• Published 15th Jun 2018
  • 496 Views, 27 Comments

Redux: The Harbinger's Oath - Ringtael



Twilight's been having odd dreams for months now. Snaps and flashes of a life she doesn't remember, places she';s never been, but thers's something consistent in the dreams. The stallion that isn't a pony she knows, but one she remembers.

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Let Me In...

Redux: Let me in…

ↂ✶✵✶ↂ

Dear Diary,

Fluttershy and I had fallen asleep by the time Max left, though we didn’t know if he’d snuck out for something or if he’d just gotten bored and needed to go stir up somepony else’s life. Either way, we were without our Human and said Human might be more than just a little sad that the two friends he just confessed some of the worst things the worst things I’d ever heard of happening to a pony that didn’t end with them underground. My Truth Spell wavered occasionally, but that… That only made it worse… Knowing that Max was lying about how much what he’d gone through had hurt at the time was hard for obvious reasons. Wishing that he wouldn’t downplay his suffering still doesn’t do me any good, but I can’t say that I don’t understand why he does it. It’s a kind lie that I didn’t want him to tell on a moral level, but the alternative was probably a result that he didn’t want in the first place.

I didn’t know what to do about Max since he’d just… Appeared. I mean, I felt like I’d known him for years, but I’d only known him for days and I already knew that I wanted him in the rest of my life as well…Feeling lost wasn’t something I was getting used to at all, but I was happy to have Fluttershy with me to help me get through the rough morning. It was good to have a close friend nearby when things seemed like they just kept getting worse, and it was even better that Fluttershy was the friend I had around. I mean, I love all of my friends, but some try my patience more than others.

Anyway, Fluttershy and I decided that Max would show up when he needed us, so I went home and took care of a few things that I didn’t like procrastinating on, such as personal hygiene and the vague feeling that I should try experimenting with Poison Joke and Flergulic again, as droll as ‘Flergulic’ sounds. There was a breakthrough on the horizon; all I had to do was sail towards it. The problem was that I needed to focus and my mind kept drifting off to Max even while I was getting the experiment together to the point where it was too dangerous for me to follow through with what i wanted to do since Poison Joke isn’t something to be trifled with, especially since it’s treemen could potentially make me do something weird.

With my experiment out the window, Spike out of the house, and nothing else to do other than read, I went into the kitchen, made some tea, and started writing a little story instead of reading because I didn’t want to read at the moment. I wanted to experience something new and comforting, something sound and peaceful, so I began the tale of Cloud Forest and his long lost lover, Ion Dine and how they were reunited. Unlike how I started writing in my diary, Betwixt was a phenomenally simple thing to write, and to get it written so quickly! It wasn’t exactly legible per se, but it definitely read well and didn’t seem to have many grammatical issues. Granted, it wasn’t a long story by any means, but that just meant that I could add onto it, and thus began the series Ignition in the Arboreal Mountains, which would be based around the simple living of a few towns that lived high up in the mountains Southwest of Ponyville. The Appletian Mountains were famous for their folk tales, so I figured that one more from a descendent of someone born there wouldn’t be out of place.

I spent the entire day writing and focusing on my story to the point where I didn’t even realize that Spike had come home until he said, “You know that nopony’s gonna be able to read that, right?”

“Dear Celestia!” I yelped, jolting in my seat. “Spike! You could’ve made me ruin a page you butthead!”

He raised a scaly brow. “Right. So where’s Max?”

“... He’s taking some time to himself. I’m sure he’ll show up some time or another.”

“You didn’t drive him away, did you?”

… That question weighed on my mind from the point Spike said it until earlier this morning when Max finally showed back up after being missing for nearly six days… It was a good thing… Kind of. I know I haven’t been writing very long, but I could use a cup of tea.

ↂ✶✵✶ↂ

It was four o’clock in the morning when there was a heavy pounding at my door. A little sleepy and a lot annoyed, I got up to answer it at my leisure since it was four in the morning. Even if it was urgent, somepony could’ve waited to blow up the town or crash the Moon onto Equus after brunch. Understandably perturbed, I made myway downstairs, flung my door open and glared at the police officer for five seconds until I realized that I was glaring at a police officer.

“Ma’am, do you know this stallion?” He barked, roughly pushing Max forward.

Max… He’d seen better days. It broke my heart to see the violently black eye he was sporting as well as the busted lip that looked like it could start bleeding again at any moment. “Wh-What happened?”

“Some Sadelle officers caught him in a bar brawl over a tab. He says that the bartender was charing him double what she was charging Ponies, but nopony had any proof-”

“So one guy racked up forty bits worth of liquor in an hour and didn’t have to spend a night in the drunk tank, and that don’t strike you as-” Max spat hatefully before he was interrupted.

“Shut your lying mouth before I take you back in. Ma’am, what is this stallion’s name?”

“... Max. Max, we’ll make this right, I promise.” I said firmly, turning my gaze to the officer. “Now if you’d kindly get those cuffs off of an innocent stallion, then I think your integrity would benefit from it.” Ice would have frozen over and cracked again at my tone.

The officer tried jamming a finger in my face. “You look-”

“Your job is mine, Buster. Do you know who the buck I am?”

“Alright, you’re coming with me.” The officer snarled.

“No, you’re coming with me. As a ranking member of the Twilight Arcana Family, Honorary Guard Lieutenant, and personal student of Princess Celestia, I place you under arrest for wrongful seizure of an innocent pony.”

He rolled his eyes and snatched my arm before I knocked him out with a simple spell. Max snorted and his hands somehow came around from behind him as he rubbed his wrists. Then he grabbed his thumb made a strange gesture with it and grunted before getting the hand that was still cuffed free by using the key.“Wanna cuff this guy?”

I examined the chafe marks on Max’s skin and the bruising on his thumb. “... Are you bleeding?”

“Yeah. They refused to loosen the cuffs or even take them off. Said I was too dangerous.” He said bitterly.

I sighed. “... Why did you disappear, Max?”

“... I don’t know.”

I believe that. “I understand, Amour. Just… I missed you.”

“... I’m sorry.” And I believe that too. Darn me and my soft heart!

“It’s okay. Just… Come inside while I get ready to go to Canterlot. Do you have any spare clothes?”

Max’s lip curled. “Got robbed by the rozzers. They said everything I had on me was stolen.”

… I hate ponies sometimes. “We’ll get that cleared up too, Amour. Are you tired?”

“No, I-”

“Max, the bags under the eye that isn’t black are black. When’s the last time you slept?”

“... I don’t remember.”

“When’s the last time you ate?”

He closed his eyes. “... I don’t remember.”

“... Maximus…”

“Twilight, I don’t need any pity. I’m okay.”

“You’re spiraling hard… I… We don’t have to talk this time.” I said shakily, the tears already falling as I tried to wipe them away. “Just let me hold you, okay? I… I just wanna know you’re okay.” My lips trembled as I looked at him imploringly, begging him with my eyes as I hoped that he’d give into my simple request.

Max spread his arms and enveloped me in a hug on my doorstep, his breathing uneven, his heart hammering his in chest like a smith in a forge. “Twilight… I-I’m scared. Everything hates me for what I am, no one looks like me, no one sounds like me, the food doesn’t taste like my food, the air smells wrong the roads are wrong the buildings are wrong the people wrong the world is wrong I can’t take it ANYMORE!” He sobbed, weeping his pain out like he should’ve done in the first place.

Hugging him back was all I knew to do, the act the only thing I knew to do to soothe the sympathetic ache that was building up in my own chest. I wanted Max to know that I loved him with my whole heart then and there, so I pushed him away for the briefest of moments before cupping his face in my hands and kissing him with as much of my love as I could muster, garnering a vigorous response in turn from Max. Our lips clash and on occasion our teeth bumped, but neither of us cared; we just wanted it to hurt a little less, to breathe without our chests feeling like they might explode if the wrong pony touched us.

When we parted, we were both panting hard and it barely took me two seconds to teleport the misguided officer to the Court Hall and it took us even less time to saunter up to my bedroom. I clambered onto my bed, but Max hesitated. “... It’s been a couple days since I’ve been able to take a shower. Would you mind…?”

I gave him a warm, loving smile. “I’ll look for something you can wear. I know I have a few pairs of extra baggy sweatpants you could probably squeeze into if you don’t take too long.”

He nodded and leaned forward, clearly meaning to give me another kiss, which was no problem, even if it did taste a bit like smoke and metal. He left and took his shower shortly after and I found a pair of shorts that I never wore because they were like, huge and a pair of sweatpants that had a really long drawstring, but I couldn't’ find a shirt big enough to fit Max. I knew Spike would have a couple that wouldn’t be too short, but I didn’t want to wake him up so early in the morning, and I doubted that Max would mind very much since he was a stallion. It wasn’t because I got anything out of it, Diary, and don’t you dare exist at me like that!

Getting back on track, I teleported Max’s clothes into the bathroom and told him where they were through the door, but instead of leaving to go do something else, I decided to sit beside the door and wait for him to come out. When the soft sobbing came through the door, I opened it softly and knock. “Amour?”

“Yeah?” He answered, his voice cracking.

“Do you smell like a rose yet?” I tried, hoping that I could make him laugh.

Success! “Yeah. Lemma dry off and I’ll be right with you.”

“My breath is already baited.” I sighed dramatically.

That got another laugh out of him and I closed the door so he could have some privacy, and before long he came out, smelling like me, but more like a stallion. I lead him to my room and we cuddled together in my bed, Max’s arms wrapped around me while I nuzzled his neck and took in the pleasant musk that still pervaded from him, even as it was covered by my sweet body wash. I could hear his heart beat heavily whenever I shifted against him, and if I moved away from him, a little bubble of warmth and scent would rise through the covers and hit me in the nose, lulling me into a more peaceful state.

We dozed off and on until sunrise, but even then we just held hands under the blankets and looked at each other, worlds apart even when we were touching. It was a feeling that drained the joy out of the moment in its own way, but I knew that we would grow closer still if we both decided to stay faithful to the other. All too soon, there was a gentle knocking at my door and I got up to answer it, leaving Max to get the first bit of real sleep he’d probably gotten in some time. When I saw that Celestia was the one asking for my attention, I stepped out and we went downstairs to talk.

We sat at my new kitchen table and had a cup of tea while I explained what I knew of the situation to her and Celestia said that what her Memory Scan of the officer’s mind told her correlated pretty closely. She said that she would handle anything that came of the incident as it would and I thanked her for being the most dependable mare on the planet. With that out of the way, we had another topic to discuss.

“So, Twilight, where is Max at the moment?” The Princess asked.

“He’s getting some sleep. He said that he didn’t know when the last time he’d actually slept was.”

“Hmm… He wouldn’t happen to be in your bed, would he?”

I felt my face flush as I looked at the marvelous grain of the table. “... We didn’t do anything. We’ve just been holding each other.”

“... Really? An emotionally distressed stallion has a breakdown and he doesn’t try to get you to have pity sex with him?”

Princess! Max isn’t that kind of stallion! He just wanted some comfort from the only pony he remembers is all…”

“Then I doubt that I should be keeping you from him much longer. Let me know should you need anything else, Twilight.”

I nodded. “Thank you, Princess, but about the stipend-”

“Give what you don’t spend on necessities to Max as remuneration and compensation for his troubles. It would be the result of the trial anyway.”

“Again, thank you.” At least he won’t be penniless again.

Celestia gave me a smile and a nod before we came together for yet another hug to add on to the thousands we’d shared over the years. She kissed my temple and teleported back to Canterlot, so I got downstairs, wrote a note for Spike, and crept back into my room, but I almost choked on the sight. Max’s arm was strewn across my spot and there was a longing look on his face, an occasional twitch to his eyelids and lips that assured me that he was having a bad dream. Ponies aren’t known for their sneaking ability and I’m not known for being stealthy at all, so my second hoofstep woke Max.

“Sorry…” I whispered.

“I knew you’d be back.” He murmured, obviously not as awake as I’d thought.

The smile on my face was as honest as one good get, but Max’s hands… The way they were gripping the sheets when I came in worried me, and the relief I felt when he visibly eased was almost enough to convince me to teleport over and hold him all day long. As it was, we still had a few hours to sleep and slumber, so I tried to walk as softly as I could back to bed and cuddled up to Max, nuzzling his chest. Those slender fingers of his grazed their way from my lower back and up between my shoulderblades, sending chills down my spine like you wouldn’t believe. At the same time, his soft, retarded heartbeat thumped just loudly enough for me to hear, distracting me as his hand traced the back of my neck, settling on my head as if he wanted to hold me even closer. Not even a minute later, he took the first deep breath you would actually expect somepony who was sleeping to take, but his heart still sounded weak to me as he held on just a little less tightly.

Even as right as the moment felt, I was worried that Max might be malnourished or otherwise sick and might not have noticed due to his drinking habits. I tried not to be obvious while I let my hand drift across his side. It was still enough to make him stir, but that was the least of my worries. His ribs were somewhat pronounced; even more so than a pony with his slim, wiry build should be. Temptation pulled me toward touching his thigh to see if it was solid or if there was any excess fat there, but I decided that waking him might be more important than being subtle.

Through some sort of miracle, as light a sleeper as Max had been in the past, he didn’t do much more than keep his hand on my side when I looked at his face. My little boost of happiness didn’t last long. I was looking at the side of Max’s face that was sporting a massive bruise, but now I could see a deep split in his lip that looked like a very sketchy doctor had sewn it back up. It didn't seem infected, but he wasn’t sleeping much longer if I had anything to say about it… Or rather… He wouldn’t have, but I just… I couldn’t wake him up when he was sleeping so peacefully, but I needed him awake so we could get his injuries taken care of. My mind warred between letting him sleep for a little longer or getting him the help he probably needed, but I couldn’t decide which would be for the best. For all I knew, his kind could have had a decent Healing Factor, meaning that just letting him sleep it off would be better. However, I already knew that he was frail in comparison to the average Pony, so I was extra worried about whether or not his shallow breathing and meager heartbeat were indicative of further damage.

