• Published 28th Oct 2011
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Twilight's Horn - Ganymede

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Enchantments of Amore

II

Enchantments of Amore

A cockatrice! Twilight thought to herself, nearing the library at last. Of all the things for Zecora to be enamored with... a cockatrice!

The sun was nearly set, showering the town in a golden-red haze. The library tree was just up ahead. The sun's glare made it difficult to make out, but from what Twilight could see, something about it was different.

Very different.

As Twilight approached the tree and took in the strange site before her, she stopped altogether, stunned to the point of total confusion. Was she in the right place? This was certainly where she remembered the library tree being. The buildings on either side were certainly the same.

A few moments later, her eyes took in the mushroom shape, the bits of green amid the white, gold, and rainbow, and finally the sign outside still reading "Library," determining in the end that, indeed, this was her home. Or, at least, what used to be her home.

Rarity had apparently taken this time to cover every leaf, branch, and twig with every frill, fabric, and decoration in all of Ponyville. Ribbon and lace hung down the trunk, golden statues sat outside her front door, moving mechanical birds swung on the branches making small chirping noises, and every last inch of bare wood was covered with gemstones.

"Oh, this is not good!" she muttered, shaking her head.

Her hooves refused to move for a moment, but she eventually forced them to move and fought with herself all the way to the door. Opening the door, she stared into what could only be described as the strangest version of the Carousel Boutique she had ever seen. Every last inch of the library was redecorated. The only thing Twilight still recognized were the books. Walls were repainted and covered with tapestries, marble archways were placed in the ceiling, and the stairs were now covered with a thick red carpet down the middle.

"Twiiiilight!" Rarity exclaimed from the top of the stairs as Twilight crossed the threshold. "You were gone so long, I was starting to get worried, dear!" She trotted down an elaborately decorated staircase, closing the door to join her. "Oh, you must be so tired right now. Why don't I show you the tour?"

Twilight's head turned, but her face was blank. "What...is all this?" she asked, blinking mildly as she glimpsed the mannequins and sewing equipment in the corner of the room.

"Ooooh! Silly Twilight," said Rarity, trotting up with a loving smile and rubbing her head against her shoulder. "I'm moving in with you, of course!"

Before Twilight even had a chance to groan, Rarity was already forcibly guiding her up the stairs, her head pressed against Twilight's side. "Oh, but you must see what I did with the bedroom, dear! It's simply splendid!"

Twilight's hooves caught a few times as Rarity pushed her up the stairs. As she finally reached the second story, Twilight's heart sank as she saw the ridiculous "enhancements" that had been made to her own bedroom. Rarity was beside herself, emitting excited squeaks as she concealed a bursting scream of joy.

"Rarity!" Twilight said, looking around. "What did you do to my room?!"

"Isn't it just marvelous!?" she said, rearing up on her hind hooves.

"Rarity, there are so many gemstones in this place, I can hardly see from all the sparkling! This place is completely impractical! And..." Twilight stopped and looked up, "is that a ... chandelier?"

"Pure gold!" Rarity chimed, "32 candles! My best work!"

"But ... this is a tree! Don't you think we should have as little fire in this place as possible?!"

"Oh, don't be silly, Twilight. Wait 'til you see our bed!" Rarity said, bouncing up to Twilight's sleeping quarters, leaving Twilight sinking in her place as she watched Rarity round the elaborate curved staircase.

"Our...bed..." Twilight mumbled, half to herself.

"Silk sheets, dear!" she said, laying down on the bed Twilight had slept in so many times, rubbing against the fabric suggestively. "Only the best for us, Twilight! I can't wait for us to try them out tonight!"

Twilight closed her eyes and groaned.

"Rarity! You really don't have to do this! I mean...the room, the bed...it's too much!"

"Oh, you!" Rarity said, bouncing off the bed as she bounded back down the stairs with a smile worthy of Pinkie Pie. "You won't be so apprehensive tonight, when we-"

A thump from outside made Twilight and Rarity jump. Twilight let the tingling feeling of shock subdue before looking towards the balcony where the sound had occurred.

"Good heavens!" Rarity jumped back. "What in Equestria was that!"

Twilight held a hoof up. "Stay here," she said, walking to the balcony door and peering out.

The balcony was one of the few places Rarity had barely touched. There were a few pieces of fabric here and there for added color, but the most prominent addition were the two ponies now furiously making out in the sunset.

"Ohhhhh, great!" she thought, putting her hoof to her face before flinging it over her head. "Just what I needed. More lovemaking!" She flung the door open and stepped out onto the balcony, leaving it open as she walked right up to the couple still wrestling with their tongues.

"What do you two think you're doing?!" She looked down at the frantic display of blue and gray. The two ponies ignored her, taking their actions to higher extremes, the sounds of slop striking her ears. Twilight almost had to look away a few times.

"Wait..." she said, finally recognizing the blue uniform adorning the form of the pony on top. "Soarin?"

The esteemed member of the Wonderbolts was apparently busy kissing the mailpony. At least, Twilight thought it was kissing. It looked more like he was trying to eat her face off.

Derpy Hooves ( as everypony called her, not knowing her real name ) was lying on her back, lazily enjoying the make-out session when she suddenly remembered something. Pulling her tongue out of Soarin's mouth with a horrible squelching noise, she reached down and clamped her mouth around a couple-dozen gold-laced envelopes sticking out of her saddlebags, turning her gray face towards Twilight, eyes spinning like pinballs. Spit shined on her lips as it soaked some of the envelopes.

"Muuill!" she stifled, holding the letters out expectantly. All she got back, however, was a blank stare.

"Gee! A little late today, huh?" Twilight said.

Derpy continued to hold out the letters in her mouth, a dribble of spit dropping lazily onto the balcony.

"Uh...why don't you just leave those here on the balcony for now..." she groaned, trying not to hurl.

Derpy dropped the letters turning her face back towards Soarin who went at it like an apple pie.

"You taste like muffins!" he exclaimed, slopping saliva all over Twilight's balcony.

"Look!" Twilight said, punching her hoof out towards the couple. "Do you two really need to do this on my balcony!? Can't you two go somewhere else!?"

Soarin looked up, his entire face shining with spit, adorned with a wacky smile.

"Somewhere el – Oh, wait! You're right!" he said, his eyes darting just past her. "Thanks Twilight!" Lifting Derpy off the ground, he promptly flew past Twilight and through the open balcony door.

"I DIDN'T MEAN INSIDE THE LIBRARY!" Twilight yelled, closing her eyes and stomping maddeningly on the balcony floor. She turned with a loud growl, reaching for the sticky gold envelopes on the balcony and let out a yelp. "Ow! Stupid horn..."

