• Published 3rd Oct 2015
  • 6,547 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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17 – Only One Way to Go

Chapter Seventeen

Only One Way to Go

Twilight didn’t wake up so much as she gave up attempting to sleep. The sun was just about to rise, and she walked to the window to watch. Fluttershy and Sunset had still been sleeping soundly when she got up, but as she stood watching the sky begin to glow orange, she felt another body against hers.

“The sunrise is really pretty today,” Fluttershy said. She didn’t sound like she meant it though; her voice sounded as hollow as Twilight felt.

“Yeah,” Twilight agreed. They watched in silence as the sun slowly rose into the sky, filling the world with light and color.

Once dawn officially began, Fluttershy nuzzled against Twilight. “We’ll get him back.”

Twilight wanted to agree. She wanted to take comfort in Fluttershy’s support, and to offer her own. She even kind of wanted to disagree, to ask how. She wanted to feel something, be it strength or weakness. She felt nothing.

She needed a plan. Plans made things work. Doing anything was simple if one had a plan. Step one, then step two, then so on from there. She wanted to discuss it. Fluttershy could help her come up with one.

The words wouldn’t come, though, and she turned back to look at Sunset. “Do you think… was I wrong?” Twilight asked. Sunset was lying diagonally across the bed, covering the spot where Twilight had been lying.

Fluttershy took a while to answer. At some point during the night, Sunset’s shoulder strap had slid down her foreleg, revealing a small pink blur against her yellow fur. From where they were standing it appeared as nothing more than a vaguely oblong shape, although they both knew it was Fluttershy’s cutie mark.

“She really loves you, you know,” Fluttershy said quietly. “She held onto you all night long.”

“I know. You both did.” It had been the only thing that kept Twilight in bed at all.

“I don’t… I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”

Twilight bowed her head. “Wrong or not, the legal precedent is going to be to side with my parents.”

“I know.” Fluttershy pressed up against her, burying her face into Twilight’s mane. “Which is why it’s so hard, but… I think this is more important than us.”

“What do you mean?”

“Remember when we first came out to everypony?” Fluttershy asked. “Remember how many ponies wrote to us, telling us how happy they were to have somepony to look up to?”

“Yeah.” Twilight would never forget the feeling. They’d spent a month too afraid of what everypony would say to ever open any of the letters, but then when they finally did, they found that not only did they have nothing to worry about, they had also managed to be a positive influence for so many others. “Are you saying we should go public about Sunset?”

“I, uhm…” Fluttershy pawed at the ground. “I don’t ever want anypony else to have to go through this… And, uhm, I don’t think anything will change unless more ponies see that this can work.”

Twilight leaned against Fluttershy while watching Sunset and thinking over what Fluttershy said. “I… I… I don’t know. I just… I want Spike back!” Twilight’s voice fluctuated as she tried to keep from crying. Fluttershy wrapped a foreleg and wing around her.

“Hmm…?” Sunset rubbed her eyes. She yawned and got out of bed, walking over to Twilight, where she slumped on top of the alicorn. “So when’re we leaving for Canterlot?”

“Canterlot? Would going there help?” Fluttershy asked.

“We’ll have to go sooner or later,” Twilight said, realizing she had actually known their plan all along. There was only one thing they could do. “That’s where they’ll want to host the trial, but there’s plenty of red tape before we get to that part. It’ll be months before we get into the courtroom, then at least a few more before we get a verdict.”

Sunset shook her head. “Nope. We’ll just get Celestia to skip all that.”

Twilight thought about it. Celestia did have the authority to call an immediate court session, but she was never one to abuse her power. “She’ll probably want to follow the letter of the law.”

“Twi, you do realize she’d probably do anything for you, right?” Sunset asked.

“Well… I suppose it’s worth a shot.”

“Of course it is. I thought of it.”

“Uhm, Twily?” Fluttershy prompted. “Maybe we should talk about, uhm…”

“Right.” Twilight took a deep breath. “Sunset, Fluttershy and I were talking about going public.”

Sunset stood up straight. “You mean about me?”

“Yes. We think it might be good to give polyamory more attention.”

“I know if Twily’s parents took the time to think about it, they would see there’s nothing wrong with our relationship,” Fluttershy said. “We could help a lot of ponies just by giving everypony something to think about.”

“And I agree,” Twilight said. She looked down at the floor.

“But…?” Sunset asked.

Twilight looked up, planning on reiterating that she agreed with Fluttershy’s idea, but she couldn’t form the words. Instead she just found herself looking back at the floor. “I just… I want Spike back home. I don’t want to have to be a princess all the time.”

Fluttershy tightened her hold on Twilight, while Sunset gave a small smile of encouragement. “Actually, that could work out to our benefit.”

“What do you mean?” Twilight asked, longing to find even the smallest piece of hope.

“Okay, so you think their problem is just that it’s so strange to them, right?” Sunset asked. Twilight and Fluttershy nodded. “Well, if we come out, ponies will write in with their stories, just like when you two first went public. Maybe if your parents see that we’re not the only ones doing this, that it’s a real thing and not just some sort of crazy idea, well, maybe they’ll change their minds.”

“Maybe.” Twilight couldn’t focus on it. She tried to figure out if that was how her parents would react, but only one thought bounced back. ‘I thought they’d accept me without needing to be convinced.’

“Well, one thing’s for sure,” Fluttershy said. “We can talk about this over breakfast.”

