• Published 16th Nov 2012
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Address Unknown - remedy

Derpy's suffered scorn for a mold she doesn't fit. Will a chance meeting change her life for the better?

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29. Sharing Friendship

Chapter 29 – Sharing Friendship

The seven ponies sat in the library, waiting for the princess to arrive and chortling as they each shared yet more tales of their past adventures. At Twilight’s insistence, they broadened the topic to amusing stories regarding any of them, and the gaiety flowed through the room. They each brought up some of their proudest moments, though they were often countered by somepony else pointing out an equally embarrassing anecdote.

Spike had joined the storytelling session about halfway in, though more from boredom than anything else. His ears were ringing from his concussion, and the laughter and talking were too loud for him to sleep. Eventually the dragon had given up on sleep, and decided that, if he was going to be miserable anyway, he may as well hear some decent stories to pass the time. He grumpily wandered into the library, taking a seat as close to Rarity as he could, and settled in for the remainder of the tales.

The storytelling came to an abrupt end, however, as a loud thump penetrated the library door, announcing the arrival of Princess Celestia and her escort. The ponies clambered to their hooves, ready for their royal guest in seconds. Only Derpy seemed nervous.

Everypony else had met the princess enough to be comfortable around her, but Derpy was nearly trembling from anxiety. Twilight placed a hoof over Derpy’s in an attempt to make her feel better, and gave her a serene smile. Though no words were spoken, the unicorn’s eyes said everything the pegasus needed to know: Don’t worry – I’ll be here with you the entire time. Derpy sighed and gave a weak smile, trying her best to appear more at ease. Twilight gave Derpy a light kiss on the cheek, then headed toward the door to invite their visitors in.

She opened the door wide, revealing the approaching solar princess, accompanied by two serious looking unicorns; one was an older stallion, bespectacled, prim and proper, and exuding an aura of competence and wisdom. The other, a younger stallion, appeared weary, disheveled, and displayed a rumpled mane of auburn, streaked with gray and silver far earlier than his years should have allowed. He seemed displaced, oddly out of his element, though Twilight could detect exceptional knowledge below his crumpled exterior.

The older stallion, oddly, was the pony who intimidated Twilight most. The younger stallion could have been a mirrored, though male, version of herself had she stayed in Canterlot – obsessed with research to the point of exhaustion and stressed beyond what any normal pony could tolerate.

Twilight stepped aside, bowing in respect as the princess and her companions entered her library. The rest of the ponies inside followed suit, bowing heads and bending knees to their regal company.

Princess Celestia looked around and gave a light chuckle. “Come now, my little ponies. You should know by now that it is not necessary for you to respond to me like that. We’ve depended on you in enough crises that I think you almost qualify as royalty yourselves.” The princess gave them all an admiring gaze as they stood, each turning a shade of red from modesty at receiving such generous praise.

The majestic alicorn motioned to the stallions behind her. “If you would, please allow me to introduce Dr. Splendid Verdure,” she gestured to the older stallion to her right, “and Dr. Sterling Enquiry,” she nodded to the rumpled younger stallion on her left. “At my request, these gentlecolts here have agreed to assist me today.”

She looked to Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Spike, noting their bumps, burns, and bruises. “It looks like our good doctors have their work cut out for them today. Please, don’t worry, though.” A knowing glint passed through the princess’ eye as she looked at Derpy while she continued. “I assure you, though their appearances are quite different, they are both well respected experts in their fields, and you will receive exemplary care from them.”

The pair of stallions stepped forward, each giving a polite bow. “Good day, ladies, and my young sir,” Dr. Verdure addressed the mares and dragon. He glanced back at Princess Celestia. “Shall we begin right away, Your Majesty?”

Princess Celestia smiled. “I see no reason why not. I expect the two of you likely won’t be taking long, regardless, but I would think our hosts would like to feel better sooner rather than later.”

Dr. Verdure gave a curt nod. “If I may, then, I shall tend to our young dragon and his pegasine friend, if you would do the honors of treating the young filly resting on the couch, Dr. Enquiry.”

“Yep – can do.” The younger stallion blew a strand of silver mane from his face, hiding it within the auburn. He glanced toward his colleague. “By the way, just call me Sterling. I don’t care for formalities much.”

