• Published 3rd Oct 2015
  • 6,222 Views, 941 Comments

Finding Home - Krickis

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

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20 – Opening Up

Chapter Twenty

Opening Up

Whatever else it was, sleeping in between two other ponies was uncomfortably warm. Twilight was already looking forward to the winter months, and to warm cuddles under blankets surrounded by her lovers, but that was still six months away. Summer had just started, and she was already tempted to beg Celestia to turn the sun down. Or at least to try switching places with Fluttershy. After all, even if they all liked being in the middle, Fluttershy did seem to enjoy it the most.

They had never actually decided who would sleep where – or even that they would be sharing a room – but it seemed that through some unspoken decision, Twilight was always in the middle. She suspected they wanted to comfort her in the face of everything going on, and she appreciated it, really. But even Fluttershy was taking advantage of their stay in Canterlot to sleep in a bit, while Twilight was awoken every morning by the sunrise bringing altogether too much warmth to their bed.

She rolled over onto her side and gave up trying to sleep, watching Fluttershy instead. She looked so serene while she slept, even just looking at her helped Twilight feel peaceful too. She reached out and brushed a strand of mane out of her face, tucking it behind her ear. Fluttershy shifted at the touch, mumbling wordlessly, then she was still again.

“She’s so beautiful.”

Twilight smiled as she felt a hoof slide around her. Even after a month, it felt a little strange to hear somepony say something like that about Fluttershy. “Yeah, she is.”

She turned back around to face Sunset, wrapping a foreleg around her. “I’m sorry, did I wake you?”

“Maybe,” Sunset said quietly. She smiled and leaned in closer. “I don’t mind though.”

She reached a hoof behind Sunset’s head and pulled her the rest of the way in for a kiss. “I don’t know what to do with you. You sprawl out over the entire bed, then wake up at the smallest movement.”

Sunset arched an eyebrow in a mock serious expression. “Hey, you love having me sprawled over you.”

Twilight grinned. “What makes you say that?”

“The way you cling to me as if I’m the only thing keeping you on the bed.”

“Well maybe if you would stay on your side, I wouldn’t have to –”


Sunset pressed her lips against Twilight’s and ran a hoof through her mane. Twilight wrapped her own hoof around Sunset’s back, pulling the unicorn’s body tight against her own. She closed her eyes, drifting away into the moment. She kept her lips parted, and Sunset took the invitation, her tongue dancing around Twilight’s.

Suddenly Twilight gasped and pulled away, her eyes shooting open as she felt another pair of hooves wrap around her. Fluttershy curled around her and kissed her neck. “Good morning.”

Twilight and Sunset exchanged looks, and she knew they both had the same thing on their minds. They had never actually agreed what was acceptable when it came to anything more intimate than kissing. “Good morning, Shy,” Twilight said awkwardly.

Fluttershy giggled. “It certainly looked like you two were enjoying yourselves.”

At least Fluttershy couldn’t see Twilight’s blush. Sunset wasn’t so lucky, being in front of both of them. Twilight realized she was still holding onto Sunset, and moved her hooves to rest them on Fluttershy’s. “Uhm, I hope that wasn’t… too much.”

“No, it wasn’t.” Fluttershy put her mouth up to Twilight’s ear, and whispered quietly enough that Sunset wouldn’t be able to hear. “Actually… it’s kind of fun watching you two.”

Twilight held Fluttershy’s hooves tighter and blushed harder. “R-really?”

Fluttershy just giggled, then went back to kissing Twilight’s neck. Conscious of Sunset’s eyes on her, Twilight blushed, which only got worse when Fluttershy bit down, eliciting a small moan.

“Uhm…” Sunset’s eyes flicked between the two. “Should I… give you two some alone time?”

Unsure how to respond, Twilight just stayed still.

“What do you think, Twily?” Fluttershy asked, her tone making Twilight’s heart beat faster. “Should we send Sunset out?”

“I, uhm…” Since she couldn’t see Fluttershy, she tried looking to Sunset for help, only to find Sunset looked just as unsure as she was. “What, uh, what do you want to –”

“No.” Fluttershy traced her hoof down Twilight’s body. “I asked you.”

Fluttershy’s hoof was already at Twilight’s stomach, and it kept wandering lower. “I, uhm… maybe… maybe she could… stay?”

