whispering that I could not distinguish. Lastly the immensely powerful Element of Magic was comfortable around me. I knew without fail that she was still cautious, but she no longer was on edge any time I was close to her.

Is that why I’m so paranoid about this meeting? What could she want?

Before I could try and pick apart the violet unicorn’s reasons further, I arrived at the library. As I landed, my nerves were pulled completely taut, the mere tension causing me to have to force myself to walk to the door. Perhaps Queen Chrysalis would have been unafraid, but Mist Ray was terrified.

Thankfully as I knocked on the door, I was not forced to wait long, as the library door was pulled open by a teenage dragon known as “Spike”. I found it odd that such a powerful creature was living in the company of ponies - let alone had such a cutsie name - but he was kind and respectful, so I did not question it further.

As he gazed over the form of Mist Ray, he smiled. “You must be the pony Twi told me would be coming by. Well come on in, she’s waiting for you.”

I did as asked and walked inside, only to gasp in awe of the home.

As most ponies did, Twilight Sparkle’s workplace and home were the same building, with only her private chambers considered off-limits for visiting patrons. Sill, I found it odd exactly how warm and inviting the home was. The long curved wall that faced East, North, and West was covered in floor-to-ceiling bookcases, crammed full with volumes upon volumes of books that I imagined held nearly any type of information one could hope to find. Reading was a new passion of mine, so the mere sight of so many books almost brought a tear to my eye.

“Mist Ray, over here!” shouted a familiar pegasus’ voice from behind me, and I turned to see both Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle waiting for me behind a small desk, the unicorn furiously scribbling something on a parchment.

I trotted over and bumped hooves with the weather manager and replied, “Hiya Dash, how you been?”

The mare shrugged and tilted her head towards the writing unicorn. “I’ve been pretty good.  Just been helping Twilight here get the library ready for the upcoming holidays. Speaking of, what are you doing for Hearth’s Warming?”

“It’s still a month away, Dash. Why so excited so early?” I asked the pegasus, attempting to dodge the question.

Thankfully, the cyan pony took the bait. Celestia-bless my manager and friend, but she was easily distracted sometimes. The rainbow-maned pony floated over to me and asked, “What isn’t to be excited about? I mean, it’s Hearth’s Warming! It’s only the best holiday of the entire year!”

I couldn’t help but giggle at her excitement and responded, “Well I suppose I can agree with ya there, Dash. It is pretty cool, and we get a week off of work.”

She smirked and nodded. “Yeah, paid time off is always good too.”

“Spike, can you come here for a second?” the unicorn loudly asked, causing a shuffle to be heard from upstairs before the purple dragon came and dutifully stood beside his caretaker and friend. Twilight Sparkle then held out a scroll to the dragon and he took it in his hand, breathing a green flame over it that caused it to burn and disappear into the air. The librarian then looked with care at him and said, “Thank you Spike. You can go see Applebloom now, I can take care of the library for the rest of the day.”

“R-really? I mean, are you sure?” the dragon asked curiously.

The violet mare responded, “Yes Spike, I’m sure. I’m sure she misses you, so go and see your marefriend.”

The dragon smiled wide and nodded before picking up a satchel that was draped over a chair and exiting the building, leaving just myself and the two others in the room.

“Gosh...he grew up so fast. I feel like just yesterday I was tucking him in bed, and now he’s a teenager and is dating. I feel like if I blink, I’m going to miss another ten years of his life or something.” the unicorn said with a sad sigh.

Her fellow Element slung a foreleg over her shoulders and hugged her. “He’s growing up Twi, but he still loves you and he’s still Spike. I don’t think he could ever stand to be away from you for too long anyway. That kid thinks the world of you, you’re like his mom.” With the “sappy” moment out of the way, Rainbow Dash turned back to her old self and smiled. “So, what are you two doing?”

“We’re just going to talk about girl stuff over some tea.  Want to join us?” answered the unicorn, though I had a feeling she knew the pegasus would decline.

True to her personality, the cyan mare made gagging noises and began to back out of the room. “Uh, no thanks Twi. I think I’ll pass.” The pegasus then looked at me and said, “You have fun though, Mist.  I’ll see ya tomorrow at work. Don’t forget to wear your insulation gear, as you’re going to be handling a supercell with the others, and I need you to not die.”

I hated to think of myself as still being a changeling, but my race had an abnormally high resistance lightning, as well as energy in general. Even with that being the case, I simply nodded and replied, “Sure thing, Dash. I’ll be ready.” Rainbow Dash smiled once more before opening the door and flying away at breakneck speed.

