• Published 18th Dec 2020
  • 4,484 Views, 102 Comments

Roses are Yellow - Inky Scrolls

"What d'you mean, 'roses are red'?" A passing remark from Twilight leads Spike and Starlight to realise there’s more to her than 'meets the eye'.

  • ...

A rose by any other colour

It was the first curious rays of sunlight nosing gently through the chink in the curtain that awoke Twilight Sparkle. As the warmth of the summer sun bathed her muzzle, she smiled to herself, snuggling further under the covers for a final few precious moments in bed. She could hear ponies trotting past in the street below, busily intent on their own mornings, and the soft chirping of assorted birds greeted her from the trees outside the window.

Twilight was about to clamber out of bed and prepare to go down for breakfast, when she was visited by another conglomery of sound - the muffled clinking of cutlery, the padding of slipper-clad claws on the stairs, and the cautious, barely-audible calling of a dragon - a dragon whom she knew well and loved dearly, and who was evidently trying his best to ascertain whether the Princess was awake or not before daring to raise his voice.

'It's alright, Spike', she reassured the approaching footsteps, 'I'm already awake - it's too lovely a day to be sleeping in!'

As she spoke, the door was swung open, and Spike himself appeared in the doorway, wielding a large silver platter, on which stood various breakfasty foodstuffs, a knife and fork and - more unusually - a single, yellow rose. 'Good morning, Twilight! It's Sunday, so I've brought you breakfast in bed.'

Twilight sighed happily to herself - Sunday! The best day of the week, the one day she allowed herself off from her studies and her work as the Princess of Magic (and having even one day off had taken years of pestering from her friends. . !). She wouldn't have asked for breakfast in bed, but when she had started taking Sundays off, Spike had insisted - he had decided that, as she worked so hard the other six days, she was to have as little she needed to do as possible on Sunday, and that included cooking.

'This is very kind of you, Spike.' No matter how willing an assistant he was, the little (not so little now!) dragon was far more than that to Twilight - he was her adopted brother and closest friend, and she made sure he always knew how appreciative she was of everything he did for her.

'That's quite alright, Twilight - it's my pleasure!' So saying, Spike carried the tray over to the imposing fourposter, where Twilight had now propped herself up against the headboard, and placed it gently down on her bedside table. 'I've made you some fried hay, boiled carrots and tomatoes, a pot of Earl Hay tea and a homemade Maremite sandwich.'

As Twilight blinked warmly at him in gratitude, Spike motioned at the rose. 'This was lying on the front step - someone knocked on the door at about six this morning and left it there with a note that it was for you.'

'How odd!' Twilight took the tray in the grasp of her magic, and plumped it down securely on her lap, before inspecting the rose more closely. 'A fairly ordinary rose, I think - but such a lovely shade of yellow!'

Spike raised one eyebrow, as only a dragon honed in the art of dealing with a rather unusual Princess can, and said but one word: 'Yellow?'

'Yes - it's so cheerful! I don't know who gave it to me but it certainly suits the day nicely. I shall find a vase later and keep this rose on my bedside table.'

Spike coughed gently, in a is she being serious or just being 'Twilighty' sort of way. 'Twilight?'

The Princess swallowed the rather large mouthful of Maremite sandwich she had taken. 'Hmm! Yes, Spike?'

Spike hesitated, not quite sure how to put it. 'You. . . You do know that this is a red rose, don't you, Twilight?'

Twilight nodded enthusiastically. 'Yes! Well, y'know, red, yellow, they're all the same really.'

The young dragon bit his lip thoughtfully. 'I'll be right back', he said, before leaving Twilight to enjoy her breakfast. He ran quickly down the stairs to Starlight's room, then took her back up to Twilight's, explaining the appearance of the mysterious, colour-changing rose en route. After a few minutes they arrived back at Twilight's bedroom - the Castle could take a surprisingly long time to navigate, even to those who knew it well and despite it seeming, on the outside at least, to have a footprint no larger than the old Golden Oaks Library - and the two of them entered just as Twilight was polishing off the last of the carrots.

