1. Published 13th Nov 2015
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Changeling Courtship Rituals - Codex Ex Equus

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How did it all go so wrong?

Twilight, staring into the mirror in the bathroom, asked herself that question again and again.

What had happened with Princess Celestia had been Twilight's mistake. She should have told the Princess the truth as soon as they were alone. Instead, she had let her history with the Princess distract her, she had become more concerned with the thought that the Princess was mad at her than with following through with her plan, and that avenue of escape had been closed off to her forever the moment Princess Celestia opened her mouth.

But this was supposed to have been different.

The plan this time had been simple. Introduce 'Chrysi' to her parents, let them all get to know one another a bit, then reveal that she was Chrysalis in disguise. Her parents would be suitably outraged that the changeling Queen who had ruined their son's wedding was now married to their daughter, there'd be a huge fight... Twilight and Chrysalis would be disappointed, but, well, family is important, right? Chrysalis would understand that, she had a bigger family than anyone. With Twilight's family threatening to disown her, they wouldn't have any choice other than to break off the marriage. And while they would both be upset, there was no reason they couldn't still keep in touch, write one another letters, even be friends.

As far as plans went, it was... well, not great. But it was the best she had, one of her last hopes. And she had gotten a disaster, all right... but not the way she'd wanted. This was far worse than anything she could have possibly imagined.

How did it all go so wrong? she asked herself again.

Another loud burst of noise came through the bathroom door, and Twilight cringed back, then drooped down and let out a sigh. She ran a bit of water in the sink, splashed it on her face, then took another look in the mirror. She looked... frazzled, but still sane. She wasn't cracking yet; the facade was holding. And maybe there was still a chance to salvage the night.

Taking a last deep, calming breath, she opened the door and trotted out to the sound of laughter. In the living room were her parents, Twilight Velvet and Night Light, sitting on a couch with their backs to her. Opposite them sat Chrysalis on a love seat; looking up at Twilight's return, the changeling smiled and happily waved a holed hoof, beckoning her over.

Twilight took a few steps forward, then froze, her ears folding back and a small whimper escaping her mouth. Whatever plans she might have been considering disappeared; the situation was far, far worse than she had thought.  

There, on the coffee table between the two sofas, sat an open photo album. Her parents were showing Chrysalis her foalhood pictures!


Earlier that night...

“So, what is it you do, Chrysi?” asked Twilight Velvet, levitating a plate of biscuits over to the disguised changeling.

Taking one and munching on it happily, Chrysalis replied, “I'm actually a bit of royalty myself, like Twilight. Nothing as glamorous as Princess of Friendship, though. I mostly have to concern myself with feeding my subjects.”

“Oh, now that's interesting,” said Night Light, as Velvet sat down on the couch next to him. “Let me think, you must be a baroness? No, no, sorry, a countess, at the least. You're too regal to be anything less.”

“Oh my, you never told me your father was so charming,” said Chrysalis to Twilight, giggling, as Velvet gave her husband a frown. “As a matter of fact, I'm a Queen.”

“A Queen!” Both ponies seemed surprised.

“But not just any Queen,” continued Chrysalis, drawing back and letting out a dark chuckle. “I am Queen of all the chang–!”

Ahem.” There was a loud cough from Twilight, along with a nudge from her elbow. Chrysalis blinked, then dropped her head, her chuckle this time more embarrassed.

“I, ah, mean... yes. I am a Queen.”

“Hmm...” Velvet had a small frown on her face. “I didn't know there were any Queens in Equestria. Or even in any of the nearby lands.”

“Well, we are not a numerous people,” admitted Chrysalis grudgingly. “And we are somewhat... reclusive. We prefer to remain hidden.”

“I'm not surprised that Twilight managed to draw you out,” said Night Light proudly. “She's become quite good at that kind of thing.”

“Can you believe she didn't have any friends when she was a filly?” asked Velvet in a faux-hushed tone.

“Mother!” cried Twilight, as Chrysalis giggled. “I had friends!”

“Smarty Pants doesn't count,” replied Velvet, smiling.

