Work. That was what Twilight Sparkle needed to not think about Applejack and the end of their relationship. Keep her mind busy with anything. To supervise a play was perfect, at least initially.
The problem was that the play brought to her memories about the time that she and her friends were the leading roles in the very same play. So, although she was trying to focus, it was very difficult to do.
“Ten sacks of artificial snow? Check.” The newest alicorn made a mark in the parchment levitating in front of her. She was walking , forcing herself to kept her face buried in it. “Set? Mmm…” She rose her head a second to look over all the set parts. They seemed fine, so she lowered her head again. “Check. What’s next on the list?” So distracted she was, that she didn’t see the couple of ponies who were giving the last details to the play’s dresses, still in the mobile hangers. And then, disaster happened. Twilight crashed into them, causing that one of them fell over the dresses. But the real shock was the noise. A tore noise that frozen the whole room.
“Ough, you could watch your steps, can’t you?” The one on the ground, a young stallion with a dark blue coat and a red mane, said with an angry look. However, that expression disappeared as soon as he recognized at who he was talking. “Your Highness! I… I’m sorry, I didn’t…” Twilight shook her head, rubbing her forehead and cutting off the stallion. “No, no, calm down. It’s my fault, after all. And please, don’t call me that.” Between the other pony (a pink pegasus mare) and the Princess helped the stallion to stand up, looking afterwards the damage to the dresses, very obvious after the noise. It was worse than initially all thought. One of the jackets for the background ponies had a frayed sleeve at the height of the shoulder. Nothing serious.
Then they saw the cape of Princess Platinum almost torn in half. If Rarity had been there, Sparkle could bet and won that her exact words were: ‘This is the.Worst.Possible.Thing.’
She would be right.
“Oh, sweet Celestia!” The pegasus exclaimed. “This is horrible! Quick, we must fix this!”
Twilight swallowed hard. “I… I’m sorry. Please, let me help…” Twilight said softly, full of guilty feelings, but the others shook their heads. “Don’t worry, Princess. We got this. It will be difficult… but we’ll have it ready just in time!” She nodded as reply, nervous. She needed fresh air, in that very moment, so she trotted outside as fast as she could without causing more problems. Once outside, she sighed, her head and ears down and a sad look in her face.
“Maybe Spike was right.” She muttered to nopony. “This doesn’t look like a good idea right now…”
“It’s everything alright, dear Twilight?” A very well known voice surprised her, raising up her head to look at owner’s voice. “Pri.. Princess Celestia?” The alabaster alicorn smiled warmfully. “I remember that I told you before, that you didn’t have to call me that anymore.” Twilight blushed slightly. “I’m sorry. It’s the custom.” She apologised, while the Princess of the Sun looked at her with a wise eye. “You want to talk?” The young alicorn looked away. “No… I’m fine. I… I only messed up a pair of dresses for being distracted.” She confessed. Her mentor raised an eyebrow, worried at that moment. She knew very well that something like that was very unusual coming from Twilight.
“Come with me, Twilight.” Celestia requested with her characteristic warm tone. Twi shook her wings, as a signal of her tension. “But I should end the review of the play.” She excused.
“Nevertheless,” the older mare replied, looking sideways to her, “It can wait, my little pony. Please, follow me.” With that said, Tia began to walk and the former unicorn followed her in silence, her head bowed, unable to refuse. The Princess of Magic had the intuition that her former teacher would not let the evasiveness trick her. Surely she wouldn’t pressure her to know what happened to Twilight, but she knew that the Solar Princess knew that something was bothering her.
Their hoofsteps took the alicorns to the Royal Gardens. Normally, they were a beautiful place but in winter, they were simply marvelous. A layer of snow covered every tree, fountain, plant, etc, showing a sight that few ponies ever saw. Celestia moved closer to a stone bench, using her magic to clean the snow and warm the seat for them before she sat, inviting Twilight to do the same with a subtle move of her wing. The younger pony obeyed, yet not looking at the Solar Princess. Her head was down and she was rubbing her forelegs with a mixture of nervousness and cold. On her side, Tia was looking at the gardens with a soft smile but she was attentive to Sparkle. For that, when she realized that the purple maned pony was freezing, she did what she she did countless times before. She wrapped a wing over her without saying a word and pull the younger mare to her, an intimate gesture between them since the alabaster alicorn took in Twi as her personal student that not only comforted when it was cold, but also when she needed emotional relief.
Twilight Sparkle was absolutely sure that the Princess of the Sun didn’t do that only to warm her.
“Tell me, little Twilight.” Celestia broke the silence some minutes later. “Besides the problem with the dresses you mentioned before, is everything alright?” She looked to Twi with her warm smile.