Once the two of us were alone, Twilight Sparkle let out an audible sigh before saying, “I assume you’re wondering why I really asked you here today, Chry-”

“Please, just call me Mist Ray. I’d rather that name die, along with my old life.” I interrupted.

The unicorn trotted to the kitchen and began pouring some water into a kettle before saying, “That’s actually part of the reason I asked you to come here, but we’ll get to that later.” She then set the kettle on her stove and turned on the burner, then set about setting two cups on the counter. “I take it you prefer plenty of sugar, right?”

“Yes please.” I responded as I let my eyes drift around the bookcases. As my eyes wandered, I heard as she reentered the room and sat beside me, though for a moment she didn’t speak.

Finally she said, “I’ve spent most of my life tracking down some of these books. Some of the tomes I have aren’t even available in the royal archives, but Princess Celestia trusts me to keep them safe.” I looked over at her and she nodded with tight lips before saying, “Well, on to why I asked you to come here. I’ve spoken to all of my friends about both Mist Ray and Starshine, and I have to say, I’m impressed you’ve managed to make friends with all of them...especially Fluttershy.”

“But I have-” I began to say, only to be cut off as a the unicorn raised a hoof in the air.

She responded by simply saying, “Mosswalker.” I gulped a bit in nervousness, but she shook her head with a gentle smile. “It’s okay, you don’t have to be nervous. I told you I was going to keep an eye on you, so it’s my job to know these things. Back to the matter at hand though, you have to have made one hay of an impression on Fluttershy to make her want to be your friend. Starshine was different, as she was with the others...but when she was on her own and alone, you still managed to capture her attention somehow.”

“Mosswalker is rather solitary, you see.” I explained. “She is actually every bit as shy as Fluttershy is, so she understands her and knows how to deal with her. As a...” I swallowed and prepared to say the word that I had come to hate, “changeling, my skills are in mimicry. I am vastly skilled in changing both what I look like and my very personality to suit any situation.”

“You didn’t do so well as Princess Cadence.” the unicorn shot back, though she instantly added, “I’m sorry...I didn’t mean for that to sound the way it did.”

I shrugged. “It’s alright. I agree, my mimicry of your foalsitter was not one of my better choices, but my arrogance ruled me more than a focused mind. Had I the focus I have now, I wouldn’t have tipped you off.”

I looked at Twilight Sparkle and she smiled. “Well I’m sorry for how this sounds, but I’m glad you made a horrible fake then.”

Instead of guilt or even frustration, I surprised myself by smiling...a true, sincere smile.

Twilight Sparkled continued with, “Anyhow, I was unsure of you at first, but making friends with Fluttershy is no simple feat. She might not be able to sense lies and deception like Applejack, but she can easily tell the difference between acting and true kindness.” The mare stepped closer to me with searching eyes and then she smiled. “You really care for them, don’t you?” For some reason this caused me to become infinitely nervous, but a gentle hoof on my own caused me to look up into violet eyes, shining with wisdom and gentleness. “How does it feel...having real friends, I mean?”

There was no hesitation in my answer when I replied, “It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world. Beyond the added benefit of sustenance, their care and affection feels...good. It’s something that can’t be replicated.”

The unicorn removed her hoof from mine and nodded knowingly as the kettle began to whistle, so she trotted towards her kitchen again and poured the boiling water into the two teacups before levitating the two cups, two spoons, and a saucer of sliced lemons over to the table as she followed behind them.

While we waited for the tea to brew, she stated, “I used to think studying and learning new spells was more important than friendship.” I looked up at her from across the small table we sat at, and she smiled sadly. “All those years I wasted, when I could have been truly happy. All my foalhood, I missed out because of it.” She then sighed and used her magic to stir the tea in her cup. “But, like most things in life, we don’t change unless we’re forced to.”

“You were forced to make friends?” I asked curiously.

Twilight Sparkle shook her head and squeezed a bit of lemon in her cup before pulling out the teabag and placing the spoon down on the saucer. “No, I wasn’t...but I was forced to come to Ponyville.” A loving smile crossed her face as she said, “Princess Celestia is always looking out for me, even when I won’t look out for myself.”

“You truly care for your princess, don’t you?” I asked softly.

Without raising her eyes from the steaming cup of tea, she nodded. “I love my mother so much, but Princess Celestia makes me wish I could have two mothers sometimes.”

Even with the serious moment, the personality that was Mist Ray couldn’t help but inject some dry humor into the situation with, “At least you have a mother. I was created with magic, so I don’t have a mother.”

The unicorn looked up at me with confusion and said, “I thought changelings were born from those birthing pods.”

