• ...


"Well, here we are. Make yourself comfortable." Celestia closed the door behind them.

"Did you ever find out why your bed is so big?"

"I did not. Though it is quite useful now." The pair slipped under its covers.

"We haven't done this in... in forever, it seems."

"Back when you were just a little filly! You'd see things hiding in the shadows and come to me. Imagine that- the princess of the night, scared of the dark."

"And I always came to you because our parents were too busy being royal."

Celestia sighed.

"Do you think they knew, that they wouldn't be able to watch over me? Maybe that's why your bed is so inexplicably large."

"Maybe, maybe... it is rather nice, I must say. I just wish I had more pillows for the two of us!"

"Oh, it's quite alright." She grinned. "You always did like feathery things. Like your phoenixes."

"That reminds me- you haven't met Philomena yet, have you?"

"I don't think so. When do you come up with all these names anyway?"

"You're not the only one who enjoys reading, Luna."

"I'm not?" She chuckled. "I... don't suppose Amber is still around."

"No. She passed away. Everypony around us does, don't they?"

"At least we have each other again."

She smiled. "Yes. We do."



"Tell me a story."

Pinkie blinked a few times. Then her eyes snapped open and she yanked the lollipop out of her mouth. How it had ever seemed like a good idea was a mystery.

She stared into it, lit up by the moon. It was a pastel-looking pink swirl- bright and garish and, as she was quite aware, painfully sweet. It was everything she hated about herself. But there had been times when she hadn't hated herself, days of misery shared with her companions that now had become something to threaten herself with. She was sure that was where her happiness was hidden, if only she would stop focusing on the damn rocks.

She sighed.When she had arrived in Ponyville, she had buried those memories deep, and all that was associated with them- it was sadness she felt when looking back, but she realized it had never been very strong. In fact, she had never been passionate about anything except pretending to be passionate, which created a conundrum all by itself. That was the problem- she was forcing herself to feel, even though she knew very well it would never be possible.

Even the concept of a friend was something difficult to grasp. She did know they were supposed to be supportive, and the ones she had acquired were. They loved her, and they had been there for her, and if there was something they didn't like about her, it was likely going to be the fact that she sometimes got so caught up in exaggerating everything that she lost track of everypony else's emotions. Perhaps confessing was better for all of them, after all...

For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, Pinkamena smiled an honest smile. Tomorrow she would tell them; Twilight first. Twilight seemed like the sort of mare who would start rambling about the disorder her friend had and how rare it was and how some pony from Stalliongrad with an impossible name had done a study on it. She just hoped she wouldn't ask her to be hooked up to that gadget of hers again. Her mind was clear now, if a little tired. But that was something easily fixed...

"Are you sure you're okay?" asked Scootaloo for the umpteenth time.

"Look, I know you're worried about me, but when I say I'm fine, that means I'm fine."

"So... is that a yes?" She cocked her head.

"Yes." Because I found you. "Are you?"

"Yup. You caught me!"

Rainbow smiled. "Well, good night, then. Wouldn't want to keep you up- you're a growing filly."


The pair stood unmoving. "Well...?"

"Rainbow Dash."


"Thank you for this night. I'll remember it." Scootaloo turned and began to walk away as Dash watched her fondly.

"H-hey, Scootaloo!"

The pegasus stopped and looked at her, uncertainly. Almost frightened.

"I was wondering..." She huffed a little. "I was wondering if you'd like to meet again tomorrow so we can practice some more."

The little one's face lit up and she grinned. "I'd love to!"

Her mentor smiled. "How about we meet out by Sugarcube Corner? Then we can grab a quick snack."

"That sounds great!" Scootaloo began walking away again, and the mare sighed when she disappeared behind a corner.

She decided to follow suit and set off for home. Yes, they'd meet at the Corner tomorrow, and she could confess to Pinkie. Pinkie would take it in a stride and probably start singing a song on the spot. Though she'd also probably want to throw her a party, which would create unnecessary excitement for everypony. Oh well. She'd already told Scootaloo she'd be there, and she couldn't let her down. And besides, it was a start- if she told one pony, the others would come easier.

Just like that, it seemed the wall she had been bashing her skull against for all this time was gone. It wasn't so hard. All she had needed was somepony looking for comfort. She was sure her friends would accept her, perhaps even appreciate her mellowness, and if they didn't... well, what kind of friends were they?

They weren't. Friends supported each other and pulled each other through, just as she and Scootaloo had done. Once, the same mare had belittled while the other had placed her on the highest pedestal. Now they were both learning from each other. That was friendship.

Rainbow Dash giggled a little. It also made great material for a friendship report to the Princess. That was what Twilight would make of it.

She stopped, having arrived, and entered her house. A lofty home where lofty goals could be pondered. She drifted up to her bed and slipped in, snuggling against the clouds. She was filled with a perfect contentment that she couldn't quite put into words, but the pegasus knew it was there because she had opened herself. She just had to do it again tomorrow.