Rarity's voice echoed from inside as Twilight walked back inside the "Library Boutique," leaving the letters to rot until she got her magic back. "OH! It's so unseemly! Twiiilight! How could you!"

Twilight looked at the scene of Soarin and Derpy messily making out on the elaborate carpet as Rarity stared in revulsion.

"OH, Twilight! And on the carpet and everything! How could you just have invited them in! And just as I was about to start up the music and everything!"

"I didn't invite – them – in," Twilight said, sounding each word separately as she trotted in aggravation towards the scene before her. "They just came in by themselves, and – wait, did you say music?"

Rarity trotted over and drew a set of curtains that hadn't been there earlier that day. Behind them was a small DJ set and stand, complete with DJ Pony behind it.

"Wait..." Twilight started. "DJ PON-3?"

The disc jockey she had seen at the fashion show earlier that year looked up, her glasses on her forehead revealing her crimson eyes.

"Oh, hi Twilight!" she said. "You don't have to call me that. DJ's just my stage name. You can call me Vinyl!"

"But..." Twilight continued, "what are you doing here!?"

"Rarity hired me!" she said, looking pleased. "Personal request. Said I'm here to serenade you two tonight!"

Twilight put her hoof to her face and grimaced before looking back up to retort. However, something else caught her eye at that point. She look closer to find a green-purplish thing poorly hiding next to Vinyl.

"Sooo," Vinyl said, leaning over her set as the purple scales vanished behind the disc-stand, "got somethin' romantic planned, do ya?"

"SPIKE!" Twilight yelled, racing around the stand and pulling Spike out by the tail with her teeth. The purple dragon jumped with surprise and fright, clawing at the floor to get back under the table, but Twilight didn't stop until he was completely out in the open, rolling him hastily onto his back.

"Spike! Where have you been?" she screamed, glaring at the fidgeting purple and green form before her. Spike didn't look at all like he wanted to be found.

"Oh...ummm...hi Twilight! Uh...gee! This place sure does look nice!" he said, trying not to stutter.

"Spike! I haven't seen you all day! Where have you been!?"

Spike was now sitting up and holding his tail, shaking slightly. "Oh...well...you see...I was just...ummm..."

"Hiding?" Twilight put in.

"Yeah. I mean, NO! I mean...Rarity was just...and then I...but then you came in...and I was all...and then I saw Vinyl and I just..."

"Spike, whatever you're hiding, spit it out!" she said as Spike winced.

"What? Hiding? Twilight, I would never...I mean...there's nothing to hide! From...you. Nothing at all!" His tone changed as he shifted his eyes to meet Twilight's. "Why?" he said slowly. "Did someone tell you...I did something wrong...?"

Twilight glared at him, and Spike grimaced like he always did just before admitting guilt. "Okay! Okay! I confess! I put a different spell in your spell book when you did the fireworks display!" He cringed just before Twilight lashed out.

"SPIIIKE!" Twilight screamed. "Do you have any idea what this has done!?” She walked around in a small circle on the carpet, recounting her experiences. “My horn’s damaged, Trixie and Zecora are turned to stone, Derpy and Soarin are slopping their love-juice all over my floor, and Rarity...well..." She turned towards Rarity, who was still fussing over the love-couple's presence.

"I didn't mean it to!” Spike jumped in. “I mean...I never wanted to hurt anyone! I just..."

He trailed off as his eyes followed Twilight's glare, and found himself looking at Rarity frantically tugging at the blue-gray couple still fighting to stay hooked at the mouth.

"I thought you didn't want Rarity to know about your little crush," Twilight said quietly. "Why would you do something like this?"

Spike glanced around before leaning in to whisper to Twilight. "I read somewhere about an alicorn falling in love with a dragon." He glanced at the bookshelf, staring at the particularly thick green spine of one of the older, dustier books. "It kind of made me think, you know, about the future."

Twilight looked in his direction, eyeing the large book of old pony tales. She refrained from telling him that nothing in that book was based on fact.

"Look. I can understand you were upset, and I know I said some things I shouldn't. However, switching spells to try and force your crush to love you is not the way to make it happen." She was half-proud of herself for finally figuring this out, but kept herself focused on the situation. "We're going to discuss this downstairs," she said, turning her head to look narrow-eyed at the top of his head. "And you're going to help me fix this, understand? Even if it means travelling around the entire town, pony-by-pony, and feeding them all an antidote."

Spike made a loud gulping noise, twiddling his thumbs as Twilight walked towards the struggle in the middle of the room to help Rarity.

"We'll get started just as soon as this little fiasco here is cleaned up."

-----------------------------------

Soarin and Derpy proved to be most uncooperative, but Twilight and Rarity still managed to get them out of the library somehow. Luckily Rarity found herself preoccupied with polishing the floor again, giving Twilight ample time to chastise Spike, now quivering apprehensively in the corner. Twilight needed only to look at him and gesture to get him down the stairs.

The sun had now set, the windows reflecting the inside of the library as it glowed in the blaze of a dozen sconces around the walls. She led him through the fanciful room, straight up to the bookstand in the downstairs entryway (now rebuilt using vitreous enamel) and sat him down like a prisoner for interrogation at its base, his back resting against the stand.

"Okay, Spike!" Twilight said, standing over him. "Exactly what spell did you use?"

Spike trembled, grabbing his tail and chewing on it nervously between answers.

"It...it was something called 'couples generation'. I can show you the book! But I don't think it had any counter-spells in there..."

Twilight blinked a few times, the lines of her face fading a bit.

"Go on then," she said, flicking her head.

Darting his eyes around, he shot onto his feet and stumbled into the other room, returning with a thick black book adorned with an elaborate pink emblem on the front. His forefinger was wedged between the pages, open to the page with the spell.

Twilight tapped her hoof on the floor as Spike lay the book open to the marked page, revealing the same flowing cursive writing and symbols she had seen on the hill. However, this was a different spell than the one she had cast, the title covered by the remains of another page with the words "Couple's Generation" just above a fibrous tear where the rest of the spell had been torn off.

"You ripped out the whole spell?!" Twilight asked, looking up at Spike, now standing just to the left of the bookstand, the tip of his tail brushing his chin as his claws wrung around it. "How exactly did you pull this off?! Believe me, I would have noticed a page being hastily glued into my other book."

Spike continued wringing his tail out as he stuttered.

"W-w-well...see...I h-h-had a little help," he winced. Twilight's eyes narrowed slightly.

"Go on."

"I had...well...I had another unicorn help me out."

"Lyra?" Twilight said, her eyelids dipping further.

"Well...yeah. How did you know?" he said, squinting an eye.

