• Published 4th Nov 2020
  • 2,704 Views, 190 Comments

Another Side of Friendship: Pony Tails - The Great Twixie

The continued adventures of Twilight and her new friends.

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Celestial Return

After the Parasprite invasion yesterday and the subsequent repairs to Canterlot (and Twilight’s mental health), everypony thought there would be no more surprises for a while. But when the Mane 6 returned to Princess Luna’s castle that day and heard a mighty crash coming from the tower, they charged inside to the biggest shock of all:

Princess Celestia had awakened. After two months of seemingly unending sleep, the princess of the sun was back. So when Princess Luna raised the sun the next morning (she promised to let Celestia move it tomorrow), she had invited everypony to breakfast to celebrate.

Princess Celestia, still rubbing the sleep from her eyes, sat on one end of the long, polished table across from her younger sister, who was smiling like a foal on Hearth’s Warming Day. On her left was the Mane 6, a group of ponies she recognized from her time as Daybreaker. And seated on her right was Luna’s personal – and strange - assortment of friends including Bon Bon, Blossomforth, Octavia and Vinyl Scratch, and the ever-rebellious Spitfire, who propped her back hooves on the table regardless of the princess’s protest.

Celestia felt like she had a huge spotlight on her given the way that everypony was staring at her. Some looked fascinated like Twilight and Blossomforth. Some were untrusting like Tempest and Bon Bon. Some sat quietly in prim and proper form like Sunset and Octavia. And some just outright didn’t care what was going on like Trixie and the headphone-wearing Vinyl. Luna certainly a few interesting friends while she was away, Celestia thought wearily.

“Everypony, don’t be rude,” said Luna, seeming to pick up on her sister’s distress. “I invited you all here to celebrate my sister’s awakening, but please don’t openly gawk at her. It’s making her uncomfortable.”

“Oh, sorry, Princess Celestia,” Twilight apologized with the others. “I didn’t realize I was staring.”

“Don’t see how,” Spitfire commented. “You haven’t blinked for almost five minutes.”

“So that’s why my eyes are stinging,” said Twilight in realization.

“You’ll have to excuse us, Princess Celestia,” said Octavia politely while shooting a disapproving grimace at her head bopping wife. “But you have to understand. The last time we saw you was…well….”

“When I went mad with power and tried to burn all of Equestria to the ground?” Celestia offered playfully. The joke seemed to fly over everypony’s head as the room fell into an awkward silence. “Er…what I mean to say is, I wanted to apologize for what I did as Daybreaker. I know I wasn’t in the right state of mind, but that’s no excuse for what I put everypony through. Especially you,” she added to the Mane 6.

“Well, in a way, we kinda owe you one,” Starlight stated brightly. “It’s because of you any of us became friends in the first place.”

“She’s actually right when you think about it,” said Sunset. “If you hadn’t shown up, Princess Luna wouldn’t have knocked me into Trixie, and Trixie would never have lost control of her wagon, and then none of us would’ve ever met.”

“I could’ve done without the wagon part,” Tempest commented.

“And all those trials you put us through helped us find our Elements of Harmony and become closer friends,” Moon Dancer added helpfully.

“And if they had never become friends, I would never have hired Twilight on as my aide,” said Luna, smiling. Twilight seemed almost hurt at the remark, but Luna carried on. “Then Twilight wouldn’t have scheduled my day off and I never would’ve made such good friends,” she added, gesturing to Bon Bon and the others.

“So in hindsight, the only reason we’re all sitting here is because of you, Princess Celestia,” Octavia commented kindly. Vinyl grinned and gave the sunny princess a hoofs-up…or whatever counted for a pony version of a thumbs-up

Celestia smiled softly and said, “It’s nice to know something good came out of my madness.”

“Everypony here has forgiven you for your past misdeeds,” said Luna, looking around the table. All the ponies nodded and waved with friendly gestures, except for Tempest, who had to be nudged into compliance by Sunset. “And we are grateful to have you back, sister.”

“It’s good to be back, sister,” said Celestia gratefully.

The double doors to the kitchens then flew open and an earth pony stallion in a chef’s hat trooped in with a procession of maids and butlers, delivering trays of delicious-looking food on the table. Only Luna, Sunset, and Tempest kept their composure; most of them had never seen so many delicious foods, let alone afford it; Trixie was literally drooling a waterfall.

“Breakfast, she iz served,” said the chef in a thick accent, bowing graciously to Luna.

“Thank you, Chase,” said Luna gratefully as the stallion backed into the kitchens. “Well, shall we partake?”

Everypony else didn’t need to be told twice, practically diving for anything and everything like a pack frenzied shark that caught a scent of blood in the water. But while others used their horns or utensils to grab what they want, Vinyl just grabbed the nearest stack of flapjacks with her hooves, ignoring the copious of amount of butter and syrup. She raised them over her open mouth like she was amount to swallow the stack whole when Octavia slapped her hoof, shaking her head disapprovingly.