Twilight shook her head. “I’m not hungry, I think I’m going to –”

“Eat something anyway,” Fluttershy said. “Come on. I want to figure all this out too, but we’re not doing ourselves any favors by skipping breakfast.”

“But –” Twilight was cut off again when Sunset placed a hoof on her shoulder.

“Come on, Twi. At least try to eat something. For us?”

Twilight sighed and walked to the door. “Polyamory is stupid. How am I supposed to say no to both of you?”

“Hey, you’re joking again!” Sunset said as they caught up with her. “That’s a good sign.”

“Who said I was joking?” Twilight asked, though in truth she did feel just a little better.

As they walked down the hall they heard a crash from the kitchen. They all stopped and looked at one another. “Who could that be?” Twilight wondered aloud.

“Wait here, I’ll check it out,” Sunset said, running off down the stairs.

“Sunset, wait! It’s probably just… she’s gone.” Twilight sighed and kept walking.

Fluttershy smiled a little. “She certainly takes her job seriously.”

“I think it went to her head.”

They reached the bottom of the stairs just in time to see Sunset magically throw the door open and jump through it. “Nobody move!” she yelled. The scream that followed could only have been Rarity.

At any other time, Twilight would have found the whole situation amusing, and to some extent she did. Still, she more or less had to drag herself into the kitchen. Looking around, she saw Applejack and Pinkie managing food, while Rarity was casting a dirty look at an apologetic Sunset, and Rainbow sat at the table laughing at the misunderstanding.

“Good morning, girls,” Fluttershy said, walking over to help make breakfast. She set two pots of water to boil, one for tea and the other for coffee.

“What’s going on?” Twilight asked.

“I, uh, take it you haven’t looked outside?” Rainbow asked.

Twilight took a seat next to her. “Well, we watched the sunrise.”

Rainbow scratched at her neck. “Yeah, it’s probably better if you don’t take a better look.”

“There’s a whole heap of press out there,” Applejack said, looking up from the stove top where she was making a pot of grits. “Saw them on my way to the market, so I got everypony together. Figured something big was going on and y’all might want some help with it.”

“Thanks, it’s been a little hectic around here,” Sunset said. She took a seat next to Twilight.

“We were asked certain… questions on the way here.” Rarity spoke gently, clearly aware that there was more to it than more rumors. “Your parents were mentioned.”

Twilight sighed. She’d have to explain things sooner or later, whether she wanted to or not.

Sunset wrapped a hoof around Twilight’s. “Twilight’s parents visited yesterday. They weren’t thrilled with the idea of Twilight dating Fluttershy and me.”

Twilight leaned against Sunset, happy to let her answer questions.

“I see.” Rarity bowed her head. “Yes, I expected that was the case. There was also another matter…”

Twilight’s hoof tightened around Sunset’s. Either understanding Twilight’s request, or simply out of habit in taking the lead during conversation, Sunset was the one to answer. “They took Spike with them. They said this wasn’t a good environment to raise him in.”

Everypony gasped and turned to Twilight, who turned away. “They said I’m not able to take care of him properly.” She let herself sink further into Sunset, who wrapped her forelegs around her.

“How could they possibly think that?” Pinkie asked, joining Sunset in hugging Twilight. Without Twilight noticing, Pinkie had managed to leave her place at the oven and cross the kitchen to comfort her. “I mean, how can having more ponies around to look after him be a bad thing?”

“While I can understand their reservations, Pinkie does make a good point,” Rarity added. “I’m certain this goes without saying, but you tried reasoning with them?”

Twilight nodded, even though she wasn’t sure anypony could tell, sandwiched between Sunset and Pinkie as she was. “Yeah, it didn’t work so well,” Sunset answered for her.

“Somepony mentioned something about a royal decree,” Applejack said. “I’m guessin’ it had somethin’ to do with this?”

“Yes…” Twilight said, speaking into Sunset’s chest.

“So then what gives?” Rainbow asked. “I mean, shouldn’t that be the end of it?”

“Twilight doesn’t really have that kind of power.” Sunset stroked Twilight’s mane as she spoke, while Pinkie patted her on the back. Twilight put her forelegs around Sunset, and let her answer again. She knew her friends would be curious, but she didn’t really feel like explaining the details of exactly why she was unable to keep her parents from taking Spike. “Unfortunately, when her parents left Spike with her, they never actually signed custody over to her, meaning they’re still his legal guardians. Twilight’s a princess, but not a ruler. She can’t forbid ponies from taking someone the law considers to be their kid.”

“I think if they just gave it a little more thought, they wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Fluttershy said. Twilight lifted her head enough to see her pulling a tray of muffins out from the oven and setting it aside to cool.

“I dunno, sugarcube.” Applejack pulled a skillet off the stove top. She divided scrambled eggs between seven plates. “It can take a long time for a pony to realize something wasn’t ever wrong when they thought it was. Then it can take even longer for them to admit to bein’ wrong in the first place.”

“So, what? We just leave him with them?” Rainbow asked. Pinkie finally let go of Twilight to sit on Rainbow’s other side.

“Now, I didn’t say that. Course we gotta get him back, but I wouldn’t go holdin’ my breath waitin’ for ‘em to come around on their own.”

Fluttershy poured drinks for everyone. Tea for herself, Twilight, Rarity, and Pinkie, and coffee for Sunset, Rainbow, and Applejack. “We thought maybe if we told everypony about Sunset, ponies would write to us again. Then we could show them how many other ponies have relationships like ours.”

