• Published 15th Feb 2020
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Resting Witch Face - Aragon



Trixie and Starlight discover witchcraft is real, and do the obvious thing about it.

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Tricky Treats

Filth moves down.

That’s the lesson you gotta take home with you. Filth moves down, so you start cleaning at the top, then move downwards. If you do it the other way around—well, more power to you, but by the time you reach the roof, the floor will be worse than when you started. Do it well, or do it twice, goes the saying.

Ponyville knew; it was a place of folksy wisdom. The streets had been brushed just enough so that taking a walk didn’t count as a health hazard—but if you were to look out the window that morning, the next day after the Rat King’s defeat, you’d see most Ponyville citizens were standing on their rooftops, ready to scrub away some grime.

The Castle was no exception. It was time to clean the roof: Starlight had a broom, Twilight had a mop, and Trixie had a wonderful personality.

“I didn’t know it was physically possible for this place to look worse.” Trixie turned a page of the giant book she was reading, and then looked at Twilight. “You know, Princess? In moments like these, you can really tell this is your house. Isn’t that right, Starlight?”

“Mmm.” Starlight was looking at her own hooves as she swept around. The roof had a very pronounced slope, and was slippery in places. “I mean, it is very purple.”

Trixie smiled at her, though it didn’t reach her eyes. “Yes,” she said, looking around. “Very purple.”

The Castle roof was an absolute disgrace.

Picture a pile of trash sitting by your feet, a little hill of greenish muck. And then picture yourself reaching for it, touching it, and with a crack you break through the crust and reach the wet, slimy insides. Slipping between your fingers, under your fingernails. Picture the way you’d feel.

The Castle roof was that, but for every one of your senses.

Blood and sweat on every surface, mixed with the kind of gray muck you don’t want to think about too hard. Droppings and drool and dead rats, spread around in every possible combination. It was like having a stroke, but through your nose.

It really put a smile on Trixie’s face.

“You know,” she said, looking around. There were a lot of cats on the Castle roof, too—Trixie was surrounded by them, using the fattest one to prop up the book for ease of reading. “It took me five minutes to clean my wagon. Total. Didn’t even need help!”

Starlight was by the western half of the rooftop, sweeping away rat hair. “Trixie,” she said. “I helped you.”

“And I’m grateful, but I didn’t need your help.”

“Right. But you still asked for it.”

“Because I like you! But I don’t live in a castle.” Trixie snorted, and flipped a page of the book, barely looking at it. “Seriously. I mean, come on.”

Twilight’s ears perked up. She was by the northern side of the rooftop, mopping away a big black stain. “I’m sorry, what are you implying?”

Trixie gave Twilight one of those smiles. The ones that, in another universe, would’ve been a middle finger. “I’m saying, a castle isn’t really subtle.” Trixie waved a hoof at the entire roof. “So, you know, debris, hubris. Suits you.”

Twilight took a deep breath, and then went back to mopping the stain. “Trixie,” she said. “I’m a princess. Living in a castle comes with the title.”

“Right, but I’m the egotistical one.”

“You are the egotistical one! How is that—ah.” Twilight looked down, and poked a black cat very lightly with her mop. “I need to clean that spot. Please?”

“Meow.”

“Thank you very much.” Twilight looked up again. “Trixie, how is you being egotistical even a question? You legally changed your name so it says you’re great and powerful. You’re textbook.

That made Starlight look up. She’d been focusing on her broom. “Wait,” she said, frowning at Trixie. “The Great and Powerful Trixie is your legal name?”

Trixie waggled her eyebrows, her smile lopsided, but in a very sexy way. “I know, right?”

Starlight turned to Twilight. “And how do you know that?”

“I checked her official records.” Twilight replied instantly, no hesitation. Then she saw the way Starlight and Trixie were looking at her, and frowned. “What? I’m a princess, I can do that.”

“I—” Starlight looked at Trixie, who was back at looking at her book, petting one of the cats, and then back at Twilight. “I don’t—when did you do that? Why did you do that?”

“The moment you brought her to my house, and because you’d brought her to my house.”

Trixie spoke, though her eyes were glued to the book. She talked slowly, not looking up from the page. “You know, you can say whatever you want, Princess Twilight,” she said. “At the end of the day, you live in a castle, while I live in a wagon. So obviously—”

“I’m sorry,” Twilight said, with perhaps a bit more bite to it than strictly necessary. “I don’t understand why it’s relevant that Applejack’s dog has better living conditions than you?”

