• Published 4th Feb 2016
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Hero Souls: Awakening - SvenFoxx



Twilight always knew she was different. She just never imagined it was her soul that was different.

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2. Ticketmaster

“Thanks again fer helping me today, Twi.” Applejack said, pulling a wagon with a few baskets of apples in it. “I bet Big Mac ah could get all these apples in the barn by lunchtime.” She snorted. “Now he’s gonna have to wear Granny’s girdle in the middle of town.”

“Not a problem, Applejack.” Twilight Sparkle smiled at her friend… pulling a train of three heavily loaded carts behind her. She wasn’t even straining. “If anything, this is nostalgic. I grew up on a farm as Clark Kent.” She paused before sighing. “I do miss Ma and Pa though.” She worked her jaw for a moment after saying that. “That is never going to stop bugging me. I know I used to have a southern accent, but every time I let it slip through, my body keeps telling me that it’s wrong.”

Applejack shrugged. “I can’t rightly say I understand,” she said. “But ah hope you figure it out, for yer comfort if nothing else”. She smirked. “Though… hearin’ that Canterlot accent of yers almost mixing with a southern drawl sure is entertaining.”

“No… No… No… Blech, this one’s rotten!” Spike, sitting in the front wagon Twilight was pulling, tossed the offending apple away.

“Spike, what are you doing?” Twilight asked her assistant, looking at him over her shoulder.

“We missed snack-time, so I’m looking for a good apple for a snack,” he explained.

Twilight opened her mouth to scold him for not at least asking Applejack first, but the grumbling of her own stomach overcame that idea. She blushed faintly as Applejack smirked at her. “Eheh… heh… Guess I’m hungry too.” She smiled at Spike. “Once we get these loaded in the barn, Spike, we’ll go look for somewhere to eat. I promise.”

“Ya might try Sugar Cube Corner,” Applejack suggested. “Pinkie works there as a cook. Makes some of the best danged cupcakes you ever had.”

Spike suddenly let off a very loud belch and, with a flash of green fire, a scroll materialized in front of him. He grabbed it. “Letter from the Princess, Twilight!” he said, waving the rolled up scroll. He looked at the seal for a moment. “Oh, wait, I take that back. It’s a letter from Raven, her aide.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow as they approached the barn. “Really? I wonder what she wants. We don’t normally talk, not since the ink in the paperwork incident…” She paused and looked at Applejack’s smirk. “You didn’t hear that. Go ahead and open it, Spike.”

“You sure ah should hear this?” Applejack asked as she unhitched herself from the wagon so she could open the barn doors.

“It would have been tied with a grey ribbon if it was private,” Spike explained, breaking the seal. “Ahem… Hear ye, hear ye!”

“Oh, I’m not liking this Raven lady already.” Applejack mumbled, then yelped when Twilight poked her with a hoof to silence her.

“Her Grand Royal Highness, Princess Celestia of Equestria, cordially invites Twilight Sparkle, plus one, to this year’s Grand Galloping Gala, to be held in one month’s time from today in Canterlot.” Spike pulled two golden tickets from the scroll. “That’s… it? She’s normally more pompous with these things. Huh, she must still be mad.”

“The Grand Galloping Gala?!” Applejacks nearly yelled, grinning. “Why, if only ah could get to the Gala...”

Twilight frowned. “I didn’t take you as a pony who enjoyed those stuffy events,” she noted, floating off the ground to help unload the apple baskets. “I tried going with the Princess a few years ago, but I only ended up stuck at the entrance-way with her as she greeted guests. I have never been so bored in my life. In fact…” She looked at the tickets Spike still held. “Chances are she only invited me so she had somepony to talk to during exactly that, and gave me the extra ticket so I had a friend to talk to while she was busy.”

Applejack shrugged. “Sure, ah likely wouldn’t enjoy the Gala itself, but this is more of a business opportunity.” She motioned towards the rather beat up barn they were standing in, as well as the rusted and worn plow. The very rusted and worn plow. “Selling Apple Family merchandise to the nobles might net me a contract or two, and ah can use the money from that to start fixing things up around here, maybe even get Granny that hip replacement she needs.”

Twilight’s frown turned to concern. “Applejack-”

“Whoa!” Thwump!

Applejack and Twilight stared at the rainbow maned Pegasus sprawled on the ground. Applejack glanced up, and had to groan at the blue blanket and rainbow colored pillow in the rafters. “Dagnabbit, Dash! Ah thought you said you were too busy to help today! Nappin’ in mah rafters ain’t too busy!”

Rainbow Dash got to her hooves, waving a hoof at Applejack. “Nevermind that. Did you say you were invited to the Gala?” she asked Twilight.

Twilight blinked. “Well, yeah. Why? I thought you of all ponies would avoid something like that.”

“Are you kidding?!” Rainbow Dash as her incredulously, shooting into the air. “The Wonderbolts will be there! If I could go to the Gala, I could finally meet them in person, and maybe show off some of my tricks! Maybe I’ll even get them to fast-track my application for the team!” She did a flip in her excitement. “And didn’t I happen to hear you say you had an extra ticket?” She grinned at Twilight.

