• Published 16th Aug 2019
  • 518 Views, 19 Comments

The Pros and Cons of Working Over Time - meanderingNekomata



Minuette and Limestone Pie are bound by the Choosing Stone.

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When Business meets Pleasure

Planning a date was no issue for Minuette. With her previous first date jitters out of the way, control over their next date’s destinations and plans, and the ability to bend her own time to her will -given that the required paperwork was filled out and safely tucked away in one of Doctor Whooves’ many filing cabinets at the agency, - she felt more than prepared to tackle this responsibility and show Limestone the best date ever. Though maybe she shouldn’t raise the bar too high, otherwise future dates might be much more challenging.

Looking over all the intel she’d gathered over the past couple “personal days” as she called them, both in that she’d live out the same day multiple times, and in that she didn’t have work, she ruminated on where she’d take Limestone for their second date. This was her second time experiencing the current day, to be specific, and that meant it would be dedicated to planning.

The previous run of this day had been all about information gathering; checking fliers, newspapers, asking about upcoming events at the community center, and so on. This was all standard date prep for her, though she was rusty. Hardly the kind of thing she needed to use her gift with time magic for if she was being frank. Still, it worked out better for her time management. Deep down, she knew if she ever really wanted to go all out to ‘wow’ Limestone, she could canvas the day in question, learning many of the unscheduled events that just happened to occur. From there she could avoid the possible date-ruiners like inclement weather due to errors in pegasi weather scheduling or villainous takeovers or monster attacks and scope out some of the neat things that happened spontaneously. She briefly thought of the magic shockwave from yesterday, then shook her head, she wasn’t quite sure how to categorize that. In any case, it would mean a load of paperwork and burn up most of her energy, but she could do it if she felt the occasion was particularly momentous.

Still, micromanaging every aspect of an evening seemed a bit much to her. It took a lot of excitement and surprise out of just about any experience, especially dating. Of course, once the date was underway, she would refuse to go back for anything except an actual emergency, and she didn’t plan on going so far yet anyway. Maybe for a marriage proposal or a wedding day, but, wait, she was getting ahead of herself. Or was she? It was a little hard to judge what was too soon when a magic stone said you’d end up with somepony eventually, no matter what.

Minuette sighed, she was overthinking this again. For all her planning, she’d ultimately decided something simple would be best. The last date was already pretty magical, and she was excited to learn more about Limestone, even the small stuff. She remembered the dinner they had last time, watching how she ate, the expression she’d make when she was deep in thought, the cute way she looked almost lost in the moments following a kiss, keeping her eyes closed just a little longer than necessary. Minuette sighed again, wistfully this time, she wanted to see more of that.

Just three more days...

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Marble asked Limestone for the third time, “Are you sure about this?” as they approached the door to the townhouse.

Limestone sighed, then said, “Look, sis, I was sure enough to take off for the day and clear your absence with Pa, wasn’t I? We’re family. I’m not about to make you come all this way on your own when you can barely talk to the ticket pony. You asked me to help you, I agreed.” She nudged her sister. “Besides, weren’t you the one who wanted to show me that I shouldn’t be afraid of love?”

Her sister sighed, then straightened. “You’re right. Okay, let’s do this, and this is my request, so I’ll knock.”

“Hey,” Limestone said, setting a hoof to her shoulder, “don’t push yourself too much.”

“If I can’t even get along with my sister’s marefriend, how am I supposed to talk to a complete and total stranger from another world?”

Limestone smiled at that, “Okay, fine. I’ll be here if you need me.”

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A light knock sounded on the door. “It’s open,” Minuette called automatically, confused that one of her friends would feel the need to knock. Then again it could be Twilight, or… wait, she did give Limestone her address during the last date in case she wanted to drop by on a day she was free and surprise her. Maybe this was her? That knock did sound a little uncertain.

Minuette bolted upright and stuffed her date plans under the sofa as she heard the door open and close, followed by hoofsteps echoing down the short hallway. She quickly checked herself in a small, novelty hourglass-shaped mirror hanging on one of her walls. It was kind of functionally awful, but it was all she had at hoof at the moment. Nothing in her teeth, hair seems fine? She could rewind her time, but that would mean more work than it was worth in the long run, and if this was another romantic if awkward moment in their journey as a couple, she figured it would be important to experience it as it was meant to be. Besides, she shouldn’t try to be perfect all the time and Limestone shouldn’t expect that of her. Well, that and constantly rewinding her life would become mentally exhausting and physically draining if this became a trend; it was still magic after all, even if it was her special talent in addition to one of her jobs.

Deciding she looked fine, she turned just in time to see a rather unexpected Marble enter the room, followed by Limestone. Confused, she directed a questioning glance at Limestone, at which point she nudged her sister, who still hadn’t said a word.

“H-hey M-M-Minuette, um… s-sorry for bothering you, b-but uh… I mean, I’m s-sure you’d r-rather it were just my s-sister h-here. Heh.” She swallowed hard, looked down, took a breath, and straightened before clearing her throat softly. “What I’m trying to say is, Ineedyourhelpfindingmyspecialsomepony!” she finished, all in one breath.

“Er…” Minuette looked from Limestone to Marble, then back to Limestone. “Care to explain?”

The gruff, stacked, toned mare put a hoof on her sister’s shoulder. “I got this one, Marble. You did pretty good.” Then she turned to Minuette, who was totally not staring at this point, and began explaining the situation from the beginning.

As Limestone finished, she added. “I don’t really know anypony here, and I really didn’t want to go to Pinkie on this one, given the situation. We’re lucky she’s probably busy with something else right now, otherwise we’d have a repeat of what happened when she found out about… us. Anyway, I thought maybe you might know something.”

Minuette thought about the magic shockwave. “You say it came from the same direction as that ‘purple sonic rain-whatever’?” She asked, mimicking Limestone’s earlier phrasing. Somehow, she found the way Limestone talked about things she didn’t understand adorable.

“Mhm.” Marble confirmed.

Minuette sighed. “Guess I’ll have to ask that guy then. Come with me outside for a second.”

The two sisters looked at each other, shrugged, and followed Minuette.

“Hey, September, I know you’re out here, I need to talk to you for a minute.” Minuette called out into the street.

Across the road, a gray, maneless, tailless stallion in a black suit and fedora set his newspaper down on the bench upon which he was perched. He got up and crossed the street in a leisurely fashion.

