‘Long distance test attempt four. Conditions are favorable, and we’re optimistic for a positive result.’
‘Long distance test attempt four. Conditions are favorable, and we’re optimistic for a positive result.’
Twilight’s notebook sat open next to their newest model of the radio and a gramophone record playing a Sapphire Shores song. Twilight herself was standing by, on a hill behind the castle. Once she and Sunset were finally able to set their minds to it, finishing the construction wasn’t too difficult. They’d done most of the heavy lifting the night they visited the human library, and soon had a fully functional one-way radio. However, there were still plenty of ways to improve on it, and simply recreating human technology was never really their goal. Right from the start, it had always been about studying the potential relationship between human technology and Equestrian magic.
A light was visible in the distance – Sunset’s signal that she was in place. Twilight turned to face the radio transmitter, which was already turned on, powered by a long cord feeding into the castle. Twilight closed her eyes, and cast out her magic aura. She was searching for the radio signal. It was easy enough to manipulate tangible objects. In that regard, magic worked a bit like hands – able to grab hold of something and maneuver it according to the caster’s ability. All unicorns could do that, to varying extents. Things like teleportation and altering the growth of plant life were much more difficult, requiring the caster to have a lot more knowledge on arcane principles, but there was still something physical that was being altered in some way. But manipulating something that wasn’t tangible? Unfortunately, in this regard, magic was also like hands – utterly useless.
There. Twilight finally felt the signal. Utterly useless wasn’t an entirely accurate description, really. It was more so mostly useless. Magic was also intangible, so it actually could interact with forces like radio waves, but learning how to touch something that wasn’t touchable definitely required a certain kind of skill. As odd as the sensation was, Twilight wrapped her magic through the radio signal. Their goal was to amplify it so that Sunset would be able to hear Twilight, even though she was well beyond the range of their device.
The record played its song, but Twilight tuned it out. Although the music was a little distracting, it was a lot better than trying to speak into the mic herself, and of course sound was essential to their test. If all went well, Sunset would teleport to her any moment and tell her she’d heard the song.
There was the smell of dust burning. Twilight immediately let go of the radio signal, and began preparing to teleport instead. Before she got the chance, the transmitter exploded. “Aah!” Twilight threw her hooves over her face and was knocked to the ground. Bits of wood and metal rained on her.
“Twilight!” Sunset teleported to her side immediately. She used her magic to clear the debris off of her, then knelt down beside her. “Are you okay?”
Twilight groaned in response.
“Here, keep still.” Sunset gently began checking Twilight for injuries.
“I’m fine,” Twilight insisted, pushing Sunset’s hoof away. She stood up, grunting from the effort. She noticed Sunset still looked concerned, so she smiled and added, “Really, I’m okay.”
Sunset kicked at a piece of wood. “Next time, I’ll be the one with the transmitter.”
They still had their work cut out for them. They couldn’t dedicate too much time to work on the radio since Twilight was also busy with wedding planning, and most of her free time was spent with both Fluttershy and Sunset. The only reason they had more than an hour or so to work on it at all was because Fluttershy was at the spa with Rarity. The weekly ritual of Fluttershy relaxing at the spa while Twilight and Sunset worked on their project allowed each of them to unwind in their own way.
It was good that Fluttershy wasn’t around for most of their tests, since most attempts to introduce magic to their device wound up the same way. After two failed attempts in the castle, they moved the project outside, since cleaning up after each exploded transmitter was a hassle. The explosions were never too serious – it was only a small device, after all – and usually just resulted in Twilight getting knocked to the ground. It honestly seemed worse on Sunset, who felt guilty for not being able to take her fair share of the damage, since she hadn’t been able to master the art of manipulating radio waves yet.
Twilight walked up and nuzzled Sunset. “Well then, you better get to practicing,” she teased. “For now, let’s just get back to the castle.”
Sunset smirked. “Yeah, you should probably get yourself cleaned up.”
