• Published 2nd Oct 2014
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Charisma Cupcakes Chapter one (first draft and second draft)

Author's Note:

This entry and the previous entries cover an AU that I planned to do, but never got off the ground. See this blog post for the fine details. The short version: The Astronomy ‘Verse or Astronomy Remix ‘Verse was originally inspired by the show’s production sketches (mostly Twilight’s, but also Pinkie Pie’s and Fluttershy’s).

In this AU, Rarity is a magic chef (ala Chowder). Like any good businessmare, Rarity often offers free samples to customers. During their first meeting, Rarity offered Twilight some Charisma Cupcakes: a food spell that makes the wearer, well, more charismatic. Despite her own concerns, Twilight eventually decides to take her up on the offer. After a day of feeling pleasantly and atypically socially un-conscious, Twilight eats more of the cupcakes, despite Rarity's note not to take more than one every two days. Hilarity Ensues. Dash and Rarity must then trick Twilight into taking the antidote before the magic goes straight to her thighs becomes irreversible.

Rarity scribbled another sentence on her notepad. The dish smelled nice enough. She opened the oven, and the smell of garlic and mushrooms hit her along with the wave of heat.

The mushrooms had browned nicely, but the gems still hadn’t ejected all their magic. Rarity closed the oven and wrote another note. Perhaps mushrooms absorbed magic slower.

Her ear flicked. “Sweetie Belle!” She looked up. Her sister was two steps into the kitchen, frozen in place. “I’ve told you three times now not to disturb me when I’m designing new spells. This is a delicate process.” Rarity crouched down. The mushrooms were dangerously crispy, but the gems still hadn’t emptied.

“But I want to help!” Sweetie said.

“You are helping by watching the front desk.”

“But nopony’s here!” Sweetie waggled a hoof at the front door.

“Then why don’t you go and play with your friends?” Another scribble. “Weren’t you trying to get your cutie marks or somesuch?”

“Yeah, but we already tried everything we could think of. I thought maybe if I helped in here, then—”

“Oh, Sweetie, don’t be silly.” Rarity’s horn ignited and the oven door clanked open. The baking sheet floated out of it. There was nothing for it, any longer and it would be inedible. “This requires precision and experience. One cannot simply do it. Magic food is dangerous if prepared improperly.” She prodded the bruschetta a little. Her pencil floated back towards the notepad. Perhaps less heat and a longer cooking time, give the gems enough time to marinade properly.

“But—”

“Now, if you aren’t going to attend to the front desk, please stay out of the kitchen.” Rarity plucked the gems off the baking sheet and placed them in a glass jar. They clinked against the other gems as they landed. “This mathshroom bruschetta is giving me more trouble than I thought, and I can’t afford any distractions.”

“But—”

There was a jingle from the other room.

“Ah, speaking of customers.” Rarity turned to the door, her apron untying as she began walking. “Don’t worry, Sweetie, I’ll handle this one. Run along and play with your friends. And don’t touch anything in here.”

Rarity pushed through the kitchen door, her magic tugging at her ponytail. “Welcome to Carousel Catering and Spellcraft, how can I—” She let go of her hair. “Oh, Twilight! I didn’t expect to see you out of the observatory today. Did you need something?”

“Uhm, well.” Twilight glanced at a picture on the wall. It looked like a very abstract blotch of purple. “I was wondering if your offer for those cupcakes was still, uhm, valid.”

“Oho! Finally realized that some self-improvement would do you some good. Of course it’s still valid! Charisma cupcakes are one of my most popular spells! Just let me grab my notepad and take down some of your details. Body weight, age, simple things like that.”

Rarity poked her head into the kitchen. “Sweetie, darling, can you bring me my...” The kitchen was empty. “Hmm, I suppose she went to play with her friends after all.” The notepad on the counter and the pencil next to it glowed blue and floated over. “Just as well, she spends far too much time here on occasion.”


Twilight stared at the tray of cupcakes. They had been sitting on her kitchen table for hours now. She had spent hours working up the nerve to ask Rarity to make them. In the time it took for them to bake and marinade in magic, maybe Twilight had lost her nerve.

