• 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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35: Blessed is She

Twilight stirred. She let out a groggy moan and brought a hoof to her forehead. Her head ached like the full percussion section of the Royal Canterlot Symphony was playing at fortissimo within, all focused right between her eyes.

Were her sinuses acting up? It wasn’t spring, so it couldn’t possibly be the pollen aggravating her hay fever.

“She’s wakin’ up! Give ‘er some space!” a familiar southern drawl sounded from somewhere to her right. “Pinkie, bring me a glass of water!”

Applejack? She tried to speak, instead letting out another pained moan that tapered off into a tiny whine. The drums reached a crescendo and her skull felt as though it was ready to split open under the constant torment and throbbing. Twilight cracked open her eyes, wincing at the light. “What happened?” she choked out.

Applejack’s face came into view, her muzzle creased in a concerned frown. “Ya fainted, sugarcube,” she replied. “Nearly hit yer head on the floor, but Rainbow caught ya just in the nick o’ time.”

Twilight blinked a few times. Had she really? She forced herself into a seated position, letting out another groan at the feeling of stiff muscles tugging against her move. Her eyes flitted down to the familiar red cushion.

So they’d laid her out on Rarity’s couch until she woke. Well, that was thoughtful. Better a bit of stiffness from sleeping on the couch than that of sleeping on the floor.

Then her eyes found Rainbow Dash, lounging on one of Rarity’s chairs with a copy of Daring Do and the Marked Thief of Marapore in hoof and an unrolled scroll resting on her left. An unrolled scroll that so happened to bear Luna’s crescent moon cutie mark.

Twilight sat bolt upright as though she’d been hit by a bolt of lightning. The room spun, the edges of her vision tinged black and blurred.

“Yeah, you might wanna take it slow there, Egghead,” Rainbow said. Closing the book with a sharp snap, she placed it on the table and looked up at Twilight. “Oh, good, you got a little bit of color back. Gave AJ and Rarity a bit of a scare when you tried to get a close up with the floor.”

Applejack snorted. “Quit posturin’. You had yer feathers all ruffled ‘till I shoved that book in yer hooves and made ya sit down for a spell.”

Rainbow’s nostrils flared but she didn’t try to deny it. Instead, she stood and pasted a wicked smirk upon her muzzle. “Maybe so, but there’s something important we’ve got to take care of, wouldn’t you agree, Rares?”

A light cough from just behind the couch made Twilight flick an ear. Rarity stepped around the couch with a purple ice bag held aloft in the soft, sapphire glow of her magic. Clicking her tongue, she fixed Rainbow with a stern look. “Give the poor dear a moment to recoup,” she scolded as she gently placed the ice bag atop Twilight’s head. “The gossip will keep long enough. Perhaps only just.” Her lips twitched. “Twilight, dear, you shouldn’t push yourself after taking a tumble like that. Why don’t you lay back down?”

Something about her tone and the almost predatory gleam in Rarity’s eyes sent a chill down Twilight’s spine. An alabaster hoof pressed gently against her chest, she raised a brow and allowed herself to slowly lay down, resting her back against the cushioned leg rest.

There was something missing. Twilight swiveled her ears about, listening for the sounds of three excitable fillies bouncing around at the chance to play doctor or something silly. Or Spike’s clawed toes scratching against the floor in his haste to rush to her side and coddle her until he was certain she’d recover. But there was silence save for a rhythmic humming in time with four hooves bouncing lightly against the wooden floor.

“Here ya go, Twilight!” Pinkie chimed as she leaned over the back of the couch and held out a glass of water. She gave a wide, toothy grin. Too wide, even for her. “Drink up!”

A lump formed in Twilight’s throat. She accepted the glass almost dumbly, lighting her horn to hold it in her magic’s arcane grip only by practice. She felt four sets of eyes upon her while she brought it to her lips and took a sip.

Wait, four?

Twilight swallowed, then asked, “Where did Fluttershy and the fillies get to?” After a beat, she added, “And Spike?”

“I had Fluttershy take them over to Sugarcube Corner,” Rarity replied with a hint of smugness in her tone. “They were a bit … well, I suppose amused and concerned by your fainting spell, but I felt you wouldn’t particularly enjoy being crowded when you came ‘round.”