“You don’t think that will alienate them even more?” Rarity asked.

“Yeah, I reckon they’ll be furious at that one,” Applejack said. She added the grits to everypony’s plates. “But I think it’s a good idea, all the same. I don’t know if hearing from other ponies is gonna make a lick of difference to ‘em, but I do know they’ll ignore the whole thing if you give ‘em the chance. Somethin’ like this might be the only way you get them to actually think about it.”

Rarity opened the fridge and pulled out fruit salad, which she brought to the table. She sat a couple seats down from Sunset, leaving room for Fluttershy. “If you can manage to get the media on your side, they also could start to feel like they are the only ones who do have a problem with this.”

“But that won’t work,” Twilight said, sitting up as Fluttershy began carrying their beverages over. Before she could reach the table, Sunset levitated them all over at once, distributing them among the gathered ponies. “Remember how divided the media was when Fluttershy and I came out?”

Rarity just smiled coyly. “Of course, darling, and more importantly, your parents do too. I’m certain the more conservative media outlets will make the same fuss as before. With any luck, the Virtuous Equestrian Society may even come back as well.”

Fluttershy took her seat, bringing everypony to the table. “Uhm… I don’t see how that’s lucky.”

“Because ever since a certain dragon was hatched, Twilight Velvet and Night Light spent their lives fighting against conservative ideology, and those efforts have doubled since you and Twilight have become public knowledge. If you three can manage to win over the liberal news outlets, they may well see that they’re on the wrong side of things, so to speak.”

Twilight blinked and shook her head. “Okay, I guess that makes sense, but how do you know all that? I didn’t even know all that.”

Rarity chuckled. “Well, I suppose they do seem the humble type, so I’m not surprised they don’t talk about their noble work much. But honestly, darling, just because you two are the famous ones doesn’t mean you’re the only ones with a level of notability. One simply can not travel within the circles of the Canterlot elite and not hear about them, either from their allies or opponents.”

Fluttershy began picking at her food, though from the looks of it she wasn’t very hungry either. “What do you think, Dash?”

Rainbow was slouched in her chair, quietly sipping her coffee while everypony gathered. She sat up, grunting with the effort. “You know all this planning isn’t really my thing. Besides, Applejack woke me up before the sun was up, so unless you need me to buck some nosey reporter, I don’t think I’ll be much help.”

“Let’s try to not have this day end with anypony in jail,” Twilight said. She took a bite of pineapple from the fruit salad. She still didn’t want to eat, but everypony had chipped in to help with breakfast when they didn’t need to come at all. The least she could do was try to eat some of it. “Thank you all for coming. I don’t know what we’d do without you girls.”

“Aww, don’t mention it,” Pinkie said as she helped herself to a bite of Rainbow’s grits.

As they ate and discussed their potential plans, everything came back to the same conclusion. Coming out about Sunset wasn’t a sure bet by any means, but it gave them a chance, which was more than they had otherwise. They were just left with one decision.

“So what do we do about telling everypony?” Sunset asked, pushing aside her plate. She had managed more than Twilight or Fluttershy, but nopony seemed particularly hungry.

“Should we hold another press conference?” Fluttershy asked.

Rarity dabbed at her mouth with a napkin, even though she hadn’t gotten any food on her muzzle. “That would probably be wise. Nopony on the way here mentioned Sunset, so it seems she’s still out of the public eye so far. You will want to make sure you tailor the event to get a desirable response.”

Sunset leaned forward, resting her head on her hoof. “I still think we should talk to Celestia about a trial. I don’t want to count on this working; we should at least keep our options open.”

“I agree,” Twilight said. She felt far from relieved, but her friends had managed to shake off some of her lethargy. “Looks like we’ll need to go to Canterlot after all.”

“We better get packing. The sooner we do this, the better.” Fluttershy stood up, and was followed by Twilight and Sunset.

They split up as they reached their bedroom, Sunset continuing to her own. Twilight began to go through drawers looking for anything they might need, but she mostly just absentmindedly moved things around. Fluttershy noticed and shooed her to the bed.

“I’ll send a message to Luna, too,” Fluttershy said, pulling out a journal adorned with a crescent moon. “She’ll probably want to meet with us tonight.”

Twilight nodded. Luna was friends with all three of them, and she did play a large role in them getting together. She sighed. “Do you really think this is the best idea?”

Fluttershy looked up from the journal. “I think anything that might help us get Spike back while also helping other ponies can’t be bad.”

Twilight shook her head. “I mean… do you think this is what’s best for us? We’re not… rushing into anything are we?”

“I don’t know.” Fluttershy sighed. “I know what you mean, though. It’s sort of like its own kind of commitment. Once we open up about this, any good we do with it will be ruined if we don’t stick with the relationship.”

“Yeah.” Twilight flopped onto her back and stared at the ceiling.

After a few minutes, Fluttershy jumped onto the bed as well. “I think we’ll be okay. I don’t think it would be a problem if we don’t wind up staying with Sunset forever, as long as we can show ponies that this type of relationship works first.”

Twilight reached her forelegs into the air. Fluttershy took the invitation, snuggling up against her. “I hope so. I mean, it’s not that I don’t want to stay with Sunset. It’s just… it’s only been three weeks, and no matter how good those three weeks have been, I wish we had more time before deciding to do this.”