Twilight’s frown returned. “Well… yes, but-”

“Awesome! Now I have a chance! Hey!” She glared at Applejack, who had grabbed her tail in her mouth to get her attention.

Applejack spat the tail out. “Now wait just one moment! I was just about to ask Twi fer that ticket!”

“You snooze, you lose!” Rainbow Dash stuck her tongue out, blowing a raspberry.

“Ah’ll show you a loser!” Applejack yelled, charging at Rainbow Dash.

“You want to scrap for the ticket? Fine, let’s fight!” Rainbow flew towards Applejack, grinning confidently.

Just before they could collide, Twilight appeared between them in a burst of speed holding out her hooves. “Girls! Stop!” she yelled, causing the mares the stop before they hit Twilight. They knew they couldn’t really hurt her even if they tried, but it was the principle that mattered. Twilight looked between her friends, her expression firm. “First of all, it’s my ticket to give away, and I haven’t chosen anybody yet. Second of all-” Her stomach growled again, and she groaned. “Ugh… second of all, I’m still hungry.”

She levitated the tickets into her mane, using a spell that would keep them there, and then levitated Spike onto her back. “Spike and I are going to get an early lunch. Afterwards, we’re coming back here, and then we’re going to discuss this.”

With that, she trotted for the door, shutting it with a bit more force then she meant to.

After a moment, Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked at each other. “Hoof-wrastlin?” Applejack proposed.

“Hoof-wrestling.” Rainbow Dash nodded.

---

“So… who’re you going to give the ticket to?” Spike asked Twilight as they made their way towards the business district of Ponyville. A town map in Twilight’s saddlebags had shown Sugar Cube Corner to be there.

Twilight sighed. “I don’t know, Spike. But before I give the ticket to either of them, I need to explain a few things to them, and before that… I need to eat,” she grumbled alongside her stomach. “Truthfully, I’ll probably pick Applejack. She has the best reason, if only for her grandmother’s hip, but that just brings me back to-oof!”

Twilight blinked, then stared down at the pink pony that had slammed into her… and failed completely at knocking her over. She had felt it, yes, but... really, knocking over Clark Kent was an exercise in futility on most days, on purpose or not. “Are you okay, Pinkie?” she asked. Then she noticed the golden tickets laying on Pinkie Pie’s snout. ‘I must have lost my concentration on the sticking spell when she hit me.’

Pinkie opened her eyes, which then zeroed in on the tickets. “…Bats!” she shrieked, shooting to her hooves. “Keep ‘em away! Keep ‘em away!” she yelled, running around in a circle. Then she came to such a sudden stop that Twilight was amazed she didn’t snap her neck… or at least get a serious case of whiplash. She briefly checked her friend’s skeletal structure just in case though. “Wait, are those…?” Pinkie Pie grinned widely then, stars shining in her eyes. “They are! Tickets for the Grand Galloping Gala!”

“Should we run?” Spike asked Twilight quietly as Pinkie began singing about how the Gala was the best place to be for a party pony.

“I’m considering whether or not that would even work.” Twilight responded. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Pinkie fail to keep up with anyone when she’s like this… even me.” Twilight blinked after a moment. ‘Huh… I could’ve sworn I meant to say anypony, not anyone.’

“The GALA?!”

Twilight, and even Spike, groaned at Rarity’s voice. ‘This is getting out of hand.’ And then she shook her head. ‘Hoof! I mean hoof!’ She looked at Rarity… just in time to hear Pinkie declare Twilight was taking her to the Gala. “Hey! Wait a minute-”

“Oh! If only I could go to the Grand Galloping Gala,” Rarity bemoaned to herself. “The high society… the fashion… him!” She almost growled that out in a very… risqué voice, making Twilight back away slightly. “Surely, when Princess Celestia sees my fabulous designs, she’ll introduce me to him… her nephew.” Twilight and Spike both gaped. “…Prince Blueblood.” Rarity swooned just from saying his name.

“…I’m torn between tearing that ticket in half to save her the disappointment, and begging you to give her the ticket just to watch her tear Blueblood apart,” Spike muttered, his hatred of the stallion and love of Rarity warring with each other.

“I almost agree with you.” Twilight nodded her head, remembering the… words she had for Blueblood when he had called Spike her slave. She was positive the marble under the carpet in that corridor was still scorched.

“Hey!” Spike suddenly lunged away from Twilight in an attempt to catch… a rabbit? He failed spectacularly, but Twilight gave him an A for effort. She saw his claws scrape the rabbit’s fur.

Twilight’s sharp eyes caught the glimmer of gold that could only have been one of the Gala tickets in the rabbit’s mouth as it dashed towards a nearby Fluttershy. ‘Wait… isn’t that Angel?’ she asked herself. She had met Angel the Bunny only once during a visit with Fluttershy. Once was enough. She necer wanted to ever have the pleasure of meeting the hare again.

She would have chased after him, but then he climbed up Fluttershy’s leg, over her back, and onto her head, presenting the ticket to her. Twilight groaned. ‘Oh come on! Is everyone in town going to find out about this?!’

“Oh! Angel, while this is a lovely gift, I think you should give it back to whoever it belongs to,” Fluttershy’s quiet voice, which was perfectly clear to Twilight’s sensitive ears, admonished the rabbit.

