• Published 3rd Oct 2015
  • 6,349 Views, 982 Comments

Finding Home - Krickis

Sunset Shimmer returns to Equestria only to find that returning home is different than finding one.

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10 – Facing Fears

Chapter Ten

Facing Fears

There were many reasons why kissing Sunset was a mistake. Twilight could list them. More to the point, she did list them. Constantly, all the way to Canterlot. She was aware of every possible reason why it had been one of the two stupidest things she’d done in her life, right next to not immediately telling Fluttershy when she had the chance. But despite the hours she’d spent reminding herself of every reason to regret what she did, it seemed one had escaped her.

Twilight was sitting at the Canterlot train station, waiting for the train that would take her to the Crystal Empire. It wouldn’t be long before it arrived, only fifteen more minutes. She could easily sit back and enjoy the fact that the mare she’d been watching didn’t seem likely to notice her. She’d get on her train and feel guilty about it, but she was already full of guilt. What was a little more?

Amber Glow had been sitting in the same seat since Twilight arrived, still in her uniform from work. Occasionally she glanced towards the castle, but for the most part she just sat hunched over and stared at the floor. Even from behind, it had been easy to tell that she was distraught, and unfortunately for Twilight, she couldn’t ignore a friend who was so clearly upset.

Were they friends? Did being on friendly terms with somepony for long enough eventually make them friends, even if Twilight never quite found herself comfortable being around her? She decided it was close enough, and the fact she questioned it at all did nothing but make her feel worse. She took a deep breath, then walked across the station.

“Amber?” Twilight asked, as if she had any doubt who the other pony was.

Amber bolted up and wheeled around. “Twilight? Geez, way to sneak up on me.” She grinned and brushed her mane out of her eyes. Now that Twilight got a full view of her, she seemed perfectly happy. Had Amber really been sad, or had she just imagined it?

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Twilight said. She didn’t think she had been that quiet.

“No worries. So what brings you to Canterlot?”

“I’m actually on my way to the Crystal Empire,” Twilight said. Mountain terrain made it difficult to lay train tracks to the Crystal Empire. However, the path from the Empire to Canterlot was fairly clear, so all traffic was routed through Canterlot.

“Ah, important princess stuff?” Amber asked.

Twilight frowned. “Something like that.”

Amber winked. “I got it. Classified information. Well, I’m sure whatever it is will work out.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Twilight fidgeted and turned away for a moment. When she turned back, she was smiling. “I mean, yeah, you’re right.”

Of course Twilight knew Amber noticed her drop in composure, but she didn’t say anything about it. “So how’s everything going in Ponyville? Everything running smoothly with the wedding?”

“Of course,” Twilight answered too quickly. She chuckled nervously. “I mean, why wouldn’t it be?”

“Okay,” Amber said. She was clearly growing suspicious.

Wary of where Amber’s questions might lead, Twilight quickly changed the subject. “So what about you? When I got here you seemed kind of…” Twilight twirled her hoof while trying to think of a polite word.

Amber grinned. “Zombified?”

“Well, uh, I guess that’s one way of putting it.”

Amber chuckled and looked up towards the castle. She sighed and her smile faltered. “I was just thinking about Luna. This is why I usually try to avoid ending shifts in Canterlot, I never know what to do here anymore.”

“Have you tried talking to her since everything happened?” Twilight asked. The few times Twilight had spoken with Luna she hadn’t mentioned anything about Amber, but she had definitely seemed more distant.

“That’s just it though,” Amber said. “I still don’t know if I want to.”

“Talking to her can’t hurt.” Twilight smiled encouragingly. Helping another pony with their problems seemed like it could be a great way to distract her from her own, and she genuinely did want things to work out between Amber and Luna. “It doesn’t mean you have to get back together. You can just talk about what happened and then decide what you want to do from there.”

Amber shook her head. “I know, I’m just… not ready yet. It’s hard to explain.”

Twilight nodded. “Well, you do at least have somewhere else you can stay while you’re in Canterlot, don’t you?”

“Oh, yeah, I got it covered,” Amber said, brightening up at the change of topic. “I’m just gonna stay at a nearby hotel tonight. Real nice place.”

“Don’t you normally stay with friends?” Twilight asked. Immediately she realized how untactful the comment was. If Amber had friends she could stay with, she wouldn’t have planned on a hotel, and Twilight had just needlessly reminded her of that.