Twilight looked herself over. She was covered in soot all along her right side, probably covering more of her than she could see. She looked back to Sunset and realized that while nuzzling against her, she had gotten Sunset dirty as well. Twilight grinned sheepishly and used her clean left hoof to wipe as much off as she could.
Sunset just rolled her eyes and grabbed Twilight’s extended hoof in her own. “Come here, you.” She pulled Twilight closer and kissed her. As they pulled away, they smiled at each other. They’d been dating for three weeks, but each kiss still brought a rush of excitement. Sunset picked up the broken pieces in her magic, and Twilight made sure to walk on Sunset’s right, so she could keep her clean side pressed against her as they walked back around to the front of the castle.
“Meet me in the workshop once you’re cleaned up?” Sunset asked as they approached the front doors.
“Of course,” Twilight said. She pulled open the door and followed Sunset inside.
“Twilight, you’ll never believe –” Spike ran out of the sitting room, and stopped in place when he saw Twilight. “Radio again?”
Sunset chuckled. “No, we got into a fight with another dragon.”
“Well, uh, you might want to take a shower, ‘cause we have company.”
Before Twilight could ask who it was, she got her answer. Two ponies followed Spike out of the room, and all Twilight could manage was to stare with her jaw hanging open.
Sunset set the debris down in a corner and stepped forward to greet the ponies, but was cut off when one ran right past her.
“Twilight, dear, what in Equestria have you been up to? You’re filthy.”
Finally remembering to close her mouth, Twilight let out a nervous chuckle. “We were just running some experiments. Uhm, Mom, Dad, I’d like to introduce you to Sunset Shimmer. Sunset this is my mom, Twilight Velvet, and my dad, Night Light.”
To her credit, it was only for a moment, but Twilight noticed pure panic flash across Sunset’s face. She composed herself quickly though, and her charismatic smile showed through. “It’s so nice to meet you both.”
Night Light walked over and bumped her hoof, but Twilight Velvet was more intent on fussing over her daughter’s dishevelled appearance. “Likewise. You know, Twilight’s told us a lot about you in her letters.”
“You don’t say?” Sunset asked, feigning ignorance. Telling her parents all about Sunset had been part of their plan to make the eventual reveal of their relationship go smoother, although that reveal was supposed to wait until they were ready, and the plan didn’t involve any unexpected visits. “Good things, I hope?”
“Of course,” Twilight Velvet said, finally giving up on fixing Twilight’s mane and also bumping Sunset’s hoof. “We were both so glad to hear she decided to see reason and get her own royal guard. It took her long enough, but then again she did inherit my stubbornness, for better or worse.”
“Along with your good looks, I see.” Sunset inclined her head, and Twilight Velvet smiled at the compliment. Sunset chuckled and added, “And I think it was more for Fluttershy’s sake that Twilight hired me than her own. But rest assured, your daughter is in capable hooves.”
“Oh boy, don’t let her start talking about herself, it’ll just go to her head,” Twilight warned, earning her a dirty look from Sunset. She ignored it and lifted half of the debris with her magic. “Sunset, can you help me get this all out of the way?”
“Of course.” Sunset lifted the other half and they made for the basement. Spike quickly led their parents back into the other room, giving them a chance to talk privately.
“I’m sorry, I had no idea they were coming,” Twilight said as they descended into the basement.
“I know, it’s not your fault,” Sunset said, letting the worried tone creep back into her voice. “But what do we do now? Just play it cool and keep everything under wraps?”
Twilight set down her half of the junk, followed by Sunset setting hers on top of it. “I don’t know… It was one thing to wait when we were just writing letters, but now that they’re here…”
Sunset wrapped her forelegs around her. “Hey, it’ll be alright. Whatever happens, everything will be fine.”
Twilight took a few deep breaths. “You’re right,” she said, leaning against Sunset. “But we need a plan.”
“Well, I’m for whatever you think is best. If you really think they’ll be okay with it, then why not tell them? I mean, if you’re ready to, of course.”
