It was a rare occurrence when the stars weren’t in full view above Ponyville. Flashing lights emanated from the town hall, the energizing music getting muffled as Lyra slinked away from the building. Carefully she walked down the steps, then broke into a light trot once her hooves met with cold grass. Home wasn’t very far away. Their home, at least. Or was that her home and ‘Sweetie Drops’’ home?
There she was. The monster hunter, apparently. Lyra let out a reluctant sigh and stopped.
“Lyra, where are you going?” Bon Bon asked, tugging at her towards the town hall. “The party’s far from over.”
“Home,” Lyra muttered. “Tired, I guess. Big day ‘n’ all.” Pausing, she bit her lip. “Lots of things to take in.”
Bon Bon winced, drawing her hoof away. “That’s fair enough. I’ll come with you.”
Lyra looked down at the grass. “Sure.”
“Thanks, Lyra,” Bon Bon said, giving her a smile that went unseen.
They went onward, a pony width apart, walking down the streets, which were as empty as the pair’s words. Lyra thumped her head against the door. Bon Bon opened it and in Lyra went, settling on the couch almost immediately.
“Not coming to bed…?” Bon Bon asked, wearing a ghost of a smile.
Lyra turned, facing the backrest. Her forelegs clasped around herself. “I…” She licked her lips and closed her eyes. “Sorry.”
Bon Bon blinked, stepping back. “I thought—no, that’s… that’s alright, Lyra. I’ll see you tomorrow…?”
“Cool.” Bon Bon nodded slowly. She went to the stairs, hesitantly putting a hoof on the first step before turning back around. “I love you!”
“I love you too.”
A thin layer of frost covered the grass and plants of the town, a thin mist covering it in a cold veil. Winter Wrap Up may have ended but the morning’s could still be frightful. Lyra walked through the town park, wrapped up in a yellow scarf. Her eyes were a state; bloodshot and baggy. The cold only served to make the aching in her back all the more vivid.
Again, the town was quiet. Not that it surprised Lyra much. Sweetie Dro—Bon Bon was still asleep by the time she’d left the house and not many ponies got up earlier than her. Monster hunting must have made for a lot of early starts, she guessed.
Coming to the pond, ducks were already swimming about. Fluffy tiny ducklings followed their parents, who travelled in pairs. Lyra frowned, looking past them to the other side. She blinked.
“Hm. Didn’t expect to see a pony come here so early.”
“Cranky?” Lyra asked, trotting around.
“That’s my name,” Cranky replied. The ducks congregated to him as he tossed out chunks of bread. A tiny little smile flickered on his face, the ducks letting their children have a feast.
Lyra ignored them, staring at Cranky. “What are you doing here?”
Cranky snorted, tossing another bit of bread. “What does it look like?”
Lyra sighed, rubbing her head. “No, I mean—the wedding?”
Cranky slowly faced her. “That was yesterday, yes. What about it?”
“Well I just thought you’d be…” Lyra smiled sheepishly, fiddling with her forehooves. “Still asleep with Matilda.”
“Ah.” Cranky snorted out something that resembled a laugh. “I was. But a wedding ain’t stopping me from enjoying the only quiet part of the day.” He raised a brow, blindly tossing a piece of bread to the ducks. “You’re not an early bird, are you?”
“No, not really,” Lyra said, suppressing a yawn shortly after.
Cranky rolled his eyes, throwing away the last bit of bread. “What is it then?”
Lyra slowly blinked and rubbed her eyes. “What?”
“You caught me in a good mood,” Cranky said, face stony as ever. “And I’m a good listener. So out with it.”
Lyra let a short, awkward burst of laughter. “No no, you don’t need to listen to my problems.”
“You’re right about that,” Cranky agreed, staring out across the pond. “I saw you coming. I’ll be honest, you looked a sight. I didn’t say anything—not my place. Maybe you don’t want to share. That’s fine. I just thought I’d offer now ‘cause the way you looked: head down, ears lowered, dragging yourself along, lacking any sort of the usual ‘pony energy’. Looked as if…”
He grumbled, mumbling to himself. “How to say the darn thing… looked like you lost something pretty important to you. Or your mind had something sticking into it. A big sore issue.” He shrugged, watching the ducks leave. “You’d know better than me.”
