• Published 10th Mar 2021
  • 1,509 Views, 109 Comments

Paint the Sky - Flynt Coal

Having been adopted by human Celestia and her boyfriend Sable, the former Queen Chrysalis starts her new life in the human world. But she still has her old demons to contend with.

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Chapter 1 - Brave New World

"What happens when people open their hearts?"
"They get better."
Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

It had been a long time since Celestia had driven this way. At least, the few months that she’d been superintendent felt like a long time. She liked her new job—its importance was undeniable—but she missed having a more hands-on approach to the growth of young minds. She realized this as they arrived at their destination, almost pulling into the Canterlot High School faculty parking lot purely out of habit. Fortunately, she remembered herself quickly enough to instead pull her Hyundai Tiburon alongside the curb in front of the school: the point at which she’d watched parents drop off her students over the course of a great many years.

She’d never expected, then, that she would one day be in their place.

Setting the gear shift to Park, Celestia turned to her passenger: a young girl with blond hair tipped with teal. “Well, here we are,” she said with an encouraging smile. “Nervous?”

The fourteen-year-old girl scoffed. “Celestia, please. I was the scourge of a dozen kingdoms. Hardened warriors trembled at the mere mention of my name!”

Celestia gave a knowing grin in response, and after a moment, the girl looked away. “I’m a little nervous, yeah.”

The girl was looking out the window at the façade of CHS with clear apprehension on her face. They had arrived about half an hour earlier than the first classes of the day would start. The girl would need time to get her schedule from the student counselor’s office, as well as to get to know the layout of the school. As a result, there weren’t many students around yet, but that would change in approximately twenty minutes.

“It’s okay, Chrys. First day of high school is always a little scary, but I think you’ll find that it’s not all bad once you’re in there,” Celestia said. “Who knows? You may meet your best friends for life right within those walls. I did at mine, after all.”

Chrysalis’s gaze lingered out the window, but the apprehension slowly started to give way to cautious optimism. “Yeah, friends…. Been awhile since I had some of those.”

And the last friends she’d had were met under rather horrifying circumstances, Celestia thought to herself. Try as she might, it was sometimes hard to keep the maudlin thoughts at bay when she looked at the girl.

It had only been a week since Celestia and the others had returned from Equestria after attending Sunset Shimmer’s coronation. To make a long story short, the trip hadn’t exactly gone according to plan; the girl sitting beside her was evidence of that. Celestia certainly hadn’t been planning on adopting a lost and frightened girl turned monster turned girl again when she and the others first departed for Equestria.

Celestia was reminded of a time when she was a child that she and her family had visited an animal shelter shortly after moving to America. She had pleaded and pleaded with her mother to go, promising she “just wanted to look.” Her mother had agreed, making it clear that they were not leaving with a new dog, but sure enough, that had been when they had gotten their first family dog, a sad, sickly lab named Joey. Rescued from a hard life on the streets, only to be put on the proverbial chopping block when no one wanted to adopt a dog with diabetes, young Celestia had formed a bond with him almost immediately and refused to leave without him.

Now, a good forty years later, Celestia couldn’t help but see the parallels to the girl Chrysalis, who had once been Crisalide della Lucca in ancient Italy.

After a week back in Canterlot, California, young Chrysalis (who, technically speaking, was a millennium short of being called “young”) had acclimated to the modern world of humanity excellently. However, not without a few jokes on the matter.

“What’s this? Some sort of keeper of time?” Chrysalis had asked with wonder upon first moving into Celestia’s townhouse and seeing the object hanging on the wall above the television.

Celestia had just laughed. “Very funny, Chrys, but I know you know what a clock is.”

Even the technology unfamiliar to Chrysalis from her time in Equestria she’d managed to learn pretty quickly; surfing the internet on Celestia’s old laptop was how she’d managed to learn enough about humanity to follow along with most typical conversations. She had, however, once overheard Celestia swearing and thought that she was calling her over, mishearing the name of the Lord for her own. In her defense, she was in another room, and “Christ” could very easily have sounded like “Chrys” when thoroughly muffled. Once Chrysalis realized what Celestia had actually said though, an entirely different misunderstanding ensued.

“I’ve never heard someone use the Lord’s name in vain so flagrantly,” Chrysalis had told her with a concerned frown. “If a member of the clergy heard you, you would be arrested. Perhaps accused of witchcraft!”

Celestia had laughed before she realized that Chrysalis hadn’t been joking that time. “Oh, a lot’s changed since your time, Chrys. Nobody cares about casual blaspheming anymore.”

Chrysalis took a few moments to process this information before turning both middle fingers towards the ceiling. “FUCK YOU, GOD!”

“Okay, you might draw some attention doing that.”

All in all, Chrysalis had done a fine job of acclimating to her new life on Earth…save for one thing: She was still visibly uncomfortable with the idea of being part of a family.

“Thanks, Celestia,” she said, bringing Celestia back to the present as she opened the passenger side door.

It had taken a few days of gentle nagging for her to get Chrysalis to stop calling her Ms. Celestia and just Celestia. But Chrysalis wouldn’t go any further than that. She never called her Tia, despite how many times she’d heard Celestia’s friends and family use the name and encouraged her to try it too. And she certainly never called her “Mom,” or “Mother.” It just wasn’t in the cards yet. But that didn’t bother Celestia nearly as much as Chrysalis’s clear discomfort at being touched.

As Chrysalis zipped up the backpack at her feet, Celestia gingerly reached out to pat her shoulder. Chrysalis instinctively tensed up, just as she did every other time. And, like every other time, Chrysalis shot her an apologetic look; she knew she was safe with Celestia, and seemed to want the affection she offered, but she couldn’t stop her body from reacting to imagined pain. Plainer than any scar, it was lingering evidence of the horrific abuse Chrysalis had suffered over her long life, and it broke Celestia’s heart every single time.

“I’ll see you later,” Chrysalis said, trying to give her a reassuring smile.

Then she was gone, shutting the passenger side door behind her. Celestia lingered there until she watched the girl disappear through the front doors of CHS, then she pulled away from the curb and started the drive to her office downtown.

It was hard sometimes, caring for someone who had suffered so much, but it was worth it. She realized it was exactly what she was missing when she’d left teaching for administration. It was what she was meant to do.