Twilight indulged herself for a moment, letting the feeling of Sunset holding her calm her down. “You’re right. All our friends understood, and my parents have always been supportive of me. But we need Fluttershy.”
“No problem, I’ll go get her.” Sunset let go of Twilight and smirked. “I’ll talk to her and figure out what she wants to do on the way back.”
“And avoid having to talk to my parents while I’m cleaning up.” Twilight looked over Sunset. “Speaking of which…”
Sunset noticed her hug had covered her in more soot. She laughed and did her best to brush it off. “Well, I wasn’t going to say anything, but since you said it… yeah, that would be pretty awkward.”
Twilight nodded. They had a plan, and she had no reason to be concerned. Her parents accepted her and Fluttershy when they came out, there was no reason they wouldn’t accept Sunset too. She hoped.
Once she was all cleaned up, Twilight walked into the sitting room. She smiled brightly at her parents, and hoped they wouldn’t be able to tell how nervous she was. Spike was getting them caught up on all the aspects of Ponyville life that a twelve-year-old found important, which included a very positive look at having Sunset live with them, to Twilight’s delight.
“So what brings you to Ponyville?” She asked once Spike was finished.
“Oh, it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out,” Twilight Velvet said. “There’s an important wedding coming up, and we wanted to see how everything was coming along.”
“Plus we know how busy you and Fluttershy must be,” Night Light added. “So if there’s any way we can help, just let us know.”
“Thank you. Everything’s coming together nicely, and although it’s hectic, we’re managing okay. Sunset, Spike, and all our friends have been doing a fantastic job at making sure Fluttershy and I don’t have to worry about too much aside from the wedding.”
Of course that didn’t answer her real question: Why hadn’t they written ahead? “Did I, uh, miss a letter from you two, or something?” Twilight asked as casually as she could.
“We did plan on writing ahead, but I wasn’t sure if I could get the time off from work,” Night Light said. “Princess Luna’s been… distant over the past few moons, so as Senior Astronomer I’ve had my hooves full trying to keep everything running smoothly. We almost gave up until I happened to run into her last night. She assured me she’d make sure everything will be taken care of, so we wound up with some time after all.”
“That’s wonderful,” Twilight said, while smiling and imaging all the horrible things she’d do to Luna once she got her hooves on her.
“I hope we’re not imposing too much,” Twilight Velvet said. “We could always find a hotel to stay in, don’t you worry about us.”
‘Imposing’ was an understatement. “Of course you’re not. The castle has plenty of room for everypony. Really, we hardly use most of the rooms here anyway. And we’re all happy to have you here.”
To be fair, that last part might wind up being true. She knew Sunset was nervous about telling her parents, but if Twilight was right and they did accept them, it would be one less worry on everypony’s minds.
“So, how’re things going with, uh” – Night Light waved a hoof around – “what was it called again?”
“The radio?” Twilight asked, and Night Light nodded. “It’s, well, it’s going. We keep running into a problem with boosting the signal, but I’m sure if we haven’t figured it out by the wedding, we’ll get it afterwards, once everypony has a bit more free time.”
“Of course you will,” Night Light said. “You’re the smartest mare I’ve ever met. I know you can handle this.”
Twilight grinned sheepishly. “Well, I may have some competition for that title, now that you’ve met Sunset. She’s really amazing, this whole thing was her idea.”
“In that case, then I’m sure the two of you won’t have any problems at all,” Twilight Velvet said.
Spike laughed. “Yeah, you should hear them talk about it when they don’t agree on something! It’s like having one book argue with another.”
Twilight shot him a warning look. “Careful, this ‘book’ controls your allowance.”
Spike cupped his hands and batted his eyelashes at her. “Have I mentioned you’re my favorite sister?”
“Yes, but not nearly enough,” Twilight said, smiling contently.
“Uh-oh, hear that, Fluttershy?” Sunset asked as she walked into the room, Fluttershy beside her. “Spike’s picking favorites.”
Spike turned around and stared wide-eyed at Fluttershy. “Oh, uh, I meant you’re both my favorite!”
