• Published 5th Dec 2011
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Flying High, Falling Hard - Soundslikeponies

Twilight, Dash, and Spitfire have a trainwreck of a relationship.

  • ...

Chapter 30: The Day of the Party

The Day of the Party

Flying High, Falling Hard by soundslikeponies

Saturday came around quickly, with the days leading up to it being largely uneventful. Since Twilight agreed to come to the party, Dash had given her a bit more space to study without distractions. Though she still worried, she did so much less now, only stopping by the library around dinner to check in.

At the moment, she was at Sugarcube Corner, just a little while before lunch.

“—so I said to the owner, ‘You don’t have any orange streamers? Orange you gonna do something about it?!’” Pinkie said, wheezing with laughter and stomping the ground. She wiped a tear from the corner of her eye as her laughter died down. “And then I got kicked out for plastic sword fighting with some fillies in the Nightmare Night aisle. But it’s okay! The next store had orange streamers, so everything’s set!”

Dash blinked. “Wait, is the party themed or something?”

“Oh, no, not at all! I just really like the color orange. It’s a funny word, ore-anj. Sometimes I just like saying it a lot, but then it starts to sound like ‘jorn jorn jorn. Hey! That’d be a good name for an orange farmer!”

“Uh-huh...” Dash said, staring. She wrinkled her snout and moved on. “Anyway... so who’ve you invited so far?”

“Well there’s the girls, but I also invited Spritzer, Cloudtail, Roseluck, Pine Frost, Flora—oh! And Berry Punch, too. Those are just some of the party-going regulars. I’m also going to go out later and invite ponies from the market.”

“You’re going to just walk up to ponies at the market and invite them?”

“Yep! I even made a stack of flyers!” Pinkie Pie said, handing Dash one. The flyer read, PINKIE’S PARTY at the top, written in bold crayon letters, with a map of ponyville drawn similarly below. Pinkie pointed to one of the houses marked with a star. “That’s Sugarcube Corner.”

“Won’t the Cakes mind that you’re having the party here?”

Pinkie shook her head. “Nope! They’re visiting some relatives this weekend. I already got permission before they left.”

“Then everything’s set?” Dash asked. Pinkie nodded. Chewing her lip, Dash wondered if there was anything else to say. “So then... I guess I’ll see you later tonight?”

“Yep! I should probably get started on handing these out,” she said, with the flyers in hoof. She walked with Dash to the door, turning to her once outside. “Toodles!” she said, waving, and then skipped off towards the market.

Dash watched her skip down the road for a bit. Pinkie stopped as she encountered some pony Dash didn’t recognize. She handed her a flyer, exchanged a bit of small talk and laughed with her about something, and then carried on skipping through town.

Honestly, Dash probably would’ve been more surprised if Pinkie’s methods were normal.

Shaking her head, she left to go do a bit of flying before the party.

Twilight mulled over the notes she’d taken with a sour, thoughtful frown on her face. The problem she encountered time and time again was that to give her wings the spell had to be self continuous. She couldn’t cast it step by step herself, since there was no guarantee that she would be able to focus her power while such a spell was happening, as the sensation of growing new limbs would probably be distracting, to say the least.

That wasn’t to say it would be painful. Or at least, with the way she planned it, it mostly wouldn’t be. She’d made sure early on that the wing’s nociceptive nerves would come in last, in what would most likely be one sharp jolt.

The spell had actually been complete as of sometime late last night. She just couldn’t cast it yet. That was what set her mood so sour.

The problem with casting such a complex self-continuous spell was that a self-continuous spell required her to know everything the magic needed to do before she cast the spell. Once she cast it, she would have no control over it. She wouldn’t be able to ‘feel out’ the spell as she went. Moreover, since the spell was only designed to be cast on herself, and changing that would change the entire nature of the spell, she couldn’t practice the spell, only study it and refine it until she became confident it would work on the first try. The process could take another week, or it could take a whole month, or it could even take longer. Her entire day so far had been spent trying to figure out a way to get around it, but so far there was nothing.