Backpack slung over her shoulder, Chrysalis looked on into the front hallway of Canterlot Highschool. Drab green lockers lined the walls on either side, and at the other end of the hall a short distance away Chrysalis could see what was clearly the central chamber (the “hub cavern”, as it was known within changeling hives). Celestia had given her directions for how to get to the guidance counselor’s office from there, so Chrysalis immediately made her way through the quiet, empty halls. Well, almost empty—there were a few humans around and Chrysalis did her best to avoid eye contact, easily done as nobody seemed to notice the newcomer.

The feeling of worrying about being discovered as something other than those around her was a feeling she had always been familiar with, given it would cause quite a scene if her magic ever were to give out in public and her true form exposed to the world. After all, humans didn’t look like twisted caricatures of fairies with giant gnarled horns coming from their foreheads.

She took a left through the “hub cavern” and walked through another hallway full of lockers. I suppose one of those might be mine, she thought. It took her several minutes to find the room she was looking for, but eventually she did, thankful that Celestia had thought to drop her off early. Inside, she was surprised to find a familiar woman with dark blue hair like the night sky sitting at the desk, talking to a man with black hair wearing a dark red suit. Perhaps this wasn’t the right office after all.

“Principal Luna?” Chrysalis asked. “Sorry, I was looking for the guidance counselor’s office.”

“Oh, Chrys! There you are,” Luna said, looking up from what she’d been working on. “You’re in the right place. The guidance counselor is out sick today, so the vice principal and I are taking turns to fill in for her.”

“Hopefully, the superintendent can allocate more funds so we can hire more than one,” said the man Luna had been speaking to.

Nodding, Luna kept her focus on Chrysalis as she gestured to one of the chairs. “Please, be seated.”

Chrysalis did so, exchanging a look with the man—Chrysalis was assuming he was the vice principal—as she did. She caught him briefly looking her up and down, though she tasted no hint of amorous intent behind it (and she had a keen taste for it). Instead, she sensed only disapproval laced with a hint of disgust. She wasn’t sure why; the skirt and sweater she was wearing were much less revealing than what she had initially wanted to wear on her first day of school. Chrysalis had to control the urge to bare her fangs and hiss at the man.

“So Chrys, how are you liking living here?” Luna asked. “Are you adjusting to living with my sister okay?”

It beats living in a changeling hive in the badlands of Equestria, Chrysalis thought. To say nothing of how I was living before then. Of course, Chrysalis couldn’t answer as such with the vice principal present, so she opted for a neutral, “I’m doing fine.” Then with a hint of a grin, added, “I’m nothing if not adaptable.”

“Good to hear,” Luna said, straightening out several papers on her desk that Chrysalis realized likely pertained to her. “Now, everything looks to be in order with your registration. Leave it to my sister to produce flawless paperwork! Now….”

Luna proceeded to brief Chrysalis on everything she’d need to know to get started, including giving her a copy of her class schedule, her locker number, and what she should tell the teachers of each of her classes. As she did, Chrysalis noted the vice principal thumbing through her files with idle curiosity. As Luna seemed to be wrapping up her spiel, the man cleared his throat.

“Luna, I’m still not entirely clear on Chrysalis’s background.” He spoke with a nasally stern voice, and his grim demeanor reminded Chrysalis of the character Snape from one of the many movies she had watched with Celestia and Sable in her attempt to catch up with human popular culture before starting school. “I know that your sister formally adopted her during your trip to Klamath Falls last week, but I wasn’t aware that Celestia was even considering having kids. Especially with her new job as superintendent to consider.”

“I hardly see how this is relevant right now, Mr. Neighsay,” Luna said.

The vice principal—Neighsay, if Chrysalis heard Luna right—looked directly at the girl rather than Luna as he said, “From what both you and your sister told me, Ms. Chrysalis had a very difficult upbringing, which while regrettable, does raise the issue of the… patterns of behavior often exhibited by children with such a background. Perhaps Everfree View or even the Blanks would be a better fit for her than our school.”

Ah, so that’s what this is about, Chrysalis thought, thinking she was starting to understand Neighsay’s near-hostility towards her. He was right to be concerned, of course. Chrysalis’s “patterns of behavior” were very consistent when she was queen of the changelings. She was far beyond the mere delinquency that Neighsay was clearly used to dealing with.

Luna opened her mouth to respond, but it was Chrysalis herself who cut her off. “It’s okay, Ms. Luna. I don’t mind talking about my background, as Mr. Neighsay oh so eloquently put it,” she said sweetly.

She then stood from her chair and faced Neighsay directly, readying the lie that Celestia and the others had helped her prepare. “My mother, Allegra Musica—yes, just like the classical musician—was friends with Celestia in college. When she married my father, they moved back to his hometown of Fierenze, Italy. I suppose they were happy for a while, but then they had me and I guess my father began to feel trapped in a marriage growing more loveless by the day.”

At first, it seemed that Neighsay wasn’t buying what she was selling, and Chrysalis realized she’d have to add a bit of flare to her performance. So, she employed a bit of method acting: She gave her faceless fictional father the face of her very real tormentor. The one who had first dragged her across the dimensional divide to his world and proceeded torture her, violate her, and subject her to horrors that would have driven the man staring her down to madness. The memories of King Sombra formed a cold pit of fear and despair in her chest, which quickly filled with lava-like rage as she remembered how helpless she had felt. When she next spoke, the pain and toxic vitriol in her voice seemed to turn the room a few degrees colder, and subconsciously her fists clenched to the point her knuckles were turning white against her already fair skin.

“So, my father did what most pathetic men do in such a situation and developed a drinking problem. Then a ‘hitting his wife’ problem. Finally, he started looking at me the wrong way. Touching me in ways a father isn’t supposed to with his daughter. That’s when my mother finally decided to leave the useless bastard and came back home to the Land of the Free.”

Chrysalis let the uncomfortable silence fill the room for a second, then two more as she continued her staring contest with Neighsay. “Any questions?”

Clearing his throat, Neighsay forfeited the contest and glanced at the files in his hand. “It says here you were homeschooled after that.”

“Yes, the divorce with her husband and the travel expenses back home left her mother in a pretty bad position financially,” Luna said, jumping in with the clear hopes of defusing the tense atmosphere. “And then just a year ago all of her nervous smoking finally caught up to her, and well… you know the rest.”

“I suppose, but that means we don’t have documentation on her–”

“My mother was frightened of just about everyone,” Chrysalis added quickly, “and given how my father was acting towards me, she was afraid everyone would, which is why I was homeschooled. Between that, working two jobs and getting practically no help from anyone, it’s a small wonder my mother survived as long as she did.”

