A Bluebird's Song

by Ardensfax

Save Your Sky for Me - Part II

A Bluebird’s Song

Search for beauty, find your shore
Try to save them all, bleed no more
You have such oceans within
In the end I will always love you

Save Your Sky for Me – Part II

The final sliver of the sun had lost itself beneath the horizon, but the flat stone roof of Canterlot Hospital was still warm to the touch from the heat of the day.

The weakness of Dash’s legs was beginning to catch up with her, so the two mares sat huddled together near the crenellated edge of the roof, watching the sunlight’s fading progression into darkness. Neither of them had yet made the decision to speak of serious matters, simply savouring the near-infinite vista and cool, free air. A little lost in the moment, they fell to nuzzling one another’s necks and faces, sharing soft, near-invisible kisses in the half-lit gloom.

Twilight pulled gently back from the pegasus’s lips, unable to resist darting momentarily back forwards and feathering a nipping kiss over a spot of Dash’s neck that she knew made the pegasus melt, just below the nub of bone where her jaw ended. Dash did not disappoint in her reaction, biting her lip at the moment of contact to force back a moan, a shudder running through her body.

“I love it so much when you do that…” she murmured, catching Twilight’s gaze.

“Why do you think I do it?” Twilight smirked, lazily stroking a hoof through her love’s prismatic mane, taking great care to avoid touching her injured wings. Edging forwards, the unicorn snaked her hind leg softly around Dash’s lower back. She felt the pegasus quiver against her as she leaned in to nip at her neck for a second time, before nuzzling along Dash’s jaw, and edging upwards over her chin to press their lips together once more.

Even now, the sensation of the pegasus’s breath blooming in her mouth, and the confident caress of that warm, strong tongue against her own was enough to steal the air from Twilight’s lungs, and leave her deliciously bereft of the rationality she prided herself on. She loved the way that Dash’s proximity robbed her so effortlessly of the walls of cynicism with which she had so often shielded herself.

They held the gradually deepening kiss for what seemed like hours, and yet when they finally broke apart, Twilight still felt as if it had ended an eternity too soon.

As pleasurable as this was, Twilight knew that she was stalling. Her mind was fogged with hazing sparks of desire, and she wanted nothing more than to allow the intimacy of the situation to develop; to reach its natural conclusion right there on the warm rooftop. Somehow, though, a small voice in the back of her head would not allow her to do so.

You need to talk to her. She brought it up in the elevator on the way up here, she’s ready. You can’t delay, no matter how much you want to.

“Rainbow…” Twilight pulled back a little, her heart beating hard, still cradling the mare gently in her forelegs. “Do… do you want to talk about what happened?” She sighed, turning her head away a little. “I’m sorry, I’d love to just lie here with you and forget everything, but if you feel ready to talk about it, I really think it might help.”

She felt Dash give her a reassuring squeeze with her forelegs. “It’s okay, Twi’. I’m ready.”

Twilight lay her head back on the smooth stones, looking up at the clear, darkening sky. Carefully, Dash joined her, nestling her head into the soft curve of Twilight’s neck, snuggling closer, drawing comfort from the warm proximity of the mare she loved.

“I didn’t really want to think about it until these last few days,” she began, quietly. “I just thought I’d end up depressing myself, and I wanted to pay attention to getting better.” She sighed, breathing out a short, wistful note of laughter. “It’s weird, really. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s actually made me happy. For years, I thought my mother didn’t care for me. Then, she did the one thing in the world that could have proven to me that she loved me all along.”

She turned her head, looking up to meet Twilight’s eyes with her suddenly tearful gaze. “It’s the last piece, Twi’.” She gripped the unicorn tighter, a single tear breaking free and losing itself in the fur of her cheek. “I… I think I’m free of it all.” Twilight felt a few warm droplets fall onto her chest. “I’m free,” Dash repeated in a choked whisper.

Twilight understood what she meant. The mare was finally free of uncertainty, of insecurity, and free of the unresolved sense of abandonment that had haunted her for so long. She was free of that nagging, unfair, inextinguishable doubt common to so many sufferers of abuse; that underlying fear that she was in some way to blame for what had been done to her.

The unicorn reciprocated the embrace, holding Dash tightly and rocking her gently back and forth as the pegasus wept in silence, tears of relief and sadness and a million pent-up emotions shining on her cheeks and staining Twilight’s fur.

Maybe it was worth it. All the pain and the blood and the tears. Maybe it was all worth it, if she can be healed.

“But you can’t forgive her?” Twilight murmured.