“Yes, Pri-Celestia.” The younger Princess replied, keeping her head down as well as her ears. “Everything is fine.”
The larger pony nodded. “I see. I was a little worried because I saw the bags under your eyes, but if you said that you are fine...” The smile grew up a little while she reached closer to Twilight. The former unicorn shrank a little, knowing that she couldn’t conceal what happened to someone as important to her as Celestia. After several seconds, she sighed, burying her face between her forelegs. Her former teacher was not only the most wise pony alive but also a friend. It was for the best to tell her the story. In addition, she promised Spike to talk with her or her sister Luna if she felt bad.
“It’s… It’s complicated. Even I don’t really know what happened.” Sparkle said with a weak tone. Princess Celestia didn’t say nothing, a signal that she was paying total attention to her, so Twilight started to explain. “It’s about… It’s about Applejack. She… She left me three days ago… Because she didn’t love me anymore.”
Normally, it was very difficult to make the longest ruler of Equestria show a surprised face. Yet, in that moment, she showed one. Even she knew that something like that didn’t sound suitable to Applejack. “I’m so sorry to hear that, Twilight.” She said with her most comforting tone. “What happened?”
“I don’t know.” The young alicorn muttered. “I don’t understand why she did it. I noticed that she was hiding something, because she is a bad liar. But, when I tried to pressure her to find out what was, she cut me off.” The worst part was coming and Celestia could feel how hard was for her friend. “She said… ‘We’re done’.” The Solar Princess pulled her closer to her with the wing as Twilight began to sob. “I-I don’t know what I have done, what mistake I made…” She said as the other mare shook her head.
“Twilight, I’ve known you since you were a little filly. I don’t think that you could ever hurt her or do something wrong, so don’t blame yourself.”
For the first time since the two started to talk. Twilight looked to her mentor, ears totally dropped down and tears running down her cheeks. “Then, why? AJ told me that it wasn’t my fault, so I don’t understand why she left me. If it isn’t my fault, how is it possible that this is happening?” Twilight said, hiding her face against the soft fur of Tia, who was doing her best to cheer her up.
“You still love her.” Celestia stated, knowing that it was the pure truth. It wasn’t necessary to be Princess Cadance to see it. Twi nodded against her fur and the older mare talked again. “Did you try to talk with her since then, Twilight?”
“N-No. I-I couldn’t. I wasn’t capable of doing so.” The librarian confessed, looking at her.
Tia raised a hoof to clean the tears on Twilight’s cheeks. “Maybe it is what you have to do, my little pony.” She spoke with an affectionate look in her eyes. “You know Applejack better than I but I think that, being the former Element of Honesty, she must have a strong reason to act in that way. You didn’t see any signal that made you think that she stopped loving you or she was angry at you, am I correct?”
The ex-unicorn nodded. “Yes, Princess. I had been thinking over and over again and I didn’t find anything. I even made some schedules at home about the matter.”
Celestia contained a little chuckle. No matter what happened, Twilight was always Twilight. “Then, my dear Princess, I suggest you to talk with Applejack when you get back to Ponyville. To talk with her, not pressure her. However, first, you need to calm down a little and trust your friends here. Tonight after the play, you, Lulu and I will dine together and we will stay the night together. Before you answer, I warn you.” The large alicorn said with a soft smile. “I won’t take a ‘no’ as an answer.”
Twilight looked to the Princess with no more tears in her eyes. She knew and understood what Celestia was trying to do for her. And, like Spike said this same morning, she wasn’t fine.
“It will be my pleasure, Celestia.”
Never before in her life had Applejack wanted that a train went faster than ever. What’s more, she was scared, not only for the fact that made her leave Twilight but also for the thought of the alicorn’s mood. What would happen if she was mad at her? The earth pony couldn’t blame her because it was her fault. Maybe she screwed up everything and there was no turning back. However, AJ was a fighter. She didn’t give up even in the worst situations. She knew that she made a big mistake and she was ready to do anything to fix it.
During the entire trip, Applejack moved in her seat, groaned… In essence, she did everything that showed her nervous mood to everypony that could see her. Fortunately, there wasn’t many ponies in the whole train, very normal in that time of the year.
