• Published 26th Jun 2016
  • 3,338 Views, 1,727 Comments

Shellstrings - shortskirtsandexplosions

After freakish happenstance turns Lyra Heartstrings and Queen Chrysalis into a symbiotic being, they find themselves putting their superpowers to heroic use in an ever-changing Equestria.

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Happiness is a Best Friend

Canterlot – Royal Hospital – Thirty-Six Hours After Royal Canterlot Wedding

"The doctors say that I'll be... mmmm..." Lyra Heartstrings sat up in bed, fidgeting in her drab olive gown. "I-I'll be good enough to stand on my own four hooves in less than a week." She looked up, eyelids fluttering. "From the sound of it, I was severely dehydrated when... when I was rescued down there... in th-those caves."

"I'd say," Bon Bon said, leaning against the opposite wall of the hospital room with her forelimbs crossed. "From what I was told, you were worse off than your other two friends..." She squinted. "Twinkie House and Minnesota?"

Lyra giggled, hugging herself with a warm smile. "Twinkleshine and Minuette."

"Of course..." Bon Bon rolled her eyes. "How could I be so mistaken?"

"And it's no surprise that they're recovering faster," Lyra said, gazing out the cold gray window beside her bed. "They're a lot more resilient than me. Always were." She gulped. "Especially Minuette... that bundle of joy can bounce back from anything."

Bon Bon smiled. "Seems like you've got some good friends."

"Yes... and good luck. It's awfully nice for the Royal Sisters to let the common public have access to their medical facilities. And... and then there's you..." Lyra cleared her throat, hugging herself tighter as her amber eyes lifted up. "You've... done so much for me, Bon Bon. I... I can't thank you enough."

Bon Bon curtsied. "Believe me. It's my pleasure."

"I mean... you d-didn't have to visit like this," Lyra murmured. "I... uh... I'm sure you've got places to be... n-not to mention family to look after."

"No. Believe me." Bon Bon took a deep breath, her brow furrowing. "I just... want to make sure that you're okay... you know?" She swallowed. "It means a lot to me to make sure that you recover fully from this."

"Well, thanks to you and the doctors, I'm fast on the road!" Lyra chuckled breathily. "Can't wait to get back home..."

"To where?" Bon Bon raised an eyebrow. "Trottingham?"

"Hah!" Lyra's eyes scraped the ceiling. "I'm not that elegant. No... uhm..." She waved a hoof to the window. "I grew up here. In Canterlot. But... I've since moved to Ponyville."

Bon Bon squinted. "Ponyville?"

"Lemme guess," Lyra droned. "Never heard of it?"

"Can't say that I have."

"It's a wonderfully peaceful escape from the likes of Canterlot, believe me." Lyra blinked, then blushed. "Well... when it's not being overrun by ursa minors... parasprites... hydras... timberwolves... chaos lords..."

"Sounds... interesting," Bon Bon said, squinting.

Lyra giggled. "Hell, if you're brave enough... you're welcome to come visit sometime. There's these two B.F.F.s of mine you'd lovvvvvvvve to meet!" She giggle-snorted. "A real musical pair. They put me to shame all the time."

"Y'know what...?" Bon Bon leaned forward, smiling warmly. "I think I just might take you up on that."

Ponyville – Sugarcube Corner – Six Weeks After the Royal Canterlot Wedding

Lyra slurped lethargically from her cup of hay soda. Bored eyes burned holes through the tabletop.

Bon Bon sat across from her, blinking over a newspaper. Concerned, the mare folded the articles aside and leaned forward. "Is... there something wrong with your hay soda?"

"Meh," Lyra droned.

"Did... Vinyl and Tavi do something to offend you?" Bon Bon asked. "I know how jealous you can get of their studio work, but I could have sworn the reason they couldn't join us this time was merely weather-related—"

"Double Meh," Lyra droned even harder. She toyed with her straw, spinning it around.

Bon Bon blinked. "Well...?" She folded her forelimbs and frowned. "Are you gonna spit it out or will I have to play 'mind-reader' again?"

"It's just... everything, Bon Bon. A big ol' waxy ball of meh." A beat. Her eyes briefly lit up as they fell on the mare across from her. "Except you, of course."

"Mmmm... of course." Bon Bon smirked, then leaned her chin against her hoof. "Then what exactly is this whole waxy ball of 'meh' about?" Her eyes twitched as she thought of something. "... ... ...it's the record company from Manehattan, isn't it?"

