• Published 28th Oct 2017
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The Last Train Home - Monochromatic



Life is like a train ride, don't you think, dearest? Destinations will change, trains will be caught and missed, but there will always be somepony willing to journey with you—so long as you let them.

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V - VII

V. The Humdrum of Routine

It’s interesting how quickly one falls into routine, into patterns that are both familiar and novel, tacitly established as most things are.

I never expected you to buy us coffee in the mornings, yet you always did.

You never expected me to buy us tea at night, yet I always did.

So many things begin silently, have you noticed? Or, rather, not silently so much as…there’s a word for it…unnoticed? That’s not quite it, but I can’t think of anything else. Oh well.

Anyway…

What was I talking about?

I bought you tea, and you bought me coffee. We slept in carriage 3-C in the mornings, and we gossiped in carriage 2-A in the evenings. You almost never sat next to me.

You read me stories. The sun had not yet risen, and you sat straight on your seat, using the carriage’s dim light to read from your book, while I allowed my cheek to get intimately acquainted with the chilly window. Sometimes I’d look at the scenery. Sometimes I’d close my eyes and imagine your tale in my head. Mostly, I slept.

“It was this seeming seriousness that made her all the more bewildering,” you read aloud in your lovely voice, the words seamlessly drifting in and out of the fragments of my sleepy consciousness. Your tone was severe, as though Equestria’s very fate rested on your ability to tell a story. “What she was saying was impossible in the extreme. Foolish, childish. Princesses that come from make-believe realms? Fairy tales, all of it, and yet… and yet when she spoke, her tone was measured. Rationality colored her whole character, and—”

You stopped.

I knew what was coming, so I spoke before you could.

“If you plan on chastising me for falling asleep, I’ll have you know you’re wasting your breath, Twilight,” I said, suppressing a yawn. “I’ve been following along. Now, go on with the story, please.”

You hummed, and I heard the flipping of pages. “Uhm… Where was I? Oh!” You cleared your throat, and I nuzzled the window, gratefully welcoming more minutes of sleep. Or, so I thought, until you spoke up again. “But, before I do…”

And with that, I told myself it had been worth a try.

Yes, yes! Laugh it up! You were cruel, Twilight! Cruel, cruel, cruel!

“Mmm?” I asked, playing along in a game I’d already lost.

“Sooooo,” you said, trying to sound adorably innocent, which I imagine was difficult when you were only one of those things! “What was the name of the traveler?”

In my hesitation, you found your reply while I found a smug voice that would not go away no matter how hard I pressed my ears against my head.

“Ah-ha! I knew it! You did fall asleep!”

“Twiiiiliiight,” I whined, tearing myself from the window and shooting you a piteous look. “It’s six in the morning! You can’t possibly expect me to stay awake! I need my beauty sleep! My rest! My—!” I yawned myself into silence.

“Rarity, you’ve already been sleeping for more than an hour, and if you continue, you’ll feel the exact opposite of well-rested,” you chided, closing the book and frowning. I half-expected you to cross your forelegs and waggle a disapproving hoof at me. “Studies show that the perfect nap should be between thirty to ninety minutes long. Anything longer than that and you’ll feel groggy or worse.”

I scoffed, snuggling up against the window. “Well, my studies show that more beauty sleep is better, so there! Take your quill out and prepare to take notes, darling; I’m about to turn theory into practice!”


Two hours went by, and I awoke once again to your gentle voice and soft touch. The sun had risen, and when my eyes fluttered open, I saw you hovering over me, the rays of sunshine illuminating you like a halo.

You looked angelic, I thought, which was fitting considering I felt like I wanted to die.

I groaned, burying my face into the seat and forsaking the sun that dared to wake me.

“Soooo,” you said in that tone of voice when you think you’re being awfully clever. I didn’t even need to look to know you were smirking at me. “Care to share your findings with the class?”

If I had a pillow readily available, I’d have smacked you with it.

We eventually made our way to the castle, and by that I mean, I eventually dragged myself out of the train, into the station and out into the city. My only consolation was that even deprived of sleep, I still looked fabulous. Didn’t I? What do you mean you don’t remember? You had a crush on me! Didn’t you spend your hours stealing glances at me? Sweetheart, you don’t need to deny it! I think it’s endearing!

“Rarity, are you sure you can handle this?” you asked, eyeing my brand new triple-charged cup of coffee. “It’s only been a week and half and you look exhausted.”

