Inner Strength

by Krickis


17 - Only As Blind As We Want to Be

Chapter Seventeen

Only As Blind As We Want to Be

The sky glowed orange, despite no trace of the sun being visible. The flowers along the river grew taller than any pony, with light shining through their translucent petals, creating patches of green and yellow in the water. Usually, no matter how bizarre it may be, a dream will still feel real to the dreamer. Twilight knew she was dreaming, but unless somepony had drugged her, she wasn’t sure where the dream was coming from.

She was riding along the river in a simple wooden boat, being pulled by the current towards a hill. Among the immense flowers it was the only thing that actually stood out. She hoped from a higher vantage point that she’d be able to figure out where to go. ‘Although, if this is just a dream, I suppose it doesn’t matter,’ she rationalized. Still, she was curious to see more, dream or not.

As she drew closer to it, the stems of the flowers became thicker and darker, while the petals became smaller and lost their prismatic nature, becoming consistently green. Eventually they started bearing fruit, and Twilight realized they had changed seamlessly into trees, which continued to grow up the hill. As she reached the shore and made her way up the hill, the trees grew sparser until there was only one left at the top. Underneath it lay a pony.

“Tangerine?” Luna offered casually, as if their meeting here wasn’t strange in the slightest.

“Luna? What’s going on?” Twilight asked.

“I have been waiting for you. You could have just flown, you know.” Luna picked a tangerine and levitated it to Twilight. She didn’t see the point in eating in a dream, but accepted it nonetheless.

“But why are you here? I’m happy to see you, but this isn’t really a nightmare, even if it is a little weird.” Twilight peeled the fruit and took a bite. “Sweet Celestia that’s good!”

“Naturally. I made it.” Twilight looked at her, about to ask what she meant, then took another bite of the tangerine instead. Luna’s explanation could wait, considering the fruit would be gone when she woke up. Luna chuckled. “You are not dreaming, Twilight. I am. I brought you from a dreamless slumber into my dream.”

“You can do that?” Twilight asked, juice leaking out of her mouth.

“I can, but usually do not. Until recently, my dreams were unsafe for other ponies. Now that they are not it may occasionally be a convenient means of communication, although it is not without downsides. For example, despite it being night at current, I am asleep.”

“But don’t you have important things to do at night?” Twilight asked.

“Many, every night,” Luna said, shaking her head. “Which is why we shall not mention this particular meeting with Tia.” She gave Twilight a sideways glance and the younger alicorn nodded. “Good. And whether Tia would agree or not, I do consider this meeting important. I understand you met Stormy Skies a few weeks ago?”

“Yes,” Twilight said. She set aside the tangerine, having lost all taste for the fruit. “Why didn’t you tell me about him?” Fluttershy had told her that Luna had known about what happened for over a year, having seen it in a dream. Along with Rainbow Dash – whom Fluttershy had made promise to not tell anypony – that made her one of the only ponies to know about it.

“As I said before, I do not disclose the contents of what one dreams about, even to their lover. I did encourage Fluttershy to tell you herself, however. Now that she has, what do you intend to do?”

Twilight had been asking herself the same question. “I don’t know. I know taking care of Fluttershy has to come first, but everytime I think about him I just…”

Luna put a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “You are correct. Your focus should be on Fluttershy. Part of why I summoned you here was to make sure you don’t do anything drastic, although I believe if you were going to do something foalish, it would have been done by now.”

“Fluttershy said you took care of it.” Twilight shook her head. “How exactly is it taken care of? He’s still out there!”

“I did what I could. Despite never being convicted, his crime is on record, and I have him under constant surveillance. In the time since I’ve known about this, he has done nothing without my knowledge. Strictly speaking, neither of these things were actually within my authority as dictated by Equestrian law. And for whatever small comfort it may be, he no longer sleeps peacefully. It is not the punishment that he deserves, but it is what I can offer.”

Twilight knew that was the best she could hope for. There was no evidence to back Fluttershy’s claim, even if she did have several excellent character witnesses. Factoring the time since the assault, it was guaranteed to return no verdict. In the end, a trial would accomplish nothing, and place unnecessary hardship on Fluttershy. “I just… I want to do more.”

Luna stared at the field of impossible flowers. “I know. It is always hard to be powerless, especially when you do in fact have the power to do something, but not the ability to use it.”

Twilight stared at the horizon, wondering how many times Luna had felt the same way in her thousands of years.

“There was another reason I wanted to speak with you,” Luna said. “This one is about something you can do.”

“What is it?” Twilight answered quickly, eager to do something, anything, to feel less useless.

“Fluttershy is concerned. She believes you are disgusted with her.”

“That’s not true!” Twilight said, rising at the accusation.

Luna held a hoof up. “I did not say it was. But she thinks it is.”

Twilight sat back down and sighed. “I know. I keep telling her I’m not, but she doesn’t believe me. I don’t know what to do.”

“It is often said that actions speak louder than words,” Luna said.

“But I haven’t done anything to make her feel like that! I don’t understand.”

Luna shook her head. “Sometimes inaction is its own form of action. It is precisely something you haven’t done that is the problem.”

Twilight had an idea of what she meant. “Are you talking about…” She blushed as she trailed off.

“Sex,” Luna said simply, as if it were the most innocuous topic in the world. “Twilight, please, we’re both adults.”

“Yes, well, some of us haven’t spent thousands of years getting comfortable with talking about that!” Twilight said. She expected a tongue in cheek retort, but the Lunar Princess barely reacted, leaving Twilight feeling a little guilty for her tone. She really was a different pony in dreams.

“Use whichever words you like, but the point still stands. While I can guess by your reaction that you are inexperienced with these things, I trust you do realize that Fluttershy has been making attempts to progress your relationship?”

“I know.” Twilight cast her eyes down. “And I really don’t think any less of her. I’m just scared.”

“Of what? I hardly think you can fear rejection at this point; I believe her intent has been made rather obvious.”

“What if she’s just doing this because she feels guilty? Or because she thinks I’ll leave if she doesn’t?”

“I think she is more in control of her impulses than you give her credit for. It was fine and admirable the first few nights, when her emotions were getting the better of her, but it’s been weeks now.” Luna looked at her with a gaze that pierced through Twilight. “Or is there something else?”

