• Published 11th Sep 2017
  • 2,227 Views, 42 Comments

Spectrum of Gray - Amber Spark

Something is wrong with Rainbow Dash and Applejack, and Twilight Sparkle is determined to figure it out. But not even the Princess of Friendship is prepared for the possibility that, sometimes, love alone isn't enough to keep a marriage going strong.

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Gray Fires

Granny Smith saw a lot of things.

Now, most ponies around town thought she was a bit slow these days. But nah. Weren’t anythin’ like that. She was just gettin’ on in years. Maybe her eyes weren’t what they used to be. Time took a toll on a pony. But she was an Apple. And Apples were strong. Apples knew how the world worked. Knew a lot. Understood a lot. Felt a lot.

By Celestia, Granny paid the world better heed than ponies even a quarter her age.

That’s how she spied a little flicker of purple leavin’ that fancy cloud home. After that, she kept her ears open. It were no surprise when she heard the kitchen door just after she closed poor Applejack’s door. She’d made sure to unlock the kitchen door before comin’ to see AJ, just like every other night since that cute pegasus filly had come home. No matter what either filly said, Granny knew that Sweet Apple Acres was home fer the pair of ‘em. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

But she also knew what that particular filly sounded like when she came in. Even trying to be quiet, that filly had flair. She could probably be sneaky… but never when Granny was around. The hoofsteps she heard from downstairs… well, they belonged to another filly. A filly who cared fer the two of ‘em just as much as Granny did. She respected that filly fer it, too.

The sad thing was… that filly was probably hurtin’ somethin' fierce. Granny weren’t rightly sure she could help her, but she could sure as sugar try.

“She’s asleep?” the alicorn in the kitchen asked as Granny slowly came down the stairs.

“Yup,” Granny answered. “What about her?”

“Yeah. It took quite a while, but she’s sleeping. She sat and stared at the balcony until she finally nodded off.”

Granny nodded and puttered over to the stove to put on a pot of tea. Twilight tried to help, but Granny tsked at her. Enough to get the little filly to settle down into a kitchen chair. After all, even in the middle of the night, weren’t right to ignore a guest.

Princess Twi had long ago made it clear she didn’t want any sort of highfalutin ceremonies around her. It were somethin’ she liked about the filly. Ain’t to say Granny didn’t like the other princesses, but it was nice fer an old mare to be able to sit down and have a chat with a Royal once every few moons or so. Though, truth be told, Granny was pretty darn sure the lil’ alicorn was gettin’ the better deal durin’ those little chats.

“So, how’d you know Ah’d be here?” Granny asked as she pulled down a few teacups and some bags.

“I was worried about Applejack,” Twilight admitted, her ears back. “I cast a hearing enhancement spell. Wanted to see if she was asleep.”

Granny turned to cock a single eyebrow at her. Twilight cringed a little. “All I heard was your voice and hers for a few seconds! I turned it off as soon as I realized you two were talking! I promise, Granny Smith!”

“Ya got good manners, child.” Granny nodded in approval and shifted the teapot to sit better on the stove. “Right kind of ya, lookin’ out fer the two of ‘em like ya do.”

“Doesn’t help,” Twilight mumbled. “Doesn’t help one bit.”

“Now, why would ya say a silly fool thin’ like that fer?” Granny didn’t turn around this time. She got out the sugar and the milk. She’d had enough teas with this little filly to know Twilight liked her tea straight up, but as Granny got long in the tooth, she found she liked her own brew a bit softer these days. Better on the bones. “Ain’t yer fault they’re in this mess. Ain’t really theirs either. Just their first big ol’ hurtle they need to jump.”

“‘Their first hurdle…’?” Twilight repeated tonelessly. “With all due respect, Granny Smith… this isn’t just a hurdle! Rainbow Dash is talking about resigning from the Wonderbolts. Applejack asked Rainbow to leave their home. All signs point toward a classic mid-life crisis in both of them… one that could easily end in a semi-permanent separation! A couple at this stage has a thirty-two percent chance of ending the relationship entirely according to recent studies by the Equestrian Relationship Census!”

“Now, don’t ya go makin’ this all complicated and fancy with numbers of what other folk do,” Granny warned. She wasn’t about to listen to that sort of nonsense. “Ya ain’t talkin’ about two random ponies from Celestia-knows where. Yer talkin’ about yer friends. They got a mighty strong bond and Ah ain’t talkin’ about those fancy necklaces y’all used to wear!”

