• Published 2nd Jun 2014
  • 17,995 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.

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A skip

Celestia had been alive for twenty-nine thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight years. An exceedingly long time in anypony’s book if there had been any ponies around to make note of it, or books for that matter. During that time, she had fought and beaten beings like Discord and Nightmare Moon, which meant that she wasn’t unaccustomed to fear and despair. As it turned out, however, not even banishing her own sister came close to the dread she felt at the prospect of having to show her marefriend’s parents that she was a flesh and blood pony with wants and needs, rather than a distant and immortal goddess...

...and they hadn’t even arrived at the restaurant yet.

“Twilight, you know I love you, yes?”

“Of course I do!” Twilight said happily, walking alongside Celestia with a little bounce in her gait and apparently completely oblivious to the looks they were getting.

“Well...” Celestia paused, choosing her words carefully to avoid upsetting Twilight. “I was hoping we could put some more th—”

“—ey’re very nice, but you know that, and I’m sure they’ll love you as much as I do.”

And there goes my last way to get out of this without upsetting Twilight, Celestia thought with a frown. Waking up tired after her sleep had been filled with nightmares, an entire morning answering every question Luna could think of and several hours thereafter stuck in a board meeting for her school of the gifted unicorns; she hadn’t had any time to eat, much less plan. Coupled with an entire afternoon spent making sure none of the dignitaries were feeling left out of the new trade partnership and Twilight’s insistence that they would be ‘tardy’ if they waited any longer, she simply hadn’t found the time to prepare herself for arguably the most important meeting of her life.

Even the few blocks they still had to walk in order to get to the restaurant on time didn’t provide her with the opportunity to do anything about her predicament, mainly because she was trying to look inconspicuous. Or at least, she was trying to look as inconspicuous as an alicorn that stands head and shoulders above everypony else could look; she had briefly considered an illusion spell, but with a dozen royal guards following them, even that wouldn’t have helped matters.

At least she could take solace in the fact that they were almost at the restaurant, at which point she could probably rescind Luna’s orders and send the unwanted escort back to the castle without too much of a fuss. She also made a mental note to pout at Luna for doing this to her.

Celestia and fortune had never been on the best of terms. It had a tendency to complicate any plans she devised for better or worse, though mostly for the worse. Today, however, it seemed fortune favored her as they encountered one of Twilight’s old professors on the street who stopped and called out, no doubt wanting to see some of his questions regarding her new physiology answered.

It was the perfect opportunity for Celestia to buy herself some time. With Twilight distracted talking to the professor, she quickly stepped into the nearest shop, greeting the shopkeeper with a smile and looking around the place for a conversation topic. Antiques, perfect. Even if Twilight managed to convey to the long-winded intellectual that she was in a hurry, Celestia could still stall her by throwing out trivia on the various items in the shop. If she was lucky, it would get her marefriend intrigued enough that she could have a few minutes of rest in which a plan could be formulated.

“Princess?”

Drat. That was far too quick. She silently cursed her escort once again. If it hadn’t been for the six guards standing outside the entrance, and another six cooped up in here with her, it might have taken Twilight more than a second to locate where she’d run off to. “In here, Twilight,” she said belatedly.

Twilight wormed her way past the guards and gave Celestia a cross look. “What are you doing? We’re supposed to be at the restaurant in less than three minutes!”

“I was just... looking for a gift for your parents.” It hadn’t been part of her plan, but it seemed to have as much of a chance of succeeding as anything. “Your parents wouldn’t mind if we were a few minutes late, would they?”

“I mind!” Twilight replied, looking more agitated and dangerous by the second. “If we are minutes late, the dinner will run late, which will make the dessert late, which will mean that we get back to the house a few minutes late and that will ruin the rest of the schedule!”

“But I—” Celestia didn’t get any further than that, her voice cut off by a squeak when a magenta wave of magic surrounded her and lifted her into the air. It felt like she was a petulant little filly forcibly being dragged along by her mother.

“I’m sorry for the fuss, sir,” Twilight said, beaming a smile at the thoroughly confused shopkeeper before marching out of the shop, followed by an inverted levitating solar princess and six equally befuddled-looking guards.