'Hmm! Gd mrnng Strlght!' Twilight mumbled through her mouthful of carrot and Earl Hay.

'Morning, Twi!' Starlight returned. 'That's a lovely rose you've got there - mind if I take a peek?'

Twilight shook her head, and levitated the rose over to Starlight, who parked herself comfortably on the edge of the bed, with Spike standing at her side.

Starlight examined the rose thoroughly from all sides, then asked, 'Er - what colour did you say you think the rose is, Twi?'

As her mouth was currently empty Twilight replied without hesitation. 'Yellow', she announced immediately.

'O-kay. . . You don't think it could be red, perhaps?'

'From a certain angle, maybe? They're pretty similar colours', the Princess replied.

Starlight and Spike exchanged quizzical glances. Spike enquired: 'So. . . What colour is a poppy?'

Twilight thought for a moment. 'I would call them yellow. But I know some ponies say they're red.'

'And what about Rainbow Dash - what colours is she?'

Twilight frowned. 'Why are you asking me these questions?'

'Oh, don't worry - just conducting a brief experiment', soothed Starlight, knowing that if one thing could allay any fears the Princess might have, it would be the supposed pursuit of science.

'Well, in that case - I would say that Rainbow is blue, red, yellow and grey.'

'No green or purple?'

Twilight pondered for a moment. 'I suppose, maybe? They're pretty subjective colours though.'

Starlight and Spike exchanged glances again, then said, as one: 'We'll be right back.'

So saying, the pair left Twilight - who was now feeling rather confused and more than a little concerned - and walked out into the hallway, moving far enough away that they could converse in undertones without the Princess overhearing.

'Are you thinking what I'm thinking?' Starlight asked.

'I think I so', answered Spike. 'Should we tell her? Or let her work it out for herself?'

The former dictator considered this. 'Hmm - perhaps we should tell her. You know she couldn't bear not knowing what it was if she thought we were keeping something from her.'

'True - she might get all 'Twilighty'. Well. . . After you then, Starlight!'

Rolling her eyes in amusement and acceptance, Starlight trotted back along the corridor to Twilight's room, Spike following closely in her wake. They re-entered to find the Princess peering very closely at a tomato she was levitating approximately one hoof-length from her eyes; as they walked up to her she asked suddenly: 'What colour is this tomato?'

Starlight swallowed nervously. 'What colour do you think it is, Twi?'

'I don't know. . . Yellow? Or red, maybe?'

Starlight and Spike perched themselves on the bed, opposite Twilight, and the unicorn gently removed the tomato from Twilight's magical grasp, placing it back on the platter. She sighed, not wishing to upset her closest friend but not wanting to leave her in the dark, either. Trying one last time, she asked, 'Twilight - when you look outside, what do you see? What colours do you see?'

Realising something was definitely amiss now, Twilight gulped nervously, but went to the open window. 'I see blue skies and white clouds. I can see dark blue trees and the pale green roof of Rarity's boutique. I can see lots of yellow banners fluttering in the breeze. . . Please tell me.' She turned to face the others again and sat down next to them on the bed, a worried frown crossing her usually pretty features. 'Please tell me what's wrong.'

'Twilight.' Starlight spoke softly. 'I've noticed before that you don't always. . . use the same words that I would, to describe the colours of things. But based on what you've said this morning. . .'

She paused, and glanced at Spike for assistance. The dragon took over, laying a gentle clawed-hand on her shoulder. 'We think you might be colourblind, Twilight.'

Twilight tilted her head in surprise. 'Colourblind? But I just described all those colours outside to you - what d'you mean?'

Starlight cleared her throat. 'Hm! Well, the thing is, Twi - trees are green, not blue. Rarity's boutique has a pink roof, not a green one. And most of the banners in Ponyville are pink or red, not yellow.'