When the train finally reached Canterlot, the sun had been set by Princess Celestia a few hours ago. As soon as the train stopped, the cowpony left it as if all of Tartarus was after her, so much anxiety she had. She didn’t want to waste any second to find the Princess of Magic. Her feelings were very clear in that moment and she couldn’t feel more guilt for making her suffer. Applejack would be always punishing herself for doing that. The sound of her hooves as AJ ran through the streets of Canterlot towards the castle were very loud, something that didn’t matter to her if the whole freakin’ city got mad at her for the noise. After almost ten minutes of non-stop running, the muscles in her legs began to protest, her lungs started to burn but the orange pony ignored all of them and pushed herself to continue. Ah can’t stop. Not now. Even if a break one of mah legs, Ah must continue.
Five minutes later, she arrived at the entry of the castle, stopping in front of the two Royal Guards (a young unicorn stallion with black coat and brown mane and a silver maned pegasus with a yellow coat) that protect it, who looked at each other raising an eyebrow with a puzzled expression. They didn’t say a word, waiting until the rapid gasps of the mare slowed down. “Er… Excuse us, miss. May we help you?” The older one asked with an educated tone. AJ raised a foreleg to ask for a moment to recover her breath. “Ah-Mah name is-is Applejack. I came to see Princess Twilight.”
The young stallion coughed a little, saying. “Miss, do you have a meeting?” Before the earth pony could answer, the veteran glared at her comrade. “Rookie, you don’t read newspapers, don’t you? A former Element of Harmony and close friend of the Princess doesn’t need a meeting. Never. Understood?” After finishing, he looked at Applejack. “You can pass although I’m afraid that Princess Twilight is attending the Hearth’s Warming Eve play. Perhaps it’s near to the end but anyway you will have to wait for her.” The mare nodded and thanked the guards before going through the entry.
Seconds later, the silence between the two stallions was broken. “Corporal, is it really fine to let her in?” The unicorn asked cautiously to her superior. “Rookie, trust me. You don’t ever mess with the Princess’ friends. You will be in very, very big trouble. And not only with the Princess.” The pegasus replied, looking sideways the younger guard. He gulped, nodding softly. The first thing a Royal Guard learned was to trust every piece of advice a veteran gave to him.
The second, never piss off a Princess. For your own good.
Meanwhile she was sitting in her box seat and watching the play, Twilight sighed low, closing her eyes for a moment. After she spent a few minutes more in the Royal Gardens with Celestia, the young alicorn returned to the theater to finish her duties, trying to be more careful. When everything was ready, she went to her seat in company of her mentor and Princess Luna. But instead of enjoying the play, Sparkle found herself buried in memories about the time she and her friends were the principal actors of the play. To be more specific, memories of her and Applejack during that marvelous day. That made her recall other memories of the two together so, at the end, she was more making an effort to not break down in public than looking to the stage. A fact that didn’t fall out the cracks of the dark blue alicorn and of course Tia, but neither of them said anything.
The applause made her snap out of her daydreaming, shaking her head a little to see that the entire cast of the play was on the stage, greeting everypony in the audience. It was obvious that the play was over and Twilight started to applaud mechanically, making a fake smile.
When the actors abandoned the stage and the spectators began to leave, Luna stood up. “As charming as ever, I must say.” Since that Nightmare Night two years ago, the Princess of the Night had made a lot of progress with the modern use of language and she almost didn’t use the Royal Canterlot Voice. “Shall we go to our chambers, sister?” She asked to Celestia with a soft smile.
“Wait a moment, Lulu. Before the three of us will go to enjoy this night, I believe that Twilight will want to go first to the dressing rooms to talk with the actors and the rest of the workers for such wonderful play. Am I right?”
The mare in question, distracted by her thoughts again, didn’t react after a few seconds shaking her head and wings. “Eh? I’m sorry, what did you say?”
The Moon Princess blinked and looked to the young alicorn with a worried expression, which it was understandable because she didn’t know anything about what happened earlier between her sister and the Princess of Magic. “Tia said that you maybe want to see the play’s staff before we go… Are you fine, Twilight? You look… How it is say? Ah, I remember now. You look a little zoned out.”
Before the purple maned pony could answer, probably with a poor excuse, Celestia’s wisdom made her go one step ahead the two younger alicorns. “I suggest that we talk later, dear sister. Our dinner maybe is almost ready and we can’t entertain us more than it is necessary. Don’t you agree?” Her younger sister nodded before Tia also stood up and said to her former student. “We will wait for you, if you wish.”
Twilight looked at the siblings out of the corner of her eye, thinking for a moment. The play didn’t really cheer up her mood. Instead, it almost ruined everything that her mentor did before and she supposed that entering the dressing rooms wouldn’t help either. “No…” Twi said softly while she got up from her seat. “We can go now. I will send my greetings later to all of them.” Luna raised an eyebrow, her concern for her fellow Princess returning. However, she didn’t say a word and the three alicorns left their box seat to step in a hallway with the intention to go to Celestia’s chambers.