A wave of fatigue hit her. Letting out a groan, she rolled the scroll up and shoved it in her desk drawer. She lay down on her back, staring at the ceiling with a sigh. The clock read two in the afternoon. The party was at five. Dash had wanted her to get some rest before it. Twilight was initially going to not and say she did, but seeing as she’d hit a wall with the spell...

Twilight let out a yawn, getting up from the desk and heading upstairs. When she reached her bed and flopped down on it, she fell asleep almost instantly.

Spitfire stepped off the train and glanced around Ponyville Station, taking a deep breath. It felt fresh and exciting: a new chapter in her life after all the years spent with the Wonderbolts. Not that her time spent with them hadn’t been exciting—far from it. But she’d had very little freedom as a captain of the Wonderbolts, responsibility weighing down on her at all times.

Ponyville was exactly the kind of place she never got to visit. As she exited the station, she pondered over where she’d go after talking to Dash. She could fly to the deserts to the south, the Great Swamp along the eastern coast, or travel north by train past the Crystal Mountains.

Taking to the air, she continued to think of places to go. There were of course also flying destinations. She couldn’t wait to finally see Billowing Gorge for herself; all the tales she’d heard about it sounded amazing.

Below her the Ponyville market bustled with the Saturday crowd. Chatter and the sound of somepony busking with a lute rose from the ground as Spitfire descended. She managed to find a spot behind a pear stand clear enough, and landed there. Folding her wings at her sides, she tried to remember where the retail office was so she could rent the cottage she’d stayed at before.

Her remembering was abruptly interrupted by a bright pink pony with a springy mane and a pair of saddlebags on her back. Said pony stuck her nose uncomfortably close to Spitfire’s. “Welcome back!” she exclaimed.

Spitfire took a step back. The corner of her lip curled with confusion. “Um... Do I know you?”

“Hehe! Probably not! I saw you about two weeks ago and couldn’t remember where I knew you from—which is weird! Because I remember where everypony’s from!” The bubbling pony laughed nervously. “Anyways, I was super busy with something, so I didn’t get a chance to welcome you to Ponyville. I marked it on my daily planner to do later, but then you disappeared. But now here you are again, so I can do it now!”

Spitfire took another small step back, her lips settling in an uneasy smile. “Uh, thanks?”

“Hi! I’m Pinkie Pie! Welcome to Ponyville!” Pinkie said, holding a hoof out with an ear-to-ear smile.

Spitfire stared at the hoof hesitantly, wondering whether it would be a smart idea to just walk away from the strange, overly-friendly pony. Eventually, she stuck out her hoof against all better judgement.

Pinkie took took it as a cue to grab it in both hooves, shaking it vigorously. “It’s super great to meet you! My name’s Pinkie Pie—oh wait! I already said that, didn’t I?” She giggled. “Well, anyways, I know everypony in Ponyville! So if there’s anything you need help with, just ask your aunt Pinkie!”

Spitfire managed to pull her hoof free from Pinkie’s grip, and took a seat, rubbing it. “Thanks, I guess.” Her smile became a bit more genuine. It wasn’t different than dealing with some of her more enthusiastic fans, she supposed. “Actually, do you know the way to Ponyville Properties? I’m looking to rent the cottage I stayed in last time.”

“Ooh!” Pinkie Pie pointed behind her. “It’s just down that street past the Carousel Boutique—my friend owns that place—and then it’s just left around the corner. Can’t miss it.”

Spitfire nodded, spotting the boutique mentioned. “Thanks,” she said, beginning to head over there.

“Wait!” Pinkie Pie shouted, making her stop. Pinkie stuck her nose back in one of her saddlebags, pulling out a piece of paper between her teeth and gesturing for Spitfire to take it.

Spitfire did as she wanted, reading the top and staring at the crayon drawing of what looked to be a map.

“I’m having a party tonight,” Pinkie Pie said. “You should come and meet everypony!”

“Thanks, but—” Spitfire paused. A thought struck her. “Actually, I’m trying to meet up with a friend from here. Her name’s Rainbow Dash. Do you know if she’s going?”

“As a matter of fact, she is!” Pinkie’s eyebrows furrowed. “So how do you know Rainbow Dash?”