Twilight breathed deeply. Even though she hated to discuss something so personal with anypony, Luna was probably the best pony to talk to about this. “When we were in Cloudsdale, I told her she looked like her mom. I didn’t know about what happened, and it turned out that was something he said to her.” Twilight’s eye winced as she spoke. She shook her head to try and wipe thoughts of Stormy Skies out of her mind. “When Fluttershy looked at me, she was afraid. I know she wasn’t actually afraid of me, but that’s what it felt like. It… really hurt, seeing her look at me like that. What if we start… doing things, and I trigger something?”

“Yes, that is a possibility,” Luna said. Twilight looked at the ground, feeling her fears were justified. “I will not give you comforting lies, your concern is a valid one. But never making the attempt is not the solution. Rather than worry about a possibility beyond your control, think instead about what you can actually do to lower the risk, and what can be done if there is a problem.”

When Luna didn’t continue Twilight cocked her head to the side. “Is, uh, this a test? Because I’ve been wracking my brain over this for days, and I could really just use some answers.”

Luna smiled. “Forgive me. I am too used to guiding ponies through dreams. The most important thing you can do is make sure she realizes that even if something is started, she can stop it at anytime. One thing that might help is if she takes the lead, although I can not say I see her being a very dominant lover.”

‘If only,’ Twilight mused. She would love for Fluttershy to take the lead, if only so she wouldn’t have to worry about what she was supposed to do. “But what if something does go wrong? And worse, what if she doesn’t say she wants to stop?”

“Ultimately that is her decision, and all you can do is make sure to remind her that you don’t have a problem with stopping early. But she trusts you, and I believe she will trust you enough to voice her concerns, should she have any. Of course, the two of you should still discuss how you feel afterwards, just to make sure no problem ever goes ignored. And in the event you do trigger something, remember that it is not you she’s afraid of, and with your support and understanding she will be alright. If nothing else, simply making the attempt will show her that you still find her desirable.”

“I guess that could work,” Twilight said, although she couldn’t help but be terrified with how badly things could go.

“Twilight, I have had many lovers. Many stood the test of time, many did not. Among my successful relationships, the only truly consistent thing was that all ponies were willing to communicate their concerns so that an agreement could be reached.” Luna smirked. “Although this may require using our adult words.”

“You’re right,” Twilight said.

“Of course I am. I’m me.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. It was nice to see some of the playful Luna show through the serene dream walker Luna. As they stared into the flowers together, something occurred to Twilight. “Okay, I know it’s a dream and it doesn’t have to make sense, but the sun’s been rising a really long time now.”

“It’s setting, actually.”

“How can you even tell?”

“We always know what is happening in our dreams; we just don’t always listen to ourselves,” Luna said.

Twilight often wondered if Luna tried to sound mysterious on purpose or if being vague just came naturally to her. “Anyway, it just seems like it should have set by now.”

“I doubt it ever will, and more to the point, I know it never should,” Luna said.

Twilight decided she had to be doing it on purpose. “You know exactly what it means, but you aren’t going to say.” Luna remained silent. Twilight threw her hooves into the air in frustration. “Well, why not? Why say anything at all if you aren’t going to tell me?”

Luna just smiled at Twilight’s over reaction. “Several reasons.”

“Fine.” Twilight levitated another tangerine off the tree and decided to change the subject. “So, what ever happened between you and Amber?”

Luna closed her eyes for a moment and when she opened them she smiled contently. “She is here with me now.”

Twilight took a moment to properly swallow her food. “Okay, that’s a little weird to think about.”

Luna smirked. “And you and Fluttershy are not in the same bed?”

“You know, that actually just made the whole thing weirder,” Twilight said. She knew it was silly, but she suddenly felt exposed, as if Luna was in Fluttershy’s bedroom watching them sleep. “So you two are actually dating then?”

“Not exactly, and certainly not in the way you mean. She is a charming mare, but we are not seeking a committed relationship with each other. We are merely friends, even if that friendship comes with certain benefits.”

Twilight shrugged. “As long as you’re both happy, I guess.”

“We are,” Luna said. “I think it would be best for me to rise. The night is young enough I may fulfil some of my royal duties, at least.”

“Wait!” Twilight levitated another tangerine and dug in. Her impulse told her to eat as much as possible, even though she knew it was pointless, that the only reason to keep eating was to savor the taste.

Luna laughed. “While I am happy to cast aside work to help you with your love life, even I find it negligent to ignore my responsibilities so you may eat.”

“Can’t you just leave me here?”

“This is a dream, Twilight. It will go away when I wake.”

“Oh yeah. Well, can you make me dream about them?”

“Good night, Twilight.”

“Luna!”


Twilight woke up hungry. She hadn’t dreamt any more about food, and she knew no waking food would be the same. Still, she descended the stairs to the kitchen and found Fluttershy already up.

“Morning, Twily.”

“Morning, Shy.” Twilight kissed her. “Hey, do we have any tangerines?”

“No, but we do have apples,” Fluttershy said.

“We always have apples.” It was one of the perks of being friends with Applejack. Some days it didn’t feel like a perk.

“Well, we can pick some up at the market later, if you like.” Fluttershy poured her a cup of tea.

“Sounds good,” Twilight said, sipping on her tea. They had stayed at Fluttershy’s house this time. Twilight wondered how long they were going to keep doing this. It had been over two month since they had last stayed in separate houses. She was happy wherever they were, but ‘not living together’ was becoming more and more a formality.

“Well, ready to get to work?” Twilight asked once she finished her tea. Taking care of the animals together had become part of their morning routine.

“Oh, I already took care of it,” Fluttershy said.

“Really? What time is it?”

“Eleven.”

Twilight sighed. She could never seem to sync up with Fluttershy’s sleeping habits. She always either barely slept due to excitement or anxiety, or she slept too much. “I’m sorry, Shy. I can’t believe I slept in so late.” Even though she hated waking up so early, Twilight was disappointed. She had grown to love seeing the animals everyday, not to mention watching Fluttershy light up as she was around them.

“Twily, it’s fine. I did it for years by myself you know.” Fluttershy rested her head against Twilight’s shoulders. “Besides, I couldn’t sleep.”

“Bad dreams?” Twilight asked. She wondered if it had anything to do with what she and Luna had talked about.