“But… the data!” Twilight sputtered. Granny thought it was cute, really. This filly did like her fancy books and fancier numbers. “The data! It’s clearly outlined in their most recent study! It came up during my pre-marital counseling with Cadance and Dr. Peony! You can’t just ignore the signs, Granny Smith! They’re in real trouble! Real trouble!”

“Ah know exactly what kind of trouble they’re in, child,” Granny said with a faint smile. “Ah’ve been around a bit longer than ya, after all. Ask that pretty white princess of yers.”

The kettle squealed fer a few seconds before Granny snatched it off the burner. A few deft movements of mouth and hoof later, there were a pair of teacups on the table. Twilight whispered a small thank you and steeped her tea with that fancy magic of hers. Granny used a hoof to stir hers with a spoon.

“So… what did you tell AJ?” Twilight asked, timid as a field mouse during a cat show. “If… if you don’t mind me asking…”

“Ah don’t mind, Twi.” Granny blew on the tea, enjoying the smell of fancy chamomile and good old fashioned apples. “But Ah doubt yer gonna find any great wisdom in my words. Probably told her the same ya did that pegasus up there. Told her to keep strong. They’ll make it work. Their type always does. Seen it before.”

The pretty little alicorn seemed to chew on that fer a spell before slammin’ her hoof down on the kitchen table. Granny smiled a bit and leaned back in her chair, taking a little gulp of her tea.

“I can’t just accept that!” Twilight cried. “I can’t let them do this alone! I’m the Princess of Friendship for pony’s sake! And if I can’t help two of my best friends through this… I-I-I don’t deserve my crown… I can’t… I can’t bear to…”

Finally, that mask the filly had been wearin’ broke. Tears streamed down the poor filly’s face. She sobbed hard too, right into her hooves. Granny let her cry it out fer a spell. These days, ponies forgot that cryin’ was part of life. Weren’t nothin’ to be ashamed of. Important part of dealin’ with the nastier parts of the day-to-day.

A few minutes passed. Granny watched the filly sob her little heart out. She could see that heart breakin’ plain as day. Some might call it strange, but seein’ that broken heart warmed Granny’s own. Not cause of the pain, no. Only a pony who really loved her friends could hurt this bad when she saw ‘em in a pickle.

Finally, the time had passed. Granny got her aching bones up and slid a chair over to the cryin’ alicorn. Then she settled down next to her and sat a hoof on her shoulder. Nothin’ fancy. Just remindin’ the poor filly Granny was there. It were enough.

A few minutes later, lil’ Twilight emerged from behind her hooves. Her eyes were red and puffy, coat all matted and wet. She looked a right mess. Granny knew the next words would hurt somethin’ fierce, but they needed to be said. Best get it over with right quick.

“Ain’t about ya, child,” Granny whispered. “Ain’t about ya or me. It’s about them. This kind of road… well, it’s a narrow one. Tall, too. Best ya can do is be there when they fall. Ya did good with that tonight. Ya were there when that pretty pegasus granddaughter of mine needed ya. Hard to be there, but ya were.”

“There has to be something…” Twilight mumbled, staring at her tea. Granny could tell she’d been sayin’ those words a lot. Sounded like a mantra or somesuch. “There has to be something we can do. Or somepony! Anypony!”

“Child…” Granny sighed.

“I know!” Twilight crowed, her wings flaring out faster than Rainbow’s on hearin’ the word ‘cider.’ “Cadance! Her special talent is love, after all! I’m sure she’ll have something.”

“Ah ain’t meanin’ to speak fer a princess.” Granny chuckled lightly. “But she ain’t gonna be able to fix those two with a wave of her horn. Ya go ahead and ask her, but Ah’ll bet she’ll tell ya the same thing Ah’m sayin’ right here and now.”

“But… but…” Twilight’s wings dropped and Granny sighed. The poor thing looked so little and lost right now. “What if… the girls and I—”

“You rightly think quittin’ yer princessin’ to work a farm is what either of ‘em would want?” Granny replied. “As fer the rest of yer friends, well, they got lives. Now, Ah know my granddaughter is a proud pony, just like that wife of hers. But this ain’t somethin’ that can be fixed in an afternoon.”

“I can organize things! I can hire workers! I’ll do the management even!” Tears leaked from Twilight’s eyes. “Or I’ll find a manager for her! Somepony you can all trust! I can help!”

“All that’ll do is take away the last thing Applejack has left, child.” Granny’s voice was gentle. She knew Twilight wanted to help her friends, but she was still young enough that sometimes she missed the big picture. That was fine. Big pictures were fer the elders. “You can’t do that to her. It’ll kill her inside. She’s a farmer. Soul of an Apple, through and through. Like her Ma and Pa before her. Like me and mine before ‘em. And of course, my Pappy and Mama.”