“I had plenty more friends than just him.” Twilight crossed her forelegs and turned away, a small pout on her face. “I just had a lot of studying to do, so I didn't see them very often.”

“Always with the studying, this one,” said Velvet, rolling her eyes and giving Chrysalis a wink.

“Oh, tell me about it,” the disguised changeling replied. “The first day we spend together, and what does she want to do? Read books the entire time. I hardly even got a word out of her!”

All three were chuckling now, to the embarrassment of the red-faced Princess.

“I know exactly where she gets it from, too,” said Night Light, a sly grin on his face as he looked over at his wife. “Maybe if her mother hadn't spent so much time making Twilight proofread the books she writes...”

“Oh, stop it, you!”

“I let Velvet choose where we went for a date once, you know where she wanted to go? The Canterlot Library, followed by a thrilling trip to a used bookstore. I stopped letting her pick date spots after that. So if Twilight ever tries to get you to visit a library, well, watch out–oof!

Night Light cut off, as he suddenly found Velvet's elbow in his side.

“That's enough out of you,” she said with a sniff. “I'm sure Chrysi doesn't want to hear you trying to play matchmaker. And besides, that's supposed to be my job.”

She gave Chrysalis an apologetic look. “I'm sorry about my husband. He doesn't know when to stop talking.”

Velvet looked around conspiratorially, speaking again in a loud whisper. “Although we do worry about Twilight sometimes. She might have had a few friends when she was young, but we never saw her go out on a date, stallion or mare! I never would have thought Shining Armor would turn out to be my best hope for grandfoals!”

Actually, mother, that's something I wanted to talk to both of you about,” ground out Twilight through clenched teeth, as more chuckles filled the air.

She took a deep breath. Okay, this wasn't exactly how she had envisioned things playing out, but she'd go ahead with the plan. After all, it wasn't like things could get any more awkward.

“You both remember Shining Armor's wedding, right?” she asked, to get things started.

“Of course, it was wonderful!” exclaimed Velvet gleefully. “Such a beautiful ceremony.”

“One of the proudest days of our lives, and you kids have given us so many days to be proud of,” said Night Light, nodding in agreement.

“No, I mean his first wedding,” said Twilight, a grin on her face that was somewhat on the vicious side, and both her parent grimaced.

“Well, hard to forget an experience that terrible,” said Night Light.

“Especially that horrid Chrysalis creature, and her changelings,” said Velvet distastefully. “I can't believe she fooled us like that. Why, if we hadn't been so busy with the wedding preparations...”

Twilight looked over at Chrysalis with expectant glee, and then frowned. She looked... proud. Her head was held high, eyes closed and a smug smile on her face. If she'd been a pegasus instead of a unicorn, she looked like she'd be preening her wings. Twilight gritted her teeth. Of course the Queen would be proud of everything she'd done. She lived for deceit, conquest and domination, and Twilight's parents talking about how well she'd done all of that would be music to her ears.

Fine, then. No quarter, no more holding back.

“Funny you should mention that,” said Twilight cheerfully, giving Chrysalis a meaningful nudge, “Because Chrysi is actually Queen Chrysalis, and we're married.”

At the signal, Chrysalis dropped her disguise. Twilight watched in glee as her parent's expressions turned to shock and horror, their mouths dropping open as the flare of green light lit their faces.

For a long moment, all Night Light and Twilight Velvet could do was stare, their eyes moving back and forth disbelievingly between the Princess and the Queen before them. Finally, Velvet's eyes narrowed, her mouth setting in a hard, thin line, and Twilight leaned forward expectantly.

“So, what, your mother doesn't get an invite to your wedding?” said Velvet bitterly. “Oh, no, it's just my only daughter getting married, what interest would I have in that?”

Now Twilight's mouth dropped open. “W-what... no, mom–“

“It's fine, Twilight, it's fine.” Velvet sniffed dismissively, turning away. “You're immortal now, I'm sure you'll have plenty of other weddings–heaven forbid anything should happen to you two, I wish you a long and happy marriage, but these things do happen. Of course, I'll probably be dead by then, but I'm sure you won't care.”

