• Published 7th Oct 2020
  • 2,967 Views, 192 Comments

The Once and the Future Princess - Silvermyr

Cozy Glow was a Princess, and she has vowed to become one again. Flurry Heart is and alicorn and destined to become a Princess one day. Can they help one another grow, or are there some gaps that not even the magic of friendship can bridge?

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Chapter 8- Six Letters and a Quill

It was a confused Cozy Glow who got out of her bed back in Canterlot the next morning. On the one hand, she was happy she went to Sweetie Belle and understood just what her relationship with Rumble was and, more importantly, what she wanted it to be, deep down. On the other hand, she still did not know what to do with Flurry Heart's attempts to steal Rumble from her. And thanks to her new insight, that problem had only gotten more important to solve.

No matter what she wanted, first of all she had to get Rumble's focus away from that prissy orange lover and back on herself. That shouldn't be too hard. Cozy knew how to play ponies.

But then what? How does one go about courting another pony? Cozy had no idea, and while she had initially been hopeful for Sweetie Belle's advice, she soon understood that she was better off on her own. No matter what Sweetie Belle said, Cozy did not think old fairy tales were meant to be instructions for how to make somepony love you. In fact, sneaking up on a sleeping pony and kissing them sounded like it might be illegal. Normally that would not necessarily stop Cozy, but even she had her limits, and this was not okay.

No, she had to figure this out on her own.

The old Cozy would have improved her chances by sabotaging the competition, but she could not do that anymore. Rumble may not be as wily as Cozy herself, but he was far from stupid and he knew her better than anypony. If he figured out she was bullying Flurry for any reason at all, he'd never want to be her special somepony. However much it stung, she had to treat Flurry with (cold) courtesy from now on.

But what to do? How do fillies go about courting colts?

Well… what would she like in somepony courting her?

That it was Rumble who did the courting. That's what she would want.

Cozy grumbled to herself as she brushed her mane. Why was this so hard? She had planned world conquests with less effort than this! She needed ideas!

Were there books on this subject? "How to make a colt love you for dummies?" If there was, Twilight should have it in her library… but then Twilight would have read it, and Twilight was still single. Never mind the books then.

She shook her head to get rid of all her half-baked, stupid thoughts and took a deep breath for good measure. She decided to think about it as a friendship problem. She was good at those. If Rumble did not know her at all and she wanted to make friends with him, what would she do?

Well, she'd be kind, obviously… but she also had to be impressive. She had to be useful. That was how she got close to Twilight, and that had worked.

So how do you impress Rumble?

Cozy grinned. This was a far easier question.

So easy, in fact, that she already had some ideas! She tied her mane up with her ribbon and gave her tail a quick brush too. Then she went out of her room. Once she knew what she was looking for, the ideas just kept coming!

Rumble was coming back this afternoon, so she had a little while to prepare. Cozy fluttered over to the library. Even if she didn't need the dating books anymore, there were suddenly plenty of other ideas to investigate. It was a testament to her good mood that not even Twilight, who sat and read by a table, could dampen her spirits.

"Cozy? Good morning."

"Good morning," Cozy replied. She flew around the bookshelves and traced the back of the books with her hoof, looking for what she needed.

"Will you come and sit with me for a few moments? I have been thinking, and I'd like to give you a special friendship assignment for the next few days."

Cozy "tsked" quietly and allowed herself a frown while she was still turned away. She had more important things to do than Twilight's lessons! But she was not going to give Twilight a chance to be angry with her. Cozy was already on a short leash after the fiasco with Flurry Heart and could not afford any more problems with her teacher. Hopefully this wouldn't take too long. She flew over to Twilight and sat down on a stool across from her.

"As I said last time, what you need to take your studies to the next level is some practical experience in being a good friend."

"Have you found somepony I can make friends with?" Cozy asked. Maybe Cozy could use this new friend to help her with Rumble somehow?

"No, not yet," Twilight said. "However, I have thought of something else you should do. Come with me, please."

Cozy was surprised when Twilight led her back to her own room. What practical friendship lesson could she do there?

Twilight ushered her over to the desk where she practiced making artifacts. Her tools and materials had been moved away, and instead there was a pile of papers and envelopes, a quill, and a few ink pots on the desk. Why hadn't she noticed that when she came back home yesterday? Or when she got up. She was usually so attentive. Cozy sat down.

"There are seven envelopes there," Twilight said. "Can you guess what they are for?"