"She's the strangest, most gullible pony I know," she said, blinking as she cocked her head. "I couldn't think who else would agree to a baby dragon's plan."

Spike looked back down at the floor, squeezing his tail so hard the spines cut into his palms.

"Well, she didn't exactly agree to anything..." Spike admitted. "In all honesty, I kinda...pretended the love-spell page fell out of the other book..."

He kept his head bowed as his eyes rolled up to meet hers.

"And you asked her to fix it for you," Twilight finished, head cocked with a smile. "How kind of her."

A nervous laugh tickling his lips as he backed up a bit.

"Actually," he said, "it was a bit trickier than that," he said with a grin. "I mean, I had to hide the title and everything, and I had to rip out the page just so so that-"

He stopped short as his eyes met up with Twilight's, now glaring at him. He fell quiet again, dropping his head again as he loosened his grip on his tail. Twilight breathed deep and leaned back a bit.

"And you say there's no counter-spell," she said, watching him finger his tail like a pungi. Spike glanced around the room, his eyes catching the mannequins in the corner. His mind drifted to Rarity, imagining her sitting at the sewing table with those half-moon glasses perked on her nose. Twilight's voice pierced his ears again.

"Right?"

Spike continued to stare at the equipment in the corner, wishing Rarity was down here with them. He bowed his head, turning to look down at the open book sitting on the carpet.

"Actually..." he said slowly.

Spike didn't even notice Twilight's surprised reaction as her ears perked in anticipation. He continuing to stare at the ripped page as the feelings of that day flooding back in a heated rage before spiralling into stomach-churning guilt. Above them, the sound of scrubbing drifted through the ceiling, perking Spike's ears. Twilight could tell something was eating away at him, but couldn't quite put her hoof on what it was.

"This wasn't the only book," he said barely above a whisper. "There was one other..."

"Another book?!" Twilight exclaimed, her eyes twinkling the reflection of the sconce flames. "You're sure! Oh, please, please, please tell me it's here in the library!" she said, stomping right up until they were inches apart.

Spike continued staring at the book, fighting an internal struggle that Twilight could only hint at. She watched the subtle blinks and twitches on his face as he considered what to tell her. Twilight's smile quivered.

"WELL?" she said, losing control.

Spike slowly looked up at Twilight, pupils dilated. Twilight stepped back, a feeling of fright seeping through her as she saw the pained expression on his face.

"I...Twilight, forgive me! I left it back in Canterlot!"

"CANTERLOT!" she shouted, Spike cradling his head back to the floor with his arms wrapped tightly around his tail. Twilight stopped and looked up at the ceiling with her ears perked for a moment, listening to the small silence above them before the sounds of scrubbing started up again.

"Canterlot?" she repeated, looking back down. "You're sure!"

"Yeah. I'm sure," he said quietly with the tiniest of nods.

"Do you at least remember the name of the book?"

Again, Spike subtly nodded, still staring at the floor. "It's actually the same book," he said softly. "They're part of a set. Our volume has the spells, but you need the second volume for counter-spells."

Twilight watched the pitiful creature in front of her, feeling her rage subside. She slowly walked up to the book beneath his gaze and closed it gently with her hoof, revealing the black cover and pink emblem splayed web-like beneath the thick curling title.

"Enchantments of Amore," she read aloud. "Volume I."

Her mind drifted away for a moment to the white towers of her old home. She remembered living in a library up in one of the towers before she had been sent down to Ponyville. In fact, she still remembered where it was. She toyed for a moment with paying a visit, perhaps saying hello to some of her old classmates she had never really gotten to know, maybe even stopping by to pay a visit to the Princess if she was-

Wait a minute! she thought, the brick of an idea striking her temple. THE PRINCESS! Of course! How could I not have thought of this before!

Spike watched as Twilight's internal struggle revealed itself as as set of eyes glowing brightly as her lids slid back, followed by her rearing onto her hind hooves with a loud "YES!". His eyes were no longer on the floor, staring up at this strange reaction as she walked up and rubbed her hoof lovingly into the dragon's head.

"This won't be a problem at all, Spike!" she said, turning to walk up the adorned staircase. "I'll just write a letter to the Princess! I'm sure she won't have any objection to helping one of her students get a book!"

"NO!" Spike yelled, holding a claw out as he lunged forward. She stopped mid-walk, rolling her eyes before swiveling around.

"What?"

Spike mouthed silently for a few seconds before stuttering.

"You...you can't ask the Princess!"

Twilight turned the rest of the way around now.

"Why not?" she said blankly, watching Spike wringing his tail again as his eyes darted to the ceiling, then to the stairs, then to the mannequins before settling on the book.

"Because...uh...because..."

Twilight's tiny smile emerged into a giggle as her hoof went to her lips. Twilight may be been bad at reading people, but she knew a guilty conscience when she saw one.

"It's okay, Spike!" she said with a smile. "She's not going to find out about you. I'm the only one who will be punishing you for this crime," she finished, punching her hoof towards him before swishing around to trot up the stairs.

"No!" Spike put out a claw, catching her as she turned to leave. "It's not that! I just-"

"What is it, Spike?" Twilight turned, her smile now a scowl, her hooves fidgeting as they held her at bay.

"It's the book! It's...well...it's not...allowed..." he trailed off, his entire body curling back.

Twilight mouthed the words "not allowed" as her eyes rolled down into a corner, finally giving up before snapping back to him. "What do you mean, not allowed?"

"Well..." Spike twiddled his thumbs again, keeping his head down as his eyes stayed innocently focused on hers, "it's...no one's really supposed to have it..." he said quietly. "it's kind of...they took it out of the buildings...and stuff..."

Spike watched in horror as Twilight's eyes widened and her pupils contracted, her bottom lip descending shakily.

"Out of the buildings..." she whispered. "Oh no. No! NO! SPIKE! You're not telling me the spell I cast came out of a...a banned book, are you?!"

Spike stared at his feet as he let out a squeak. "Maaaaaaybe?"

"SPIKE!" She shut her eyes as her head reared at the ceiling. "You're here to tell me that this book...the book on that floor right there! The one all this started out of is..." She looked around, lost for words before lunging onto the floor with a grimace. "Uuurge! You brought a banned book here from the Canterlot Library?!"

"Well it wasn't banned at the time!" Spike said with his arms out. Twilight let out a loud sigh as she walked aimlessly around the room.

"And to think! Here we are, suffering from a runaway spell that's taking over all of Ponyville. Ponies have turned to stone, Rarity's gone off to left field with infatuation, this whole library now resembles some kind of gaudy, twisted, fabric-laden brothel, and we can't get the one book with the counter-spell without risking massive fines and punishment because it just so happens to be BANNED!" Her hoof smashed the carpet on this last word.