Neither of them expected to see there a nearly tired Applejack waiting outside.
Sparkle froze in her place, her mouth dried suddenly and her ears dropped down at the very moment she saw AJ. What was doing she there? And why she looked like she had been running? She looked sideways to Celestia thinking that maybe it was her deed, but she seemed as surprised as her. Well, she didn’t change her expression a bit although Twi knew her very well and she can see a little change in her eyes. So, that means… Did-Did she come by herself?
On her behalf, Applejack didn’t expect the sudden apparition of the Princesses either. Nor the three of them, at least. She stood there two seconds before she reacted and bowed down very nervous. “So-so-sorry, Princesses!” Applejack stuttered being incapable of looking at them, especially at Twilight. Her fear was in that moment stronger than before which wasn’t belonging of her. “I didn’t know that you all were here…”
Once again, Luna was surprised for what was happening in there between Twilight and Applejack, looking from one to the other with discretion. “Please, Applejack, you don’t have to apologise or bow to us.” Celestia said with her maternal tone and AJ did what the Solar Princess asked but she didn’t look to Twilight yet. “Twilight, Luna and I must go. We will meet you later, if you need us.” The white alicorn said to her former student, grinning to her with confidence and grazing her sister with a wing covertly, who was getting more confused. This is your chance, little Twilight. Tia thought while she started to walk with the Moon Princess before the young alicorn or the earth pony could reply.
“Sis, what was that?” Luna asked when they were out of sight. “What happen between them?”
“Love, my dear Lulu. The old, complicated and heartwarming love.” The older alicorn answered with a mysterious grin in her face leaving Luna with a puzzled expression.
For five or six minutes, neither Applejack or Twilight said anything or looked to the other, with a tense and uncomfortable silence reigning in the hallway. Both knew that they couldn’t stay like that much longer so finally the orange mare made the first move and started to talk with a lot of effort. “He-Heya, Twi…” She rubbed one foreleg with the other, a very well-known signal of concern.
The former Element of Magic sighed, looking to the floor. “What are you doing here, AJ?”
There was clear pain in her voice that Applejack noticed. “Can we talk in another place?” She pleaded slightly, looking sideways to the Princess. “Please…”
Sparkle agreed that it was best to go to a more private place, so she nodded and begun to guide herself and the blonde mare to the place which she knew for sure that nopony at that day and that hour could be.
The Royal Library.
As soon as they stepped in, the young Princess went directly to the pillows in the center of the room to try to make herself comfortable with no real success. Applejack sat in front of her, trying to keep calm and stay focus but she only got more scared. “Nopony will disturb us here.” Twilight spoke, shaking her wings a little and her mouth was still dry. “So, what do you want, Applejack? I thought that you don’t want to see me. And it’s very surprising to see you in Canterlot, far away from your family in this holidays.”
“Ye-Yeah…” AJ replied with weak voice. “But Ah spoke to them and they understood. Ah-Ah needed t-to see you…” She encouraged herself to look Twilight in the eye. Dammit. Ah’m shaking like a filly. The orange pony thought before continue. “Ah’m… Ah’m sorry, Twilight.”
“Sorry?” The alicorn looked to her with a hurt expression. “Sorry for what, Applejack? Sorry for leaving me without an explanation? Sorry for causing me more pain than anypony before?” Each question was another stab in AJ’s chest, who couldn’t bear the Princess’ look. In fact, Twi had her eyes wet. “Didn’t I deserve a reason, at least?” She asked, her ears dropped down and her lower lip shaking while the earth pony bit her own, hiding her face behind her hat.
“Yer right, Twi and Ah’m sorry, Ah swear. Ah had been stupid, very stupid. But Ah was afraid…”
The librarian raised an eyebrow. “Applejack. Please, look at me.” She approached her friend closer. “Afraid of what?”
“Afra-Afraid of mah own fears…” Applejack confessed with her eyes wet. “Afraid of make ya miserable forever...”
Twi looked her confused. “But why? I don’t understand…”
The earth pony lowered her head slowly, muttering. “Yer the smartest pony Ah ever met and sometimes ya don’t get it…” When she looked the alicorn again, she was crying in silence. “Twilight… Yer immortal. Ya’ll live forever. But Ah wo-won’t…” The tears were running down her cheeks and right after fell to the floor. “The last thing Ah want, Twi, is that ya suffer for me. Ah don’t deserve it… That’s why… Ah chose to end our relationship… Even if it meant that ya will hate me.” Twilight felt her heart turn over after hearing that. “Applejack… You could talk with me before making that decision yourself…” The cowpony shut her eyes. “Ah know! Ah’m so stupid… But Ah really love ya, Twilight and Ah’ll do anything for your happiness...” She took off the Stetson off her head and fixed her ears to her skull. “Now Ah screwed up everything and yer angry…It’s normal, Ah gave ya enough reasons…” She stopped talking when a hoof was placed over her mouth. Surprised, she followed it with her teary eyes up to to it’s owner, who spoke...
