• Published 17th Dec 2012
  • 11,334 Views, 183 Comments

The Social Experiment (written by OtterMatt) - Spabble

Twilight has to come to terms with an unexpected pregnancy.

  • ...

The Social Experiment

The Social Experiment

It had just been a simple social experiment, and somehow, it had all gone horribly, horribly right.

As with so many important discoveries, Twilight Sparkle’s life-altering thought, the one that had set the whole thing in motion, had come to her in the shower. She had spent almost four years studying the magic of friendship in all its myriad forms, but she had seen the same sort of magic displayed in other relationships—between friends, married couples, parents and children—relationships that didn’t necessarily pertain to the bounds of a merely platonic friendship. She had spent days troubling over this concept, trying to figure out how they all related, when it dawned on her: She had felt it when Cadance and Shining Armor defeated the changelings. This seemed odd all on its own to Twilight, because Cadance’s power was love, not friendship, even though it had many of the same qualities. The connection had struck the unicorn like a thunderbolt. What if the magic of friendship isn’t really just about friendship at all? What if it really is the magic of love, and friendship is just a part of it? What if this magic could have more applications than I was ever aware of?

No unicorn in history had come out of a shower with more energy than Twilight had then and there. As soon as she was dry enough to handle paper without ruining it, she had started to outline a grand plan to try to study this new idea. She assembled the rough draft of her Grand Unified Theory of Love, only to come up blank when she tried to think of a specific way to test its veracity. There were many forms of love, after all; certainly more than there were for friendship—which was in itself a form of love now that she thought about it. She eventually decided that since romance was generally considered one of the stronger forms of love, a good place to start would be to test the sociological idiom that “opposites attract,” though that did leave her with an entirely new obstacle to consider.

Ponies could be quite particular about their love lives, and it would be hard to find a volunteer to offer up their metaphorical and literal heart for scientific study. Clearly, in the interests of science, she would have to be the first volunteer. The thought made her giddy to the point of dancing in a circle. She would be an adventurous scientist, right on the front lines of magical research, putting her own life at stake—just like the ponies who discovered cloudwalking spells, or teleportation, or magical backlash! Well, maybe not like that last one… she had amended mentally. Famous or not, it would be hard to publish her findings from a hospital.

With her new concepts and strategies, the experiment was on. She would find ponies for “dates,” of varying degrees of similarity or difference to herself, and extrapolate the attraction she felt for each one. It was simple and sweet. In order to keep the study blind and valid she wouldn’t let the other pony know it was an experiment, so it was perfect! Step one: find similar ponies for a baseline.

It had taken a week of wandering around the University in Canterlot, but she had eventually found several ponies willing to have dinner who were similar to her in temperament, physicality, and intelligence. Some were standoffish, some charming, some distant—but in every single case, at the end of the dinner they had all thanked her for a lovely time, paid their half of the bill, and left. In the interest of sample size and scientific rigor, she had even invited out several mares, though the lack of any attraction there had at least proven some validity to opposites attracting, at least where gender was concerned.

Having at least proven that there wasn’t an inherent attraction in similarity, Twilight set about choosing her variables. She found ponies who were intelligent but different in temperament, or studious ponies who weren’t magically inclined. Not a single pony had inspired enough of an emotional response in her to qualify as “serious attraction,” at least not on a sliding scale. In the course of several frustrating months, Twilight managed to accumulate over forty data points (or “date points,” as she referred to them) in every possible permutation of difference and similarity before she met Caramel.

To her mind, Caramel was the exact opposite end of all the spectrums. Though polite and friendly, he was anything but studious. He was a hard physical worker in opposition to her book-bound nature, and quite laid-back and easygoing where she was admittedly an over-planner prone to stressing over details.

It was supposed to be the final data point before she resigned the study to the “inconclusive” bin. It was supposed to be an hour of observation and dinner conversation. It was supposed to end with Twilight walking home alone, recording her notes, and spending the night thinking of her next experiment. It was not supposed to end up with the two ponies staying at the table and chatting for well over three hours.

At first glance, the tan stallion was awkward and bashful. It seemed like every other sentence he said was stumbling over the one before it trying to clarify his bungling wording, but for whatever reason, Twilight felt herself drawn to his charm. Where so many before him had talked, boasted, or chatted—he listened. Where the others had simply complimented her or passed remarks about her attire, he just couldn’t stop looking at her. Caramel’s awkwardness made her feel at ease, and for the first time in the experiment, Twilight found that she was actually having a wonderful time.