Fluttershy nibbled on Twilight’s neck again, then turned her attention to Sunset. “And what about you, Sunset? Do you want to –”

“Yes!” Sunset answered quickly, then threw a hoof over her face.

Fluttershy giggled. “Oh, poor Sunset. We’ve left you out all this time.” Torturously, she pulled her hoof away to tap on her chin. “So Twily… have you been wanting to invite Sunset the entire time?”

Twilight looked at Sunset guiltily, then turned towards Fluttershy. “Uhm… maybe…”

Fluttershy grinned. “Oh Twily, you know we’re supposed to talk about things like that.” She reached across Twilight and pulled Sunset closer to them.

Although it was hard to move while she was pressed so tightly against the two of them, Twilight shifted to better face Fluttershy. “I’m sorry, I just…”

Fluttershy looked at her quizzically. “Why are you apologizing to me?” She shifted back to a seductive grin. “Sunset’s the one who’s been ignored because you were just too embarrassed to say anything.”

Twilight turned back to Sunset, who looked almost afraid to get involved.

“Now then, what to do with you,” Fluttershy said. “I suppose it’s only fair that since you were naughty, you’ll just have to make it up to Sunset. And so you know, you won’t be getting any attention unless she decides you did a good job.”

Twilight wasn’t sure who was blushing more, her or Sunset. “Well, go on,” Fluttershy prompted. Twilight nodded, and kissed Sunset. She slowly worked her way down Sunset’s body, kissing everywhere along the way. As she got to the bottom of her pajama and started sliding it out of the way, she felt Fluttershy move behind her, filling the space Twilight had been in.

“And Sunset?” Fluttershy took hold of Sunset, keeping Twilight pressed in between them. She began kissing Sunset, and waited until her first gasp of pleasure before finishing her thought.

“Don’t you dare go easy on her.”

At some point, Fluttershy had wound up in the middle of the bed. Twilight and Sunset were both clinging onto her, while she had one foreleg around each of them. Twilight, being the last to finish, was still catching her breath. Thankfully, Sunset had decided she did a very good job after all.

“You okay, Twily?” Fluttershy asked, noticing how heavy Twilight’s breathing was.

“Okay?” Twilight nuzzled against Fluttershy while stroking Sunset’s mane. “That was incredible!”

Fluttershy held them both tighter. “And, Sunset… I hope that wasn’t, uhm, too much.” She had kept both Twilight and Sunset busy the entire time, confidently making sure they were both wherever she wanted them to be. Only now that they were done did she start to blush.

“You two certainly are full of surprises, but you won’t hear me complaining.” Sunset traced her hoof around Fluttershy’s stomach. “Actually… I’m already looking forward to next time.”

Fluttershy giggled. “Good.”

Sunset hid her face against Fluttershy. “I just can’t believe I finished so quickly…”

“Aww, don’t worry,” Fluttershy said. “I think it was pretty exciting for all of us.”

“It’s, uhm, it’s also been a while…”

Twilight smiled and reached for Sunset’s hoof. “Sunset, there’s no reason to worry about it. You were great, and we love you.”

Sunset’s ears perked up, and Twilight felt her euphoria crash down as she realized what she said. She kept her eyes off Fluttershy, not wanting to see her reaction.

Sunset chuckled. “Better watch out, Twi. If you don’t choose your words more carefully, somepony’s bound to get the wrong idea.”

Twilight tightened her hold on Sunset’s hoof. “Uhm… I love you, Sunset.”

Sunset looked into Twilight’s eyes. “I… I love you too, Twilight.”

As they smiled at one another, Twilight felt herself fill with an entirely different euphoric feeling.

“Uh, I think you’re supposed to kiss now,” Fluttershy said, causing both of them to laugh. Once they were done, they faced each other again, then kissed.

“And, uhm…” Sunset glanced away, but kept the same smile. “You don’t have to say it back or anything, but I love you too, Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy squeezed them both tighter. “I’m happy you two feel that way about each other,” she said, “but I’m not sure I’m quite there yet.”

“Right. Of course.” Sunset nodded, then nuzzled against Fluttershy again.

“You know you’re very special to me.” Fluttershy gently lifted Sunset’s head so they were looking at each other. “And I do feel something for you. I just want to wait until I’m sure before I say something like that.”

“That’s completely understandable,” Sunset said. She grabbed Twilight and pulled her over for a group hug. “I can’t believe how lucky I am to have you both!”

