• Published 15th Sep 2014
  • 12,689 Views, 476 Comments

To Romance A Magician - Mooncalf

Twilight is in love, but the mare of her dreams doesn't share her enthusiasm. Will she succeed with some help from her friends?

  • ...

Chapter 1: A Princess In Love

The Great and Powerful Trixie stared at the letter on her table. It was, by all accounts, a regular letter. Regular paper, regular ink. It did not attempt to assault her, scream profanities, or sprout snakes made of inky shadow trying to kill her. It had not arrived in a burst of fire, been flown in on an owl, or been launched through her window tied to a rock or an arrow. It had actually been shoved under the door of her wagon, and she had found it a few minutes ago when she woke up.

It was the contents of the letter that bothered her so much.

Dear Great and Powerful Trixie,

It is of utmost importance that I see you as soon as possible to discuss an important subject. I've been told that you regularly eat lunch at the restaurant by the Manehattan Botanical Gardens. Please meet me there at noon.

Twilight Sparkle

Trixie wasn't certain what Twilight Sparkle, the new princess of Equestria, could want with her, but she wouldn't wager it to be anything good. Very little good had come between them. After her ignoble defeat in Ponyville, and being relieved of the Alicorn Amulet's influence, she had done some soul searching and conceded that she really had no reason to consider Sparkle her antagonist. Rather the contrary; Sparkle had saved her life from the Ursa, and her sanity from the amulet. So after she had given Sparkle and the Ponyville ponies a parting gift in the form of fireworks to remember the true Trixie by, she had left to start her life anew, and vowed to never darken Ponyville's doorsteps again.

Evidently Sparkle was unaware of this, and now she was coming here to get involved in Trixie's life again. Perhaps the third time was the charm, and nothing really bad would happen. Perhaps she'd even leave her disruptive friends behind. Trixie was enjoying having a decent living again, and didn't want it to end too soon like the last time.

Returning to Manehattan had been a good idea. Manehattanites in general tended to live in the present; for good or for bad, they cared little what you had done in the past, and only concerned themselves with what happened right now. In Trixie's case, this meant that most of them didn't care much what had happened to her two years ago halfway across the country, as long as she could put on a good show here and now. And the Great and Powerful Trixie certainly could.

And now a purple alicorn princess was coming to 'discuss an important subject'. No, certainly don't mention what the subject is. That's not suspicious at all. If it were good news, Sparkle would have said so. I'm giving you the award for being the best unicorn in Equestria. Oh, and compensation for the wagon we wrecked. And a formally written apology signed by everypony who ever insulted you. And a new hat. No, obviously not. It had to be bad news, the way she skirted the subject. Highly unlikely to involve hats in any way.

On the other hoof, avoiding Sparkle wasn't a good prospect either. The pony had a curious inclination to overcome obstacles. She was driven. Determined. Persistent. It was, admittedly, a trait that Trixie admired. All too many ponies just expected things to go their way, as though they could just sit back and open their mouths, and apples would fall in. Trixie had to work for everything good in her life (her subjugation of Ponyville not being counted as 'good' by any measure) and Twilight Sparkle, she believed, probably followed a similar credo. Unfortunately, that determination likely meant that Sparkle would just find Trixie somewhere else if she failed to present herself for the 'important subject'. If it was important enough to come all the way to Manehattan to discuss, it was important enough that Trixie's failing to show up wouldn't deter her.

Better to just hear her out and deal with whatever it was as it happened. How bad could it be?

Several weeks earlier...

Twilight Sparkle was, in many regards, a rational pony. Highly rational, actually. As far as she was concerned, all things could be scrutinized and understood by careful application of sensible, logical, scientific reasoning. (With the exception of Pinkie Pie, and she hadn't completely given up on that project. She had merely put it aside until she had gathered enough data to conduct another study.) Her mind was clear, scientific, and sensible.

So why, then, was it constantly occupied with thoughts of a certain pony?

Yes, constantly. At all times did she think of that pony. During her studies, she wondered what that pony would say about the subject matter. When she ate, she thought of eating in the company of that pony. And when she slept at night, and the dreams came… better not think about them.

