• Published 13th Feb 2015
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Twilight, Good Night - Carapace

To better herself, Luna has studied Twilight's actions and friendship reports. She never expected to find herself under the microscope in turn.

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3: Quickly, Rumor Flies

Twilight hummed softly to herself, sipping idly at a cup of warm tea as she waited for Fluttershy to arrive. She skimmed through a thick textbook on Equestria history to pass the time. Her timid friend was running a few minutes late for breakfast.

Twilight paused in her reading and glanced at the clock for the third time in as many minutes. She shook her head, holding back an exasperated sigh. It's good that I planned for something like this. Still, the tardiness rankled—though not as harshly as it might have, once. Fluttershy often had to fight the clock to make their appointments because of all the animals she cared for.

It was just her way. Fluttershy cared for each and every one of her animals as if they were her own foals—no pony could honestly discount her love for them.

Twilight snuck a quick glance to the clock mounted on the wall inside. Seven thirty-three. Only a few minutes late, no need for any worry. For now, she could at least get some caffeine in her system.

Goodness knows I’ll need it today.

“Shall I bring you a fresh pot, Madame Twilight?” A stallion called, his voice holding a slight hint of a Prench accent.

She turned to find Savoir Faire, the Café’s head waiter, at her side. His deep blue mane was slicked back, his white collared shirt was pressed and his red bowtie was fastened around his neck without the slightest hint of creasing. He looked sharp as ever.

"Oh, yes, please! When you have a chance, Mister Faire." Twilight levitated her teapot, depositing it onto his serving tray before he could object.

He chuckled and jerked his head toward the sparsely populated dining room. "You're quite early today, so I don't have to fight the rush to keep your tea stocked, Madame Twilight. I'll have it out to you shortly." Savoir bowed his head and took a step toward the kitchen, but stopped short. He turned to glance over his shoulder. "Pardonez moi, but which of your friends will be dining with you this morning? I can have their drinks out with yours if you like."

"It'll just be Fluttershy and me today. And I'm sure she'd appreciate that! You remember she likes—"

"Chamomile with one sugar." He smiled coyly. "As if I wouldn't remember one of my favorite customers' orders. You wound this old stallion!"

Twilight stifled a laugh, nodding all the same as he swept away in a mock huff. Savoir always did love to have a bit of fun, but he was wonderful at his job. Remembering orders for half the town was no small feat, but, to him, it was just another way to make their visit special.

For a mare as easily flustered as Fluttershy, his little bits of kindness were small blessings. He would smile and wave off all apologies, insisting that she take a seat and enjoy her tea. Waiting on her was his job.

Besides, a bit of a wait gave Twilight some time to think on last night. Namely, the latter portion of her conversation with Luna.

She wants to reconnect, Twilight stared into the steaming tea. She inhaled, savoring the aroma and letting the herbal scent sooth her thoughts. But the legend of the Mare in the Moon said she had always been alone…

She stopped short and shook her head. No. Thinking like that wouldn’t help. The legend certainly had truth to it, Luna herself was living proof of that, but that didn’t give insight into the princesses’ pasts.

So little is known about their lives before Luna’s fall, though. So very little written on them during the Pre-Banishment Era.

Twilight snorted. Thus far, her efforts had yielded nothing. After a quick refresh of the lore itself, she thought that cross referencing with other texts in the history section would be a simple matter. All she would have to do was narrow her search by isolating a specific time period and begin from there.

Therein lay the problem: the only specific date mentioned with any frequency was the night Princess Luna became Nightmare Moon—the very night she was banished. But that was the end of it.

Everything else was focused on crops or talks with the Griffon nation. Nightmare Moon appeared almost entirely out of nowhere. No warning, no hint of change in how either of the princesses acted.

One day, all of Equestria awoke to darkness. A night that changed the fate of two sisters and the nation they ruled over.

That made no sense. There had to be something to give insight into their past. Something that would help her understand what it was that Princess Luna wanted so badly to regain.

If she was going to help Princess Luna, she needed to know what was meant by “reconnecting” with her fellow ponies. Is it as simple as getting them to accept her as something other than the Nightmare incarnate? Is there a title she wants to recover? Both? Neither?

