• Published 1st Nov 2012
  • 7,507 Views, 91 Comments

Out in the Cold - EsperDerek

Haunted by her past, Trixie returns to the scene of her greatest defeat. Can she find a new path?

  • ...

Water, Food, Shelter, Companionship

It was Twilight, and she was lonely.

Which, the studious pony admitted to herself, wasn't exactly fair of her to feel so possessive of her companion. In the few days after the splash Trixie had made in her reintroduction party, the magical blue unicorn and her act had become the hit of the town. She was performing every night at the center of town to throngs of over-awed ponies. Twilight had to admit that Trixie really was in her element on stage, and was happy that she was blooming brilliantly.

The after-performance parties didn't hurt, either.

Twilight had been there for every performance that Trixie had put on, and had the numerous bundles of flowers to prove it. Their relationship was the worst-kept secret in Ponyville, as Twilight was sure that everypony at this point had some idea that the two young unicorns had fallen for one another. Her friends certainly knew at this point, because apparently she was pretty bad at keeping secrets herself. Even Pinkie Pie had guessed what was going on between the two of them.

Tonight was different, unfortunately. A problem in Twilight's studies had arisen, forcing her to spend a late, quiet night in the library deciphering ancient texts and magical formulas. Trixie had assured her that she would be fine, that she had distracted Twilight from her studies so much in the past few weeks that she knew that Twilight had to catch up.

She felt a brief gust chill her flanks, and she looked up curiously at a window that she was certain that she had closed earlier in the night. A quick flick with her horn settled that, and she turned back to her studies.

As Twilight poured carefully over a fifth, fiftieth, or five hundredth (she had lost count) tome, she had to admit that she had grown to enjoy the distractions. Not just Trixie, all of her friends were busy with their lives, or attending the performance. Even Spike had gone off on some fool's errand to try to catch the attention of Rarity. It wasn't that she disliked studying now, in fact it was the enjoyment that she got through reading and acquiring information that had been distracting her from how quiet the library was, and this challenge was particularly interesting. But, it was the times when she turned away from the book, and took a break from her studies, was she distinctly aware of just how alone she was feeling.

At one moment, she swore she felt something tracing along her back, in a way that she had learned in recent days that she very much liked, but when she turned, there wasn't anypony there. Twilight shook her head slightly, and turned back to the book. She was very close to cracking this problem, and she could report her results back to Princess Celestia. Perhaps she would also give another prod towards her mentor about Trixie, as well. The Princess hadn't responded from the missive they had sent the day after the party, and it was beginning to worry Twilight a little. She tried to console herself that the duties of a Princess were very important, but Celestia usually got back to her quicker than this.

Twilight was interrupted from her studies by a light tracing along a particularly ticklish spot on her side, another discovery she had made in the past couple of days. She let out a gasp, and then looked around. There wasn't still wasn't anypony there, but that trace suddenly turned into urgent tickling! Twilight's eyes widened, and she started to let loose with gales of laughter. The purple-pelted unicorn felt her legs start to give out on her, from the ticklish stimulation.

"W-who is doing this!?" Twilight exclaimed, between gasps and laughter. Finally, her legs gave up the ghost, and she felt her body fall to the floor, the slight pain quickly washed away by the tickling. She shuddered and writhed in laughter, as the tickling finally died down, and she felt a hoof press against her side, a familiar blue unicorn manifesting into vision, clad in that spectacular hat and cloak, a look of triumph on her face.

"Finally, the Great and Powerful Trixie has triumphed over her mortal enemy!" she exalted, her free hoof tapping her chest with mock pride. Twilight caught her breath, and then looked up at her partner.

"You shouldn't claim victory before the enemy is defeated, Trixie." Her horn glowed brightly, and Trixie let out a gasp, her cheeks reddening, and nearly fell over, releasing Twilight from the floor.

"Hey, that wasn't fair!" Trixie protested, a slight smile tickling on her flushed face. Twilight giggled softly, and then paused for a moment, as something came to her.

"Hey, you figured it out!" Twilight exclaimed, and Trixie's smile widened into one of true pride. Trixie had been spending the past couple of days trying to master one of the hardest spells in her inherited spell books, one even Twilight hadn't been able to successfully cast yet. It was a true invisibility spell, one that didn't just block the unicorn from sight, but blocked the noises they made and their scent as well.

"I figured it out last night, but I decided to wait until now to show it to you." Trixie grinned playfully, and kissed Twilight on the cheek. Twilight shifted slightly, turning that kiss into one on the lips, the two unicorns moving closer to one another...