“Yeah, I just didn’t wind up getting ahold of anypony in time.” Amber shrugged. “Besides, staying in hotels is nice once and awhile. Not too many of my friends really have guest rooms, so getting my own bed is kind of a treat.”

She knew Amber chose to live the way she did, but every so often Twilight couldn’t help but feel bad for her. Everypony deserved somewhere they could feel at home.

“Well, I suppose you have a point there.” Twilight glanced at a clock. Her train would be arriving any minute.

“So feel free not to answer if you can’t or don’t want to, but what’s the deal with the late train?” Amber asked. “I mean, wouldn’t it have been better to just wait until tomorrow morning?”

“Probably, but it’s important that I see Cadance as soon as possible.” Twilight sighed. Spike had said pretty much the same thing. But Spike had also told her that Fluttershy had stopped by and was spending the night at her cottage, which was more than enough to make up Twilight’s mind – she really didn’t want to be in Ponyville for another night.

“You, uh, you seem like you’re not exactly happy to see her.”

“Oh it’s not that! I always love visiting Cadance. It’s just, well…” Twilight didn’t know how to explain without telling Amber what happened, and even if she did have time to go into the full story, that was the last thing she wanted to do.

“I’m not trying to pry or anything,” Amber said. She scooted closer and put her foreleg around Twilight. “Just tell me we’re not in danger of some ancient evil. Again.”

Twilight laughed. “Don’t worry, the next nationwide crisis isn’t scheduled until next week.” She had to admit, she was finding Amber’s company much more enjoyable than she thought she would. Still, she was relieved when she heard a train pull into the station. Although she knew hers was the only one scheduled to arrive within a half hour window, she examined it to make sure anyway. “Well, that’s my train.”

“Alright, enjoy your trip. And remember, everything will be alright.” Amber hugged her and waved as she walked off.

Twilight couldn’t help but feel guilty. Actually seeing Amber bolded and underlined a thought that had been in her mind all day. That she was a hypocrite. She was constantly worrying about what Fluttershy thought about Amber, and yet she was the one who kissed somepony else. Just something else to add to the list of things she needed to talk to Cadance about.

While waiting for the doors to open and let out passengers, Amber walked up behind her. “Hey, Twilight?”

Twilight turned to see she looked concerned. “Yes?”

“Well, I was wondering, would you maybe like some company for your trip?”

Twilight blinked a few times, unsure if she had heard correctly. “What?”

“Well, you seem like you have a lot on your mind. I won’t ask what it is if you don’t want to tell me, but maybe having somepony around might help. And, well…” Amber looked down and moved her hoof around nervously.

“Oh. Well, uhm…” Twilight glanced back at the train, which was quickly emptying of passengers. “I appreciate the offer, but I couldn’t ask you to do something like that. It’s an overnight train anyway, so I’ll probably be asleep for most of it.”

“You don’t have to ask, I offered! And you won’t have to worry about my ticket, employees ride for free.” Amber grinned hopefully. “Come on, it’ll be fun.”

“I’m not worried about the ticket, I just don’t want you to put yourself out when it’s really not necessary.” Twilight took a better look at Amber. She realized what she had thought was reassurance actually looked more like pleading. “Hold on. Are you trying to avoid Canterlot?”

Amber opened her mouth, then closed it. She kicked at the ground. “Yeah, okay. You got me. I… I really don’t like staying in Canterlot since, well, you know.”

Seeing Amber still so clearly torn up over what happened with Luna triggered Twilight’s drive to help a friend in need. “Of course you’re welcome to come, if that’s what you want to do.”

Amber smiled for a moment before looking worried. “I’m not imposing, am I? I mean, I’ll leave you be if you’d rather just go by yourself.”

Twilight would, indeed, rather go by herself. “Of course you’re not. I think it will be nice to have some company, actually.”

Apparently satisfied, Amber nodded and led the way to the ticket booth. “I’ve, uhm. I’ve never actually been to the Crystal Empire.”

“Really? I thought you’d been all over Equestria.”

“Most of it, yeah. The Crystal Empire and Cloudsdale are the only major cities I haven’t seen.” Amber chuckled. “Well, I guess that list is gonna be cut in half.”

“You’ll have to plan a trip to Cloudsdale,” Twilight said. “Then you’ll be able to tell everypony you really have been all over Equestria.”

“I guess. But the train obviously doesn’t run to Cloudsdale.”