Outside, Twilight got the rest of the guards moving with a simple combination of her expression and a tilt of her head in the direction which they had been going. “Double time,” she barked in a tone that apparently reminded them of their drill sergeant. “Please.” The guards turned as one and fell into step with Twilight’s forced march tempo.

If Celestia had been embarrassed before, it was nothing compared to how she was feeling now. Not only was she being dragged along through the air for everypony to see, but it was all due to the fact that she had forgotten to take into account that Twilight could really be rather aggressive when something threatened her carefully planned schedule. That, and the fact that Luna had done everything in her power to make it all but impossible for Celestia to get out of it. She revised the mental note she’d made earlier and swore to herself that she would devote all of her free time into hatching a plot of vengeance upon her sister.

“Twilight, please, put me down. I’m perfectly capable of walking on my own.”

Twilight either didn’t hear her, or didn’t care, and none of the guards seemed to be willing to incur her wrath, either. They sped through the streets, with more than one pony being set aside by Twilight’s magic in her desire to be on time.

They arrived with seconds to spare, and Twilight visibly relaxed. She gently put Celestia down and brushed away any dust she might have floated into with her magic. Being groomed with magic, especially by her marefriend, was perhaps a little more intimate than something that should happen out in the open, and Celestia had a hard time suppressing the shiver that crawled up along her spine.

“Are you ready?” Twilight asked her.

Celestia regarded the restaurant entrance hesitantly. “Well... actually, I—”

“Great! Let’s go.”

Being cut off once again was mildly annoying, although the soft kiss that came with it was preferable over being marehandled. With that in mind, she stepped forward when Twilight did, having weighed the options and finding that she really, really did not want to be levitated into the restaurant.


The inside of the restaurant was opulently decorated, though Celestia quickly considered it gaudy. From the marble floor, to the gold-plated chairs and tables, to even the domed ceiling, everything seemed to be encrusted with gemstones. It made her think about the dresses Rarity had worn during her stay at the castle, if less tastefully designed.

Everypony in the room fell silent and turned to look at them when they entered, making Celestia realise that she had forgotten one very important thing. She looked back and saw that her guards had posted themselves in two neat rows of six near the entrance, standing so still in their gold-plated armor that they looked to be a part of the decor.

“Silverwing?” she called out, making one of the statues in the entrance move like it had been a flesh and blood pony all along. The guard walked up to her and dipped his head in a show of respect. “I understand that my sister has given you orders regarding our safety, but given that Canterlot is already one of the safest cities in Equestria, I do not believe that your services are required at this point.”

Silverwing bowed again but didn’t move otherwise. “Respectfully, Your Highness, even if that were the case, our orders are very clear. We aren’t to let either you or Twili—I mean, Princess Twilight, out of our sight.”

Celestia let out a sigh. Either Luna secretly resented her for her relationship with Twilight, or her sister simply wanted to make things difficult for her. “Your concern is appreciated but no longer needed.”

“I am sorry, Your Highness, but orders are orders.”

Although she had expected many difficulties regarding this particular evening, dealing with her guards hadn’t been one of them. She was already tired and stressed, and had enough problems without her own guards adding to them. Before she opened her mouth to tell him as much, however, she felt a wingtip trail along her barrel which made her glance sideways. Twilight had turned around and smiled at her, and then at the guard, though that smile was apparently different enough from the one Celestia had received to make him shiver.

“Silverwing,” she said in a honeyed voice, “I know that Princess Luna’s orders are important to you, but what we will be discussing here is private. Is it possible that you keep an eye out from somewhere that's a less... conspicuous?” She indicated the bar at the back of the restaurant with her horn and smiled at him again.

“Well...” Silverwing hesitated and looked back at his fellow guards, none of whom were behaving like a statue any longer. They were all looking at him with various degrees of hopeful expressions. “I... I suppose that...”

“And of course, anything you needed to drink to maintain your cover as a casual observer would have to be added to the crown’s tab for the evening, wouldn’t it, Princess Celestia?” Twilight nudged her marefriend, and Celestia hastily nodded her assent, glad that Twilight had a solution.

“I don’t know... Princess Luna was very specific.”

“Look,” Twilight said, dropping her voice to a whisper so that only Celestia and Silverwing could hear her. “Wouldn’t it be better to sit down and have a drink than it would interrupting private conversations? Because at this point, I’d just as happily send you all to Gryphonia.” Only after he nodded hesitantly did she smile again. “Good. Now... at ease.”