He turned to Applejack, effortlessly lifting the couch she sat on with his magic without a hint of throwing her off balance, guiding it off to a private side room. “No worries, Miss. We’ll be done shortly.” He saw her giving him an appraising glare and chuckled. “And no, I’m not going to make you take off your hat.”

The others giggled as Applejack visibly relaxed at that.

“As for you two, my young friends, if you would be so kind as to follow me, we’ll get you mended more quickly than you thought possible,” Dr. Verdure reassured them.

“Fine by me.” Rainbow Dash trotted ahead. “The faster, the better!”

The doctor chuckled at his rambunctious patient as Spike walked along by his side, head still pounding, looking apathetic.

Rarity nudged Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy as the doctors and their patients left, jerking her head to the side of the room, away from Derpy, Twilight, and the princess. They caught on to her inference to give the three ponies some additional privacy, and silently shifted their position to a furnished section a short distance away.

Twilight looked to Princess Celestia, her head drooping somewhat. “Princess, I’m just so sorry, please-”

Princess Celestia held up a hoof to silence her student, locking eyes with her. Slowly, the alicorn closed the distance between herself and her student, and when they were mere inches apart the dignitary wrapped her hooves around Twilight and pulled her into a tight hug.

“Twilight, I want no more apologies from you. You are more dear to me than anypony else, and nothing you could ever do will change that. Do you understand that?”

Twilight nodded, not sure what to say to the princess hugging her tightly.

Releasing her, the princess caught Twilight’s eye, and Twilight could detect the glimmer of a tear forming in the princess’ eye. “Now,” Princess Celestia said, “I believe you have somepony extra special here for me to meet.”

Twilight nodded, smiling back radiantly. “I most certainly do.” She looked over toward Derpy, who still stood slightly bowed, seemingly attempting, unsuccessfully, to hide her presence. Twilight gave her another reassuring smile.

“Princess Celestia, this is my marefriend, Derpy,” Twilight grinned proudly, though a few drops of sweat beaded her forehead, reflecting the fact that she still hadn’t completely lost her fear of the princess disapproving of her friends.

The transcendent alicorn walked forward in a stately manner, stopping just before Derpy. To the mailmare’s surprise, Princess Celestia bowed her head to the pegasus, causing Derpy’s jaw to go slack. The princess stood straight again, smiling at the dumbfounded mare.

“It is certainly an honor to meet you, Derpy. I must thank you, both for myself and on the behalf of Twilight.” Both Derpy and Twilight looked confused at the princess’ statement, and Derpy cocked her head to the side in puzzlement.

“Pardon me, Your Highness, but why are you thanking me? I haven’t done anything special, and I couldn’t have done anything deserving your thanks.” Derpy bowed her head in reverence and humility.

“Quite the contrary,” the princess calmly responded. “From what Twilight has told me, you are extremely faithful, trusting, and supportive. Derpy, I have taught Twilight for many years, and she is talented far beyond she knows. There is one thing, however, that she has a tendency to lack,” Princess Celestia stated, glancing at Twilight.

The unicorn shrank behind her gaze. Dear Celestia, I’m sorry, what did I do? What have I failed at? The fear was displayed across the mare’s face plainly.

Celestia looked back to Derpy with a certain aura of confirmation. The pegasus had watched her marefriend’s reaction with a cringe of empathy, and she looked to the princess with sadness.

“Derpy, Twilight often lacks confidence. She doubts her own ability, and I believe you are just the pony to support her in her times of doubt.” The princess smiled. “Though I admonished her for her use of that spell, there was one positive aspect to it. I only couldn’t mention it until I was sure she would not try to use it again.”

Derpy’s face contorted in confusion as she attempted to decipher what the princess meant, and Twilight didn’t show much more in terms of understanding.

“Derpy, you gave her confidence. In all the years I have taught Twilight, I would never have expected her to attempt a spell with such little room for error. Even if I had reassured her myself, she still would not have had the confidence in her own ability to succeed. Your faith and trust in her gave her the strength to acknowledge her own potential. It is unfortunate that the spell was the incorrect choice; nevertheless, it stands that you can provide her with the support she needs to have as much faith in herself as she does in her friends.”