Rainbow snorted and gave her feathers a little fluff. “Spike looked like he was about to have a heart attack when you toppled over. Never seen him go from grinning like a loon to ‘world on fire’ so quick. Kept babbling about not meaning to laugh at the letter.” Her smirk returned in full, she raised a hoof and reached over to pat the scroll. “Gotta say, it’s sweet in that ultra mushy way Rarity loves. Speaking of which, Rares, have you read this yet?”

“I was a bit preoccupied closing up shop. And you’ve made a point to monopolize it since you started cackling over it the first time, so no.” Turning slowly, Rarity fixed Twilight with an almost shark like grin. “But I am quite interested in what garnered such a reaction in the middle of our talk.”

Oh, no! No, no, no, no, no! A thousand times, no! Twilight took the glass in her hooves and sent a tendril of magic out to snatch Luna’s letter away from Rainbow. Her eyes crossed, a magenta glow flickered and sputtered around the letter as she struggled to cast properly in her addled state.

She took too long. Just long enough for Rainbow to slap a hoof down on the letter and pin it to the leg rest. Twilight whined and kicked her hind hooves. “Rainbooooooooooooooooow! Give me my letter!”

“Nuh uh! You’ve been hiding out in the library since Luna gave you a big smooch at Golden Harvest’s party, and that has made it a regular pain in the rump to invoke the sacred best friends’ right to tease you for your first girlfriend—”

“Yer callin’ dibs on that title?” Applejack arched a brow. “I think we’ve all got claim.”

Rainbow waved her off. “I never said it was just me! I meant plural possessive—all of us have it, Flutters too, even though she’ll never use it.”

“Fair ‘nuff.”

“Hey!” Twilight aimed a pout at Applejack.

A halfhearted shrug was her only reply. “Sorry, sugarcube. Dash has a point, we’ve all kinda been waitin’ fer ya to come out of hidin’ so we could give ya a lil’ ribbin’. Frankly, ya brought this on yerself.” Applejack trotted over and hopped onto the opposite leg rest. “Let Dash have her fun.”

Twilight let out a sound somewhere between a whine and a groan. She knew full well giving Rainbow Dash an inch meant she’d take a mile, but fighting the inevitable would only make things worse.

The wicked grin that spread across Rainbow’s face was testament enough to the fact. With a sigh, Twilight hung her head and gave a defeated nod. There was no escaping her fate now.

Rainbow let out a whoop and hopped back into Rarity’s plush chair. There was a rustle of paper, then a sharp snap—as if she were straightening out a newspaper for reading. She faked a cough and cleared her throat, muttering something under her breath as her voice took on a decidedly less cocky note in favor of something more stately. More Luna, even.

“My Dearest Twilight Sparkle,” Rainbow read aloud in a rather impressive imitation of Luna’s voice, pausing a second to allow Pinkie a moment to get her snickers under control.

“Why me?” Twilight whined, turning her eyes up toward the ceiling. “What did I do to deserve this?”

“Remember all that snark and sarcasm you threw our way when you first came here? The chickens have come home to roost, Egghead!” Rainbow quipped, before continuing her reading, still in a fair imitation of Luna’s voice:

Blessed is she, they said of old
Who knows the cause of things,
And who can with subtle, true aim
Pick from the heap of life some beginning.
I’ve believed it, but now again I find that
My old assurance is vindicated:
Happy she who knows where and how love begins.
And perhaps I am happy, and perhaps
That is why.
Attend, and among
The arrayed hosts of night’s favor soon shall be seen
A bright pattern. Bold, radiant,
Filled to burst, new wine in old skins, filled even so
With life and fascination.
How shall I capture the life of love’s cause
Even with the greatest of all my treasures?
What stars could paint her smile growing with delight,
Hot on the heels of some lost shred of truth?
How shall even I capture the light in those eyes,
For the shooting star holds her fire but it leaves,
And she remains, burning as it does on and on,
Always moving, always searching.
I could slow the night’s turn in the sky, lighten it,
And perhaps hope to match the hue of her coat
In pale imitation of day’s ending. She
Is for a good reason where Night begins, after all.
Legs fair and strong, and a head held high to meet
The challenger, the age old day, with its light high in the sky.
Beautiful, yes, but to the mare who values the
Causes of things, the secrets that night hides and the glories
That the night provides, this Twilight has a greater store of treasures
Of the kinds of which one does not find in Everfree ruins,
Or in dragon hoards, or even the gold halls of Canterlot:
A warm heart, that enjoys the present smiling hour,
And can look beyond it too, to see what lies beyond.
That has made all the difference.
Happy she is who knows the cause of things--
And is not Twilight the herald of the Night’s returning?