Granny didn’t mention Pear Wood and his offer. She’d let Applejack tell her friends about that when she was right and ready. Weren’t Granny’s place to put the cart before the pony.

“But… Rainbow… she’s willing to give up her dream… her whole life…” Twilight whimpered.

“Ain’t surprised. She’s got a good heart, that one. But Applejack wouldn’t hear a word of it. Ya know it, Ah know it.”

“But… that leaves them with nothing…” Twilight moaned, rubbing her eyes with her hooves as another fresh bout of tears welled on up. “Nothing at all… no hope for change.”

Granny sighed and leaned forward, resting her forehooves on the table. She thought long and hard. This here princess once had lived in that pretty ol’ library before that big brute blew the poor place up. Granny had been right happy to see Twilight’s friends planting a new library years ago. Only a few months before she moved up to Markstown, Granny been there fer the opening shindig of the Shining Oaks Library. It looked just like the ol’ one. Twilight had bawled her eyes out seein’ that place open up.

Yes, this was a filly who liked stories. Well, Granny had plenty of stories. Good ones, too. Might have one to fit the bill here.

“Child, ya ever heard the story of my favorite cousin?”

Twilight blinked at her owlishly. “Huh?”

“Filly by the name of Apple Rose?”

“I… I don’t think so.” Twilight’s eyes flicked back and forth as if she were reading some book or somethin’ in her head. “I admit, I’m not as familiar with the Apple family tree as I probably should be.”

“‘Shucks.” Granny waved a hoof at her. “Ain’t nothin’ like that. Ah don’t aim to give ya a history lesson. Just one on life. Ya been married now… what? Two years?”

“Two years next month,” Twilight murmured, blushing a little.

Granny couldn’t help but smile at that little ol’ blush. It was a sweet thing. “Well, good on ya. Both of ya happy?”

Twilight nodded, biting her lip.

“Ya lost the spark yet?”

Now, Twi froze, looking confused. “What?”

Granny smiled and got back up to fetch her tea, then settled back down next to the alicorn.

“The spark, child,” Granny explained. “When a couple first gets together, everythin’s usually all passion and fire. But fires can’t burn that hot forever. Ya should know that.”

“I believe you’re talking about the ‘honeymoon period’,” Twilight said, scratching her mane. “I… I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it.”

“Well, that’s fine. Ain’t no need to rush it. But it’ll happen someday. And when that happens… that’s when y’all find out what yer really made of, child.”

“I don’t understand.”

“So, like I said, Apple Rose? She were my favorite cousin. She lived on the other side of the Everfree though… so Ah didn’t get to see her often. But we exchanged letters. Ah remember the letter Ah got when she first met the love of her life, big strapping stallion by the name of Red Pine. Oooh, she went on and on and on about that stallion. Wouldn’t stop yappin’ about him!” Granny chuckled and smiled. “Took plenty of beggin’ and pleadin’ to my Ma and Pa, but Ah did get to be there at their weddin’. Right proper Apple family wedding it were. Used that old tradition of plantin’ trees, too… same one Applejack’s Ma and Pa used once upon a time.”

“Sounds sweet,” Twilight said, her eyes wide and a tiny smile on her pretty little lips.

“Oh, they were as happy as two ponies could be.” Granny agreed. “Mighty fine pair. Even had a pair of colts. Red Pine worked the fields. Apple Rose, she raised the young’uns. But, time went by… the letters Ah got started to worry me. Got shorter. A lot shorter. Sometimes weren’t any letters at all. Then one day, Ah get a nasty letter, one sayin’ that… well, she were thinkin’ of leaving Red Pine. Mind ya, this were a whole mess of moons after they got married. Weren’t a quick thing at all! Can’t quite remember how old the colts were then.” Granny tapped her chin with a hoof. She could see their faces, but all the way back then… ah well, didn’t matter much.

“Leaving him?” Twilight sputtered. “Why? You made it sound like they were happy!”

“Well, Red Pine were a mighty hard worker. Slaved over their farm day in and day out. He pushed himself too hard, always tryin’ to provide fer his family, ya see. Ended up hurtin’ himself. Made it even harder. He could still do the fieldwork, but the young’uns were too small to help and by the time he were done? Oh… he could barely stand.” Granny shook her head. “Weren’t a pretty sight.”

“She…” Twilight looked horrified. “She was willing to abandon somepony who worked so hard for them?”

Now, Granny could have gotten mad right then and there. But she knew Twilight didn’t really know what she were sayin’. She were still just a young’un, after all.