"Third rejection this month," Lyra grumbled. "And if that wasn't enough... nopony around town is wanting to hire a minstrel for any kind of performance—big gig or little gig. I mean... why bother, right?" She rolled her eyes. "I live in the same town as Pinkie Pie... a pony who can play ten instruments simultaneously." A long-winded sigh. "...at least... I used to live in the same town."

Bon Bon's muzzle hung agape. "But... I thought you got the mortgage situation under control."

"Bills stack up, Bon Bon. And I'm running completely dry." Lyra half-whimpered. "I've tried doing honest... boring work... but it just doesn't suit the artist's heart within me." Her eyes flared up with amber anger. "And we all know what happened in Canterlot."

"Ah jeez, Lyra..." Bon Bon brushed her bangs back with a sigh. "Not with this again—"

"I'm telling you, she sabotaged it," Lyra hissed. "That dirty bug queen sabotaged me." She lifted the soda cup with a frown. "The day she possessed my body into blowing off that music theory paper that I worked for months on just so I could become a bimbo bridesmaid... my chance at becoming a recognized scholar and performer of the traditional lyre tanked all the way down to Tartarus! GRNNGH!" She crumpled the paper cup against her skull with a wet splash. She then stared at Bon Bon... deadpan. "... ... ...it's impaled on my horn, isn't it?"

"Lyra... how many times do I have to tell you?" Bon Bon reached across the table, gently ripping the soda cup off Lyra's magical skull protrusion. "It's not the end of the world! You can't just... put all your eggs in one basket! After all, there'll be more opportunities for you in the future!" She smiled sweetly. "I just know it!"

"Yeah, well... between scrambling for work and running around like a parasprite with its head cut off—wait..." Lyra's eyes crossed. "...do parasprites have heads? Or are they just heads." She shook her head furiously. "Anyways... I just don't have the luxury of time for honing my skills anymore! If there are opportunities for me out there... I-I simply lack the resources to pursue them!" She slumped back in her seat, tossing a hoof. "And sooner than you know it, I'll be out on the street! 'Lyra Homeless!' That's what they'll call me... hrmmff... assuming I'm not somehow magically invisible by then," she slurred, producing air quotes with her fetlocks.

Bon Bon rubbed her chin in thought. Slowly, a brilliant smile crossed her peach muzzle. "Lyra? I think I might just have the solution for this..."

Lyra glanced up, innocent eyes blinking. "Oh?"

Ponyville – 485 Faust Lane – Two Story House – Two Months After the Royal Canterlot Wedding

"Aaaaaaaaaand..." Bon Bon opened the door to a bare room with basic upholstery. "...this is where we can build that studio that you've always wanted! See?" She pointed. "We'd put the sound booth over there... the sound equipment just right there..." She winked aside with a smile. "The corner would be for a mini-fridge with extra hay soda... just the way you liiiiike it..."

"Uhm.... okay... cool..." Lyra blinked numbly into the room. "I've got just one question, Bon Bon."

"Yes, Lyra?"


Bon Bon arched an eyebrow. "How what?"

"What the Hell else, how?!" Lyra swung a hoof dramatically to the threadbare walls and ceilings of the place. "This how, the hell!"

"You're fumbling with your words again—"

Lyra waved her hooves. "Look... j-just... stop being an expert on how I get frammatically glustered... guh... and just t-tell me how you got to be an expert on friggin' housebuying!"

"It's simple, I... uhm..." Bon Bon squirmed slightly in place. "...I received a lucrative inheritance."

"Yeah. No shit." Lyra's nostrils flared as she gazed at the empty rooms and even emptier halls. "This place is roomy. Super roomy. Even Tavi—with all her daddy dollars—doesn't have a flat that even compares to this friggin' pad."

"Well, you can look for yourself!" Bon Bon pointed out a curtain-less window. "See? She and Vinyl are right across the lawn! You can gloat now!" She smiled nervously. "Eheheheh..."

Lyra gazed out the window... then slowly pivoted her head to smirk at her friend. "You did this on purpose, didn't you?"

"Look... I know how jealous you can be." Bon Bon shrugged. "But... heehee... isn't it perfect?"

"Oh. Yeah. Totally." Lyra paced about, brushing her mane back. "Almost... a little too perfect." She tongued the inside of her muzzle... eventually turning about to squint at Bon Bon. "How... uh... exactly are we going to afford this?"