It wasn't exactly fair to think of her as 'that pony', but she had found that her thoughts intensified even further when she thought of her as Trixie.

Like so.

Always on her mind. Her looks, her mannerisms. The way she rolled the 'r's when she spoke her own name, which she seemed to do so very often. Trrrixie. Her flashy magic, which to Twilight always seemed to have a curious touch of elegance that she herself had never quite managed to duplicate. As expected of a professional showmare who made a living with magic in a world where magic was commonplace. And those eyes…

It didn't make sense at all! Clearly, familiarity should be a factor. She thought of her friends very often, which made sense because she spent a lot of time with her friends, and they were important. Same with Celestia. They may have been equals now, but she would always look up to her old teacher. She was often on her mind. And her brother… in fact, it had worried her that he'd so completely slipped her mind after she moved to Ponyville. She must have been more occupied with her friendship studies than she had thought. Her BBBFF was one of the most important ponies in her world, and she often wondered how things were going up in the Crystal Empire these days.

But Trixie? They had met all of two times, both under fairly negative circumstances. They had never had a real conversation either, beyond Trixie's short yet heartfelt apology before running off again. They were not close. They were not well acquainted with each other. They were, for all intents and purposes, two strangers. Ships passing in the night. There were probably plenty of ponies that Twilight had only met once or twice, and they certainly didn't haunt her thoughts. So why was Trixie not following the rules? Out of spite? Out of sheer determination to disrupt Twilight's orderly life even without actually being there?

It was crazy. It was driving her crazy. What's more, it was getting in the way of her studies. How could she focus on Neighton's theorem of relativistic magic inference when she kept thinking about Trixie galloping through a meadow? Why was she thinking of Trixie galloping through a meadow, anyway?

She needed help. It didn't make sense. And when things made no sense, you consulted the pony who made no sense.

Sugarcube Corner was its usual festive location; either undergoing a party, recovering from a party, or being set up for a party. It was an ideal location for a party, and thus the homestead of Ponyville's premier party pony. How the Cakes were still sane was a riddle for the ages.

Twilight took a bite out of the cupcake that had been offered her – fresh from the oven and delicious as always – before gathering her thoughts. "Pinkie Pie, can I ask you a hypothetical question?"

"I don't know," Pinkie said from across the table. "Can you ask me a hypothetical question?"

"...That wasn't the hypothetical question," Twilight said at length.

"Oh! Sorry, I thought you were doing some smarty-smarty brainy thing," Pinkie said. She swallowed her own cupcake in one bite. "Go on, ask away."

"Okay…" Twilight said. "Say that there's this pony, and you keep thinking of them."

"I think about a lot of ponies," Pinkie said. "Should I just pick one? How about Roseluck, or Fluttershy? Maybe Big Macintosh, or that weird guy Derpy keeps hanging out with?"

"Hypothetical," Twilight clarified.

"Oh, right," Pinkie said. "So it's a question about a hypothetical pony, not a hypothetical question about a pony. Okay, got it."

"Right," Twilight said uncertainly. She hadn't wanted to say who the actual pony was, in the very unlikely case that Pinkie harbored some kind of grudge… or, more likely, told somepony who did. "And let's say that you think about this pony all the time. Literally all the time. Even when you shouldn't, or have no reason to."

"Like when you're working, or baking, or sleeping, or bathing, or dancing?" Pinkie inquired. "As in 'Oh my Celestia, I can't get this pony out of my mind'?"

"Exactly!" Twilight said. "What does it mean?"

Pinkie looked at her quizzically. "What do you mean, 'what does it mean'?"

"I mean, what does it mean when you can't get them out of your mind?" Twilight elaborated.

"Well… obviously it means you like them," Pinkie suggested.

"Like? I don't…" Twilight barely caught herself. "But what if there's no reason for you to like them?"

"Since when do you need a reason to like somepony?" Pinkie asked blithely. "If you think about somepony that much, clearly it's because you like them. Or maybe hate them. But you've never struck me as the kind of pony to hate anypony like that." She gave Twilight a concerned look. "You don't hate this pony, do you?"