“Vinyl, don’t act so uncouth!” Octavia scolded; Vinyl groaned in annoyance. “We are in the presence of royalty. You could stand to show a little decorum – “

Her potentially long-winded rant was cut off by a strange noise; it sounded like a wild animal feeding. Everypony craned their heads to the end of the time to find that the 'wild animal’ was Princess Celestia. The ruler of the sun was eating everything in front of her face first, not even using the horn or the cutlery. There was sense of fascinated wonder shared between the audience as they watch Celestia chew through entire stacks of pancakes in a handful of bites and suck up all the juice like a vacuum. She was halfway through her third stack when Celestia paused, realizing that everypony was staring at her.

The princess of the sun stood up straight, used a napkin to clean herself, and cleared her throat.

“I um…I haven’t eaten solid food in a millennium,” she announced awkwardly.

Vinyl just gave her another hoof’s-up and shoved a mouthful of flapjacks in her face, much to her wife’s dismay.

“Soooo…,” said Luna, trying to redirect the flow of conversation. “Any plans for what you’re going to do now that you’re awake, sister?”

“Well, obviously I plan to return to my obligations of maintaining the sun,” said Celestia, now using her horn to move the cutlery like a proper princess. “Don’t worry, I have no plans about burning Equestria to the ground…again. But before that, I was hoping of…exploring a little bit.”

“Exploring?” Blossomforth repeated curiously.

“Technically, I only visited the castle and the Everfree Forest when I was Daybreaker,” said Celestia. “And I only ever saw Equestria from a distance while I was trapped in the sun. But now that I am free and somewhat healthy, I want to experience these places for myself. See what this world has to offer me.”

“Well, if that’s the case, I know the perfect place you can start,” Sunset offered kindly.

Sunset Shimmer hummed merrily as she and Celestia trotted through downtown Canterlot, making their way to Cinnamon Chai's Tea and Cake Shop, her personal sanctuary. What better way to reintroduce the princess to Equestria than with a sweet tooth?

As the princess’s personal pupil, Sunset was used to being stared at on the street. Sometimes, ponies would even come up to her and ask her what it’s like working with Luna or living in the palace. Those stares would only be doubled with Celestia, an actual alicorn princess, cantering alongside her. She half expected to be mobbed by fawning ponies by now. But everypony seemed to be keeping their distance for some reason. Even ponies on the same road as them quickly shuffled to the opposite side.

That’s weird, Sunset thought. Maybe they were afraid of offending Celestia. Ponies always act strange around royalty.

“You’re gonna love Cinnamon Chai,” said Sunset enthusiastically. “She makes the best cakes in all of Canterlot.”

“Are they anything like those pan-cakes?” Celestia asked hopefully.

“Er, no, not really,” said Sunset, chuckling. “But they’re just as good, maybe even better than pancakes. You’ll have to see for yourself.”

They found Cinnamon Chai’s Tea and Cake Shop at the usual corner, which had had been buzzing with excited, chattering ponies until they walked inside. Sunset blinked surprisingly and looked around. Everypony was staring at them, some frozen in place with cake halfway to their mouth or still pouring tea until it overflowed.

“Is…everypony always like this?” Celestia asked cautiously.

“Mmm, no, not really,” said Sunset awkwardly. “I guess they’re just not used to seeing royalty in public…. Why don’t we go meet Cinnamon Chai in the kitchen? Don’t worry, she and I are tight.”

Celestia looked uncertain, but the kitchen sounded more appealing than having everypony gawking at her.

Sunset and Celestia walked around the counter without any fuss from the register pony; the perks of being the princess’s pupil and a frequent customer. They found Cinnamon Chai on the opposite side of the kitchen with her back to them. The unicorn baker was levitating a piping bag to the top of a six-layer cake, decorating it with delicate frosted flowers.

“Wow, that looks delicious, Cinnamon Chai!” Sunset complimented.

“Oh, Sunset Shimmer, good to have you,” Cinnamon Chai greeted without looking back, focusing on the frosting. “What can I do for my second favorite customer today?”

“I’m still not your first?” asked Sunset disappointedly.

“Maybe if you left as big of a tip as Winkleburg,” said Cinnamon Chai, chuckling.

“Winkleburg…,” Sunset growled with pure loathing in her narrowed eyes. But she quickly shook her mind clear of her most hated nemesis and gestured to Celestia. “Anyway, I wanted to introduce you to somepony special. Cinnamon Chai, this is – “

Cinnamon Chai was curious about who Sunset Shimmer wanted to introduce her to, so she turned around to greet them. But when her eyes locked on to Princess Celestia, the baker suddenly jumped up and screamed with a terrible fright, making Sunset and Celestia leaned back in surprise. Cinnamon Chai stumbled backward, trying to distance herself from the alicorn, when she accidentally knocked over her cake and it fell on top of her. Sunset moved forward to help when Cinnamon Chai burst through the cake, galloped between them, and ran out the door, shouting:


Sunset and Celestia winced when they heard a stampede of hooves and repeated shattering on the other side of the door mixed with frantic screaming (“EVERYPONY FOR THEMSELVES!” "WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” “I NEVER GOT MY CUPCAKE!”)