Spitfire gestured back to her wings. “We flew together once or twice. But anyways, I should get to that real estate place before they close,” she said, turning again to leave.

“Super swell meeting you!” Pinkie Pie said, waving as Spitfire left.

Spitfire made her way across the crowded market street, dodging around ponies. Well, I guess I’ll talk to Dash sooner than I thought.

The summer sun stayed out late, still painting the sky orange even as the party was well under way. Pinkie had put up the store’s white holiday lights, as well as placed a sign saying “All ponies welcome!” outside the store. Ponies packed the inside of the sweets bakery, though more than half of the crowd that turned out were outside, chatting around the patio tables set out as some slightly jazzy pop music played from a radio.

Dash received a smile and wave from somepony she recognized from another one of Pinkie’s parties. She returned the gesture with a slight nod, before going back to wandering through the crowd, searching for her friends. Her eyes caught a familiar combination of orange and blond as she spotted Applejack over by a refreshments table, drinking a soda and chatting with one of her cousins.

As she made her way over she tried grabbing her attention. “Hey! Applejack!”

Applejack turned mid-drink as Dash walked up to them. “Oh! Hey, Rainbow.”

“Listen, I just wanted to thank you for doing all this,” Dash said, gesturing to the hot apple-baked foods spread across the table.

“Aw heck, ya don’t have to thank me for it. It’s Pinkie’s party afterall. Besides, the compliments everypony’s been givin’ the food are already thanks enough for me.”

“Well, yeah, I guess so,” Dash said, scratching the back of her neck. “But still... thanks.”

Applejack’s lips tugged upwards. “Don’t mention it.”

Dash eyebrows furrowed as she glanced around. “Hey, you haven’t seen Twilight anywhere, have you?”

“Afraid not,” Applejack said, shaking her head. “Maybe she’s somewhere inside?”

“Yeah, we probably missed each other. I’ll check inside again.” She turned to leave. As she walked away she glanced back over her shoulder. “I’ll talk to you later!” she shouted.

“For sure!” Applejack shouted back, taking a drink from her cup before turning back to her cousin.

The crowd became thicker and thicker as Dash made her way towards Sugarcube Corner’s door. She pardoned herself as she squeezed through. “Sorry. Sorry. Excuse me,” she mumbled, trying to avoid stepping on anypony’s tail. Once she got past the door, the inside itself wasn’t as bad, but she couldn’t see Twilight anywhere inside, either.

“Ooh! Rainbow! Over here!”

Dash’s ears twitched in the direction of the voice. She saw Pinkie Pie walking over. “Hey, Pinkie, have you seen Twilight anywhere? I’ve been looking all over for her.”

“Nope. Can’t say I have!” Pinkie replied cheerfully. “Speaking of somepony looking for somepony, there’s somepony I ran into earlier who’s looking for you. I invited her and she said she’d be here.” Pinkie Pie’s eyebrows furrowed. “But I forgot to get her name.”

Out of the corner of her eyes, Dash noticed somepony walking towards her and looked. Her mouth dropped open at who it was. “Spitfire?”

“Come to think of it, she did kinda look like a Spitfire. Coat and mane all fiery yellow and orange and everyth—” Pinkie Pie cut herself short, noticing the new addition. “Oh, yeah! This is her! So how do you two know each other, anywho?”

Dash and Spitfire stared off for several tense seconds, neither of them moving a muscle. Eventually, Dash glanced back over her shoulder. “Hey, Pinkie... mind giving us a moment?”

Pinkie glanced between them, a look of confusion at what was going on. “Um... sure. You two probably have all sorts of catching up to do and everything.” She gave a nervous laugh and pointed towards the back of the store. “I’ll just go check on the back and make sure no pony has broken anything,” she said, briefly before slipping out into the crowd.

Dash watched Pinkie go until she was well out of earshot. Turning to Spitfire, Dash huffed. “What on earth are you doing here? I thought we settled things back in Canterlot.”

Spitfire winced. “I know. I’m sorry about showing up again so soon, but it’s not about what happened in Canterlot, and I couldn’t really wait.”

Dash wrinkled her snout. “What? If it’s not about that, then why are you here?”