Their momentary reverie was interrupted by the library door opening, and a disgusted voice calling out.

"Ugh, are you doing that again? I think I'm going to be sick," the baby dragon who had just opened the door protested, and the two lovers released, embarrassed at the interruption.

"Spike, how about some privacy?" Trixie protested.

"Hey, I live here too, before you got here, and I don't want to see yo-HURGH!" Spike was interrupted from his rant by his swelling cheeks, his hands going to his throat. Twilight rolled her eyes.

"Really, Spike? Don't be gross," Twilight said, as Spike opened his mouth, but instead of what the dragon had suggested would come from him, a green, sparkling mist shot out, and assembled into a regal scroll. Twilight blinked, and quickly took the scroll. "It's from Princess Celestia!"

"Really? See what it says!" Trixie replied, as Twilight was already unraveling the scroll, and began to read out loud.

My Faithful Student,

Please forgive me for the lateness of this reply. It has taken several days for me to decide on how to respond to this news. You must understand that I only want the best for you, Twilight, my dearest student. For that sake, I cannot in good faith give my approval for thi-

"What?" Trixie gasped, and even Spike looked surprised. Twilight felt her voice start to tremble, but managed to keep reading.

I cannot in good faith give my approval for this relationship. I have dispatched a team to collect you and Trixie. They will bring you to Canterlot, where we will discuss this matter further. They will arrive in the morning.

Yours Truly,
Princess Celestia

Twilight blinked, realizing that tears were starting to drip from her eyes. This wasn't the response that she was expecting from her teacher. She looked up slightly, trying to figure out what to say to Trixie, only to see her kicking herself in the shin slightly.

"Ow," Trixie murmured slightly, and then scowled to herself. "I guess it isn't a dream this time, after all."

It was going to be a long night.
• • •

Indeed, the night passed with little peace, and almost no sleep for the two lovers. It was only until after midnight that Twilight, worried and feeling more than a little betrayed, had finally managed to fitfully get some sleep at Trixie's insistence. Trixie herself had managed to catch a few hours of sleep, but woke an hour or so before sunrise. The unicorn spent the night looking out at the window, towards the horizon, until she saw the appearance of the first sliver of the sun her of the coming day.

At this moment, she had never more hated the sun. Trixie had always preferred the moon, which she supposed was fitting, considering her cutie mark. But this was more personal than that. She had been spending the night trying to think of why Celestia would have rejected her. Had the Princess been aware of her past behavior and actions, and wouldn't accept her because of that? She had to admit to herself that perhaps that was the reason. Twilight was the Princess's star pupil, after all.

She could see the carriage that was sent for them in the distance, following the sun. It would only be a little while longer, but she wanted Twilight to get as much sleep as she could manage.

It just didn't fit from what Twilight had told her, and what little she could recall from what her mother had told her after her numerous trips to perform at the courts of Canterlot. Midnight had told her that she seemed to be a kind, humorous person, had spoken with great fondness towards Celestia. Most of all, this line of thought frightened Trixie, because that meant that the reason must be personal for the Princess.

She cast a glance at Twilight, watched her twitch and squirm in her sleep, and narrowed her eyes slightly. Princess Celestia had hurt Twilight, even unintentionally, with her words. Even taking their relationship out of the equation, Trixie owed Twilight a great deal, for healing her when she was sick, helping her rediscover herself. She wasn't going to walk away from that. She wasn't going to walk away from her. No matter what a Princess might think.

Time had flown as quickly as that golden, pegasus-manned carriage. They were flying over Applejack's farm. Trixie exhaled softly, and stood, to go and wake Twilight. It was time to face the light.
• • •

They spent the ride in the carriage in relative silence. Since the letter had come late in the day, and they had to leave so early, there was no time to tell their friends what had happened, and so had left Spike behind to inform them. Twilight was reading to try to calm her nerves, and Trixie had never actually flown before, so she was doing her best to keep her breakfast in her stomach. Slowly they began to approach the mountainside city, and Trixie inhaled softly. She'd never actually been to Canterlot before, and the idea slightly frightened her. She was supposed to go with her mom on her next performance there, but she had gotten sick before that could happen. Trixie had chosen to wear her hat and cloak, hoping that Princess Celestia would perhaps recognize it, but now she was worried it would just look tacky.

The carriage shifted, and that caught the attention of Twilight, who looked out, over the city.

"We're almost there," she remarked, the steadiness in her voice distinctly forced. Trixie took a deep breath, and dared to look out the carriage, trying to keep from turning too green. Indeed, the blessed ground was rapidly rising to meet them, the pegasi preparing to make a landing in one of the castle's courtyard. She was going to be never more thankful to touch the ground again, and swore that she would walk down the mountain when it came time to leave.