With every word, Twilight felt her cheeks burn as a rosy hue tinged her coat a deep purple. She set her glass down on the floor and buried her face in her hooves, a wobbly smile crossing her muzzle in spite of herself. Every word that poured from Rainbow’s mouth had been written with nothing short of pure adoration, affection straight from the quill of the ageless Night Princess in her ivory tower in Canterlot.

“… Are you free for dinner this Friday evening? I hope to see you again soon, my dear. With all my love, Luna.” Snorting, Rainbow gave a low whistle. “Dang, girl! I’m not even a fan of all this old-timey, mushy stuff, but for a poem like this, I’d probably dabble in dating a mare, too!”

“I’m not dabbling!” Twilight yelped, glaring through the crack between her hooves, then quickly clapped them over her face again. Maybe if she just hid and stayed quiet, like Fluttershy, they would lose interest and move on to something else. It worked for certain types of bears, right? Why not mischievous friends with a penchant for teasing and gossip?

“I know you’re not, I meant me. Like, okay, fine, I’m not saying it right. Point is, I’d probably give Luna a shot if she sent me a letter like this.” She paused a beat, then added, “Say, you two wouldn’t happen to be open to a hot, sporty young pegasus mare getting in on the—Ow! Ow! Ow! It was a joke! Let go of my ear!”

Rainbow dropped the letter, squirming and writhing as she tried to escape the cerulean glow twisting her ear. Rarity trotted over, a cross scowl creasing her muzzle. “That isn’t funny, and you should know better! I have half a mind to tell a certain somepony you’ve been mooning over all about your little crush on him the next time I run into him!”

“Wha—No! I take it back! I’ll be good!”

“See that you do!” Giving Rainbow’s ear one last twist, Rarity released her. She turned away with a huff and faced Twilight. “Now, Twilight, dear,” she said, her smile returning, “put your hooves down. We’re not going to tease you too much.”

“Yet,” Applejack, Pinkie, and Rainbow chimed in near-perfect unison.

Rarity allowed herself a snort of laughter. “Quite. Oh, for heaven’s sake, Twilight! Come on, now!”

Darn. Hiding wasn’t working. Ponies weren’t so much like bears after all. She gave another whine, but acquiesced to Rarity’s demands. “Fine! Are you happy now?”

“You have no idea, darling,” Rarity drawled. “That aside, you are going to accept, aren’t you?”

Twilight bit her lip. “Well, I think I’m available. And it would be nice to have our first, um …” She poked her hooves together, the heat rose in her cheeks again. “Date. So, I should probably send a letter. Whenever Spike gets back,” she finished sheepishly.

“Excellent. Once you send off your reply and the two of you figure out where you’ll be dining, I’ll be happy to help you prepare if you like.”

“Really?” Twilight perked up her ears.

“Of course, dear! I wouldn’t just let you go off on your first date looking anything less than perfect, now would I? And don’t worry, I won’t get out of hoof with it.” Rarity paused for a beat. “Too out of hoof with it.”

A bright smile made its way across Twilight’s muzzle. “Thanks,” she said softly. “I’d really appreciate it.”

Rarity nodded, leaning over to give her a gentle hug. “No trouble at all. I do live for this sort of thing.”

The pair sat together for a moment, Twilight content to close her eyes and lean into the embrace while the pounding in her head slowly subsided.

Then Rainbow coughed. “So … we can tease her ‘till she’s a squirming, blushing mess now, right?”

To Twilight’s dismay, Rarity nodded. “Yes. Yes, you may.”

Why me?


“Niece, would you be willing to aid me in something regarding Twilight?”