"I…" Twilight considered. Sure, she could probably claim to have reason to hate Trixie for what she did the last time, but… that had been because of the amulet. Once it had come off and Trixie had managed to calm down… she remembered the festive fireworks, that earnest apology, and that pouty look. "No, I don't hate her… I mean, this pony. This hypothetical pony," she quickly amended. "I don't hate anypony!"

"There you have it then," Pinkie said proudly. "QED. If you don't hate this hypothetical pony, who I will now call Hypie because that sounds funny, then clearly you like her."

"But what if you barely know them?" Twilight continued. "Let's say you've only met them twice. Is that enough to establish whether or not you like somepony?"

"I've only met Princess Luna twice," Pinkie said. "I really like her, though, even if she was evil the first time and kinda weird the second time. Sometimes you like somepony because of who they are, not because they pass a checklist. No offense, Twilight."

"I… I see," Twilight said. She stood up. "Thanks, Pinkie. I need to get back to the library." She turned and walked out.

"Say hi to Hypie for me!" Pinkie shouted after her.

Like. Did she like Trixie? What was there to like about her?

Quite a lot, actually, Twilight realized. Gifted in magic, for one thing. Not comparable to Twilight's level – though very, very few ponies were – but from what little she'd seen, well above the standard level for most unicorns. She considered sending a letter to Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns and find out if Trixie had been their student.

And there was that undeniably stylish thing Trixie had going – the showiness that made her magic look a little more. More impressive, more interesting, more mysterious… more magic. Twilight had no idea how she did that. Her own magic was… detailed, exact, advanced, and probably as impressive-looking as a bowl of stewed carrots. Her little floating animal show had been nothing more than careful application of telekinesis, nice but hardly impressive. And with just a touch of fireworks, Trixie had completely wowed the crowd for her. Amazing. If anything, that was something Twilight would want to learn about. Magic magic.

What else? Trixie was clearly intelligent, to be able to come up with the right spells for the right moment, like she had done during her challenges. She was self-reliant, the way she lived on her own with nopony to help her. Determined and persistent. And confident, so very confident. She was willing to challenge anypony in a field of their own choosing, confident that whatever they did, she'd find some way to come out on top. Even if she had to play dirty and underhooved. And she had stood up to the Ursa Minor.

That was a thought that kept returning to her fore. When the Ursa rampaged, Trixie had fought back. She had known that she couldn't beat it, and she'd had every opportunity to just turn tail and flee, and yet she had made her stand. Was her reputation so important that she'd risk her life rather than be branded a coward? Or was Trixie, deep down, just naturally valiant? When the chips were down, was she the pony who fought and not ran?

And she was attractive. Twilight realized with some mild shame that she had made a lot of observations regarding that matter. Trixie had a good set of curves, to be sure, and she stayed in good shape; probably from all that traveling, and… whatever she had done on a rock farm. (Twilight definitely had to ask Pinkie about that.) She was beautiful and she knew it. Like Rarity, Trixie obviously knew how to bring out the best in her appearance. That silky smooth mane, that naturally 'no-effort' beautiful face that Rarity had confided took considerable actual effort to maintain, and those eyes… those pools of darkness, with a shore of grayish lavender…

It was curious, really. Twilight knew that Rarity was beautiful, and could consider its aspects perfectly rationally without any emotional interference. But when she thought about the same aspects in regards to Trixie, she got this burning, yet pleasant, sensation inside of her. Thinking about Trixie… Trixie walking, Trixie tossing her mane playfully, Trixie throwing her hooves in the air proudly as fireworks erupted behind her… it made quite a few certain parts of her wake up.

Twilight was educated in biology, and knew how a pony's body worked, and why. She knew that certain… reactions were natural and expected given the appropriate stimuli. Heightened heart rate, blushing, hormonal release, such things. She had believed that her heightened intellectual level allowed her better self-control, which is why she was able to restrain herself among stallions. Yet when Trixie was involved…

Twilight believed in the scientific method. There was no questioning the data. Not when it all pointed to the same undeniable conclusion.

Twilight liked Trixie.

In a way, it was a relief. Once she had accepted this fact, everything else fell into place. She thought about Trixie because she liked her. Because doing so was enjoyable. Because it made sense, finally.

