• Published 12th Aug 2013
  • 13,689 Views, 217 Comments

Warring Dusk - AlphatheGriffin17

A happy day soon descends into a war between two peoples. Canterlot is under siege, the princesses are captured and Dusk must take up arms or watch his home fall.

  • ...

An Invitation

Three months later…

The sun shone its magnificent rays down upon the ponies below, on a glorious midday. A gentle wind caressed the leaves in the trees, like a lovers touch, gently rustling in response to its touch. The birds sung joyfully in their branches, as if providing backing for the scene. Flowers bloomed in the meadow, butterflies fluttering like the petals of said flowers had taken life and flown away. Only peace and tranquillity could be sought on this day.

So it might be seen as out of place in this vibrant meadow for what was about to happen between two ponies that faced off against each other.

Dusk stood on the opposite end of the field. His mind was reaching a state of alert, already running through various scenarios and actions for the upcoming duel. His horn glowed under his hat while he gathered his magic to him, light and shadow awaiting to be called upon when needed. Though he was well aware of his aversion to violence, he recognised when it was needed and it was certainly needed here.

His opponent was also readying himself, stretching out and limbering himself up. Considering who it was, it would be one of Dusk's greatest challenges to stand against him. Unpredictable, fast and powerful. This had been coming for quite a while and now it was finally time to end the waiting or the consequences would be most dire. The worst he could imagine. Simple, yet terrifying.

Ray would never let him hear the end of it.

"So, how are we doing this?" he asked, stretching his legs out. "Are there any rules we should lay down before we start?"

"Just give me a challenge." He lowered his head in preparation. "Though I take no joy in it, fight well."

"Right, right… and how do we decide who wins? Does somepony sound a bell? Call time-out? Some guy with a deep voice says 'KO?'"

"Just when one of us wants to submit to the other," he told him. "Whenever you're ready..."

"Alright...sounds simple enough..." He rose up, cracked his neck and stood in a fighting stance "...right. Ready."

Deciding to act quickly as well as test his opponent, Dusk fired off some colour pellets in his direction. Just so he wouldn't expend too much energy so early.

Either anticipating this or having fast reflexes, Ray sidestepped them quickly. They flew past him and faded into thin air not long after.

"Uh...is that it?"

Dusk's answer was to try a close range attack. Determined not to try and hurt him too badly, he charged and created an orange aura around his hooves. Ray's eyes were locked on him for his entire approach, his body tensed. He could have guessed what was coming next.

Just before Dusk landed his punch, Ray teleported out of the way in a yellow flash. The following sound told Dusk he'd reappeared behind him.

"Come on dude, step it up!" he called out.

Dusk silently agreed. Perhaps it was. He needed to keep Ray on his hooves and the time for testing was over. Calling on his power, he let off a more rapid round of pellets. The unicorn reacted accordingly, teleporting in rapid succession to dodge them all. He could see the cocky smile start to grow on his face.

"That all of the tricks you've got?" he yelled, teleporting mid-roll and finishing it when he reappeared.

Dusk took a chance and shot off a full spread of pellets so they covered the whole area Ray was using.

"Whoa!" He stepped back and fell over, narrowly avoiding the attack when he hit the ground. "Heh...gotta be more careful..."

Now he had him caught off-guard, he charged at him again. He looked up just as his glowing fist was coming down and ducked beneath it. He teleported away before he could follow up, reappearing at a safe distance and eyeing Dusk warily.

"Phew...close one...gotta watch him..." he heard him mutter.

You should keep your thoughts to yourself, he thought. Now he knew just how Ray saw him as an opponent.

Dusk expected now Ray knew he wasn't to be taken lightly and that he may soon start doing more than just keeping out of the way. It looked like he was watching how he attacked too as Dusk was. Perhaps it was time for him to step up again.

"Darkness, conceal me..." Keeping his power in check, he let the shadows cast by the trees and bushes around them to grow and hid himself in them.

Ray muttered something about this being spooky and cast his eyes in the dark, searching for Dusk. His hooves padding silently on the grass, Dusk crept around to the back of Ray, making sure he got as close as he could before he needed to stop the spell.