“No. Somepony kept stealing the blanket.”

Twilight smiled sheepishly. “Sorry.”

“Maybe we should stay at the castle tonight. It’s always warmer there.”

“Yeah. You know, I think we should have somepony look at the insulation here. Although it’s not that old, so it should be fine. Maybe they cheaped out on it.”

Fluttershy giggled. “Twilight Sparkle wants to let somepony else take care of something? Oh, what’s this world coming to?”

“Hey, I’m not touching that stuff. Do you have any idea how itchy it is? It’s impossible to get out of your fur.”

“Hmm, are you sure it’s not just because there are some things you should leave to professionals?”

“No, I’m serious. That stuff’s almost as bad as mom’s sweaters.”

Fluttershy laughed and playfully pushed Twilight. “Twily, you’re horrible, I can’t believe you.”

Twilight grinned. “Hey, maybe I should do it myself! I have enough of those sweaters by now, and I’m sure they work just as well.”

Fluttershy tried to do her best angry glare, but caved in and hugged her instead. “You’re so mean. Why do I love somepony so mean?”

“Must be one of my other amazing qualities. I happen to be one of the only ponies who can routinely burn toast, even while using a toaster!” Twilight said proudly.

A rap on the door cut off Fluttershy’s reply. Twilight got up to answer it. Ever since returning from Cloudsdale, the couple had become increasingly reclusive. Twilight had even given up her habit of reading the news everyday. So long as the outside world could be ignored, they were usually happy, which was why Twilight felt some reluctance to answer the door at all.

Thankfully when she did it was only Applejack. “Mornin’, Twi. Mind if I come in for a sec?”

“Of course not.” Twilight held the door open. Applejack shook off as much of the snow as she could and stepped inside.

“Oh, hello, Applejack,” Fluttershy said, walking out from the kitchen.

“Mornin’, Fluttershy,” Applejack said. “I came by to give y’all a heads up. There’s a couple of ponies waiting around in front of the castle.”

“Oh.” Fluttershy looked down. Twilight put a hoof on her shoulder. She normally refrained from displaying any affection towards her marefriend around Applejack, but she also wasn’t going to let Fluttershy be sad without at least doing something.

“Do you know if they’re part of Ivy’s group?” Twilight asked.

“They said they ain’t, but who knows? At least they ain’t holdin’ protest signs this time. There’s only two of ‘em and they said they need to talk to one of you.”

Twilight and Fluttershy exchanged looks. “Either of us?” Twilight asked. “That’s a bad sign.”

“That’s what they said.”

If they just wanted to talk to Twilight, it could have been business. But the only ponies who came by the castle looking for Fluttershy were ponies neither of them wanted to talk to in the first place.

“Thank you, Applejack, I’ll talk to them,” Twilight said.

“I’ll come with you,” Fluttershy said.

Twilight shook her head. “We know they’re just going to be protestors. There’s no need for us both to go, I’ll take care of it.”

“And there’s no need for you to go alone,” Fluttershy said. “Remember, we’re a team now.”

Fluttershy hugged her, and to Twilight’s amazement she found an extra hoof on her shoulder. She turned to see Applejack standing beside her smiling.

“How about we all go,” she said.

“Thanks, Applejack, but you don’t need to,” Twilight said.

“I know I don’t, but I want to,” Applejack said, bowing her head. “I know I haven’t been the most supportive friend through all this.”

“Applejack, it’s fine,” Fluttershy said. “We know you’re doing your best.”

“I know, and that’s why I feel so dumb. All this time, y’all been telling me it’s okay, but I’m not the one with ponies harassing me for no good reason.” Applejack shook her head. “I can’t believe I had to see y’all hurtin’ so much to finally get it through my thick skull. And I see all those ponies and hear what they’re sayin’ and I just… well, a year ago that could have been me. So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m sorry I’ve been so stubborn, and I want to be a real friend again.” Applejack held out a foreleg as an invitation for a hug, which Fluttershy accepted immediately. Twilight smiled and watched until she was pulled in as well. “You too Twi, I reckon I was even worse back when you first told me.”

“Don’t mention it, Applejack. I’m just glad to have you back now,” Twilight said.

“Now then, let’s go clear some pests,” Applejack said, leading the way to the castle. If anypony along the way had anything negative to say, they didn’t even notice.

As they approached the castle, however, Twilight stopped in her tracks. There were two stallions waiting by the entrance. One of them she didn’t recognize, a blue earth pony with a brown mane. The other, a tan unicorn with a silver mane, she had been avoiding for years. “What is he doing here?” she muttered to herself.

“You know them, Twi?” Applejack asked.

“The unicorn. His name’s Silver Spark.” Twilight hadn’t liked him when they were foals, and she certainly didn’t now that he was with the Virtuous Equestrian Society.

“Isn’t that Ivy Jewel’s son?” Fluttershy asked. Twilight nodded.

“Ya want me to tell them to get lost?” Applejack asked.

“Uhm, girls? I think they noticed us,” Fluttershy said as the two stallions approached them. Reflecting on it, Twilight realized standing in the middle of the road was probably not the best idea.

“Twilight! Wow it’s been ages!” Silver Spark said. Twilight’s ear twitched in annoyance at his tone of familiarity.

“Not long enough. What do you want?” Twilight knew it would be best to remain courteous. Whether she liked it or not, the VES had the ear of a lot of ponies, and they were sure to spin a story if she wasn’t on her best behavior. But she was tired of playing nice, and she was not dealing with it anymore.

The two ponies stopped in place and stared at her like she’d struck them. “We just want to talk with you.”

“You and everypony else,” Twilight said curtly. “I’m sorry, I’m just not in the mood to hear about how my personal life is ruining Equestria.”

“And you said I was the rude one,” Applejack said.

“I really think you should listen to what we have to say,” Silver Spark said. The other stallion recovered from his shock and almost seemed to find Twilight’s outburst amusing.

“What is it this time? Am I corrupting the minds of the youth? Using my influence to turn ponies gay? Whatever it is, I can guarantee you that I’ve heard it all before!”

