• Published 6th Sep 2011
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On a Cross and Arrow - Conner Cogwork



Twilight and her five friends are transported across dimensions to... Ponyville, Equestria? But not the same one they knew.

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Part 11: And Back Again.

On a Cross and Arrow

By Conner Cogwork

Twilight and her five friends are transported during a botched spell, across dimensions to... Ponyville, Equestria? But not the same one that they knew. Sitting on a bench is Harpsy and Babar. The Doctoress avoids apples from an aspiring Applebuck. And in a library across town, six stallions join their forces as they try to decipher the appearance of filly look-alikes of themselves around Ponyville!

Image credit to KtKat! Thanks SO much!

Epilogue

And Back Again

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

"Twilight?... you okay?"

"Huh? Oh... yeah, I'm okay Spike."

The dragon gave his boss a worried glance as he rode upon her back. "You sure about that, Twi? Ever since you all came back from your trip a couple of days ago... well, not to put too fine a point on it, but you've all been acting really weird."

The two were trotting along the streets of Ponyville, Equestria. Over at a nearby delicatessen, a blue-coated stallion blew long and hard on his sax, while a yellow mare with a carrot cutie-mark dug into her carrot-dog. Above their heads, a grey-coated, blonde-haired pegasus filly flew by, a letter in her mouth.

The unicorn chuckled. "Where we went, Spike... it kinda had that effect on you. Can you blame us? Again, I apologize for having taken so long. Didn't expect to be gone for a whole week."

Spike shrugged. "It's no problem. Gave me a good bit of freedom, y'know. And it wasn't that much longer, just a couple days. Though Owlowicious was startin' to get worried... not like me, y'know, heheh...” he blushed slightly, before clearing his throat and attempting to regain control of the conversation. “The only thing I'm frustrated about is that you never got me my pizza."

She rolled her eyes. "I know, Spike. That's why I'm making it up to you now."

With that, she turned a corner, revealing the local Pizza Cottage, the tantalizing smell of Italian herbs and melted cheese wafting from its open windows. His eyes goggled at her and the restaurant, limbs scrambling to keep his perch on her back. "Y... y' mean it? Seriously?"

"Of course, li'l bro!" she replied, tilting her head back to give him an affectionate gaze. "You've MORE than earned it."

He smiled back at her, but still lifted an eyebrow. "That's another thing. You've been calling me your little brother a lot more often now than you did before you left... you sure you don't wanna tell me where you all went?"

Her eyes looked away in contemplation, before looking back to him. "Ask Scootaloo for some of her Neighponese comics. The science-fiction ones. That should give you a good idea of what happened, before I really tell you."

The little lizard's eyes widened further. "You’re recommending Nann-ga to me? Are you REALLY SURE you're the real Twilight Sparkle?"

At this, she simply giggled as she sat down, allowing him to slide off. Once he was back on his feet, he found himself further beleaguered by an affectionate filly hugging and nuzzling him with, to his considerable surprise, small tears at the corners of her eyes.

"I'm so sorry, Spike." she apologized again, her voice soft. "I just... really missed my favorite little assistant. My little brother. Where we went made me realize just how much you really mean to me. I missed you so much..."

"Awww... c'mon Twi, cut it out. Not in publiiiic~" he groaned, his cheeks rather red as what little masculinity he had left was threatened by his adoptive sister's display of love. "Can't we wait till we get our pizza and head back home for that mushy stuff?"

"Sure thing~" she sang, as she relented and began stepping towards the pizzeria again, dragon quickly keeping pace. Her eyes lit up however, as a thought came across her mind. "Hey... do you really want to take the pizza back home, or do you wanna eat someplace else?"

"Either's fine with me." Spike replied, looking at the magician with curiosity again. "Why d'ya ask? Got someplace in mind?"

Twilight held a hoof to her mouth as she cast her eyes upwards. "There's this nice little place that me and the girls have heard about. It's a fair walk from here, but it's pretty well... hidden. Nice and private. It's called... the HEDGE."