The downside was that her thoughts grew more intense with this realization. There was a definite increase in cold showers, and her dreams became far more adventurous. She had never before been so glad that Luna stayed out of her dreamscape ever since her coronation; it had seemed like a needless gesture from the Lunar Diarch at the time, a show of accepting their equal status and nothing more, but right now she did not need Luna inquiring about her nightly adventures and escapades.

(She wondered if this was how Spike felt all the time around Rarity. If so, she didn't know how he managed to keep himself together for this long.)

What's more, she really started to enjoy it. And that worried her. Was it really healthy to focus this much on one pony? A pony you only liked? Or… was it more?

Time to get an outside perspective again.

"Rarity, what is love?" Twilight asked.

Rarity nearly fell off her stool. The mare had been inspecting one of the higher shelves in the boutique when Twilight ran in, and was taken by surprise as it were. "That is a very good question, dear," Rarity said once she had regained her equilibrium. "Love is a battlefield, love is a fire in your heart, love is a many-splendored thing. I don't really know what you're getting at here." She paused. "Wouldn't your sister-in-law be a better pony to ask about this, anyway?"

"I don't want to go all the way to the Crystal Empire just to ask a question when you live closer," Twilight said. Also, Cadence would ask uncomfortable questions. Getting the Princess of Love interested was a big no-no… to say nothing of the dangers of her brother finding out. "Besides, I don't want a deep analysis. I'm just curious about a few things and want to hear your opinion. For instance, what's the difference between liking and loving somepony?"

"Oh dear, there's a world of difference," Rarity said. Her eyes glittered. "You like your friends, you're comfortable with them, they're always there for you. It is a happy, reassuring feeling. But when you love somepony… oh!" She flung her hooves in the air and fell back on a couch that might not have been there a minute ago. "It consumes you, drives you mad! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll despair. It's like a fire in your heart that cannot be tamed, and yet you cannot – will not – let it go out, or you will feel as though you could die." Rarity suddenly sat up and locked her gaze on Twilight, a knowing grin on her face. "Oh my! Don't tell me you've fallen in love, Twilight! Who's the lucky stallion?"

"Ah… what?" Twilight said nervously. "No, no, this is just hypothetical. There's no actual stallion involved." She wasn't lying about that part, at the very least.

"Well, if you say so," Rarity said, sounding a little disappointed. "So why the interest? Considering branching out into studying the magic of love?"

"Um, maybe?" Twilight ventured. That did sound a little intriguing, actually. It was a similar field, after all. She filed away a mental note on the subject for later. "Say, Rarity? Do you remember Prince Blueblood?"

Rarity nearly fell off her couch, and her face looked as though she had just bitten into a lemon. "Ugh. Yes, I do. What does he have to do with anything?"

"Well, before you actually met him… and found out what he was really like… you really seemed to love him, didn't you?" Twilight asked.

"I was young and foalish," Rarity said defensively. She pointedly looked away and started fiddling with some fabrics.

Twilight giggled despite herself. "I'm not here to judge you, Rarity. I just want to know… you didn't really know anything about him, besides the fact that he was rich and handsome. Why did you fall in love with him when that was all you had to go on?"

"I suppose I must have looked shallow when that was all I seemed to care about," Rarity said, sounding a little disappointed. She held up two bolts of cloth against the light, then tossed one back on the shelf before draping the other across a ponyquine. "I guess I just expected all the other desirable qualities to be present as well. Kindness, chivalry, grace. Such a disappointment." She looked thoughtful. "I wasn't in love with Prince Blueblood. I was in love with the idea of him."

"So… even if you think you love somepony, you might set yourself up for disappointment when they turn out to be completely different from what you expected," Twilight summarized.

"Well, yes," Rarity said. She floated the fabric over to the table and started drawing lines for cutting. "Still, I don't regret meeting him, actually."

"You don't?" Twilight asked, surprised. From what she remembered of the Gala, Rarity had certainly sounded like she regretted ever coming there.

"At least that way I knew what he was really like," Rarity explained. "And thus I was able to move on with my life, instead of pining for him and wondering what could have happened. And besides, he could have been nice, and I never would have found out about that if I didn't take the chance. Sometimes you have to stop thinking about it and just give it a try."

