• Published 12th Aug 2013
  • 13,703 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.

  • ...

Confrontations and Preparations

As it turned out, Dusk's previous assessment of he and Twilight being a team wasn't too far off. While she strode on towards the guard tower with purpose, he more tentatively followed behind. He made sure that he would be close by for when it happened, but considering that the last time he'd seen Shining he'd practically tried to tear his head off, he felt his reaction was somewhat justified.

All over, he noted how the whole of Canterlot seemed to be in some kind of lockdown. Never before had he seen this many guards patrolling the streets and stationed on the towers and ramparts, their steely gazes overlooking everything. Even for apparent necessary precaution, this seemed rather extensive, especially with the barrier around the whole of the city.

It looked like they were going to find out more about that as they neared their destination. He followed Twilight across the courtyard. She'd spotted her brother and was homing in on him like an eagle would towards a pigeon.

"I've got something to say to you, mister," she called angrily.

The guards all pointed their spears in their direction, but Shining's reaction was quite different.

"Twily!" Pulling off his helmet, he gestured for them to stand down and ran to meet her. "Ah, I've missed, you, kid. How was the train ride? I–"

She pushed off his hug and got straight to the point. "How dare you not tell me in person that you were getting married! I'm your sister, for pony's sake!"

"Um, what she said," added Dusk.

"It's not my fault!" he insisted defensively. "Princess Celestia has requested a major increase in security. Didn't you see all the guards at the train station?"

"Yeah, there's a big wedding coming up. Maybe you heard about it?" she remarked sarcastically.

Shining passed a glance at Dusk, who still managed to raise an eyebrow pointedly at him. Despite his nerves, he made it clear that he would have to dig himself out of this particular hole. He walked over to Twilight, placing a hoof on her shoulder.

"It has nothing to do with the wedding. A threat has been made against Canterlot. We don't know who's responsible for it, but Princess Celestia asked that I help provide additional protection," he explained, stepping back. "This, you need to see."

A threat? That in itself raised a multitude of questions in Dusk's mind, mostly relating to a particular party of ponies possibly responsible. However, he remained silent for now to watch.

Shining's eyes screwed up in concentration, his horn glowing a bright purple. Just like Twilight's magic and his own brand seemed to be just as powerful. A beam shot off upwards to the shield, causing the whole thing to shimmer across the whole surface. It must have been to renew the spell and keep the best defence of the city up.

He gasped and clutched at his head painfully by the time the spell was finished.

"The burden of keeping Canterlot safe and secure rests squarely on my shoulders," he went on, leading them up the ramparts. "Staying focused on the task at hand has been my top priority. That sound good enough to you, Dusk?"

He was smirking, but there was a serious tone to his voice too. Twilight's expression appeared to soften now, but he felt he needed to iron out a few things.

"It sounds feasible, yes," he agreed, "but you must have been able to find some degree of time to try and get out some kind of message to Twilight. As she said, this is the first we've heard of it."

"Ponyville is pretty far out."

"You could have still sent us a letter or a notice," he countered, emphasizing 'us' and stepping close to Twilight.

"Exactly," she put in. "You really couldn't find the time in all of this just to tell me?"

He shook his head. "It had nothing to do with time. I've spent a while getting this shield in place and we've had a major lockdown on communications in and out of the city. Celestia only trusted the messaging between her and Spike to be the truly secure link and even then she was cautious about using it."

"It could have been possible to let her know before the shield went up," argued Dusk. "Weddings do take a lot of time to plan."

"We all make mistakes, Dusk. I'm pretty sure you're familiar with that."

He didn't need to go into any more detail than that. A quick look at Twilight told him that she conceded with the reasons he gave. They looked down at the line of guards below that marched on patrol.

"Okay, okay, I get it," she sighed. "You've got a really important job protecting all of Canterlot with a force field only you can conjure up. But still... how could you not tell me about something as big as your wedding? Am I not that important to you anymore?"

"Hey. You're my little sister. Of course you're important to me," he assured, suddenly smirking. "But I'd understand if you didn't want to be my best mare now."

At this, she perked up. "You want me to be your best mare?"

"Well... yeah," he affirmed, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"I'd be honoured!" Dusk smiled as the two of them hugged, their fight forgotten.