"I don't think I'm ready for this," Twilight admitted, and Trixie had to agree. The bravery she had mustered during the night had vanished, replaced by queasiness and the sick feeling of anticipation. The carriage touched on the ground, and Trixie disembarked gratefully. If it weren't such an important situation, she would be kissing the ground. Twilight followed after her, and they were approached by two young unicorns, who bowed slightly in greeting.

"The Princess sends her greetings, and wishes to see you immediately," one of the handmaidens said to the two, and Trixie and Twilight looked at each other.

"I guess we're going to get this over with immediately," Trixie observed, and Twilight nodded in agreement. The handmaidens beckoned them to follow, and the visitors did as they were asked.

Even in her wildest dreams, Trixie never believed the castle was quite this large, or this busy. The halls were filled with ponies going about the business of the day, occasionally glancing at the small group. Every once in awhile, Twilight would exchange greetings with people that she recognized, but Twilight admitted to Trixie as they walked that she herself barely knew anypony in Canterlot. She had spent so much time in her studies that, apart from Princess Celestia and Spike, she hadn't made any personal relationships with other ponies until she was sent to Ponyville. Trixie, too, was garnering attention, and did her best to put on her bravest face, trotting along clad in her hat and robe.

Every once in awhile, she swore she heard people speaking her mother's name under their breath.

It came to a surprise to Trixie that they hadn't been lead to the throne room, but rather found themselves at what Twilight recognized as the doors to Princess Celestia's personal chambers.

"I thought this would be more formal," she said softly in Twilight's ear. The purple unicorn shook her head softly, but before she could reply, the handmaidens turned to them.

"The Princess is waiting for you, please go in." They opened the doors to the chambers. Trixie and Twilight looked at each other, and Twilight reached out, rubbing one of Trixie's front hooves with her own, seeing the blue unicorn's trepidation. Steeling her nerves, Trixie and Twilight stepped through the doors.
• • •

Princess Celestia was more beautiful that Trixie had been picturing. Her pelt was white as pure snow, her wings and horn delicate but strong, and her mane and tail shimmered in the air softly. As the two entered, Princess Celestia rose from the seat she had been lounging on, and walked towards them. She was... much larger than Trixie had been anticipating as well, towering over the two unicorns. She smiled softly at Twilight, and the two pressed their heads together fondly, like a mother hugging her child.

That was when Trixie truly realized that this wasn't a matter of royalty disapproving of her subject's choice in mates.

"Princess Celestia..." Twilight said softly, her voice both grateful to see Celestia, and questioningly.

"Twilight Sparkle, my faithful student. Thank you for coming so promptly. I apologize for the trouble that I have caused you," the Princess said, her voice as light as the sun.

"I just don't understand, Princess, why?" Twilight asked, almost begged. Princess Celestia smiled comfortingly.

"All in due time, Twilight. I must greet our other guest, after all." She turned to look at Trixie, and Trixie felt her knees quiver, and she struggled to bow without falling over.

"Princess Celestia, I am the Gr... I am Trixie," she said, and chanced looking up at Princess Celestia's face. For the briefest moments, her expression had seemed to change, turning to one of recognition, and sadness. Trixie wondered over this change, until it vanished, turning back to that smile.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Trixie. Please forgive me for the trouble I am causing you, as well." Her voice was gentle, leaving Trixie just to wonder why on Equestria things were unraveling like this. She slowly and unsteadily got to her feet, and Twilight found her voice first.

"Please, Princess, why can't you approve? I thought you would be happy for me..." Twilight asked, her voice unable to disguise the hurt she was feeling.

"Tell me, Twilight, how long have you been researching the magic of friendship?" Celestia replied a question with a different question. Trixie frowned slightly, trying to figure out where this was going, and even Twilight sounded confused at the seeming change in direction.

"You know it's been a few months, Princess, since I started," Twilight said, her head tilting. Celestia nodded softly, and looked at the two ponies.

"You have just answered your own question, my beloved student."

"What? I don't understand!" Trixie exclaimed, and then immediately clapped her hooves over her mouth, as if the Princess would reduce her to ash for questioning her. Instead, Celestia smiled sympathetically at her.

"You are so early in your studies on learning friendship, my dear Twilight, so inexperienced with others still."

"I don't understand, Princess..." Twilight replied, and Celestia continued.