Marble and Limestone simply stared as the stallion trotted towards them. By all rights, his lack of mane and tail should’ve made him stick out, and if not that, at least his fashion sense should've caught their eye. Somehow, neither of them had noticed him until Minuette called out to him. And despite his slow pace, he reached them surprisingly quickly.

“Greetings.” he said, completely monotone. Despite that, he had a slight, barely noticeable smile on his face. Not a mischievous smile or anything sinister, more the kind of smile one might show when they’ve just taken a bite of something good, or upon noticing that it’s a beautiful day, fit for a walk in the park.

“Tell me what I need to know.” Minuette replied, not bothering to return the greeting. She didn’t want him to get sidetracked. In her admittedly limited time working and interacting with him, she found that it was usually best to get straight to the point.

“There is more than one of everything.” He paused, blinked, stared at her for several seconds, then continued. “In Ponyville, there is a monument which marks the initial victory of the Elements of Harmony over Tirek. It once served as the abode of this era’s monarch.”

And with that, he trotted off around the corner of the townhouse adjacent to Minuette’s. She didn’t need to check, she knew he’d be long gone if they did. Instead, she turned back to Limestone and Marble, both of whom had looks of confusion plastered to their faces.

“He’s someone I work with. Not my photography job, more of a rare side gig every few years, if that. It’s a kind of… hereditary position. My mom worked with him too. Only ever really worked with him twice myself, but he’s usually there whenever something like this comes up.” Minuette word-vomited by way of explanation.

When that only got her blank looks in reply, she facehoofed. “Look, I’ll explain more later. For now, all you need to know is that he’s an amazing informant and his leads always pan out. He may be a bit cryptic and creepy, but he’s useful and he knows what he’s talking about.”

That earned a nod from both of them and she ushered them back inside. This was getting more awkward by the moment.

Finally, Limestone spoke up, “So, did you understand what he meant by all that about the ‘monument which marks the Elements of Harmony’s victory over Tirek’ or whatever? All I really remember about the first Tirek incident was that the Princesses issued a state of emergency which delayed our shipments for a while. That, and there was some kind of weird rainbow thing flying around at some point. Personally, I missed it, but a lot of the workers were talking about it.” she shrugged.

Minuette nearly let out an audible sigh of relief at the reply, but held it in. Now wasn’t the time to go over her family’s ancestral duty to Equestria. That was just yet another heavy topic she didn’t feel like her fledgling relationship was quite ready for just yet. The ‘dark secrets’ talk had to be a sort of give and take in private with ambiance, or at least that’s how it was in books she’d read. “He meant Twilight’s crystal castle in Ponyville, it popped up out of the ground around the time Tirek went down and since her old home was destroyed by him, she started living there instead. I think her pupil’s still there. I’ve heard a bit about it when I used to visit Twilight there. It makes sense that if a portal to another world were anywhere, that’d prolly be the place.”

“Oh, okay, well then, I uh… guess we’d better get going then, huh?” Limestone asked awkwardly, her gaze lingered on Minuette a bit before she turned to leave. “Well, see you in a few days I guess…”

“Thank you… it was erm, good seeing you again…” Marble said in a small voice, turning to follow her sister in an equally awkward exit.

What are you doing, Minuette? She thought to herself. Of course the whole secret side job business would unnerve Limestone. Maybe now wasn’t the time for explanations, but it would have to be soon if she didn’t want to let this fester. Besides, she clearly wants you to come along. This is totally one of those ‘go after her, you fool’ moments!

“Wait,” Minuette said, grabbing a striped pink and white scarf from a hanging wall-mounted coat rack near the door. It had little hour glasses for the hooks, this one was a custom order. “I’ll come with you, I know where to go and I’ve met Starlight a couple times. Admittedly, we haven’t exchanged more than a couple greetings and a bit of small talk, but it’s better than someone she doesn’t know just knocking on her door out of the blue anyway.”

Limestone turned, her lips turned up almost imperceptibly. Almost. “Are you sure? This is a family matter, you don’t have to. I can handle it if you have plans or work or something.”

“No, no, it’s no big deal, besides, it’ll be a good chance to get to know my marefriend’s little sister a little better. If that magic rock says we’re spending our lives together, I should make an effort to get along with my future sister-in-law.” Maybe this was pushing a bit much, but Limestone had mentioned that Marble already knew about them. She knew she was getting ahead of herself, but she just couldn’t help it.

Marble went a deep shade of red. “Uh, um… mmhm, r-right. I uh… wow, a n-new sister, huh?”

At that, Limestone’s cheeks flushed as well. “N-n-not so fast, it’s still early days, it’s n-not like we have any sort of wedding date planned. No need to rush everything.”

“Sure, one thing at a time,” Minuette replied, enjoying her marefriend’s reaction immensely; she was so cute when she was nervous! “Still, if you think I’m gonna pass up a chance to get embarrassing secrets and cute stories of your childhood, you’re sorely mistaken.” she teased.

Limestone grumbled under her breath.

“Besides,” Minuette continued, “she’s gonna need some practice if she’s meeting her own destined bride or groom to be.” Then she froze. “Wait, Hold on! I can’t believe I almost forgot my camera!”

She ran to the other room and grabbed her trusty Ponyroid Celestial 660 from its home atop a shelf near her work desk and rushed back to where the Pie sisters were waiting. “Let’s take a selfie for the road!” she cheered, inserting herself between the two and hooking a hoof around each of their necks. Minuette floated the camera out in front of them, sometimes being a unicorn had its advantages. Her smile was broad, even as she looked from one sister to the other to gauge their reaction and willingness to indulge her.

Limestone glanced at Marble, who gave a meek shrug, followed by a small smile and a nod. And with an eye roll and a grumbled, though not quite reluctant “Fine,” from Limestone, Minuette nearly squealed in excitement. Instead, she said, “Alright, saaay soulmates!”

“Soulmates!” they exclaimed, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, Minuette’s voice most prominent, with Marble’s almost fading in the background and a pensive, somewhat wistful tone to Limestone’s utterance. The verbal landscape painted a picture of their emotional states, and if Minuette had been paying more attention, she might have read into it. There was an audible click and flash, and with the soft whirring of machinery, the photo was produced from the camera's built in printer.

Minuette floated the picture up to the light, waiting the couple minutes it took for the image to appear, a part of the process which was the reason she usually swore by instant film over any digital camera for personal use. Something about this made a production of each shot, gave a sense of grandeur to each memory captured on film. It was for this reason that she didn’t throw out photos for lack of quality or inability to hold up to a certain standard. Even the digital photos on her work camera that weren’t up to snuff got a spot in their own relevant scrapbook out of respect for the moment. She didn’t see the use in taking picture after picture until you got the “perfect” angle or shot, or at least not when it came to photos taken to document events in her own life. Sure, staged and vetted photos may look prettier, more flattering, but they lose a lot of personality, meaning, and sincerity.