She had tried to focus on her work. Even with the mystery of the broken constellation solved, she had plenty of other things to do around the observatory. Yet the thought of them had not left her mind.

Twilight picked up Rarity’s note. She had to strain slightly to read the curly cursive. All the astronomers she knew had positively dreadful quillwork, and she had adjusted to typed papers long ago.

Eat one before going to bed. Do not brush teeth. Do not eat more than one every two days.

Enjoy! Rarity.

Twilight put the note down. It felt so silly. Using magic to boost her charisma. She glanced at her desk. The tickets that the Royal Sisters had sent her were still in there. One for each of the ponies that had helped with the Nightmare Star debacle. They hadn’t moved from their envelope since she had stuck them in that drawer.

She turned back to the cupcakes. There were seven total. Why had Rarity given her so many? She only needed one, just enough to hand out the tickets and forget about it. Maybe another one when they actually went to the Winter Moon Celebration.

Twilight shook her head. The princesses hadn’t ordered her to hand out those tickets, but they would be disappointed if she didn’t. Twilight grabbed one of the cupcakes in her magic aura and shoved it into her mouth, before she could change her mind again.

She glanced at the clock. Zero zero fifteen. A little earlier than she usually went to bed, but there was nothing for it. All the procrastination had tired her out, anyway.

She rolled her tongue across her mouth. She could feel crumbs and frosting stuck to her teeth. The temptation to brush her teeth jabbed at her brain, but rules were rules.


Twilight’s eyes popped open. She let out a prolonged yawn, then slowly turned to glance at her clock. The daylight poking into her eyes certainly matched the clock.

Twilight dragged herself out of bed. The lack of a proper tooth brushing from last night jumped to the front of her brain, and she headed straight for the bathroom.

Normally she was not the type to look at herself in the mirror, unless it was necessary for something. Today the urge struck her, so she sauntered into the bathroom.

She grabbed her toothbrush and ran her tongue across her mouth. Her teeth felt smooth, but that was probably a trick of fatigue. She turned to the mirror.

She looked amazing. Even though she had just gotten out of bed, her mane looked perfectly normal. Her usual straight manecut didn’t look any different, but light bounced off it in a subtle, pleasant way. Her coat looked glossier, her fetlocks looked smoother. She opened her mouth and ran her tongue across her teeth. They felt and looked perfectly shiny and clean.

She instinctively glanced toward the kitchen. The wall blocked her view, but the cupcakes must still be on the table.

She ran a hoof through her mane. No knots, no grease, no tangles. It felt silky and clean.

She had planned to finish some chores today. Normally she stayed away from town on weekdays, the crowds impeded her errands. But perhaps some grocery shopping would test the effects. A little inquiry on the mechanics of it wouldn’t hurt. She grabbed her bag and set out.

As soon as she stepped out of the observatory, she could feel eyes on her. She saw the mailmare out of the corner of her eye, and a stallion pulling a cart near the end of the road. Normally the idea of ponies looking at her would trigger a dozen different worries and fantasies. Maybe she had gotten something stuck to her tail, or her bag hadn’t been washed, or ponies were taking note of a stranger they never saw.

Those feelings almost happened. Twilight felt them poke at her, but they vanished immediately. It felt like a burp that didn’t happen, the echo of something that wanted to be heard and then changed its mind. As the feeling died away, Twilight felt happy. She smiled, and she imagined that those ponies noticed.

The observatory had been built fairly far out of town, so ponies would only get denser the closer she got to the market. The prospect of more attention actually calmed her. It felt like something to look forward to.


Ponies clogged the market. It felt like wading into a swimming pool rather than walking along a road.

Twilight sauntered over to the fruit stand. Those same feelings of threatening worry poked at the back of her mind again, but they barely registered.

“Afternoon, Twilight,” Cherry Picker said. “Did you do something with your mane? It looks nice.”