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

"I think I remember the Crusaders mentioning it." the dragon spoke, doing his best to keep a pair of pizza boxes balanced on his head. "I think it was before Applejack showed them the treehouse. They were gonna use it for a clubhouse, if I remember right."

"That's right." the purple pony replied, as the two continued walking down the trail towards the Everfree Forest. "It's too close to the forest to really be safe for them... but we're full-grown ponies. We can handle it."

"If y'say so." he replied, taking a look at their surroundings. Nothing but grass and brush for yards around. The town was receding into the distance behind them, and the woods were drawing close. "Say, um... if it's supposed to be so well-hidden, how do we go about finding it in the first place?"

The unicorn didn't say anything at first, her eyes simply scanning the premises. Finally, to her left, she spotted what she was looking for. A gathering of tall bushes.

"Over there." she directed, making a beeline, a confused reptile hot on her heels. As she approached, her eyes inspected the small gaps between shrubs. There, right where it had been in the other dimension. A small, dark opening.

"It's under here." she replied, turning back to her assistant. "It's... not been used in a while, so it'll probably be dirty, just to warn you. It's also a little steep, so watch your step."

With that, she lit her horn for light, and ducked down into the old warren, fully expecting an empty cave, with nothing much save a log and a rock table to be there...

... and instead, her eyes widened as she took in the interior. A few colored blankets hung on the walls, a small firepit had been dug out and lined with stones, and there were plenty of haystacks for seating. Hanging from a root in the ceiling was a firefly lamp, and the stone table she was expecting to be barren, stood festooned with a tablecloth and a vase full of daisies. In the middle of it all, a white unicorn hummed as she dusted the floor with her tail.

"RARITY!" Twilight exclaimed loudly, causing the dressmaker to yelp and turn in surprise. As she did so, another head popped up from behind the table, pink mane bouncing about. "And Fluttershy! Wha... what're you two doing here?!"

"W... w-why the same could be asked of you, Twilight!" Rarity replied, collecting her wits. "I hardly expected for you to return to our... little home-away-from-home."

"I-it was Rarity's idea." the timid pegasus explained. "After we got back... well, we both wanted to do something… you know, have someplace, well, to remember our visit by..."

"Woooow." came a low whistle of appreciation, as Spike descended into the HEDGE proper, pizzas still in-hand. "Pretty swank, Twi! I thought you said the place was aban- Rarity! O-oh, goodness gracious my lady! I had no clue YOU'D be here!"

"That makes two of us." The lavender mare added. "Spike and I were going to eat our lunch in here. I had no idea that, well, that you'd have spruced the place up already. I had thought you were getting tired of the HEDGE, weren't you, Rarity?"

The white one simply sniffed, putting on her best nonchalant airs. "It's true, that after an extended stay, the quarters did become rather... cramped." She then opened her eyes, and looked up at the patchy ceiling with an affectionate smile. "But I must admit, the memories associated with this place... have lead me to become quite fond of our little hideout."

The dragon was completely confused. "Woah, woah, hold on here. What're you girls going on about? You haven’t seriously been hiding out in this cave this whole entire past week, have you?"

"O-oh my." Fluttershy let her hooves go to her mouth. "You haven’t told him yet?"

"Well..." Twilight bit her lip and looked down at her assistant, taking in his befuddled gaze, before letting her eyes lock with Rarity's deep blue ones. "Have you told Sweetie Belle?"

She fidgeted. "Well... perhaps... not yet. B-but I swear that I will! Eventually..."

Everypony paused as a new sound coursed through the air. It was a familiar buzz of rapidly-beating wings. Thankfully, this time around, the sound did not bring a wave of trepidation, like before, but instead, a group of smiles.

"Looks like you may get your chance sooner than later. We're about to have company." Fluttershy stated, before dipping her head to tug at the tablecloth, straightening it out. "I hope there's plenty of room."

"I hope they don't want any of this pizza either!" Spike grumped, setting the boxes on the table and placing an arm over them protectively. "We only got enough for Twilight and me!"