“Me too,” Twilight said. She felt a little bad for Fluttershy, since she was stuck underneath the other two, but she was smiling and laughing, so she must not have minded.

Fluttershy shimmied her way to sitting up, then wrapped a wing around each of them. “Me three. But we should probably get a start on our day.”

Really, Twilight would much rather stay in bed, and doubted she was the only one. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“Do either of you want to use the shower first?” Sunset asked.

“You can go ahead,” Fluttershy said, taking the chance to roll around in bed a bit more. “You’re the only one who also needs to get dressed, so you might as well go first.”

Twilight nodded her agreement before getting up and stretching. She walked over to a desk and sat down, levitating a book over. She opened it, got out a quill, then stopped when she heard Sunset laugh. She turned around to see that she was looking into a mirror. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah.” Sunset opened a closet, which was almost exclusively filled with her clothes. “I guess I won’t be sending you two out while I get dressed though.” She covered herself in a bathrobe, then left for the bathroom.

Twilight returned to the book. She looked down at the bookmarked page, skimming what was written. Everything was in her own neat writing, and they were all messages to her parents. There were no replies. They had hoped that her mom’s accidental reveal during the outburst that followed Cadance and Shining Armor’s baby announcement would change things. That with a major factor in the problem revealed, they could address it with much more ease. That they might be able to all get together and finally have a real discussion on polyamory. As it turned out, nothing seemed to change.

Well, not exactly nothing. Twilight couldn’t help but think about everything differently. Suddenly, she wasn’t angry with them anymore. Sure, things could have gone much better at pretty much every point in the whole situation, but now she understood why her mom felt the way she did.

It hadn’t been that long ago that Twilight felt like her feelings for Sunset made her a horrible pony. She had a fiancée, but was falling for somepony else. Her entire life was full of examples of two ponies being in love, and that was where it always ended. What made her an exception? Why should she be allowed more than that? And why would she even want more in the first place? ‘One and only.’ ‘I’ll only have eyes for you.’ ‘My one true love.’ All things that ponies said all the time. ‘You’re the only pony I ever want to be with, the only pony I could ever love.’ Twilight had said that to Fluttershy, right before asking, ‘Will you marry me?’ Wasn’t that the way things were supposed to be?

In the end, Twilight had looked for answers about how she felt, but only because she was forced to address the issue. If she could have, she knew she would have spent her entire life lying to everyone, including herself, saying that she only ever loved Fluttershy. But what if she didn’t face it? How would that have affected her thoughts on somepony else being polyamorous?

Her mom never had a reason to face her own feelings. Or maybe she did, but never found anypony to talk about it with. There certainly wasn’t a Princess of Love for her to confide in, and by her own admission her mom was every bit the recluse that Twilight herself was before moving to Ponyville. She was fifty-six years old, which meant she probably had spent over half her life convinced she was wrong for the way she felt. It seemed the only way she learned to cope with it was to simply believe it was something everypony dealt with and had to ignore.

So she wasn’t angry. She felt bad for them. She wanted to help them. But they wouldn’t answer their door, and when Cadance wrote from the Crystal Empire, it was to tell them that they hadn’t managed to get either parent to talk about it. So she communicated with them the only way she could – she wrote to them through a journal, at least twice every day.

At first her messages were attempts at arranging a meeting, or at least getting them to talk to her about it through the journal. Eventually she realized they wouldn’t be writing back, so she started sending them any information or advice she could think of, hoping they would at least read it. She talked about her own experiences, and the things Cadance had told her when she felt doubt. Fluttershy also wrote about her experiences, and about her conversations with Luna. Sometimes she just wrote to them about things that were completely unrelated, because they were her parents and she missed talking with them.

And for the first time, she would send a personal request.

‘So today’s the big day. I wish I could say I’m excited. But really, I’m scared. I know there’s going to be a lot more harsh opinions than when Fluttershy and I came out, and it’s hard to not worry about that. But in a way, that’s why I think this is so important. Most ponies won’t understand, but they never will unless somepony steps forward to talk about it. I just wish that ‘somepony’ wasn’t us.

‘I understand that you still have doubts about all this, but it would mean a lot to us if you came to the announcement. We wouldn’t have to talk if you don’t want to, and we can have you kept away from the rest of the crowd, that way nopony will even know you’re there to ask any awkward questions. Just knowing you’re there watching would make me feel better about the whole thing.