And then somepony kissed him a couple of times and wrapped his arms around her, letting him nuzzle her for once.

… Starswirl’’s Swift Spells; I am a selfish pony…

It was worth it!!!

Max’s warmth was like nothing I’d ever felt before, and I just knew that we’d been doing it wrong from the moment I’d slid the covers over me the second time. Max’s embrace, even incapacitated as he was, made me feel safe and comforted, like nothing was wrong and that everything would be okay as long as he held me… My heart thrummed in my chest with every expansion of his diaphram, his breath heating the nape of my neck every time his soft exhalation drifted through my fur. The sensation was slightly… Well, I’m not afraid to say that it was arousing since anypony in that situation would have a hard time avoiding it, but it’s still embarrassing. I decided not to focus on it and instead leaned into Max, holding his arm and cuddling for all I was worth to get the most out of the moment. My own consciousness faded in and out as I lay in bliss with my stallion and his homecoming to look forward to, even as I struggled and… Um… ‘Smuggled’ my joy out of my what time I had left with him.

This is so cute!” I heard during one of my bouts of consciousness. I barely remember opening my eyes, but I do remember getting blinded by a camera flash when I did.

“Do you think they did it?” Rainbow asked brashly, rousing me fully.

When I was actually looking at things instead of being dozy, I saw Applejack and Rainbow looking back at me with smiles on their faces. My reasonable friend was holding the camera, but the smile on her face told me that she wasn’t taking a picture for the sake of making fun of me. Rainbow, however, looked all too amused to find Max in my bed. I had to get my arm free of Max’s to shoo them away, but Applejack just shook her head and Rainbow rolled her eyes. I know for a fact that I only can only glare at Spike, Shining, and Fluttershy and expect it to do anything, so I just held my finger to my lips and carefully extricated myself from Max’s grasp.

Don’t go.” He murmured softly.

My heart broke into a thousand pieces for my poor little ‘man’ and Applejack said, “Aww…”

I gave Max a tender look that I’m not sure if he saw, but still. As I held his hand, he squeezed back gently. “Don’t worry, Amour; I’ll be back soon.”

“Mhmm.” He replied softly.

It took him a few seconds to let go of my hand, but I think it was more because I kissed his temple rather than because he wanted to actually let me leave. As my friends and I left the room, I couldn’t help but notice that Applejack was looking at me with a little concern in her eyes, but it was tempered by a certain light in her eyes that I couldn’t help but appreciate. She knew that Max and I were keeping things innocent, but something was worrying her, and I couldn’t help but think that it was Max’s reappearance. Once we got out of my room, my hypothesis was confirmed.

“Twilight, when the hay did Max get back?” Applejack asked calmly, scratching her head.

“... This morning.” I said hesitantly. “Now’s kind of a bad time…”

Applejack nodded. “I’ll say. That shiner a’ his looks awful nasty.”

“He probably earned it.” Rainbow snorted.

“Yup.”

“He did not! It’s just that ponies in Sadelle aren’t as accepting of the other races and especially not somepony new like Max!” Why does everypony just think he’s such a butthead?

Applejack sighed. “The guy looks pretty gaunt, Twi.”

I nodded slowly. “... Yeah.”

“You think he might be hooked on something?”

“I doubt it. I don’t think there are any drugs that would affect Max here since they’re almost all race specific. He says that Humans can eat salt like Ponies eat some mildly poisonous flowers, chocolate like normal, and Humans can’t tolerate venom, just like ponies, so it’s reasonable to say that the drugs here wouldn’t affect him in most cases.”

She nodded a couple of time in turn, taking her hat off to run her fingers through her mane. “Alright, here’s what we’re gonna do. I’m gonna make some breakfast for y’all and you’re gonna get him up and moving so he can get some food on that belly since Spike said y’all been up here all morning.”

“... What time is it?”

“Little past noon.” Rainbow said helpfully.

I raised my brows, my jaw hanging open. “What!? We wasted half the day napping!?”

Applejack frowned. “From the looks of him, I’d say Max’ll probably wanna go back to napping as soon as he’s done eating.”

“I wouldn’t blame him. Just try not to cram too much food down his throat or something like you do to everypony else.” Rainbow jibed.

AJ touched her knuckles to Rainbow’s shoulder. “I’ll tone it down. Why don’t you go and tell the girls that Twi’s just been dozin’ off with her Love-Dove?”

I gave Applejack a look for that, but it was true. “Anyways, why did you two need my attention?”

“Somepony forgot about the picnic, but I guess that having Lover-Colt come over was a pretty good distraction.” Rainbow snickered.

My more down-to-Equus friend rolled her eyes. “You forgot too, Dash. You just wanted to hang out because it’s a bad day for flyin’. Why don’t we get Max situated and we’ll figured out a late lunch or somethin’?”

I gave her a smile. “I’ll get him up here in a second- Why are you laughing?”

“Nothing.” They both said suspiciously.

There was little that could be done other than a slight narrowing of my eyes, but I went to make good on getting Max to come to the waking world for some breakfast downstairs. As luck would have it, when I opened the door, he was already sitting up, blearily looking around the room until he laid eyes on me, putting a dreamy smile on his face and a warm feeling in the core of my being. Mornings were meant to be lazy forever, just so I could spend them all with Max in my eyes, but I still wanted him to go and eat something. I crossed the room as I had earlier, just as softly and knelt on the bed, giving him a patient, caring smile. He tenderly touched his face, wincing as he did so, prompting me to brush his hands away so I could let my lips graze the hot, darkened skin beneath his eye.

“Good afternoon.” I said quietly.

He blinked a few times, looking at my hand before placing his over mine. “No nightmares.”

“Hmm?”

“No nightmares.” Max repeated sleepily. “First time in a long time. What’s going on?”

“Applejack is making us breakfast right now, so do you want to go downstairs and eat?” Please say yes.

“... Yeah. I should eat.”

I wanted to ask if he wanted to talk about whatever was obviously on his mind, but I doubted that he’d be able to put it into words at the moment since he looked ready to fall back asleep at any moment. Instead of grilling him or hesitating too long, I shuttled Max out of bed and made sure that he wouldn’t fall down the stairs as we made our way to the kitchen, but even as I tried to make my concern the only thing in my mind, I couldn’t help but be a little hesitant to touch Max without a shirt on, even if he was stumbling from time to time. I kept a Levitation Spell ready so I wouldn’t have to deal with the rush of holding Max while he was visibly half-naked, even if I was sure that I could hold him. Through the rose-tinted glasses of the ‘Oh my’, I saw that Max wasn’t healthy, and that he had an awful lot of bruises that made scars look twice as ugly.

How he was up and walking like a normal pony, I couldn’t tell you, but Max seemed to start limbering up as we moved along, gaining steam and swallowing frequently. His stomach grumbled loudly and I couldn’t help be be a little sad that I couldn’t actually cook worth a lizard’s lick, but I could be happy that my near-sister Applejack was a Magician in the kitchen and could probably put ten pounds on Max in a couple days. The smell of apple fritters and hashbrowns wafted around my house, but for once, I wasn’t actually hungry so far into the day, despite not having eaten for myself. I was just excited to see Max get a good meal and soon enough, when we saw it, I couldn’t help but gush a little.

“Oh, doesn’t that look good, Max?” I asked, pointing at the plates Applejack was holding, giving him a smile. “Applejack’s like, one of the best chefs I know, and that’s crazy because she doesn’t usually have to cook!”

“I help Granny in the kitchen and pick up stuff, Twi. It’s not a secret.” The mare in question chuckled.

“It’s not like you do it everyday though. Sometimes you’re catching up on work-”

“You can’t cook, can you?” Max asked.

“... Maybe.” How did he know!?

Applejack blinked a couple times. “Good guess on that one, Sugarcube, but now the food’s gettin’ cold. Why don’t you have a seat so you and Twi can eat?”

Max gave me a one armed hug and casually tossed Applejack a mild smile; one that was warm and friendly, but still full of gratitude touched with shame. “I’d pay you for it if I could, but-”

“Nuh-uh, Buster. Apple Family Rule Number Five: If ya can see their ribs, ya stuff ‘em, so sit down and prepare to get stuffed.”

He gave her a worried look, but something about it just told me that he wasn’t being serious, like he was kind of trying to look like he was anxious, but wasn’t putting any effort behind it. “A-Are you going to feed me and fill me full of cotton? You’re a taxidermist, aren’t you!?”

“... What?”

“He’s either delirious, drunk, or being goofy.” I answered.

Applejack nodded while Max suddenly started leading me to the table, apparently being ready to eat after confusing my friend. Fluttershy, having been herself and not wanting to interrupt before anything needed to be said, was already sitting at the table while Applejack laid both plates in front of Max, telling him that they should be cool enough to tuck into as is. Rainbow had evidently left in favor of going back to tell the others that we weren’t going to be joining them. That being said, the hashbrowns lasted all of two minutes under Max’s voracious appetite and the apple fritters, Applejack’s comfort food specialty, was savored bite by bite, oddly enough. Applejack made me food too, but I was mostly just eating for the sake of her not whining at me for wasting food. I ended up eating both of our entire saladd since Max couldn’t eat any of the flowers that they were made of, but he happily ate my sausage, filling his mouth with it and probably letting the juices swirl around his tongue. It’s what I usually do whenever Applejack makes sausage, but I was happy to let Max have it for the sake of him being able to have a full stomach.

Once our plates were cleared, Max and I washed the dishes since he’s a nice guy and he evidently likes to volunteer me to do things too. He washed while I dried, and after a little while, nopony had to ask for him to say, “I left because I don’t like pity. I don’t like opening up, I don’t like telling people things, and I don’t like admitting when I’m scared or feel like I can’t do anything.”

There was silence for a little while. The only sounds that were made came from the sink as Max continued to wash dishes until I finally found my courage. “... Max?”

“Yes?” He asked softly.

“Please don’t leave because you feel vulnerable again.” I murmured. “I’ll protect you, so don’t feel like you’re alone, okay? I might not be my brother, but I can cast a reeeally good bubble shield.” Reaching up, I placed a mostly dry hand on his shoulder.

Max turned his head and gave me a half smile, his eye still partially closed from the bruising. “... If this is my second chance, then let it be known that I’m taking it.” He leaned over and kissed my temple, sending a wave of warmth across my head that cleared any possible implications of infidelity from my mind.

“Amour, I understand. I read your entire journal. The entire book that says everything that was supposed to happen after Rainbow chased you into my house.” I chuckled.

“... What’s that supposed to mean?” He asked quietly, turning to give me his full attention.

“It means that it’s your journal, Max. It’s filled with some of your deepest thoughts and why you are the way you are, and reading it only made me want to love you even more.” Clearing a tear from my eye, I looked up at him and filled my eyes with as much compassion as I could. “You said and implied in your journals that I was the best thing that ever happened more times than you might be comfortable with me knowing, but that only made me want to be even better for you.”

Max blinked slowly. “... I need to read that book.”

“... Did nothing else I said leave any kind of impression?”

“I’m lost, to be honest. I really don’t like that you evidently know the deepest corners of my mind, so I’m just going to wash dish.” He continued to wash the dishes.

“... Are you okay?” I asked tentatively.

“I will be.” He sighed. “I will be. I just have to let go and adapt some more.”

There was little I could do to comfort him since I felt like I was the reason he needed to be comforted in the first place, but Fluttershy had me covered. She approached Max from behind and gave him a hug that was probably nice and warm because Fluttershy’s hugs are pretty much the best. “You and Twilight are both right, Max. It’ll all be okay because you love each other, and I think the rest of the girls and I will come to love you too, just as friends.”

He chuckled softly and sighed. “Right. Thanks Flutters.”

Applejack snorted. “This is gettin’ awfully mushy for noon. I say we crack some cider and start tellin’ tales.”

“Sounds good to me. Let’s get these dishes washed and we can start the cider-ation.” Max chuckled.

He sped up to get the dishes washed a little faster, but I stopped him after a bit and just cleaned them with Magic, which got me scolded by Max for not just doing that in the first place before he lauded me for almost not being lazy, throwing me through a loop before he gave me a hug. When my boyfriend was done sending me more mixed signals than a Hydro-Aetheric Disco-Bombulator, Applejack lead the way to her house and Max seemed to be perking up as we went along, though his steps were still labored and his eyes still looked a little dim. It was worrisome to say the least, but I had faith that he would get better in time, even if he was still looking rough as it was.

I feel like I should mention that Max found a shirt in one of Spike’s closets, which was a nice fit on him, even if it was meant to be huge on my little brother. With that little aside out of the way, we went over to Sweet Apple Acres to keep feeding Max alcohol since he apparently liked it, even if I wasn’t sure that he should have been drinking at the moment. It wasn’t until we were four mugs deep that I decided that I’d had enough, and Fluttershy wasn’t far behind me. Applejack and Max were both at ten by the time I was at four, and the more they drank, the more they talked and laughed, playing off each other’s chemistry in a way that made me kind of… Well… Jealous. Max was apparently having a better time with Applejack over a few drinks than he’d ever had with me, so I threw caution to the wind and started to carry on with my drinking to see if I could join them.

