The Many Uses of a Brush

by Crimson Brush

Twilight Spankle

The Many Uses of a Brush
Chapter 3: Twilight Spankle

Just as Crimson Brush moved to flip the sign hanging on her door to ‘closed’ it burst open, revealing a lavender-purple unicorn. The unicorn took a couple of steps through the threshold, then halted with a frown of distress as she saw the sign still held halfway between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ in Crimson’s magic aura. “Oh! I’m sorry! Were you about to close for the day? I can come back...”

Crimson smiled warmly and shook her head. “It’s fine, my dear. I’m always happy to let in a new customer. Crimson Brush, at your service. Welcome to my store.”

The unicorn smiled back thankfully. “Oh, that’s good! I’m Twilight Sparkle. I run the library here in town. It’s the giant tree down the way. I heard about a new shop opening up and I was curious.”

“Well, this is it, my dear. My humble brush shop,” Crimson chuckled softly, as she waved a hoof towards the brushes hanging behind her.

“So it is!” Twilight chuckled as well. She glanced around the store for a moment before bringing her eyes back to Crimson. She looked her over curiously and let out a small gasp. “Wow! I’d heard the owner of this store was different, but... you’re amazing! Such a marvel of genetic mutation! I’ve read of zebras and ponies mating, but nowhere in any of my books have I heard of a pony-dominant offspring that still inherited zebra traits!”

Crimson blinked, a bit taken aback by the unicorn’s sudden rapid-fire enthusiasm. “Um... Yes. It’s a... rare mutation. I imagine it’s only happened a very few times before,” she said warily as she tried to brace herself for another sudden outburst.

“It must be incredibly rare if it’s never even been documented! I’m sure I’ve never come across any references anywhere to – ” Twilight suddenly stopped talking as she caught sight of Crimson Brush’s startled expression. “Oh... I’m so sorry,” she said, looking a bit shamefaced as she realized what she’d been doing. “It’s just that I just get so excited when I find new things. Especially something as fascinating as this. I mean, it goes against everything I’ve learned! And I really love learning new things, and sometimes I guess I get a bit carried away. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” she apologized.

Crimson relaxed a bit, and gave her new customer a warm smile to accept her apology. “It’s quite all right, my dear. Your enthusiasm just caught me by surprise, that’s all. I assure you, you’re not the first to be surprised by my appearance. Now... how may I help you?”

Twilight smiled back happily and nodded. “Well... I don’t really need a hairbrush at this time, but I am curious about what you offer. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t very curious about your story.”

Crimson chuckled softly and nodded. “Well, it’s definitely not good to lie, my dear,” she teased. “I can certainly say I learned that the hard way.” She waved a hoof as she walked to one side of the store, where a few chairs sat against a wall. She settled into one of the chairs, then motioned for the lavender unicorn to have a seat as well. “So... I suppose I can start with my store. As you can see, I make mane and coat brushes. I never sell the same brush twice; each brush is individually made to the customer’s exact wishes, and each is always one-of-a-kind, as unique as the pony who owns it. I do sometimes make copies for display – but only one copy of any particular brush, and always for display only, never for sale.”

She levitated one of her better designs over and laid it in front of Twilight for her to examine. The brush was a beautiful, smooth ivory. The handle was formed by interlocking hearts carved exquisitely out of fire rubies, and the backing was emblazoned with gold lettering expressing the customer’s love in no few words.

Twilight’s eyes widened as she took in the amazing sight before her. She had a few hairbrushes at home, of course, but they were all very plain and made for function rather than appearance. She couldn’t remember ever seeing a brush so beautiful before. She took a moment to glance around the shelves with a keener eye then before, and her jaw slowly dropped as every brush she saw was just as amazingly detailed, beautiful, and unique as the one Crimson was holding. She returned her gaze back to her new acquaintance and smiled brightly. “Your work is amazing!”

Crimson blushed a bit and shook her head modestly. “I do what I love, my dear, and it shows in my work. That is all.”

Twilight chuckled softly to herself. “And humble, too. You really are an amazing pony, Crimson Brush. You must give me your story! I just have to know about your life. It must have been fascinating, being so unique, and – ” Twilight caught herself in mid-sentence and blushed, covering her mouth with a hoof, shamefaced. “Oh my gosh, I’m sorry... I shouldn’t pry. I’m just so curious. Like I said, I love finding out new things. I’d do almost anything to hear your story, if you’d be willing to tell me!” Twilight smiled reassuringly, hoping the zebracorn mare wouldn’t think she was being crazy or rude for her outbursts.

Crimson raised a thoughtful brow as she regarded the unicorn mare for a moment, before letting out a soft chuckle of amusement. Twilight’s enthusiasm was infectious, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to cultivate some new friendships here. “Well, my dear, I would give my story freely... but since you offered, I could use a bit of a helping hoof, if you have the time. I need to test some of my more unique products, and my magic’s not really that easy to control when testing them.” She stopped for a moment and then bit her lip. “Although I’ll understand if you’d rather not... Not all ponies are accepting of the lifestyle I cater to.”

“Lifestyle?” Twilight asked, tilting her head curiously at the odd reaction. What could be so questionable about making hairbrushes? “I’m pretty sure everypony brushes their coats, silly!” she added with a small laugh.

“I don’t mean my brushes, dear,” Crimson said, shaking her head and chuckling a bit herself at the unicorn’s naivete. She smiled warmly, and held up the brush once more, running a hoof over its smooth back. “You see, I make sure all of my brushes are smooth on the back side, for a very specific purpose. I seek to help ponies show the love and care that my Mother always gave to me in the past.”

Twilight looked confused as she tried to fathom what purpose the zebracorn meant by that. She had thought it a bit odd that the backs of all the brushes she’d looked at were uncut and smooth, but had simply shrugged it off as just being something Crimson Brush had adopted as a signature style to make her work unique. That sort of thing was hardly uncommon among artisans who made hoofcrafted one-of-a-kind items, after all. But Crimson’s words seemed to suggest there was something more to it than that...

A small tug at her memory pulled her back to a few very old parenting books she had stashed away in the back of her library. She’d skimmed them a few times, and something about Crimson’s words sparked a thought. The books were all written by one pony and were actually more like notebooks or a list of guidelines written, not for professional sale, but rather given out to anyone who sought them. One phrase always stood out in them, though. “With love and caring discipline”...

Twilight’s eyes shot wide open once more at the sudden realization. “You mean spanking!

Crimson blinked at the sudden outburst after the thoughtful silence, then laughed a bit as she nodded affirmatively. “Of course that’s what I mean, my dear. I’m curious, though. The last unicorn that was here seemed to know very little about the practice when she first came in yesterday, but you seemed to make the connection right away. Were you disciplined by your parents as well, my dear?”