The buzzing eventually halted, and there were sounds of scuffling outside. Soon, the bushes parted as a trio of small schoolfillies paraded into the cave, their eyes quite wide as they noticed the redecoration.

"Whoo-wee!" Applebloom gushed, orange eyes roaming the walls. "Who went 'n made th' HEDGE a bona-fide clubhouse while we were gone?!"

"Rarity!" Sweetie Belle replied, both as an answer, and as an exclamation as she rushed into her elder sister's hooves. "Big sis! How'd YOU find the place?"

"Ooooh... a little pony told me." the white horse let her eyes drift upwards mischievously. "Really Sweetie, it is too close to the forest for you girls, but as long as you're with one of us, I see no harm in you all using this place as well!"

"That's right, sugarcubes. Y'all kin' hang out here fer a right long while, long as somepony older's about!" came a familiar southern twang.

Everypony present turned to see Applejack descending from the hideout's entrance as well. She gave them all a beaming smile as she trotted over and sat herself next to her younger sibling. "Howdy gals. Fancy meetin' y’all here."

"Applejack!" Twilight managed to squeeze out past her continually surprised expression. "Watching over the Crusaders today?"

"That's right. An' they just HAPPENED t' let slip 'bout this here li’l ol' hidin' place they had b'fore th' treehouse. So ah says, 'How 'bout you all let me take a look 'n see if it's as good ah place as y'say?"

"Siiiiis!" The smaller earth pony sighed, before leaning up against her. "Ah keep tellin' yah, we din' say nuthin'! Ah STILL dunno how y' found out 'bout it!"

"Aww, that ain't real important now, is it?" the farmer lowered her head to nuzzle at her sister's mane. "What matters is, ah think this's a right good li'l place. And Ah'm glad that everypony else thinks so too, don't you?"

Applebloom rolled her eyes, but leaned her head up to accept the nuzzling. She glanced over to Sweetie Belle, who was also being slathered with affection from her own sister.

"They weren't all this lovey-dovey a'fore they left, were they?" she whispered.

"I don't think so." The small unicorn replied, closing an eye as Rarity kissed her cheek. "You guys've been really... um... close, since you all came back."

"Tell me about it." Spike quipped, directing a glare in Twilight's direction. "Suffocating's the word I'd probably use."

Scootaloo rolled her eyes at the entire scene, before her nostrils widened. "Mmmm... is that pizza I'm smelling? Is there garlic chips and feta? I wouldn’t mind a slice, scooting around three ponies makes a girl hungry."

The dragon panicked slightly, both arms now covering his precious boxes of Italian pie. "N-n-no, there isn't! Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but we had NO idea there'd be so many PONIES here! It's not like we'd planned to have a Pizza party!"

"A PIZZA PARTY?!" Pinkie Pie cried out, suddenly popping up from behind the log-constructed counter. "SPIKE, you've READ my MIND!!"

Everypony present let out a yipe of surprise. "Pinkie!" Fluttershy gaped, recovering her wits. "How long have you been there?! And how did you get-"

"It's Pinkie Pie." the orange pegasus groaned. "That's all we need to know."

The pink earth pony nevertheless, answered the question. "Well, I was hopping through Ponyville today and I saw Twilight and Spike going into the Pizza Cottage and I found myself thinking OH HEY, I never got to eat at any pizza places while we were gone, I mean, I totally had my mouth set on Mushroom and Olive right before we left, and then we spent a WHOLE WEEK without having anything itallion! So I decided hey, I think Rarity and Fluttershy are at the HEDGE, I know what I'll do! I'll order a buncha pizza and have ourselves our very own PINKIE PIE PIZZA PARTY here at our good ol' hidey-hole hiding spot!"

Applejack exchanged confounded looks with Twilight and Rarity, before turning back to the party filly. "But Pinkie... sugarcube, while that shore does sound lovely... ah shore don't see any pizza on you. Didja order delivery? If y' did, then th' poor delivery pony's gonna have a heck of a time findin' th' place!"

