• Published 9th Mar 2013
  • 3,775 Views, 136 Comments

Unity at Dusk - AlphatheGriffin17

Book III. With the lord of chaos released from stone and being the only none-Element, Dusk is left behind by the others. But he will soon discover that there is much more to him than he could have ever known...

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Brought to Light

Dusk felt much better when he awoke the following morning. The combination of his talk from Luna and a pleasant night's sleep ensured that most of the bleak, unsure thoughts that had been shifting restlessly in his mind as he was in his bed were gone by the time he felt the warmth of Celestia's sun streaming in through his window, waking him from his slumber. While yesterday he just wanted to be alone with his misery, now he wanted nothing more than to see his friends again.

Of course, it wasn't completely perfect. He still had those twinges of guilt from what he had done to them, as well as the vivid memories of Blackhole's actions in his mind. But they weren't at the forefront of his thoughts, more like somewhere at the back, easy to overlook and ignore. He wasn't going to let them get the better of him today, especially not with the celebration in Canterlot coming up. He was just going to get out there and enjoy the day.

Still… he would have to deal with the issues at some point. But today, he decided, placing on his hat, downing his breakfast and heading outside for a morning stroll, he was just going to enjoy himself. The danger had past and it was time to celebrate. He just wandered around outside, sitting by the lake, walking through the trees or sitting on the grass, listening to the sounds of the birds and appreciating the beauty of nature all around him. It was good to have harmony back in Equestria and he wouldn't have it any other way.

A lot of truths had come to light in the wake of his dream. The fact that Luna had been pulling the strings from behind the scenes so that he would discover he was the seventh Element of Harmony he at first found to be quite hurt from how dishonest it had been. When he asked her why exactly she didn't just tell him what his true fate was in the first place, she replied in saying that neither Twilight nor her friends knew they were the Elements and they had to figure it out. Why should he be any different?

"Besides," she followed up with, "would thou have believed me if I had told thee?" Dusk had to concede that, despite his personal views, he most likely wouldn't have and accepted that her actions were necessary.

In a way though, it also made him appreciate all that she went through to help him discover his destiny and he was thankful for that, if nothing else.

Then, of course, there was Luna's offer. Dusk was still recovering from the giddy feeling that he had when Luna first announced that she was going to be his teacher. He had accepted after only a moment's thought and was in no way regretting his decision. One thing that had come out of this was that he now felt true pride for his unique magic and along with that, the desire to expand on it and to learn more about what he might be able to do with it. If it was to be his special talent from now on, then he would train and practise with it as much as he could.

Additionally, there was the bonus that he and Twilight were now both apprenticed to a princess. He didn't know why, but that gave him a newfound boost of confidence that might finally allow him to tell her how he felt… perhaps…

He arrived at the train station on time as always, with everypony else not too far behind. As well as the girls, Spike, the Crusaders, Strongheart and Zecora were also accompanying them to the ceremony before the actual party. They too had played their part in bringing down Discord and they were going to be acknowledged for it along with everypony else who had fought against the lord of chaos. Zecora was quite looking forward to seeing the royal city, as was Strongheart and everypony promised to give them a small tour of the place once the celebrations had concluded.

They were relieved to see that Dusk was in a better mood from yesterday, especially Twilight, as they'd all been a little worried about him when he'd left the party before everypony else. Dusk assured them all that he was fine now, which wasn't entirely dishonest and proceeded to tell them all that he had learned in the dream world from Luna whilst the train carried them to Canterlot, as well as mention her offer to him.

"Ha-ha, see?" Spike said, once he had finished. "I told you you'd solve that whole Fore Sight mystery!"

"I'm quite surprised about it myself," Dusk admitted. "Then again, the past few days have been full of surprises, so one would think I'd be getting used to them by now."

"Surprise!" Pinkie suddenly jumped up behind him, making him jump. "Yeah, I think you're right. Still, it's always nice to be surprised, dontcha think?"

