• Published 10th Aug 2015
  • 2,790 Views, 147 Comments

Lost in the Mirror of Worlds - Meadow_Dawn



Four legs and magic. What kind of mess have I gotten myself into? I only wanted a full length mirror for home, and now I'm in a strange world with no friends or family. Who's this dark horse in my reflections and why is it blocking my trip home?

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Bonds, of Heart and Horn

Weeks passed by before I knew what had happened. It had been over a month since I had come to Equestria, and now I feel confident I'm one step closer to getting Silver and I home. Our dinners with the princesses slowed to once or twice a week now that we didn't have as much to talk about, but I didn't mind. I had plenty on my plate to learn and the more time I had to focus on it, the better.

I've learned how to use a few basic magics, though true mastery was likely to take a lifetime I didn't have. Levitation isn't as difficult now, I can lift something half my weight, but struggle to lift much beyond that. I learned about conjuring up items stored for later use, but I simply couldn't store any more than two things at once just yet. My classmates learned how to store one thing each, so I'm quite happy I'm progressing a bit faster than them. And thanks to Lemon Bloom's oddly timed suggestion I even learned how to do a cloud walking spell. I was terrified of the idea, and I couldn't think of a reason why I would ever need such a spell, but I learned it anyway. As it turns out, I got the hang of it just in time, as the Annual Canterlot Race was announced for just around the corner. Thanks to Lemon Bloom, I was able to give Silver my support from the front row!

It was really tough trying to keep my concentration to maintain the spell in spite of my constant fear of falling, but I was sure it meant a lot to him for me to be there. I watched as he trailed behind at first, trying to stay in my seat while watching with baited breath. When he entered the caves, I felt my heart drop before the rest of me followed through half the cloud! I can only remember giving out a yell and then fainting from terror at nearly falling through my seat as my world grew dark. It's a shame he lost, but I heard he lost to that rainbow haired one everyone favored anyway. Even so, Silver earned a silver medal to everyone's surprise, and we shared several jokes about it when I saw him the next day at dinner.

I spent most of my spare time between Starlight Dusk and Stalwart, studying magic as much as I could stand. I learned from Starlight the principles of magic he could teach, despite its complicated terms. I held out hope that I could learn more or newer spells that could get us home soon, but I was more than proud of myself, feeling a bit more confident in my meager-but-growing abilities. Celestia and Luna suggested my studies may be more fruitful on my own, but encouraged me to stay in school regardless to continue to learn about Equestrian history and geography. I nodded my appreciation, but promised I would read those materials at my own pace when not studying magics.

Stalwart and I had fun often, despite my desire to focus on learning about that bracelet. We hung out in Canterlot's main commercial district often, eating out on occasion and just as often making something in the royal kitchen for ourselves and talking on that hill of ours. He smiled a lot as we talked, and I won't deny I enjoyed his company. He was a good friend, and helped ease my homesickness. It was a new concept for me, most of the friends I used to know didn't stick around much. Stalwart was definitely different from them somehow, and I liked it.

I kept trying to research how to fix the bracelet as a major part of my studies, so our 'dates' frequently included me going to different libraries to check their available books on fixing relics. It turned out there was one particular librarian Stalwart helped me learn about who was extremely knowledgeable. She was prone to go on a tangent, but between her and Stalwart, I figured out the magic that had once been in the bracelet had been worn away, but what perplexed me was how it wore away or how to imbue it with the magic needed once again.

I studied that bracelet for the first two weeks without any significant progress to understanding how it did what it did, or why it doesn't work anymore. It was incredibly frustrating until Starlight volunteered to start teaching me. I tried to ask him how he knew this, and why he didn't help me sooner. He told me he didn't know until just recently himself. I tried to ask him who he learned from or how he could teach me, but he wouldn't answer me. He frequently would just flick his ear and continue to point out what was 'wrong' with the relic, and how the magic in it would be repaired.

In the end, Starlight taught me that it was missing several things. First, it was out of power and I then was taught why it was so difficult to repair relics. In order to repair a magical item, the magic being used had to resonate with the original magic perfectly, or it could make the magic unstable, possibly even destroying the object. Second, its engravings were missing key elements to it. He told me how it was like a math problem written on a chalkboard, but with some of the numbers taken out. Ultimately, these magical equations had to be redone properly or it still would be worthless. Third and finally, it was lacking a control crystal. Starlight reminded me of the obvious fact that only unicorns, because of their horn, could turn thought into an outcome with study and effort into the principles. For other ponies, a medium was needed, and the gem was crucial to that effect. Sure enough, there was no crystal in a slot he pointed out to me by the third night of our lessons.

We spent the next several days gradually fixing the bracelet, Starlight using some unknown magic to shape the symbols on the bracelet, while I attempted to imitate the resonance of the original magic. It was incredibly difficult to hear, but there was a small pitch not unlike a music note that our magics made, and the closer I came to that magic, the more the note wavered until it became one solid note again, amplified. It was exhausting work, and yet we still had to go shopping for a gem! I had no money of my own, so I had to ask Celestia if she would be willing to provide the money needed. She was surprised, but consented, and provided me with a hundred 'bits', these golden coins with a unique symbol on them I could safely assume was their currency. I promised to return her any money left over.

I meandered the marketplace of Canterlot slowly, paying attention to the ponies around me and how they spoke to the other merchants. I quickly learned by observation at some of the stalls that some merchants would haggle over items, where some would just have the flat rates that I was used to. Try as I might, I couldn't spot any indicators of which were which. Eventually, I spotted a building store that had several gems and necklaces in the window. None of the gems were small, but I walked inside to see what they had available.

“Welcome, welcome to Colt's Diamond store!” A male pony nearby said, my head turning to look at him assuming he was a worker. “A lovely lady like yourself must be looking for the perfect accessory!”