“Well…” Lyra scuffed a hoof across the ground. “I suppose I didn’t lose anything. More like... I found something.”
“And what did you find?”
“It was—” Lyra bit down on her lip, then shook her head sharply. “I can’t say. Sorry.”
Cranky grumbled, looking away from her. “Typical. Why do I bother…?”
“Can I ask you something instead?” Lyra asked.
“I don’t see why not,” Cranky said.
“When you found Matilda was she…” Lyra looked up, searching for the words. “Different from what you expected?”
Cranky let out a short chuckle, stepping closer to Lyra. “I’ll give you something, kid: that wasn’t a bad question.” Nodding towards a nearby park bench, Cranky parked himself upon it. Lyra followed, flinching when her hind quarters touched the wood.
Reclining back, Cranky started, “I can’t lie, she wasn’t completely the same when I found her again. Older, for one thing. Different hairstyle. Some different quirks.”
“And that didn’t upset you at all?” Lyra queried, sitting up straight.
Cranky gave her a little frown. “Now why would it? She was still the same Matilda I’d known and loved from years back. So some things change. Everypony does! Honestly I was more worried about whether she still had a place in her heart for me.”
“Obviously she did,” Lyra replied, a small smile coming on.
“Were you ever around yesterday? Of course she does. That’s all that matters, I reckon. I love her, she loves me. Now we live a simple life.” Cranky shrugged. “Just the way I like it.”
“That’s nice,” Lyra said, gazing down at her forehooves. Her eyes shifted towards Cranky. “Um, yeah?”
“Did my answer solve your problem?” Cranky said.
“No.” Lyra sighed, hanging her head. “Not really.”
“Out with it, then!” Cranky ordered. “You ponies, always hopping and dancing and singing. Never getting to the point! Even the earth ponies are that way…”
“Let’s just say somepony I thought I knew turned out to be different.” Hugging herself, Lyra looked towards a pair of ducks. They quacked happily, occasionally bobbing below the water. “She kept secrets.”
“Is that all?” Cranky tutted. “That’s another thing you ponies are: melodramatic.”
Lyra turned, growling, “Excuse me? What do you mean ‘is that all’?! It’s serious!”
“That may be the case. It’s not my place to say. I doubt you’d tell me what the secrets were anyway.” Upon seeing Lyra nod warily, Cranky continued. “All I’m gonna say is this: keep things in perspective. Everyone has their secrets. I do, Matilda does and I’m sure you do too. Now whatever this pony’s secret, I’m sure it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes we need to keep secrets.”
Cranky heaved himself off the bench, shaking his limbs. “Tell me this: is this secret so bad that everything’s changed?”
“I…” Lyra rubbed her chin uncertainly. “I don’t know.”
“Then maybe you oughta talk to this pony then,” Cranky said, beginning to walk away. “That’s all I’ll say. Good day.”
Lyra slid off the bench, calling out after him. “Thank you!”
“For the talk, I mean,” Lyra continued. “And I wish you the best with Matilda.”
A small laugh came from him as he walked on. “Luck to you, Lyra.”
Lyra watched him go with a smile, then turned to the ducks. A cold wind was blowing, causing them to scatter and Lyra’s teeth chatter. She watched as a pair of ducks took shelter together in some reeds, their ducklings hiding under their parents’ wings.
Another biting breeze and Lyra was off.
Lyra stood before the front door, breathing deeply, her legs locked into place. She ran through countless sentences in her words, hundreds of possible scenarios. Resting her head against the door, she hesitantly brought a hoof to the door and knocked upon it.
The door swung open and Bons was standing there, smiling softly. “You didn’t need to knock.”
“I know, I know,” Lyra replied, rubbing at her foreleg. “It felt right to do it though.”
“That’s okay.” Bon Bon’s gaze trailed away from Lyra. “You want to talk about…”
“Yeah,” Lyra finished.
Bon Bon grimly nodded. “Alright.”
She led the way inside, the pair sitting opposite each other at the round kitchen table. Both of them kept their forehooves underneath, fidgeting. Glances were shared and quickly broken, the sound of the ticking clock almost echoing.
“Just…” Lyra looked across the room, spotting a picture of them both in Ponyville sharing a warm embrace while the sun shone above them. “Who are you?”