When Caramel finally made hesitant remarks about leaving, Twilight had been stunned to find a deep regret inside. It was unlike anything any of the other tests had inspired, but it was hard to put her hoof on; too hard to quantify. Unable to decide if it was enough to constitute “attraction,” she awkwardly invited the stallion back to the library for some tea. Two-thirds of the way through the pot, she was obliged to admit that she was very definitely attracted to Caramel, and after the pot was finished…

The next morning, after Caramel said his awkward goodbyes and left, Twilight shut the door, practically floated across the library, and dreamily got back to the rigor of penning her experiment’s latest results. The next week was devoted to compiling data, organizing reports, and writing out the overall impressions. Her study had been supportive of the idea of attraction through opposing natures, but without enough evidence to justify a confirmation, it was a bit of a wash. She would just have to be satisfied with a finished project and some good memories as she looked for another experiment to run.

That was supposed to be the end of it.

Twilight sat awkwardly on the exam table, waiting for Doctor Stable to return. She hated hospitals. She would never admit that out loud, in case somepony of a medical persuasion were to overhear, but every time she was in one it was because a friend was hurt or something had gone terribly wrong. Even routine checkups were a pain.

It’s these stupid tables, she thought to herself, her frustration and discomfort growing by the minute. They’re awkwardly tall, they’re absolutely freezing to the touch, this stupid sterile paper they put over it crackles like lightning every time I move a muscle, I’m stuck here waiting by myself, and WHY IS IT SO COLD IN HERE?

She was just considering what in the area she could light on fire to warm up when a gentle knock sounded in the silent room and the door swung open.

Doctor Stable trotted slowly into the room. “Twilight. Sorry to have kept you waiting, but I wanted the lab to double check their results.” A clipboard wrapped in his magical aura floated over to Twilight. She felt the room grow colder as she took it and looked it over in silence.

Twilight gasped at the paper, a quiet dread growing in the pit of her stomach. “Doctor, this can’t be right.”

“It is,” he assured her.

“Run it again!”

“Twilight, they’ve already done it twice. It’s accurate, at least to the ninety-eighth percentile. There’s the slightest of outside chances that it’s a powerful stomach bug, but it’s highly unlikely by this point. Not many stomach ailments last for a week or more.”

“But how?” she persisted. “I’ve been using a contraceptive spell. I was careful!”

“Well, the thing about magic is that it’s not easy to predict. No spell is perfect. There’s always a chance—no matter how small—that it won’t work right. If there’s a chance, life will sometimes find a way.”

The most powerful unicorn in Equestria stared blankly, unsure of what to do or feel. Her mind began to fill with static as her senses went numb. “It—it’s not possible…”

The doctor cleared his throat before she could sink too deeply into her thoughts. “I have a few papers for you. Dos, don’ts, foods to avoid—I’m sure you probably know most of it already, but I want to be sure you have them.” Twilight nodded in response, barely comprehending. Doctor Stable stood and put a friendly hoof on her shoulder. “I know this is a major shock for you, but even so—congratulations, Twilight.”

She left the office in a daze, a couple of papers in her saddlebag. She walked unconsciously across Ponyville back to her home, neither hearing nor acknowledging the greetings of various friends she passed. Too numb even to consider using magic, she pulled the door closed behind her with a hoof and slumped weakly against the solid wood surface.

Sweet Harmony, I’m going to be a mother…


Twilight ignored the small voice of her assistant coming from the bedroom door.

“Twilight, come on; it’s morning now. Open up. You’ve been in there forever!”

She kicked the covers off and rolled onto her back, staring blankly at the ceiling.

“You could at least tell me what’s wrong! Come on, I’m getting worried out here.”


“Fine,” Spike sighed, notes of dejection coloring his voice. “I’ll just leave this out here for you. Again.”

Some time after he had left, Twilight quietly opened the door just enough to get the plate through, and shut it. She set the meal down on her bedside table and stared at it.

Oh, Spike, she thought sadly. You really are so good to me… She picked up a cherry tomato off the salad and chewed on it pensively. What am I going to do? I need someone to take care of me, for crying out loud. That thought set her on yet another mental tangent. What is Spike to me anyway? Is he a little brother? I’ve practically been taking care of him since he was born—but then again, he pretty much takes care of himself, especially now. There’s no way I could set everything aside to take care of—

Her thoughts were broken by a growing rumble in her stomach, one that had become intimately familiar to her over the last week. She paused, eyes widening, and felt the small hiccup that was her only warning.

She bolted out the door and downstairs for the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. She skidded to a halt in front of the toilet with no time to spare, feeling her insides heaving restlessly. Waves of nausea swept over her as she fell to her haunches. She clutched at the porcelain with one hoof for stability, her other hoof struggling futilely to keep her mane out of her mouth as she was sick. All four of her limbs were shaking, her strength leaving her as the contents of her stomach did.

The acute clench of nausea began to fade, and Twilight felt tears run down her cheeks, squeezed out by her straining.

Spike was back outside the door, knocking for her attention. “Twilight! Are you all right?” he called.

“I—I can’t—” she gasped, trying to focus long enough to answer. “Not right now, Spike,” she finally managed. I can’t… Her thoughts trailed off as she began to break down, the mental strain of the last few days catching up to her. Her sobs carried to the closed door.