With their most obvious problem moving towards the back of the establishment and the liquid refreshments being served there, Twilight walked over to a lectern which stood at the center of the entrance hallway. The stallion behind it looked particularly dignified due to the large handlebar mustache he was sporting, though a tad overdressed as well. He smiled at the both of them. “Good evening, madam. Will your companions be joining you for dinner?”

Twilight shook her head. “No, they’re not with us, I had a reservation for four under the name ‘Sparkle’?”

The maître d’ took a quick look at his ledger before nodding. “Quite right, madam. This way please.” He lead them through an archway into an adjacent room which turned out to be their booth. Being the size of an entire room, it was spacious enough to hold not only the normal dining table and chairs, but a lounge area and even a small dance floor. “Here you are, madames. The cook will be with you shortly after the rest of your party arrives. Would you like anything to drink while you wait?”

“They’re not here yet?” Twilight began pacing around the room and Celestia was sure she could see a few of her marefriend’s hairs escape her carefully maintained mane. “What if they were robbed? Or ponynapped, or worse... what if they decided not to come?”

Celestia gave the maître d’ an uneasy smile. “We’ll have two light red cherry wines, please. And if you could inform us post haste when the others arrive?”

“Most certainly,” the stallion replied, shaking his head at Twilight’s pacing and swiftly making himself scarce. He untied and closed a pair of heavy curtains behind himself when he stepped out of the room, which really made it feel like a private room.

Celestia watched Twilight pace around the room for another three laps before stepping in front of her, stopping her dead in her tracks.

“Twilight,” she began, trying to focus Twilight’s attention on herself. Having Twilight worry about her parents wouldn’t help as they were likely just late. Celestia didn’t know either of them to be as concerned with punctuality as their daughter was. When Twilight did finally look up at her, however, she saw worries and fears reflected in her eyes that had nothing to do with her parents. Twilight, it seemed, was as apprehensive of the coming conversation as she herself was.

As much as Celestia loathed to admit it, Twilight had become very adept at hiding how she felt. It made her cringe to think that she was likely the reason for her marefriend’s expertise. Although, worrying as it was, knowing that also brought some measure of relief; Twilight hadn’t turned into a confident, take-charge kind of princess overnight. Then again... perhaps having her take charge like that in the bedroom sometime might not be a bad idea.

“Celestia?” Twilight’s voice brought her out of her musing, blinking twice and regarding the alicorn in front of her. Twilight looked more frazzled with every minute that passed and her wings were drooping so low they nearly touched the ground. “Do you think this is a mistake? I mean... is it too soon?”

The devil on her shoulder laughed and whispered: This is without a doubt the easiest out anypony has ever provided you with... what are you waiting for? Unfortunately for him, an angry shake of her head was all it took to be dispelled. “No, Twilight, I don’t think it is.”

“But you were so against it...”

Celestia feigned a chuckle “Ah, so because I’m older than you are, I am no longer allowed to be afr—apprehensive? Or is it because everything I do has to have some hidden meaning?”

The pair of eyes staring back at her blinked in disbelief. “You’re scared? But you’re never scared...”

“Quite the contrary, I’m afraid.” She smiled at her own play on words and made her way over to the lounge area where she sat down on a few pillows, beckoning Twilight with a wing. The offer was gratefully accepted and Twilight plopped down next to her, leaning against her like a... well, like a lover would. “I was afraid when Luna and I fought Discord, I was afraid when L—when Nightmare Moon happened... and I’m afraid now—” Twilight’s cheek scraping against her coat in a silent show of support was comforting and made her crack a smile “—but it’s the right thing to do. I want this to happen as much as you do.”

Twilight agreed, though she seemed less interested in talking about her—their worries, and more in receiving comfort from Celestia herself. Her supportive nuzzling had turned into a much more sensual combination of reassuring touches and comforting caresses. Celestia was only too happy to respond in kind.

They hadn’t gotten as far as sex in the few months time they’d been together, though there was no shortage of sensual cuddling. Twilight had, In her characteristic fashion, set about discovering and cataloguing every one of Celestia’s weak spots, and it was that bit of knowledge that she currently exploited for personal gain. Like a young cat, she had somehow crawled onto Celestia’s back without notice and was now nibbling at a particularly sensitive spot behind her ears which made it very difficult for her to keep her pleasure to herself.

