• Published 25th May 2018
  • 2,136 Views, 969 Comments

Little Consequences - Skijarama



Princess Rainbow Dash and her friends have found themselves in the newly restored Crystal Empire, and now struggle against the forces of Queen Chrysalis and the enigmatic King Sombra in an effort to reclaim Canterlot and save Equestria.

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Night

Several hours had passed since Thorax came back with an impressively large assortment of goods that were given free of charge by several of the Crystal Ponies. They had claimed that they were donating to Twilight and Starlight, specifically, so they could keep their barrier up and Sombra out longer. When all was said and done, Thorax wound up coming back with a few days worth of food and ingredients, and the promise that if they need more, they need only ask the locals. Needless to say, the group had enjoyed a lovely and varied meal that afternoon.

Since then, as the hours had ticked away in relative silence, Twilight kept her eyes locked firmly on the history book, perusing its contents and searching for any worthwhile information. At one point maybe an hour after their massive lunch, Spike began belching out letters containing status reports from the cities they had contacted. He had been pleased to report that the Ponyville evacuees had made it to Manehattan without incident, and the rest of the cities were awaiting instructions. While Rainbow Dash set about sending responses to the cities, focusing on organizing proper defenses against the Changelings, Twilight just kept focusing on her book.

Her progress was severely slowed, however, thanks to the strain being put on her mind from maintaining the spell while she worked. She had lost count of the number of times she had had to restart a page because of a twinge of pain in her skull or a stray spark of magic distracting her weary mind. She didn’t tell anypony this, however, not wanting to worry them or drop their morale. So she just remained quiet and focused all of her attention on the book.

The sun eventually began to set beyond the horizon, albeit far earlier than it normally would have. Chrysalis was undoubtedly up to something back in Equestria and was using the cover of night to her advantage. Now, all was silent, the glow of the sun had faded into the darkness of the night a couple of hours ago. Twilight’s friends had long since gotten out their sleeping equipment to get some rest in the center of the library, although she and Starlight did not have that luxury. To avoid disturbing the sleeping ponies or distracting each other, they isolated themselves on opposite ends of the library from one another, with Starlight grabbing a fiction novel to occupy her mind and Twilight focusing on the history book.

All around her were some candles she had managed to find stashed in a storage closet, and all were lit. The gentle, flickering orange glow they let off helped put her mind at ease even with the strain of the barrier and the need to focus on the book.

She turned the page, scanning the beginning of the next chapter with scholarly interest. She had to admit, what she had managed to glean about the Empire’s history so far was fascinating, if not exactly helpful as of now.

For the moment, she satisfied herself with looking at the first pages of the chapter depicting the Empire's royal family tree, which was beautifully illustrated in an almost stained-glass pattern. She looked it over for several seconds before starting to read the information on the Empire's first queen.

The First Queen of the Crystal Empire, Queen Amora, was known as a kind and benevolent ruler to all her subjects, holding many events that would kickstart some of the Empire’s most closely held traditions and customs. The Crystal Fair, the Crystallings, jousting tournaments, monthly competitions between craftsponies, and many more. The first years of her reign were-

Twilight’s horn sparked, and a throb of discomfort coursed through her skull, obliterating her concentration. She cringed and bit back a grunt of pain, inhaling sharply through tightly clenched teeth. She closed her eyes and took a long, deep breath.

“You okay?”

Twilight opened her eyes and looked to her left, seeing Rainbow Dash leaning against one of the bookshelves leading into her little area. Twilight gave a small nod. “Yes, Rainbow. I’m okay. Just a little tired, is all.”

Rainbow didn’t seem convinced but opted not to question it for now. She slowly trotted forward until she was by Twilight’s side, where she settled down onto her belly. “How’s the search going?” she asked quietly, scooting a little closer.

“Shouldn’t you be asleep?” Twilight questioned with a raised eyebrow, setting the book down and looking into Rainbow’s eyes. “You’ve got to be even more tired than the rest of us. Two rainbooms in one day? An aerial performance and a battle with a giant eldritch smoke monster?”

“Oh, I’m exhausted, yeah,” Rainbow replied casually with a smug grin before looking into the history book and scrutinizing the page. “But I couldn’t sleep… not without making sure you’ll be okay.”

Twilight snorted and lightly swat Rainbow on the shoulder. “I’m not a helpless filly, Rainbow. You don’t need to baby me,” she chastised with a disapproving frown, earning a small wince from the pegasus.

“I know, I’m sorry. I’m not trying to baby you or anything, I’m just…” Rainbow paused and ran a hoof over her face, trying to formulate her thoughts. “...I just want to make sure you’re doing okay, you know? I can’t help it. You go wandering off, trying to maintain a spell that requires both you and Starlight working on it all the time, while also needing to read a book, without sleeping… What, am I supposed to do something besides worry about you?”