Fluttershy giggled. “Honestly, you two… There’s no reason to make a contest out of it. Besides, you two grew up together, trying to compare me and Twilight is just being silly.”
She exchanged hugs with both of Twilight’s parents. “Fluttershy, it’s so nice to see you,” Twilight Velvet said. “Everything’s going well?”
“Oh yes, I’ve never been happier,” Fluttershy said, smiling brightly.
“Is that the engagement necklace?” Night Light asked. Fluttershy brushed her mane aside to better show it off. “It certainly suits you.”
“Thank you. It’s so lovely, I feel like the luckiest mare in the world!”
Twilight got up and stood next to her fiancée. “Actually, she’s not. I’m the luckiest mare in the world.”
Fluttershy kissed her on the cheek and they sat back down, with Sunset sitting on Twilight’s other side.
They talked about the wedding for a while, going over plans while Twilight’s parents looked for ways they could help. Twilight didn’t want to trouble them with it, but it seemed they were determined to involve themselves one way or another, so eventually she gave in.
After a while of trying to figure out how to bring up the topic of Sunset, Twilight Velvet wound up giving them the perfect chance. “So how was your anniversary?”
“It was great,” Twilight said. She glanced at Sunset then looked to Fluttershy, searching for some sort of indication that she was okay with telling them. Fluttershy smiled and nodded, then took Twilight’s hoof in hers. Twilight took a deep breath. “Our anniversary was certainly interesting, to say the least.”
“In a good way, I trust?” Twilight Velvet asked.
“Yes. The truth is we have something to tell you.” Twilight could feel herself shaking, so she took hold of Sunset’s hoof as well. “Well we, uhm, we decided to try out something a bit unconventional. On our anniversary Fluttershy, Sunset, and I all went out on a date together. We’re in what’s called a triad relationship now. So Fluttershy and I are still engaged, but we’re also dating Sunset as well.”
Just as he had when they were telling their friends, Spike started clapping immediately. But unlike that day, nopony else joined in. Twilight’s parents just sat unmoving, watching uncertainly.
Eventually Night Light let out a small chuckle. “That, uh… that certainly would be unconventional.”
Twilight blinked. She looked around the room, but nopony else spoke. “I’m not joking,” she said after a moment. “This is something we decided to try. So far it’s been going really well.”
More silence. Fluttershy was the next to break it. “We, uhm, we told our friends recently. Everypony was so supportive of us.” She smiled hopefully, but Night Light and Twilight Velvet just exchanged expressions marked with worry and confusion. “It was, uhm, really nice. To know… that they supported us, I mean.”
“This is…” Twilight Velvet attempted to speak, but shook her head. “Twilight, don’t you think…” She trailed off again.
“I understand it’s a lot to take in,” Sunset spoke up. Twilight felt Sunset’s hoof tighten around hers. She knew how nervous Sunset must be, but her voice was full of confidence. Twilight allowed herself to feel a bit better; Sunset had a way with words, and would be able to explain things better than she could. “I’m sure you have reservations about how this could possibly work. We can’t expect you to accept it right away. The only thing we can ask is that you’ll look at this with an open mind. Believe me when I say the last thing I want to do is cause any problems for Twilight and Fluttershy. If any of us thought this was going to put their relationship in danger, we’d end it in a second. I sincerely believe that while you’re staying with us, and once you get to know me a bit better, you’ll see that this really is something we all want to work for, and that we can make this work.”
Twilight Velvet looked at her sharply. It was clear what she thought by her expression. She blamed Sunset. “Twilight, this type of thing simply isn’t done.”
“But it is!” Twilight insisted. “Cadance was the one who told me about it. She explained all about the ways ponies have made polyamorous relationships work.”
Twilight Velvet’s ear twitched. Undoubtedly, she was unhappy to hear about Cadance’s involvement. “I’m sure there are some ponies somewhere that resort to this sort of behavior, but you’re better than this!”