Celestia was going to have to find a way to turn the tables on her marefriend, and quickly. She found it when Twilight overbalanced and toppled over, falling off of Celestia’s back and landing on her own. Celestia capitalised on the mistake immediately. She swooped down onto her recovering marefriend and used her superior mass—My rump isn’t that big!—to pin the young alicorn down. It put her in the perfect position to smother Twilight in kisses and, with one or two adjustments, allowed her easy access to Twilight’s wings as well.

They spent several minutes like that, Celestia doing everything in her power to make Twilight give up and accept the ministrations she was being subjected to, and Twilight trying to keep some semblance of composure. Finally, Twilight turned the tables once again with her magic, or at least she would have if her parents hadn’t chosen that very same moment to step into the room, accompanied by the maître d’.

“Excuse me, Your Highness? We have rules against public fornication here in Le Petit Dejeuner.” He regarded the two disheveled alicorns for a second, promptly looking away after a nudge from the older mare next to him. “Although... I suppose we can make an exception since you are not technically in the public area of the restaurant.”

“Mom? Dad?” Twilight stumbled to her hooves after she was released and tried to push a few strands of mane behind her ears. “You’re... uhm... well...” She looked over a shoulder, and for a split second, Celestia saw pure unadulterated horror on her marefriend’s face. And just like that, the expression was gone and Twilight smiled sheepishly when she turned back to her parents. It was a little eerie to see, knowing just how scared Twilight was. Even with a false mask of levity on her face, however, she couldn’t hide the little cracks and tremors in her voice. “Y-you’re late.”

Twilight’s father replied before his mind had made sense of the image before him. “Yes... your mother lost her reserv—what were you doing?”

“I... I...”

“She was worried that you wouldn’t show up,” Celestia helpfully supplied, making subtle adjustments to her own coat, feathers and mane. “It was a sort of relaxation technique.”

“Aha...” Nightlight didn’t seem convinced but made no further attempts to dispute the possibility that that was all it had been.

Twilight Velvet wasn’t as easily swayed. “And what is this relaxation technique called?”

The maître d’ cleared his throat, forestalling any response to the burning question. “Would you like me to go and fetch the cook, or will you be informing me of your dinner plans at some later time?”

“Yes, please,” Twilight said hastily.

“And do you know what has been keeping the waiter? We still haven't had any…” The rest of Celestia's sentence drifted off into silence when her eye fell on the two glasses of cherry wine on the dining table which the waiter had dropped off some time during their... relaxation technique. She gave the stallion an uneasy smile which he replied to with a curt nod.

“If that is all, I shall bid you a pleasant evening.”

After the stallion had disappeared behind the heavy curtains, Twilight ran up for a hug and a nuzzle with her parents, which was at least returned heartily and shifted the mood towards something more amicable. Twilight’s parents seemed to have written off their cuddling session as a fluke, or at least hadn't thought on what it could mean. They exchanged respectful nods with Celestia, though she had the sneaking suspicion that they didn't really know what the occasion for the dinner was.

“I’m glad you could make it,” Twilight said, leading them to the table while using her magic to push back the comfortable looking sofas that were being used in lieu of chairs. “I was worried something had happened or that you might’ve forgotten or something.”

Nightlight cracked a smile for the first time since he arrived. “Well, you're half right. That's what you get when you tell me about important events when I’m grading papers.” He looked at his wife and laughed before continuing. “Twilight remembered perfectly, as always, but when it became time to leave, she’d somehow lost her inv—”

“Night!” Velvet interrupted her husband with a look that spoke of equal parts embarrassment at having lost something so arguably important, and anger at him for simply telling others about it. Even after he had shut his mouth, Nightlight was still smiling, which made Velvet huffy for a little while. Eventually though, she found her smile again and turned to Celestia. “When Twily told us that you had something important to discuss regarding her education, I knew that it had to be about her having grown wings. Is she going to have pegasi tutors, or will you be teaching her how to fly yourself?”

“Ehh... mom?” Younger Twilight’s wings showed just how agitated she was, twitching against her sides as if plotting to fly away without the rest of her. “This isn’t really...”

