Chapter 3 – Thursday night
Lying on her back on her bed, holding the pony plushie tight, her eyes closed, Twilight kept going over everything that had happened during the day in a seemingly endless loop. It was all she could do to hold back a high-pitched squeak that wanted to erupt from her.
She found that she was almost unable to process all the events of the day. Was it really possible that after everything that had gone wrong the day had turned out so amazing? That she would actually have Rainbow Dash over in her room, and that Rainbow Dash would give her a hug? Even in her wildest dreams she never would have expected anything even remotely like that!
It soon turned out that the memory her mind returned to most frequently was when Rainbow had hugged her goodbye. The warmth of Rainbow’s body pressed against hers, the scent of her hair, the sensation of Rainbow’s arms around her shoulders—she reveled in all those details. All those times when she had daydreamed of Canterlot High’s greatest athlete were nothing in comparison to what it had felt like when she actually had gotten to spend some time with her. To actually be hugged by her!
She flipped on her belly and buried her face in her pillow so that it muffled the gleeful squee she just couldn’t keep in anymore.
And as great as all of that was, she even had a date with Rainbow Dash! Not that they had an actual date set yet, or that Rainbow necessarily considered it a date, but they would go to Donut Joe’s for milkshakes together. And Rainbow Dash had even said she liked her!
And to imagine all of that had in fact only transpired because her potion had gone so horribly wrong…
The thought sobered her up instantly. Twilight turned on her back again and stared at the ceiling, carefully putting the pony plushie aside. Sighing, she stared at the ceiling, hoping the uniform white surface would soothe her. When the ceiling failed to ease her mind, she grabbed her pillow and slammed it on her face, pressing it against her face with both arms.
“What have I done!” she exclaimed, her voice muffled by her pillow. “I just wanted to ask her out, and I managed to get her punished and the whole school to hate her!”
The book on love potions had been easy to find in the library’s alchemy section, but its contents had proven disappointing. While it had contained a few recipes for love potions, the other five sixths of the book had consisted in warnings of the dangers of using love potions. A rebellious part of Twilight had wanted to try it anyway, but that part had never been a very strong force, so she had snuck the book back onto its shelf and had begun thinking about an alternative method how she could get Rainbow Dash, captain of the soccer team and virtually every other sports team and, as it happened, also the most attractive girl in all Canterlot High, to like her.
It was merely a coincidence that Zecora mentioned the courage potion a few days later when they were discussing some minor battles of the Second Punic War. Twilight immediately took a mental note to find out more about this potion as soon as possible. If she couldn’t make Rainbow Dash magically fall for her, maybe a good course of action would be to grant herself enough liquid courage to just ask her out.
Again, she found what she was looking for in the alchemy section. Unlike the love potions, there were only very few possible serious side effects to the courage potion, and the necessary ingredients were easy enough to procure from the local pharmacy where they didn’t even ask her questions anymore and assumed by default that she was working on yet another science project for school.
Twilight picked the gym restrooms to prepare her potion for the same reason why Rainbow Dash liked the mat depot for her naps – when there was no PE class, the whole wing was almost deserted. She didn’t exactly want anyone to walk in on her when she was preparing to ask Rainbow Dash to go to the Fall Formal with her. The image alone was embarrassing enough to make her slightly nauseous.
Using the restrooms, as she had learned in earlier experiments, was almost a necessity in amateur potion-brewing, since boiling potions tended to spatter caustic droplets in all kinds of directions. Also, having a sink nearby to throw out failed attempts had proven useful more than once. The science labs were the only place even better equipped, but potion-making was not exactly encouraged by the school rules.
So she set up her Bunsen burner and her ingredients and started mixing them, closely following the recipe that she had meticulously written into her journal before she had returned the potions book. That way she could instantly add impromptu notes to the recipe based on her immediate experience, and it could also double as a checklist. She also liked to keep all her notes on a certain project in one place, and for obvious reasons the outline of her plan for asking out Rainbow Dash was in her journal as well.