"Love... Love is a far more advanced magic, advanced and potentially dangerous. One that can backfire on you far too easily, leave you open for people to hurt you grievously. You're still so inexperienced, that I'm afraid you could be misused." Trixie blinked, feeling a surprising surge of anger rush through her, returning the bravery that she had lost earlier.

"I wouldn't hurt Twilight!" she protested, her pelt bristling, her voice raising in the anger she felt. "I won't take advantage of her! I owe her!"

"You cannot promise that," Celestia replied, her voice even but firm. "Even if your words are true, which I believe they are, you can still hurt her without even meaning or wanting to." She looked at Twilight, who looked confused, trying to process what Princess Celestia was telling her.

"But... what's wrong with finding out?" Twilight asked, softly. Celestia reached out, gently stroking her cheek with a hoof.

"I just think you should take this step by step... I do not want to see you get hurt. Please, at least take some time here, and think on my words." Trixie bit her lip slightly, looking between the two. Celestia turned, looking at Trixie. "My dear Trixie, you are a performer, are you not?" Trixie blinked, and fumbled for her words.

"Y-yes. I-I've only just really started doing it right, though. I mean, I've been performing every night for Ponyville recently."

"How would you like to perform for the court?" Trixie and Twilight gasped slightly, Trixie's eyes widening. "If you would be willing, I would like you to perform at dawn, so both my sister Luna and I can both view it. I assume that would give you enough time to prepare?"

Trixie felt conflicting emotions. On one hand, to perform for both Princess Celestia, and the returned Princess Luna, as well as the rest of Canterlot's Court, was a desire she had harbored ever since she was a child, and heard the stories her mother told her of her performances. On the other hand, Trixie knew why Celestia was offering this. It would occupy Trixie's time and effort for the day and night, and give Twilight time alone to think on Celestia's words without her input. She took a moment, and then opened her mouth, about to refuse...

"I think you should do it, Trixie," she was beaten to the punch by Twilight.


"You can't turn down this opportunity, Trixie, no matter what you're thinking..." Twilight said, and Trixie was about to protest, until she met Twilight's eyes. She realized that she truly meant it, she wanted to allow Trixie her chance to follow that dream...

"Alright... I would be honored to perform for you and your sister, Princess," Trixie murmured softly, and gently bowed, still feeling the twisting in her gut. Celestia smiled softly, and nodded.

"I have set up a guest room for you to prepare, Trixie. Now, it has been a long time since I have visited with Twilight, would you allow us some time alone?"

She couldn't refuse, no matter how much she wanted. She closed her eyes, refused to let tears leak down her cheeks, and then gave a single nod. She turned to go, casting a final glance to Twilight, and headed out of the room.
• • •

As day slowly turned to night, Trixie's fears were proven right. She and Twilight had not been able to see each other throughout the day, save for at dinner, which ended up being a stately affair that had allowed Trixie no time to speak with her. Trixie had to admit to herself that Celestia's words did have some truth to them, and she had spoken them with conviction. While Trixie tried to convince herself that it was still worth it, the idea that she might somehow hurt Twilight still hung heavily in her heart.

Trixie scrunched up another ball of paper viciously, throwing it fiercely against the wall, to join the other failed plans that she had been trying to generate for this performance. How could she be expected to come up with a performance worthy of Canterlot, and the Princesses, while she was in this mood? Not only was there the intense possibility of losing Twilight, along with the fretful thought that Celestia might be right, but now Trixie was going to become a laughing stock in front of all of Canterlot.

Trixie looked out the window in frustration, and realized with a chill down her spine that it was getting to be the middle of the night. She was running out of time. She put her hooves on her head, groaning loudly.

"Twilight..." she murmured to herself. She had to see her, even for a few moments. Trixie thought for a moment, and then was struck by inspiration. She had a way she could see her. Her eyes closed, and her horn began to glow. She felt the magic start to wrap around her body, obscuring her from view, blunting the noises her hooves and breath would make, and masked the scent her body would give off. Her mother's invisibility spell, that she had so recently managed to master, would come finally come in handy for more than just appearing and disappearing on stage, and playing around with Twilight. Thus cloaked, she slipped out of her room, and started to run, unseen and unheard by the few night guards still on duty.

About half an hour later, and several twists and turns later, Trixie had to admit that she had perhaps not thought this out fully. The castle was extremely unfamiliar to her, and she wasn't completely sure just where Twilight's room, or more likely the library, was. Not only that, she had become so lost that she wasn't sure just how to get back to her room. She was just about to give in, reappear and ask for help from a guard, when she turned a corner, and realized where she was.