Cozy shook her head.

"Your practical friendship lesson is going to be writing one letter each day where you apologize to those you have wronged. I want you to write one to Starlight Glimmer, one to Sandbar, one to Ocellus, one to Gallus, one to Silverstream, one to Yona and one to Smolder. I also don't want you to write more than one per day. They must be genuine, not just something you write to be done with them."

Cozy grimaced. "Golly… you're punishing me for what I did with Flurry, aren't you? You know how hard it is for me to apologize."

"All the more reason for you to practice," Twilight said. Her voice was stern. "Every good friend must be able to apologize when they make mistakes."

Cozy looked up at Twilight without bother hiding her dejection. This assignment already made her feel miserable. For a prideful pony like her, apologies were something that would never come without pain. Twilight's face softened. She put a hoof on Cozy's shoulder. "I don't want you to think of this as punishment though," she said. "I don't think foals learn from punishments. I just want you to face your past so you can leave it behind with no regrets, and maybe even start over with everycreature."

"I already have left it behind…" Cozy tried, even if it was a futile effort. There was no chance Twilight was going to let her out of this until the letters were written and delivered.

"No, Cozy. Not in the way a friend would."

Cozy sighed and resigned herself to a few depressing hours every day for the week to come. She bent forward to pick up her pen when she realized an all new problem. "Uh… Twilight, I can't write with a quill. I need a pen."

Twilight visibly balked. "Oh, how silly of me. I'll… uh…" she silenced. "I… don't know if I even have a normal pen… I always write with magic. Do you have a pen?"

Cozy shook her head. "Just my crayons."

"You can't write this with crayons," Twilight said. "Sorry about this. Let me look around and I'll get you a real pen."

"No need to hurry," Cozy mumbled to herself once Twilight had left the room.

She knew she probably should think about how to start the letter, but she soon found herself spacing out. She picked up the quill in her mouth and tried her best to balance it on the tip. She knew it wouldn't work, of course, but it was still more fun than thinking about how she was going to humiliate herself in writing these letters.

The quill fell over softly on the paper. Cozy looked at it.

Involuntarily, her mind began wandering to the field of artifacts.

Balance was not a difficult property to imbue to artifacts… in fact, balance was a so-called basic rune. To make sure something remained in balance, all one needed to do was inscribe a single rune onto a material that could conduct magic, and then hook that up to a strong enough source of magic.

And if one could make the quill stand upright, making it move shouldn't be too hard either. Motion was also a basic rune, only one needed some way to control the movement. That meant she had to link two runes together- one for the motion itself and another to command it.

Of course, many artifacts could be activated with nothing but the thought of a pony… it just required sufficient force of will.

Cozy felt her heart beat faster. She just had a great idea! Something that would not only solve this problem, but perhaps also show Twilight just how smart Cozy was! She lifted away the papers and looked around her little workspace.

She had a small piece of copper wire, her soldering iron, some small gemstones for power and her diamond-tipped engraving pen…

Really, with a little bit of work, this should definitely be possible!

She'd not have the time to finish it now, due to Twilight's silly letters, but she could definitely start. In fact, she felt like she might burst if she didn't! It was long since she felt this inspired.

She placed the piece of copper wire in front of her and then put the shaft of the quill on top of it. Then she picked up a pair of tweezers and gently bent the wire into a somewhat crude ring around the shaft. Using a pair of small nippers, she cut the wire to an appropriate length.

Now for the hard part.

She pulled over a small tripod with a tiny vice at the bottom and a host of movable lenses above it. It was a so-called artificer's microscope, used to help her engrave runes on really tiny things. Carefully, she fastened the wire in the vice and began aligning the lenses.

Once she was satisfied with the acuity, she picked up the diamond-tipped engraving pen and tied it around her hoof. She could not write this with her mouth, since she had to look through the microscope at the same time.

Luckily the rune of balance was pretty simple- just one vertical line and then one slightly slanted line crossing it, almost like an old balancing scale. She pressed the diamond tip carefully against the wire ring and made a slim chip. She'd press a little harder for the next chip, and then a little harder again. That way she could slowly make the lines she needed without risking to ruin them. The rune had to be exact to work.

It must have taken her ten minutes at least just sitting there, peering through her microscope and slowly carving the simple rune into the wire. Looking at it without magnification, it was barely visible. But it wouldn't need to be big to keep something so light as a feather standing upright.

