• Published 2nd Jun 2014
  • 20,399 Views, 226 Comments

Minding the Gap - Karrakaz

Celestia has seen a lot of terrifying things, but nothing she has ever faced is more terrifying to her than this: Telling Twilight's parents she's in love with their daughter.

  • ...

A hop

As the day drew to a close and the last few rays of the sun disappeared behind the horizon, Celestia let out a satisfied sigh, and she allowed herself a smile while she walked through the castle hallways. Over the last couple of months, evenings had returned to being a time she looked forward to. Being able to simply take a step back and leave the evening duties to her sister was a blessing. It gave her a chance to take up some of her old hobbies once more, even though the staff might not have appreciated the dissonant tones of her violin.

That was not to say that it was the only reason she was glad to have some time to herself. While it was nice to be able to paint when the mood struck her, or read a book before she went to bed rather than falling asleep the moment her head hit the pillow, the real reason was more purple, and had a lot more feathers.

She always described her room as ‘overly ostentatious’ which was a diplomatic way of saying that it was too big and horrendously empty. Her idle musing at the time it was being built had sadly been interpreted as a challenge by the architect. As a result, her room was of similar size and stature as the grand dining hall, which had made it feel empty for the longest time. What truly made her look forward to tonight was the fact that she would have company.

Celestia hummed a little tune as she pranced up the steps into the hallway that lead to her personal chambers. Sparing a sympathetic smile for the few tired guards who still had a few hours to go was something she always did; tonight, however, it came easier than usual, to the point where she had to stop it from turning into a happy grin. She held her expression in check just long enough for the guards to round the corner, after which she let out a little squeal of excitement.

Before Luna’s return, all she ever wanted to do after stumbling into her chambers was sleep until it was once again time for the sun to rise. Now, she had somepony to keep her company; somepony to cuddle up with, and time enough to do it.

She closed her eyes and, with the image of a lounging purple pony in mind, grasped the wooden doors with her magic, giving them the same gentle push she always did. Enough to open them, yet not enough to make the hinges squeak; she didn’t want to spoil her chance of surprising her marefriend, after all. She drew herself up to her full height, flared her wings, and stepped forward...

...only to walk face first into the doors that for some reason hadn’t done their job.

Reaching up with a hoof to rub her muzzle while blinking at the obstruction in front of her, Celestia wondered what exactly had gone wrong. I could have sworn I opened them... She examined the doors, giving them another push with her magic and noting that an equal force was being applied from the other side, keeping them shut tightly, and keeping her out of her own room.

She brought her hoof up and knocked, acutely aware of just how strange it was to be knocking on her own bedroom door. “Twilight? Are you in there?”

After a few seconds, in which she could clearly hear somepony tripping over their own hooves, the doors opened; just enough to let Twilight’s head through, frazzled mane and all. Twilight simply looked at her for a long moment before saying: “Didn’t you see the sign?”

Celestia had expected her marefriend to say many things. ‘Hello, Princess’, ‘how was your day’, ‘I love you’... ‘Didn’t you see the sign’, however, hadn’t been among those expectations.

“What sign?” she asked in confusion, looking around for the mentioned object.

“The sign on the door! It’s right—” Twilight looked left and then right “—there...” She scowled at the empty wall as if it was the cause of all her problems before popping back into the room. Celestia started after her, but Twilight was back already, holding a wooden plaque in her magic, which she slapped on the side of the door before giving Celestia a quick kiss and disappearing inside the room once more. The doors were still as treacherous as a few moments before the encounter and swung closed seconds after Twilight had vanished.

A brief glance at the plaque revealed a rather unsettling message that belied the floral looking script it had been engraved in. That was, besides the fact that the plaque wasn’t being held up by magic nor glue, yet didn’t succumb to gravity.

No Princesses allowed.

I mean it!

The irony of the plaque wasn’t lost on her, but Celestia realised that she had been left standing in the hallway. Not once in her entire lifetime had she been barred from her own bedroom in such a bizarre fashion. Well, there was the one time Blueblood had locked himself in there after four of his marefriends had found out he had been dating all of them at once, or the time... now that she thought about it, that had been the only other time she couldn’t freely enter her own room. There didn’t even appear to really be a reason beyond her marefriend just doing... whatever it was she was doing in there. Celestia shook her head and squared her shoulders before knocking again. Twilight wasn’t going to get rid of her that easily. “Twilight? Open up.”