“What? Me? I... What? No!!” Twilight shook her head quickly, blushing an even darker shade of lavender than usual. “Um... I mean, no. My parents usually let me get away with anything. I can’t say I wasn’t quite the hoof-full sometimes, but... no. I mean... well... my big brother gave me a swat once... but it was really just to get my attention. No, it’s just that the words you used reminded me of an old parenting book I looked through once or twice. The author always referred to spankings as ‘loving and caring discipline’, and...” Twilight trailed off, still blushing a little.

“Ahhhh, that makes sense. You did say you worked in a library,” Crimson said, nodding in understanding. “I should have known you’d be well-read on many subjects.” She stood and walked to the locked door in the back of the shop, and slid a key into the lock. She clicked it open and turned the knob, then turned back to the unicorn. “Come on in, dear. I’ll show you what I’m testing. I promise I’ll give you my story, whether you decide to help or not.” She smiled warmly as she opened the door and walked inside. She flipped on the light as Twilight walked inside behind her.

Twilight was, once again, stunned at the sights before her. The room was very organized and neat, despite what was displayed on the hooks adorning the walls. In the center of the room was an odd device she could only imagine was meant to support a pony across its center. It had a padded bar at about waist height, and below that was another padded platform. It was easy enough to picture a pony resting across the bar, and she felt herself blushing a little as she realized that the resulting position would ensure that the pony’s hindquarters would be on open display – very open, and very vulnerably exposed, to anypony that cared to look.

Her eyes wandered to the hooks along the walls. Hanging from each hook was a different tool. Crops, canes, and even a few whips, of varying designs and extremes. One wall held a variety of belts of varying lengths and widths, some even adorned with metal studs, alongside shelves with an assortment of bottles with labels denoting various types of lotions. She gulped and blushed deeply as she took in the sight before her. “I... um... What is all this?!”

Crimson walked further inside, moving to stand next to the padded rack in the midst of the room before turning back to Twilight. “Well, some of my clients prefer a bit more um... ‘spice’ to their love lives, shall we say,” she explained, resting a hoof on the padded center bar. “I suppose that’s as good a way to put it as any. It’s not my primary business, of course, but I did find myself selling more than a few brushes to those who are interested in this sort of thing, so it only made sense to me to at least attempt to accommodate those with a broader love for this particular lifestyle. It’s surely not for everyone, though, so I will understand completely if you wouldn’t feel comfortable assisting me, my dear.”

Twilight listened intently to Crimson’s explanation, despite being taken aback by the surroundings, and nodded when she was done. “I... I see. I guess that... makes sense. It’s all just so new to me. I mean, I’ve read a couple of books on... umm... ‘alternate lifestyles’, but I’ve never really had someone to really, um... explain it, or... uh... experiment with...” she said, blushing deeply as the words left her mouth. A small part of her was screaming at her to run while she still could, but a much bigger part was still curious despite her worries. As always, the lure of knowledge, of learning something new, was irresistible to her, even if the subject was something so... unusual. Intimate? Forbidden? She wasn’t sure what to call it.

Crimson couldn’t help but smile at the adorableness of the naive unicorn. “A cute thing like yourself? I’m surprised,” she said with a soft chuckle, causing Twilight to blush even more.

“Th... thank you for saying that, but... I’m nothing special,” she said, shyly. “I spend so much time in my studies that I... I don’t really have time to go on dates, or anything. If it weren’t for Princess Celestia I’d probably still be alone, without any friends.”

“You know the Princess?” Crimson asked, raising a brow curiously at the mention of the Celestial Ruler of this land.

Twilight brightened up a bit and nodded enthusiastically. “I’m her protege. She’s been training me in magic since I was just a filly. She’s really amazing, though I guess if you asked her she’d say the same of me...” she said, stammering a bit and blushing at that last. “Not that I’m bragging or anything! I’m nothing special, really...”

Crimson shook her head and chuckled softly. “You really are amazing, my dear. You have so much to brag about, yet you stay so humble. Celestia and your parents must be so proud of you.”

Twilight lowered her head a bit at the praise, but gave a small nod in reply.

“Well, my dear. Have you decided?”

Twilight blinked and looked back up, before her eyes widened again at the change of subject. “Oh! Um... Sure, I’d be glad to help? I mean... maybe I learn about the lifestyle a bit more, as well as hear your story?” she said, blushing again. Now why in Equestria did I ask that?! she thought to herself with a small sigh. Her insatiable curiosity was always getting her into trouble...

If Crimson noticed, though, she didn’t comment on it. She simply smiled happily and motioned towards the wall on her right with a hoof. “Well then, my dear, go ahead and set your saddlebags down somewhere out of the way, then pick up that crop, there. You can look it over, and then we can begin.”

Twilight bit her lip a bit nervously as she used her magic to float the indicated implement over to her, unable to help examining it with a scientific curiosity despite herself. She noticed the rod was made of a thick but flexible rubber while the business end of the crop was, she was happy to note, made of a piece of synthetic leather, folded over once. Real leather was still used in some areas, usually in big cities and by the rich, but most ponies preferred to use a magically-synthesized substitute. Not as durable, but it served the same purpose, and was much less... disturbing. Even though such leathers, in modern Equestria, were only taken from already-deceased animals who had died of natural causes (hence its rarity and expense), the idea still made a lot of ponies, including Twilight, more than a bit squeamish. As if on autopilot, she gave the device a flick, noticing the slight bend of the rod and the swish it made through the air.

She moved her eyes from the crop back towards Crimson, only to blush even deeper than the shopkeeper’s namesake at the sight in front of her. The zebracorn had bent herself over the rack with her forehooves resting on the pad in front, her flanks raised and bared, with her tail lifted up and off to the side. Positioned this way, with her legs spread just enough for balance, nothing was hidden from the stunned librarian’s view.

“Wh...what a-are you d-doing!” she stammered.

Crimson looked back behind her as best she could from her position. “What’s wrong, my dear? I’m just getting ready for you to – ” Crimson suddenly realized her mistake, and laughed. “Oh! I am sorry, my dear... I suppose I should have explained exactly what I meant by ‘testing’. I need to be sure these devices are durable, and have the correct degree of flexibility, while still able to deliver the desired effect. I wouldn’t want anypony to be injured by a faulty product... and I’d hardly be a good salesmare if I wasn’t willing to test my own products. So, I am merely assuming the correct position, so that we might properly test the implements for suitability for their intended purposes, that’s all,” she said, intentionally giving her explanation in a more technical and businesslike fashion than before, figuring the studious unicorn mare might find such an approach a bit easier to cope with.

Twilight stared for a brief moment before the words even registered in her mind. She looked from the bared, vulnerable flanks before her, back to the crop still held in her magic... then back to Crimson’s flanks... then back to the crop...