“No, that's not–dad, please–“

“Listen to your mother, dear,” said Night Light, putting a foreleg around his wife. “We know you have a lot of important things going on in your life, very important things, but we'd still like to be involved too. You could have at least told us you were thinking of getting married.”

“N-no, that's not... you don't understand...” Twilight shrunk down under the disappointed gaze of her father and icy glare of her mother, trailing off into a faint whimper.

“I'm afraid that was my fault,” said Chrysalis suddenly, voice buzzing apologetically. Night Light and Velvet turned to her, a little too quickly for the action to look natural, their eyes wide and wary.

“You see, our wedding–our entire courtship, in fact–was done in the changeling fashion,” Chrysalis continued. “And our marriages tend to be rather sudden. There isn't much of a ceremony either, and as for guests... well, that would rather ruin the mood.”

She paused momentarily, tapping one hoof on her chin. “Although, I suppose I could have taken hostages...”

Both parents looked at the Queen for a moment longer, then sat back, relaxing slightly.

“You could have just told us that in the first place, Twilight,” said Night Light, a tone of reproach in his voice. “You would have saved us all a lot of confusion just now.”

“I never knew Chrysalis was such a polite girl, though,” said Velvet approvingly. “You should pay attention to her, Twilight, I think she could teach you a lot. She might be a good influence on you.”

“Wha–bu–“ Twilight put booth hooves to her head for a moment.

“She attacked Shining Armor's wedding!” said Twilight, just barely managing not to scream. “She nearly ruined the entire thing, tried to take Cadance's place, and almost took over Equestria at the same time!”

“Hmm, that is true,” said Velvet, staring at Chrysalis with narrowed eyes. “I can't say that exactly makes me eager to welcome you into our family, even if Twilight cares so much for you.”

“We would at least like an apology,” said Night Light sternly, crossing his forelegs.

“If it helps, I do regret how things turned out,” said Chrysalis meekly, lowering her head. “And it was never personal, either. I'd never even seen any of you beforehoof. I... well, I nearly called off the entire plan and asked Twilight to marry me when I first met her.”

“Oh, that's so romantic,” cooed Velvet, clearly having no idea what a changeling marriage entailed.

“Well, Twilight's forgiven you, so I suppose we can try to as well,” said Night Light, then sighed. “Though it's a shame I won't be able to walk my daughter down the aisle.”

“You know...” said Velvet slowly, in a tone that sent icy tendrils of fear creeping through Twilight's heart, “There's no reason we couldn't have another wedding. A pony wedding. Something for all of Twilight's friends and family to enjoy, a ceremony that everypony can see, a way to prove to everyone that your marriage is official–”

She stopped suddenly, embarrassed. “I'm sorry, I'm not trying to imply you need to have a pony wedding, that yours somehow doesn't count just because your traditions are different...”

She didn't need to have worried. Chrysalis was staring at her with wide, shining eyes.

“Do you really mean that?” she asked breathlessly. “You want to throw a wedding for me? I would get to wear a dress, and we'd have flowers, and a party...”

“Of course,” said Night Light warmly. “You're family now. We'd love to welcome you, in our own fashion.”

“Oh, this is so amazing!” gushed Chrysalis, wrapping her forelegs around the frozen Princess sitting next to her. “I'm so excited I can hardly wait, Twilight!”

“I-I-I...” Twilight stuttered for several seconds, then suddenly leapt to her hooves. “You know what? I need a quick break. I'm going to go... freshen up? Yes, that. I'll be back, uh, whenever.”

She trotted quickly to the bathroom, doing her best to ignore the sounds of her parents and Chrysalis chatting happily with each other.


Back in the present...

“Oh, this is a good one,” said Velvet gleefully, turning a page in the photo album. “We thought we'd learned enough from Shining Armor to be able to raise another foal without trouble. But we had to figure out an entirely new set of rules when Twilight was born.”

