• Published 31st May 2012
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Legacies of Friendship - PonIver



15 years after the conclusion of FiM, Twilight takes a vacation to reunite with old friends

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Ch. 2 - A Wing and a Player

As the door slowly eased shut behind them, Twilight let out a small “Eep!” Libraries were like a second home to her, especially this one, but at the moment she felt like she’d rather be anywhere but here. Light was a stranger to them now, and the only residents in the room were those stuck between covers on shelves.

The nervous lizard standing next her sheepishly questioned, “Are we too late?”

“Are we alone?” whispered Twilight with a blend of fear and obliviousness in her voice. This all seemed too familiar to her.

The pair was about to turn and run, but before they could, lights began to shine from every corner of the room. A quick succession of pops and explosions shook the old tree and the light glared off of hundreds of thousands of pieces of colorful tinfoil that turned the room into an instantaneous blizzard of color. A mare fell out of the ceiling and landed in front of them, quickly bouncing back up without a pause, squealing, “Surprise!”

Several dozen other ponies suddenly leapt from behind bookcases and structures, yelling in unison, “Welcome back Twilight Sparkle!” Upbeat music began blaring through the room and contagious smiles swept the faces of every mare and stallion in the room.

The guest of honor and her companion stood paralyzed with shock. Staring wide-eyed back at the crowd before her, Twilight didn’t dare move or even breathe. Time stood still as everypony awaited her reaction. Then Twilight took a sudden deep inhale, followed by everypony else, ripe with anticipation. The eyes on the ecstatic pink pony in front of her grew ever wider. As a squeal tried to part her lips, Twilight’s eyes rolled backwards and she collapsed on the floor.

“Oopsie daisy!” giggled the silly master of ceremonies. She turned her head to Spike, “I over did it again, didn’t I?”

“I warned you,” was the only response he could give.

***

Twilight awoke to a sugary sweet tsunami of ice-cold punch washing over her face. With a rapid breath she opened her eyes to see a huge crowd of worried ponies surrounding her from above. Several of the ponies sighed, while most broke into laughter.

An orange pony in a cowboy hat addressed the sleeping beauty, “Ya alright sugarcube? Ya gave everypony quite the scare.”

Twilight leapt to her hooves. “I scared you?’ she immediately retorted. As she finished her sentence she froze and her eyes began to examine her surroundings. She quickly recalled what had happened and the reality of the situation around her, and her nervous attitude melted away. She looked back at the pony she had just fumed at. “Applejack?” she asked, already knowing the answer. The earth pony nodded.

“And Pinkie Pie!” interjected the attention-craving pony holding an empty punch bowl. She looked at the bowl and realized what she had done. “Oh no! Now we’re out of punch. Be right back! I have a stash in case of punch-related emergencies!” and just like that, she dashed away, leaving the two old friends to greet and catch up.

Twilight broke into a fit of laughter towards the host. “She’s crazier than ever before!”

“Y’all dun’ know the half of it, Twilight,” Applejack paused and the look in her eyes grew serious, “believe me.”

The crowd of ponies in the room had by this point taken their attention back off the guest of honor and began enjoying the party knowing she was safe. The music was blasting. All the fillies rushed to the dance floor with glee. The colts were split between the ones who bashfully looked toward the fillies, and the others who lustfully eyed the snack table.

Twilight was awestruck. “This is amazing!” she said to Applejack. “Pinkie Pie did all this?”

“Well everypony helped howeva’ they could” Applejack responded.

“But Spike just found out I was coming to town a few hours ago. How could she get everypony together on such short notice?”

Applejack tried to resist snorting with laughter as she pointed in the direction of Pinkie Pie. “Ain’t too hard when y’all are the mayor of Ponyville.”

Twilight stared back towards Applejack in disbelief. Then her head shot in the direction the farmer motioned to see Pinkie Pie reaching into a crevice with her hoof, her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth as she fished around before pulling out a boxing glove and frustratingly tossing it aside. “Wrong punch,” she quipped before eagerly bouncing around the room resuming her search for refreshments.