“No, wait, I...” I turned to look at him stunned, not expecting that kind of attention.

“Not to worry, not to worry, we have all kinds of wonderful gems and trinkets here for your pleasure!” He said, starting to sound a bit too much like a used car salesman. “What are you looking for?”

“I... Tell you what,” I say, taking a breath and looking him in the eye, “If I find something that strikes my fancy, I'll let you know.”

“Absolutely, take all the time you like!” he said with an energetic bow, returning to his post at the door. I looked at him intrigued, wondering if he gave that kind of greeting to everyone that walked in the doors and if anyone else grew as annoyed. I looked over all the various items, making note of their prices. Many of the completed items, particularly the ornate necklaces, went for the thousands of bits in price, but usually featured numerous gems and very elaborate forms of metal around them. I looked over to the corner, where a barrel of miscellaneous gems was found.

I walked over to the barrel, looking at the gems on the surface, though a small bit of digging revealed it was only a few inches deep, understandably. I reached out to Starlight with my horn and asked for his thoughts.

“What do you think, any prospective gems that'd fit or be appropriate here? The price for this area seems to be reasonable.”

“Most of these gems are fake. It's cheap for a reason Jess.” His voice replied.

“That doesn't mean we can't find a real one that'd work in here... Just checking. How about the rest?”

“We won't really know until you look over it all and we can test the harmony of it and your magic.”
I sighed and slid my hoof around in that bin to try and find any other possible ones, but he was right, many of them were poorly shaped for our bracelet. I walked around until I saw some of the other necklaces. One in particular seemed promising, a pair of wyverns wrapped around a pointed cylindrical gem that was half transparent, half whites and greens spiderwebbing inside it.

The door opened and another pony walked in, eliciting the same kind of response that I had received earlier. I saw the other worker at the desk was looking over at the new entrant as well, so I looked back at the gem, ready to test it! Quietly, I built up some magic on the gem like I had with the bracelet. I watched with glee as it not only resonated quickly, but glowed from the inside with the magic I put into it. A couple others nearby like it glowed as well, but not nearly so brightly.

I took the necklace off the hook and examined it for a price tag nearby, there wasn't one. Instinct was screaming at me, saying it had to work well. Knowing that if this item were to be haggled over, I couldn't let my excitement show. I walked to the desk as casually as I could manage, putting it down on the desk.

“Find what you were looking for?” A mare asked from behind the counter, wearing several varieties of the accessories that were on display.

“Perhaps. I spotted this on the rack over there, but I saw no price tag for it.”

“Oh, that's going to be fifty bits. Everything on that rack is.”

“I see.” I say, pausing as I pretend to reconsider. After a second, I nodded in her direction, “I'll take it then. I would be interested in having a different gem inside it though. How much would it be to replace the gem?”

“Thirty bits.”
“Hm, perhaps you have something in a deep or rich blue that could take its place? This green one is pretty, but I have something else in mind for it.”

“Sure. It'll be fifteen minutes.”

“Excellent.” I say, nodding my appreciation, providing the eighty bits to the shopkeeper.

While I waited for her to complete my request, I watched the sales clerk take the necklace to the back to let the jeweler replace the gem. I started to wonder whether it was really wise to have spent eighty of the hundred bits Celestia gave me for the necklace and the gem. It was possible for me to just have purchased the gem inside it, or even just purchase the necklace and pry out the gem myself now that I think about it. Still, I couldn't help but want to use the money she gave, and there was a certain somepony who might benefit from it.

The clerk returned to me after the fifteen minutes, providing me with the gem and the necklace with its new almost dark sapphire gem inside a bag. I thanked her for their quick work, and carried the bag along straight to the castle to make sure I had no other opportunities to spend money.

Once I was in my room, we completed the final step of the repairing of the bracelet, charging up the gem and placing it in the slot. Starlight warned me it had to be fully charged from the start with the right frequency, matching the bracelet's in order to fit. When it is charged and matching the frequency, it will go into the bracelet and almost fuse into the slot, making it very difficult to remove otherwise.

I took a deep breath and began. It took nearly an hour of trying to pour magic power into the gem that floated in front of me. Fatigue kept hitting in waves until finally, after one last strong push of effort, I managed to charge the gem into the same ringing sound that the bracelet was. They both rose up another foot into the air, and appeared to slam into each other with a flash of light before falling down toward the ground.

Starlight caught the bracelet as he stood near me, mostly transparent but still more coherent than I, and set it down on the desk.

“We did it...” He said quietly.

“Yeah. Wake me up when it's time for dinner.” I say through have closed eyes.

“We just missed the dinner hours, but I think they'll forgive us if we hop over to make a salad to tide you over till morning.”

“I'll just not worry about it then. Let's get some sleep.” I say getting up and climbing into bed. I fell asleep almost immediately.

The next morning, despite sleeping in a while, I decided to head over to the school and give the necklace over to the particular colt who always was excited to see me visit. I arrived just after recess started, and when I walked to the lawn, I saw him waiting at our usual spot.

“Hi Dawn!” He called out excitedly, “We missed you!”

“I know you have! I've missed you too, but I've been up a lot of nights trying to fix something that's been broken for a very, very long time.”

“Are you going to practice your music again?” he asked eagerly.

“Almost.” I smile, glad to know someone appreciates my attempts to recall music from home, “I have something for you.”

“You do?” he asked excitedly.

“I do.” I say calmly, and I made the necklace appear with a small poof in front of me and slightly above our heads, slowly lowering it down in front of him.

“Ooooooo.” He admired. I watched him for a minute, seeing how he admired the creatures, an idea forming in my mind I had to put into effect.

“This,” I pause for dramatic effect, “is a little charm I bought, and added a special spell just for you.”