“Are you—can I do anything?” Spike asked tentatively. She didn’t answer. His voice came back, worried, “I’m gonna go get the girls; maybe they’ll know what to do.”

Twilight pulled herself to the sink and struggled to rinse the acrid taste of bile out of her mouth. She splashed water on her face, hoping the shock of the cold would help her focus, and grabbed a towel to dry off. The sight that greeted her in the mirror when she pulled the towel away was a bit of a shock to her.

That—that isn’t me, she thought, pawing at her rumpled mane and hollow, bloodshot eyes. Okay, okay, pull it together. You’re Twilight Sparkle. In the last five years you’ve handled Nightmare Moon, Discord, and Princess Luna’s escapade with the pumpkin launcher. You can handle this.

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, her composure slowly coming back to her. She grabbed her brush and began to untangle her mane, the repetitive and simple task bringing calm to her mind, until she found herself stalled halfway through a sweep of the brush, just thinking.

You can handle this… can’t you?

“Of course I can!” she told the mirror. “I’ve had all of Equestria counting on me several times.”

This is considerably different, and you know it.

“Okay, but I can learn. I learn every day. I’m sure I can prepare for the worst of foal-rearing.”

Ah, of course. I guess I’ll just have to remind you of the horror stories Pinkie told you about her first time watching foals.

Twilight gritted her teeth. “That’s Pinkie. I—I can handle things like that better than she can.”

You know foals don’t follow checklists. They’re unpredictable, and they need constant attention.


Remind me, how well do you handle pressure? If you freaked out so badly over a school assignment that didn’t even exist, how well do you think you’ll do if the foal, say… goes missing?

Twilight felt a chill run down her spine.

What are you going to name it? What if it isn’t a unicorn? What if you mess up and ruin its life?

“No. Nonononono. I can’t think like this!” she cried out, banging a hoof against the side of her head in frustration. The voice dissipated in a burst of pain, and she looked back at herself again. Worry creased her face, but instead of the shell shock from before, this was deeper, more haunting.

She jumped clean off the floor as a knock sounded on the bathroom door.

“Twilight, dear, are you okay?”

Twilight took another breath, trying to slow her heartbeat. “I’m doing okay, Rarity.”

“Won’t you come out?” her friend begged her. “Spike told us about how odd you’ve been lately and brought us back here. We’d all like to help with whatever’s wrong, if we can.”

“The girls are all here, aren’t they,” she said, not really making it a question.


She sighed and went over to open the door. Six worried faces met her on the other side. Twilight tried to force a smile. “Hey.”

Twilight fought the urge to turn and run right out of the library as the faces of her six best friends stared dumbly at her with expressions of disbelief and amazement. She could feel her rictus smile falling, and she shrank back ever so slowly as the ponies (and one dragon) tried to compute what they had just heard explained to them.

Pinkie looked like she was about to explode as Rainbow was the first to break the silence. “So, wait,” she said, holding a hoof to the side of her head. “You’re seriously pregnant? Like, not a prank or anything?”

Twilight shook her head.

Fluttershy began to beam at her. “Oh, well congratulations then! That’s great news!” she exclaimed quietly—until she took notice of Twilight’s expression. “I mean, it is, isn’t it?”

“Is it?”

“Oh my, is it not?” Fluttershy shrank back, wringing her hooves anxiously. “I’m sorry, I just assumed. It’s usually such a wonderful thing…”

Twilight sighed softly. “It’s okay Fluttershy. I’m just not even sure yet myself.”

Rarity trotted over to her side and gave her an encouraging nudge. “Dear, of course it’s great news! How could it not be?”

“Well, you may have missed the fact that I’m still single,” she replied sarcastically.

“Ah,” Rarity replied, trying to think quickly. “Well, there is that, I suppose. Still, if I may say so, the occasion should still be a joyous one.”

“Does this mean the party is on hold for now?” Pinkie asked, receiving a nod in response. She sat back, folding her hooves in a pout. “What is it with ponies and postponing parties around this town?” she muttered to herself.

Twilight looked at her friends. “It’s just complicated right now for me. I really don’t know if I’m ready to raise a foal. I certainly don’t think I am. I keep trying to tell myself that I can manage it, that it will be good—but it’s just not sticking. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going to ruin everything for both of us.” She sat down on a nearby bench and laid her head on her hooves. “I’m a little bit terrified of that idea.”

“Hey,” Spike piped up, “you’ve taken good care of me, right?”

“Spike, you’ve been cooking dinner every night for almost four years now. Almost since you came out of that egg, you’ve been practically self-sufficient. You take care of me more than I take care of you.” She shook her head. “I—it just feels different. I don’t really know how to express it.”