Her resolve was tested when Twilight returned to the door, a few more strands of her mane sticking out in seemingly random directions, which clearly indicated that she was treading on thin ice. Perhaps I should simply come back later... She realised that Twilight was staring at her impatiently and cleared her throat.

“Twilight, why am I not allowed inside?” she asked, trying to ward the concern she felt from her voice. “You’re not experimenting in there, are you?”

Her marefriend gave her a smile which only looked a teensy bit manic, which didn’t do much to reassure her. “No, I’m—” Twilight stopped mid-sentence, tilting her head and then looking back through the doors for a second. “Actually... yes, but you have nothing to worry about... I think. I’m just... not done yet.”

“Not done with—”

The rest of her sentence was lost in another altogether too short kiss, and the doors had slammed shut before she found her voice again. Drat. What could she possibly be doing in there?

Back in the day, Twilight had been known to the castle staff as the most curious, and nosey, pony in existence. The unicorn had driven more than one of them to frustration with her constant questioning. Several appeals had been made to Celestia regarding the filly’s antics, specifically if she could put a stop to them. What the staff didn’t know was that Celestia shared that very same spark of curiosity, asking Twilight about the things she had learned every evening, which carried the added benefit of keeping her appraised on the happenings in her castle.

For a few long minutes, Celestia regarded the doors and tried to imagine what could be happening on the other side, briefly sidetracked by the question of how Twilight could have even reached up high enough to kiss her on the lips. That is, until curiosity got the better of her. Trying to force through the doors would only result in a struggle she wanted to avoid, but they weren't the only way into the room, and that’s where she had an edge over Twilight; the protective runes that normally prevented teleportation and other movement-displacing effects were keyed to her magic and wouldn’t pose the same obstacle for her that it did for other ponies.

With a smile that bordered on the edge of being a smirk, she lit up her horn once more and engulfed herself in her magic. Ready or not, Twilight, here I come.

The grand dining hall was lively as ever. Although it was officially past dinner time, the hall was nonetheless filled with ponies. Cooks were still walking back and forth between the kitchen and the various tables, serving meals to the staff that had just finished their shift, or a drink to the off-duty guards who used the short time they had to relax before returning to the barracks.

“Oh my... what in oven’s name happened to you, Princess?”

Celestia lifted the ice pack from her forehead and regarded the speaker. Honey Mead was a heavy-set earth pony with a light brown coat and messy flax-colored mane; as the head cook in the castle, he was jovial, goodnatured... and currently looking at her in concern.

“Magical troubles,” she said, forcing a smile that quickly turned into a grimace, making her clutch the icepack a little tighter.

Honey Mead laughed a full belly laugh which made his entire form shake. “Say no more, say no more. I know just how much of a hoof-full she can be. Though I would have made sure to stock up on red daisies had I known she would be visiting again.”

“How did you...?”

“The only time you are ever troubled by anything magical is when she’s around.” Mead sidestepped to allow one of his underlings to pass and made use of the opportunity to sit down at the table. “So what is it this time? Gravity spells? Living statues? Has she been fiddling with the sun again?”

Celestia let out a groan and placed the ice pack back on her head. “She changed the locks.”

“She what?” Mead scratched his head while eyeing the ice pack, likely wondering just how hard she had hit her head.

Celestia realised that a bit of explanation might not go amiss and started before he could ask if she’d gone crazy... again.

“Over the last two thousand or so years, and after several failed assassination attempts, I’ve inscribed runes into the walls of my room to stop anything from teleportation to molecular phasing from being used to get in,” she said, drawing a simplistic picture in the air with her magic. It only aggravated her headache a little bit, which she supposed was a plus.

“So it’s like a magical lock, then?”

Celestia nodded. “Exactly. Several magical locks that took me a thousand years to graft and perfect so that they would only let my own magic through...” she faltered and took a deep breath, “...and she changed them in an afternoon.”

“And now you can’t get into your room. That makes sense.” Mead nodded and stroked his chin, at least until he noticed Celestia’s staring. “I mean—”

“What do you know about my student’s intentions, Mead?” Celestia asked him with a heated expression, although it was somewhat diminished by her current posture. It was bad enough that she couldn’t get into her own room, but now her head chef knew more about what was going on than she did? It meant that she didn’t have the whole picture, and she hated not knowing what was happening.