"Well, one day, you're gonna land that record deal you've been dying for."

"Yeah," Lyra droned. "At this rate... when I'm dead." She paced forward across the rough carpet. "Let's be real here, B.B. How are we actually gonna pay for it?"

"I... uhm..." Bon Bon cleared her throat, eyes darting left and right. "...I g-got approved for the lease."

"What lease?"

"Uhhh... the lease."

Lyra blinked... then blinked again. Suddenly, her whole face lit up like a neon sign as she gasped: "You mean that candy shop you've been wanting to start up downtown?!"

"Yes!" Bon Bon exclaimed, forelimbs open wide.

"Oh wowsies!" Lyra practically pounced her, hugging the earth pony tight. "Bon Bon! That's so super duper terrific! I know how much being a professional confectioner means to you and—" Suddenly, she stopped in mid-sentence, blinking hard. She leaned back. "Whoah... whoah whoah whoah wait..."

Bon Bon blinked, her muzzle twisting worriedly. "Wait f-for what?"

"This... this isn't right. No... this isn't fair," Lyra said, wincing.

"If... if-if-if..." Bon Bon pointed a trembling hoof. "...you want a bigger room for the studio, then I'm certain that 487 Faust Drive would do—"

"No, I mean... you shouldn't have to do all this just to support me—"

"Lyra, don't dramatize," Bon Bon said. "It's more than that! It's an opportunity for me too!"

"Yeah, but... it's been months since I had a decent job! I was going through college on scholarships and that paper of mine was going to be everything. And... and since then I've been floundering and... and..." She sniffled, squinting misty-eyed at her friend. "Oh Bon Bon... I don't want to be useless dead weight..."

"Lyra... no... no no... don't say that..." Bon Bon crossed the distance, hugging her tight. "It's like you said. You... were just dealt with a bit of sabotage!"

"But..." Lyra sniffled, surrendering into her embrace. "You always c-call me a drama queen when I ramble on about that..."

"But there's some truth in it... y'know?" Bon Bon smiled warmly. She parted the hug so she could lift Lyra's chin up. "Face it. You got a raw deal. And it's only right that you got the opportunity to climb back up, y'know? Just think about it! I'll be making delicious candies... and you'll be taking your time to make wonderful... beautiful music!" She winked. "We'd both be getting what we want! No dead weight about it!"

Lyra sniffled, rubbing her eyes dry. "You..." She smiled crookedly. "...you planned this, didn't you?"

Bon Bon held a hoof over her chest. "Guilty as charged." A side-giggle. "Really, though. Let's give it a shot! If you don't like it... then we'll work out another plan."


"... ... ...well, we're in this together, aren't we?" Bon Bon smiled sweetly. "Best friend...?"

Lyra stared at her. Eventually she sighed through a tired smile. "You always gotta use that damned trigger phrase..."

Bon Bon stuck her tongue out. "Also guilty."

"Alright... alright!" Lyra waved her forelimbs before pacing about, eyeing the doorframes of the place. "We'll give it a shot. Besides..." A deep breath. "What's the worst that could happen?"

Ponyville – 485 Faust Lane – Four Months After the Royal Canterlot Wedding

THUDDD! The front door to the house slammed shut.

"...?" Bon Bon craned her neck, peering over from a steamy kitchen full of cooking trays with half-baked sweets lined up in neat little rows.

Angry green hooves stomp-stomp-stomped their way across the foyer. At last, with a thunderous sigh, Lyra slumped back onto the sofa in a sullen reclining position. She dropped her saddlebag, folded her forelimbs, and glared daggers into the decor. "... ... ...Meh."

Bon Bon rolled her eyes. Sliding an oven door shut, she yanked the mitts off her hooves and calmly trotted into the living room. "Okay..." She leaned against a table with a gentle smirk. "...what seems to be the problem this afternoon?"

"Friggin'... motherbuckin'... smokey-hair'd... wine sippin'..." Lyra's tongue hung low as her hooves strangled an invisible neck right in front of her. "Grnnnghflblbkggrrrgghhhuuuuuuuu..."

Bon Bon arched an eyebrow. "...'melon fudge?'"

"Thank you!" Lyra slumped back in her seat even further, huffing. "She stole another gig from me!"

"You don't say...?"