"Even if there's a risk that they turn out to be bad, it's worth trying just to see?" Twilight ventured.

"Absolutely," Rarity said. "I'm certain you've covered the friendship version already. I seem to recall an awkward unicorn wandering into Ponyville one day, and I and four other ponies took a chance on her. That turned out pretty well."

Twilight chuckled a little. "I really was awkward back then, wasn't I?"

"Oh, you still are, dear. It's part of your charm," Rarity said with a smile. "Anyway, if you think you have a shot with this pony, go for it."

"It's just a hypothetical scenario," Twilight said quickly. "I'm not in love with any stallion!"

"Hmm…" Rarity said thoughtfully. "You don't say."

Go for it. That's what Rarity said. That Twilight should go for it. Take the chance and see how it turned out.

She didn't know Trixie very well, that much was true. But she wanted to believe that Trixie was nice. Trixie was an entertainer, after all; her entire world revolved around entertaining other ponies. Surely with her skills and determination she could have found a better occupation if money was all she wanted. How much money did you make in that business, anyway? Yes, she may have had a big ego, but ultimately she was little different from Rarity who wanted to bring the world beauty, or Pinkie Pie who wanted to bring the world laughter. Nopony who wanted to add a little wonder to the world could be very bad, could they?

Trixie was smart, witty and gifted. At least Twilight thought so, and the reports from CSGU confirmed that Trixie was indeed a graduate, with fairly impressive grades. She wanted to explore that. What did Trixie think about the magic she practiced? What would she think about esoteric concepts such as the magic of friendship, or the Tree of Harmony? And could she maybe teach Twilight her own secrets, her stage presence, flair and grace? There was so much for them to explore. Together.

And Trixie was beautiful. Twilight was no longer ashamed to admit – to herself at least – that she yearned for the showmare in a very physical way. She had never really felt urges this strong for anypony else, stallion or mare; certainly there had been some physical twinges around some classically attractive specimen, but they had been easy to deal with. Twilight's desire for Trixie was not nearly as manageable. She wanted to hold the beautiful pony in her hooves, kiss her, feel her warmth. She wanted to do a whole lot of things with Trixie, and had even resorted to reading up on the subject in those romance novels Rarity and Fluttershy liked to check out. (As it turned out, there was a reason they were supposed to be shelved high where kids can't reach them.) She wanted Trixie so very much.

Go for it. Take the chance. Find out for sure.

The first obstacle, locating the blue pony in question, had seemed extremely difficult before she had a stroke of luck. The library stocked newspapers from every large city in Equestria, because quite a few locals – including Rarity, the Mayor, and for some reason Derpy – enjoyed keeping tabs on what happened outside of Ponyville. Twilight had been considering digging up or developing some kind of locating spell to search Equestria with, when her eye just happened to land on an article in an issue of the Manehattan Gazette. An article regarding the city nightlife, mentioning a certain show magician making a name for herself in the Big Orange. (A good thing too, as later calculations estimated that magically combing Equestria for one specific pony would take roughly seven centuries. That wasn't an acceptable timeframe.)

The second obstacle was a little tricky, but not insurmountable. Twilight hated herself for it, but she would have to sneak past her friends. She just couldn't hope that they wouldn't disagree with her choice and try to interfere. It was the same reason she had been so circumspect during her prior inquiries with her friends. How do you tell your closest friends that you're off to Manehattan to romance the pony who took over your town and tormented them? Even if the amulet had been to blame, there were still the risk that some ill feelings lingered. Spike in particular had never seemed to like Trixie. He was practically Twilight's little brother – how would he feel about this? But she couldn't adjust her love life around his preferences. It hurt a little, but she'd just have to figure out how to deal with him later.

So she had forged an invitation to observe an awards ceremony at the Manehattan Museum of Supernatural History – a dusty, boring affair with lots of long-winded speeches – and wouldn't you know, it happened just on the day Rarity and Spike had scheduled a gem-hunting trip (also known as Spike Gets To Impress Rarity day). Obviously Spike didn't need to come along if he had a prior engagement; it was important to keep your promises and his presence wasn't really required anyway and she'd be sure to bring back some souvenirs. Thus she ensured that Spike – and her friends – would be out of the picture.