Perhaps it was the fact that she was slumped over holding an ice pack to her head that diminished her commanding presence, or perhaps it was the fact that Honey Mead had been a friend for several years, but her pointed look did not seem to phase him in the slightest. He merely shrugged and smiled. “Nothing I am allowed to share by orders of Equestria’s youngest princess. Would you like me to get you some more ice? Or perhaps something to drink while you wait?”

Celestia thought it over, deciding that she might as well take him up on his offer if she was going to be stuck here, though the bitter part of her mind kept reminding her that she could have been well on her way to snuggling with Twilight by now. She made a mental note to appropriately reprimand her marefriend for her bizarre behaviour, and make up for lost snuggle time at some later date. “Actually... I would like a salad... Hell, could you make me a three course meal? And some good wine to go with it?”

Usually the first words out of Mead’s mouth were to berate her for not eating properly, but this time he remained oddly quiet after she had made her request, though not without softly shaking his head. She caught him smiling to himself before trying to present her with a neutral expression. “She has really gotten under your skin this time, hasn’t she, Princess? I would like to make you that meal, but I’m afraid my hooves are tied.”

“I assume that a meal is a part of whatever Twilight is doing in my room then?” Celestia asked. Whatever Twilight was planning, Mead had given away that it was something for her, and with the zipping motion he made across his lips, he added a meal to that list. Knowing that she had managed to uncover at least that much put her in a slightly better mood, though it helped little against the headache. “Very well, I’ll settle for another pack of ice then,” she finally said. “The rest can wait until Twilight’s surprise dinner.”

“Glad to hear it, Princess. I’ll be right back.”

Celestia had a problem. Only half an hour had passed since she sat down at the table, and already she had to deal with a rising sense of something resembling panic. Everything had felt just fine during her conversation with Mead, but ever since he had disappeared back into the kitchen, she didn’t know what to do with herself.

Normally she had things she wanted—or more likely, needed—to do. Even after handing off the official business over to Luna, there was always some missive she still had to read, or a draft to be made. Failing that, she still had her hobbies... all of which were locked inside the one room she couldn’t get into.

After catching herself looking at the clock for the fifth time that minute, she decided to go for a walk. It had to be better than just sitting around waiting, and perhaps Luna could use a helping hoof.

Through the door, right, down hallway, another right, up the stairs, down yet another hallway, first two lefts, stop. Just like that, she was standing in front of the throne room, hoping that there was something she could do to help out her younger sister, or anything at all, really.

To say her hopes were dashed the moment she opened the door wouldn’t be quite right; there was more than enough of a cacophony in the room to suggest that there were things to be done. Luna seemed to be handling herself rather well, however, only stumbling on her words once or twice while talking to a dozen different ponies at the same time. It reminded Celestia of herself when she had just gotten used to ruling on her own.

Her presence did not go unnoticed, and before long Luna excused herself and made her way over to where Celestia was standing. “Is something wrong, sister?” she asked, looking even more anxious than a moment before.

The first thing that came to Celestia's mind was asking Luna why she looked so anxious; that is, until it occurred to her that she might have been the cause. The only times she had come to see Luna before had been because of mistakes or oversights on Luna's part, and the fact that Celestia hadn't been smiling supportively had likely done little to convince her sister otherwise.

“Nothing is wrong, Luna,” she said, belatedly putting a smile on her face. “I was merely checking to see how things were going, and check if you perhaps needed any help.”

Luna looked around the room, briefly halting on each pony she had been talking to in turn before turning back to Celestia and shaking her head. “Nay, sister, everything is going sple—just fine.”

“I’m glad to hear it, Luna,” Celestia replied, giving her sister a heartfelt nuzzle which was only returned after a moment of hesitance, and with a good deal of embarrassment.

“Sister,” Luna whispered urgently. “Not out here! Ponies are watching.”

For a moment, the prankster in Celestia reveled in the discomfort something so innocuous had caused her sister. “And where is the problem in that?” she replied with a devious smile. “Are they not allowed to know that I care for my sister dearly?”

That tipped the scales, and Luna took a step back, which caused a small tinge of pain in Celestia’s chest. “’tis unbecoming of royalty to behave with such familiarity in public.”

Celestia’s smile saw an opportunity and slipped from her face just before she sighed. “Perhaps so in the past, but that is no longer the case.”

“Excuse me, Princess...es?”

Both of the alicorns turned to see that not only had some of the guards had formed a perimeter around them, but that many of the evening court's petitioners were starting to form a crowd, though it had been one of the night guards that had spoken up. Out of habit, Celestia began thinking of ways to explain their conversation in way that would satisfy their audience, but Luna's more blunt approach beat her to the punch.