“Oh, Celestia...” Twilight buried her face, which had been bright red from the moment she sat back down, in her hooves. Her parents always showed this picture to friends and family.

“Normally you have to move objects from the bottom of shelves to the top, so the little foals can't get into trouble. With Twilight, though...”

In the picture, a small Twilight sat with a book spread open in front of her. That wouldn't have been so unusual, except she was also perched casually on top of a bookshelf, high above the heads of her puzzled parents.

“Oh my!” Twilight's blush deepened at the sound of Chrysalis's giggling. “How did she even get up there?”

“We still don't know,” said Night Light, with a chuckle. “But we learned quickly that books, at least, needed to be kept on the lower shelves. And we called her our little spider for quite a while after that.”

“Well, this little spider caught herself quite the juicy fly,” said Chrysalis slyly, nuzzling up against the squirming pony as her parents laughed.

“I'm sure you'll have plenty of stories as well once you have your own foals–“ Velvet started to say, then stopped suddenly. “Oh, I'm sorry. It's probably a little bit too soon to be asking you for grandfoals, isn't it? And while I know there are options for ponies in your... situation, I shouldn't have assumed anything...”

“W-we haven't actually discussed anything like that,” said Chrysalis, blushing and looking over at the equally embarrassed Twilight. “Although if anything, we probably have more options.”

She looked downwards. “I suppose the easiest way would be for me to just extend my ovipositor, like so–“

Chrysalis, no!” cried Twilight, waving her hooves. “T-that's not something you do in public!”

“It's not?” said Chrysalis. Her tone was puzzled, but there was a smile on her face as she watched Twilight.

No.”

“Ah. Okay.”

Twilight shifted uncomfortably, clearing her throat, but Chrysalis continued to gaze at her, still smiling.

“You know,” Chrysalis said after a moment, turning back to her parents-in-law, “If it's grandchildren you're interested in, every changeling in the hive is my child. You actually have several hundred grandchildren now.”

There was a long, long moment of silence as both Night Light's and Twilight Velvet's mouths dropped open and they stared in shock at the Queen. Even Twilight sat frozen, as she was hit by the realization that she was actually the mother of every single changeling she'd met while in the hive.

“I am going the throw this into the face of that Silver Lilac down the street so hard,” said Velvet finally, a vicious grin surfacing on her face. “Oh, your grandchildren have all been in the top five percent at the university? Well, mine conquered Equestria!

“Mom, that's not–“ Twilight started to object, but was interrupted as the doorbell suddenly rang, causing both Princess and Queen to shoot panicked glances towards the foyer.

“Oh good, our special guest has arrived,” said Velvet, the smile on her face turning sly.

“W-what?!” squeaked Twilight.

“Well...” said Night Light slowly, drawing the word out, “We might have heard that a certain Captain of the Guard was in town today, and invited him over...”

“Shiney's here?!”

Twilight leapt off the couch eagerly, racing for the front door. One last chance, she thought excitedly.

“BBBFF!” cried Twilight, as she threw the door open.

“Twiley! It's good to... see you...” He trailed off.

Shining Armor had, obviously, known Twilight her entire life. And he'd learned to recognize the warning signs of her having one of her... episodes. Right now, judging by her manic grin and slightly twitching eye, she was at stage three: unstable, ready to blow, but still recoverable.

“So... is there something going on?” he asked cautiously. “I wasn't expecting to see you.”

“I didn't know you were in town either! Is Cadance here?”

“No, sorry,” said Shining Armor, worry momentarily forgotten, chuckling. “She stayed back in the Empire. I'm here on business; I'm checking in on the Crystal Empire guards we had trade places with some Canterlot guards. It's part of an exchange program we started, to help build relations between our kingdoms and get the soldiers some experience with how each guard force does things. What are you doing here, though?”

“Oh, nothing too big,” said Twilight with a smile. “I'd just dropped by to introduce mom and dad to my wife.”

“Your–“ Shining Armor's mouth dropped open, then he burst into a brilliant grin. “Twilight, that's great! I'm so happy for you!”