‘Whether you come today or not, I hope we get to talk soon. Give my love to Spike, and of course I love you both, too.’

She closed the book and stood up. Since Sunset was still in the shower, Twilight took the chance to return to bed for a bit. “Hey, Fluttershy?”

“Mmm hmm?”

“You know you’re the most important thing in the world to me, right?” Twilight curled around her while they talked.

Fluttershy kissed Twilight on the nose. “I know.”

“Okay. I just want to make sure… And you know that if you change your mind about –”

“I know.” Fluttershy was frowning, which worried Twilight.

“Is… something wrong?” Twilight asked. She was afraid of the answer.

“No,” Fluttershy said. She sounded like something was wrong.

Twilight wanted to push for more, but she had a feeling where it was going, and hoped she could avoid it. She held Fluttershy tighter, and took a deep breath. She didn’t really have a choice in the end. She had to bring it up, because she knew Fluttershy wouldn’t. It was selfish to do anything else.

“It’s… you’re having doubts about being with Sunset, aren’t you?”

“Well, it’s not –”

“Is it because we’re going public? Because we agreed that this still doesn’t mean we’re forced into anything in the long run.”

“I know, but it’s not –”

“Or is it because of what I said? Because you know I love you more than anything else, and I wasn’t even really thinking, and it was probably just the endorphins talking, and –”

Fluttershy put a hoof on Twilight’s mouth. “Let’s, uhm, let’s just wait for Sunset to get back.”

Although she wanted to keep trying to explain herself, Twilight just nodded her agreement. They held each other close while they waited for Sunset, and Twilight could only wish she didn’t take such long showers.

Eventually Sunset returned, looking content. She hummed happily as she walked over to the closet and pulled out her uniform. Twilight had suggested she wear a dress, since they wanted to present her as their lover, and not as their guard. Sunset had seemed down about the idea though, and Fluttershy said she should wear her uniform since ponies wouldn’t have any problems at all remembering she was their lover, and that way they would hopefully remember her title too. Twilight ended up agreeing, since it was their first public event with her and she wanted Sunset to be happy.

“Sunset? Can you come sit with us?” Fluttershy asked.

“Sure, what’s up?” Sunset sat down next to Fluttershy. She continued smiling until she noticed Twilight expression, which must have looked pretty worried.

“Well, I was wondering…” Fluttershy looked at Twilight and sighed. “I really am happy with our relationship, so you can stop looking so nervous.”

“So, uh, what’s on your mind, then?” Sunset asked.

“Well, I guess I’m just wondering… What if I wasn’t?” Fluttershy took hold of both Twilight’s and Sunset’s hooves. “What if I said I was having doubts about us?”

Sunset smiled reassuringly. “If that happens, then all you have to do is say so. We’re not going to put you in any situation you don’t want to be in, and I’ll just be happy you gave me a chance in the first place.”

“Just like that?” Fluttershy asked.

Sunset nodded. “Just like that.”

Fluttershy sighed and shook her head. “You’re as bad as Twily is…”

Twilight and Sunset looked at each other, both sharing a puzzled expression. “I don’t understand. What do you mean, Shy?” Twilight asked.

“It was nice at first,” Fluttershy said. “You two both made sure I knew that it was important that I was comfortable with everything, and that I could call things off if I wasn’t. But when you keep bringing it up, it makes me feel like I have to always hold us together.”

Twilight looked to Sunset, who was staring guiltily at her hoof wrapped around Fluttershy’s. “I’m sorry, Shy. We didn’t mean to pressure you.”

“I know,” Fluttershy said. “But sometimes… sometimes I do have doubts. This is all so strange, and it already feels like there’s so much going against us. It’s hard not to have doubts.”

Twilight leaned her head against Fluttershy. She wanted to comfort her, but wasn’t sure how. It wasn’t like she’d found some way to quiet her own fears.

“I think we all do,” Sunset said. “I mean, I know I do.”

Fluttershy smiled at Sunset and pulled her closer, so she had both ponies leaning against her. “Almost every day one of you reminds me that if I have any problems with being in a triad relationship, we can end it. But I don’t want it to be like that. I want to know that I can talk about something that’s bothering me without worrying you two are just going to give up on us.”

“I’m sorry,” Twilight said. “Of course you can tell us anything.”