“It’s about that other thing. The thing that happened here in Ponyville, and up in Cloudsdale. I came here to see if you’d still be willing to fly together.”

That was what Dash originally thought had been the only thing Spitfire was interested in. After what had happened, she couldn’t help but be suspicious. “How do I know that’s all you came here for?”

Spitfire let out a sharp laugh. “Really? What would it take to convince you? Me finding another marefriend? Because I’ll seriously do that if that’s what it takes, though it would be pretty inconvenient for her, considering how much traveling I plan on doing.”

“Traveling?” Dash asked. “Where are you planning on going?”

Spitfire shrugged. “All the places I couldn’t go as a Wonderbolt. Small towns, places out in the wild, maybe even out of Equestria.”

Dash blinked, shaking her head. “Wait, wait, wait. Hold up. ‘Couldn’t go as a Wonderbolt’?”

“I quit. It was just over a week ago. Fleetfoot’s going to be announced as the new captain tomorrow.”

“But why? You’re not even close to retirement age.”

“Well, yeah, that’s sorta the whole point. I didn’t want to give up every last one of my glory days to the Wonderbolts. I had a good run with them, but it feels like I’ve ‘been there done that’, you know?” Spitfire dropped her smile. “I want you to come with me. We could be a flying duo.”

“Really?” Dash asked, wondering for a moment if it was all some joke. Spitfire looked quite serious as she nodded. Dashed rubbed her neck. It was an offer any flier would jump on—the idea of it: starting a duo with an ex-Wonderbolts captain, the youngest one in decades. If they were lucky, they could do more than Dash could ever hope to accomplish in the Wonderbolts. The Wonderbolts were a longstanding team, faces come and pass all the time, but starting something where the only names would be hers and Spitfire’s...

“As equals?” Dash asked, voice cracking. It sounded too good to be true.

“Of course,” Spitfire answered. “The media would be on us almost right away, considering I just left the Wonderbolts, but from seeing your flying, I have no doubts you’ll wind up stealing the spotlight.” She shrugged. “I’m perfectly fine with that, though. I’ve had my fill of that sort of thing. And no matter what happens, we keep doing what we want to do. No tying ourselves down or letting somepony else manage our schedule.”

Dash stood there for a few moments, mouth catching flies. A part of her wanted to shout yes, but then her eyes narrowed. “What about Twilight?”

“She can come,” Spitfire said almost instantly. “We could take trains to where we need to go if we have to. You could probably carry her beyond that, right?” She shook her head, grinning. “Honestly, Dash. I’m not trying to drive a wedge between you. I just want to get back to doing what I love, which is flying, and I know you love it just as much as I do, which is why I want you to come with me.”

Dash’s glare withered, not spying any ill-intent in Spitfire’s words. She considered the offer again. “All my friends are here...”

“We’d come back here all the time. You’d get to see them plenty. Your dream was to become a Wonderbolt, surely you knew you’d have to leave sometime? I bought the cabin I was renting before. Half the time we’d be flying someplace new, the other half we’d be back here.”

“I...” Half? She'd expected more. That was only a little more than the work she did with the weather team right now. “Wow. I’ll have to ask Twilight, but yes! Yes, yes, yes!” She had to keep from bouncing on her hooves like an excited filly.

“Ask me what?”

Only a short while earlier, Twilight awoke relaxed and refreshed. That changed quickly, however, when upon sitting up and rubbing and opening her eyes she found the clock, and saw what the time was.

The party had already started half an hour ago.

Eyes snapping wide and brain shifting gears to full panic mode, Twilight tried simultaneously tearing her covers off and rolling out of bed, resulting in an undignified cry as she landed in a heap on the floor. She scrambled out from under her blankets and stood, hopping from hoof to hoof and sucking air in through her teeth. “No, no, no! I’m going to be late!” She disappeared in a quick pop of magic, reappearing in the bathroom. Picking up her brush, she began yanking at the frizzles in her mane.

Come on, you stupid—ow! She glared at her brush to see a mat of hair she’d tugged out. She sighed as she went back to brushing, hoping Dash wouldn’t be mad.