I nodded. “Normal changelings are, but a queen can only be born of magic from an ancient rite only those of the changeling race know-”

“Sancta Flamma, or the ‘Holy Flame’.” the unicorn interrupted, causing me to gasp and stare at her. A smug grin crossed her face and she added, “I guess changelings aren’t the only ones that know, huh?”

“How?” I squeaked out, still in utter shock of the young mare’s knowledge.

She shrugged as she levitated a large ironbound lockbox over to us from on top of the far West bookcase. She dropped the device in front of me and said, “Try and open it.”

I looked at the locking device, only to see that there was no apparent means of opening it. There was no keyhole, and no matter how hard I forced, the box would not open. After a few minutes I grunted and pushed the box away. “I can’t.”

The mare took a sip of her tea before her horn glowed, and the box clicked as it opened. “Only I can open it, and the metal is indestructible. Not even the princesses themselves could open it, even if they wanted to.”

I quirked an eyebrow at her and began to ask, “What could possibly be so important tha-” but I could speak no more when I recognized the large book inside. The large leather-bound book was unmistakable, and I gently lifted it out of the box and cradled it in my hooves. I then looked over at Twilight Sparkle and wheezed, “H-how did you get this?”

She smiled and said, “It was given to me in secret by Princess Luna.  She said that should the changelings ever attack again, it could come in handy.”

“But where did she find it? This specific tome has been missing from my race’s grasp for centuries!” I whispered out as I held the book against my chest.

She shrugged and answered, “There’s some things that the princesses still keep secret from me, that being one of them. I trust them enough to know that if I need to know, they’ll tell me.”

I ran my hoof over the cover before opening the aged pages, marveling at the fact they looked exactly as they had the first time I had held it as a mere changeling nymph. Softly, I said, “With the knowledge in this book, you could destroy my entire race...” I then looked at the mare again and asked, “Why? Why didn’t you?”

“Because there are more important things in life than destruction and killing.” she responded as if it were the simplest answer in the world, and perhaps it was. As I continued to look over the ancient book of my people, a tapping on the table snapped me out of my reverie. Twilight Sparkle pointed to the box again and said, “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I can’t let you have that.”

I protectively held the book to my chest, but realized that she was only looking out for her fellow ponies, so I very reluctantly hoofed the book over to the box and closed it. I looked up to see her staring at me in confusion, and I asked a simple, “What?”

“Just like that? I had expected some resistance there, to be honest.” the violet pony answered for me.

I sighed sadly as I looked at the case that held my book. “That tome means more to me than you could ever possibly imagine, and I mean that in the most respectful way possible...but I also know that there are some things about my past that have to be let go,” I reached out and touched the locked box, “this being one of them.”

Twilight Sparkle looked me over for a moment before smiling. “I’m very impressed, and I can say that with complete honesty. I guess I have been wrong about you. Time will tell though, I suppose.”

I smirked and asked, “Still don’t trust me?”

“Not completely...but I’m getting there.” the mare answered with a smile as she levitated the metal-bound box back to its hiding place. “So, there’s something I meant to ask you awhile ago.”

I took a sip of the refreshingly sweet tea and answered, “Yes?”

Twilight Sparkle set her cup of tea down and her eyes shined with the promise of...something. “That material you spit on me when we first met...I’ve never been able to find anything on it in that book of yours, and if I’m not mistaken, it’s different than the ones your drones make, right?”

I nodded as I took another drink of the tea. “It is similar, but also very different. Unlike drones, a queen’s glandular secretions are used for feeding and battle, whereas that of the drones is mostly used for construction. Because of that, it must be much stronger.”

“I’ll say. The stuff felt like it was indestructible!” my tea partner exclaimed.

I let out a soft giggle and shook my head. “It is not indestructible, but it only responds to changeling magic. An intensely powerful spell could have broken you loose, but it would have ended with you dead as well, which I can assume would be rather counterproductive to your situation at the time.”

Twilight Sparkle drained the rest of her tea before sighing. “You know, you could have killed me if you wanted to, and then been gone before anypony ever arrived. Why didn’t you?”

I thought back to that day as I rested my chin on my hoof, sipping the tea again. “For a brief moment, I thought about it...I really did.” I emptied the remainder of the teacup before setting it down with a soft *clink*. “That isn’t who I am anymore though. I don’t want to be that anymore, the Hive be damned.”

From what I understood, strong language of any kind was a rarity in pony society, so a certain word surprised her, but she must have realized it was only to strengthen the feeling I had for what I was saying, so the unicorn let it go. She nodded with a smile and said, “Well I’m also starting to think that’s not who you are anymore, and I’m really happy because of that. From what I see so far, you’re a mare that’s really trying to atone for her past life...and I’m proud of you for that.”