Twilight breathed heavily through her nostrils for a few moments as her face sunk, her body facing off to the side now. Her hooves gave way as she finally sunk to the floor, burying her face in them. One way or the other, they were in trouble now. As soon as Princess Celestia discovered she had performed banned magic, it was over. Done. In fact, she was lucky to have not been caught in the first place when she was rescued from the hill. No, she thought. At this point, there really was only one option left.

"What are we going to do, Spike?" she mumbled into her hooves quietly. "We can't go back to Canterlot!"

"Well...why not!" Spike said, running up to her.

Twilight looked up from her hooves, shaking her head to make sure she heard correctly. She turned towards him with a deep breath as she switched into lecture mode.

"Well, for starters, my horn's damaged! Even if I wanted to teleport, I couldn't! And don't even think about the balloon," she put in as Spike raised a finger. "We need to do this without anyone questioning why we're there. And ideally, we'd need to do this without anyone even knowing we're there at all! Plus, it's a long way to get there on foot. It might be a few days travelling time. We simply don't have that kind of time. And why are you stuttering?!"

"B-bu-b-b-but what if another unicorn w-w-wa-w-was to..."

He glanced around the room again as he stopped completely before turning innocently back to Twilight.

"Go on" she said quietly.

"Well, I was thinking," he continued, no longer stammering, "if you can teleport other objects with your horn, why can't you teleport another pony?" he said, flinging his arms out behind him.

Twilight's mouth quirked as she considered this.

"You've put some thought into this already, haven't you..." she said. Spike shook in his place again, as if holding something back.

"That's what I've been doing all day!" he confessed, spreading his arms. "I've been trying to find another unicorn that could take me there! I was hoping I could get the book and come back here before you found out about all this!"

Spike stopped, again watching her blank face staring back at him.

"And you thought they'd just let you walk in and grab a banned book," she said blankly.

Spike lowered his head, grabbing his tail again as he brushed his foot back and forth across the carpet.

"Okay, so I hadn't quite thought it all the way through..." he said quietly.

Twilight sighed, looking down at the floor, then up at the ceiling, taking in the elaborate arches overhead. Dull thuds could now be heard coming from the floor above her.

Wait a minute...she thought, her mouth suddenly tilting as her brow furled. A unicorn that can teleport! She subtly shook her head before closing her eyes tight. It may have been crazy, but there was simply no way she could pass up an opportunity this good when it was sitting just on the other side of the ceiling like this.

"Well," Twilight sounded out very slowly, eyes still clinging to the ceiling as the thuds stopped for a moment, "I know at least one unicorn that knows how to teleport!"

She lowered her head back down to watch as Spike dropped his tail, eyes going wide. "And I'm pretty sure she'll be quite willing to help us, too!"

It was almost worth putting this plan forward simply to watch Spike's reaction. His pupils contracted as he stuck out a claw at her, stuttering "You...y-y-y-you can't be serious! You mean...you can't mean...her?!" He pointed a shaky claw up at the ceiling.

Twilight let out a laugh that sounded like a cackle as she got off the floor, surprised at how much she was enjoying this. "What are you worried about, Spike?" she said as she walked up to the stairs. "I'm not in love with her or anything!"

"I know. I just..."

"I'm just gonna ask, and see where things go! I mean...what's the worst that could happen?" Twilight said, turning around. Spike stood rooted to the spot as he watched her tail disappear up the stairs and around the corner.

Rarity was busy stomping on a few white towels on the floor as Twilight came into view. Her eyes glared at the floor as she brought her hooves down, as if the carpet was riddled with cockroaches. As Twilight came into her peripheral vision, her eyes darted up before swinging back to the floor again.

"Ah! Twilight! I think I've just about got this place cleaned up," she said, Twilight now watching the damp towels crinkling beneath her crushing hooves. "I have to admit, we really need to keep that door closed more often! Not that I blame you or anything, but if we're going to be living together like this, we need to establish some ground rules. Some of the things I had to touch on this floor were simply-" she cut off as she looked up at Twilight, her hooves relaxing to a stand-still.

"Is something wrong, dear?" she said.

"Oh, no!" Twilight said, putting on a quick, fake smile. "I just wanted to see how you were doing!"

"Oh, well, how kind of you dear," she said. "I'm actually just finishing up. There's really not much left to do here."

Twilight kept watching her pound her hooves into the floor, licking her lips before opening her mouth to speak. However, as Rarity glanced up, her hooves slowed down to light presses, and then kept slowing down, until they were sliding gently across the fibers. Her head stayed down as her eyes rolled up with a promiscuous smile.

"I've been thinking about tonight," she said simply, continuing to paw at the towels.

Twilight's words, already at the tip of her tongue, failed entirely as her eyes followed those hooves caressing the floor, Rarity's eyes still focused on her own.

"Tonight?" She said, backing up slightly and holding back a nervous laugh.

"Well, yes!" Rarity said, looking up completely, all but one of her hooves now stopped as the other swung freely, brushing the ground lightly. "It's the first time we'll finally get to be...intimate together!"

"Oh, dear! Yes! Yes, of course! Intimate..." Twilight said, coughing slightly as she regained her composure. "Uh, listen. Can I ask you a favor?"

Rarity tilted her head, her mouth curiously lined.

"Can you take me to Canterlot tomorrow? I kinda left something there I need..."

"Canterlot!?" she said, bolting up excitedly. "Why of course, dear! We'll take the first balloon in the morning!"

"Actually..." Twilight continued, "I was kinda hoping you'd teleport us there."

"Oh?" Rarity said, before Twilight could elaborate. She put a hoof up to her chin for a bit before shrugging it away. "Well, okay. Whatever you want, dear. Although I don't think I've ever teleported more than one pony at once!"

"Oh, no no no no no, you don't have to come with me-"

"But I do!" she interrupted, now wide-eyed as she forgot all about the towels she was standing on. "You have no idea how long it's been since I was last there!"

"Since the Grand Galloping Gala?" Twilight said meekly.

"Darling, I simply must come with you!" she reared back. "It would be...it would be like a date! A glorious date! Imagine us now! Strolling down the streets of Canterlot! Two lovers, side-by-side!" she said with a hoof majestically in the air.

Twilight mumbled things that barely sounded like words before falling silent.

"Anyway, don't worry about it. We'll work it all out in the morning," Rarity said, magicking the towels with her into the lavatory.

"Oh" Twilight said, watching Rarity's tail whip out of sight. "Okay...I guess..."

She turned slowly, putting one hoof in front of the other, directing herself back to the stairs.

"Twilight?" came a voice from behind her, making her stop short with one hoof still in the air. "You're going back downstairs?"

