• Published 13th Sep 2012
  • 16,269 Views, 576 Comments

The Twilight Hours - chief maximus

AJ and Twilight keep meeting in her library in the middle of the night, and RD wants answers!

  • ...

Part 6

Part 6

"Twilight, you've been so nice ta help me like this," Applejack said before taking a bite of a scone Spike had prepared beforehand.

"It's no problem at all," Twilight insisted. "You don't have to keep thanking me, Applejack. I'm happy to do it!" Twilight took a refreshing sip of tea before setting her cup down on the table with a clink against the saucer. "Besides, you're picking this up so fast, I'll bet you'll be reading at an adult level in a few weeks!"

Applejack smiled, swallowing her mouthful of pastry. "Ya think so?"

Twilight nodded confidently. "I don't just think so, I know so. I tutored fillies and colts before I moved here, and I've never seen any of them pick it up this fast."

Applejack blushed, adjusting her hat. "Well, shucks, thank ya, Twi. Maybe next time you can come over to th' barn instead of me sneakin' around over here?"

"I think that would be a fantastic idea!" Twilight smiled. "We could call it a sleepover to avoid arousing any suspicion!"

"Then it's settled," Applejack chuckled. The two ponies trotted down the stairs, and Twilight opened the door for her guest.

Rarity and Rainbow Dash ducked down into the bushes, while peering through the leaves.

Applejack stopped outside and turned around. "You just c'mon by the farm next week, and we'll have the whole night to ourselves."

Twilight smiled. "I look forward to a repeat performance."

Applejack shuffled her hooves, sticking her chest out proudly. "You'll get better than that! Ah'm gonna practice till Ah get tired, then Ah'll practice some more!"

Twilight hugged her, Applejack nuzzling her in return. "That's my girl! See ya next week!" Applejack waved goodbye and trotted back toward her farm as Twilight went back inside her house. As soon as they were sure the coast was clear, Rainbow and Rarity stuck their heads out of the bushes, spitting out a few leaves as the did.

"See? They're meeting every week!" Dash snapped. "What more proof do you need?"

"Rainbow, we've heard nothing definitive!" Rarity whispered harshly. "All of this could be taken out of context to mean anything!"

"What are you two doing in our bushes?" A deadpan voice startled them, and Rainbow jumped into Rarity's embrace. It was a few hours past Spike’s bedtime, and even the sight of his unrequited crush did nothing to shake his sullen mood.

"Spike! It is quite rude to sneak up on somepony!" Rarity admonished as Dash settled on her hooves.

"Yeah, Spike, don't you have any manners?" Rainbow added.

"Oh sure, I should take a lesson in manners from the two ponies with spy equipment outside my house," the young dragon replied sarcastically.

"That's not spy equipment!" Dash said defensively.

"Then what were you doing with it?" he asked, raising an eye ridge.

"We were... uhm... bird... listening! Yes, you know, like bird watching, except... with your ears." Rainbow smiled, stumbling through an explanation that seemed reasonable.


Rarity stepped forward. "Of course, Spike, my dear! Would I ever lie to you?"

Spike's inquisitor's stare softened a bit once Rarity had spoken her piece, but he still had a few reservations. "It's nearly midnight. What birds could you possibly be listening for?"

"Oh!" Rarity said quickly, "We were... uhm... you see—"

"Owls!" Rainbow interjected. "We were listening to owls!"

Spike leveled his eyes. "Owls?"

"Yes! We were just so jealous when Twilight got that owl to be her pet!" Rarity smiled innocently at the skeptical dragon.

"...Okay." Spike pushed his way through the bushes and disappeared inside the library.

"You don't think Spike knows anything about that, do you?" Rarity asked, once she was sure he was out of earshot.

Rainbow narrowed her eyes. "I'll bet he does." She turned to Rarity. "And I know just how to get it out of him."