"Oh Applejack~" The frizzy-maned one gigged as she waved a hoof. "Don't you worry your little appley head about it! I made sure that we had a SPECIAL delivery pony take the order!"

As if on cue, another noise began to issue from outside the cave's exit. The steady whoosh of beating wings. As one last pony entered the premises, smiles were beamed all around, accompanied by one hero-worshiping gaze, at the blue mare with the vibrant mane and at least five pizza boxes stacked on her back.

"Delivery!" Rainbow Dash called out. "Fresh piping hot Pizza Pie! Straight from the oven to your door in ten seconds flat, or your money back!"

"Rainbow Dash!" Scootaloo cheered, galloping towards her idol. "Oh wow, so much pizza! Did you really get from there to here in ten seconds? Oh, I bet it only took you FIVE!"

The pegasus only smiled as she allowed herself to be unloaded by her friends. "Heya squirt." she said fondly. "Didja miss me? Sorry I've not been 'round a lot, just had a lot of practice to catch up on."

"I remember." Rarity smiled at her friend. "The Double Rainboom was just as lovely to see as it was before."

"Oh yeah, it was AWESOME!!" the small fanfilly gushed, hopping in place. "I saw it! It was the most spectacular thing I'd ever SEEN! Rainbow Dash, you're like, the coolest pony in all of Equestria! I can only hope that I'll be half as good as you!"

The elder pegasus’s expression softened, as she recalled the words of another orange pony worlds away. "I bet you'll do better than half. Y'know... now that I think about it, the Junior Speedster's Flight camp is about to start soon. Aren't you going to be attending?"

Scootaloo paused in her cheering, a blush going over her face. "W-well... I-I'd like to, really. I-I mean, they're supposed to teach me how to fly and all... I just don't think..." at this point, she lowered her head as the words were reduced to a mumble. "I-I mean... I'm not sure if I'm really ready. I've been practicing, but... I still can't get very far off the ground..."

"Hmmmm... in that case... how would you like to have your very own personal trainer?"

Purple eyes shot open as she stared at Dash, who merely wiggled her eyebrows and grinned. A split-second later, she chuckled as the orange filly glomped her and hugged her tight. "Oh THANK you Rainbow Dash! Thank you thank you THANK YOU!!"

"It's no problem, Scoot. You'll enter that camp with an edge above all the others once I'm done with you! Gonna warn ya though, don't expect me to go easy on you!"

"I can take it, Dash!" Scootaloo assured, releasing her hold on her idol and landing on all fours in a readied pose. "I promise, I won't let you down! Maybe I'll even get to find my cutie-!"

"COME AND GET IT~!"

They were interrupted by the powerful lungs of a pink-maned pony, still seated behind her bar counter, which was now covered with opened pizza boxes. The familiar aroma of melted mozzarella and garlicky tomato sauce reached everypony's noses, and there was no hesitation as plates were distributed and slices of cheesy heaven were collected.

Spike, head still reeling from the spontaneous onset of a party, left the pandemonium and sat himself on the log bench up against the wall, before blinking and remembering that he was still carrying HIS pizza box around. With little fare-the-well, it was opened. If everypony was gonna eat pizza too, then why shouldn't he? “Girls.” he mumbled, before taking a bite. “Go figure.”

The Cutie Mark Crusaders took their slices and joined the dragon, while the elder mares regrouped around the table. Twilight herself was still blinking, her own pizza box opened as she idly munched a slice of her zucchini blossom and olive. "Wow... Pinkie, you are just full of surprises, you know that?"

The Pie pony simply grinned at her. "Silly filly, what's life without a few surprises along the way? BOR-RING~, that's what!"

"Well I for one, am not complaining." Rarity soothed, as she daintily nibbled a slice of sunflower seed and onion. "Pinkie, this is a most excellent idea. What better way to throw a cave-warming soiree' than with a pizza buffet?"