Twilight looked at the pegasus quizzically. “Which is why ponies usually fly there.”

Amber laughed and scratched the back of her neck. “Oh, yeah. I’ll, uh, I’ll have to go there sometime.”

As they approached the booth, Amber pulled out an ID badge. “So will your ticket include a bed?” Twilight asked.

“For an overnight trip I’ll get an economy class bed, so long as some are available,” Amber said.

Twilight smiled and stepped in front of her. “Hello,” she greeted the receptionist, “I was wondering if it was still possible to buy a ticket for a private cabin on the overnight to the Crystal Empire.”

The receptionist looked skeptical, until she noticed whom she was talking to. Suddenly she sat straighter and smiled broadly. “Of course, Princess, I’m sure we’ll be able to make arrangements.”

While the receptionist began looking over her schedule, Amber stepped closer to Twilight. “You don’t have to worry about me. Besides, private cabins are usually booked way in advance.”

Twilight understood Amber’s meaning, even if she didn’t say it directly; if they did find a way to accommodate her, it would be at the cost of somepony else’s room. “Would you mind sharing my room then?”

Amber shook her head. “Twilight, it’s okay, really. Don’t worry about me.”

“Well, why not?” Twilight asked. “What’s wrong with wanting my friend to be comfortable? Especially after you gave up staying in a hotel to come with me.”

Amber looked like she was going to continue to argue, but instead resigned herself to Twilight’s suggestion. “Well, if you insist.”

“I do.” Twilight turned back to the receptionist who was still looking through schedules. It seemed Amber was right, finding another room was proving to be a problem. “On second thought, I’d just like to add another passenger to my cabin.”

The receptionist looked visibly relieved. “Of course.” She wrote down a quick note, but since all cabins came standard with two beds it was an easy adjustment. Amber showed her ID badge and the receptionist gave her a ticket. After thanking her again, the two made their way to the train.

They checked in with the ticket taker, who didn’t seem to be somepony Amber knew, then found their way to the room. After tucking away their saddlebags, Amber sprawled out on the bed. “I never actually rode in a private room before. Guess I’m trying all sorts of new things today.”

Twilight took a seat on her own bed. She usually hated having two small beds instead of one large one, but since she was traveling with somepony other than Fluttershy, it was actually nice for a change.

“You know, I used to hate traveling separately from the other passengers,” Twilight said. “To be honest, I feel kind of guilty separating myself from other ponies. Do you think it’s kind of… self-centered?”

Amber sat up and smiled. “Are you kidding? If I could, I’d never leave a room like this.”

“At first, it was because I wanted privacy with Fluttershy. Before we were open about our relationship, I mean. But then after everything with the Virtuous Equestrian Society… I guess we started valuing privacy even more after we came out.”

“I can definitely understand that. I don’t usually hear about them too much these days, are they still active?”

Twilight sighed. “Well, they’re still around. You’re right though, they did lose a lot of their momentum. But sometimes I still feel like everypony is watching me.”

“Must be tough,” Amber said. “But you know, a lot of ponies are watching you because they admire you.”

“I know,” Twilight said, smiling sadly. “They’re the ponies I’m afraid to disappoint the most.”

Amber stood up and walked over to Twilight’s bed, taking a seat next to her. “You know, I remember somepony saying that we don’t need heroes to look up to as much as we need friends to support us. Sure, a lot of ponies look up to you, but that doesn’t mean you have to worry about letting them down. You have some of the best friends in the world, and I don’t just mean the famous ones. You have thousands of friends who would all be happy to help you, just like you’ve helped them.”

Twilight smiled. “Thanks, you’re right. Sorry if I seem a little out of it. I’ve got something on my mind, and I guess it’s making me insecure about other things too.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it.” Amber put a hoof on her shoulder. “And you know, I’m happy to help in any way I can too, if you ever want to talk about something.”

Although talking about something was exactly what Twilight was going to the Crystal Empire to do, she didn’t really think Amber was the best pony to do it with. More to the point, she couldn’t bring herself to admit her failure to a pony she’d been so untrusting of.

“Thank you,” Twilight said. “I think I’ll be okay, but I’ll keep it in mind.”

The train whistle sounded and with a jerk they started moving. Oddly enough, Amber seemed to go rigid at the motion. “Well, here we go,” she said, her voice quiet enough that Twilight probably wouldn’t have heard if they weren’t on the same bed.