Twilight felt her chest grow tight while her heart pounded against it. It became difficult to breathe. “Mom, I…”
“Honestly, what kind of example are you setting for Spike?”
Twilight looked up at Spike. He looked like he didn’t want to be dragged into any part of the conversation. “Mom, it’s okay,” he said, smiling nervously. “Really, once you get to know Sunset you’ll see –”
“Excuse us for a moment,” Night Light said. He stood up and Twilight Velvet followed him out of the room.
Twilight sunk to her hooves. She felt both Fluttershy and Sunset wrap themselves around her, but it didn’t help much. They didn’t approve, and from the sound of it, they wouldn’t be changing their minds.
She felt one more set of arms wrap around her neck, and opened her eyes to see Spike hugging her. She smiled weakly and returned his hug.
“They’ll come around,” Spike said. “I’m sure that before they go back to Canterlot, they’ll –”
“Twilight, we’d like to speak with you,” Night Light said. “Privately.”
Twilight looked uncertainly at the others. She debated if she should refuse, insist that anything they had to say could be said in front of everypony.
Eventually Sunset nodded. “That’s… probably for the best.”
“Just remember to keep your temper,” Fluttershy said.
“And if you call for us, we’ll come running,” Sunset said.
Spike gave her a thumbs up. “You can handle this. You’re Twilight Sparkle! Princess of Friendship! There’s nothing you can’t do.”
She smiled at everyone, then stood up and followed her dad out of the room.
They stood in the foyer, and at first nopony spoke. Twilight looked between her parents. Her dad looked a little uncertain, or maybe he just didn’t like what they were going to say. Her mom looked like she was going to go off at any moment. She probably was.
Since nopony else spoke, Twilight cleared her throat. “I know you weren’t expecting this, but I agree with what Sunset said. If you just give it a chance, I think you’ll see how wonderful this is for all of us.”
Night Light sighed. “Be reasonable, Twilight. You’re a princess, Equestria looks to you for guidance.”
How many times had that thought bounced around in her head? “I know that. You know how seriously I take my role as princess. But that’s exactly what I was worried about when I began dating Fluttershy. You both accepted me then, so why can’t you accept this too?”
“That was different,” Twilight Velvet said.
“It wasn’t!” Twilight insisted.
“It was. Fluttershy is only one pony.” Twilight Velvet placed a hoof on her temple and shook her head. “How could you even do something like this to such a sweet mare?”
“Why are you even assuming this was my idea!?” Twilight asked. She took a deep breath. Remain calm. “Fluttershy knows all she has to do is say that she’s not happy with the situation, and that’s the end of it, no questions asked. Sunset agrees with that too. Besides, it was Fluttershy’s idea to begin with.”
Night Light looked at her with genuine concern, which only irritated her further. “Think of what everypony is going to say.”
“I’m very aware of what everypony will say,” Twilight said, struggling to keep her voice down. “I already saw what they said when I came out as gay, I know exactly how hurtful ponies can be.”
Night Light shook his head. “Why would you want to put yourself through that again, now that it’s finally died down?”
“Shouldn’t the fact that I’m willing to go through that again prove how important this is to me?”
Night Light placed a hoof on her shoulder. She resisted the urge to push it off. “Twily, please –”
“Don’t ‘Twily’ me,” Twilight said curtly. Night Light retracted his hoof. Twilight regretted the outburst. She wanted to apologize, for everything. For snapping at him, for dating Sunset, for being polyamorous at all. But she wouldn’t apologize. She’d made her mind up, and was going to live her life with or without their approval.
“I think it’s time we left,” Twilight Velvet said. “I hope you’ll see reason soon, but for now it would be better if we returned to Canterlot.”
“Agreed.” Twilight couldn’t believe the word had left her mouth. Even as a teenager, she’d never done anything to push away her parents.
Twilight Velvet glanced down for a second, and when she looked back up Twilight could see fire in her eyes. “We’re taking Spike with us.”
“You what!?” Twilight recoiled for a moment, then lowered her head and glared at her mom. “No. You’re not.”