Silver Spark held up a hoof to pacify her, which only irritated her further. “I understand you’re upset, trust me. But if you’d just let me explain –”

“You don’t understand! All I see everywhere I go is how everypony has something to say about my relationship with Fluttershy. Well it’s none of your business! I’ve spent years being terrified about coming out for this exact reason, and now that I found somepony I love enough to make it worthwhile, everypony just wants to tear us apart! How would you feel if every time you went out in public somepony was there to tell you that you can’t be with the mare you love because of something that shouldn’t even matter to them? Or that you’re contributing to the downfall of society, because you have the audacity to be with the pony you love!? But none of you ever think about that, so how could you know how I feel!?”

The two stallions waited patiently for her to finish before Silver Spark smiled. “Oh, I think I might have some idea what that’s like. Twilight, this is my coltfriend, Sea Star.”

Twilight and Fluttershy looked at each other in disbelief. “I… but… you’re both…”

Silver Spark smiled nervously while Sea Star and Applejack began snickering, before outright laughing. “Your faces! Y’all should see the looks on your faces!”

Twilight shook her head. “But… I thought you were with The Virtuous Equestrian Society? Your mom said…”

“My mom has a way with words,” Silver Spark said. “Not a good way, I’m afraid. Of all ponies, you should know by now that she isn’t the best source of information. Didn’t you get my letters?”

“Oh. Uhm, well, I did,” Twilight said, idly kicking at the ground while she talked. “But I might not have actually read any of them…”

“I can’t say I blame you,” Silver said. “But what about the letters other ponies have been sending?”

“Well… no.” Twilight said. “I feel horrible, but I just thought they’d all be hate mail.”

“Hold on, how’d y’all even know ponies were sending her letters?” Applejack asked.

“Well, I wrote one too,” Sea Star said. “And so did just about every other gay pony in Equestria. You two are kind of a big deal you know.”

Twilight didn’t know what to say. She thought of the mountain of unopened mail she’d been thinking of burning. “You know, I think I’d really like to see some of those letters now.”

Fluttershy nudged her. “Twi, we have guests. Let’s go inside and warm up. We can make some tea. Or coffee or cocoa if you prefer.”

“Tea with a princess. Wait until I tell my mom about this one!” Sea Star said as they walked into the castle.

“Spike? We’re home,” Twilight called

Spike popped out from upstairs. “Hiya, Twi, Fluttershy,” he said as he descended the stairs. “Hey, Applejack. Wait a minute… what’s he doing here?” Spike glared at Silver Spark.

“You know I said the same thing,” Twilight said.

“Hi, Spike,” Silver Spark said. “I’m surprised you recognize me, you were pretty young last time I saw you.”

Spike kept his arms folded. “Yeah yeah, I’ve gotten big. Why are you here?”

Sea Star chuckled. “They really don’t like you.”

“I… might have been a bit of a brat when I was a colt,” Silver said.

“You’re still a bit of a brat.” Sea rolled his eyes.

“Shush. Spike this is Sea Star, my coltfriend.”

Spike cocked his head to the side. “Really?”

“Yes?” Silver frowned. “I promise I’m not pretending to be gay to earn your trust or something.”

Spike shrugged. “Okay then.” He turned to Twilight. “Should I make lunch?”

“That would be great, thank you, Spike,” Twilight said.

“Oh, uhm, only if you don’t mind though,” Fluttershy added.

“No problem,” Spike said, scurrying into the kitchen.

“Well that was easy,” Sea Star said. “I thought he was gonna yell at us too.”

Twilight smiled. “Spike’s pretty accepting. I was worried when I first came out to him that he wouldn’t understand, but he’s been completely fine with everything.”

“Yeah, Apple Bloom was the same way,” Applejack said. “Heh, to tell the truth she actually ended up helpin’ me to understand it.”

“The innocence of youth is truly a marvel,” Silver said.

“Hey, Spike? Do we have any tangerines?” Twilight called.

“Nope, but we have apples,” Spike said.

“We always have apples,” Twilight grumbled.

“And what’s wrong with apples?” Applejack asked.

“So, why is your mom after us anyway?” Twilight asked. Applejack huffed in annoyance.

“That’d actually be our fault,” Silver said. “We’d been dating for a few months but I hadn’t come out to my mom. I thought it was the perfect time when you came out, since she’s always going on about how great you are.”

“Yeah, I think I fell off her list of upstanding ponies when she figured out I wasn’t going to date her son,” Twilight said.

“She was after you with that too?” Silver said, grinning.

“Every time I visited my parents. ‘Oh, Twilight, Silver was just asking about you the other day.’ ”

“ ‘Did you know Twilight’s in Canterlot, dear? It would be a perfect time to catch up.’ I guess we kind of foiled her plans there.” Silver grinned. “But then that same day she formed the VES. She thinks if she can bring you down she’ll, I don’t know, scare the gay out of me or something.”

“Well, it must have resonated with some ponies,” Twilight said. “Two thousand in one week. I can’t believe they grew so fast.”

“Twilight, do you know what my mom’s best at?”

Twilight thought for a moment, but everything that came to mind might offend her son, even if they weren’t exactly happy with one another. “No, what?”

“Networking. While my dad works my mom socializes, which is a big deal in Canterlot. The VES isn’t the first hate group, and membership isn’t exclusive. All she had to do is talk to a few ponies that run their own anti-homosexuality groups and she got members overnight.”

“That’s still an awful lot of ponies,” Fluttershy said.

“Not really, it just sounds impressive,” Silver said. “Do you know what the population of Canterlot is?”

“Seventy-eight thousand, as of the last census,” Twilight answered automatically. Silver and Sea gave her surprised looks.

“Uhm, yes, actually,” Silver said. “And while most of their members are in Canterlot, not all of them are. That’s two thousand spread out all over Equestria.”

“The VES and the whole anti-gay movement are nothing but a very vocal minority,” Sea said.

Twilight looked to Fluttershy who was smiling broadly. “I guess I never thought about it in perspective like that. Everypony doesn’t hate us.”

“I think you should get some of those letters,” Fluttershy said.

Twilight went up to her office where she kept her unopened mail. She looked through them for a moment, trying to decide which ones to bring before taking all of them. There were hundreds, but she levitated the whole pile down to the living room. By the time she returned Spike had come back with nachos.

“Shoot, Twi, I knew you’d been getting a lot of mail, but I didn’t think it was this much,” Applejack said as she scooted out of the way of the pile of letters Twilight had dropped on the open spot on the couch next to her.