She leaned back with a satisfied sigh. It was just the first step, and it hadn't really been difficult, but it had been her idea! That thought settled into her chest like a warm hearth. It had been her idea!

"Are you done?"

Cozy jumped at Twilight's voice. She had not heard her return. "When did you come back?" Cozy asked.

"Five minutes or so," Twilight said and stepped up to Cozy's workplace. She looked at the quill and the microscope. "What have you been doing?"

"I… had an idea," Cozy said. "And I couldn't wait to try it out." She peered at the pen Twilight held in her magic. "But I suppose I'll have to…" her ears dropped in displeasure. Why couldn't those stupid letter wait!? Cozy wanted to see if her idea worked!

Twilight gave a sympathetic look. "I know how it feels to have a great idea… how you just feel like you can't sit still unless you get to test it. So… go ahead. I suppose if Starlight and the others have waited for this long, they can wait a little longer."

Cozy could not stop her grin, even if it was Twilight she grinned at. Right now, that didn't matter.

"Okay! I know what to do! I just need to make the rune for movement, and then I need to add the power source!"

Twilight nodded and laid down next to Cozy's workstation. She looked on with curiosity as Cozy continued her inscription. Cozy didn't mind her presence. In fact, she rather liked to have Twilight's full attention like this.

Once she was done, she picked up the soldering iron in her mouth.

"Light," she mumbled, and the tip of the iron began to glow. Now she had to be careful. While the magic in the soldering iron helped reduce the melting point of anything it touched, so the soldering iron didn't need to be extremely hot itself, she still could not touch the quill itself or she would ruin it. She needed to melt the wire carefully to make a solid ring around the quill shaft. This would need a light touch and steady hooves. She looked through her microscope again.

She crept closer with the glowing tip, focusing on the small gap in the wire where she'd need to apply the heat.

Closer… closer… There!

She jabbed the soldering iron forward quickly and precisely before withdrawing it.

It was a bit uneven, but the copper had melted. The shaft of the quill was a little bit blackened behind it, but it would definitely work. Now she had to be quick. She picked up a tiny gemstone with a pair of tweezers and placed it in the drop of molten copper, sealing the copper ring with the gemstone.

"I need…!" Cozy didn't even bother finishing the sentence. She hopped off her stool and flew over to her bedside table. She always had a cup of water next to her bed. Then she returned to her workstation and dipped the quill inside, quenching the copper with a small hiss.

"Is it done?" Twilight asked.

Cozy nodded with the quill in her mouth. She dipped it in the ink pot and placed it on one of the paper sheets. Is shivered a little, but remained standing upright on the paper. Now to see if she had really done it. Even if she always had a penchant for artifacts, she had only ever made one from scratch- her rook- and this final step was the single hardest part.

It was not only her innate understanding of artifacts that made Cozy a prodigy in the craft. It was also her iron will.

To make an artifact, one had to want it. One needed to put their very soul into it, bond with it so much it became like a part of you. Else it would just be a quill that could move and stand- but with nothing to tell it when to move or how. Nearly all artifacts needed ponies to tell them what to do, but there was no way of accomplishing that aside from a link between maker and artifact. There was no scientific answer and no spell that could help. The only way to make an artifact work was for it to willingly accept the wishes of ponies. And if it didn't accept its maker, it would never accept anyone.

Now it was time to see if Cozy still had her gift.

"Cozy Glow!" she said, the first thing she could think of. She said it like a command, but in reality it was just a request.

The quill quivered again, as if considering. Then it quickly, neatly spelled out the words Cozy Glow in curly, sweeping letters. The kind of letters Cozy had always wanted to write, but never did. The kind of letters that made reading more enjoyable all on their own. She exhaled in relief. Just to really hammer her point home she had the quill write Twilight Sparkle too. The penmanship was simple, yet exact, every line straight and every angle sharp, making the script look plain, even boring.

"Very impressive, I must say," Twilight said. There was a nuance of seriousness in her tone now that had not been there before. "For you to make something as… useful, I guess, like this in less than an hour after you had the idea…" Their eyes met. "Your ability really is an amazing gift, Cozy. You can do a lot of good if you want."

"Golly, just think of all the good I could do as a Princess," Cozy said innocently. Twilight rolled her eyes, but smiled nonetheless. Then she magicked the stack of papers back onto her workstation.

"Well, now you won't need a pen anymore," she said. "Get to it, Cozy."