“For me?” he asked surprised.

“For you.” I nodded solemnly. “This little charm will take your bundled up courage you've got right in here,” I lightly tapped his chest, “and let it all come out to do what you want to do at the time.”

“Oh wow! You can do that?” he asked in wonder.

“I can. But remember,” I say, suddenly firm, “this power to do what you want doesn't come from the necklace. It's always inside you, even if you lose this little charm, it'll help you show what you already had. Never forget that.”

“You mean, one day I can do things without your spell?”

“Oh yes you can. You could even do things today if you needed to, but until that happens,” I say slowly lifting it over his head and lowering it down onto his neck, “may it help you accomplish things you dream of doing.”

He gave a very audible whoop of excitement as he flung himself at me. I lost most of my breath when his hug connected and he squeezed as much as he could before running around me. It took me laughing at his exuberance and extending a limb out to catch him on the way to stop him for a final bit.

“Now, promise me you'll take very good care of it, don't lose it under your bed or anything ok?”

“I promise!”

“Now go off and play with your friends, no music today.” I chuckled, a smile spreading on my face as he ran off elated at his gift.

I walked to the castle after school to find Stalwart there waiting for me.

“Hey Dawn, long time no see!”

“Hi Stalwart. Sorry about that.” I yawned and shook my head, trying to wake myself back up again.

“Geeze, you sound and look about how tired I feel!”

“That bad huh?”

“Not quite, but close enough. Just what have you been doing?” He asked as we walked toward my room.

“Learning magic, like always.”

“You need to take a break sometime you know?”

“Yeah... You're right.” I admit. “You're a little late though.”

“Oh?”

“I think we're done now. Starlight's going to check on the bracelet tonight somehow, but I'm too tired to try anymore.”

“Good thing it's time for dinner. Let's get you some food and we'll just take it easy then.”

We walked over to the dining room, which was filled with plenty of guards, a few other minor guests or castle help, and all of them hungry. I found us a seat as he grabbed our food, then nearly wolfed down everything he brought for us before I realized what I was eating. It was satisfying, but I could tell I was starting to become very worn down again already.

Stalwart and I started to head toward the exit, when I thought for a minute someone called my name from the room. Confused, I turned my head to look back at the room, trying to spot who called for me. It was a horrible idea for me to keep walking while looking backward, I felt my head hit something solid with a loud thunk. I wobbled as I backed up, barely able to tell I had ended up walking into the door frame of the exit. I remember Stalwart's voice and leaning against him as we walked for a while, eventually encountering my bed. I climbed into it readily and soon fell fast asleep.
I woke up bright and early on Saturday, a bit before the normal sunrise I usually woke to. I looked in the mirror and idly brushed my mane and tail until a bit after sunrise. I was feeling sluggish and low on energy, but I wanted to get my normally unruly hair in order for if Stalwart dropped by. I half hoped he would want to go somewhere together like a couple weeks ago.

I set down my brush once I was done, and I looked at the newly finished bracelet, deciding to put it on. It was a little snug on my left hoof at first, but then it rose up almost naturally to my upper forelimb and hung there by itself. A quick tug at it with my other forelimb showed me I could take it off easily, almost as if it could stay in place only if desired. It fascinated me that it looked so solid, yet seemed to barely change size enough to stay put. My stomach rumbled audibly, reminding me to go eat food before doing anything else.

After a quick breakfast of oats, something I'd grown to love here in Equestria, I walked out to that little hill to spend some time alone to reflect. Stalwart wouldn't be awake to visit until after lunch at least, and waiting for him always left me at a loss for what to do or study. Starlight Dusk walked over to my side and sat nearby, both of us staring into the distance as the bustle of activity started to rise.

“You're doing incredibly well you know.” Starlight spoke after a couple minutes, half transparent in the sunlight.

“That's what everyone is telling me, so why do I have such a hard time believing it?” I said, realizing he must mean our progress regarding the bracelet. It only felt like I was going through the motions, not actually understanding it if I were honest.

“We never were very good at accepting compliments.”

“We never got many compliments.” I replied.

“We got plenty of them, we just didn't recognize it at the time.” Starlight corrected sternly.

“Just what are you getting at?” I asked quickly, feeling frustrated at the dissent.

“You've been spending a lot of time on learning magic, nearly all of your free time has been studying or learning it. At least, the time you aren't spending with Stalwart Shield.” he said, clearly teasing me.

“Hey come on! You know how few friends we had or made growing up! Can you really blame me?”

“Calm down Jess, trust me I know, and I'm not blaming you.” He admitted, calming me back down, “He's a good man, or stallion, at least from what I've seen. Granted, he's clearly smitten with you.”

“No way! That's not it at all!” I protest, looking away to the fields and trying not to blush, “We're just friends! You don't just fall for somepony in a month! Besides, even if it were true, I couldn't... If we can go home, I wouldn't ask him to come with. We're just friends...”

“Do you think that's how he would look at it?” Starlight asked quietly.

Silence ensued as I thought about what he said. He was right. If Stalwart was actually looking at me as someone he wants to date, that would change things quite a bit. I couldn't play with someone's heart and string them along, only to leave them behind. On the other hoof, if I made friends here, I'd end up leaving them behind here too wouldn't I? I'd miss Silver as well as Stalwart, then there was Breezy and Lemon Bloom, and that little colt in school I just encouraged. I had to wonder, was it right of me to make all these connections to these ponies if I'm just going to leave them behind when I go home?

As I was finishing up my thoughts, realizing just how hard it really could be to leave this world, a glint of sunlight reflected off a fast moving object as I watch Silver Wing land on the terrace in front of Starlight and I.

"Hey Dawn, you're up early," Silver said then paused, "I see you've got your... Friend? Out for a change."