“Well,” Trixie said. “I—”

And then she stopped.

And looked up from the book, at Starlight. “Who’s Applejack again?”

Starlight sighed, and went to sweep some more hair—but there was an orange cat on the way, cuddling up against a white one. “Whoops. Move out of the way, please, you two?”

“Meow meow.”

“Mrrrrp. Mrow.”

“Thank you, thank you, sorry.” Starlight turned to Trixie as she kept sweeping. “Applejack is the one living in Sweet Apple Acres. The farm? She’s orange.”

“No idea who you’re talking about.”

“The dumb one.”

“Rainbow Dash?”

“No, that’s stupid. Dumb.”

“Ah. The one with the cowboy hat?”

Twilight was squinting at them, leaning on her mop. “Okay,” she said. “First of all, what is even the difference between—?”

“Dumb means she’s not educated, stupid means she doesn’t have a brain,” Starlight said. “You can be clever and also dumb, but you can’t be clever and stupid.”

“Uh-huh.” Twilight nodded. “Second question. Why do you know the difference?”

“Well—”

“I don’t care about your friends but they’re a part of Starlight’s life,” Trixie cut, going back to her book, waving a hoof in the princess’ direction. “We had to come up with a system so she can tell me about her day.”

“Right. Have you tried remembering their names.”

“No. Have you tried not living in a castle? Same thing.” Trixie blinked, and then inched closer to the book, pressing her snout against the page. “Oh huh. Hm.” Then she turned the page, and cast a single glance at Twilight before reading again. “Anyway. All that matters is that I live in a wagon, and you live in a castle, and my house is better. Isn’t that right, Starlight?”

Starlight looked at Trixie. “I… guess? I like how the Castle looks, to be honest. I like purple.”

“Blue’s better, but I suppose nopony can be perfect. Living in a castle is so tacky anyway. If I were a princess instead…” Trixie turned the page. “We would just…”

And then she turned the page again, and didn’t say anything else.

Starlight kept on sweeping some more, getting rid of the hair and the muck, asking some cats to please move away, thank you very much, go nap over there we’ve already cleaned that bit, and then she looked at Trixie with a smile.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie,” she said, warmth in her voice. “Lost in a book. Never thought I’d see the day.”

Twilight was done with the big black stain. “Right,” she said, trotting closer to Starlight, lowering her voice to little more than a whisper. “You know, I know I helped you find the right books and all, but I still think this is a terrible idea.”

“Twilight, you can’t tell me with a straight face this doesn’t pique your scientific curiosity. It’s a new form of—”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Starlight, please, stop lying and tell me what this witchcraft nonsense is actually about.”

It struck Starlight like lightning.

She was sweeping some green muck, and the sudden wince was so strong she actually lost her footing and had to grab Twilight for balance. The broom slipped from her grasp and fell, bouncing off the slanted roof and—

Twilight focused on her horn.

FLASH!

And the broom stopped mid-fall, floated upwards, and started sweeping the roof by itself.

Starlight looked at it, then at Twilight, and then she carefully placed all four hooves on the roof, this time keeping her balance. “Why didn’t you do that from the start?” she asked, nodding at the autonomous broom.

“I don’t like that spell. It always forgets to sweep around the corners.”

“Meow!”

The closest cats reacted immediately, arching their backs, baring their fangs at the broom, unsheathing their claws—but not daring to get close to it either. The broom didn’t pay them any mind. Soon there were five, seven cats, following their broom with their eyes, all of them hissing.

“And they hate it too, so I’m not the only one, even.” Twilight unfolded her wings, and used one to shield them from Trixie’s line of sigh. “So, I take from your reaction that I was right, and you have a hidden reason to research witchcraft?”

Starlight bit her lip, and then looked through Twilight’s feathers, at Trixie. She was still reading, eyes darting around the page.

“Trixie?” Starlight ventured.

Trixie didn’t reply.

“She’s not listening,” Twilight said. “Say whatever about Trixie—and I can say a lot—but she’s great at not paying attention. Now, tell me.”

Starlight smiled. “Oh, she’s the best.” Then she looked at Twilight. “So what gave me away? I thought I was putting up a good act.”

“You were!” Twilight said, smiling. “Up till the moment you looked me in the eye and said ‘yes, Twilight, we just discovered an obscure source of ancient power, and I want somepony else to play with it instead’.”