“Me too.”

“And you know, if it comes down to it, you can still end it if you want,” Twilight said. She said it often, but she knew how passive Fluttershy could be. Twilight was terrified she would stay in a relationship she wasn’t happy with just so she wouldn’t hurt the others.

“I know.”

They lay together on the bed silently, while Fluttershy absentmindedly ran her hoof over Twilight’s stomach. Eventually there was a knock on the door and they both sat up.

“Ready whenever you two are,” Sunset’s voice called through the door.

Twilight shook her head. “It’s open, you know.”

Sunset opened the door and stepped in. She had her saddlebags strapped on. “It just feels weird barging in.”

Fluttershy stood up. “We’re packed, unless there was something else you wanted to bring, Twily.”

“I can’t think of anything. Not that I had a lot of time to prepare a checklist.” Twilight forced herself out of bed as well, and they followed Sunset out of the room. When they arrived downstairs, they found their friends waiting in the foyer.

“Y’all ready to get goin’ then?” Applejack asked.

“Ready as we’ll ever be,” Twilight answered.

“Right. Don’t you go worryin’ ‘bout anything here, we’ll clean up and check in on the place while you’re gone. And of course I’ll look after the animals for ya, Fluttershy.”

“Oh. Thank you.” Fluttershy blushed. She must not have realized she hadn’t made arrangements for them, being so concerned about Twilight.

“So how bad is it out there?” Sunset asked, opening the front door. From where they were standing, Twilight couldn’t see outside to well, but as far as she could tell it was chaos outside. Dozens of cameras flashed immediately, and at least as many voices started talking at once. Ponies rushed to the doors, which Sunset slammed shut. “Oh.”

“How are we going to get through that?” Fluttershy asked as somepony began pounding on the door.

“We go straight through!” Rainbow lifted into the air and raised her hooves as if she was about to fight someone. “Buck anypony that gets in the way!”

“Well, full points for enthusiasm.” Applejack pulled Rainbow down by her back leg.

“Actually, I think it could work,” Sunset said stepping forward. “We’ll have to make a few adjustments to that plan, but we can go straight through them.”

“Now that’s more like it!” Rainbow grinned and bumped Sunset’s hoof.

“Uh, again, let’s not get anypony arrested,” Twilight interjected. “Maybe we could go around somehow.”

“Not a chance, trust me. That mob is way too big, and we might even get separated.” Sunset looked around the room. “Right, so you all are part of Twilight’s royal guard now.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Here we go.”

“No, seriously.” Sunset frowned, then shook off Twilight’s dismissal. “I am officially captain of her royal guard, we did the oath and everything.”

Applejack arched an eyebrow. “Now why in the hay did ya –”

“Nevermind that right now!” Sunset cut her off.

Twilight had to smile a little at that. Although initially Twilight thought it was a joke, or just a convenient excuse to explain why Sunset was always present at her dates with Fluttershy, Sunset kept dropping hints that she really did want to be their captain. Eventually Twilight half-jokingly agreed, and they wound up going through a full ceremony. All the while Sunset pretended like it was just for show, but really anypony could tell she was thrilled with it.

Sunset continued to address everypony. “So it’s our sworn duty to protect our princess, and that duty supersedes the press’s right to barge into their lives.”

Twilight sighed. “Sunset, we’ve been over this. You can’t restrict the freedom of the press.”

“No, you can’t,” Sunset agreed. “But a member of the royal guard can keep anypony a safe distance from their charge. They can take as many pictures as they want and ask whatever dumb questions they want to, but they’ll have to do it from a distance.”

“So we can just beat them away!” Rainbow exclaimed, her face lighting up.

“Only if they get too close,” Sunset reiterated. “And we can’t antagonize them so long as they remain a respectful distance.”

“Can I break their cameras?” Rainbow asked.

“Hmm…” Sunset tapped on her chin. “Maybe. You can’t ‘intentionally’ break their property, but if a camera should happen to get broken while you’re pushing somepony away, well, that’s just not our problem.”

Twilight facehoofed. This was going to end badly.

Once Rainbow was satisfied that her new job was sufficiently awesome, Sunset gave them all roles. Rarity ran ahead to get their tickets and inform the station of the plan, since she could move through the crowd mostly undeterred. Sunset would hold the front of their formation, using her magic to create a barrier. Applejack and Pinkie would be in charge of watching their rear, while Rainbow would use her aerial advantage to watch their blind spots, as well as make sure nopony surprised them by dropping in from above.

They gave Rarity a few minutes head start, but they didn’t wait too long; she’d be moving faster than them anyway. Steeling themselves for what was to come, Sunset flung open the door. “Make way!” she called, to no avail. Unconcerned, she lit up her horn and a teal barrier spread out before them, pushing ponies back with it.

The group exited steadily, keeping pace with Sunset. She moved slowly enough that they’d all be able to stay together, but kept a consistent speed, pushing forward towards the station. To Twilight’s amazement – and likely Rainbow’s disappointment – nopony seemed to mind the blockade. They asked questions in a rapid-fire blur and snapped so many pictures Twilight thought she might go blind from the flashes, but in the end they arrived with no damage to anypony or anything.

Rarity rushed into their huddle, Applejack and Pinkie giving warning looks to anypony thinking they might do the same. She passed three tickets off to Twilight. As usual, they had their own private room, which was perfect for the day they were having.

