“Twilight. Twilight, hey. Wake up.”
The voice that cut through her peaceful slumber was soft and gentle, but at that moment the Princess of Friendship had to swallow back a groan. Her internal clock happily informed her that it was way too early for her to be awake yet. She grunted and shifted, flopping over onto her side and turning her back to whoever was trying to stir her. Maybe if she was lucky, they would get the hint and leave her to her sleep.
“Come on, princess.” A warm hand—hand? Well, okay, that definitely confirmed this was either a dream or she wasn’t in Equestria—rested on her shoulder and squeezed, but thankfully no shaking ensued. Their amused laugh sent a shiver down her spine, though. “I know you’re awake. You’re trying to get away from me.”
Twilight finally gave in and groaned, rolling over onto her stomach and cracking open an eye. The blurry image of Sunset Shimmer slowly but surely cleared and sharpened and she sighed heavily, closing her eye again to another soft giggle from the redhead. “Before sunrise I’m not a princess,” she mumbled, burying her face into her pillow.
“Oh, really? Did you tell Celestia that?”
“It’s on one of my to-do checklists.”
“I’m sure it is.” Twilight heard Sunset shift to get more comfortable, and a moment later her fingers were gently combing through her hair. “But I promise this is worth getting up for. And it won’t take long. You can go right back to sleep after.”
The alicorn turned human bit back a blissful sigh, if only so she wouldn’t give her girlfriend—that was the proper human term, right? She was pretty sure it was, from her research on human courting rituals—the satisfaction of knowing how much she enjoyed having her hair touched like this. The sensation alone was enough to lull her back to sleep again.
Or at least it started to, until Sunset ever so gently tugged on her hair to jolt her awake again. Twilight grumbled and opened her eye again in a half-hearted glare; the former unicorn was all innocent smiles. Accepting the inevitable, she lifted her face from her pillow and muffled a yawn with her hand. “You really want me to get up for this? Is it important?”
“Well, I wouldn’t say important, but I think it’s worth getting up for.” Sunset leaned in, pressed a warm kiss to the princess’s forehead. “And like I said, it won’t take long. I’ll even crawl into your sleeping bag with you to keep you company when we come back.”
Twilight snorted at that, sitting up and stretching. “Even if Rainbow Dash teases?”
“Especially if Rainbow Dash teases.”
That finally got a tired laugh out of her, and she tugged her girlfriend for a proper kiss; it was worth it just to feel her smiling against her lips. “You know that makes absolutely no sense, right?”
Sunset hummed and got to her feet. “It got you to laugh, though,” she said, offering her hand to Twilight and smiling with delight when the princess grabbed it and pulled herself up, lacing their fingers together and squeezing.
“Well, now that I’m up, lead the way.”
Sunset gave a little mock bow, and with a gentle tug of Twilight’s hand they were off. They had to step carefully, mindful of the sleeping girls sprawled out on the living room floor and the two different Spikes curled up by their respective Twilights, but it was only just light enough to see where they were going. Twilight held on tightly to Sunset’s hand, and wondered what could have been so important to see that they’d woken up at such an hour. It was still mostly dark.
Well, she would find out soon enough, it seemed.
The sleepover in the human world had been held at Applejack’s farm, mostly out of human Twilight’s desire to use the space to improve her physical fitness. She’d apparently dedicated the whole weekend to it, and Princess Twilight had been invited over to observe her progress and give any helpful pointers; somehow, she’d ended up being fitter than her human counterpart. She still wasn’t sure exactly how that had happened, considering their backgrounds were more or less the same.
The fact that she also got to spend time with her friends and girlfriend had been a very pleasant bonus, and the girls had been understanding enough to give Sunset and Twilight their time together when they asked for it—with some teasing from Rainbow, of course, but it was all in good fun.
Twilight was jolted from her thoughts when Sunset stopped by the house’s front door, fishing around for the spare key Applejack kept nearby. “We’re going outside?” she asked.
“Yeah, what I wanted to show you is out there. And before you ask, no, we can’t see it from in here. You have to be outside to really see it.”
Twilight absently wrapped her arms around herself as Sunset unlocked the door. “Well, if I wasn’t curious before, I am now.”
Sunset grinned, offering her hand again once the door was open. “I was counting on that, princess. Come on, we don’t have to go far and it should be happening soon.”