“Yeah, I’m a bit behind,” Twilight said as she grabbed a letter at random. Looking at the envelope she recognized the seal of Celestia’s School For Gifted Unicorns. She read it out loud. “Dear Princess Twilight, everypony at CSGU looks up to you, not only as a princess, but as one of our most gifted alumni. We can not express how much it means to us that you’ve come out publicly. We all know how hard it can be for us to be open with other ponies, and can only imagine how much harder it must be knowing all of Equestria is watching you. Your bravery inspires us all, and has done a lot to improve the attitude of some of the less open minded students. We hope for the best for you and Fluttershy, but know whatever comes you’ll always have our support. Sincerely, the Celestia’s School For Gifted Unicorns Gay-Straight Alliance.”

Twilight couldn’t believe it. By the time she finished reading, she had tears in her eyes.  She turned to Fluttershy who kissed her forehead.

“I think there might be too many for you to read on your own,” Fluttershy said, picking up a letter herself. “Dear Princess Twilight, yesterday after your announcement my daughter told me she’s a lesbian, but had been too afraid to tell me. Today I’m meeting her marefriend for the first time. Thank you so much for inspiring her to stop hiding this part of who she is.”

“This one’s addressed to both of you,” Spike said. “Dear Twilight and Fluttershy, my husband and I rarely keep up with the news these days, so we almost missed the big announcement. We’ve been together sixty-seven years, but he’s telling me it’s been sixty-eight and he’s probably right. Anyway, we just wanted to say how great it is that you’ve given the young ponies something to look up to. I wonder how much trouble we could have saved ourselves if there had been somepony like you when we were younger. We’re both wishing you the best of luck.”

“Oh, this one’s not so good,” Sea said, reading over a letter.

“What’s it say?” Twilight asked anyway.

“Today my six year old asked me why he saw a picture of Princess Twilight kissing another mare. What you do is your own business, and I’m happy for you and your partner, but you should really keep other ponies in mind before you go parading around your private life.” He set the letter down. “Can’t win ‘em all, Princess.”

“It’s okay,” Twilight said. “If we can help so many ponies, I don’t think the occasional misguided letter is so bad.”

“Mind if I read one?” Applejack asked.

“Of course not,” Twilight said.

“Dear Princess Twilight, I met you briefly when you first moved to Ponyville, but you probably wouldn’t remember me. Anyway, I wanted your advice with something. For years I’ve been trying to come to terms with the fact that I like mares, but I come from a big family and not all of them are supportive of that. Family is everything to us, and I’m afraid of telling anypony. But every year gets harder and harder, everypony wants to know why I’m the only mare my age to never bring home a coltfriend. I don’t know what to do, and it feels like there’s nopony I can talk to about this, please help me. Sincerely, one confused Apple.”

Applejack looked up wide eyed. “I can’t believe it. I never even knew. I feel terrible, one of the Apples feels like she can’t even talk to her own family. And even worse ‘cause I know she has every reason to think that!”

“Well, there’s somepony in the Apple family she can talk to, right?” Twilight rested a hoof on Applejack’s shoulder. “I’ll write her back and tell her she should talk to you. More than anything, I think that’s what she needs.”

Applejack smiled. “Thank you, Twi. And I think at the next reunion I’ll be talking to a few other Apples as well. It’s past time the whole Apple family realizes there’s nothing wrong with who another pony decides to love.”

They spent the next few hours going through more letters. Before long, Twilight found herself too overwhelmed to read anymore so she curled up with Fluttershy and let the others read them out loud. Although there were a few negative letters here and there, they were few and far between. She was worried her guests would be bored reading her mail, but they seemed to enjoy all the positive stories as well. And while both couples were new to being openly gay, between the six of them they were able to come up with advice for a lot more than Twilight could have by herself.

“I feel kind of guilty,” Twilight said. “A lot of these ponies want my advice, and I’ve ignored them for almost two months.”

“Well, it’s never too late to start,” Spike said.

“Yeah, ya can’t change the past, but ya can make a difference to a lot of ponies now,” Applejack said.

“Besides, I’m sure if you explain they’ll understand,” Silver Spark said.

“But now all these ponies look up to me,” Twilight said. “If I tell them how scared I’ve been, I might ruin whatever good I could do.”

“I think they’ll be happy to know that they’re not alone,” Sea said. “That even a princess can be afraid.”

“Sometimes we need to see that even when we’re afraid, we can face our fears,” Fluttershy said.

Twilight nodded. Everypony was right, but she wanted to do more. “I’m going to answer every letter. But it just doesn’t feel like enough. I want to actually meet these ponies, and any other pony that needs help.”

“You could do a tour of Equestria,” Silver said. “Stop in every major city.”

“Every city, big and small,” Fluttershy said. “Nopony should have to feel alone.”

“I don’t know,” Twilight said. “We’d be gone a long time.”

“Don’t y’all worry about a thing. I reckon we can take care of things round here,” Applejack said. “Between me, Spike, and the girls, there’s nothin’ we can’t handle.”

Twilight turned to Fluttershy. “Do you really think this is a good idea? We’ll have to meet a lot of ponies.”

“Twi, it’s a great idea,” Fluttershy said. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine as long as you’re there with me.”

“Alright then, it’s settled,” Twilight said. “But I still wish we could do more. We won’t be able to stay long in any city, and we’ll meet so many ponies that we won’t be able to spend any one on one time with anypony.”

“There’s always letters,” Sea said.

“They take too long to get a reply,” Twilight said. “And it’s impossible to get the whole picture from just one letter.”

“That’s actually something we’ve been thinking about a lot,” Sea said.

“It was my mom that inspired us, actually. If she can start her own group, why can’t we?” Silver Spark said. “There’s several organizations dedicated to creating events, and getting ponies in touch with support, but I want to organize something so that ponies can reach out to somepony who understands them any time.”

“The journal,” Fluttershy said.

“The journal? Wait, do you mean Sunset’s journal?” Twilight asked.

“Yes. Sunset was the first pony you told, right?”

“Yeah, she came out to me first, and I just kinda wrote it without over thinking anything,” Twilight said. She was starting to see what Fluttershy was getting at.