It was several long and uncomfortable moments before the noise died down. Sunset and Celestia cautiously poked their heads out the door, grimacing. Not only was the shop completely deserted, but everything was broken from the tables, to the tea cups, to the windows. Tea and cake were spilled all over the floor from when the ponies dropped them in a hurry and fled for their lives.

“…I’m sure they just really excited the see you,” said Sunset, chuckling nervously.

Celestia hanged her head and sighed.

“I’m so sorry for what happened at Cinnamon Chai’s shop?” Blossomforth apologized to Princess Celestia. “I’m sure they didn’t mean anything terrible behind it. They just need time to get to know you.”

“I understand why they were so afraid,” said Celestia disappointedly. “And the worst part is, I never got to try any cake.”

After the disaster at tea and cake shop, Sunset intercepted Blossomforth heading back to her yoga studio and passed the princess of the sun off to her. Sunset figured with Blossomforth’s calm and “zen-like” personality, she might be able to ease Celestia into Equestrian lifestyle better.

So far, it wasn’t working out in Celestia’s opinion. It was hard for the rainbow-maned alicorn not to notice the ponies scattering like cockroaches the moment they set hoof in the commercial district. Every shop seemed to mysteriously close when they got too close, even though Celestia could clearly see dozens of ponies poking their heads up through the remarkably clear windows. Some ponies went to ridiculous lengths to get away from her including, but not limited to: jumping in a barrel of leeches, climbing up tall trees with their cats, and, worst of all, mime.

Celestia stared down at the ground sadly, wondering if she should just head back to the castle and lock herself in her room forever.

“Oh, don’t worry about them,” said Blossomforth soothingly, noticing her distress. “They’ll come around eventually.”

“What if they don’t?” Celestia questioned. “I did a lot of terrible things as Day – “

“Shush! We don’t talk about that,” said Blossomforth sternly. “Canterlot wasn’t built in a day, you know. You’ll win the ponies over eventually. And you can start here.”

They stopped in front of Blossomforth’s yoga studio, the Blossoming Lotus. Celestia was a bit apprehensive about doing this. From what little she learned from Luna, yoga can be relaxing, but more often than not it leaves alicorns tied up in unexplainable knots.

Blossomforth led them inside – Celestia jumped when the tiny bell jingled overhead. A class was already in progress; at least eight or nine ponies were performing various poses with their eyes closed in concentration so nopony noticed them enter. Blossomforth walked to the front of the class, cleared her throat, and all eyes flew open on her.

“Good day, class,” Blossomforth greeted serenely. “Today, we have a very special guest joining us.”

“Is it Princess Luna?!” A Pegasus mare gasped hopefully while doing a sphinx pose.

“No, but this is just as good,” said Blossomforth positively, gesturing to Princess Celestia. “Everypony, please welcome – “

Celestia knew it was coming; she was expecting it, really. The moment their eyes honed in on the princess of the sun, their first instinct was to scream, “DAYBREAKER!” and their second instant was to run around like headless chickens. Celestia stood motionlessly with a look of exasperation as the ponies crashed into the studio equipment, knocking over the hanging plants from the ceiling, and running headfirst into the wall mirrors, leaving spider webs of cracks on the surface. And the ponies who had their limbs tangled from their yoga session just rolled toward the exit like neon-colored boulders.

It only took a hoofful of seconds before the studio was cleared out completely, looking like a tornado had had come through.

“Er…,” Blossomforth hummed, scratching her mane awkwardly. “Maybe their chakras weren’t aligned properly?”

Celestia covered her eyes with her hoof, groaning.

“Okay, so things did work out with you at the cake shop and yoga,” said Starlight Glimmer, maintaining an aura of confidence. “But this is where it all turns around. One of the things I’ve learned since moving to Canterlot is that first impressions a very important. Everyone remembers you as Daybreaker, but they don’t know you as Princess Celestia…. That beings said, I have no idea who you’re supposed to be right now.”

Starlight looked Celestia up and down with a quirked brow. The rainbow-maned alicorn had completely covered herself up from hoof to horn. A long dirty trench coat covered her flank, her lengthy horn disappeared under a ten-gallon hat, her muzzle was concealed behind a facial mask, and her eyes hidden behind a pair of sunglasses that Starlight was certain belonged to DJ Pon-3.

Celestia obviously thought this would keep ponies from being terrified of her, and it worked to an extent, but now everypony was avoiding her for completely different reasons.

“Is the disguise really necessary?” asked Starlight.

“I’ve caused two stampedes of screaming ponies on less than two hours,” said Celestia, her voice muffled behind the mask. “This is for their safety as much as mine.”

“Okay, so ponies are harshly critical – that’s just the Canterlot lifestyle,” said Starlight, patting Celestia’s hoof. “But we can fix that. Canterlot ponies are superficial and care more about appearances than the ponies themselves – “

“That seems like a cynical view of things,” Celestia remarked.

“Welcome to the real world,” said Starlight. “So all we have to do is make you look super amazing that ponies will be begging for your attention. And the best place to shop for your fabulous new look is here!” she shouted, waving her hooves dramatically to the shop in front of them.