Dash shook her head, her voice still choked with sobs. “I… No, Twi’. I can’t.” She fell thoughtfully silent for a moment. “She was young and scared and angry, and I can understand why she did what she did. But… no matter how ya look at it, she was still a mother who abandoned her foal. She abandoned her foal to live with a monster, and then she took another foal and helped turn her into a monster. No matter what she’s done for me now, I can’t forgive that.” She sighed. “I guess it’s who I am. A mother ought to be loyal to her kids, no matter what.”

Twilight nodded. “I understand, Rainbow.”

The pegasus tipped her head back, resting it beside Twilight’s, looking up at the fading amber of the sky. “Maybe she changed, near the end. Maybe there were things about her that I don’t understand. I… I don’t hate her, I’m not angry or vindictive. I’m grateful to her. She gave her life for me; of course I’m grateful. But I can’t forgive what she did. Not just what she did to me; I could be healed. Cloudshine can’t be, she’s looking at a life staring at prison bars because of that mare.”

“Shine died thinking she’d redeemed herself,” Twilight murmured, a little sadly, more to herself than anypony else.

“I’m glad of that,” replied Dash, after a moment’s thought. “Whatever I think of her, she did give me peace. I guess she deserved to go in peace. But the way I see it, she lost any chance of redeeming herself the moment her daughter joined Sunset because of the way she was raised.” She turned to look Twilight in the eye, her expression a little apprehensive. “You’re… you’re not angry, are you? You don’t think I’m being unfair?”

“Of course not,” Twilight whispered, leaning forwards and kissing the pegasus soothingly on the forehead. “I can’t imagine what your life was like, or what you went through. I… I don’t for a moment think I’m qualified to judge you. Besides, you can’t force yourself into forgiveness, and it’s better to let what you feel out in the open. I love you, Rainbow. I love the real you, not the mask. Not the pony you pretended to be for so long.”

She gazed, unblinking and serious, into Dash’s shining magenta eyes. “I promise you, you’ll never need to pretend or be ashamed around me. You’ll never need to pretend to be something you’re not, ever again. I love you. I love your flaws and imperfections. I love you when you’re crying just as much as when you’re smiling. I love you when you need my help, and when I need yours. I… I want to grow old with you, Rainbow.”

Dash’s eyes welled up again, and she pulled Twilight into a heated, insistent kiss. “Thank you, Twilight,” she whispered gratefully as she pulled back. “I want that too. I… I know I can’t put it into words as well as you, but I love you too; I love you so much. I know I’m gonna end up sounding cheesy or old fashioned, but I can’t think of anypony I’d rather share my life with.” She smiled, meeting the unicorn’s eyes almost bashfully. “I feel like I’ve got some kinda closure now. Maybe it’s not the kind of closure Mom would’ve wanted, but… it’s enough.” She sighed, but the sound was a contented one. “It’s more than enough.”

For the next ten minutes, the two mares lay locked together in a still embrace, gazing up at the darkening sky, watching the amber glow recede as the first and boldest stars began their glimmering foray into the falling night.

Suddenly, Twilight registered a soft glow of golden light to her left, and she turned her head to trace its source. She jumped at the sight which greeted her, gasping in surprise. Dash followed her gaze, sitting up a little, her eyes widening.

“May I intrude, my student?”

Princess Celestia rose gracefully over the hospital’s crenellations on her wide, alabaster wings. Alighting gently on the smooth roof with a click of her golden-shod hooves, she smiled a little reproachfully down at the two mares.

Twilight hastily got to her hooves, and leaned down to offer Dash a helping hoof, her expression a little bashful. She was acutely aware that they were not, in truth, supposed to be up here. “Princess,” she mumbled. “Of course you can. How did you know we were here?”

Celestia laughed, the expression of mild reproach leaving her eyes. “I wanted to visit you both, but none of the doctors knew where you were. I know all too well the pegasine longing for freedom, and so I made an… educated guess as to your whereabouts.” She scrutinized the pegasus, whose bandage-wrapped legs were obviously still in a weakened condition. “Although, I have to ask. How exactly did you get up here? Are you back on yours hooves already, Rainbow Dash?”

“Kind of,” Dash replied, sounding a little uncertain. “I managed to take the stairs, although Twi’ lent a hoof.” She turned to Twilight, suddenly looking a little worried. “Oh ponyfeathers, I’d not thought of that. How am I gonna get down from here? There’s no way I can get past those stairs twice.”

The princess raised a calming hoof. “It’s alright. If the need arises, I’m sure I can offer you magical assistance.”

Twilight, who had not thought of the prospect of getting down either, breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s a good thing you’re here, Princess,” she remarked. “It’s a bit too cold up here to spend the night.”