Their friends stayed around while they waited for the train to arrive. Unfortunately, there was no chance for them to talk anymore, not with the reporters around, but it was comforting all the same. Still, it was a huge relief when the train arrived. The group, aided by the station personnel, backed Twilight and Fluttershy up to the door, with Sunset boarding last. Reporters were still asking questions as they walked onto the train, and continued taking pictures as the door closed.

Twilight and Fluttershy didn’t leave their room for the entire trip, even though they doubted any reporters were actually on the train. Sunset stepped out briefly to ask if Amber happened to be working that particular train, but they had no such luck.

They discussed their plans along the way. Sunset managed to get Twilight a little more involved in the decision making, even if it was a slow and gradual process. Meanwhile, Fluttershy focused on comforting her as best she could. Being thrust into the public spotlight for her relationship again was daunting, but at least making the plans gave her something else to focus on.

The train slowed to enter the station. Twilight stared fixated on the doors, not wanting to imagine what would be on the other side. Had word reached Canterlot yet? Of course it had. Twilight herself had helped develop the tool that would allow the journalists in Ponyville to send word to their contacts in Canterlot. The journals may have originally been planned for charitable causes, but they spread to other uses quickly.

Fluttershy smiled at her. “It’ll be okay. We’re here with you, and everything will work out.”

“Right.” Twilight nodded. The train came to a stop, so she stood up. “Let’s get this over with.”

There was no immediate reaction as the doors opened, at least. Rather than walking in front, this time Sunset walked on Twilight’s right, Fluttershy taking the left. Without the rest of their ‘royal guards’ there wasn’t much point in her taking her lead, since anypony could just come in from behind.

Thankfully, another swarm like the one in Ponyville didn’t seem likely. While there were ponies ready and waiting as they disembarked, they were far fewer in number. Still, they were persistent as ever.

“Princess Twilight! A moment of your time!”

“Can you comment on the events that occurred yesterday?”

“Is it true that your ward was involved?”

“Will this affect the wedding in any way?”

Twilight kept her head down while Sunset did her best to give them some space. “Stay back,” she called. It wasn’t nearly as effective.

“Princess, can you confirm –”

“There will be no further questions at this time.”

All heads turned to see Luna, flanked by members of the Celestial Guard. With a nod of her head, the guard stepped forward to surround Twilight, Fluttershy, and Sunset. They moved as one unit towards Luna, who stood by a private carriage.

All too gladly they filed in, the three of them taking up a row by themselves. Luna climbed in and sat across from them, and the door closed behind her. The guards took places on platforms around the outside of the carriage.

“Luna!” Fluttershy stood to greet her friend, but tripped when the carriage started moving. Luna caught her before she could fall, and Fluttershy threw her forelegs around her. “Thank goodness you’re here, but why are you still awake? It’s not even afternoon.”

“I could hardly leave you to fend for yourselves,” Luna said, returning the hug. “This is, after all, my fault. I should have talked to you about your parents before I sent them to you. Twilight, all of you, I can only offer my most sincere apologies. Had I known something like this would happen…”

Twilight did her best to smile. “It’s not your fault.” As much as Twilight wanted to blame somepony, she couldn’t hold Luna accountable.

Luna nodded while Fluttershy returned to her seat. “I think it is best if we discuss plans before we reach the castle. You are planning on fighting this, I presume?”

“Yes, we came to ask Celestia if she could cut through some of the red tape,” Sunset said. “We want Spike back, and we don’t want to spend all fucking year waiting for court dates.”

“I’m glad to hear it, but you do realize this will mean the details of your relationship will become public knowledge.”

“We were planning on cutting that off by announcing it ourselves,” Sunset said. “We’re hoping a positive public response will mean we don’t need to fight them for custody at all.”

Luna bowed her head. “Hope is a fine thing to have, but do not invest yourselves too heavily in this working. News will get out, and soon. I fear making the announcement on your own terms is the best you can do now, but I expect this matter will be settled in a courtroom one way or another.”

Twilight sunk to her hooves, and was soon embraced by Fluttershy and Sunset.

“Fear not, Twilight.” Luna smiled comfortingly. “You have a powerful ally. I will give you any support I can, which I think is no small thing.”

Fluttershy nuzzled against Twilight’s cheek. “See? Everything is going to be okay. Luna and Princess Celestia will help.”

Luna frowned and stared out the window. “You have not yet informed Celestia about Sunset, I take it?”

“I… no.” Twilight sat up. Her mouth went dry and breathing became forced. “You don’t think… she’ll disapprove too?”

Luna’s ears folded back, and she failed to meet Twilight’s eyes. “I have been apart from my sister for a long time, Twilight. Opinions do not need a thousand years to change. I fear I do not know what she will have to say.”

“Hey, it’s okay.” Sunset nudged Twilight playfully. “I mean, come on. All you gotta do is turn on the puppy dog eyes and it’s a done deal.”

Twilight sunk back into her seat. “Please, I don’t have that much sway with her.”

Sunset shrugged. “I’m just saying I was the most impressive student she’s ever had, and you’re still the one with stained glass murals. You must’ve done something right.”

“Really?” Twilight smirked, in spite of her nerves. “You’re the most impressive?”

“Look, nothing you can do now counts. You have alicorn magic, it’s not a fair competition.”

Luna grinned, obviously relieved that Sunset managed to lighten the mood. “Having seen Twilight’s powers as a unicorn, I have to say you would have to be exceptionally talented to have a chance to match her.”