She had managed to stumble back upon the doors of Princess Celestia's personal chambers. Which was a bit of a relief, because she could retrace her steps from there. However, as she looked, she realized that neither guard nor handmaiden seemed to be present. While she couldn't be sure of Canterlot protocol, that seemed odd to her. So odd that her curiosity was piqued. Perhaps, at least, Twilight might be there, and Trixie might have been able to intercept her after she left Celestia's side. She slowly approached the door, and heard soft noises coming from the room within. Confident in her mother's spell, and driven by the need to hear what was going on inside the room, she got as close to the door as she dared, straining her ears to try to pick up the noise that had been just tantalizing out of the reach of ineligibility.

Her eyes widened when she heard soft weeping coming from inside. It wasn't coming from Twilight, but the Princess. Trixie let out a soft gasp, realizing she was intruding on a private moment that she was never supposed to hear. Her stomach looped with guilt and shock, and she felt her hooves working to move her away from the door. She could still hear that soft weeping ringing in her ears, and she turned quickly, scampering away desperately from the door, and the sobbing Princess therein.

It took her the time it took to reach her guest room to calm her beating heart. She opened the door, slipping inside, and closing it behind her. She rested her head on the door, her eyes closed, trying to forget what she heard.

"Oh, hello. I'm glad you're back, I was afraid that you had left for good." Trixie's eyes widened, not just because there was someone in the room with her. It was because she hadn't canceled the invisibility spell yet. Slowly, frightfully, Trixie turned to face the pony who could pierce through the veil she had cast over herself.

She was smaller, though still taller than Trixie, and her colors were a deep dark blue, her cutie mark black like the night sky, with a moon shining in that darkness. There was no mistaking the familiar resemblance.

It was Princess Luna, the newly returned sister of Celestia.

"Oh, right, you're wondering. Well, I recognize that spell. I made it to play pranks on Celestia when we were children. Which should make you wonder how you came in possession of the spell." The Princess of the Moon smiled, her eyes sparkling with a surprising amount of mischief. "You've been getting into trouble, haven't you, Trixie?"

There wasn't any point in holding the spell anymore, and it was starting to get tiring. Trixie dispelled the invisibility, blushing slightly.

"I was looking for Twilight."

"Of course you were." Luna chuckled softly, looking Trixie up and down. "You know, I can see the resemblance. I can see why you would bring her pain."

"What do you mean?" Trixie questioned that enigmatic statement.

"It's no matter, yet. I just wanted to talk to you, personally. I hope you don't mind, but I've been watching your shows from afar."

"Y-you have? What did you think?" Trixie worried, trying to think back. She had used the Elements of Harmony story that Twilight had told her a couple of times, but she was pretty sure she had treated Luna fairly. At least, she hoped.

"I think you're brilliant!" Luna said, clapping her hooves together, almost like an enthusiastic fan. "Of course, I haven't been able to see many shows in the past 1000 years or so, and there weren't many before then, so maybe I can't be too good a judge, but you're wonderful!"

Trixie blinked, honestly shocked.

"Plus, you do your shows during the night, and out in the open, where I can actually see them! It's great!" Luna exclaimed, a bright smile on her face. "That's why I want to help you with your new act."

"Pardon?" Luna waved a hoof towards the large pile of crumpled papers that lay on the floor.

"You seem to be having trouble, and I would hardly want your first performance in Canterlot to be a failure. I happen to know a story that you can use, that might just be of help you. If you're smart enough to use it properly, of course." There was that smile again, as if Luna knew the mysteries of the universe.

Which, Trixie thought, might be entirely possible.

"Well, alright. It's not like I have any other ideas, and I'm running out of time in any case," Trixie said, and listened attentively as Luna began to speak, thankful for the distraction from her problems with Twilight, the weeping from Celestia she had heard, and the nerves that she was feeling.

Once Princess Luna was finished, however...

"W-why are you telling me this?" Trixie whispered, feeling the tears running unbidden down her cheeks. Her heart hurt, beating painfully in her chest.

"Because it's important, and because I think that you'll be able to use it." Luna smiled sadly. "Because Celestia is my sister, and I hurt her so badly myself. I want to help her. Not just her, but Twilight as well, for freeing me from the hatred that was bound me. I want them both to be happy, and I think Twilight will be happy with you. Finally, because if anypony were to tell this story, it should be you."

Trixie nodded weakly. It was true. She slowly stood, and despite the tears still leaking down her cheeks, strength returned to her eyes.

"I know what to do."

"Great!" Luna exclaimed, clapping her hooves again. "I look forward to it. It should be an interesting performance, that's for sure."

"Thank you... thank you for helping me, telling me this."