"Good morning to you too." I answer, deciding to let Starlight answer for his own status.

"We were talking about things to ourselves." Starlight said, nodding his acknowledgment of Silver's presence.

"Well that sounds... Fun?" Silver said with uncertainty, trying to laugh it off, "I take it Stalwarts still on nights?"

"Yeah... that he is." I yawned, shaking my head as I tried to wake up, "Sorry, I had a really long night the other day and I'm still not up to par again."

"Tell me about it," Silver said with a sigh. He plopped down into a seated position and shook his head as he continued, "I'm usually up at dawn, and I don't go to bed till nearly midnight..."

"Oh gosh, what has you out so late?" I ask, concerned.

"Fighting," Silver answered with a laugh, "and flying too of course."

"Just what are you fighting?" Starlight asked

"It's more like sparring I guess," Silver admitted, "I'm giving fighting lessons in exchange for flight lessons. That's the only reason I was able to even compete in that race."

"I'm sorry I wasn't able to stay for the entire race." I apologize quietly, still feeling guilty.

"No worries, I know you had quite the scare." He chuckled. "I gotta admit though, I did not expect to see you there at all. What with your height issues and all."

"We have a habit of getting things done in spite of fear" Starlight answered.

"Yeah.” I agreed, remembering what led up to it, “Lemon Bloom told me I might want to learn how to do that cloud walking spell, but I didn't know why until just before the race. I had to keep repeating my motto all the way up the stairs just to keep from shaking or falling..."

"I will not let my life be ruled by fear." Starlight nodded, as if expecting Silver to be unaware.

Silver nodded. "Not a bad motto to have, but not an easy one to stick too"

"Believe me, we know." Starlight said, nudging me in the flank gently, bringing my focus back to the here and now instead of that long stairway up to the audience in the clouds.

"I'm more a Hakuna-matata fan myself. Hence all the no worries." Silver laughed and smiled at us.

“I always did hate that song,” I laughed, causing Silver to smirk.

Silver shook his head and glanced over at Starlight, looking him over and raising a brow. "So you two are connected, right?"

"We are." Starlight said, I merely nodded. I didn't need to echo what he said already.

"So how does that work? Can you two hear each other’s thoughts? Or feel what the other feels then?"

We look at each other briefly before I decided to reply first, "To an extent. It's kinda weird."

"I can imagine," Silver chuckled, "If you two are the same though, why are you different genders? Or is that just more magic stuff?"

"It's ...." I paused, uncertain of how to explain. It was nice to finally be asked the question I had been avoiding, but on the other hoof, it was not an easy subject in any world. "Starlight really is what I used to be. After some really, really hard times back home, I did some deep soul searching and realized why things were often so very wrong. I saw therapists for a couple years before we discovered I wasn't male, at least, not in my brain or how I thought and behaved. Trust me, I was shocked too. Before I was pulled through the mirror, I was already on medications for half a year to help."

"It's very likely the mirror realized what she really was,” Starlight added, “and helped make that change more complete. Celestia told her on our first night in Equestria that it helps those who travel through it become more... more true to what they are."

Silver listened thoughtfully and nodded. "I got ya." he said, smiling at us, "I got a few friends that went through that actually. Well, had..." He shook his head, and I could only imagine he was thinking about home again like I have. "So long as you're happy, that's the important thing right?"

"Thanks," I answered quietly, feeling relieved at his acceptance, "I do feel better about it, though it's not something I think about much.

"You feel more whole, and at peace. It's no wonder you don't question it Dawn." Starlight corrected.
Silver laughed a little. "I'm glad one of use feels whole here. I haven't since I lost my hands" he laughed and clopped his front hooves together. "I can’t use these things to save my life."

"Well, actually,” I start to say, pausing as I start to get an idea, “You just might be able to do something better... I just spent the last several days trying to fix this thing, and Starlight tells me we don't have many, if any, more steps left. It still needs to be tested, but it'll let you move things like we can is the goal. Maybe, just maybe, I can make another one from scratch and give it to you?"

Silver smiled at that, but he shook his head. "Thank you very much for the offer, but you have enough on your plate as it is. If I had a horn instead of wings, I'd be trying to help you. But as it stands, I'm expecting to be here for a while. And not because I don't think you can learn the magic. I just don't see how anyone could fix a broken mirror without actually being there. You know? All this magic stuff just goes right over my head."

"You have a point. It hasn't been at all easy for me either. I don't know how starlight does it." I admit.

"It helps when you have a competent teacher."

"Agreed," Silver said, "If it weren't for Breezy and Sky, I'd probably still be grounded right now."

"What is it like to fly?" I ask.

"It's amazing," Silver grinned, glancing up at the sky, "I've been flying every day, for hours on end, and I' still over the thrill of it. The feel of the wind as it passes over my wings. The sight of the world so tiny and far below. The look of the clouds from their level, or above. It's beautiful." He laughed and smiled at me, "It's like you're free, free from anything and everything."

"You're almost making me wish I had wings instead... Maybe if I did, I wouldn't be so scared of heights." I say wistfully.

"My stomach still knots every time I do a flip, or look down from up high," Silver chuckled and admitted, "But I've gotten used to it. Now it's all part of the thrill." He paused and looked at me for a moment. "Would you like to try flying with me?" He asked softly.

My eyes opened wide and I shook her head no slowly as I looked out at the grounds ahead, "No, I'm not ready for that yet, no no no..."

He smirked and nodded. "No worries, but if you ever want to, just let me know alright? I don't think you'll regret it."

"Perhaps another time then... Are you really strong enough to be able to carry another with you?"

"Of course!" Silver replied confidently, opening his wings, "These have a lot more strength than I think you realize. Though, to be fair, I wouldn't be doing any fancy acrobatics."