"Yes! I do say!" Lyra snorted. "I'd friggin' sing it if any cultured jackass within a hundred clicks would bother giving me a timeslot at the Trottingham Community Center! But noooooo... they give it once more to Octavia Melody... Celestia's goddess-send to concert halls everywhere!" Her cheeks turned lime-red as she shook a hoof in the air. "You know that's the third... fourth... fifth time that she's surpassed me in... in... guh!" She slapped her own fetlock. "My kingdom for some damned thumbs to count the ways in which I want to murderrrrrrr herrrrrr!"

"Oh please, Lyraaaa..." Bon Bon slinked over, half-reclining on the sofa cushions next to the mare. She propped a wry grin atop a peach hoof. "She's your friend. In the end, you always forget all your murderous desires and still manage to have lovely conversations over bread and wine."

"Yeah, well... not anymore!" Lyra huffed and puffed, folding her forelimbs even tighter. "The line must be drawn here! No further!"

"Oh, that's original."

"Friggin' World War of the Strings up in this bitch!" Lyra spat. "And her friend! Vinyl! Hah! She's no better! DJ-Dildo-Hax0rz or whatever she likes to call herself these days! I tell you, she's totally conspiring with Tavi against me, too!"

"Now this is new..."

"I mean it! That shades-wearing record-skipping sycophant is so far up that velvety mare's plot that she'd might as well write a two hundred thousand word novel about her spelunking adventures in Bimboland! Hell! Why not write a sequel! Bow Ties In Space: A Warrior's Tale!" Lyra slumped against the hoofwrest, covering her sighing face. "... ... ...Goddess damn, I need a drink."

"What you need is a vacation from your own ego," Bon Bon said.

"Mrmmmfff..." Lyra muttered into her fetlock. "...leave it to my best bestie to tell it like it is. Grffff... Why do ya gotta be such a best bestie, best bestie?"

"Isn't your therapist always telling you, Minuette, and Twinkleshine to take it easy?" Bon Bon smiled. "I mean... what's the rush for, Lyra? When your opportunity comes... it'll come. Just... pace yourself. Be patient. Spend the time making your awesome music."

"Yeah, well, what's so awesome about music that nopony else hears?"

"They'll hear it one day, Lyra. I'm sure of it."

"Look... I can handle rejection. It's in my friggin' blood," Lyra muttered. "And..." A long-winded sigh escaped her lips. "I'm not really mad at Octavia and Vinyl. It just... burns, y'know? After so many friggin' times in a row, it burns to be so overlooked and I'm sick of it."

"I know, Lyra." Bon Bon nodded. "It sucks. I know."

"... ... ..." Lyra lowered her hoof, gazing calmly at her. "But what burns even more..." She gulped. "...is coming home all the time... knowing that I gotta tell you that... nothing's changed."

"Oh, Lyra, please—"

"It shouldn't have to be like this." Lyra gulped. "I... I should be trying harder. Or... or maybe..." She cleared her throat, avoiding Bon Bon's gaze. "...I can just give up the whole musical gig. Become a teacher. That's feasible, at least, right?"

"But Lyra..." Bon Bon reached over, caressing Lyra's hoof. "...you hate teaching."

"No." Lyra blinked. "I hate kids. There's a difference."

Bon Bon giggled explosively.

Lyra leaned into her hoofrest, trying in vain to hide a smirk. "When am I ever going to figure out how I make you laugh so easily?"

"It's just... you're so you." Bon Bon composed herself well enough to smile. "Silly Lyra."

"Best friennnnnnnnd," Lyra cooed back.

Bon Bon rolled her eyes. "Alright. What do you want."

"When I said 'I need a drink' several dreadful monologues ago, I do believe that was your cue."

Bon Bon smirked, shuffling back into the kitchen. "Yeah, well, it's your turn this week to put the garbage out."

"I'll do it all next week as well if you promise to put extra ice in it!"


Edge of the Everfree Forest – Public Swimming Hole – Six Months After the Royal Canterlot Wedding

Splash! "Hah!" Bon Bon emerged from the waters with a spray of water. "Gotcha!" She pounced on Lyra, and immediately blinked her eyes open. "Seriously?! This was your plan all along?!"

"And it was a good plan, t-too!" Lyra pouted, hugging herself in the cool water. "You just cheated!"

"Nuh uh!" Bon Bon shook her head. "You never gave me a reason to shout 'fish-out-of-water!'" She stuck her tongue out. "You just suck!"

