• Published 21st Oct 2012
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A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - Dee Pad



Can a changeling truly renounce his identity and find happiness amongst those he was taught to hate?

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Bonus Chapter 10 - Celebration

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
By Dee Pad
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Bonus Chapter 10: Celebration

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Finally, the frost had died off. As the year crept into early spring, everypony had been preparing to clean up the leftovers from winter, allowing the warmth of the new season to once again spread across the countryside. No more snow, no more cold. Just the way Shade liked it.

It was only a few days prior that the whole of Ponyville had organized what they referred to as "Winter Wrap-up," an event where everypony in town bands together to clear away snow, or break up the ice on the frozen ponds, or wake up hibernating animals. Of course, as newer citizens of Ponyville—and the kingdom itself—the town's resident changelings pitched in as well. However, being changelings, the tasks they could perform were limited. Since it was an earth pony tradition, magic wasn't allowed, and, despite having wings, they weren't pegasi and could not clear the skies to allow the warm rays of the sun to help melt the snow, and, being carnivores, it was suggested they stay away from the sleepy animals. As such, Shade was relegated to plowing snow while Chamella helped Rarity build nests for the birds that were returning from their southern migration. All in all, although a rather arduous and tiring process, the pair of changelings had fun. Most of all, it really made them feel like they had truly become a part of the community and it was finally beginning to show how far they had come.

Maybe could have done without all the singing though.

They were only a few days into spring now. As Shade lay in bed, conscious, but not really awake, he began to think about what that meant to him. It meant that it had been almost an entire year since he left the Changeling Kingdom. An entire year since he came to Ponyville. An entire year since he met Winter and discovered what it was like to love something so much that you would risk life and limb to protect it, which is exactly what he did.

Almost one year ago.

"EEEYAAAAAAH!"

Shade shot up in bed instantly at the sudden sound of Winter's shriek downstairs. The first thought that came to mind was that something horrible had happened, but more than likely she had simply burned herself making breakfast of something. But before Shade could get out of bed to investigate, the bedroom door burst open and Winter leapt onto the bed, pinning Shade back to the mattress. The pegasus's eyes were wide with delight and she was wearing the biggest grin he had ever seen on her. And clenched between her pearly whites was an envelope that she had already taken the liberty of opening.

"Winter, what the hay was that all about?" Shade inquired, wondering why Winter was seated upon him like an excited puppy.

Winter removed the envelope from her mouth and held it to Shade's face, though a little too close for him to actually analyze it. "This!" she squealed.

Shade pushed her hooves back a tad so that he could get a better look at it. Considering he had lived with Twilight Sparkle for a month upon moving to Ponyville, the changeling had come to recognize the royal seal of Canterlot Castle that emblazoned a lot of the letters the unicorn received and that also decorated this particular note.

"Is this from Canterlot?"

Winter nodded enthusiastically, her toothy grin never giving way for a moment.

Shade had assumed that his next question went without saying, but since Winter seemed too wrapped up in her excitement to answer it, he had to voice it anyway. "Okay, so what is it?"

"Oh, right." Winter shuffled backwards off of Shade, allowing the changeling to sit up properly again. She pulled the letter out of the envelope, unfolded it and held it before herself. "You ready for this?"

Considering he had no idea what "this" was, it was hard to say if he was ready or not. But he just wanted her to spill already and simply nodded so she would get on with it. Winter straightened up, cleared her throat and attempted to look and sound as professional as possible as she began reading, as if she were the Canterlot noble that had written it.

"Dear Shade, Chamella, and Ms. Winter Maple,

It is with great pleasure that I inform you that you are all formally invited to attend this year's Grand Galloping Gala held at the royal palace and taking place this Saturday evening. Furthermore, I have arranged for the three of you to appear as guests of honor."

The professionalism in Winter's voice wavered at that moment, her voice instead shaking with excitement.

"As you may or may not know, the Grand Galloping Gala is an exclusive event for only elite citizens of Canterlot and those with ties to the royal family. However, it would be an honor to have you all here as well as a kind gesture towards one day achieving peace between our peoples. Your tickets are enclosed with this letter. I look forward to seeing you at the Gala.

Sincerely, Princess Celestia."

Winter lowered the letter and stared at Shade, that look of childish wonderment reappearing. "This is amazing! We're actually invited to attend the Grand Galloping Gala! And as guests of honor to boot! Do you know how big a deal this is?!"

Shade fell back onto his pillow and pulled the sheets over himself again. "Nope."

Winter's smile dropped and she grabbed Shade by either side of his head. "Well, it is. It's only the most prestigious event of the year. Only anypony who's anypony ever gets invited to this thing. It is huge for an average pony like me to get an invite. It's unheard of! Princess Celestia even wrote this letter herself! We get. To meet. The princess."

Winter's nose was firmly pressed against Shade's as she continued to smoosh his cheeks together in her unbridled hysteria. The changeling managed to wrench himself free of her grip and rolled over onto his side. "Alright, have fun then."

The pegasus stared in puzzled silence. "What?"

"You can go if you want," he clarified. "But I'm not having anything to do with it."

Winter chuckled awkwardly. "Heh, no no, you are not doing this to me now. Princess Celestia invited us. We have to go."

"And I'm not stopping you."

Winter grabbed him by the horn and made him face her. He recognized that incensed expression on her face. She only usually looked like that when she was super serious about something. But his expression never changed. "I swear to the sun, Shade, you don't want to test me on this."

He continued to stare flatly. He knew exactly what she was trying to do.

"One..."

Winter paused to see his reaction, but his stoic expression never faltered.

"Two..."

There was another pause, longer this time. The seriousness on Winter's face began to slowly dissolve as Shade refused to budge.

"Well?" Shade goaded. "You gonna finish?"

With a sigh, Winter released his horn and fell back into a sitting position. Shade had called her bluff. The changeling, that defeated look on her face making him feel a little guilty, sat up as well.

"Look, the princess doesn't know me as well as you do, so she wouldn't know how I would feel about this sort of thing. I don't care how big this Gala thing is, I don't want to go there just to have a bunch of snooty, judgmental aristocrats tell me how awful changelings are, and I know Chamella would feel the same way, if not even more strongly. Can you understand that?"

Winter simply stared at him, her sullen eyes lacking the eager glint that they had possessed just a minute ago. "Sure, I understand. But do you understand how I feel?"

The question had caught Shade off guard. The dejected tone in her voice was like a stabbing to his heart.

"Growing up, every little filly hears about the Grand Galloping Gala and says, 'I'm going to go to the Gala one day and meet Princess Celestia.' From the moment we first hear about it, we aspire to be the kind of mare that gets invited, fantasizing about what it would be like to mingle with the rich and famous. Of course, as we get older we realize that not all of us are cut from the right cloth, or have the right connections, and we accept that. After all, we were just fillies with active imaginations. Real life had to set in eventually."

Shade had never been brought on a guilt trip this heart-wrenching before. It was like every word was a tiny needle piercing his chitin and making him bleed. He was starting to notice just how selfish he sounded.

"You can't even begin to imagine how it feels to know that that opportunity—the moment you fantasized about for your entire childhood, setting up tea parties with your stuffed animals and pretending you were the belle of the ball—was actually real."