I paused, debating if I really would like to fly if he was capable. After a minute, I realized I would feel comfortable enough to let him carry me, as long as he had the strength. I nodded "Ok.... one day, you'll have to show me, but don't you dare drop me!"

"I give you my word." Silver said, bowing his head a little. Then he laughed and added, "Besides, if I did that, then I'd never get home!"

I chuckled, feeling a little bad doing so at a rather morbid joke, while starlight chimed, "I would appreciate not returning to the void by an untimely demise."

"I don't think any of us wants to have an untimely demise," Silver said, "Strange as this place is, if I'm gonna be stuck here, I still plan to get the most out of it. I hope you both do too."

"Judging by how much time Dawn spent brushing her mane, I'd say she plans to get the most out of somepony today." Starlight smirked. I glared at him, trying to will him into submission. I don't want him giving people the wrong impression of Stalwart and me!

Silver chuckled, shaking his head. "You two seem more like siblings than the same person, what with how he seems to pick on you, Dawn."

"We're not quite the same. Remember, we split off some time ago as she realized who she was, and I was... cast away." Starlight replied, voice growing forlorn, "I'd have probably gone insane over these few years if it weren't for that friend I made in that void."

"I don't really get the whole magic, void thing," Silver admitted, "But I'm glad you weren't totally alone. No one deserves that."

"Indeed... He won't tell me a name, in all our time together, but he has been extraordinarily well versed in magic, and just might be the key for us to get you home." Starlight announced.

"Don't you mean get 'us' home?" Silver asked

"So long as we're linked, Dawn cannot go home, because for her to go home, I would return to being alone. I don't want to be alone again, not again." He said growing quiet.

I stood up, feeling sympathy for Starlight well up for the hardships he went through. It was not something anyone should need to endure. I couldn't voice my concern or sympathy for him, not with the pictures crossing my mind. I walked over to him, laying close alongside him and put a hoof on his. It felt almost solid, as if he really was here and my eyes were just playing tricks on me as I tried to remind him in my own way that he isn't alone.

"I don't fully get it either, but I think I remember Celestia mentioning something when I first got here, about how if you don't want to go, actively don't want to go though, you won't. Knowing what he'd have to face, I couldn't bring myself to make that happen, whether they were a part of me or not."

Silver sighed quietly. "So why are you even trying to fix my mirror then? You should be more focused on figuring out your own issue."

"Does anyone need a reason to help others?" I ask concerned. It bothered me that he needed to ask, as if he was doubting my intentions, "Figuring out this 'issue' isn't mutually exclusive on my use of time you know. Besides, what kind of person would that mean I am if I tried to go home first, without granting you that same option if it's within my power?"

"Helping someone is always a good thing to do," Silver replied, "I just don't want you to focus on my problem to the point you forget to work on your own. That's all."

“I appreciate your concern, but neither of us seem to really have an idea how to break the link, let alone ensure he doesn't get left alone for until he dies... until we find out otherwise, we'll work on things slightly more plausible.” I say, starting to smile as I compare the two ideas. With how we may have just fixed the bracelet, meeting our goals seemed possible at least.

“Yes, because being one of the few ponies in history that can repair other ponies' magical artifacts is more plausible.” Starlight snickered.

"After what I've seen since I got here," Silver said with a laugh, "I'm sure anything's possible if you try hard enough."

"We'll see I guess." I smiled, feeling tired and disappointed as I laid my head down on the grass. "It's going to be a slow day 'till lunch comes around."

"Slow's not always a bad thing," Silver said, "I could a little slow once in a while myself. But..." he paused as he stood up and stretched his wings. "Not gonna happen today."

“Well where are you off to in such a hurry?” I ask, feeling intrigued at him cutting our conversation short.

"Training, remember?" Silver laughed, "No rest for the wicked. Even in Equestria."

I tried to keep myself from laughing, managing a smirk while Starlight snorted. Shaking my head slightly I waved with one hoof. "I'll catch you at dinner tomorrow tonight then, sound good?"

"Sounds good," Silver said, "You two have a good day, alright?"

"She always cheers up when she gets to see Stalwart." Starlight smirked, getting another look from dawn. He reminded her, "You know you do, don't give me that look."

"Yeup. Just like siblings." Silver chuckled.

"Better thought as siblings than lovers... I don't think I'm ready for that at all." I shook my head, trying not to think about the romance complications from before Silver came down.

"Yeah, I'm not even considering that type of thing either." Silver admitted with a sigh, “Not for lack of offers.”

"I wonder what Stalwart would say if he realized, with all you've been teasing him." Starlight said, rustling my elbow.

"What do you mean, 'lack of offers?'" I ask, both curious and wanting to ignore Starlight's continued teasing.

"Nothing," Silver with a shake of his head, "I've just apparently become popular is all..."

I laugh, turning my head aside as I try not to smirk at the idea of Silver having his own throng of ladies around him.

"Yeah..." he said with a sigh. "Anyways, I better get going before I'm too late. So I'll see you two later!" With a strong flap of his wings, he took off straight up. I watched as he let his momentum carry him up, then back down toward the ground. My nerves made me want to do something to catch him, but I knew he could act if he wanted. I calmed as I watched him smile at me before flaring his wings, whooshing past the hill and off into the distance.

“Silver Wing's popular with the ladies” I chuckled, “I still can't get past that idea.”

“Surrounded by a throng of mares,” Starlight chuckled with, “and where do you think you'd be in that throng?”

“Outside it, laughing at how they are behaving around him and how silly it is.”

“Oh you're one to talk, Ms. Teasing-Stalwart-Shield”

“Oh please, I am not!”

“You are too!”

“Fine, prove it!” I reply indignantly

“You've kissed him. Twice.”