Finally, it occurred to her that this might be a very good time to practice that deep-breathing technique Cadance had taught her. She took a deep breath as she moved a hoof up to her chest, then exhaled slowly as she swung that hoof outwards, focusing on the controlled motions to relax her nerves. Once she had calmed down from the initial shock and was able to think rationally about what Crimson had just said, she couldn’t help but nod in agreement at the obvious truth of the zebracorn’s words. “I guess that makes sense. But are you sure you want my help with this? I mean, I’ve never used any of these things before... I’ve never even seen most of them!”

“Well, I assure you, my dear, they’re not all that complicated,” Crimson said with a playful chuckle. “It doesn’t take much to learn. The crop is actually quite simple. A light flick towards the preferred target is enough to let the tool do all the work. Come stand behind me, dear, and just aim for the cutie mark,” she added, grinning playfully at her embarrassed student.

Twilight took another deep breath before finally moving towards her, taking up a position just a bit to the right of her flanks, then gave Crimson a final, hesitant glance, as if asking for permission she knew she already had. She raised the crop just a ways from Crimson’s right flank. She bit her lip and closed her eyes as she flicked the crop down across the red brush on her right. A small tinge of deeper violet appeared below Crimson’s fur for only a moment as the crop struck dead-center on its target – though of course, Twilight didn’t see it.

Crimson felt the flick of the crop across her right flank and let out a small breath. “That’s right, my dear. Give it a little more force, though...” She glanced back over her shoulder, and couldn’t help but laugh a little at the absurdness of it as she saw Twilight still had her eyes closed. “Go on, Twilight. I promise, it’s not going to grow fangs and bite you. Just give it a few good swipes.”

Twilight jumped a bit at the laugh and opened her eyes. She looked at Crimson’s amused face and then back to the area she’d struck with the crop, a little surprised to see no indication of the strike. She calmed herself once more, and nodded. “Okay... if you’re sure?” Crimson gave her an approving smile and a nod, and Twilight raised the crop once more. After a moment’s lip-biting hesitation, she brought the crop down a little more firmly, making sure to keep her eyes open this time. Three swipes above Crimson Brush’s cutie mark, and three more swipes below, studying the tinge of heated violet that appeared and vanished after each stroke.

Crimson took each strike with little more than a small hiss. After the sixth stroke, she nodded approvingly and gave her unicorn assistant a warm smile over her shoulder. “Very good, my dear. I think that’s enough testing for that one.”

Twilight nodded her understanding, but rather than moving the tool back to the wall she held it up before her once more. “Doesn’t... doesn’t this hurt?” she asked, a bit more loudly than she intended.

“Well, why don’t you try it yourself, my dear?”


Crimson couldn’t help but laugh at the alarmed reaction to her simple query. “On yourself, my dear. Just give it a light flick across your own flank.” She gave the unicorn a reassuring smile.

Twilight looked down at the implement held before her, then looked back at the six stars emblazoned on her own flank. With more than a little trepidation, she brought the crop back and aimed it squarely at the bright-violet star that dominated her cutie mark... hesitated for a moment... then delivered a similar swipe of the crop to her own backside. The crop fell from her magic grasp almost immediately, more from the shock of the impact than any real pain, as she quickly realized it didn’t hurt all that much. It stung a little, but the sensation was brief – although she could see how it could become considerably more intense if more force was put behind it, or if one struck the same area repeatedly for an extended period. That thought alone was sufficient to make her blush deeply, causing the store’s caretaker to giggle at her “student’s” reaction.

“Now you know why its so hard to test these things myself,” Crimson commented as she picked up the crop in her magic to float it back to its spot on the wall. “Especially since my magic isn’t quite as capable as a normal unicorn’s,” she added.

Twilight tilted her head curiously, her wonder causing her to completely forget the absurd situation for a moment, as she watched Crimson use her magic to tie a piece of green string around the crop’s handle. The zebracorn’s magic certainly seemed capable enough to her. “What do you mean?” she asked. “Were you not fully trained to use your horn because you were around zebras most of the time?”

Crimson smiled and shook her head. “Oh, no, not at all. My mother was a unicorn, and she was very patient with teaching me. I actually grew up in a pony village in northern Zebrica, and there were quite a few unicorns there. The settlement was started a long time ago, by some researchers who wished to learn how zebras were able to use magic without the use of a horn. Originally it was just a small camp, a wooden research hut and a few tents; but over time, as more researchers came to study zebra magic, and their use of plants and potions, it eventually grew into a modest village. Not quite as large as Ponyville, of course,” she added with a chuckle, “but comfortable.”

Twilight pulled a notebook and quill out of her saddlebags almost as soon as Crimson began speaking, jotting down everything that was said so she could study it later. Crimson chuckled a bit as she noticed her words were being taken very seriously by her studious, insatiably-curious unicorn assistant.

“I suppose you’ve earned a bit of my story.” The absurdity of telling her life story while straddling a bondage rack, with her hindquarters lifted up on very open display, was not lost on her, and she couldn’t help giggling slightly before continuing. “My mother wasn’t one of the scientists, though. She owned a shop in town which carried a variety of useful items. Sort of a general store, I suppose, although her stock was primarily tools, grooming supplies, toiletries, quills and paper, and so on. She met my father on one of her many walks through the woods. She liked nature hikes, and she also collected quite a few of the supplies for her store that way. A lot of the toiletries and grooming supplies she made herself, from the local plants, as well as ink for the quills, wood for the combs and brushes...

“Anyway, she told me the first time she saw my father, it was pretty absurd. He was picking bouquets of a strange blue flower and putting them in a basket, which in itself seemed like an odd activity for such a large stallion, but it was the glowing pink goo covering his hooves all the way to his body that made him look positively silly,” Crimson said, chuckling a bit at the image. “She said he was picking something called... poison joke, I think. And the goo was a magical remedy to prevent the flower from infecting him. But of course, she didn’t know any of that at the time, and she had no such protection – and worse, when he saw her, she had already walked right through a large patch of the flowers, and was standing right in the middle of them. To make a long story short, he snatched my mother up, threw her over his back, and carried her off, galloping as fast as he could go – and when she tried to cast a spell to get away from him, every spell she tried to cast just resulted in sparkly pink bubbles spraying from the tip of her horn, if you can believe it! Next thing she knew, she was sitting in his hut as he started tossing hoof-fulls of herbs into what seemed to be a bubble bath – but which, for all she knew, could just as easily have been a stew pot!” she said, laughing at the way her mother had described it.

Twilight chuckled heartily at that, as Crimson’s story reminded her of her own unfortunate experiences with the mischievously-magical flower in question. “Believe it or not, I had a similar encounter with our own resident zebra and a patch of that poison joke stuff, myself.”

Crimson looked up at her curiously. “Indeed? I had no idea they had migrated this far. Are there many in this area?”