"So, Shining," he started, holding out a hoof, "may I offer my congratulations to you and Cadence and say that I'm honoured that I have the chance to play my part in your wedding."

"Thanks, it's appreciated," he said, shaking it. "And it's our pleasure. Cadence was the first to suggest that you use your special talent for this."

"Of course she did!" exclaimed Twilight, beaming now. "Considering how I've always known her, why wouldn't she?"

"Why indeed," he agreed, catching her when she ran to hug him.

"I take it that you're happy with how this has turned out then?" chuckled Shining.

"Obviously! Cadence is only the most amazing pony ever! She's beautiful, she's caring, she's kind and you're marrying her!" Jumping around like a school filly, she sang, "You're marrying Cadence! You're marrying Cadence!"

She stopped when she almost bumped right into the pony she'd been singing about. Even Dusk felt some comfort at seeing the alicorn again.

"I hope I'm not interrupting anything important," she said in a tone that he'd never heard her take before.

Twilight missed it, beaming at her. "Cadence! Sunshine, sunshine, ladybugs awake! Clap your hooves and do a little shake!"

But instead of responding in kind, as she had done when they had met back at Hearth's Warming, Cadence only raised an eyebrow and looked at Twilight like she had offended her.

"What are you doing?"

Her smile faltered a moment. "Cadence, it's me, Twilight!"

"Uh-huh," she remarked with complete disinterest.

Dusk approached and inclined his head. "Cadence, it's an honour and a pleasure to see you again. Congratulations on your wedding."

"Thank you and please, call me Princess Mi Amore Cadenza," she replied imperiously, barely glancing at him.

She walked straight past, over to her fiancé. Confused, Dusk looked over at Twilight, who looked just as he felt. This wasn't how Cadence had acted when they had met her. Had he missed something?

"I've gotta get back to my station," announced Shining, his hoof around Cadence, "but Cadence will be checking in with all of you to see how things are going. I think I speak for both of us when I say we couldn't be more excited to have you here. Right, dear?"

"Absolutely," she agreed, again in a tone that seemed to say a lot more.

"Well, we'll let you get to it," he said, trotting off with her.

"Twilight," murmured Dusk when they were out of earshot, "are we sure that was Princess Cadence?"

"Unless it's her twin sister, I don't see how it could be anypony else," she replied.

"So I'm not the only one thinking that she seems a little… off?" he tried.

"Off. Yes, I suppose that's one word for it," she said, now practically glaring at the princess while she walked off before sighing. "Right, I guess we should get going. Like Rarity said, we've got work to do."

"Are you sure? Do you want to talk a little about what just happened?" he asked with concern. "I can tell it's bothered you."

"It has, but I'm not really too sure myself," she admitted. "I need a little bit of time to figure all of this out and until then, I might as well do what I came here to do."

"If you insist." He kissed her cheek before taking her hoof briefly. "I'll be practicing my routine near the Star Tower, if you want to come and talk to me, okay?"

"I'll bear that in mind." Smiling gratefully, she hugged him. "Thanks, both for the offer and for coming with me. I like knowing I can always count on you."

"Well, we both know you'd be nothing without me," he quipped with a smile.

"Hey, that's my bit for you." She giggled and they kissed once more on the lips. "I'll see you later then. I love you."

"I love you too," he returned. "And Twilight? What happened there before, maybe it was nothing. Weddings can be tough to organize and maybe she's just had a lot on her mind."

"Maybe. Maybe…" She frowned thoughtfully for a moment. "Like I'll said, I'll figure it out and if I do need to talk to you, Star Tower?"

"It's a date," he agreed, tipping his hat in farewell and heading off.

He hoped that Twilight would be okay and that his assumption was right. With all the arranging, the threat made against Canterlot and the added security, it wasn't too much to assume that Cadence might be somewhat stressed out from all that was happening. On the actual day of the wedding, or even later today, she would be fine.

Still, it bothered him a little concerning how much different she seemed than when he met her. So full of caring and compassion, she was almost like a child, but with the wisdom of a ruler. She'd taken a genuine, deep interest in him and Twilight, even helping his marefriend like she had told him about. Today, she'd seemed so indifferent and almost… sinister.