The stallion turned his back to him and Dusk closed the distance between them, latching onto his back and light returning when he did. Ray gave a yelp of surprise and tried to whip around, but Dusk's weight held him down.

"Can't teleport away now, not without taking me with you," he muttered, intending to try and dehoof him.

If he could just get him on the ground…

"Heh...yeah, that's the weakness of teleporting..." He could hear the smirk in his voice. "Or is it?"

Too late, Dusk knew something was coming. As he said this, he teleported out from under Dusk, leaving Dusk to fall to the ground. Then he reappeared above Dusk and drop-kicked him painfully in the back before teleporting a fair distance away.

He felt his eyes start to water a little and cast a spell that dulled the pain, getting back to his hooves while Ray waited.

"Never assume things about an opponent, Dusk," he called out. "Especially when you're facing somepony new. You never know if the usual rules will still apply."

He shook his head and looked over. "Not bad, especially when you seem tentative to meet me in battle."

"Just needed to get the adrenaline going is all," he grinned. "Like you and your colours, I have my own perks with my teleportation."

"Like what?" he asked, turning his hooves pink.

"It's difficult to explain...but even so, I wouldn't want to give away all of my secrets, now would I?" he countered, his horn starting to glow again.

"I suppose not," he agreed. He tensed himself for his next attack.

A thought seemed to occur to him. "Hmm...hey Dusk, tell me real quickly...I know I didn't ask before I kicked you, but it's fine for us to hit each other, right?"

"We might as well," he said after thinking. "Not much point in sparring if we don't."

"That's all I needed to hear..." He smirked. "Sorry, this is probably going to hurt."

He teleported and Dusk bounced into the air, but not in the way Ray would have expected. He appeared just above him as he climbed and swung at him with his hoof. With a yelp of surprise, it went straight through the colour duplicate he'd sent up instead and he fell to the ground.

This time, Dusk jumped into the air and intercepted his fall with a kick, sending him shooting to the ground. However, Ray vanished and he felt a sharp pain when he teleported behind him and used the momentum from the fall to kick him in the back of the head. Yelling, Dusk bounced off the ground when he hit it while Ray smacked into it.

That didn't stop the other stallion. He was soon on his hooves and charging just as Dusk recovered. Quickly, he blocked him with a shield, pushed him back and ran towards him. Ray teleported and struck Dusk in the side, knocking him off balance, another one making him fall to the ground. The stallion grinned and performed a downward strike.

Dusk rolled out of the way just in time, striking him with a colour tendril he left in his place. Ray reeled, Dusk's hooves turning blue while he struck him on the base of the neck, the back of his leg and the small of his back. Ray staggered from the impact, but still managed to teleport away just as Dusk threw an orange punch.

A pressure on the hoof was felt when Ray grabbed it in mid-air and heaved him up. He teleported beneath Dusk and struck his stomach, punching him higher, then again. Despite the constant punching, Dusk knew what was coming and landed on a white colour cloud when Ray appeared to kick him back to the ground.

Wincing from the throbbing in his chest, Dusk watched Ray fall to the ground. This was going on long enough and it was time to end this. He'd only just started practicing this next move with Luna, but he seemed like the best way to finish it.

"Right... my turn."

Concentrating with all of his might, he started to feel a loss of cohesion and solidity in his body. Soon he could feel no restrictions, either by his limbs or by the world around him. Like Luna could do, he soared off as a cloud of formless blue smoke. He intended to split himself off, come at Ray from different directions to finish this.

But he did it too fast. He could feel the drain on his energy. His magic was the only thing keeping himself together and if he ran out… Gasping in shock, he reformed his body and plummeted back to the ground. He lost his focus, didn't have the energy to perform a spell to stop…

He crashed into Ray's fist and landed hard on the ground. Gulping down air, he managed to find the strength to hold up a hoof towards him to stop him. It was clear who had won here. Barely having the energy to stand, he was grateful when Ray moved to help him up.

However, that didn't stop him from basking in his glory for a bit.