Twilight turned to see Rarity walking up to her, the towels put away.

"Oh, um...I'm just going to talk to Spike," she said, adding a huge fake smile as Rarity studied her for a bit. Rarity cocked her head as if to admonish her, but it faded quickly.

"Well, don't take too long, dear," she said, turning with a flair. "It is our first night together after all!"

"Oh, um, actually..." she said, turning away from the downstairs hallway, "I'm not sure I'm really in the mood..."

"Not in the mood?!" Rarity said, turning around with a dumbfounded look. "Don't be silly, Twilight! It's our first time! We have plenty of time for not in the mood after we've been married a while."

The word "married" tickled Twilight's lips, sending a sour taste down her throat.

"Seriously, Rarity," she said again, catching her mid-turn, "Is it all right if we hold off on being...er...intimate until tomorrow night?"

Rarity now stopped entirely, turning and walking back down the stairs.

"What are you trying to say, Twilight?" she said, trotting right up to Twilight, backing her up against the wall. "Is something wrong, dear?"

"No! I mean...uh...yes! Yes, something's...er...wrong."

Twilight averted her eyes as Rarity looked over her, staring at first at the hallway with the stairs, and then down at the carpet. She could feel Rarity's breath as it brushed against her hide, warming it with moisture each time. She watched out of the corner of her eye as Rarity slowly picked up one of her hooves, raising it up to her face and using it to gently push against her cheek. Twilight felt her head turn against her will until she was looking Rarity in the eyes. Rarity looked concerned, like a parent looking at a wounded child.

"Twilight?" she said, very quietly, stroking her cheek. Twilight backed up and felt her flank press against the wall. Rarity stepped in to fill the gap. Again, Twilight averted her eyes, looking off to the left catching the bed at the top of the stairs, then looking back and catching Rarity's tail as it whipped out from behind her.

"Twilight, dear..." she whispered again, leaning forward again so Twilight could feel the warm breath on her lips. "It's okay... Everything's going to be all right..."

As the hoof stroked gently against her hide, it began to move back towards her neck. Rarity leaned to her left and brought her lips beyond Twilight's face, walking closer and placing them right up to her ear, the feeling of her breath making them stand firm. Her hoof continued to gently stroke the side of her neck right down to the shoulder as she spoke her next words.

"Everypony's nervous during their first time. It's nothing to be ashamed of..."

"I......I......" she stuttered, shaking now. She felt heat emanate from the back of her body, spreading forward to her fluttering chest. The hoof on her neck threatened to guide her face into nuzzling Rarity's. She nearly gave in a few times, barely able to hold back as Rarity spoke again.

"I promise I'll be gentle," she said, her lips almost touching her ear. Twilight waited with bated breath for the moment her lips would actually grasp the tip of her ear. Her breath shook as she became aware of every movement her body made. The way her mouth had suddenly moistened, the way her chest expanded with each breath, the they way her stomach methodically churned and fluttered. And a tightening emanating from just beyond...

"Do come now, Twilight," Rarity said, pulling away from her. "This is a special night for us! We should enjoy it as much as possible, don't you think?"

As Rarity's body left her presence, the cold air hit her again, making her curl up a bit. Her hoof subconsciously reached underneath her, but she held it back as she realized what she was about to touch. The stairs to her right were open again, but her head turned to the left, watching Rarity from behind as she trotted up the steps, her tail whipping around suggestively. Twilight caught a glimpse of...something...and turned her head again as another wave spread over her body.

"Whoooboy!" Twilight sighed quietly. She panted at the ground a bit, trying to think about Spike. She forced herself to turn and walk, but found herself limping as she went up to the stairs.

"Okay, Twilight," she said to herself. "Keep it together. You can do this."

She took a few steps, cringing at the uncomfortable feeling as she moved her hind-legs. And as she neared the first of the steps, she paused. The cold hallway stood before her. The warm light of the chandelier stood behind. She could feel the heat from the candles striking her from behind, her knees slightly buckling.

She stood there panting and staring at the ground, unable to look up. Every thought kept turning into the feeling of that hoof on her face, those lips moving in to suckle her ear. That whisper! She shut her eyes tightly, grimacing.

Slowly, moving only her fore-legs, she turned, looking up at the bed with Rarity on her side looking down at her. Twilight's stomach contracted as her eyes wandered over her coat, her mind filling in the parts she couldn't see. Another wave washed over her, buckling her knees again slightly as she was tortured from holding back her fore-hoof.

Okay, Rarity, she thought at last, forcing her knees straight as the wave of heat fluttered through her chest. You want to do this? Then we'll do this.

Trotting up the stairs, stumbling horribly as she fought against her own body, she reached the top. Again, she averted her eyes from the provocative sight on the bed, her mind forming it vividly in her imagination instead.

"You look nervous, darling," Rarity said, her voice adding to the image in her head. "You're sure you're all right?"

Twilight looked around on the ground, finally spotting the basket on the floor that she had been looking for.

"There's something I have to do first, Rarity," she said, her voice shaking madly. She brought her head up so she could look Rarity in the eyes for just a moment. "I'll be right back. Don't...move!"

Grabbing Spike's bed with her teeth, she dragged it awkwardly down the stairs, groaning at first as her body's yearning for touch was satisfied by her own hind-legs. The basket thumped down every step as she felt for each one with her hooves.

Spike was waiting for her at the bottom of the steps, anticipating her arrival as the thumping of his basket piqued his curiosity.

"Did it work? Is she taking us to Canterlot?" His eyes went to the basket as Twilight reached the bottom. "Wait...what's tha...is that my bed?! Oh no! You're not...!"

Twilight kept sliding until the basket was tucked into the corner in the opposite room.

"What are you doing?!" Spike said, running up to her. "I sleep there!"

"You're out here tonight," Twilight said quickly, looking up from the basket at him, "Don't ask questions. Just...stay down here."

She made a break for the stairs without so much as a backwards glance.

"WAIT!" he shouted from behind her. "What does this – why are you – are we going tomorrow or what?!"

Twilight turned and walked backwards up the stairs, painfully aware of the way her hind-legs moved. "It's...I'll tell you in the morning. YES! We're going! We're doing – stuff – right now. Noisy stuff! Very, very noisy stuff! Nothing's wrong! Just...don't come up here! We're just...stay down here get some sleep I'llseeyouinthemorningGOTTAGO!"

Leaving Spike standing wide-eyed and agape, she shot up the stairs, charged by the burning sensation just below her flank. Each stair she landed on shot another hum through her, pushing her to go faster. She raced through the tunnel, into the room, around the stairs, not stopping until she was right up at the bed.

"Goodness, Twilight! Are you all right?!"