The room fell awkwardly quiet again. The friends all took to glancing at each other for some sort of direction or sign of what was appropriate to say.

“Um,” Rainbow interjected hesitantly, “are you going to keep it?”

Everypony turned to stare at her.

Rainbow blushed. “I mean, you could put the foal up for adoption, you know.”

“Really, Rainbow,” Rarity said dismissively. “I’m certain Twilight will be a perfectly capable mother. Why on Equestria would she give her foal to some stranger to raise?”

“Hey!” The pegasus flapped over until she was hovering directly in front of Rarity. “Don’t get snooty with me! I’m just saying that if Twilight doesn’t think she’s ready, then she has options.”

“Ya know, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad,” Applejack said, trying to smooth the sudden tension over a bit. “I mean, I didn’t think we’d be able to raise Apple Bloom, but she’s turned out all right, ain’t she?”

Pinkie looked quizzically at her. “Are Mac and Granny Smith going to help Twilight now? Who’s gonna work on the farm?”

“I’m here, I could help!” Spike’s voice chimed in, completely unheeded.

Exactly,” Rainbow countered to Applejack. “There’s three of you who raised Apple Bloom. That’s quite a bit easier than doing it on your own.”

The farmpony huffed. “Okay, now, I’m just sayin’ is all…”

Rainbow touched down and turned to face everypony else—turning her back on Twilight, who was growing increasingly uncomfortable as the mood got testier.

“Um… girls?” Twilight’s voice was barely audible to the others.

Rainbow Dash plead with her friends, growing rather upset. “You know it’s not all about the foal, either, don’t you? How about how it could affect Twilight?”

“You’re getting quite out of hoof, Rainbow,” Rarity said, rounding on the pegasus. “Honestly, what’s the worst that can happen?”

“What’s the worst?” Rainbow repeated, wings beginning to rise along with her agitation. “How about one day she thinks that maybe her life might have been better without a foal? What if someday she looks back and regrets all of it? How great would that be?”

Twilight was practically pleading with her friends. “Girls, really, I’m right here,” she said, trying in vain to get their attention. Her ears sank back against her head as they ignored her without even a trace of irony. She tried to shut out the anger, but even her hooves couldn’t block the sounds.

Rainbow’s wings were spread, and she was practically growling at the others. “What do you think that would do to the foal, knowing that her own mother regrets that she’s alive? Do you know how that would feel? Do you know what that did to—” she choked off, shaking her head. “What that feeling does to a filly, just because her mother couldn’t bring herself to—”

“Rainbow Dash, this isn’t about you!”

“You’re the one who asked what—”

“Ya’ll are being mighty silly about all—”

“Girls, maybe we should just—”

“STOP!” Twilight yelled, cutting off the argument. The others turned to look at her. Twilight was furious, with angry tears running down her face. “What is wrong with you all!”

“I—we—we’re just trying to help…” Rainbow stuttered.

“Then you’re welcome to do so after you figure out what that means, but right now you can all just GET OUT!” Twilight yelled, screwing her eyes shut in rage and pain.

“Twilight, dear—”


Fluttershy darted out the door as quickly as her wings could carry her, followed closely by Pinkie. Applejack trotted for the door, her head low as Rainbow and Rarity stared.

“Um, Rarity,” Spike muttered, “do you think that maybe I could…”

“Of course, dear,” she answered. “Sweetie Belle and I will make a bed for you.”

The last three friends slowly made their way out the door, and as it clicked shut, Twilight finally gave out, crying into the bench.

When Twilight awoke and looked back up, it was well past nightfall. She groaned as she got up, her stiff muscles protesting after being still for so long. With a brief focus of magic, the lamps in the center of the room sprang to life and the gloom around her dissipated, though it did little to affect her mood. She glanced around the room, noticing the piles of books set aside in her quest to research the Equestrian heart.

She was halfway to voicing a complaint about all the books not being cleaned away when she realized that her assistant had left. Twilight could hardly blame him. She hung her head as she remembered how badly she had treated her friends. Then again, though, hadn’t they deserved it?

She growled to herself. “I can’t figure this out! I need to organize something...”

She trotted over to the first pile with more energy than she actually felt, trying to set her mind off of her troubles and onto her new, mostly mindless task. She took a deep breath and casually reached out with her magic for the first book.

It read Love and the Mind: The Biochemistry of Attraction.

Twilight snorted as she slotted the book into its predetermined home. It seemed irony wasn’t on her side tonight. She reached out for the next.

1001 Perfect Date Ideas stared back at her.

Twilight snorted again and shelved the book, making a mental note to write a letter to the publisher regarding titles and the accuracy thereof.

The next book read Expressions of Love: Communication for Relationships. She threw it aside in disgust, beginning to rip books off the pile one by one, titles flying by like accusing letters until she stopped, transfixed by the simple, unembellished hardbound cover of Understanding the Stallion’s Heart.