Twilight’s attention sarcastically returned to Applejack. “You’re pulling my tail,” she accused. “Pinkie Pie? Mayor?”

“As sure as apples is red,” she said in a blank monotone before her resistance to laugh broke. “Y’all look like you’re about to faint all over again, sugarcube.”

Indeed, Twilight could have easily keeled over again in shock, but her logical nature brought her back to reality demanding an explanation. “That’s not possible,” she argued, “I mean, Pinkie Pie means a lot to us, but why would anyone vote her for mayor?”

Twilight hadn’t noticed their excitable friend return with glasses full of punch for her friends. Before they could realize she had heard the last few moments of conversation, she began bouncing around giggling at Twilight, “Because I’m friends with everypony!”

“What?” questioned the skeptic unicorn.

Applejack explained, “What Pinkie means is, when Miss Mayor stepped down, we had ta have an election for a new mayor, and at first the only pony in town interested in running was Filthy Rich. He was pretty darn much unopposed until Pinkie threw a hoof in the ring. Nopony took her serious at all. I knew Filthy Rich was going to win, but I love the heck outta’ Pinkie. She’s my friend, and I didn’t want her to get caught in a landslide, so I voted for her jus’ outta' respect.” Applejack smiled wide and laughed, “Turns out so did the whole town!”

Twilight stared at her two friends with her mouth agape while Pinkie continued to bounce and nod in agreement, “Yup! And now Ponyville is one never-ending par-tay!”

“Well not quite,” Applejack interjected, “but somehow things have actually been okay with Pinkie at the helm.”

Still in shock, Twilight congratulated Pinkie Pie, “Wow! That’s great Pinkie. I’m glad you’ve been able to keep the town afloat.”

“Silly filly. It’s a town, not a ship!” responded the quirky pony. “But thanks! It’s a lot of hard work!”

“Well, I’m really glad y’all are back in town for a spell,” Applejack said, “but go and enjoy the party. There are a lot of ponies that have missed you too. Promise me y’all will stop by Sweet Apple Acres before ya leave.”

“I wouldn’t dream of missing it,” said Twilight.

Applejack trotted towards the snack table and Pinkie leapt in front of Twilight. She grabbed the unicorn by the hoof and starting dragging her around the party, pointing out all the ponies Twilight hadn’t seen in years and reintroducing her. The party was in full swing and everypony was rocking the night away. Off in the corner across the room, Twilight could make out the obscured vision of an elegant, recognizable white unicorn. She tried to wave, but couldn’t get her attention, and Pinkie was still firmly pulling Twilight around and rambling about every little detail that had happened since Twilight left Ponyville. “Oh well, I’ll find her again later,” she thought as the night moved forward.

Pinkie Pie led Twilight upstairs and found the pony she had been looking for. “There you are” she proclaimed. The pony let out a soft ‘yelp’ when she heard Pinkie’s declaration and dashed behind a nearby bookcase for cover from some assumedly horrible fate. “I’m sure you remember this pony, don’t cha? Don’t cha? Don’t cha?” Pinkie questioned to Twilight, her head getting more and more uncomfortably close with each repetition.

The new pony tried to remain hidden, but curiously peeked around the bookcase to view what she was sure to be the cause of her demise. She recognized the violet unicorn before her, but remained hidden as if ashamed. “He-hello Twilight,” it spoke softly, drowned out by the music resonating from the floor below.

“Fluttershy?” Twilight asked the pony, who began to slowly hover out from behind the bookcase into full view.

The pegasus’ wings caught in her long, pink mane and the pony crashed into the floor face first. “mft mud foo mmmmmmmf” came the voice from the floorboards. The pegasus lifted herself up and tried again. “It’s good to see you,” she said while her eyes shifted between looking at Twilight and looking at the floor. “I’ve missed you ever so much.”

Twilight was overcome with joy at reuniting with Fluttershy and nearly knocked her small frame over with a powerful hug. “Oh Fluttershy, you’re as sweet as ever.”