Once she’d put on some perfume and her mane was appeasable—not perfect by any means, but appeasable—she summoned her magic and blinked out of the room, appearing outside the library door.

It was at Sugarcube Corner, right? she tried to recall. Creating a rushed mental map of Ponyville with the sweets shop at its center, she focused her magic and fizzled out of existence with a sharp pop.

She reappeared, in her haste, on top of another pony. The unfortunate mare in the wrong place at the wrong time had no time to react to Twilight’s weight, letting out a shrill cry as she became the bottom of a two pony pile.

Twilight got off her. She blushed as she helped the pony to her hooves, letting out a nervous laugh while doing so. “Um... Sorry.”

The pony she landed on huffed, brushing herself off and turning back to her friends, walking with them to another area of the party.

Twilight cleared her throat and likewise made her way away from the scene, forcing her blush down. There was music. A sharp wail from a trumpet broke through the air, accompanied by bass and more electronic sounds. Twilight glanced around at the other houses in the neighborhood. They were all dark. Somepony’s probably going to come and complain about the volume, Twilight thought, glancing around. Then again, knowing Pinkie, she probably invited all of them to the party.

The crowd was in large part taller than her. She jumped to see over their heads, but couldn’t spy anypony with a rainbow mane. She did, however, see more ponies inside the store.

“Pardon me. Excuse me. Sorry,” Twilight mumbled as she made her way through the crowd. She practically had to force her way through the doorway.

“Oh! Oh! Twilight! Over here!”

Twilight’s turned to the source of the voice and spotted Pinkie, bouncing over to her. “Oh. Hi, Pinkie.”

Pinkie took one final bounce, then stopped in front of Twilight. “I’m so glad you could make it!” She let out a nervous laugh. “I’ll be honest, I was starting to think maybe you wouldn’t show up!”

Twilight smiled sheepishly. “Yeah, I meant to come sooner, but I wound up taking a longer nap than I thought I would.”

“Nap’s a fun word. No matter how fast or how many times you say it, it still sounds like nap, see? Nap nap nap nap nap—”

“Uh, Pinkie,” Twilight said. “Have you seen Dash anywhere?”

“—nap nap. Dash? Oh, right! She was looking for you! At least she was before she ran into that other pegasus.”

Something unpleasant prickled the back of Twilight’s neck. “Other... pegasus?”

“Yeah, Splitfire!” Pinkie’s eyebrows furrowed. “No, wait. That wasn’t it.”

“Spitfire?” Twilight asked, dreading the answer.

“Yes! That was it!” Pinkie Pie said, smiling. “You two know each other or something?”

Twilight’s mouth ran dry. “I’m sorry, Pinkie, I have to go,” she said, leaving.

“Have fun!” Pinkie Pie shouted after her, before skipping off somewhere into the crowd.

Twilight checked the two corners closest to her with no luck. But then as she made her way to the third, she heard Dash’s voice to her left.

“—I’ll have to ask Twilight, but yes! Yes, yes, yes!”

Twilight pushed her way past two ponies, coming across Dash and Spitfire, looking like they were having some kind of conversation. She met Spitfire’s eyes and swallowed the lump forming in her throat. “Ask me what?”

Dash jumped at Twilight’s voice, turning around to face her. “Oh, Twilight, you made it! Uh, Spitfire and I were just talking about—”

“What in Equestria is Spitfire doing here?” Twilight interrupted.

“She’s here to talk about—” Dash began, only to get interrupted again by Spitfire sticking her hoof out.

Spitfire stepped to the forefront. “I came to invite the two of you to form a new flight team and come traveling with me.”

Twilight’s lips thinned. “In case you hadn’t noticed, I don’t have wings, unlike the two of you. And something tells me you came here to invite Dash, not me.”

“Well, not entirely,” Spitfire said, letting out a guilty chuckle. “I mean, it never passed through my mind that I’d invite Dash and not you. I’m positive that there’d be some important role you could play to help out with the team—or you can just do your own thing, if that’s what floats your boat.”

“She could be the manager,” Dash interjected.

Both Spitfire and Twilight’s eyebrows rose as they turned to Dash. “Manager? Are you sure that would be a good idea?” Spitfire asked.