“Yeah! That ticket belongs to me!” Pinkie Pie said, swiping the ticket from Angel… and getting her hoof bitten by him for her trouble.

Fluttershy immediately began trying to calm Angel down, who was having none of it and refused to release his hold on Pinkie Pie’s hoof. Said pink pony was screaming as she ran in circles around Fluttershy. Rarity, amidst the bedlam, used her magic to pick up the discarded ticket and examined it.

“Pinkie, darling, this ticket is meant for Twilight’s guest, whoever that is. Did she give this ticket to you?” she asked curiously.

Fluttershy finally coaxed Angel away from Pinkie Pie, leaving her able to answer as she rubbed her hoof. “Yeah! She dropped it on my nose after I ran into her on accident.”

Rarity quirked an eyebrow. “Did she specifically say it was for you, or did you just assume it was for you? You may have knocked it from her grip after all.” Hope was shining in her eyes now.

Twilight used her magic to take the ticket from Rarity with a huff. “No, I did not. I haven’t decided who to give the ticket to yet.” Her stomach growled. “And I won’t until I finally get something to eat!”

“Oh… um…” Twilight felt her ears droop. She tried. She tried hard not to look, but she couldn’t stop herself. Fluttershy was pawing the ground nervously, looking away, ears folded slightly.

‘…I think I need insulin,’ Twilight distantly noted. ‘Maybe Pinkie has some?’

“May I… um… That is… May I have the… well… the ticket?” Fluttershy blinked her suddenly wide eyes, and Twilight swore, she swore to Tartarus itself that there were unshed tears in those eyes.

‘Critical sweetness overload! Critical sweetness overload! Switching to auxiliary systems!’ “Uh… the… ticket?” Twilight asked in a daze, her magic beginning to grow lax around the ticket.

“Hey, you said ah’d get the ticket!”

Twilight blinked and shook her head, regaining her thoughts. She looked over and found a peeved Rainbow Dash and Applejack. She played that statement from the farm pony through her head a second time. “I never told you…” Her eyes flashed in understanding, and then narrowed dangerously. “Were you following me?!” she nearly yelled.

“Darling, please! You must let me go to the Gala with you! This may be my only chance to meet my destiny!” Rarity interrupted her, almost begging.

“You said I had the biggest claim to that there ticket!” Applejack pointed at said ticket.

“I’m begging you, Twilight! Let me go with you! I have to take this chance to impress the Wonderbolts!” Rainbow was on her knees and begging.

‘And here I thought she had more pride than that…’ Twilight backed away slightly.

“Party! Party! Party!” Pinkie chanted.

“Please, Twilight?” Fluttershy asked quietly, lips quivering.

“ENOUGH!!!” Twilight finally snapped, her magic flaring and causing a minor shockwave that pushed her friends away. “I. Am. Hungry.” she said slowly. “I am going to go eat lunch. Then I am going to go back to Applejack’s farm to give all of you my answer.” She turned around and started marching away.

The five mares left behind cringed as each hoof-fall made the ground shake slightly. “Do you think we might have pushed too hard?” Applejack asked after a moment of silence.

“Nope,” Rainbow answered easily, taking to the sky. “Later ponies, I’m gonna make sure that ticket’s mine.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Applejack asked. “Rainbow! Get back here and answer me!”

“Well… far be it from a lady to turn down a challenge,” Rarity murmured, trotting away.

“Oh… I guess that’s a no…” Fluttershy muttered to herself. Angel rubbed his head against her snout, getting her attention. “Hmm? Yes, Angel?” He chittered away at her momentarily. “Really? Do you think that will work?” She also started leaving.

Pinkie Pie, who was humming to herself as she imagined the Gala, suddenly realized she was alone. “Huh? Where’d everypony go?” She looked around, and then gasped. “Did I miss the scene change prompt? Uh oh, better hurry and get to work!”

---

“Twilight! You’re shaking the ground!” Spike nearly yelled, trying to get through Twilight’s annoyance to point out what she was doing.

“…I just want lunch… Is that so bad?...” she grumbled under her breath.

“TWILIGHT SPARKLE!!!” Spike yelled at the top of his lungs directly in Twilight’s ear.

Eeh!” Twilight shrieked at the sudden onslaught to her hyper-sensitive ears, slamming her hoof over said wounded appendage. “Spike! That hurt!”

Spike cringed. “Sorry, Twilight, but you wouldn’t listen.”

“What made you want to scream in my ear?” Twilight asked as she looked at her assistant. Spike replied by motioning behind them. Turning, Twilight saw how the ground was cracked and holes the size of her hooves made a trail showing where she had been stomping. Twilight winced. “Oh…”

“I didn’t want you to get in trouble with Mayor Mare for causing an earthquake.”

“Thank you, Spike,” she said with a sigh. “It’s just… are these tickets cursed or something? I’m positive at least Fluttershy wouldn’t be so insistent about getting one.” She paused, considering something. “Did Fluttershy even explain why she wanted to go?”

“No, but I bet it has something to do with animals.” Spike said, getting comfortable on his friend’s back again.