“Yes, my little pony?” Luna said simply.

“Your Highness,” the guard said, turning all of his attention to Luna whom he was obviously more comfortable with. “Perhaps it would be best if you were to take the rest of the conversation somewhere more private?” The guard inclined his head towards the gathering crowd. “It’s hard to close one’s ears to what is playing out in front of them; there are more than enough rumors surrounding the castle already.”

Luna nodded. “Quite right. Tell them that Night Court will be in recess for a quarter of the hour whilst I interrog—talk to my sister.”

The guard bowed. “Yes, Your Highness.”

While the guards kept the onlookers occupied, Celestia and Luna ducked into the conference room, which was only ever used for the more private diplomatic conversations anyway.

Luna rounded on Celestia the moment the latter had closed the door. “What is going on, sister?”

Celestia tested her smile again; it came easier after seeing how well Luna had been doing in the throne room and she turned the full force of it on Luna. “I wanted to come by and see how my little sister was doing as regent, and congratulate her on a job well done, given that nothing has exploded, audibly or otherwise.”

“What is really going on?” Judging by her tone, Luna wasn’t buying any of it.

“What makes you think that something has to be going on?”

Luna gave her an ‘are you kidding me’ look. “Because you have never seen fit to ‘check up’ on us—me, unless something has gone considerably wrong.”

“Well...” Celestia paused, looking for the right words to explain away her reasons. “Today, I decided that it would be a nice change of pace.”

A slow smile spread across Luna’s face as she examined her sister. “’tis Twilight, is it not?”

This time Celestia shushed her sister. “Not so loud.”

Luna giggled and playfully bumped her sister's nose with her own. “Oh, ’Tia, thou art adorable when thee are flustered.”

“I am not flustered!” Celestia replied indignantly. “I’m just... just…”

“Yesss?” Luna's cheeky grin could have, and probably would have, split a lesser pony’s face in half.

“...antsy,” Celestia finished with a sigh.

There were a few moments of silence before Luna burst out laughing. “Hah! Celestia the Stoic? Antsy? The last time you were anything other than ‘gentle and strong’ was eons ago. So long, in fact, that I cannot remember its semblance.”

“It was last week actually,” Celestia said with another sigh, making Luna’s laughter redouble in strength.

“Let me guess...” Luna pursed her lips and made smoochy faces, which lasted only until Celestia caught up with her and they collapsed into a tangle of limbs on the floor, biting and kicking like a bunch of bickering foals. Their little tussle came to an end as quickly as it had begun, with two out of breath alicorns that had coats like they’d just gotten out of bed.

Celestia eyed her younger sister while trying to catch her breath. She was having trouble choosing between the urge to lunge at Luna again, and finding out how exactly her—their secret had come to light. “How did you find out?”

Luna smiled, though it held no mockery this time. “Your dreams betray you, ‘Tia. I have seen things that I probably should not have, and some I don’t think I ever wanted to know.” Luna shivered. “Is it true that you would like her to...?”

Celestia nodded, wondering if it would be political suicide to turn herself invisible and slip away before Luna realised what had happened.

Luna ahemed and picked up the pieces of her composure, putting them together in a slapdash attempt to appear somewhat like a ruler rather than a young filly. “I shall let it slide for now; our subjects are waiting for me. But I want to know everything in the morning, especially the parts I cannot reach in the dreamrealm.”

Celestia groaned, but nodded once again. It was about the best she could’ve hoped for, given Luna’s propensity for dramatic revelations, and she silently cursed herself for promising her marefriend that they would tell other ponies when she felt comfortable enough. “In the morning, then, as long as you don’t come barging in. Twilight can be a little grumpy if woken up too early, and I myself would much prefer a good night’s sleep.”

“Splendid!” Luna pranced around the conference table and came to a halt in front of a vanity mirror which she used to check her appearance and make sure she was presentable before going back into the throne room.

Celestia, meanwhile, looked around the room. A few months ago she wouldn’t have thought twice about the feeling a room gave off; it was as practical as it had ever been and had everything needed to serve as a conference space. However, it felt... bland, uninteresting... empty, just like her own room, and just like that, she found herself wondering what Twilight was up to once again, though it was tainted by a hint of trepidation.