Both Derpy and Twilight stood, astonished by the gratitude the princess was expressing.

To their sides, both doctors re-emerged with their patients, all three looking as though they hadn’t been injured in the first place. Rainbow Dash glanced in Applejack’s direction just in time to see the farmpony stealing an admiring glance over her healer, and the pegasus gave Applejack a smirk, causing her to blush slightly.

Princess Celestia took notice of their re-entry. “Perfect timing! As I thought, the two of you were able to make quick work of healing their injuries.”

Dr. Verdure waved a hoof, almost dismissively. “Please do not mention it, Your Highness. Their wounds were minor in comparison to what I had prepared for.”

Sterling gave the princess a short nod accompanied by a slight grin. “My pleasure, princess. Feel free to call on me anytime.” His eyes darted to Applejack momentarily as she, Rainbow Dash, and Spike joined the rest of the group.

“Very well, then.” The princess returned her attention to Derpy. “If I may have a word with you a moment, Derpy, it would be much appreciated.”

Derpy nodded wordlessly.

“This way then, please.” The princess indicated the opposite end of the room, and the two made their way out of earshot of her friends.

“Derpy, I have some news for you, but I would like you to keep it to yourself for the moment. I would like to talk to you and Twilight about it separately.” The pegasus nodded solemnly, though she was curious about what the princess would want to talk to Twilight about.

“With the amount of researchers we had looking, we were able to locate a newer spell with the potential to bring your vision to normal standards.” Derpy let out a small gasp, drawing the attention of her friends, though they stayed at a distance and averted their eyes at a quick sweeping gaze from the princess.

Princess Celestia continued, “In truth, we were losing hope that we would find anything; we had at the very least seventy of our researchers, forty of our record keepers, and every ophthalmologist in Canterlot searching, and there still hadn’t been any information reported by dusk. The discovery was actually quite fortuitous – when Twilight sent me her letter regarding the events of last night, I had just finished reviewing all the details necessary for the spell, which had been found not half an hour prior.”

“It is something I need to discuss with Twilight as well, but I would like to know your thoughts first. The main thing you need to know is that the spell has been documented to be effective, and it contains a failsafe spell to prevent harm in the event that the spell is interrupted. In short, there is no risk to you if you would want to use it. Is that something you would still want?”

Derpy remained silent at the proposition as she thought. The options and implications fell like a torrent through her mind. They found it… but do I really want this? I’ve already decided that I can accept myself as I am, but does that mean I need to pass over the opportunity if I have it? I was happy as I was with Twilight. I was still happy even though I lost my sight because I could still be with Twilight… As long as I’m with her, I’ll be happy – my vision doesn’t define me anymore.

Slowly she looked up to Princess Celestia. “Fixing my vision isn’t the focus of my life anymore, but that also doesn’t mean I should ignore it entirely. As long as Twilight is alright with it, I’m willing to use it. If it doesn’t work, I’ll still be me, and if it does work, I’ll still be me, just with better eyesight. The most important thing to me is that she stays with me through it.”

The princess nodded at her, a smile crossing her lips. “That is a wise view to hold, and I believe it to be a good choice. I also need to discuss this with Twilight, though, so if you would, please, give me a moment to speak with her.”

The pegasus nodded, and the princess crossed the room to her anxiously waiting student.

“Twilight,” the princess began, “I need to ask you a question of utmost importance for both you and Derpy.”

A wave of concern swept across the unicorn’s face.

“Do not worry,” Celestia continued, “There is nothing wrong, but I do need you to make a decision. As I just finished discussing with Derpy, there is another spell that may be used to fix her vision. It is a permanent version, and has a failsafe included in the spell to prevent any harm to both the caster and patient.”

Twilight’s heart leapt into her throat.

“There is a small catch with the spell, however, and that is what I must discuss with you.” Twilight’s face fell slightly as the princess continued. “The spell is extremely difficult, so much so that it requires the aid of other physicians.”

She nodded to both doctors, who began walking toward Derpy, taking positions at a distance on her right and left sides.

“That is the reason I brought these stallions with me rather than Ponyville’s doctors to tend to your friends. They are the most skilled physicians in the kingdom, and I wanted to be prepared in the event that both you and Derpy agreed to this.”