He gave her a hug, then pulled back. “Was it Rainbow Dash? Please tell me it was Rainbow Dash!”

“What? N-no...”

“It was Celestia after all then, huh? Damn.” He stomped a hoof, then looked off to the side and sighed. “I should really know better by now than to bet on this kind of thing with Cadance. Well, looks like I'm the bottom again this month.”

“I don't...” Twilight took a moment to try and reset her mind after the last few seconds of conversation. “It's neither of them.”

“Wow, a wild card, huh? So, anyone I know?”

“Oh, yes,” said Twilight, starting to lead him into the living room. “In fact, she's your ex-fiancée.”

“Ha ha, I have no idea who you're–“

Shining Armor stopped talking as he entered the room, spotting Chrysalis sitting on the other side of the coffee table.

“Oh. Ah, hello,” said Chrysalis, waving at him.

Twilight waited for the explosion, but nothing came. She looked over at Shining Armor, at the wide smile that remained plastered on his face.

“Uh, Shiney? You okay?” She waved a hoof in front of him, and his expression didn't change.

Slowly, the smile still on his face, he tipped over, taking out the coffee table as he crashed to the ground.

“You know, I can't say I'm surprised by that,” said Chrysalis, floating a biscuit into her mouth off the plate she had saved from Shining Armor's faceplant.

Twilight sighed, rubbing the bridge of her muzzle with a hoof. “I'm really not either.”


“Hey Shining Armor, you alright?”

Shining Armor pushed himself up, blinking slowly. He was in... yes, his old bed, in his old room. The same sci-fi posters were on the walls, and the same roleplaying figurines, rule books, and other bits of paraphernalia were scattered throughout the room. And that was his same sister looking at him with concern. The only thing different was the gray unicorn standing next to her.

“Twilight?” he asked groggily, putting a hoof to the small bump on his head. “What happened?”

“You came over to visit and, ah, hit your head,” she replied.

“Right, I thought I saw–“ He stopped, staring at the pony next to Twilight. She was tall, with a dark coat and green hair. Even more telling, she was standing up straight, nose in the air, a familiar, arrogant look on her face.

“That's... that's Queen Chrysalis, isn't it?” he asked, pointing a hoof at the unicorn.

“Whaaaaat? No, don't be silly–“ Twilight tried to say.

Shining Armor's horn lit up, and Twilight just barely managed to fire off her own magic, suppressing his spell. It was still a struggle, though; alicorn she might be and a cutie mark related to magic she might have, but the shield spell was Shining Armor's special talent, and it could give even Princess Celestia herself pause. Only a pause, of course, but still a pause.

“Shining Armor...” growled Twilight, one eye squeezed shut from the effort of trying to hold back his spell, “You don't... understand...”

“I don't need to understand,” he shot back, face scrunched up. The sphere of the shield spell, centered on his horn, grew to encompass the bed. “It's Chrysalis, and that's all I need to know.”

“Do you, ah, want some help there, Twilight?” said Chrysalis nervously, backing away from the bubble.

“No, I have to do this,” panted Twilight. “I'll make him see reason. If you try to help, it would just turn all this into you versus him.”

“You're making her do your dirty work now, you monster?!” snarled Shining Armor. He lowered his head and gritted his teeth, forcing more power into the spell. “I'll make you pay, Chrysalis, for everything you've done to my family!”

“Okay, Twilight, i-it's just that things are getting kind of cramped in here!” Chrysalis was sounding nearly panicked now, and Twilight risked a look back at her.

The disguised Queen was pressed up against the bubble, which had forced her back into a corner and trapped her in the room. Twilight's eyes widened; she could see real fear on Chrysalis's face.

Chrysalis had explained to her that while she had expected–and even welcomed–a defeat at the wedding, she hadn't been prepared for it to be so... unpleasant. She hadn't gone into too much detail on what exactly had happened after being flung from Canterlot, but Twilight doubted being thrown several dozen miles had been painless, even with wings to help break her fall. And Chrysalis had experienced all that from the point of view of every changeling she'd brought with her. She clearly wasn't looking forward to a repeat, even if it was singular.