Spike climbed the stairs to their bedroom. Twilight yawned from her bed, emptying the last bit of tea from the kettle into her cup. "So, how was the patrol, Sergeant Spike?" she asked, replacing the books she had been using with Applejack.

"Rainbow Dash roped Rarity into her shenanigans. They were hiding outside in our bushes," he said flatly. "I don't know why they care so much, but they had all kinds of crazy spy stuff they borrowed from Pinkie."

Twilight sighed, dragging a hoof across her face. "Why do they care?" she groaned.

Spike shrugged, climbing into his basket. "Who knows. I guess Rainbow just doesn't like secrets unless they're hers."

Twilight shimmied underneath her blankets and extinguished all the candles in the room except the one by her nightstand.

"You know, I don't mean to bust up the sneaky-ness you guys have going, but... couldn't this whole dilemma be solved if you just convinced Applejack that Rainbow wouldn't care that she couldn't read, especially when she sees how much of a sore subject it is for her?"

Silence filled the room before a light snore emanated from Twilight's side of the room. Spike sighed and rolled over in his basket, pulling his blanket over his shoulders. Ugh, how many times are we supposed to go through this kind of stuff?

The next morning, Spike decided it was best if he stayed as far away from the entire mess he'd uncovered as possible. He figured he could still make sure Twilight didn't do anything she'd regret, but otherwise, he would play the part of observer. Or so he believed.

A knock at the library door woke Spike much earlier than he would have liked. He raised himself from his basket and looked to Twilight, still sprawled out on her bed, a thin line of saliva trailing from the corner of her mouth onto her pillowcase. Spike's attention was turned back to the door as another series of knocks echoed through the morning stillness of the library.

Spike lazily clomped down the stairs, glancing at the clock. The library was actually due to open in fifteen minutes. With an indignant snort, he opened the door, expecting his scowl alone to drive away the early bird.

"Hello, Spike, why so glum?" His expression instantly lightened. His one desire stood before him, looking as camera-ready as ever.

"Rarity? What are you doing here so early?"

She smiled, turning to the side to show him the fabrics stuffed into her saddlebag. "Oh, just here to borrow a book on Canterlonian fashion. I'll need the latest book on the subject Twilight's got."

Spike nodded, stepping aside and letting her in. "Oh, no problem, I can get those for you." Against his better judgement, he thought about the encounter the night before. "Sorry about last night. I didn't meant to sound so rude, but it was way past my bedtime."

Rarity waved a hoof as she took a seat on Twilight's couch. "No offense taken, Spike," she said happily. "Sweetie Belle gets the same way after nine o'clock."

Spike chuckled. "So, if you don't mind my asking... what were you and Rainbow doing out there?"

"Oh! Just another one of Rainbow Dash's crazy prank ideas. She attempted to rope me into it, but I told her a proper lady does not 'prank' ponies for fun." Rarity smiled, a bit of a blush coming over her cheeks. Spike bought it. "Can you tell me if Twilight is about yet?"

"Uhm, actually, she's still—"

"I'm up, Spike. Could you get us some tea?" Twilight called from the top of the stairs, her mane and tail still a bit disheveled from the night before.

He nodded, departing to the kitchen. "So, what brings you by so early?" Rarity recoiled slightly at Twilight's accusatory tone.

"Well, I came by to borrow your latest issue of Unicorn Quarterly."

Twilight raised an eyebrow. "Spike tells me you were in my bushes with Rainbow Dash last night."

Rarity took a few indignant breaths before calming herself. "I can assure you, I had no part in whatever hare-brained prank Rainbow Dash was cooking up. In fact, Spike came upon us as I was explaining to her how uncouth playing pranks on unsuspecting ponies truly was." Spike brought them the tray of tea and set it on the coffee table, taking a seat beside Rarity. "Spike, could you be a dear and show me the gems you've collected for me? I've got a few designs I think would be just perfect with a few emeralds."

He set he teacup down and sprang off the couch. "Sure thing, Rarity!"