“Twilight Sparkle, I can take care of myself, I’ll have you know,” I reprimanded. “I just need to get used to the routine, is all.”

“I know,” you said. “I’m just…” You drifted off, and when I glanced your way, you seemed to be adrift in a sea of thoughts. You shook your head, and without offering any further explanation, noted: “we’re nearly there.”

“So we are!” I exclaimed, taking another sip of coffee and eyeing the castle looming close. “And Twilight.” I turned to you, lifting my hoof and brushed your bangs back. “Thank you for caring. I do appreciate it, even if I complained about it a little.”

You snorted. “Right. A little.”

And finally, I lifted my hoof and booped you, as it were.

“A little,” I said, smiling my most dazzling smile, which you returned with a smile of your own.

“Are we meeting for lunch again?” you asked. A travel guide appeared next to you, which you excitedly waved in front of my face. “I’ve been looking for new restaurants to take you to. There’s one in the Knowledge District I think you’ll like, next to the Dragon Library.”

That was the other part of our routine, do you remember? I would work on dresses, you would… do whatever it is you did? Read books? Discuss books? Declare your undying love to boo—Pardon me, I am not exaggerating! You didn’t marry a book only because it’s not socially acceptable! I’ve seen the way you look at them, Sparkle.

Ahem.

We both had our duties, of course, but every lunch time was devoted to exploring the city and its many wonders. Our own little bucketlist of places to visit before our time was up.




“Twilight, you know, I don’t think you’ve ever really told me much about your childhood,” I said once.

We were having brunch in one of the Sun District’s more upper class restaurants. It had been a particularly sunny day for the winter season, and I looked tres chic in my scarf, yellow chapeau and sunglasses whilst I elegantly gazed at the foals playing in the gardens.

You blinked at me from across the table, your ears twitching. “I haven’t?”

“You haven’t,” I replied, levitating my sunglasses up onto my head. I looked back towards the foals, making sure to continue looking as elegant as I possibly could. You never knew who you might meet, after all! “It’s not that I don’t think I’m a fascinating individual, but this is your home, darling! You’re more lively in Ponyville than you are here!”

“Ponyville is my home,” you replied. You looked around, and where I saw wonder and novelties, you saw...I want to say familiarity, but that wouldn’t be accurate, would it? You saw in Canterlot what I saw in Ponyville.

Nothing interesting at all.

“Canterlot is fine,” you continued. “It’s where I grew up, but that’s it. There’s nothing interesting here, besides the Princess, the library, and my family.”

I sighed theatrically. “Well, frankly, I disagree. I love it,” I replied, levitating my drink and taking a sip. “Ponyville is so unspeakably plain. There’s nothing to do there, but Canterlot? Canterlot is as limitless as the imagination! The city of wonders! Of glamour, fashion, and opportunity! It’s the best city in Equestria!”

You giggled. “You’re crazy. Ponyville is so much better”

I harrumphed, putting my glasses back on again. “You’re the crazy one!” I levitated my fork and pointed it towards you. “Come now! Sell it to me! Name one thing from Ponyville that makes it better than Canterlot, and it can’t be our friends!”

You stared at me for the longest time.

Though staring is, perhaps, the wrong expression. You never stared at me, or at anypony or anything. Such an act is much too uncouth for somepony of your intellect. You didn’t look at me, you saw me. I suppose that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed your company, narcissistic as it sounds. You analyzed me, tried to understand me.

I wish I had analyzed you as you did me. I might have seen what was so clear before me.

I turned away in the face of your silence. “See! You can’t even think of anything!” I looked at you again and smiled devilishly. “Actually, I can think of one thing that makes Ponyville better than Canterlot.”

You raised your eyebrow, and smiled, accepting the challenge. “Oh?”

Me,” I said, and I wished you could see me fluttering my eyes behind my glasses. “I live there, after all, therefore it is superior to Canterlot. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Once more, you stared at me for the longest time before smiling playfully and resting your chin on your hoof.

“Oh, I do.”

VI. The Gossip of Nobles

Thinking back, those first two weeks now feel like a blur. I remember some important details, some events, but they all seem to obscure into darkness when compared to that night.

What do you mean what night? The night, Twilight! The one where I first saw you differently.

It started in my workshop while I worked on a new commission for Duchess Silkrose.

You see, when I first took on the job, I thought it was clear that it would entail sewing and tailoring only. I found out soon enough that all of that was simply secondary to my real job: being the castle’s very own gossip hub.