On top of this, that anonymous threat caused him to hesitate once more. He would be wondering who made it, but he already had some nasty suspicions. All things considered, it seemed that there was only one conclusion as to who could have issued such a threat. The only ones who would have cause to. If that was the case, what did they plan to do?

He quashed those thoughts down, telling himself there would be no cause for worry, being more optimistic. Cadence would be fine, as would Twilight, Canterlot was secure with both the guards and the barrier around it, and even if something did happen, they were within reach of the Elements so they would be easily reached. He just had to focus on doing his part for the wedding and that was what he intended.

"Hey Dusk, you got a minute?" a voice asked, almost like it was off in the distance.

His head lifted. He had been so focused on how to start his colour display that he wasn't really paying much attention to the world around him. Even so, it was enough to call him out of his mental plain and divert his attention to Shining, who approached him.

Though it had been a while since the incident in question, the look the stallion had was still burned in Dusk's mind and he felt his insides contract a little now that he was alone with him again.

"Pardon me, Shining," he said politely. "I got caught up in my thoughts, I didn't realise you were there."

"Don't worry, you're probably not the only one," he said lightly. "I just wanted to have a little talk with you."

His insides contracted even more at that and he nodded slowly. "Oh… I see…"

To his surprise, he laughed. "Hey, don't look so grim. This is supposed to be a wedding, not an execution."

"Of course not," he said quickly. "I only… well… considering the last time we saw each other wasn't on the best of terms…"

"I thought that might be something to do with it," he remarked. "I wouldn't worry about it, though it is something I do want to talk about."

"I understand," he said sombrely. "For what it's worth though, I am truly sorry for what I put your sister through and if you are still angry with me, you have every right to be. But believe me when I say that I am doing all that I can to make up for it."

"I can tell," he noted, still smiling. "I can see she's already recruited you against me. Now I know how dad feels and I'm wondering how long before you start my wife-to-be on it too."

"So… you're really not angry with me?" he dared to ask.

"Of course not. I might have been, but that was all months ago," he reminded. "We've gotta move on from these things sometime."

"I know and I understand that, but I also know that you and Twilight are very close and I did hurt her, even though it wasn't my intention. As her brother, I thought…"

Shining smirked. "You thought I'd still be mad with you because that's how brothers are when you date their sisters?"

"Something like that," he said with a reluctant chuckle.

"Well, I might have been at first," he admitted. "I'm pretty sure you already know why. But now when I see you two, all I can be reminded of is how happy you make her and how much it makes her day just to have you with her. I know that because that's how I feel whenever I'm with Cadence and it reminds me of what I strive to do for her, why I proposed to her.

"I might have thought a lot of things when I saw her crying on that night, but one thing I did know," he continued, "was that she wasn't going to let you go that easily, that you meant everything to her. I just had to accept that and I think you can agree that it would be a lot easier without me being at your throat. If Twilight could be happy for me and Cadence, I figure I should do the same for you and her."

Relief spread through Dusk's body at his words. "So… you're fine with me?"

"Pretty much. As far as me and my sister are concerned, you're definitely okay with me Dusk." He stuck out a hoof. "So, what do you say? We friends?"

Dusk didn't even need to think. "That sounds good to me."

"Great, but be warned," he said in a low voice, pulling him in, "if you ever break her heart like that again, I'll make you regret the day you were born."

He swallowed. "Understood."

Shining laughed again. "But I don't think we need to worry about that, so you can forget about that particular sword hanging over your head."

"Right you are," nodded Dusk. "Speaking of your father, how are things with your parents? Concerning me, I mean? He seemed all right when I saw him last, but…"

"Don't worry, they're fine," he assured. "I had to smooth things over with them, mom especially, but it's pretty much smooth sailing there. Though I do advise you bring a life preserver, just in case."

"I had to ask," he said, feeling a lot better now.

"I know what you mean," he nodded. "Honestly, you should have seen my mom when I told her I proposed to Cadence. She went on and on about us rushing into it after we had only dated a year and how she and dad didn't do things like that when they were dating, that they thought carefully before even considering getting married."

Dusk smiled as he nodded. "I can picture that. What did you say?"

"Well, I definitely called her out on that last part," he told him, laughing again. "I know for a fact that they'd only dated five months when dad popped the question and she said yes without a second thought. She insisted that they were made for each other and it wasn't the same here, but I definitely won out after that."