Cozy glared, but she did feel a little bit better. She had made an impression for sure. That silly orange-lover could never have done something like this! Soon Twilight would have to admit that Cozy was her best student, and Rumble would not even bother looking at Flurry Heart anymore!

It was good that Thunderlane was Rumble's brother, because if he wasn't, he'd be asking himself if Thunderlane had been dropped as a colt. Really, that was about the only reason Rumble could think of for how Thunderlane could fly so well and explain things so clearly, but still have a breakdown at the end of practice. Sure, Rumble could understand being nervous, but this was getting ridiculous.

At least Rumble had done his part now. With just a week left to the tryouts, his brother would make the final changes to his schedules and then practice them on his own. Hopefully then they would be good enough.

Rumble thought about these things as he stirred a creamy and smooth tomato soup. He felt Ramson stalk past him, but he did not say anything. That was about as high praise one could hope for from him. Good. He wanted this to be perfect. Cozy might have made an effort with Flurry over the weekend, and if it had not worked out well, then she'd be furious, and if it had gone well, then he'd present this as a reward. Either way, it was probably a good idea to come bearing gifts.

Some good food and attention, and then a round of flying together. After that he just had to see where things lead.

He dipped a small spoon into the soup to taste it, then poured some up in a bowl. Finally, he put a sprig of basilica on the top. Not only did it fit, but it looked really pretty as well. It was time to bring it up. He balanced the bowl on his head and flew up to Cozy's room. Her door was open, so he went in.

She sat by her desk and in front of her a quill was swishing back and forth. It didn't even have an aura of magic around it.

He balked and nearly dropped his soup. Balancing carefully, he rubbed his eyes, just in case he was seeing things somehow. It didn't help. The quill stopped, but stayed upright, and then with a grimace from Cozy, it scratched out whatever it had just written. Cozy huffed angrily, picked up the quill and dipped it in a nearby pot of ink before putting it back. It still remained standing.

"What… did I miss?" he asked. Funny how nearly every time he came in here, his first words always seemed to be "what", "how", or "when". Did that mean he was stupid, or that Cozy was smart? Probably both.

Cozy jumped from her chair and started flying before she looked at him. She opened her mouth as if to say something, but didn't. She slowed her wingbeats until she landed on her stool, then took a deep breath. Rumble didn't like staring, but since when was she so jittery? "Oh… uh, hi! Nice seeing you again." She smiled widely. Strange. He had assumed she would be at least a little chilly towards him since he made her give Flurry another chance.

Rumble decided to write it off as Cozy being Cozy. Maybe she was happy about something else. "Yeah, it's nice to be back too. I mean, I miss my brother, but he really does know how to get on my nerves."

"I know that feeling," Cozy said. "Twilight's been really annoying today. I had a great idea for a self writing quill, and she wants me to use it to write these stupid letters! I DON'T CARE ABOUT THOSE SIX LOSERS OR THEIR LOSER HEADMARE!" She flared her wings in anger as she growled and a vein pulsed on her forehead. In fact, she looked quite ready to beat him up. It was only because he was accustomed to her episodes that he did not back away.

True to form, she heaved for a few more moments, before her brow smoothened and her wings returned to her sides. "Feeling better?" he asked.

She nodded. "Yes." She looked back at her letter with a glare. "For a little while, at least."

"I've got you something to eat," Rumble said. "So I think a break is in order. And then we should go fly after."

Cozy looked down, ears against her skull. "Hmm… golly, I really want to, but Twilight said I had to do this letter today, and... I can't afford to mess it up. Normally I'd just ignore her, but today isn't… I can't do that today."

"What sort of letter is it?" Rumble asked. "The loser headmare" was probably Starlight Glimmer, Twilight's replacement for her school, but "the six losers" didn't ring any bells. Twilight's friends were only five ponies if Starlight was excluded.

Cozy grimaced. "Apology letters to some creatures who got caught in the crossfire when I tried to remove all magic from the world. I hate apologizing… and it's even harder when I have to write it. Twilight said it must be genuine, but they'll never think anything I write is genuine."

"Oh, okay," Rumble said. "Well, I always think better with some food, so maybe you could start there?"

Cozy smiled and looked at him… a little while longer than he expected. He found himself fidgeting a little. "Sounds good. What have you made?" she asked.