“I appreciate the thought, Dash,” Twilight said, her gaze softening for Dash. “But I’m inclined to agree with Spitfire. I don’t have any experience managing a team.” Her gaze hardened once more as she turned back to Spitfire. “Besides, how can you expect me to trust you two being around each other?”

Dash winced at her words. Twilight’s scowl softened. “I didn’t mean that I don’t trust you, just that—”

“No, it’s okay. I get why,” Dash said, tail drooping. “I guess it’s a bit much to hope I’d earned back that kind of trust.”

Twilight fell silent. Dash’s eyes stayed cast down towards the floor, her ears flat and her head held low in a manner completely unlike her.

“Listen,” Spitfire said to Twilight. “Can we talk in private? Just the two of us? Maybe I can ease some of your worries and explain things a little better.”

Twilight quietly nodded, following Spitfire upstairs to one of the bedrooms. Spitfire shut the door behind them, giving them a some peace from the music and the party below. She took a deep breath, then addressed Twilight.

“Look, back in Canterlot Dash and I said our goodbyes. She made it clear she chose you, and after that day I did my absolute best to get rid of any feelings that I held for her. The way I did that was by focusing them elsewhere, namely flying.”

She paused, giving Twilight a look as if asking whether she should continue. Twilight nodded.

Spitfire took a seat against the door, shuffling her wings until leaning her back against it was comfortable. “Well, flying with Dash was different than flying with any other pegasus I’ve ever met. I don’t know how to describe it, but she really loves it the same way I do. She made me remember how to actually have fun flying again.”

“But I barely even know you, how am I supposed to trust what you’re saying?”

“Well, I’m not expecting you to, at least at first. That’s why I’m inviting you to come along, both to be with Dash, and so you can keep an eye on her yourself.” Spitfire paused, letting Twilight consider it for a moment. “Judging by her reaction, I’d say she’s about as excited about the idea as I am.”

“I heard her reaction,” Twilight mumbled towards the floor, her mind lost deep in thought. She raised her head, looking Spitfire in the eyes. “What...” She cleared her throat. “What is it like... flying with her?”

“It’s...” Spitfire chewed her lip. “It’s amazing. She flies through air like fish swim through water. It just seems so completely natural, like all of the sky is there just for her, and we other pegasi are merely intruding.” Spitfire grew a smile as she spoke, a far-off look in her eyes. “She’s an honest flyer, too. The most expressive one I’ve ever met.”


“It’s like she becomes a whole nother pony up there. It feels like, when I’m flying with her, I get to see a side of herself she doesn’t normally show. I get to see her acting carefree and light-hearted, like she’s playing on the wind.”

Twilight bowed her head, her legs shaking. “I see...” She swallowed a lump in her throat and then forced her legs to stop shaking. “I think I’d love to come along.”

“Really?” Spitfire asked, eyebrows raised. The surprise fell away as she smiled. “That’s great! We should go tell Dash!” Spitfire turned around, opening the door she’d been leaning against.

“Sure,” Twilight said, stepping out into the hallway behind Spitfire. They began walking downstairs, until Twilight stopped. “Um, you go ahead. I just need to go use the washroom quickly.”

“Uh...” Spitfire paused on the stairs, looking back at her. “Do you want me to wait to tell her the good news?”

“No, you go right ahead,” Twilight said, backing up. “I’ll just be a minute or two.”

Spitfire shrugged. “Alright.” Twilight turned to walk to the bathroom at the other end of the hall, but Spitfire’s voice stopped her. “Hey, Twilight?”

Twilight stopped, glancing over her shoulder.

Spitfire smiled at her, kicking at the ground. “I know it’s a bit much to ask for after everything... but I’d like it if we could be friends. You seem pretty cool.”

Twilight smiled. It was a smile that never reached her eyes, but Spitfire was too relieved to take notice. “I think I actually would like that,” Twilight said. She began to walk away. “I’ll join you two in a moment.”

Spitfire smiled widely and nodded, walking to the bottom of the stairs and then swiveling her head around, looking for Dash presumably.