“Oh, no, just the one,” Twilight said. “Her name’s Zecora, she lives out in the Everfree Forest. If you like, though, I can have her come visit you the next time she comes into town. She usually drops in every other week or so, now.” Now that everypony doesn’t barricade themselves behind their doors when they see her, anyway... Twilight decided there was no need to mention that part, though. It had all been a stupid misunderstanding, long forgiven and forgotten by both Zecora and the Ponyville residents alike.

“I’d like that, yes,” Crimson smiled. “So, where was I... oh, yes. After my father convinced my mother that she was not about to be eaten for supper, he managed to get her to climb into the bath, and he explained exactly what had happened. I guess the silliness of the whole situation helped bridge the gap between them, and after that they spent a lot of time together. He helped her find special herbs and spices, and they’d both tell stories about their encounters. They were wed a few years later... though I was already born a few months before that,” she said, chuckling to herself. “The zebra tribes are somewhat less formal about such matters. Sadly, when I was still very young, my father was called to return to his home village in the south. Apparently the griffons of south Zebrica had started a war with the zebra tribes. Our town mostly barricaded itself in during the war. Though as far north as we were, it never really reached us. My mother took care of me, with a firm hoof and a loving brush more often than I’d like to admit.” She gave the unicorn a knowing smile.

Twilight took in every word with childish wonder. She’d heard of the Seven Years’ War between the zebras and the griffons, but she hadn’t really studied it in much detail, having never been anywhere near Zebrica, nor having spent any time in the company of either of their kinds while in Canterlot. She chided herself a bit for that oversight, and resolved to read up on it later. All she really knew was the zebra clans had finally prevailed, and most of the griffon tribes had fled to the east. “So she... spanked you?”

Crimson smiled and nodded. “Quite regularly, actually. We had our own special brush just for those times. It was actually that brush which got me my cutie mark. That’s a bit later in the story, though. Now, go over there and grab that cane from the wall, please. The one with the yellow string tied on it.”

Twilight blinked a bit as she was suddenly reminded of her duty. She nodded and magically pulled the indicated cane from the wall. It was one of the larger ones, and she looked over it curiously as it floated in front of her, noting how the cane had been sanded and lacquered to a smooth, shiny finish all around. It actually looked extremely plain, but at the same time more than a little threatening. “Wh... what do I do with this?”

“Well, the cane is a bit harder to use, my dear,” Crimson explained, shifting a bit on the rack to get comfortably positioned again. “You’ll want to stand to my left, just a little behind me. Like the crop, the cane does most of the work with only a simple flick, but the rod will cross my entire backside... and it’s... well... quite a bit sharper, to say the least. You’ll see what I mean in a moment.”

Twilight nodded her understanding as she moved into the indicated position. She gulped a bit to herself, even as she moved the cane so it hung just behind Crimson’s upraised hindquarters. She gave it a soft flick, as if to test its properties, before attempting the same motion with a fair bit of force. She noticed the difference immediately as the rod bit in and bent around the flesh, leaving a visibly darkened line across both flanks which lasted noticeably longer than the crop’s marks had done.

Crimson bit her lip as she felt mild the tap, a small part of her mind approving of the unicorn’s inquisitive nature. She hissed sharply as the cane bit into her rump, but recovered quickly. “That was good, my dear... now try again, but aim a bit lower. The cane is more intended for the upper thighs,” she explained, chuckling to herself at the absurdity of giving Twilight advice on how to properly punish her with her own merchandise!

Twilight’s eyes were wide with wonder and worry, as she watched and heard the reaction to just one stroke of the cane. She could hardly believe it when she was asked to give another, and to a much more vulnerable area as well. She shook her head to clear her thoughts, and tried to remind herself that this was for Crimson’s work; strictly professional on the zebracorn’s part, and strictly a matter of academic interest on Twilight’s. With a deep breath, she moved the cane a bit further down so it hung just where thighs met flanks... and then, with a nod that was more for herself than anyone else, she flicked it straight towards the target she’d been given. It didn’t bite in as much this time, but it was obvious from Crimson’s reaction, a deep hiss and a small kick of one hoof, that it stung very painfully, and the darkened stripe across the top of her thighs lasted even longer than before. Twilight could only imagine how much it would hurt to receive more than one of those... and wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to imagine it.

Crimson took a deep breath herself and smiled weakly. “All right, my dear... I think that will be enough with that. They aren’t really that hard to make and perfect.” She relaxed across the rack as she watched Twilight move the cane back to the wall, then used her own magic to remove the yellow string and apply another green one. “Well... back to the story. After the war passed, we received a letter...”

She took another deep breath as she recalled reading it herself. “Father had gone missing in the final days of the war... They never found his body. Mother was distraught, but she knew she had to take care of me. After a year passed without any word, she decided to leave Zebrica and its painful memories. She sold the store, and between that and the money she had saved, she moved us back to her home country, to the city of Hoof Kong. Mother was very good with money, so we were able to get a nice house and reopen a new shop there in town. She enrolled me in school, and that was... a new experience, to say the least. Many of the ponies in Chineigh are, I’m afraid, far from accepting of new things. So I was picked on a lot, both for my looks, and for the fact that I had never been able to use my horn properly. Or at all, really.”

Twilight frowned in sympathy, feeling Crimson’s emotional pain as she described this less-than-happy part of her foalhood. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like to lose anyone in her family. Even just almost losing her brother, during the Changeling invasion, had been a spike driven deep into her heart. If he had actually died...

And she knew only too well how bad bullying could get. Her own foalhood, with more than a few of her peers being jealous or resentful over Celestia’s choosing the studious, socially-awkward unicorn filly as her personal protege, hadn’t exactly been all daffodil sandwiches and sweet apple cider either. But Crimson must have had it even worse. She had heard that the Chineighse culture placed a high value on conformity, and could be very unforgiving of differences or imperfections.

Crimson sighed softly and steeled herself as she continued. “One day, I got into a fight at school... so I was sent home and had to wait for Mother to come home. Anytime I got in trouble, she would send me to my room to fetch my brush... and make me wait for her. Even though she wouldn’t be home for a few hours yet, I took out the brush and sat on my bed to wait, just like I did all those times before. The brush was very old and worn... so I decided to work a blade over it to smooth it out a bit. Before I knew it I had started carving a design into it... and subconsciously started using my magic to do it. It was the first time I had ever been able to use my telekinesis for anything... and I didn’t even realize I was doing it, until Mother walked in and saw me. When I realized what I had done, my Cutie mark appeared. I remember groaning to myself when I saw it was red... just like my flanks were soon to be,” she said, giggling softly to herself at the fond memory.

Twilight smiled warmly at the tale. She could only imagine how much love the two had. She chuckled along with her at the thought. “At least getting your cutie mark helped lessen the pain of being punished, right?”