“And then, can you believe it? That pompous Razor Stream asked me to join him for dinner! What an oaf! Absolutely scandalous, Princess! Scandalous!

I couldn’t fault them, really. Having to stand still for hours on end as I worked on their outfits? It’s no wonder their mouths ran like rivers, and yes, it’s true, I was not entirely off-put. Even if the Grand Galloping Gala had…been a rather unfortunate demonstration of Canterlot’s lacking aristocracy, I was still ensorcelled by it.

Even Princess Celestia indulged in it, the fiend!

She sat by the window, gazing out into the distance as the Duchess spoke, and I silently worked. I had been so nervous when the Princess had first arrived! I’d obviously been expecting her to meet with me eventually--she’d hired me herself, after all—but I hadn’t anticipated on it happening while I was working with a client!

Twilight, not everything Celestia does is a test!

“Now, Silkrose, you’re being too harsh on poor Razor,” the Princess said with an amused giggle. “He is only smitten.”

Duchess Silkrose, as you might remember, is, well… How shall I say this? Finesse and elegance are words I would hesitate to associate with her. She’s the type of pony who didn’t take care of herself with the expectation that her generous fortune would make up for it, only to find out with old age that such was not the case. She—

Well, yes, she looked like a wrinkly prune, but you don’t have to put it like that, Twilight.

The Duchess harrumphed. “Smitten! Well, he can be smitten elsewhere! He’ll have to work harder if he wants my attention! Every stallion in Canterlot wants it! I am one of Equestria’s most gorgeous mares!”

I snorted.

What! I couldn’t help it! Yes, I know it wasn’t polite, but I—! You know what, Twilight? How dare you be so aghast when you called her a wrinkly prune not even a minute ago! Well, I didn’t say it to her face, either!

Well, I did, but—

She didn’t notice, and that’s all that matters! I’d perfectly succeeded in masking it as a sneeze!

Or so, I thought, until I glanced towards the window and found the Princess staring right at me. You will never fully comprehend the fear that flooded me in that moment. She was much like you, actually. Never staring at me, but analyzing instead.

Realistically, it must have been only a second or two, but it felt eternal. In her stare, I saw my career go up in flames. My destiny unfolded before me as the seamstress shamed from Canterlot for having an indiscreet opinion on the Duchess’s very generous view of herself.

And then, and I’m not making this up, I give you my word, the Princess smiled at me. She smiled at me and, without breaking eye-contact, said, “Oh, I agree completely.”

I’m telling you, she did!

I had to excuse myself to fetch more fabrics just so the poor Duchess wouldn’t hear my giggling. It wasn’t all that awful of us, really! If you knew the things the Duchess said about the other nobles, I can assure you you’d see I’m entirely justified!

Speaking of which…

“Speaking of which,” she said—I’m being repetitive on purpose! It’s an aesthetic decision!

“Speaking of which,” she said—again—, clearing her throat and humming. The telltale sign of some sort of impeding scandalous gossip. “The wedding between Platinum Snow and Silver Scales is coming up in a few months, as you know.”

“I do!” the Princess said. “And I’m looking forward to it! There hasn’t been a wedding in the castle in some time.”

You remember them, don’t you, sweetheart? Silver Scale was an oaf, which we’ll discuss in a moment.

But Platinum.

Platinum, now she was in a class onto itself. I’d never really spoken with her before, but the few times I had, well, the mind did briefly wander towards indelicate thoughts. In a society like ours, where there’s so much more ladies than there are gentlecolts, one must always keep one's options open. At the time, I leaned towards stallions, mostly, but stars above, when I saw her, the way her mane perfectly cascaded down her face, and don’t get me started on her silky cerulean coat. It was like divinity and perfe—

Twilight Sparkle, I reasserted my undying love to you in a park not even less than two hours ago. Why in Equestria are you jealous?

Now, as I was saying, or, rather, the Duchess was saying, Platinum and Silver were set to be married in a few months. They were Canterlot’s sweethearts through and through, mostly because you and I weren’t an item yet. We would have destroyed them!

Sadly, they beat us to the proverbial punch.

“What about their wedding?” the Princess inquired, satiating the curiosity that piqued me.

I would have asked myself, but not only would that have been inappropriate, I was otherwise occupied glaring at fabrics through my glasses and deciding which one to use for the Duchess’s dress. I believe I went with silk, because I was young and foolish and distracted.