Now she only had to board the train and go to Manehattan, before facing the third and most difficult obstacle: confessing her feelings to Trixie.

A few days later...

For Trixie, the morning rolled by with no complications of note. She ate breakfast, did her morning ablutions, and practiced a few new routines. Nothing strange, weird or dangerous happened, just as it should. As noon approached, she put her props back in place, locked her wagon, and headed towards the Botanical Garden for lunch with royalty.

And there she was. The newest addition to Equestria's ever-growing royal corps, the Princess of Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle. Sitting at her outdoors table and fidgeting nervously. It didn't look good. Perhaps retreating wouldn't be such a bad idea after all…

Aaand eye contact. She knew that Trixie was here now, so that cut that option out of the plan. And she was flapping her new wings. Which meant that she was either excited about something, or trying to show them off. The latter felt inappropriate for the rather humble pony, royal elevation notwithstanding, so Trixie assumed the first. But surely seeing Trixie again wasn't that exciting?

For a moment Trixie toyed with the idea of taking a different table, just to see what Sparkle would do, but dismissed it. That would just be petty and pointless. Instead she trotted over to the intended table and sat down. "Hello, Sparkle," she said. A waiter placed a bowl of cress salad and a hay shake before her, and a sandwich in front of Twilight. "What's this?"

"Um, I took the liberty of ordering for you," Twilight said. She sounded nervous, and kept fidgeting. "I was here yesterday and saw you leave and the staff said you came here often and this was your favorite, they said. Um. Hi."

"Hmm. Yes, that is correct." Trixie took a nibble of the salad, which was indeed her favorite. She really liked this place; the food was good, the prices were within her budget, and the view of the gardens was always relaxing on hectic days. She wondered if there was some reason that Sparkle had picked her favorite restaurant for the meeting, or if she simply enjoyed the ambience as well. She started eating in earnest.

"So! I hear your show is going really well," Twilight said with curious suddenness. "I actually attended last night, although I was in disguise. Um, not because I was spying on you, I was just worried that I might have startled you if you saw me and that might have thrown off your performance and that would, um, it would probably have upset you. I love your fireworks!"

"...Thank you," Trixie said, a little uncertain of Twilight's behavior. She wasn't certain how comfortable she was with the fact that Twilight had been, essentially, stalking her. "Trixie is putting all her heart in her show, you know. As long as ponies are willing to give her a chance, they will be amazed and entertained. That is Trixie's promise."

"You've stopped humiliating others on stage, then?" Twilight asked.

"As long as they keep off the stage and don't interrupt," Trixie retorted, scowling. "Trixie can hardly be faulted for wanting to defend her show from loudmouthed jerks who want to ruin everything!"

Twilight wilted visibly. "I'm sorry…"

"No, I…" Trixie sighed deeply. "I shouldn't have gone off like that, Sparkle. Sorry, it's just a sore topic."

"I know," Twilight said. She poked idly at her sandwich. "I shouldn't have brought it up in the first place."

An uncomfortable silence descended.

"Congratulations on your… promotion?" Trixie said at length. "The wings look good on you."

"Thank you!" Twilight said gratefully, either for the compliment or for the change in topic. She flexed her wings a little. "I'm not a very good flier yet, though. They didn't come with years of flying experience, after all."

"You'll get the hang of it," Trixie said confidently. "You're nothing if not persistent."

Twilight actually blushed at the remark. "Thank you, Trixie… you know, I was a bit worried that you'd be envious."

"Envious?" Trixie took a sip from her shake. "A year ago, maybe. But today? Trixie is trying to move on with her life. Be the bigger pony. Forgive and forget. And so on and so forth. Besides, you've earned it all."

Twilight blushed even deeper, if it were possible. "I… I don't know what to say… thank you… you're… that's so nice of you to say…"

Oookay. This was getting strange. "Maybe we should dispense with the small talk, Sparkle. Why are you here?"

"Um…" Twilight began nervously. "What do you mean?"