"Depends on the surprise," Dusk said once he'd stopped blushing and everypony stopped laughing. "You could at least warn me when you're about to do that."

"Silly Psychic Pony. If I did, it wouldn't be a surprise."

"I… oh, never mind," he said, laughing good naturedly. "I don't think you girls will ever stop being able to surprise me."

"We do our best, sugar," remarked Applejack and glancing at Pinkie. "Some-a us more'n others."

"We could say the same for you darling," Rarity noted. "Every day it seems you're discovering something new about yourself. Overcoming your stage fright one moment and becoming the seventh Element the next."

"Yeah, must feel pretty good to know you're as awesome as we are now," Rainbow said, with a nudge.

"Yes, well," he mumbled, "I'm just one tile in the mosaic that is Harmony."

"Quite profound," remarked Strongheart lightly. "I suppose that's one thing about you that hasn't changed."

"And… that's not a bad thing, is it?" he asked her unsurely.

"Not at all."

He exchanged a warm smile with the calf. "Thank you…"

Rainbow made a small groan of frustration. "Man, you really haven't changed where your ego is concerned, have you?"

"Sometimes a lil' humilty is refreshin' Rainbow, 'specially after hangin' round you all day," remarked Applejack.

"Yeah, but I'm great anyway." She gave her cocky smile. "Oh well, I guess that it's just good Dusky here knows his place, which is just close second to awesomeness to me. Maybe third."

Though Dusk admired Rainbow's confident personality as opposed to his contrasting one, her boasting sometimes was a little too much for him. He would have said something, but didn't want to end up provoking her aggression. Luckily, somepony else said what they were all thinking.

"Hm, a student to Princess Luna, Seventh Element of Harmony and solver of one of the greatest historical mysteries next to a pony who, despite showing her skills twice to the Wonderbolts still isn't a member of them?" Strongheart raised her eyebrows. "Yes, I can certainly see from that how he's not as good as you."

"Hey, who asked you?!" demanded Rainbow, her cheeks flushed.

"No-one," replied Strongheart calmly. "Sometimes, asking isn't a necessity, especially when it comes to speaking latent truths, Rainbow Crash."

"Ooh, that's a burn!" Pinkie grinned at the red-in-the-face Pegasus, who offered no response to that. "You just got burned Dashie, burned!"

Fortunately, Rainbow didn't press further on her argument, though it looked like she wanted to. She'd probably challenge the buffalo to a race later or something to make up for this small loss.

"Anyway, the point is that mosaic thingy you're a part of now… is awesome!" Rainbow frowned after this. "What is a mosaic anyway? Some kind of weird food?"

"It's a form of art," Rarity said exasperatedly. "I know you're not exactly a cultured pony, but really Rainbow?"

"You can't eat a mosaic Dashie and trust me, I've tried," Pinkie put in.

"Yeah… wait, what?"

"All strange eating habits aside, it really is incredible!" Twilight seemed most excited about one particular piece of news. "I can't believe that Princess Luna has actually offered to teach you! Do you know how unique an opportunity this is?"

"I wasn't expecting it either, but that was what she said she wanted to do," he said with a rarely seen pride. "We're going to be starting lessons once everything's fully settled down. She said she'll contact me when she wants to begin."

Twilight let out a barely concealed noise of excitement. "Ooh, that's so great! I mean, now not only are you and I both students to royalty, but just imagine what she'll be able to teach you! Your magic's the same as hers and considering the things she can do with that magic alone, that should be quite informative. She can alter her appearance, squeeze into tight spaces in her smoke form, and even fly! That might be due to her natural alicorn abilities though, but I'm sure you could still learn it. Imagine if you could learn how to fly! Even if we do have levitation spells, self-sustained flight is difficult even for a unicorn."

"Oh… really? He knew Twilight was going into quick-fire fact mode, which he didn't mind and didn't have the heart to stop her. If anything, he actually liked it.