Shade stumbled to try and say something that might cheer her up, anything to end this torment and hopefully prevent her from breaking out into tears. "Winter, I..." He sighed. "I guess I was so busy thinking about myself that I didn't think about this from your point of view. I'm sorry."

There was a hopeful look in Winter's amber eyes. "So does that mean you'll go?"

"If it means that much to you, yeah."

Winter wrapped her hooves around his neck and hugged him tightly. "Thank you." As she pulled back, she raised a query. "So what about you then? You clearly just voiced your opinion on this. I don't want to be the one to blame if you have a bad time."

Shade shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know. I guess we're going to have to figure something out. I've said it a thousand times, changelings don't like being the center of attention. I really wish the princess didn't go and make us guests of honor."

Winter opened her mouth to speak, but hesitated. "Um... Well, what if... you weren't a changeling?"

Shade paused a moment. After how much he had made it clear how he felt about shapeshifting, he was surprised to hear Winter make that suggestion. But he had to admit that there was credibility there. This way they could go and nopony would be any the wiser. Winter would be happy and he didn't have to stand against the snobs of the Canterlot elite. "You know, that's not a bad idea."

Winter sighed with relief. "Oh, good. I was worried that you might be mad that I'd even bring it up. But if you're all for it, great." Winter tapped her chin in thought. "So I guess now we have to ask Rarity if she can make us some clothes for the occasion. A nice tux or something for you and a pretty dress for me. We're guests of honor so we should look like we belong there."

"Then there's the matter of convincing Chamella to go, too," Shade mentioned.

"Well, we've got a week to prepare, so it shouldn't be a big deal." Having said that, Winter's former giddiness came back on her, letting out an excited squeak. "I still can't believe we're going to the Grand Galloping Gala! It's going to be the best night ever!" She leaned back in to plant a grateful kiss on Shade's lips.

***** ***** *****

Shade hadn't really given any thought as to where exactly he was going to be tonight. As he gazed upward, memories of that fateful day when everything changed flooded back to him. The marble and golds of Canterlot surrounded him, every inch of the capitol city giving off an air of cleanliness and sophistication. The pure white buildings seemed to glow under the light of the full moon that hung high in the night sky. The city, despite it's reputation for being fancy and orderly, was quite busy tonight, the cobblestone streets filled with ponies dressed up in their most expensive attire and all headed for the same place.

Canterlot Castle.

Ahead were the majestic spires of the royal palace, resting comfortably against the side of the mountain that the whole city had been built into. This was Shade's second time in Canterlot. Honestly, he never thought he would ever come back here, not after what happened the first time. But now, here he was, standing before the castle that he had helped attack and invade not one year ago. A sense of paranoia had set in, Shade feeling as if, were somepony to recognize him as a changeling, he would be arrested and imprisoned simply for being there.

Luckily, there were no changelings present tonight, at least not as far as anypony could tell. In order to avoid any conflict with the populace that he and his kind had once accosted, Shade was wearing the only guise that he was known to don: that of a white unicorn stallion, the same one that he had first arrived in Ponyville as. He may have been a guest of honor here tonight, but that didn't mean he had to stand in the spotlight, not if he could help it. The only difference in his appearance now compared to then was the black tuxedo he was wearing, generously crafted by Ponyville's resident fashionista.

Of course, he wasn't the only changeling that was invited to the Gala. He and Winter miraculously managed to convince Chamella to attend the party as well. Though very reluctant, the fact that Shade had told her they would be disguising themselves to remain outside of everypony's interest had given her enough reason to go, as long as Shade remained with her the whole time. The last thing she wanted was to get lost and have to ask around.

As for her disguise, she opted to appear tonight as Winter's cousin, Holly Boughs, who she had become acquainted with some time ago, now sporting a dark grey coat and a mane of pink and baby blue, as well as a new pair of wings. However, what she neglected to consider was that she was going to stick out regardless as Holly was a rather tall mare, not so tall as to become a strain for her to maintain her form, but tall enough to make using Shade as a shield difficult since they were practically the same size now. In order to offset her stature, she requested her dress for the Gala be as simple as possible and not eye-catching in the least; a very simplistic, violet dress that hugged her form. No gemstones, no sequins, no discernible features whatsoever. Just enough to look sophisticated, but not overly fancy.

They were only a short walk away from the castle gates now. A pair of Royal Guards stood stoically on either side and a mare with glasses and a black mane tied into a bun greeted each guest as they entered, verifying that they were indeed on the guest list by checking the golden ticket that they had received with their invitation.

Shade breathed a deep sigh as they gradually closed the gap to the castle.

"Still nervous?"

Shade turned to the soft, comforting smile on Winter's face. She looked absolutely stunning tonight. Although he and Chamella had requested that Rarity tone things down a bit for their wardrobe tonight, Winter gave no such limitations. She wore a flowing, white gown, the hem a bright red and decorated with synthetic maple leaves of red and orange. To top off the ensemble was a laurel crown designed to match the motif of her dress with golden leaves.

But no matter how beautiful she looked, Shade couldn't remove his mind from his quandaries. "I just feel like I shouldn't be here."

"There's no need to be worried, Shade."

He looked past Winter to Twilight Sparkle, who was walking with them. She and her friends had all been invited as well, to no surprise, and had dressed in gorgeous gowns that Rarity had designed for them a long time ago and fit the style and personality of each of the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony to a "T." The pair of changelings were put a little at ease to have arrived in Canterlot with them.

Shade grumbled at Twilight's unwarranted assurance. "That's easy for you to say. You didn't try to usurp Celestia's throne."

Twilight was unfazed by Shade's retort and continued to smile. "Princess Celestia is exactly why you shouldn't be worried. You've met the princess before. She likes you guys, she even asks about you from time to time. As long you have her trust, you have the kingdom's trust."

Shade still seemed unsure. "I doubt it'll be as simple as that."

The lavender mare shrugged. "I guess we'll just have to see."

The group approached the front gate of the castle. Shade kept shifting his gaze to the pair of armored guards as they each flashed their tickets to the mare at the entrance. Somehow, he was surprised that he and Chamella managed to get inside hassle free. He needed to stop being so paranoid.

But they were inside now. Inside Canterlot Castle. Despite everything that happened during the invasion, Shade had never actually been inside the castle before apart from the tower where the Elements of Harmony were held. It was certainly a stunning display. The expansive ballroom they were lead into was about as ornate as it gets. The white, marble floors were polished to an impeccable shine; it was almost like walking on a mirror, the reflections only broken up by the plush, red carpet that stretched inward from the entrance. Red banners hung from the walls all around the room, each depicting a symbol of the sun and moon together, an amalgamation of the two princesses' cutie marks. There were large, marble columns spaced out along the perimeter of the room as well, expertly carved and giving the castle a somewhat antiquated atmosphere. Near the back of the room were two enormous windows, stretching all the way to the ceiling and giving a clear view of the moonlit city below as well as Canterlot Valley beyond that. And in the space between the windows was a large statue of Princess Celestia herself, though designed with some artistic flair. On the opposite side of the ballroom from the statue was a tall staircase that branched out both ways upon reaching the wall, leading to parts of the castle unknown. Another banner hung from the wall at the top as well, this one depicting a full scene of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, along with their celestial orbs, watching over the citizens of Equestria below. As if the atmosphere weren't posh enough already, the ballroom was filled with the serene sound of classical music. A four-pony ensemble stood upon a stage on one side of the room, busily performing what was essentially background noise as the guests idly mingled.