“Thank you.” Normally a compliment would take her a while to respond to. The last time Celestia had complimented one of her papers, it had taken her a full ten seconds of stammering to start a sentence after. It felt like somepony had chosen the words for her and stuck them in her mouth. It felt nice.

The entire day felt the same. Every little action felt like it made ponies notice her. Every time she felt ponies notice her it made her happy. And every time she said something or responded to someone, the words came out so quickly and easily.

Finally, she returned to her home. The observatory felt oddly empty. Normally she liked it that way, but right now it felt oddly draining.

She strolled into the kitchen, and her eyes latched onto the cupcakes. The note still sat near them, but Twilight pushed it away. The day had been a pleasant blur, like a she had walked through a park on a sunny day. Maybe she had done that. Trees and ponies glancing at her were definitely in there somewhere.

Twilight picked up one of the cupcakes and ate it. It tasted fine, same as before. She grabbed another in her magic, contemplated it for a second. Rarity hadn’t mentioned any consequences about eating too many of them, and Twilight hadn’t worried about the other one. She smiled and put it in her mouth. If one felt good, then two would be even better. After all, rules were made to be broken.


SECOND DRAFT STARTS HERE


Twilight stared at the tray of cupcakes. They had been sitting on her kitchen table for hours now, silently taunting her. She had spent hours working up the nerve to ask Rarity to make them. In the time it took for them to bake and marinade in magic, maybe she had lost her nerve.

She had tried to focus on her work. Even with the mystery of the broken constellation solved, she had plenty of other things to do around the observatory. Yet the cupcakes, and the inadequacy they represented, had sat at the back of her thoughts the entire time.

Twilight picked up Rarity’s note. She had to strain slightly to read the curly cursive. All the astronomers she knew had positively dreadful quillwork, and she had adjusted to typed papers long ago.

Eat one before going to bed. Do not brush teeth. Do not eat more than one every two days.

Enjoy!
Rarity.

Twilight put the note down.

It felt so silly. Using magic to boost her charisma. She glanced at her desk. The tickets that the Royal Sisters had sent her were still in there. One for each of the ponies that she had dragged with her into the Everfree. “Half-apology and half-thank-you,” Princess Luna’s note had said. They hadn’t moved from their envelope since Twilight had stuck them in that drawer.

She turned back to the cupcakes. There were seven total. Why had Rarity given her so many? She only needed one, just enough to hand out the tickets and forget about it.

Unless she did need more.

Twilight shook her head. The princesses hadn’t ordered her to hand out those tickets, but they would be disappointed if she didn’t. Twilight grabbed one of the cupcakes in her magic aura and shoved it into her mouth, before she could change her mind again.
It tasted like a cupcake. Hints of vanilla and daisy mixed with the sharp sugar of the frosting and the chewiness of the wrapper she had forgotten to take off.

She swallowed. Nothing happened. Maybe her tongue tingled slightly, but the feeling faded quickly.

She glanced at the clock. Zero zero fifteen. A little earlier than she usually went to bed, but there was nothing for it. She had meant to get more filing done, but constantly avoiding the cupcakes and trying to ignore them had taken up a lot of her time and energy.

She turned to her bedroom. Maybe the magic would only start up tomorrow. She rolled her tongue across her mouth. She could feel crumbs and frosting stuck to her teeth. The temptation to brush her teeth jabbed at her brain, but rules were rules.


Twilight’s eyes popped open. She let out a prolonged yawn, then slowly turned to glance at her clock. The daylight poking into her eyes certainly matched the time.

Twilight dragged herself out of bed. Her mouth felt sticky and dry, her tongue felt greasy. She headed straight for the bathroom.

She grabbed her toothbrush and ran her tongue across her mouth. Her teeth felt smooth, but that was probably a trick of fatigue. Normally she was not the type to look at herself in the mirror, unless she needed to brush her teeth or was about to confront a crowd. She actively avoided it otherwise. She turned to the mirror, and felt and saw her eyes widen.

She looked amazing. Even though she had just gotten out of bed, her mane looked perfectly normal. Her usual straight manecut didn’t look any different, but light bounced off it in a subtle, pleasant way. Her coat looked glossier, her fetlocks looked smoother. She spread her lips, smiling awkwardly at her reflection. Her teeth felt and looked perfectly shiny and clean.