'But those colours are all the same! Ponies call things different colours all the time - for example', she expounded, her Science Head on now, 'you called this tomato red, when to me it's clearly yellow. But yellow and red mean the same thing, or nearly, at least, so it's subjective whether you call something yellow or red.'

'The thing is, Twi', Starlight interrupted before the Princess could continue on her spiel, 'For most ponies the colours red and yellow are very different. To me they don't look similar at all. And green usually stands out a lot, but you didn't even mention that Rainbow has got green in her mane. I know', she added, turning to their companion, 'What about Spike - what colour are his spines?'

'They're pink', Twilight stated immediately.

Spike started in surprise. 'No they're not! They're green.'

'Y'see', continued Starlight, 'You don't seem to be seeing all the colours as we see them, Twilight. Spike and I think you might be colourblind because you're seeing some colours as being the same which we see as completely different.'

Twilight was silent for a while, trying to take this new information in. 'You mean', she whispered eventually, 'there are more colours?'

Her friends nodded in unison, and waited anxiously for Twilight's reaction. She was looking down at her lap, blinking rapidly, and obviously deep in thought. After several minutes, during which time Starlight and Spike exchanged glances repeatedly, and just as the latter was taking a breath preparatory to speaking, Twilight burst out: 'But that's amazing!'

Her friends' jaws dropped in surprise; she seemed not upset, or confused, or angry, as they had been expecting - but instead appeared almost ecstatic. . ! 'Are you sure you're okay, Twi?', Starlight asked.

The Princess nodded enthusiastically. 'Oh yes, I'm more than okay! This finally answers so many questions!'

So saying, she began rooting vigorously through the bottom draw of her bedside table, eventually withdrawing a tattered, ancient notebook. 'See!' she cried, 'here are all the notes I've made over the years whenever someone has said something is a colour it isn't! Now I know whence this perturbation arose!'

She fell silent again, poring over the notepad with almost feverish excitement. After a few minutes Spike piped up. 'So. . . You're not mad? You're actually okay with this?'

'Okay? I'm more than okay!' Twilight cried in glee; 'Do you realise what this means?'

Her friends shook their heads slowly. 'Er. . . No?'

'It means', she continued immediately, 'That I finally have something new to research!'

Twilight began muttering to herself rapidly, staring off into the middle distance one moment and squealing with enthusiasm for her new research project the next, before suddenly leaping out of bed and rushing down to the castle's library without another word.

Starlight and Spike blinked in surprise as the whirlwind fled down the stairs. 'Well', Spike murmured after a moment, 'that was not the result I expected.'

'Not at all!' agreed Starlight. 'But at least she doesn't seem to mind.'

The pair of them clambered off the bed and were about to follow their madcap friend downstairs, when Starlight stopped, suddenly thoughtful, and looked back towards the bed. Spike enquired, 'What is it, Starlight?'

'Well', she began, 'I think we've forgotten one very important point.'

'What's that?' Spike asked.

'It's Hearts and Hooves Day today.'

'Yeah, I know, I'm going on a da- Well, I mean, I'm going out later', Spike blushed, hoping Starlight hadn't noticed his fumble. But she seemed strangely distant.

'That being the case. . .', the murmured thoughtfully, walking back over to the discarded breakfast tray. 'Who sent Twilight the rose?'

Author's Note:

In this story Twilight has a form of colour vision deficiency known as deuteranopia, which is one of two main types of red-green colourblindness. If you have normal colour vision and are interested in experiencing how colourblind people (or ponies) see the world, I highly recommend the Chrome extension Colorblinding, which allows you to view webpages in every type of colour vision deficiency.

Comments ( 102 )

Funnily enough, someone brought up the subject of colourblind ponies on r/mylittlepony yesterday.

Anyway, there were a few typos and punctuation errors, but this was a relaxing read overall. The description of Twilight waking up was particularly pleasant.

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it - and thanks for the heads-up re typographical errors, I'll go through it again!


Oh dear, some poor soul just got ghosted in the name of science.