Looking back on something like that, fake smiles perfected over several attempts, angles intended only to get somepony’s good side, it would be easy to get the impression that things were nicer back then, that one’s life used to be better somehow or was more stable, easier to handle. True pictures showed, if you looked carefully enough, the true feelings behind a picture in which everypony was told to smile for the camera almost as well as one taken without warning. Composition, camera angle, how the image was framed, and choice of location to the extent that there was one, may say something about the mood or state of even an off camera photographer. Those in the photo would have their own strained smiles or weary eyes or guarded expressions or sometimes simpler expressions of true elation, excitement, or laughter and body language would tell the rest.

As she looked at the new photo, she could see just as clearly the anxiety and nerves of Marble, whose head drooped a bit as she slouched into the hug, turned away slightly with a light blush lingering on her cheeks. Still, her eyes focused on the camera with a sort of stalwart determination one might otherwise miss.

Limestone, on the other hoof, stared almost through the camera, as though lost in a personal fog. Her smile appeared genuine and warm, but uncertain, faltering somewhat. Her posture, likewise, seemed rigid, as though she were unsure what to do with herself in the moment. These communicated a number of different emotions warring in her mind, something that didn’t surprise Minuette in the slightest, given the complications of their relationship, the current situation with Marble, and the uncertain nature of their future. At the same time, Minuette was sure her marefriend didn’t mean to let her in on any of this. Limestone was the type to see herself as the rock to be relied upon, even when she was falling apart inside. She may see it as some personal failure to show such vulnerability, but that was exactly what she expressed in this image; vulnerability, and, to some extent, fragility. A need for things to go right and an inability to recognize the best course of action to ensure this outcome. A feeling of ‘what should I do now?’ that Minuette personally could relate to.

Then, there was her, in the center. Minuette’s smile was broad and overtly cheerful, an expression of her genuine joy in adding another picture of Limestone and herself to the album she’d started to document their relationship, this time with Marble included. Her arms wrapped around them, she could really sense the closeness she was trying to inspire in them, as well as a bit of tension which came from her usual role as a friendship manager, always trying to make sure things flowed well in group dynamics and nobody was left out.

Still, she really was excited to get to know Limestone’s younger sister better, outside the environment of the rock farm and more specifically, outside the company of their parents and the breakfast atmosphere which she still remembered as being thick enough to cut with a butter knife at least. More than that, this was an adventure of sorts to find Marble’s soulmate from another world, and where Limestone may feel nervous and protective of her little sister, Minuette could hardly contain herself at the prospect. Being involved in somepony else’s love life brought that out of her, which she supposed she could attribute mostly to her friendship with Twinkleshine and her obsession with all things romance and drama. Or maybe it was just that her friend group shared and relied on each other more through their tradition of the Midnight Donut.

She considered all of these things in far fewer words as she looked over the picture, and the warmth inside her only grew. Minuette wasn’t upset that the state of her marefriend and Marble’s emotions was anything but placid, that they were anything other than happy and excited as she was. No, rather than think of all that was wrong in the here and now, she looked forward to looking back on this photo years down the line and seeing how much they’d progressed.

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It had barely been a day since she ended up in this world and, while Starlight had managed to calm her nerves and explain, and she was beginning to get the hang of this whole pony movement thing, there were some things that were just too weird. Sunny was sitting at a crystal dining room table across from the light purple pony. Between them sat a paper bag with a logo for a place called The Hay Burger.

Last night, they’d had salad for dinner, she was okay with that. She had nothing against eating healthy. The pancakes this morning were fine, even without the usual bacon accompaniment. That said, when Starlight mentioned there was a burger joint in Ponyville, Sunny jumped at the chance to experience just a bit of her former world, even if it did end up with some vegan patty, given the recent trend of her food. What she did not expect on her burger, however, was hay.

She stared down the bag and the pony across from her in turn, seconds ticking by as the purple horse simply bit into her burger and let out a small moan of pleasure before swallowing and giving Sunny a questioning look. “Something wrong?” she asked, innocently.

As much as she wanted to be a decent, if not polite house guest to Starlight in return for housing her and; as it turned out, saving her life when the portal exploded, she couldn’t just quietly eat this generously provided meal without saying anything. Aside from that, her sleep the night prior had hardly been restful. So, with a sigh, she said, “It’s the hay. I’m sorry you went out of your way to get this for me, but hay is animal food where I come from. Vegetarian dishes are fine and all, just, I guess eating hay is almost as weird for me as I imagine eating meat may be for you, if you get what I’m trying to say.”

At that, Starlight set down her burger. “I’ve been to the other side of the portal, I understand. Everything can be pretty jarring initially. You’re in a different body, there’s some things you can do now that you couldn’t before and some things you could do easily before that you can’t do so easily now. You might be surprised by what your taste buds find good over here though. Think about it, your entire biological makeup has shifted. Are you really so sure that hay won’t taste good?” She floated Sunny her burger. “Just try it, that’s all I ask, if you hate it, we can go to Sugarcube Corner or something.”

Sunny sighed, eyeing the floating burger for a few seconds before taking it in her hooves. She’d spent the better part of yesterday learning the trick behind using her new appendages like this. It turned out that all varieties of ponies, as Starlight had explained, had at least some limited magic, enough to grip things with their hooves as though they had a limited, physically attached, telekinetic hand at the end of each stump. Well, less of a hand and more of an invisible limb which could form to interact with anything in terms of grabbing or releasing within a range of roughly five to ten centimeters. She may not have mastered levitation or learned any kind of magic, but this was still progress. Besides, she’d needed the why, what, and wheres of her situation far more when they’d had that particular conversation. Seeing as she’d likely be here a while, the magic lessons could take a back seat for the time being.

She took a bite. As she chewed, she found the flavor was oddly enjoyable, not quite the same as any of the burgers back home, but hardly as disagreeable as she’d been expecting from something she associated with farm animals. But then, when she thought about it, she was now a technicolor, mythological variant of said farm animals, so it made a strange kind of sense. Swallowing, she looked over to Starlight, who was sporting a slight smug grin as if to say “Soooo? It’s great, isn’t it?”