“’The Canterlot Carousel’?” Celestia read out loud, sounding uncertain. “I don’t know about this, Starlight Glimmer.”

“Trust me, this place is the number one dress shop in all of Canterlot,” Starlight reassured her. “Anypony who shops here becomes instantly popular.”

“But what if everypony sees me and starts freaking out again?” Celestia grimaced.

“I reserved the shop for a private fitting ahead of time,” said Starlight, feeling quite proud of herself. “And Sassy Saddles is a professional. She’s not going to ‘freak out.’”

“Okay…,” said Celestia.

Starlight opened the door for Celestia and gestured the princess inside. Celestia was relieved to see that the boutique had indeed been cleared as promised. Sassy Saddles was the only other pony besides them and she was currently arranging pony mannequins with new outfits to put on display. She turned around when Starlight closed the door behind them and positively beamed when her eyes feel on Starlight.

“Starlight Glimmer! So lovely to see you again!” Sassy Saddles greeted them keenly, pretending to kiss Starlight on each check as was her fancy custom. “It’s always a pleasure to have Equestria’s heroes visit the Canterlot Carousel. What can I do you for? Looking for a dress to the Grand Galloping Gala?”

“Some other time,” Starlight waved it off. She gestured to Celestia and said, “My friend here’s having a tough time fitting in around town and she desperately needs a new look that will make her the envy of all.”

“Ooh, I love a good fashion emergency!” Sassy Saddles clapped her hooves excitedly. “Come on, dear, let me see what I have to work with.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Celestia mumbled.

“Now, dear, I can’t help you if I can’t see you,” Sassy Saddles chuckled good-naturedly. “Come on, just a little peek.”

It was with great reluctance that Celestia slowly removed her disguise, starting with her sunglasses, then her hat and mask, and finally discarding the coat. The princess of the sun stood to her full height, stretching her wings briefly before looking down at Sassy Saddles. To her credit, the boutique manager didn’t run or scream; she looked more surprised by the fact that the alicorn was in her shop in the first place.

“…I see,” said Sassy Saddles slowly. “Well, if that’s the case, I know exactly what to do.”

Sassy Saddles trotted slowly to the backroom behind the counter. Starlight turned to Celestia with a smug grin.

“See, I told you she was a professional,” Starlight boasted. “You should have more faith in my judgement, princess. I guarantee you right now Sassy Saddles is back there picking out the most amazing – “

“She’s climbing out the back window, isn’t she?” Celestia asked dryly.

Starlight opened her mouth to retort before the thought crossed her mind and her eyes widened in sudden realization. She looked to the backroom door, then to Celestia, then to the backroom again. Starlight quickly jumped over the counter and tackled her way through the door to catch Sassy Saddles halfway out the window as Celestia predicted. The boutique manager looked like foal caught with her hoof in the cookie jar. Before Starlight had a chance to stop her, Sassy Saddles dived headlong out the window with a resulting crash!

Starlight giggled sheepishly to Celestia, who stared her down with a blank look.

With three strikes against her, Celestia thought it was time to get out and hide in her lonely tower. Unfortunately, Luna’s friend, Spitfire, was just leaving the castle when Celestia flew back. After a brief explanation of her recent failures and Celestia’s plans for the rest of her life, Spitfire took it upon herself to be the princess’s next guide. The fiery Pegasus didn’t even give Celestia a chance to protest before Spitfire grabbed her by the hoof and dragged her all the way to the Wonderbolts Academy on top of Canterlot Mountain.

Celestia stood awkwardly in the locker room while Spitfire changed into her uniform. It was thankfully empty so she didn’t have to deal with any frightened pegasi.

“Not to be mean, but the other ponies were kinda dumb,” said Spitfire jokingly, slamming her locker shut. “Nopony's gonna make friends with you because of your outfit. You wanna make friends, you gotta be cool.”

“What does being cold have to do with anything?” asked Celestia curiously.

“…Wow,” Spitfire muttered disbelievingly. “Okay, never mind that. I’ve got the perfect friends for you: my Wonderbolt pals! They’re super awesome! Loony hangs out with us all the time.”

“Loony?” Celestia repeated thoughtfully. “I’ve got to remember that one. But are you sure they won’t be scared of me?”

“No way!” Spitfire rejected. “The Wonderbolts are the toughest and bravest daredevils in all of Equestria. They’re not a bunch of chickens.”

Despite Spitfire’s confidence, Celestia wasn’t so certain. So far, everypony outside of the castle was terrified of her Daybreaker persona. Not that they didn’t have a good reason to be. She did almost burn the entire country to ash.

Spitfire and Celestia exited the locker room and glided over to the runway where a dozen pegasi in matching uniforms were performing their routine stretches.

“All right, maggots, listen up!” Spitfire shouted as she and Celestia landed, switching to drill Sargant mode. The Wonderbolts instantly lined up with their wings raised in salute. Celestia was impressed by the fiery pegasi’s ability to lead. “We’re going to work hard! We’re going to work fast! And we’re going to give it two hundred percent like every practice! Am I right?!”

“Ma’am, yes, ma’am!” the Wonderbolts shouted in unison.