She sighed. In depth research often proved to be such a double-edged sword. On one hoof, the subject could be utterly fascinating and any findings might be considered a breakthrough in the field. On another, having to dig back through historical records, especially on a matter that had faded to legend, could be tedious.

In the pursuit of knowledge, Twilight could suffer the drawbacks with little more than a few grumbles. But, for a friend, she could deal with a few inconveniences here and there.

It was just a matter of keeping her frustrations at bay should the answers prove elusive...

A yellow and pink blur shot through the door, nearly bowling over a pair of patrons on its way over to Twilight’s table. Fluttershy came to a screeching halt, babbling at a mile a minute. “Ohmygoodness! I’m so sorry, Twilight! Mister Squeakers wasn’t feeling well this morning, so I had to find some of his medicine and mix it up with his food—he’s always been a bit finicky when it came to taking pills, I usually just sneak them in with a treat and he’s none the wiser!” She paused to take a deep breath, pawing lightly at the wooden floor. “But, this morning, he was really bad so I had to give him an extra dose and—and—oh, I’m so sorry for making you wait!”

Twilight’s smile never dropped. Slipping a bookmark into place, she closed her book. It was pushed to the side and out of her mind in favor of the mare before her. “It’s okay, Fluttershy. I assumed as much and, really, if you had an emergency, I would’ve been fine with rescheduling.”

“I know! I mean, I know you’re busy, but you try to be patient with everypony’s schedules and—well, I just don’t like making you girls wait for me and then cancel.” Her wings drooped low as she looked down and away from Twilight.

Her chin was caught in a field of magic and gently raised to meet Twilight’s gaze. “I don’t mind, Fluttershy. I’m just happy you were able to come. Now, please,” she gestured to the spot across from her, “Sit with me and let’s enjoy breakfast. Savoir Faire just went to get your tea, I’m sure he’ll be happy to see you as well!”

“Overjoyed, in fact.” Fluttershy jumped and let out a squeak as the aforementioned waiter snuck up behind her. Savoir. “My apologies, Madame Fluttershy, I forgot myself. Please, do sit and let an old stallion serve a pretty mare.”

Twilight stifled a giggle as her friend’s muzzle flushed red at the compliment. “O-Oh, um, yes! I mean, I am rather hungry and, oh, you already brought my tea…”

“As always.” With a slight bow, he levitated two teapots and set them on the table in each mare’s spot. His smile broadened as Fluttershy stepped past him to take her seat, muttering a quick ‘thank you’ as she did. “Shall I assume that you will both have your usual, ladies?”

“That’ll do fine for me, Savoir.” Twilight nodded.

Fluttershy ducked her head and looked down at the teapot. “I’d like that… if you don’t mind, Mister Faire.”

“I’m certain that Creme Brulé will be delighted, as always. I’ll put that in immediately, ladies. Enjoy your tea.”

Twilight smiled and levitated her teapot to refill her cup, her gaze fixed on Fluttershy. With practiced ease, she managed to pour without splashing the hot liquid onto the table, despite her divided attention. “So, you mentioned that Mister Squeakers hasn’t been feeling well. Is it serious?”

“I don’t think so,” Fluttershy took her own teapot in her hooves and poured, taking extra care to keep steady so she didn’t slosh it over the sides. “It seems like a cold, but his fever hasn’t broken yet. I’ve tried a few of my usual remedies, but he’s still so weak and uncomfortable…”

“How long has he been sick?”

“This is four days now. I’m starting to wonder if it might be something else. Oh, I hope it’s not! Missus Whiskers just had babies, and they love their daddy so much.”

Twilight placed a hoof on her chin, her muzzle scrunched. “I may have something on common illnesses in mice in the library. If you’d like, we can head over and look together after we eat.”

The way Fluttershy’s eyes lit up at the idea gave Twilight all the assurance she needed. “Oh, that would be very helpful! I’d like that very much, and I’m sure Mister Squeakers would appreciate it, too!”