Sunny could give credit where it was due, the burger was pretty good. “So I’m guessing you work as a teacher or babysitter or something? You’d be pretty good at getting a kid to eat their veggies.”

Starlight’s grin widened. “How do you figure?”

“Well, I don’t see a little version of you running around the castle, so you’re no mom.”

That nearly made Starlight laugh, an action which definitely would have ended with the water she’d just taken a sip of spewing out of her mouth at least, and maybe her nose too. “You got me there, I’m actually a principal now, though I used to be a guidance counselor.”

Sunny took another bite of the burger. “Quite the promotion,” she replied once her mouth was clear. She had to admit, this hay stuff was quickly growing on her.

“Well, the former principal had to go and become ruler of Equestria.”

Now, it was Sunny’s turn to chuckle, “I’m sure the principal of my old school would love that kinda job. Then she could micromanage everybody.”

Starlight’s expression sank a bit at that barb, but before Sunny could realize, there was a knock on the door which echoed through the empty halls of the cavernous crystal castle.

“I’ll get it,” Starlight said, getting up from her chair and depositing her burger back in the bag.

Sunny got a strange feeling in her gut, like she should follow Starlight to the door. She didn’t know if it was some protective instinct or if she just didn’t want to be left alone right now or what, but it felt like something was urging her on. Something insistent. Shrugging to herself, she got up and finished what was left of her burger in a couple big bites before saying, “Hey, wait, I’ll come with you.” Thinking on it, she knew Starlight could handle herself with the magic she’d displayed, maybe it was the other way around, maybe this unicorn made her feel safe in a world full of the unfamiliar and the unknown. She had spotted a book with the title “Griffons: A Reference Guide,” in bold and serious font, as though griffons were any old run of the mill creature which one might find need to reference. Nevermind the fact that at least one form of writing here was somehow legible and recognizable to her.

Starlight paused for a moment, giving Sunset a once over, then nodded. “Okay, you really should meet somepony other than me, even if it is just the mail pony. Her name is Derpy, by the way. She’s a very nice mare, if a bit directionally challenged. Oh, and you haven’t met a pegasus yet, she’s a pegasus, so that’s one thing off your probably extensive checklist of things to get used to around here.”

There was another knock by the time they reached the grand door which marked the entrance to this castle. Speaking of things to get used to, living in a castle made of any sort of gem, on top of that, figuring out how to sleep comfortably in her new horse body, were currently at the top of said list.

Starlight opened the door, and for the first time, Sunny got a glimpse of her namesake, bright and blinding as it would be after extended periods in a dark space. She squinted, slowly beginning to make out the backdrop of the town of Ponyville she’d heard about the night prior, and finally, the three ponies who stood in the doorway. Two of them looked almost like normal mares, minus the more petit, aesthetically appealing appearances these ponies seemed to have, the other was a unicorn like her. The lighter gray mare with a long mane drew her attention the most, she had sleek, luscious curves and looked reserved, nervous, yet in spite of that there was a determined look in her eye as she shook her head and stared Sunny head on. Staring into her eyes was mesmerizing. She felt lost suddenly, as if time had stopped. She remembered the words she heard in her head the day before, when time really had stood still.

Up to that point, Starlight and the blue unicorn had been talking about something, whatever they were saying was lost on her, though. Almost without thinking, no, no almost about it, she cut in. Abruptly, and without preamble, she trotted over to the light grey mare and asked “Hey, what’s your name?”

The mare straightened, took a deep breath, then released it. A breathing technique almost anyone could recognize if they paid enough attention, or Sunset thought so anyway. Her mom taught her that method of calming down and letting go of nerves when she was a kid. She briefly thought of her botched plans for potential reconciliation, but the moment quickly drew her attention back to the mare before her, now apparently mentally prepared to give a response.

“Marble Pie. And you?”

She remembered a line from yesterday in a moment of serene, crystal clarity: Love awaits on a string of destiny hidden in a pie of marble. This couldn’t be coincidence, or that’s what her gut said, and she always tried to follow her gut. One too many bad experiences had followed when she’d ignored her gut reaction, and she’d learned to trust it. Her mouth felt dry, and her mind felt miles away, muddled, fuzzy. She concluded that her rational reaction to all of this would have to be something to explore another time.

Breathless, she replied, “My name is Sunset Shimmer.” And that’s probably about where she should’ve stopped there, but the silence that immediately followed seemed to spur her to fill the air with something, anything, and so she continued, “Not this world’s Sunset Shimmer, she’s in my world, I mean, not that you’d know her or anything since she’s been there a while. Or maybe you do? I don’t know how time works here and it’s just that you look young and… well, I mean, not that it would matter if you were older or anything, just saying. Either way you look good, I mean really good, beautiful even. Very pretty eyes. But yeah, you probably don’t know her, so I’m the only Sunset Shimmer here right now, and I probably look like a complete and total idiot right now, I should really stop talking.”

Marble chuckled at that, a flushed look on her face as she said. “And here I was afraid I would be the nervous one.”

Then, she felt a hoof on her shoulder, followed by an amused “Hello, Equestria to Sunny, you didn’t forget me again, did you? Or the rest of our guests?” Starlight gave her a wink when she looked over, and suddenly she felt like she was in one of those dreams where she goes somewhere only to realize she’s wearing nothing but underwear. Only, this was a world of magical talking horses and most of them find clothes… optional. She looked back to Marble briefly, then mentally scolded herself, remembering their company, then additionally thought to consider how it was that she suddenly found other technicolor horses so alluring when literally yesterday she only thought of human women that way and whether or not she should be ashamed of that since she was one of them now. Her mind was going a mile a minute, it seemed.

“Breathe.” This time, it was Marble who reminded her in her soft, worried voice. She did as asked, breathing deeply in, then out. Closing her eyes. Letting the thoughts wash away.

“Sorry about that,” she said, addressing the whole group this time. She thought back to the outburst of nervous babbling she’d just displayed and figured the cat was very much out of the bag as far as her situation was concerned. “As you can probably guess, I’m new here and uh… kind of dealing with a lot of changes in a very short time period.”

The darker gray mare seemed to crack a small smile, before addressing her bubbly, blue compatriot, “Please, tell me I wasn’t like that when the Choosing Stone paired us.”

Her blue friend giggled, saying, “Close, but we actually were alone, or thought we were, anyways,” she gave Marble a knowing look, causing a blush to form on her cheeks, “and you had some idea of what was going on, not that I wouldn’t have been flattered if I did manage to put you in a state like that.”