"So, nothing left in you?"


"Spent all your energy on that last spell?" He shook his head and tutted. "Not the wisest move."

"I… can see that…"

"Guess that means I win then."


"In that I managed to beat in a sparring match. Me, Ray Strike."

"How about that? Me, a common unicorn defeating the student of a princess in battle. Despite all of his doubts and convictions, he overcame them and achieved a great victory, one that would be remembered for generations to come."

"Nice modesty…"

"That's your thing, not mine."

He laughed a little and moved to Dusk's side.

"Now, normally," he said, heaving him up, "I would be taking every possible meaning of the phrase 'gracious in victory' and trampling all over it with my own little victory dance and a marching band to boot."

"I… thought as much…" spluttered Dusk.

"But seeing as it's you, I'm willing to call this one a draw." He smirked notably. "This time."

"How… gracious of you…" returned Dusk.

"Come on, let's get you to the picnic. A little bit of food will help put a spring back in your step. Among other things," he added with a wink.

"Right…" Dusk managed a smile. "I'm sure Fluttershy… will be very grateful that you helped me."

Ray suddenly flushed and mumbled incoherently. However, Dusk still managed to catch his next question very clearly.

"Do you think?"

He chuckled weakly. "Come on then."

With Ray supporting him, they moved away from the meadow behind his house and set off for the one the girls had arranged to meet for a picnic they were planning. Ray was right, some food might do him some good, even if Twilight would be chastising him for such an idiotic move.

It had been Luna's most recent suggestion in one of their lessons to do this. With the loss of Hard Edge, not unwelcome, she decided it was finally time for Dusk to have a new sparring partner to try and hone his skills in a fight. Despite his reservations to violence, Dusk knew it was necessary and agreed. However, he wasn't really willing to do so with the girls, especiually not Twilight.

"What of your friend, Ray Strike?" she'd suggested. "I'm sure he'd be willing and that he would provide an interesting challenge, to say the least."

It turned out that she had been right on both counts. It hadn't been any easier for Dusk to fight him as it would be any of the others, but it was just sparring and neither of them meant to really hurt each other. Well, Dusk wasn't at least.

It didn't take them long to spot the girls, already setting themselves down on the blanket. He could see them notice their approach, noted one lavender form turn rigid and gallop straight for them, her worried expression coming into view.

"Dusk! Dusk, are you okay?" She practically shoved Ray away and checked him over.

"Twilight, it's… it's nothing…" he said weakly, but she didn't quite hear him.

"You!" She rounded on Ray, her eyes flaring. "What did I warn you about? What did I tell you?!"

"Hey, hey," he stammered, backing away. "It's not what it looks like, really!"

"Then you'd better start explaining," she growled. "If you're the one responsible for his state, I'm going to rip off your-"

"As I was saying, not my fault," he said quickly. "D-Dusk just p-put a little too much power into a spell, you know. Wore himself out, conked out, flew too close to the sun and came crashing down, literally. I mean, I might have hit him a little on the way down, but only once, I swear!"

She looked at Dusk, who nodded in confirmation, then back at Ray. "Right, I believe you. But if you were ever responsible for this…"

"Twilight, please!" Fluttershy stood between her and Ray. "I'm not happy Dusk was hurt either, but if Ray says he didn't hurt him, then I believe him. We're all friends here, so let's not fight each other. At least, that's what I think," she added shyly.

Ray stared in surprise at this intervention. Twilight's expression softened and she took a deep breath.

"You're right. I'm sorry about that, Ray. I just kind of lost it there for a second," she muttered, with a blush.

"It's cool. I'm sure Dusk appreciates it," he winked. "Now I know to never, ever get on your bad side."

"At least there's that." Her voice softened when she addressed Dusk. "Come on, let's get you sat down. I'll look after you, even if you acted like an idiot again."

"Much appreciated and I knew you'd say that," he murmured. "You know, I did get hurt a little bit. I think some of these injuries might need… treatment."

"Getting a little bold, Mr Noir," she remarked with a smirk.

"Only from what I've been taught, Miss Sparkle," he returned.