“So how long have you worked on the railway system?” Twilight asked. Something about Amber’s behavior suggested she needed something to take her mind off whatever she was thinking about.

Amber smiled, but it didn’t seem as natural as it normally did. “A little over two years. Right after Tirek attacked, actually. It got me thinking about everything I wanted to do with my life, and seeing Equestria firsthoof was definitely one of the main things.”

“I’m glad something good came out of that whole mess.” Of all the villains they’d faced, Tirek was the one Twilight hated to think of the most. On top of the from the fact he’d come dangerously close to stealing all the magic in Equestria, she still missed her old house. She had grown to like her castle well enough, but nothing could replace the Golden Oaks Library.

“It’s been a pretty great adventure.” Amber stared out the window as the train picked up speed.

Twilight glanced to the window and back to Amber, who seemed frozen as she looked out of it. “Uhm… is everything okay?”

“Huh? Oh yeah.” Amber didn’t look away from the window. “I just uhm… I’ve never been to the Crystal Empire.”

Twilight waited for more, but Amber didn’t explain herself. “Uhm…”

Amber shook her head. “Sorry. So, uhm, how about I make us some tea?”

Twilight furrowed her brow. “Amber, you’re a passenger tonight. Have you ever worked on the Crystal Empire train at all? If they don’t know you, they probably won’t want you going through their concessions.”

“Oh, yeah…” Amber looked around. “I, uhm, I’ll be right back.”

“Is everything okay?”

Amber walked over to the door and looked back, grinning. “Geez Twilight, can’t a girl go to the bathroom in peace?”

The change in her tone was drastic and took Twilight by surprise. “Oh, right,” she said as Amber walked out. At least she seemed like she was back to normal. Her behavior was definitely odd, but Twilight shook it off.

She sighed and lay down on the bed. She’d planned to try and get to bed early, before she knew she’d have company for the trip. She’d spent the night before alternating between crying and panicking, occasionally throwing in some panicked crying for good measure. She may have slept for an hour or so in the morning, but it was hard to tell if any of the time she’d spent tossing and turning had actually involved sleep.

After giving up on sleep, she’d left the castle, not wanting to run into Sunset. Since she wasn’t sure whether Fluttershy went to Rainbow’s or Rarity’s, she decided her best bet was either Pinkie or Applejack. But Pinkie would probably be at Sugarcube Corner, or some other public place. That certainly wasn’t something she wanted, so she opted to visit Sweet Apple Acres, but along the way she changed her mind and wandered around aimlessly until after the sun went down. She wanted to talk to somepony, but was too afraid to actually bring herself to do it.

After giving it some thought she decided she wanted to talk to somepony who could actually help her figure out how she felt. Applejack would be happy to help however she could, but the truth was that romance wasn’t something she was too knowledgeable in. And she doubted Pinkie would be any better. But luckily, she did know one pony who was both married and an expert on love. If Cadance couldn’t help her, nopony could.

She sighed again and rolled onto her side. She wondered how long Amber was going to be. As much as she wanted to get some sleep, she knew it wasn’t just a matter of being polite. Even if she was alone, she was too stressed to actually sleep. She got comfortable and waited for Amber to return.

She wasn’t sure how long she was out for, but the sun was down by the time Twilight woke up. She sat up groggily and looked around. The lights were out, but she could make out Amber’s shape in the other bed. She felt guilty for falling asleep. She knew she needed the rest, but she’d planned on spending a little more time talking with Amber. She had dropped her plans to go with her, after all.

She was about to lie back down when she noticed Amber wasn’t lying still. Twilight squinted and saw that she seemed to be curled up and shaking. “Amber?”

If Amber heard her she didn’t respond. Twilight stood up and carefully made her way over, moving quietly in case her eyes were playing tricks on her and Amber was actually sleeping soundly after all. A closer look proved her suspicions though. Amber was curled around a pillow with her back to Twilight, and she was rocking back and forth.

“Amber? What’s wrong?”

Amber inhaled sharply at the sound. She pulled the pillow tighter. “Twilight? You should be asleep.”

“I was. I didn’t mean to, but I must have dozed off for a while.” Twilight tentatively reached a hoof out for Amber’s shoulder. She didn’t react to the touch. “What’s wrong?”

“I… I’m sorry. I’m supposed to be helping you.” Amber covered her face with a wing. “I’m pathetic.”

“No, you’re not.” Twilight climbed onto the bed. There was plenty of room for her to sit since Amber was curled into a tight ball. “Did something happen to you?”