“That wasn’t a request.” Twilight Velvet matched her gaze. “We love you, Twilight, but we have to think about what’s best for all our children, especially the only one who is still a child.”
She took a step for the door, so Twilight teleported in front of her. “Spike is staying with me!”
Night Light stood beside his wife. His expression was less angry, but just as firm. “The agreement was he would stay with you as long as you were able to take care of him properly.”
“I am taking care of him!” Twilight shouted.
“We don’t think this is the best environment for him to grow in any longer,” Night Light said, his voice remaining far more calm.
“He’s fine, you heard him yourself. He loves it here.”
“He’s still a child,” Night Light said. “He loves you and Fluttershy, but he doesn’t know what’s best for him.”
“Neither do you!” Twilight had given up every attempt at keeping calm. “I’ve taken care of him, I’ve watched him grow up, I was the one to hatch him in the first place!”
“This is not a discussion,” Twilight Velvet said, as if Twilight was still a filly and could be told what to do. “Spike is our son!”
“Not for the past five years!”
Nopony moved. Twilight had found her mom’s weak spot, the one thing that could hurt her more than anything else.
Twilight Velvet’s nostrils flared, and she looked like she would charge at any further provocation. “Get out of my way.”
Twilight held her ground. “Get out of my house.”
They stood, eyes fixed on one another. Twilight Velvet took a step, but it was towards Spike, so it was in the wrong direction.
Twilight’s horn lit up, and a moment later they were outside. Other ponies were around, and they all turned their attention to the commotion. That suited Twilight just fine, since witnesses were required for a royal decree.
“I, Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship, and with all the power awarded to me by my crown, hereby forbid Twilight Velvet and Night Light from setting hoof inside the Friendship Castle. Furthermore, they are not permitted any contact with Spike the Dragon.”
Whatever the reaction was, Twilight didn’t see it. A moment later she was back in the castle, locking and fortifying the door. Once she was satisfied with that she went back to the sitting room. She started off stomping the whole way, but with her momentum gone, she soon found herself shuffling instead.
She hadn’t thought about what she did when she was doing it. She wasn’t sure if it would even hold up legally. There were limitations to her power, after all. Even Celestia and Luna couldn’t do whatever they wanted.
By the time she reached the sitting room door, she wound up just stopping and staring at it for a few minutes. She didn’t know if there was anything she could have done to turn the situation around, but it didn’t stop her from feeling like a failure.
Eventually she opened the door. Spike was sitting in between Sunset and Fluttershy, and all three of them were huddled up tightly. One look at them made Twilight turn her head away.
Nevertheless, she heard the sound of claws against the marble floor, followed by a pair of arms once again wrapping themselves around her neck. She held Spike close to her with one hoof and wiped her eyes with the other.
Sunset and Fluttershy were there almost immediately, contributing to the group hug.
“We, uhm, we heard everything,” Fluttershy said.
Twilight could only nod.
At some point, they all found themselves sitting on the ground, despite the fact that there was a couch big enough for all four of them. None of them wanted to break away from the circle they had made.
“Spike,” Twilight said, after a long time, “you know I’d never let anypony take you away from me. But it’s only fair to ask: What do you want to do?”
“I…” Spike looked around at the three of them. “I want to stay here, with you three and all our friends. Ponyville is my home.”
Twilight smiled. It didn’t matter if her decree was useless. It didn’t matter if Princess Celestia herself came to take him. Spike wasn’t going anywhere.
“But, uhm…” Spike twirled his claws together. “If they do come back, I think it’s probably better if I go.”
Somehow, after everything that had been said that day, that still hurt the worst.
“It’s just that… What’s going to happen if I stay here?”
Twilight sighed. “I don’t know, Spike.”
“And, you know,” he said, smiling weakly, “maybe I can convince them that there’s nothing to worry about.”