"You're welcome. The night favors lovers, anyway," Luna said, as she left the room with all the grace of the stars.

Trixie closed the door. She had a lot to prepare, needed to be well-rested for this special performance, and so very little time to do either in.
• • •

Dawn was coming, that moment in time where day and night intermingled. The crowd had assembled in the main courtyard, a stage carefully set up for the star of the show, who was currently relying once again on her mother's invisibility spell to hide her from view as she looked out on the crowd. Front and center were the two Princesses, and Twilight. Luna had an eager smile in anticipation and knowing. Celestia was showing no signs of the weeping that Trixie now knew the reasons for, but instead the benevolent smile she was famous for. Twilight's face was conflicted from what Trixie could tell, and it was fair of her to be in the situation she had been put in. Maybe this would tip the scales. As the sun made the sky behind the stage turn red, she began.

With a spectacular explosion, Trixie dropped the invisibility spell, appearing as smoke cleared!

"Come one and all, for I am the Great and Powerful Trixie, here to delight you all with magic and tale!" the blue unicorn exclaimed in that magically-enhanced stage voice, the crowd gasping in delight. She could see Twilight perking up, and the two Princesses watching attentively.

"For her first performance here in Canterlot, the Great and Powerful Trixie has wracked her brain, for not any simple tale or trick will do for the auspicious audience before her. But, as if the moon herself has inspired her, Trixie has divined of a story that can only fit this time, and this place. I call this tale: The Sage and the Storyteller!" The crowd watched in awe, as Trixie threw her arms up, fireworks exploding forth, painting the red sky with deep blue flashes. Even the two Princesses became rapt in her words. Twilight looked at Trixie in confusion, as if trying to figure out what she was about to do.

It was now or never. She could only hope, as she made her magic write the tale in pictures upon the sky, that the Canterlot dungeons were clean.

"Once upon a time, there was a Sage, whose wisdom and kindness lit the land she ruled like a star. She had seen many suns, and dedicated her days to helping those ponies that believed in her, and in turn, they praised her for her compassion and strength.

"But the Sage was lonely. All knew of her as the Sage, but not the mare who lie beneath, who still grieved over what she had lost through her many years. Her only solace was her Pupil, who had been granted to her when the Pupil was still a child, and who the Sage loved as if she were her own.

"One day, in the Sage's court, a beautiful Storyteller appeared before them. Mischievous and kind at heart, and skilled in the arts of magic, the Storyteller's words colored the sky, and pierced to the hearts of all those that listened.

"But the Storyteller, too, was lonely. The mare behind the Storyteller had lost her mate in a terrible accident, and her soul still ached from the loss. Her only solace was her Daughter, whom she had been blessed with before her mate's tragic death.

"As the Storyteller regaled the Sages court with story and song, she caught the attention of the Sage. After the performance, the Sage approached the Storyteller, to give thanks for the joy that she had given her audience. But the Storyteller was perceptive, and the Sage was wise, and by chance they found the lonely mares hidden behind their masks. They spoke well into the night, telling their lives, losses, and love, forging the links of the friendship that would follow."

Princess Celestia's face was unreadable, and Trixie felt her heart pounding. She controlled the fear, calling upon the true bravery that she had learned from Twilight and her friends.

"The Storyteller lived far from the Sage, but after that night, the Sage insisted that the Storyteller perform for her and her court again. So the Storyteller became a regular fixture at the court, entertaining the crowds that followed the Sage, and after each performance, the mares would talk to each other, deep into the night.

"Things would change on the fourth performance. A regular part of the Storyteller's act was to create flowers with her magic, and offer them to a member of her attentive audience. But this time, to the Sage's surprise, as the flowers appeared, the Storyteller offered them to her. The Sage looked from the flowers to her, and saw not the Storyteller, but the mare, and knew that things would be forever changed if she accepted them.

"It took but a moment, but the mare reached out, and took the flowers. In that instance, they were no longer Sage and Storyteller, but two mares who dared to follow their hearts."

Trixie could feel the wetness starting to build under her eyes, but let them alone. The tears were appropriate. Celestia surely had to know by now.

"Life and responsibility could not be denied for long. The Sage had her duties, and the Storyteller had her work. However, once a month, the Sage and Storyteller would meet under the stars and ever-watching moon, and be as one.

"It was the eighth such lovers' dalliance when the Sage had come up with a solution. She would invite the Storyteller to move to her court, and perform only for them. The Storyteller had gained such renown that such a move would be unsurprising. The Sage believed in the idea, for not only would the Storyteller be close, her Pupil would have a companion, to teach the magic of Friendship to her. The Storyteller desired the idea, for not only would she be with the Sage, her Daughter would have the chance for the proper training for the magical ability that she was starting to blossom into. Thus, under the stars and moon, the two mares made a pact. The next time the Storyteller would visit the court, one month from that night, she would bring her Daughter with her, and the visit would be forever.