When I woke up in my bathtub the next day in a bathrobe and my underwear, I found out that I’d made a mistake. Sitting up was a monumental effort, but I managed to do it and realized that I was wet from the waist down. Panic hit me for a moment before I remembered that I always slept in the bathtub when I drank too much because the thing happens when I get really, really drunk… It’s not fun, and what’s even less fun is waking up to find that Max was sleeping on the bathroom floor with a pillow in a blanket, or should I say that he was just laying there? He definitely looked up at me when I tossed my cookies on him, but at least I returned the favor in the end from back when he did the same to me.

Luckily none of it got on his face, but Max still stared at me with a very unamused expression. “Well thanks, I guess.”

“... Sorry.” I mewled, my voice weak and my head pounding.

He started stripping the ruined shirt off of himself and hooked his thumbs in the waist of the sweatpants I’d let him borrow before he evidently realized that he wasn’t wearing anything underneath. “It’s fine, Cherry, but can you do me a favor in the future?”

“Um… What is it?”

“Don’t try to drink like Applejack and I. You’re going to end up hurting yourself.” Max replied a little sternly.

I gripped the rim of the tub and whimpered. “Haven’t I suffered enough?”

“No, but you will until we get you rehydrated. I’m going to go get you some juice and some clothes, so clean up in here while I take care of business, okay?”

“Okay…”

Wincing, I watched as Max mopped up my sick with the dirty shirt and tossed it into the wastebin before he washed his hands. Afterwards, he gave me a kiss on the temple and told me to sit tight while he went off to complete his tasks, bidding me to get washed up myself. When he left the room I stripped down and showered the aches away. I probably shouldn’t have been drinking water from the shower, but I’m pretty sure everypony’s done it at some point for some reason or the other, right? Not thinking much of it, I let the warm water soothe my stomach and turned the shower slightly chilly to numb the pains. It felt so good that I barely heard Max enter the bathroom, but even them it was too good for me to worry about whether or not the shower curtain was really all that translucent, and I do mean translucent. I might just be a little more modest than your average mare, but I’d still like there to be some mystery involved if Max and I do go to that phase.

I tried to make out his form behind the curtain, but much to my pleasure, he was just a pale blurry mass to me, and that was pretty nice up until I realized that I’d probably blown ten or fifteen minutes just standing under the water and not actually washing myself. When that cold, hard fact hit me in the everywhere, I reminded myself that I needed some good old fashioned soap for the simplest task since turning a page. While the shower itself took forever (Along with washing my mane), I tried to keep it as quick and painless as I could, but I doubted that it’d be all that quick in the first place. Of course, me being me, I was right, but that didn’t mean much since I didn’t have anything to do anyway… Other than brush my teeth and rinse really well.

Once I got the shower out of the way and the rest of my delayed Morning Meandering, I actually had to look at the outfit Max picked out for me and scratch an ear for a little bit at it. He’d picked out a blouse that Dad had bought for me specifically because it matched one of Shining’s blue shirts that matched one of his that matched one of Mom’s dresses perfectly. Oddly enough, he picked out a black knife-pleated skirt to go along with it that I rarely wore since I’m not a huge fan of black. I was a little… Freaked out, shall we say, when I saw that my undies matched my apparel perfectly, top to top and bottom to bottom. Max even pulled out a pair of stockings with lacy butterflies on the thighs that I liked to wear when it was a little gusty out, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was interested in stallions too. I’d never thought to combine those particular odds and ends into such a cute little outfit, but my coltfriend is super awesome sometimes when he’s actually around.

After I donned my clothes and pulled my mane up away from my shoulders, I couldn’t help but think that the blouse was a little smothering around the chest area and that getting the stray pieces of my mane into the tie was going to be impossible, so I decided to make my mane even on both sides and to undo a button on my blouse. My mane sorted itself out easily enough, but the problem with the blouse was that there weren’t a whole lot of buttons, and I don’t really like showing cleavage if I can help it. It’s not like a sane mare wouldn’t just wear the blouse long enough to go put a cami or something on under it, and I like to think that I’m pre-tty sane, so I just redid the button and quickly made my way to my room so I could do what I just said I’d do because I said I’d do it, which is why I said I’d do it in the first place. Follow that, Diary!

Anyway, I had to check my adjustment out in the mirror, and with the black cami matching my skirt perfectly along with my black Marvelous Manehattan Marquis Shoes, I actually felt like a perfectly darned picture of me. The mare in the mirror was somepony to look at twice for once, and as I overcame my hangover, I thought of applying some makeup because why not? I literally got as far as sparkly lip gloss that tasted a little like the new cola drinks that were coming out in specialty shops around Canterlot, and I kept licking that off before I could get out of my room, but I kept trying anyway, eventually getting my tongue to stop betraying me.

Max and Spike were downstairs chatting in the kitchen when I came in; Max speaking in low tones and Spike not caring about my headache at all. I silenced him with a look before nodding and giving him a smile. “The first pony to get this mare a cup of coffee gets a free hug and no chores.”

“Aww!” Spike groaned. “That’s so not fair!”

Max chuckled and jerked a thumb toward my usual seat where a plate full of pancakes and eggs awaited me alongside a steaming cup of coffee that I hadn’t noticed. The juice was interesting too, but I actually wanted the coffee. “Figured you might want a cuppa. You’re all set up if you’re hungry.”

I gave Max the biggest smile I could, which really wasn’t all that big to be honest. “Thank you, Amour. I’m guessing you guys cooked breakfast?”

“Max did everything today.” Spike sighed. “The one time I don’t cook and it bites me in the tail!”

Aww… Maybe I could…? “I’ll pick up your chores for the day if you promise to spend an entire hour studying. That means no breaks, Mister!” I bargained, sitting down to start with my coffee.

“Really!? That’d be-” Spike started giggling at the face I made at whatever the hay was in my cup. Dumping teaspoon after teaspoon of sugar into it only made me glare at Spike. “Don’t look at me! Max made the coffee!”

“What? Too dark?” The stallion in question asked innocently, sipping his own cup casually.

I narrowed my eyes at him and sipped my cup again, still finding it too dark. “Let me try yours, Mr. Prankster.”

“You don’t wanna do that, Sugar Plum.” Max chuckled.

I scooted my cup over to him and held my hand out, which just made him shake his head. He still gave me his cup, but when I took a sip, it was awful!!! In all my years of drinking coffee made by a young Dragon, a middle-aged Drill Sergeant, and a Princess, I have never had something so unbelievably bitter, and the worst part was that I’m pretty sure half of it was bourbon! Spitting it out was an option that I couldn’t handle, but it was so bad! I scooted Max’s cup back over to him and tried to swallow the poison as best I could, but once I got it down, I had to rinse my mouth with the healing powers of orange juice.

“Dear Celestia’s Sun, Max! Why is your coffee so gross!?” I cried.

He and Spike just kept chuckling. “I always get the first cup out of the pot as it brews, and I like to add bourbon sometimes. What, can’t handle my Morning Special?”

After getting another drink of juice, I took a bite of some real food to calm my stomach. “You’re the most lovable butthole I’ve ever met, you know that?”

My coltfriend chuckled some more and gave me a charming smile. “You just like doing things I warn you not to do is all. Just like I warned you against that fifth shot, sixth cider, and fourth piece of apple pie…” His brows furrowed for a moment. “Dammit. I could have had ‘four five six’ lined up and I missed my shot. Damn.”

“... Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have drank that much…” I admitted ashamedly.

Max just rolled his eyes and gave me an amused smile. “I have to say that you’re a fun drunk. First you make me lay down on your lap so you can play with my hair, then you sing me a lullaby.” He rapped his knuckles on the table. “Absolutely adorable, but I’d rather have you remember it, you know?”

I stared at him. “When did I end up in the bathtub?”

He winked at me and kept his face straight. “You said I was too hot to sleep with. Temperature-wise, not figuratively.”

Spike scoffed. “You’re probably just saying that to make Twilight feel better. She always gets weird and sleeps in the bathtub when she drinks too much.”

My face got hotter and hotter while I glanced at Max from time to time, trying not to let my gaze linger too long. However, apparently there was nopony better than my dear Amour at derailing a conversation. “It’s probably because it’s the coldest place in the house. If I get drunk, I sleep next to a fan.” He shrugged. “It’s not that weird if you think about it, but then again, you’ve never been drunk, right?”

My little brother nodded. “Twilight Velvet let me have some wine a long time ago and it was pretty gross, so it’s not like I want to drink more.”

“And Dragons don’t really feel the effects of alcohol anyways, so it’d be pointless for Spike to drink later on in life either.” I said realistically.

“At least you guys get to eat shiny rocks.” Max commented.

My little brother gave him a look. “I’ll blow smoke at you.”

“Will you blow smoke up my arse?”

“What’s an arse?”

“What’s smoke?

Spike gave him a weird look that probably matched the one I was giving both of them in turns. “You don’t know what smoke is?”

“I don’t know what smoke is?” Max asked.

“What?”

“Mate: Do I know what smoke is? Do I know what smoke is? Bruv, you’ve never seen smoke until you’ve seen me smoke.” Max scoffed.

“What?” We siblings chorused.

“Nevermind.”

What?

Max’s lower lip started trembling and he sniffled. “I said nevermind!”

Spike and I looked at each other at a complete loss for words.

Tears started rolling down Max’s face before he jumped out of his seat and ran out of the room, but in the very same second I started to go after him, he came strolling back in and sat back down with the biggest, most genuine smile on his face as he looked back and forth between Spike and I. Max sipped his coffee and licked his lips before setting both of his hands on the table and looking at me.

“Wotcher, Cherry.”

“... What.”

He winked at me. “Let’s take a walk after you do your chores. I’ll tell you all about last night and how… Frisky, you can be.”

Spike cracked up as my jaw metaphorically dropped through the center of Equus and landed somewhere on the Moon. “Max!

“Kidding, of course, but you really are a treat, you know that? I like that you’re warming up to me.” Max’s little lopsided grin…

Darn Butthead had me wrapped around his little finger and he didn’t even know the half of it.

“You’re trying to distract me.” I huffed, gulping down way too much sugary coffee all at once. My mouth was so effectively assaulted by the bitterness that I drained the rest of my juice and made it halfway through my eggs before I realized that Max was just watching me, his head perched up on his hand.

Our eyes met and I froze. My violet amethysts met his sparkling emeralds, and even though his face was still battered and bruised, I couldn’t help but see the natural pulchritude therein. If anything, the split in his lip might make him a little more roguish, or the cut in his right brow. As little as I liked seeing him hurt, it was impossible for me to deny my feelings and admit that I liked not knowing what Max was going to do next. I like how he’s an anomaly that changes variables wherever he goes, but it just worries me that trouble seems to follow my poor Amour like those horrid little joke rats that are magnetically attracted to most brands of shoes.

The deeper I looked into his eyes, the more I saw that he was taking pleasure in observing my every move, taking in every detail of what I was doing. We blinked simultaneously and he chuckled. “Shit, got caught staring.”

“Yeah, while you guys do the lovey-dovey googly-eyes thing, I’m gonna go-”

“The chicken doesn’t need you to choke it, Spike.” Max drawled.

I choked on my food and Spike probably choked on his Ignital gland. “Dude!”

“Max!”

My devious coltfriend gave me a look. “What?”

“... Stop talking until I’m done eating, okay?” I requested softly, poking my eggs with my fork.

“Killing your appetite?” He asked.

“... Yeah.”

“Sorry, Cherry. Spike, feel free to-”

“Shush!” I took a bite of my eggs and chewed before I realized that I was staring. The rest of the eggs didn’t last long, and the only thing that stopped me from making a mess of the pancakes was the fact that I was going to have to clean up after myself for once.

While I ate, Max went to go take a shower and change into some of the old, old clothes that Big Mac had apparently let him borrow while I was drunk. Chewing and thinking was the order of the hour, or rather, a good ten or so minutes as I didn’t really give to much thought as to what I was putting in my mouth. Terrible habit, that. Anyway, my mind was Spike and Max’s relationship, and I found it odd that they seemed to bond over torturing me. Well… Spike digs up the past and Max invents new things in the present, but still! That’s even worse! My little brother won’t let me forget anything and my ‘partner’ keeps giving me new things I want to forget!

The rest of my pancakes were still delicious, but I was a little upset when Max came down from the shower, smelling like me again. Butthead.

Max washed the dishes and I dried again, but this time instead of having somepony else to drive the conversation, it was just the two of us. I was a little more nervous since I’m still a little weirded out by being alone alone with a stallion that’s not family, but then Max asked, “So what do you think of your outfit? I thought it would match your fur rather nicely.”


“Um… It’s really cute, actually. I never would have thought to put this stuff together.” I confessed, glancing at him while I put a freshly dried glass away.

Max was giving me some side eye and a little grin. “What can I say? There’s a queer eye in this straight guy. That, or I just thought you’d look cute in the outfit. What can I say, honestly?”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “Whichever it may be, thank you Max. It was a very touching gesture, but I could have just worn a towel to my room and changed in there.”

He scoffed. “It was just so I could go through your knickers to see what I could work my willy into first.”

I gave him a look. “Stop saying nonsensical things like they’re normal words.”

“I was digging through your underwear so I could find something to masturbate with.”

Did he really just say that? “Are you being serious?”


He rolled his eyes and gave me a look in turn. “Of course not. However, I like the blue ones the best. You know, the striped ones with the little bow?”

I nearly dropped the plate he handed me out of pure shock. “Please tell me you’re kidding!

“Well, blue is my favorite color. How about you?”