“Yes, I suppose it’s lucky that Ms. Musica reached out to her old college friend when her lung cancer started getting worse, or Ms. Chrysalis would still be a ward of the state,” Neighsay conceded. “Though, I still don’t understand why Ms. Celestia never mentioned she’d been tutoring her friend’s daughter in foster care for the past year.”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Luna asked. “She made a pretty big career move this past year. She didn’t want to be accused of favoritism in the school system. You and I both know how often that happens.”

Neighsay grunted, “Yes, I suppose so.”

“Are we done here?” Chrysalis asked, managing to look down her nose at the much taller man. “If you’re quite finished prying into my life, I don’t want to be late for my first class.”

Neighsay seemed ready to retort, but Luna cut him off. “Yes, you’re good to go, Chrys,” she said, giving Chrysalis a warm smile that managed to cleanse a good deal of the poison from her. “I hope you enjoy your first day!”

The halls of the school were much livelier when Chrysalis returned to them; already the sounds of laughter and arguing alike filled the air as dozens of kids her age (on paper, at least) milled about. Chrysalis had personally infiltrated many facilities over her long life as a changeling queen, but for some reason felt a trepidation looking at the human children—her peers now—that she had never felt before. Deciding not to dwell on it, Chrysalis set out to find her locker before her first class could begin.

“Ms. Chrysalis, one more thing,” Neighsay’s dark tones beckoned from behind her, and rolling her eyes, Chrysalis turned to face him.

“Forget something?” Chrysalis asked, allowing a hint of challenge to enter her tone.

Neighsay frowned, clearly having noted it. “Only to remind you how seriously misbehavior is taken at this school. Do not think that you’ll get a free pass to act out just because your legal guardian is a superintendent, or that her sister is our principal. On the contrary, your connections within the school system means I’ll be holding you to a higher standard than your peers.” Neighsay adjusted the glasses on his face as he looked down on her. “Am I clear?”

“Very,” Chrysalis said, meeting his gaze with an admittedly arrogant flip of her teal-tipped blonde hair. Perhaps it was a remnant of her pride as a changeling queen talking, but there was no way she was letting him get the final word in. “Just so long as you hold yourself to the same standard. I’d hate to have to tell Principal Luna that her vice principal was power-tripping.”

The satisfaction of seeing the man’s eyes momentarily bug out in shock was quickly replaced by panic. What am I doing?! I’m going to get in trouble on my first day!

To her own surprise, the thought that scared Chrysalis the most wasn’t the consequences that Neighsay could bring down on her. What scared her was the thought of the inevitable disappointment she’d taste from Celestia and Sable.

So, when Neighsay, his voice on the edge of fury, asked, “Is that a threat?” Chrysalis did her best to backpedal.

“No sir,” she said. “Just some friendly advice.”

Perhaps she could have done better. Nevertheless, in what was perhaps an act of mercy from the vice principal in lieu of it being Chrysalis’s first day, Neighsay adjusted his collar and turned, likely towards his office.

“Well, my ‘friendly advice’ is for you to improve your attitude the next time we speak.”

This time, Chrysalis bit back the parting remark on her lips (“I will if you will”) and only stood there and watched as the man walked firmly away. He redirected a glare likely meant for her towards a trio of other freshmen girls dressed nicely in pinks and blues who had been watching the exchange with some curiosity.

With all of that finally finished, Chrysalis turned back and started walking in the direction of her locker, as described by Principal Luna.

“Wow! That was pretty cool!”

The new voice chirping just beside her made Chrysalis realize she wasn’t walking alone, and she turned to see a girl her age walking beside her with a huge grin on her face. The girl wore a simple yellow t-shirt and blue jeans, along with a large pink bow in her long red hair.

“Havta say, I’ve never seen anyone talk back to Neighsay like that. At least, not without getting into huge trouble!” the new girl continued, her orange eyes so bright they may as well have been an extension of her smile. “You new here?”

Just like that, Chrysalis found herself interacting with another child. It felt strange: she’d lived for so long as a queen she’d forgotten that she, too, was still only a mere child. What was she supposed to say? How do human children talk to each other again? Was it the same as pony children? For that matter, how did pony children talk to each other?

“Strong silent type, huh? That’s cool!” the girl then extended her hand as they continued to walk. “I’m Apple Bloom!”

Right. Name! That’s always a good place to start. “Uh, Chrysalis,” she said, looking at Apple Bloom’s extended hand for a few moments before remembering that she was supposed to shake it.

Chrysalis took the offered hand and winced at the unexpected power Apple Bloom put into the shake. More concerning was the fact that she wasn’t stopping.

“Hey! I think my sister told me about you!” Apple Bloom exclaimed, her smile growing bigger. “Yeah, she and her friends visited you up in Klamath Falls right? Our old principal adopted you?” Chrysalis didn’t know what else to do but nod, encouraging Apple Bloom’s enthusiasm all the more. She did, fortunately, finally let go of her hand. “Wow, I didn’t think you’d be going to school here!

Chrysalis only tried to remember the other human girls who had come to Equestria with Princess Sunset Shimmer’s retinue. There had been quite a few of them, and she hadn’t exactly tried to get to know them during her time in the castle. What she even knew of them was less from interacting with them and more due to the fact they were the counterparts to Princess Twilight’s closest friends, though not perfectly. Nevertheless, Chrysalis was pretty sure she’d seen the same freckles and cheery grin on one of their faces.

“Your sister’s… Applejack, right?” she asked.

Apple Bloom nodded, the pink bow in her hair bobbing in place. “Got it in one!”

Apple Bloom then stopped, evidently having reached her own locker. Chrysalis’s locker was still way over on the other side of the building so she continued walking without another word.

“Oh, uh… I guess I’ll see you later!” Apple Bloom said, and Chrysalis looked over her shoulder to see the girl waving after her, a big grin still on her face. Chrysalis mimicked the action, slowly feeling a grin of her own start to form.

This Apple Bloom kid sure was friendly, and her emotions had tasted sweet enough—and strong enough that Chrysalis hadn’t even needed to actively feed on them to get that taste. Had she just made her first friend? The thought carried her all the way to her locker, where she lingered until the first bell of classes rang.

Celestia had left with Chrysalis for the latter’s first day of school, and Sable now sat at the kitchen table in front of his open laptop, mug of coffee in hand. He was currently in the midst of the first of what would be many weekly SIREN video meetings, in which the personnel under his command would report on the progress of the previous week, as well as brief him on the goals of the current and projections for the future. The meetings had to be brief, as for three of them, it was a school morning.