“Oh! The Celestial Gardens!” Twilight explained in realization. “The Gala is the only time of the year when they’re open to the public. Fluttershy probably wants to see the animals there.” She nodded to herself, happy with her theory. Then she started trotting again. She pulled the town map from her saddlebags and looked it over. “We should probably avoid Sugar Cube Corner if Pinkie’s going to be there. Anywhere on here you want to go for lunch, Spike?”

Spike shrugged. “Just pick somewhere random.” he suggested.

Twilight nodded and rolled up the map, stowing it back in her saddlebags. “Fair enough. First restaurant we come across we’ll eat at.”

---

Twilight sat herself in the hay by the table, and then sighed as she stared at the flower in a vase. “We both know the Gala is just going to be one big disappointment to them, but how can I convince them of that?” she asked Spike, who sat across from her.

“Why not just let them go and figure it out themselves?” Spike asked as he looked over a menu. “That’s how you and Princess Celestia raised me after all. Learn through experience.”

“I suppose…” Twilight mused. “But I don’t feel comfortable with at least not trying first. But besides that, I only have one extra ticket. That still leaves me the problem of picking between them.” She started picking petals off the flower. “I could give up my ticket I guess. The Princess has done hundreds of Galas on her own, and Luna should be there anyways, so I doubt she would mind… but I would still have to leave three of my friends unhappy.”

“Couldn’t you just ask the Princess for extra tickets? You are her student after all, we both know that comes with perks” Spike pointed out.

“I could, yes, but I don’t like flaunting that power. Maybe...” She groaned as her stomach growled again. “What’s taking the waiter?”

“Have you decided on your order?” a tan colored stallion with a slicked back blue mane asked as he approached.

‘Speak of the devil…’ Twilight thought with a slight smile. “I have. I’ll have a daffodil and daisy sandwich please. No stems.”

The waiter nodded and wrote the order down. “And you, sir?” he asked Spike. Twilight frowned when she noticed that he seemed nervous around Spike.

‘… I suppose I can’t really blame him. Dragons aren’t exactly popular in Equestria. I wonder if there’s anything I can do to help the ponies here get used to him…’

“Do you have any rubies?” Spike asked.

“We…” The waiter gulped. “We don’t provide dragon cuisine. I apologize, sir.”

“Drats. Do you have meat?” The waiter nodded. “I’ll have a bologna and cheese sandwich then.” The waiter nodded and jotted the order down, leaving quickly. Spike sighed. “I hate going to new places. Everypony’s scared of me.”

Twilight smiled warmly at her charge. “Don’t worry, Spike. Everyone will get used to you like they did in Canterlot. Just give them some time.”

Spike sighed again. “Yeah, I guess…” He paused, then looked at Twilight. “Don’t you mean everypony?”

Twilight flinched. “I said everyone again, didn’t I?” Spike nodded. “Sorry, Spike. It’s these memories. I’m having trouble separating Clark’s subconscious thoughts from my own.” Her eyes went a little distant. “…Nevermind the fact that I’m suddenly a much older guy in a young girl’s body.”

Spike cringed at the very idea. “I would say I wish I understood… but I don’t. I really don’t.”

The waiter returned with their orders at that moment. “Please, enjoy. Just flag me down if you need anything else.” He said, though he spoke more to Twilight than Spike. He left quickly afterwards.

“Chow time!” Spike declared, grabbing his sandwich. Twilight eagerly agreed, grabbing her own sandwich in her magic.

Before she could take a bite though, she noticed some ponies run by in a hurry towards the entrance to the restaurant. She saw their waiter holding the door open for them ushering them inside. He then looked at her and yelled. “Ma’am! Are you just going to eat in the rain?”

“Rain?” Twilight blinked. “It’s not…” Looking around, she realized that it was indeed raining… everywhere but on her and Spike. Twilight sighed and looked up, spotting exactly who she suspected to be the culprit. “Rainbow Dash! Get down here right now!” she yelled.

Said polychromatic Pegasus was in front of her in a flash, grinning widely. “Yes, Twilight? Enjoying the weather? Is it making you feel… generous?” she asked.

Twilight quirked an eyebrow, then she smirked. “Why, yes, I am enjoying the weather. This… unscheduled rain storm is rather interesting. I might just go speak with Mayor Mare regarding Ponyville’s apparent choice to use wild weather. I’m very interested to know how Ponyville’s culture adapted.”

Rainbow Dash’s hopeful grin immediately dropped, replaced by a pale complexion. “No!” she shouted, before catching herself. “I mean… You don’t have to do that… She’s a busy mare after all,” she tried to play it off… and failed spectacularly if Spike’s chuckles were anything to go by.

“Very true.” Twilight nodded sagely. “Though… now that you mention my generosity…” She leaned forward with a grin, making Rainbow’s hopeful expression return. Once she was a few inches from Rainbow’s head, she began whispering. “I don’t take too kindly to my so called friends trying to bribe me,” she growled.

Rainbow jumped away, waving her hooves in front of her as she tried to back-peddle. “Bribe? I would never try and bribe my kindest and most bestest friend!”

Twilight sighed. “Just… get rid of the storm, Rainbow, before the weather patrol comes to investigate and you get in trouble.”