“—And how much stronger is she in terms of magical power? Will she need help learning how to properly levitate cutlery again?” Twilight Velvet continued, giving no indication that she had registered her daughter talking to her.

“Mom...”

“I recently read a great book which talks about dealing with imbalances in life and how an imbalance in magic and lead to all sorts of stress and discomfort.”

“MOM!”

Velvet stopped talking and looked at her daughter whose chest was heaving. “Twily, how many times have I told you that shouting is never the solution, not to mention impolite?”

Twilight slumped with a muted “Sorry... But the cook is waiting.”

They all looked over to the entrance where a young, grey stallion with a white, if frumpled, hat and a light green mane had politely been waiting for them to finish their conversation. He bowed deeply when they looked at him and spoke with a light Prench accent. “Good evening, Princess, Princess, madame, sir. My name is Délicieux, but you may call me ‘Chef’ and I shall be your cook for tonight.” He smiled at the group. “Do you have a specific request for zhe starter, or may I flex my culinary skills?”

The flourish with which he ended his sentence got a smile from Twilight and Twilight, though Celestia and Nightlight were less impressed. Twilight, the elder one, took charge almost immediately, looking at each pony in their little group and smiling at Chef when she turned back to him. “I believe a simple salad with cheddar, tomatoes, a hint of saffron and a light yoghurt dressing for me and my husband. Mozzarella, sweet peppers as well as some hot ones for my daughter, and...” She turned to Celestia. “Princess?”

“I usually take a royal salad,” Celestia told him, noting the downcast air Chef had about him. “Though,” she continued, “I think that, given the opportunity, I would like to try one of your personal salads, Délicieux.”

That seemed to perk the cook up. “Yes, madame, right away,” he said happily before bowing and stepping back towards the entrance.

“Oh, uh, Chef?” Velvet called out to him before he had a chance to disappear.

“Oui, madame?”

“Could you get us a bottle of the same wine the princesses have, and glasses for me and my husband?”

“Of course, madame, it would be my pleasure.”

A few seconds after he had left the room Twilight hummed thoughtfully, which to the other three ponies, was a clear signal that a question was in the works. Sure enough, a few seconds later still, she sat up a little straighter and asked: “If he is the cook that’s making the meal, why is he also serving us? Isn’t that what waiters are supposed to do?”

Nightlight shrugged. “Apparently they do things differently here, sweetie.”

“But it doesn’t make sense.” Twilight’s wings seemed to take on a life of their own, flaring in reaction to her increasing intensity whilst she made motions with her hooves for further emphasis. “Having a cook bring in the food is horribly inefficient, not to mention wasteful if another dish burns while he’s away.”

“I’m sure there’s a good reason for it, honey,” Velvet said, patting her daughter on the back and carefully removing a purple wing from inches in front of her face. Twilight opened her mouth to reply, but Celestia beat her to it.

“There is,” she said, earning herself the attention of everypony at the table, Twilight being the ever eager student and motioning for her to continue. “It is a small part of changes in tradition which came about when the zebra tribes formally declared themselves a country some eight hundred years past.” She was pleasantly surprised when she noticed that Twilight wasn’t the only one listening attentively; both of the older ponies seemed to be enjoying her explanation just as much, so she smiled, took a breath and continued. “When we began trading with them, a lot of transient tourism sprung up. Zebras were curious as to what Equestria was like, but due to their very different outlook on life, ponies often mistrusted them.”

“Like Ponyville with Zecora,” Twilight said, nodding to herself. Celestia looked at the parents, but they seemed to understand what Twilight was talking about then. She had probably told them all about it as well, given how lengthy and in depth her friendship report on the subject had been.

“Exactly,” Celestia continued, “and that’s where the tradition started. Back then there were a lot of small inns run by single families where the mother was the cook, the father the one cleaning the rooms and the children helped out with small tasks like serving the food.” Celestia sat back and looked at the ceiling, smiling to herself as she remembered one such an inn she had visited. “When Zebras passed through, the mothers would often serve the food themselves because they didn’t trust the ‘strange creatures’ around their children, but after over two hundred years of peaceful coexistence, the mistrust faded and the gesture took on a whole new meaning.”