“Our trip to Equestria actually gave me an idea,” Adagio said, dipping a spoon in her untouched bowl of cereal. “When we onboard the remainder of the Earth-based forces, we could have some of them working at the mansion here as maids and groundskeepers.”

“This way, they can still do their jobs as protectors while remaining inconspicuous,” Aria said, who was standing just behind Adagio taking bites of a nutrition bar. “Well, as inconspicuous as a housekeeping staff consisting entirely of muscular women could be.”

Raising his brow, Sable nodded, feeling a slight grin of approval creep its way onto his face. “In other words, model our new SIRENs after the Princess’s Hooves. Not a bad idea, Capt. Dazzle!”

Even through the slightly grainy feed, Sable could see Adagio fighting the proud grin from her own face to keep a professional look there. “Thank you, sir!”

“See, Dagi? I’m not the only one with good ideas around here!” Sonata’s voice chirped from somewhere out of view of the camera on Adagio’s iPad. It did, however, capture the continued losing battle with the grin on her face.

Sonata then leaned over so she was in frame. “I was thinking of talking to Sunset about building a staff residence on the property. Something they can use as a barracks while they’re on duty, and it would give us an extra egress point for the underground base. Of course, they’d all still have their apartments downtown.”

“We’ll have to talk to Uncle Night and Aunt Velvet about that, too!” Aria, quiet until now, added.

“I’m sure they’ll agree, as it’ll help increase the property value,” Adagio noted.

“Sounds like a plan. You have my authorization to take this up with Sunset...and your aunt and uncle.” Normally this kind of proposal would fall to Sable, as the overall commander of Sunset’s forces, but considering the triplets actually lived with her and Sable did not, it was often easier not to strictly adhere to chain of command in such circumstances. “Just make sure she hires a construction company to actually build it instead of just magicking up a building from nothing.”

Sable wasn’t even sure whether Sunset was capable of such a feat even with her unfathomable power, but still. Sable wanted as much of a legitimate paper trail supporting their operations as possible, even if Sunset was frighteningly good at forging what she needed.

“Aye, sir,” Adagio responded.

Sable then directed his attention to the other screen in the three-way video conference. “Speaking of the ATG, how was their first week of training, Master Chief?”

Video conferencing from the apartment above his auto-repair shop, Hard Luck Towing, Master Chief Petty Officer Troubleshoes Clyde cleared his throat and said, “Well, they clearly have the discipline and knowledge of experienced soldiers, but it’s still taking time to translate that to their human bodies. A phrase I never expected to be saying in a professional meeting….”

Despite everything that he had been through with Sable, Sunset and the rest of her crazy family, Troubleshoes still seemed to be having trouble coming to grips with the nature of magic and talking ponies from another world. It was one of the reasons he had opted out of the trip to Equestria with the rest of Sunset’s retinue. Of course, Troubleshoes had expressed regret at not being there for them when he heard just how badly shit had hit the fan over there.

“It’s alright,” Sable had told him at the time. “You had bigger priorities to focus on.”

It was the truth. Tirespin’s birthday had been that weekend, and Troubleshoes had made too much ground on repairing the relationship with his estranged daughter to miss it. The very same daughter who still had no idea that her father was involved with forces not of this world.

“How are they taking your weapons training?” Sable asked, bringing himself back to the present.

“Surprisingly well, actually. Ushanka has gotten to be quite the crack shot with the AR-50. She’s shaping up to be the best marksman in the group.” Troubleshoes stopped to take a bite of toast. “I’m particularly impressed with Lt. Side, who’s a natural with just about every firearm I give her. I can see why she was an officer in her old forces!”

Troubleshoes continued to give his updates on the Advance Training Group’s progress until the meeting approached an end—something that didn’t take long owing to the triplets’ need to go to school. After the triplets signed off, Sable made to do the same, bidding Troubleshoes a good day.

“Just a second, Sable. You got a minute?”

Not really, if Sable was being honest. He still had to talk to Blueblood, who was to give him a report on his progress organizing cover identities for the next group of SIREN trainees heading over from Equestria. And then, he would have to perform a miracle and make it to the Blanks in time to teach his first class.

“Sure, I’ve got a minute, but not much more than that,” Sable said. “Something wrong?”

“I was actually hoping to ask you the same thing,” Troubleshoes said, his professional tone giving way to that of a concerned friend. “Excuse the insubordination, but you look like shit. Everything okay?”

If he was being honest, Sable felt like the walking dead, but he had no idea that he looked the part as well. “I’m fine. Just had a lot on my plate recently.”

Between his job as Commander, Special Initiative Command and all the work that entailed as SIREN continued to expand, as well as teaching full time at the Blanks, Sable’s plate was starting to overflow. And then, there was the other full-time job that had been dropped into his lap: taking care of a child.

It was hard to think of Chrysalis as his child, but that was exactly what she was now, wasn’t she? She lived with him and Celestia in what had once been the guest bedroom of her townhouse and depended on both of them for love and support. Despite that, she still felt like mostly a stranger to him. The girl was very closed off (and considering what she’d been through, of course she was), the only real times she’d begin to open up being mostly with Celestia. Whenever Celestia had to leave Sable alone with Chrysalis, he found himself unsure of what to say to her, and silence filled the room.

He still cared about her, though; that fact was indisputable. After all, Celestia owed her life to the girl and the two of them agreed that she deserved a better life than the one she had been given. But seeing the layers of walls between them, Sable couldn’t help but wonder whether they were really the right people to give it to her.

“Right, a lot on your plate,” Troubleshoes said, taking Sable out of his uneasily churning thoughts. “I take it that girl you took in is right at the center of it?”

Sable raised an eyebrow. “How did you…?”

“A father knows. You look as lost as I felt a few months ago.” Troubleshoes took a sip from his glass of orange juice. “Tell you what: I know you have to get going, but why don’t we have lunch? Whenever you have time, doesn’t have to be today. You can air out whatever’s on your mind, and….” Troubleshoes shrugged. “Maybe I can give you some advice?”

“Yeah, that sounds good,” Sable said, actually feeling a tiny bit of the weight on his shoulders lifting away. “Thanks, Troubleshoes. You’re a good friend.”

With another shrug, Troubleshoes said, “Hey, you helped me out when things weren’t going well between me and Tires. Least I can do is return the favor!”