Rarity was propped on her side now, her eyes wide as she watched Twilight canter up to her, completely out of breath. Twilight's eyes shot straight down at an area subtly covered by Rarity's pose, immediately glancing back up into her eyes as she realized what she was looking at. Rarity's mouth was slightly open, causing Twilight's mind to conjure the feeling of those lips around her ear as she walked, struggling right up to the edge of the bed, shaking with every breath.

Rarity was taken aback. But, as she slowly recognized Twilight's disquiet as something other than nervousness, her eyes began to relax. Twilight watched as Rarity's mouth slowly closed into the tiniest glimpse of a smile, her tongue flicking out to moisten her lips. Twilight did likewise. Their eyes met, and for a moment neither of them moved.

Twilight opened her mouth to say something – perhaps Rarity's name – and found herself lunging forward, cutting off Rarity's wide-eyed gasp as their lips locked. Her mind collapsed under the siege of impulse as her body leaped onto the bed, meshing with Rarity's as it surrendered to the waves of fire engulfing her. She could feel Rarity's hooves gliding over her back, her shoulders, her sides. Twilight's hooves yearned to go further, but held back, keeping them tangled in Rarity's mane as she brought her lips down to Rarity's neck.

As Twilight sunk lower, she felt her ear brush against Rarity's mouth and gave a cry as Rarity responded with a flick of her tongue. Hearing Twilight's reaction, Rarity seemed to get the message, and Twilight suddenly found herself gasping and holding on for dear life as Rarity's mouth wrapped entirely around it. She felt her hoof unconsciously slip downwards, exploring every inch of Rarity along the way, breathing quickly at the overwhelming sensation around her ear. Rarity was so busy she barely sensed the hoof wandering down her body. Twilight brought it lower, inch by inch, hoping to find what she was looking for.

Rarity suddenly stopped, now catching on to what Twilight was doing. She pulled back. "Oh my!" she said, glancing down at Twilight's hoof. "Twilight, you naughty mare!" She looked up at Twilight, smiling. "Look at you! Not so nervous anymore, are you?"

Rarity lifted Twilight clean off her, tossing her onto her back on the bed. "Not just yet," she said, leaning over and placing her hoof just over Twilight's...place. "Why don't I show you how I like it, first?"

Twilight simply nodded. And smiled.

-----------------------------------

Twilight slowly opened her eyes the next morning, trying not to think about last night. Small memories flashed before her, which she quickly pushed back. The first few rounds hadn't been too bad, but some of the things they had done towards the end had gotten a little...wild.

Starting to get up, she noticed she was holding on to her pillow particularly tightly and loosened her grip, reaching one of her hooves up to rub her eyes. She sat up slowly, bringing her other hoof up, and started rubbing her face furiously, as if trying to get something nasty off of it. She was careful not to touch her horn. It wasn't particularly sore or anything. It was just, after all the places it had been, she wasn't sure it would ever be clean again.

Twilight sat up on her elbow and looked at Rarity's slumbering form. Thoughts raced through her head, remembering all the awkward details of what they had done together. What exactly happened last night, anyway? That couldn't have been...that wasn't the spell that had made her that excited, was it? Oh, Twilight didn't know. All she could remember was the way Rarity approached her, followed by that amazing feeling.

Rarity stirred for a few minutes before opening her eyes and looking up at her.

"Morning, dear!" she sang sweetly, smiling peacefully. "I bet you slept soundly! You made quite a scene last night!"

Twilight blushed slightly as Rarity rolled out of bed.

"Well! I'm going to shower up!" she said, heading for the lavatory. "I highly suggest doing so yourself, dear. That bed is anything but clean, after last night!"

Twilight jumped off the bed at these words, staring at the sheets a few minutes just to be sure.

"I'll be out in a minute, dear!" she said, closing the bathroom door behind her. Then, opening it a peak and sticking her head out, "Although, if you'd care to join me...!"

Twilight shrunk back a bit, pushing the sudden host of images out of her head.

"I...think I'm fine by myself, thanks."

"Suit yourself!" Rarity finished, closing the door.

Twilight stared at the door as she thought to herself. Perhaps last night wasn't such a bad idea after all. Rarity certainly seemed in a good mood this morning, and Twilight had most definitely learned a lot in the hours they spent together. Turning away from the door, Twilight cantered down the stairs to find Spike curled up in his bed, snoring loudly.

"Spike!" Twilight said, nudging him slightly. “Spike, are you awake?”

Spike let out a gurgling noise, too tired to let out a proper moan.

“This is it, Spike!” she said. “Rarity’s agreed to take us to Canterlot today. It shouldn’t be long now...”

Spike stirred a bit, but didn’t get up.

“Oh, Spike! I hope I wasn’t too loud or anything. You seem exhausted!”

Spike finally turned and sat up, rubbing his eyes for a while.

“Huh?” he said. “I’m always exhausted!”

He slumped back into his bed.

“I'm just glad you actually convinced her to take us there! You seemed so...weird last night, I was beginning to think the whole thing just wouldn't work!”

Spike had closed his eyes again and was snoring within seconds. Twilight couldn’t blame him. Both of them knew that Rarity always took a long time to get ready. Twilight turned to go back upstairs.

“Oh, by the way Twilight,” said Spike, lazily sitting up, his eyes almost drunken from exhaustion. "What exactly were you doing up there last night, anyway?"

Twilight stopped dead in her tracks as her eyes bugged.

"Uh...just...just a game! That's all! Nothing serious or anything. Just a game." She turned to look at him with an utterly ridiculous smile on her face. Spike glared at her with an odd expression.

"Pretty loud game, if you ask me," he said. "I thought some pony was trying to murder you two up there! I mean, what was with all the screaming?"

Twilight backed up some more, her smile widening as her eyes darted around the room.

"Just some light playful fun, that's all!" she said, looking at Spike still sitting innocently in his basket.

"With...screaming," he said.

Twilight's lips came together as an equally ridiculous smile pulled taut against her face, her eyes darting around the room again.

"That was just...part of the competition!" she said quickly, her eyes finally resting on his. "Who can scream the loudest."

"And the shouts of 'Stop! Please stop!'?"

Twilight thought for a moment.

"Tickle fight," she finally said.

"And 'right there!'?"

"Uh...target practice?"

"And that sound of you two slapping each other in the face? I mean, what was that all about?!"

Twilight thought for a moment before murmuring in the corner of her mouth. "Oh...right. Face..."

Spike finally flailed his arms into the air as he collapsed back onto his pillow. "You know what? Forget it! I'll just ask Pinkie Pie. She knows all the fun games around town."