"Maybe later, if you behave," she responded in a sultry voice. "Yep, I'd say we've definitely reached top levels on the flirting aspect of our relationship."

"Among other things," he said, kissing her lips lightly.

"Mmhm, definitely top scores there," she noted when he stopped. "Although, maybe another is needed, just to be sure."

Dusk stopped her lips. "Maybe later, if you behave."

"Tease," she giggled, nuzzling his neck.

"Hey Flutters." Dusk pricked up his ears to listen. "Um… thanks, you know, for that. It was um…"

"Oh um… it was nothing, I was… happy to do it," she stammered.

"Me too. Not that I needed defending, I mean. I can look after myself but… still appreciated. A lot, you know."

Fluttershy was in an extended period of silence before replying, "You're welcome…"

He glanced back to see the two of them blushing heavily. He and Twilight exchanged a look with her before letting her set him down.

"Ah, our two favourite stallions have joined us just in time," remarked Rarity.

"I'm your favourite?" asked Ray.

"I said ours, I didn't say mine," corrected Rarity.

"Figures you would, snob."

"Ruffian," she returned. "Still, what a day it is. It is gorgeous out. Just gorgeous!"

Nopony disputed that. Twilight picked out an apple, halved it and was about to give one to Dusk when her eyes caught a familiar figure sprinting towards them.

"Twi... light!" Spike panted when he reached her. "I... have... Lemme just..."

He stopped to catch his breath, sucked in his gut and belched out a letter with a tongue of green flame. Levitating it up, Twilight unfolded and read it aloud.

"Dear Twilight, I am sure you are as excited as I am about the upcoming wedding in Canterlot. Wedding?" she remarked curiously before reading again. "I will be presiding over the ceremony, but would very much like you and your friends to help with the preparations for this wonderful occasion. Fluttershy, I would like you and your songbird choir to provide the music."

"Oh my goodness! What an honour!" gasped Fluttershy.

"Good on you, Flutters," praised Ray, earning a blush from her.

"Pinkie Pie, I can think of no one more qualified than you to host the reception."

"Hip, hip, hooray!" cheered the party pony with a flip for each syllable.

"Applejack, you will be in charge of the catering for the reception."

"Well, colour me pleased as punch!" she exclaimed proudly.

"Rainbow Dash," she went on, ignoring the noticeable yawn from the tomboyish pegasus. "I would very much appreciate it if you could perform a sonic rainboom as the bride and groom complete their "I do"'s."

That changed her tune. "Yes!"

"Rarity, you will be responsible for designing the dresses for the bride and her bridesmaids."

"Princess Celestia wants me to...wedding dress? For a Canterlot wedding... I, ah, ooh, oooh!" Overcome with excitement, she fainted with a huge grin on her features.

"Dusk, I would like you to create a display of your colour magic for when the bride and groom have their special dance at the reception."

"Happy to be of service," he said brightly.

"And as for you, Twilight, you will be playing the most important role of all: Making sure that everything goes as planned. See you all very soon. Yours, Princess Celestia." She frowned and read over the letter again. "But... I don't understand. Who's getting married?"

"Oh, wait! Uh, I was probably supposed to give you this one first," he said sheepishly, handing her another roll.

Rolling her eyes, Twilight read this one. "Princess Celestia cordially invites you to the wedding of Princess Mi Amore Cadenza and... My brother?!" she exclaimed with a gasp.

Suddenly full of energy, Dusk found his head whipping up in surprise too. It had only been three or four months since they'd seen Cadence and Shining and now their wedding was being announced? How long had they been dating for? How long had they been planning this? Why hadn't Shining informed his sister beforehoof?

These questions appeared to be absent from the minds of the others.

"Your brother's getting married?" Applejack shook her hoof. "Congratulations, Twah'light! That's great news!"

"Yeah, great news. That I just got from a wedding invitation!" she said indignantly. "Not from my brother, but from a piece of paper! Thanks a lot, Shining Armour. I mean, really, he couldn't tell me personally? You know what I mean, right, Dusk?"

"I do admit, it does seem unlike him to leave you misinformed about something like this," he agreed.