Celestia looked at her sister who had one hoof on the door and was looking at her with a kind smile. It made her seem like the older sister for a change, although Celestia wasn’t sure she liked the implication that came with it. Youth was something she often equated with inexperience and missing the answers to obvious questions. Not that she regarded those as flaws, but she felt really uncomfortable when it applied to her. “Yes?”

“Enjoy your time with Twilight, and stop worrying about ruling the country. I am sure that the nobles will get over my innocent comment about their posteriors soon enough.”

The words out of Luna’s mouth did not line up what Celestia had expected her to say. As a result, it took her a moment to interpret their meaning, followed swiftly by a feeling of dread. The nobles in Canterlot weren’t known for their sense of humor, and a scathing remark would only serve to make them that much more opposed to whatever either princess suggested. Whatever she could’ve said to dissuade Luna from her ideas was lost, however, as echoing giggles were the only thing of her sister still in the room.

She shook her head and smiled. The mere fact that she had fallen for a joke she would have seen through in seconds showed just how badly being denied entry into her own room had rattled her. Which was to say, much more than she would have liked.

Perhaps she is almost done? It was better than sitting around waiting for something to happen, and between Mead and Luna, she had already exhausted her patience for ponies asking questions she couldn’t answer.

She used her magic to bend light around herself. Interrupting Luna in court hadn’t been her intention, and her sister deserved to be respected on her own merits, not simply because Celestia was hanging around all the time.

So far her day, or at least her evening, had been... interesting. She’d always believed that new experiences were things to be treasured, especially at her age, and the things she had learned today were no exception. Though it was rather disconcerting to know that having a marefriend could unbalance her so thoroughly.

After Luna’s ‘rebellion’, Celestia had learned control, and for a thousand years she had exercised that control to make sure that nothing befell her little ponies. She was used to it, which meant that it was safe. Safe, however, was not always the way to move forwards in life.

Celestia was willing to accept that, though she still didn’t like not having all the answers. With changes in lifestyle also came changes in perspective, and no matter where she looked, everything she saw was big, ostentatious, and empty.

She had spent the better part of a week cooped up in her room when she had finally realised that she cared more for Twilight than merely as a student. It explained her preference to visit Ponyville on many an occasion, even when she could have simply summoned Twilight to the castle.

But it wasn’t just Twilight, or perhaps it was the fact that she equated the homely, snug and sometimes cluttered interior of the library with Twilight that made her look at everything differently. Or perhaps it was because the last thousand years of her life had basically been spent in servitude to the nation, without really living herself?

She wasn’t sure anymore. The only thing she was sure of was that she was starting to become annoyed with the fact that she couldn’t get into her own room. She wanted to kiss and cuddle with her marefriend, whisper sweet nothings into her ear and make her blush in that absolutely adorable way when Celestia reminded her of some of the passages in...

She almost walked face first into the doors once again and broke off her train of thought, filing the idea away for later examination. The doors hadn’t changed, and it made Celestia wonder why she had come back at all. It can’t hurt to try again at least.

She didn’t make another effort to look her best. Odds were she’d have to wait another hour anyway. She immediately regretted it when she grabbed the ancient oaken doors and flung them open, cracking one of them against the marble pillars at the sides and leaving her face to face with an equally surprised-looking Twilight and a room that didn’t even draw a comparison to the one she had called her own.

“Princess! I was just coming to get you.”

Celestia’s joy at seeing that she could finally spend some time with her marefriend was overshadowed by her astonishment at the state of her room. Without a word, she stepped past Twilight into a space she no longer recognised. The only thing remotely familiar was the bed in the center of the room and even that had been moved and redecorated. Where the rest of her chambers had once been spotless and empty, however, there was now a labyrinth of items and furniture that did away with that feeling of desolation.

The room had meticulously been divided into six roughly equal spaces, each with their own color designation and assorted items. The closest one of these spaces appeared to be an office. Her desk had been moved from the other side of the room to right next to the doors, and aside from a pathway through the middle, the rest of the section was littered with official papers, quills, and what Celestia assumed to be inkwells, though bigger than any she had ever seen.

Letting her gaze drift across the rest of the room she saw a distinct central zone which held the bed and so many pillows it was hard to make out the floor, an art studio close to the balcony, an area that stored many if not all of the magical artifacts she had collected over the years, another that held more bookcases which were probably for Twilight’s own use, and even a fully stocked kitchen near the hearth from which a wonderful aroma made its way towards her.