“I can’t hear you!” Spitfire roared.


“And I expect you all to be on your best behavior today!” yelled Spitfire. “We’re practice with a princess and everypony will be severely punished for tarnishing the Wonderbolts good name!”

The Wonderbolts quickly perked up at the mention of a princess. No doubt they were expecting Luna to be joining them for another training session. But everypony kept staring straight ahead, knowing that Spitfire would reprimand them harshly. Still, Soarin couldn’t hold back his curiosity and peeked around the corner of his eyes. That’s when he locked eyes with Celestia. Aaaand you know what happens next:

“Holy Luna, it’s Daybreaker!” he screamed, pointing his hoof at Celestia. The Wonderbolts gasped in horror. “She’s come to melt our brains again!”

“Oh, that’s right, I did do that, didn’t I?” Celestia commented.

By that point, the Wonderbolts didn’t care about Spitfire’s punishment. They all took off like rockets into the sky, leaving smoke trails in their wake that somehow melted together into the shape of a giant chicken.

Spitfire facehoofed.

Later, at the Canterlot Library –


For some inexplicable reason, the library’s roof exploded and the whole building was set ablaze. Ponies were running out the doors in droves or jumping through windows, unconcerned with the broken glass (Strawberry Sunrise, who was visiting Canterlot that day, cried, “MY WING!”)

Twilight Sparkle and Princess Celestia walked out of the library wreckage moments later, covered from hoof to horn in soot; the former carried a dumbfounded expression while the later was exasperated.

“…I can’t even begin to explain what just happened,” said Twilight numbly.

“Well, that’s another failure to add to the list,” Celestia sighed, using her wing to brush off the soot. “I’m sorry, Twilight Sparkle, but I think I’m just going to head back to the castle. It’s clear to me now that this was a huge mistake.”

“What? No! You can’t go!” Twilight shouted insistently. “This was just…a freak accident! Yeah, a freak accident! There’s still lots of places we haven’t tried like – “

“I appreciate that you and your friends are going out of your way to help me,” Celestia cut her off tonelessly. “But there’s no point anymore. Nopony wants to be around the cruel and malicious Daybreaker.”

“But you’re not Daybreaker – not anymore,” said Twilight sympathetically. “You deserve a second chance.”

“Not everypony is willing to forgive and forget,” said Celestia somberly.

Before Twilight had the chance to refute her claim, Celestia stretched her wings and took off into the air.

The princess of the sun looked down at Canterlot as she flew over the buildings. She could see ponies pointing up at her and running for shelter like they were afraid she might start pelting them with fireballs (which she has done before, but that was then.) Celestia heaved a heavy sigh and changed course toward her sister’s castle, flying past the city limits and into the fields.

“Maybe I should’ve just stayed in the sun,” Celestia muttered to herself, staring down sadly. “I should’ve known better than to think I could ever fit in Equestria. Perhaps I could ask Luna to – “


Celestia perked her head up, startled, before something flew into her and tackled her out of the air. The rainbow-maned alicorn spiraled and hit the ground with a crash! The princess of the sun moaned painfully, having landed in a scorpion position, her wings stretched out and her rainbow tail falling over her face.

“Just when I thought this day couldn’t get any worse,” groaned Celestia, blowing her tail out of her eyes.

Celestia returned her hooves to the ground, shaking the spots from her vision, and looked around for the cause of the collision. To her left, she spotted the broken remains of what was a cartoonishly large kite. To her right, a blue unicorn mare (who also landed in a scorpion position) with a white stripe in her blue mane and an hourglass cutie Mark. Celestia feared the mare might have gotten hurt (another reason for everypony to hate her), when the unicorn shook her head, blinked owlishly, and perkily jumped to her hooves like nothing happened.

The blue unicorn narrowed her eyes furiously, which made Celestia flinch…until she realized the mare was glaring at the ground for some reason.

“You win this round, gravity,” the mare spoke to the grass like it was her archenemy. “But no matter how many times to try to push me down, I’ll just keep getting back up! I will conquer you!”

“Um…,” Celestia hummed, glancing around awkwardly. “Are…you okay?”

“Oh, I’m fine,” the blue unicorn answered bouncily while facing her, smiling. “I’ve been in waaaaaay worse crashes than that. That wasn’t even in my top ten.” She held out her hoof, taking Celestia aback. “Sorry ‘bout running into you, by the way. I’m Minuette.”

“Uh, Celestia,” said Celestia awkwardly, hesitantly shaking hooves. She’s surprised this pony hadn’t taken off yet.

“Celestia…,” Minuette hummed, tapping her muzzle thoughtfully. “That sounds familiar – no, wait, don’t tell me!” She raised her hoof when Celestia opened her mouth. “…You work at Pepperoni’s Pizza on Mane St., right?”

“Er, no,” said Celestia, blinking dumbfoundedly. “I’m the princess of the sun.” Minuette tilted her head cluelessly. “Princess Luna’s older sister?” No reaction. “Daybreaker?” Minuette scratched her head. “I tried to burn Equestria in a fiery blaze two months ago?!”