Perhaps it was a moment of weakness. Perhaps centuries of fighting in shadows with her Night Guard, then a thousand year imprisonment within her beloved moon drove Luna to say the words before the physical embodiment of everything to do with love, romance, sexuality, and a whole host of saccharine things that made her feel her teeth rot.

The way Cadence sat rigid in her seat, her lips slowly tugged into a wide, almost manic grin made Luna consider cutting her losses and fleeing for the farthest reaches of snowy Yakyakistan. Maybe she could drag Twilight along for the ride—surely she would enjoy a chance to experience a foreign culture firsthoof.

Anything to escape the oncoming storm of peppiness that she unwittingly wrought upon herself in the confines of Cadence’s former suite—now a fully functioning office in the castle. An office furnished with cushions of pinks and vibrant reds, soft carpet, powder pink walls that matched her coat, a high, arching window, and a wooden desk that bore countless heart-shaped picture frames and knick-knacks.

Clearly, Shining Armor had convinced her to show some level of restraint when they decided the décor for their humble abode—one of his very few victories. Or maybe Cadence simply granted it to him as a means of making him feel more comfortable, less like he’d entered a love-spider’s web.

Then again, he seemed to know that all too well …

Luna noticed Erebos subtly sidestepping away out of the corner of her eye, a look of amused shock spread across his face.

Then she turned her gaze upon Cadence again, and nearly leapt out of her horseshoes when she came nose to nose with her beaming niece.

“I would be delighted!” Cadence squealed. “Oh, Auntie, you have no idea how much I’d hoped you’d let me help! I have so many ideas for—”

“Cadence, please,” Luna cut her off with a pained grimace. Already she felt the beginnings of a headache pounding at the center of her forehead. And if Erebos didn’t stop snickering under his breath, he’d earn himself a cold bath in the castle fountain. “I need only ask one or two questions. I do not require a full lecture.”

Cadence had the grace to look sheepish. “Sorry. I tend to get a little excitable about this sort of thing, and, well, both of you are rather close to home.”

“I understand entirely.”

“I’ll do my best to keep my excitement under wraps.” With a rueful sigh, Cadence schooled her expression to something a bit more professional and stood up straight. “How may I help you, Auntie?”

A trace of disappointment in her tone made Luna flick an ear. A frown tugged at her lips. Confound this mare’s eagerness, and confound my want to connect. Another set of snickers made her glance at Erebos out of the corner of her eye. The wheels in her head began to turn. Funny, is it? She turned her attention to Cadence again. “I recognize that I am asking much of you by requesting that you limit your involvement, despite love being your domain and your want to help those you hold dearest.” Stepping closer, Luna brushed her shoulder against her niece’s. “And there is no pony who knows that making requests of an alicorn in her own domain does not come without offering something in return.”

Cadence’s brilliant purple eyes flashed. “I’m listening.”

“What might you say if I offered you the chance to help a young couple I hold dear? A pair I find myself quite … invested in seeing happy.”

Erebos stood up straight, his armor rattled. “Princess …” he said slowly, a hint of dread crept into his tone.

“Would that suffice?” Luna asked without paying him any heed.

Cadence gave a firm nod. “It would. But let’s take care of you first, Auntie. What is it you need my help with?”

“Rather simple things, I’m afraid. Just a couple things I need to know should she choose to accept my proposition.”

“Oh? What did you ask her?” The gleam in her eyes returned in full force. “Did you, by chance, ask her out on a date?”

Luna wrinkled her snout. “Why would I ask her out on a type of nut? That makes no sense.” A snort to her left drew a frown, she turned to glare at Erebos, who failed to hide his amusement. “Pray tell, what is so funny? Are you addled, or is this one of those modern colloquies?”

“The latter!” Cadence replied through a fit of giggles. “I mean, did you ask her out for courting, Auntie. Like, for dinner or for a show.”

“Ah. I see.” Why in Equestria would it be called a date, though? Food for later thought, perhaps. Luna nodded once. “Yes. I dispatched a letter earlier conveying both my affection and my desire to dine with her this Friday night. I thought it might be a nice way to start us off.” With a little rustle of her wings, she continued, “I was wondering if you might know what sort of flower she preferred. Or is that yet another casualty of the changing times?”