“Ain’t like that,” Granny said with a pat on the alicorn’s hoof. “Ol’ Red still had some other stallions he went out with from time to time, leaving Apple Rose with the colts. Rose? She was stuck! Raising two colts… their pappy always too tired to do much in the way of helpin’ to raise ‘em… weren’t really his fault. She kinda… well, she kinda lost her way. Forgot how to take the good parts outta life. Well, after some months of this, she… just broke. A few mares she knew told her she’d be better off gettin’ away from the stallion she loved. So… after a long talk with Red—and that’s important mind ya, they did talk—Apple Rose and her two colts came on down to Sweet Apple Acres fer a spell.”

“She… she actually left him?”

“Eeyup.” Granny nodded. “Hard thing to do, too. Red and Rose made it sound like a vacation, so as to not upset the kids. But every night, Rose would stare out into the Everfree, as if lookin’ through those branches… tryin’ to see Red.”

“What happened?”

“Don’t you rush me, child,” Granny snapped, though there was a smile in there too. “Ah’m gettin’ there. It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey. Anyhoo, Red and Rose sent letters back and forth. Little messages. Like how the colts were doin’ or how the farm was doin’. Rose let me read most of ‘em. Every single one? They hurt. They were like lil’ sparks burnin’ ‘em both from a distance.”

“Sounds too familiar…” Twilight mumbled. She glanced up, right where Applejack were sleepin’, then back out the kitchen door where Luna’s moon made that pegasus home shine. “They were hurting without each other.”

“Now, yer tryin’ to jump ahead again,” Granny chided. “Ah’ll make it easy fer ya, child. Now, to give ya the whole picture would last until dawn, but what ya need now is the comfert of that fiery-maned filly yer so fond of. Ah aim to get ya back there right quick, but Ah want to do it with a good heart in ya.”

“But… I want to know the whole story!” Twilight protested. “I need all the facts!”

“No, ya don’t.” Granny smiled at the alicorn filly again. “Ah’ll tell ya what ya need. Ya need the truth. Rainbow? AJ? They found who they were way back when before they ever got hitched. Now? Now they’re gonna get a chance to find out who they are today. They’re usin’ it, too. Right now, both of ‘em—both, mind ya—they’re lookin’ fer who they are. It’s a normal part of life. Ah seem to remember Applejack telling me about ya once beggin’ some alicorns friends of yers about that sort of thing way back when. Powerful thing, purpose. Apple Bloom and her little filly friends? They don’t even know how important what they’re doin’ is. Ponies need a reason.”

“A reason to what?” Twilight rubbed her mane. Poor thing looked like she hadn’t slept in days. Painful to see, really, especially since the poor filly had learned about all this a few hours back. “And what does Apple Bloom and the other Crusaders have to do with this?”

Purpose, child. Purpose. My Pappy once told me about it. Think Ah was about Apple Bloom’s age.” Granny straightened up and did her best impersonation of her Pappy’s voice. “‘Granny Smith, there’s three important questions everypony’s gotta answer fer themselves sooner or later!’” Granny ignored Twilight’s little giggle. “‘The first is ‘Who are ya?’ The second is ‘Whaddya want?’ And the third? ‘Where ya goin’?’”

“‘Who are you,’” Twilight repeated. “‘What do you want,’ and ‘where are you going’.”

“That’s right, young’uns,” Granny said with a nod. She took a sip of her tea. Helped her throat a bit. Doing Pappy’s voice always made her a bit hoarse.

“But…” Twilight shook her head. “They’re the spirits of the Elements of Harmony! I know Rainbow said that Applejack needed to find herself… but… but… They should already know that! I’ve never had any doubt who they are or what they want! Even where they’re going! They should know it! All our friends know it!”

Granny chuckled. She remembered when she was that sure of the world. Mighty fine feelin’… until it all came crashin’ down. Still, she managed to keep the pang to herself. It weren’t the time to be thinkin’ about Bright Mac or Buttercup.

“What Ah didn’t understand back then,” Granny continued. “Who ya are? It changes. Most ponies don’t get that. Who ya are ain’t just one thing. Yer a perfect example! Once upon a time, ya were just a lil’ filly, starin’ up into Princess Celestia’s eyes. Then, ya came to Ponyville, made some friends. Started doin’ big things. Then another day stumbles along… and yer a princess. Tell me, ya ever see that one comin’?”

Twilight shook her head.