"Oh yes and beyond that, there's no limit to what she could possibly teach you. I don't know what your magic is compared to mine, but you could end up picking up the same skills that I did. You have the disadvantage of not being taught at a young age, but you still attended the school and you've had it your whole life, so it might not be too difficult. If you ever need help, I'd be more than happy to give it. Then, of course, there would be powers of the night that she might teach you too. Things like dark magic, shadow spells, lunar blasts, mostly offensive and defensive spells, but still very useful. Maybe we could compare notes and trade techniques! I want to know everything she'll-"

"Okay, okay, Twah'light, take it down a notch," cut in Applejack. "Ah think the boy's got himself enough ta think about without ya recitin' every possible piece-a mumbo jumbo ya can."

"Oh, right." She lapsed into a bashful silence. "Sorry Dusk, guess I just lost my head there."

"It's fine, Miss Sparkle," he assured. "If anything, you've made me even more anticipated for my upcoming education."

"Well, I'm glad I was able to help there," she said, sounding relieved, perhaps a little anxious that she'd been boring him. "You know how I am when it comes to studying."

"I know and, just for the record, I'd be more than happy to exchange notes with you," he added with a smile. "I think it would be… beneficial for us both."

"Really?" She blushed a little, but returned his smile. "I… think it would be too. I'm… looking forward to it."

Dusk suddenly blinked when he realised something that made his own cheeks turn beet red. Did he just… flirt with Twilight? And did she just… return it? He had no idea, he'd never flirted before in his life and didn't know if Twilight had received it negatively or not. She was still smiling, so it looked like she didn't mind, but she might just be pretending so not to embarrass him.

Still, he did like that smile she was giving him. That and the look in her eyes made his heart flutter all the more.

"Geez, what a couple of eggheads you two are," Rainbow remarked, shattering the moment.

"Rainbow!" chastised Rarity and Applejack in unison.

"What? What did I do? I'm just saying…"

"Perhaps you should have remained silent instead, for some things are better left unsaid," remarked Zecora, speaking for the first time since the journey began.

"What? What did I say? You were all thinking it," she protested.

"I think it's great too," added Fluttershy, wanting to add something to the discussion. "I mean you, being taught by Luna. It seems like it'll be… fun, I guess."

"I think the boat's sailed on that discussion," mumbled Dusk blandly, feeling some annoyance towards the insensitive Pegasus.

"Oh, um… okay." Fluttershy lapsed back into an embarrassed silence.

Dusk's brotherly feelings resurfaced for her at the sight of her retreating behind her mane and he smiled in her direction. "But thank you for saying so anyway. It was very kind of you, as always."

"You're welcome." She peeked out behind it and gave him a shy smirk. He would have hugged her were it not for the look that Twilight was giving him he could see out of the corner of his eye.

"Yer lucky," Apple Bloom said sadly. "Not only do ya get yer cutie mark, but then ya get a completely new one. We haven't even got our firs' ones…"

"You think we can change ours if we want?" asked Sweetie. "Like, maybe you could have a talent in painting one week and then dancing the next one."

"Yeah, but you can't paint or dance, so you wouldn't be doing either," remarked Scootaloo.

"I know, but still, it would be nice." She cast her eyes to her bare flank. "I'd be happy with any cutie mark though."

"Be patient Sweetie, your time will come," assured her elder sister. "You just have to keep at it."

"I know, I know, but there's times it seems like we'll never get them," she despaired.

"Yeah, it feels like it's gonna be forever before we ever discover our special talents," put in Scootaloo.

"That's if we ever find them," sighed Apple Bloom.

Of course, everypony understood what they must be feeling. Though they were a special little group, they still must feel like outcasts because of what they had… or in this case, what they didn't. Dusk knew, because that was how he'd felt about himself too, what felt like a long time. And he knew what he needed to do.

Before anypony could say anything to the disheartened fillies, Dusk was the one who spoke up.

"Take heart girls," he said to them. "The other fillies and foals may have their cutie marks before you all have, but let me ask you: how many of them have bravely faced up to a whole army of monsters?"