“I imagine so,” agreed Celestia. A smile was playing on her lips, although now she was closer, Twilight could see that the princess was troubled, her eyes a little distant. “Please, feel free to sit down again,” she added, looking at Dash. “I don’t want you to risk worsening your injuries on my behalf. I must speak with you.”

A little hesitantly, the two mares sat down once again on the stone. To their surprise, the princess joined them, perhaps attempting to put them at their ease, sitting down opposite the couple and resting back against the crenellations that surrounded the roof.

“In the light of recent events, I am loathe to bring this matter up,” Celestia began, her gaze a little downcast. “I promised my Captain of the Guard that I would see the matter through personally, and I must do so, otherwise there will be little that I can do to prevent the guards from getting involved.”

Dash looked up, a light of understanding dawning in her eyes. “This… this is about Sergeant Quintus, isn’t it?”

The princess nodded, gravely. “I’m afraid so. Captain Gladius took it upon himself to send out search parties to the foot of the mountain. It took time, but they managed to locate and recover the sergeant’s remains two days ago.” She paused for a moment, as if at an unpleasant memory. When she continued, her voice was a little quieter. “Obviously, they could not discern any individual injuries inflicted in the fight, but Gladius is an intelligent stallion. He was the one who first confronted me about the matter, having worked out the truth. He agreed to keep the matter quiet to the best of his ability, and to allow me to deal with it personally. I owe him a lot for his discretion.”

Dash looked a little apprehensive. “Are they gonna arrest me?”

“Not while I have any say in the matter,” Celestia insisted, firmly. “They managed to recover blood samples, and they’re working on them now.”

Twilight leaned forwards, interested in the science of the situation despite its serious and gruesome nature. “But if they’re looking for the draught of forgetfulness in his blood, surely that won’t show anything up, will it? He took it so long ago now, it’ll all have passed out.”

The alicorn nodded, approvingly. “Quite so, but Sunset kept their hold over him by blackmailing him with small amounts of antidote, giving him back his life in weeks and months. There should still be traces of that antidote.” She looked momentarily wistful. “Cloudshine admitted everything to me. She knows it won’t make any difference now, and I think she wanted to help you.”

“Help me?” Dash looked confused. “Did you hear how she tried to trick me? I’m a pegasus, she must hate me.”

Celestia shrugged. “Perhaps, but I think she feels as if she owes you. It’s her fault that Quintus tried to kill you, and she knows it. I think, deep down, it’s the one thing she feels guilty for. So she confessed, she told me everything. I’ve been… I suppose you could say I’ve been working with her.” She turned to look at Dash. “She was the one who told me the full story about your mother, because she wanted to prevent Dusk Tempest’s personal plans from bearing fruit. But aside from that, she told me exactly what Sunset had done to Quintus, and exactly what Quintus tried to do to you. I think at this stage, we have overwhelming evidence that you acted in self defence.”

“That’s a relief.” Dash sighed, looking down. “It’s just… unfair. Not to me; to Quintus. They stole his life, they sent him to his death for no good reason, and what’ll he be remembered as, in the end? Evidence? Collateral damage?” She shook her head, disgustedly. “Ugh. I’m glad they can clear my name, because all this is doing is burying Sunset deeper. I keep telling myself what Twilight said to me when I came back.” Dash took Twilight’s hoof, squeezing it gratefully between hers. “She told me that I didn’t kill Quintus; that Sunset had killed him a long time ago. It’s how I can live with remembering his face, right before he fell.” A deep-set anger was burning in her eyes, and she met the princess’s gaze with a burning intensity. “If you need me to give evidence, I’ll be there. I don’t want any of them to see the light of day again.”

“I understand,” Celestia replied, gravely. “I presume, then, that you won’t want to see your sister again?”

Dash looked away, staring into the blackening sky, the anger in her expression melting into sadness. “She can’t be saved now. There’s no point.” She snorted, distractedly tapping at the stone beneath her with the edge of her forehoof. “We’ve got nothing to say to each other.”

The pearly alicorn nodded, apparently understanding that the pegasus would brook no discussion on this matter. “Very well. Do you want me to tell her?”

Dash raised an eyebrow. “About what?”

“About what happened to your mother.”

For a few long moments, there was silence. “I guess so,” the cyan mare replied, at length. “She ought to know, I think. Rainbow Shine was her mother, too.”

“She may take it badly,” Celestia noted, a little warningly.

Dash, however, seemed set in her decision. “I guess it’ll hurt her, but Mom would never have needed to die if it wasn’t for Sunset. Maybe it’ll give her a taste of the kind of pain her friends have been causing for years.” She sighed. “In a way, she’s like me. In the past, we’ve both played with fire because we thought we could take the burns. The only thing that ever makes you stop is when you realize you’re burning the ponies you love.”