“Th-thank you, but you don’t have to be so nice to me,” responded Fluttershy. She blushed and her voice quickly went into hiding again, softly whispering, “I mean, unless you want to.”

“You silly filly. Why wouldn’t I?” Twilight said back. She eased off her hug as she realized Pinkie’s attitude had been rubbing off on her for the past hour.

“I’m glad you came to visit,” Fluttershy said, her demeanor easing up as she took in the kindness of her old friend. A small fuzzy head popped out from behind Fluttershy’s luxurious mane. The creature’s face stared at Twilight for a moment before smiling and perking up its long ears.

“Angel? How are you doing?” Twilight happily asked the bunny. The bunny continued to smile back at her, and suddenly six more heads peeked out at different angles from behind the lead creature. Their eyes all lay fixed upon the unicorn before them. “Um, Angel?” questioned a confused Twilight.

“Oh,” Fluttershy expressed as she realized what had happened atop her head, “now be nice Angel, and stop messing with Twilight.” The creature in front hopped out and onto the floor, and the others quickly followed. The followers were all completely identical to their leader, except that they were a fraction of the size. “He still likes to mess with anyone he can,” Fluttershy softly giggled.

Twilight’s eyes lit up with envy. “Oh my goodness Fluttershy. They’re precious!”

Pinkie Pie suddenly took an interest in the conversation. “Yea, but Angel’s still an evil weevil bunny!” she coyly accused. Angel stared at Pinkie Pie angrily. Pinkie stared right back for a second before crossing her eyes, sticking out her tongue and breaking into laughter. Twilight and Fluttershy couldn’t contain themselves either, and the three giggled endlessly.

As they continued to talk about how awesome the party was, Twilight peeked over the balcony towards the floor below. She scanned the crowd, but could not find the white unicorn she believed she saw earlier, and assumed she must have left. She gave up on her search. The three continued to laugh and enjoy the festivities until Twilight came to a realization that something was still missing. She innocently asked Pinkie, “Hey, have you seen Rainbow Dash tonight? Is she here?”

While the party continued elsewhere around them, within their circle time stopped, and you could hear a pin drop. Pinkie froze on her hind legs in the middle of her dancing, and her usually kinky pink coif fell straight against her sides. Fluttershy hung her head low, far too scared to be the one to break the silence, and forcing Pinkie to do it. “We don’t see Rainbow Dash much anymore. She’s been a major party pooper” she said in a somber tone.

Fluttershy forced as much of a glare as her demeanor would allow in Pinkie’s direction for her lack of decorum. “What she means is, she hasn’t been social much since the book,” she said ever so quietly.

“Book?” Twilight asked. “Someone wrote a book about her? Why didn’t you tell me? I read everything!”

Pinkie Pie pulled a book off a nearby shelf and handed it to Twilight. “No,” she clearly spoke towards her, “it’s the book she wrote.”

Twilight peered down at the book in her hooves. It was instantly recognizable to her, and everypony in Equestria for that matter. It was A Wing and a Player, the bestselling novel by A.H.A. Snowbird. Twilight had read all his novels a dozen times at least, and read this at least double that. The already secretive author disappeared after it was published, and hadn’t released anything since.

Twilight recalled the plot in her mind. The story revolved around an up and coming athlete who had everything going for him. He was strong, famous, and everypony was there to watch when he went professional. Then, at the start of his career in the pros, he gets injured off the court protecting a young foal from certain disaster. He survives, but the injuries he suffers are permanent and force him into retirement from the sport he loved and his fame fades with it.

Twilight furrowed her brow at her friends. “What are you talking about? Everypony has read this! It’s practically required reading for all the colts and fillies in Equestria! I’ve read all his books, and this was the saddest story of them all. What do you mean Rainbow Dash wrote it?” she fumed.

Fluttershy cowered in fear of her friend’s anger, and Pinkie simply drooped her head and aimed her eyes up towards Twilight. “Look again,” Pinkie humbly requested.