Twilight nodded in comprehension, allowing her mentor to carry on.

“Derpy has consented that she is comfortable with this spell, as long as you are. She has stated that she is not concerned with her eyesight; she will take a cure if it exists, of course, but only if you agree with it. Twilight, it is very important for you to realize that she values you far more than curing her vision.”

Twilight smiled warmly at that, but the princess was not finished. Celestia’s voice took on a serious tone as she continued.

“The most important portion of this spell is where your decision must be made. In order for the spell to last permanently, the caster must transfer some of their own magic into the pony being treated. In effect, the caster permanently donates a portion of their power to keep the spell active in the patient. The stronger the unicorn’s magic, the less the effect of the magic transfer will be felt, but it will be felt nonetheless.”

Twilight paled slightly at the implication of Princess Celestia’s words. She could fix Derpy’s vision permanently, but at the cost of some of her own magical ability. Not only that, but she would likely need to practice repeatedly with the two stallions to gain the skill to cast such a spell. Can I do this? Am I willing to sacrifice some of my own strength for this?

Twilight quickly recovered from her inner questioning, looking across the room to her special somepony, the pegasus looking back at her inquisitively. There really was no question at all. Of course I will. How could I not?

There was, however, one question that did need to be answered first. Twilight took a deep breath before addressing the princess. “Your Majesty?” Twilight cast a keen eye toward the princess. “Derpy doesn’t know about the spell needing a magic transfer, does she?”

The princess looked down at her own protégé, smiling at the perception of her pupil. “No, Twilight. She does not. I told her only that the spell existed and could be used, if she wanted. I fear that if she knew the full implications, she would discard the idea immediately; that is why I decided to leave that decision to you.”

Twilight shook her head. “That can’t be the way we make this work, though.”

Princess Celestia blinked, showing slight confusion at her hesitation. If anything, she had expected Twilight would balk at the loss of her magic, but that did not seem to be the case. Twilight stepped forward, leaving the princess behind her as she looked sadly at Derpy, and the princess followed her gaze.

Derpy was happily trotting in place, turning in circles every once in a while from excitement at the princess’ news. She had occasionally glanced their way, but when Derpy noticed that she was being watched, she kept her gaze away, giving the pair the privacy that the princess had requested. Twilight spoke quietly to Princess Celestia, though she never turned to face the alicorn, instead choosing to keep her focus on the pegasus in the center of the room.

“Princess, as much as I want to freely go ahead and do this for her, I can’t agree to do it without her knowing just what it means. If I do this without her knowing, I’m absolutely sure that she’ll feel remorseful that we did it. I’m sure she’d keep loving me, and I’m sure she’d be happy for her vision to be made normal, but… If Derpy decides that she is not willing to go through with the spell, I would be all right with that. Having her back out isn’t what I fear the most.”

Twilight stood, staring at the pegasus in the center of the room. Derpy was smiling widely, unable to stop moving about, as though she were an excited schoolfilly waiting for a special surprise.

“What I fear most is that, for the rest of her life, she’ll see me in whatever weakened state this spell puts me in, and every time she does, every second she spends with me will be filled with guilt. She will feel that she took something from me, something she can never give back, and it will haunt her forever.” Her voice took on an even more serious tone, her face turning to steel as she fought back tears at the thought of what could be. “That idea scares me immensely.”

Twilight hung her head in sorrow, her steel façade breaking at last, bringing forth a small trickle of tears. She trembled slightly, and her voice was much weaker than it had been a moment ago.

“I would be the most horrible pony alive if I did that to her. I would be willfully ignoring any consequences other than what would happen to me, and because of that I would be destroying her happiness permanently. I’d be trying to fix a small physical problem by creating an immense amount of sorrow.”

Twilight looked to the princess, looking for an encouraging smile, a look of understanding, any sort of reassurance that she was making the right choice. What she saw, however, was the opposite of any reaction she could have anticipated.

The majestic alicorn of the sun was standing mutely, with her head bowed and eyes closed. Her own muzzle held a line of tears, and though she kept silent, her face did not hide her emotions. It displayed a twisted, lonely look, filled with self-reproach and regret, and she was filled with disappointment at what she had neglected to consider.