Scootaloo's face lit up at that. "None of them."

"How many of them are on their way to Canterlot right as a reward for what they've done?"

"Nopony I know," agreed Apple Bloom.

"And now many of them are going to receive commendation from the Princesses themselves for their bravery and valour?"

"I don't know what commendation means, but you're right!" Sweetie perked up. "We might not have our cutie marks yet, but we did pretty well without them."

"Yeah, Diamond Tiara sure can't say that she did what we did," added Scootaloo. "We got to save all of Equestria! We're awesome!"

"Even without our cutie marks too!" Sweetie gave Dusk a bright smile. "Thanks for that Dusk."

"No problem, little one." He moved to pat her on the head, but his blurry eyes misjudged the distance and he had to try three times before he got it right.

"Eyes still giving you trouble?" Spike asked him.

"Unfortunately, yes." He squinted at his hoof, trying to make it clear up. "I would have thought it would have gotten better by now."

"Let me see." Zecora approached him, holding open one of his eye lids and waving her own hoof across it, gazing intently with her pale blue orbs. "I would wait a little longer until it passes, but in case it doesn't, I would suggest glasses."

"Glasses? But… I've never needed glasses."

"But you may now," Twilight pointed out. "Gazing directly at a bright light source, in the case your self generated colour sphere from before, may have damaged your retinas and created moderate vision impairment."

Dusk understood most of what she said there, though Pinkie and Rainbow were looking quizzical, along with a few others. He was a little apprehensive at the idea. He already knew that he basically answered to most of the signs of being a typical geek and having glasses would only complete the image. He didn't like the idea of being laughed at if he did end up having to wear glasses. But he also didn't like being partially blind.

In the end, he conceded with a small smile. "I suppose… it wouldn't be so bad."

"I think he'd look kinda geeky with them," he heard Rainbow snigger.

"He's short-sighted, not deaf Rainbow," Rarity answered sharply.

"What?! Why is everypony getting on my case today?"

As they all burst out laughing from Rainbow's skulking, Dusk was reminded of how much better his life had become since discovering friendship's magic. Sure, there were some downsides to it, but nothing in life was perfect. It was strange to think that, a year ago, he was just Dusk Noir, useless, boring and not worth the time of anypony. Now though, he had ponies and even non-ponies he could call his friends, memories that lit up his life and of course… being an Element of Harmony.

Though that did mean a lot of new responsibilities and expectations, plus the possibility of a little more attention than he was used to, that last one made Dusk smile all the more. Twilight caught his smile and it was like she knew what he was thinking and returned it with one of her own. Her reward was that he managed to make him blush again and divert his eyes to the floor.

They arrived in Canterlot with about fifteen minutes before the official ceremony. The streets were mostly deserted, as everypony was no doubt up at the castle in the tower where the Elements were kept, but there was the occasional group of ponies that cheered for them while they made their way through the streets with guards escorting them. Sometimes, one would attempt to get closer but end up getting pushed away by the guards.

Most of them waved back, or else only acknowledged them with a smile or shy glance, Zecora performing the former and Strongheart the latter. Dusk flushed from the attention, as did Fluttershy, who promptly hid behind her mane. Dusk, however, decided that he might as well try and look appreciative of the attention and so did his best to smile back. That seems to be enough as some mare blushed and started talking excitedly to their friends.

This didn't seem to have escaped Twilight's notice, as she would glare at these little groups or give them a hostile look. She also seemed to move closer to Dusk, her side practically brushing against his own. It took Dusk a while to figure out as to why she was acting like this towards a little friendly attention and it was enough to make him grin like a fool. He couldn't be completely sure, but it had to be a good sign. Rarity seemed to notice too, as she would occasionally glance back and wink at him.