"Exactly!" Levitating a sandwich, she used it like a puppet while affecting the deeper voice of her brother. "Hey, Twilight, just thought you should know I'm making a really big decision that changes everything. Oh, never mind, you'll hear about it when you get the invitation. Princess Mi Amore Cadenza? Who in the hoof is that?! I thought he was dating Cadence!" she demanded normally.

"It's Cadence's full title, remember?" supplied Dusk.

"Oh, yeah." Her indignation replaced her confusion. "But even so, he couldn't have told me about this? I mean it's just, oh I don't know, his wedding! Not like that's important!"

"Um, Twilight? Are you okay?" asked Fluttershy.

"Sorry, it's just that Shining Armor and I have always been so close. He's my B.B.B.F.F!" she told them.

There was a look of confusion from everypony present except Dusk.

"Big Brother Best Friend Forever," he filled in for her and they all nodded in understanding.

Twilight took the moment to smile gratefully at him before continuing. "Before I came here and learned the importance of friendship, Shining Armor was the only pony I ever really accepted as a friend."

A bird landed on her hoof and flew away when she began to sing forlornly.

When I was just a filly, I found it rather silly
To see how many other ponies I could meet
I had my books to read, didn't know that I would ever need
Other ponies to make my life complete

But there was one colt that I cared for
I knew he would be there for me
My big brother, best friend forever!
Like two peas in a pod, we did everything together

He taught me how to fly a kite (Best friend forever!)
We never had a single fight (We did everything together!)

We shared our hopes, we shared our dreams
I miss him more than I realized
It seems...

Your big brother, best friend forever
Like two peas in a pod, you did everything together

And though he's, oh, so far away
I hoped that he would stay
My big brother best friend

Now she had moved up a small incline that looked off to the distant Canterlot and stood dejectedly with her head hung. A small tear fell to the ground. A well of pity grew inside Dusk for her. He never liked to see her upset.

"Girls, mind explaining why we thought it was comforting to Twilight to join in that song?" asked Ray.

Dusk ignored him and was about to move off to comfort her when Applejack beat her to it.

"As one-a yer P.F.F.'s..." Now it was Dusk's turn to look confused with the others. "Pony Friends Forever..." Oh, that made sense. "Ah wanna tell you that ah think your brother sounds like a real good guy."

She didn't look all that comforted, wandering back to the blanket and nudging some cake. "He is pretty special. I mean, they don't let just anypony be captain of the Royal Guard."

Rarity actually screeched. "So let me get this straight. We're helping out with the wedding of not only a princess… but a captain of the Royal Guard?!"

"I guess we are..."

Levitating a cushion from somewhere, she fainted once more while the others all began to pick up with excitement. Even Ray seemed to have something to say about it.

"Well, another wedding at which I will be the esteemed guest of honour," he announced proudly.

"You were the guest of honour at a wedding?" asked Rainbow.

"Well, that was what I tried to tell the guard when I snuck into one for a little bit of food. He was so impressed he introduced me to the biggest and most important aspect there."

"Who? The bride, the groom?"

"The floor." A few of them burst out laughing, while Rarity just rolled her eyes.

But not everypony was swept up in the excitement. Unbeknownst to the others, Dusk caught Twilight managing to slip away from them and walk away with her head hung once more. Knowing where his duties lay, he found strength for his legs and trotted after her.

"Need a little company?" he asked when he reached her.

She still managed to show concern, despite her state. "Aren't you still recovering?"

"When it's a choice between my priorities and yours, you come first." He paused. "At least that's what one of the books you gave me on a relationship one time said."

"Okay then. Thank you," she said with sincerity.

He only smiled and let his side come into contact with hers. They were already close where their relationship was concerned, but the past months had only made them closer… in a few more ways than one. Of course, they hadn't gone that far…

He walked with her until they reached the edge of the meadow by a small stream. They lay back down, feeling the grass on their bellies and the warmth of each other's bodies. For a while, they just listened to nature around them, Dusk thinking of the best way to begin.

"So, they all seem excited," remarked Dusk, breaking the silence.