"Tomato soup," Rumble said and sat the bowl down on her table. He caught a glimpse of her pile of papers. Everything was scratched out. She had evidently started many times but never been satisfied. Cozy sniffed at the red soup and then began lapping it up.

Cozy finished her food quickly and put the bowl away. "Thank you," she said. She sounded strangely shy when she said it, and she ruffled her wings again too.

Rumble cocked his head to the side. "Is there something wrong? Didn't you like it?"

"Yes, I did!" she hurried to answer. "I like tomato soup, it was great, promise! No secrets and lies here!" She smiled again. It was that type of smile that meant she was up to something. But what?

"Right…" he said and decided to not serve her tomato again. It was strange that she didn't say it if she disliked it though. She usually was not shy to make her displeasure very widely known.

"Hey, think you can help me with this?" she asked with another glare at her letters. "Else I'm never going back outside."

"Didn't Twilight want you to write them?" Rumble asked, but he did step closer.

"Well… it was supposed to be a practical friendship lesson, and you are a friend, right?" Cozy said. "So really, if you help me, it's just a better lesson." She smiled the same wily smile. At least this time he knew why.

"I guess," Rumble resigned and went to stand next to her. It wasn't like anypony got hurt from Cozy taking a small shortcut. Especially since she didn't seem to make much progress on her own. Really, he was mostly just curious about Cozy's quill. Did she make that herself?

It looked just like a normal quill, aside from a small ring of metal around the tip. "So… are you going to explain how your quill can write on its own?"

Cozy cocked her head backwards with a superior smirk. "Well, let's just say that your best friend did not get to be Twilight's student just by being cute and loveable, but she's also really smart too."

"So you made it yourself? that's so cool! Hey, can you make one for me too?"

"Good golly yes!" she all but squeaked with a smile that could have lit up the entire room. Weird… were they that fun to make or something? Or maybe she just liked to rub it in his face that she could? Yeah, that was probably it...

"So… did Twilight say anything more you should write?" he asked.

Cozy shook her head. She sat so close he could feel her mane tickle the side of his neck. In fact… she was sitting very closely. He looked over, only for her to suddenly look away and pick out a fresh paper. Then she stared intently at it. "I just don't know how to start," she said before he could ask anything. "How do you apologize in a letter anyway?"

Rumble shrugged. "You could just start with 'I'm sorry', right?"

Cozy looked up, hesitant. "Is that really a good beginning?"

"I dunno… but at least it's honest. And then you can write why you're sorry, and that you are trying to make things better now."

Cozy nodded. She picked up the quill, dipped it first in a glass of water to get the old ink away, then dipped it in the ink pot. Then she put it down on the paper. Again, Rumble stared at the quill balancing on the tip somehow. Then it started to move.

I'm sorry, Starlight Glimmer.

Maybe Twilight told you that you were going to get this letter from me, so then you already know who I am. But if she didn't, this is Cozy Glow writing.

The penmanship was flowery and elegant, with looping, floral letters and small hearts above the i's.

"Is that a good start?" Cozy asked. She didn't sound very convinced.

"Well… Twilight didn't say it had to be, right? It just has to be genuine. I think that as long as you make an honest attempt and apologize properly at the end, she will be happy. And this sounds like how you would apologize."

Cozy sighed in relief. "I… why didn't I understand that?"

"Also, when you make my quill, can you make it not dot the 'i's' with hearts? I guess that's a filly thing, right?"

Cozy visibly stiffened. "Oh golly… uh, yeah! Totally a filly thing. 'Cause, you know how I like cute and lovable things like me? So I made my quill write cute. On purpose!" Her wings twitched again, and her voice was quick and flustered. "But I'll make sure yours doesn't do that! Easily! Cause I'm so good at this! I… I have everything under control!"

Weirder and weirder... Cozy was never this scatterbrained. Even when she let her mood get the best of her, she still behaved with an unwavering determination. This uncertainty was completely new. He wondered what might have prompted it. Did these letters make her question herself by bringing up a sore past?

Cozy cleared her throat and shook her head. He saw her forcefully press her wings down against her sides. "How should I continue? Something like… You probably don't even believe me when I write that I am sorry, do you?' I don't think I'd have believed me. But I am sorry! Really!"

The quill copied down the text as she was speaking, forming every letter like a small work of art. Rumble was transfixed, just looking how it flew over the paper. A heart went over every "i" still.

He stayed next to her all until her letter was done. For having been so furious with her assignment earlier, she really didn't seem to mind it very much.