“Hah! I don’t even remember what I had for breakfast this morning!” Minuette laughed good-naturedly.

“That is…a relief and a concern,” said Celestia.

“My friends say I’m special that way,” Minuette giggled; Celestia had a feeling that had a double meaning. Minuette inspected the wreckage of her kite and whined. “Aw man, there’s no way I can fix this. Darn it!”

“If I might ask,” said Celestia, kind of relieved she can speak freely with this pony. “Were you…literally flying that kite.”

“Yep!” Minuette answered proudly. “I was learning how to fly.”

“How to…fly?” Celestia repeated strangely. “But you’re a unicorn. You can’t fly.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, good madam!” Minuette shouted theatrically. “Because I am in the process of developing a method that will let non-pegasi fly wherever and whenever they want! And one day, I will invent a vehicle that will let loads of ponies fly all over the world! I’ll call it…an airplane.”

“That’ll never catch on,” Celestia dismissed.

“Just you wait and see,” Minuette smirked challengingly, then looked back at her ruined kite. “Buuut maybe I should figure out how to do the flying part first. Kite’s are good, but you’ll be in a pinch if you catch a bad wind. If only I knew what was like to fly like a Pegasus. That would help a lot.”

“…Well,” Celestia said slowly. “If you really want to know what it’s like to fly….”

“WOOO-HOOO!” Minuette squealed, flailing her hooves over her head. “I’m princess of Equestria!”

“Hey, don’t fall off, now!” Celestia warned.

Celestia glided across the Canterlot fields fast and freely while ever mindful of the blue mare riding on her back. In ancient times, such an act would be considered scandalous and result in excessive punishment (usually beheading.) But the princess of the sun didn’t mind. Minuette’s cheerful energy was the kind of pick-me-up Celestia needed after a day of constant disappointment. Celestia performed a barrel roll and a loop-the-loop; Minuette laughed excitedly while clinging to her flank.

“This – is – AWESOME!” Minuette cheered. “Thanks for giving me a lift, Tia!”

“Tia?” Celestia repeated, blinking.

“Your name’s too hard to remember,” Minuette explained nonchalantly. “So I’m calling you Tia.”

“Hmm, Tia…I like it,” said Celestia, smiling.

“Whoa…,” Minuette breathed in awe as they glided along the town border. “I can see my house from here! And Lyra’s house! And Twinkleshine’s house! And Mister Ed’s house! And – “

“Yes, you can see a lot of houses from the sky,” Celestia chuckled.

“Hey, look, there’s my friends!” said Minuette, pointing below. From above, Celestia could make out three unicorns in the western gardens. “Ugh! I completely forgot Twinkleshine and Lemon Hearts are having one of their frou-frou tea parties again.”

“You don’t want to go?” asked Celestia curiously.

“I’m more of a party-party pony myself,” Minuette admitted. “But I go anyway because they’re my friends. Hey!” She suddenly perked up. “You should totally come! You look like you’ve been to fancy parties.”

“More than you can imagine,” muttered Celestia.

“Perfect!” Minuette cheered. “You can meet my friends and save me from dying of boredom!”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea….,” said Celestia.

“Aw, but you’ve gotta come!” Minuette pleaded. “Pleeese. Please? Please-please-please-please-please-please-please-please-please-please – “

“All right, I’ll come! Just stop!” Celestia screamed with a twitchy eye.

“YAY!” Minuette cheered again.

“This is not going to end well,” Celestia grumbled before diving.

Meanwhile, Lemon Hearts hummed merrily as she levitated the tea pot, filling Lyra and Twinkleshine’s cups. Like Minuette, they weren’t fond of boring tea parties either. But Lyra was a good friend and promised to attend, and Twinkleshine – well, she lived with Lemon Hearts, so it was unavoidable. Lemon Hearts set the pot on the table before glancing at the empty seat where a certain pony was supposed to be.

“Minuette still isn’t here,” said Lemon Hearts, frowning. “What is taking that mare so long?”

“Maybe she did the smart thing and bailed,” Twinkleshine commented.

“Unlike somepony, Minuette keeps her promises,” said Lemon Hearts, huffing. “By the way, I’m still waiting for this month’s rent.”

“I’ll get it to you when I get it to you,” Twinkleshine grumbled, leaning against her hoof.

“I saw her carrying a giant kite earlier today,” Lyra commented. “She said she was going to fly with it.”

“She’s still trying to make that airplane thing work?” questioned Twinkleshine. “That’s crazy. Everypony knows only pegasi can fly.”

“Whatever she’s doing, I hope she wraps it up before the tea gets cold,” said Lemon Hearts, taking a delicate sip like a posh pony. “Knowing her, I wouldn’t be surprised if she somehow managed to fly here – “

The yellow mare cut herself off when a large shadow glided across the table and over their heads. The unicorn trio looked up curiously, and their jaws dropped in silent gasps when they saw Celestia circling the gardens. The princess of the sun touched down gently on the grass a few feet away. One look at their terrified faces made Celestia instantly regret coming here. Maybe she should –

“Hey, girls!” Minuette popped out from behind Celestia, greeting them cheerfully. She hopped down off the princess’s back and waved a hoof. “Check it out; I made a new friend! Her name is Tia!”