Twilight sat down, dropping the book and putting her face in her hooves as she let out a muffled scream. “I don’t need a book on the stallion’s heart!” she yelled into the empty room.

I need one for mine...

Distraught, the librarian looked up to see her reflection in the library’s window.

“What have I done?” she asked.

The reflection seemed to ripple in her mind as the answer came back as clear as day: You found a good stallion, used him, and then left him.

She felt an uneasy, defensive shiver run down her spine as she set her face. “No. No, it wasn’t like that.”

Wasn’t it? He did try to contact you afterwards, didn’t he?

Sheepishly, Twilight thought, “Well, yeah, I suppose he did, but the experiment wasn’t final then! It could have—”

Could have what?

“Could... have...” She sighed. “Could have contaminated the results...” she muttered, knowing full well how petty and silly it sounded.

Are you sure it wasn’t you you were concerned with contaminating?

Her face scrunched in confusion. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Five years you’ve been in Ponyville now, and you’ve never once given a thought to romance. Somepony could assume you’re afraid of it or something.

“I-I’m not afraid of romance.”

I’m inside your head, the mirror image reminded her sardonically. What are you hoping to hide from me?

Was—was her reflection glowering at her?

And you’ve already done the hard part, her mental projection continued, sounding slightly less accusatory. So, you’re afraid of being open and honest with somepony that you can’t just walk away from? Does commitment scare you that badly?

Twilight grimaced. “I make me sound so shallow...”

Well, you didn’t exactly treat Caramel very decently. Come on, what’s to be afraid of? You learned a lot about him in one night, didn’t you?

The unicorn frowned slightly as she concentrated. “Yeah... I suppose I did.”

So? Is there anything to dislike?

The thought gave her pause, enough to make her replay the entire evening in her head. “I-I don’t know. I mean, he’s not all that coordinated or eloquent, but he’s earnest and means well.” A smile began to tug at the corners of her mouth. “He honestly seemed interested in me, like he just couldn’t stop listening.”

Go on...

“And looking...” A small shiver ran down her spine again, this time fueled by pleasant memories as she recalled the day. “His eyes, they just never stopped looking at mine, like he got lost or something.”

How did he make you feel?

“Like...” In her reflection, Twilight saw her eyes light up just a little bit. “Like I was beautiful. I felt important and—” She cut off suddenly. “Oh... He must hate me so much now,” she whispered, despair welling up suddenly.

Her reflection was silent. She waited for a response, but none came. Twilight reared up against the window, staring hard at her own face. “What do I do? Tell me!” she cried. The reflection remained unresponsive.

Twilight slumped forward, her head resting on the window with a pitiful sigh. She looked beyond the glass pane and saw the first rays of light beginning to reach over Ponyville’s rooftops. She shut her eyes, holding back the tears that she knew were waiting. She let out a resigned sigh and started to wander towards the bathroom, knowing instinctively that she wasn’t likely to get any more rest this morning.

A warm shower had done wonders for Twilight’s disposition, and the lesser intensity of that day’s morning sickness had helped as well. The unicorn stood in the kitchen rubbing her belly, trying to decide if breakfast was likely to stay down at this point in the day, but her mind kept drifting back to her thoughts from before.

Her head spun almost as much as it did during her bouts with morning sickness, only now it was all due to the overwhelming presence of an unknown and uncertain future.

She walked over to the window and stared out. What I need is somepony I can talk to. Somepony who isn’t too close to me, who can... understand...

Her thoughts trailed off as a familiar grey pegasus touched down in front of her home, reaching back with a wing to unlatch the mostly limp saddlebags emblazoned with Ponyville Post on each side. Without thinking about it, Twilight walked out to get her mail, as she did almost every morning.

“Morning, Twilight!” the mare said cheerily.

“Good morning, Ditzy,” she responded.

“How are you this morning? You look a bit tired,” Ditzy Doo said casually.

“Yeah... I haven’t really been sleeping well lately.” Wait a second...

“Ah...” Ditzy nodded sagely. “Happens to us all, I suppose. Welp, that’s my last stop for the morning. See you, Twilight!”

Twilight stuck her hoof out to call the mailmare back. “Ah, hey, Ditzy? Can I ask you something?”

“Of course,” she replied, folding her wings back down around the mailbags. “What’s up?”

Twilight blushed slightly, unsure how to begin. “Um, well, I suppose it’s a bit of a personal question...”

Ditzy chuckled good-naturedly. “Oh, Twilight, you already know why my eyes get off-kilter sometimes.”

The younger pony let out a laugh, feeling some of the nervousness dissipate. “No, it’s not that. It’s just...” She hesitated before deciding just to take the direct approach. “You were single when you found out you were pregnant with Dinky, right?”

The pegasus’s head rocked back slightly, caught off-guard by the question. “Uh, yeah, I was,” she responded hesitantly.