Once Spike had disappeared upstairs, she turned her attention back to Twilight. "Poor dear, I just couldn't bear to admit this in front of him."

Twilight sat back against her chair. "Admit what?"

She smiled, taking a sip of tea before continuing. "I met a charming stallion a few days ago, and he came by last night to ask me to an evening on the town!"

"I can see why you wouldn't want Spike in the room." Twilight sat forward. "So, who is it?"

Rarity raised an eyebrow. "Who is who?"

"The stallion that asked you out!"

"Oh!" She laughed nervously. "Right, uhm, his name... was..." Quickly Rarity, think of an adjective and a noun! Rarity's eyes darted around the room. "Round... Table."

"Round Table, huh?" Twilight asked skeptically.

"Yes, he's from... out of town. Anyway, is there anything noteworthy happening in your love life, Twilight?" Rarity asked leadingly.

Twilight cocked her head and narrowed her eyes. "No..."

"Really? No, say... clandestine trysts or secret rendezvous?"

Twilight's expression flattened. "What the... of course not! I would never keep something like that a secret."

"Oh, Twilight, I know you wouldn't it's just... well, Rainbow Dash seems to think that you... and... Applejack—"

Twilight grunted indignantly. "I should have known! I almost expect this kind of thing from her, but et tu, Rarity?"

"Et... what?"

Twilight slapped the book Rarity needed loudly on the coffee table in front of them. "Doesn't anypony appreciate Latin anymore? Anyway, there's your book. What Applejack and I do is between the two of us and Celestia."

Rarity raised an eyebrow as she placed the book in her saddlebag. "So Celestia is privy to this information too?"

"It's a figure of speech, and you know it! And I can assure you it is nothing like Rainbow Dash is suggesting. Applejack and I are friends, just like you and I are supposed to be!"

Rarity sighed, flattening her ears. "You're right, Twilight, I've been a terrible friend," she sighed. "I apologize." She got up off the couch and strode toward the door. "Oh, and if you could have Spike run those gems by the boutique, I'd appreciate it."

Twilight's expression softened. "Yeah, I'll send him by."

"Thank you."

With that, Rarity left the library, leaving Twilight alone with her thoughts. Spike was still gathering emeralds from his various stashes, giving her time to check her day planner. Levitating it from the desk drawer, she opened it to the day's date. "Let's see here..."

8:00am-11:59am Miscellaneous study/ponder lunch options.
12:00pm-1:00pm Consume lunch option.

"Well, I guess I could get a head start on Applejack's next lesson." Twilight produced an unused planner and a few foal's reading workbooks and began planning their next meeting. Not long after, Spike came hustling down the stairs with a basket full of emeralds, his eager attitude dampening as he realized Rarity had left.

"Where'd she go?"

"Oh, she had to run, but wanted you to drop by the boutique with the emeralds," Twilight replied, not looking away from her books. As Spike made his way towards the door, she called to him. "Spike, before you go," she said, pulling herself away from her books. "I want you to promise on your 'dragon code' that you won't breathe a word of what Applejack and I have been doing to Rarity, Rainbow Dash, or anypony else, okay?"

Spike's shoulders drooped. He should have kept his dragon code—something he had come up with himself—a secret. "Okay, I promise on my scales and fire I'll keep it a secret."

Twilight smiled contently. "Thank you, Spike."

"Well? Find anything?"

Rarity rolled her eyes after closing the door to her boutique. "No, and I'd thank you to reconsider all of this nonsense."

Rainbow folded her forelegs and huffed. "Twilight gave you one of her speeches, didn't she?"

"Regardless of what Twilight said, I think this whole thing is silly," she replied. "Don't you have anything better to do than spy on Twilight?"

"AJ and I spent all of our free time with each other! Now she'd rather hang with Twilight all of the sudden?" Rainbow hopped off Rarity's couch and strode towards her. "Aren't you even kinda curious?"