“That’s what Ah thought. Now, yer married. Got a wife back home. Maybe someday y’all have foals. Then ya change again. Same fer all of it. Whadda want, where ya going… it all changes. Every day, just a little. Well, gettin’ on back to my story, that’s where Apple Rose and Red Pine were at. The real hard part… was learnin’ who they were without the other one. Both had to learn it. Rose? She’d forgotten who she’d been before havin’ those colts—even though she loved ‘em more than life itself. Red? Same thing. He were scared. Scared of being a pappy. Scared of messin’ up. Forgot who he used to be. Forgot how to be the stallion Rose loved.”

Twilight’s eyes were nice and big now. Meant she were gettin’ it. That made Granny smile and warmed her heart.

“In the end, it took Rose three months to move on back home. But it didn’t just fix itself overnight, now. No, those two had to keep figurin’ it out every single day. But the key? The important thing? The most important thing?

Granny leaned down, making sure she had Twilight’s full attention. Hopefully, if she got through to this filly, the poor thing might be able to avoid this little snag Applejack and Rainbow had gotten into. Maybe not. She were her own pony. She’d make her own mistakes. But she deserved this chance.

“The important thing… despite the fights… despite losin’ everythin’ they’d been, forgettin’ what they wanted… even where they were goin’? They made a choice.”

“And… what choice was that?” Twilight whispered in the dark kitchen.

“Ya remember when Ah said that everythin’ starts all passion, excitement and fire?” Twilight nodded and Granny smiled. “Well, that fire’s gonna fade. Eventually, leave nothin’ but embers. Leave those embers alone too long… well, ya gonna end up with cold ashes. Red and Rose? They realized that love were a choice. Fallin’ in love is easy. Being in love is hard. Ya gotta keep stoking those embers. Keep ‘em alive. Keep ‘em burnin’. Sometimes, it’ll get colder than a timberwolf’s toenails. But ya keep that fire going anyway. Ya keep pumpin’ yer heart into it. Makin’ that choice, every day. A choice to love.”

Granny leaned back and finished off her tea.

“Today, Apple Rose and Red Pine got a mighty big plot of land on the other side of the Everfree. Colts got big and strong, found themselves good mares, kept the family goin’. Four generations of Apples live out there these days. All of ‘em happy as can be. Ah finally got to see Red again last reunion, since he hadn’t been able to come to a few of ‘em because of his back. They’re good. They’re happy. They made it work.”

“And… what about Applejack and Rainbow Dash?” Twilight said. “Does it really rest on them? Alone?”

“Ah’m afraid so, child,” Granny replied. “They’re good ponies, both of ‘em. Strong in the heart and strong in the soul. Ah can’t tell ya how it’ll work, but Ah have faith that it will. They got good friends, folk they can talk to. Both of ‘em, includin’ that Rainbow, they’ll find themselves. Find out who they are. What they want. And when they do all that… they’ll find where they’re goin’.”

“You sound so certain of it,” Twilight murmured. “I wish I had your confidence.”

“Years of experience, young’un,” Granny replied, getting the cups—Twilight had finished hers while Granny had told the story—and puttin’ ‘em in the sink. “Now, Ah’ll admit… Ah may be wrong. Maybe they ain’t right fer one another. But Ah like to think Ah got a good eye fer this sort of thing. And Ah know my granddaughter. Ah think with some time… it’ll work out.”

“So… what do I do?”

“Ya be there, silly filly! Ain’t ya been payin’ attention?” Granny laughed. “Ya be there. Ya listen. Ya don’t push—unless they need a push—and considerin’ those two? They’ll probably ask fer it when they need it. Well, maybe. Either way, ya respect ‘em. Give ‘em time. They’ve been hurtin’ fer a right long while… it’ll take a right long while to help heal ‘em. Be patient, child. With ‘em... and yerself.”

Granny let out a mighty yawn. Long past time fer her to get some shuteye. But she checked the lil’ princess before her. Her wings were flutterin’ a bit awkward and her head were cocked to the side, like she were thinkin’ somethin’ fierce.

“Now, ya best be gettin’ home now. That wife of yers liable to come lookin’ fer ya if ya take too long.”

“Granny Smith?” Twilight’s eyes were wet and shiny in the moonlight again.


To Granny’s surprise, the filly leapt into the air and all but tackled Granny in a great hug. She let out a single sob, though Granny weren’t quite sure if was one of relief or one of pain. “Thank you.”

“We’re all family, child.” Granny patted her on the head. “Every one of us. Ah know this hurts ya, too. Just be there fer ‘em. It’ll work out.”

Twilight looked into Granny’s eyes and smiled. The princess musta found somethin’ there too, because Granny could see the strength flow back into the filly. After all, this was the filly who faced down some of the meanest things in all the world. Weren’t right to see her messed up. But right then and there, Granny could see that seeing her friends in pain scared her more than the very gates of Tartarus. That fear just slid on back to it’s hole now, where it belonged.