Sunset knew flirting when she heard it, and this was definitely it. Those two were a couple, she guessed. Good to know she was in like company, at least. Some people back home made sexuality a big deal.

“Anyway, you all know my name, and I know Marble’s, but I don’t know either of yours. Now that I’ve made a complete fool of myself in front of you, I might as well know your names.” She gave them a friendly smile, or what she hoped was a friendly smile, she’d learned over the years that her “friendly” smiles frequently crossed the line into menacing or vindictive, in appearance. She could only hope this new pony body wasn’t quite so intimidating. She was still wearing a ponified version of her favorite leather jacket. Sadly or otherwise, the rest of her outfit didn’t seem to have made the trip.

The blue unicorn was the first to respond, she grinned wide, before saying, “You’re good, I like you, a lot of ponies might be very awkward after an embarrassing moment like that, but you bounce right back, don’t ya? My name’s Minuette! Very nice to make your acquaintance, o traveler from beyond the outer ring.”

Sunset let out a small laugh at Minuette’s cheeky joke. “Thanks Minuette, I very much hope to learn your ways. And you?” she asked the tough looking gray mare. On closer inspection, this mare was surprisingly fit. Her muscles were remarkable enough to be a defining feature, and maybe, if she were the type who was into that, given her apparent newfound horse infatuation, she might find her pretty hot. Still, seeing herself as the one who wore the proverbial and literal leather jacket in her relationships; less in the sense of assigning herself some kind of male role or greater role in terms of power dynamics, more in the sense of not being the feminine type and generally being outgoing, headstrong, and a little stubborn as a person and now as a pony, she could respect her.

The dark gray mare seemed to puff herself up a bit before responding, emphasizing her muscular assets, “I’m Limestone Pie, Marble’s my younger sister. Hurt her and you’ll answer to me. Otherwise, we should be fine.”

“Lime, please stop.” Marble asked, putting a hoof on her shoulder. “I’d rather avoid any more embarrassment today.”

“Fine,” Limestone grumbled, deflating a little, “it needed to be said though. You’re my sister, and it’s important to me that whatever happens, nobody fucks with you. Just… promise you’ll let me know if something’s wrong, okay?”

“I will, and besides, how am I supposed to learn to stick up for myself if you always do it for me, huh?” Marble practically whispered. Sunset knew she wouldn’t have heard had she not been inadvertently paying close attention to everything she said since she started talking. Still, the whole conversation had this strange undertone to it, like everypony here knew something she didn’t. She turned to ask Starlight about it, but realized she’d wandered off at some point mid-conversation.

Then, Minuette stepped in and said, “Well, it was really nice meeting you. I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty of each other soon enough.” she winked. Minuette hooked an arm around Limestone’s withers, “But I promised this one here a tour of Ponyville. We’ll be back to pick up Marble when we visit with the other two Pie sisters. Maybe you can join us then. Anyway, have fun, you two!” She gave a couple more winks before dragging the buffer of the two sisters off on some tour of the neighborhood.

Sunny was now entirely confused, standing in the doorway to a crystal castle with what she now apparently deemed to be a hot mare who was being left with her for some reason that they were somehow all in on. It was like they were all trying to play matchmaker, but none of them even knew her, so that made no sense. And by the time she thought of asking to join Minuette and Limestone on that tour; seeing as she was new here, a tour would probably be very helpful, she’d already lost sight of them.

She turned to Marble, whose face had gone beet red at some point while she was trying to play catch up with everything that was going on right now. “Hey, soooo, you wouldn’t happen to know what all this is about, do you?”

“Mmhmm,” Marble replied.

“Would you mind telling me?” Sunset asked.

Marble took another breath, steeling herself. “Inside, please.”

“Oh, uh, yeah, sure, I mean, I should’ve offered, or maybe Starlight should’ve offered? Or maybe she did, but it was awkward with me just standing in the doorway talking to you all? I’m sorry, I completely missed out on the whole reason you guys came here and everything, just kind of spaced, so that’s my bad. Well, I mean, not that I’m usually this ditzy, just not every day I become a horse and run across a cute horse like you and then, this is gonna sound crazy, but there was totally this voice in my head when I came through, and everything stood still, and it kind of mentioned your name in some cryptic, poetic way and… sorry for putting this all on you, I know, we’re total strangers, and I probably sound crazy right now, but I’m just not very good at thinking when I get all flustered like this. Wait, I’m sorry, let’s go in.”

Once they got in the door, Marble spoke, “So you heard the voice of the Choosing Stone too, then?”

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When the door closed, Marble felt like she could breathe a little easier. Something about being around all those ponies without her sister or, surprisingly, Minuette, was still pretty suffocating to her. It was as if those two had managed to provide a sort of safe haven in the middle of the storm of ponies moving this way and that. And while Ponyville was smaller than Canterlot and less packed than the train, she still felt anxious without either of them nearby, even with her destined life partner adorably floundering and inadvertently oversharing. The secondhand embarrassment wasn’t very helpful, but the words were sweet, and it was comforting to some extent, for once, to have someone openly more nervous than her, around her.

Moreover, beneath all the social anxiety and knots in her stomach and the determination to show her sister that love wasn’t something to dread or be afraid of, there was no small amount of excitement. Since she was young, she’d heard the story of their parents’ union through the Choosing Stone. And since that time, she always longed to find for herself what they had. Up until this moment though, she’d been too nervous to try. Years passed as her insecurities mounted, questions like ‘What if there’s nopony out there for me?’ and ‘What if I don’t deserve them?’ and ‘What if I don’t have what it takes to even tell them they’re my soulmate? What then?’ cropped up regularly in her mind back on the farm. Then Pinkie Pie left, and Maud left, and she began to tell herself that by avoiding the knowledge of her soulmate, she was showing some sort of solidarity to Limestone, who had been so affected by the loss of their sisters’ company. She’d told herself back then that she was just sticking by her sister until she found a way to move forward, when really she’d been hiding from her own ‘What ifs’.

When Marble took that step, deciding once and for all to discover her soulmate, it was just as much for herself as for her sister. This was what she thought of when she asked, “So you heard the voice of the Choosing Stone too, then?”

It wasn’t a completely innocent question. She’d heard enough stories when she was younger to know that both sides always heard the message. It was in whether they bothered to listen, to pay attention, and in how they responded which would determine their journey moving forward.

Sunset looked surprised, and a bit caught off guard. “Wait, so, you mean I didn’t imagine that!? And that name, ‘Choosing Stone’, was it? I think your sister mentioned it earlier. What is it? What does it have to do with all this, with us?”