“No I haven't. It was just on the cheek and he was being really helpful!”

“What about the cuddling then?” Starlight smirked.

“Come on, that's not cuddling. Otherwise you leaning on me is cuddling and I'm cuddling myself.” I grimace, feeling rather awkward at the concept. “Besides, he's got fur! Fuzzy things are almost always adorable!”

“Come on Jess!” Starlight said, sounding exasperated. “I get it, how the heck aren't you getting it?”

“What is there to get?” I half yell at him confused, “We're just really good friends!”

“Oh... my... god. The mirror turned you into a blonde inside and out.” Starlight said as he put his hoof to his head.

“For your information mister facehoof, my hair isn't blond, it's a golden color.” I stare at him in disapproval. I didn't like where this conversation was going.

“Dawn... You silly, silly pony.” He said shaking his head back and forth.

“If you're going to tell me something, just tell me!”

“You've been flirting something fierce with Stalwart every time you've been around him. With how these ponies don't often wear clothes, it's amazing he's stayed decent in public.”

“I have not been flirting!”

“Dawn... you're smiling with him, you're making excuses to be close to him, and you've even kissed him without being asked. A guy would have to be really dense to not pick up on that.”

“So what are you saying?”

“God d-” Starlight started to growl in frustration before getting up and pacing for a minute, clearly upset. I knew then it'd be better to let him say his piece. “Dawn... If I were in Stalwart's shoes, I wouldn't be saying we were just friends. I'd be saying we're quite a bit more than that. Do you understand that?”

I paused to think for a moment, starting to see what he was talking about. I remembered the way things used to be back home, and how those were exactly the sorts of things that I was supposed to watch for. I had to admit, from what he was saying, he was absolutely right. I brows furrowed as I looked away in thought, wondering what Stalwart was thinking.

“Yeah... that's what I thought.” Starlight said. “So what are you going to do?”

“I'm... I'm going to ask him directly what he thinks, and see where he wants to go with it.”

“I thought you weren't wanting to make attachments.”

“It's a bit late for that from what you're telling me at this point.” I say, starting to stand up. “You also said something rather telling earlier to Stalwart. I'm more whole than I was before.”

“Raging hormones and all.” He smirked.

“Yeah... natural ones.” I smirked in reply, “I'd better study up on my health for that. I'm pretty sure it works better than what we were going to save up for.”

“What you were saving up for. I don't have that issue.” Starlight said with a tail flick to the side.

“Well bully for you. Maybe we'll have to find you a mare to help sate any itches you might get.”

“Are you saying you're going to sate some itches Stalwart will get?” He grinned mischievously.

“Oh heck no.” I winced, realizing my suggestion could have been insulting. “Sorry, that was in poor taste.”
“... that's what she said.” He smirked.

“Oh goddammit Star!” I laughed, putting my hoof to my head to hold it as I tried not to picture it. “Enough. I'm going to talk to him about it and see where things take us.”

“Tell me what?” Stalwart's voice came from behind me, followed by a yawn.

“Well, there's your chance!” Starlight smirked before walking off, fading away to nothing once more.

“Don't mind him.” I say, trying to stifle my laughter. “He just spent most of the time teasing me, and Silver joked about how Starlight and I seem more like siblings.”

'Don't make me come back out and tell him for you.' Starlight warned in my head, though I could feel him smiling.
'I'm going to get there! I promise! I just want to set the tone and time to be a bit later, probably when we get our dinner.'
'Good, if you don't, I'm going to for you. No guy should be toyed with.'

“Oh really? I was wondering about that.” Stalwart smiled. “What else did you talk about?”

'He's interested in you Jess, he's asking about your day.'

'Go away! I promised I'd do this and I will! Stop pressuring me!' I replied quietly, shaking my head to get rid of the feeling.

“Are you ok?” Stalwart asked concerned, walking forward to within an arm's length.

“Yeah, sorry. Starlight was really putting on the pressure to talk with you, and I don't like to be rushed, ever.”

“Ah, I see.” He said, his voice hinting at how he really didn't understand. “Well, what have you been up to? I haven't gotten to see you for the last few nights.”

“Oh!” I suddenly perked up at him asking, reaching down to my leg and trying to slide off the bracelet. “This! I think we might have finally fixed it!”

“That's great!” He said, reaching out to give a hug across my neck. Keeping in mind what Starlight was suggesting earlier, I felt my skin start to get very hot as I tried very hard not to blush, “I told you you could do it. Even if Breezy tells me not to, I'm still going to tell you what you can do you know. I was right!” He smirked, grinning on my behalf.

“Thanks,” I shuffled from side to side, lifting up a forelimb to rub my other leg in embarrassment. It was very difficult for me not to smile, especially with him grinning at me like that. I couldn't help but smile back, “I don't know if it works yet. I tried a couple times but I keep using my horn instead. We need to find a good way to test it.”

“How would you do that?”

“Well, actually,” I look over Stalwart, sizing him up, trying to figure out if his legs would fit in the bracelet.

'Don't worry, it'll resize to an extent. That was one of the equations I fixed with my teacher.'’

“Actually... what?” Stalwart asked confused. Only then did I realize I didn’t finish my sentence.
“Well, feel up to trying some magic for me out and around town?”

“Wait a minute! How do you know it’s going to work?” Stalwart asked nervously.

“We don’t, but it hasn’t cut off my leg or anything, so you’re probably going to be fine!” I smirk at him mischievously, taking off the bracelet and holding it in front of him.

“But… I…” He shuffled nervously, much like I had not more than a moment ago.

“You’ll be fine!” I giggle, taking one of his limbs, lifting it up with some resistance from him, slipping it onto his hoof and sliding it up his leg. “There you go! All set for some unicorn magic testing!”