"I'm glad you did," he said earnestly. "Congratulations again on it. I think you and Cadence will make a great match."

"Thanks, I think so too," he smiled. "This all took quite a while to plan out, believe me, but it'll all be worth it. For one thing, the princesses are paying for most of it," he added conspiratorially.

"I'd imagine that would be a benefit, yes." That brought his other question back. "It seems to have taken a toll on Cadence. My apologies if I sound presumptuous, but she seems a little… different than when I met her."

Shining didn't take offense to it. "Don't worry, I get what you mean. You'll have to excuse her, with me being so busy with the security, she has to make all the decisions regarding the wedding and it's quite a lot to handle."

"I thought it was something like that," he said. "Well, rest assured Shining, I'll make sure I put all my effort into doing my part. I want you and her to enjoy your special day."

His smile warmed. "I'm glad to hear it. I'll let you get to it. Oh and Dusk?" he added before they parted. "I thought you would have asked, about the threat we received."

He hesitated a moment. "The thought had occurred to me, yes."

"Like I said, we don't know who made it, but if either Edge or Tube are seen anywhere near the wedding, I'll make sure you're the first to know," he promised. He patted his shoulder, smiled again and returned to his station.

By the time he left, Dusk's fears had now been almost completely assuaged. Cadence was just suffering from stress and the guards were all on the lookout for the most likely suspects behind the threat. And he had no doubt they would act. Now all he had to do was what he had been asked.

First thing was first, he had to find who was in charge of the music for the wedding. Maybe it would be Vinyl. After all, he still felt the need to apologise to her after last time…

In another part of Canterlot, a small little study built deeper into the palace, the sweet sound of birdsong echoed all around, drifting out through a crack in the door and charming all who heard it. Even the highly disciplined guards paused to listen for a moment before resuming their patrols.

Anypony who heard it would have said that it was perfect, flawless in almost every way. Every way except for one and the pony that conducted the choir didn't miss it.

"Oh um, excuse me, could everyone just stop for a moment, please?" Fluttershy asked gently.

At her request, the birds fell silent, watching while she flew up to one of them in particular.

"I'm sorry to bring this up again, but you are still singing a little off-key," she told the red-feathered jay kindly. "Again, I'm really sorry to say so, but we need to make sure we get this absolutely right and we all need to work together to make sure you sound the best you can be. Can you do that for me?"

The jay chirped and nodded, crossing the spot where his little heart would be with his feather. Fluttershy gave him a bright smile of thanks while she flew back.

She'd already been reminded of how important this was before and not in the nicest way. When Cadence had come by to check on her choir, she'd yelled at that particular bird for his singing and had demanded of the shivering Pegasus that it sound absolutely perfect by the time of her wedding. Whimpering a little, Fluttershy had nodded and put even more effort into it.

She'd really been shocked by Cadence's reaction, even if it was justifiable. From what little she'd heard, the princess was supposed to be really nice. When she'd started yelling, she thought she might actually strike the bird. Then she'd gotten control of herself and it had passed. Even so, she still needed to comfort the poor thing before he could sing again.

She didn't want to judge the princess harshly. Her wedding planning must be putting her through her paces, but she could have tried to be a little nicer about it.

"Okay, let's go again, from the top." She picked up her baton and tapped it. "Ready? And a one, a two, a one, two, three, fo-"

"This looks like fun." She jumped and squeaked at the voice. "I advise you don't do that at the actual wedding. Probably won't come off well."

She turned and relaxed a little when she saw who it was, though the fluttering feeling she always got when she saw him didn't leave.

"Oh, hello, Ray." She suddenly felt foolish. Again, another typical reaction. "I-I'm sorry, I was just… focusing a-and then you just… not th-that I blame you o-or anything b-but…"

"It's okay, Flutters. I'm sorry I startled you," he apologised lightly. "Just doing a little bit of practicing, huh?"

"Um, yes." She tried to think of something else to say, but her mind was blank.

"Great." He paused for a moment, rubbing the back of his head. "So um, just you here? I mean, apart from the birds, obviously."

"Yes, yes," she answered quickly. "I felt I needed somewhere… secluded and private to, uh, to practice."