“Well!” The Duchess chuckled. “Our handsome Silver Scales went on a business trip last week to Trottingham.”

The Princess hummed, her eyes set on the Duchess. “I heard. He has some business ventures there, doesn’t he?”

“Ha! Business? Some would call it that, yes.” She lifted her hoof and patted down her dress. “Well. I was there last week, visiting my dear Professor Brazened, and who did I see but Silver Scales himself leaving the Mithral Hotel with a smile and very interesting company.”

I remember holding my breath, my needle floating inches away from the fabric. My mind reeled with all the possible directions she was going with that, and every direction was more scandalous than the last. Why, even the Princess was interested, her body leaning forwards and her ears directed towards the elder mare.

And then you arrived.

Three knocks at the door, the door rudely swinging open, and you poking your head in with an innocent expression, as though you had not just interrupted the juiciest gossip of the year, and I didn’t want to kill you.

Your eyes flickered towards me first, and my anger only slightly waned when faced with your brilliant smile. Of course, then you noticed Princess Celestia, and I was swiftly forgotten, cast aside in favor of your hopeless idolization of your mentor.

“Oh! Princess! Sorry, am I too early?” you asked her, only belatedly glancing at me, like I was some sort of afterthought. You know who wouldn’t have put the Princess before me? Platinum, that’s who! I heard she’s single again. I should send her a lett—mmph!

Really. You’re just going to slap your dirty hooves on my mouth. Not even use a muzzling spell. Your finesse is unparalleled.

“Oh, er, Twilight!” I exclaimed, putting down my things and trotting towards you. You had not told me you’d be dropping by unannounced, and I knew the Duchess wouldn’t take kindly to me entertaining you while she waited. I threw the Duchess a pained smile and then nudged you along. “Twilight, darling, I won’t be long. Be a dear and come back later, won’t you?”

“It’s all right, Rarity,” the Princess said suddenly, getting up and smiling. “Twilight asked me earlier today to let you have the evening off.”

I blinked at her and then at you, finding you grinning widely. “You did…?” I turned to the Duchess. “But, I…”

“Duchess! Won’t you join me for tea?” Princess Celestia said briskly. “You have to tell me more about your little encounter in Trottingham.”

The Duchess nodded effusively, and after instructing me to please be ready for her the next week, she and the Princess left, taking with them the dastardly secret of the century. I sighed a heavy sigh, taking off my glasses and placing them wherever I usually placed them. I was too distraught to fully care.

“Well, I hope you’re happy, Twilight,” I told you. “Now I’ll never know who she saw the Duke with.”

You rolled your eyes. “Tragic.”

And it really was tragic, and no, I will not get over it! It was the talk of the castle weeks later, and you completely stripped me off the pleasure of walking around before that, knowing I knew something they didn’t! Honestly, you were so inconsiderate to my plights.

“Anyway,” you said after I huffed at you, “are you ready to go?”

“Ready to go? Ready to go where?” I asked, my indignation subsiding in the face of your secrets. It was something that fascinated me about you, and still does. No matter how sure I am that I know you perfectly, you always manage to surprise me.

You hummed innocently. “You said the other day that I’ve never really told you much about my foalhood. Well...” You tilted your head to the side, nodding to the saddlebag hanging on your back. “If you’re okay with taking the eleven o’clock train, I can show you.”

“Show me?” I asked, and when I prompted for an explanation, you only instructed me to pack my things. We wouldn’t be coming back, you assured.

And you were right.

There was no coming back to the way we were after that night.

VII. Alone Together

Do you still remember the little art shop at the entrance of the Moon District? Yes, the one with the rather odd shopkeeper. It closed about a month ago, I heard. It’s a shame, I always did love it.

We lingered by it that night, too, remember? My favorite district had always been the Sun one, with all its boutiques and high-end restaurants. I only ever ventured into the Moon District to visit the art stores. Fashion is my passion, but I sometimes indulged in the more traditional artistry.

“Do you think they were painted by hoof?” you asked, admiring the symbols adorning the shop’s window panes. Black crescent moons and stars, almost like a tribute to Princess Luna herself.

“I don’t believe they were,” I replied. “They all look identical, see? They all even have the same mistake in the corner. They must have been spray-painted. No two hoof-drawn design will ever be the same.”

“Do you like to paint, then?” you asked.