“Oh, no... there was still plenty of pain in that brush that day!” Crimson replied with a merry laugh. “I know what you meant though, my dear, and yes, in that sense, it was a good day. I never resented any of my spankings, though. Celestia knows, I earned each and every one of them.” She squirmed a bit to relieve a bit of stiffness; her prolonged position across the rack was starting to get a bit taxing. “Alright, my dear... just a couple more things, and then we can finish the story. Take that belt down from the wall dear. Yes, that one, with the yellow string.” Crimson held a love for the belt that she didn’t really understand. It was not a fun thing to take across your rump, and yet, that was exactly what made it so deeply satisfying to her, even though she couldn’t have possibly explained why that was so.

She smiled as she saw the black belt float up behind her, grasped in Twilight’s magical glow. A small part of her hoped the bookish unicorn was gaining a deeper understanding of spankings. “Now, the belt is a bit harder to use, and requires quite a bit more effort from the wielder. It uses momentum to straighten out and strike with decent force... and it will leave a very definite mark on the target’s flanks. However, it’s much less likely to break the skin, unlike the cane and crop, so don’t be afraid of it.”

Twilight looked down at the belt. It was wide, but not very thick, and made of the same jet-black faux leather as the crop’s tip. She’d seen belts before, of course, as a part of dresses and saddlebags, and on those few ponies that liked to wear pants, but she’d never thought of using one to inflict pain. She could easily see what Crimson meant, though. She knew quite a bit about physics, and between that and her newly-acquired experience with the previous implements, it was already obvious to her how the belt needed to be swung. It was also clear to her what kind of effect that would have, and she bit her lip nervously. “Are you sure about this?”

Crimson looked back and nodded reassuringly. “Don’t worry, my dear... I’ve had much worse. And the belt is far harder to use on myself... so it’s nice to have help. You’re doing a fine job so far. You’d make a wonderful mother... or lover.” Crimson couldn’t help but chuckle as Twilight tried, and failed, to fight back the blush that blazed on her cheeks from that comment. “You’re a natural, my dear.”

Twilight gave a small nervous smile at the praise. She thought about Crimson’s words for a moment, pondering what they meant. She imagined herself as a mother, and couldn’t help but smile. “You really think I’d make a good mother?” she asked.

“Of course, my dear. Your care and compassion, as well as your knowledge and willingness to compromise and try new things, would make you a wonderful caregiver.”

“I guess so...” Twilight nodded, trying to accept Crimson’s words despite a bit of lingering disbelief on her part.

“Trust me, my dear. You would.”

Twilight found her smile growing wider and warmer. “Thank you. And... not just for what you said. This... um... has given me a lot to think about. I think I’m starting to understand, a little, how some ponies might... enjoy things like this,” she said, her cheeks still showing a warm blush as she spoke. She really wasn’t used to discussing things this... personal? Intimate? Especially on anything more than a strictly clinical, academic level, and this situation was anything but academic. “I mean, I can see how it takes a good deal of care not to injure someone with these things. And it does seem like there would have to be a tremendous level of trust between two ponies, to do this kind of thing... especially for the one on the receiving end of it...” she added thoughtfully.

“You have no idea, my dear,” Crimson agreed with an amused chuckle.

Twilight chuckled a bit as well, as she considered how much different it must be in Crimson’s place. To deliberately leave yourself so vulnerable, and trust another pony so completely that you would allow them to do something like this to you... She nodded, then lifted the belt before her. “Okay, so where should I aim with this?” she asked, with hardly any hesitation this time, gaining a bit of confidence from Crimson’s obvious trust in her.

“Wherever you like, my dear. One of the belt’s most wonderful features is its versatility. Just... try not to be too hard on me, please. It’s been a while.” She laughed a bit at herself as she settled back into position and closed her eyes, letting the deliciously fearful anticipation settle into her as she waited...

Twilight nodded as she pulled the belt back with her magic. She let out a slow breath, then brought it down solidly across the center of Crimson’s hindquarters. Her eyes widened as she saw the belt bite deep into Crimson’s flanks, flattening, bouncing, and leaving a wide, dark stripe in its wake as the skin turned blazing-hot red underneath the zebracorn’s grape-and-lavender fur.

Crimson sucked in a breath as she first stroke fell across her rear, savoring the familiar shock of impact and the intense, stinging warmth it left behind. She’s pretty good with that! she thought to herself with a bit of humor. She took a few breaths to settle herself before turning her head to glance back at Twilight. “Are you sure you haven’t done this before, my dear?”

Twilight blushed a bit and shook her head quickly. “No! I’ve never even considered it before!” she said hastily, a bit flustered, before she caught the twinkle in Crimson’s eye and realized she was just being teased. “But it’s mostly just physics, and... well, I am an avid reader!” she added with a little laugh.

“And a quick study, obviously,” Crimson said, sharing the small laugh before turning her head away and closing her eyes again. “Go ahead and give it a few quick swings, my dear. Don’t worry, I can take it.”

Twilight looked as if she’d just been given a live grenade. She could clearly see how the wide, dark stripe across Crimson’s upturned flanks still blazed beneath the short fur, and imagined that it must still hurt quite a bit. Despite Crimson’s obvious trust in her, it took her a few moments to work herself up to doing as she’d been asked.

Finally, she lifted the belt up once more. “If you’re sure...?”

Crimson gave a small nod. Twilight steeled herself, drew the belt back, then did a bit of math in her head as she delivered three firm, precisely-aimed stripes across her target. Each stroke landed just below the last, working down Crimson’s flanks, with the final crack landing just above the “sit spots” where thighs met rump. She could plainly see the skin blazing deep red underneath the fur when she was done, but was surprised by the lack of welts or semi-permanent markings, considering its seemingly much harsher impact compared to the other two implements before it.

Crimson, for her part, closed her eyes and accepted the first two across her flanks with only a slight hiss and clenching of her cheeks. When the final stroke landed on those most sensitive spots, though, she couldn’t help jerking forward slightly and letting out a small whinny of pain. A few small tears began to roll down her cheeks as she took a slow, careful breath, not so much from the pain itself, but from the memories brought to mind by the fondly-familiar warmth and soft throb in her backside.

Twilight’s expression turned to one of shock and concern as she noticed the tears on Crimson’s cheek. “Are you all right?!” she cried, worried she might have done something terrible, as she tossed the belt aside.

Crimson looked back at the worried unicorn and shook her head firmly. “I’m fine, my dear,” she said in a firm, but reassuring tone. “More than fine, in fact. You did admirably for your first time. I might have to hire you on full time!” She grinned back at the stunned look she was given. “Don’t worry, my dear. I promise, it wasn’t as bad as it probably looked. It’s just been a very long time since I’ve been given that feeling, and it reminded me of times long past, that’s all. I could definitely feel the love and caring in your strokes, my dear. And I stand firm in what I said before.”

“Oh.” Twilight said, relieved, even as she blushed once more as Crimson reminded her of her earlier praise. She carefully picked the belt up and placed it back on its hook. “Th... thank you. I guess... I could see how it would bring fond memories to you. You seem to have a lot of love for your Mom’s discipline and care,” she said, thinking it over.