“As a matter of fact,” said Cadence, a bright smile spread across her muzzle, “no. Ponies still give flowers to their loved ones, and I know for fact that Twilight loves tiger lilies.”

Luna’s ears twitched. “Tiger lilies?” Intrigued, she tilted her head. “I would have thought she would cast her favor on sunflowers, like Tia.”

“No, but she does love sunflowers, too. Tiger lilies have always been her favorite, though. It’s the coloration, really. She used to tell me when Auntie Celestia let the sun set, the sky turned the same color of tiger lilies.” With a chuckle, Cadence added, “Every night at twilight, Twilight would get to see her favorite color bloom across the sky as night fell.”

“How very poetic,” Luna noted with a hum. And fitting. Though, I wonder why Twilight neglected to mention this during the Dusk Ceremonies she was present for. Perhaps I shall have to ask. “I will take that under consideration should she accept my invitation, then.”

“She will.”

“Excuse me?”

Cadence grinned. “Trust me, she will. Was there anything else you needed?”

Luna opened her mouth as though to speak, but closed it with an audible click. No. The flowers were enough, she did promise Twilight that she would take things slow in their courtship. No need to lavish her with gifts.

Yet.

Her choice of dining venue would likely make the young mare bluster a little, but it was high time she got over such things. If they were to court, Twilight would find herself in the public eye regardless of whether she continued on as Celestia’s student or if she decided to retire to her tiny library in Ponyville.

“Auntie?” Cadence’s grin faded into a concerned frown. “Are you still with me?”

Blinking a few times, Luna nodded. “Apologies, niece,” she said, a hint of rosy hue tinging her cheeks. “I was lost in thought.”

“So I could see. Thinking of your little date?”

That term is so ridiculous. “Yes, in a sense.”

A knowing smile spread across Cadence’s muzzle. “I understand entirely. Now, with that said …” Her purple eyes flashed again, eager to fulfill her duties as Princess of Love. “I believe you owe me something.”

Ah, yes. A small fee for her patronage.

Luna turned away from Cadence and strode toward the door. Her ear flicked at the sound of Erebos’ armor rattling as he moved to follow. “Erebos,” she called without looking back, “remain.”

He started. “Er, Princess?”

With a wicked grin, she turned to meet his eyes—those mischievous, slitted eyes that slowly widened in a mix of dawning comprehension and horror. He knew what she was planning.

Excellent.

“Niece, my faithful Captain Erebos seems to have taken a bit of a shine to my fair seneschal. Normally, I would offer my assistance, but as I have been told …” She turned her attention to Cadence, whose eyes danced with unhidden glee. “This is your domain, my dear.”

Her piece said, Luna resumed her escape from Cadence’s pseudo temple of love, pulling the door closed behind her, though, not before she heard a squeal and a yelp just as the latch clicked shut.

Sniggering to herself, she tossed her starry mane and began to trot down the hallway, sparing a nod to her sister’s Day Guards as she passed them by.

A flash of green fire burst mere inches from her nose. Luna stopped in mid step, a bright smile tugged at her lips as her eyes flitted to the familiar starburst cutie mark gracing the scroll binding. She opened it quickly, like a foal on Hearth’s Warming morn, and read it. Her smile growing into a grin that nearly spread from ear to ear.

Dear Luna,

I would be happy to join you for dinner this Friday night. What time should I meet you? And where?

Sincerely,

Twilight Sparkle.

P.S. That was a very lovely poem … I don’t think I’ve ever heard anypony say such nice things about me. Thank you.

Meet? Luna gave a derisive snort and shook her head. “My dear, sweet, winter mare,” she whispered, chuckling to herself.

She trotted briskly back to her room, nodding to her door guards as she passed them by. Then she made for her study. Luna sat in her desk and hummed a light, happy tune as she wrote her reply in elegant, flowing cursive:

My Dearest Twilight Sparkle,

You will not have to meet me anywhere. I will meet you at your home just before sunset, we will travel by carriage once more. If it pleases you, I know of a fine Istallion restaurant called Don Cavalcanters in Little Roam. It has outdoor seating on a patio that overlooks a garden my sister tells me is second only to our castle’s.

With all my love,

Luna

Author's Note:

Luna's poem was written by the one and only Cynewulf. It is titled "Twilight."

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