He was actually surprised at how much he was enjoying this. He would have preferred just a thank you and some acknowledgement for his actions, but he usually modestly brushed away any compliments given to him. He didn't feel comfortable accepting them when he knew that other factors apart from himself had played a part in his success. This situation was no different, but he was still getting most of the attention from what he'd done and they actually liked him. It made him feel like…

Well, a hero. He'd never aspired to be anything like a hero, as what he could do that was brave or heroic in any sense. Leave that to the real heroes, or heroines in the case of the girls, or else fictional ones like Daring Do. Now that he actually had the chance to experience what it felt like, he rather liked it and this added to his happiness. For once, he was going to let himself take pride in what he had done and he liked it.

Of course, modesty was still his most endearing trait and he was sure to remind himself of that, only bowing his head to the groups and little else. He still knew that other things played a part in his success and that he couldn't take all of the credit, being sure that he wanted to convey that across. That was just the way he was and not even this was going to change that.

Dusk was still red in the face by the time they arrived at the grand hall that would lead to Canterlot tower. The guards assumed positions close to the door as it shut, while they climbed the stairs to the doors that would lead them into the tower itself. The butterflies returned as they stood before the tall purple doors. Behind them, he could hear the crowds of ponies talking excitedly with one another for their arrival, which was due to be any minute now.

Yes, he still wasn't comfortable facing a crowd. That much he could be sure of.

"Well… this is it," he remarked quietly.

"It certainly is." Twilight seemed to sense his apprehension and put a hoof on his shoulder. "Don't worry, we're all going in together."

"R-really?" he asked, a bit of his old self returning.

"Really. We'll all be right here with you."

That settled his stomach a bit. "Thank you…"

He almost jumped when the fanfare from behind the door started to play, signalling their cue to enter the tower. Fluttershy too was shocked at the sound but, surprisingly, she managed to collect herself and stand as bravely as she could. Dusk had to admire her for that and they exchanged nervous smiles as the doors creaked open.

Dusk felt his breath catch in his throat a bit when he saw the sheer multitude of ponies who had turned out for the ceremony. It certainly did look like everypony in Canterlot, if not Equestria, had come to see the presentation of their victory. All eyes turned on them when the doors opened and Dusk felt like cringing beneath the combined stares of thousands of ponies. He fought back the urge and kept his composure, staying close to Twilight and letting her walk ahead of him.

They walked up the aisle along the soft red carpet, Dusk's eyes only occasionally straying to the audience that observed their procession and most of the time keeping them fixed on his destination. The two princesses were waiting for them at the very end of the room, their gazes the warmest of all. Celestia beamed radiantly at them, the beauty of the sun shining in her eyes. Luna stood by her side, shorter yet still having presence, looking equally as proud. The smile she gave him made Dusk feel a little braver and he walked with his neck straight when they reached them.

They stood in a moment of silence, allowing the princesses to appraise them, along with the crowd. Dusk smirked when Applejack winked at Celestia and this only grew when Strongheart raised her neck to its highest out of respect for Luna, who returned the gesture to her very pleasant surprise. The Crusaders were trying their best to contain their excitement and nerves, Spike stood proudly and Zecora remained silent and humble the whole time.

Finally, Celestia spoke, her voice echoing around the room. "We are gathered here today to once again honour the heroism of these six friends who stood up to the villain Discord and saved Equestria from eternal chaos."

She allowed the crowd to cheer in celebration at her words. Applejack's grinned in appreciation, Rainbow raised both her hooves in triumph, Fluttershy hid behind her mane again, Pinkie beamed her brightest smile, Rarity waved daintily and Twilight smiled sheepishly, her gaze diverting to Dusk for a moment.

"Peace!" Luna's Royal Voice brought silence once more, allowing her to step to the forefront. "But let not thy appreciation go unchecked for their allies and friends who, even though they were not Elements, also took up arms against the twisted spirit of chaos and his dark forces! Let their contributions not be forgotten!"

Now the Crusaders cheered when the applause began again, jumping and down with joy. Zecora made note of the praise with closed eyes and a peaceful expression, Spike waved and blew kisses, whilst Strongheart bowed humbly. Celestia raised her hoof once again for silence and Dusk knew what was coming when her gaze turned to him.