“That’s…short for Celestia,” said Celestia awkwardly.

“Yeah, whatever,” said Minuette flippantly, then gestured to the unicorn trio. “Tia, these are my bestest friends in the whole wide world. That’s Lyra – she’s a musician. And those are the twins, Lemon Hearts and Twinkleshine.”

“Um…hello,” Celestia waved uncertainly. The unicorns just stared unblinkingly at her. The princess leaned in close to Minuette and asked, “Um…are you sure this is a good idea…?”

“Aw, they probably just ate some of Lemon Hearts Super Sour Lemon Bars,” Minuette waved her concern away. “I remember this one time Lyra dared me to eat a whole plate – “

All of a sudden, Twinkleshine galloped over, grabbed Minuette by the elbow, saying, “Minuette? A word, please?” and dragged her over. Minuette, Lyra, Lemon Hearts, and Twinkleshine huddled their heads together and spoke in low voices, but Celestia’s height and magically enhanced senses made it easy to make out what they were saying.

“Minuette, what did you do?” Lyra hissed.

“Whaddya mean?” Minuette asked cluelessly.

“Don’t you know who that is?” asked Lemon Hearts.

“Duh! She works at Pepperoni’s Pizza on Mane St.,” said Minuette like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Wha – no!” Lemon exclaimed disbelievingly.

“Then why do I want pizza so badly?” said Minuette.

“Because you’re weird!” Lemon Hearts snapped.

“Minuette, that’s Daybreaker,” Twinkleshine explained calmly. “Don’t you remember? We went to the Summer Solstice Festival together and she tried to cook us alive. We would’ve been fried ponies if it wasn’t for Princess Luna and the Mane 6.”

“She’s a seriously bad pony,” said Lyra. “You shouldn’t be hanging out with her.”

“She’s not bad,” Minuette argued, frowning. “She’s really nice. She let me fly with her after my kite broke.”

“She tried to destroy Equestria!” Lemon Hearts retorted. “You can’t trust her!”

“You don’t even know her!” Minuette snapped, pointing an accusing hoof. “Sure, she might’ve done some bad things in the past, but she’s a different pony now. She’s kind, and sweet, and smells like strawberries.”

“I do like strawberries,” said Lyra, nodding.

“Minuette, you can’t be – “

“Excuse me, everypony,” The unicorn quartet spun around as Celestia cautiously approached them, rubbing her hoof anxiously. “If there’s a problem, I can just leave – “

“What? No, you can’t!” Minuette rejected, running over to the princess. “You just got here!”

“It’s okay, I – “

“No, it’s not okay!” Minuette yelled, taking the princess by surprise. She spun around to her friends, staring them down with a harsh look. “Now listen here, everypony! Tia’s a really nice pony, but you aren’t even giving her a chance!”

“But…Dyabreaker…,” Twinkleshine said weakly, but Minuette cuts her off.

“She’s not Daybreaker – she’s Tia! But if you want her to leave…then I’m leaving, too!”

“No, you shouldn’t have to leave because of me,” said Celestia worriedly, shaking her head.

“I want to because we’re friends, Tia,” said Minuette proudly. Celestia was stunned. Friends? Did she just call them friends? “And if you ponies give her even half a chance, I know you could be friends, too.”

Lyra, Lemon Hearts, and Twinkleshine shared a moment of uncomfortable silence, looking between one another in an unspoken conversation. Minuette looked unusually serious; she definitely wasn’t bluffing. But still, the idea of spending time with Daybreaker was not very appealing, especially with the Summer Solstice Festival still fresh in their minds…. But, looking her now, Princess Celestia did seem a little…softer than Daybreaker…. Maybe Minuette had a point….

Lyra bravely stepped forward and walked over to Minuette and Celestia. The princess of the sun kept her eyes locked with Lyra’s as the minty mare came up to her hooves and sat on her flank.

“So…you’re a princess, right?” Lyra asked slowly. “That means you know all the secrets of the universe, right?”

“Well, I don’t know all the secrets,” Celestia admitted. “But I know my fair share.”

“Then can you tell me what you know about…,” Lyra paused briefly, casting conspiratorial glances around. “Hands.”

Minuette, Lemon Hearts, and Twinkleshine threw their heads back with exasperated groans.

“Oh, come on!”

“Are you serious?”

“Stop trying to make hands a real thing, Lyra!”

“They are real, I tell you!” Lyra shouted defensively. “I may not have proof, but I know they’re real!”

“Actually, they are real,” said Celestia. Lyra gasped with overdramatic glee, her toothy smile stretching from ear-to-ear and her eyes twinkling with stars. “Just not in this reality. The truth is, hands are attached to these fleshy two-legged creatures in an alternate dimension where they are tortured daily in a hellish nightmare prison called…high school.”

“…I knew it…” Lyra breathed, awestruck.