Celestia had been turning slowly while taking it all in, a fact she only became aware of when she came face to face with a Twilight who was avoiding her eyes and instead staring at the floor while her wings twitched and her hooves shifted.

“D-Do you like it?” she stammered. “I remembered you talking about how much you loved visiting me in the library and that your own room was so big and made you feel alone, so I made a plan and requested all the items be carried here, but the maids couldn’t handle some of the magical instruments you owned and the cooks cracked a pot in the kitchen so they couldn’t spare one like they’d promised, and then I found out that the guard I had asked for paint had dropped it off in the wrong place so I had to find a spell to change the color of the walls... then you arrived and I said no because I wasn’t ready yet and then...” She had to pause to take a breath and drew tiny circles on the floor with a hoof. “I tried to finish it up quickly enough, but I realised that I wouldn’t even get it done in time and keeping you out of your own bedroom was very rude and I... well, I…” Only after all that did she seem to realise that she was rattling on and shut her mouth.

Celestia scooped Twilight up in her forelegs, holding her tightly and peppering her with kisses. “Stop. Rambling. Twilight,” she said, punctuating each with another kiss which got a soft squeal from her marefriend in turn. She considered forgoing the tour and simply taking Twilight to bed right away, but the idea was tempered by the knowledge that Twilight wanted to do everything right; and if she could put her marefriend at ease by doing the same, then she would.

She put the young alicorn down and gave her one last kiss which she was content to linger in for a minute before turning back to the room and regarding the... mess.

“Sorry, I didn’t have the time to clean up.”

Celestia ignored the apology, stepping into the library section of the room and looking around to see which kinds of books Twilight had seen fit to store there. To her surprise, she found a great deal of books she had enjoyed throughout her life, almost as if somepony had been keeping track of it, as well as a section dedicated to a dozen of books she had written herself, under a pseudonym, of course. None of them had been a great success, but they were special to her nonetheless. The only question was how Twilight had found out about her writing days.

She left the thought behind in that particular section and moved on to the balcony doors and the painting supplies stacked there. Painting on canvas seemed arbitrary, or perhaps mundane when one painted the sky on a daily basis, but she relished the freedom it gave her to paint whatever she wanted. Opening the doors, she stepped out onto the balcony, looking to sort out her feelings while appreciating her sister’s painting in the sky. Before long, she felt a slight pressure in her side, and smiled as a soft wing tentatively descended on her back; it would take a couple of years before Twilight grew big enough to comfortably hug her with a wing, but they had all the time in the world.

“So... do you like it?”

“You already asked me that.”

“I know, I know, I just... you always say things to put me at ease, but I don’t want platitudes, I want to know how you really feel about it.”

Celestia had seen what she wanted to see already, but for Twilight’s benefit she made slowly another round through the room, deliberately inspecting everything again. When she did finally return to the balcony and came to face a very nervous Twilight, she smiled. “I think—” she began, leveling a gold-plated hoof to Twilight’s nose “—that you worry too much.” She bopped the aforementioned nose playfully.

She left Twilight there, open mouth and all, and walked back inside. Examining the rest of the little touches in the room could wait until tomorrow; right now she just wanted to lie down on her bed and perhaps entice her marefriend to cuddle for a while. It took her slightly longer than normal to find her bed, which she felt very silly about. Slow and deliberate though her inspection of the room may have been, it wasn’t easy to change a routine that had held for so long. After a quick detour, however, she found what she was looking for and let out a content sigh when she finally sank down onto her bed.

“You didn’t answer my question...” Twilight settled down next to her on the bed. The confusion that had been written on her face just a few moments ago had been wiped away, replaced by an accusatory frown.

Celestia shook her head, flipping her mane just enough that its flow would change direction and billow against Twilight. “Indeed I didn’t. Not everything you do needs a ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ from me, Twilight.”

Twilight swatted at the strands of magical hair when they rippled across her coat and got into her face, a snort of suppressed laughter escaping her before she called on her own magic to keep it at bay. “This does,” she said with an annoyed huff when she noticed Celestia’s sly smile.

“I don’t believe my feelings on the new layout of my room can be quantified and put into a chart,” Celestia said playfully, her smile growing a little wider when Twilight’s eyes narrowed, though the blush on her cheeks suggested she had indeed been planning on doing just that. “But if you must know,” she continued, “just today I was thinking about how much I enjoyed my time in Ponyville. You were a big part of that, of course, but I liked the feeling of the library as well. It felt... cozy, although having a system chronological by height seems so unlike you.”