“And I could talk to her even though I’m shy because of the journal. It’s a lot easier to talk to somepony when you’re not face to face.”

“I’m not sure I follow,” Silver Spark said.

“It’s a long story,” Twilight said. “ Basically I have a magic journal that sends whatever’s written in it to an identical journal, which is owned by our friend Sunset Shimmer, who can write back and it’ll appear in ours. It’s basically like writing letters, but everything’s instant.”

“If we could make more, than we could talk to anypony,” Fluttershy said.

Twilight could definitely see the merit in something like that, and she loved how excited Fluttershy was at her idea, but there were a few big problems. “I don’t know, Shy. That’s a lot of ponies. We couldn’t possibly keep up with them all, not to mention remember exactly what was going on in everypony’s lives.”

“You don’t have to,” Spike said.

“Well you can’t expect them to remind us who they are every time, that would be rude and nopony would feel close to us.”

Applejack chuckled. “I think what Spike means is that nopony but you expects you to do everything yourself.”

“My mom isn’t the only pony with connections,” Silver Spark said. “If you get these journals working I can get them into the hooves of ponies who will put them to great use.”

Twilight mentally calculated the logistics of the plans, roughly estimating the cost of making all the journals and what type of magic must be involved in the enchantment. “It won’t be easy, but I think I can do it. I’ll get to researching it as soon as I reply to these letters.”

“Which, knowing Twilight, will probably be tonight,” Spike said.

“Speaking of tonight, we’d better figure out where we’re staying,” Sea Star said.

Twilight popped her head up, reminding herself that she didn’t need to figure out the journals immediately. She smiled. “You know, if you don’t have a place to stay, you’re more than welcome to stay here.”

“Oh, I’d hate to put you out,” Silver said.

Twilight grinned. “You know castles are typically designed for more than two ponies and a dragon, right? We’ve got more rooms here than we know what to do with.”

Silver Spark turned to Sea Star, and it was clear that both of them liked the idea. “If you’re sure it’s alright.”

“Positive.”

“Well, I think I ought to get going,” Applejack said. She tipped her hat to Silver and Sea. “Pleasure meeting y’all. And I’m glad you two are feeling better.” She hugged Twilight and Fluttershy one more time. “And ya better be sure to let me know if there’s anythin’ at all I can do to help.”

Twilight grinned. “Well, you could bring us some tangerines.”

“You got it, sugarcube,” Applejack said, smiling brightly. “I’ll bring y’all a nice big sack of apples, first thing in the morning.”

“Applejack, as much as I love Sweet Apple Acres apples, if you bring us anymore I’ll be able to start my own apple stand.”

“Then you’ll need lots of apples! I’ll have Big Mac come ‘round with the cart tomorrow. Maybe we can work out a weekly delivery schedule.”

“If you come back with more apples, I’m not letting you in,” Twilight said, glaring.

“Aw shucks, Twi.” Applejack opened the door, and adjusted her hat before leaving. “Ya couldn’t keep me out if ya wanted to.”

As Applejack walked into the snow Twilight called after her, “No more apples! I’m serious!” She turned back to see everypony snickering. She rubbed her neck sheepishly. “So how long are you planning on staying in Ponyville?”

“We don’t really have concrete plans,” Sea said. “We’ve been travelling around Equestria. Silver’s never been out of Canterlot before.”

“It’s certainly been quite the adventure, but it’s coming to an end now. Next stop, Canterlot. We’ve been thinking about crashing one of my mother’s parties.”

Twilight chuckled. “While I would love to see that, if we’re going to be partners on this, we’ll all have to be on our best behavior. Remember, we’ll be the face of an entire group of ponies.”

“You’re right, of course,” Silver said. “And while it’d be fun, I doubt it would actually do much good, anyway.”

“Yeah, I guess I can’t keep getting us kicked out of all these formal events, no matter how boring they are,” Sea said.

“Do I want to know what you mean?” Twilight asked.

“He’s referring to the night we met,” Silver said.

“I’d like to hear what happened. Uhm, if you don’t mind.” Fluttershy leaned forward in her seat.

“It was at the last gala,” Silver said. “My mom was trying to set me up with some mare, so I made an excuse to leave and went to hide in the back. That’s where I saw Sea being chased by the guard.”

“Oh my, what did you do?” Fluttershy asked.

“Well, I wasn’t exactly supposed to be there in the first place,” Sea said. “I always wondered how the fancier side of Canterlot partied, so I snuck in.”

“That must have been disappointing,” Twilight said, remembering her first time at the gala, and the expectations she had for it.

“It was pretty dull, so I tried to liven things up a bit.”

“He got caught trying to spike the punch,” Silver said.

“There were kids at that gala!” Twilight said.

“It was not the punch,” Sea defended. “It was Princess Celestia’s cup.”

Spike laughed, but Twilight wasn’t sure if that was any better. Getting the princess drunk in front of all the most influential ponies in Canterlot was hardly her idea of an amusing joke. She took comfort in knowing that it probably wouldn’t work.

“Anyway, they caught me as I slipped in the alcohol, which they thought was poison. They chased me down to imprison me, or whatever it is they do to would be assassins, which is when I ran into Silver.”

“By that point they’d cornered him. I merely suggested they take a closer look at what he’d slipped into her glass. They still weren’t sure what it was so, he downed the glass himself, which convinced them it was just a prank. They still threw him out, of course, but they didn’t arrest him.”

“And to my surprise, Silver followed me,” Sea said. “I offered to take him to a real Canterlot party, so we hopped over to the seedier side of town, had too much to drink, and woke up together in a room neither of us recognized.”

“You know, we never did find out what happened that night.”

“It’s probably for the best, love.” Sea nuzzled against Silver, who wrapped a foreleg around him.

“So what about you two?” Silver asked.

“Well, it’s not quite so exciting,” Twilight said. “Mostly I just admired Fluttershy from afar because I was too afraid to tell her how I felt. When I finally did, I was still too afraid to actually ask her on a date, so she wound up asking me.”

“Oh, I never could have asked you out if you hadn’t of told me that first,” Fluttershy said. “In fact, I never even told other ponies that I’m gay for the longest time. Twilight only found out by accident.”

