• Published 17th Nov 2020
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Six Little Words - SpectralFury



Six little words slowly destroy Twilight’s faith in her mentor, and lead her to a different destiny.

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Concern

“Losing a friend’s trust is the fastest way to lose a friend, forever.” -Pinkamena Diane Pie

Twilight Sparkle was a happy mare. She had saved the day. She had five new friends. Nightmare Moon had been redeemed, and Princess Luna had returned. She had new studies in friendship in the humble town of Ponyville. All was well.

So what was the strange feeling in her chest?

She had kept a smile on her face through the entire party that Pinkie Pie had thrown. Named the “Welcome Back to Arcadia Princess Luna” party, it was essentially an extremely upsized version of the “Welcome to Ponyville” party that had been thrown for Twilight less than a day ago.

Cake, drinks, games, and happy ponies were plentiful. Twilight spoke to Princess Celestia several times during the festivities, as most everyone else lacked the courage to do so. She had tried to make conversation with Princess Luna, but the blue alicorn seemed to be still recovering from her time as Nightmare Moon, and Twilight could see the guilt in her eyes.

All the while, a dull pain in Twilight’s chest refused to be ignored. An emotional pain, one that she didn’t quite understand. It was so very similar to the time that one of her classmates used her to boost their own grades, and left her with nothing once they had accomplished their goal. Betrayal. But, who betrayed her?

The party lasted for a good three hours before it began to wind down at Celestia’s soft urging. Twilight and her friends were tired from what would be known as The Longest Night, and it was likely that Luna wanted to sleep and recover as well.

Twilight had been thinking about the issue the whole time, and had come to a conclusion. Princess Celestia had lied to her. Not directly, perhaps, and not maliciously, but she had done so. She hadn’t ignored Twilight’s concerns for Nightmare Moon’s return, but she didn’t address them, either. She instead led Twilight to Ponyville with a suggestion to make some friends.

Exactly what she needed to do to ultimately defeat Nightmare Moon.

Celestia had manipulated her. It was for the good of Equestria, but it was manipulation all the same.

And so as everyone was packing up to leave, Twilight and her friends were there to see Celestia and Luna off. Mentor and student shared a gentle hug, and Twilight’s conflict must have been showing, because Celestia’s mouth twitched into a slight frown.

“Is there something wrong, my student?” she asked.

Twilight bit her lip. She wanted to trust Princess Celestia as she always had. She wanted to let this go, and go back to how things were. In another world, she had done so.

But not here.

“Princess Celestia, can I talk to you for a moment?” She saw Celestia frown at what was likely an awkward and uncertain expression on Twilight’s face. Celestia glanced over to her sister, who nodded silently before stepping in the carriage to wait.

“Of course, Twilight.” Twilight led Celestia off a short distance to a bridge, where no one was around to listen. “What’s on your mind?”

How did one ask this kind of question to a princess? She didn’t want to insult Celestia by implying malicious intent, but being too indirect would serve neither of them. Celestia waited patiently as Twilight came up with a solution, more than used to this sort of behavior. Twilight was always nervous when it came to failure or disappointment, but anxiety and a hint of fear? That was new, and Celestia didn’t seem to pick up on it.

Finally, Twilight had it.

“Princess, why didn’t you help me with Nightmare Moon?” There. Not an accusation, but an innocent question. One that should evoke answers. They were in relative privacy, so there should be no need to be concise.

Celestia answered immediately. “Because it wasn't necessary. I knew you could do it.”

I knew you could do it.

And that was that. Nothing more aside from more gentle praises and associated words that Twilight didn’t quite listen to. Celestia was very aware that Twilight liked as many details as possible, and Twilight knew this. She knew that Celestia was smart enough to pick up on the subtext. Of the unasked question, ‘Why did you imply that Nightmare Moon wasn’t real?’ She dodged the question back in Canterlot, and she dodged the question in the Castle of the Two Sisters.

She dodged the question here.

Twilight didn’t quite know what to say or do in this situation, so she did what she always did. She smiled, thanked the Princess, and vowed to think about what happened in her solitude. Ultimately, she decided that it was an isolated incident, and it was for the greater good.

Still, the damage had been done.

===

Less than a month later, she found herself brooding once again.

The day after Celestia left, Twilight ultimately decided to begin maintaining a policy of optimistic cynicism. After all, Princess Celestia had an excuse for what she did, so it wasn't as if she was out to get her. No, Twilight simply saw this as an opportunity to learn about the concept of deceit.

There were many kinds of lies, after all. White lies that parents tell their children, black lies where ponies selfishly try to turn a situation to their advantage, and the spectrum between. Twilight believed that Celestia told a white lie. She believed that if Celestia had outright told her to make friends, those friendships would have been forced, and thus not fit for the Elements of Harmony.

So it was alright. It still hurt, but it was for the good of Equestria.

She lied on her bed, brooding once again. Today was different. Today, Princess Celestia sent her two tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala. It was one of, if not the most prestigious social gathering of the year. Only two tickets would have been perfectly fine if Twilight was still a shut-in, only having her dragon companion Spike to invite along.

Complications ensued when she realized that her five friends wanted to go as well. Five friends that spent most of the day trying to convince her to share her plus-one ticket with them. Each of them had a completely valid reason to want to go to the gala, and each time she made an excuse to think about it, she felt awful for it.

Finally deciding that if all her friends couldn’t go, she wouldn’t either, she had Spike sent a polite declination and returned the tickets.

Spike belched a response less than a minute later, along with enough tickets for all of them. At first she was overjoyed that everyone would be able to go to the gala. They all danced happy little dances, and talked about their plans.