Enough!” cried Twilight, turning back. Her eyes glowed white, wings flaring wide, and she stomped down, slamming Shining Armor's magic back into his horn with a burst of her own power.

They stood in place for a moment, glaring at each other, breathing hard.

“Twilight–“ Shining Armor started to growl.

“What are you kids doing up there?” called Twilight Velvet from the bottom of the stairs.

“Nothing, mom!” Twilight yelled back hurriedly.

“You're not roughhousing, are you?”

“No, mom!”

“Because you're not supposed to roughhouse upstairs!”

“We're not, mom!”

Twilight and Shining glanced at each other, the same look of embarrassment on their faces.

“Okay, then we can just talk,” said Shining Armor in a low voice. “We can talk about the fact that Chrysalis is controlling your mind!”

“Shining Armor–“

“You can fight it! I know you can, just listen to my voice, Twilight. It's me, Shining Armor, your brother, remember?”

“I don't have amnesia, Shining Armor. I know who you are.” Twilight let out a long, pained sigh. “Fine, let's do this. Chrysalis? Drop the disguise.”

Chrysalis, who had taken a few hesitant steps forward after the shield had dissipated, switched back to her normal appearance. Shining Armor's eyes narrowed at seeing her true form again, but he didn't say anything.

“Okay now, Chrysalis... take control of my mind.”

“Twilight, no!” cried Shining Armor.

There was a moment of silence, and then Twilight turned back. “Chrysalis?”

The changeling Queen stood with her head down, one hoof scraping at the floor. “I... Twilight, you know I don't like doing that to you. I only tried it the once because you were curious, and you asked.”

“Yes, Chrysalis, but we need to prove a point. Please?”

Chrysalis let out an unhappy grumble, but raised her head, horn glowing, and a ray of emerald light struck Twilight in the head. Her eyes went green and sagging, and Shining Armor gasped in horror, but a moment later there was a fizzle from Chrysalis's horn. Twilight shook her head, and her eyes were back to normal when she opened them.

“You see?” she said. “It doesn't work on me. It doesn't work on any alicorn. I mean, do you think Chrysalis would have bothered attacking your wedding if she could have just taken control of Celestia's mind? She had plenty of opportunities while she was pretending to be Cadance!”

“Okay, fine, she's not controlling your mind with magic,” huffed Shining Armor, crossing his forelegs. “What lies had she been telling you then? How did she trick you into thinking she loves you? And into forgiving her for what she did to us!”

“No lies, Shining Armor. No tricks. The wedding... things were complicated back then. She's sorry for what she did to you.”

“No I'm not,” snorted Chrysalis, turning her head away. “I did nothing wrong.”

“Chrysalis, please! I'm trying to make things right between Shining Armor and you!”

“I don't care. I did what I did for the good of my people. I may have changed my focus a bit after I met you... but that doesn't change what I intended to do. And I'd do it all again.”

Twilight glared at her, then an evil little smile lit on her face. “Okay Chrysalis, that's fine.”

She turned back to her brother. “Shining Armor, as a Queen of the changelings, I hereby formally apologize to you for the attack on your wedding, and acknowledge our wrongdoing in said attack.”

“Twilight, no!” wailed Chrysalis, stamping a hoof on the floor. “At least make him grovel first!”

“Well, you should have thought of that before you refused to apologize. Besides, I'm a changeling Queen now, but you're a Princess of Equestria. And that means being diplomatic and apologizing for things that people are upset about, even if you don't think you're to blame.”

Shining Armor, meanwhile, was looking back and forth between the two.

“This is... this is real, isn't it?” he asked finally, voice dazed.

“Yes, Shining Armor,” said Twilight, taking a step closer to him. “I mean, it's not an apology from her, but it's probably as close as you're going to get. Although, if you think reparations are in order, I'm sure we can find plenty of changelings who would be happy to spend time 'volunteering' in the Crystal Empire. For that matter, if you want guards for the Crystal Heart, I doubt you'd be able to find anypony that would guard it as closely.”