"I bet I've ruined that now," he chuckled nervously. "Since I have… would it be okay if I stayed for a bit? Just to listen, maybe offer a bit of feedback, you know?"

"R-really?" Excitement and nerves rose from this prospect. "D-don't feel that you have to or anything, I-I'm sure you have better things to do."

"No, I'm good," he assured. "Just… whenever you're ready."

She hesitated, decided not appear rude by sending him away and nodded. She turned around, suddenly a lot more nervous than before and tried to focus on anything except the stallion. Raising her baton, she counted down again and began to conduct.

Once they started singing, she was able to rule out everything else a lot easier, leading them through a rendition of Here Comes the Bride with ease and grace. She knew every rise and fall of each note, allowing the natural inclinations she felt to take over and her mind to quieten. It was like when she just talked to her animals or looked after them. It was just in her nature and she never needed to think about it.

However, her mind wasn't completely silent. Every now and then, a thought would creep in concerning Ray. What did he think about it? Did he notice if any were off-key? How did he react? If he did, would she think that she was bad at her role in this? She was more than tempted to turn her head, just to try and see his expression…

But she resisted it, keeping her focus on the birds, letting their song fill her ears. She had to concentrate on the performance… no matter how much she might want to do otherwise.

"Thank you everyone, that was much better," she praised when it was over. "We still need to practice a little more, but this is sounding wonderful."

Now, she turned to look at Ray. His eyes were wide, his body rigid and stiff. When he blinked, he did so very slowly, like he wasn't all there. Immediately, her fears came back. He thought it was so bad, he'd zoned out.

"It was terrible, wasn't it?" she asked fearfully. "I-I'm sorry, we're still practicing a-and we h-have a l-lot to work on still. I… I'm really sorry, but…"

"Flutters," he whispered, spellbound, "that was… beautiful."

Somehow, his praise left her even more flustered than any criticism. Her face burning, her stomach doing cartwheels, all she was able to muster up was a quiet:

"Y-you really th-th-think so?"

"Yeah… I do…"

"Well… um… thank you. That's nice of you to say so," she said with a smile.

Now, Ray was the one blushing, rubbing the back of his head again and mumbling something incoherently. Giggling a little, she told her birds to take a break and flew over to him.

"I'm always happy to hear what my friends think," she said. "Good thing you were wandering by."

"Heh, yeah," he agreed. "I'll be honest, I really was just wandering about the place when I stumbled on this. Not exactly a lot to do, with everypony else busy with their preparations and what-not."

"Oh yeah…" In the midst of all the excitement, she'd forgotten about that. "I'm sorry you don't have anything to do for the wedding. Must be boring for you."

"Meh, I'm fine," he assured. "Maybe I can just help you out with your choir. It would give me something to do and… well, I could just listen to it all day."

"I'd um… I'd like that," she murmured, the heat rising to her face again.

"Thanks." He looked away for a moment. "So, how are you feeling about it? Your role in the wedding, I mean?"

"Oh, it's really great," she said with complete honesty. "I mean, I always like performing with my choir, but having them sing at a royal wedding, by royal request I… I've never done anything like this before. It's so exciting!"

"I honestly couldn't tell," he joked. "Although, with how your birds sound, I'm surprised you haven't been asked to play at anything less than a royal wedding before."

"Thanks," she replied quietly, her cheeks red again. "I just hope we're ready by the day of the wedding."

"With you conducting, I'm… I'm sure it'll be perfect," he said, still head-rubbing. "Is it going okay, your practice?"

"Mostly. I don't know if you heard but one of the birds is a little off-key," she whispered, so as not to hurt his feelings. "He's singing just a little too high for the others."

"Yeah, I wondered what that was," he admitted. "I just didn't want to say anything. The rest of it sounds great though, really does."

"I really appreciate you um… you saying so," she muttered. "Like I said, we're still working it out, but once we do and we play as Cadence is walking up the aisle…" She sighed. "It's going to be wonderful."

"Yeah, it will. Like you. Like your um… your choir, I mean!" he said, a little louder than before, his whole face now red. "I mean, when they're ready. You know they're going to sound… wonderful and… and… well, you know."

"Right…" That fluttering feeling in her chest had increased even more. "So… how do you feel, Ray, about um… about weddings?"