"Good for them," she said bitterly.

He looked at her. "What's on your mind, Twilight? What's really bothering you?"

She sighed. "I'm just thinking about Shining Armor. Ever since I moved to Ponyville, we've been seeing each other less and less. And now that he's starting a new family with Cadence, we'll probably never see each other."

"I don't think you really believe that. I know I don't," he said with complete conviction. "You're his little sister. He adores you. He's not just going to cut you out of his life just because he's getting married."

"But you know what I said was true," she insisted. "With all that's happened in Ponyville and how far away Canterlot is, I've barely seen him at all."

"We've all had our commitments Twilight, he's no different. Both your schedules are full, something I know all too well," he added. "But he'll always manage to make time for you, no matter what."

"Couldn't seem to make time to tell me he was getting married," she noted bitterly.

"He didn't tell you he was dating Cadence as a surprise," he recalled. "Maybe it's the same this time around too."

"Dating somepony is one thing, but marrying them…" She shook her head. "He could have at least mentioned it to me."

"Maybe he's just had a lot going on. Whatever it is, I'm sure he had his reasons." He stopped to consider. "Even so, with the time that is usually taken for a wedding, there really should have been time to tell you."

"That's exactly what I mean!" she exclaimed. "Weddings take weeks, if not months of thought and planning, the family included. How could he have not found the time just to mention something?!"

"Like I said, maybe he did it for the best of reasons," he said. "Look, I'm sure you'll want to see him when we get to Canterlot, right?"

"Of course."

"Then it's settled," he decided. "Well, when you do, I'll go with you."

She looked taken aback at this announcement. "Dusk, you don't need to do that…"

"Yes, I do. It's my duty as your coltfriend, friend, assistant and to myself to do so," he replied. "You and I shall both confront him and together we'll find out why he decided you weren't worth telling."

She considered for a moment. "That sounds good to me. You really are getting bolder, Mr Noir."

"Well, I'm sure I sound confident now, but I think the fact that your brother is twice my size will return me to my senses at some point," he chuckled.

"He'll have to go through me first," she said.

"There is that," he agreed with a laugh. "Besides, look on the bright side."

"Which is?"

"Come on. Your big brother is getting married to your favourite foalsitter. She'll be your sister-in-law," he reminded her. "That's got to count for something, right?"

A reluctant smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. "I suppose it does."

"Of course it does," he encouraged. "Not only that, but once he settles down with her and has a few foals, you're going to be their aunt."

She giggled a little. "I must say, I hadn't considered that."

"Which means you're going to be seeing lots of him because you're sure to be their favourite aunt for certain."

"Only if you get to come along with me." She tapped his muzzle with hers. "They'd surely want to see their favourite uncle."

"I wouldn't go that far."

"I would," she said, nuzzling his cheek.

He smiled gently. "So, did I make you feel better?

"Oh, you certainly did." She moved closer into his side, gazing up at him. "You always know just what to say to make me feel better."

"I do try to pride myself on that," he agreed, lifting up her face. "I also think that what I do to comfort you counts too."

"Like what?" she breathed with anticipation.

Dusk could feel her warm breath against his skin, tingling where it landed. So, she knew what to expect now. Despite the butterflies in his stomach, he proceeded to do something that he'd done with her just last week when she'd been around at his house.

Closing the distance, he connected his lips to hers, pressing into her. She returned his kiss just as eagerly, matching him. Breaking away, he planted his lips down the length of her neck. Every time he did, she let out a short, sharp breath, moaning a little when he left one more at the nape of her neck before returning back to her lips.

There was no force or even much thought in how they kissed, they just let their instincts take over. His left hoof travelled through her mane, feeling its silky texture, while the other caressed her neck gently. Dusk added a little more passion to it, earning a few contented moans from Twilight who returned it in kind. After all, nine months had given them a lot of time to… adapt.

They stopped when they had to take in air, breathing heavily. Twilight smiled contentedly, gazing with a half-lidded look.

"You know, I think I do feel a lot better after that," she whispered, leaning her head on his shoulder. "And do you want to know something else?"