“No, I just…”

Twilight followed Amber’s gaze and realized if her eyes were open she’d be looking out of the window. Although she couldn’t figure out why it would happen, Twilight could clearly identify the signs of a panic attack. “Amber, everything will be okay. I want you to take some deep breaths.”

Her breathing was sharp and too rapid, but Amber did as Twilight suggested. “Good, now count with me. One, two, three… Come on, I know it’s silly, but trust me. Four…”

“Five… six… seven…” Amber continued, her voice shaking. Together they counted to ten, then counted back down to one. Slowly Amber’s voice returned to normal, or at least close to it.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Twilight asked. “You don’t have to, but I’m here for you if you want to.” Amber’s head moved under her wing, but Twilight couldn’t tell if it was a nod or a shake. After she didn’t speak for a few moments, Twilight began to hum. It was a song her mom used to sing to her, and it always helped Fluttershy calm down.

Amber remained still a while. If Twilight didn’t know better, she might have assumed the song actually lulled her to sleep. Eventually when she finally spoke her voice was barely above a whisper. “I, uhm, I don’t like going to new places.”

“What do you mean?” Twilight asked. When Amber didn’t answer she leaned in closer. “You travel all over Equestria, how can you not like going to new places?”

Amber still didn’t respond. Twilight gently reached over and moved her wing away from her face. “We can talk about something else if you want, but you shouldn’t hide yourself away.”

Twilight smiled encouragingly, and Amber let go of the pillow, instead grabbing hold of Twilight. “I’m sorry.”

Momentarily taken aback, Twilight soon composed herself and wrapped her forelegs around the quaking mare. “Shh, it’s okay. Would you like to talk about it?”

Amber nodded. She kept her face buried against Twilight as she spoke. “I was always afraid of travelling. I… I wanted to see the world, but…” She trailed off, so Twilight patted her back while waiting for her to continue. “I took this job to force myself to finally do it. See Equestria. And once I finally go somewhere, it’s never as bad the second time. But…”

“But you’ve never been to the Crystal Empire,” Twilight finished for her. Amber nodded. “I never realized. I’m sorry for bringing you.”

Amber let out a small laugh. “Hey, I offered.” She pulled away from Twilight, but kept a hoof resting on hers. “I’m sorry, I thought I’d be okay. It’s been so long since this has happened, I thought I was finally done with all this.”

Twilight nodded. It had been a long time since anywhere was new to Amber. She wouldn’t have had a chance to experience this. Twilight wrapped a wing around her. “What scares you about it?”

“I guess… That I don’t know what to expect. I… what if I get lost, and I don’t recognize anything, and nopony around knows me?” Amber covered her face with a hoof. “I sound like a dumb filly.”

“No, you don’t.” Twilight gently pulled her hoof away and looked into her eyes. “Everypony is afraid sometimes, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But you know, you won’t be alone. There will be at least one pony in the Crystal Empire who knows you. And if it makes you feel more comfortable, we can stay together for the whole trip. If you feel like staying, I mean.”

“I do.” Amber took a deep breath. “I don’t want to let my fear control me.”

Twilight smiled. “Sorry your trip out of Canterlot isn’t shaping up to be as much fun as you thought it would be.”

Amber chuckled. It sounded small and weak, but at least it sounded authentic. “I’m sure it will be better once we’re there.” She leaned against Twilight again, this time without the death grip. “Am I bothering you?”

“No, I don’t mind,” Twilight said. They sat peacefully for a while, while Twilight’s guilt nagged her. She knew if Amber was leaning on Fluttershy like this she’d be distraught. Because it was happening to her, she could acknowledge that two ponies could be close without being romantic. But when Fluttershy was involved, she saw hidden signs in everything. And yet, she had been the one to mess everything up. The least she could do now is own up to her own insecurity. “You know, I haven’t always been fair to you.”

“Nah, it’s fine. I get it.” Although Twilight couldn’t see her expression, Amber sounded brighter than she would have thought. “I probably should have found out if Fluttershy was seeing somepony before I asked her on a date.”

“Wait, you knew that still bothered me?” Twilight had always been careful to hide it. She told Fluttershy she trusted her and would be supportive of her friendship, and tried her best to never let on how she really felt about it.

“Well, being with Luna made me pretty good at reading between the lines.” Amber grinned and nudged her. “And, no offense, but she’s better at hiding things than you.”