Her first class of the day was history. After giving Chrysalis a brief introduction to the rest of the class, the teacher (Ms. Fossil) instructed everyone to put their books away for the test. Seeing as Chrysalis was only starting out today, Ms. Fossil told her that she wouldn’t have to worry about failing the test. Instead, taking it was to help Fossil assess how much she would need to catch her up on the syllabus. As it happened, the subject of the test was the first half of the American Civil War, something that Celestia had actually taught her a bit about during their tutoring sessions the previous week. Chrysalis felt she actually had a pretty decent understanding of the subject, owing to her capability to draw comparisons to the civil war in Equestria when the Royal Sisters fought.

Fossil started the timer, and the classroom was silent save for the sound of pencils on paper. Chrysalis was making decent headway on the first question when a “psst” caught her attention.

“Hey! New kid!” the same voice whispered again. Chrysalis looked to the desk beside hers and saw a girl in a gray sweater with messy purple hair and a band-aid across her nose. It looked like she’d rolled straight out of bed and into her seat. “You got a pencil I could borrow?”

Years of ruling with an iron hoof meant that Chrysalis’s first instinct was to ask how this girl dared to make such a request of one such as her, and threaten immediate execution, or failing that, imprisonment in a cocoon. Chrysalis instead tried to smile—something that for some reason elicited a horrified wince from sweater-girl—as she reached into her bag. Celestia had bought her a full set of twelve pencils when they went shopping for school supplies, and Chrysalis saw no harm in letting a peer borrow one.

Thanks,” whispered sweater-girl as she took it. Chrysalis returned her attention to her test saying nothing. She heard the sound of sweater-girl writing with the loaned pencil for a few seconds before she stopped. There was a pregnant pause before Chrysalis heard sweater-girl whisper again, “Hey! You got an eraser?”

Chrysalis did, but unlike with the pencil, she only had the one. This time, she nearly did threaten the girl into leaving her alone before she remembered why she was here in school with a bunch of human foals in the first place. So seeing no reason not to let sweater-girl borrow her one and only eraser, she handed it over without complaint.

Thanks,” sweater-girl whispered again, and Chrysalis returned to her own test to the sound of overzealous erasing next to her. The sound of pencil on paper resumed, followed by another pause, and another rubbing of eraser on paper.

Chrysalis was beginning to think she wouldn’t be getting her eraser back any time soon and hoped she wouldn’t make any mistakes until then.

“Psst, hey!” Another whisper from sweater-girl. “You got the answer to question one?”

Chrysalis gripped her pencil tightly. Surely a request to accommodate cheating was grounds enough to threaten violence upon her mortal body?

Ms. Fossil, however, beat Chrysalis to the punch. “That had better be the wind I’m hearing, Ms. Scootaloo, because if it’s actually the sound of your whispering, it’ll be your third detention of the month!”

Sweater-girl—or Scootaloo—remained quiet for the rest of the test’s duration. Eventually, time ran out, and Chrysalis had filled in as much as she could. Even with Celestia’s tutoring, there was still far too much she had to learn, especially in regard to human history.

After everyone had handed in their test, Ms. Fossil started her lecture for the class, and Chrysalis couldn’t find an opportunity to ask for her eraser back, focused as she was on taking notes on the lesson. There was a moment when Ms. Fossil was cleaning off the chalk board that Chrysalis thought was the perfect opportunity to get her stuff back. But when she turned to whisper to her desk neighbor, Chrysalis found her with her head down, softly snoring.

Eventually the class came to an end, and Chrysalis decided now is when she would finally get her stuff back. But one glance at Scootaloo’s desk confirmed that she was long gone, having apparently mastered the art of leaving the classroom the instant the bell rang. Putting her books into her backpack as quickly as possible, Chrysalis rushed out the door to catch her. She only caught a glimpse of unkempt purple hair before it disappeared into the crowd, taking her only eraser with it.

Chrysalis’s next class was math. It wasn’t exactly her strong suit, but she had a much better grasp of it than she had on human history. As luck would have it, math tended to work the same no matter what universe you were in, and Chrysalis had found that understanding it was a necessity as queen of the changelings. Send a unit of five-hundred changelings to take out an Equestrian military outpost taking seventy-five casualties, then that means she had four-hundred and twenty-five changelings left to take out the next outpost. Simple stuff.

Still, Chrysalis lamented not having an eraser. They were learning quadratic formulas in this math class, which was a bit tougher than your basic addition and subtraction. She would definitely make mistakes here.

Wait a minute… Chrysalis thought half an hour and several mistakes into the class. She was idly rubbing her thumb against the pink end of her pencil and found it surprisingly soft. A moment of inspiration struck, and with the careful curiosity of a scientist experimenting with a dangerous solution, she turned the pencil around and began rubbing at one of the crossed out numbers on her page.

Ah-HA! Chrysalis shouted, perhaps louder than she intended if the startled and confused stares from the entire rest of the class were anything to go by.

“Something you’d like to share with the class, Ms. Chrysalis?” asked the teacher, a rather cranky old man named Mr. Kibbitz.

Delighted that he was giving her a chance to share her discovery with the rest of her peers, Chrysalis stood from her seat and held her pencil aloft with a proud grin.

“This pencil… it has an eraser on its other end!” she proclaimed confidently. Surely with a discovery like this, others will flock to me!

Instead, the other students all started laughing, and Chrysalis suddenly found herself getting very hot standing there at the center of their mirth.

“Great. Another comedian,” Mr. Kibbitz groaned, rolling his eyes. “Don’t think you can go disrupting my class just because it’s your first day. Do it again and you will be getting detention.”

Chrysalis slumped back into her seat as Mr. Kibbitz tried to get the class under control. She wanted nothing more than to scurry into a dark hole at that very moment, and for the first time in her life, it wasn’t because of her changeling instincts.

Done with putting her textbooks away in her locker, Chrysalis shut it, locked it and started making her way towards the cafeteria. Contrary to popular belief, changelings did not subsist purely on love. They needed it to fuel their magic, and strong enough love was capable of satiating them enough to stave off the need to eat for a time. But at the end of the day, they still needed food just like any other living thing. Even were that not the case, Chrysalis wasn’t exactly one-hundred percent changeling.

Thus, it was lunch time and Chrysalis was starving.

“Excuse me,” a soft, high-pitched voice said just behind her.

Chrysalis turned around and saw a pretty young girl with curly pink and purple hair, wearing a white shirt with pink stripes and a green skirt that matched her eyes. “You’re the new girl, right?” she asked.

“Who wants to know?” Chrysalis said suspiciously, before once again reminding herself that not everyone who started a conversation with her was looking to overthrow her as ruler of the changelings.

If the other girl noticed her tone, she was not bothered by it. “I have somebody here who wants to give you something.”