Pause.

Starlight frowned. “Right. Pushed it too hard?”

“I’ve seen Applejack be less blatant.” Twilight took a step to get eve closer to Starlight—and almost stepped over a cat. “Oh. Sorry.”

HISS!

“Whoa, sorry. I don’t like the brooms either, don’t hold it against me.” And then Twilight waited until the cat went away, and then looked at Starlight, and frowned. “So, what’s the actual point of this whole deal?”

Starlight bit her lip. “I’m trying to help her,” she said. “I think she needs this more than anything right now. Listen, Twilight, I know you don’t like Trixie—”

“And isn’t that an understatement.”

“—but she’s a good pony. She’s, changed, she…”

“I know she isn’t evil,” Twilight said, shaking her head. “Don’t get me wrong, I trust Trixie. I just don’t like her. And respect is a two way street, Starlight. I’d be willing to meet in the middle, but she clearly isn’t, and at one point I have to stop trying.”

“We’re working on it, I swear. You have no idea how much we’ve improved at this behind closed doors, it’s just that she, uh.” Starlight looked at Trixie again, here, and her voice became much warmer. “I know she comes off as obnoxious, but she doesn’t really mean it, you know? It’s just a self-defense mechanism. If she’s the biggest pony in the room, she doesn’t have to worry about being the smallest pony in the room.”

Twilight nodded. “Right. But, you know, Fluttershy also turned insecurity into eighty percent of her personality, and I don’t feel like throwing her out a window every time she opens her mouth.”

“…To be completely honest, Fluttershy doesn’t talk much.”

“She doesn’t! And she’s lovely! See a pattern?” Twilight shook her head. “Listen, you have your friends, and I have mine. I understand that, I’ve understood that for a long time. Trixie is important to you.” Twilight paused, took a deep breath, spoke like she was pulling teeth. “If she makes you happy, that’s all I care about. But—witchcraft? Really?

“You didn’t see the way she smiled when we found that drawing, Twilight,” Starlight said. “She wasn’t excited, she was elated. I’d never seen her like that. The witch in the picture had the same hat as her, and I just thought—”

“That you’d egg her on?”

“I thought it would help her feel good about herself. I don’t think she quite knows how to do that.” Starlight scratched the back of her neck. “I get that, as a project, learning about witchcraft is a bit…?”

Twilight didn’t even try to hide the fact that she was rolling her eyes. “Dangerous?” she guessed. “Suicidal?”

“I was going to say ‘non-conventional’.” Starlight frowned. “Twilight? You don’t think if Trixie becomes a witch, it’ll get to her head, right? You don’t think she’ll do something… evil?”

Twilight chose her words very carefully.

“I think,” she said, looking over at Trixie, “that she might be tempted to do evil, once she gets all that power. She won’t do it, of course, and she’ll be angry at herself for it, but—you know what I actually fear?” Twilight frowned. “That she’ll do something stupid. Or she’ll hurt herself, or you, or both.” She looked at Starlight. “But I don’t think she’ll fall to the dark side, no.”

The relief in Starlight’s eyes was brighter than the sun itself. “Really?”

“I don’t think power corrupts.” Twilight flapped her wings. “I think I’m a pretty good example of that, if you don’t mind me saying. What power does is—it brings everything to the surface. Every little bit of yourself, everything that you are, it comes out when you have power.”

Starlight looked down, lightly touching her mane with a hoof. “Character is what we are in the dark,” she said. “Right?”

“Character is what we are when there are no consequences. That’s the meaning of power.” Twilight bit her lip. “We talk about alicorns like they’re ponies, but we write on witches like they’re monsters. Because they face even less consequences than I do.”

“And you think Trixie won’t…?”

“I think she’ll do something that’s very Trixie,” Twilight said, her tone getting snappy again. You could hear the eyeroll lost somewhere in there. “So I’ll hate it, but it won’t be evil.”

Starlight smiled, finally, and nodded. “Good. Thank you, Twilight. That’s… actually really nice to hear.”

“Yes, well, I appreciate that you were completely willing to go with it before hearing me saying all of this, actually,” Twilight said. “Very reassuring. You know she’s hiding something, right? I don’t know what exactly, but—”

Starlight snorted. “Yes. I’ve been pretending I’m interested in witchcraft research to make it easier for her to pretend the same, and I think she’s bought it? But she’s a terrible liar herself.” No shortage of love in those last words—she was smiling while she said them.