Twilight walked to the bathroom at the end of the hall, finding it unoccupied, and shut the door behind her. Inside, she turned and rested her forehead against the door. Closing her eyes, she began to concentrate. “Sorry, Spitfire… Dash… I’ll join you two in a moment.”

She created a mental map of Ponyville, the library at its center, and with a burst of magic she was gone.

Twilight marched inside, slamming the door shut behind her and leaning against it. She took a couple deep breaths, sliding down the wood until her rump hit the floor. Her head swam from motion sickness. In her haste to get back she had rushed the teleportation. She took another deep breath and waited for it to pass.

Once her breathing became more steady, she wandered over to her desk and lit the candle on it. All her notes for the spell sat in one drawer. She picked up the scroll with her most recent notes and stared at the red ribbon tying it shut. It felt so light. All it would take was a small tug and the ribbon would come undone.

This goes against what I’ve been taught, Twilight tried to tell herself. She bit the ribbon, pulling it undone. Then again, so did breaking into the Canterlot Archives, but I did that anyway, didn’t I? If I don’t try this, I may never find out if it works.

The notes for the spell unfurled on the floor. An empty silence filled the library as she read, memorizing the steps of the spell and reciting them over and over in her head. She knew how precise she had to be. She understood the risks, but it was the only thing Twilight could think of that might bring her and Dash together again. That, maybe if she could fly too, she could meet the Dash Spitfire talked about.

She recited the steps in her head one final time, glancing down at the end to make sure she had them all correct. They were.

Twilight raised her head from the notes and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. Then her horn began to glow. This is magic, she told herself. This is my special talent.

It was as complex a spell as she had ever attempted to cast. She started with a mental list—the sequence of the spell, in order, and then began detailing each step of the list with the specifics she’d learned from her months of study: wingspan, bone density, the near-impossible memorization she’d done of the veins and arteries, all for this moment. From her mind, the spell began to take shape. It started as a small, bright pink ball of magic, then grew to the size of her head before her eyes. It hummed on the low end of the audible spectrum, the air around it vibrant and shimmering. Small sparks crackled inside of it.

Twilight swallowed and stared into its center, unblinking. Her horn still glowed, making sure the spell was stable. She stared into it, on the threshold of everything, uncertainty before her. She thought back on the time she and Dash had spent together, from the flying accident that caused their first meeting to the night in Canterlot, when Dash had held her in her hooves and they’d cried together.

She closed her eyes and smiled, tears trickling down her cheeks as she released the spell.

The orb split in two, and the two parts began humming a higher pitch. They rose, spiralling, dancing up above her head. They seemed almost sentient, like the wisps of fairy tales and children’s books. They held an eerie beauty. Their song filled her ears.

Then, without warning, they struck, slamming into her back.

Twilight’s legs buckled, her breath stolen away. The magic surged along her back, snapping and hissing, sparks jumping across her skin.

There came a sharp, unexpected prick beneath either shoulder.

Turning around, Twilight saw blood running from two deep gouges where her wings were to be. Eyes wide, pupils shrunk, she trailed it down to the ground. Velvet red trickled from her underbelly, pooling on the floor.

Twilight’s legs began to shake. Dash...

Pain became her. Before she could do anything, wings began to form beside her bone in the holes her spell had created. Her legs collapsed out from under her and she fell into the puddle of blood she’d created.

Wings began to grow, but not like she had planned. Bone, tissue, feathers, all of them grew simultaneously from the spot where they connected at her shoulder. Blood mixed with feather and hair. Bones broke or grew out of place. And all the while, nerves grew along with the wings. She felt it all.

She opened her mouth to scream, but a weight on her lungs didn’t allow her the air necessary. The edges of her vision grew dark, her sight fading in and out of focus as she scraped at the wood floor, trying to crawl.

It was a small mercy when she finally blacked out.

Dash took a sip of her punch and glanced around the party, twiddling her hooves, so to speak. “So, um...” She gave a sidelong glance at Spitfire, scratching the back of her head. “You sure she knew where the bathroom was?”

“It was right at the end of the hall I saw her walking down,” Spitfire said. “She couldn’t have missed it.”