“Yes, I do miss her greatly,” Crimson agreed. “I even miss that evil old hairbrush of hers,” she added with a wry chuckle.

Twilight giggled a bit and nodded as well. “Where did she go?” she asked, turning serious again.

Crimson carefully worked her way off of the rack and stretched out her legs, wincing a bit at the lingering tightness and heat in her flanks. She turned the rack around and sat down slowly, and very carefully, onto its cushioned bottom, then floated a chair over to Twilight. After both of them were seated, she continued her tale.

“When I grew up and was ready to help Mother with the store, she actually helped me set up a small area where I could work and make hairbrushes for the customers that needed them. It wasn’t long before I was making custom orders, and making a decent bit of bits. While the Chineighse might not have approved of me personally for my... differences, they do have a great love for art, and our neighbors were willing to overlook my being different, or at least tolerate it, once the word spread about my turning simple hairbrushes into works of art. The Chineighse culture also favors corporal punishment as a means of correction, so my brushes were in demand for that as well, to be sure,” she added wryly.

“So,” Crimson continued. “When Mother saw how well I was doing, she decided to help me make a name for myself. She gradually stopped selling most of her other stock, aside from a small hoof-full of specialty mane-grooming supplies made from the formulas she’d developed in Zebrica, and made my brushes the store’s primary business. Eventually, she even changed the name of the store and gave me full rights to it when I was old enough. She tried to refuse payment when I took over the store. But I wouldn’t let her.”

She took a deep breath before continuing. “Sadly, all good things come to an end. Mother fell very ill... a degenerative disease, and there wasn’t anything that could be done for her at the time. She passed away a few years later. When her will was read, I learned my Mother always had the last laugh.” Crimson wiped a tear from her eye, and gave a wistful smile. “It turned out she had taken every bit I’d given her as payment, and placed it in an investment account that was to be given to me when she passed. She hadn’t spent any of it. And she still had a more-than-comfortable amount in her own savings, which I inherited as well, so between them I had no worries for money.

“At first, I simply carried on with my business, as usual... but after a year of being alone in a house with so many memories, I decided it was time to leave. I sold the store, and moved across the sea to Equestria, which I had heard was far more accepting of different and unusual things. I lived in Fillydelphia for a time, but after a while, I realized I wasn’t happy there. The city itself was lovely, of course, but I just didn’t want to live in a big, crowded city anymore. So, I moved here to Ponyville. Close enough to Canterlot for the city to still be a market for my wares, but far enough away to have room to breathe,” she finished with a contented smile. “Though from what I hear, it’s not exactly a small town of nobodies. I’m told there are some real heroes here.”

Twilight bit her lip and glanced away for a moment at the mention of heroes, and nodded. “This town does have some wonderful ponies, that’s for sure,” she replied.

Crimson raised a brow at Twilight’s reaction, as something clicked in her mind. She felt Twilight was hiding something wonderful from her, but decided not to press. “Well, I’ve certainly met one of them today, my dear. I really do thank you for your help.”

Twilight finished her writing, and magically returned the notebook to its home in her saddlebag. “Oh, not at all. I should be thanking you, Crimson Brush. I’m sorry I made you relive all those unpleasant memories, but I really did learn a lot. Far more than I thought!” she added with an embarrassed little laugh as she nodded towards the collection of spanking implements along the walls.

“Maybe you’d like to buy something for a special somepony, then?” Crimson suggested with a teasing grin, sharing the small laugh with her guest.

Twilight gasped and shook her hooves in the air, blushing deeply. “Oh, no! I mean... I... I don’t have anyone... like that. I mean, there was a mare I kind of liked... that I kind of wanted to get to know, anyway, but... she ran away from town before I could really talk to her...” she finished with a wistful sigh.

“Oh, I see... Well, I’m sure you’ll find somepony soon, my dear. Perhaps she’ll come back to see you again? You truly are something special.”

Twilight’s gaze fell to the floor as she fiddled with her hooves a bit in embarrassment. “Now you’re just teasing me...”

“Not at all, my dear,” Crimson said kindly. “You’re much more than you give yourself credit for, Twilight Sparkle. Anypony would be lucky to have you for a lover... or even just as a friend.”

“Um...” Twilight bit her lip as she continued to scrape an embarrassed hoof against the floor.

Crimson could see that the awkward unicorn wanted very badly to ask something, but was too unsure of herself to come out and say it. “My dear... I would be pleased to call you my friend,” she said. “And as your friend... you can ask me anything. I promise, it won’t upset me.”

Twilight nodded and swallowed nervously, taking a deep breath to try to steady herself even as her nerves threatened to turn her inside out. “I... would you... I mean, could...” She gave a loud huff, then tried once more, speaking her request almost too rapidly to comprehend. “Wouldyoushowmehowitfeels?”

Crimson raised a brow curiously as she worked her mind around the unicorn’s words. Then her face lit up with realization as she worked out Twilight meant. “You want me to spank you, my dear?”

Twilight blushed furiously at the blunt question, turning the deepest, brightest shade Crimson had seen yet from her, but gave only a slight nod in reply.

Crimson smiled warmly as she stood up and walked over to the unicorn to wrap her forelegs around her, hugging her close. “I’d be honored to, Twilight.”

Twilight gasped softly at the contact, then looked up at the zebracorn mare that was now hugging her, and gave her a hesitant smile with a trembling lip as she awkwardly returned the hug. “Thank you... but... I’ve never been spanked before, so...”

Crimson stepped back as they slowly released each other from the embrace, and moved to put the rack back to its original position. “Don’t worry, my dear. I wouldn’t even think of starting you off with any of these for your first time,” she said, nodding towards the implements on the wall. “I’ll go fetch one of my brushes. And Twilight... I do understand how difficult it was for you to ask that. I promise, I’ll help you through it... and I will only give you as much as you ask for.” Her voice was warm and mothering as she walked out of the door to fetch a brush.

Twilight shivered a bit nervously as Crimson left her alone in the room. Those gentle, caring words had helped to calm her somewhat; it seemed to her that the zebracorn really did care about her, even if her method of showing it was a bit... unusual. She looked over to the rack with a small gulp. Oh, dear Celestia... She clapped her hooves a bit, as if to snap herself out of her own thoughts, then slowly approached the padded rack to lay herself across the top, just as she had seen Crimson do before. Okay... forelegs here on the pad, hindquarters up like so, spread your rear legs, lift your tail, and oh sun and moon Twilight what are you doing?! She felt the skin of her flanks tightening a bit from the position, and couldn’t help but feel very, very exposed, and more than a little helpless. Even though she knew she could get up at any time, there was just something about this position...

She took a few deep breaths as she waited for the owner to return, her thoughts racing with wonder, worry and more than a little excitement as she wondered just what she had gotten herself into. She flinched a little as she heard the door click closed behind her, and her breath caught in her throat as she had a sudden picture of exactly what she must look like, and how absolutely nothing would be hidden from Crimson’s gaze...