Twilight looked at Celestia in surprise as the alicorn slowly gazed up at her, and her expression showed signs of duress as she tried to assemble an answer to Twilight’s unspoken question.

“Twilight, I’m sorry. I never even thought about any of that. My concentration was so focused on finding an alternate spell that I disregarded all thoughts of how you both would react. I never considered either of your feelings in the matter, only how I would tell you what you needed to hear in order to make it look like a perfect solution. I failed to take into account how you would feel afterward.”

Celestia blinked back another tear. “If you hadn’t been so focused on her wellbeing, I could have set up a situation where I would be responsible for destroying both of you emotionally.” She gave a sardonic chuckle at herself. “All this time, I’ve stressed the importance of friendship to you, and it seems ironic that, in the end, I had forgotten the trust that underlies all friendships.”

She looked fondly at her student, blinking more tears from her eyes as she did so. “I will need to reread all of the letters you’ve sent me about the lessons you learned. It seems that I need a reminder of what true friendship means.”

Having Princess Celestia admit self-criticism directly had shocked Twilight into immobility. The ruler of Equestria stepped forward and nudged her, breaking the unicorn from her stunned daze.

“Go on, Twilight. Go discuss this with her, and make sure that she knows everything before agreeing.”

Twilight nodded curtly, wiped a tear from her cheek with her hoof, and turned toward Derpy. Slowly she walked toward the pegasus in the center of the room.

Derpy noticed Twilight’s movement and turned toward her, a smile lighting her face as the unicorn approached. However, the serious look on Twilight’s face did not give her a confident feeling, and behind Twilight she caught a sight of Princess Celestia, looking somewhat downcast. She felt a bit of panic creep into her chest, but only for a moment.

Remember, you don’t need this to define who you are. If they’ve decided they can’t do it, then that’s all there is to it. Derpy nodded resolutely to herself. She would not be let down by whatever answer they had come to. She would simply listen and agree with their decision regarding the spell.

Twilight spoke softly in order to keep some semblance of privacy. Though everypony else was far away enough to not hear what she said, she still did not want to broadcast their conversation.

“Derpy,” she began, “Princess Celestia didn’t exactly tell you everything about the spell that she had found; that’s what she wanted to talk to me about.”

Derpy’s face reflected confusion; she had been expecting either a yes or a no; what she had not expected was additional information to consider. She sat on the floor, and merely stared at Twilight, waiting for the explanation to come.

Twilight fidgeted, unsure of how to breach the subject to Derpy. She knew, deep down, that if she was blunt about it, the pegasus would give her an instant denial. While Twilight was willing to accept that, she wanted Derpy to know just how she felt about the decision before she made any rash choices.

“Derpy…” she began, “Princess Celestia left off one important detail about the spell, because the choice can affect me, as well.” Twilight saw Derpy give a sudden jerk at the news, and quickly held up a hoof, stopping the pegasus’ imminent protests. "I’ve already made my choice as to how I would like to deal with this, but I can’t do it without you knowing exactly what is going on and agreeing to it.”

Derpy nodded wordlessly, staring at her marefriend in both confusion and expectation.

“The spell would be able to last permanently because I would be placing some of my own magic into you to keep it active. From what I can understand from Princess Celestia, my magic is strong enough that I won’t lose much ability, but regardless of how strong I am, I will feel some effect from losing some of my magic. We don’t know specifically what the effect will be, but whatever it is, it’s likely to be permanent, since the magic will stay in you for the rest of your life.”

Derpy’s eyes widened as the implications of Twilight’s explanation crystallized in her mind. If we do this, Twilight will be weakened forever… Her head dropped and her eyes closed, and she slowly shook her head.

“I can’t ask that of you, Twilight. That’s an immense sacrifice you’d have to make, and I don’t want to make you choose to lose your magic for me.” She looked back up, staring at Twilight. “I’m happy with my messed up eyes as long as I can stay with you. You don’t need to worry about fixing them for me.”

Twilight leaned forward, reaching out a hoof and pulling Derpy close. Her muzzle slid along the gray fur of the pegasus’ cheek, feeling a slight dampness on her marefriend’s face from an unseen tear.