Twilight nodded. “Right,” she said. “So you’re aware. Glad to hear that.”

“I’m letting her think she’s fooling me, but I honestly don’t mind it.” Starlight shrugged. “If this helps Trixie, if it makes her feel happy about herself for once, I don’t mind a little white lie.”

“Hmmm.” Twilight’s mouth became a thin hard line. “Right.”

“Oh, don’t be like that. She’s just embarrassed to say why she likes witchcraft, so much, but… Twilight, lately Trixie’s been talking about living under our shadow, about being looked down upon. She’s got me worried that she might—ah! What are you doing here?”

“Mrrrow. Meow meow.”

Starlight kneeled down and petted the cat. “There, there. We’re busy right now, do you mind coming back later?”

“Mrow.” Then it looked at Twilight. “Hisss!

And the cat went away.

Starlight grinned as she watched it go. “These are some social kitties, aren’t they?”

“Resentful, too,” Twilight said, clicking her tongue. “So much for a single broom. We got them from Goldie Delicious—Applejack’s cousin? You know, the Apple family record-keeper, that old mare who lives with a lot of—”

“I’m not Trixie, Twilight. I know who she is.”

“Oh. Well, she’s the one who lent us most of her cats, and told us where to find some more.” Twilight arched an eyebrow. “And I don’t know what kind of owner Goldie Delicious is, but I can tell you herding cats is not as hard as ponies make it out to be.”

“Really?”

“I guess Fluttershy helped, but—“

“Well!” Trixie slammed the book shut it with a BLAM! that made both Trixie and Starlight jump. “Looks like witches can get whatever they want. They just make a wish, and poof! I can’t wait to do that.” Then she got up, and walked towards them. “So, are we done with cleaning yet? Can we leave?”

“Ah!” Starlight put on her best smile, and winced away from Twilight, reaching for a broom that wasn’t there. “Yes! No. Not at all. Sorry, this is a very big roof. Give us a couple hours, and—careful!

“Wha?” And just like that, Trixie stepped over the tail of a cat, and lost her footing. “Ah! Ah!

Starlight jumped. “Trixie!”

Trixie tripped again, out of reach. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah—!” And she tripped, and tumbled, and fell, and reached up with a hoof—

And then she was not falling anymore. She was grabbing a floating broom, frozen mid-fall—and with a “Hup!” and a little bit of a waggle, she climbed on top of it and sat down.

On the flying broom.

She hadn’t even dropped her hat, she was still wearing it.

“Oh. Huh.” Trixie looked down, ears perked up. She patted the broom, which moved up and down a little, seemingly following Trixie’s commands. “Huh.

Starlight and Twilight hadn’t moved yet. Starlight was still reaching forward, as if trying to grab Trixie; Twilight had her wings wide open, ready to fly to the rescue at a moment’s notice. They stood, frozen, staring at Trixie for three seconds that felt like at least twenty.

And then Starlight gulped, and looked at Twilight. “You’re the one who enchanted that broom,” she said. “I thought it was a self-sweeping spell?”

“Technically speaking, I made it so the broom floats and follow commands. For cleaning, but I guess, if you ride it…”

Trixie twirled in midair. “This is actually quite comfortable!”

“If you’re to become a witch,” Twilight said, looking at Starlight. “You were always going to be one anyway. See what I mean?”

“Wait,” Starlight said. “Is this witchcraft, then? Seems a bit less intense than I thought it would be. It’s just a bit weird how—”

“Meow!”

Starlight shut up.

The cats were there. All the cats—all the ones on the roof at least—looking up, at Trixie, following her with their cute little eyes. They were all sitting down, most swishing the tail side to side as they watched.

And even though the broom was close to them, and even though you could clearly see them tensing up, baring her teeth and aching to either strike or run away—they weren’t.

They weren’t even hissing. They looked at the broom with hateful eyes, but still stood there, completely still. The three biggest cats moved, then—picked up the book Trixie had been carrying, and carried it to her.

“Meow, meow.”

“Thanks! But I’m done with that, you can keep it,” Trixie said. “Consider it a gift.”

“Meow.”

And the cats put the book down, and sat there, looking at Trixie still.

Twilight looked at the cats, then at Trixie flying on her broom, and then at Starlight. “Cats,” she finally said.

“And brooms,” Starlight said.