Twilight rested a comforting hoof on the pegasus’s shoulder, and nodded in agreement. “If Cloudshine’s got any chance to willingly turn her back on Sunset, then this is it,” she remarked. “It might just be a wake-up call for her.”

The princess got slowly to her hooves. “I agree,” she replied. “I don’t hold out a lot of hope, but if I don’t tell her, she’ll still hear rumours. She’ll probably work it out on her own, and then she’ll just have one more reason to hate me.” She looked down almost appraisingly at Dash, and nodded in approval. “I’m glad to see you’re dealing so well with all of this.” Once again, however, Twilight caught a glimpse of pain or indecision in the alicorn’s eyes, so swiftly concealed that she could not tell if she had imagined it or not. “You’ve suffered quite a loss.”

“I never really knew her,” Dash replied. “But now I know she cared, in the end. It’s just lucky she came when she did, otherwise she’d never have had the chance to prove that.”

Celestia nodded. “Yes… Yes, I suppose it was lucky.” The pained expression returned for the briefest moment, her eyes filled with guilt. Then she turned away. “I need to return to the castle. I’ll speak to you both again soon, to ensure that all is well.”

The night air was beginning to bite at them with mountain chill, and Twilight found herself shivering. “P-princess,” she stuttered, “could you help Rainbow get down from here? I think we should all be heading back inside now.” She decided not to question Celestia’s obvious discomfort. She knew from experience that the Alicorn did not keep secrets from her without good reason.

The princess turned back to face the mares, and by this time her expression was quite composed. “Very well. You really ought to get some rest now, both of you.” She smiled, although it seemed a little unnatural. “I can teleport you both back to Rainbow Dash’s room; I really don’t think you should put your stitches under any further pressure today.”

Twilight nodded. “Thank you, Princess.”

Celestia closed her eyes for a moment, the unknown internal conflict once again undisguised. Then, she seemed to make up her mind; to resolve some internal conflict. Her eyelids flickered open once again, and now there was no trace of the pain that had distorted her face.

Before the pair left, Dash turned and kissed Twilight softly on the cheek. “Thanks, Twi. Just… thanks for being there for me.”

Twilight nuzzled her love’s forehead, a little embarrassed at showing this display of affection in front of the princess, but in no way dissuaded from showing it. “I always will be,” she promised in a low, burning whisper.

The princess smiled at the young couple, and this time it was obviously genuine. “I’ve been alive long enough to know how rare love is,” she murmured. “I’m glad to see you’ve both found it.”

Then, Celestia's horn flared. A shimmering, heat-haze corona formed around the mares, and Twilight felt her fur stand on end at the electric charge. Her body wreathed momentarily in golden light, and her vision whited out.


When the fog retreated from her vision, Twilight found herself standing at Dash's bedside. The pegasus had been gently deposited beneath the covers, a testament to the princess's incredible control of her magical abilities.

The cyan mare smiled up at her, sleepily. The sudden warmth and comfort had clearly caused her tiredness to catch up with her. "Hey," she mumbled blearily.

"Hey," Twilight replied, leaning down to kiss her love on the forehead, the gesture almost motherly. "You're not worrying about Quintus, are you?"

Dash shook her head, emphatically. "If the princess is takin' my side over it, I don't see there's any reason to. Besides, I'm not even thinking about it yet." She caught Twilight's gaze, and her eyes seemed genuinely at peace. "The future doesn't matter yet, Twi'. We're both here, and I'm gonna recover from this. I know I'm gonna fly with you again."

"I'll hold you to it," Twilight whispered, her voice catching a little, despite herself.

Suddenly, she felt Dash reach up and grip her foreleg, looking up at her with hopeful eyes. Twilight knew what she wanted, and knew with relief that the pegasus was not still so fragile that she could not comply with her wishes. With the utmost care, she climbed into the bed beside the cyan mare, and pulled the covers over the pair of them.

The pegasus snuggled gently closer to her with a contented sigh, tucking her head beneath Twilight’s chin as sleep began to rapidly overcome the pair of them. In truth, Twilight had not realized just how tired she was.

She felt herself drifting; her mind blurring and fading at the edges.

We're both here... Ever since Sunset had entered their lives, it was was more than Twilight had ever allowed herself to hope. Now Sunset were gone, and only now could Twilight truly convince herself that they could live free from fear.

Before sleep claimed her, the last thing she was aware of was the gentle motion of her love's chest, and the warm bloom of the cyan mare's breath along her neck as they lay entwined together, deaf to the world as it turned around them.

It was so much more than enough.