“I’m… pretty sure I know what’s on your mind,” Sunset said.

Fluttershy nodded. “I guess… I’m still just used to being the only pony you love, Twilight. And… maybe I kind of always liked being the only pony you love.”

Twilight buried her face into Fluttershy’s mane while she thought of how to respond. She wanted to do whatever she could to make Fluttershy comfortable with everything, but she was worried she might push too hard and make her regret bringing it up. “I’m sorry. You know I love you just as much as I ever have.”

“I know.” Judging by the way Fluttershy nuzzled her, Twilight guessed she said the right thing. “And it really is a good thing that you both feel so strongly for each other. It’s just… it was a little unexpected.”

“Okay, so we won’t be the obnoxiously in love couple,” Sunset said. “Maybe that way it won’t be as awkward for you.”

Fluttershy shook her head. “I don’t want you to pretend like you're not in love with each other though. There’s nothing wrong with it, even if I do feel, uhm, strange about it.”

“No, I think Sunset’s right,” Twilight said. “There’s a difference between hiding something and respecting your boundaries. If it makes you more comfortable, we can just not talk about it around you.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Fluttershy said. She sighed and sunk into the bed. “I’m sorry. This shouldn’t even bother me.”

“It’s okay,” Twilight said, smiling. “I think we all have things that bother us. I… I do.” Fluttershy and Sunset both turned to her expectantly. She took a deep breath and looked at Sunset. “When we were in Manehattan, we ran into Amber.”

“Okay.” Sunset waited expectantly for more, but before she could find the words, Twilight could see the realization on her face as it hit her. She smiled sheepishly. “And I’m guessing she told you about the time we hooked up. At least, I hope she did, because if not then I just made this whole conversation way more awkward.”

“She did. And I mean… of course I knew that you and the other Fluttershy, uhm, you know…” Twilight trailed off from a combination of embarrassment and uneasiness at the idea of Sunset sleeping with someone else, even if they had been in a committed relationship.

“It’s not like we were together at the time,” Fluttershy pointed out.

“What bothers you about it?” Sunset asked. “Is it just because she’s your friend?”

Twilight was tempted to say yes. It was part of the reason; she wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea that every time she was around Amber there would be some part of her remembering that she’d slept with Sunset. But there was a lot more to it, and she needed to address all her concerns in order to move past them. “That’s part of it. But, well… You barely even knew her back then.”

“I…” Sunset curled tighter around Fluttershy. “I barely knew most of the people I slept with.”

Twilight didn’t exactly see how that thought was helpful. If she wasn’t prepared to acknowledge Sunset sleeping with her ex-girlfriend, how was she supposed to accept her sleeping with anyone else?

“It’s okay, Sunset.” Fluttershy stroked her mane while Sunset clung to her.

Twilight didn’t understand. Back when they were writing each other through the journal, Sunset had talked a lot about the dates she went on. On a lot of them, she’d talk about how they ended badly because she wouldn’t sleep with them. It didn’t seem like Sunset had actually slept with anyone before Fluttershy, and they hadn’t been broken up too long before Sunset returned to Equestria. Then one of the first things she did was hook up with a mare she just met, and now she was talking about other people she slept with?

The realization hit Twilight suddenly. “Sunset, you don’t feel ashamed of it, do you?”

Sunset didn’t answer, but her ears folding against her head said enough.

Twilight reached out for Sunset’s hoof. “I’m sorry. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, I’m the one who’s stuck on the old-fashioned thinking.”

“She’s right,” Fluttershy said, “she is just being old-fashioned.”

Sunset still looked dejected, but she let out a small laugh. “I thought I was supposed to be the old lady. Come on, Twi, you’re younger than either of us.”

Twilight shrugged. “What do you want from me? My idol was Princess Celestia, of all ponies. Frankly, it’s a miracle I have any kind of sex drive at all.”

Sunset smirked. “You know, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever actually heard you use the word ‘sex’. Congratulations on managing to use an adult word, Twi.” Twilight blushed, which caused Sunset to laugh. “So, is there anything I can do to help you feel better about it?”

Really, Twilight was just fine seeing Sunset was happy again. But she also didn’t want to have something similar happen in the future. “I guess… the main thing was just that I wasn’t expecting it. I’m not going to ask for a full explanation of your sex life before we met, but was there anyone else we both know?”

Sunset hesitated. “You, uh, you sure you want that answer?”