Marble wasn’t surprised in the least that her soulmate would have questions. She’d taken all of this seriously, from her decision that the time for her to ask had come to her own dissection and careful consideration of the words the Choosing Stone told her. And, well, she was promised an otherworldly setting sun, a star which had come to ground, straddling the line between worlds. She expected questions, and lots of them. Marble had prepared answers, and practiced them, late into the night.

What she didn’t expect, was how relaxed she felt now that it was just the two of them. It was as though Sunset exuded a comforting warmth true to her name.

“You may want to sit down for this,” Marble said in a soft voice, as she said most things, though with more confidence than she’d initially expected.

“Oh! Yeah! Of course! Follow me,” Sunset exclaimed, blushing from embarrassment for the second time since Marble met her, then led her to a nearby crystal table upon which sat a to-go bag from Hayburger. She wondered if she’d interrupted their lunch.

Sunset pulled a chair out for her guest, and another for herself. It was unclear to Marble whether this was done out of common courtesy and general politeness, or if there was a deeper meaning to the gesture. Chivalry wasn’t dead, she guessed, or at least as she understood it anyway. She’d only heard the phrase a couple times in passing. Regardless, she appreciated the gesture, and thought it wise to stop staring at the empty seat and sit down.

Once the two were seated, Marble took a deep breath, and began her explanation. “No, you didn’t imagine it, you did miss one of the more exciting parts, though, from what I understand, you had a bit of an exciting event of your own going on right around then. Not everypony gets to be at the center of the magic explosion that went off when you got here. To answer your next question, the Choosing Stone is a magical relic in my hometown, though I’ve heard that it used to go by other names in the past, like the Stone of Destiny or the Soothsayer’s Stone. These days, the ponies in Rockville use the Choosing Stone to find their soulmate. I used it to find you, just as Minuette used it to find her partner.” She recited the answers well, without pause, and with something approaching confidence and pride even. It made her wonder how she’d do when Sunset asked something she hadn’t prepared for ahead of time, which made her nervous all over again. But something about the look in Sunset’s eyes when she spoke was encouraging, like she was trying hard to absorb every word. Somehow, she once again found herself letting go.

A bright blush overrode Sunset’s natural orange pigment, “Oh… wow, um, I wasn’t expecting, I mean, why would I? But then, that makes a lot of sense when I think about it. So, you tracked me down here, probably with some equally old, poetic sounding, cryptic words which I guess somehow spelled out who I am and where you’d find me?”

This one was easy. “Yes, and yes.” She pulled the form her sister had written the voice’s prediction on and showed it to her, setting it down on a nearby table.

The solar-colored mare stared at the writing for a few moments, reading it in her head. When she finished, she nodded a couple times, then got up, looked around for a bit, and finally asked sheepishly, “Do you have a pencil? I wanted to have my half written down too, while it’s still fresh in my memory.”

Marble nodded, pulling an eraserless pencil from her bag. “Mhm, go ahead, I’ll write.”

“Okay, so it went kind of like this: Sunset Shimmer, you’re stranded, but you’ll be happy to know that your travels are not in vain. Love awaits on a string of destiny hidden within a pie of marble. In a heart of stone you’ll find succor, in a bed of granite you’ll find warmth. You might go home alone, but behind, your heart shall remain until the time of your return.”

Marble smiled as she finished writing. “Sounds cozy,” she said.

Sunset seemed like she’d been about to make a comment, then it was as though she’d lost track of whatever she was going to say, and just said, “Yeah. It does,doesn’t it?” in a breathless kind of way.

If she kept looking at her like that, Marble wouldn’t be held responsible for her actions. She may be shy, but the helpless look in her eye that Sunset got at times made her feel like a predator of sorts, bold in ways she had never really experienced. She shook her head, no, this mare was clearly in a very vulnerable state right now. She was figuring out how to live in another world, coping with whatever she’d left behind, likely willing to cling to any ray of hope or silver lining she found with full force. It was only natural she was already fawning so much when Marble had shown up like some kind of comforting presence here to make everything okay again. And what better escape from the situation she found herself in than the promise of a relationship?

“Hey, Sunset?” Marble asked.

“Oh, uh, yes? What is it?” she replied in that word-vomiting way of hers.

“I know you probably still have a lot of questions, and I’m taking you by surprise not long after you got here from another world. It strikes me as unfair on my part to spring all of this on you at once. Is there anything you need to talk out or process about all this?” Marble asked with genuine concern. She didn’t want to come into Sunset’s life and sweep her off her feet through sheer momentum before the mare knew which way was up.

This seemed to throw Sunset, focus her. It was like she’d suddenly been splashed with cold water. She put a hoof to the underside of her muzzle and closed her eyes.

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Sunny thought about what Marble said, and quickly realized just how lost she’d been in the moment. She’d managed to push most of her worries and concerns and questions to the back of her mind.

Now, the implications of the situation began to sink in. This wasn’t her home. As long as she remained here, there was a life, however cruddy, that missed her. She had friends back there, though she had drifted apart from the few good friends she’d had around the time she quit school. There was her dad, but then, he’d kicked her out on her ass as soon as she’d turned eighteen. He wasn’t the best father after her mother left him either, he was an alcoholic, not physically abusive, but absent. She’d had to learn to cook her own meals, her dad ate out most nights, but kept the fridge stocked with odds and ends in case he didn’t have the money to swing it or decided to spend the night in. It may be months if not years before he’d realize she was gone, and that was if the other Sunset didn’t replace her there too. Maybe it was better that way.

“You okay?” Marble asked, quietly, causing Sunset to realize just how long she’d been silent.

“Yeah. Just thinking that this whole deal isn’t so bad. My life back home wasn’t all that great, I’d just lost my apartment due to a work problem, I can’t really think of any reason I’d really want to go back. Besides, it’s not like I’d be missed. Hell, the Sunset from this world’s taken my place, where I dropped out of school, she picked up my slack. Maybe she’s living my life better than I ever did. And is that world really big enough for two of me anyways? I dunno. The more I consider it, the more this seems like a second chance, a clean sleight of sorts. I’m a unicorn in this world, which apparently means I can do magic if I train. I've got this huge place to live in at least while I figure things out, some magic rock has led my soulmate straight to my door. It seems like everything’s coming up Sunny this time around.”