Having cycled through all the expressions available to her, Twilight came back to confusion, although she was quickly catching on that Celestia was toying with her. “That still doesn—”

“—And since you’ve managed to recreate that... ‘lived in’ feeling here, I think it’s safe to say that I like it.” That finally earned Celestia a smile from her marefriend, which she reciprocated by lifting the wing closest to Twilight; an unspoken invitation to cuddle.

Twilight accepted the invitation gracefully. So gracefully in fact, that Celestia was startled by the power that lay behind Twilight’s aggressive cuddle attack. The force pushed her over, landing her on her back after which Twilight jumped with a flap of her wings. Whatever flight plan Twilight had in mind, however, became a mess when Celestia nudged her out of balance with a subtle application of magic, leaving her to crash on top of the solar princess. Physically, it left Twilight in a better position, but they both knew who was really pulling the strings.

The mood changed in a flash; the first indication Celestia got was a set of lips trailing along her throat before planting a kiss just below her chin. She wouldn’t have minded. In fact, more than once had she had to coax Twilight into a place where she would be comfortable enough to treat her as an equal rather than a teacher. The pace Twilight was going in now, however, was not like her.

It was something Celestia had wanted to happen, and all she had to do was lay back and let Twilight do as she pleased. It didn’t feel right though. What if Twilight was behaving like this because she was afraid Celestia was getting bored? That would be much more likely, and wasn’t something she was about to allow.

Simply dismissing Twilight’s affections could backfire however, and part of Celestia whispered to her to just give in and leave the ever ready responsibility for another time. Not to mention the way her wings and haunches agreed with the way Twilight was kissing her neck. She needed an out, some way to distract Twilight and give herself some breathing room.

The answer was presented to her on a silver platter. The delectable smell of food cooking on the stove, which had permeated the air since she had stepped into the room, was changing into something decidedly less pleasant. “Mmm... Twilight?” she asked breathlessly.

Her marefriend was altogether too occupied with one of her ears at that point to respond with anything other than a muffled ‘hmm?’

“Do you smell something as well?”

The question caught Twilight completely by surprise, as evidenced by the look she gave Celestia. She regretfully let go of the ear she had been making nice with and sniffed the air, which was followed by a very different look less than a second later. “The stew!”

She flew towards the kitchen part of the room, which was rather impressive given that she didn’t so much as flap her wings once.

Celestia sighed once and rolled off of the bed, using her magic to straighten out the sheets, which she noted had Twilight’s cutie mark on them now. She used the mundane chore to her advantage, taking the time to straighten out her thoughts as well.

First redecorating the room as a surprise and now this... What is she afraid of?

Settling back on the bed, Celestia wondered if she wasn’t overreacting. It was possible, even likely, that Twilight simply felt comfortable enough in their relationship that she was willing to take the next step, in which case the unwillingness to let it go that far had been entirely hers.

It is an important step, so a little hesitance is to be expected… isn’t it?

She hated not having all the answers, but there it was; she was afraid of how fast the relationship was going and was, at least subconsciously, trying to slow things down. Thinking about it, she realised that during the very first time they’d had talked about their relationship, she had led Twilight along like it was a dance, guiding her through the conversation and making her think and say almost exactly what Celestia was comfortable with.

“I... ehh... I hope you like slightly charred vegetable stew,” Twilight’s voice said, making Celestia look at her marefriend who was offering her a steaming bowl of rice mixed with sweet potatoes, onions and several other vegetables she couldn’t immediately identify.

“Twilight...” Celestia took the bowl in her own magic and set it aside, “I think we need to talk.”

Seconds ago, she had been certain that she was the one holding the relationship back, but seeing Twilight’s fearful expression made her reconsider; she wasn’t the only one, and at least some of it wasn’t orchestrated.

“Will you at least try the stew first?”

The bowl came floating back up on the bed, and had somehow acquired a spoon from heavens knew where. Celestia was certain it hadn’t been in the bowl before. She offered Twilight a small smile and brought the spoon to her lips.

The best stew she’d ever had it was not. Truth be told the entire thing was rather bland despite the aroma that had wafted through the room. Being left on the stove for too long had mingled the flavors, and from the taste of things, Twilight had forgotten to add any spices or seasoning. Still, it was a meal made especially for her, and she had been pretty hungry for a while now. Not only that, but even though Twilight didn’t ask her anything outright, her expression spoke volumes.