“Well, I think you’re both pretty amazing,” Fluttershy said.

“There, that settles it,” Twilight said.

“Fair enough.” Sunset smiled and shrugged. She noticed Luna watching them with an amused expression. “What are you smiling about?”

Luna chuckled. “Who is truly the powerful one? The all-powerful mages, or she who bends them to her will?”

Fluttershy blushed. “Oh, well I don’t know about that…”

“Actually, I think she has a point.” Twilight took Fluttershy’s hoof in her own. “Sunset?”

Sunset nodded. “Yeah, I think we can all agree that Fluttershy is the most impressive pony here.”

Fluttershy giggled. “What am I going to do with you two?”

Luna winked. “From the sound of it, anything you want.”

Fluttershy giggled some more and hid her face against Twilight’s neck.

“I do wish we were meeting under better circumstances.” Luna smiled at the affectionate lovers. “I hope all else is well in your relationship?”

Twilight held out a hoof for Sunset while Fluttershy wrapped her forelegs around her. “Yes. These past three weeks have certainly been different, but we’re all happy together.”

Luna nodded. “All the same, if you find yourselves with questions or in need of advice, I hope you know I’m more than happy to assist.”

“Thank you, Luna,” Fluttershy said. “I don’t know where we’d be without you.”

“Listening to Cadance, I fear.” Luna tapped on her chin. “Although one must wonder where she would be without me.”

“Cadance was a big help too, you know,” Twilight said. “And what do you mean ‘where would she be without you’?”

Luna chuckled. “Twilight, what do you think Cadance knows of polyamorous dating? I assure you she has nothing but secondhoof experience to offer, and that first hoof would be mine.”

Twilight’s ear twitched. “But when I explained how I felt about Sunset, she already knew about polyamory. I was with her the whole time, there’s no way she had a chance to ask your advice.”

“Indeed, I did not hear from her then. It was years ago we first spoke on the topic. She was very interested in learning all she could about unconventional relationships, so she may better fill her role as Princess of Love.” Luna’s eyes flicked towards the floor for a moment, though she kept her smile. “In fact, we talked much about the ways of love in those days.”

“But that doesn’t make sense.” Twilight cocked her head to the side. “I mean, she was the Princess of Love before you came back from the moon. What did she do before then?”

“Honestly, I have no idea,” Luna said. She grinned. “Did you know she waited until after marriage to lie with Shining Armor? Princess of Love indeed.”

Sunset laughed. “Why am I not surprised?”

Twilight frowned and shook her head. “That isn’t really any of our business, Luna.”

Luna just grinned wider. “Then I suppose you also wouldn’t want to know how after Shining Armor’s proposal, she nervously came to me for advice on the matter?”

“Oh God!” Sunset threw a hoof over her face as she cracked up. “I would pay to see that! Oh man, you have to tell me what happened.”

“Sunset, you’ve never even met Cadance!” Twilight snapped.

Luna chuckled. “Fine, I may have embellished some parts of that story. But it is an amusing thought, is it not?”

“No.” Twilight folded her forelegs.

Fluttershy giggled. “It is a little.”

“And look –” Luna gestured out the window “– we’re here.”

Twilight glanced outside to see she was right. As awkward as her method was, Luna managed to distract Twilight from her thoughts for a lot of the trip. A guard opened the door and the four ponies stepped out.

Luna led the way to Celestia’s audience chamber. Many ponies along the way offered friendly greetings, which was a relief after the chaos from earlier.

Celestia’s assistant, Raven, looked up in surprise as they approached. “Princess Luna, is everything okay?”

“That remains to be seen,” Luna said. “Is my sister busy at – no, of course she is. What time is my sister’s current appointment over, and can her next one be rescheduled?”

Raven pulled over a notepad and began flipping through pages. “Let’s see… She’s discussing some last minute plans for the Summer Sun Celebration now. That’s scheduled until two, then she’ll have an hour recess for lunch.”

Twilight glanced at a clock to find it was only noon. Luna either didn’t need to check the time or didn’t care. “I thought that was finalized last week.”

Raven frowned. It was easy to see why Celestia prized Raven as her personal assistant. In all the years Twilight had known her, Raven was one of the only ponies who could match Celestia in her love for things going according to plan. “It was, but the mayor of Manehattan had some concerns, and since the celebration is only a few days away…”

“I know of his concerns. ‘Tis no matter, I warned her that she would be better off overseeing fewer matters for this exact reason. When things come up that directly require her attention, she ought to be available for them.”

“Oh, uhm, maybe we should wait,” Fluttershy suggested.

“We will not. Come.” Without waiting for Raven’s okay, Luna led them into the audience chamber. Twilight turned to apologize to Raven, but she was already busy fixing her schedule, so Twilight decided to leave her to it.

“…so if we raise the import tax by just a few bits –”

“Then Manehattan will profit out of the rest of Equestria’s purse,” Luna said curtly. “As I recall, your request was already turned down.”

The mayor regarded Luna with an air of forced politeness. “As mayor of Manehattan, I have every right to contest a decision made by an office bureaucrat.”

Luna smiled. “So you run to the Princess of Bureaucracy. You do have this right you speak of, though your abuse of the law is nothing but a waste of our time. My sister never intended to grant your request, so I do not know why she intended to play this game with you.”

Celestia cast her a sharp look. “Luna, please. I can handle this myself.”