Rainbow pouted, realizing her plan had failed. Twilight was also right, the weather patrol would be by to investigate the unscheduled storm soon, and she was already in hot water with them thanks to a misuse of lightning clouds charge. She flew off at high speed, incidentally kicking up the water that was gathering under them. This in turn ruined Twilight’s untouched sandwich and Spike’s half-eaten sandwich.

“Oh come on!” Twilight exclaimed, slamming her head into the table in exasperation.

“Twilight! It’s raining!” Rarity’s voice piped up from nearby.

Twilight looked over and spotted Rarity with a garishly frilly umbrella held in her magic. She deadpanned at the white unicorn. “No, really? I never would have noticed without your peerless observational skills.”

“Well! I never!” Rarity huffed. “I was simply trying to point out that you should get out of it before you catch a cold.”

Twilight hung her head. “I’m sorry, Rarity. I’m just a bit stressed… and hungry.”

Rarity smiled. “Come, dear. Let’s get inside where it’s dry.” She motioned towards her home nearby. “I spotted you through my window. Were you arguing with Rainbow Dash?” she asked as they trotted away towards the boutique. Spike was close behind, staring lovingly at Rarity.

“Not really. Rainbow was just making an obvious attempt to get the ticket.” Twilight explained.

They entered the boutique, and Rarity levitated a fluffy white towel to Twilight. “How dreadful. Is that why you were the only one in town not getting rained on?” she asked, handing Spike a towel as well.

“Yeah. Rainbow was trying to make me feel like I owed her by starting a town-wide storm, and then leaving the spot I was in clear,” Twilight grumbled, her stomach giving a roar. “The rain ruined my sandwich as well.”

Rarity was silent for a time as she dried herself off. Finally, when she was done, she sighed. “I apologize, Twilight. I initially planned on trying to garner your favor as well, but after that scene earlier and then hearing about what Rainbow attempted, I think it might be better to just offer you some tea and some lunch.” She smiled.

Twilight quirked an eyebrow. “No strings attached?”

Rarity nodded. “No strings attached. You need not feel like you owe me for it.”

Twilight finally smiled gratefully. “Thank you for your honesty, Rarity, and I would love some tea and lunch.”

“Same here,” Spike grunted. He had only gotten maybe three bites of his sandwich before Rainbow’s exit had ruined it.

---

“… so I smiled and said I would be very interested in discussing Ponyville’s wild weather management with Mayor Mare. She was tripping over herself trying to talk me out of that.”

Rarity giggled. “Oh my! That explains why I saw her become pale when I was watching through the window. I thought some kind of invisible vampony may have found her.”

Twilight sighed after minute, putting her empty teacup down. “Rarity, were you being honest when you said that the reason you wanted to go to the Gala was to meet Blueblood?”

Rarity swooned. “Oh my, yes! I would enjoy the Gala itself, certainly, but my main reason for going is to try and get his attention.” She paused. “Why?” she asked curiously.

Twilight didn’t answer for a moment, staring into her empty teacup thoughtfully. Unknowingly she was mimicking her teacher, something Spike noticed and got a smirk from. “…I grew up in Canterlot, Rarity, and I lived inside the castle for over a decade before coming here. As you can likely guess, I’ve run into and spoken with Blueblood repeatedly in that timeframe… much to my regret.”

Rarity blinked. “Twilight?” she asked uncertainly.

“If you truly want to meet and get to know Blueblood, you don’t need the Gala to do so. I can arrange to have you spend a couple weeks in Canterlot, housed in my old room in the palace. I can even pull some strings to get you as one of the designers that arranges Blueblood’s wardrobe every week. This should give you plenty of opportunities to see and speak to him.”

Rarity’s eyes shined. “Oh, Twilight! Would you really do that?” she asked hopefully.

Twilight smiled at Rarity. “For a friend? I would.” She nodded. But then she sighed again. “But Rarity, you need to listen to me.” Once she was sure Rarity was paying attention, she continued. “I know you have your heart set on him, and going by what the magazines and such are always saying about him, I don’t blame you… Just promise me you’ll look into who controls those magazines. Look into who controls the media of Canterlot.”

Rarity slowly nodded in confusion. “I… of course, dear. May I ask why?”

Twilight shook her head. “If I told you then you wouldn’t believe me. I don’t want to get in the way of your happiness though, so I’m going to help you.” She got to her hooves. “Ready, Spike? We need to get to the library so I can write a letter to the Princess.”

“Aww! Can’t we stay just a little longer?” Spike begged.

Twilight smiled at him, then levitated him onto her back. “Another day, Spike. I promise. Right now I need your help with the letter.” She waved goodbye to Rarity

She trotted over to Rarity’s door and opened it, only to shriek and jump as she found Applejack’s grinning face in front of her.

“Howdy, Twi!” the farm pony said, before motioning towards the cart she had with her. It was piled high with apple styled food. “I know you said you were hungry, and I thought ah’d whip up some good old Apple Family recipes to help you there,” she explained. “Ah got everything ranging from apple fritters to the classic apple pie.”

Twilight took a moment to process that, and then she frowned. “And let me guess, in return you want the ticket?”

Applejack smiled. “Well ah certainly won’t say no to a trade like that.”

