• Published 13th Feb 2015
  • 934 Views, 37 Comments

Too Much Love Will Kill You - A Hoof-ful of Dust

How much do you trust what you can see? What you can touch? What you experience? How sure can you be that all you have lived through, all you have loved, is not a dream that will fade at daybreak? Twilight must end the spell.

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When Twilight was learning magic from Princess Celestia, there had been one spell she became especially fascinated with: the Replication Spell. She had demonstrated it outside in the gardens on a frog sitting on a lilypad, completely unaware of what was about to happen to it, and young Twilight watched in awe as a second frog peeled itself away from the first, both staring at each other as they wondered how another frog just like themselves had suddenly ended up in front of them. She had then been full of questions, like does the copy behave the same as the original, how does the spell circumvent the Law of Matter and Energy Conservation, what would happen if the spell was cast on something with its own magic, and dozens more she could no longer remember, and Princess Celestia had laughed and done her best to answer the barrage in the brief time the spell lasted, and when it ended Twilight had again fell silent to watch the two frogs merge and join and become one again like the meshing of teeth when run through a zipper. She had practiced the Replication Spell over and over in her room on her own, not with frogs but with an empty notebook (living things, she discovered very quickly, took a lot of concentration and focus to Replicate for even the briefest window of time), each time marveling at the division and the reintegration. It was the half-second that existed between the moment when there was one thing and when there were two, that hazy flash where both and neither numbers were true at the same time. It was, more than any other magic she had wielded on her own up to that point in her life, the clearest sign of the impossible made possible.

Right now it felt like she had been split by the Replication Spell; not her body, but her mind, branching as neatly as train tracks at a junction. Her memory told her a story about her and Fluttershy, that ended with watching her fly away a moment before. But it also told her another story, about her and Pinkie.

And Twilight had no idea which one was true. Both. Neither.

She darted around the castle, her magic whisking her from room to room in a flash of light and sparks. There had to be some proof, something, somewhere, that showed her which one was right.

In the days leading up to last Hearth's Warming Eve, Pinkie had grown increasingly secretive and agitated whenever Twilight was around; Twilight guessed it had something to do with Pinkie getting her a gift, despite her insistence otherwise (Pinkie was a terrible liar), and so she didn't pry further, not even at the train station as she was leaving for Canterlot and her childhood home when Pinkie shoved a wrapped box into her hooves and made sure, several times, that Twilight wouldn't open it until actual proper Hearth's Warming Eve, and that she would make sure to look at everything inside. At first, Twilight thought she was missing a joke when she opened the box to find a polished stone in roughly the same color and shape as her cutie mark, but then she saw the writing on what she had taken to be rather plain filler inside the box, and realized Pinkie had included an epic-length letter with her present. When she read it though, it told of the arduous journey Pinkie had gone through to find the exact right present for Twilight, the details of which would be a whole separate story unto itself; the point it finally made, after Twilight had read through the letter hearing every word in Pinkie's voice and giggling occasionally to herself, was that Pinkie had been unable to find the right thing to get Twilight because she had realized just recently that her feelings had changed to her, that she didn't just like her but like liked her, and Twilight had examined the stone paperweight and regarded the lengthy letter with a warm feeling spreading through her chest, and when she came back to Ponyville Pinkie had been waiting for her at the station to ask if she had liked her present, and Twilight had hugged her in the snow and said, yes, she had.

There was the paperweight on her desk. She could remember finding it in the wreckage of Golden Oaks, blackened on one side with ash that came off with the rub of a cloth, and how her heart had skipped a beat when she saw it peeking out from under the remains of the front door. But there was also a picture on her desk, a picture of her and her family and Fluttershy, posing in front of the grandfather clock. That had been at Hearth's Warming, too. She hadn't even asked her mother to send her a replacement copy for the one that had burned, she had just known, and it had arrived one day in the post.

In the cupboards of the kitchen she found Pinkie's other set of mixing bowls and spoons and beaters and baking paraphernalia, her main stock still at Sugar Cube Corner. It was the one thing she was fastidious and meticulous about, cleaning everything and putting it all away in the exact right place, the method of which never really made total sense to Twilight. It was chaos when Pinkie cooked, even something as simple as a stack of pancakes, but she reset the kitchen to its original configuration every time she was done. Yet in the fruit bowl was half a grapefruit, Fluttershy having eaten the other half this morning. Grapefruit was one of the few things she and Spike agreed on in terms of food: they both hated it. Twilight had tried, when she and Fluttershy had started seeing each other, to give the sour fruit a second chance, but Spike had mocked her so relentlessly that even Fluttershy started getting in on the joke, asking Twilight every so often how she was enjoying her grapefruits, until she finally had cracked and admitted she couldn't stand them and couldn't see how Fluttershy could either, and Fluttershy had just smiled, having known that all along, and told Twilight she had been a little silly for trying to do something that so obviously wasn't her. Fluttershy would still sometimes mention how great grapefruit was, and Twilight would make a pained face. It was one of their things.

In the supplementary library, books on animal husbandry sat next to how-to guides on ventriloquism and compendiums of practical jokes. On the observatory deck, Fluttershy's scarf hung over Twilight's telescope while Pinkie's accordion sat by the stairs (she was always leaving that in the strangest of places). On the other side of the bed, an empty plate with a few crumbs of chocolate cake remaining sat on top of a dog-eared historical romance.

Twilight stared at the plate and the book, her head feeling far, far away. Like it was floating underwater, or drifting out among the stars. She knew she had lent the novel to Fluttershy, her own personal copy from her parents' house that she had lost count of the number of times she had read through it. The younger her had appreciated the history more than the romance (though there was equal amounts of both), but now she could see the love story between the two protagonists as something more than the b-plot. She had mentioned the book to Fluttershy during Hearth's Warming when she had seen it sitting in the bookshelf in her old bedroom, and Fluttershy had still wanted to read it even after Twilight's detailed summary. Twilight remembered Fluttershy tucking a bookmark between the pages and turning out the light as she watched from her desk below. But she also remembered Pinkie sitting up in bed and asking her if she wanted any cake (through a mouthful of cake); Twilight had laughed and said no and wondered if there were any other ponies in all of Equestria that could wolf down something that heavy with chocolate and fall asleep moments later and concluded no, Pinkie was one-of-a-kind.

And the plate and the book were touching. That was a violation of causality in some way that all the other pieces of parallel evidence was not. One sat upon the other. One was, and the other was, at the same time, in a way that couldn't be possible. Couldn't be possible. Couldn't be...

Twilight had time to realize her vision was fading before everything before her eyes went black.