Chrysalis was momentarily puzzled. Was it customary for new students to receive offerings from their peers? She then noticed that the girl talking to her wasn’t alone. Standing behind her a little to the side was a familiar girl with messy purple hair, gray sweater, and bandaged nose. She then held up a familiar pencil and eraser.

“Sorry I didn’t give back your stuff earlier,” Scootaloo said, firmly avoiding making eye contact.

“Oh, right. It was no problem,” Chrysalis said, taking the items back. “I have plenty of pencils, and it turns out those pink things on the end are erasers.”

At that, Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “Ha ha, very funny. Look, I didn’t get much sleep last night, okay?”

“Probably up playing videogames all night again, right?” the other girl said, and Scootaloo’s lack of a response confirmed it. “Thought so.” She then turned to Chrysalis. “Anyway, I’m Sweetie Belle.”


“Well, I’m sorry for my friend’s behavior, Chrysalis. I knew something was wrong when she showed up to our class with her own pencil.” Sweetie ignored the indignant look from Scootaloo as she continued, “So, how are you liking it here so far?”

Chrysalis looked around, her gaze falling on the hodgepodge of adolescents of all shapes and sizes before resting on the unlikely pair of friends in front of her again. “It’s… different.”

Sweetie Belle’s big green eyes looked at her sympathetically “Yeah, going to a new school is always a little weird. I still remember when me and my friends came here from across the field.”

Across the field? Chrysalis had absolutely no idea what that meant. Was it some sort of slang that she hadn’t found on the internet, or was it an actual reference to something?

“Anyway,” Sweetie continued, oblivious to her thoughts. “If you ever need anything, you be sure to let us know, okay?”

Considering what Sweetie had just done for her, Chrysalis knew they weren’t just empty words, as small as the gesture was. So, Chrysalis did her best to smile.

“Well, it’s nice to know I have one from across the field on my side!”

Sweetie Belle looked at her with clear puzzlement before she let out a girlish giggle. “You’re weird!”

Chrysalis’s eyes bugged out. “Fool! You dare speak to me this way?!”

The response was instinctive, born from centuries of being addressed with nothing short of reverence from her subjects. Only her enemies spoke to her with the words and tone as the girl in front of her did. Less than a second later, Chrysalis remembered that she was no longer a queen and noted the clear jovial tone in the other girl’s voice. She felt mortified as Sweetie Belle—who had been nothing but kind to her since they met—immediately took a step back.

“I… I didn’t mean anything by it,” she said meekly.

“C’mon, Sweetie. Let’s get something to eat,” Scootaloo said, taking her friend by the arm and leading her away. “You’re right: she is weird!” Scootaloo said it far less jovially than Sweetie did. Although she was talking to Sweetie Belle, her hard gaze was directed straight at Chrysalis.

Before she even had a chance to explain herself, the two were walking away. Sweetie Belle looked over her shoulder, looking about to apologize (for a faux-pas that wasn’t even her fault) but a firm tug from Scootaloo kept her walking away. Chrysalis heard a bit of their conversation as they walked away.

“That was rude, Scoots!”

“C’mon, you heard her. She was talking crazy. Sounded like a goddamn villain!”

Groaning, Chrysalis rubbed her forehead. For a moment there, she thought she had made her first friends at this strange place. Instead, she had just alienated them.

Once a Queen, always a Queen, some voice deep inside her said. Chrysalis told the little voice to shove it but couldn’t deny its truth. All she wanted was to just live life as a normal kid. Why were her old habits so hard to kick?

Upon entering the cafeteria, Chrysalis was greeted with the sight of a familiar head of red and yellow hair among the veritable rainbow of colours lined up to fill their trays with food. The familiarity was a welcome reprieve from the unending amount of strangers, and Chrysalis gave her a friendly wave as she grabbed a tray and got in line. The girl waved back, and after filling her own tray with the day’s food, went over to her.

“Hey Chrysalis,” Sunset Shimmer greeted with a friendly smile. “First day going alright? Make any new friends yet?”

Chrysalis glanced over at a nearby table, where she saw the three girls she’d met throughout the day all sitting together. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle laughed at some joke Scootaloo made, who glanced briefly in her direction—accidentally, it would seem. At least, if the speed at which she glowered and looked away was any indication.

“It’s… a work in progress,” Chrysalis answered.

With an encouraging pat on the arm, Sunset said, “Hey, don’t get discouraged. It wasn’t too long ago that I was where you are now.”

Chrysalis nodded. “Lost in a strange world surrounded by strange people?”

“When I first came here, yeah. But there’s something else I didn’t tell you about me.” Sunset said, taking a breath. Chrysalis detected a hint of reluctance to talk further, but Sunset pressed on for her sake. “I used to be a bit of a tyrant around here. Made enemies at every turn. Had underlings instead of friends. I ruined a lot of lives at this school, and some still haven’t forgiven me for it.”

“Hmm. That sounds familiar,” Chrysalis said with a frown.

“I thought it might. Things are different for me now though, as you probably gathered. Took a long time, but the school came around to me.” Finally allowing herself to breathe again, Sunset gave her an encouraging smile. “If I could do it, so can you!”

Chrysalis couldn’t quite match her optimism. “My rap sheet is considerably longer and far more grisly than yours.”

“Perhaps, but you have an advantage that I didn’t,” Sunset said, and when Chrysalis responded with an inquisitive head tilt, she leaned forward and whispered, “A clean slate. You can truly be anyone you want to be here: your past is not today.”

With a roll of her eyes, Chrysalis said, “Wow. I’ve fought scores of knights and heroes who never said anything that cheesy.”

With a shrug, Sunset turned and started heading for a table where her other friends were already seated. “Just saying. I would have killed to get the second chance you’ve got!”

Chrysalis tilted her head. “Really? Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of a second chance?”

Sunset laughed. “It’s just an expression, Chrysalis!”

With that, Sunset was gone, and Chrysalis had acquired food for her tray. Now, she needed to find somewhere to sit. She briefly considered asking Sunset if she could join her and her friends for lunch, but ultimately decided against it. It was like Sunset just said: this was her chance to start with a clean slate. So, she looked around the cafeteria for a table with an empty spot.

She walked straight past a table crowded with burly boys in sports attire, two of which were locked in an arm-wrestling match. That wouldn’t do even if there was room for her to sit. Another table held a group of boys and girls who looked closer to her own age. This lot was at the opposite end of the spectrum to the boys of the previous table: lanky and awkward with acne-ridden faces. They were playing with some sort of cards featuring depictions of creatures and symbols that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Equestria. One of them—a particularly skinny girl with frizzy red hair and huge glasses—happened to lock eyes with her and instantly shrank into her seat. Intentionally or no, Chrysalis’s gaze remained as terrifying as ever.