“You can, and you will do so slowly, as ever,” Luna said. Her voice was pleasant as could be, as if she was paying her sister a wonderful compliment. “As it stands, we need my sister’s attention now, so I personally deny your request. And you do not have the right to contest my decision on the matter, so you can consider this closed.”

The mayor stood in place sputtering while Celestia glared at Luna, though she didn’t dispute her judgement. “T-this is an outrage! I came all the way across the country to receive a fair audience, not to be dismissed without somepony hearing what I have to say!”

“Several ponies have heard what you have to say, starting with the pony who denied your request. Incidentally, I have also heard it. I reviewed your claim this morning, and have made my decision on the matter. You have my verdict, and it is final.” Luna turned to face Celestia. “Unless my sister wishes to contest it herself?”

All eyes fell on Celestia, who was rubbing a hoof to her temple. She sighed, then smiled at the mayor. “I’m very sorry, but Princess Luna is right. Your proposed tax hike is unfair, and Manehattan already stands to gain quite a bit from hosting the Summer Sun Celebration. We look forward to the event, but it seems I have another matter to address.”

The mayor looked like he might explode, but left anyway, stamping and swearing the whole way.

Celestia sighed again, then turned to address everypony. She smiled effortlessly, as if everything had gone according to plan. “Greetings Twilight, Fluttershy, Sunset. It’s been far too long. I hope there’s nothing to be concerned about?”

Twilight took a deep breath. “Well… it’s sort of a long story. Where to start… Okay, so we, uhm, that is Fluttershy and I, we decided to try what’s called a triad relationship, and basically now we’re also dating Sunset.” She tried to smile confidently, but even she could tell it looked forced.

Celestia briefly turned to Sunset, who smiled nervously. Celestia’s face remained impassive. “I see,” was all she said.

“Tia is well aware of polyamory, and the myriad forms it takes,” Luna clarified.

“Oh, uh, okay then.” Twilight nodded. She had hoped for some sort of congratulations, like when she had first told Celestia about Fluttershy. Maybe she was more irritated by their interruption than she let on? “Well, everything’s been going great with the three of us for the past few weeks, but then the other day my parents came to Ponyville. We told them about us, and they didn’t react well. They… they took Spike with them.”

As Twilight cast her eyes to the ground, Sunset patted her back and took over for her. “We know this will probably have to be settled in court, but we were hoping you could help. If it comes to a court battle, we’d like to ask you to expedite the process, so the case doesn’t get shuffled around for who knows how long. Also, we know that it would be a difficult case even if we weren’t in a triad relationship. But if you make a statement that you think Twilight is fully capable of raising Spike, then your word should cancel out any concerns on that end.”

Celestia closed her eyes for a moment, apparently deep in thought. When she opened them she was frowning. “Twilight, you know I’ve never questioned your ability at raising Spike. It was, after all, my idea that he stay with you when you first moved out of your parents’ house and into the city. But I can not help you this time. I’m sorry, but the law must be respected. I hope you understand.”

“I…” Twilight could feel her eyes watering. She quickly shook her head. She wouldn’t start crying in front of Celestia. “I do.”

“Wait, hold on,” Sunset stepped forward. “What about the other part? If you can’t make things happen quicker, can you at least give us your support?”

“If called on by a court of law, I will of course answer any questions they ask.”

Sunset stamped her hoof. “That’s not the same thing!”

Luna cleared her throat. “Sister, although you are fully aware already, Sunset is asking if you do in fact support them in their relationship, and secondly, if you support them raising a child together.”

Celestia smiled. “Of course, you are all adults, and more than capable of making your own decisions. You’ll have to forgive me if I seem a little off. I did help raise you two, so it does seem a little odd to me. But of course no matter what my relationship with you is, that doesn’t affect yours. There’s no reason you two would actually think of each other as sisterly.”

“A fine non-answer,” Luna said. “And concerning Spike?”

Celestia exchanged a look with Luna. Her features barely changed, and even Twilight couldn’t tell what she was trying to convey. She was sure there was something there though, some subtle message only somepony who knew her for thousands of years could possibly pick up on. “I’m not an expert on these matters, I’m afraid. My place is and will always be in politics, so I will have to defer to the court on matters of parenting.”

Sunset took a step back, hanging her head low. Twilight leaned against her, and together they stood in silence.

“Hmph.” Luna turned away from Celestia. “It seems my sister will be no help, after all. But never fear, I pledge to you that I will do anything in my power to help, including fulfilling both the tasks you came to ask Celestia’s aid in.”

“You will?” Fluttershy asked. “Thank you so much, Luna.”

“Of course,” Luna glanced at Celestia. Twilight couldn’t tell what her look meant either, but if she had to guess, she’d say it was a challenge.

“Didn’t you just berate the mayor of Manehattan for abusing his sway over the law?” Celestia asked as casually as if they were discussing dinner plans.

“I did, as he was abusing it for his personal gain,” Luna replied, matching Celestia’s pleasant tone. “This is a not only a matter of helping those I care for, but also of morality. Twilight has done nothing wrong, and Spike would be better off with her. That was what you told her parents, was it not? When she first got her own house in Canterlot, you told them that Twilight would be the best pony to raise Spike.”

Celestia let out a small chuckle. She did not sound amused. “I’m not sure how you came across that information, Luna.”