She thought that last sentence over for a moment. “Well, maybe a bit too closely.”

“No, I mean...” He waved a hoof at the two. “This. The both of you. Together.”

“We... are really married, yes,” said Twilight carefully. Chrysalis had moved closer, and now leaned up against Twilight, resting her chin on the shorter alicorn's head. After a moment of hesitation, Twilight leaned over, snuggling up to her as well.

“I really do care about her, Shining Armor,” Twilight said softly. “You don't have to like her too, not after what she's done, but I'm not going to let you hurt her.”

Shining Armor looked at the two for a long moment, then finally dropped his head. “This will all make sense, right?” he asked plaintively. “Like, there's some big story behind it that will explain everything?”

Twilight winced. “Kind of?”

With a sigh, Shining Armor slid off the bed. “Okay, Twilight. I trust you. So, I'll trust you in this. Come on, let's go downstairs. We can talk, and maybe I can get at least some idea of what's going on.”

“Thank you, Shining Armor,” said Twilight warmly.

He laughed. “Hey, I've been married to the Princess of Love for a few years now. I should have learned at least something about how strange love can be.”

“Twilight, you said I'm a Princess of Equestria now. Shouldn't I be the Princess of Love?” said Chrysalis, pouting. “She doesn't even live in Equestria anymore!”

“You're only a Princess by marriage, Chrysalis,” said Twilight, rolling her eyes. “The titles we have need to be earned.”

“And the arrangement between the Crystal Empire and Equestria is a bit complicated,” said Shining Armor. “Cadance and I are the Crystal Empire's Princess and Prince, but we're still citizens of Equestria. Actually, the whole situation is more like the Empire is a colony of Equestria, and Cadance and I are the ruling governors... like I said, it's complicated. There's a whole pile of books and scrolls that explains why and how it works, but I just nodded the whole time Celestia and Luna were explaining it to us.”

“I should still get a title,” declared Chrysalis, head held high as they walked from the room. “I can be the Queen of Love.”

“Don't ever let Cadance hear you say that!” said Shining Armor, eyes widening in horror. He shuddered as he followed them. “I think she just got over wanting to kill you on sight. I don't even want to imagine what she'd try to do if you repeated that near her!”


“Twilight?” said Shining Armor later on that night. “I want to apologize to you.”

Chrysalis and Twilight had gone over their courtship and wedding with Shining Armor. He had been incredulous at first, then suspicious, and ultimately had grudgingly accepted the situation.

Twilight Velvet and Chrysalis, at this point, had gone into the other room to 'discuss some things', a spine-chilling phrase. Night Light, obviously sensing there was something his children needed to talk about, had conveniently decided to step out for some air.

“You don't need to apologize for anything,” Twilight said with a shake of her head. “What Chrysalis did to you was terrible, I know. But...”

“But you love her,” said Shining Armor gently, smiling. “I understand. I still shouldn't have tried to attack her, though. I didn't even give you a chance to explain.”

“You don't like her, do you?” asked Twilight, looking down.

“Twilight... no, I don't. I don't think I ever will. I can't forget what she did, and I don't know if I can ever forgive her, either.”

He looked over at his downcast sister, her shoulders slumped, and smiled. “You've forgiven her, though. And she makes you happy. If anything can make up for what she did, it's that. Even if I don't like her, I can tolerate her. For you.”

“That's not really a nice thing to say,” said Twilight, then sighed. “Although I can't really blame you.”

“Now, that's not a nice thing to say either,” scolded Shining Armor. “She's your wife. You need to support her, even if you don't completely agree with her decisions. I mean, I'm not saying you should go helping her take over Equestria or anything...”

“Shining Armor, listen–“ Twilight started to say, and then stopped.

She could tell him the truth right now. He'd help her, he might even know a way out of this. Maybe there was a solution in those scrolls from Celestia that he'd mentioned, or maybe he just had some big-brotherly advice about how to handle all her relationship problems. At the least, judging by his initial reaction to Chrysalis, she could get that incident she'd been hoping for when she came here.