Twilight growled and marched past Applejack, completely ignoring the food. It helped that Rarity had made her a sandwich and she finally wasn’t hungry anymore. “Take your food to a restaurant or something, Applejack. I don’t accept bribes from my so called friends,” she grumbled on her way by. She made sure she wasn’t stomping this time.

“…Oh” Applejack ears wilted as she realized just what she was doing. She pulled her hat in front of her face. “Fer the love of… Granny’s gonna tan my hide when she hears about this.”

---

Twilight could only give a relieved groan as the Golden Oaks Library came into view. ‘This day is finally almost over.’ she thought to herself. “You would think getting showered with favors from your friends would be great…”

“Could be worse.” Spike piped up.

“How? I fail to see how it could possibly be worse,” she said as she opened the door.

“The whole town could be trying to get the ticket from you.”

Twilight paused, imagining that scenario. Oddly, a strange saxophone piece played in her mind as she imagined the entire population of Ponyville chasing her across town. She shivered. “Don’t even joke about that, Spike.”

Humming caught her attention as she closed the door behind her. Looking around, she realized her home looked… clean. Unbearably so. The scent of lemons permeated the place. She spotted Fluttershy cleaning the banister of the second floor staircase, and Angel Bunny off to the side working on a tossed salad.

Twilight’s eye began twitching.

“Oh! Twilight! How does your home look?” Fluttershy asked when she noticed Twilight standing in front of the door.

“…Clean,” Twilight said through clenched teeth. “And I’m guessing the salad’s for me?”

“Yes.” Fluttershy nodded with a smile.

“Would you happen to be doing this in the hopes of getting the ticket from me?”

“Oh no, I would never do that…” Fluttershy paused at Twilight’s disbelieving stare and Angel’s glare. “I mean, yes, yes I am.”

Twilight growled to herself for a minute, before she sighed. “…Just… Just leave, Fluttershy. In fact, if you really are feeling helpful, go and gather up our friends. I’ve made my decision.”

Fluttershy brightened up at that and nodded, leaving. Angel was left behind. He shrugged and started eating the salad he had been making.

Twilight grabbed the rabbit in her levitation, pulling him away from his food. “Nope. I’m well aware that this was likely your idea. Get out.” she said, tossing him out of the window. She smiled. “Now then. Fetch me some stationary, Spike. I’ve got some letters to write.”

Spike saluted and went to gather Twilight’s supplies.

---

The door to the library opened and five mares walked in just in time to see Spike breathe green fire on a few rolled up scrolls. “Was that…?” Rarity said hesitantly, watching the ash vanish out of the open window.

Twilight turned to her friends and nodded at Rarity. “I should have a response soon, depending on how court is going today.”

Rarity smiled. “Thank you, dear. I really do appreciate this.”

Rainbow Dash looked between them suspiciously. “What was that about?”

“I’ll explain later,” Twilight said, and then clapped her hooves together. “Now then! Let’s discuss today, shall we…” She paused. “Applejack, what happened to your eye?” she asked in concern. Yeah, she was upset with them, but they were still her friends.

Everypony turned to look at said farm mare, realizing she had a black eye over her right eye. She wasn’t even trying to hide it. Applejack sighed. “When I realized what a danged fool I was being, I asked Big Mac to sock me in the eye. After telling him why, he did so happily.” She smiled when Twilight lit her horn for a healing spell. “Don’t, Twi. This is something Mac and I do when one of us starts strayin’ from our codes. When we finally realize what we’re doing, we ask the other to belt us one. It hurts, but that just means ah’ll remember it easier next time.”

Twilight hesitated, before nodding and cutting the the flow of magic to her horn. “Okay. If you say so.” She cleared her throat, grabbing everypony’s attention. “Now then, I called you all here because I’ve finally made my decision regarding the ticket. But before that…” Her horn ignited, and everypony looked around in slight worry as the library itself began glowing. After a moment, the glow faded. “There. Now no one can leave the library until I’m done.”

She held up the tickets in her magic. “I promised all of you that I would tell you my decision just as soon as I ate lunch. That meant I was going to go have a peaceful lunch, and then return to the farm to give you my decision. That’s what should have happened. It didn’t. Instead, four of you made plans to try and make me feel indebted to you, of which only three of you actually went through with. Rarity…” She motioned towards the suddenly bashful Unicorn. “… had the common decency to realize those favors were causing me undue stress, and was upfront and honest about it. She even made me tea and lunch after promising me that she expected nothing in return. For that, thank you, Rarity.”

“No problem, dear. And just to be clear, everypony, I will not be accepting the ticket if that’s what Twilight decided. I was being honest when I said I expected nothing in return.” She looked at Applejack. “Unlike a certain Element of Honesty.”

Applejack hid her face behind her hat, not denying how badly she messed up.

“Pinkie Pie is the only one among you who made no plans whatsoever and actually waited. Why is that, Pinkie? You were certainly excited about the possibility of going,” Twilight asked curiously.

Pinkie grinned. “Oh, that’s easy. Someone else already did it! It wouldn’t be a good story if the author just completely reused the canon plot.”

Five mares and one drake blinked at her in confusion, before unanimously deciding to pretend the last fifteen seconds never happened.