Twilight grinned too, happy to see Amber looking more like her usual self. “Yeah, you’ve got me there.”

“To be honest, I’ve always just been happy you wanted to be friends anyway.” Amber sat up. She made a show of stretching, and when she was done she’d put a few inches between them, leaving them sitting at a more socially acceptable distance.

“No, I was wrong. And I’m sorry.” Twilight frowned. “You’ve never given me any reason not to trust you, and like you said you didn’t know I was dating Fluttershy when you asked her.”

“You know, if it makes you feel any better, the whole thing was kind of a dumb celebrity crush thing anyway,” Amber shrugged. “I mean, she’s a great friend and everything, but she’s really not my type.”

If she meant somepony like Luna, Twilight couldn’t help but agree. “I’m glad you figured out how you feel, but it’s okay either way. At least, it shouldn’t matter to me. Other ponies might see everything I see in Fluttershy, and that shouldn’t bother me.”

“Well, it sounds to me like you just made an important breakthrough in coming to terms with it. You don’t have to change in one day, you know.”

Twilight nodded. “Yeah, I know.”

“So, uhm… mind if I turn the light on?”

“Oh, yeah.” Twilight chuckled and used her magic to turn on the light. They had been sitting in the dark for so long she had to shield her eyes. She looked over to see Amber doing the same, causing both of them to laugh.

“Thanks for… well, you know.” Amber shrugged. “I know you’d probably rather be getting some rest for your meeting with Princess Cadance tomorrow.”

“You’re welcome. I’m glad I could help.” Twilight lowered her hoof from her face and blinked at the light a few more times. When her eyes adjusted she saw Amber looking uncertainly out the window again, but rather than collapse into another panic attack, she just took a deep breath and smiled. ‘I’m not going to let my fear control me either,’ she resolved. She’d already run away from Ponyville without stopping to talk to anypony. Even if she was afraid of telling other ponies what she did, she should at least trust her friends, and that included Amber. “About the meeting with Cadance…”

“It’s because something happened with Fluttershy,” Amber said.

Twilight blinked at her. “How did you…?”

“Like I said, you’re not that hard to read.” Amber grinned. “So you want to talk about what happened?”

Really, with the moment upon her, she didn’t. But she’d avoided talking to everypony about it already. She barely even talked to Fluttershy about it. She could wait until they were at the Crystal Empire, but she’d looked up to Cadance most of life, and knew it would be hard to tell her how big of a mess she made. It was at least a little less daunting to tell Amber. Part of her felt compelled to hide it, to not let Amber know there might be a problem between her and Fluttershy. If anything though, that strengthened her resolve to confess. She wasn’t going to let her insecurities control her, either.

“I… I really messed up.” Twilight slouched over and looked at the floor while she talked. “I kissed Sunset.”

Amber’s mouth fell open. She stared speechless for a moment before closing it. “Well… okay then.”

“I know, I’m awful! I really bucked up, and I don’t even know why!” Twilight buried her face in her hooves.

“Well, let’s start at the beginning.”

“I guess… I don’t know, maybe I’ve liked Sunset for a while? But I love Fluttershy, I really do, and I don’t feel the same way about Sunset at all. But lately…” She took a deep breath. In a way this was harder than admitting the kiss. “Lately I’ve been wondering if I made a mistake.”

Amber scooted closer, so they were once again side by side. “What do you mean?”

“About the wedding. I can’t imagine not being with Fluttershy, but at the same time… I don’t know, maybe we rushed things? We’ve been together two years, and it felt like the right time, and I was so happy when we first got engaged.” Twilight folded her ears against her head. She had half a mind to curl up around the pillow like Amber was when she first woke up. “Then we started actually planning the wedding, and suddenly it all just felt like it was moving so fast. Two years started to not feel like such a long time, and I got to thinking… You know, I’ve never been with anypony else, and neither has Fluttershy, and…” Twilight trailed off, on the verge of crying. The question she’d been shoving down for months refused to leave her lips. ‘What if she’s not the one?’

By Amber’s expression, it seemed she understood well enough anyway. “That’s reasonable. I think a lot of newly engaged couples feel like that.”

Twilight sat up straight again. “But I don’t want to lose her! I don’t want to be with Sunset, or anypony else!”

Amber nodded. “You know there’s an option in between marriage and not being together. It’s called ‘dating.’” In spite of everything, Twilight couldn’t help but smile. “You could even stay engaged if you want, I’ve known some ponies who were engaged for years without actually getting married.”