Though it seemed natural to ask, she didn't know where that question had come from? Fluttershy didn't know what it was, but she felt like there was something whispering to her to ask that which had little to do with just Ray's view.

He thought for a bit before answering. "Well, while I do find the whole process to be beautiful in its own way, I sometimes find weddings kind of… dull, I guess. I'm not really as hyped up about this whole thing as you and all the girls are. Guess it's a guy thing."

"I suppose so," she said, not really minding, but at the same time a little disappointed.

"Like I said, I've not had anything to do, so that doesn't help. I have been noticing odd things throughout the day though," he added. "I will say this though: I'm a huge fan of the concept of love on its own."

She was a little surprised by this answer. "Really?"

"I know, right? Big tough guy like me, into such a sappy thing as love?" he chuckled. "Bet you weren't expecting that, eh Flutters?"

"I guess not," she giggled. "I mean, not in any bad way…"

"It's fine, I get it," he shrugged. "But I mean it, I really am and being here, with you… and all the others… makes it all worthwhile."

At his words, that fluttering feeling was gone. Now, it had blossomed into something else. A strange, warm feeling in her chest, that seemed to spread throughout her whole body. Like a small flame had been lit inside her and was starting to grow.

The longer she looked at Ray, the more his words replayed in her mind, the stronger it became. It was strange, unfamiliar… but it was wonderful. Ray stared back at her, his yellow eyes gazing deep into her teal blue. Was it possible he might be feeling the same? If he did, did he feel it growing stronger and, like her… wanted it to keep growing?

All of a sudden, she realised how long she'd just been staring without saying anything and looked away the instant Ray did, that burning now only in her face.

"Well um… you should probably get back to it," he muttered.

"Um… right," she replied. She lingered a little longer, then returned to her choir.

However, that feeling wasn't completely gone. It was still there, simmering inside her and while she got ready to conduct again, she couldn't help but wonder… what exactly it was.

"So, Dusk, you're the one providing a special addition for my dance with Shining?" Cadence asked curtly.

"Yes, Princess Mi Amore Cadenza," he affirmed, addressing her like she had told him. "You recommended me and I'm honoured to do my-"

"Let's see it then," she interrupted. "Come on, I've got plenty of other things I need to be doing today without this eating too much time."

"Of course, Your Highness, I understand completely," replied Dusk patiently, remembering what Shining had told him. "It won't take too long, I assure you."

"I'm sure it won't." She watched him coldly. "When you're ready then."

He bowed respectfully and used his magic to turn on the small music player that had been provided for him to work with. Hoping all of this practice and planning would pay off, he reached in for his magic and began as soon as the music kicked in.

Using every colour of the spectrum, he covered the empty space in the room with sparkling flower petals, floating gently all around. When the music picked up, he had them swirl together and meet in the centre to form a heart, which split off when the lyrics referred to the bride and groom respectively. Whirling where they would be dancing, they became butterflies that scattered all around and burst into showers of light, raining down on them, the sparkles forming flowers when they hit the ground.

He stopped the music there and turned to face her judgement.

"I worked the best with what I know," he explained. "I'm not sure what else to do after the butterflies, but I hope to have something ready by the time you're up to dance."

"See that you do," she said sternly. "The last thing that I want is my wedding day ruined because you couldn't plan ahead."

"That would be the last thing I would want," he assured.

"I should think so. As for the rest, I want it brighter, with even more added to it," she instructed. "I want them all to be dazzled when we have our dance and to truly shine among them. Am I clear?"

"Perfectly, Your Highness," he replied. "I'll do what I can."

"Do better," she instructed, leaving without a second glance.

Dusk was still frowning after her when the door shut, his assurances a little shaken now. At first he told himself there was no need to. The only reason she was acting like this was due to stress, just like Shining had said. He wasn't going to hold it against her or make things more difficult by questioning her. This was her special day and she wanted everything right. All things considered, he knew that was what the bride was meant to expect.

But even that wasn't really enough to replace the niggling doubts that lingered and returned like weeds in a garden. She might be having to make all the decisions regarding her wedding, under pressure to get everything right, but he still couldn't shake the feeling there was something off with how she'd acted. The way she spoke to him, it was like she didn't even know who he was and there was none of the love or affection he'd seen the first time around.

But what did that mean then? Was there some other reason why she was acting like this? Why did it look like she was behaving like a completely different pony?