A contented sigh escaped her lips. Twilight took a sip of tea, revelling in the warmth both in the drink and her chest. At least there was something she could do to try to ease her friend’s worries. “Then, it’s settled. Spike is probably still sleeping, though, so we’ll have to be quiet when we go in. He—well, we both had a rather late night, actually. But, a dragon his age needs a lot of sleep.”

Fluttershy tilted her head and unpinned her ears. “Oh? Did Princess Celestia give you a project? I-If you’re too tired, we can reschedule—I mean, I know we’re here already and—”

“No, no, no, I’m fine.” Twilight quickly assured her. She reached across the table and patted Fluttershy’s hoof. “I’m used to late nights, believe me. As for the project, it’s one of my own. Something I’ve taken on to help a friend.”

“Oh? Is somepony having trouble? Is it Applejack? Is she having trouble on the farm with something? Or-or Rainbow Dash?” Fluttershy wrung her hooves together.

Twilight grimaced, barely resisting the urge to facehoof. Of course Fluttershy would jump to the worst possible conclusion, she always worried about her friends’ well-being. Claiming that she was trying to help a friend and leaving it open ended as such was an oversight.

She caught sight of Fluttershy’s long, silky tail twitching. That wasn’t a good sign at all. “No, our friends are fine! Really, no pony is hurt! A friend just came to chat about some things and mentioned that she might need some advice.”

Fluttershy sighed, slowly unclasping her hooves and carefully took hold of her cup. “Oh, good.” She sipped at her tea, letting the herbs calm her fragile nerves. “I’m sorry! I don’t mean to always be a nervous Nelly, but… well, you know I just worry sometimes.”

“I know you do, there’s no need to apologize! It’s nice that you care. Just don’t get so wound up about it, you stress yourself out so terribly when you do.”

“Yes, but I just can’t help it! You girls are really important to me and—well…” She heaved a sigh and sunk in her seat. “You’re right, I guess. I’m so used to looking after my animals that—”

“You think you have to do the same for us.” Twilight finished for her. She gently rubbed a small circle on the back of Fluttershy’s hoof, something her mother always did for her whenever she was feeling stress. “And that’s wonderful, I honestly appreciate how much you care. Just calm down a bit and don’t jump to the worst conclusion, okay?”

Fluttershy’s cheeks flushed a bit. She ducked her head and shifted in her cushion, her wings twitched forward as though she might try to bury her muzzle in them. “Well, if you say so…”

“Just try. It helps a bit. Now, how are the rest of your animals, Fluttershy? Is Angel behaving himself?”

“Yes. Well, um,” Fluttershy’s ears drooped, “No. He did get into a bit of trouble when a couple of owls visited this morning. They were excited about a visitor to their meadow, but they woke him up. He, well, didn’t take kindly to that.”

Twilight’s ears twitched. She brought a hoof to her mouth to stifle a gasp. “Oh my! He didn’t get hurt, did he?”

“He was scratched pretty badly, it would’ve been… a lot worse if I hadn’t been there to stop them.” A whimper escaped her throat as she wrung her hooves together. “Oh, I just wish he wouldn’t pick fights like that!”

“That doesn’t sound good at all! I could help patch him up after we help Mister Squeakers, if you’d like.”

“Well, if it’s not much trouble, I suppose.” Fluttershy fiddled idly with her teacup. She stayed quiet while Twilight drank, but surveyed her closely. Her hesitation gave way to concern as she noted the dark circles beneath those purple eyes. “Um, Twilight? Have you been sleeping well?”

Twilight lowered her cup, cocking her head to one side. “I’ve been sleeping just fine. Why do you ask?”

“You just look a bit worn down, is all—if you don’t mind me saying. And you already mentioned that Spike was tired from last night, so I just wanted to make sure…”

“Oh! Oh, no, no, no! We’re fine, Fluttershy, trust me!” Again, she found herself reaching across to pat her friend’s hoof. “We usually make sure to schedule around our later nights. Last night ran a bit longer because, well… okay, so Princess Luna might have dropped by.”

“Really?” Fluttershy’s ear twitched. She put her cup down on the table and gave full attention to Twilight. “She visited you last night?”

“Yes, right out of the blue. She caught me totally off-guard. Poor Spike nearly had a heart attack when he walked in and saw her!”