“But did you see her go in?”

Spitfire shook her head, but gave a look that seemed to say she didn’t really think it mattered. “Maybe it was something she ate?” she offered.

Dash’s snout wrinkled at that suggestion. She felt a yawn coming up and placed a hoof over her mouth. “What time is it?”

Spitfire stuck her head over the crowd and glanced at the clock. “Quarter to eight.”

Dash raised both eyebrows. “Do you think we should go check on her?”

Spitfire shrugged. “It couldn’t hurt.”

“Alright. I’ll be right back,” Dash said. She went upstairs, leaving Spitfire to listen to the music and watch other ponies. It wasn’t for very long, however, as Dash rushed back down the stairs, nearly bowling over a couple ponies along the way. She stopped in front of Spitfire, eyes wide. “She’s gone.”

“What?” Spitfire’s eyebrows drew together. “But we never saw her come down the stairs.”

“She can teleport.”

“Oh...” Spitfire took a sip of punch. “That makes sense.”

Dash smacked her forehead. “She must have run away again.”


“Yeah. Did she seem sad or hesitant after you two talked?”

“No,” Spitfire said. “I mean, she did at first, but later she seemed perfectly fine.”

Dash kicked at the ground, glaring at it. She took a deep breath, her glare withering as she let it out. “Well, she’s probably back at the library.” She turned towards the door, glancing back over her shoulder at Spitfire. “C’mon. We’re going to drag some answers out of her.”

“Um... you sure I should come?” Spitfire asked as she followed.

“Heck yes. She ditched you just as much as she did me,” Dash said, squeezing her way through the crowd. “Besides, we need to get some kind of final answer from her. I bet she just changed her mind and panicked or something.”

They stepped outside and made their way to the edge of the party. Dash spread her wings, as did Spitfire. “You really think she changed her mind and got cold hooves?”

Dash shrugged. “It’s happened before.” She glanced at Spitfire. “Why? Do you think it could’ve been something else?”

Spitfire shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe something urgent came up and she had to leave.”

“Well, it better be a good excuse then,” Dash grumbled.

The two of them took to the air, flying to the library. The sun was down and the stars not quite up. Only the last bits of light poked over the horizon, though it was still easily enough to fly by. They flew in silence, Dash seemingly caught up in her thoughts, and Spitfire not wanting to interrupt them.

When they landed, Dash marched right away up to the library, seeing a dim light in the window, and banged on the door. “Twilight?! It’s me and Spitfire! What the hay happened at the party?!”

There was no answer.

Dash frowned. “Come on, Twilight! We know you’re in there! We can see the candles you lit!”

Still nothing.

Dash’s brow knotted. She let out a huff and pushed the door open, surprised to find it unlocked.

Inside the library it was darker than the dim light in the window had suggested. Only a single candle was lit, and it was dwindling down to its base, a pool of melted wax surrounding its wick.

Dash stepped inside, while Spitfire stayed by the door. Dash picked up the dying candle, raising it up and looking around. “Twilight? Where in Equestria are you hide—”

Her breath jumped back down her throat when she turned and saw a body. It looked like a pegasus, though its wings were misshapen, mangled, and red. Lifting the candle she could see its natural coat color had been purple, and that there was a vast pool of blood strewn across the floor.

Dash began trembling. Her eyes grew wide. “Twilight?” She stepped closer, the scene becoming horrifyingly clear as she did so. She saw Twilight’s face, eyes closed, blood matting her mane. “Twilight!” She rushed to Twilight’s side and raised her head. She was still breathing.

Spitfire stepped inside. She saw Twilight and let out a gasp, covering her mouth.

Blood painted Dash’s legs and hooves. She turned to Spitfire, managing to find her voice. “Get a doctor as fast as you can,” she said, voice cracking. Looking back down at Twilight, she clenched her eyes shut. “Please. Hurry.”

Once the initial shock wore off, Spitfire nodded. She turned and sprinted out the door. She was barely outside before she took off, flying as fast as she could towards the hospital.

Dash was used to taking charge of a situation. That night there was little she could do but hold Twilight as she bled out, crying into her mane.

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