As she turned a corner, Scootaloo spread her wings but then stopped. Would Rainbow Dash approve? She had already fallen once, and now there wouldn't be any safety nets. She rested her wings. They would have enough time tomorrow, anyway, and then they would be together.

...as friends, she realized. They had shared a moment together, and now they were united. Scootaloo grinned again. She had made a friend.

Speaking of friends, she'd have to tell her fellow Crusaders what had happened- she had learned how to fly, at last! She wondered how they would react. She wouldn't let them be jealous. That wasn't what friends did.

The neighsayers had been proven wrong, and that was enough for her. Diamond and Silver would probably be shocked anyhow, so there was no need to brag. Too much. Their envy resulted in hilarity, and that was something she couldn't leave behind.

She realized that, much to her delight, she would have to fly to her window if she didn't want to risk getting caught. She did so, still a little shakily, and slipped under the covers, hugging her pillow tight. She'd also have to tell her parents. Except she'd need to explain how she got around to testing her wings at this time... Perhaps she should just tell them the truth. They'd understand, right? Everypony needed some risks and excitement from time to time.

She would see in the morning.

Trixie opened her eyes slowly, taking in her surroundings. She had slept, but she was certain it wasn't morning- even on her worst days a night's sleep made her feel rested. Now there simply was a gap between sobbing herself to sleep and waking. She reached over for the bottle beside her-
Come now. At least give yourself a chance.
then sighed and drew back. She'd give herself a chance, but for what?
To reflect. That carpenter left his mark on you in more than one way, after all.

Though it hurt to admit it, it seemed his appearance was what caused her to end up in this situation. That, and Ponyville. But she could have taken a different path, scurried back to Canterlot where she would have had a moment to figure out just what she was doing with herself. Even Mr. Wood had given her every chance to back out. So why hadn't she? Pride?

Pride and a need to please Mother, of course. That had been driving her since the beginning. It was only natural, she told herself. She had been a little filly and they had had each other and not much else. And She had worked so hard and sacrificed so much to groom her into what she was now that she just couldn't live with the thought of leaving her wishes unfulfilled. She had to draw a line somewhere though.

And yet Trixie remembered a time when this had seemed not just right, but fun. A moment when she had actually looked forward to performing, and she knew it had only been a moment, so perfect. The talent show. The mare smiled. She had been a little filly, just starting her training. Her act had been simple, and not once had she addressed the crowd. A few simple tricks here and there that looked pretty. Mother hadn't approved, had she?

No, she had told her it wouldn't end well. It had seemed she was right- the aspiring magician hadn't even gotten an honorable mention... but was that really what mattered? Was her happiness to be sacrificed for fame? Somehow that didn't make much sense. In the end, she had only wanted to make her daughter live a good life; she couldn't blame her. But a good life included happiness, and if she lived on this way, she was pleasing nopony.

Tomorrow she would begin making herself happy. It was time to start living up to her name.

"...and the stallion said-" she lowered her voice-

"'Don't fret, little one. The path is among the trees, but all one has to do to find it is know where to look!' And his horn glowed as he summoned a lovely golden butterfly that perched itself on her nose.

'But Mister, a butterfly is what got me lost in the first place!' she wailed.

The stallion looked at her with understanding. 'Some butterflies get you lost. Others get you where you want to be. You just have to know which is which and which you want.'

'Why would I want to get lost?'

He chuckled. 'Well, sometimes a little detour gives you time to think.'

She decided she was too tired to argue. 'But... if I go in the forest all alone, won't there be all sorts of fearsome creatures?'

'There's creatures, dear, but as long as you show them you're not afraid of them, there's nothing they can do to you.'

The filly smiled. Somehow, it made sense. She walked into the woods, the stranger who had met her with such kindness watching over her. She turned to thank him-"

"But then a manticore leapt out of a nearby bush and bit her head off!"


She giggled. "I like it better that way."

"But you're ruining the moral."

"Oh, moral, schmoral. Let me have my fun!"

They laid in silence until the older sister yawned. "About time we got to actually sleeping, don't you think?"

"It would seem so. Tomorrow I'll raise that sun of yours and go see what my- our subjects are up to."

"Well, I'm flattered, Luna, but-"

"I'm not doing this because you told me to. Well, I am, but..." She sighed. "I'm not a foal anymore, Tia. I can make my own decisions. And while I do want you to talk to me, I want you to listen to me, too. Promise me you'll do this."

Celestia nodded solemnly. "I promise."

Luna smiled. "Thank you for this. I just feel so happy. My heart was a hole and now you've filled it with, with..." She stopped, unable to find words. She didn't need them. The two sisters locked gazes and embraced each other, wrapped in mutual appreciation until they dozed off.

And by the moonlight, six fillies slept.