“Which was?” Twilight was leaning forward with sparkles in her eyes, still as excited to learn more about history as ever.

“It became a sign of friendship and trust between the innkeepers and the travelers, and on the whole forged the political friendship into what it is today.” Celestia smiled at the three ponies who were all looking at her in awe. “Or perhaps the owners of this restaurant are simply a little pretentious.”

They shared a laugh and with Twilight and Celestia both sipping from their drinks; Twilight even offered her mother her glass. Though her offer did come with an accompanying question.

“Mom, have you heard from Shining recently?”

“Of course.” Velvet accepted the glass and took a sip herself, nodding appreciatively before giving it back. “He sends us a letter every other week. Which reminds me, did you know that he and Cadence will be coming over to visit next week? Apparently they had a very important something they wanted to share with us.” She smiled at her namesake and winked. “With a little luck, you’ll be an aunt soon.”

Twilight nervously glanced at Celestia, likely thinking of her own very important something she wanted to share. That is, right until the moment what her mother had said sunk in and she all but jumped on the table in surprise. “What?!”

“What did I say about shouting?” Velvet said, getting up and gently helping her daughter back onto her sofa.

“B-but but... but... Cadence might be pregnant, and they didn’t tell me?”

“I’m sure he sent a letter. Perhaps it simply got lost in the post system.”

“You mean like how he informed me that he was getting married a week before it was due to happen? I didn’t even know he and Cadence were dating!”

“Well...”

“And my postal system is a firebreathing dragon who can transport letters near instantaneously. If I didn’t get any letters, its because they didn’t send me any!”

“Twilight?” The frazzled alicorn looked over at Celestia who was smiling at her serenely, “What if they simply wanted to surprise you?”

Twilight opened and closed her mouth a few times before taking a deep breath and pinning her ears to her skull. “I hate surprises,” she muttered, which got a laugh from the rest.

“Ladies and gentle... sir!” Chef apparently had perfect timing, because just as there was a lull in the conversation, he stepped into the room with a flourish, followed by several domed plates, a few appetizers, and even a bottle of wine and two glasses. The items floated past him and settled down onto the table with a soft thunk. “Zhe food has arrived.”

Of course, they were all looking forward to the meal, but none more so than Nightlight, who perked up and sat a little straighter at the mention of food. “I for one can’t wait to taste your excellent cooking, Chef,” he said, ignoring the pointed look his wife gave him.

“And as promised, I also have a bottle of excellent cherry wine, and of course two glasses,” Chef said, setting them down and pouring each of them a glass with an experienced dexterity.

“Thank you for the service, Chef,” Velvet said, turning away from her husband to nod at the other stallion who returned a small smile.

“It is my pleasure. Sir. Madame. Zhe main course will consist of a light bisque, followed by an extra special Niçoise, and finally a hearty crème brûlée. But for now... Bon appétit.” And with that he lifted the domes, exposing the mouthwatering salads hidden therein.

The room became silent for a while after that as Nightlight and the two Twilights enjoyed their salads. Only Celestia didn’t have much of an appetite, looking down at her plate thoughtfully as if it held some secrets the rest weren’t privy to.

“Something wrong, Princess?” Velvet asked her after having enjoyed the majority of her own food.

Celestia smiled, although it was a bit of a sour smile. “Délicieux is a friendly host, but it seems he is a little... liberal... with his use of vinegar.”

“We can share mine!” Twilight had been eating at a slightly more sedate pace than her parents, yet it seemed like she hadn’t even started yet with the amount of green that was left. Her glass of wine was also curiously empty. Before any of the other ponies at the table could object, she magicked her plate over to Celestia’s side of the table before picking up her father and floating him and his plate over to her side.

Nonplussed would be the best way to describe Nightlight during the entire ordeal. He continued eating his meal as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening, though Velvet looked at her daughter disapprovingly. “How many times have I told you not to levitate anypony without asking, Twilight?”

Twilight smiled guiltily and replied: “Three thousand seven hundred and six... no, seven times now.”

Velvet’s disapproving look melted into a grim smile before the older mare shook her head. “Then perhaps it is time you started listening to me, young lady.”

“Yes, Mom. Sorry, Dad.” Despite her words, Twilight didn’t look the least bit repentant, shooting a sidelong smile at her marefriend.