My face lit up bright red as I realized at that exact moment that Max knew every intimate detail of what I was wearing. “... Ihavetagopotty-” I teleported to the bathroom and lost about half of my breakfast, but I was okay by the time Max got up the stairs to check up on me.

After he made sure I was okay, Max suggested we hurry with my chores so we could go take that walk, but I wasn’t in any hurry to leave the house. I was feeling down and a bit out of it, and the only reason I felt like smiling was because it’s impossible for me to not want to smile around Max. Well, when he’s in a good mood, at least. Otherwise it’s just in bad taste, but now I’m getting sidetracked. In any case, our afternoon was shaping up to be more of one for cleaning and reading rather than any outdoor activity. As I’d hoped, talking Max into staying inside so we could read side by side wasn’t terribly difficult, but as the Moon rose to its zenith during our little reading session, I ended up telling Max various stories about my family and our history, Starswirl the Bearded, Celestia herself, and some of the things I used to do with one of my biggest role-models from fillyhood; Cadance. He listened patiently and attentively like I was weaving a long, interconnected tale full of twists and turns where the beat of a bird’s wings cause a storm across the globe, asking questions to keep me talking while doing strange things with my hand.

As I told my tales, Max made me move my fingers in a few gestures I was pretty sure would get me in trouble with someone who actually knew what they were, though I knew that he was making me give him the Hurtie Birdie, so I pinched his nose for that, but he responded by flicking my fingers until I let him go, progressively using those switch-like fingers to great effect on my knuckles. The sharp look I gave him was received with little concern and was returned by Max sticking his tongue out at me, which was super cute. As we fooled around and just did… Couple stuff, I suppose, we loosened up and let our bodies take over; the memories that had settled so deep in our bones from our past lives guiding our hands, breaths of the moments we’d spent in each other’s embrace filling our lungs, and the warmth of the love that had once been a raging fire. We put our hands in places we shouldn’t have, kissed longer than we should have, and almost let it go further than it need to go.

Max was the one to stop my trembling hands from undoing his belt, and he was the one to initiate the last kiss of the night. “Cherry…”

“Amour…”

“How long did it take us to get married in the book?”

“... Two and a half years.” I answered thickly.

“How long did it take us to-”

“I can turn you into a girl!” I blurted.

“... You what, Love?

It’s not that time of the month! I know I want this! “I can turn you into a girl for the night!”

He hesitated to answer, so I said, “Look, Max-”

“Twilight.” He said softly.

My face fell, as did my shoulders. I felt like the energy was just being drained out of me as he held onto my arms. “I-It’s okay-” I stuttered.

Max wrapped me up in a hug and I felt something really pokey poke me. “I want to, and I know you think you want to, but now’s not the time… It’s just… Doesn’t something about this feel wrong to-”

No!” I groaned. “Max, there is no other stallion that I would rather sleep with than you-”

“Then why don’t we try just sleeping for a few nights?” He bargained, his expression desperate.

Why…? I thought… I was honestly lost as to what to do. As I nodded, I never took my eyes off of Max’s, taking in the scenes that passed through the lenses to his inner thoughts as if he were showing them to me on a pop-up book. Standing as we were, I’d had my arms laced around his neck, but then I’d let go and found his hands without looking. Anguish showed in his gaze, as well as regret and frustration, but there was a teensy-weensy little bitty-bit of relief there, and all of that together just gave me a cup full of confusion that didn’t really taste like anything. As nondescript as the flavour was, I wanted more of it, so I broke the awkward silence.

“... What is it, Max? Why did you really want to wait then and why do you really want to wait now?”

“... I don’t know.” He murmured.

I placed my hands on his chest, feeling his heart thud through his sternum. “... Aren’t I good-”

Max tickled me for all of five or six seconds, making me cry in less than three. “No room for self-doubt in Maxland, Cherry. Get it in your head that I like you, I just don’t think we need to go and complicate things with sex right now. It’s not a big deal, right? I mean, it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be, you know?”

I went to hit him before I caught myself and just squeezed his arm. “So… You still like me?”

He looked down, causing me to look down, which made me look back up to see his smug face give me a wink. “I think so.”

I clapped a hand over my eyes and said, “I swear we need to get you some real pants.”

“They’d help hide the bulgie uwu what’s dis?” Max said, making me look at him like he’d lost his mind.

“... Yeah, let’s just go to bed.”

… We went to bed and I started writing this part of the entry out… I guess it’s time for the conclusion, but this feels really short… Maybe it’s because I just had more to write about before, but it’s not like Max and I really did much anyway. Huh. My life is kinda boring when Max isn’t around or the town isn’t under attack by some inane thing I just got done researching like, the day before, which is a really odd coincidence. Meh, what could possibly be wrong with that? At least I have good luck!

Thank you for listen- reading, Diary. I think I’ll save the conclusion for when we’re a little more ‘data-rich’, okay?♡

ↂ✶✵✶ↂ

Dear Diary,

Hmm… How to start this one? Let’s just go with where we left off to begin, no? Okay, let’s go!

After Max convinced me to save myself for a little longer, we’d taken ourselves to bed and done little else other than snuggle a bit and sleep. I… Well, to be honest, I liked ‘spooning’ with Max when he was… You know, Diary! Don’t make me write it! That’s right! I don’t have to write what I don’t want to right because I have that rite! Wait…

Grr… I’ll have to scratch that out. Deep breath, little sigh.

Take two!

ↂ✶✵✶ↂ

So when Max is in a certain state, snuggle time is great! It was a little awkward at first, but I just kinda got used to it whenever I started dozing off and rolling into him. It was warm and firm, but he didn’t let me touch it with my hands while we were in bed, even after I’d gotten used to the idea of touching a stallion’s… Um… Mating rod? Whatever. What is important is that Max still wanted me, and I got to tease him back just by rubbing against him! It was a really fun way to end the day, but I was still more than just a little disappointed that we didn’t end up going all the way.

That being said, waking up to find Max’s stiffness parting my tail, lodged between my thighs in a very compromising position? I don’t mean it was stuck in his pants and he was poking me: No Max’s thing was seriously just out for some reason! It’s heat was enticing and I couldn’t help myself any longer; I needed to feel it. My fingertips barely brushed the top of his thing, but it was still enough to make him stir gently, murmuring something unintelligible into my ear. His words were little more than a whisper, but I could have sworn I heard him say ‘Mummy’ or ‘Munny’; both of which were confusing to say the least. Still, I was a little curious about a stallion’s thing; especially if that stallion was an alien.

It was too dark to see anything, so I used a Night-Vision Spell to help me make out the mushroom-like quality of Max. It was enough to make me giggle a little since it was actually kinda cute, but the quakes from my giggling apparently stimulated Max because I felt it throb. Having swiftly been reminded that a stallions reproductive organ was currently within my grasp, I slid my hand down my thigh slowly and let my fingers graze it once more, but this time Max didn't move. Emboldened, I took the whole of Max’s wiener and held it in my hand, it’s heat making me feel a little hot under the collar. My Handy-Dandy bottle of syrup was teetering on the brink, and having Max in the palm of my hand, leaking something sticky, was definitely not helping.

“Mmm…” Max grunted, making me freeze.

I did what I should have done in the first place and lifted my leg slightly to free him, but life isn’t meant to be simple. When Max went to scoot away from me, his thing slid into the leg of the shorts I’d worn to bed, which was both bad and great. One the plus side, Max’s peppermint stick was fanta-stick. On the bad side, there was a single layer of cotton between Max and I, and that cotton was rapidly getting sticky because of… Max! Yeah, it was all his fault! My coltfriend was getting his tangy, slightly tart syrup on me, so I snuck a finger down to the mouth of his bottle and collected some more of his syrup, just because I wanted to see if I’d tasted it right. It definitely wasn’t because I liked the way it tasted or anything, so don’t you look at me like that!

To be fair, any other mare in my situation probably would have been as hot and bothered as I was, but I doubt as many would have shown my level of restraint. Instead of using Max to have some early morning fun, I tried to wake him up by nudging him, but he was sound asleep, so I carefully got him to let go of me and freed myself from his grasp long enough to get out of bed. He muttered something pitiful and weary like ‘Come back soon’ and I tried to figure out what I should do. I didn’t want to go to the guest room since the bed in there kind of sucked, but I also wanted to stay with Max, which were both things that convinced me to stay in my room rather than leave, but the obstacle in my path was Max’s obelisk.

Instead of cowering from my daunting task, I decided to take the easy way out and just go snuggle up to Max from behind and hug him real tight to get the love to transfer through magical osmosis. Sleeping was a lot easier when I didn’t have to worry about Max’s thing, but then I woke up to, “Twilight, stop stroking me.”

Wha?

Max put his hand over mine and lifted it off of his wienerschnitzel. “It might be yours, but that doesn’t mean you can play with it all the time.”

I sat up and rubbed my eyes, staring at him blearily. “What’s goin’ on again?”

“You were touching my pee-pee very tenderly.”

Nodding, I yawned. “It’s a fun lil’ thingydohoohickey.”

Bad.”

“Coffee.”

“... Lick it and I’ll go get it for you.” Max snickered.

“Sure.”

“Nah,” He casually shoved me back down onto the bed. “Catch a nap, I’ll be back up with breakfast in a bit.

I think I held up a thumb, but I know that the next thing I remember was Max bringing me a plate of spinach, marigolds, what appeared to be daisies, and some adorable little mini pancakes that didn’t last long. At all. In fact, I forgot any kind of manners since I was eating in bed and ended up forgoing silverware all together, which was probably a mistake. However, at the end of my horrorshow was Max with a raised brow, a bemused and amused expression on his face. A cup of coffee was in his hands. I wanted that coffee, so I levitated that cup of coffee to me and found that there was a little bit of milk in it that wasn’t super annoying, and that it was just a little sweet so that it was actually drinkable. The cup in my hands was far superior to what Max had tried to make me drink the day before, and so I savored every sip until it was gone.

“Ah~” I sighed contentedly.

“Is now a good time to say ‘Good morning’?”

“Perfect. Good morning, Amour.” I gave him a warm smile, smoothing my mane down.

He plucked a piece of spinach from the corner of my mouth and ate it. “Sure is. Spike says I’m starting to smell weird, so we need to go clothes and cologne shopping for the day if you’re interested.”

Yes! That sounds like a perfect bonding experience! “Fashion really isn’t my strong suit, but I know what would be cute on you!”

Max gave me a flat look that didn’t seem to be genuine. “I don’t do cute. I’m a man. Men do handsome. I’m handsome.”

“My handsome little Human.” I giggled, flashes of those very same words dancing around my mind from the years I’d said them to my love.

The sensation was obviously mutual as my coltfriend replied with; “My pretty little Pony. I’ve already showered for the day, so I’ll meet you downstairs, okay?”

“Wait!” I cried as he turned to leave. As he paused, I asked, “W-Would you mind helping me pick out another outfit?” I won’t blame you if you say no, but-

Max grinned devilishly. “Spike told me that it was supposed to be hot today, so I prepared something yesterday while you were still in the loo. It’s folded on the bottom of your wardrobe and Spike already ironed it.”

“... What is it?”

“Something that’ll make you look super cute. I say we both do a little shopping for the colder months while we’re out, yeah?”

“Sure! That sounds like a great idea!” I gushed. Levitating my breakfast out of the way, I grabbed the napkin from the tray and wiped my mouth before hopping over to Max to give him a kiss on the cheek.”

“Noted. I’ll be downstairs.” He leaned down to give me a real kiss and I met his lips eagerly, though the embrace was far too brief for both of our tastes. We met for another and it was far sweeter than the first, so we got our fill of each other before parting; enough to last us until we were going to be together again, at least.

I hurried along with my Morning Meandering, finding little notes written by Max tied around or tucked under just about everything I used on a daily basis. Most of them were questions referring to memories he knew of that sprung into my head as I read them, such as the time we’d fought a giant goo monster that I’d accidentally helped create and that Max had double-accidentally infused with the soul of somepony evil named Sombra. Apparently there were a lot of ponies that we knew that were involved in the battle that we needed to figure out where they came from, and that’s why I mentioned the battle first. I remembered the whole thing from about thirty minutes before to twenty minutes after, and I remember reading about it, but it’s odd. I keep forgetting about things I read in Max’s book, and the memories only really stick if Max and I both have something related to them. Well, if it involves both of us, that is, but Max and I were together from almost the beginning of his journal and a lot of his interactions were with me.After coming to the conclusion that Max needed to read his own journal, I tried to teleport it to myself as I stood in my room post-shower, but I couldn’t do it. I also couldn’t remember where I’d left it, which pointed to bad, bad thing.

With a heavy sigh that blew the panic out of my body, it was obvious that the book was magical and was probably only meant to be read once. However, the thing that Max constantly mentioned in his notes was that he wanted to meet Cadance, Princess Luna, and have a private conversation with Princess Celestia. I knew that I could make one of those things happen, but Princess Luna doesn’t really like me for some reason and I haven’t seen Cadance in like, a decade. As it was, I resolved to take Max to Canterlot later in the day so he could have his conversation with Celestia after we got him some decent casual clothes and a suit from Rarity. With any luck, Celestia would let us dine with her and allow us an audience with Her Moodiness, Princess Luna.

With a plan for the day set in my mind and soon set to paper, I went to my wardrobe to see just what exactly Max expected me to wear for the day that would put such a sinister(?) look on his face. When I saw that it was one of the sundresses that Rarity had made me for the summer, I couldn’t help but wonder where he’d found it. I’d immediately hidden the thing in the depths of my closet because… Well… It was more Rarity than it was Twilight… You understand, right? Rarity’s used to getting lusty looks from stallions, but I personally thought that the dress was a little too revealing to be honest. It was also totally my color, but I haven't worn anything with cleavage since my first practice date and that was with Shining!