“I’m the same pony I’ve always been,” Bon Bon offered, reaching a hoof across the table.
Lyra scooted back in her chair. “I didn’t know that entailed monster hunting. Not to mention a whole different identity.”
“Lyra, I—” Bon Bon withdrew her hoof. “I’m sorry. I really am. I wanted to forget it all and move on. Put it all behind me, like a separate life locked behind a door. I guess that didn’t turn out as well as I hoped...”
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
“I can handle you being a monster hunter. It’s not what I expected but that’s not the worst thing about this. No no,” Lyra said, staring across the table at her lover. “It’s the fact that you didn’t trust me enough to let me know. Like you felt you had to hide who you were from me.”
Lyra got up, the chair sliding behind her. “I love you, Bon Bon! Doesn’t that count for anything?!”
“Of course it does!” Bon Bon cried. “That’s exactly why I didn’t tell you! I didn’t want all that baggage to affect you. To affect us! Monster hunting was one thing but this, what we have together, it’s worth so much more to me!”
Lyra slumped back down in her chair, rubbing her face. “It still hurt. Deeply. Your name isn’t even Bon Bon! It’s Sweetie Drops!”
“Bon Bon, Sweetie Drops—what does it matter? It’s only a name. That’s no replacement for a pony. Names don’t mean anything!” Taking a breath, Bon Bon continued. “I like Bon Bon anyway. And all your pet names that come with it. Bons, Bonnie, even Bonster.”
“So…” Lyra carefully looked up at her. “You’ll keep it?”
“Definitely,” she replied, smiling encouragingly.
“I love you,” Lyra said quietly. Her voice grew in intensity with each sentence as she spoke. “I’m madly in love with you. It’s almost painful, right in here.” She tapped her chest. “And when you said you were really Sweetie Drops, it almost felt like what we had, what I’m feeling for you was all for nothing. Like I was wasting my time.”
“No!” Bon Bon scurried around the table, cupping Lyra’s face with her hoof. “Don’t think that, Lyra Heartstrings. Don’t you dare think that, ever! My time with you has been nothing but the truth and I’ve cherished every bit of it!”
She gently put a hoof on Lyra’s mouth. “When I first came to this town, I was scared and alone. Everything was new to me and I had no idea what I’d do with my life. But then I saw you, sitting on that bench we always sit on. You gave me a smile, one I’ll never forget, and showed me around the town. It didn’t take long before I knew I wanted to be with you. That you were the one.”
Taking her hoof away from Lyra, she quietly finished with, “You felt it too, right?”
“Yes,” Lyra replied, eyes brimming with tears. “Yes!”
Before Bon Bon could respond, Lyra’s lips had locked with hers. Their eyes closed, they shared a tight embrace, their bodies desperately clinging to one another. Each of them felt the familiar, warm, safe sensation of their partner, which only made them hold each other even tighter.
It was Lyra that pulled away, wiping her eyes free from tears. “I’m sorry. I got way too worked up about this; just look at me.” She giggled to herself, despite the crying. “I’m a silly silly pony. Even Cranky thought so.”
“But you’re my silly silly, goofy ol’ Lyra,” Bon Bon replied, kissing Lyra’s muzzle. It scrunched up in response, causing Bon Bon to giggle too. "What about Cranky anyway?"
"We had a talk this morning, while I was out," Lyra answered, gazing out of the window. "He was less grumpy than usual, that's for sure. I see now what he was on about." Looking up into Bon Bon's eyes, she said, "I know now that our love was genuine. Something very real. And that you'll my brave, smart, monster slaying Bon Bon, no matter what your past,” Lyra said, leaning against her.
“Well I didn’t slay the monsters…” Bon Bon clarified, kissing the top of Lyra's head, sensing her warmth and minty aroma.
Bon Bon glanced towards the window, the sun still making its ascent towards the middle of the sky. Then she looked at the clock, still ticking away. “You know, it’s still morning. I could use a lie in…”
“Sounds great, Bons,” Lyra said, nuzzling her lover.
Smiling warmly, Bon Bon led her up the stairs towards the bedroom, sticking as close as she possibly could to Lyra without tripping her over.
“Hey Bon Bon?”
“I’m still sorry about those oats.”
The pair broke into childish snickering as they entered the bedroom, slamming the door shut behind them.