"Yof seid iff!" Rainbow agreed through a mouthful of pizza. "Whfn Pinkfie Pie toffed thph idhea hft mfh, ahf waf- *gulp* I was ALL over it! It's a good thing you and Spike already ordered yours, Twi, pizza boxes aren't that aerodynamic. Any more, and it woulda taken me a whole MINUTE!"

Applejack chuckled from her slice of apple on white sauce, before turning to the pegasus, her eyes darting back and forth between her and the crusader in the background. "Y'all really meant what y' said, Dash? You showin' Scootaloo th' ropes 'n all. You sure y' can even handle it?"

Dash looked back behind her, before giving a shrug. "To be honest... no, I'm not sure. You all know, I'm no good at this 'older sibling' stuff. But... darned if I'm not gonna try! I mean, if Scoot was... that is, uhm...if he..."

Fluttershy simply nodded back, a piece of five-cheese and daisy petals halfway to her mouth. "It was Scooteroll, wasn't it?"

"...yeah, it was. He’d told me he was hoping Blitz would become his teacher someday. I had no idea. But I knew that if he had those hopes... then Scootaloo would probably have them too." She dipped her head down, eyes staring at the tablecloth. "I kinda wish I... hadn't been so bull-headed now... wish I had told Blitz about that, before we left..."

There was a bout of silence, before Twilight scooted herself closer to the pegasus, and laid a hoof on her shoulder. "Don't be so hard on yourself, Dash. I mean, who knows? They are a parallel dimension, after all... perhaps, even as we speak... maybe he's already offered the same to Scooteroll. Maybe, in their world, they're all right here, right now, with us."

"Here in th' HEDGE." the farmer pony nodded in agreement.

"Havin' a party!" Pinkie chimed in.

"Reliving happy memories." Rarity added.

"Thinking... of us." Fluttershy finished.

There was a long pause of silence, as the six friends began to contemplate. Yes, it had been unintended, but now that they were back home, those memories they shared were cast in a fond light. Meeting Dusk and Butterscotch, Rainbow Blitz and the stallion Applejack, Elusive, and Berry Bubble. Meeting your own self, was an experience that... had no words.

"... we'll never forget them, will we?" Dash asked.

There were various sounds of agreement. The white unicorn in particular, levitated an etched ruby out into the open for all to see.

"As long as we keep in mind that our homes are theirs... that we are both reflections of each other's hearts... as long as we keep the HEDGE alive... I can't see how we ever will." She gave them all a smile, though her eyes shimmered with unshed tears.

The silence that followed was filled with the munching of pizza, broken only once by a timid and forlorn voice.

"... i still miss butterscotch..."

The pink party pony slid over to her yellow winged friend, and leaned up against her, before looking up and giving the purple unicorn an unusually serious gaze. "Twilight, do you think... maybe someday, we could...?"

Suddenly, the student found herself the center of a barrage of gazes, all of them pleading. The first time they had turned to her with those, it had been with hope that she would be able to take them home. Now that they were back, safe and sound, the opposite was true.

"I still..." Rainbow Dash gulped. "I s-still want to challenge Blitz to a race someday..."

"You know me, dear." Rarity added. "For a few more moments with Elusive... to even bring Sweetie along and have them meet... I would almost give anything..."

"I never got to have my hybrid party with Berry, y’know!" Pinkie stated, giving another look to Twilight. "I'd love to get together with him and finally hold it!"

"If y' do, it'll have tah be a private li'l shindig." Applejack chuckled. "Say... at th' Acres? We got plenty o’ room, should anythin’ world-endin’ happen there."

Twilight could only shake her head. "Girls, believe me. I-I miss my brother too. But... even if we did try again, there's no guarantee we'd find the exact same dimension again. Besides..." she leaned in, a smile on her face nonetheless. "You wouldn't want to arrive there, and then find out that we'd missed them, because they thought the same things you all are thinking right now, right?"