Still, if Max thought I’d look cute in it… It hardly seemed like a big deal since I doubted that anypony would be looking at me anyway. As long as Max stayed nearby, all eyes would be on him anyway; not the frumpy mare with the flat mane and the average build. Bolstered by my assurances, I mustered up the courage to wear the dress and wore my least noticeable bra to go with it, but I still had to align the straps perfectly to cover them. I knew there was a camisole built into the dress anyway, but I didn’t want any accidents to leave me less covered than I already was, so I also included a knit cardigan that was nice and breezy to complete the outfit. Instead of just letting my mane stay pulled back, I put it into a but for the day and let a single lock dangle down the left side of my face since Max seemed to like it when I let the strays lay where they may.

When I went downstairs, Max and Spike were sitting together on the couch and Max had a triumphant look on his face. My little brother was scowling and slapped something into my coltfriend’s open hand before saying, “This means nothing!”

“Best two out of three?” Max held his newly earned bit up.

Spike sighed. “Nah, you won fair and square. I gotta go talk to Sweetie Belle about the thing now, I guess…”

“You sure do, ya little charmer.” Max nudged Spike with his fist. “Go get your filly, fool!”

My little brother and I both lit up red, but I was the first to say anything. “Max! Spike isn’t old enough to be dating yet!”

“Dude’s like, fourteen. I had my first girlfriend when I was sixteen, but that’s because I was lame as shit when I was fourteen. Spike’s kinda almost a little cool.”

“Hey!”

I giggled a little, but only a little. “Be that as it may, I still don’t want Spike dating.”

“Just ask your friends when they started dating, Cherry. You’ll see it’s about time that Spike got some platonic ‘Getting to know you’ time with girls his age.” Max said easily, giving me a pleasant little grin.

He earned himself a look. “You can sleep on the floor tonight if you want.”

“That’s just mean.”

“Then shush.”

“I made you breakfast in bed!”

“... Fair point, but that doesn’t mean I want you to play matchmaker for Spike.”

“I’m not playing matchmaker, I’m just fanning a spark that’s already there.” Max huffed.

“Please, Twilight? I know it took you awhile to be interested in the opposite gender, but I already really like Sweetie Belle, and Max says that I’m better off trying a relationship with her than Rarity- Oops.” Spike covered his mouth.

Aww… I couldn’t help but give my dear, sweet little brother the most tender smile I could. “I know about that, Spike, but Rarity doesn’t. You should tell her how you feel instead of settling for Sweetie Belle.”

“... Max says that she hasn’t noticed because she doesn’t see me as an option…” He said softly.

My smile turned sad and I glanced at Max. “That’s… That’s probably not far from the truth, my little Spikey.”

Spike sighed pretty hard and flickers of flame came out of his nose. “Yeah, I figured.”

“Got time for a letter?” I asked, hoping that the old standby would perk him up.

Max gave me an odd look and Spike’s brows shot up. “Who to?”

“I know you were really young when she was around, but it’s to my old foalsitter Cadance. I think it’s about time I caught up with her.”

Spike beamed. “A long lost friend? That’s pretty neat!”

“Right?” I teleported a scroll, some ink, and a quill into my hands and levitated them to him. “I’m ready when you are.”

Spike dipped the quill, readied the scroll, and gave me his usual look of determination. “Three.”

Two.

One.

Dear Cadance,

You… You may not remember me since it’s been such a long time, but my name is Twilight Sparkle, and I was one of the fillies you used to foalsit back in Canterlot. A lot’s happened in nearly twenty years, but you’ve left your mark in my heart indefinitely, and I can’t help but want to reconnect with you after some recent events. You see… I recently met a stallion who has made my life extremely complicated,” Max gave me a look and I gave him one in turn, both of us knowing that life was just Lu-lu-looney, “and as a result of that, I learned that you’re going to be a key part of my future. I also know that you’re dating my GOSH DARN BROTHER!!! Why nopony decided to tell the pony that would be happiest to know about that, I’ll never know, but do know that I want a formal and an informal invitation to the wedding!!!

Gosh… There’s really been a lot that’s happened just in the past couple of years alone, but… I just miss you now that I remember that you’re no longer in my life.’The years pass and the ache fades, but then the good times come back around and the memories come to fruition.’, as Starswirl would say. Please let me know when it would be most convenient for you to meet up with me if it’s in your interest. I’d really love to see you again, Caddy.

Sunshine Sunshine, Ladybugs Awake...

Twilight Sparkle

“So… Shining has a fillyfriend?” Spike asked uneasily.

I nodded sharply. “He sure does.” Spike and I met in the middle of the room and he held my hand so he could send the message to the right Pony. “Alright, Max. let’s go and get you some proper clothes!”

Max stoom up from the couch and stretched, wearing another one of Spike’s large shirts that were tight on my coltfriend. “Sure thing, Cherry. Let’s get a move on, shall we?”

With that, we shook our tails and got to steppin’, like Applejack always says. I didn’t think Max would want to make Rarity’s boutique his first stop, so I took him to the better of the three other clothing shops in Ponyville. Honestly, Blue’s Clues was better than Odd Vestments, the thrift store, and Hefty Hulk’s shop was meant for rounder ponies. However, I didn’t think of the fact that the mare who was supposed to be Max’s mother from our past life was the owner of the store, so when they locked eyes, I hoped that something good was about to happen. Max held my hand and started leading me toward Blueberry Tart and the mare herself headed toward the front of her shop to flip her sign to closed for a little while, meeting Max and near a rack of alright blouses.

“Twilight, Max… I thought you were going to keep avoiding me.” Blue said softly.

Max pointed at me. “I was avoiding her for a little while and that made me pretty miserable, so I came back to Ponyville. I would’ve been here yesterday, but someone can’t handle their liquor. Or their cider. Or their pie.”

I whacked him. “Somepony doesn’t know when to stop somepony!”

“You’re stwonger than me!” He whined.

Blue pinched him. “Act like a stallion.”

Max watched as Blue’s fingers found no purchase on his wiry arms. “Yes, mother.”

“I’ll hit you.” She deadpanned.

“I already get hit by her.” Max pointed at me.

“I wonder why.” Oooh, that was Super Sarcasm.

“I wonder why your bum is so big, but I’m nicer than you.” Max shot back.

Blue stared at him. “Are you cruisin’ for a bruisin’, young colt?

“Maybe I am, maybe I’ll shut up for a cookie.” Max smirked.

Blue started to narrow her eyes at him before her lips started to tremble and she broke out into a barely restrained bout of giggles before giving Max a hug. “You’re a decent colt, you know that?”

“You give great hugs.” He let her go and gave her a rueful smile. “I’m sorry I missed our little appointment, but I was panicking pretty hard and my life is a mess.”

Blue just gave him another hug and patted his back. “It’s okay, Sweetie, but that little comment about my flank means you’re not getting any of the cookies I baked this morning.”

“Damn-”

“Ah-Ah, watch that language, young stallion!” She scolded.

I couldn’t help but giggle a little at that. “Maybe I should try to get you to stop swearing so much too?”

“You swear all night long, so don’t you say anything.” He said blithely, checking his little thin claws for dirt.

“But I don’t swear at all.” I said, confused.

Max gave me a sultry smile and a wink, which got him hit by Blue for some reason. “Don’t go implying that kind of business in public! Stop trying to embarrass the poor mare and let’s get you something to wear that doesn’t look like it’s strangling you.”

“Sounds good to me.” Max nodded.

I did the same. “Don’t you think he’d look great in a nice, rich green?”

Blue checked his eyes out. “Not to be a coat-coordinator, but blue would definitely work well with those beautiful eyes of his, and his mane would work well with some pastels-”

“Dark colors only unless they’re shades of blue. I don’t dress like a twink.” Max said flatly.

“Are you one of those Grimdarks?” Blue asked nonjudgmentally.

“He’s not, he just likes dark colors apparently.” I said, hoping that he wasn’t myself.

“Nope. I just like being able to sneak up on people and touch their bums.” He winked at me as Blue lead us over to the stallion’s section of the store and started picking things out for Max to try on.

“Baby, why don’t you go to the changing room for a little bit and Twilight and I will bring you stuff to try on until we find your size?” Blue suggested.

He shrugged. “Point me in the right direction.”

Blue pointed him in the right direction and he left, leaving me with a woman that I really wanted to get to know as Max got to know her. “So, Blue...”

She looked at me and winked. “You caught yourself a cute one, even if it looks like he’s been put through the wringer.”

I breathed a contented sigh. “I sure did. I never thought that mare like me would have a hope of landing a stallion like that, but here I am, even if Max is a lot of trouble sometimes.”

“Tch, what stallion isn’t? Onyx Lock, the one I’m seeing, is with Mayor Mare too right now and she’s a silver fox, if you know what I mean. I barely get to see him between his visits to Mary and that damn work ethic of his.”

“Why does love have to be so complicated?” I asked, picking out a nice navy blue button-up that would look nice on Max. There was a Soul-Fire Phoenix monogrammed into the breast pocket, which I thought he’d appreciate.

“Because, Twilight, the brain is complicated. Ponies change their minds like a mare changes clothes during the rainy seasons “ Blue chuckled.

“Fair’s fair, I guess, but still. It’s only nice half the time.”

“But when it’s nice, it’s really nice, isn’t it?” She said softly.

“... Yeah, it really is. Max made me breakfast in bed today.” I replied, reminiscing on what had happened just a few hours ago.

She grabbed a dark red shirt that had roll-up sleeves and held it up. “What do you think? With his coat?”

“Bit Vampony-esque, don't you think?”

“Gives him an air of mystery! An enigmatic quality in a simple shirt!”

I giggled at that. “You sound just like Rarity! I guess you have to love fashion if you want to sell quality clothes, right?”

Blue smiled back, blushing lightly. “Of course! You can’t keep a stock of the hottest fashions at a reasonable price if you don’t know the curves and trends!”

We collected a few more things and sent them off to Max, though he came out in a new outfit and said that he was picking his own undergarments. They were all either black, gray, or blue, so I made him get a pair of purple undies just because it made me giggle. His ash gray button up paired well with his dark blue jeans, and his weird boots made the whole outfit… Well, they needed to be replaced, but they looked alright for the time being. Blue let us have a discount on Max’s new wardrobe and we sent his clothes to my house to be sorted later. After a pleasant cup of tea and a lovely cookie that only I was allowed to enjoy, Max and I bid Blue goodbye and promised to visit sooner next time before we headed to Rarity’s so we could get Max something worthy of wearing to Court.

When we walked through Rarity’s door, the bell chimed and she waltzed through the door to the back of her shop, singing, “Welcome to the Carousel Boutique, where everything is chic, unique, and magnifique!”

“Ha, gay.” Max snorted.

Rarity cut him a glare. “Shush. Hello, Twilight!”

“Hi, Rarity! How are you?”

“Doing well, as per the usual, but I couldn’t help but notice that Spike and Sweetie Belle seem to be growing closer, if you understand.” she winked and grinned just as deviously as MAx had earlier.

Max chuckled. “From the way Spike talks about Sweetie Belle, they’ll be the cutest couple in town for a good while.”

That made Rarity narrow her eyes at him. “... You encouraged Spike to spend more time with Sweetie Belle?”

“I encouraged him to pay attention to the girl’s crush. Something you could learn.”

“Why, whatever do you mean, Max? And when did you even return to Ponyville?”

“I mean that Spike’s had a crush on you for years and I’ve been back in town for a few days, but Sadelle is a shithole and Ponyville is too colorful for mortal eyes, so I’m kinda stuck just trying to stay close to Twilight.”

Rarity looked at me. “Tell me that you need a dress or something made. My head hurts.”

“Would you have a suit that would fit Max?” I asked sheepishly.

She gave him a single look and said, “Several of differing colors.”

“Black or navy.”

“Navy it is, Emerald Eyes.” Rarity nodded. “I’ll be back momentarily with the suit, but we’ll need to make some minor adjustments.”

“Take your time, Opal.” Max said casually.

“That’s my cat.” Rarity huffed. “Opalescence.”

“You named your pussy Opal?” Max asked innocently, tilting his head.

Rarity lit up and her jaw. “Y-You deviant!”

“... We’re talking about animals, yeah?” He inquired slowly, raising his hands in a
defensive gesture.

“You’re well aware of your innuendo, you barbarian!”

Max looked at me and started sidling to stand behind me. “Sorry?”

Rarity fanned herself. “I suppose you weren’t fully aware of what you said, so it’s
Permissible. Let me go and fetch that suit for you.”

Max and I traded a look as Rarity went off to go get the thing, but we didn’t say anything about her or her weirdness behind her back because that would have been both mean and rude. However, when Rarity came back with the suit, I wasn't sure if I could afford it without dipping into my allowance for the month. I mean, I was already pretty close to my monthly budget for my Royal Stipend, but my family allowance was my bread and butter as far as my luxury goods went. I’m just frugal, okay? Don’t judge me! The wealthy stay wealthy because they’re smart with their money, or at least that’s what Uncle Fancy says. I was worried about the price until Rarity said that I could pay her off in installments, so I just paid her seventy bits up front and owed her two hundred more for the rest of it since the materials were a little on the pricey side. I didn’t discuss the price with Max at all, especially since he kept pestering me about it.