Finally, Chrysalis found her gaze falling on the three girls at their table. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo were alone, and there was plenty of room for another person to join them. This would be the perfect opportunity for Chrysalis to apologize for the misunderstanding earlier, and if they happened to let her sit with them, all the better.

She took a step toward them, but heard a voice call out next to her.

“Hey, new girl!”

Chrysalis looked over to her left and saw another table with three girls seated. They were each dressed fashionably in pinks and purples, and Chrysalis realized she’d noticed them during her confrontation with Neighsay. One of them, a girl with pale violet hair with a white streak, pulled out the chair beside her.

“You can sit with us if you want,” she said with a friendly smile.

Chrysalis took another look at the table with the other three girls she’d met today. Now both Scootaloo and Apple Bloom were shooting suspicious glances in her direction, and Chrysalis ultimately took the offered seat at the far more welcoming table next to her.

“Don’t worry, you made the right choice,” the girl who offered the seat said. “Trust me, you don’t want to hang out with those girl scouts.”

“Yeah, they’re total spazzes, but you probably noticed that, huh?” said the girl with white-gray hair and blue-rimmed glasses sitting across from her.

“Golly, not like you, though!” said the third girl at the table. She had soft pale blue hair curled into little rolls, and gave Chrysalis such a sweet smile it almost made her feel ill. “You were cold as ice the way you told off Mr. Neighsay this morning! Poor man… he must have been fuming all day!” The girl’s sweet but no less enthusiastic smile seemed to indicate that despite her words, she was far from pitying him.

“Yeah, I like your style,” said the girl who initially offered her a seat. She then extended her hand. “I’m Diamond Tiara. The girl with the stylin’ glasses over there is my bestie Silver Spoon, and the girl that tastes like diabetes next to her is Cozy Glow. She’s new to our little group too.”

Remembering what Celestia taught her about proper manners (and these girls did seem a fair amount more proper than their peers) Chrysalis gave them her best smile, which once again seemed to set the other girls on edge. “I’m Chrysalis. The pleasure’s mine!”

“Pleasure to meet you, Chrysalis!” Cozy Glow exclaimed. “And may I just say, you have a very pretty smile.”

A compliment! Chrysalis gasped internally, while outwardly keeping her cool. The feeling filled her face with heat and her stomach with nervous butterflies (having eaten butterflies when rations were low at the hive, she never quite understood the turn of phrase). Not knowing what else to do, Chrysalis idly inspected her hand and gave a non-chalant, “Thanks.”

“Yeah, I love it! It really just screams ‘deranged serial killer’!”

“Christ, Cozy. You don’t have to roast the girl that bad!” Silver Spoon exclaimed (incidentally proving to Chrysalis that casual blaspheming was indeed the norm in this time).

“What? I meant it as a compliment!”

“So, Chrysalis,” Diamond Tiara said, elegantly digging into the pile of white rice on her tray. “Saw you talking to Sunset Shimmer earlier. You two know each other?”

Chrysalis nodded as she started to dig into her own lunch. “Yeah, we met in Klamath Falls. The one in Oregon. It’s where I lived before I moved here.”

Diamond Tiara nodded herself and Mmm-ed around the food in her mouth before swallowing. “You’re lucky. Being friendly with Sunset Shimmer is an enviable position. She’s kind of royalty around here.”

“That right?” Chrysalis had just found out that Sunset had recovered from a pretty bad reputation. Had she really turned it so far around that she was now queen of the hive…er, school?

“It’s no exaggeration. Turns out she’s a real, honest-to-God princess from, uh…what country was her birth mother from again?”

“France, I think,” Silver Spoon answered.

“Right.” Diamond Tiara took a sip of her Pepsi and returned her attention to Chrysalis. “Of course, her dynasty won’t last forever. In another year, Sunset and her friends will graduate. Then it will be up to us to run things around here, right girls?”

Silver and Cozy both nodded, grunting around the food in their mouths.

“Just stick with us, Chrysalis, and you’ll do okay for yourself.”

The rest of the day went rather well for Chrysalis, and it wasn’t just because she’d figured out the secret to the erasers at the end of her pencils. Having actual friends to talk to made the day seem to fly by. Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon, and Cozy Glow had a witty, if somewhat cruel sense of humor that Chrysalis certainly appreciated. What was more, she felt like she could actually be herself around them. Well, not her true self exactly, but they didn’t bat an eye when she said something weird. On the contrary, her certain… eccentricities seemed only to endear herself more to them. Before she knew it, the last bell of the day rang and she was heading home.

Celestia had taught her how to ride the bus the previous week, but Chrysalis had never ridden it by herself until today. It was inconsequential, and she made her way home easily enough. Celestia’s townhouse was empty when she arrived, as Sable and Celestia were both still at work. Mom and Dad.

It was weird to think of the two of them as her parents, even though for all intents and purposes, that’s exactly what they were to her now. She had only known them for a couple of weeks, and although they had proven to be very kind and caring individuals, Chrysalis couldn’t help but keep them at arm’s length. It wasn’t that she was ungrateful to them for taking her in—quite the contrary, Chrysalis still wasn’t sure how she’d been fortunate enough to end up in their care. After everything she’d done in Equestria, she still wasn’t sure she deserved this life.

Chrysalis pushed those thoughts aside as she plopped down on the couch and turned on the TV. She would get to her homework after today’s episode of Spongebob Squarepants.

Hours later, Chrysalis had completed her math and history assignments and came out of her room. Celestia and Sable were already home, and Sable was preparing dinner, which Chrysalis offered to help him with. Sable assured her that he had everything under control, so Chrysalis went to watch TV with Celestia until Sable called them to eat.

“So, your first day at school go well?” Sable asked when they were all around the table.

Chrysalis was getting tired of answering that question, truth be told, but answered with a pleasant, “It was fine. I enjoyed myself more than I expected to.”

Sable smiled. “Don’t feel the need to sugar-coat it too much. First days at a new school are always a little rough.”

“No, really. I’ve already made some friends,” then with an earnest smile that surprised even her, Chrysalis said, “I’m looking forward to going back tomorrow!”

At that, Celestia laughed. “Well, just give it time. Soon, I bet you’ll hate going to school as much as every kid your age.”