“Occasionally. I would paint more if I had the time.”

You smiled. “I’m sure you will.”

You led me away from the shop, going off in a tangent about the history of spray-painting, because of course you would happen to know the history of such a thing. I couldn’t say it had ever been something of interest to me, but you spoke with such passion, I couldn’t help but be enthralled. Even now I know you had my undivided attention simply because I can’t remember what other shops we passed by that night.

Eventually, we reached our destination in the shape of The Folded Bookmark, a library that would soon enough become a recurrent location in that chapter of my life. The two-story black building was certainly interesting enough in its design: four oval windows, two glass doors with red handles, a worn-out sign depicting a, well, folded bookmark, and a white spiral clo—

What do you mean why am I describing it? Twilight Sparkle, I am telling a story here! I don’t care if you already know what it looks like! Well, fine, I won’t describe anything anymore!

“Is this it?” I asked, and you nodded.

“It was my favorite library after the Princess’s,” you said. “You can see the Royal Park Amphitheatre from the top floor.” You glance— you looked alarmed, but you already know why you were alarmed so why even bother descri—

Hm? Oh, curious, I thought you didn’t want descriptions.

You glanced at a clock, and your ears stood up in alarm. “It’s almost seven! It’s going to start without us!”

Before I could question you on what was starting without us, you rushed forwards, opening the door and gesturing for me to follow. We stepped inside, and I was overcome with the scent of old scrolls and dry ink. I remember being impressed by the size of the place, with its dozens of bookcases arranged almost like a labyrinth.

After you greeted the librarian, you finally approached me.

“What do you think?” you asked, fixing me with a...what’s the word? Seeking? Beseeching! Fixing me with a beseeching stare. You were like a filly awaiting judgement on her latest creation.

“Well…” I paused. For effect, yes. I looked around, scanning the bookshelves, the ponies walking about, and then I turned to you and smiled. “It reminds me of you.”

I thought it was a compliment, but the way you looked at me clearly showed you didn’t take it as such. Just remembering it makes me laugh. You are so painfully easy to read at times, Twilight. You didn’t say anything, but you stared at me with a furrowed brow, clearly trying to figure out whether or not I had just complimented or insulted you.

“Darling. That’s a good thing,” I said with a playful smile, and you silly filly, you practically fell to the floor with relief.

“Oh! Uhm, I knew that,” you said, and then added, “I’m glad you like it!”

Honestly, I was flattered my opinion meant so much to you! Unlike now, where I’m just old news to be brushed off when I scold you for eating too much cake.

“It’s very charming,” I said. “I can see why you’d spend your time here as a filly.”

“Oh no,” you said, and you smirked at me, and honestly, I still don’t understand how it took me so long to fall for you. In a competition for most heart-throbbing smiles, you’d win bronze, silver, gold and then some. “We’re not there yet.”

And you say you’re not one for showmareship! Wait, I said it? I would never! I have always said you’re a mare with a flair for theatrics! And what theatrics indeed as you giggled and led me up staircases and towards the second floor. We trotted past bookcases, past ponies reading and sleeping on couches, and finally ran into a large black door marked with the bolded red words: Do Not Enter.

Not ominous at all.

You tried the handle at first, but found out it was locked. You hummed. I frowned.

“Twilight, I don’t understand,” I said.

You blinked. I waited. Neither talked. Time came to a stop. What? No, I’m talking in short sentences for suspense! Will you let me tell my story, for goodness’s sake?!

The tension was high. You looked at me. I looked at you. You were beautiful. No, that is not irrelevant. Your horn crackled with magic. A clicking sound shot off. And the locked door suddenly swung open, revealing a set of spiral stairs.

“There we go!” you exclaimed.

“Twilight! You just opened it!” I whispered urgently, looking around in alarm. When you said you had a surprise, I hadn’t expected mischief!

“I did,” you said, standing up straight, proud of your wrongdoing. “It’s a pretty simple spell.”

Well! I was certainly…impressed.

“My, my, my, Twi-light Spar-kle, you scoundrel!” I whispered, stepping back and regarding you in a whole new light. I liked this rebellious streak. “I’d never thought you to be into illegal activities, but darling, I approve.” I giggled, tapped you on the nose, and stepped into the forbidden pathway. “It’s very alluring.”

To this and to my dying day, I will never forget the expression you made. It had only been a playful comment! There was nothing more to it, just a friend doing a bit of innocent flirty teasing, but stars above, your face turned twenty shades of red in record time!