“You don’t need to ask me to do it, Derpy. I’ve already decided that I’m more than willing to do it for you. I know that you would be okay with your eyes staying as they are now, but I also know that you would still love to have your vision corrected. You’ve made such a huge difference in my life; now I have the chance to make a huge difference in yours, and if it means I lose a little magic to do it, then I’m okay with that.”

She gave Derpy an emphatic squeeze, and her words came out in a whisper. “Please, let me give you what you’ve always wanted. I love you so much; let it be my turn to give it freely.”

Twilight felt Derpy shift slightly, and the pegasus’ forehooves clasped around her neck as Derpy grasped her tightly in an embrace.

A small, nearly imperceptible squeak came from Derpy, her voice completely faltering. She sniffled a little and cleared her throat, then barely mustered up enough strength to softly ask, “Are you absolutely sure, Twilight?”

The unicorn gave a gentle nod into Derpy’s shoulder. “I’m completely sure. I’ve put everything I had into finding a solution. Now we have one, and if I need to give you some of my magic, I’ll do it gladly.”

She gave the pegasus another squeeze, followed by a peck on the cheek. “Besides, you’ll be with me, so my magic really isn’t leaving at all. It’s just… moving around a bit.”

Derpy eased herself back down on her hooves and gave Twilight a weak smile. “Okay, then. If you are sure that you want to do this, then I accept your decision.” Her eyes glistened with affection. “Thank you, Twilight.”

Twilight gave Derpy a light bonk on the snout with a hoof. “Silly. You don’t need to thank me for loving you.” She gave Derpy a quick kiss on the tip of her muzzle, then turned around. “I’ll let Princess Celestia know.”

Twilight walked back over to the princess and gave her a small smile and nod. “Derpy knows what I’ll be doing, and she is okay with it, as long as it was my decision to do it.”

The princess turned to face Derpy, then cast her gaze down to Twilight. “Just to be sure, Twilight, I want to ask you once more. Are you absolutely certain that you want to make this sacrifice for her, even though she is not concerned with her eyesight any longer?”

Twilight nodded. “I’m sure. She has shown me over and over again how to place others before herself. She has made sacrifices her entire life, some by choice, others not, but when it has mattered most, she has always put my welfare first. It’s time somepony did that for her. I’ll do anything it takes. Of course, I’ll need a lot of study and practice with your doctors to learn how to do the spell, but I’m willing to do it.”

Princess Celestia nodded in agreement with Twilight, though a tiny smile crept over her face. “I don’t think that will be necessary, Twilight. Are you familiar with the ‘Entwined Guidance’ spell?”

Twilight nodded reflexively. “That’s the spell that teachers used in school to help unicorns with the ability to cast a spell, but weren’t able to grasp the actual process of casting it. The teacher needed to be proficient with the spell they were teaching, but the actual magic was cast using the abilities of the student. It was kind of like a hooves-on active training manual.” Twilight looked puzzled. “How will that help us, though?”

The princess gave Twilight a nod, her smile widening. “I have learned many magical techniques used in medicine over the years, so I have the background skill to use this spell. Ever since we discovered it, I have been intensely studying its details. I now know how to use the vision spell, and you have more than enough ability to cast it. We can use the Entwined Guidance spell to heal Derpy; I will channel the directions of the spell through you, and your magical ability will be used to infuse her with the magical treatment.”

Twilight sat, stunned at the suggestion. She would never have considered the use of a spell intended for training foals for such a practical use, and the repurposing of the spell was certainly an inspired idea.

A hint of skepticism stole over Twilight, and she looked searchingly to the princess.

“Will that simple training spell really be enough to allow me to cast such an intricately detailed incantation?” she hesitantly asked.

The princess gave her an affirming nod. “I have had the chance to use the guidance spell countless times through the ages, and in every case, regardless of the difficulty of the spell, it has worked, so long as the pony being taught has sufficient ability.” Her eye twinkled at her student. “I think it’s safe to say we don’t have any reason to be worried about that. If you still have any worries, remember that this spell has a failsafe in case something goes wrong.”

Twilight responded with an appreciative grin and enthusiastic nod. “All right, then. We can give it a try. Just tell me what I need to do.”