"Grrrrrr..." Lyra frowned. "...this is what I get for growing up in a place where the only 'water holes' are lined with concrete and have little marble colts pissing in them."

"Poetry will get you nowhere, Admirable Heartstrings." Bon Bon performed a mock salute. "I done sunk your battleflank. Shall the score remain three to nothing?"

"Nuh uh! Buck that! Best out of seven, ya hydro-hussy!"

"Pfffft..." Bon Bon broke into giggles. "'Hydro-hussy?!' Did Tavi spit that out during one of her manic wine bacchanalias?"

"Shut it! Now's my turn to find you!"

"Alright alright..." Bon Bon pointed with a sly grin. "But you'd better count all the way!"

"Yeah, yeah..." Lyra swam out into the middle of the pond.

"Be careful!" Bon Bon sputtered, swimming out to the side. "And hold your breath!"

"Sure thing, Mom." Lyra inhaled... inhaled some more... and then dunked herself completely. Her flank bottomed up, the wet tail flicking playfully with each underwater second that the mare counted.

Blinking, Bon Bon stealthily swam ashore, careful to make as few waves as possible. She bit her lip with a mischievous grin... then rushed off, hiding herself amidst the rushes and cattails.

In the meantime...

Lyra continued to submerge herself. Bubbles popped against the surface of the lake surrounding her as her tail continued to flick like a limp grandfather clock's soggy pendulum.

But then...

Out from the Everfree Forest's edge...

An eight hundred pound grizzly bear suddenly emerged. Its beady eyes caught sight of the submerged unicorn... and its jaws drooled instantly. One claw at a time, it approached the edge of the pond... until its shadowy reflection crossed over Lyra's vulnerable figure. At the last second, it reared up... raising both claws to strike at the pony's supple flesh—

Fwooosh! Bon Bon came suddenly from behind, grabbed the bear's midsection, and violently suplexed him against hard, dry soil. THUDDDD!

The bear growled in mixed alarm and pain. It raised is angry maw to snap at its attacker—but found itself being stared down by a religiously pissed-off mare.

"You make one more move towards her..." The former Secret Agent hissed. "...you so much as breathe in her general direction or look at her... and I swear... without a moment's hesitation..." She leaned in until she was breathing down the grizzly bear's snout. "...I will rip your pupils out from their sockets, replace them with your kidneys, and sew your eyelids shut with your own fingerbones. Got it?!"

The bear complied with a whimpering nod. Its lower legs turned pigeon-toed, and the pond's water turned yellow beneath it.

Bon Bon hissed: "Now beat it."

With a slight yipping sound, the bear scampered off with its dinky tail between its legs.

Bon Bon slicked her mane back and sighed. Folding her forelimbs, she smiled to herself.

Splassssh! Lyra surfaced with a gasp. "Duaaaaaah! Thirty!" She clenched her eyes shut, feeling around the pond's surface blindly. "Mareco!"

Bon Bon flinched. "Oh! Uhm..." She made a stealthy dash for the pond. "Poloats—!"

Lyra spun and pointed at the water's edge. "Fish-out-of-water!"

"Oh wow..." Bon Bon droned, bearing a tired grin. "You got me."

"Hah! Yes!" Lyra pumped her hoof, splashing moisture all around. Her eyes fluttered open over a cheeky grin. "I knew it! This girl's still got it, baby! Yeah!" A beat. She sniffed the air. "Huh..." The mare glanced around. "...why's the pond smell so... funny all of the sudden?"

485 Faust Lane – Bon Bon's Bedroom – Eight Months After the Royal Canterlot Wedding

A thudding sound echoed through the wall...

Followed by muffled whimpers... ...

Accompanied by a muted thunder... ... ...

At last, Bon Bon's eyes fluttered open. She sat up with a gasp—then craned her ear to the wall beside her bed.

Once more, she heard the whimpers—more like sobs. They grew more and more pronounced.

"Lyra..." Hyperventilating, Bon Bon leapt out of bed. She tore through the house, took a sharp turn, then burst through the door to Lyra's bedroom. "Lyra! Lyra, is everything... alright?"

The bed covers were tossed onto the floor. Humid mists wafted out of the open bathroom... where a dim-light flickered. The sound of running water permeated the household.

"Lyra...?" Gulping, Bon Bon trotted briskly into the bathroom. She scuffled to a stop on the slippery tile.