Celestia smiled back, although she had a hard time not bursting out into laughter, glad she wasn’t the only one subject to Twilight’s magic. Furthermore, Twilight’s move had placed them at the same side of the table which, while not a big deal, put them closer together. It seemed silly, but she drew comfort from Twilight’s proximity and realised that Twilight probably felt the same way.


Despite the front she put up, Twilight was having a hard time keeping up with the conversation between her parents and Celestia. It took most if not all of her willpower to keep her mind from running away with the idea that her life would be over the moment they told her parents about the two of them.

How can she be so calm? Looking at Celestia from the corner of her eye, Twilight couldn’t find any trace of the fea—apprehension she had shown to be suffering from earlier. Celestia was all calm smiles, polite nods and subtle digs at either herself, or Twilight, most of which passed her by, busy as she was trying not to freak out.

Even less attention went to her salad. Though Celestia was taking little bites every now and again, Twilight had all but given up on trying. It has too many hot peppers anyway, she thought with a sour look at the offending meal.

“Is something wrong, Twily?”

She looked up at the curious face of her father and forced a smile. “No. Well... I mean...” she nodded toward the salad, the size of which had taken a significant hit since Celestia had gotten involved with it. “They put in too many hot peppers.”

Nightlight just smiled at her. “Mine had too much dressing as well, and it was delicious.” He put an emphasis on smacking his lips which earned him another glare from his wife, but also a giggle from his daughter, which seemed like a fair trade to him. “It seems like Chef is a little green himself, but everypony’s gotta start somewhere.”

Velvet dabbed away a few smears of salad dressing with a napkin. “You’d think that they would assign a more competent cook to tend to a party that has a princess in it.”

“Honey... they couldn’t know that Princess Celestia would be joining us...”

“I was talking about the other princess we have here at the table,” Velvet said with a nod to her daughter before turning to Celestia. “No offense to you, Princess.”

Celestia smiled. “None taken.”

“So,” Velvet sat up a little straighter on her sofa. “Now that we’ve arrived at the important part, what do we need to know about the changes in Twilight’s education?”

“Excuse me?”

“That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? To talk about Twilight’s duties and education now that she’s become a princess?”

Celestia picked up her wine glass and took a sip, buying herself some time to form a proper response. “Her duties, and possibly her tuition, will remain the same as they have been in recent years. For the most part, at least.”

“And why is that?”

“Contrary to popular belief, growing wings doesn’t automatically make one a great ruler. Nor does a horn, as was the case with Cadence,” Celestia said, chuckling softly to herself.

“Oh?” Velvet’s expression made her disbelief palpable. “I was under the impression that Cadence is doing a stellar job with the Crystal Empire?”

Celestia’s mirthful smile only became wider. “Yes, she is...”

“But?”

“Well...” Celestia paused to empty her glass and pour another one. “Let’s just say that when Cadence first became an alicorn, all her orders were for ice-cream and cookies. And she tried to banish anypony who put her to bed.”

Just the mental image was enough to make Nightlight laugh, and although Velvet succeeded in keeping her composure intact, the corners of her mouth twitched upwards a few times before she could force them back in line. “And you’re worried that Twilight might do the same thing?”

“Of course not. I am merely trying to say that, before I make Twilight do anything, she receives a few lessons in ‘princessing’ as it were... which will hopefully help her avoid making the same mistakes I have.”

“I’m right here, you know?” Twilight said, trying to decide whether she should be frowning at her mother or at Celestia. The entire conversation was taking place like she wasn’t even there, and she didn’t like it one bit.

“So... will you be teaching her about politics?” Velvet asked, completely ignoring her daughter. “Or will Luna, or even Cadence, help her with something like that?”

Celestia set down her empty glass for the second time and had the bottle floating in her magic before deciding that too much alcohol probably wasn’t a good idea. “I was actually thinking about lessons on poise and composure first. She’s a very mature mare for her age but she’s still more than a little prone to letting her feelings run away with her.”

Twilight was becoming increasingly agitated by the fact that they were talking about her like she wasn’t even there, and hearing that she apparently didn’t have enough self control did not sit well with her at all. “No, I’m not!”