The princess walked slowly over toward Derpy, stopping after several paces and glancing to each of the doctors that were standing off to Derpy’s sides. She gave them an acknowledging gesture, and lined herself up with them, forming a perfect triangle around the pegasus in the center.

As the discussion changed to activity, it drew the attention of the ponies and dragon gathered to the side of the room. With great interest, they perked up, watching the precise positioning of the princess and doctors. They had been quietly guessing what the princess had been discussing with Derpy and Twilight; it was obvious it was something important, but with the stations being set as they were, the answer was plain to see. They were preparing to cast a spell.

Princess Celestia looked over her shoulder to Twilight. “Twilight, please come and stand exactly where I am right now. When you are ready, simply start channeling your magical energy through your horn. I will be behind you, leading the spell’s direction along. All you will need to do is focus on keeping your magic amplified as much as you can, and allow the guidance spell to shape that magic.”

Twilight trotted over, moving into the area the princess had been standing in and turning to face Derpy, who was watching with a mixture of anticipation, excitement, fear, and confusion at the actions of Twilight and the princess.

Princess Celestia moved into position behind Twilight and cast her gaze to the pegasus a short distance away. “Derpy, please stay still until I say otherwise. Alright?”

“O… Of course, princess,” the mare stammered, bracing herself as the alicorn had requested. Her eyes darted to Twilight, and it was clear to see that, though she stood motionless, anxiety was overwhelming her. The silent atmosphere, combined with the presence of two very serious looking doctors and the princess herself, all concentrating on her, was almost more frightening than she could tolerate.

Twilight returned the pegasus’ gaze, feeling a rush of empathy for the terrified mare. She did her best to appear strong and confident, giving Derpy a wide smile, though, in truth, Twilight was every bit as nervous as her marefriend. She broke her smile for a moment, silently mouthing words to Derpy. I love you so much – don’t worry, everything will be fine.

Derpy gave a very small nod back, trying to move as little as possible, and gave Twilight a smile. Her eyes shimmered with emotion for the unicorn, then her eyes returned forward as she resumed her motionless position.

Celestia watched as Twilight bowed her head and closed her eyes, and a rose-colored aura accumulated around the unicorn’s horn. In turn, Celestia closed her own eyes, and her horn began to emanate small tendrils of green magic that snaked toward Twilight, circling around her momentarily before dissolving into her coat, leaving a slight glow in their wake.

In an instant, the alicorn’s wings snapped upward, and her horn glowed a furious white. Twilight’s eyes jerked open, and her own magic intensified, forming a beam of pure energy that shot out, stopping over Derpy’s head. Simultaneously, the doctors on each of Derpy’s sides took their cues from the princess, concentrating beams of their own in the same fashion, both beams connecting with Twilight’s own, forming a perfect tetrahedral pyramid over the pegasus.

A wave of magenta energy flowed slowly downward from the tip of the triple connection, creating a wide and perfect circle around Derpy before sinking into the floor. Underhoof, the circle’s magic spread rapidly, creating vibrantly bright and intricate patterns along the floor – perfectly symmetrical and all centered directly under the confused, frightened, and, in spite of everything, stone-like pegasus.

Derpy felt the magic coursing through her; little nudges and prods were positioning her as she stood; in addition to contributing to the triangle of beams, the doctors were using extra magic to ensure she was exactly where she needed to be. The light pushes stopped, and she felt her eyelids slowly and gently being pressed closed.

Twilight felt a sense of overwhelming exertion, and her eyes glowed a ferocious yellow as a small, solid ball of magic formed and was forced up the beam. Upon reaching the crest of the spell junction, the patterns within the circle on the floor flashed in intensity, and a rose-colored ball of magic slowly dropped straight down, settling between Derpy’s withers.

Derpy felt it sit for just a moment before it began seeping into her body, spreading magic from her core outward, feeling it affect every part of her. She felt the warm magic spread into her eyes, though the feeling was indistinct; every other portion of her body tingled in the same manner as her eyes. She felt a final surge of warmth as all three beams dropped from their height, converging on the pony in the center, cocooning her in a swirl of magenta as the rays of magic and the circle beneath her dissipated.