“If Fluttershy even still wants me.” Twilight sighed.

Amber put a hoof on her shoulder. Twilight turned to look at her and saw she looked solemn. “Alright, don’t take this the wrong way, and I promise I’m not going to judge you or anything. But be honest with me, was it really just a kiss?”

Twilight fought off the urge to get offended at what she knew was a reasonable question. “Yes. I kissed Sunset, but nothing more than that.”

Amber smiled. “Then I know Fluttershy will forgive you. This isn’t the end of the world, and it’s not the end of your relationship. You just need to talk to her about it, you two will figure it out.”

Twilight smiled back. “Thanks. I hope you’re right.”

“Oh, I am.” Amber winked.

“Still,” Twilight said, turning back to the floor, “I probably messed things up pretty bad for Sunset. I could hardly blame Fluttershy if she doesn’t want me working with her anymore.”

“So… why Sunset? If you don’t mind me asking, I mean.”

“Well… When I started wondering if Fluttershy was really the pony I wanted to be with, I started thinking about what things I’d want if I did find with somepony else. Somepony who knows a lot about magic, and who can maybe even teach me something new. Somepony who wouldn’t care about what anypony else thought of her. Somepony who’s a little more social.”

“Somepony like Sunset,” Amber observed.

“It’s not that I’m complaining about being with Fluttershy. There’s so much I love about her that nopony else could ever replace.” Twilight fell onto her back and pulled the pillow over her head. “When did life become so difficult?”

Amber pulled the pillow off her. “Sorry, didn’t catch that last part.”

“When did life become so difficult?”

“Hmm… I’d say sometime around always.”

Twilight smiled and rolled her eyes. “It doesn’t matter. I know what I want. There are things I admire about Sunset, but it doesn’t come close to how I feel about Fluttershy.”

“You know,” Amber said, “I’m sure Cadance is great too, but there is another pony that could help.”

“Who?” Twilight asked, sitting up.


Twilight’s initial urge was to laugh, but she knew that was unfair. Most of the time Luna was all jokes, but she knew when to be serious too, and she’d helped them out with a few problems in the past. “You’re probably right.”

“I, uhm…” Amber glanced to her saddlebags. “I have a journal that you could use to contact her.”

It wasn’t surprising that they had journals for each other. Lately it was becoming more common for ponies to have journals connecting them to distant friends and family. Fluttershy had a journal for Luna as well, and had considered getting one for Amber, but without a permanent home she was limited on what she could carry around.

“Thanks, but I think I’ll pass. At least for now.” Twilight smiled at her. “I do feel a little better now that I finally told somepony, but I think I’ll wait until I talk to Cadance to tell anyone else.”

Amber nodded. She looked relieved, really. “Right, okay.” She laughed. “Probably for the best, go flipping through that and you might see some things you’d rather not.”

Twilight blushed as she imagined what kinds of things she might be talking about. “Well I wouldn’t have read any of your messages or anything.”

“Oh, I wasn’t talking about words.” Amber grinned. Twilight was confused, which must have shown, because Amber elaborated. “The journals can send drawings too, you know. And Luna’s a very good artist.”

Twilight’s blush before paled in comparison to her reaction to that. “Oh, well, I uhm…” She looked around the room for a distraction, settling on her own saddlebags. “Hey! I think I have a deck of cards in here, want to play?”

Amber fell over laughing. “Come on Twilight, you haven’t even seen them and you’re already blushing like crazy!” She sat up and Twilight gave her a nonplussed look. “Okay, fine. I’ll stop teasing.”

Twilight shook her head. “You were making it up?”

“Hmm? Oh, no, I was serious. But I’ll leave the details out to save your innocent mind.” Apparently, enjoying Twilight’s reaction didn’t count as teasing, because Amber’s face was set in an amused grin. “Anyway, sure, let’s play some cards. If we’re not sleeping anyway, might as well do something fun.”

Although she hadn’t really been serious about the card game, Twilight was glad for the excuse to change the topic. “Alright, but I warn you. I’m pretty good at poker.”

Amber snorted. “Yeah, I’m sure you know all the best strategies. Won’t help, your poker face is probably just as easy to read as the rest of you.”

Twilight levitated over the bag and ruffled through it until she found the deck. “Well,” she said, pulling them out and shuffling, “I did warn you.”

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