With a final pat on the head, Granny smiled and headed back up the stairs.

“Goodnight, Granny Smith. Thank you… for everything.”

“Goodnight, Twilight.” Granny replied with a little wave.

Before she made it up to the top of the stairs, the lil’ princess were gone into the night. And if Granny had done things right… she’d go right into the hooves of that wife of hers. Hopefully, they’d get to enjoy that fire a bit longer before they had to work on that choice.

Granny passed Applejack’s room. She paused to listen and heard the heavy breathin’ of her granddaughter. She peeked in and smiled, seeing Applejack curled up on the floor, facin’ the window. Facin’ her wife. Granny could just make out a bit of rainbow mane in that fancy cloud home, looking right this way. Granny smiled a bit wider, pulled a blanket over her granddaughter and tottered off to her own room. She made sure to close the door behind her, then opened the window to let the cool night air in. She loved the feel of the autumn wind in the night, especially comin’ from the Everfree. It reminded her of her Pappy and Mama. Of her own handsome stallion, long past…

And of course, of two very special ponies who had ended up going to join her husband far sooner than anypony had ever expected.

With a sigh, she walked over to the bed. She rubbed an aching hoof fer a minute before reaching over to her nightstand. A light gray book lay there, its pages open and two smiling faces staring up at her.

“Don’t y’all worry yer pretty little heads,” Granny said to the picture. “Yer daughter’s a fighter. Ah can’t pretend to know how they’re gonna work this out. Maybe that Rainbow will retire. Maybe she’ll just do the Wonderbolts shows from time-to-time. Maybe Applejack might close down part of the farm.” She could almost see her son and his wife wince in the dancin’ moonlight streamin’ in from outside. “Well, that ain’t likely, Ah’ll admit… but y’all raised her well. Did my best after y’all went to see…” Granny coughed, a bit of dry night air makin’ it nigh impossible to say the name. “After y’all went to see yer Pappy. Harmony knows… Ah do miss y’all. Wish y’all were here to help her. Ain’t much help on any farm these days.”

She ran a hoof along the picture. A few tears fell from her cheek down to the page, staining the paper gray. That weren’t anythin’ new. Happened most nights.

“Ah promise… Ah’ll stay with her no matter what. Maybe tomorrow Ah’ll make ‘em both breakfast. Might be a good start to the day. Ain’t made those fancy pancakes of yers in a while, Buttercup. Ah’ll make sure they keep tryin’. Ah know that’s all Ah can do. But she’s got yer spirit, Buttercup. And your strength, Bright Mac.”

Granny looked down at the pictures of her son and his wonderful wife. Slowly, she closed the book and settled it back down onto the nightstand.

With a bit of effort, she crawled into bed, leaned up against the headboard and shifted the covers. She peered out through the open window, like she did every night she was back home at Sweet Apple Acres. Out over the Everfree, the stars shone down on the world. It was a sight Granny always loved, ever since she’d been a filly back when they ain’t had nothin’ here but a heap of logs in the shape of a house. It was a pretty night, nice and clear. She let out a little sigh and wiped away a tear she’d missed.

Granny Smith saw a lot of things.

Most folk never really paid enough attention to this world around ‘em. Too busy with their hustle and their bustle. Never took the time to enjoy the little moments. See all those bits of the past all around ‘em. Like right now… she looked at the curtains on her window. Apple Rose had made ‘em fer her, way back when. Simple stuff, but it meant somethin'. Just like this here house. Just like this old quilt on her bed her Mama had made her. Just like that there book on the nightstand.

Granny looked out into the night from her spot on her bed, her bones tired, but her heart content. Then somethin’ movin’ caught her eye.

She smiled as she saw two shootin’ stars streak across the sky. That smile only grew, because a few seconds later, another pair of little comets came blazin’ behind the first. And when Granny looked real hard and squinted a bit, she was darn near sure one of ‘em had a bit of a rainbow shine to it.

Her eyes followed the second pair all the way to the horizon. They made it there together.

Author's Note:

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

- 1 Corinthians 13:13

I don't have a lot to say for this one. It was a difficult story to write, but hopefully worth the effort. I hope you found something within, even if only for the future.

-Novel Idea

Comments ( 37 )

I did find something within. Thank you.

Ri2 #2 · Sep 12th, 2017 · · 1 ·

As excellent as this was, is it strange I'm more curious about Twilight and Sunset's relationship than the drama between AJ and Rainbow?