That and it was a wound to his pride, what little of it there was, to be told his magic wasn't good enough, especially by Cadence. A pony he thought to be kind, now curt and impatient. It was unusual for him to feel stung like that, but that was how he felt…

"For what it's worth, I thought it was perfect." A much more familiar, kinder voice brought him out of his thoughts. "Any couple would be lucky to have you do that at their wedding."

"I'm glad you think so," he sighed. "I did try my best to make it one of… well, my best."

"And you always do." He felt a something warm wrapped around his neck, soft lips brush against his cheek. "If she can't see that, then it's just her loss."

"And your gain," he said, craning around to let his lips meet hers. "You are a very selfish girl, Twilight, not letting me share my skills."

"I do let you," she countered. "They just can't do it without my permission."

"So I'm your property now?"

"Yep. Everything that is Dusk belongs to Twilight Sparkle."

"Even my hat."

"Especially your hat," she said, lifting it off his head and stepping back.

He turned to face her mischievous look. "Is there any chance of me having that back?"

"Only if you ask nicely," she teased, waving it before him.

"May I please have my hat back, Miss Sparkle?"

"Hmm… on second thoughts, I'll keep it a little longer," she decided, placing it on her head.

He sighed in defeat. "If you insist." When she opened her mouth to reply, he stepped forward and caught her in another kiss.

While she wrapped her hooves around him and returned his passion, he slipped it off her head and back onto his, stepping back again and grinning triumphantly.

"Hey, I was enjoying that!" she complained playfully.

"Which is why you can wait a little longer after that stunt," he returned. "Nopony takes my hat without consequences."

"Even me?"

"You're the whole reason that rule exists."

"I'm flattered that you'd make up a rule for my sake." She winked at him. "You know how much I love organisation."

"I certainly do, but you're not getting off I'm afraid."

"Oh come on, really?"

"Really. No more kisses for you for a bit."

"Not even just this once?"

"And break my rule? That wouldn't be setting a good example, would it?"

"Fine, be that way," she pouted. "When Cadence comes back again and says your magic isn't good enough, you can forget about me comforting you."

"I'm hoping it'll be better next time." That raised a thought though. "Really? You think she still won't be satisfied?"

"Believe me, you're not the only one," she said, her face hardening. "She's been like that with all the others. She's snobby, uptight, rude, discourteous."

"In what way?"

"Well, she was really demanding of Rarity, threw away one of Applejack's hors d'eouvres after she said she loved them and said Pinkie's reception party was better suited for a six year old's birthday. She didn't even try to be nice about it!" she exclaimed.

"So, we still think that she's even more off?" he asked.

"Exactly! The worst bride-to-be ever!" She tilted her head to one side. "Why? What do you think?"

"Well, your brother did mention about how she's been busy organising everything," he said. "If that's the case, maybe her attitude is understandable."


"But when we met her the first time, given what I know from that, I would have thought she'd be a little more courteous to me. But it's like with you after we saw Shining, she acted like she barely knew me… like she didn't recognise your greeting you have."

"That's precisely what I mean," she said. "I don't what it is that's happened, but we need to let the others and more importantly, my brother, know about what's going on before a horrible mistake is made."

He nodded. "Right. What do you suggest we do then?"

"We're all going to be meeting up for drinks later this evening. When we do, I want you to help back me up where this Cadence thing is concerned. Once we explain it to everypony, I'm sure they'll see what we mean," she said confidently. "I know I don't need to ask, but can I count on you for that?"

He hesitated for a moment, stopped by a sudden thought before responding, "Of course. You always can, Miss Sparkle."

If she noticed his reaction, she didn't say anything. "Great. I'll you see you there then, let you get back to work for her high and mightiness."

Her beautiful features creased into a frown and she wasn't smiling when shut the door behind her. Dusk was actually surprised at this. He knew she had her concerns, so did he, but he hadn't expected to see her looking so… determined to practically stop this wedding. Her brother's wedding at that.

Some other thoughts had started to surface in his mind, mainly ones concerning his marefriend, stemming from what her brother had told him… and how she could be at quickly assuming the worst from a bad situation.

Still, he would do what he'd said he would so: follow her onwards while bringing up the rear… and hope that she was right about this.

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