“Yeah, everypony should just talk about their feelings more,” Spike said dismissively. “You know, we have a lot more interesting stories than that. Like the time we stopped King Sombra from returning, or what about when that meteor was making magic all super charged, and those cockatrice’s attacked Canterlot?”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “You mean all the times when you saved the day?”

“I remember that meteor,” Sea said. “Although I wasn’t anywhere near Canterlot. At the time I was living to the south of Appleloosa.”

“Well I was in Canterlot, and I’ve always wondered about that cockatrice attack,” Silver said. “So you were all there?”

“Nah, they were off doing something else,” Spike said, neglecting to mention that ‘something else’ was rescuing three fillies from Queen Chrysalis while stopping a second changeling invasion. “That time was just me and Celestia. Well, the guard was there too, of course, but we did most of the work.”

Twilight smirked. “Yeah, I’m sure the two of you were equally valuable to the fight.”

“Twilight, you know better,” Fluttershy chastised. “Spike is very brave and resourceful. I’m sure he was a huge help.”

“She even said so herself!” Spike said. “ ‘We owe this victory to young Spike.’ I got a medal and everything!”

As he launched into the story, Twilight suppressed a sigh. She never did get a straight answer from Celestia about what happened that day, but she suspected things didn’t happen quite the way Spike claimed they did. Fluttershy nudged her, bringing her out of her thoughts. She turned to Fluttershy who pointed at Spike and smiled.

Spike was excitedly recounting using a trident to keep the cockatrices off Celestia’s back, while she broke through the ones in front with her magic. He was standing on his chair and swinging an imaginary trident, while he emphasized every detail of his story. Twilight couldn’t help but smile. Whether it was exaggerated or not, her little brother had always been there for her, whether it was on some high stakes adventure, or just getting her to come out of her room and talk to her friends after a bad train ride from Canterlot. He deserved the spotlight once and awhile.

Once Spike finished his story, which both stallions were highly impressed with, the conversation turned to what everypony wanted to do next. Spike suggested bowling.

“Why bowling?” Twilight asked.

Spike shrugged. “We’ve never been.”

“Bowling is fine by me,” Silver Spark said.

“What do you want to do, Shy?” Twilight asked.

“Oh, Uhm… We should probably get started answering some letters,” she said.

Twilight could see her point, especially considering how long some of the letters had been waiting for a reply. “Yeah, maybe we can all go out another time, but we should take care of these first.”

Once the boys left, Twilight brought the letters up to the office and they began answering them. Twilight insisted on replying to all of them, even the negative ones. She had never failed to answer a letter before, she wasn’t about to start now. They were at it all day, but neither of them minded. They answered most letters together, with both of them putting in their own reply.

Eventually Spike, Silver, and Sea came back with food for Twilight and Fluttershy from the place they had stopped to eat after their bowling game. They all talked about the game for a while, which Sea had won by a landslide.

Silver and Sea had been up early travelling to reach Ponyville by midday, so before too long they decided to turn in for the night. Spike showed them to one of the guest rooms, leaving the two mares alone, which suited Twilight’s plans for the night just fine.

“What do you say we take a break?” Twilight asked after waiting a while longer to make sure no one would be disturbing them again.

Fluttershy stretched. “I think that sounds like a good idea.” She nuzzled Twilight. “What do you want to do?”

Twilight realized her plan had one huge flaw. While she knew exactly what she wanted to do, she had no idea how to say it out loud. “I don’t know, what do you want to do?”

“I think I just want to relax for now,” Fluttershy said.

‘Yes, that’s perfect. If I can get her into bed, this should be much easier.’ “I could make us some tea, if you want,” Twilight said. ‘Why did I say that?’

“I think it’s a little late for tea, Twily. You shouldn’t drink so much caffeine you know.”

“You’re right,” Twilight said, happy for a second chance to get this right. “We could have cocoa.” ‘Damn it!’

“That sounds nice,” Fluttershy said. And so they made their way to the kitchen, with Twilight kicking herself the whole way.

‘How do ponies initiate this sort of thing?’ she wondered. Sea Star and Silver Spark got drunk their first time. Twilight could imagine that working out, except Fluttershy didn’t drink alcohol. Besides, Twilight wasn’t really interested in getting that drunk herself, and she wanted their first time to be special.

“I’ll get it,” Fluttershy said, shooing Twilight away from the stove.

“You don’t have to Shy, I think I can manage hot chocolate.”

“I never said you couldn’t,” Fluttershy said, “I just want to make it for you.”

“Thanks, but you don’t have to work so hard. You already took care of all the animals by yourself,” Twilight said.

“Hush. Just sit down and let me do it.” Fluttershy hummed merrily as she gathered the ingredients.

“If you say so.” Twilight was honestly glad. She usually didn’t mess up cocoa, but this gave her a chance to plan. ‘What would Luna do?’

Judging by what Luna told her in Canterlot, she probably had more experience in seduction than any other pony alive. She would be effortlessly smooth, making subtle hints to read the other mare’s reaction before leaning in to whisper in her ear exactly what the night had in store for them.

Twilight’s ear twitched as Fluttershy set down a mug in front of her. “Careful, it’s hot.”

“Thanks, Shy.” Twilight blew on the steaming beverage.

“So what were you thinking about?” Fluttershy asked.

“Huh? Oh, nothing.”

Fluttershy smiled and shook her head. “Twily, I know you better than that. You were zoning out thinking about something.” She blew on her own cup. “It’s okay if it’s something you don’t want to talk about.”

“It’s, well, it’s not like that it’s just…” Twilight paused. ‘Forget seduction, we should just talk about it. Like Luna said, we need to communicate.’ “I was thinking about a dream I had.” ‘Or I could keep being a coward. That works too.’

“Oh? What was it about?”

“Tangerines,” Twilight said. It was the first thing that came to her mind.

Fluttershy smiled. “Hmm. We never did get any today.”

“It’s fine,” Twilight said. “I mean, they wouldn’t be as good anyway. In the dream they were the best thing I ever ate, but if we actually got any they’d just be tangerines.” She shrugged and burnt her mouth trying the cocoa.

“I said it was hot,” Fluttershy said as she blew on hers. Twilight went back to blowing on her drink and wondering why she didn’t just cool it down with magic.

“I actually had a dream last night too,” Fluttershy said. “Although it’s, uhm… a little weird.”