And it was the guests that was perhaps the most attention-grabbing feature of the room. The ballroom, as expansive as it was, was absolutely teeming with ponies, all dolled up and dressed for the occasion. Shade had been told that the Grand Galloping Gala was a very exclusive event, yet it appeared that half of Canterlot was gathered in this one room. Thankfully, the sheer size of the room still allowed freedom of movement, though Shade couldn't help but notice that Chamella was still sticking rather close to him, which admittedly looked kind of odd given her current form.

Contrary to the anxiety in the female changeling, Winter was awestruck. The pegasus's mouth hung open in a wide grin as she took in the carefully crafted beauty of the castle. It was like bringing a foal to a toy store; she didn't know what to do first, but she was elated regardless. This was her first time in Canterlot Castle, and even her first time in the city itself. Despite the proximity to Ponyville, Winter had never visited Canterlot, she told Shade. She never had any reason to go as she had no family here and the shops were far too expensive for her budget. Who'd have thought her first visit to Canterlot would be via an invitation from the princess herself?

"I can't believe we're actually here," Winter exclaimed as took in the sight of the ballroom. She looked at Shade with a giddy smile. "I might have a hard time containing my excitement. If it looks like I might start freaking out or something, try and stop me. I really don't want to embarrass myself tonight, especially not in front of the princess."

Shade chuckled at her enthusiasm. "Will do."

Chamella's gaze shifted back and forth across the room, taking particular note of all the ponies there and how important they looked. "There's an awful lot of people here..." she mentioned, her timidness not fitting at all with Holly's huskier voice.

Rarity stepped forward with vigor and poise. "I know. It's wonderful. Anypony who's anypony is here tonight. From Fancy Pants to Hoity Toity. From Photo Finish to Sapphire Shores. No matter how many times I might attend the Gala, it never gets any less exciting to mingle with the rich and famous."

"Don't forget The Wonderbolts," Rainbow Dash added, pointing out a group of pegasi across the room dressed in blue uniforms.

Rarity nodded. "Of course. But the real treat is getting to meet the princess. Although we've all met her beforehoof, I suppose."

Winter nervously scuffed a hoof on the polished, marble floor. "I haven't. At least, not directly. She's visited Ponyville a few times, sure, but I'm the only one out of the lot of us that hasn't actually talked to her. Even Shade and Chamella have met her."

Fluttershy took notice of the lack of enthusiasm in her voice. "Aren't you looking forward to it though? Princess Celestia always takes the time to greet her guests at the Gala."

"I guess I'm just afraid that I'll do something stupid and embarrass myself in front of her."

Shade kindly placed a hoof on her shoulder. "Relax, Winter. The princess said that she was even looking forward to meeting you one day."

Winter groaned. "That makes me even more worried. Now you're just putting pressure on me to make a good first impression."

"Oh. Uh, sorry," he apologized.

"Do you think there are people here looking for us?" Chamella asked, apparently too distracted by the crowd to pay heed to the conversation. "We're supposed to be guests of honor, right? So that means that everypony knows we're here."

Applejack tapped her chin in thought. "Come to think of it, Ah don't recall nothin' about no 'guests of honor' in mah invitation."

"Nor I," Rarity added.

"Perhaps since we were already acquainted, the princess saw no need to mention it to us," Twilight surmised.

Rarity glanced around at the conversing socialites and gentlecolts, paying particular attention to their expressions. "That doesn't seem likely. If I know Canterlot as well as I think I do, then I'd imagine that many rumors regarding a changeling presence would be floating about as we speak, especially considering this was the very site of the invasion last year. Yet I see no signs of unrest here at all."

Shade raised an eyebrow, perplexed. "So wait, you're saying that these people might not even know we're here? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of being a guest of honor?"

"I suppose that's a possibility," Twilight conceded. "I wonder why she would do that. You know what, I'm going to go find her and ask about it. Hopefully she can clear this up."

Twilight left the group and ascended the large staircase in the room, disappearing behind one of the doors at the top.

"I suppose there's no point in concerning ourselves with it until we can get a definitive answer," Rarity said with a shrug. "We may as well mingle a bit. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to attempt to find Sapphire Shores and perhaps arrange another business venture."

Each of Twilight's friends dispersed from the group as well, all heading their own way. Applejack mentioned drumming up business for Sweet Apple Acres by advertising it to the local big wigs, Rainbow Dash wasted no time meeting up with The Wonderbolts, Fluttershy stuck close to Rarity, and Pinkie Pie began bounding between various servers and sampling each of the hors d'oeuvres one by one.

"I guess we should mingle too, huh?" Winter suggested to her changeling companions.

Shade looked over the crowd one more time, his expression showing thought and determination. "Actually, I need to find out something."

"Find out what?" Chamella asked, but Shade had already started making his way through the crowd.

Shade had managed to slip through the sea of ponies, taking care not to accidentally bump into anypony. There was a question that he needed to ask, something he'd been curious about for a long time now, but hadn't really sought out the answer to. He found some space near a long table covered by a fancy, white tablecloth. Though servers were wandering about the ballroom with small food items for the mingling guests, the table was laden with much more filling delicacies, and larger portions, and the very center featured a sizable ice sculpture of a nondescript mare. Various guests had gathered near the table for the purposes of wine tasting and idle conversation. Just the opportunity Shade was looking for.

The disguised changeling strode up near to a couple under the pretense of grabbing a small pastry to eat. Shade kept his ears perked up to focus on the couple while attempting to drown out the background noise.

"I swear, the wines that the princess accrues for the Gala get more delectable every year," the stallion said with a haughty, yet respectful, tone.

His wife nodded in agreement. "You can't get wine like this around here. She must have had it imported."

Shade had no interest in the wine, but what the stallion had said gave him a way to interject into the conversation. He shifted slightly closer to the pair. "Excuse me, sorry for interrupting, but you said 'every year,' right? I take it that means you've been to the Gala a few times."

The couple gave Shade a look that suggested that perhaps he could have been a little more courteous, but the stallion answered him regardless. "That's right. In fact, this is our tenth year of attendance."

"It's not often we see ponies as young as yourself at the Gala. How many years have you been attending?" the mare asked.

"Well, this is my first actually," Shade responded.

"I see," the stallion murmured. "A young pony attending the Gala for the first time."

"I seem to recall something of the sort happening two years ago," his wife elaborated. "A group of young mares from Ponyville had been invited and turned the event into an absolute farce." She looked over her shoulder and could pinpoint a few of the mares in question. "I see they've been invited again this year as well. Thankfully, they seem to be behaving themselves thus far."

"Actually, I'm from Ponyville too," Shade mentioned, hoping to put this conversation on the path that he wanted.

The stallion raised an eyebrow, seeming both slightly off put and intrigued. "Is that so? I'm surprised that anypony from that little town would receive an invitation. Aside from Filthy Rich of course. It wasn't until after the Gala that we learned that those troublesome mares turned out to be the friends of Princess Celestia's personal protege."

"You don't think there's anypony there that's important or... unique enough to get an invite?" Shade was trying to steer the topic the best he could without making his intentions too obvious. He just needed to drop the right buzz words.

The mare hummed in thought. "Come to think of it, I've heard a rumor about that town recently. Supposedly there are changelings living there."

Bingo.