Twilight held her breath in case any more questions came, but Spike was already starting to snore again. Letting out a sigh of relief, she headed back upstairs, getting out some parchment and a quill with great difficulty as she stood at her desk to think. It took a while for her to get her conversation with Spike out of her head, but she finally convinced herself he wasn't going to question her anymore about it, and turned her full attention to the monumental task of retrieving a banned book from Canterlot.

Twilight and Spike both knew that banned books didn’t stay in the central Canterlot Library. There was no section there to contain such books. Instead, they were carted off to Princess Celestia’s personal library in the castle, where they could only be accessed by ponies with the proper permissions. This had to be thought through. They would need a plan.

Twilight got up and started meandering around the room, letting her mind wander. She did this quite frequently, in fact. It drove Spike completely mad.

She looked over at the curtain and saw that the DJ was gone. She must have packed up and left after they fell asleep. Now that she thought about it, they had been so loud last night that Twilight had barely noticed the music. Twilight felt a tinge of blood rush to her face. She really didn't want word to get out about what she had done, and made a mental note to find Vinyl when this was all over, just to be sure.

Forcing this to the back of her mind, she pushed her thoughts to how the day should go. She considered how Rarity would fit into the plan, what she would say to her, how Spike could be of use, if there was any weakness that could be exploited within the castle from the little she had seen of the inside...

She wandered out onto the balcony and noticed the mail still sitting there from before, making her thoughts wander to the incident with Soarin and Derpy, chuckling slightly. It seemed much funnier now, looking back. The letters on the balcony were mostly dry now, and upon closer inspection, they appeared to be gold-wrapped, which she found somewhat unusual. If her horn wasn’t damaged, she might have opened them on the spot out of curiosity.

She walked to the edge of the balcony and stared out at the town. Some of the ponies were already outside. And, not surprisingly, many of them were showering a second pony with affection. Twilight stared at the strange scene unfolding before her, her smile starting to fade.

It was another hour before Rarity was finally out of the shower and preparing her dress. Twilight had spent most of this time thinking out plans in her head, put out by the fact she couldn't write without magic. She would have loved to have a map, or even a written plan.

“The shower’s all yours, dear,” Rarity said, stepping out of the lavatory. “I’m afraid your own dress isn’t as...well...prepared as it should be. But it should still look good enough to be seen in public.”

“Oh, no!" Twilight smiled, "I really wasn’t planning on wearing anything there. It’s not that kind of-”

“Twilight, really! This isn’t Fillydelphia we’re going to. This is Canterlot! You simply must go in formal attire!”

“Rarity, really,” Twilight said with a scowl, “I lived there before, remember? It’s fine!”

Rarity pouted at her in a horribly strained way. Twilight narrowed her eyes.

“Rarity...” Twilight said more slowly. “I am not – dressing – up – for – this.”

Rarity walked up to her, but didn’t get anywhere near enough to touch her, believing her still stained from the previous night.

“Please, Twilight?” she whined softly. “Can’t you at least do this for me?”

Rarity was now pouting painfully in Twilight’s face. Twilight let out an exasperated groan as she leaned her head down.

“Fine” she said through gritted teeth.

“Wonderful!” Rarity said. “Now! I think we should plan out all the places we want to go! I've been thinking about it all morning!”

Twilight was pressing her hoof so hard into her face it hurt.

“Rarity,” she said, “there’s something I have to tell you.”

Rarity was walking around the carpet, busily ticking off placing she wanted to visit.

“Pony Star’s Coffee Shop...the Seven-Hoof Cafe...OOO! And that new mall they just opened! What was it called? The Gold-Tooth Stallion?”

“Rarity!” Twilight yelled out again.

“Oh, dear! I’m just so excited! And everypony will see us together, and we’ll-”

“RARITY!” Twilight screamed, bringing her to a halt. Twilight caught her breath, ignoring Rarity's offended gaze.

“Look,” Twilight explained, “I know you’re excited and all, but I really have something I need to explain!”

“What is it, darling?” Rarity said, switching back to that same concerned look she had last night. “You’re not nervous again, are you?”

“NO!” Twilight shouted, a little louder than she intended, making Rarity take a few steps back. Twilight took a deep breath.

“No, it’s not that,” she repeated. “It's just...this isn’t that kind of visit,” she finally said. “The only reason we're going there is to get something I left. We really can't stay long enough to do anything else.”

Rarity’s face went blank for a moment before she smiled with a nervous laugh.

"Well, Twilight! I mean...we're already going to be there anyway! It would be silly not to take advantage of-"

"It's not that kind of visit!" Twilight explained before Rarity could finish. "We're not going to a mall! We're not going to a restaurant! And we sure as heck are not attending any formal plays or performances! This is pick-up-and-leave only!"

Rarity stared, gaping in astonishment, blinking a few times. Twilight watched as her lips quivered for a moment, her face scrunching up as her pupils dilated.

“But...but Twilight!” she stuttered. “It’s Canterlot! All those...those shops, and...and restaurants, and...and shows!”

Large tears crested over her twitching eyes, on the brink of escaping down her cheeks. Twilight grimaced as she forced herself not to bring her hoof to her face again.

“Rarity, there will be plenty of time for that some other day,” Twilight said. “Today, we're just gonna go there, grab what I need, and come right back!”

Rarity stood there trembling for a bit.

“But.......but.......”

“I’m sorry Rarity, but I really don’t have time to do any of those other things!”

Rarity started shaking maddeningly, her face horribly scrunched as tears flooded down her face. She took a few shaky breaths as her body pulled back, trying to hold something in. Twilight realized what she had done a split second before Rarity completely broke down, crashing into the floor in a cascade of tears.

“BUT THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SPE-HE-HE-HE-HE-HEEEEEEECIAAAAA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAAALLLL!”

Rarity was beating her hooves against the ground now like a temper-tantrum foal. Twilight backed up a few steps, unable to take her eyes off the wreck on the floor before her.

“PLEEE-HE-HE-HE-HEEASE, TWILIGHT! PLEEEEASE JUST LET ME DO THIS WITH YOU! PLEEE-HE-HE-HE-HEEEASE!”

Completely out of options, she made a dash for the stairs and immediately felt a weight against her ankle. She looked down to see Rarity's hooves latched tightly around her hind leg, her eyes closed tight as she screamed up at her.

“PLEEEEEASE, TWILIGHT! JUST ONE DAAAA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAY!”

Uuuuuurgh!” Twilight growled loudly.

Pulling with every muscle in her body, she proceeded to drag Rarity down the red-carpeted stairs with her, listening to her whining the whole way as her body thumped down each individual stair, leaving a wet trail of tears behind her.

“Spike!” Twilight tried yelling above the screaming. “Spike! Help me out here!”