Lyra huddled in a fetal position, curled up against the edge of the tub. Hot running shower water bathed her unblinking figure.

Bon Bon bit her lip. Rushing in, she spun the shower handle off, grabbed a towel, and wrapped her roommate with it... drying her.

"Mmmmm..." Lyra choked on a sob, shivering.

"Shhhhh..." Bon Bon rubbed the mare dry, caressing her mane. "Shhh... it's okay..."

"No it's not... I can't..." Lyra grimaced. "...I can't wash her out..." She clenched her eyes shut. "I... I-I hear crickets... and then her eyes start burning in the darkness..."

"She's not here, Lyra." Bon Bon crawled into the bathroom next to her, wrapping a hoof around the mare. "You're okay. You're free from her."

"So... so scared..." Lyra gulped. "...she'll take over again... m-make me do bad things..." Sniffling, Lyra clenched her eyes shut. "...horrible things t-to you..."

"You won't, Lyra. Don't worry. We're best friends..." Bon Bon held her close, weathering a bitter sweet smile as the two rocked together in the tub. "...I promised that I would protect you, didn't I?"

"Mmmmm..." Lyra buried her wet face in Bon Bon's shoulder, heaving. "I suck... I-I suck so much..." She sniffled. "Such a burden. Can't make music... c-can't stay friggin' sane..."

"You're not a burden. Trust me. You're not..." Bon Bon kissed the top of her forehead and held her close, gazing out the bathroom and into darkness. "You're anything but, Lyra."

"Honestly... h-how can you st-tand me, Bon Bon...?" Lyra wept.

Bon Bon gulped. "Well, you know..." She hummed. "Silly ponies as silly ponies do..."

Lyra shuddered... shook... but eventually calmed. She blinked into the linoleum. "...I need a drink."

Bon Bon looked at the shower faucet... then at the wet mare she was holding. "...you are a drink."

Lyra couldn't help it. She giggle-snorted... then slapped Bon Bon's shoulder as the chuckles lingered on.

Bon Bon took the hit. When Lyra wasn't looking, she dried her eyes... and smiled some more.

Ponyville Park – Pathside Bench – Ten Months After the Royal Canterlot Wedding

"Holy shit!" Lyra Heartstrings shrieked. "Wings!"

"What?!" Bon Bon dropped her book and looked every which way with wide eyes. "Wings?! Where?! How big is it?! Do you need me to swat it for y—?"

"No no no... dorkinator..." Lyra slapped the newspaper in her grasp. "I can't friggin' believe it! Twilight Sparkle—my foalhood friend—has grown wings!"

"Oh... ohhhhh... right... okay..." Bon Bon panted, then ran a hoof over her frazzled bangs. "Goddess damn..."

"An honest-to-Celestia alicorn... that really takes the cake..." Lyra stared up at the verdant hillsides stretching between them and downtown Ponyville. "...guess that makes her a princess now. Who'd a thunk it?"

"Hrmmmf..." Bon Bon calmed down enough to smirk. "You and your silly princess fetish."

"Seriously, though. I wonder if this was all planned." Lyra gestured. "As if... the old egghead has had secret access to my musical notes all this time."


"For 'sho!"

Bon Bon rolled her eyes. "No... Twilight Sparkle does not have clandestine access to the orchestral epic that you've been secretly working on half your adult life."

"Well... it could happen, right?" Lyra glanced over her shoulder. "I mean... Queen Chrysalis was the first alicorn ever... and she got it by being treacherous, didn't she?"

"That..." Bon Bon cleared her throat. "...is a whole different scenario altogether." A shuddering sigh, and she smiled. "Still... I'm... uh... proud of you... y'know... for having the strength to even mention her na—"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Lyra crumpled the newspaper and tossed it into a nearby bin before folding her forelimbs. "Hrmmmff... at this rate... there'll be no more slots for me."

"... ... ...are we talking about the ever-so-holy 'princess slots?'"

"Well... yeah... what other slots are worth talking about?"

"Heheheh..." Bon Bon winked. "You know... there's always a simpler way to become a princess."

Lyra looked up from where she reclined. "Buh?"

"They say that Prince Blueblood is moving out to the country soon, and—"

"Ugh... save your breath." Lyra rolled her eyes. "Never gonna happen... ever. Not in a million years."