"Would you be able to shed any light on that, young man?" the stallion inquired.

Shade grinned. "Actually, it's true."

The couple seemed thoroughly surprised by this news. "Really?" the mare said. "And you're okay with this?"

Shade shrugged. "Why not? I know for a fact that they're not hurting anypony."

The stallion furrowed his brow and scoffed. "And how can you be sure of that? Would you really trust them after what they did to our fair city? They're nothing but bloodthirsty beasts."

Shade had to force himself not to scowl at that insult. "Don't you think it's a little prejudiced to judge an entire race based on what one group of individuals did?"

"'One group?!'" the stallion scoffed. "There were hundreds! Thousands possibly! They tried to kill us and usurp the throne. Are you saying you would honestly forgive them for that?"

"Is it so hard to believe that, out of those thousands, there would be even a few individuals who regret it and would try and make up for what they did?"

"Hmph. I should think not," the stubborn stallion replied. "Had that been the case, wouldn't they have not attacked at all?"

"Sometimes you don't realize the mistakes you've made until it's too late." Shade had said that almost as much to himself as he did to the couple. It seemed almost hypocritical of him to expect forgiveness from the people of Canterlot when he hadn't truly forgiven himself yet.

"You seem awfully defensive of those changelings," the mare pointed out. "Are you acquainted with them?"

Shade shrugged in response. "You can say that. And I'm sure if they were here, they'd want to apologize to everypony here for their participation in the attack, even if you weren't willing to forgive them."

The stallion scoffed again. "Then I suppose it's just as well they aren't, isn't it?"

Shade wanted to continue his defense, but the sound of Twilight's voice calling out to him effectively ended the conversation. He stepped away without saying another word to the couple, simply giving the pair a distasteful glower before making to seek out Twilight to see what she wanted.

He had gotten an answer to the question that was on his mind, though perhaps not the one he was hoping for. It was great that the residents of Ponyville had come to accept them as their own, but what of the rest of Equestria who hardly knew that he and Chamella existed? If that conversation was an accurate representation of the average Equestrian citizen, then it appeared their thoughts about changelings hadn't changed much—if at all—since the invasion. It wasn't very reassuring, but that wasn't going to stop him from trying to earn their trust anyway.

Shade had finally managed to locate Twilight amongst the crowd, who was already gathered with Winter and Chamella. "Hey. Did you talk to the princess?"

Twilight nodded with a smile. "I did. She didn't actually give me any details, but she said there was a reason why nopony else's invitations mentioned you guys. She said she's going to be coming out here herself to explain in full."

That was both relieving and vexing. It was nice of Celestia to keep Shade and Chamella out of the spotlight, but why would she bother to label them as guests of honor if she hadn't intended to mention it to anypony else? And to give a cryptic answer like that to Twilight only served to cause more confusion. Couldn't she just say that she was respecting their desire to go unnoticed, or was there another reason entirely as to why she did it? He would just have to wait until she showed up so he could talk to her.

The sound of the large doors at the top of the staircase opening effectively silenced the entire ballroom, and for good reason. Princess Celestia herself, in all her regal glory, stepped forth from the leftmost doors, stopping at the peak of the staircase where it met the wall and branched off in both directions. From her vantage point, she could look out over the entire room, taking note of who was in attendance. Unlike the many guests at the castle, the princess was not garbed in any formal attire aside from her usual regalia. Though, considering who she was, it was not likely that anypony really had a problem with that, or if they did, kept their mouths shut.

All conversations were brought to a halt, every pair of eyes now trained on the princess of the sun, awaiting whatever it was she might say. For just a brief moment, Shade noticed her glance in his direction with a small smile before turning her gaze back onto the crowd as a whole.

"Fillies and Gentlecolts," she started, her voice clear and soothing, "I thank you all for attending this year's Grand Galloping Gala, and I sincerely hope you are all enjoying your evening thus far." Many of the guests raised their glasses as a sign of affirmation before Celestia continued. "As I'm sure you are all aware, the Grand Galloping Gala is one of the biggest and most prestigious events of the year, and to be invited is considered an incredible honor. But this year is special."

The guests shared confused, yet interested, looks, curious about her meaning. Shade felt Winter grab his hoof and hold it tightly, her giddiness toward hearing the princess's speech barely contained.

"Next month marks the first anniversary of Prince Shining Armor and Princess Candance's marriage. And this year's Gala is in celebration of that. But it also marks the anniversary of something perhaps more serious and, to many, something we would rather forget. I am, of course, referring to the changeling invasion of Canterlot."

Quiet murmurs broke out within the crowd. Chamella, though wearing a disguise, felt like everypony was looking at her as that feeling of guilt once again manifested itself within both she and Shade.

"Though it was a miracle that no lives were lost that day, it was still a traumatic experience for the residents of our fair capitol city. And to make matters worse, I'm sure many of you have heard the rumors floating about. Rumors that changelings are living amongst us."

Several guests were heard gasping at this revelation, while others who had indeed heard these rumors simply continued to murmur incoherently.

Princess Celestia, seeing the worry and fear that her subjects were now exhibiting, smiled as she prepared to quell those emotions. "And I can assure you, those rumors are true. However, those changelings are not like those who accosted us. They are not like Queen Chrysalis. These two changelings I speak of voluntarily left their homeland and wish for nothing more than to live their lives in peace. I know this because I have met them and spoke with them. Although changelings are most notorious for deception, I could sense the honesty in their words. These two changelings have been through a lot just to know what it's like to have lives like ours, which, given their history, we may have taken for granted. They have not only earned the trust of those they live with, but have made friends, found jobs, and even fallen in love."

Winter lovingly nuzzled into Shade's neck.

"Perhaps it may take more time yet for them to earn everypony's trust, but I feel that they deserve a second chance as long as they are willing to take it and make good of it. Which is why I invited them here tonight as guests of honor."

Once again, the crowd broke out into murmurs, eyes darting to and fro in an attempt to spot the changelings, though having no luck.

"You can search all you want, but you will not see them. You may have actually already met them and even spoke with them as they are here tonight not as changelings, but as ponies. Because I believe they have the hearts and minds to be one of us, and I'd like to welcome them as I welcome all of you: as my subjects. And I sincerely hope that you are all willing to welcome them as well." With that, Celestia's speech was over and she descended the staircase to join her guests, stopping to speak with Twilight Sparkle at the bottom.

Shade knew that not everypony was going to be willing to trust them right off the bat, but hopefully Celestia's words were enough to convince them to at least give them a shot. He couldn't help but look back to the couple he was speaking with earlier and give them a sly smirk. Whether or not they were able to properly interpret that was unclear, but the perplexed expressions on their faces was satisfying nonetheless.

Winter gave Shade a playful nudge. "See? Twilight said the princess would clear everything up. Do you feel better now?"

Shade let out a sigh of relief. "Yeah, much."

"I really hope this means that we can live worry free from now on," Chamella said.

Shade nodded. "Me, too. I guess this night turned out better than I was expecting."

"Shade."

The trio turned to see Twilight standing there with Princess Celestia, who was smiling softly down at them. Winter's mouth went agape with child-like wonder as she gazed up at the majestic form of the princess. She suddenly gasped and quickly bowed in hopes that she wasn't being rude by staring. Shade simply raised an eyebrow at Winter's odd behavior.