Twilight bit her lower lip nervously. “What was it like? When you found out? How did you feel?”

Ditzy blinked a few times. “Huh. I guess nopony’s ever asked me that before.” She took a few moments to ponder, a faraway look in her eyes. “I suppose scared, more than anything.”


“Well, yeah. I mean, it was a really big deal. When I told my coltfriend, he left. That hurt a lot. More than anything in my life, I think.” One of the mailmare’s yellow eyes took careful note of the slightly horrified expression on Twilight’s face. “I never really made much money, so I was worrying a lot about how I was going to be able to raise a foal on my own. I felt alone, and that scared me. I’ve never liked being alone.”

Twilight’s head drooped slightly. “I suppose so.”

Ditzy’s head cocked slightly to the side as she watched the younger pony. “You know, though, it wasn’t all bad.” Twilight perked up a bit as Ditzy continued on. “Occasionally, somepony would bring me a meal or just come by to chat. That helped a lot, and by the end of the pregnancy, I was really starting to get attached to the idea of being a mother. I kept wondering what my foal would look like, whether it would be a filly or a colt, what I would name it—things like that.”

“And when she was born?” Twilight asked, transfixed.

In a heartbeat, a grin grew from ear to ear on the pegasus. “Oh wow, it was amazing. There were so many emotions and fears, stress, and even pain—but none of it mattered once I was holding Dinky in my hooves. I was hoping it would be a great moment, but I never saw all that coming—and believe me, with these eyes, I see a lot more coming than most ponies do,” she joked, grinning as Twilight cracked a shaky smile at the terrible quip.

Ditzy was suddenly struck by how closely the young pony before her resembled herself a dozen years earlier. “It’s just the unknown things that wear at you,” she said, watching closely for any reaction.

Twilight nodded, no longer meeting Ditzy’s gaze.

“The fear that you’ll be responsible for another life that you aren’t sure you can properly care for.”

The violet-maned head dropped a little lower.

“The thought that other ponies will treat you differently now, or that they’ll talk about you.”

Twilight shuddered slightly.

“How far along are you, Twilight?”

Her head jerked back up and saw a warm smile on her friend’s face. “I-I—about two months.”

Ditzy took a step closer. “Do you know who the father is?”

“Of course I know who the father is!” Twilight replied, stomping her hoof indignantly.

“Does he know?”

Twilight hesitated, staring back at the ground. “...No. I only found out a day or two ago.”

Ditzy put out a hoof under Twilight’s chin and raised her head until their eyes met. “Tell him,” she said solemnly.

“But, I’ve ignored him! I treated him so badly, what if he hates me now?” Twilight recoiled from the mailpony. “I can’t—what if he never wants to see me again?”

“Does all that change whether or not he deserves to know?” Ditzy said in a gentle voice.

“I suppose not...”

Ditzy stepped across to Twilight’s side and sat down, draping a friendly wing over her shoulders. “Well, it’s just my recommendation, but there it is.”

Twilight sighed and looked up at the clouds. “So, what should I do about the foal?”

“Twilight, I can’t tell you that. Nopony can, not even the Princess. I’d suggest talking about it with your coltfriend, of course, but here’s a thought I don’t think you’ve considered...”

The unicorn perked up, her ears turning to make sure she heard.

“You’re not as alone as you think you are.”

Twilight looked up, surprised, as Ditzy continued.

“Every mare who’s ever been in this situation thinks they’re going to have to do everything on their own, but it’s just not true. Even I had my family, and one or two close friends became even closer because of Dinky being born. Twilight, you’ve got a whole list of great friends who would do anything for you, not to mention your family and the Princesses themselves. If you wanted to give the foal up for adoption, ponies would line up to give your child a good home, but you’ll always have ponies to support you either way, no matter what happens with your stallion.”

“My friends...” Twilight muttered.

Ditzy folded her wing back in and stepped away, preparing to take off. “I need to go, Twilight. I’ve got to get back home in time to get Dinky to school, but if you need anything, even just somepony to talk to, you’re welcome anytime,” she said as she leapt into flight.

“I—thank you,” Twilight said into empty space, lost in her thoughts.

One thought in particular kept coming to the forefront. I have some ponies I need to see.

“Girls, thank you all for coming. You, too, Spike,” Twilight said, hoping that she sounded more confident than she felt. She swept her gaze across her best friends, all sitting in a semicircle in front of her. They wore expressions ranging between trepidation and eagerness as they waited to see why they had been called to the library.

Twilight took a deep breath to steady herself. “Okay, first of all, I’m sorry.”

Fluttershy smiled sweetly. “Oh, Twilight, you—”

Twilight held up her hoof to stop the pegasus. “Please, let me finish. I know I could use any number of excuses to say why I got so mad at you all: my body is out of sorts, I was stressed out, all the throwing up each morning was making my head hurt...”