"Eheheh..." Bon Bon glanced aside, hiding her rosy cheeks. She toyed with a lock of blue-and-pink mane hair. "I figured you would say that—"

"It's because I'm never going to be caught dead going to another wedding again!"

"Oh please, Lyraaa..." Bon Bon patted her friend's shoulder. "Don't let one horribad experience block you for the rest of your life! Weddings are fun!"

"My vomit green ass they're fun!" Lyra snorted. "For real... I'd rather live a thousand years being digested in a live hydra's stomach than go to another wedding in my life. And I mean it!"

Just Outside Ponyville Town Hall – Twelve Months After the Royal Canterlot Wedding

"Good byyyyye!" An emotional sea serpent waved, tossing rice in the open air.

"Bon voyage!" Dr. Whooves joined in, smiling jubilantly.

"So long! Have a pleasant honeymoon!" Amethyst Star sing-songed as she stood with the gathered crowd.

"Happy birthdaaaay!" Derpy Hooves grinned, tossing sunflower seeds backwards.

A stagecoach carried Matilda and Cranky into the sunset, dragging behind a clattering assortment of cans and kitchen utensils.

"So long, friends and neighbors of Ponyville!" Matilda melodically called back.

"Yeah... sniff you jerks later," Cranky grumbled.

"Oh! Matilda!" Cup Cake hollered, waving a pudgy hoof. "The bouquet!"

"Goodness! Almost forgot!" The donkey bride reached past the bustle of her dress and tossed the flowers in question. "Thanks for everything!"

They flew high in the air... came down... and landed square inside a pair of mint-green hooves. The surrounding ponies cheered.

Lyra's eyes sparkled. "Mmmmm!" She hugged the flowers close to her cheek, smiling rosily aside at her friend. "Squeeeee!"

Bon Bon smiled. She gazed happily into the distance—but not at the sunset. Her eyes were trailing the wagon trails that led south... towards Tartarus. From afar, she could almost make out the rattling cage that housed the notorious Bug Bear... for good.

Lyra blinked. "B.B.?" She snuggled the bouquet in one hoof and waved the other right in front of Bon Bon's face. "Bae-squared? You there?"

"Hmmmmmm..." Bon Bon smiled, her ears twitching happily.

Lyra squinted. She leaned forward, hissing through her teeth: "Best friennnnnnnd."

Immediately, Bon Bon snapped out of it. "Huh?" She blinked aside.

Lyra's teeth showed in a brilliant grin. She waved the flowers around before digging her soft muzzle into the petals, amber eyes blinking bashfully at her roommate.

"Hehe... well, look at that, princess." Bon Bon patted Lyra's cheek through the flowers. "You're happy, aren't you?"

"Mmmmhmmm..." Lyra nodded. Her smile peeked through the colors. "And I didn't faint once today."

"No. You didn't. Not even through... well... you know..." Bon Bon sweated suddenly, avoiding Lyra's gaze.

"Are you happy, Bon Bon?" Lyra asked as the crowd split up around them.

Bon Bon stared at her. She smiled. "The happiest." Silence. "Come on, Lyra." She spun around and marched back into town hall where a certain punch bowl waited. "Let's get pissed drunk."

"Yaaaaaaay!" And Lyra skipped happily after her.

485 Faust Lane – The Living Room – Thirteen Months After the Royal Canterlot Wedding

Matilda's bouquet sat neatly in a vase on the couchside table.

A single lamp cast soft orange light on a radio box broadcasting the latest episode of Shadow Spade at low volume.

Lyra lay curled up on the couch—like a big green cat—with a dumb smile plastered on her unconscious face.

Beside her, Bon Bon sat in a chair, squinting at a spreadsheet in her lap as she took notes about her candy shop in preparation for tax season. For a moment, she paused to crunch numbers in her head, chewing on the end of her pen.

"... ... ...thank you, Bon Bon..."

"... ... ...?" The earth pony glanced aside. "Hmmm?"

Lyra yawned... yawned some more... then once again slurred: "Thank you."

Bon Bon cocked her head to the side. "For what?"

"Mmmmmm..." Lyra curled up, falling once more into slumber. "...for everything."

Bon Bon stared at her. She smiled, and her eyes grew misty. "Well..." A warm breath. "...I did make a promise, didn't I?"

Lyra did nothing but smile. It carried her into sleep... even after Bon Bon leaned over to kiss her forehead... draped a comforter over the mare... and turned the light out.

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