‘Well that answers that question already.’ Twilight thought about who they both knew. She supposed any of their friends in the human world would be okay, and most of their friends in the pony world weren’t even interested in mares, so that really wasn’t something to be concerned about. “Well, I won’t force you to answer, but I’ll be okay with it no matter what.”

Sunset smiled nervously. “Flash Sentry…?”

“Oh.” Twilight did her best to not look shocked by the news. “Er, really?”

“He, uh, he was the first,” Sunset said.

‘The first of many, apparently, Twilight found herself thinking. She mentally kicked herself for thinking something like that, then smiled. “Okay then. Thank you for telling me. Now we know there won’t be any awkward surprises if we ever run into him again.”

Sunset looked doubtful. “No, now you’re just going to feel awkward around him no matter what.”

“I…” Twilight tried to think of a way to deny that without outright lying, but couldn’t find one. “I’ll work on it.”

“And it’s easier to overcome something once we acknowledge it,” Fluttershy reminded them.

“Yeah,” Sunset said. She smiled to herself as she nuzzled against Fluttershy, then realized both of them were staring at her. “Uh, what?”

“Come on,” Twilight said. “We both talked about what was bothering us.”

“Is there anything you want to share?” Fluttershy asked.

Sunset grinned, and almost looked ready to pass. But then slowly her grin faded and she leaned her head against Fluttershy’s chest. “During the Summer Sun Celebration, after I failed at talking to your parents, I… I went to a bar.” Her head popped up suddenly and she looked between the two. “I swear I didn’t drink! I just… almost did…”

“Well… that’s good!” Twilight said. “I’m proud of you.”

“We both are,” Fluttershy added.

“Thanks.” Sunset smiled briefly, but it didn’t seem like she really hit the main part of her problem. “But then I got to thinking and I realized something. We’ve been together a lot lately. And back home in Ponyville, I’d hang out with Spike whenever you two were busy, or I’d go and visit one of our friends. I wasn’t ever alone. I can’t remember being alone one time since I decided to get sober, and then the first time I am, I wind up at a bar.”

“But you didn’t drink,” Fluttershy said.

“But, well… what about next time? Or after that? I’m just… I came so close, I ordered the drink and everything! It’d be unrealistic to pretend I’ll never have something tempting me again. What if next time I don’t stop?” Sunset held closely to Fluttershy with one foreleg, and reached for Twilight with the other. “I don’t want to mess this up.”

“Mess this up?” Twilight asked. “Do you think we’re going to just break up with you if you have one drink?”

Sunset shook her head. “No. I don’t know. Maybe? And anyway, I don’t even think I can have ‘just one drink’. At least not yet.”

“So do you think we’re going to leave you if you have more than one?” Fluttershy asked. She reached to the bedside table for a hairbrush, then started working on Sunset’s mane. “That’s not how it works. I don’t think you’re going to start drinking again, because I think you’re stronger than you realize, but if you ever do, please remember that you can talk to us about it. We’re here for good times and bad ones. We’ll support you when you need us to, and that goes for any kind of problem.”

“Right.” Twilight nodded.

Sunset just smiled and let Fluttershy brush. “You two are the best.”

“Yeah,” Twilight said, “we are.”

Fluttershy giggled. “Now unless anypony has anything else to share, I think you should let me finish your mane while Twily takes a shower.”

“Hey, why don’t I get to stay and brush Sunset’s mane?” Twilight teased.

“Uh, because I want it to look good?” Sunset shot back.

“And besides,” Fluttershy said with a smirk, “Between the two of us, you could probably use a shower more. You, uhm, you kinda still smell like Sunset.”

Twilight blushed and threw her hooves over her face as she let herself fall to the bed away from Fluttershy and Sunset. Peeking through her hooves, she saw Sunset was also hiding away.

Fluttershy seemed to be enjoying it, though. “You two are so adorable!”

Twilight sulked off in embarrassment, feeling just a little bit guilty for leaving Sunset alone with Fluttershy’s teasing.

Twilight looked around the room again. She had checked countless times, but there was still no sign of her parents. There was still half an hour left before the announcement, and there was also a chance that they wouldn’t come early. Of course, there was a bigger chance that they just wouldn’t come, but Twilight was trying to stay positive. She was failing, but trying all the same.