“I’m a witch!” Trixie said, her grin even wider. “I’m a witch! Starlight, are you seeing this? Are you seeing it?”

Starlight saw the smile, and looked ready to cry in a good way. “I am,” she said. “You’re a witch. I can’t believe you’re a witch!”

“I know! I’m amazing!”

You are!

“We are literally in mortal danger as we speak,” Twilight said, and she spoke louder than needed with the express purpose of ruining that little moment. “These are forces we don’t understand that are actively changing the world around us, girls.” She looked up. “Trixie, did you intend to do literally any of this? Flying on a broom, charming the cats…?”

Trixie grinned at her. “Not in the slightest!”

“Right.” Twilight gave Starlight the side eye. “So there’s witchcraft happening, for the first time in over fifty generations, and she’s not controlling it. Nopony’s controlling it. But it still happens. Wonderful.”

Starlight came down to the real world when she looked away from Trixie’s unabashedly happy face, and her ears went flat against her face. “Ah,” Starlight said. “Right. Yes. When you put it like that—”

“So I need to control it!” Trixie said, twirling around on her broom. “I’m sure it’ll be easy, I’m really talented.”

“Hmmm.” Starlight was rubbing her chin. “But we don’t even know how witchcraft works, or how you become a witch, or…” Starlight waved at Trixie. “What did you do to end up like this?”

“I read a book! And I didn’t help you clean the roof. I would’ve helped you, don’t get me wrong, but—”

“No, no, entirely understandable, this is Twilight’s house.”

Twilight frowned. “Why does that make it entirely understandable.”

“So you didn’t help. Does that count as wicked?” Starlight looked at Twilight. “It’s not evil, but it’s very not righteous. I’d say that counts as wicked.”

“Reaching a bit.”

“But it makes sense, you think?”

“It does. And I do. Both.” Twilight waved at Trixie. “You should try to be a bit more wicked, in general—I can’t believe I’m saying this—and then try to seize conscious control of your witchy powers. You think you could do that?”

“For you?” Trixie said, looking at Twilight. “Oh, I’d be my best self just to spite you.”

“Please be,” Twilight said.

“But this was Starlight’s idea! So I’ll be as wicked as I can be.” Trixie winked at them. “Any suggestions on how to do that? Wait, no, don’t say anything, I’ve an idea already. I’m going to vandalize your library some more.”

“Oh, no,” Twilight said.

“Oh, yeah! That sounds lovely. Have fun!” Starlight waved at Trixie. “Don’t break anything, though, that’d be straight up evil. Just be mildly annoying!”

“I’ll try my hardest, love you, bye!”

And Trixie kicked the broom, and it flew higher, and then lower, and then she turned a corner, and then she was gone.

None of the cats moved until she was out of sight.

“Well.” Starlight looked around, picked up Trixie’s book. Wands and Wisdom, it was called. She paged through it as she talked. “That’s that. Can you get me another broom so we can finish cleaning this place?”

Twilight frowned. “I don’t like this.”

“I know.” Starlight looked at Twilight, smiling. “But you saw her, right? How happy she was? I had never seen her like that before.”

“Danger, Starlight. We’re in danger.”

“Didn’t you say that she wouldn’t turn evil?” Starlight went back to her book. “Once she learns to—”

HISSS!

Ah!

A cat had stepped over, tangling itself around Starlight’s legs, who stumbled and came close to falling down. She managed to regain her balance, but in the meantime, she lost her grasp on Trixie’s book.

Which went flying straight towards—

FLASH!

Twilight flashed her horn, freezing the book in mid-air.

Right in front of her face, which was clearly where the book had been headed.

“I don’t think she’ll turn evil,” Twilight said, putting the book down, voice sweet, motherly. “But Trixie got it wrong. It’s not wishes. Remember Tails of the Macabre? The book you found first?”

Starlight nodded, said nothing.

Twilight nodded back. “It was not a good translation of the original text. The wicked witch is not “the desired mare”. It’s “the one who desires”.”

Starlight made sure to step away from the cats, and then frowned. “And there’s a difference,” she ventured.

“There is.” Twilight flashed her horn, and the book vanished. “I trust Trixie, I know she’s a good pony, but—just because she won’t hurt anyone, that doesn’t mean no one will get hurt.”

And then Twilight went away to look for another broom for Starlight, and made sure not to step on any cats on her way. It took her a long time. She was very careful.