The desire to ask what ‘it’ was felt overwhelming at this point, but Twilight swallowed the words back and accepted she wouldn’t be told anything about it until she actually saw it. There was no hesitation as she took Sunset’s hand. “Just remember,” she teased, “once we go out there, my life is in your hands. Think you’re up for protecting the Princess of Friendship?”
Sunset lightly turned Twilight’s hand over and pressed a quick kiss to her pulse, the warmth shooting straight through her arm and right to her chest. “I think I can manage that just fine,” she said, and pulled the purple girl outside.
It was still warm, an effect of the coming summer. It was also early, however, and Twilight could feel the slightest chill in the air the moment they were outside. She suppressed a small shiver and immediately pressed into Sunset’s side for the additional warmth, murmuring happily when the redhead took the hint and wrapped her arm around her to help keep her close.
It wasn’t much, but it was just enough to keep them both warm.
“So, you got me outside.” Twilight let her gaze drift over the Apple orchard. “Where’s this thing you wanted to show me?”
“Impatient, impatient,” Sunset chuckled. “At the top of the hill, right under the Apple’s largest tree. You’ll be able to see it once we’re up there.”
“You know, we seem to be doing a lot of travel to see this,” Twilight remarked as they started to walk. “Is this going to be as great as you said? You’re making me all kinds of curious.”
“Your lack of faith is wounding.”
Twilight snorted in amusement, giving Sunset’s hand another squeeze and falling silent. Thankfully, the trek from the house to the hill wasn’t particularly long, and once she had adjusted to being outside it was much easier to stay warm. The fact that she stayed close to her girlfriend the entire time certainly didn’t hurt.
Once they were on top of the hill and under the tree, Sunset wasted no time settling down and sitting in the grass, giving Twilight’s hand an encouraging tug. The princess made a show of looking around, even as she sat down next to her. “I don’t see anything yet,” she said lightly, smirking.
Sunset rolled her eyes, fighting back a smile. “Watch the sky, Twilight. You’ll see it.”
Twilight grinned and gently bumped their shoulders together, nuzzling into Sunset as she turned her eyes to a sky that wasn’t looking so dark anymore.
When Twilight had been a blank-flanked filly, she had been one of many ponies who had seen Princess Celestia raise the sun. It had been a defining moment in her young life, and now that she was older and had wielded Celestia’s power herself, she could appreciate just how truly magical the act was. It was something unique to Equestria, and at the time she had sworn she would never see anything that amazed her quite as much as that moment had.
In comparison to Equestria, the human world was still relatively limited in terms of magic. It was mostly contained to one area and one group of girls, and while its influence seemed to be slowly expanding after the Friendship Games, it was nowhere near the same level as its pony counterpart. Of course, Twilight knew the human sun came up regardless of magic; the whole world would be trapped in an eternal night if it didn’t.
But unlike Celestia’s raising of the sun in Equestria, she had never actually seen it happen.
At least, not until now.
It was a gradual process; first there was darkness, and then slowly but surely beams of light began to appear, and the darkness began to fade. The colors came first, pink and yellow splashing across the sky and bringing light along with it. The air itself seemed to warm, as if sensing the sun’s approach, and without even realizing it Twilight straightened up to get a better view to the sound of Sunset’s soft chuckle.
Then finally, over the horizon, she saw the gold of the sun itself as it began to rise, and in that moment the darkness was gone completely and the whole world seemed to begin to stir from its slumber. For a long moment Twilight could only drink the sight in without a word; she knew what she had just seen had required no magic at all, and yet there was still something completely and utterly magical about it that she felt speaking would ruin the moment.
Sunset shifted next to her, resting against the tree. “Nearly gave me a panic attack the first time I got up early enough to see it,” she murmured. “I never thought I would see a sun rise without Celestia.”
“That was… beautiful.” Twilight sighed, smiling. “I wonder how that happens? It clearly doesn’t use any magic.”
“Pure science on that one. It’s not that the sun is rising, it’s that the planet’s motion makes the sun appear. Still, I enjoy watching it, and it occurred to me that for all the times you’ve been here you’ve never seen it, so…”
Twilight gently nudged their shoulders together, kissing Sunset on the cheek. “You decided to wake me before the sun was up so I could see it rise?”
Sunset nodded, humming pleasantly at the kiss and turning her gaze back to the sunrise. “Yeah. You have to admit, it’s pretty beautiful to watch.”
After a moment of simply looking at her girlfriend, Twilight turned back to the sight and rested her head on Sunset’s shoulder, smiling.
“Yeah. Pretty beautiful.”