As Twilight took another look at the book, she concentrated, but couldn’t figure out what her friends were talking about. Then, the puzzle solver mentality in her took over and it all made sense. The letters on the page began to rearrange and revealed that A.H.A. Snowbird was a pseudonym formed from an anagram for Rainbow Dash.

The book fell from between Twilight’s hooves and landed on the floor with a solid thud. She stared at her friends with shock, anger, and confusion. “What is the meaning of all this?” she demanded.

Pinkie sunk even lower and couldn’t say a word. Fluttershy was so afraid of Twilight’s reaction, but couldn’t watch her suffer. “We all read the book,” she shamefully admitted, “but before she started writing it, she sequestered herself and we’ve hardly seen her since. We’re too afraid to go talk to her about why she would write it.”

“What? Why?” Twilight yelled as questions became all she could muster and her frustration consumed her.

“Because,” Pinkie Pie replied with her head turned away from her friends, “A Wing and a Player is all about her.”

***

Twilight didn’t sleep a wink that night. She couldn’t. The rest of the party had gone by in a dull blur. Her body had acted on its own the rest of the evening, but the courteous attitude she showed towards the welcoming ponies was not her own. Questions raced through her mind, and she only found more queries to answer them with. Her world was torn apart with disbelief.

As Celestia’s namesake appeared on the horizon, Twilight remained seated on the floor of the library. The remnants of a solitary candle dimly flickered at her side, floating in a pool of wax. The flame faded into the sunlight that peeked through the windows and left behind a coiled, black wick that fell to ash in the lake it resided in. Twilight’s eyes were throbbing and bloodshot. She lifted a hoof to them to try and relieve the pain, but it only made her cry harder. It would appear to anypony that her anguish was the sole result of a night spent in tears, but that was only half true. Her tears fell on the pages of the open book below her, warping the paper and turning the letters on the parchment into a crooked mess of nonsense.

Reading the book again wasn’t necessary. After all, the number of times Twilight had previously scoured its pages before that night, as well as her innate sense of recall, meant she could almost recite each and every page nearly verbatim. Still, the naïveté of her inner voice continued to deny the truth she learned the night before. As she reached the final pages, the voice inside her grew silent, and the questions stilled as Twilight’s mind became a blank slate. Her swollen eyes remained fixed upon the book, unwavering.

“Why?” she sobbed aloud. The sound echoed through the library as though dozens of other ponies were asking her the same question. She yelled back at the echoes, “Why? Why? Why?” only receiving the same response back. Her barrage of questions to the echoes continued as her face collapsed into her foreleg. With her free hoof, she pounded the floor with each yell. She pounded and yelled until her throat refused to produce another sound and her hoof was numb. She lay there sobbing, unable to notice or feel the tinge of crimson that trickled down her battered hoof into the floorboards. The stream flowed down the grain of the wood and sank into a dam of paper from the “novel” that lay before the broken unicorn.

***

The door to the library opened gently, as if the pony opening it knew what awaited her inside. A guilt-stricken pegasus hovered into the room and found Twilight in her state of emotional agony. The unicorn lay in shock, her face in her hooves silently sobbing. Fluttershy felt too much shame to run away in fright. She flapped towards the unicorn. The breeze from her wings scattered pieces of confetti across the floor, still a mess from the previous night’s festivities. The evidence of the party just added another level of tragedy that Fluttershy fought through as she approached Twilight’s side.

Twilight didn’t even flinch as Fluttershy lay down next to her. The breeze of pegasi wings, combined with the revelation of the night before, meant there was only one pony it could be. Fluttershy couldn’t even look at Twilight, and for several minutes the two lay next to each other in the most awkward of silences. The presence of her friend eventually eased Twilight enough to face her friend. Trying her best to understand Fluttershy’s feelings through her scorn, Twilight’s voice spoke in a clear monotone, “Where is she?”

***

Twilight arrived on the edge of Ponyville at a house that appeared to have been long ago vacated. Many of the window shutters hung crooked from the frame, or had collapsed onto the yard in front of the house. The thick ivy made it almost impossible to discern the color of the house. It had the appearance of a swarm of tentacles trying to reach up from the ground to pull the house into the dirt. Twilight approached the fence gate, and with the slightest nudge it fell over onto the rock pathway with a loud clang.