Then Twilight ended up in bed, and her mind refused to be silent, whispering traitorous thoughts to her. Why did Celestia respond so quickly? How did she get the tickets that quickly? Celestia handed them out of course, but the gala was supposed to be the pinnacle of exclusivity. There were a limited number of them available, and Twilight doubted that Celestia would transfer five tickets from other ponies to her friends, just like that.

Did she plan all of this? Did she knowingly send me two tickets with the plan of having me learn a friendship lesson?

Twilight didn’t sleep that night. She was a mare of analysis, and simply letting a question like that fade was not in her nature. On the surface, this seemed like another white lie, but this one stung more. The fate of Equestria wasn't in the balance, just a single night at a fancy party. There really wasn't much of an excuse, here.

She decided to be more vigilant. If this was some new kind of study based on deception, she didn't like it. Otherwise, it meant that Celestia was deliberately obfuscating facts for some reason. Still, she kept hope that this was all a misunderstanding. Once was happenstance. Twice was coincidence. Time would tell if there would be a third time.

===

Twilight was sitting on her balcony this time, watching the dragon’s smoke dissipate. Her body was still vibrating from the incident, her heart still quietly asking if another life threatening event was around the corner.

Celestia had sent Twilight and her friends to convince a dragon to leave. It wasn't a baby dragon like Spike, or even an adult dragon. It was an elder dragon, one as large as the city hall. Large enough to eat a pony in one bite or squash one like a bug.

Celestia sent a scholar, a seamstress, a farmer, a baker, a weatherpony, and an animal caretaker. Celestia sent six civilians to deal with an elder dragon with no backup. No guards. No spells. No protection.

They got lucky. Lucky that Fluttershy had a spine of steel hidden beneath her soft exterior. Lucky that the dragon was easily cowed by the stern voice of an otherwise weak and helpless pony. Twilight would be ever grateful to the pegasus for saving their lives, but she couldn't throw off the shaking that plagued her all the way home.

The dragon had been enraged by Rainbow’s reckless attack, and they would have died if they were blasted by fire instead of smoke. All of them. The Bearers of the Elements of Harmony, burned to ash because Celestia didn't tell them what exactly they were dealing with, nor did she send them any backup.

Twilight had included a detailed description of what happened in her report, as she always did. Including just how close they had come to perishing. What did Celestia send back?

I knew you could do it.

There was more than just that, of course, but they were still there. The same words said after they defeated Nightmare Moon. The same words she had repeated over the years, now that Twilight thought about it. Every time Twilight was faced with the tougher of her tests, ones that should be near impossible, those same six words were uttered. Was it genuine praise, or something else?

But this was the third strike, the third event involving Celestia in which they had missing or dubious information. The ticket incident wouldn't have been physically dangerous, but friendships had been destroyed in the past for lesser disagreements, and the Elements of Harmony relied on their friendship continuing.

Nightmare Moon? The dragon? Celestia had gambled with Twilight's life twice now, and that was only after she left Canterlot. Who knew how many dangerous spells or lessons she had assigned Twilight to investigate without telling her all the information?

How long has this been going on, and why?

Twilight found herself sleepless again. She felt empty.

===

Twilight watched Princess Celestia leave Ponyville. Her trip was cut short by some kind of insect emergency in Fillydelphia. This was good, because it meant that she wouldn’t see the damage the parasprites had done to the town. Damage that was Twilight’s fault due to her ill planned spell.

Everything was right with the world.

Except not. Fillydelphia was to the east of Canterlot, while Ponyville was to the south. Celestia had gone out of her way to go there, despite the fact that there was an emergency occurring in one of Equestria’s primary trade ports. She could have just sent a message via dragonfire, but didn’t.

Did she do this deliberately, or was she notified just before landing? It just didn't make sense!

Twilight had a headache the rest of the day as she tried to figure out Celestia's reasoning.

===

Twilight groaned, biting her pillow.

I’m getting too paranoid.

Celestia had been there for a completely innocent reason. She just wanted to watch the running of the leaves. Twilight shouldn’t have snapped at her for her presence. After doing so, she immediately ran home and locked herself in her room, terrified of what would happen after.

She spent an hour calming herself before deciding to investigate her recent irritability. She retrieved her copies of her friendship reports and examined them. Her first report regarding the gala tickets was very warm, as she expected. However as the weeks went by, she had been getting slightly more cold with her letters. It was hard to see, but it was there.

What’s happening? Have I really lost faith in her?

This would only end in tears if she continued on as is. She needed a second opinion, but who? Spike was raised by Celestia for years, and saw her as practically a mother figure. The rest of her friends worshipped the Princess like nearly everybody else. Twilight needed someone impartial, or at least someone with the wisdom to detach themselves and view her problem objectively.

There was only one pony available for the task.

Author's Note:

Twilight Sparkle is an unstable, obsessive, over-scrutinizing pony in the earlier seasons. This is what happens when she decides to focus her attention on something rather important that was glossed over because FiM is a girly cartoon.

Celestia was her mentor, the center of her life. Being lied to for any reason can hurt.

This chapter went through several edits, mostly so I could set up Twilight's growing paranoia. Does focusing on what I did make for a strong argument? Maybe, maybe not. I'm working with what I got.

Still, applying reality to a cartoon means that Celestia sent her student into mortal danger twice the first season, where before she had a cushy life in the palace.

Those kinds of life events are not simply brushed off. They are perspective breaking, and invoke large amounts of brooding and self-reflection.