She blew a stray strand of purple mane out of her face. Unfortunately, she couldn't deny her inner gossip. "Even if I was, I'd want them to tell us when they're ready, not force it out of them like some kind of inquisitor."

A knock at the door interrupted their conversation. "That'd be our guest of honor," Rainbow whispered before fluttering into the closet. "Work your magic, Rare!"

Rarity dragged a hoof across her face, releasing a soft groan before putting on a smile and heading to the door. "Spike! So good of you to bring me those emeralds!" She stepped aside as he walked in, his basket of gems in his arms.

"No problem, Rarity. Twilight had told me you had to leave early, so I figured I had time to run these over," he said happily, setting the basket down on the front desk. "Anything else you need?" he asked.

"Oh no, nothing but for you to help me eat these cupcakes Pinkie brought over yesterday!" she chimed as a tray of pastries floated over from the kitchen with a pot of tea.

"Sure!" he replied, licking his lips at the thought of Pinkie's famous gem-studded cupcakes.

As the young dragon helped himself, Rarity poured them both a cup of piping hot tea. Spike immediately slurped his down without so much as a second to cool. Dragon's mouths were notably resistant to heat.

"So, Spike, if you don't mind my asking, what was Applejack doing at Twilight's so late?"

Spike paused from his eating rampage and glanced up at his hostess. "Uh, well..." How had he not thought up an excuse? Why didn't Twilight give him one?! "They, uhm... they just go into Twilight's room mostly."

A faint scribbling drew Spike’s attention toward Rarity's closet before she brought him back to her. "It's just that, well... friends don't keep secrets from other friends, and if Twilight and Applejack were... involved with each other, we'd just like to know. They are our friends, after all."

Spike's scales went a furious red. He'd never even considered such an assumption. "Oh, N-no way! I-it's nothing like that, I swear!" he stammered.

Rarity raised an eyebrow. "But you understand our concern? I mean, why else would they be meeting in secret in the middle of the night?"

Spike worked his jaw. "Uh... I... I can't say. But I know it's not that!" Another sound of faint scratching drew Spike's attention. "Is there something in the closet?" he asked, getting up from the couch and heading toward it.

Thinking quickly, Rarity jumped in front of the closet. "Don't open that! Sweetie Belle trapped a raccoon in there, and Fluttershy is on her way to take it back to the forest!" Thankfully, Spike seemed to have bought it. Be it his young age or just sheer gullibility, Rarity breathed a sigh of relief nonetheless. "Well, Spike, I certainly appreciate the visit, but I have much work to do," she said, tossing the cupcakes into Spike's basket and practically pushing him out of the door.

"B-but wait, don't you need any help with anything?" he asked, his claws scratching into her tile floor as he tried to stop himself.

"Oh no, I'll be quite alright. Thank you, Spike!" The young dragon was quickly out the door. Rarity promptly shut it and slumped against it, crumpling to the ground on her haunches. Rainbow emerged from the closet with a notepad and quill.

"Well, I hope all that scratching was worth it!" Rarity snapped indignantly.

"Actually, I can't read any of this," she said looking at the random assortment of squiggles on the pages. "I forgot how bad I was at mouth-writing." Rainbow chucked the notepad over her shoulder and turned to Rarity. "Besides, I remember what he said. He knows, Rarity. He just doesn't want to say."

"I don't care what he knows," she insisted, folding her forelegs across her chest. "I'm not deceiving Spike like that again."

"Okay, look, just help me stakeout Twi's place one more time next week, and if we don't figure out anything new, I'll stop this whole thing for good. Deal?" Rainbow asked, helping her up off the floor.

"You promise? Pinkie Pie Promise?" she asked.

"Fine..." Rainbow groaned.

"Okay then. You get one more chance," Rarity replied, straightening her mane.

"Cool, I'll go borrow Pinkie's spy stuff."

Rarity sighed, running a hoof through her mane. "You should have just left Rainbow in the bushes by herself!"

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