“What did you do!” Spike said, racing up to them as they reached the bottom stair, squeezing his ears with both claws with a grimace.

“I don’t know! I was just trying to tell her what we were doing in Canterlot, and she...well...”

Both of them watched as Rarity continued bawling on the floor, Spike looking up pleadingly as Twilight bent her head trying to hide her ears.

Do something!” Spike shouted.

Twilight tried to think, but everything kept being drowned out by the incessant screaming.

“RARITY!” she screamed, turning awkwardly against her captured hoof to look at her. “RARITY, IT’S ALL RIGHT! JUST...STOP!”

Rarity immediately stopped whining, but her face looked terrifying. Her coat was drenched and her eyes puffy, her face now lined with scrunch marks. She brought her huge dilated eyes up to meet hers, mouth trembling as she blinked.

“Look, Rarity," Twilight said, finally able to think again. "I know this could have been something special for us. And I’m sorry...I’m really sorry...if I didn’t thoroughly explain this. But...well...”

She looked over at Spike, who backed up with his claws out in front of him shaking his head. Twilight sighed as she turned back to the white wreck of a mare.

“Here’s the truth, Rarity. The hard cold truth.” She took a deep breath. “That thing I need is...well...it was confiscated!”

Rarity's trembling stopped. Twilight watched as Rarity's eyes shut tightly and then re-opened, staring blankly. Hooves loosened against her ankle as Twilight pulled it free, moving her flank around so she could face Rarity properly.

“Con...confiscated?” she croaked.

Twilight bent her knees and dropped onto the floor with her, bending her head down until their faces were about a foot apart before continuing.

“Yes. It's been confiscated," she said. "And we have to get it back. Only, it’s...well...it’s being held in the castle, and we need to get to Canterlot so we can try and...retrieve it. And...well...the only way to really get it back is to...to..."

She again looked over at Spike, begging him to help her out, but Spike just kept staring. “We’re going to have to break into the castle,” she said quickly.

Twilight made another astonishingly goofy smile, the muscles in her face pulled taut. Rarity looked like she had just been told to make a dress covered in parasprites. Spike was now facing the wall, lightly brushing his foot against the floor with his hands behind his back. Rarity's face relaxed slightly as she spoke next.

"S...s-s-s-so let me get this straight..." Rarity said slowly, her eyes darting over to Spike before looking back at Twilight. "You're telling me that we're going to be leaving our home in Ponyville to go all the way to the elaborate castle city of Canterlot...to commit a crime?!"

Twilight cringed at how bad this sounded upfront.

“No no no no no, Rarity!” she said. “No, you see, this thing, it was taken from me unjustifiably! And the Princess...well...she just won’t listen!”

She held her breath as Rarity let these words sink in. Her face was blank, but her eyes screamed out in pity, praying that this was merely a joke. Again, her eyes darted back to Spike, who was busy fiddling his claws now as he looked down at the floor, then darted back to Twilight, who widened her ludicrous smile to insane proportions.

At last, Rarity took in a huge slow breath before letting it out in a deep sigh, deflating like a weather balloon. Her chin hit the ground as her eyes drooped. She stayed there for a moment like a lost puppy, hopeless in a world unfamiliar to her.

However, a few seconds later, Rarity pawed lightly at the ground and slowly hoisted herself up with great effort. Twilight followed suit. Rarity's head was bowed for a second as she studied the floor, but soon it was lifting to meet Twilight's gaze. There was something in her eyes now that Twilight couldn't quite put a hoof on. At first, she thought it was pity, her pupils contracting back to normal size as she slumped carefully up to Twilight in a very different way than last night. Once again, her words were quiet as she whispered them inches from Twilight's face, but this time they sounded more solemn.

“This...this thing...” Rarity croaked out, now barely audible. “It’s really that important to you?”

Twilight looked back into her eyes, trying hard not to let Rarity’s pained expression spread. She swallowed hard, finally starting to recognize what she saw in Rarity's eyes.

“It’s the only important thing in the world right now,” she said, painfully aware of how each word she spoke affected Rarity.

Rarity gave the tiniest hint of a smile, her eyes flicking to the floor for a moment before glancing back up.

“You...have any idea...what this could mean for us...?” she said, moving in slightly as her lips trembled subtly. “Breaking into the castle is...well...it’s a capital offense! We could be imprisoned for it! Or worse!”

“Rarity, this thing...this thing is worth the risk,” Twilight said, shaking her head as she breathed deep. “Nothing is more important right now. Well...almost nothing,” she added as Rarity gave her a look.

“And then...” Rarity continued, backing up slightly as she mused to herself, “...even after we were freed...think of our reputations! Reduced to common criminals!”

“Rarity, you don’t have to do this!" she said. "Just...just teleport me there! Just me! You don’t have to have anything to do with this!”

Rarity breathed deeply, Twilight's words finally striking something inside her. Her face pulled back together as her eyes sparked back to life. She looked back up at Twilight with a knowing smile.

“Nonsense, Twilight,” she said, stepping right up to her and placing her face up against Twilight's as if they were facing off in a competition. “This thing is important to you. Therefore it’s important to me.”

Twilight's breath was nearly taken away by this. She knew the spell affected infatuation, but she had never imagined it would trigger this level of sheer devotion. "Really? You really mean that?"

Rarity put her hoof on Twilight's shoulder, smiling wide as her eyes bored into hers.

"Yes, really," she said. "I support you no matter what, Twilight. Even if it means doing something...unconventional."

Rarity took her hoof off Twilight's shoulder as she swept away, immediately sinking back into her usual pompous demeanor as she trotted towards the stairs

“Besides,” she said with a flair, “if you’re going to stand any chance of getting into the castle, you’re going to need – my – help.”

Twilight shook her head, completely baffled as she and Spike followed Rarity back to the second floor.

“Huh?”

Rarity turned back to them as they reached the second floor, standing in the center under the chandelier.

“I know it’s hard to believe," she continued, "but I’ve learned a thing or two about the castle from my...clientele,” she said. “And it’s by far and away one of the most difficult task that any amateur criminal could undertake!”

“BUT!” she emphasized, “I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve that will help us get in there. I just...promise me Twilight, that this is something that really, really is that important.”

Twilight looked into Rarity’s eyes, and saw a fear there that Rarity almost never showed. For a moment she stood there, feeling the weight of this decision, realizing the risks that would be undertaken. She imagined the guards sending them to prison. She imagined Spike being taken away. She imagined Rarity freed from her trance only to have her reputation and business ruined. And finally, she imagined Princess Celestia and her harsh disappointment in her star pupil.

“I promise, Rarity,” Twilight finally said with a deep breath. “This really is that important.”