Twilight quickly regained her thought process. “Rainbow Dash started a town-wide storm and left the area I was under as the only dry spot in all of it. Since it took you half an hour to clean that up, I imagine the weather patrol caught wind of it.”

Rainbow Dash cringed. “Yeah. I got kicked off the weather team for three weeks and no pay for that stunt.”

Twilight nodded. “I’m not surprised.” She turned to Fluttershy. “You… I never expected you of all ponies to try and curry favor like that, however I’m fairly confident a certain hare coerced you into it,” she said, making Fluttershy shrink in on herself. “Why do you even want to go to the Gala? Someone as shy as you would have a heart attack in a crowd like that.”

Fluttershy looked down. “The Celestial Gardens are supposed to be inhabited by all kinds of animals. Really rare animals. I really want to make friends with them.” She smiled slightly at the idea.

Twilight nodded. “I imagined as much.”

Finally, Twilight turned to Spike. “Spike, whenever you’re ready.” Spike held up a sheet of parchment and a quill.

“Dear Princess Celestia,

“Today, I was put in the unenviable position of wanting to share my blessings with my friends, but not having enough blessings to go around. It was made worse as my friends argued and clamored for my favor to try and get me to pick them to give it to. Finally, I was forced to put my hoof down. Besides, if I can’t share my blessings with all of my friends, then there’s no point in me having the blessings in the first place. As such, I am returning my Gala tickets with this letter. I’m sorry, Princess. I was looking forward to spending time with you, but I can’t this time.

“Your Faithful Student,
“Clark Kent”

Spike blinked, and looked at a furiously blushing Twilight. He quirked an eyebrow. “… I’m just going to scratch that out and put your name down,” he decided, getting a nod of thanks from the embarrassed Unicorn.

“P.S. Spike here. In case it’s not obvious, Twilight’s struggling with her new memories. Is there anything you can do to help, Princess?”

With that, he rolled up the paper, tied a seal to it, and set fire to it, watching the ash fly out the open window and towards Canterlot.

“Now then,” Twilight gathered attention to herself again. “Applejack, you said the reason you want to go to the Gala is for business, right?” Applejack nodded. “Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but the nobles of Canterlot won’t even look at you.” At Applejack’s hurt expression, she realized her slip. “What I mean is that the nobles are arrogant and, to be honest, stupider than a starved dodo. They’ll take one look at the fact that you’re a farm worker and snub you on that alone, deeming you below their notice. You could cook food fit for Gods and they would still do so.”

“Oh…” Applejack’s ears drooped as her expression fell.

“However!” Twilight yelled, getting the farm mare’s attention. “I can use my status as the Princess’ student to pull some strings. I don't like doing it... but you have a good reason for wanting that contract. Come time for the Gala I may be able to have you involved with the catering, which on its own should earn you enough money to at least get your grandmother’s hip replacement. If you’re lucky, the nobles will realize you’re working as their caterer with the Princess’ approval, and might approach you for some contracts regarding their own businesses.”

Applejack smiled warmly at Twilight. “Thank you, Twilight. Ah know I don’t rightly deserve it after today, but thank you.”

Twilight hugged her friend briefly, before turning to Pinkie Pie. “Pinkie, I know you were looking forward to enjoying a big party bash at the Gala… but that isn’t the kind of party you’re used to. The Gala is nothing more than uptight jerks pandering to their own egos. They’ll sooner kick you out of the Gala then willingly shift the party to your style.” Pinkie frowned, and Twilight saw her hair start to uncurl. ‘Weird. Her hair reacts to her mood?’

“But the Hearth Warming Eve party in Canterlot Square is the kind of party for you, and I can easily get you in as a coordinator for the event. Snow Cloud, the normal coordinator, owes me for doing his taxes for him for the last eight years. If I ask, he’ll happily let you take over this year.” Twilight braced herself as the party pony grinned and tackled her in a hug.

“Thank you, Twilight! Oh, this is going to be great!” Pinkie cheered, bouncing away.

Finally, Twilight turned to Rainbow Dash, who was looking hopeful. “Even if I gave you the ticket to the Gala, you wouldn’t have made it within ten feet of the Wonderbolts. Do you know why?” Twilight asked, confusing Rainbow Dash. “Do you really think you would be the only pony there trying to get their attention?” Rainbow’s eyes widened as she realized what that meant. “The Wonderbolts will be spending the entire evening fighting off both fans and paparazzi. A fan trying to worm her way into their good graces is not something they will want to see that night.” Twilight sighed. “I could easily use my pull as the Princess’ student to arrange for Spitfire to visit Ponyville though, telling her that I know a mare who would be a perfect candidate for the Wonderbolts roster…” She paused, seeing Rainbow Dash’s hope start rising again. “But I won’t.”

“What?!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

“Unlike the others who tried to get my favor, you’re the only one who doesn’t even regret that she tried to manipulate me.” Twilight scowled. “This is me reminding you that there are some lines you simply don’t cross shamelessly when your friends are involved.”

“But… But… The Wonderbolts… The Gala…” Rainbow stammered, trying to come up with a response.

“Are beyond your grasp.” When Rainbow Dash’s head fell, she grabbed the Pegasus and made her look her in the eye. She smiled. “There’s always next year, Rainbow. Just… try and learn from this.”