Well then call me strange too :pinkiehappy:


Okay, strange.

Beautiful story. It feels real, you captured the true aspects of a relationship, and Granny Smith's story at the end was perfect. Even though AppleDash isn't my favorite ship, I really enjoyed the story.

Well, I do have a few other SunLight stories wandering around here. ^^

Thank you. I can tell you without a doubt that the inspiration for this story was indeed quite real. I'm very happy that I've conveyed that properly. :twilightsmile:


This was beautiful. Excellent story.

Is saying what characters appear in the story in synopsis really necessary? They're the same characters as the characters in the character tags.

I've been meaning to read this, and I was definitely expecting something good. And damn, did I get that!

Thank you very much! :twilightsmile:

A wonderful thing to hear, especially considering what went into this tale. :pinkiesmile:

I think I am going to go hug my wife now...

This is probably one of the best responses I've ever received on a story. Thank you. Thank you so much. More than anything, this told me I conveyed what I hoped to convey.

I really like this. I really want to upvote this but that ending is...too on the nose and too ambiguous at the same time. It's too much of a 'happy ending' when you've already set up the 'second chance' portion. Also, don't the shooting stars represent loved ones who have moved on? One could hypothesize that the second set guarantees that there won't be a second chance because their past selves, together, have 'died.' It kinda makes what Granny Smith said to Twilight worthless.

I did like that you changed perspectives a bit. And the build up is extremely plausible. There aren't a lot of pragmatic stories of 'ever after' that look at the other side or years down the road.

It felt raw and real. Very relatable to some of the things my (2nd) wife and I have been through.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

- 1 Corinthians 13:11

I just realized that every other story I've read by you takes place in some sort of AU, so I've never seen you try to tackle canon characters as-is.


That was an amazing read. Your characterizations of Twilight, Rainbow, and AJ were spot on, and the way they changed over the past 15 years felt realistic and true to their characters. The writing was beautiful and heartfelt and I think this is going to stay with me for a long while.

I recall a discussion I had about these kinds of stories, not sure if it was with you or someone else on the Discord server, and how a lot of sad "they've fallen out of love" stories tend to be pretty generic, to the point where you could slide in any pair of the Mane 6 and the story would still work with some minor tweaks.

This isn't one of those stories.

This is a story that could only be told about AJ and Dash, with Twilight as the supporting protagonist. Their unique struggles, the way their personalities play off each other, the way they deal with adversity, both short-term and long-term. It's clear that you picked the right characters for this story, instead of writing a story and fitting in whatever characters you felt like. It's so rare to see this (I think I've only seen it one other time - I think you know which story I'm talking about), and it shows a remarkable understanding of characterizations.

I haven't had a chance to read many of the contest entries, but this one definitely seems like a very strong contender, and I really hope you win. I think more people need to read this story because it's important.

Stories have power. They shape how we view the world. They educate us on different viewpoints. They give us perspective into how our lives could be and what they could become. And this story teaches us that love isn't always easy, but it's worth fighting for. And I think that's a message that needs to be shared, both for those struggling now and those who think it won't happen to them.

So thank you for sharing this. I know it took a lot out of you, but it is greatly appreciated.

I read. And the world was grey. And there was hope at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel was grey. Therefore, I was grey. But there was hope at the bottom of me. And when I looked up, the world around me was so much brighter. And the hope is still there.

This was brilliant.

Or maybe I accidentally smoked one of the pages and the smoke was grey... And then I wrote some poetry-like-thing...
I can't remember how it goes.

On a more serious note, thank you. It really was beautiful.


I think more people need to read this story because it's important.

Stories have power. They shape how we view the world. They educate us on different viewpoints. They give us perspective into how our lives could be and what they could become. And this story teaches us that love isn't always easy, but it's worth fighting for. And I think that's a message that needs to be shared, both for those struggling now and those who think it won't happen to them.

You know, a recent series of very difficult events occurred to me not so long ago. And some demented part of me went "you know, this will be really good for a story someday." If my knowledge and experiences can allow someone to not make the same mistakes I've made... then I can find some comfort in that.

Love is thrown around a lot these days. To the point where people don't understand it. I know I still don't. I'm still figuring it out every day. Only fools think they know everything. So always be ready to learn. Always.

The secret is to remember to look up once you've reached the bottom of yourself. It's a secret I had to learn the hard way. I spent too long staring at my feet instead of staring at the heavens. Always look up.

Thank you kindly. Your comment means more than I can say.