When she added the fell grass, things took a turn for the worse. Instead of assuming a pleasant cyan color, as the recipe demanded, the liquid in her flask turned a sickly turquoise and started increasing in volume at an alarming rate, spilling out of the flask and all over her Bunsen burner and the restroom tiles. Twilight barely had enough time to grab her bag and get out of the restroom before the bluish goo could swallow her up. In panic, she ran away, out of the gym wing, and only stopped in a safe distance. She saw the slime spill out of the restroom windows and heard the clanking and clattering of furniture being torn apart by it.
Then she saw Vice Principal Luna approach the gym and knew she would be in trouble. But when she was already mentally preparing for being told off really badly and for probably the first detention of her school career, she heard Vice Principal Luna start yelling at Rainbow Dash, and she realized that things had indeed exceeded her expectations and were going from really bad to downright abysmal.
She offered Rainbow Dash to help her on the spur of the moment, driven by her guilty conscience after she had caught a glimpse at how bad the situation really was. After all, it had been her fault, and helping Rainbow with her undeserved punishment was the least she could do.
“She must never find out,” Twilight whispered into her pillow. She vividly remembered some of the threats against the mysterious culprit Rainbow had uttered during the day, and flinched. Twilight would probably be in for a beating; she doubted that Rainbow would remember that she had said she liked her too much to beat her up. Fighting back the giddy smile that wanted to take residence on her face at the memory of Rainbow Dash saying that she liked her, she groaned.
She could never find out.
But if Rainbow did in fact never find out that it was Twilight who had caused the slime explosion—? Taking Rainbow to the dance seemed more unlikely after her express disdain for such occasions. On the other hand, at least she was now on speaking terms with the athlete, they would be forced to spend at least one or possibly even two more days cleaning up the gym, and they were going to have milkshakes together.
The smile crept back onto her face as she envisioned all the time Rainbow would spend with her. And she had said she liked her, hadn’t she! So maybe there was hope after all.
She shortly frowned at the thought that her—at this point extremely hypothetic—relationship with Rainbow would be based on lies. But that particular doubtful thought was quickly replaced by the memory of the hug. Absentmindedly, she removed the pillow from her face and embraced it tightly, burying her face in it and imagining it was Rainbow’s shoulder.
Twilight was torn out of her daydreaming when she heard her mother return. She heard her coming up the stairs and knocking at the door. “Twily, it’s bed time!”
“Okay, mom!” she replied, reluctantly disentangling herself from the pillow and getting up.
She hurried getting ready for bed, hoping to be able to at least jolt down some notes on her further progress in bed. Her mom wished her a good night, and as soon as she had closed the door of Twilight’s room, Twilight snuck out of bed again and opened her school bag in search of her journal.
That was when the day returned to being abysmal.
The journal was not there.
Her mental eye presented her with an excruciatingly clear image of what had happened to the journal. She had had it lying on the floor, opened at the page where she had copied the recipe for the courage potion. She had kept it as far from her Bunsen burner setup as possible, not wanting any caustic droplets spilled onto it. And then, when the slime had started to hit the proverbial fan, and when she had hastily grabbed her bag and had run out – she had left the journal right where it was.
The journal that contained not only a detailed step-by-step run-down of her plan to ask out Rainbow Dash, but also a collection of, in hindsight, exceedingly embarrassing works of fiction as well as lovestruck ramblings centered on the cyan athlete.
That very same journal was right now lying in a place where Rainbow would inevitably find it.
She collapsed on her bed, too shocked to even think of sleep. She was not entirely sure she would not be physically sick as she pondered the dreadful inevitability of her fate. Rainbow Dash would find the journal; she would know that Twilight was the culprit; milkshakes would be cancelled; and then she would beat her up. Nothing short of an asteroid laying waste to the school would prevent it, and Twilight knew very well that there were no asteroids scheduled to crash in this region anytime soon.
There was really only one solution. Twilight had to be first to find the journal, and she would just have to be very fast and either hide it in her bag or destroy it somehow. Unless, of course, the slime had been caustic enough to dissolve the damned thing.
She somehow doubted that would be the case.
Exhausted by the shock that had befallen her when she had noticed that the journal was missing, she finally fell asleep, dreaming of Rainbow Dash and a hug that would go on and on while someone kicked her shin.