"However, Life can be unfair, no matter who you are."

Trixie took off that hat, her head lowering, her eyes closing. The crowd was silent, rapt in attention, so Trixie could just hear the soft breathing coming from the main target of her tale.

"A month passed, and the Storyteller, nor her Daughter, arrived. The Sage began to worry, for the Storyteller had never been late before. So worried, in fact, the Sage left her court, traveling to the small village that the Storyteller and her Daughter had lived. There, she learned that her fears were both well-founded, and far too late.

"For, dear listeners, in the month that has passed, the Storyteller had fallen to an illness that no pony magic could touch, one that had wasted her flesh and spirit, withering the once vital mare to a shell of what she had been, before taking her life just days before the Sage arrived. Grief-stricken, the Sage attempted to find the Daughter, in hopes of honoring the spirit of her lost love, but the Daughter, her mind poisoned by grief and pain, had fled to the far reaches of the land.

"Thus, in one terrible moment, the Sage felt she had failed the Storyteller, the Daughter, and her own Pupil."

Weeping. She couldn't tell whose it was. It might have been her own. Things were coming to a climax, and she couldn't afford to falter here. She raised her head, that hat being pulled back on.

"But our story does not end here. The years passed, and the Sage's pain scarred over, as she threw herself into the love of her subjects, the love of her Pupil. She was even blessed with the rebirth of her Sister, who she had long thought lost.

"One day, the Sage received a letter from her Pupil, who had grown into a beautiful young mare. In that letter, the Pupil revealed that she had fallen in love, but the Sage's blood chilled when she realized that the Pupil had become united with the Daughter, who the Pupil had helped come to her senses. Shock tore open the scars that she thought had healed, and she took desperate action.

"She desired only to protect her beloved Pupil from the pain that she had felt, so long ago, when she denied them, and none could blame her, for love can bring pain. But what she forgot was the joy of those monthly dalliances, the comfort of being with the one who understands the deepest reaches in your heart. The pleasure of a lover's caress, the thrill of a tender kiss. How these things were worth the possibility of pain.

"She forgot, too, that she could cause pain to her Pupil through her actions, even when she meant well."

This was the moment.

"Thus, it's fallen upon the Daughter to remind her of what she's forgotten!"

The crowd gasped, as the Great and Powerful Trixie swept her hoof across them, pointing to the center, where Princess Celestia was. Celestia sat there, Trixie trying to decipher the expression on her face, looking for some sign that she had pierced through to her heart. Princess Luna looked between the two, a hopeful look on her face. Twilight...

Where was Twilight? Trixie's pointing hoof wavered slightly, but that lapse was only for a moment, as there was a brilliant flash beside her, Celestia's apprentice appearing next to her. The scales had been tipped.

"Please, Princess, let me experience this for myself! I'm willing to take the risk, it's worth it!" Twilight exclaimed, and Trixie could feel the warmth of her body pressing slightly against her own. "When I'm with her, I can feel this warmth and strength deep inside me, when we touch, I feel this tingle... I know I want to be with her!" The two young mares on stage looked across the shocked, silent audience, towards the Princess that they had poured their hearts out to.

Tears welled in her eyes, but Princess Celestia smiled, a soft, happy, nostalgic smile, and closed her eyes. She bowed her head, and spoke.

"I think you know how this story should end." Trixie smiled, and then turned to Twilight.

"Swayed by the pleas of her Pupil, and the Daughter, the Sage remembered the joys of love, and allowed them to pursue their hearts." Trixie's hooves met Twilight's own, and they looked into each others' eyes.

"And so, at the dawn of a new day, the Pupil and the Daughter leaned forwards, and met with a gentle kiss."

As the sun breached into the sky behind them, they did just that.
• • •

"It's a shame that you cannot stay longer, Twilight," Princess Celestia said, as the two Princesses and the two lovers watched the carriage that would take Twilight and Trixie back to Ponyville. The purple unicorn smiled, looking up at Celestia.

"We left so suddenly, that I'm sure our friends are worried about us. Besides, Ponyville is my home now."

"Also, we left Spike alone, and he's sure to get into trouble without Twilight," Trixie said, and the four ponies chuckled to each other. Trixie turned to the smaller, night-colored Princess, who was looking very tired. It was very late for her, after all. Trixie bowed softly to her.