“You shouldn’t have to,” Twilight said. “You’re still a –”
“Don’t say I’m still a child,” Spike said. “I’ve been on lots of adventures with you, and you’ve taught me so much. I know I’m not an adult yet, but you taught me how to be mature when I need to be. There’s been plenty of times you’ve saved me, but there’s been times I saved you too! Because… we take care of each other. We’re a family, and that’s what we do.”
“Spike…” Twilight hugged Spike tighter as she started crying. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Twilight,” Spike said through tears of his own.
Everypony was crying before long. Whenever it seemed like they were done, they looked around and one of them would start again, triggering all the others. It might have gone on for a few minutes, or for an hour, or longer still. By the end, they were all sick of crying, and huddling together had made them all uncomfortably warm, but it didn’t matter. They stuck together anyway. They were a family, and nothing could tear them apart.
“Hey, Spike,” Twilight said, once it seemed the tears had subsided for real. “Remember the time you took my place at the summit?”
“Why do you have to bring up old stuff?” Spike asked, although he sounded just as amused at the reminder as she was.
“Didn’t you even tell one pony to call you Princess Spike?” Twilight asked, smiling.
“Well… I didn’t really tell her too, I just said she could. You know, if she wanted to.”
Sunset laughed and playfully nudged him. “Hey, you can be a prince any time, as far as I’m concerned.”
“I remember the first time I met you and Twilight,” Fluttershy said. “I couldn’t even talk to Twilight yet, but it was a lot easier to talk to you.”
Spike chuckled. “Yeah, you wanted to know everything you could about me.”
“Yup, and you told her.” Twilight smiled, remembering how she had used him as an excuse to get out of the conversation. “Every little detail, right from being an egg.”
Sunset cocked her head to the side. “I wonder what would have happened to us if you never unlocked that door when we were fighting the Dazzlings. Even if you did need some help reaching the doorknob.”
Spike grinned. “I bet I could reach it now. I’m as tall as Fluttershy!”
“Almost,” Twilight corrected.
“Soon enough,” Fluttershy said. “In a few years, you’ll probably be taller than Twilight.”
“Don’t remind me,” Twilight said. She ruffled Spike’s spines. “I like having a little brother, thank you very much.”
“Didn’t you fight off some sort of mutant chickens one time?” Sunset asked.
Spike shook his head. “No, they were cockatrices!”
“What? No way,” Sunset feigned disbelief. “Cockatrices are serious business when they’re not super powered. You gotta be mistaken.”
“Really! See, here’s what happened…”
They spent the rest of the day doing all of Spike’s favorite things. Sunset let Spike help her make an Oubliettes and Ogres character with the promise that they’d all play together soon. Twilight ‘accidentally’ let it slip that she’d been reading the comic Sunset had gotten him hooked on, and admitted that maybe some comics were worth reading after all. They wound up discussing the finer points of the story for at least an hour. While they were talking, Fluttershy made dinner, giving his dish extra flair by breaking into the stash of gems that they had planned to bake into his birthday cake.
In the end, they all knew what was coming though. They’d even packed his things into Sunset’s old backpack. ‘Just in case,’ they told each other, but they knew better. Just when it was getting late enough that Twilight was going to send Spike to bed, convinced they’d have at least one more night, there was a knock on the door.
They all gathered in the foyer, and Twilight undid the enchantments barricading the entrance. “Come in.”
The door opened to reveal three ponies. Twilight Velvet and Night Light were expected, but they had brought with them a very dishevelled looking Mayor Mare. Twilight stepped forward to greet them.
“Princess Twilight,” the mayor said, bowing her head awkwardly. The two of them rarely relied on official titles outside of public appearances, but everything about her suggested she was walking on eggshells.
“Hello, Mayor,” Twilight replied as politely as she could manage. It wasn’t her fault that this was happening, after all.
The mayor’s voice was shaky as she continued. “It has come to my attention that there is a dispute over the guardianship of Spike the Dragon. Having looked into Ponyville’s official records for him, he does seem to be listed as the son of Mr. Night Light and Mrs. Twilight Velvet.”