This was enough to disturb the resident of the house. Twilight stared at the abode wondering if she had called attention to her visit. A curtain slid aside slightly in one of the second story windows, and Twilight could only make out the eyes that glared at her, no doubt recognizing the stranger at the doorstep. Twilight rapped at the door with her hoof, and a few moments later she was answered by a younger pegasus with a first aid kit on her flank. A small ‘x’ was formed in the corner of the cutie mark by the crossing of a bandage and a syringe, and her fuchsia mane lay tight against her body.

The pegasus in the doorway stared back at her guest for a short while before emitting a sigh. “I knew when Pinkie told me you were coming to town it was only a matter of time,” was the closest the pegasus could come to a proper greeting. “I’m guessing I know why you’re here, Twilight.”

“Scootaloo?” Twilight reacted with surprise at seeing the grown crusader. “Isn’t this Rainbow Dash’s home?”

“No,” replied Scootaloo, “it’s mine, but she’s lived here quite some time now.”

The response confused the unicorn even further than she already was. Twilight tried to place the pony, but her mind still remained fixed on her questions about Rainbow Dash.

The pony slowly nodded and somberly replied, “You obviously need to see her. Please come in,” the pony gestured Twilight inside, “her room is to the right atop the stairs.” Instead of guiding Twilight along, the pegasus simply walked away to the other room, so Twilight could come to terms with her friend in private.

The stairway seemed to never end as Twilight climbed it, and she felt like she was continually lifting her hooves in vain. She approached the door and softly swung it open. There was little in the room other than a bed and a desk where Dash was feverishly applying quill to papyrus. On the corner of the desk lay a few picture frames that either lay face down or sat up to show the pictures distorted through broken glass.

Dash pretended to not notice her visitor as she continued to piece words together. Her multi-colored mane was still the disheveled adornment Twilight remembered, but it was much longer than in her memories. Her one wing sat tucked against her side like a pegasus at rest, twitching slightly every minute or two. The other wing was barely visible as Dash’s mane attempted to obscure it. The visible part hung low beneath the end of her mane, the wing barely above the ground, motionless.

Dash set her quill in the inkwell and took a quiet, deep breath before turning to face Twilight. Despite her work in the written word, her conversational skills remained unchanged and unrefined. “Hey.”

Twilight wanted to do so many things at that moment. She wanted to hug Rainbow Dash and cry, but she knew that if she did it might just cause her friend more physical pain. Part of her wanted to run, to deny, to question her profusely. She couldn’t do any of it. All she could say was, “I read the book.”

Dash was less than shocked and shrugged at her old friend. “So has everypony else,” she said. Her attitude projected pride at her accomplishment as well shame at the truth Twilight was now aware of, and resentment for Twilight not knowing sooner.

“Why didn’t I know?” Twilight asked aloud, unclear whether she was asking this of herself of Dash.

Dash stared at Twilight as though she should already know the answer, but responded anyway, assuming she only asked due to her state of shock, “I tried not to tell anypony at first, but you can’t keep this hidden for long.” She waved her head to the side, pulling her mane away from the hidden wing. It continued to hang motionless, a large scar adorning the broadside. “I was always the center of attention. That’s what I wanted, but not like this. I wanted praise, not pity.”

“What happened?”

“I thought you said you read the book,” Rainbow Dash said, a dry and feeble attempt to humor the unicorn.

“No,” Twilight paused briefly, “I mean what happened to you?”

“It’s not that different than what you read. Yes, I had done it. I got accepted as a cadet in the Wonderbolts. I worked as hard as I could for my first performance. The goggles felt like they were made to go on my head. I couldn’t have been happier.” Dash’s eyes lost their focus as she recalled painful memories. “It went perfect. I was perfect. I flew back to Ponyville as quick as I could, pausing only for a moment to soak in some of the fame from the paparazzi waiting for me.”