“Rarity!” you gasped, appalled! Shocked! Flustered beyond belief! “I wasn’t—! I’m not into illegal activities! The librarian gave me permission to come in! Rarity!”

I ignored you in favor of trotting up the stairs. It wasn’t very nice, but I found your indignation entertaining, so I simply giggled and listened as you stomped your way behind me. I ascended the spiral staircases, and finally reached the attic, and what a sight it was indeed.

It’s still one of my favorite places in the world. The walls lined with bookcases storing all kinds of art and scientific devices; the faded paintings hanging on the walls; the mess of papers, notes and life strewn about the floor; and the glass ceiling from where you could clearly see the night sky and its plethora of stars.

I was breathless.

This is what I wanted to show you,” you softly said, and at the moment I didn’t notice it, but you voice lacked the smugness I’d have expected of you. You weren’t amused by my awe, but rather…

I can’t find the words. Or, I can, but… It’s too corny, Twilight! Yes, even for me!

All right, let me gather my thoughts.

I could see traces of you all over the room. The half-opened books, the checklists on the walls, the stash of gems and rubies for dragons to munch on, the little couch where you read, and the unmistakeable scent of you. Fresh ink, dusty book pages, and oak wood.

It was intimate. That’s the word I want. Not intimate in a sensual or risque way, but intimate in a completely personal way. Intimate in the way that somepony opening up to you is intimate, as that was exactly what you were doing. I was being allowed to step into your world and, at that moment, I assumed I was merely there to observe it.

“Twilight, this is…”

I didn’t quite know what to say.

“Wait,” you said, and your giddy smile returned. “It gets better.”

You trotted over towards the edge of the room, your horn aglow, and one of the ceiling’s glass panes revealed itself to be window. You opened it, and the sounds of the city life entered the room. A clock appeared before you, which you squinted at.

“It should be starting any minute now,” you informed.

“What will be starting?” I asked, disconcerted.

You simply set the clock down on a table and tilted your head. “Remember what I said earlier? That we’re right next to the Grand Park’s amphitheater? Well… They hold classical music concerts every Thursday.”

And just like magic, or more likely you’d somehow managed to plan it down to the second, the sound of effusive clapping followed, and moments later, classical music filled the room, like a distant, soothing hum.

“I would come here every Thursday,” you said. “To read, or work, or read.”

“And read, too?” I asked with a grin, and you laughed.

“That too,” you said, and I found myself, I think, enchanted by you. Moreso than ever before, and moreso by you than anything else that surrounded you. You weren’t Twilight, Princess Celestia’s student. You weren’t Twilight, a mare brought up in Canterlot.

You were you; smart, and silly, sharp, and witty.

It didn’t matter whether it was romantic or not, I was enchanted by you and this world that was yours and yours alone.

“I have something for you,” you said, drawing me out of my reveries. You opened up a nearby closet and an easel and several canvases came floating out. You placed them on an open spot where the moonlight shone down upon them like a spotlight. Details, details, details that I was blind to. “I saw you sketching on a napkin when we were at Flaming Delicacies, so I thought maybe you’d like to paint on something less, uh, expendable.”

I stepped towards it, taken aback. “I…”

“I also have pencils and materials!” you continued, and a beautiful wooden box floated towards me, opening itself to reveal a plethora of brushes, oils, of pencils and chalks, of anything I could ever want. They were a bit worn, but still in very good condition. “They were mine. I’d have gotten you new ones, but the store I buy them at had run out of this model.”

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do.

“I’m not…” I faltered. “I don’t know, I—”

And I thought I was generous with my actions.

“You don’t like it?” you asked suddenly, and in your eyes I saw fear. The fear I see so often in you, when you assume you’ve done wrong. The fear that is almost always followed by dozens of preemptive excuses and apologies and justifications. “I thought maybe you’d like to—! We don’t have to if you don’t want to!”

Your magic brushed the easel, and I spoke up before you could take anything away.

“No, no, I love it!” I exclaimed, grabbing the easel with my hoof. “This is wonderful! I’m just… Well, you put a lot of thought into all this! I was moved, is all! This clearly took effort!” You still seemed unconvinced, so I flipped my mane and fluttered my eyelashes. “As it should have! This was for me, after all, and I expect nothing less than perfection.”

Finally, you smiled and I’d never been happier to see you roll your eyes at me. “Right.”