“What about having some faith in us?” Twilight tried with a small shrug, earning a roll of Rainbow’s eyes.

“Corny much?” she asked with a playful nudge.

“You know it’s true.”

Rainbow’s face fell and her smile faded. “Yeah… yeah, it is, you’re right. I just can’t help myself… I…”

Twilight’s own gaze lowered a little, and she nudged the book away for now. They had some time, yet. It could wait. She shifted so she was looking directly at Rainbow, analyzing her posture. She looked… timid. Nervous, anxious, maybe even a little embarrassed. The way she kept looking at Twilight, then looking away, the way she kept opening her mouth to say something... “...It’s because you love me, isn’t it?” Twilight ventured hesitantly, not quite able to meet Rainbow’s gaze.

The other mare just sighed and nodded, slumping down onto the ground. “Probably… You’re just… always in my head, somehow.”

Twilight bit her lip, and a chilling silence fell over the two of them. In truth, she still didn’t really know for sure how she felt about all of this. Rainbow’s confession had come out of nowhere back in Hollow Shades, taking her completely by surprise, especially given the emotional stress the pegasus had been under at the time. But the confession had gone a long way in explaining a lot of Rainbow’s behavior over the course of their search for Starlight. The playful snark, physical closeness, comfort with sharing a bed, and even admitting to being relaxed when studying because she was with Twilight. Not to mention some subtle flirting that had happened in the Golden Oaks library before they left for Manehattan.

Twilight’s lack of a reply made the silence seem deafening, and Rainbow began to slowly inch away, any confidence in her posture fading away. “Look, I… It’s cool if you don’t feel the same way. I know I’m not really the best pony around…” she choked out in a quivering voice, standing up and turning to leave. “You, uh… You’re doing alright up here, so... I’ll leave you alone now-”

“Rainbow,” Twilight interrupted her, reaching out and grabbing Rainbow’s hoof. She stopped and looked back at Twilight with confused eyes. For several seconds, both of them were silent. Twilight tugged on Rainbow’s hoof and gestured for her to sit down, a very small and gentle smile appearing on her face. “I never said I don’t feel the same way… I said I don’t know how I feel,” she reminded in barely a whisper. “So… maybe… if you describe how you feel, I can have a frame of reference. Something to help me figure out what’s going on in here?” she emphasized her point by tapping a hoof to her chest.

Rainbow’s face scrunched up a little bit. “Are you sure that’s a good way to go about it?” she asked skeptically. “It’s emotion, Twi, not science.”

“Maybe not, but…” Twilight shrugged helplessly. “How else am I supposed to figure it out? This is all new to me; to us.

“What about Thorax?” Rainbow suggested, making Twilight blink in confusion. Rainbow shifted and gestured vaguely in the direction that the others were all in “I mean, he can see love in the air, right? Maybe we can have him take a look?”

“I don’t think it works like that,” Twilight shook her head slowly. “When we met, he described that they use ‘love’ as a sort of blanket term. Things like trust, comfort, companionship, respect, among other things, all fall under that blanket. That’s why they can feed off of somepony that only sees them as a friend instead of a family member or lover. Those types of emotions all create energy, and it’s that energy that they can see and eat.”

Rainbow’s ears drooped, and she looked down at the ground. “Right… figures,” she mumbled quietly.

Twilight’s own ears fell, and she found it hard to look at the pegasus in front of her. This wasn’t fair. Why was it so hard to articulate how she was feeling? Wasn’t it all just chemical reactions in her head?

“But… um… to answer your question…” Rainbow began, drawing Twilight out of her inner reverie. The cyan mare sat slowly upright, her ears starting to stand upright again. “Like I said before, I think I started… ah…”

Twilight felt her smile grow just a little at Rainbow’s face as she tried to make herself say it. “You can say it, Rainbow,” she urged her on gently, giving a reassuring gesture with a hoof. “You don’t have to be shy about this with me.”

Rainbow’s cheeks turned a little red, but she managed to nod and keep talking. “...I started falling… in love with you... when you came to save me from Nightmare Moon. I just… I kinda couldn’t stop thinking about you after that. You were always in my head in some way. I’d be at the market buying fruits or something, and I’d think ‘hey, I wonder what Twi would think of this,’ or, ‘what could I have Spike make with this that Twilight would really like.’ I’d be working in the sky, busting clouds, and I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from picturing you watching me from the ground and cheering me on, and I’d put an extra flourish to my work even when nopony was really there like I was trying to impress you. I remember, during winter, I was looking for some clothes to keep us warm, and I remember seeing this really fuzzy red coat. I pictured you in it and I thought you would look really nice in it.”