“Just like that.” Celestia smiled and poked Twilight in the side with a wingtip before leaning in to give her a nuzzle as well. “My little firecracker.” She realised her mistake roughly two microseconds after Twilight’s cheeks turned bright red. “Ahem...” She sat up and looked at the two curious parents. “At any rate, shall we...”

Nightlight and Twilight Velvet’s expressions had changed ever so subtly. The suspicion was back, and Nightlight in particular was regarding them through narrowed eyes. “What was that about?” he asked.

“Forgive me...” Celestia said, thinking quickly. “It’s an in-joke between the two of us... There was an incident in which your daughter apparently got so angry with one of her friends that her magic made her appear to burst into flames.”

Twilight looked at her marefriend blankly for a second before what Celestia had said clicked in her head. “Oh... uh, yeah. I’d almost forgotten about that.”

Velvet nodded. The suspicion remained but she no longer seemed poised to jumping up and interrogating them. “I see...” Just then, Chef returned to take away the mostly empty plates and replace them with ones holding the bisque. “Perhaps we should talk about this later and focus on our meal right now,” she said with an especially pointed look at Celestia.

The two older mares seemed to come to an understanding in the space of about three seconds. One made entirely through a look with nary a word spoken until Celestia finally said; “Perhaps that is best.”


The rest of their stay in the restaurant passed in relative silence. Everypony focused on his or her own food, and the conversations that did take place were short and to the point.

It didn’t feel right to Twilight. On the one hoof she had been looking forward to telling her parents about her relationship with Celestia. But their reactions to a simple nuzzle only served to confirm all the fears her overactive mind came up with.

What if her parents didn’t want to see reason? What if they never wanted to see her again, or forbade her from going back to the castle? You’ve been living on your own for close to three years now... They can’t forbid anything, the impetuous part of her mind told her.

But what if they never want to see me anymore?

Then you’re going to have to make a choice...

Next to her, Celestia wasn’t doing much better. Though the mask of serenity held, under the surface she was busy with kicking herself for her colossal mistake, rather than worried about the immediate future. The thoughts were there, but they would have to await their turn. How did that not occur to me? She knew the answer of course, which was a very simple ‘you didn’t think about the consequences because you are in love’ but that just made it harder for her to swallow. Thinking of the consequences was how she kept the country together and she had potentially ruined breaking the news to Twilight’s parents because she had simply acted. She observed the two ponies on the other side of the table, both of whom were still trying their best to be friendly, but couldn’t pull it off without an undertone of tension and the circle of self-chastisement began again.

The bisque and the Niçoise had quickly vanished from the table without conversation to forestall eating, and by the time the crème brûlée had been consumed as well, all of them wanted to get out of the restaurant where the air would be less oppressive.

The only respite came from Chef who was still all smiles and flourishes. He tried to make a little idle conversation while floating away the last of their plates, but settled on a silent smile when he realised something had changed. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“No, thank you, Délicieux,” Celestia replied.

Velvet got up from her sofa. “We are already a little late for an important discussion.”

Chef nodded and pulled the curtains to the side, attaching them to the wall so that the separate room was open once again. “It was my pleasure to serve you and I hope you have a pleasant evening.” The four of them got up, bid Chef a good evening, and left the restaurant.

Velvet took charge the moment they stepped outside. “Let’s go somewhere we can talk a little more privately.”

Celestia indicated the castle with her horn and said. “I have a conference room wher—”

“No.” Velvet cut her off. “We are going to our house, and then I want to know exactly what this is all about.”

Twilight watched both Celestia and her mother draw themselves up to their full height, which only really served to illustrate how much smaller her mother really was. She’s smaller than I am now... she realised with a shock. The battle of wills between the two of them played out silently, and for a moment she was worried that her marefriend would simply decline and make an even bigger problem out of it in the process. Eventually, however, Celestia sighed and relented. “Very well, I just have to make sure that my guards know where I’ve gone.”

“They’ll figure it out by themselves,” Velvet snipped. “Come along now.”

Seeing her mother like that made it hard for Twilight to see any positive outcome to the conversation. I should never have insisted we tell them… With a heavy heart, she followed her parents.

If there was one thing that gave her a piece of mind, it was the wingtip brushing against her barrel, and Celestia’s reassuring smile when she looked up; but she also knew that Celestia was as scare—apprehensive as she was.

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