To be honest, I'm a bit perplexed by the implication that nopony had ever noticed Twilight's colorblindness before, but other than that minor nitpick, this was a fun read.

All in all, kudos!


There is another fic on the site where people theorize dragons are color blind or really bad at colours in general, and that is why Ember has such a hard time telling ponies apart.

Interesting, I guess Twilight in this story can use a TV with a weak or dead green gun and not see much of a difference.

It's a bit odd to use apostrophes instead of quotation marks?

Cute story overall.

I'm British and in the UK we tend to use single quotation marks instead of double, except where you've got quoted speech within speech, for example: 'I was walking to the shops with Spike, and he said to me: "I really like cheese!", which I thought was odd.' That sort of thing.

The story description has the quotation marks on the outside though.

True; I'm not sure why I was inconsistent but in the UK both are considered correct, though single quotation marks are more common.

I'm from the UK, and that's not true at all? Single quotation marks can be used for quoting someone, but speech is always marked by double quotation marks.

Little bit of a stretch for someone like Twilight to not know something like this already. But even with that, this was a really cute fic, with lovely characterisation of the three. Very nice work

Colorblind female. Really lost the genetic lottery on that one. That also means Twilight's dad is colorblind too. Shining, at best, has a 50% chance of seeing color. (Assuming pony colorblindness is the same as a human's)

I mean, Lord of the Rings uses single marks throughout the entire book, and uses double marks when quote somebody within dialogue.

The former dictator considered this.

The former dictator considered this


I am a deuteranopia colorbind individual, and roses most certainly do not look anything like yellow to me.

that Rainbow has got green in her main.


Not sure where you've got that from? Have a look at Scribendi.com, which states that: "In British and Australian English, one typically uses single quotation marks."

Well, the "reveal" was funny enough. But the actual ending was not as fulfilling as I was hoping. In that it's not really an ending. Still, fine story.

Cute, definitely fun. Twilight's reaction is adorable and very much a her thing to do.

I agree that it is a bit strange she never considered the possibility, and neither her parents nor Celestia ever caught on, but Twi is her own special brand of neurotic, so best not to rock the apple cart sometimes, I suppose. Also curious how in-depth their understanding of eye components are. Do they know about the rods and cones thing? Is it all just a weird mystery because ponies aren't insane enough to dissect corpses for medical knowledge? Who knows!

Would love to see a chapter where she gets those glasses that help colorblind people see a more diverse range. Bet it would be very sweet.

Even if a colorblind person (or pony) saw what most would call 'yellow' when looking at something 'red', whatever it is that they see... they see. And it doesn't matter what it is. Roses, apples, and stop signs might all look 'yellow' to her. But if you point at is and say that it's 'red', then that shade of yellow that they see is just what they think red is, and she would never know any different.
So for her to suddenly have some objective concept of 'red' and then ask "What do you mean, 'roses are red'?" is a bit of a logical stretch.

More green-ish, yes?

Her excitement over there being 'more colors' makes me happy. Incidentally there are glasses that can help people with deuteranopia see the colors their brain confuses a bit, but only if there's not a complete absence of the relevant photoreceptors. I'm told it's a really shocking experience to put them on for the first time.


No, it just looks red to me. No-where close to yellow. THIS looks absolutely nothing like THIS. I have trouble distinguishing reds, greens, browns from each other. Blues, purples, violets all look similar. Yellow is a very distinct color to me, and not one I particularly like either.

Edit: Though for those interested, here's a colorblind test.
Enchroma Colorblind test

Funny and cute story. As someone who has trouble making out yellow because of a head injury from a car wreck years ago, I know the feeling.

Not going to lie, I would love to see more one shots of this, or a short story


I have trouble distinguishing reds, greens, browns from each other.

That was what I figured.

Like I said, you point at something and say a word, you think that's what it is.
Words are just things.
I point at a rose and say "red", and what you and I "see" might not be the same, but the concept is the same. Red is red.
And roses are red. They just are.