Though the magic swirled and pulsed around her, the room was oddly devoid of sound, as well as any movement but that of the magic. The rotation of the sphere surrounding Derpy slowed gradually, shrinking as its spin ceased. The magic absorbed into the glowing coat of the pegasus until all trace of it had disappeared, and Derpy was left standing in the center of the triangle of ponies.

The doctors stood, breathing heavily from the force of the spell, and even Princess Celestia seemed to be trying to recover from the tiresome ordeal. Twilight, however, slumped to the floor, her chest heaving from exertion and her body aching and sore. With great difficulty, she slowly pushed herself up onto her hooves, her legs trembling from exhaustion. Rest would have to wait for later; her concern was focused entirely on the still motionless pegasus in front of her.

Twilight began to walk toward Derpy, fatigue weighing her hooves down as they scraped across the floor, and Princess Celestia trailed behind her. The rest of the group gathered silently behind them, then fanned out around Derpy in the center of the room. Celestia stood just to her side, and gave a soft whisper in her ear. “You may open your eyes, now.”

Gradually, Derpy eased her eyelids up, revealing her enchanting amber eyes, now perfectly centered. She looked around in amazement; never before had her vision been so clear. When Twilight had performed the old spell correctly, things were sharply in focus, but even that paled in comparison to the clarity she could see with now.

An amused sounding voice piped up at Derpy’s side. “My, my, those spellbooks were quite literal when they said they would infuse the patient with some of the caster’s magic.”

Everypony turned their gaze to where Celestia was pointing. Underlying the center of Derpy’s cutie mark, she had acquired a final change to her cutie mark that nopony, not even Princess Celestia herself, could have expected. Dim and slightly translucent, occasionally pulsing with the donated magic, was a mirror image of Twilight’s cutie mark, each pulse sending random faint lights through the bubbles, casting various shimmering colors around.

Derpy looked to Twilight with tears of gratitude in her eyes. With a cry of joy she threw her hooves around the unicorn’s neck, hugging her as hard as she possibly could and sobbing heavily but happily into Twilight’s shoulder. Twilight gently wrapped a hoof around Derpy’s neck, though her fatigue made it feel much heavier than normal.

Eventually, the cured pegasus dropped back to the ground, releasing her marefriend, though not before placing an emphatic kiss to the side of her face.

Twilight turned, looking at the princess with reverence. “Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you so much, this means all of Equestria to us.”

The princess smiled in return. “I know it does, Twilight, and that’s why I wanted to help as much as I could.”

The noise in the room fell into hushed murmurs as Derpy was enveloped by hugs from her friends. Princess Celestia eventually broke up the affectionate display, clearing her throat loudly, trying to douse the emotion that was threatening to break her own composure as well.

“Well,” the princess announced, “I think this visit went rather well.” She looked around, smiling widely. “Thank you, ladies, and you too, Spike, for allowing us your company today. Derpy, I wish you all the best with Twilight – try to keep her in line as much as you can for me.” She grinned and gave Derpy a wink. “I’m sure you’ve heard some stories already.”

Derpy smirked and nodded vigorously. “I’ve heard some real doozies, that’s for sure, but I’m guessing that there are plenty more to come.” She gave Twilight an affectionate glance out of the corner of her eye. “We’ll be making some more amusing stories to tell in the future, too, I’m sure.”

Her friends erupted in giggles as Twilight’s face flushed in embarrassment.

The princess addressed the doctors as she walked toward the door, “Dr. Verdure, Sterling, would you be so kind as to accompany me back to Canterlot?”

“Of course, Your Majesty,” they replied in unison, bowing in courtesy.

Derpy, realizing the princess was almost out the door, called out, “Thank you so much, Princess Celestia! I wish I could do something to tell you how much this means to me.”

The princess turned to her with a smile. “There is something, actually. I have the Elements of Harmony send me letters recounting lessons about friendship when they learn them. I would like you to join them in their studies.”

The pegasus beamed widely. “Consider it done, Your Majesty!”

The princess gave Derpy a fond look before raising an eyebrow and smirking at the sight she saw.

Girls!” Twilight, Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash snapped to attention at the stern tone in the princess’ voice. The stern tone melted away instantly.

“Stop staring at Derpy’s flank. You look… strange.”

With a grin, the princess walked out the door, leaving behind a very large giggling pile of hugs in the middle of the library.