Luna inclined her head and ignored Celestia’s comment. “Nevertheless, that is what happened. You told them that as the one to hatch his egg, Twilight had a stronger bond with him than either of them would be aware of. Her magic gave him life, forever intertwining their future. Not to mention giving her a legitimate claim as his mother.”

Celestia continued smiling, but it began to look forced. For the first time in all the years Twilight had known her, Celestia seemed to be unsure of how to handle herself in a debate. She almost seemed unnerved, which wasn’t surprising. There was simply no way for Luna to know the details of a private conversation that happened while she was banished, short of hearing it from one of the ponies present.

“Furthermore, you told them that Twilight would be one of the only ponies properly able to adapt to raising a dragon, since she would have to learn how to care for him on the spot. Tell me, do you think Twilight Velvet and Night Light would have been able to adapt to Spike suddenly growing to be larger than a building when he was first experiencing greed? I do not.”

“What are you getting at, Luna?”

“That a child should be raised by the ones best suited to the task.”

Celestia stopped smiling, though her voice remained calm. “A child’s parents serve as their legal guardian unless the parents are found to be unfit or surrender the rights willingly.”

Luna took a step forward. “And by your own admission, Twilight Sparkle has a strong claim towards being Spike’s mother.”

“Legally, that would still be Twilight Velvet. On the day of his birth, Spike was adopted by her and Night Light.”

“We are going in circles.” Luna shook her head. “Fine. If the law is where your concern lies, then you need have no fear. I will stay within the bounds of my legal authority. Though, as you know, those bounds extend very far.”

Celestia offered no contestation, so Luna turned away. “Come, we have planning to do.” Luna walked off, and all the others could do was follow her.

On the way out, they passed by Raven, who looked at them curiously but didn’t ask anything. Luna walked past without saying a word, but Sunset stopped at the doorway. She sighed and turned back to face Raven. “Uhm, Raven? The princess is probably pretty upset right now. Could you… have somepony bring her some chamomile tea? It’s her favorite.”

Raven blinked. “Uhm, sure, Sunset.”

“And maybe afterwards you can check on her?” Twilight asked. “She could probably use a friendly face.”

Raven opened her mouth, then closed it. She adjusted her glasses. “Of course, Princess.”

Heads hung low, they followed Luna out the door. She only stopped once more along their way, to ask a member of the staff to prepare rooms for them. “Shall it be one room or two?” Luna asked, then shook her head. “Never mind, prepare both Captain Shimmer’s and Princess Twilight’s rooms. You can decide to use both or not, ‘tis no matter.”

With that taken care of, she brought them to her solar. Once the door was closed behind them, she bowed her head. “I am sorry that turned out the way it did. I truly did not know what to expect from Celestia, and I –”

Twilight collapsed to the floor. Her parents, and now Princess Celestia… Were they right? These were the ponies she’d looked up to for her entire life. If they couldn’t accept her, maybe there really was something wrong with her.

Fluttershy and Sunset knelt down and leaned against her. “There there, we’ll make it through somehow,” Fluttershy said.

Twilight turned to Sunset and saw she had tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry…” Sunset said, wiping away her tears. She tried to smile, but began crying again. “I’m sorry…”

Twilight pulled Sunset in closer to her and started crying as well. Fluttershy moved so she could be close to both of them, wrapping her wings around them and offering gentle comforting words.

“Oh, Tia…” Luna muttered to herself. “If only you could understand…” She walked forward and sat down with them, using her large wingspan to at least partially cover all three ponies. “I promise you, I will make Celestia understand. There’s no need for tears, my friends.”

Sunset’s sobbing slowly turned to sniffling. “I’m sorry, if I hadn’t… If I just…”

Twilight shook her head. She was still trying to control her own crying, so her voice came out shaky. “S-Sunset, it’s not… it’s not your fault.”

“Twilight’s right,” Fluttershy said. “The three of us, we’re a team. We’ll stick together, and we’ll make everything work out. But we all have to believe in one another, and that includes believing in ourselves.”

Sunset took a few deep breaths and wiped her eyes. “Celestia… for a long time, she was the only one who ever felt like family to me. I… I really love her. I never knew that when I was younger, because we always had so many disagreements. But, I guess… that’s part of family too, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Twilight said, barely able to get even one word out.

“I told myself I’d never disappoint her again.” Sunset bowed her head, and Twilight thought she was going to start crying again. Instead she clenched her jaw and looked up with fire in her eyes. “But she’s wrong. And this time, I know it’s not just me being full of myself. She’s going to see that. If I have to find a way to change how this whole damn country thinks, then that’s what I’ll do. And in the end, she’ll see that there’s nothing wrong with us.”

Everypony pulled apart and looked to Twilight, and Twilight looked at each of them. Sunset was fire and determination. Fluttershy was compassion and hope. Luna was support and understanding. “And you, Twilight?” Luna asked.

And what was Twilight? What could a pony be when she had her world torn apart? Where could she go when she was brought down so low?

Only one way.

Twilight took a deep breath. She wiped her eyes, and she stood. Her shaking legs felt like they might not hold her, but they did. She pictured Spike. He was waiting for her. He needed her to be strong. She held her head high and stood proud.

“Yes. No more moping around. We can do this, so long as we stick together and don’t give into doubt. Now, I’m going to need every book we can find on child care laws and court cases. We’re getting Spike back.”

Author's Note:

Want to check out some artwork inspired by Captain Shimmer? Of course you do. Check it out here

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