“It’s not bad at all,” she said before taking another bite, “though I think you forgot the salt.”

“Oh, right... I’ll just—” Twilight turned around, but reaching her destination became a lot more difficult when Celestia devoted part of her magic to pulling her marefriend back onto the bed as well.

“It’s fine, Twilight. Sit.”

As if she had returned to the time of being a filly late for her first class with the princess, Twilight hesitantly sat down the bed and fidgeted for every moment thereafter. Celestia kept silent and pretended to focus on her meal. It was a practice she’d had a lot of success with in the past, as Twilight could never handle the fear that arose in her by having to wait, which made her blurt something out to get a conversation going. Which, in turn, made getting to the core of things much easier. Of course, that expectation made what she said next more jarring.

“Do you... love me?”

The food turned into a choking hazard in Celestia’s mouth and she coughed several times before getting enough air to from a reply. “W-what?”

“Do you really love me?”

The ‘by the books’ response to that question was ‘of course’, but Celestia knew that Twilight wouldn’t be satisfied with something sounding like a platitude no matter how true the sentiment behind the words may have been. Instead she asked, “What have I done which makes you ask that question?”

Twilight shrugged halfheartedly. “I don’t know... you just seem to keep everything at a distance...”

“Keep everything at a distance?” Celestia looked down at the bed with a small frown. “When have I ever said no?”

Twilight nodded, pursing her lips as she thought of how best to express her feelings. “Never. You just... I have a hard time telling how you really feel. Sometimes I see glimpses of it when you laugh.” She sighed in frustration. “I worry you... you want to keep what we have a secret forever. That it’s something you’re ashamed of like the magazines under my be—” Her mouth shut like a steel trap but she couldn’t undo the words she’d already said, nor the blood from rushing to her cheeks.

Note to self, check under Twilight’s bed at some point. Now was not the time to press Twilight for her collection of naughty literature, however. “Twilight, I wasn’t the one that said she wanted to keep it a secret from her parents—”

“You don’t even have parents! Or, not ones I can visit anyway... I really want to know how that works at some point.” Twilight’s face scrunched up in frustration and she shook her head violently. “But that’s not the point. I said that because it felt like you wanted me to say it.”

It was a stab at her heart, and not solely because of Twilight’s accusation. What stung the most was the realisation that she was right. Thinking back on the times they talked about it before, there was always something that seemed more important and when that wasn’t the case, she changed the subject, or talked in such a way that she coaxed Twilight along a path she was comfortable with. “You may be right,” she said at length. “I have never done this sort of thing before, and I guess I was rather more hesitant than I should have been, but it was for your benefit as well.”

“So does that mean that we can...?”

“Yes, when you’re ready for it, we will tell your parents about... us.”

Twilight broke into a gleeful smile and tackled Celestia to the bed, rolling them over so Twilight landed on top. This time, Celestia made no effort to resist. “I was hoping you’d say that,” she said, punctuating the sentence with a kiss. “I’ve already booked the restaurant, so we’ll tell them tomorrow evening.”

Celestia was stunned for a moment, laughing when she realised that she had just fallen victim to the same conversational herding she had used on Twilight before. “You devious little mare,” she said, giggling when Twilight responded with more kisses.

They kissed, touched and caressed each other for some time after that, making silent promises and showing just how much they loved one another. They didn’t get much farther than that, however, no matter how aggressive Twilight had been just a few minutes prior. Before long she was yawning, and when Celestia draped a wing across her back, she snuggled up against her lover’s side like she’d done when she was a filly and mumbled a ‘love you’ before giving up the battle against her exhaustion and drifting off to sleep.

Normally, Celestia enjoyed any time she had to herself; Thinking and reflecting on things done and things to come was something she valued. Unfortunately, this time she had been left alone with the prospect of meeting her lover… marefriend... student’s parents, whom for some reason she couldn’t see being entirely pleased with their developing relationship.

Stop worrying, Celestia. You’ve talked circles around a delegation of Zebra ambassadors. How bad could two ponies possibly be? She nodded firmly to herself, planted a kiss on Twilight’s horn, then curled herself around her snoozing lover and let sleep claim her as well.

Author's Note:

This is one of the two winners of the fourth Twilestia Bi-monthly contest.

Many thanks to Steelresolve, Dianwei32, Squinty mudmane and Bluepaladin42 for all their help in getting this readable.