"Your letter mentioned an 'important subject'," Trixie said. She narrowed her gaze. "Much as Trixie is delighted that you're enjoying her renewed act, she can't see how that is important enough for you to come all the way over here to discuss. So why did you want to see Trixie in the first place?"

"Um, well…" Twilight stammered. "That is, I…"

"I'm in trouble, aren't I?" Trixie said with dread.

"...What?" Twilight asked, surprised.

"It's something I did in Ponyville. I figured since I hadn't heard anything in months, I had gotten off clean, but…" Trixie facehoofed. "It's what I did to Snips and Snails, isn't it? I know it was mean and cruel, and I'm really, really sorry, but I was just so angry then…"

"No!" Twilight protested. "No, no, no!"

"What is it, then? Stealing the pink one's mouth? Locking the mayor in a bird cage? Making the bakers bake a throne out of cake?" Trixie stopped and looked confused. "Why did I even want a throne made of cake? That's ridiculous! You'd get icing all over your—"

"Trixie!" Twilight yelled, snapping Trixie out of her musings. "It's not about anything you've done! Look, I specifically asked Celestia to have you pardoned because… well, because I thought you had suffered enough and punishing you further would just hurt you, and… I don't want to see you hurt."

"Huh?" Trixie said.

"And I talked to everypony in town!" Twilight hastily continued. "I told them about the amulet, and most of them agreed to forgive you. Not everypony, you know, but most of them. My friends included. Snips and Snails even said they hoped you'd come back to put on another show."

"I… really?" Trixie couldn't quite grasp it. They had just forgiven her? Even those two? After everything? Sparkle must have been really persuasive. "Well then, Trixie is grateful and owes you her thanks. But if Trixie's past mistakes are not the reason you're here, then what is?"

"Ah," Twilight said, again looking stumped. Her previous digression had given her a reprieve, but now she was back on the spot. But what could be so horrible it made this determined and capable pony clam up like this? "Um, you see…"

"Yes?" Trixie inquired.

"I had this whole thing prepared earlier, but…" Twilight mumbled. "I, I…"

"Yeeees?" Trixie prodded.

"I… you…" Twilight mumbled. She started gibbering under her breath.

Trixie sighed. This was going nowhere, and she was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with Twilight's behavior. And she had finished off her lunch anyway. "Forget it. If you can't say it, it doesn't matter. It was nice meeting you, but Trixie has things to do." She stood up and turned to leave.

"Wait!" Twilight shouted after her. "I love you!"

The entire restaurant ground to a halt. Had it been a movie, the sound of a record needle scratch would not have been out of place. The other guests turned to stare at them.

Trixie very slowly turned around. "What. Did you just say?"

"I, I love you," Twilight stammered.

Trixie sat back down. "Really." She cast a glare at the other guests, who suddenly found their own meals very interesting all of a sudden, before turning her attention back to the pony before her. "Are you suggesting that you, a royal princess of Equestria, are in love with me, the pony who only months ago tyrannized your hometown and forced you to live in a forest?"

"Yes," Twilight said weakly.

"You're crazy," Trixie said flatly. "This is crazy."

"I know!" Twilight cried, standing up with her hooves on the table and invading Trixie's personal space. "I hardly even know you! But I just can't get you out of my mind!"

Trixie reeled back. "Sparkle! Keep it down!" She glared at a few guests who had taken an interest again. "What are you looking at?"

"Trixie, I… I want you," Twilight said passionately. "I need you."

"You don't mean that," Trixie said tersely.

"I definitely do," Twilight said. "I love you."

"You…" Trixie mumbled. She shook her head. "No, no, no…"

"Trixie, please…" Twilight began.

"No!" Trixie cried. She stood up and glared at Twilight. "What, did you expect Trixie to just leap into your hooves with joy and love? Just like that? Trixie finds your lackluster courtship disappointing!" She felt a brief sting at her choice of words, but fought it down. "I, I'm sorry! This is just too sudden!" And with those words and a burst of smoke, Trixie was gone.

For a moment, Twilight could only stare in incomprehension at the empty air where the love of her life had just stood. Where loveliness and a promise of happiness had been, before fleeing from her once again.

Then her tears fell. They would not end for a while.