Crimson closed the door shut behind her, and smiled warmly at the sight of Twilight already laid out on the spanking rack. She hadn’t been sure if Twilight had wanted to go quite that far – but then again, it did seem as if the bookish unicorn rarely ever did anything by halves, so she supposed she shouldn’t have been surprised. Crimson walked towards the brave mare with a deliberate stride as she looked over Twilight’s bent-over form, approving of the way the unicorn had already positioned herself perfectly. She moved the chair aside with her magic, and took a position just behind Twilight’s flanks.

Twilight squeaked, startled out of her racing thoughts, as she heard the chair move, and looked back to see Crimson holding the same ivory brush she had shown off earlier. She bit her lip and turned her eyes back forward, suddenly feeling very sure she did not want to know exactly when it was coming...

Crimson stifled a chuckle at the cute little squeak, and ran a gentle, soothing hoof over Twilight’s withers and back to reassure her that she was safe, even as she tapped the brush lightly over the unicorn’s upturned backside to make her fully aware of what was about to happen. “Do you just want to feel what it’s like, sweetheart? Or were you wanting the full experience?”

Twilight startled and let out a few quick breaths as she felt the brush tapping across her flanks, then slowly relaxed as she realized it wasn’t actually striking her. Oh, sun and moon, what am I doing...? She thought about her answer to the question for a long time, as her mind fought itself. Crimson waited patiently, without pressing her to answer, for which Twilight was grateful.

Finally, Twilight shook her head as if to clear it, then looked back at Crimson with an expression of worry mixed with trust. “As if... as if I truly deserved it, ma’am...” she said quietly.

Crimson looked deep into the unicorn mare’s eyes as she gave her answer. A realization hit her, and she smiled warmly into that fearful, yet trusting gaze. “It takes great strength to realize what we need deep down, Twilight,” she replied in that gentle, motherly tone, holding the unicorn’s gaze with her own for a moment longer. Twilight nodded, just a little, then turned her head away to face forward once more, closing her eyes tightly as she braced herself for what was coming...

Crimson Brush nodded as well, then raised the brush to hover just a bit behind Twilight’s hindquarters. Resting her hoof on the unicorn’s back, she gave Twilight another soft, reassuring caress, just before the first swat came down across her left flank. The first was quickly followed by a second, and a third and a fourth and a fifth, falling again and again across Twilight’s upraised backside. Her pace stayed steady and focused, warming Twilight’s flanks with each impact, using no more force then was necessary to leave a lasting warmth behind each clap of wood across flesh, watching the unicorn’s rump turn a darker shade as the blood rushed to the skin underneath her lavender fur.

Twilight gasped and squeaked at the first few swats of the brush, then gradually fell quiet and accepting as the spanking continued, biting her lip softly as she felt the warm, light stinging begin to spread across her cheeks. She felt the hoof on her back, and welcomed its reassurance, squirming only a little bit under the skilled paddling. Each smack seemed to resonate through her ears and her body, as she tried to focus. Her mind began to wander back to her foalhood... to all the times her mother had scolded her for something, only to then simply hug her and let her run off... the times her father had just patted her head and called her a silly filly... Her breathing quickened a bit as time continued to pass, each new swat across her flank marking off the seconds like the tick of a clock.

She is taking this quite well for a newcomer, Crimson found herself thinking as she watched Twilight’s slow surrender to the firm, steady spanks warming her backside. I think she has a great deal more weighing on her mind than she wanted to say. Perhaps even more than she herself realizes... Whatever it is, I truly do hope this helps you, Twilight Sparkle. She began to move the brush lower so that it would target and warm Twilight’s upper thighs as well, while listening to the almost melodic sound of the wood as it struck again, and again, and again, the steady rhythm reminding her of all those times she’d been on the receiving end of a well-deserved spanking just like this...

Twilight hissed as the spanking moved to her more sensitive thighs, the sharper pain causing her mind to waver for a moment before the steady, relentless rhythm let her drift back into her memories. She couldn’t help thinking of all the times she’d gotten into trouble as a teenager, only for her brother to rush to her rescue and take the blame, protecting his little sister from her own mistakes. Her mind wandered to her time under Celestia’s tutelage, and a few tears welled up in her eyes as she recalled all the times – so many times – she had disappointed her mentor and let her down. All the times Celestia had told her it was okay, and that everypony made mistakes... even the time she’d nearly set an entire wing of the library on fire just from trying a simple light spell on a book. With each passing memory, the warmth slowly became a fiery heat in her backside, and the soft sting became a light throbbing as the firm paddling continued, steadily, inexorably, never ceasing or slowing... the slow burn in her flanks and thighs causing her to squirm and wriggle over the rack as the punishment went on, and on, until...

“S... Stop!!

Crimson immediately halted the brush in mid-swing as she heard the unicorn’s cry, and smiled warmly as she ran a comforting hoof over Twilight’s back and shoulders. She examined the hot reddish tinge underneath Twilight’s lavender-colored flanks and thighs to make sure she hadn’t suffered any accidental injury from the lengthy spanking, then looked to the unicorn’s face. “Had enough, sweetheart?” she asked softly.

Twilight shook her head as she wiped a stray tear from her eye. “N-No... ma’am.” It seemed odd, yet somehow proper, for her to use the honorific. “C... can you use something... more...?” she asked, her voice cracking even as the words left her mouth. She took a deep breath, and spoke with a bit more resolve. “Please?”

Crimson considered Twilight for a long moment, gazing deep into her eyes once more, then gave an understanding smile and a nod. She glanced up and looked along the walls for a few moments, considering each device in turn, then placed the brush on the chair as she floated a smaller but thicker belt over to her. “‘With love and caring discipline’, sweetheart,” she said gently, as she folded the belt over once in her magical grasp.

Twilight gulped once at the sight of the belt, then nodded her acceptance. “Yes, ma’am,” she said in a small voice.

“And I do care about you, Twilight. I hope you understand that, as I use this across your flanks.”

Twilight nodded again. “I know...” She turned her head back and closed her eyes, waiting.

Crimson readied the belt and lifted it into the air... And then, with no warning, she swung it down firmly across Twilight’s vulnerable hindquarters with a loud, painful crack!!

Twilight squealed loudly, then clamped her mouth shut and buried her head against the cushion in front of her. The belt was certainly different from the brush! She felt the lash bite down hard into her upraised rump, leaving a searing-hot stripe in its wake that lingered for a very long time before it slowly began to fade... and oh, sun and moon, it hurt! A part of her wanted to jump up and run as far away from this as she could... but instead, she braced her rear hooves on the floor and held her position, awaiting the next strike.