“…things….do-” Stalwart muttered under his breath. I could only barely hear it, but I couldn’t help but start chuckling.

“Be careful what you say… never know where they might go.” I smirked at him, trying to pretend I knew what he said. I walked toward the path back to the town, making sure I nudged him in the side. “Come on slowpoke, I’ve been waiting all day for you to wake up so we could have some fun!”

He gave me a look I wasn’t able to place, almost seeming halfway beyond happy and mischievous, and then walked along to my side, giving me a good nudge in the hip in reply.

I snorted and walked alongside him toward town. Our time for the next several hours was so like all the other times I spent with him, a lot of silliness, goofing off, and occasional quiet points. I watched how often he smiled at me or looked my way, starting to feel really self-conscious about just how much he really did seem to like me.

We headed to a quaint little restaurant on the outskirts of town, intending to have a mid-afternoon meal instead of a proper lunch or dinner as well as hoping to avoid the rushes involved. It was quiet in this part of town, and I was eager to have him try to do things with the bracelet. There was a quiet pang in my heart as I knew I needed to talk to him about just where this might be headed.

“You ok?” Stalwart asked, sounding concerned.

“Hm? Oh, it’s nothing.”

“You sure? You haven’t talked nearly as much today.”

“Well, I was trying to wait for a good time. There’s been something on my mind that Starlight brought up earlier today. How ‘bout after we eat here, we head out to the hill and we can talk about it?”

“Sure, sounds good!” He said eagerly, making me feel a bit more nervous.

He ordered our food and we had a corner table to ourselves, where we started to eat.

“Hey Stalwart? You haven’t bothered to try using magic at all yet. Care to give it a try?”

“But… I don’t ha-” He started to say, stopping short as he remembered the bracelet on his arm.

“Yep. You do. Go ahead, picture being able to pick up that glass like you would with your hoof.”

“I don’t know about this…”

“Come on Stalwart! The worst that’ll happen is you’ll get water on your snout.” I chuckle, hoping my usual teasing would coax him into trying.

I watched him shift uncomfortably away from the table, but when he looked back, he took a breath and looked intently at the glass. It didn’t seem to do anything at first, then slowly lifted up in the air, having a light green glow around it like my magics did. He then let it hang there for another moment then put it back down.

“Not going to try taking a drink that way?” I asked.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

“Come on, what’s the worst that could happen? You get wet?” I smiled, somehow enjoying teasing him like this.
He frowned, but started to lift the glass again, wobbling quite a bit as he tried to have a good grip on the glass. It was interesting to see him struggle like this, not being completely sure why it was so difficult for him. Then I had to wonder if my having had hands and used it as an analogue for how I’d hold the glass made that much of an impact. I watched as he was bringing it closer to his face, seeing how he tilted it toward himself and moving his face to the glass to drink from it, then set it down.

“See? It’s easy right?”

“It feels weird.”

“Now you know how I felt the day after we first met.” I smirked. “You got to see me fumble with magic, only fair you get to stumble too!”

“Me? Stumble?” He smiled playfully, putting on an air of arrogance, “I am a part of the royal guard! I would never stumble!”

“Oh really? Is that a challenge?” I ask, waving down the waitress. When she came over, I placed another order, “Do you have any dessert pies available?”

“Certainly!” She said, “What are you in the mood for?”

“Hm, I don’t think it’s a good idea to get chocolate right now… how does pumpkin sound Stalwart?”

“I wouldn’t mind pumpkin.”

I paused, looking at him closely. For whatever reason, every time I hear someone say “I wouldn’t mind” after a suggestion, I always think they’re just going with the flow. Today, I want him to really have his pick, and I’m not about to let him just coast by with what I want.

“Well what would you want to eat then?”

“No, we can order the pumpkin…”

“Stalwart, please, get something you like most.” I say, realizing he’s trying to be nice. If he was going to embarrass himself, he should enjoy it.

“Well…”

“If I may make a suggestion,” the waitress chimed in, “We do have a banana cream pie on sale right now, it’s our last one.”

“That’ll work.” Stalwart said.

“Please.” I say, trying not to sound too eager as the waitress walked away to fetch it. Banana was a favorite flavor of mine and it suddenly sounded really good. “And I’ll be paying for that, or compensating you. You’ve treated me out far too much as is. It’s about time I helped you out a little bit.”

“Dawn, you really don’t have to.” He said shuffling in his seat, “It’s not as if I have to spend my bits in any other ways right now…”

“Stalwart, you know we wouldn’t have gotten desert like this if we weren’t trying to make sure that bracelet was working properly. Please, let me help make up for this little extra.”

The waitress put the chilled pie on the table in front of us, clearing out our other dishes and leaving us with a pie and two plates to put our pieces onto.

“So, think you can take out a slice on your own, or should I handle that bit?”

“You go ahead, I don’t want to chop it up into pieces!”

“Good point, never let a good pie go to waste!” I smiled as I pictured him ineptly trying to cut the pie and mincing it up. Carefully, I used the serving scoop to pull out a piece for each of us.

“There you go! One slice of blanabba pie!”

“What?!” Stalwart laughed, clearly confused by what I said.

“Blanabbas! Come on, eat up!”

He laughed once again at my silly name for bananas and started to lower his head to take a bite, failing to realize I was using my magic to pull the piece away from the end of his mouth. After he took a bite of air, he looked at the plate confused, then looked at me with great suspicion.

“Stalwart, just one bite, please. I need to see just how much control you have over it.”

He gave a sigh that almost seemed exasperated, then stared at the piece of pie. Slowly a chunk separated itself from the rest, and floated up to in front of his face. I watched with an appreciative smile as I saw him move it so readily.
He started moving it toward his nose, then held it in place in front of him and took the bite from midair. He chewed thoughtfully, then seemed to relax as he started to enjoy himself.