I don’t know why, but when she said she was proud of me, an intense feeling of warmth blossomed in my chest, and I couldn’t help but blush a bit at the praise. Without thinking, I blurted out, “I hope we can be friends one day.”

I mentally cringed at what I’d said, but otherwise held no visible sign that I hadn’t meant to say that. Thankfully, Twilight Sparkle smiled softly and answered, “If things keep going as they are, we can one day. I...” Twilight Sparkle swallowed a bit and said, “I believe you can really be different from what you were...I just hope you want to be.” I was about to respond, but realized her statement didn’t need a follow-up, so I simply nodded with a smile. She then stood up and levitated all the dishes with her as she walked to the kitchen, quickly rinsing them out before returning to the table before me. “Now, onto the other thing I wish to speak with you about: your different personalities.”

“Well with each pony I must-” I began to say, only to be stopped by a gently raised hoof, so I fell silent.

Twilight Sparkle nodded. “I know about the others, but I mean the real you...who you are on the inside.”

I knew what she meant, and I couldn’t help but feel very ashamed and even a little angry at myself. I turned my head away and muttered, “There isn’t anything inside...there is only what you see.”

“That’s just it though...I can see the real you. I can see what you really are.” she responded, which only made me feel worse.

I sighed and grimaced. “What do you want me to do, Twilight Sparkle? Queen Chrysalis has killed thousands, and hundreds by her own hooves. She deceived, imprisoned, and stole from innocents.” The mere frustration and hatred I had for her - for me - became too much, and tears began to flow against my will. “I hate her so much, Twilight Sparkle...I just want for her to go away forever and never come back.”

“Do you want to know a secret?” I heard the unicorn ask gently, so I looked up at her and met her eyes with my own. In her own eyes I saw not judgement, nor even cautiousness anymore...I saw only concern. “The reason why I find it impossible to completely trust you is because rather than try and change who you really are, you hide it away...even from yourself. I’ve seen what that can do to a pony, and with you being as powerful as you are, that won’t be a good thing.” A violet hoof reached across the table and took mine, and she continued with, “If you really have as much remorse for your past as you seem to, then the first thing you need to do is forgive the one that wronged you the most...yourself.”

When I thought about it, she was correct, but, “I’m not sure if I can do that.”

“Yes you can.” she resolutely stated. Her hoof then gently patted my own. “Just sleep on it and take your time, but I promise, you can...and I’ll be here supporting you if you need it.”

I am unsure why, but her offer of support seemed to infuse me with confidence, and while I was still a little unsure, the margin between sure and unsure was much smaller much so that I felt it was now indeed possible. With that being the case, I smiled softly and nodded. “O-okay, Twilight Sparkle.”

The mare released my hoof and grinned before saying, “Just call me Twilight.”

 As I left the cosy library and waved goodbye to the unicorn, I couldn’t help but reflect on the entire meeting, but mostly Twilight. She had shown immense wisdom and knowledge beyond anything I ever thought possible, but I simply attributed it to the mighty Celestia being her tutor. What I could not explain was her willingness to help me with the demons that chased my mind and heart. Why had she offered her support? What was in it for her? I didn’t know, but the very fact she had offered to support me made me want to face my past, so that the great burden I carried with me would be no more.

Perhaps I could be saved.

Something else I found odd was that when we were speaking near the end, I sensed honest concern and care so strong that my body wished to feed off it instinctually. It was something I was not going to think about at length however, as I was tired and needed to rest for work tomorrow morning with Rainbow Dash. Luckily I wouldn’t need to feed again for another few days, so I took flight and made my way home.

As I finished with my nightly grooming of my coat, mane, tail, and teeth, I unceremoniously plopped down in the luxuriously soft cloud bed. Had I not been able to sleep in one now, I would be jealous of pegasi, as nothing I had ever experienced was softer or more inviting.

I lay in my bed and looked out the window at a cluster of stars that seemed to twinkle softly, and for some reason, it caused me to think of Twilight again. It seemed that since my meeting with her today, I couldn’t seem to not think about her. I was unsure about what I found so interesting about her exactly, but there was indeed something subtly intriguing about the mare. She was the only one I honestly could not understand. Every time I believe I have her analyzed and figured out, she surprises me with something that completely changes my outlook on her. It was frustrating sometimes, but also...exciting.

On second thought, I do not believe “exciting” is the correct term.

Nonetheless as I closed my eyes and sleep began to overtake me, I could not help but see her face in my mind’s eye as the world of dreams embraced me.