Crimson nodded as she gauged her charge’s reaction. She admired Twilight’s strength, and could only guess what was in the unicorn’s mind as she lifted the belt to deliver the next stroke. She brought her focus to the task alone as the belt cracked down a second time, only to rise and crack down again, and then again, each stroke falling just below the last. She kept the pace slow and even, giving Twilight a good half-minute between each stroke to insure that the unicorn felt each one to the fullest, and had plenty of time to anticipate the next one – or to cry for a halt, if it became more than she could take. As the strokes reached the top of Twilight’s upper thighs, Crimson reversed their direction, moving upwards again, laying down a second set of lashes on top of the first.

Twilight couldn’t help squealing in pain as the strokes continued to fall. It took everything she had just to keep her hooves on the floor and her tail safely out of harm’s way as the burning in her rear intensified with each stroke, pulsating and throbbing deeply, turning from a hot burn into a blazing, searing fire. Each new lash seemed to flow through her entire being, as if the belt were cracking against her memories as well as her sore flanks. Every moment flowed through her mind, one after another, as more tears fell from her eyes. Every disappointment to her mentor, her family, her friends... every act of thoughtlessness or disobedience... every time she’d been allowed to skate by for something that any other pony would’ve gotten in serious trouble for...

One last memory made its way into her mind. Her worst, most shameful memory, one that caused her to break out in loud sobs. The time she’d set the entire town against itself... all over something as trivial as being a little late in sending a friendship report to her mentor. She remembered wishing Celestia would chastise her and scold her. She wished Celestia had done something! Instead, her friends had jumped in to try to protect her and take the blame on themselves, and she’d been allowed to get away with it, without even a slap on the hoof... just like all the times before... I’m sorry... I’m so sorry... please forgive me, I screwed up so badly and I’m so... so... sorry... oh sun and moon I’m so SORRY!

Crimson listened with a deep understanding as Twilight’s squeals gave way to crying, and the crying turned into deep, shaking moans and sobs... until finally, the unicorn mare broke down completely. When Crimson heard that deep, anguished cry ring out, she knew it was time. She pulled the belt back and, after taking a moment to muster her calm, she delivered a single, solid, echoing CRACK! across Twilight’s burning flanks with all the strength she could put behind it.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIII’M SORRYYYYYY!!!” Twilight jerked and kicked, screaming out loud as the belt’s final stroke cracked all the way through the barriers she’d kept around her guilt and shame all this time, allowing her to finally let go of it all. She fell limp over the rack, crying her heart out, sobbing apologies to her friends and family, and begging Celestia’s forgiveness...

Crimson smiled warmly as Twilight began to relieve herself of all the guilt she had built up over the years. Poor dear... she’s kept this locked inside her for far too long, she thought to herself as she gave a soft touch of her hoof on the unicorn’s shaking withers, just to let her know she was there. “That’s it, my dear... let it all out...” she whispered, almost too softly for Twilight to hear. Then, she turned and quietly walked to the other side of the room, giving Twilight a few minutes of relative privacy to sob through her sins and apologies. It was enough that she was finally letting go of all that pain in her heart; no need for curious ears to listen in and pry into her transgressions.

She hung the belt on its hook, then made her way over to the shelf with all of her lotions and creams to pick out a clear glass bottle half-filled with a thick green liquid. She waited for Twilight’s deep, wrenching sobs of guilt and shame to subside, then silently walked back behind the unicorn and, without a word, poured a generous amount of the green liquid onto her burning flanks. Placing both hooves on Twilight’s hindquarters, she began to gently massage the substance into the fur, then through to the blazing-hot skin underneath, until it disappeared from sight. The bruised redness of the unicorn’s severely-punished flanks began to fade almost immediately.

Twilight was slowly coming back to herself before she felt an ice-cold substance on her backside. She squealed in surprise, not having expected the sensation, or the tingly feelings and gentle hoof-touches that followed. “Wh...what is that!?” But even as the words left her mouth, it became obvious, as each gentle rub of Crimson’s hooves seemed to wash away the fiery pain in her rear. Enough heat and sting remained that she would still feel those lingering reminders of her punishment for the next few hours, but the healing gel made it much more bearable for the relieved mare. “Th... Thank you, Ma’am,” she sighed. “For everything...”

“You’re more than welcome, my dear,” Crimson nodded as she corked the bottle and floated it back to its place. “I’m happy I could help...” She came around to stand in front of Twilight, and gave her tear-streaked face a warm, affectionate nuzzle. “...and I am truly honored, Twilight, that you trusted me enough to help you let go of all of that. You’ve needed that for a long time, I think.”

Twilight wiped the tears from her face with a shaky hoof, then nodded as she very carefully worked her way up and off the rack, wincing as the motions sparked a few more of those little reminders of heat and sting in her backside. Yes, she would definitely be feeling this for a while, she decided. And well you should be, Twilight Sparkle, she told herself firmly. In her heart, she knew Crimson Brush was right; she’d had that coming to her for a long, long time, and she’d deserved every single lick of it. Somehow, just admitting that to herself made her feel better. “I didn’t even realize how much I needed closure, until... I need to send a letter to Celestia as soon as I get home,” she said decisively. Although only the sun and moon know how I’m going to explain this to her! she added, with a silent mental laugh as she pictured Celestia reading this friendship report...

Crimson wrapped the unicorn in a warm hug once more, just holding her close for a time, letting Twilight feel loved and forgiven now that her punishment was done. That was, after all, just as important as the punishment itself, if not even more so...

“Thank you,” she heard Twilight whisper again.

Finally, the two mares relaxed their holds and let each other go. After a moment’s thought, Crimson smiled as an idea occurred to her, then floated the belt she had used for Twilight’s punishment back over again, holding it out in front of her to offer it to the unicorn mare. “Take it, my dear. You’ve earned it for your time and help. Perhaps it will help to remind you how special you really are.”

Twilight opened her mouth to protest, but closed it quickly and just smiled back as she caught the belt in her own magic. She carefully folded it up and stored it in a spare pouch of her saddlebags, then floated the bags up and across her back – being very careful not to let them touch her flanks, to both her and Crimson’s visible amusement. “Thank you, Crimson Brush. For your story, for the lesson, and... everything else,” she said, as she followed Crimson out of the back room and into the main store.

“You’re welcome, Twilight Sparkle. And thank you.” The two mares shared one last nuzzle, as new friends, and then Twilight turned and left for home, a very slight darkening still visible on the unicorn’s lavender hindquarters as she walked away. Although it would take a discerning eye such as Crimson Brush’s, who knew the telltale signs of a well-deserved spanking, to really notice it, or know what it meant.

Finally, Crimson was able to lock the front door of her shop and turn out the lights for the night. “This was a good move,” she mused to herself as she ascended the staircase leading to her home on the shop’s second floor. “I think I’m needed here.”

With that final thought, she laid down in her bed and went to sleep, feeling truly at home for the first time since moving to Ponyville.