“Oh, dear! It must’ve been quite a shock for both of you—though, I’m a little surprised that Spike would’ve reacted so strongly. He seems a bit more… um… relaxed, at times, than you.” She flinched, bringing her wings out up and ducking her head. “I’m sorry if that sounded rude! It’s just something I’ve noticed!”

Twilight waved her off. “That’s fine. I know I can be… rather insistent with organization. As for Spike, well,” She had to bring a hoof to her mouth to stifle a giggle, “he likes to stick to a schedule more than he lets on, believe me!”

Fluttershy tilted her head and raised a brow. “I suppose that makes sense. Though, I haven’t really seen it for myself.”

“It’s mostly for when we have company over, he likes to know how much food to prepare and how much time he has to get the library ready for everypony. Otherwise, he can get rather panicky.” A small chuckle escaped her lips.

“I’ll have to take your word for it, but it fits.” Her hooves turned the teacup around in their grasp, biting down on her bottom lip. Her ears lay flat against her head as she mulled over her words. “So, if you don’t mind me asking, what did Princess Luna want so late at night?”

Twilight made to speak, but hesitated. Luna had, of course, mentioned that she wanted to meet with her so they could speak frankly. She stared into her cup, watching the steam trail off the surface. Speaking one on one with a princess wasn’t quite new, though the sudden arrival had been jarring, but the lack of ceremony or announcement was odd.

Could there be a layer of tacit request for confidentiality in Luna’s actions?

Luna had been gracious enough to allow Spike to sit in on their talk, but that was as far as it went.

“She wanted to thank me for having faith in her. And she...” Twilight thought about the proper way to word this. Luna probably wouldn’t appreciate her difficulties reacquanting herself being outed just yet, “...she wanted to know if I considered us friends.”

Fluttershy went ramrod straight, her eyes snapped open and locked on Twilight’s. Surprise mixed with anticipation and a hint of joy. “You said yes?”

Twilight noticed those wings tense up, as if ready to shoot out and unfurl to take flight. “Of course! I was more surprised that she had to ask, really. Though, I think some of it might be that she wanted me to say it outright.”

“Maybe. I’m sure she felt happy hearing it from you.” She beamed and took a sip of her tea. Fluttershy placed her cup down on the table and brought her hooves together. “Actually, now that I think about it, it all makes sense. Um, remember the owls I mentioned?”

“The ones who got into a fight with Angel? Yes, why?”

“Well, they said that she was their special visitor last night.”

“Really?” Twilight sat up straight and pricked up her ears. “When did that happen?”

Bringing a hoof to her cheek, Fluttershy tried to recall their excited report. “They said she landed in Whitetail Wood around midnight and that she seemed very happy.” She nodded to herself, turning her attention back to Twilight. Fluttershy gave a rare toothy grin. “Maybe she’s happy to have a friend.”

After a moment’s pause, and several quick blinks, Twilight nodded and raised her cup to her lips. A small smile played on her muzzle. “Well, I’m glad to have helped. Making new friends is always fun!”

“Yes… but it can be scary at first, not knowing if ponies will like you or not.”

“That’s true. Just meeting you girls was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, and not just because of Nightmare Moon.” She closed her eyes and smiled as she reflected on her own anxiety a few short months ago. “But I’m glad I did. I’ve become a far better pony for it and—”

“Pardonez-moi, mesdames.” Savoir cut in, drawing their attention to both the stallion himself and the plates floating in his magic. He deftly deposited each in their respective place, before bowing to the girls. “Enjoy your meals! If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to ask!”

Twilight sniffed deeply, her nostrils flaring as the scent of daisy and dandelion pancakes wafted toward her. She licked her lips and poured a small cup of maple syrup over her plate.

A quick glance in Fluttershy’s direction showed that her friend was in similar state, beaming happily at a plate of sliced apples, celery, and sunflowers, with a cup of honey for dipping.

“Hungry?” Twilight giggled, hiding a knowing grin behind her hoof. Fluttershy smiled uneasily before giving a single nod. “We can finish talking later. Tuck in.”

Author's Note:

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please remember to leave a comment for feedback - always helps.

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