“Not so bad is it?”

“I guess not.” He shrugged, starting to smile.

“Good.” I smiled at him, “You know I appreciate you helping me all the time like this… right?”

“So you keep telling me!” he said a bit more enthusiastically, lifting the whole slice of pie up to in front of him like I was to take my own first bite.

I was about to reply when he started to bring the pie closer to his mouth to eat, but it approached his nose instead. I held my breath as suddenly, it hit him in the face instead of holding still like he had before. I laughed, trying to hold it back and raising a limb to cover my mouth politely as he shook his head in surprise, setting what was left of the pie slice on the table.

“Poor stalwart!” I finally manage to say, pulling out the cloth napkin and wiping his face with the rag, using magic to make sure I get it all off. “I can’t make fun of you, I did that my first time too, remember?”

“Yeah, I remember.” He chuckled begrudgingly. “You wear food better though.”

“No, no.” I shook my head and tried very hard not to laugh. “Maybe you’ll just need practice like I did. I’ll really need to see just what it can do, what limits there are, and everything eventually. Maybe we can do this a bit more often too. At least the studying can slow down some right?”

“Oh? Just what did you have in mind?”

“Well, let’s go to our hill and talk about it.”

“Sounds good.” He said, getting up and handing back the bracelet after taking it off his leg.

I walked back to the hill with Stalwart in silence, trying to enjoy his company. My thoughts turned back to earlier this morning, and I did have to wonder just why Starlight teased me so much about making friends here.

‘Starlight, why do you care about who I’m friends with?’ I asked him quietly, waiting for his response in my ear.

‘It’s not about who you’re friends with. It’s what you’re doing with your friend that bothers me.’

‘We haven’t been doing anything.’ I reply feeling indignant.

‘Right, I forget, you’re a blonde now.’ He sighed, ‘fine, I think that it’s a really cruel thing to string someone along if you don’t have feelings for them and I don’t want him hurt like we were.’

‘That I get Star, really. But the thing that bothers me is why do you care so much? Are you bothered that I just might like a boy, after all those years of thinking I liked girls?’ I teased. ‘Would you feel better if I found a mare to get to know a bit better? Is that it?’

I could only hear grumbling from his end of frustration, but I could tell he was upset. It told me he cared about Stalwart being strung along, but there had to be something else to it that he wasn’t sharing.

“You’ve been awfully quiet there Dawn. Everything ok?” Stalwart asked, looking my way.

“Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m doing ok.” I said as we started to cross off the path to that hill. “I wanted to ask… What do you think of, well, us?”

“What?” He asked, sounding very surprised.

“Us. You know, you and I. Us.” I ask, trying not to blush or look him in the eye.

“I, well,” He started stammering, “I… why do you ask?”

“Well,” I paused, trying to figure out what to say, “Starlight was teasing me about how much I'd been flirting with you. And, well... I wanted to know what you thought we were.”

“I, I,” he stammered again, causing me to smile a little bit as he seemed to be as flustered as I was, “I hadn’t noticed.”
I looked back to him to notice he was looking away as well, blushing through his light colored fuzz on his face. I was a bit happy, but with other mixed feelings, to see he was either oblivious or maybe just happy that I was flirting with him, and is now realizing it.

“Stalwart,” I speak up, wanting to be firm. “come on, tell me please. I’m pretty sure you noticed if starlight had.”

“It uh,” he hesitated, still blushing but looking me in the eye briefly, “it isn’t polite to assume. What about you? Where do you see us?”

I heard just how happy or excited he sounded, yet tried to hold it back.

"I'm not asking you to assume." I nodded, appreciating his candor. I took a breath and continued, "I see us as in this sort of limbo where we're friends, but we could be something more. I'm a bit scared of that idea, especially since we're only together for a little bit of time, less than I'd prefer, but I also really, really like being with you and want that to continue... so I don't know, and that's also why I'm asking you.”

Well, I" Stalwart hesitated, then sighed, "I like being with you too Dawn. I look forward to it after every shift. I like where we're at, but I won't lie and say I don’t think about the idea of us being something... more. But if you're scared of the idea, then maybe we should wait until you know for sure? I'd never want to put you in a situation that would make you uncomfortable." he smiled at me for a moment, then added, almost as if it were a last minute thought, "No matter how much I want too."

I blush so much it felt as if I was about to burn up. That was practically an open sign of ‘I really want to be boyfriend/girlfriend, but I don’t want to say that word.’ It was something that was never quite expected, and I’m not sure how to react to that. I took a few slow breaths with my eyes closed, unable to stop smiling even when I try, and then speak

"Well, this is a first." Then after taking a minute to breathe in, "Maybe one day. I'm open to the idea, I'd have to say my biggest fear is that this is going pretty fast, and I haven't done this before, so I'm a little afraid of the unknown."

“Hey, when the pieces fit.” He chuckled, then grew quiet, getting up and laying down next to me, ignoring my blushing, “I know what you mean though. I don’t know much about you yet, and you don’t know much about me either. So tell you what, we’ll slow things down a bit, and just keep enjoying our time. If things happen, then we’ll go with it. Till then, I hope you don’t mind me sticking around.”

“That… sounds really nice actually.” I admit, trying not to shake. I’m not sure why I’m suddenly so nervous, but I was going to enjoy this moment.

We didn’t talk much more beyond that point. I almost wanted to laugh at myself. Someone interested in me this quickly was just a strange concept. I had to wonder if this was just how things happened here, or there was something else going on. Maybe it was something wrong with me.

I shook my head to clear my thoughts and spent the rest of the day with stalwart, thinking about where my life had headed, and just how different it all was.

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