Celestia let out a soft giggle at the display. "There's no need for that, my little pony. We're all friends here."

Though hesitantly, Winter rose again, the smile on her face clearly showing signs of great restraint. It was the first time the princess had ever spoken to her.

Twilight spoke up. "Princess Celestia has somepony she wants you guys to meet."

"Come with me." Celestia turned around and gestured for Shade, Winter and Chamella to follow her up the stairs and through the door she had originally emerged from.

The group of five ponies—one unicorn, one pegasus, two changelings in disguise, and one alicorn princess—trotted silently down an unoccupied hallway of Canterlot Castle. Shade looked around at the decor, which was largely similar to the ballroom they had just come from. Marble pillars along the walls; the kingdom's banners hanging from the ceiling; a red carpet stretching the entire length of the hall. There was no expense spared in making the castle look as impressive as possible.

But the silence was perhaps the largest difference compared to the ballroom. With nopony else present, the halls were dead quiet. So quiet in fact that even their muffled hoofsteps upon the plush, red carpet seemed to echo throughout the hall. Even stranger than that were the grins being worn by both Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle. It made Shade feel as if they were hiding something, which made both he and Chamella a little uneasy. Conversely to how they felt, Winter was in absolute awe, not only from being in the presence of Princess Celestia herself, but being able to take in the majesty of the Royal Palace first hoof.

Celestia halted at the end of the hallway and the group now stood before a grand double door. Given its intricate design and depiction of the princess's cutie mark upon it, it could only be the door to the throne room. With an elegant flourish of her golden, magical aura, Celestia swung the doors open to allow them inside.

And what Shade saw made him wish he had stayed home after all.

The room itself was far more decorative than any of the few rooms they had seen yet. Along the walls on either side of the room, accompanying the usual marble columns, were windows decorated with enormous, stain glass mosaics depicting important events in Equestrian history, from Celestia's battle with Nightmare Moon, to the corrupted alicorn's defeat at the hooves of Twilight and her friends, and, most recently, Twilight's assistant, Spike, saving the Crystal Empire from the tyrant King Sombra, which the little dragon would not shut up about during Shade and Chamella's lessons for a good week or two after in happened. Aside from the windows, the most noteworthy thing in the room was the throne itself. Much like how Shade remembered Chrysalis's throne being positioned, Celestia's throne was perched upon a raised, two-tier platform made entirely of, what appeared to be, gold. The throne was accessible via short ramps, one for each tier, and, like the halls leading up to it, covered by a red carpet. At the base of the lower tier, on either side of the ramp, were large bouquets of violet flowers as well as small pools of water that flowed from the edge of the platform. It all seemed like it would be more at home in the castle's statue garden than cooped up inside.

But what was far more pertinent in Shade's mind were the trio of ponies standing at the base of the golden platform. One of them was Princess Luna, who Shade, Winter, and Chamella had previously met. It was the other two that Luna was talking to that were worrisome. The first was a unicorn stallion, his coat a pure white with unshorn fetlocks and a mane of multiple shades of blue. He was wearing a red, ceremonial, military jacket emblazoned with the image of his cutie mark upon its straps: a six-pointed starburst on a silver shield. The other pony was a mare. Not only that, but she was, like Celestia and Luna, an alicorn. The mare boasted a bright, pink coat and a long, well-groomed mane with purple, pink, and pale yellow streaks. Additionally, she donned a golden crown and matching regalia on her chest and hooves and her cutie mark depicted the image of a crystal heart.

Together they were Equestria's newest royal couple and two ponies that Shade hoped he'd never have to meet.

Shining Armor and Princess Mi Amore Cadenza.

Shade, a sudden panic setting in at the revelation of who these ponies were that Celestia wanted them to meet, leaned over to whisper to Twilight. "Twilight, this a bad idea. A really bad idea."

Twilight tried to give him a reassuring smile. "I know how you must feel right now, but I think it's very important for you to at least make an attempt to reconcile with them. They're my brother and sister-in-law after all. I'd feel awful if my students couldn't get along with my family."

Shade let out a deep, apprehensive sigh. He could see that Chamella was feeling much the same way as he was, having fallen slightly behind the others and trying to stay out of sight. As he turned to Winter, he noticed that look of wonderment in her eyes had risen to new levels. They were now in the presence of not just one princess, but three, and a prince to boot. Her reaction to the situation was in stark contrast to the two changelings.

Twilight trotted ahead of the group and up to Shining Armor with a big grin. Without warning, she gave him a loving hug, seemingly catching him by surprise. The stallion chuckled at his little sister's affection. "Heya, Twily. Good to see you again."

"What, I don't get a hug?" said Princess Cadance with mock jealousy.

"Of course you do," Twilight giggled. She gave the pink princess the same treatment she had given her brother and hugged her.

Shining Armor glanced in Celestia's direction, intent on greeting her. However, his attention was diverted by the trio of unfamiliar ponies that accompanied her and his face contorted into a scowl. Shade could feel his gaze drilling a hole straight through him. It was pretty clear by his reaction that he was previously made aware of their identities, most likely by Twilight.

Celestia, unaware of the daggers that Shining Armor was shooting towards her guests of honor, smiled. "I trust the three of you have been enjoying yourselves."

"We've simply been chatting about the affairs of the Crystal Empire," Luna explained. "Nothing too exciting, but fascinating nonetheless."

"Is that them?" Shining Armor asked in a low, icy tone, ignoring Celestia's greeting and dispatching of all pleasantries. The smile that Cadance had been wearing had suddenly vanished as well when she looked at the three ponies. Though there was no anger in her eyes, she actually looked somewhat frightened, but who could blame her?

Sensing the tension that had suddenly built in the throne room, Celestia's smile faded as well. She nodded in response. "That's right. These are the changelings we told you about."

Hearing that only seemed to intensify Shining's glower. He spoke directly to Shade. "We know what you are, so stop hiding."

Shade turned to Chamella who was looking back at him with slight fear and worry. Admittedly, he, too, was concerned about what Shining Armor planned to do in this situation. Here they stood, in front of the two ponies that had every right to hate changelings. The two ponies who were affected most by the invasion. Shade took a deep breath and gave Chamella an affirming nod. Both of their bodies lit up with emerald flames and their disguises vanished, exposing themselves for what they really were. Cadance instinctively took a step backward, while Shining Armor tried his best to hide his gritting teeth in the true face of the creatures who assaulted them.

Twilight placed herself between the royal couple and the changelings. "This is Shade and Chamella," she introduced, trying to explain as calmly as she could in an effort to keep the peace. "They're not here to hurt anypony, I promise."

As much as he wanted to just keep his mouth shut and wait for this whole thing to come to its inevitable end, Shade felt like he had to say something to at least try and convince the two of them that they weren't bad people. An apology was probably a good place to start. "I'm... I'm sorry about everything that happened. We're not the same people we were back then, I swear. If we could go back and change things, we would."

That didn't seem to calm Shining Armor down much, if at all. "Well, ironically, you can't. What happened, happened, and you can't change it now."

Shade knew that, but his expression fell regardless and he turned his gaze away from them.

Cadance stepped forward, but stayed close to her husband. "You have to understand that that whole ordeal was a very traumatic experience for both of us. I still have nightmares about it. It's going to be difficult to overcome that."

"I can't believe that Twilight, my own sister, actually trusts you after what you did to us," Shining spat.