Colorblindness is a bit of a philosophical head-trip. Because without being able to literally look through another person's eyes, how can any of us really know that what we see is what everyone else sees? How can we really know what someone else's perception of reality is? After all, what is reality?

I'm not colorblind in the traditional sense, but I am highly photophobic (light sensitive, not a fear of lights...>.<) and the best solution so far has been an amber3 lens. Which I only was able to obtain a year ago.

So for the first time in over 30 years, I was able to walk around and do things without a terrible migraine.

But the real kicker, the thing that was absolutely amazing to me (and everyone around me for the first month or so) was what those lenses did to my vision. Color shifts are bizarre and strange and striking and a bunch of other adjectives that I just don't have the time to use at the moment. Specifically, I've noticed that greens and blues are subtly different than normal (traffic lights suddenly became fascinating since the newer ones look blue while the older ones are green). Pinks and oranges are bizarre, often turning dull pinks into traffic-cone neon orange and orange into washed out yellow/orange. Yellows run the gamut from invisible to 'did I see something or what it a trick of the light?' Reds were simply an overload... almost glowing for the first week or two until I got a bit more used to it.

And... then I'd have someone ask why I had combined the pink boxes with the orange boxes... and everything would come to a screeching halt in my brain for a few seconds as I'd glance over and simply ~not~ see what had been glaringly obvious without my lenses.

It's a strange and beautiful thing, color. And something that I'm not sure really has a correlation unless you've experienced it in some form and then had it changed or lost. I know my father was colorblind to red... and he painted wonderfully and skillfully... but he said there were some colors that just, and I quote, "disturbed" him.... he could see them as hues and shades, but the distinction was lost on its own.

I remember only one or two other stories where the characters were found to be colorblind... usually it's RD who suddenly finds out she is either blind to one or all colors... but it's a wonderful take on how I'd expect Twilight to handle something she experiences, but in a different way, than everyone else.

Thank you. I would love to see more in this vein, but even if it is not to be, this was truly touching and wonderful.


Colors themselves do not change. What is red is always red, even if a given person cannot see it. What one person calls blue will not be what another calls red. The cones of the eye don't work that way. In colorblind people, one or more of the cone cells does not develop properly. Fun fact though: some people have more than just three cone types, thus can see more colors than 99.99% of the rest of the world.

As the author pointed out, there are filters and methods out there to simulate colorblindness. It gives you an idea what it appears like to others.

And that colorblind test I linked to is for Enchroma glasses. Lenses that can help correct colorblindness. So for some at long last they WILL be able to see colors like everyone else.

Sure, but that's kind of what happened for most of history. When some folks just didn't "get" a color, others just shrugged unless it was important.
Heck, we know the Greeks didn't have blue.... not that it wasn't there, but that they couldn't make it reliably and thus never differentiated it as a color. Water was "black" and the sky was "dirtied water" on a stormy day.
It's just when something becomes evident that people figure out things are different. Egyptians, for example, had blue because it was able to be made into a dye or paints, and once people became accustomed to it, they needed to differentiate the experience to convey it.
But yheah... you'd think with all the brightly colored ponies and huge variation between them, that someone along the line would have done more than just shrug off the "nerd's" eccentricity and checked.
<smirks> Then again, that's kinda exactly what Spike did. Good on you, Spike.


Fun fact though: some people have more than just three cone types, thus can see more colors than 99.99% of the rest of the world.

I have heard of that. Tetrachromacy. Very cool.

Sure, but the point remains that until there is a definitive distinction for the individual, one that they can readily and instantly notice, folks just don't go that far.
If you're learning your colors and you say 'blue' when the teacher says 'green', you pick up 'green'. If it's close but you don't quite get where other folks are coming from, you hedge your bets... and some folks never figure it out even when they can see color.

Some folks use bad punctuation and there's absolutely no color involved — they just don't have an inherent functional knowledge of when to use commas, periods, and the like. And they get by because, for the most part, one's perception of things is less important than one's ability to determine usefulness. <shrugs> If it really isn't a super important thing, it's just another something to get the point across.