“Relax, darling,” Rarity said. She was fixing Twilight’s mane for what must have been the eighth time, at least. “Everything will be fine. We made sure that only the more desirable news outlets would be attending, and Princess Luna even pulled some strings to get her choice of reporters sent in.”

“I know.” Twilight took a deep breath. She hadn’t told any of their friends that she had invited her parents, so as far as they knew she was only worried about the reaction.

With an approving nod, Rarity left Twilight’s mane alone. “Now, if you can manage to keep that mane straight for a few moments, the girls and I have our own wardrobes to attend to.”

“Your own wardrobes?” Twilight asked.

“Yes, and might I say I did an exceptional job on them.” Rarity winked then left without explaining further.

Twilight looked to Fluttershy and Sunset, but they seemed just as confused. Their friends had only come from Ponyville for moral support, which hardly required their own outfits. She could have understood if it was just Rarity, but all four of them?

“That was… odd,” Twilight said.

“Yeah, even Rainbow left without a complaint,” Sunset said. “She doesn’t really seem the type to get dressed up.”

“She never used to, but sometimes she does these days.” Fluttershy shrugged. She seemed the least concerned of the three of them. “And anyway, I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.”

The door opened, and Twilight turned to it hopefully. She sighed as Luna walked through it. “Please, Twilight, contain your enthusiasm.”

“Sorry, I was just hoping for… somepony else.” She walked over to greet Luna.

“I am aware,” Luna said. Twilight looked to Fluttershy who shook her head. Luna chuckled. “Honestly, you are more predictable than you realize. Did you forget I was also at your parents house for the announcement? I knew you would try and reach out to them again.”

Twilight bowed her head. “I don’t think they’re coming though.”

Luna rested a hoof on her shoulder. “I can not say whether they will or not. However, I can say that if they decline to attend, you will still be surrounded by loved ones. Observe.”

She gestured toward the changing room door, which opened to reveal four ponies in uniforms almost identical to Sunset’s. Rarity, Applejack, Rainbow, and Pinkie were all clad in matching blue vests, with purple and yellow sashes. They were separate from Sunset’s only in that they lacked the skirt and captain’s badge from her uniform. Twilight wasn’t sure if she wanted to hug them or facehoof.

“Honestly, darling, what kind of guard would we be without proper attire?” Rarity asked as she struck a pose.

“The best kind of guard, uniform or not,” Fluttershy said, examining Rainbow’s outfit.

Sunset grinned. “So does this mean I get to bark orders at you all?”

“Oh yeah, go ahead,” Applejack said. “Course just ‘cause ya order it don’t mean nopony’s gonna pay ya any mind.”

Pinkie gasped. “Applejack, you can’t say things like that in front of the captain!” She leaned in close to Sunset. “I’d keep my eye on that one. She’s one bad apple, if you know what I mean.”

“Duly noted, Private Pie,” Sunset said, matching Pinkie’s conspiratory tone. “What do you make of that one?”

“You do realize we can hear you?” Rarity asked.

Pinkie tapped her chin. “Hmm. She’s a devious one. They say she solved the case of the missing Wonderbolt single hoofedly. Could be an asset, if she’s not a spy.”

“Really now.” Rarity turned up her nose. “Even if I did solve that case – and did so in absolute style, I might add – I’d hardly say that makes me the type to be a spy.”

Luna tapped her chin. “Actually, I have to say you could make an excellent spy, given your social skills and ability to go on believable business trips across Equestria.”

Rarity seemed torn between being flattered and offended. “Be that as it may, I assure you I am no spy.”

“Exactly what a spy would say,” Pinkie said, narrowing her eyes.

Sunset stifled a laugh. “And Rainbow?”

“Hmm? Oh, Dashie’s fine, you don’t need to worry about her.”

“Yes!” Rainbow threw a hoof in the air triumphantly.

“Excuse me?” Rarity asked. “Why does Rainbow get the only good comment?”

Pinkie gave Rarity a puzzled look. “Well she is the most loyal pony ever.”

“Hmph.” Rarity turned away. “She would make a terrible spy anyway.”

“Hey, I’d be a good spy,” Rainbow defended. “I could zoom over enemy camps and check out what was going on, then be back before anypony even knew I was there!”