That brought cheer to the table, as the six equines gave heartened looks to each other. "H-having them, come and visit us?" the butter pegasus pondered softly. "I... I don't think I would mind that."

The farmer looked behind her at her younger sister, before chuckling. "Boy howdy, ah kin' see it now. Cousin AJ'd prob'ly have a conniption fit like me, seein' Applebloom."

"So... we wait then?" the multihued mare questioned, eyes looking hopeful. "I... I think I can do that."

"We wait." Rarity agreed, holding the gem close and letting it rub against her cheek. "We wait... and we hope."

And with that, eating returned full-force to the six, as they let that single thought buoy their spirits. Even though they might be worlds apart, even though each of them still had mixed feelings, they couldn't disagree that they all now felt the same towards their other halves. A feeling of camaraderie.

A feeling of friendship.

Purple eyes popped open, before the magician stood up from the table. "Excuse me for a second girls. Need to take care of something."

"Sfur finhg Thwi!" came a muffled reply from Pinkie, cheeks bulging with cheese. "Anythinf beg?"

"Just need to send a letter. Spike~?"

The dragon popped his head up at the mention of his name, before dashing over to her. "Yeah Twi? What'cha need?"

Twilight gave Spike a soft smile, before lighting her horn. Out of her tail, came a wrapped scroll.

"Spike," she began. "Would you mind sending this to the Princess, please?"

"A friendship report?" the dragon asked, taking the parchment into his claws as if it were a precious artifact. "I don't think I recall you writing one since you’ve gotten back."

"I had it prepared while we were... away." she explained. "Could you send it, please? Celestia's probably worried sick by now."

He saluted smartly, before trotting over to the HEDGE's entrance. With a deep breath, and a gout of green flame, the paper was incinerated, the mystical smoke curling for a second before whisking itself out the opening, into the air.

"Say, Twilight?" Applejack spoke, having watched the exchange. "Ah don't 'xactly recall you writin' anythin' while we were there either. What'd you put in thar, anyways?"

She got a chuckle in reply. "It's just a letter... from me, to myself. Now come on. Let's not let the pizza get cold! This is a party after all!"

"YEAH!" Pinkie enthused. "Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Pony time!!"

From outside, if one were to walk by a random patch of shrubbery, one could almost imagine the noises of a party going on beneath its roots. The sounds of their joy and warmth continued, as music, laughter, and memories warmed the HEDGE. The party continued well into the night, and as they all finally curled up to sleep, they imagined a strange world waiting outside their cave. A world like their own, but at the same time, different. A world they had touched once... and were looking forward to its touch yet again.

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

Court Canterlot had been slow today. No surprise there, thought Celestia. It's been a dull few days as of late.

Idly, the regent of Equestria’s thoughts turned back to her pupil as the last set of nobles finished their presentation on the state of lemon crops in Hoofington to her and bowed, thanking her for her time. She usually would have paid much more rapt attention, but the lack of friendship reports from her protégé had unsettled her slightly. Had something happened to Twilight? Maybe I should pay a surprise visit to Ponyville. Nothing saying I can't use these old wings every now and then...

Thankfully, she wouldn't have to wait much longer. As the two nobles opened the court door to exit, a stream of silver smoke rushed in. The monarch's eyes widened in delight as the dust paused in front of her, swirled for a second, and then flashed into its original shape as a scroll, descending into her telekinetic grip.

Without ceremony, Princess Celestia tore the bind and unwrapped it, her eyes greedily taking in the words on the page.

The expression on her face however, shifted from one of joy, to one of confusion. Carefully, she re-read the letter again, her lips moving silently as she self-dictated... before finally, a smile of comprehension graced her face once more.

So it has finally happened.

"Guards." she intoned. "Court is closed for the day. I desire a moment in private. Wait for me outside. I won’t be long."

The twin unicorns that kept station at her throne both nodded, before taking to their hooves and trotting across the floor out into the hall. With a thud of the doors, the princess had her privacy. All the better, for what she was about to do.