Minuette nudged Celestia and the pair giggled together. Suddenly, a loud gurgling sounded across the gardens before Celestia realized it was coming from her stomach. The princess covered her belly, smiling sheepishly as her face reddened with embarrassment. Lemon Hearts and Twinkleshine laughed behind their hooves, visibly relaxing for the first time since they got there.

“Er, sorry about that,” Celestia apologized. “I didn’t get to eat anything at Cinnamon Chai’s shop before it…closed.”

“Well, we can’t leave a princess starving, can we?” said Lemon Hearts. She used her horn to levitate a plate of yellow squares over to Celestia. “Here. Try some of my Super Sour Lemon Bars – trademarked.”

Celestia inspected the yellow treats with a thoughtful hum, then levitated one of the bars to her mouth. When she took a small bite of the corner, the princess immediately seized up, her entire body trembling, and her mouth curled inward. When Lemon Hearts called them “Super Sour”, she wasn’t kidding. Celestia had only taken a nibble and the excessively strong and acidic taste made it feel like her face was being sucked in through her mouth.

“Well, what do you think?” Lemon Hearts asked earnestly.

“It makes my mouth hurt,” Celestia moaned…then swallowed the rest of the lemon bar…then grabbed another…and another. “But I can’t stop eating them for some reason.”

“It’s the good kind of sour,” Lemon Hearts giggled as she watched the princess devour half the plate. “You know how some ponies like spicy foods even though it makes them sweat? That’s the same concept.” She looked to the side, glaring. “But Chase Polamino doesn’t think my lemon bars are ‘good enough for the royal pallet.’ Pompous jerk, just because he went to culinary school…”

“You know Luna’s chef?” asked Celestia curiously.

“I work in the kitchens at the palace,” said Lemon Hearts, kicking thr ground resentfully. “Though Chase Palomino has me washing dishes instead of actually cooking. I'm just as good as him, you know?”

“Well, I hope chef Palomino doesn’t mind me making you the royal baker,” said Celestia, gulping another bar whole.

“You mean it?!” Lemon Hearts gasped hopefully.

“As long as you keep making more of these delicious lemon bars,” said Celestia; Lemon Hearts squealed with glee.

“As long as we’re doing everypony favors…,” said Twinkleshine, sliding up to Celestia smoothly and offering up a small card. “Twinkleshine: Mare of Musical Talent. Nice to meet you. I just so happen to be in between jobs right now – “

“Because you can’t hold one down for more than a week,” said Lemon Hearts disapprovingly.

“And I’m looking into sponsorship for my real talent: singing!” said Twinkleshine, pointedly ignoring her twin. “Let me tell you, I have the voice of an angel. Ask anypony.”

“She’s not lying,” Lyra remarked.

“And with your support – and money – I could be the next Sapphire Shores or Countess Coloratura,” said Twinkleshine with an award-winning smile. “Whaddya say? Feel like investing in the future?”

“Please ignore my annoying filly of a sister,” said Lemon Hearts before Celestia had a chance to respond. “She makes a living mooching off others. She’s been sleeping on my couch for almost a year now.”

“It’s only until my singing career takes off!” Twinkleshine snapped.

“And when will that happen?” said Lemon Hearts, rolling her eyes.

Twinkleshine marched furiously over to her twin and the sisters devolved into a heated shouting match. Lyra took the free opportunity to ask Celestia hundreds of questions about hands (“What’re the purpose of pinkies? And why do you need to stick them out?") And Minuette had somehow found another cartoonishly large kite and jumped off the nearby tower, swooping across the air like a bird until she smacked face first into a tree.

Celestia looked around at the strange group of mares and found herself giggling merrily. She hadn’t expected them to warm up to her so quickly, but she was happy that they had given her the opportunity. She knew that not everypony would forget about her time as Daybreaker, and it would be even longer before they learned to forgive her. But that didn’t bother her as much as it had before. These four eccentric unicorns thought of her as a friend, and that was good enough for now.

Celestia quickly stole the last of the Super Sour Lemon Bars off the plate and watched Minuette stumble dizzily into the table, sending tea flying everywhere. It splashed Twinkleshine and Lemon Hearts, who vocalized their complaints to the blue mare while Minuette giggled goofily. And as she watched the twins chase Minuette furiously, and somehow dragging Lyra into it, Celestia looked her head to the sky, feeling content.

At the same time, Princess Luna sat upon her throne, surrounded by her close friends and the Mane 6. Normally, it would be considered unorthodox and reprehensible for common ponies to be anywhere near the throne, but Luna forgave them for it. They were all looking through a viewing portal that the princess had conjured up, watching Celestia and the chaos that unfolded with her new friends, occasionally laughing.

“Good for you, sister,” Luna murmured, smiling.

Author's Note:

I want to start by giving a HUGE shout out to Those Kids In The Corner for the awesome cover art. It's still unfinished, but I love it.

And now Princess Celestia has her own group of personal friends like Luna, even though they were technically Twilight and Moon Dancer's friends first. I always thought it strange that Celestia wanted Twilight to learn about friendship when she never seemed to have friends of her own in canon.

Next chapter: Lots of families have sibling rivalries. Sunset and Spitfire have a sibling war.