"What's that?" he asked, brushing part of her mane behind her ear.

"I love you, Dusk."

"And I love you, Twilight. Always." He kissed her forehead and her lips once more, deciding the others wouldn't mind too much if they stayed a little longer.

"A sonic rainboom? At a wedding?!" Rainbow said excitedly when they were on the train there. "Can you say "best wedding ever"?!"

"Best wedding ever!" Pinkie yelled out of the window, the sound echoing through the mountain.

"So you all get to help with the big fancy wedding, but I'm the one who gets to host the bachelor party! I have just one question. What's a bachelor party?

"Oh, little Spike, still so innocent," mused Ray, patting him on the back while the others laughed. "I can give you a hoof with that."

Spike perked up. "You've planned a bachelor party before?"

"Well… planned, became part of one when pulled in by some drunken stallions, it's sort of the same thing." He noticed the looks they were all giving him. "What? I at least know what happens at one."

"And what did happen?" asked Applejack.

"I'll tell when I remember it all," he answered with a grin.

Dusk laughed along with the others, noticing Twilight further down the carriage. He approached her, placing his foreleg around her and looking out of the window she was.

"So, definitely feeling better about the wedding?" he asked her.

"About the wedding, yes. About my brother, no," she corrected. "You're still going with me when I go confront him, right?"

"Of course, we're a team. You charge bravely on, I'll nervously bring up the rear," he agreed.

"That's not so bad," she said brightly, placing a hoof on his. "I always feel better knowing you're watching my back."

"I always will," he vowed.

"Although, I don't want you bringing up my rear in that sense." She leaned to whisper. "Not in public, at least." She giggled from the blush that came to his cheeks. "Relax, I'm only kidding. You are still so cute when you do that."

Dusk blushed all the more, but didn't say anything. She certainly did like to tease him a lot more recently and occasionally vice versa. Even so, he usually found a way to get her back. In this case, it was by moving his hoof from the small of her back to her flank.

Needless to say, this didn't go unnoticed.

"Hey!" Her eyes widened and she slapped his hoof away. "What did I just say?!"

"You said not to do it in public," he repeated. "But we're in a train with nopony else but our friends on it, all of whom are on the other side of the carriage. I think we have a little privacy."

"Cheeky," she returned, smirking. "I thought you were supposed to be a gentlecolt."

"I was still acting one," he insisted. A gentlecolt doesn't touch a lady in indecent places unless invited to do so. I'd say that it was evident that I was invited."

"I'll invite your face to a slap if you keep that up, mister," she warned with a giggle. "Just remember what might happen if my brother catches you doing that."

He chuckled nervously. "Believe me, I try not to."

"If you're not careful, I might let him. Might remind you of a few manners or else I'll…" Dusk yelped when he felt her hoof squeeze a little on his flank, "… have to do it for you."

She has gotten more devious these days, thought Dusk. The two of them just laughed off the incident and kissed briefly while the train sped on.

Only fifteen minutes later, Pinkie announced they had arrived. Just as Dusk noticed the guards at the checkpoint, he felt a tingle through his body when they passed through a magical forcefield. He only just started to wonder about it when he noticed not only that it surrounded all of Canterlot, but there were so many guards at the station they brushed armour plates.

"Whoa, what's with all the guards?" wondered Rainbow.

"I'm sure they're just taking the necessary precautions," reasoned Rarity. "Royal weddings do bring out the strangest ponies."

Pinkie chose that moment to sneeze with the sound of a kazoo, party streamers emerging from her nostrils.

"Now, let's get going! We've got work to do!" trilled Rarity.

"And you've got a big brother to go congratulate," added Applejack.

Her anger returned at her words. "Yeah. Congratulate. And then give him a piece of my mind. Dusk, let's go!"

Ray nodded after her. "Going to provide moral support?"

"More like holding him down so he can't get away. Right behind you, dear," he called out to her, following her lead while two guards looked after her with almost scared expressions.

Knowing Twilight, that probably wouldn't be misplaced, even if they weren't the ones that should be scared.

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