She stepped from her seat, and cast her eyes about the grand room. There. A full-length mirror that hung on the wall. She trotted towards it, scroll still in her grip.

The alicorn took in the image of herself as she approached it. She didn't think she looked bad, for a mare of a thousand plus. Then again, she didn't think he looked bad for a pony of his age either.

With a smile, she stopped in front of the silvered surface, before leaning forward and touching her horn to it. 40.1 Kiimehertz.

The frequency of magic vibrated the mirror in its stand, ripples forming in the center and pooling outwards, like a drop of water in a pond. Her reflection bent and wavered in the undulations, the form on the other side undergoing a change.

For a few seconds longer, she held the frequency, before stepping back and taking another look. Now standing on the other side of the mirror, was still a white Alicorn, to be certain. But instead of a flowing mane of blues, greens, and purples, their hair resembled the soft flames of a fire, coated with reds, oranges, and yellows. A more stately-than-elegant accruement of ornaments covered their person, complementing the pony's barreled chest, slightly flared legs, and goatee-adorned chin.

They were also holding a scroll. Their lavender eyes blinked for a second, before the squared face broke out into a smile.

"Princess Celestia!" the stallion spoke. "Always a pleasure to see you!"

"Prince Solaris!" the monarch returned, a smile on her face as she viewed her other self. "It's been far too long, don't you think?"

"Oh, you're telling me." her male counterpart replied, rolling his eyes. "I apologize terribly for not having gotten in touch as often as I'd like."

"You needn’t apologize, Solly." she soothed, a hoof reaching up and through the mirror to rest on her doppelganger's shoulder. "I've been just as busy as you have, if not more so. You know the nature of our dimensions, after all..."

"Oh, I can imagine. How is Luna, anyways? Does she fare well?"

"She's doing fine. She's been recuperating, and just a month or so ago, she began taking on her old duties once more."

"That's excellent news to hear. I hope she's taking the new nightlife in stride."

"Oh, she is, believe me. But you would know, wouldn't you? How IS Artemis, by the by?"

"He's doing just as well. I don't know about you, but I'm glad this entire Anarchy Apollo situation is behind us."

She gave him a wry grin. "Nightmare Moon in my world, dear. Still, as well as our siblings are doing, we would do good to keep our eyes on them... we can only hope that they'll be able to forgive themselves, in time..."

Solaris nodded back at her, before his eyes flickered over to his scroll. It hovered forward. "I believe that I have something that was meant for you."

She nodded, and floated her own scroll towards the gent. "The same here. Rather surprising to get a letter delivered to the wrong address!"

They exchanged their psychic grips, and pulled the pieces of parchment through the mirror's frame, each one now resting in their home dimensions. The two white horses looked back at each other, before Celestia finally spoke the question on her mind.

"Were they very much trouble?"

Solaris nickered in a chuckle. "O-ho, let's see. Young Rainbow Dash made quite an impression on Blitz, the two dressmakers actually prayed for a blessing in love from me, and from what I understand, Miss Pinkie Pie and Berry Bubble very nearly brought about the end of Equestria. How they were going to do it is still beyond me."

The wise mare let out a laugh. "Oh my, our students certainly have an imagination! They have a way of assuming the worst of things, don't they?”

They shared a hearty bout of mirth, before they returned to their conversation. "Speaking of Twilight... tell me, what did you think of her?"

The prince gave her a smile. "She's an astounding pony, Celly. To be able to cross the dimensional divide by pure accident. And then, that night when she finally revealed herself to Dusk, I was quite pleased to see her own character on display. It was quite cute to see them, especially when they shared the bed!"

Celestia let her hooves fly to her mouth as she let out an un-ladylike squeal. "Twilight shared a bed with Dusk?! AW! I am SO jealous Solly, I wish I could have seen that!"

"You would have loved it. I was watching to make sure they didn’t do anything, you know, ‘untoward’. And they were both so nervous and timid! But it was also very serene, once they relaxed. Held in each other's hooves, each one comforted by the other, like a brother and sister should.” He closed his eyes and remained motionless, aside from his red mane billowing in the solar wind, before he spoke again. “I was so proud... and you should be too, Celly.”