Twilight stepped in again. "Shining, I've known them a long time now. I've seen the struggles that they've had to go through and I've seen the goodness in their hearts. They want nothing more than to get past this just as much as you do."

"I can't believe you're actually buying that junk," the stallion said in disbelief. "This is exactly what they do: they lie, they deceive, and, when you're least expecting it, they strike. You're smarter than that, Twilight."

Twilight glared harshly at her brother. "I'm smart enough to see when somepony is worth trusting. If it weren't for that, you'd be married to the queen of the changelings right now."

"They attacked us! And they almost killed Cadance!"

"'They' didn't do anything!" Twilight shot back as she pointed to Shade and Chamella. "They were dragged into it by Chrysalis's lies, going along with false stories about how Princess Celestia banished them when it was the changelings' greed and blood lust that doomed them to a life of struggles and hardship. Is it so wrong for them to want what we have and achieve it through honest means?"

Once again, Shining Armor was unfazed. "I'm sure that's what they told you, but that doesn't mean it's the truth." He glared at Shade once more. "You two were here during the invasion, right?" Shade nodded. "And how many ponies did you attack and injure, huh? You charged in and tried to kill us like the bloodthirsty monsters you are. You expect us to forgive you for that?"

Shade's brow furrowed. He was reaching his breaking point. There was only so much of this he was willing to take before he lashed back, but, for the sake of not falling into the stereotype that Shining Armor was fixating on, he decided to retaliate with words only. "Let me ask you something: how many ponies were actually killed when we invaded? If I recall Princess Celestia's words correctly, that would be zero. Do you know how many changelings died that day? No, you wouldn't, because their corpses were thrown back to the Changeling Kingdom with the rest of us. Maybe it didn't bother me too much back then, but I witnessed my brethren being impaled by your spears, sliced by your swords, and skewered by your arrows. For a bunch of peace-loving herbivores, you can get pretty violent yourselves. But no, I don't expect you to forgive us. You were just defending yourselves, I get that. But don't think that we weren't affected by that just as much as you were."

Celestia stood beside Luna and whispered to her sister. "This is not going as well as I'd hoped."

"Perhaps the Gala was not an appropriate setting for this 'reconciliation,'" Luna noted.

Twilight once again interjected in an attempt to keep the two stallions from ripping each others' throats out. "Okay, guys, that's enough. It's pretty clear you all feel very strongly about this, but the fact of the matter is that Shade and Chamella are good people, whether you believe them or not."

"Excuse me," Cadance interjected, "but who is this?"

The others followed her pointing hoof to Winter. The pegasus, who had been completely silent up until this point, glanced at the princess in surprise. "M-Me?"

Cadance nodded. "Twilight only mentioned two changelings. Are you a changeling as well?"

Winter, somewhat flabbergasted that the princess of the Crystal Empire was addressing her, shakily answered. "Well, n-no. M-My name's Winter Maple. I'm, um... Shade's girlfriend."

Cadance was taken aback by that response. Shining Armor, on the other hoof, only seemed even more incensed by this information. "You see? He's already got some poor mare under his control!"

Shade bore his fangs angrily at the accusation. "I am not controlling her! I would never do that to her! I love her!"

Shining Armor fell silent for a moment before speaking again, his voice full of skepticism. "You 'love' her? Is that even possible?"

Winter wrapped a hoof around Shade's leg and pulled herself close to him. "It is. And I love him too. You wouldn't believe the things we had to go through for this relationship."

"You're right, I don't," Shining said with a scowl.

Cadance spoke to Winter again, her voice showing a hint of intrigue. "You two really love each other?"

Winter gazed lovingly into Shade's eyes, and he into hers. "With all our hearts."

"Cadance, you don't actually believe them, do you?" Shining Armor asked, appalled that his wife was even going along with this.

"I guess there's only one way to find out for sure."

Cadance stepped forward and lowered her head toward Winter and Shade. Her horn lit up with a powder blue aura and she stood motionless for several seconds, eyes closed in deep concentration. The confused couple simply waited for the princess to do whatever it was she was doing. As she continued to apply her magic, Cadance's expression contorted slightly, as if noticing something she hadn't been expecting. Suddenly, the light of her horn intensified and burst with an audible pop, her aura dissipating immediately afterward and causing the princess to jolt back in surprise. Shade and Winter watched her curiously as her eyes darted back and forth between them, seemingly confused by something.

Finally, a smile appeared on her face that, in and of itself, was enough to ease Shade and Winter's concerns. "Well, I guess there's no doubt about it now."

Shining Armor raised an eyebrow. "What happened? What did you see?"

Cadance turned to her husband with a reassuring grin. "I could feel an incredible bond of love between the two of them. Giving and receiving on both ends. I can sense that he loves her just as much as she loves him, if not more. I feel one hundred percent confident that their love is pure and everlasting."

"See?" Twilight said to her brother. "I told you we can trust them."

Shining looked at Shade again. The changeling gave him a friendly smile as he held Winter's hoof. Shining sighed. "I... I guess I owe you an apology. I suppose I shouldn't have just assumed that no changelings were capable of doing good things and being good people. I trust Cadance more than I trust myself, so if she says you're okay, then I believe her. I'm sorry."

Shade waved a hoof dismissively. "Forget about it. Honestly, I can't say I blame you after what happened. I'm just glad we can put this ugliness behind us. So, on behalf of the changeling race, I'm sorry too."

Shade held his hoof out to Shining Armor in a gesture of friendship. The prince wore a genuine smile as he accepted and shook with Shade.

"You two have an incredible bond unlike anything I've ever seen," said Cadance. "I wish you both nothing but happiness."

Winter smiled gratefully. "Thank you."

Princess Celestia, having watched the whole thing play out and satisfied with the final result, started making her way to the exit. "Now that all that is sorted out, what say we return to the party?"

At the princess's behest, Twilight, Shade, Winter, Chamella, as well as Princess Luna, Cadance, and Shining Armor, began heading back to the ballroom. However, as they approached the door to the throne room, Cadance reached out to Winter.

"Miss Maple, may I have a moment?"

Winter stopped in her tracks, but her company continued without her. "Huh? What is it?"

Princess Cadance trotted up alongside her, briefly glancing forward at Shade before he left the room. She looked at Winter inquisitively. "Does he know?"

Winter's eyes widened, seemingly worried by the question. "K-Know what?"

The alicorn frowned at her response. "You haven't told him? Don't you think he has a right to know?"

Winter struggled for a response, looking uneasy and avoiding eye contact with the princess. "I-I don't know what you're talking about. I'm sorry, I have to catch up with the others. It was an honor to meet you, Your Highness," she hastily said, offering a quick bow before moving to catch up with Shade.

Cadance stood there for a moment, looking a touch concerned as she watched the flustered pegasus hurriedly leaving the room, but then shook her head and smiled. Shining Armor, who had stayed back a little, walked up to her with a curious expression. "What was that all about?"

Cadance chuckled. "Oh, nothing. Just girl talk. Come on, let's go and join them."

***** ***** *****

Time ticked ever forward into the night, yet the goings-on at the Grand Galloping Gala showed no signs of winding down. It was past midnight now, but hardly anypony seemed to notice or care. Who could blame them really? They were enjoying themselves. No sense in letting the party come to a premature end as long as the guests were adequately entertained.