A few of the ponies looked uncomfortable at the mention of nausea as she went on.

“But the fact is that I shouldn’t have treated you all the way I did. You’re all my best friends, and I forgot that you will always be there for me when I need you. I got lost in my own fears and doubts, and I somehow convinced myself that I had to do this all on my own.” Twilight looked sheepishly at everypony in turn. “I should have trusted you. I know that I’m not going through this all by myself.”

There was a short awkward silence. Just as Rainbow Dash opened her mouth to speak, Rarity stepped forward and spoke for the group.

“Twilight, I feel that we must apologize as well. We let ourselves get caught up in trying to think for you instead of just being there for you, as true friends should.”

“We’re mighty sorry, Twi,” Applejack confirmed.

“Oh, girls...” Twilight’s nervousness started to dissipate as her friends all came together for a group hug—aside from Rainbow Dash, who stayed put, still wearing an unsure frown. After a few moments, Twilight gently pulled away from her friends’ hooves. She turned to her faithful dragon companion next.

“Spike,” she said solemnly. “I’m sorry. I shut you out when you wanted to help, and then I chased you away. You’ve always been my number one assistant. I don’t know why I wouldn’t have thought to come to you first.”

“Awww, sheesh, Twilight, it’s okay,” the dragon muttered, blushing and scuffing the floorboards with his feet awkwardly.

The librarian hugged him tenderly and stood back up to meet Rainbow’s eyes, knowing what was on the flier’s mind. She walked over closer to Rainbow just as the pegasus’ words began to spill out of her.

“Twi, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have lost it like that, and no matter what I think or whatever, it wasn’t right for me to assume that you would end up ruining your foal’s life just because—”

Rainbow cut off suddenly as she was pulled into a fierce hug by the unicorn. She closed her eyes and relaxed as Twilight held her sadly and whispered, “I’m sorry, Rainbow. I’m so sorry for what you went through as a filly.” Twilight pulled back to look her in the eye, seeing a hint of a tear glistening in the corners. “That’s why I want you around especially,” she murmured for Rainbow’s ears only. “I know you’re going to make sure that this foal always feels just as loved as you are by all of us.”

“Of course I will,” Rainbow said, her voice cracking with emotion.

Twilight turned back to the group with a confident smile.

“So,” Fluttershy piped up quietly, “have you decided what you’re going to do with the foal?”

“I have,” she said firmly. “I’m going to raise it.”

Twilight was grateful for the shade of the apple trees as she walked through Sweet Apple Acres’ south orchard. She was sweating enough as it was without the help of the summer sun. She had only one task left to do, and it had been eating at her ever since she knew it had to be done.

Her gait faltered just slightly as she came around a bend in the path and caught sight of Caramel waiting patiently alongside the path, as she had requested. She swallowed despite the massive lump in her throat and trotted up, hoping her smile looked genuine.

The beige pony’s eyes fixed on her, widening in recognition, and he immediately straightened up, trying to brush the dust and dirt of a workday off of his barrel and legs. He looked almost as unsure and hesitant as Twilight felt.

Twilight came to a stop, and the two just looked at each other uncomfortably for a few moments.

“Sooo...” Caramel began. “Hi. You, um, wanted to see me?”

Twilight felt an intense urge to fidget with her hooves. “Yeah, I did—do. I do. Want to see you, that is.”

He bit his lip awkwardly, and Twilight unconsciously matched his expression as she did the same. “Twilight, did I do something wrong?” he finally asked. “I know things went a little fast between us—well, okay, a lot fast, really, but I thought we had a good time, right? I know I was out of town seeing my family for a while, but I never got a response to my letter, and when I tried to visit, you never seemed to be home...”

The mare took a breath. “Caramel, I’m so sorry. This really was all my fault. You didn’t do anything.”

He stood, staring at her, not understanding. “So, why now?”

“I—” She swallowed. “I have a lot to tell you. You might want to sit down first.”

Caramel looked around and settled his flank down on the grass with a shrug.

“Okay, first off, I’m sorry. I can’t even say it enough times to get it across, but I am. This... relationship, it was never intended to last more than one date.”

Caramel clutched his hooves to the sides of his head. “Oh, I knew it! I moved too fast. My dad would be ashamed of me right now...”

“Oh, no, no, it’s not your fault!” Twilight consoled the distraught farmpony. “I, well, the date was—” she sighed. “There was an experiment...”

As Caramel sat, Twilight began to describe her idea, the experiment it had sparked, and the scope of the endeavour. Caramel’s face grew more and more confused and hurt as Twilight’s became more ashamed.

“So, that’s it,” she summed up. “I thought that if I met you again it would invalidate the experiment, and then I got wrapped up in finishing the report. I was scared of how quickly we had connected, and by the time I started to figure any of my feelings out...” she said, rubbing her midsection unconsciously. “I was sure you must have hated me by then, but I still had to tell you the truth.”