But if she did that, she might get even more of a fight than she wanted. Shining Armor had already attacked Chrysalis once, and the only thing that had stopped him had been believing they were in love. If she started another fight between them... Chrysalis might get hurt, physically as well as emotionally. Twilight couldn't bear the thought of that.

So she just said, “Thank you, Shining Armor. It really means a lot to me that you're willing to put aside your own feelings to help me. And that you're willing to welcome Chrysalis into our family.”

“Hey, that's what big brothers are for,” he said, grinning and ruffling her hair. “Besides, she might be a good influence on you.”

“Why does everyone keep saying that?” huffed Twilight, batting his hoof away.

“Saying what?” asked Chrysalis curiously, as she and Velvet entered the room, followed by Night Light.

“Oh, nothing, nothing,” said Twilight quickly, casting a deathly glare at Shining Armor.

Chrysalis took her seat next to Twilight, her weight causing the cushions to bow inwards and slide the smaller pony up against her. As Twilight shifted around into a more comfortable position and Chrysalis wrapped a foreleg around her, they both missed the warm smile Shining Armor gave them.


Later that night, after saying farewell to Twilight's family, the pony and the changeling made their way through the streets of Canterlot. They walked slowly, casually, taking the scenic route back to the castle and their guest suite.

Twilight walked with her head down, feeling a confused mix of regret and relief. Regret, because her plan–weak as it had been–was a complete failure. But relief, because Chrysalis hadn't been hurt, and because her family had been so welcoming to her friend... to her wife.

Focusing on the street, Twilight didn't notice that the unicorn walking beside her kept glancing over, until finally Chrysalis spoke.

“Twilight?” she said softly, almost hesitantly. “Did... did I do good tonight?”

“What?” Twilight looked up for the first time, surprised by the question.

“It's just... you were mad after we met the Princesses, because of something I did that I'm not quite sure about. And my hive welcomed you in, you were so kind to all my children... I just wanted the same from your family. And to do the same for your family.”

Twilight looked up into Chrysalis's wide, hopeful eyes, and a smile of pure happiness covered her face.

“You were wonderful, Chrysalis,” Twilight said softly, pausing to momentarily place a hoof on her shoulder. “They loved you. Well, maybe not Shining Armor, but...”

“But you taught him an excellent lesson,” declared Chrysalis proudly, head raising up. “Now that he knows his place, he will not oppose us again.”

Twilight couldn't help it; she started giggling. “Yes Chrysalis, that's exactly what happened.”

Then she sobered up. “Although, there was one thing you did that I didn't approve of. You shouldn't have mentioned your... ovipositor... in front of my parents like that. That isn't the kind of thing you do in polite company.”

“Oh my! It isn't?”

“No, Chrysalis, and–“ she stopped, looking at the grin on the changeling's face, a horrible suspicion rising in her mind. “Chrysalis, you... did you know that when you said those things?”

“What? Why, how could I have possibly known that? Your pony culture is so strange to me...”

“You did know!” cried Twilight, pointing an accusing hoof at Chrysalis and getting a low chuckle in return.

“Maybe.”

“Then why?! Why would you do that?!”

Twilight stopped short as the disguised Queen suddenly threw a smoldering glance at her. “Because you're cute when you're flustered.”

“I-I am not!” cried Twilight, blushing suddenly.

Chrysalis just chuckled again. “Adorable,” she said, before continuing on her way.

“You... you can't just...” A thought struck Twilight, and she hurried to catch up with Chrysalis. “Wait, so do you really have an... an ovipositor or not?”

That just got yet another chuckle from Chrysalis, along with a leer that instantly stopped Twilight from asking any more questions. That didn't stop her from walking alongside Chrysalis grumbling under her breath, though.

A few blocks on, one of Twilight's ears twitched, swiveling towards the Queen. It was hard to make out over the ambient street noise, but there was a faint sound coming from her, hardly audible unless you were listening for it. It took Twilight a few moments, but finally she realized what it was: Chrysalis was humming.

After a moment, Twilight began to hum along. It was a nice tune.