“Though there is something amiss, Twilight,” I said, because I was cruel, and yes, I got a little thrill out of seeing just how fast you panicked again. Yes, I love you too.

“There is?” you asked, and a checklist appeared next to you, which you reviewed for mishaps.

“Well, yes,” I said. “Isn’t it rather rude of me to paint while I’m in your lovely company? Painting is… it’s a lengthy process, darling, and I don’t think you’ll be entertained by watching me draw the same line thirty times in a row.”

“Oh!” You sighed, relieved. “That’s all right, Rarity. I was going to work on one of my assignments. I’ll be quiet, don’t worry.”

You walked over to your chair, took off your saddlebags and then pulled out several heavy looking books. I remember you couldn’t decide on which to read before you finally settled on the thickest one, snuggled into your couch, and just like that, began to read.

I think I stared at you for about a minute until you finally looked up, your ears perking up.

“Is something wrong?” you asked.

“So, just to make sure I understand, I’m going to draw in silence, and you’re going to read in silence?” I asked, and you nodded. “I see.”

“Alone together,” you said suddenly. “It’s something I came up with Spike. We’d do our own tasks, but in the same room so we’d still have company.” You paused and looked around. “There’s some art books over by that table, if you want to look at them.” You grinned. “They might help for inspiration.”

Alone Together.

“You’re a very peculiar individual, Twilight,” I said, moving to sit behind the easel. “And before you ask, I mean that as a compliment.”

You shook your head, but rather than shoot back a reply, you again snuggled up into the couch and allowed yourself a smile. I, on the other hoof, prepared myself for the night. The music was lovely, and truthfully, there had been some ideas I’d been itching to sketch out.

Or, well, so I thought.

I believe I told you once that you stole my heart via the powers of suggestion. You weaved yourself into my life, fixing frayed seams here and there, until you were firmly tethered in my consciousness and my heart.

Maybe things could have gone differently that night. Maybe the concert might have been postponed, and the mood not been set. Maybe I wouldn’t have found you endlessly charming that night, and I’d have gone on to sketch a fabulous design for a new gown.

But I did, in fact, find you charming.

Earlier, I told you I didn’t really notice you before. Well, that night, you were the only thing I could notice. I am neither foolish nor foalish enough to presume that one falls in love at first sight, and my experience at the Gala had quickly done away with those notions altogether. There is physical attraction at first sight, I’ll give you that, but love is different. Or maybe it was different for me.

I levitated one of the art books, flipped through its pages, and yet even now I distinctly remember the impulse to look at you, to see what you were doing. Alone together, you’d said. It was difficult to grasp at first. I am a social creature at heart, I thrive off talking, interacting, bouncing off others. The only pony who I willingly subdue myself for is Fluttershy, and even then I find it hard not to talk, talk, talk.

But this was different. This was, as I said, your world, and I realized in this alone but togetherness, that you weren’t inviting me to observe, but to join.

So I did.

I put the art book down, scanned your box of wonders for a lavender pencil, and then, silently, I began to sketch out the real you, not the Twilight Sparkle model I used to design your dress. It called to me, the impulse to depict a silly little pony reading on her couch.

I was absorbed by it. By you. How absolutely cliche, but it was true. I felt so completely comfortable in your presence, enough that you became my presence.

Nearly an hour sped past before we were both pulled out of our shared worlds by the simple act of our eyes meeting. I had an excuse to keep looking at you, considering I was drawing you; but you, you just liked to look at me. That has yet to change, even now, has it, darling?

Our eyes met for a flicker of a second, and just like before, just like with the hug, my mind wondered for a second, debated if there was something more. And that time, it stayed there for more than just a second.

“How’s your assignment going?” I asked, finding I wanted to hear your voice.

“I’m about to finish in...now!” With a triumphant smile, you closed the book and placed it on a nearby table. You looked terribly pleased. “How about you? Did you find inspiration?”

Hah! If only you knew.

Frankly, if only I knew.

“I did,” I said cryptically, putting away the pencil and admiring the...mess of failed attempts I had going. I blamed it on the fact that designing dresses meant i only ever had to draw the same pose over and over again. And ponies. Who knew drawing a couch could be so difficult?

“Ooooh, can I see?” you asked, jumping off your seat and trotting towards me. You let out the cutest yelp when I magicked you back to your seat.

“Nonononon! It’s not ready yet!” I exclaimed.