Perhaps what was most interesting to Shade was the fact that his presence there was not a deterrent. After hearing what one couple had to say about their opinions regarding changelings, he had expected many of the other guests to be ill at ease and may even elect to leave early knowing that there were changelings skulking around. But that wasn't the case whatsoever. If anypony had left the castle after learning about them, it certainly wasn't noticed; the crowd still seemed just as large as it was when the night began.

Shade, once again donning his disguise, stood off to the side of the room alone, watching everything that was going on. Pinkie Pie dragged Chamella off with her, insisting that she partake in the high-class cuisine of the capitol city, while Winter went with Twilight and spent some more time with Celestia and Luna. He had never seen her so happy before. He was starting to feel like he was the catalyst that was allowing her to see her dreams become reality, a realization that gave him even more purpose than he already had to keep their relationship strong. Shade had made it his goal to keep Winter happy and smiling. So far, he felt like he was doing a pretty good job.

Ever since they came back from the throne room, Celestia, Luna, Twilight, and even Shining Armor and Cadance, had been conversing with the guests. With a bit of curious eavesdropping, Shade noticed that almost every pony they spoke with eventually brought up the subject of their guests of honor. And they all spoke of it with a smile, doing and saying whatever they could to ease the minds of the general populace. With several of the kingdom's highest authorities speaking so kindly about the two changelings, it was difficult for the once-skeptical ponies to not trust them. Even after their unpleasant meeting with Shining Armor and Princess Cadance, they, too, spoke highly of them.

This was the final step towards actually integrating themselves into pony society: acceptance. And it was actually happening.

"Hey, what's with that smile?"

Shade saw Winter emerge from the crowd and sidle up beside him. Honestly, Shade hadn't even noticed that he was smiling, but, considering the thoughts that were going through his head right now and what he was witnessing here tonight, how could he not? He lovingly nuzzled his ivory partner.

"I was just thinking about how I need to thank you."

"Hm? Thank me for what?" she asked with a tilt of her head.

"For making come here tonight. If you hadn't done that, then I'd just be sitting at home and nothing would have been resolved. But, because I am here, I was not only given a chance to apologize to the two ponies whose lives I almost helped ruin, but I got to see everypony else who once thought of us as heartless monsters accept us as one of their own. So thanks for guilting me into coming here."

Winter giggled and nuzzled him back. "Your welcome. And I'd be willing to guilt you into doing other stuff in the future if you want."

"Let's not get carried away," he replied jokingly, though he certainly meant it.

The classical music that filled the ball room transitioned into another song. It must have been some sort of cue to something because the other guests suddenly began making space in the middle of the room. Several couples remained in the center and begun to dance with one another to the slow, rhythmic pace of the music.

Winter turned to Shade with a grin. "Come on, let's dance together."

Her suggestion surprised him. "Huh? I-I don't know how to dance."

Winter simply smiled cutely at him. "Neither do I. But when will we get another chance to dance at the Grand Galloping Gala?" She held out her hoof to him, gesturing for him to join her.

Shade couldn't help but laugh. She was already trying to guilt trip him again. But this time he wasn't going to wait for her smile to disappear before giving in. He reached out and took her hoof in his, letting her lead him out onto the dance floor. With their hooves still interlocked, Winter gently rest her head against Shade's shoulder and closed her eyes. Shade tried halfheartedly to mimic the movements of the other couples, but ultimately didn't care if he danced well or not. Given enough time, he would completely forget that there were even other people around, and it would be just him and Winter, together, without a care in the world.

And that's all he ever wanted in the first place.

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Comments ( 51 )

4419001 Gustav is Best Character. ...Och, where am I? Lab? Huh. Didn't I read this before?

Lab

Congrats to the happy couple. I'm sure the foal will be adorable.

Oh, there was a link to the blog post in the middle of the chapter that wasn't disguised as anything—there's just a URL in the middle of the page.

Interesting place to put the link to your blog. :raritywink:

4693179
Oh, I was wondering what happened there. I tried to make a link, but didn't know what happened to it. I just assumed it didn't work and ignored it. It was supposed to be in the author's notes. I'm not quite sure how it works.

Lab

4693746 Maybe your cursor jumped or was still in the middle of the chapter when you inserted the link. Just highlight some text in the author's note, click the "Add Link" button, and paste the URL in there.

4693755
Yeah, I figured it out, like, ten seconds ago. It's fixed now. Hopefully that didn't ruin the scene too much.

Lab

4693765 Nah, mistakes happen. It was still fine.

Beautiful ending. I should have expected no less. :heart:

4694441
Aren't questions like those supposed to keep the reader reading in order to seek out the answers? Why would he impersonate a dead pony when he knows he may get caught? How does love come into play? Why doesn't he make his own persona? The only way to find out is to keep reading, right?

Wonderful finish, but there's one fairly major error.

Princess Celestia, having watched the whole thing play out and satisfied with the final result, started making her way to the exit. "Now that all that is sorted out, what say we returnhttp://www.fimfiction.net/blog/350216/final-chapter-and-future-plans to the party?"

:rainbowhuh:

I am loving this but, please don't have that "dark" tag come into effect, IE miscarriage :fluttershyouch:

4696080
I fixed that yesterday and double checked it just now. How could you have seen it?

4696656
The dark tag was implemented because of the short scenes depicting gore in the first and seventh chapters. I don't know if that's proper use of the dark tag though since there's a separate gore tag. I might just remove the dark tag.

4697568
I have a tendency to open up chapters and leave them open until I get to reading them.:twilightsmile:

4695219
Eh, not necessarily. For the most part, you want your readers to be asking, "What's going to happen next?" not "What just happened?" or "What the hell is that character doing?" Obviously there are exceptions, but usually when the latter to questions arise, you want to answer them relativity quickly afterwards.
See, despite what Kind of Brony said, this was a good question to put into your reader, "Changelings eat food? Where's love come into play in this author's take on them?" This question does keep the reader around out of curiosity.
The other question he mentions, however, is one you want to at least partially answer quickly. Unless you're doing a comedy or want your main character to be seen as an idiot, you really shouldn't put your protagonist's intelligence into question. Like, let's say Shade is incapable of creating his own persona, then, to prevent readers from thinking he's a mental invalid, mention as such in passing. Something subtle, like having think, "It's times like this that make me wish changelings didn't have to copy ponies to change their appearance," or something along those lines. That way, the reader will accept the protagonist's choice without leaving a sour taste in their mouths and still leave room for in-depth explanation later.

4699095
To be honest, when I was writing the first chapter way back when, I figured most people would have thought that changelings could only imitate existing ponies since there has never been any examples otherwise in the show, or even the comics, so it never occurred to me to mention it. But I suppose I could go back and address that. Shouldn't be any trouble.

I loved it. What a sweet, romantic, heartwarming story! It was a proper balance of lighthearted moments, darker introspection, and just the warmest of warm fuzzies. I can't wait to read your sequel, and I'm going to back to read your other story as well. I'm not sure why you weren't on my radar before, but I have remedied that oversight. Excellent work!

-.Lotus

4708266
Thank you much!

I wanted to thank you for writing such a wonderfully sweet and interesting story... and then following it up with a full ten more bonus chapters. The former was enough to make my day, but the latter was a whole mess of cherries on top of it all. You're awesome. Thank you for being awesome.

Eagerly looking forward to the sequel.