"I am.” she smiled with a parent’s pride, shaking her mane.”Even WITH the things that our little ponies get into."

"Indeed." he responded, shaking his own head and returning her smile. "And we wouldn't trade them for anything in the world."

They simply stood there and looked at each other for a few seconds more, before a chime began to sound in the distance, from both sides of the mirror. The twin deities both heaved a sigh.

"Sundown in fifteen minutes." they both said at the same time, before looking back at each other, and then breaking into another round of chuckling.

"It's been a pleasure, as always, Solaris." Celestia spoke, reaching a foreleg up to touch hooves with him through the frame. "I'll try to be in contact again soon."

"No worries, Celestia." the prince assured, shaking her hoof as he tossed his mane. "Besides, the way that Dusk has been since they left, we may be seeing each other again sooner than you think."

The white mare smiled in anticipation as she bowed her head, the stallion returning her actions. "Safe times, Prince Solaris."

"Safe times, Princess Celestia."

They then both turned as if to leave, but the male stopped in his steps, before looking back. "Oh, and Celly?"

Having fully turned around, she tilted her head as she looked behind her. Solaris proceeded to give her something completely out-of-line, had it come from anypony else: a rougish wink and a grin.

"See you later, sweet thing."

A likewise grin erupted on her face, as she proceeded to wiggle her flanks in his direction. "You too, hot stuff."

At last, the vision of her male reflection began to waver once more, the harmonic energies infused in the mirror finally wearing off. As the surface rippled back into its previous silvered form, the ruler of Equestria stepped back into the middle of her court, her mind imagining him doing the same, still wearing the grin she sported as well. She admitted to herself, she was REALLY looking forward to next time. Even a goddess needs to get her kicks every now and then!

Finally, her lavender eyes drifted back towards the paper that she carried with her. The seal was already broken, but that was fine. The ivory equine unrolled it, and lifted it up to take in this latest missive from Twilight Sparkle, a smile playing across her face.


Dear Princess Celestia

If this letter gets to you, then you probably already know of the adventure that my friends and I have been on. It was a complete accident, I assure you. But now, looking back on it, I don't think I would have traded it for the world.

When we landed there, it was scary, when we finally realized where we were. Sometimes, a new place can scare you when you see things that are so similar, and yet at the same time, so different from home. But just because the place is different, doesn't mean it's bad. Different can be good, and kind, not to mention fun. Just as long as you remember to be yourself.

Knowing yourself is a tricky thing. You think you know exactly how you would react, given a certain situation. But sometimes, you wind up surprising yourself, as you see sides of your own personality that you've never seen or considered before.

My friends and I have learned that even when faced with our own selves, we have to recognize that things will never go exactly as how you think they should. And sometimes, that's a good thing. How else can a pony grow, and get to better know themselves than to make a few mistakes along the way?

I know me and my friends will never forget this place, or the lessons we have learned here during our stay. As I'm writing this, they're all downstairs, saying their goodbyes, while my brother writes his own note. We intend to trade them, and send them to our own respective mentors. It may seem unconventional, but at least this way, it will not only explain my absence, but also give you something of the world that my friends and I have touched. Have you been there, Princess? If you’re reading this, I would have to assume so! I would love to hear about it soon!

I hope that this letter finds you in good health. Even if it never makes it back to you, I'm glad I had the chance to write this. I know that Dusk Shine is!

Your Faithful Student

Twilight Sparkle.


P.S. Prince Solaris, when you read this, I hope you don't mind a feminine perspective of your favored student! Dusk is fine, and he says hello. Expect an actual letter from him soon. Hope to meet you in person someday!

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

“Someday, Twilight Sparkle.” Prince Solaris hummed, as he turned and strolled towards the court door, the scroll wrapped and placed into his chestpiece. A smile played across his face.

“Someday.”


FIN

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