Always try to look up. And look around.
After all, you can't really see the sun by looking at your shoes.
There's always something to smile about.
Though there will always be tunnels, not all of them are so dark... and you get progressively better at spotting the light at the end.
And sometimes, just sometimes, someone breaks a wall. And brings a flashlight.

Life's way too amazing to look at your feet all the time.

What if I thank you again and we just accept the circle of thanks moves us all? Because,
honestly, I wasn't the one who wrote the story... :twilightsmile:

Sounds like you have plenty of stories in you. I look forward to seeing them. :twilightsmile:

So I just finished reading The Tarnished Crown, which was also a wonderful read, and it's interesting comparing the two stories, especially the tone and the atmosphere.

A couple days ago, Novel asked me whether Tarnished Crown was more or less intense than Spectrum of Gray. I'm reposting my response here because I think it speaks to the power of both stories.

It's hard to compare intensity levels since it's two very different kinds of intensity.
Tarnished Crown is the intensity of the battlefield, that point when everything comes to a boil and emotions are unleashed with deadly effectiveness.
Spectrum of Gray is the tension of the trenches, the quiet hours between the din of battles where you wonder when the next bomb will drop and whether any of you will ever see the light of day again.
Each is beautiful and terrible in its own way.

All in all, it's wonderful how you've managed to write two different stories about two very different pairs of characters exploring two different turning points and conflicts in a relationship, and yet both feel so real. There's a lot of young (and old) people on this site who could stand to learn something for this, or to at least take comfort in knowing that they aren't alone, that there's someone else out there who understands, and sometimes that can make all the difference.

I just have to get to writing again... :twilightsheepish:

Well. That was feels. Can't say I completely understand, but love after first sight is not the only type of decision you have to make every day forever.

I did ask for more stories that happen when the ship is already well on its way. Not exactly what I had in mind, but not unwelcome.

Good story.

"Happily Ever After" isn't a destination. It's a journey that never ends... and a journey that stops and starts going back the moment you think you've made it.

I like that you left AJ and Dash's future unresolved. The ending doesn't matter, not compared to the journey.

You can never have just a single moment that resolves things in relationships. It's an ongoing choice. Every day.

8590501 I wouldn't know, so I'll just have to trust you on that one.

How is this on the Sunlight folder anyway?

Twilight and Sunset have married not long ago and are completely enamoured with each other.
AJ and RD, however, have been together for a long time and, as the story shows, have hit the darkest stage. The contrast forms a subplot of Twilight trying to learn how marriages work.

That was incredible. I can easily see how this won a contest.
There's a lot of... gratitude, admiration and praise swirling in my head - and heart -, that I'd like to somehow convey with words. But I fail, utterly.
You crafted a powerful piece. One that makes one think and reflect.

Thank you.

You're welcome. Thank you for at least trying. That means the world to me.

Author Interviewer

How dare you

They realized that love were a choice. Fallin’ in love is easy. Being in love is hard.

Yes, brilliant, bravo! We need more of this! :D

And did I catch a reference to your newly published story in there...?


How dare you

I've fought some of these battles. I dare because I lived.

Yes, brilliant, bravo! We need more of this! :D

Some days, I feel I could write a hundred novels on that concept... EDIT: Also, thank you. Emotions are always a mess around this story and I spaced on that.

And did I catch a reference to your newly published story in there...?

Other way around, sorta. Shining Oaks Library was inspired/borrowed from the La Da Dee PMV. That library does have a much bigger role in Torch,. So... yes and no. Heh.

Magnificently done, especially in how the solution ultimately lies in the couple's hooves. It's not easy for Twilight "Protagonist" Sparkle to accept, but it's still true. This is one crisis she can't resolve. But she can help get those who can in a position to do so. And this is one of the best, wisest Granny Smiths I've ever seen... even if it seems like every mare she knows qualifies as "pretty," and only Celestia doesn't qualify as "little." Seriously, I get the impression she'd happily date any one of them if she were a century younger, Celestia included. :derpytongue2:

In any case, thank you for a heart-wrenching read. I wish I'd looked at this months ago.

It's a difficult thing to come face-to-face with a problem you can solve, especially when it's your closest friends. Twilight honestly couldn't deal with it without the aid of Granny Smith. I honestly read through this and go... did I really write this? How did I manage to get the little I learned into this? It's a humbling thought, honestly.

It's a hard story to write and a hard story to read, even for me. Thanks for taking the time for it.

(As to what happened in Granny's youth and if she actually did one day make a pass at Celestia, I'm afraid even I don't have that kind of clearance).

Love is choosing them every day even when its hard, especially when its hard. Granny Smith can sub for Uncle Iroh anytime and tea does solve everything.

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