4730683
No, thank you.

Lab

4773591

Your wrong to Its " Princess Celestia.

If you're going to correct me, don't make homophone and punctuation errors. Let me fix that sentence for you.

You're wrong too. It's "Princess Celestia."

Even then, I know how to spell "Celestia." I was referencing the banner in "Swarm of the Century."

That was a beautiful story. I absolutely cannot wait for the sequel. :raritywink::twilightsmile:

-Spirit

4773696
No, its Princess Celes and I have the brainwashed foal to prove it!

4867460
Well how do you expect her to react? Oh, its so cool that your a changeling, I'm not terrified of the stories I've heard of changelings taking the form of ponies' loved ones at all, I totally think that since you are a changeling you must have been one the entire time, because changelings are so bad at deceiving, right?

winter is preggers! im calling it now!

Great story, I can't wait for the sequel :pinkiesmile:

5495317
Oh my God, someone finally noticed that!

Had a great time reading this. The only gripe I have about A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing was that there were a few spelling mistakes here and there throughout the entirety of the story but it was never frequent enough to not give this a recommendation for something so minor. With that said, the writing of both the characters and the scenery were excellent. I could see everything as clearly as if I was standing there with the characters and felt the emotions they were feeling. There aren't ever enough good changeling stories and this one will definitely be one of my top favorites (That is until its sequel comes out wink wink).

Can't wait to take a look-see at the other stories you have written and anxiously await the next misadventure Shade and the gang find themselves in. Have an awesome day!

5581422
Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

In regards to spelling errors, if you happen to come across any more in the future, it would be much appreciated if you could let me know where. Knowing I spelled something wrong but not knowing where to look kinda bugs me.

5582160 Understandable. It was never anything too noticeable but if I catch anything I'll be sure to let you know. Good evening! :twilightsmile:

great story but it's a bit childish nothing bad happens at all -_-

and not to mention left a hole lotta crap out

Well played. It seems that even I can make a simple mistake. :fluttershyouch: I apologize. ^^

5723701
Preaching to the choir, bro.

5581422 I agree, a sequel set sometime in the future would be a excellent idea.

5920177
I think we have differing views on that matter.

Well I have just got done with this story and the add ons. Apart from the fact I stayed up much to late a coper of times only getting 2 to 3 hrs of sleep for work I very much enjoyed this story. You had me wanting to read and see what happens next at the end of every Chapter!! I cried (which I will state is rare for me) when winter ran from the cave and slade went back to the changeling kingdom. And then my mouth droped when it was not slade that had saved her I give you 2 thumbs up for that did NOT SEE THAT COMEING LOL. The battle senes you put though were very detailed and felt like i was right there seeing it just like the wrest of the story. I was also happy to see that you did not put it down that changelings need love to live (that in my opion has been blow out of wlack by the fandom) i do belive however that changelings can sense the emotions of other beings but hey thats my own thinking, anyway have no dout that i WILL read the next set to this story.

Now to dig though your other storys sense i started with this one.
P.S. LOVED IT!!!!!

6913279
Why, thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

And just to put this out there, I'm currently in the process of writing the sequel, so you can look forward to that sometime in the near future.

6984207
Well then how the fuck do they know about Achilles?

7920883
Yeah, the American education system is shit, as was my Spanish teacher. That was just an idea I head almost a year ago and I figured I would share. I remember my train of thought being something like "how would they do it," instead of "how do we do it?"

Now, this has little to with answering your question, but Columbus was not actually the first person to discover the Americas. Hell, he wasn't even the first European to discover the Americas. The Vikings were here before Spain, and before the Vikings, the Romans were, believe it or not.

I'll link two articles with websites talking about this.

7921098
The Vikings were in Canada for a bit. There was very little transfer of information back to Europe, and even less left the Vikings in Europe. The Maya were on the other end of the continent, and had zero contact with the Vikings. A single coin or so might have made it to Mayan territory in the following centuries, but there was no actual contact between the two groups.

Romans in America? Okay, I'll admit that it's possible for some poor Roman schmuck to be driven across the Atlantic by a storm. Returning home, however, was not really feasible with Roman technology. They certainly weren't going to have learned the wonders of Mayan language, technology, mathematics system, all while successfully preparing for a return voyage across the Atlantic.

Secondly, if those 'finds' are legitimate (which is a HUGE if), there are a dozen more logical explanations than 'Romans in America! ROME YEAH!' First off, old coins (like Rome era old coins) got traded around a lot, you might not know who is on the face or what the writing says, but gold is gold. A while back some archeologists working on a castle in Okinawa that dated to the Japanese conquest of the island came across a stash of several hundred Roman coins. Does that mean Rome traveled to Okinawa? No (although they did get to China), it means that their stuff got traded around. The second most common explanation is collectors. Even in ancient times, rich people liked showing off their cool foreign pointy objects collection. This was also suspected in the Okinawa find.
The last big reason is that the object is there for completely unrelated reasons. There are a bunch of ancient Chinese weights off the coast of California that some people claim are proof that the Chinese made it to America. In reality, they were loaded as ballast onto ships in the 1800's and dropped off the coast.

In any case, the first person to discover America was probably from Siberia or Polynesia millenia before Colombus was born.

8103212
There is a problem when facts are stated in ignorance, it's how misconceptions come about. Shakespeare speaking ye olde English, sailors worrying about falling off the side of a flat earth, and Galileo being right are good examples of common misconceptions. (Old English is similar to French, Shakespeare spoke early modern English, climbing to higher parts of a ship to see farther is feasible on a round earth, but not a flat one, and Galileo had some good ideas but they were flawed and his math didn't work)

i am not one for making long winded comets so i will keep this short.

this story is really amassing and a super good read.
and i will be watching vary closely for a sequel.
:heart:

8406840
Sequel's already in progress. It's called Halfling, so... there you go. You can catch up at your leisure.

8407370
thanks i see that.
it will be a day or three as i have a few chapters to catch up on and 1 or 2 chapters to help edit.

You know as sweet as this story was, I am disappointed that I didn't find it while it was in progress. Any time I come across a completed story, I binge read and fail to comment much. I do quite love how you fleshed out the Changeling Kingdom here, it brings the characters to life all the more; oft'times when the Changeling Kingdom doesn't feel alive and bustling, or even existent for that matter, the poor protagonist comes off as a self-insert. Thankfully you mostly avoid that subtle backminded feeling, because I hate it. I feel PNC Cadance got over her imprisonment a bit quickly; although the mention of nightmares helped, I definitely think Shining was portrayed better in these circumstances. Unfortunately I couldn't help feel that Chamella was depicted too much as a tag-along to Shade; the single bonus chapter focusing on her personal life helped a little bit. I understand this story is focused on Shade, however it seemed nearly every encounter with Chamella introduced one conflict after the other and overall, albeit adorable, she was practically annoying. Winter Maple was fantastic, thanks for not making her special.
I enjoyed the ride, and I'll be hoping right over to the sequel.

8922555
Opps, the space between "the" and "future" confused me.

Shade raised an eyebrow, perplexed. "So wait, you're saying that these people might not even know we're here? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of being a guest of honor?"

"I suppose that's a possibility," Twilight conceded. "I wonder why she would do that."

Why? WHY!? WHAT OTHER REASON COULD IT POSSIBLY BE?!

I have loved this story

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