"Thank you, Princess Luna," Trixie said, the gratitude clear in her voice. "It would have not been a successful performance without you."

"Yes, I do wonder where you learned that story, dear sister," Celestia said, looking down at her younger sister. Luna smiled mischievously back at her.

"You should not have spent so much time talking to the moon over the years, if you didn't want me to know, sister," Luna said, the joy apparent in her voice. "Plus, you can't tell me that it didn't turn out as it should have."

Princess Celestia closed her eyes, and allowed herself to have that same nostalgic smile cross her lips.

"I suppose you're right," she admitted, and Luna turned back to the bowing Trixie.

"Now, my faithful pupil -" Luna started.

"Faithful pupil?" Celestia, Twilight, and Trixie interrupted in varying tones of amusement and surprise. Luna huffed playfully.

"Well, why not? You have Twilight as your student, why can't I have one? I did help her, after all! Besides, look!" Princess Luna poked Trixie's cutie mark with a hoof. "She's got my moon on her flank! It's clearly meant to be!" The three chuckled softly, and then Trixie nodded.

"I guess even the Great and Powerful Trixie cannot argue with that. Very well, I'll be your pupil," Trixie gave in, smiling.

"Of course you will! Now, I expect lots and lots of letters, you know! I want to know all about your studies and your performances!" The Princess of the Moon exalted in her triumph. "Now, my faithful pupil, I put a book in your bag that will be useful to you with your studies. Be sure to tell me how it helps you!"

Trixie rubbed her head, chuckling softly. Princess Celestia turned to Twilight, gently nuzzling her student.

"I have something for you too, Twilight Sparkle." One of the Princess's handmaidens stepped forwards, and gave Twilight a bound scroll. Twilight blinked, holding it in the air with her magic.

"A letter?"

"Only open it when you are on your way home," Celestia said, and stepped back. It was time to go. Trixie and Twilight clambered onto the carriage, and then waved to the Princesses.

"I'll write to you soon, Princess Celestia! Thank you!" Twilight called out.

"So long, Twilight Sparkle and Trixie!" Celestia said, and then paused for a moment. "And Trixie? Your mother would be proud of you." Trixie felt her cheeks heat red, and rubbed her eyes for a moment.

"Thank you, Princess... that means a lot to me."

With their final farewells done, the carriage took off, climbing high into the sky.

It was about an hour into the flight that Trixie remembered her promise to herself that she would walk down the mountain, rather than fly. Her stomach was doing loops, and she looked over at Twilight, who was busy reading a book that she had gotten from the library during their time in Canterlot, desperate for a distraction.

"I think you should open the letter, Twilight."

"You think?"

"She did say you could open it in the air, and please, I'm desperate to try and find something to keep me from losing my lunch." Twilight nodded softly. She broke the seal, and unraveled the letter, beginning to read.

To my Faithful Student,

Sometimes, the teacher must learn a lesson herself. I can only hope that you can forgive a silly foal for the mistakes that even one who has seen many years can make. Thankfully, my brilliant pupil, and her equally brilliant partner, was there to help her see the light again. I wish you and Trixie all the happiness in the world.

Yours With Love,
Princess Celestia

"Well, this is a reverse of the usual," Twilight observed, a bright smile on her face. Trixie stood up, and shifted to press next to Twilight, nuzzling her tenderly, her stomach not feeling so bad now. Twilight rolled up the letter, putting it away. "Have you looked through the book that Princess Luna gave you?" Trixie blinked, and shook her head. Her horn glowed, and her bag opened, a red-covered book floating over to the entwined lovers.

"No, I haven't. Why don't we take a look..." Her horn moved, and they began to flick through the book, skimming the contents therein. It only took a few moments for both Trixie and Twilight's cheeks to turn blazing red. "P-Princess Luna has a naughtier mind than I thought she did."


"How on Equestria am I going to write letters to her about this?!" Trixie protested to Twilight. Thankfully, the awkward moment was interrupted by one of the pegasus pilots calling back at them.

"Madams, we're almost at Ponyville." The two picked themselves off the bottom of the carriage, and looked out. Sure enough, the small town was rapidly approaching, and as Trixie watched, she felt the queasiness she was feeling dissipate. She glanced over at Twilight, who was looking out for her friends, for their friends, and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek. They were going home, the first true home that Trixie had known of for a long time. There were friends waiting for her, and the pony she loved was at her side. Perhaps Princess Celestia was right. Her mother would truly be proud of her.

As the carriage descended homeward, Trixie looked forwards to a future that was as bright and warm as the sun that was behind them.

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