“You actually bought me that…” Twilight mumbled, recalling the gift in question, her eyes slowly going wide. “Called it an early Hearthswarming gift…”

“I couldn’t resist,” Rainbow shrugged, smiling very slightly as she, too, thought back on it. ”You liked it a lot… and I thought seeing you happy like that was just… the best thing. But…” her gaze fell, and her smile was replaced with a thoughtful look. ”I kept asking myself ‘why,’ you know? Why is Twilight always in my head? This kept going for months, and I kept thinking about you more and more and… I was getting confused, so I wound up asking Mom about it. Had Spike send her a letter. When I got a reply, it was from Cadance, telling me that those were a lot of the signs of… uh, falling in love with somepony. She also mentioned ‘butterflies in my stomach’ or something, and I guess that’s a good way to describe another sensation I kept feeling… I wanted to say something after that, but...” Rainbow closed her eyes and wilted somewhat, a tiny shake working its way into her muscles. “I was… scared. I was scared that if you didn’t feel the same way and I told you that I loved you, our friendship might be ruined… that’s…” she slowly looked into Twilight’s eyes, showing that tears were forming in her own. “That’s w-why I admitted it in Hollow Shades. I figured I’d already blown it w-with you, so… what harm was there in putting it out t-there? It’s not like it could have made things worse...”

While she listened, Twilight’s hoof slowly traveled up to rest over her chest, a small blush spreading on her cheeks. Her heart rate was steadily rising while Rainbow explained how she had felt, and when she heard Rainbow mention Hollow Shades, heard the residual pain the pegasus’ voice, saw how she shrunk at the mere memory of that whole ordeal… it stirred something in her, a compulsion to act.

She didn’t say anything. Instead, she reached out and pulled Rainbow into a gentle hug, burying her face into the other mare’s shoulder. Rainbow squeaked in surprise, but quickly melted into the embrace and returned it, holding Twilight close. Neither said anything for a good, long time, just taking comfort in each other’s hooves.

For Twilight, her mind was racing at a million miles a second while she replayed the last several weeks in her head, from Rainbow’s hangover in Ponyville to right now. And as she did, more and more did she realize just how closely Rainbow’s descriptions were lining up with how she had felt at the time… except for one thing.

But when Rainbow gave Twilight a gentle squeeze, pulling her closer and letting her breath tickle The unicorn’s ear… that one missing thing wasn’t missing anymore. Her entire belly began to feel warm and light, and indeed, ‘butterflies in her stomach’ was a good description. She held Rainbow even closer, the realization fully setting in.

Not far away, with her own horn still alight with magic, was Starlight Glimmer, watching them from behind one of the bookcases. She took a step back, her eyes looking down at the floor and showing with uncertainty. She cast the pair a guilty-looking glance before, without a word, she turned and crept away, leaving the two mares to their own devices.


“You have got to be freaking kidding me…” Pharynx said under his breath, looking on at the magically shielded crystalline city in the distance with a look of disbelief, awe, and dread. Thorax was somewhere in there, he just knew it. There was nowhere else in this snow-blasted wasteland he could have gone, especially if he was traveling with the last princess and her retinue. He was so close to finding his brother, it made his hooves tingle. Finally, he could get his brother back and, with any luck, talk him out of this. Maybe they could get lucky, and Chrysalis would be willing to show mercy.

As his hooves tingled with excitement, his stomach growled at the same time that his eyes refocused, allowing him to see the veritable shroud of pure, uncorrupted love energy that smothered the entire city. He sniffed at the air and began to shake in his chitin, his tongue licking his lips instinctively. He was too far away to eat any of it, but he could smell it, and it was wonderful.

Sadly, he couldn’t risk getting any closer. Disregarding the massive magical barrier protecting it, there was also the matter of that monster of pure darkness that licked and waited patiently around the edges of the dome, encircling the entire city. Occasionally, Pharynx could see those malevolent eyes he had potted previously emerging to peer inside, and each time he did, the love energy in the air would thin just slightly until the eyes vanished into the smoke once again.

“Hmph… fine… I can wait…” Pharynx muttered before turning and trotting back out into the snow. Before he could figure out a way to keep himself sustained until that shadow was gone, he needed to find shelter. “Just wait, Thorax,” he growled to himself. “I’ll find you soon enough…”

Author's Note:

I am terribly sorry for the fact that this chapter took an entire week to put out. Just a lot of stuff happened in rapid succession that delayed me. Still, here it is! I hope you enjoy!

EDIT - 6/23/2018: I added a paragraph to this chapter to help lead into a plot point in one of the later chapters. It's about where Twilight was reading about Queen Amora; the new paragraph is just above that one.

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