Marble nodded, sending Sunset a small smile before the look of concern reappeared, “And there’s nothing you find wrong or strange about your current circumstances? You do still have a lot to learn, and speaking from experience, it can be hard and intimidating to find yourself somewhere new where you don’t know anypony, or anycreature these days. This world may be magic, but there’s also plenty of danger because of it. There’s all kinds of monsters and villains who try to take over, it’s not a super frequent problem, but you should know about it. Aside from that, you’ll need to learn different ways of talking to creatures of this world. It’d be awful if you end up saying something embarrassing or upset someone because of a misunderstanding. Not that I want you to go back, but it’s important that you consider these kinds of big decisions carefully.”

Sunset tilted her head from side to side, weighing pros and cons. It didn’t take long. “Somehow, that stuff doesn’t bother me too much. Maybe it did when I first got here, even earlier this morning, when I came across a book about griffons, that freaked me out a little. And I may have been a bit squeamish about eating hay at first.” Sunny motioned to the to-go bag on the table before continuing, “Still, when I think about all that compared to the idea of a return to the shitty life I had, this isn’t so bad. It’s possible if you hadn’t come, and I never really considered the prospect of staying, I might’ve just found a way back without questioning whether it was the right choice because it was the familiar choice. But even then, I can see myself searching for a way to return eventually when I realized I’d thrown away a perfect chance to start over. You don’t get too many of those in life, and especially not with so many perks.” she winked.

Marble blushed, “I uh, I guess I can’t really argue with that logic. I am envious though, you’re very strong in ways that I’m not. If I had the choice between a better life and returning to what I’m used to, I’d probably choose to stay where I was rather than explore something different and new.”

“But isn’t that what you’re doing right now with me? Trying something new and different than your everyday life? I mean, I’m from another world entirely, you’ve never met me before, I’m probably more unusual than anything you normally deal with in the course of an afternoon.” Sunset finished with a shit eating grin, like she’d just won a prize.

“You’re not wrong, I came here because this was important, for me, for my sister. I went over about a dozen excuses for why I put myself through the anxiety of being around so many strangers, but in the end, the most important reason was a selfish one. I wanted what the Choosing Stone promised. I wanted you.”

Sunset flushed again at that. She knew she was blushing entirely too much for one day, but this mare kept doing things which made the heat rise in her cheeks. And that wasn’t even going into her body, her eyes, the way she wore her hair. Everything about her was lithe and sexy to Sunny. It was all she could do to not stare too long. She was also quickly learning that most ponies wore minimal if any clothes and that certainly wasn’t helping. As for her feelings on her sudden and inexplicable attraction to ponies, she’d landed on the rationalization that she was now a pony herself, so this was a part of that, which made it only natural. On most occasions, she found that going with the flow was much easier than going against it and questioning every little thing.

“So, about that… what happens now? Do we go on dates? We probably should since we’re apparently soulmates and all, right? But then, the Choosing Stone already said we’re right for each other anyway, so do we just skip that step? I don’t think I’m entirely ready for that, if that’s what you want.”

Marble gave a small chuckle at that, before saying, “I mean, if my parents found out about the Choosing Stone’s prediction, they’d definitely push for us to marry on the spot. Both of them think it’s a waste of time to date and worry over all the complications and drama of not being formally wed. As for me, I’m fine with either way. Marriage isn’t quite as intimidating as it sounds. It can take the pressure and expectations off of a relationship. But I also understand that the prospect of starting something so permanent without getting to know each other first through dating can be difficult, and may feel like you’re getting in over your head or moving too fast. Regardless of what you decide, I’d prefer for us to be honest with each other about our boundaries. What makes us uncomfortable, scared, nervous, so that when we’re ready to push beyond those boundaries or forced to face something we don’t like, we can be there for each other.”

Sunny shifted, she found her thoughts drawn to how much she’d already shared. She never really thought of herself as the open book type, but then, it was possible she’d never had the chance outside of therapy. And Marble did sound a lot like a therapist with her soft, gentle voice and demeanor. Though her old therapists mostly just listened and prescribed some action which may be in her best interest if she were open to it. That, and they never talked about having a relationship with her, nor did she find herself checking them out in the same way she did with Marble. But then, most had been too old for her anyways.

“Talking to you is oddly therapeutic.” she said without really thinking.

“And how does that make you feel?” Marble asked, sounding almost entirely genuine.

The joke caught Sunset off guard and she laughed hard enough that she had to catch her breath. It wasn’t so much the joke itself, but the way Marble said it, the fact that she of all ponies was making a joke after all that serious talk, and how simple it was. It felt as though it came out of nowhere.

When she caught her breath, she said, “Well, I feel a lot better than I did this morning.”

“Should we consider this a date then?” Marble asked.

“Yeah, I think we should.”

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When Starlight answered the door, she’d hardly been expecting Minuette and the Pie sisters. She’d heard a fair bit about them from Maud and Pinkie, well, more Pinkie than Maud, but that was just because Pinkie was… well, Pinkie. As for Minuette, she knew she was one of Twilight’s old friends from Canterlot, and she ran into her all the time, whether in Ponyville or on trips abroad, usually with some combination of Twilight’s other Canterlot friends. It struck her as kind of odd that any pony would have the time or resources to travel so much.

Their explanation had been cut short by Sunny’s awkward entrance, but she understood the gist of it, and as crazy as it all was, they were there to see her. Thinking Sunny would be fine with them, she’d excused herself to go see to the assignment she’d been neglecting.

Now she was here. She’d informed Twilight of the situation earlier this morning and quickly received a reply scroll. It said that Moondancer was helping her to adjust and calibrate the portal at the castle, but it would be a while before they had it up and running. Until then, Twilight wanted her to focus on making sure otherworld Sunset was fine and to work with Chrysalis.

So far, she’d accommodated Sunset to the best of her ability, now it was time to deal with the less pleasant of her two obligations. Starlight walked into the garden where the former statue of three villains was now only a statue of one. She surmised that Sunburst was out with Cozy Glow right now. For the time being she was glad she didn’t have to tell him what happened with Tirek, she knew he wouldn’t take it well considering it had been his idea to send Tirek over.

She shut down that train of thought, she didn’t want to have that conversation with Chrysalis, and from Starlight’s experience with changelings on the whole was that they had a tendency to be sensitive to emotional states. Most of the time, they were polite about it, but she didn’t expect the same luxury from the villain whose hive she made turn on her.

Am I really in any state to handle her right now? She let out a sigh. Will I ever be ready? If I keep waiting for the right moment, I’ll be waiting forever. Time to rip the band-aid off I guess.

She channeled her magic and released the petrification spell binding Chrysalis.