“Perhaps, but….” Chrysalis gave a wistful sigh. “I’ll always be happy to have had the chance to go in the first place. For so many years I… never thought I would ever get to do anything like this. It’s so... normal.”

After a tasty dinner full of light chatter, Chrysalis and Celestia cleaned up and then the three of them sat down to watch a movie. After returning from Equestria, Sable and Celestia made an effort to acquire copies of as many important movies as they could. Some came from their own collections, while others they borrowed from friends, including Twilight Velvet, who had a dozen Disney movies collecting dust from when her kids were young.

It was all part of their effort to get Chrysalis as caught up on human popular culture as she could, so she could better fit in at school, but it was also Chrysalis’s favorite part of her day. Humans had a knack for creating visually spectacular stories that immersed her unlike any in Equestria ever had. She’d already watched Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and many others that were considered to be iconic.

“So what do you want to watch tonight, Chrys?” Sable asked, looking through his and Celestia combined collection of DVDs. “There’s Die Hard—that’s one of my personal favorites—Jaws, the Matrix….”

Chrysalis’s eyes lit up when she saw that their collection had what appeared to be the sequel to her favorite movie they’d showed her thus far.

“That,” she said, pointing at it. “I would like to watch that!”

Sable took one look at it and then looked back at her. “You sure you don’t want to watch something else… anything else?”

The look of despair on Sable’s face was enough to make her certain of her choice, and she smirked. “I’ve made my decision.”

Sable let out a long-suffering sigh, eliciting playful laughter from Celestia. Chrysalis decided to seal the deal with her best puppy dog eyes. “Pleeeeease?”

With another sigh, Sable took out the DVD in question and put it into the player. “Alright, one showing of High School Musical 2, coming up!”

Usually, Chrysalis preferred to sit by herself in the easy chair while Celestia and Sable shared the couch, but this time, she decided to squeeze onto the couch between them. A knowing look passed between the two (physiologically) older people, but they said nothing as the movie began to play. Chrysalis found herself once again lost in another world.

They’d showed her the first High School Musical (a relic from Velvet’s collection, along with the sequel) not because of its importance to popular culture, but to give her an idea of what to expect when she started school. They had, of course, informed her that real high school wouldn’t be quite like the one in the movie. For starters, students didn’t break into random musical numbers (something Chrysalis didn’t quite understand; spontaneous musical numbers were relatively common in Equestria).

Eventually, the credits rolled on the movie, and Sable turned it off with the speed and precision of a gunslinger in the old west.

“Well, I’m gonna get a little grading done, then I’m going to bed,” said Sable, getting up from the couch.

“Thank you,” Chrysalis said.

Sable shrugged, “It’s alright. I actually kind of enjoyed it.”

“I wasn’t talking about the movie,” Chrysalis said, turning her gaze to Celestia sitting next to her. “I was talking about both of you. You’ve given me so much, and… I’m sorry that I’ve been keeping you both at arm’s length.”

Celestia smiled and rubbed her back, and to Chrysalis’s own surprise, she didn’t shrink away from the touch. “You have nothing to apologize for. You’ve been through a lot, and all of this change must be difficult for you. I just hope you know that you can always come to Sable or myself about… well, whatever’s on your mind. We’re here for you.”

Chrysalis felt an uncomfortable pressure building from her chest to her throat. Hearing those words triggered something deep inside her, and Chrysalis found herself not merely accepting Celestia’s touch, but leaning into it. A few moments later, she remembered herself and cleared her throat.

“Well, I should probably get ready for bed,” she said, surprisingly finding it a struggle to keep her voice steady. “School night and all that.”

“Right. Goodnight, Chrysalis.”

“Good night… Celestia.”

With that, Chrysalis made her way to the bathroom to brush her teeth, trying not to think about the fact that for a brief moment, her instinct was to call Celestia “Mom”. That was something she couldn’t quite do yet. Not consciously at least. There was still too much baggage associated with both Celestia and Sable’s Equestrian versions for Chrysalis to feel entirely at ease with them. It wasn’t fair to them, she knew, but she just couldn’t help it.

Her teeth brushed, Chrysalis went to her bedroom with the same sense of unease in her stomach she had every night before bed. Would she have another nightmare tonight? Or would this be one of her few nights of peaceful rest?

The other week she’d spoken with Celestia’s friend Twilight Velvet, who called it an “unofficial counseling session”. Chrysalis hadn’t opened up about much, but did mention the nightmares that had plagued her since returning to the human world. Nightmares about King Sombra, and the horrible things he did to her when she was his slave. She also occasionally dreamed about being the queen of the changelings, which was only a marginal improvement over her other ones. Velvet told her that such nightmares were perfectly normal for a child suffering PTSD, and told her to speak to a professional (or at least, one who wasn’t as close to the situation as she was) if they got any worse.

But when Chrysalis finally drifted off into slumber that night, she didn’t dream about being tortured or about being trapped by the hive mind. She dreamt of being in a soft velvety bed in the forehooves of a princely unicorn stallion. She couldn’t make him out in the darkness of the chamber, but it could only be Shining Armor—the Royal Guard captain she had seduced and brainwashed in the guise of his fiancé as part of her plan to take over Canterlot.

She felt warm and safe in his embrace, but in the hazy confusion of a person unaware that they were dreaming, Chrysalis tried to push herself away from him. This wasn’t who she was anymore, and she would not come between the stallion and the mare he loved.

“What’s wrong, my love?” he asked, and hearing his voice, Chrysalis realized that it wasn’t Shining Armor, but a stallion she’d never met before.

“We can’t do this anymore,” she said. “What if the nobility finds out? They would have your head!”

“I don’t care about that anymore,” said the stallion that she loved. “If I should die tomorrow, I will have been happy simply having been with you!”

“Do not say such things!” she pleaded, perfectly understanding her feelings even though she didn’t understand what they were talking about. “Lord Briarthorn has already declared his intentions to marry me. You know as well as I do that he cares not for me as an individual.”

“I swear to you, I will not let him lay a hoof on you.”

Chrysalis brought a hoof up to caress the face of her lover. “I know, Sunburst.”

Sunburst smiled, took her hoof and kissed it. “Let’s not worry about these matters for now, Calyx. Let us just enjoy this moment.”

Chrysalis awoke the next morning without giving the strange dream a second thought. She was just happy to have gotten a good night’s sleep.

Author's Note:

It's starting! Unlike with previous stories, the upload schedule for this one will be every other week as opposed to every week. But not to worry, Blue and Shin have some tales of their own to fill the time in between!

Oh, and we have a TvTropes page