Even as we took the train to Canterlot, he wouldn’t drop the issue about the price of his clothes and the suit he was wearing, despite me telling him that it was all fine as long as he was happy with what he was wearing. He assured me that he was, but he wanted to pay me me back for what I did for him, so I told him to pay me back in kisses, to which he replied by giving me the first of many little smooches that were all equally enjoyable as we rode along to Canterlot. When the city came into view, Max let out a low whistle and commented on the size of Castle Canterlot, saying that it was a little excessive for the sake of being a protectable place. I, in turn, told him a bit about the history and the utility of Castle Canterlot and its structure, which made him pretend to fall asleep and rest his cheek on my head, which was nice, but still rude.

Our first steps in Canterlot were full of questions from Max, like where the other races were since the capital city of Equestria should have had a little more diversity in his eyes. I told him that Equestria welcomed all races, it was just that most races didn’t like Ponies for some reason. Max gave me a look for that one and I remembered that he’d experienced some racism first-hand in one of the friendliest places in the country, so I could understand why he evidently doubted my words. Walking along the crowded streets of my hometown with Max was fun, and hearing him rave about how much better ice cream was on Equus was than on Earth was both cute and funny. With every little smile and comment he made, I felt like the day just couldn’t get any better until we came to the Castle Gates. I was allowed entry on sight, but Max was barred, despite the fact that I was literally holding his hand as we were entering the Palace Grounds.

“Um… Excuse me?” I asked.

“Unidentified ponies are to enter through the west entrance.” The leftmost guard said stoutly.

“I’m Twilight Sparkle,” I said slowly, “student of Princess Celestia.”

He’s the unidentified pony, Miss Twilight.” The rightmost guard said.

“But Princess Celestia knows Max personally! She even admitted to finding his weirdness refreshing!”

The guards looked at each other and slowly raised their spears. The left one said, “Fine, but if he causes any trouble, then it’s double sentencing-”

“Yeah, no. I don’t want to go to jail or get stabbed, so I’m good. Real good.” Max came to stand beside me, but one of the guards grabbed his arm.

“I don’t know what you are, but you don’t belong here. Remember that.” He snarled.

Max gave him a smile and a wink. “What’s your name, friend?”

The guard snorted. “Like I’d tell you.”

Coward.” Max snorted, wrencing his arm out of the guard’s grasp. “Teaspoon of power makes you think your clit’s a full inch long, doesn’t it?”

“You think you can just trash talk a guard and get away with it?” The aggressor of the situation started.

“Bone, it’s not worth it.” His partner whispered harshly.

The other guard snorted. “Hmph. Tread carefully, Sow-Son. You just made an enemy of the entire Canterlot Guard.”

“Bone, eh?” Max’s smile was pure evil. “I’ll remember that, Mate.

They glared at each other for another couple of seconds before the sane ponies in the situation dragged them each away from each other. Once we were well away from Dummy-Dumb-Butt and Kinda-Alright-Guy, I asked, “Does that happen often?”

“Yup.”

“... I’m sorry…”

“We can tell on him to Celestia or I can take care of it my way. Your choice.”

“We should tell the Princess that her own Guard is corrupted by racists.” I said worriedly. “She should know.”

Max didn’t say anything to that, so I just took us to the Court hall. Thankfully Court was ending within the hour, so we only had to walk to the Dining Hall and wait for a few minutes to see my teacher. When she arrived, I got a hug and Max got a choice between a hug and a handshake, to which he also chose a hug. He tactfully avoided burying his face in Celestia’s ample cleavage. Probably to avoid being slapped, but he’d already said that he didn’t find Celestia attractive, so I doubted that I had much to worry about. He and Celestia took their leave from me to go have their private conversation before dinner, meaning that Luna got to walk in on me making a hedgehog out of a baked potato, some baby carrots, peas, and a sprig of broccoli.

“Thou art a foal in a filly’s body.” Luna said flatly.

“... Hi.” I replied quietly, my feelings rather hurt.

She rolled her eyes and sat down in her seat. “Where beith Our sister?”

“Um… She and my coltfriend are having a talk about something…”

Luna raised a brow. “Thou have a coltfriend?”

“Well… Yes?”

She scoffed. “We pity the foal.”

I shrank down further in my seat and didn’t say anything.

“Twilight Sparkle, did they sayeth whence they wouldst return?” Luna demanded.

“... No…”

“Then leave until they return.”

“P-Princess Celestia said-”

“Well We say leave.” She snapped.

Leaving seemed like a really excellent option, so I did and stood outside of the door, trying not to cry. I knew that Luna wasn’t my biggest fan, but I just didn’t understand what made her hate me so much. It wasn’t as if I’d ever actually done anything to her, and if anything, she owed me for bringing her back to Celestia! I’m not one to call somepony out on a debt, but Luna could stand to remember who it was that purged Nightmare Moon from her body and ended the possible end of Equus as a whole. Or, you know, she could just be a bucking nag forever.

I didn’t even know I had company until I felt somepony’s hand on my shoulder, blinking and trying to rub the tears out of my eyes as I was. The stallion who’d gotten my attention had an orange coat and a oddly ornate armor for somepony his age, signifying that he was at least a Lieutenant. “Miss Twilight? Are you okay?”

Blinking a few more tears out of my eyes, I looked at him and nodded. “I’m fine. Just a little frustrated is all.”

“Princess Luna?” He asked knowingly.

“She really doesn’t like me.” I sighed.

“Everypony around the castle knows that.” The guard chuckled amusedly. “You should hear her when you do something noteworthy.”

My frown made him give me a conciliatory look. “I don’t know why she doesn’t like me…”

“Maybe it’s because you’re cuter than her?” He said, smiling.

I didn’t know how to respond to that, my face flushing and my voice sticking in my throat. “Um…”

“Flash. Flash Sentry. Maybe I’ll see you around, Twilight?” He gave me a charming smile and a wink before walking off down the hall, leaving me to watch him go.

While I was stunned by the appearance of a second stallion who apparently found me attractive, the first one tapped my shoulder and raised a brow. “What happened to waiting in the Dining Hall?”

“Yes, why art thou out here?” Luna asked from behind him alongside Celestia.

Her teal eyes met my violet ones and they promised retribution if I squealed on her, so I stammered out. “N-N-No r-r-reason…”

Max squinted at me then turned to Luna. “The only people in there would have been you two.”

Luna’s lip curled. “Do not presume to speak to me, curr.”

“Choke and die, cunt.” Max snapped back. “Don’t fuck with my woman.”

Before either of them could move, Celestia had them in bubbles and was frowning heavily. “Luna, this is why ponies don’t like you. Don’t respect you. Max? I was nice enough to heal you. She won’t be. Stand down.” The bubbles dropped and they both just glowered at each other as hard as they could with Celestia standing between them. “Both of you; cease your foalishness and get over it. We have more important matters to discuss.”

“Let her keep her shit up and we’ll see how many favours I do her.” Max growled.

“What? What service couldst a lowly plebeian offer a Princess that she could not have another perform?” Luna snarled.

“Yeah, my people slaughtered rulers like you.” Max said icily. “Actually, that was most civilizations on the planet~”

Luna started toward him, but Celestia raised a hand. “Sister, he can rid you of Nightmare Moon.”

Princess Butthole rolled her eyes. “We were ridded of that blight by the purple one.”

“You sure don’t act like it…” I muttered.

“Silence, adults are speaking. We’ve no room-”

“Bitch, you can rot and this whole country can fall to ruin for all the shits I give. You wanna know something, Dolly? You really wanna know?” Max asked, leaning forward. “You’re fucked without me. I’m the only living thing on this side of the planet that can hold half of Nightmare Moon’s power safely. Give it to Celestia and she destroys everything. Give it to Cadance; second verse same as the first, so shut the fuck up before I find a way to put you in a hearse.”

I stared at Max along with Celestia and Luna. Luna just tilted her head and stared at him blankly, I was observing everypony, Celestia was about to speak, and Max was furious. “Maximus, would you-”

“Twilight and I would be long dead before that shit popped off.” He snorted, smirking. “Why is it actually my problem? This is charity, Baby.” He swaggered, acting like an utter ass.

“Um… Max?”

“Yes, Cherry?”

“... Tone it down a bit?”

“The blue twat disrespected the fuck outta you. And me. Why should I help this cunt if we don’t get anything out of it?”

“Unholy flames of Tartarus, she’s still there…” Luna breathed, despair creeping into her voice. “She’s still there…”

Celestia covered her mouth for a moment, closing her eyes for all of a second before she glowered at Max. “What are your demands?”

“Max, we-” I tried.

He waved my words away and I felt my heart ache like he’d just slapped me. “I don’t have ‘demands’, I have highly mutually-satisfactory requests, yeah?” And just like that I knew that he was plotting something conniving and morally sketchy.

“A blade by any other name still cuts.” My teacher replied.

“Not if it’s a dull one, Dumb-Dumb.” He rolled his fricking eyes! “Anyway, so the first thing I want is an apartment here in Canterlot. One of the brownstones around Brownie Blitz Bakery.”

Celestia blinked. “... I believe the area is extra-Pony friendly. How did you know of them?”

“Memory. The next thing I want is is for you to teach me how to meditate.”

“... Close your eyes and breathe slowly.”

“I mean Inverse Projection.” He clarified.

“And you know that I’m capable of this how?”

“If Twilight could do it before the thing we talked about, then she learned it from either you or Luna. Seeing her current relationship with the Princess of the Pricks- Shit, wait, no, that gives her sovereignty over my. Princess of the Ponies. We’re going with that one. Seeing her current relations with the woman who just kicked her out of the Dining Hall, I’d say she learned it from you.”

My teacher gave him an impressed look after she passed Luna a harsh glare that left no discernible impression. “You’re an attentive stallion, I’ll give you that much. Perhaps teaching you won’t be such a pain. Your third ‘request’?”

“There is no third, but there is a fourth.” He said gravely. “The fourth is that you pump me full of Unicorn Magic and drop me in the Everfree.”

“... But why?”

“Discord is coming back and nothing is going the way it should be. This might be a chance for us to get a head start; to top the lamb-chop before he steps out of his shop, if you catch my drift. Once we weaken Nightmare Cunt further, we’ll have a strong ally. We find a stallion named Stygian and put it out there that we’re looking to give him full amnesty-”

Dost thou even knowest what he did!?” Luna boomed.

Max cleaned out an ear. “Nah, but I heard that you’re a loud-mouth. Dial it down, Love.”

Celestia hit him hard enough to make him stumble and give her a look. “Stop committing treason before I actually arrest you.”

“She talk shit: why me no talk shit too?” Max asked, hunching shoulders and going wide-eyed. “Besides, we need to find a way to contact either Diliculum or Iry-Hor because apparently I’m supposed to be powerful as shit, and in case anyone’s noticed, I’m the weakest geek in the fleet.”

“There are ways to make you tougher, but they-” Celestia started.

“Will be taken care of by Us personally if thou truly can rid of Us this plague once and for all.” Luna interrupted sharply. “A King’s ransom, land, mares- Even stallions if thou play for that team: They shalt be for thine disposal should thou wipe the stain that is Nightmare Moon from Equus.” She oathed.

Max nodded. “For the record, I wasn’t about to let that evil shit stay in you, even if you’re a bitch.”

“We believe thou misunderstand the true definition of that word, but We accept thy overall point. Now how do We extract Nightmare Moon from Ourselves?”

“Last time it happened, I was dead and you brought me back to life with Dark Magic, meaning that she kinda just slipped in-”

My world shattered in twelve ways as Luna made Max go from facing her to facing me. He blinked two times and his mouth fell open as my jaw dropped. Numb legs carried me backward as he fell towards me, faceplanting chest-up. I wanted to be ill as my strength failed me, a weak cry leaving my lips. “... M-Max?”

“Oh, be silent. He shall live momentarily.” Luna scoffed, teleporting a piece of Tartaric Quarschz crystal into her hand, kneeling down.

Celestia thumped Luna hard enough to make her sister hiss in pain. “You- Luna, you- You’re well aware of the fact that this isn’t fury, correct.”

“Insolent worm deserved it anyway.” The Princess of the Night drawled, rubbing her arm and carving a Blood Rune into Max’s body. The transfer of pure Black Magic into his body happened kind of like it was a casual Uniday and everypony was wearing jeans to the office.

“We’ll talk about this later.” The Princess of the Day snapped.

Luna sighed. “Dost thou do anything other than rule and nag, sister?”

“”I’m going to get a spray bottle here shortly.”

“Frightening.”

Luna finished the Rune Circle in record time and just like that, Max’s head started making super gross noises and I teleported to the Castle Gardens because Groooss!!! When Celestia came to collect me, Max was bedded in my old chambers that were still dedicated to me since apparently Celestia thought I’d like to nap with my previously dead coltfriend. She was horribly, horribly wrong, of course, but I couldn’t help but stay near him the entire night, not sleeping myself. I hadn’t eaten at all after breakfast, and by the time morning came, I still wasn’t hungry. Max was breathing, but he still wasn’t awake. It wasn’t dissimilar to how my stomach would growl from time to time, but I felt no need to go get anything to eat. I did, however, have a plan to make Luna suffer for casually breaking my poor Amour’s neck like a twig and just cutting into him like a cheap head of cabbage.

Nag bucked with your stallion, Twi. Are you going to let her get away with it?

She didn’t just ‘buck’ with your stallion. She killed him.

Exactly! How are we going to make our message clear?

‘... I have a few ideas. I’ll wait until she’s in Night Court.’

Atta filly

No mercy, Little One. She has made it clear that you are an enemy. She is yours in turn.