Chrysalis let her mouth fall closed for the first time since she’d been petrified. She stood there, glaring daggers at Starlight. As though daring her to say something.

Of course, this would go nowhere if she said nothing. “Hey, Chrysalis, I know you’re probably not exactly thrilled to see me right now.”

“That’s an understatement if I’ve ever heard one. Do you have any idea how insufferable those two are? If you must imprison me in stone again, at the very least let it be alone!”

Starlight was surprised that Chrysalis’s first words weren’t a personal reprimand. But then, maybe she’d gotten all that out when she was still a statue. It would be nice if that were the case, but she wasn’t counting on it. “I’ll consider it. Look, I know we kind of got off on the wrong hoof for all this. You thought you were doing what was best for your hive. I’ve been there. I took away the cutie marks of an entire town, and when Twilight and her friends took that away, I was pissed. I spent months plotting my revenge, then I went back in time to prevent their friendship from ever happening, and when Twilight finally brought me into one of those timelines, do you know what I saw? Equestria was an empty wasteland, all because I couldn’t see past my own foolish ideology. I see a lot of my old self in you, and I want to help you in the same way Twilight helped me. Please tell me you at least understand where I’m coming from here, even if you disagree.”

Chrysalis sneered. “And what? Now you’re going to say something like you care about me or some such nonsense. I have no need for your pity or your foolish friendship.”

Starlight sighed. “Must you be so dramatic all the time? I mean, do you even hear yourself right now? I’m not taking pity on you anymore than I took pity on me back when I was brainwashing ponies into following my own narrow-minded ideology. I just think that you’re better than this. You don’t have to have everyone hate you or fear you to command respect. Princess Celestia and Luna did just fine without a reign of tyranny, so does Twilight now that she’s Princess of Equestria.”

“So you’re just going to tell me that everything I was doing was wrong then? My style of rulership had been practiced within changeling hives going back decades. It is not only my privilege, but my right to rule through fear and power and manipulation as I see fit.”

“And look where it’s gotten you.” Starlight pointed to the magic-blocking choker affixed to her neck. “Y’know, for all the awful things that you’ve done, you still have the chance to work things out if you just let others in. Would it really be so terrible to not be in charge? If you could have your hive back, would it be the worst possible thing to rule with kindness and an open mind rather than an iron hoof? If every changeling is no longer starving, but rather thriving by sharing love, can you really say that you were better off attempting to take over Canterlot and drain all the ponies’ love there before throwing them away and moving on to your next target?”

As she finished her questioning, Starlight was met with silence. Chrysalis looked like she was frustrated. She just stared at the floor.

This went on for so long, Starlight was half convinced she’d be better off re-petrifying the bug pony queen until tomorrow and picking the conversation up there. She did still have Sunset to worry about. Before she could act on this thought, though, Chrysalis spoke. “As irritating as it is to admit, maybe you’re… right. I was reckless, and let my anger get to me, and maybe there were other ways I could have tried…” Her voice had an odd quality to it, something she’d never heard before from the once-monarch. It sounded melancholy, somber, and her changeling queen vocal chords gave an eerie tonality to that particular manner of speech. “I guess I let my pride get the best of me and when I failed again and again, I just couldn’t see why. Then I lost my hive, and you gave me someone else to blame. It was all my fault though. I was the one who was starving my hive by not considering alternatives to stealing love. Since I was small, I’ve dreamed of being a ruler, but when I became one, I suppose I was not prepared to take on that responsibility.”

Starlight looked into her emerald eyes, trying to gauge the sincerity of her admission. She snorted. “Nice try, Chryssi, but you’re gonna have to do better than that. Still, you do recognize that you’ve made mistakes in your leadership, even if you can’t fully own up to it yet. Tell you what though, I’m willing to make a deal with you which would make this whole process a lot more comfortable, and, if things go well, I’ll even work things out with Thorax so that you can regain leadership of your old hive.”

“Deal! What do I have to do?”

“Oh, well, if you behave yourself, I’m willing to allow you to stay unpetrified and stay at the Crystal Castle with me. So long as you don’t cause trouble, you can have free roam in Ponyville. That collar will prevent you from changing form and if you try to remove the collar or set hoof outside of Ponyville, I will be notified.” Starlight was enjoying having Chrysalis at her mercy for once rather than the other way around, especially after how their last fight ended. She’d never take her eye off an enemy again before she’d confirmed her victory. Also, having Chrysalis unpetrified meant she wouldn’t have to explain the Tirek situation to her quite so soon.

“Those terms are… acceptable. And the condition for the return of my hive?” Chrysalis asked, sounding annoyed.

“Oh, that one’s pretty simple.” Starlight gave her a smug smile. “You just have to share love with a pony.”

Author's Note:

Hey guys, Merry Christmas. It's 1:19 AM as I'm writing this on Christmas morning. This time around, I got very much wrapped up in holidays and personal drama, which made it really hard to keep up with writing. Also, I fell hard down the vtuber rabbit hole, as Kureiji Ollie calls it. Anyway, I thought to myself, "What better way to make up for all that missed time, than with a super long chapter." So here we are. This is also the end of side romances getting a major focus in this story in particular. I'll try to get the first side story chapters out soon too, no promises tho, may be a whole other year before I get to them *wink wink, nudge nudge*. I was in a bit of a rush to get this out before Christmas, so I didn't get to edit or double check for contradictions as much as I'd normally like, so let me know in the comments if something's off or wrong. I'll gladly fix it. Other than that, please enjoy this Christmas gift from me to you.

Comments ( 4 )

All of the main pieces and plots are in place.

The gruff, stacked, toned mare put a hoof on her sister’s shoulder.

I really love how unapologetic this story is about Limestone being hot, butch lesbian eye-candy :pinkiehappy: Objectifying the immovable object, so to speak.

Big chapter! Glad Marble won't be alone. Looking forward to seeing more of Limestone soon :twilightsmile:

Really enjoyed the story so far. Hope you still plan on continuing it.

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I do intend on continuing it, but a lot has been going on in my life since I last posted, and I haven't really been able to focus on writing. I haven't marked this series cancelled yet, and I already have some of the future chapters started, the plan from the last chapter on was to split the story into several different fics each focusing on different pairings and perspectives, while this one continues on with Minuette and Limestone, which is, admittedly, a bit overly ambitious (*cough cough* 8 fics, not including this one), so, yeah, got most the planning and outline, timelines, etc. done for those, just gotta find time to sit down and write some chapters.

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