“Applejack…” Her tone was very soft, as was her expression. “I’m not angry at you. What’s more, I’m a little flattered for what you were willing to do for me. But my life, eternal or not, would be so miserable without you at my side.” She moved her hoof from Applejack’s lips, smiling. “I love you, AJ, and I always will.”
Applejack shook in her place, swallowing but finding herself with no saliva in her mouth. “That’s what Ah’m most worried, Twi.” She muttered. “Ah’ll grow older and die but ya’ll always be the most beautiful mare in Equestria. Ah’ll leave you alone with only yer memories about us. That’s no fair, sugarcube.” While she spoke, the tears returned to her eyes as she fought to not let them fall. “Ya don’t deserve so much pain…”
Princess Twilight looked at her for a moment saying nothing, taking afterwards a step forward to Applejack, with a resolute look in her eyes. Before AJ could react, she found herself with Twi’s lips, that were much thinner and sweeter in contrast to hers. Her eyes opened in surprise at the time she felt like electricity running through her body. That was the first kiss between them and she hadn’t expected at all.
The alicorn was also the one who broke the kiss seconds later, looking to the orange pony with an emotional expression. “AJ, I prefer without a shadow of a doubt remembering for all eternity the marvelous time we spent together than being without your love one single second.” It was obvious that the emotions were high on Twilight, because she was on the verge of tears. “Don’t worry about the future. It’s so, so far away. We have to enjoy the present, my love…”
Her marefriend started to shake in happiness and then she embraced the princess, muttering. “Ah don’t know what ah did to deserve you, sugarcube.”
Sparkle returned the embrace crying with joy. “I guess that I could say the same.” They separated a little to look at each other eyes and that time it was Applejack who made a move to kiss the librarian. A real kiss, full of the love that they shared. Few minutes had passed when the two finally broke it with a happy grin.
“Do you want to stay with me tonight, AJ?”
“More than anything, sugarcube.”
Later that night, Twilight Sparkle was sitting in her chambers’ balcony, looking at Luna’s beautiful night with an indelible smile. Soon Applejack joined her, giving her a nuzzle in her neck. “Yer thinkin’, Twi?”
Her marefriend looked her sideways. “Nothing serious… Only thinking about how I could give my thanks to Rarity and Rainbow Dash for talking to you besides what I said to them. Well… Except for when Dash was pushing you.” She chuckled a little.
“Yeah… She really can get on mah nerves.” AJ admitted with a grin before looking at the sky as the alicorn.
For a moment, there was nothing more than the two mares together, the stars and the moon. “Ya know, sugarcube? When she was trying to convince me, Rarity told me an old legend… At least, she said that it was a legend.”
The princess raised an eyebrow when looked to her. “A legend? What legend?”
The cowpony accommodated next to Sparkle. “Well… A legend about two ponies that, after promising eternal love to each other, always met again when they revived.”
The former unicorn seemed surprised. “She told you that story? No way!”
“Eh?” Applejack blinked with a puzzled expression. “Ya knew it?”
The librarian nodded with a bigger smile. “Of course. There is a copy of the original book in the Royal Library. It’s called ‘Loving Souls’” She blushed a little, dropping her ears, when she confessed. “It was… The first love story I readed.”
The blonde maned pony leaned her head. “Ya too believe in that?”
Twilight shrank her shoulders. “Who could say that it isn’t a real story? Or based on one.” When she saw her marefriend looked at her confused. “I know, I’m always look for facts, but since I came to Ponyville I saw many things that I thought weren’t possible. Our friendship is a good proof that destiny exists in some way. So, why couldn’t it be possible that two souls are united through time? I confess that I will be more than pleased if that could happen to us.” The alicorn said, looking to her partner with shining eyes.
AJ grinned and poked fun a little on the princess. “Ya spend too much time with a certain fashionista…” Sparkle stuck out her tongue as response, laughing softly next.
After that, Twilight rested her head onto Applejack’s shoulder and put her wing over her marefriend, whispering, “I will always love you, Applejack Apple.”
AJ smiled tenderly, muttering in her ear. “Me too, Twilight Sparkle. Me too’.”