‘Sounds like somepony needs to be taught the true value of Friendship.’ I thought, my eyes unfocusing from Max’s face. The dawn light was breaking just over the horizon, signalling the beginning of another episode that I don’t remember I do, however, recall ‘waking up’ with Max stroking my mane, giving me a pained smile.

“Fuckin’ right n’ proper cunt, isn’t she?” He snorted.

“Luna?” I asked blearily.

“Yeah.”

“Sure is. I guess. Dunno what that means.”

“Coffee?”

“Please?”

He popped his neck and tried to get out of bed, but he was having a lot of trouble. “Not happening quite yet, I’m afraid.”

My eyes shot open. “Ohmygosh, I’m so sorry! I totally forgot, Amour, I’ll go get the coffee-”

“Relax, Cherry. It’s fine.” He said soothingly, sitting back and closing his eyes. “I’d feel better if you hopped into bed with me though.”

I didn’t waste any time in getting under the covers with him, snuggling up close and nuzzling him. “This isn’t a dream, right?”

“Not as far as I’m aware. Too handsome to be a dream construct, right?”

Giggling, I kissed his chin before nuzzling him. “Yeah! What happened before was the bad dream! This is real.” I sighed.

“It sure is.” He murmured, holding me tight.

Apparently we both dozed off at some point because I woke up and Max was asleep in front of me, so I gently shook him awake. “Max? Amour? I think we have stuff to do.”

“Bloody Hell, someone get a man a bottle of whiskey and some hydros.” Max shut his eyes tight and sat up stiffly. “Fuck.

“I know a Muscle-Relaxing Spell if you think that will help.” I offered.

He popped his neck and rolled it around a few times, swinging his legs off of the bed. “I’m fine, Cherry. I’ve shaken off worse aches.”

“You broke your neck!”

“I’ve broken a lot of things and Magic wasn’t always there to help fix it.” He said, doing some more casual stretches. “So I talked to Noir.”

“Already!?”

“Yeah, real delight, she is. Top heavy, but she carries it well.”

Something told me that he wasn’t talking about her weight. “If you’re referring to her breasts, I’m whacking you.”

“The woman’s build like an ice cream-cone with a cherry on top for a head! How’s that my fault!?” Max laughed.

“... That was a mean thing to say about someone close to you, Max.”

“She called me a fool, so I think we’re even.” He snorted, standing up straight and holding his palm out in front of him. “Now let’s see if I can still do this…”

Max’s hand started turning darker and darker until it was nearly black, a strange mist pouring from his palm and fingers down to the floor. When he narrowed his eyes in concentration (Or maybe he had to poot. He’s a wildcard.) the mist formed into a small ball that slowly grew until he apparently thought it was throwing size. It’d been about the size of a Pony’s head, so when it hit the wall and the mist started filling the room, I wasn’t all that surprised. With a snap of his fingers, Max collected the mist back into a ball and started taking deep, steady breaths, condensing the Magic as if he’d been practicing it for some time already. I mean, I probably could have done it faster since it seemed like a variation of the Cloud Creation Spell, but that would be showing off.

“Alright, so I know the Fog of Fear.” He murmured. “Let’s try the fire.” After a few seconds, his ball of ‘Fog’ burst into black and blue flames that seemed to radiate cold rather than heat. He closed his hand and the fire shrank further until Max just ate it. “Mmm. Not horrible.”

“So what does Dark Magic taste like?” I asked awkwardly.

“Sea-salt caramel, actually.” He said amusedly. “Not terrible, but it feels like eating my own semen.”

“Ew.” Don’t-call-my-bluff-don’t-call-my-bluff-

“I’m sure you’d find it more appetizing than I would, but then again I wouldn’t want another guys stuff in my mouth anyway.”

Whew. “I wouldn’t want some other guy’s stuff in my mouth-”

“Would you be fine if it was mine?”

I lit up and stammered for a second before he just laughed. “Come on, we’ve got to get ready for the day at some point.”

After a moment to breathe and give him the mildest of looks that I could manage, “I-I think Celestia teleported us some spare clothes here, but I don’t know what day it is.” I admitted, my stomach growling loudly as I finished my sentence.

Max gave me a funny look. “When’s the last time you ate?”

“The last time you cooked for me.” I answered truthfully.

“That was probably way too long ago at this point.” He sighed. “Come on, Cherry.”

Sadly, I had to get out of bed, but it was worth it to get a kiss from Max and a shower to get the oil out of my fur. I didn’t realize how long it’d been since I’d properly bathed, but I didn’t want to take too long since Max was waiting for me in the room. At least, I thought he would wait for me to get out. Halfway through washing my mane, I heard the bathroom door open over the pitter-patter of the shower’s falling rain and saw through the frosted glass of the large door that Max had entered.

“Um, Max?” I stuck my head out of the door, soap still in my mane.

He stripped his shirt off just as I looked at him. “Yeah?”

“... What are you doing?”

“What? You don’t want me to wash your back?” He asked, giving me a sad look that probably would have worked better if he was younger, shorter, or didn’t have a thing.

Giving him a look, I said, “Don’t turn into a pervert on me now.”

He chuckled. “Nah, one of Celestia’s staff just stopped by to tell you that you’re being summoned. It’s steamy in here.”

“Aww, just tell them that I’m busy!”

“I told them that I’d make you hurry.”

Pouting at him did nothing, so I just shut the shower door. “Butthead!”

“I love you~!” He sang, making my heart pound for minutes after he left.

Not wanting to give credence to any claims that I take forever in the bathroom, I hurried through my Morning Meandering and sped it up with Magic as I do when I’m in a particularly big-time rush. Max complimented me on not passing the thirty minute mark, but he only took ten to complete his daily ritual, and that was complete and utter malarkey! I asked what all he did and he told me that he’d used the restroom, washed his hair, and bathed normally like he usually did, but it didn’t make sense to me. Completely bewildered, I asked him if he would mind letting me observe him sometime and he invited me to observe him in the present, so I did.

As we followed our guide to Celestia’s Training Chambers, Max would occasionally used different ‘Spells’ to mess with ponies as we passed along. There was one pony that had a Fog of Fear following them for as long as they were in Max’s line of sight, somepony had a vase spout Dark Fire as they were cleaning it, and somehow Max learned how to cast minor glamours so that all the paintings on the walls would look directly at you whenever you looked at them, creeping everypony out. His barely restrained giggles made me want to laugh too, but knowing that he was scaring ponies for the sake of his own pleasure was taking the mirth out of the mood for me, which made me ask him to stop.

We arrived in Celestia’s chambers before she did, which was odd because she’d summoned us in the first place. However, I was prepared to wait a good while since there were snacks provided, and Max was more than willing to make sure that I had a good meal on my mini plate before I started eating. I made him eat too, but I feel like it’s more important to mention that he’d literally had his neck broken all the way around and he was still trying to look out for me over himself. Talk about true love, am I right, Diary?

Anyway, Celestia came in as we were eating out fill and Luna wasn’t far behind her, only coming through the door a few seconds after her sister. “So? Is Nightmare Moon contained?”

Max burped. “Don’t let your Dark Magic grow any stronger and you’ll be fine until I learn how to sap some Magic from whatever weakened Nightmare Moon in the first place.”

“Um…” What?

“You… You want to drain the Magic from the Elements of Harmony?” Celestia asked.

“I wanna take a pinch and mix it with some Aetherial Magic so I can purge the Black Magic out of Nightmare Moon’s Dark Magic, thus making her a little less loco and a lot more sane. Also I need to figure out how to transform the Alicorn Amulet into a person. Back into a person, I should say.”

“If thou canst even find it.” Luna scoffed. “The Amulet is lost.”

“But it’ll turn up.” Max chuckled. “And when it does, we might just have two Alicorns older than the country. All in favor of calling me a badass, say ‘aye’!”

“Aye!” I cheered.

“And these Alicorns will not turn on us the moment they are freed?” Luna asked severely.

“Noir’s already sworn by the Lifestream to protect and advise me, so don’t piss me off and you won’t piss her off.” He answered. “So far, Celestia has my loyalty.”

“Then that is satisfactory.” She nodded.

Celestia gave her a look that she missed, but it was there nonetheless. “In any case, what about this Noir do you know, Maximus?”

“I know that she’s a capable mentor and could probably be a very valuable General or Trainer. The woman moves like liquid lightning and strike twice as hard.” He rubbed his chest.

Luna shook her head and the first chunk of her mane floated away up to the ceiling. “We do that.”

“If you sparred, you’d lose.” Max said softly. “There’s no beating something you can’t see.”

“A Psychic Avatar and the True Form are two different things.” Luna scoffed.

He shrugged. “Find out next time on Dragon Ball Zed, I guess. Anywho, can I get another one of those chocolate covered pineapples?”

“A peasant with good taste? Ludicrous.” Luna scoffed.

Eww!” I said, making a face.

Celestia’s expression mirrored mine. “Sister, chocolate covered pineapples fell out of favour hundreds of years ago. Like escargot.”

“Mmm, salted snails…” Luna licked her lips.

My teacher clapped a hand to her face, but Max just nodded along. “Not something I’d eat more than once or twice a month, but I like them well enough. What about durian? Have you-”

“Thou have taken part of the putrid fruit as well!?” Luna gasped.

“Disgusting.” Celestia said plainly.

“Yeah…” I said slowly.

Max nodded. “I like it, the thing just smells horrible. It’s kinda black licorice, you know?”

“We love licorice! No one else has taste-buds refined enough to appreciate the complexity of the flavor!”

Max blinked. “Did you just say ‘no one’?”

“How do you feel about cacao?”

“Love it, but you just said ‘no one’, right?”

“I did.”

He looked to Celestia. “You made your people racist.”

Her jaw dropped, my jaw dropped, and Luna chuckled. “Caught like a thief in the night!”

“I deny your accusation, Maximus-” My teacher started.

“That’s right! Celestia wouldn’t inspire hatred in her ponies!” I continued

“No, Maximus is correct.” Luna said, still chuckling. “Fear and propaganda made Equestria the shining beacon of ‘unity’ that it is today. We are quite surprised to see that you are wise enough to see the world as it is.” Another couple of chunks floated away.

Celestia was busy glaring at Max, glancing at me from time to time. “That’s not true, Twilight. It’s not the whole story.”

“Celestia, you lead the world’s largest unified country. You’ve got a dirty track record. Twilight of all people should be privy to that knowledge.” Max replied flippantly.

“Be silent before you get smacked.” She deadpanned, her voice flatter than an anvil’s face.

“Princess…?”

She gave me a sad smile. “I’ll explain later, Twilight. For now, I think you should go back to Ponyville.”

“What about me?” Max asked, seemingly entertained.

Princess Celestia turned her gaze to him. “You owe me a favor, and I know just how you’re going to repay me.”

He raised a brow. “I just saved your sister and your country from the second coming of one of history’s greatest Demons and you’re saying I owe you?

My teacher walked up to him and bent down, looking him dead in the eyes and turning on Princess Mode. “You live in my country, on my land, in a house under my name, eating food that I pay for. Tell me no.”

“My people killed rulers like you too.” Max answered drolly.

She murmured something in his ear that made him stand up straighter and ball his fists up. “Are we clear?”

Sure thing.” My coltfriend replied coldly.

“Good. Be sure to see Twilight off appropriately. It’ll be a few weeks before you see each other again.” Celestia said, giving Max a look of disapproval.

I didn’t know what to make of the situation, but Max stormed away from Celestia with a steely mask on his face, coming to collect me as he decided that royalty was too frustrating to deal with. The second we left the room, however, I was in his ear giving him him the lecture of a lifetime, but I knew he wasn’t paying that much attention to me. It just helped to get my frustrations out into the open, and I knew that Max wasn’t about to lie and say that he regretted anything he’d said to Celestia, but still. He shouldn’t have talked to her that way, and now that whole thing about institutionalized racism keeps dancing around in my head with cleats on and its tearing my perception of my favourite pony in the whole wide world apart.

Max apparently remembered the way out of the castle, but before he actually walked me to the gates, he said, “Twilight, I need you to do something for me.”

I shook myself out of the shock of what had just occurred over the past couple of days, trying to cope with the reality that was being crammed down my throat at light speeds. “You really died…”

“And came back to life. I need you to-”

“Celestia could arrest you for treason at any point.”

“She can’t. Anyway, I-”

“You’re going away for weeks!

“Not if I can help it. Twilight, are you listening yet?” He asked, patting my cheeks.

I swatted his hands away and glared at him. “Why!? Why do you have to go and rock the boat wherever you go!? We had like, two days to actually enjoy being together and now you’re going away because now you apparently owe Celestia a favor because you couldn’t keep your big disrespectful mouth shut! Can’t you just sit down, shut up, and smell some roses or something!?

“Well ye- No. The favor is a mission and I vaguely remember it from the past life, so It’ll be a cakewalk and a half, my sweet Cherry Chiffon. If I even get hurt, I’ll be rather unpleasantly surprised, and I’m a very pessimistic person mosty of the time. It’s hard for Murphy’s law to sneak one in on me, and the best part is that I know exactly how to avoid dipping my toes into soiling my soul, so I’m gonna do that. Don’t be worried until I’m worried, okay?”

“I feel like you don’t worry enough.” I said softly.

“It’s how I get by.” He replied, kissing the base of my horn, sending a chill down my spine.

I pushed him away and looked up at him. “... Another stallion called me cute today…”

His eyes lost any sign of the false bravado he’d been putting up. “Did you tell him you were taken?”

“I didn’t say anything.” I replied.

“Then what did you do?” He asked.

“Nothing.”

“... I trust you Twilight, but making me jealous isn’t cute.”