Twilight had read this story over and over on paper, but hearing it from Dash made it take on a whole new meaning. She was swept up in Dash’s words, and felt her hooves shaking beneath her, barely able to hold the heavy weight of her heart.

“Everypony was so happy for me. Even back on the ground in Ponyville, I felt like my head was all the way in Cloudsdale. I couldn’t stay long, as being a Wonderbolt was incredibly demanding. I was flying back to Cloudsdale, and everypony that had the wings to follow me tried, but nobody could keep up with Rainbow Dash! I flew ahead showing off a few of the tricks from my debut, not noticing something menacing in the sky.”

Dash’s voice toned down as though the memory still scared her, “A dragon was flying right at me. Of course, with my skill I had no problem getting out of the way, but instead of turning around and coming back at me, it just kept going; right towards the crowd following me. They tried to avoid the beast, but he grabbed one in his claws and kept flying with the unconscious pegasus in his grip.”

Dash’s sense of pride returned to her voice as she scolded herself, “Silly Rainbow Dash, always wanting to be the hero. I chased after the dragon, but I couldn’t just be straightforward about it. I knew the crowd of ponies was looking on and I kept trying to give a show. I caught the dragon’s attention and he tried to catch me, but the flips and twists I was pulling just made it dizzy and he dropped his catch.”

Dash walked towards the window and peered towards the sky as she resumed the story. “The pony didn’t wake up, and my foolish stunts left me too exhausted to catch up with the plummeting pegasus,” she paused before continuing. Her live wing was twitching faster. It appeared to ache either from the traumatic memory, or longing for the days when it glided swiftly through the skies. “With the strength I had left, I pushed, and felt a snap as I hit the sonic rainboom. I saved her, but my wing refused to move any further. I span out of control, only thinking of the sleeping pony in my hooves.”

Dash turned her head and stared at the wing that hung motionless from her torso. “I woke up in the hospital. They told me I crashed into the ground. Since I was carrying the passed out filly, my side took most of the damage. In particular, I had severed a nerve, and this wing would remain motionless permanently.”

Dash paused her story for a moment, and Twilight barraged her with questions and tears. “Why didn’t you tell me? I would have done something! I’d have found a spell! I’d find better doctors! I’d get you new wings!” Her claims proceeded into silly fantasies and perverted nonsense.

Dash looked back at Twilight with appreciation for the sentiment, but it was clear that it didn’t make her feel any better. “I was in so much pain. I couldn’t think straight. The severed nerve left me without the ability to move the wing, but it still cried out in pain. It wanted to fly out of that hospital bed, but my wings were stuck. Trapped. Alone. And so was I.”

“No you weren’t! Your friends have always been here for you!”

“No. I was alone,” she repeated with a heavy emphasis on herself as she held a hoof to her chest. “All I had was my dream of making it. I realized that I had spent my whole life being selfish and demanding attention from everypony, and I started punishing myself for it.”

“How?”

“You taught me to love reading, Twilight. I read every book I could find about ponies that had done great things. Things I would never be able to do again and things I had never done to begin with. And when I ran out of books to read, I started to write my own; grand adventures of ponies that didn’t waste their time on selfish goals.”

Twilight’s eyes kept weeping and her words were barely audible through the sniffling and crying, “Then why A Wing and a Player? Why? You didn’t have to do that to yourself! Isn’t that filly still alive because of you?”

Dash uttered a solid, solitary laugh, “That’s what she told me. That’s when I realized I was still being selfish by punishing myself. So I wrote one last story so I could find closure.”

Twilight’s breathing slowed, but the tears continued to flow freely. She had a sudden moment of clarity and galloped out of the room. Dash didn’t make any attempt to stop her, and slowly followed, muttering to herself, “Took her long enough.”

Twilight barged into the room downstairs where the doctor pegasus was lying down, waiting for this inevitability. “It was you!” Twilight cried. She fell atop the pegasus in a hug of exhaustion, anger and sentiment. Twilight was torn between who saved who, but the answers were more than she could handle anymore.