“He is,” Twilight said. “Although I continue to dispute their legal right to custody over him. I don’t want any further… incidents, however, so I will comply with your decision until a time when a proper court case can be made.”
Mayor Mare frowned. Twilight was aware she was putting her in an awkward situation, deciding between the law and a princess, but she had to make one last attempt.
“I’m afraid the law does seem clear on this matter.” The mayor frowned. “Unless determined otherwise by a judge in a court of law, his legal guardians are his parents.”
Twilight nodded solemnly, then turned to her parents. “Please… don’t do this…”
“Twilight,” her mom addressed her, sounding more worn out than angry, “I hope you know we love you just as much as we ever have. But unless you can change your living situation to be suitable for raising a child, then as good parents there’s nothing else we can do.”
There it was. It had been just beneath the surface the whole time. Spike or Sunset. Pick one. Only selfish ponies thought they deserved to have everyone they cared about.
Twilight looked back to Sunset and knew she understood. Sunset was smiling. It wasn’t exactly a sad smile, but it was far from happy. It was encouragement. It was the answer. ‘It’s okay,’ it said. ‘I understand. Pick him.’
Twilight looked away, before she had the chance to start crying again. “Mom, Dad. Understand that you’re not asking me to pick between Sunset and Spike. Sunset’s not the problem. You’re asking me to either deny part of who I am or break apart my family. I love Spike. I love him more than you probably realize. He’s my little brother, but he’s so much more than that. In a lot of ways, he’s more like my son. But this is part of me. I am polyamorous. I never asked to be, I’d probably be better off if I weren’t. But at the end of the day, I can’t change who I am. And I won’t be ashamed of that, even if… even if you’re ashamed of me for it.”
Nopony spoke. Nopony moved. Nopony would so much as look at one another.
Eventually Twilight realized there was nothing else to be done, so she turned around and walked over to Spike. Wordlessly she pulled him into a tight hug. He hugged Fluttershy and Sunset in turn, before hugging Twilight one last time.
He slung the backpack over his shoulder and walked over to his parents. He looked back sadly, and saw three ponies doing their best to keep smiling while they waved. He did his best, too.
Mayor Mare was the first out the door, obviously happy to put the awkward scene behind her. Night Light guided Spike out next, with Twilight Velvet following behind. She turned back in time to see her daughter collapse to the ground, sobbing. She hesitated for a moment, but left all the same.
Twilight barely noticed Fluttershy and Sunset holding her on either side. She barely noticed when they helped her up, or when they started guiding her upstairs. She barely noticed when they reached their bedroom door. Sunset said something, and she almost didn’t notice what it was. Sunset was already walking towards her own room when Twilight realized it was “Good night.”
“Please stay,” Twilight said. It was the first thing she’d said since Spike left, and she hadn’t thought about it. But once she finally said something, it snapped her out of her daze. “Uhm… would you mind staying with us, tonight?”
Sunset blinked a few times. “Of course I wouldn’t.”
Fluttershy kissed Twilight’s cheek, then led them into the bedroom. She climbed into bed, positioning Twilight in the middle.
Twilight lay on her back, with Fluttershy on one side and Sunset on the other. She was comforted by their company, but couldn’t sleep. She wasn’t sure how long she had been awake for. Turning her head slowly, she saw Fluttershy was asleep. Turning again, she saw Sunset wasn’t. Sunset smiled for her, but Twilight didn’t have it in her to return it.
“You know,” Sunset said, speaking softly, “Fluttershy told me you still know some of those old Rainboom songs.”
Twilight nodded. “It was a lot of fun being in a band.”
“I, uhm…” Sunset fidgeted. “Maybe I could sing for you. If, uhm, you wanted.”
“Okay, but it’s been a while, so, uh, you’ve been warned.”
Twilight closed her eyes and focused only on the feeling of the two ponies next to her and Sunset’s voice. Slowly it washed out other thoughts, and Twilight found herself finally drifting off to sleep.
“Once upon a time, you came into my world and made the stars align…”