I was...at the time, I told myself I simply didn’t want you to see an unfinished artwork, but, in retrospect, I was in denial over the real reason. You had put in so much effort for me, it was only right I pay it back with a beautiful piece of art.

You shot me the most piteous whine before sinking back into your couch.

“Why don’t you read me a book?” I asked as I tried drawing that forsaken couch for the sixth time.

I remember you stared at me like either I’d gone insane, or you were just now realizing you liked me, or both.

“What?”

“You’re finished with your assignment, aren’t you?” I elaborated, giving up on the damned couch and instead working on perfecting your pose. “We still have about an hour left. Why not read me a book?” I peeked my head out from behind the easel and grinned. “Especially now that I won’t fall asleep halfway through, hmm?”

Your eyes sparkled. “Really?” you asked, as though I had just granted you a long-coveted wish.

“Yes, really. Come along, maestro,” I said, and laughed as you practically threw yourself off the couch and looked around for something to read.

You were so terribly endearing. You made me smile. You still do, even when you’re driving me mad. Well, maybe not when I’m mad at you, no, but certainly when I’m mad about you, love.

Eventually, you found what you sought with a victorious “Ah-hah!” and then rushed back to the couch, wiggling yourself into an optimal reading position—in other words, snuggling against the couch like a filly, levitating the book in front of you and then clapping your hooves in excitement.

Stars above, Twilight, you were so cute. I loved you so much even when I didn’t know I loved you.

“Okay, so, right.” You licked your lips, cleared your throat, and as I continued to forever inscribe you in my canvas, you began to read.

Where should I begin? Where is the best place? Where did it truly begin? For Her, it began a very, very long time ago, and in a different land. But for myself, it began one night on the doorstep of summer, when a visitor came to our town…”




I didn’t finish my painting that night. I didn’t let you see it either. And it weighed on my heart, which you seemed to have noticed.

“We can come back next Thursday,” you said as we walked back towards the station, your little book floating behind you. We hadn’t finished that either, and I absolutely refused to go home that night without at least getting to the confession between the protagonists. “The concert will be playing again, and you can finish it then.”

I liked that idea. I wanted it, I found; to again be in that small haven and to paint while you lingered close, reading me novels and giggling at my frustrated whines when painting was not going well.

The train was nearly empty, and we were able to secure our private cabin once again. It was late, and I could feel sleep lulling me away. I knew I would fall asleep if you read, and yet I still wanted you to do so.

I sat down first, and when you stepped in, I smiled at you. I remember patting the seat next to me. I have to know, did you not see me, or did you completely ignore me? You… You thought I was dusting off the seat?!

You’re hopeless, and I don’t understand why I’m so in love with you.

We truly are all mad.

So, as I was saying, I sat down first, and when you stepped in, you thought I was dusting off the seat and considerately sat across from me. I remember feeling like it was wrong. Like you’d invited me into your secret inner circle, and had now unceremoniously ousted me.

I remember thinking that would not do.

So, if you weren’t going to sit next to me, then I would simply have to sit next you.

I left my bag on my seat, got up, and before you could question me, I sat down besides you. You froze next to me, and I wondered for a moment if perhaps I’d overstepped my place. I made sure to leave ample space between us.

“Now, shall we continue?” I asked, eyeing your book. “You left off at the best part!”

Finally, you cleared your throat and continued, “There are moments when we make a decision without a conscious thought. Where, one moment, our whole disposition lay in a single direction, and before any change can be detected, one has done quite the opposite. I felt that I did not want to push her. I felt that these strongholds in my mind, the dreams and the blood on my collar, all of it, were not things I wanted to touch.

You paused.

“But touch them I did.”

Touch them I did, indeed.

You continued to read, and I glanced down at the seats, at the tiny yet massive distance separating us. I thought of your world, the one you’d let me into, and even though moments ago I’d been determined on giving you space, I found myself moving closer, our coats intertwining as I leaned against you to read alongside you.

You froze again.

“Twilight?” I asked cautiously. “Is this all right?”

“Yes,” you said after a moment, and you relaxed next to me, once again submerged in our little bubble of quiet togetherness.

You continued to read, and we almost never sat apart again.


You were you,
and I was I;
we were two
before our time.

I was yours
before I knew,
and you have always
been mine too.”

~ Lang Leav, Love & Misadventures


Author's Note:

If you find any typos, please let me know (preferably via PM). Thank you!