“Which is precisely why I wouldn’t assign you as a spy, personally,” Luna said. “A spy doesn’t need to get over an enemy base, they need to get inside it. You’d be far better suited for reconnaissance. I would trust you to carry vital information from my spies to me, knowing your loyalty would be unquestionable, and that said information would reach my ears faster than any other pony could get it to me.”

Rainbow threw her hoof into the air, then lifted the rest of herself with it.

Applejack grabbed hold of her hindleg and dragged her back to the ground. “So what am I?” She asked, then turned to give Pinkie a dirty look. “Besides a ‘bad apple’.”

“Well, if it were my choice, I’d give you some sort of leadership or advisory position. I feel troops would respond well to your grounded nature, and your expertise at managing a homestead would surely provide some experience at managing our soldiers.”

Applejack gave Rainbow a smug look, although she didn’t seem to think it was any more impressive than reconnaissance.

“And surely nopony could know our own troops better than Pinkie Pie,” Luna said. “She would lift morale, while also getting to know them and figuring out how to best support them. As well, she’d certainly be the first to find something amiss, aiding us in keeping out enemy spies.”

“Luna, I really don’t think we’re sending our friends off to war,” Twilight said.

“Perhaps not, but should the need ever arise, it would appear that you have the beginnings of a fine team serving you.”

Twilight rolled her eyes, but everypony seemed happy with their roles, so she let it go.

“Oh my, and who’s our enemy?” Fluttershy asked, seeming genuinely interested. Early in their relationship, Spike introduced her to Oubliettes and Ogres, and ever since then she’d been interested in roleplay. Twilight could already see her using this as a way to get all their friends to play a military-themed role-playing game together.

“Oh, any number of foes,” Luna said. “It could be changelings, the spirit of Nightmare Moon, or even –” the door opened again, and Luna turned to see another pony walk through “– Tia.”

“Hello, everypony, I’m sorry I’m late,” Celestia said.

“Indeed, dear sister, I did fear you may not be coming.”

Celestia smiled smugly. “Oh, I would have come sooner, but I was tied up with another matter.”

As she walked in she was followed by two ponies. Twilight’s mouth fell open before curving into a wide smile. “Mom! Dad!” She ran to meet them, but stopped short of throwing her hooves around them. “I’m so glad you came!”

Night Light smiled and inclined his head. “Well, we couldn’t very well miss such a big day for you.”

“Thank you,” Twilight said, smiling back. “It means so much to me that you’d –”

Twilight Velvet threw her forelegs around her. Twilight returned the hug, and neither of them could find any words to say.

Luna moved to stand next to her sister, nudging her playfully. “Show off.”

“I really didn’t do too much,” Celestia said. “As it turns out, all I had to do was convince them to open a book.”

“Twilight, I’m so sorry,” Twilight Velvet said as she pulled away from their embrace, keeping Twilight held at foreleg’s length. “We… we never saw your messages. I left the journal in the attic. I thought, well, I didn’t know what I thought you’d have to say to us.”

Twilight smiled, remembering how long she avoided reading her mail after she and Fluttershy revealed their relationship. “I know how that feels.”

“I think we have a lot to talk about,” Night Light said, taking his turn to hug Twilight. As he did, Twilight Velvet stepped away, looking like she felt a bit out of place. “But first I think there are a lot of other ponies waiting to hear from you.”

Twilight turned to look toward the stage. Fluttershy and Sunset were waiting, but smiled understandingly. Even if it was time to go on, wasn’t this the whole purpose anyway? She turned back to her parents, who seemed to understand what she was thinking.

“Twilight Sparkle,” her mom said, “I know no daughter of mine is going to be late for her own event.” She smiled and walked with Twilight towards the stage. “We’ll talk after your announcement. We’ll… we’ll talk about plans with Spike.”

She guided Twilight until they reached Fluttershy and Sunset. Sunset stood next to Twilight while Fluttershy hugged her mom. “Thank you so much.”

While she hugged Fluttershy, Twilight Velvet stared uncertainly at Sunset. “Go on, Fluttershy dear. I think it’s for the best if you three stick together.”

Fluttershy nodded and took her place on Twilight’s other side. They were surrounded by their friends, who seemed intent on giving them a proper escort. Luna and Celestia stayed in the back talking amiably, next to her dad, who nodded encouragingly. Her mom made shooing motions with her hoof, prompting Twilight to get on the stage. She didn’t know what was going to happen once Equestria found out about their relationship, but she knew that with these ponies supporting her, everything would be okay.

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