“Yeah,” the doctor responded. Rainbow Dash appeared at the entrance and smiled at the doctor, who smiled back before she looked back down at the sobbing pony holding her. “I was heartbroken when I saw how Rainbow Dash tore herself to pieces, and I blamed myself for everything. I swore to myself I’d find a way to fix it all one day. I’d make Dash better no matter what.” The doctor pried Twilight off of her and motioned to her side. “That’s when I got this.”

Scootaloo nodded as she acknowledged that Twilight had put the pieces together. “I was, and I still am, her biggest fan. I always put her first. That sonic rainboom is the closest a pegasus will ever come to real magic. It gave you your cutie mark, and it saved me so I could find mine. It wasn’t fair for Rainbow Dash, but that’s why I haven’t left her side.” Scootaloo looked at the injured pony across the room. “Someday, I’ll know how to fix it.”

The three ponies embraced, careful not to aggravate Dash’s injuries, and the tears turned to joy. Twilight was still sad about what happened to her friend, but she knew that it all turned out okay. Scootaloo and Dash weren’t quite there yet, but they were happy despite the turmoil.

Twilight was the first to break the hug and return to her inquisitive manner. “Wait, so why do Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy tell me they don’t see you anymore?”

Dash giggled slyly and admitted the truth, even though she knew it meant Twilight would tell the rest of her friends. “They don’t see me, but I see them. I’m still ashamed of my past, and I avoid attention, but I would never abandon my friends. You’re talking to the element of loyalty remember? How do you think Pinkie ever found the punch last night? Nowadays she’s so distracted she wouldn’t be able to find Equestria on a map!”

Twilight’s eyes grew wide with shock. “You were there?” She paused and then recalled the rest of the night then glared at Dash and chewed her out. “Didn’t you see how upset I was when they told me about you? You’ve been helping them, but I was suffering so much!”

Scootaloo nudged Twilight while her head hung in shame, “I’m sorry Twilight, but that was my fault. I told her it’d be better for you to find out this way.” She motioned to Dash, “She’s usually pretty defiant about doctor’s orders, but I had Fluttershy teach me ‘the stare’ a few years back. It’s as good with patients as it is on woodland creatures.”

The three broke into laughter for a while, and Twilight grilled Dash with all kinds of other questions about the past years. She asked about all the books she had written, and then teased her about some format errors she found in her first editions. Before she left, Twilight made Dash promise to confront the rest of their friends about the truth behind her seclusion, then made Scootaloo promise not to put them through the same horror she had just lived through with the reveal.

***

By the time she returned to her quarters in the library, Princess Luna’s work hung high above the clouds. The twinkling in the sky made Twilight suddenly realize how exhausted she was from the emotional roller coaster she had been riding since her arrival. She cast a spell to help her fall into a deep sleep, and then realized she forgot to make sure that a certain somepony wasn’t still watching her in secret. She checked the windows and the coast seemed clear. As she tried to reach the bed, she fell short and her body slipped into hibernation.

Outside, Rainbow Dash shook her head in pity at the sight she had just beheld from one of Pinkie Pie’s hiding spots she frequented. Very carefully, Dash cracked a window and crept in. She pulled the blanket from the bed and draped it over the comatose unicorn before lying down next to her for a few minutes. She took one last look back as she left the way she came to make sure she hadn’t disturbed the dreaming creature.

Dash turned to leave and was greeted by an unfriendly glare from Scootaloo. Dash nearly screamed loud enough to wake everypony in town, not to mention the one under a spell just behind her, but Scootaloo muffled her with her hoof. “How many times am I going to come after you before you listen to your doctor and stay in bed?” she sighed at her patient. “Even Twilight told you that you need to stop playing in the shadows.” Dash simply smiled and galloped back to the house, still faster on land than most earth ponies. She barricaded the doors and snickered in anticipation of Scootaloo’s usual reaction to the prank she had pulled hundreds of times prior.

Twilight clutched the blanket tight and muttered to the pony in her dreams, “Promise I’ll see another sonic rainboom someday.”