He was silent for a long time. “So, it was all a fake?” he finally asked.

She nodded. “Pretty much, yes.”

“And nopony knew that you had set them up?”

She ground her teeth. “It wasn’t about setting them up; it was just supposed to be one date. Short, simple, and innocent. I never even recorded names in the logs, everypony was numbered so that no one pony could be identified from it.”

Caramel’s expression darkened. “And how many stallions were a part of it?”

Twilight had to look away, scared of hurting him any further. “There were... a few. Several.”

Caramel got to his feet, worry and pain clearly showing on his face. “Y—I say—you can’t even tell me how many there were?” He huffed and kicked his leg out behind him in helpless frustration before visibly controlling himself. “I— Was I just another conquest for you, Twilight?”

“What? No! Of course not,” Twilight protested, shocked.

“How many other stallions were you... with?” he asked, the word rolling out of his mouth like it made him sick to his stomach.

Twilight’s eyes widened as she finally understood what was causing him so much pain. She took a step closer to him, speaking quietly and as earnestly as she could. “None, Caramel.”

“I don’t—wait, what? Really?”

She nodded. “I swear. No other pony affected me the way you did, not even close. You can read the reports for yourself.”

He sighed as he relaxed slightly. “Okay, okay, but why come back to tell me all this now? It’s been, what, eight weeks since then?”

Twilight tried to take a deep breath, but it was cut off as the lump in her throat grew even more. “I—Caramel, I’m pregnant,” she said, barely above a whisper.

The stallion’s eyes went wide, pupils shrinking in surprise and shock. He took a step backwards, bumping into an apple tree. “Oh, Celestia,” he muttered to himself.

“Caramel...?” she called to him, a low dread beginning to rise inside of her.

He looked back at her, his expression pained. “That’s why you came back now? Why you had to see me? So you could...” He took a breath and knocked his head against the tree trunk as he tried to compose himself. “What do you want?” he asked simply.

Twilight swiped a hoof over an eye. “Nothing,” she stated, trying to keep her emotions in check. Now would be a rotten time to lose the ability to speak. “I wouldn’t demand anything from you, Caramel, but you deserve to know.”

“I deserve to know...” he muttered, sitting back down awkwardly as he tried to make sense of everything. “So, are you putting the decision on me, then?”

She shook her head. “No, Caramel, I can and should take responsibility for my actions, but it’s not fair to you to make all the choices without giving you the chance to be a part of it.”

The stallion wrung his hooves anxiously. “And you’re sure it’s mine?”

Twilight gave him a weak smile. “Positive,” she said. “There’s nopony else it could be.”

He looked back up at her, a crooked grin appearing on his face. “I—really?”

Her smile grew as she looked back at him. “Really.”

He scratched his head as he calmed down, his expression becoming more thoughtful. “Well, I know what my dad would tell me—that I need to make an honest mare of you. I mean, that’s a jump, though, isn’t it? We only had the one date, and...” He looked at her almost apologetically. “What will you do if I say no? If I say that I don’t want to be a part of it?”

“Well, I’ve thought about that for a while now. There’s good reasons to put the foal up for adoption, but there’s lots of good ones the other way, too. I think I’m going to give being a mom a try.”

“By yourself?”

“Well, yeah, sort of,” she said. “As somepony had to remind me, I’m never really alone. I’ve got family and friends, and my foal—our foal will have five of the most awesome aunts in Equestria, never mind the Princesses.”

Caramel boggled. “Th-the Princesses?”

Twilight took a step closer. “I’m thinking of asking them to be godparents. It’s sort of ironic, really.”

He actually chuckled a little bit at the thought. “Okay, here’s the thing: I still like you, Twilight. A lot. Our night together was—well, it was easily the best night of my life, but I don’t know if it means I’m ready to marry you just like that.”

Twilight closed the gap between them and sat down in front of Caramel. “It was the greatest night of my life, too,” she admitted quietly. “We don’t need to figure everything out just yet. There’s still months to go before the foal is born, and if it takes longer, I’m okay with that. We don’t need to rush into anything—well, not again at least,” she said, blushing.

He smiled distantly and reached out a tentative hoof to her midsection. “It—it’s really in there, isn’t it? Our foal?”

“Yeah,” she said, putting a hoof over his. “So, would you be interested in getting dinner tonight or something?”

He smiled warmly at her. “It’s a date.”

Author's Note:

This story has been a long time coming, three and a half months, in fact. Though the original draft's review hurt so much for being true that I almost stopped writing, if Aquillo had not left it, I never would have pushed myself to be the writer that I am today, and will be in the future. I can not thank him enough, for without that one act of brutal honesty, this story, and all of my other works, would never exist at all.

Thanks to Twow443, Miss Dark Angel, and ambion for storycraft consulting.

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