Rainbow smiled a bit sadly. “…Yeah… I guess I deserve that, don’t I?” She chuckled. “Will you forgive me, Twilight?”

“Forgiven,” Twilight answered easily, hugging her friend.

Rainbow backed away after a moment, and then Twilight turned to Fluttershy. “It’s not the Gala you’re interested in, right? Just the animals in the Celestial Gardens?” At Fluttershy’s nod, she also nodded. “The gardens are, of course, only open to the public during the Gala, but I myself have twenty-four seven access since some of the lessons in magic I had happened in there. I can take you with me to Canterlot sometime to visit if you want.”

Fluttershy smiled happily.

“But,” Twilight began again. “You should know that the animals there are extremely sheltered and skittish. It will take more than one visit for them to even consider coming out of hiding to see you. But if you’re patient and listen to Vine Shear, the head gardener, you’ll eventually get to make friends with those animals,” she explained.

Fluttershy smiled brightly. “Thank you, Twilight.”

“No problem.” Twilight returned the smile.

Rainbow frowned suddenly in thought. “Hey, what about Rarity?”

Twilight blinked. “Oh, that’s right. When Rarity offered me food and tea, as well as a bit of an escape from you guys, with no strings attached, I returned the favor by promising to get her into Canterlot as one of Blueblood’s staff. That way she can have her attempt at his heart… if she still wants it by then.”

Rarity frowned at Twilight. “You’re making me think you have a very small opinion of the Prince, Twilight,” she noted.

Twilight chuckled. “That’s one way of putting it. However, I won’t let my experience mar what may very well be a happy ending for you, Rarity, so try and make good use of your opportunity.”

Rarity smiled and nodded. “Oh, believe me I will.”

Spike suddenly exhaled a gout of flame, which coalesced into a scroll with a red ribbon tied around it.

Spike grabbed it and opened it. “Ahem…”

“Dear Twilight,

“That’s quite the list of favors you’ve asked for. However, they are easily doable and I understand why you asked for most of them.

“It’s very wise of you to allow your friend to make her own conclusions instead of trying to force your own opinions on her. I happily agree to allow one Rarity Belle join me in the castle for two weeks. She will take up residence in your old chambers. When she arrives, we’ll discuss how best to go about getting her the opportunity she desires.

“Applejack and whatever family she wishes to bring are invited to the castle this weekend to undergo testing by my personal chefs. If they impress them, I’ll happily sign off on a contract to have her family cater at the Gala.

“I will see to it that the scroll you sent also makes it into Snow Cloud’s hooves. As you’ve requested, I did not read it. You said it would be a pleasant surprise, and I trust you.

“Also, I’m very proud of you for choosing to give up the tickets instead of trying to pick between your friends. I apologize for the fact that you only got two tickets in the first place. You were supposed to get seven. I have included them in the letter”

“Sincerely,
“Princess Celestia

“P.S. I want you to join Applejack on her visit, Twilight. Spike has made me aware of your struggle with the memories. I know of someone who can help you with that. At least this explains why your last letter was signed Clark Sparkle.”

Twilight gave Spike the stink eye, but sighed after a moment. “Thank you for looking out for me, Spike.” She smiled. He was only worried, after all. She would have done the same in his position. She picked up the seven tickets and held them out to her friends. “So! Who still wants to go to the Gala?”

Rainbow smiled, but then she frowned. Finally, she sighed. “No thanks, Twi. I think I need to learn that lesson, and going to the Gala feels like I’m getting rewarded instead of punished.”

Applejack tilted her hat over her face. “I feel the same. Besides, if ah’m going to cater the Gala, ain’t no point in me having a ticket.” She chuckled.

“I’ll go! I’ll go!” Pinkie declared, grabbing one of the tickets. Twilight shrugged in response.

“Certainly, darling. Even if I’m not going to for the Prince, I still think this would be a fabulous look into Canterlot society,” Rarity stated, grabbing her own ticket.

“Um… if I’m already going to be visiting the gardens, then there’s no point in me going,” Fluttershy turned her ticket down.

Twilight turned to Spike. “Spike?” she asked, holding up a ticket.

Spike thought about it for a moment. “…Are you going?” he asked.

Twilight nodded. “Now that I don’t have to feel bad about choosing between friends, sure,” she said.

“Alright, I’ll come along,” he said with a smile, grabbing the ticket.

After that, everyone began filing out of the library, leaving Twilight to go to her room upstairs for a nap after sending the unused tickets back. ‘Overall… today could’ve been better, but it could’ve been a lot worse too. Wonder what tomorrow has in store…?’

Author's Note:

Rewrite Edit: No real rewrite in this chapter, other than a line or two being added or removed. I also corrected as many grammar errors as I could find.

Sooooo... I had a bit of a back and forth with one of the Mods when this story initially failed moderation, but I eventually figured out what was wrong. Thanks for being patient with me, Professor.

Some of you had a few questions, as did some of my friends who read this off my computer, and instead of trying to answer all of them in the comments I decided I'll put them in a Blog post. Go read it!

Oh and a shoutout to badninja! Him and I are hashing out something already, though it might be a while before I can implement it.

Peace, people.

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