I sent a tear-filled look his way. “Well maybe you should have thought about that before you went and got yourself stuck in a stupid situation.” And without another word, I teleported back into my room and threw myself onto my bed, but I didn’t cry. I wanted to, but I didn’t.

… It’s time for the conclusion. My heart hurts.

ↂ✶✵✶ↂ

In conclusion, my Special Somepony is a jackass with a good heart and bad habits, but I really think he’ll get his bucking head out of his flank soon enough to not make me want to teleport him into the middle of the ocean along with the rest of that Research and Development team. As for the six days that Max was gone, I was sad. When he came back, I was happy. Getting drunk was a horrible mistake, but it’s nice to know that Max is willing to nurse me back to health if I need it. I still feel bad about tossing my cookies all over him, but in my defense, he threw up on me too!

Max’s relationships with ponies that aren’t uptight… It’s astounding to see how fast somepony can turn on the charm and worm their way into your heart. I think he might need some time to iron out the details in his social life, but the stallion definitely has the foundations laid for him just based on his charisma alone. Celestia told me that Max was a natural born leader, but she warned me that leader come in all shapes and sizes with different moral alignments. I found that kind of odd coming from the mare who justified racism by saying that she needed to keep her country together after her sister was banished… Tch. She took the quickest, easiest, sleaziest route in the book to get a decent result, but like Max was saying, if
Celestia’s done something that bad before, what’s stopping her from doing it again, or rather, what other kinds of evil has she committed to make Equestria what it is today...? I can’t remember what was in the book either, but Max seems to think that Celestia is some kind of tyrant...

… It’s past midnight and I can’t sleep. I can’t keep wondering what Max is doing, or what Celestia is plotting. I can’t keep worrying about whether or not Discord is even a threat right now because it’s all just going to drive me bonkers! Max is all too happy to throw himself into the middle of the madness like it’s nothing, but me? I’m just a scholar with a penchant for comprehensive reading! I’m not meant for this kind of life!

Ugh… My boyfriend makes life so complicated- Boyfriend? What does boy mean? Whatever. Anyway, Max turns my days into cookie crumbles in minutes and I don’t know if I can keep dealing with that… When he get back, we’re going to have to talk. I… I need to ask the girls how to actually assert myself against him, though. Maybe talk to Mom and see what-

No. I know just the mare to ask, and I know for a fact that she’s available right now! Auntie Fleur always saves Solday night for reading and dry white wine! Hold on, Diary, here I go!

ↂ✶✵✶ↂ

Dear Diary,

… Asking Auntie Fleur might have been a mistake, but I think her advice and insight were worth seeking. When I teleported back to Canterlot and requested an audience with her, I was told to come back in the morning unless it was an emergency, to which I told the maid, “Auntie Fleur will understand! Stallion troubles are like, her main thing!

“Oh stars above.” The mare sighed. “Please tell me you’re not pregnant.”

“Wha- No! What kind of mare do you think I am!?” I asked, clutching my hands to my hammering heart, my face flushing.

“Just lost your-” I put the maid in a bubble and rolled her away from the door.

When I found a good place to put her, I pointed a judicious, sternly stern finger at her. “Now you sit and you get your mind out of the gutter! My stallion is just a clever troublemaker and that’s it. Okay? Okay. Now shut it.” I snapped harshly, not liking the uppity attitude of the mare. She probably got it from spending so much time around my Aunt, in all honesty.

Or she’s just a bronco. Ponies like her are just rude.

With my anxious mood turned to one of irritation and determination, I marched up Auntie Fleur’s stairs and tracked her down with a handy-dandy Clairvoyance Spell, which is different than a Scrying Spell, so don’t make me go into the nitty gritty details. Oh yeah? So be it!

{A Scrying Spell1 can be conjured while in a solitary, non-moving position only and requires much focus and many months of training for proficient Unicorns to master. Not only is the art considered invasive, it is also most commonly associated with espionage due to the nature of the higher tiers of the spell. However, a Clairvoyance Spell2 would not, as the name would imply, allow the user to become truly ‘Clairvoyant’ as the art has been lost to time. However, the Clairvoyance Spell2 is technically an advanced version of a standard Tracking Spell3, differing by the nature of the initialization the spell.
The lower-rank Tracking Spell3 requires little Mana since it can be cast verbally, which is where the Clairvoyance Spell2 seems to fall somewhat short due to its status as a MIO (Mental Incantation Only) spell. The deciding factor in the superiority of the spells, thusly, is based on RoE (Range of Effect) and the materials required to initiate the spell’s effects. With the Tracking3 Spell, the caster must be within two hundred meters of their target, and must posses a proportionally invested piece of their property to expand the range of their spell. Items such as toothbrushes and hairbrushes are often used to expand the search range up to three hundred and fifty meters, but even its widest range recorded (Five hundred and three meters See Fox Cloud’s Hypothesis Test #253-Aerial) pales in comparison to the Clairvoyance Spell2 at its lowest range of five hundred and fifty meters. Combined with its necessary materials being only a mental image of one’s target and it’s nearly negligible BMR (Base Mana Requirement), Clairvoyance is the clearly superior spell in both functionality and efficiency!}

To get back on track, Auntie Fleur was sitting out on her balcony, ready by the light of a beautiful candelabra that my Mom had brought back for her during an expedition to Baakistan when I came upon her. After ceasing the flow of Mana, I knocked on the glass door to the outside and nearly caused her to drop her book. Giving her a moment to catch her breath and let her heart rest ;.90seemed like the best (And kindest) course of action, so I waited until she was gazing at me with plenty of annoyance and a little confusion.

“Agua Vita, for the last time! When will it sink in that I’m not to be bothered during my story time!?” My dear, sweet Aunt huffed.

I poked my head out and pursed my lips. “I remember specifically being told that your story time could be put on hold for Twilight Sparkle’s nonexistent colt conundrums.”

She blinked a few times rapidly. “Twily?”

“Hi, Auntie Fleur. I know that was a decade ago, but…” I tried to smile, though we both knew that my heart wasn’t behind it.

“Oh, Sweetheart! I didn’t mean-” She closed her eyes, jammed a bookmark in her book, and shut it with a little ‘clap’. Her eyes snapped open and closed a few times before she asked, “Did you say ‘colt conundrums’?”

Yes! Stepping out onto the balcony, I gave her a sheepish smile and she returned it with a warmer, more assured one of her own. “I know, right? Seems like a dream somedays and a nightmare on others…”

“Honey…” Fleur said softly. “What’s going on,Sparkle? Have a seat; sit, sit! Can I get you something to drink? A bite to eat? You do look absolutely fetching in that dress by the way. One of your friend Rarity’s creations, I presume?”

I shielded my ocular devices and uncovered them for the sake of utility, performing the action called a ‘blink’ to moisten my eyes and try to process all of Fleurs questions. I sat next to her on her lounge chair and said, “If you’ve got any plum wine that would be fantastic, ice cream and chocolate sounds like Canterlot Creme de la Creme right now, Rarity would be ecstatic to hear you say that, so I’ll carry the message, and my boyfriend is a jackass.”

“Mare food first; talking later.” She answered, her wisdom shining through.

Chocolate cake and Rocky Route #4 (Double marshmellow, triple brownie, add three blondies.) made up our ‘meal’ and I started opening up with, “So has Mom told you or hinted about Max at all?”

“So his name is Max.” Auntie said, rolling her eyes.

“So we’re starting with the ‘Extra-equuestrial’ bit. Lovely.” I sighed.

“Twilight-Twily-Sparkle, do not tell me that your first stallion isn’t even a stallion.”

“He has a thingy…” I murmured past some ice cream.

She started giggling her head off like a madmare. “You still can’t say penis? That’s adorable, Sparkly!”

My face heated up even more. “Shush and let me tell the story, okay?”

“So you’re dating an alien.” My evil Aunt said amusedly.

“I’m not lying, Auntie! Seriously; Max comes from a planet called Earth where the dominant species is Human and there are no other sentient races, no Magic, no immortals! And that’s not even the weird part!”

That’s supposed to be believable? Twilight, Honey, let me level with you mare to mare for a moment; if Max really is an alien, then it’s no wonder he’s a jackass. Aliens are supposed to be alien.”

I had to clap a hand over my eyes for a few seconds and breathe. “Auntie, Fleur, what does ‘cunt’ mean?”

“... It’s a Briddish and Shepherd Islander word for a mare’s nether regions that also happens to be an insult.”

“He called both of the Princesses that and mentioned that his people killed their rulers. Directly. Individually. To their faces.”

“... Holy. Shit.

“Eeyeah.”

“... Is he insane!?” Auntie Fleur cried.

Yes, but I love him! It’s the damned- Darned- dingle-hopping True Love! I can’t help but find his feisty, take-no-crap, Tirek-May-Care, cross-my-path-I’ll-kick-you-ass kind of attitude!!! I wanted a nice, calm, gentle, scholarly stallion with an equally nice mane and equally nice eyes, but nooo, I just had to get the insanely hot crazy guy who’d probably would have started throwing punches at Princess Luna if Celestia didn’t intervene!”

“Twilight, get away from him.” She said breathlessly. “If that stallion has the madness to commit treason directly to the Princesses’ freaking faces then he’s probably gonna get himself killed. I hate to tell you that, but the guy sounds suicidal.”

“He’s going nuts because he’s on a different planet with a dozen new races, a million new animals, Magic in general, the prospect of immortality, the fact that your average Pony could kill him in a punch, memories from what is apparently an alternate timeline where we got freaking married, had foals, and ruled. Equestria. Life is bonkers, Baby!” I got a big mouthful of cake and drowned my misery in chocolate which was pretty gosh-darn effective.

“... So you married that nutjob?”

I sighed. “After he had a couple years to get his head out of his flank, yes.”

“You poor, poor mare.” She sighed. “Are you sure it’s True Love?”

“Every filly knows the Lovelace Rune.”

“Oooh, that’s bad… Maybe I could talk to him for you?”

“I think I need to do this myself, Auntie, but I don’t know how to tell him to make the testosterone quiet down!”

“... You know I hate to ask, but-”

“I tried but he turned me down!”

“What.”

He was so stiff!”

“Repeating for clarification: What.

“I know! You told me that stallions loved a mare who wasn’t afraid to get in bed!”

“They do! All red-blooded stallions can’t help three things.” She held up a finger for each item. “First and foremost; stallions can’t resist breasts. Pad ‘em, Princess. Second; if your stallion looks at your chest and doesn’t think it’s the best, turn around and let the tail do the rest! You’ve got some bust, but your flank is perfect for a mare with your physique! Last and maybe most important; if your stallion can look you in the eye and tell you that he doesn’t want to sleep with you, then he’s cheating.”

“... Max looked me in the eye and told me that there was nothing he wanted more…” I replied, the Rocky Route cooling the fire in my belly. “I felt him between my legs, pressing in that place while he was asleep…” Poking my ice cream, I thought more about him. “He always holds me so tight and never wants to let go. I know he loves me back, and I don’t doubt that he’s been faithful, but it’s a struggle to be with him some days and others there just isn’t anything that feels more natural…”

Auntie Fleur sighed out a half-laugh. “Would you like to know something funny, Twilight?”

“If you don’t mind.”

“Your Uncle’s as queer as a red skunk.”

Shut up.” I gasped.

She nodded, smiling ruefully. “We love each other, he just doesn’t want me like that. Hence why you may have heard some rumors about possible promiscuity being levelled my way.”

“... You don’t think…”

“My Gay-Detector works perfectly. All I need to do is ask him three questions.”

I nodded and added the rest of my cake to my ice cream with Fleur following suit soon after. “... I don’t think a gay stallion would get… Stiff, from just kissing a mare.”

“I don’t think a straight stallion would turn down a virgin if he loves her.” Auntie Fleur countered.


After a moment, Auntie Fleur gave me a worried look and my head grew heavy, my bones thrumming. “Twily? Honey?”

“... He’s safe.” Auntie Fleur had to tell me what I said, so assume that from this point on that the same thing that happened with the Diliculum thing happened again.

“Twily? Who’s safe?”

I looked at her, my eyes glowing with a deep, cosmic purple that seemed to draw in the darkness and turn it into light. “My husband, of course. That’s why I sent him here.”

“... Twily?”

“Fleur. Protect him, or I’ll take everything from you. He’s headed toward Hildegarten. Suit up.”

“Twily, you’re scaring me.”

I leaned forward and the world warped around me, bringing Fleur closer to me. “You’ve never known the fear I can bring to you; the despair. Protect my husband from shedding blood or you’ll pay with your limbs. Protect his life or you’ll pay with your own. Protect his mind opr I will destroy yours piece by piece.”

“... Understood.”

And just like that, I was asleep on Auntie Fleur’s sofa, and moments later she was shaking me awake. “Twilight? Twilight!?”

“Stop, my tummy’s full!” I complained, shaking her off. “When did I fall asleep?”

“Um… So I don’t have to go to Hildegarten?”

“What?”

She explained everything that had happened, and it honestly seemed like a good idea to have Auntie Fleur looking out for Max while he was out of the country anyway. She let me teleport her to Otterwa since I’d been there once after she packed some weird stuff into a duffel bag and changed into odd clothes that I’d never known she’d actually own, let alone wear. I don’t think there needs to be a conclusion this time, but I will say that I am worried about this Diliculum mare and her propensity for possessing me. At least it doesn’t hurt, I guess…

Why does life have to be so darn stupid? And weird… Weird and stupid just makes everything so confusing...

Author's Note:

Holey Dix, Twenty-three thousand words even? What an oddity. Hopefully this chapter was worth the wait~

As Always,Stay Cool, Kids

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