But yheah, colors man. Wooooo!

that would be a lot of fun to read :rainbowlaugh:

'It's alright, Spike', she reassured the approaching footsteps, 'I'm already awake - it's too lovely a day to be sleeping in!'

Okay. I have to point this out, and rather loudly as well. This is NOT how you use quotation marks. Those aren't even the right things.

" Is how you start a sentance when a character speaks. And " is how you end that sentance. Why are you using the wrong things? I couldn't get far into the story before I saw that every time someone said something, the wrong things were being used.

Yes, I'm being a nag. But this idea is too good to not point out the major probelms.

Eh, it's a stylistic choice. Tolkien was all over the single-quotation-for-speech thing, for example. Double-quotes seem to be the style of choice in Canada/USA, while elsewhere it can go either way.

If you'd read the comments, you'd see this has already been discussed, and seems to be a difference between American and British English.

But thank you for bringing attention to a "major problem" of this cute little story that can be enjoyed no matter what marks are used, just like Tolkien's works could be.

Twilight was silent for a while, trying to take this new information in. 'You mean', she whispered eventually, 'there are more colours ?'

Unlike any seen on Earth!

Dude. He’s from the UK. That’s how they use quotation marks. IIRC the entirety of the LoR trilogy is written that way.

If you continue this, would you consider bringing up those glasses that are supposed to help those with colorblindness see the colors they're missing? I forget what they're called.

Yes, well. This isn't Tolkien. And I never really noticed it with his work. For some reason, it stands out here.

Except it was never this noticable with Tolkien's work (I didn't even know he did until I looked carefully.) If people are getting this bent out of shape for me not just going along with it. That's not my problem.

I still like this story. But this is going to bug me every time I read it.

I have aced every test on color vision. However, I am fascinated by the language we use to describe colors, and just how sketchy many of those words really are. For example, the "blue" that Isaac Newton ascribed to the rainbow in ROY G BIV seems to be different from the "blue" of a computer's RGB color model. Newton's blue was probably more like what many of us would call turquoise, aqua or cyan. RGB blue is probably closer to his indigo or violet. But let us not forget that "Roses are red, violets are blue!" Let us also not forget that "blue jeans" are traditionally dyed using indigo.

When you start getting away from a small set of primary and secondary colors, all rules go out the window. The less commonly used a color word is, the less agreement you'll get on what it means. Just try running image search on words like "chartreuse" or "umber" or "scarlet" or "fuchsia" and see what wide range of results come back.

Good read, horrible grammar, and you should mention the YouTube videos of people seeing color for the first time. Truly heart warming.

Commas and quotes... Your greatest nemesis.

Interesting idea, though have to wonder how Twilight herself never knew she was color blind. I could believe that her friends wouldn't know, as how often does that come up? But to not know yourself after all those years is a bit strange. Would have been funny with one of her friends finding out, probably Rainbow cause it's always Rainbow who starts this, and taking turns messing with her. Oh well, interesting story none the less.

While it's true that we perceive colors through the universal three types of cone cells, how our brains relay and decipher that information is complete mystery. In fact, color adaptation and language can very much shift our perception and recognition of colors. Someone's "red" can be very different from another's "red".

Edit: now that I think about it, that could be why Rarity is able to distinguish different shades of color so well.

Now I know whence this perturbation arose!'

Good story, but an issue I have with it is the way Twilight speaks at times. The sentence I quoted is an example of that. Twilight doesn't normally speak like this, and unless there is an an actual reason for a change in speech patterns, like taking place in an AU where this style is more common, it ends up jarring readers out of their immersion. She's essentially acting out of character.

Then there are the languages that don't have a distinction between blue and green...:rainbowlaugh:

Because I'm not American? We tend to use ' in the UK.

I keep having to say this in the comments, but I'll say it again: I'm British. In the UK we use ' instead of " most of the time.

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