“What happened?”

“Promise you won’t laugh?”

“Of course I won’t.”

“I had a dream I was pregnant.” Fluttershy hid in her mane which didn’t entirely mask the blush. “I can’t even imagine who the father was, but in the dream it didn’t matter because there was no father. She was our baby, no matter what.”

“She? Did our little filly have a name?”

Fluttershy retreated further into her mane and squeaked something.

Twilight smiled and moved closer to her. “Fluttershy, you don’t have to be embarrassed. I don’t think your dream was weird. It’s sweet, and you’d be a great mom.”

“I… thanks, Twily. Uhm… her name was Sky Shimmer.”

Twilight managed not to laugh, but just barely. “Like your Oubliettes and Ogres character?”

“Yes, well, the name’s older than that.” Fluttershy leaned against Twilight. “When I was little, I had an imaginary friend named Sky Shimmer. She was kind of like Rainbow, the type of pony I always wished I could be. I would pretend that she would protect me from Stormy Skies. I think, if I ever have a daughter, I would want her to be like that.”

Twilight hugged her. “I think it’s a great name.”

Fluttershy looked at her cocoa. “I… I think I’d, uhm, I’d like to have foals someday.”

“Oh, uhm. Really?” Twilight tried to keep the shock out of her voice. She knew she shouldn’t really be so surprised. And Fluttershy would be a fantastic mom, nopony could deny it. Still, it hadn’t really been something Twilight thought too much about.

Fluttershy nodded. “I… well, you’d be a great mom too, Twily.”

“I don’t know… I get so caught up in what I’m doing I forget to take care of myself, let alone a foal. I’d always be worried sick, I’d probably freak out over every little thing. I’m sure I’d drive them crazy.”

Fluttershy giggled. “Twily, you just described your mom.”

“I, well… That’s not fair!” Twilight said. “I know I’m a lot like her, but I’m not her, Shy. I could never be as good of a mom as she is.”

Fluttershy didn’t say anything for a while. Eventually she just sat up and took a sip of her cocoa. “Well, I think we’d make a good team.”

Twilight levitated her cup to her and took a sip. It had cooled down too much, but she drank it anyway. “I just worry. That’s a whole life in my hooves, and even with you there to fix my mistakes, I’m afraid. But I know you’re right, we’d be okay.” They reached for each other’s hooves at the same time, causing them both to giggle. They sat together drinking in quiet until Twilight turned to Fluttershy. “We are talking hypothetically, right?”

“Oh, uhm, of course. I didn’t mean right away or anything. We have this tour to do, and all these books to make. Besides, we’re not even, uhm… married…” The last word came out as a squeak.

Twilight finished her no-longer-hot chocolate. “I’ve actually been thinking about that.” Fluttershy turned to her anxiously. “How about this: I’ve got to do a lot of research on how to make these books, not to mention planning the logistics of how to get them out to everypony and who will be on the receiving ends of the messages. Even with Silver Spark’s help, it’ll be a lot of work. Then we have the whole tour of Equestria, and it’ll be months before we’re back here. But once we return to Ponyville, we’ll sit down together and figure out what we want from the future. Sound reasonable?”

Fluttershy nodded. “I think it sounds perfect.”

Twilight kissed her on the cheek which got a small giggle out of the pegasus. “But you know, I don’t really think I could picture a future without you.”

“Me either. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Fluttershy snuggled against Twilight who wrapped her in both her forelegs and her wings. Fluttershy yawned. “Sleepy?”

“No,” Fluttershy said, still yawning. “A Little.”

“Let’s get into bed.” Twilight said. ‘Hey, that was easy. I wasn’t even trying that time.’

“But all the letters that still need answers…”

“Can wait until tomorrow. There’s no way we’re getting them all done tonight anyway. We’ll pick it back up once we’re well rested.”

Fluttershy looked like she might protest until she started rubbing her eyes. “Okay, that sounds like a plan.”

On the way up to the bedroom, Twilight pondered her next move. ‘I’ll just kiss her and see where it goes. That’s how things kept almost happening before. Oh, but Luna said to try and let her lead…’

Fluttershy climbed into bed and didn’t even bother with the blanket before closing her eyes. If Twilight was going to do anything, she had limited time to do it. ‘I suppose I could just wait until tomorrow night.’

She climbed in next to Fluttershy and pulled the blanket over both of them. She cuddled close to her marefriend, who turned around for a kiss. Twilight got her hopes up, only for Fluttershy to turn back around after a quick peck good night. ‘Yeah, I’ll just wait until tomorrow.’

“Good night, Twily.”

“Hey, uhm, Shy?” Twilight’s mouth seemed to move on it’s own, because she was pretty sure her brain had said ‘tomorrow’.

“Mhm?”

“If, uhm, you wanted… I mean, I was wondering…”

“Is everything okay?”

“Well, uhm… You know, I was thinking and okay never mind I can’t say this while you’re looking at me.”

“Say what?” Fluttershy asked.

“Nothing. Good night, Shy.” Twilight turned around and hoped she’d have another chance to talk to Luna. She hated talking about things like that with anypony, but there was absolutely no way she was going to Cadance about anything like that, and she didn’t know who else to turn to.

Twilight felt a hoof slide around her chest as Fluttershy pressed against her. She kissed Twilight’s neck and Twilight turned around and found Fluttershy’s lips against hers. As they kissed, Fluttershy moved a hoof behind Twilight’s back, holding her close. As Fluttershy’s tongue slipped into her mouth, Twilight was tempted to stop thinking about what was happening and just get lost in the moment, but there was something she needed to make sure of first.

“I love you, Fluttershy,” she said as she pulled away. Even in the dark she could tell Fluttershy looked disappointed. “I love you so much, and I just have to make sure. This is definitely something you want, right?”

Fluttershy pulled her into another passionate kiss before answering. “Yes. Uhm, if you’re sure that you’re okay with me.”

Twilight grinned. “Fluttershy, you have no idea how long I’ve waited for this. But you know, if you change your mind, we can stop.”

Fluttershy laughed. “Twilight, I’m fine. I love you, and I trust you.”

Twilight was going to say something else, but Fluttershy pushed her onto her back and kissed her neck. Her hoof traced its way down Twilight’s body, and she forgot all about whatever it was.