She instinctively glanced toward the kitchen. The wall blocked her view, but the cupcakes had to be there.

She ran a hoof through her mane. No knots, no grease, no tangles. It felt she had just spent hours in a spa.

She had planned to finish some chores today. Normally she stayed away from town on weekdays; the crowds impeded her errands. But perhaps some grocery shopping would test the effects. A little inquiry on the mechanics of it wouldn’t hurt. She grabbed her bag and set out.

As soon as she stepped out of the observatory, she could feel eyes on her. She saw the mailpony out of the corner of her eye, and a stallion pulling a cart near the end of the road. Normally the idea of ponies looking at her would trigger a dozen different worries and fantasies. Maybe she had gotten something stuck to her tail, or her bag hadn’t been washed, or ponies were taking note of a stranger they never saw.

Those feelings almost happened. Twilight felt them poke at her, but they vanished immediately. It felt like a shout in a crowded room, the echo of something that wanted to be heard and then changed its mind. As the feeling died away, Twilight felt happy. She smiled, and she imagined that those ponies noticed.

The observatory had been built fairly far out of town, so ponies would only get denser the closer she got to the market. The prospect of more attention actually calmed her. It felt like something to look forward to.


Ponies clogged the market. It felt like wading into a swimming pool rather than walking along a road.

Twilight sauntered over to the fruit stand. Those same feelings of threatening worry poked at the back of her mind again, but they barely registered.

“Afternoon, Twilight,” Cherry Picker said. “Did you do something with your mane? It looks nice.”

“Thank you.” Normally a compliment would take her a while to respond to. The last time Celestia had complimented one of her papers, it had taken her a full ten seconds of stammering to begin a sentence afterward. It felt like somepony had chosen the words for her and stuck them in her mouth. It felt nice.

Cherry Picker had already pulled a brown paper bag from under her stall. “There you go. The usual, right?”

“Oh, how thoughtful of you. You know me too well.” Twilight fished her purse out of her bags. “Four bits, right?”

Cherry Picker glanced at the purse and back at the bag. “You know, why don’t you have this one on the house? You have come here so often, after all.”

“Oh, I couldn’t,” Twilight said.

“No, I insist.”

“Well, if you really do insist.” Twilight put her purse back. “I would not want to insult such a generous gesture.” Twilight picked up the cherries. “Thank you. You’re so generous.”

Cherry picker smiled. “You’re welcome. It’s no big deal for one of my favorite customers.”

“I hope you have a wonderful day. Hopefully karma pays you back.”

“You too, Twilight.”

Twilight turned away. She wanted to object more. She barely knew Cherry Picker. She only saw the pony now and then to buy some fruit. Yet the conversation had been so easy. The eye contact, the way Cherry’s gaze had lingered on her mane, and the promptness of all her sentiments and sentences had felt so natural. Twilight lifted her head, straightened her neck. Maybe the other merchants would feel the same way.


Twilight pushed open her door, plopped her bag on a table. Her steps were light and quick, her movements were sharp and poised. Even now, she could imagine pony after pony looking at her and complimenting her and adoring her. She had lost count of them all. The day had been a pleasant blur, like she had walked through a park on a sunny day. Maybe she had done that. She certainly remembered trees next to some of the ponies.

The observatory felt empty. That was intentional, of course. She liked quiet and solitude during research. A star sitting in a telescope or a well-written research paper was that much better in a pretty silence. And yet, right now it felt oddly draining. The lack of noise put her off.

She strolled into the kitchen, and her eyes latched onto the cupcakes. The note still sat near them, but Twilight pushed it away.

Twilight picked up one of the cupcakes and ate it. It tasted fine, same as before. She grabbed another in her magic, contemplated it for a second. Rarity hadn’t mentioned any consequences about eating too many of them, and Twilight hadn’t worried about the other one. She smiled and put it in her mouth. If one felt good, then two would be even better. After all, rules were made to be broken.