"For many years, we have believed that there were only six Elements of Harmony. But now, here today, it is revealed that there is and always have been, seven, in the form of this young stallion." Dusk felt all eyes on him and he couldn't help but turn his eyes to the floor. "We can now feel reassured that Laughter, Loyalty, Honesty, Kindness, Laughter, Generosity and Magic are all that much stronger with Unity to guide them."

Luna took up the speech. "It was thanks to his best efforts that these friends were able to stand against the storm of chaos that threatened to overwhelm us all, as well as restore us to our former selves! His presence is a reminder to us all that whether stallion or mare, with or without cutie marks, pony, dragon, buffalo or zebra, we are all united under the light of friendship!"

Now it was Dusk's turn to acknowledge the crowd when it all started up again for him. For a brief instant, he wondered if his parents were anywhere in the crowd, but he gave up searching for them after only a moment. It wouldn't be like them to turn up for something like this. There were far too many for him to even count, let alone check, so he settled for tipping his hat to them and bowing his head, almost like a knight in the old days.

He turned back to the princesses when the applause at stopped, though his stomach certainly hadn't settled and his face was still bright red. The warm looks of all his friends put him to rest when the princesses' horns glowed. Celestia pulled down one curtain that was hung up on the wall, whilst Luna did the other, revealing new stained glass windows that displayed historical moments in Equestrian history.

On Celestia's, though his vision was blurred, he could partially make it out, it depicted Discord being consumed by a purple light beaming out of seven ponies. Pride welled up when he made out his dark blue blur at the centre of the group. The other depicted the Crusaders, Spike, Strongheart and Zecora battling against dark shapes he could only assume were Paraserpents. Now we're all part of the pages of history, he thought as the crowd cheered and stomped their hooves once more.

"Now, assuming my sister's information is correct," Celestia added, "then I think a slight change is in order."

Her horn glowed once more and there was a flash of light on the window Dusk knew depicted the girls defeating Nightmare Moon. Only now, he could make out a dark blue shape among them, his light shining as bright as the rest of them.

Overwhelmed by the praise and thanks he was receiving, Dusk just beamed out at the crowd with his friends by his side, content by the good that he had done… even though the bad remained.

The party for after the ceremony took place in the same ball room that the Gala had. It was decorated more in the style of a party than a formal ball, with streamers and balloons added to the grand statues of alicorns and marble pillars that supported the high ceiling. He guessed Pinkie probably had a hoof in that. The band that played was the same from the Gala, though now it featured the presence of a famous white-furred DJ unicorn mare on the sound desk and a tall blue Pegasus playing what looked like a fiddle hooked up to an amplifier. Dusk couldn't quite place him, but he was definitely familiar… perhaps a famous musician?

There was now a mix of ponies not just from the elite of Canterlot, but also members of Ponyville and Appleloosa, the buffalo tribe once again included among their number. Their presence seemed to intimidate some of the elite, who looked uncomfortable with their sheer size and lack of formal etiquette. Dusk felt it was something of a wake-up call for them, a reminder that there was more outside their own meanderings and money. The buffalo too seemed quite in awe of the size and splendour of Canterlot, as well as being in the presence of the Princesses, particularly Luna whom they revered most. A good experience for both parties.

Dusk happily moved about the crowds, no longer the unknown drifter he had been a year ago. Now others took notice of him and what he had to say, though he had to wonder if it was for whom he was or what he was. Either way, he decided not to let it bother him. He met Mirror and Prim from when he was at the Gala, along with Jock and Muscles, who were more receptive of him this time around and less judgemental about his intelligence and interests. He also saw them cast nervous glances to Princess Luna at times, with the exception of Mirror, who was just happy to see him again.

To his great surprise, Dusk was also approached by historians whose names he'd only ever seen on books he'd read. Some worthy names included Professor Archaeological Dig and Dr Fossil Finder, unknown to those who weren't interested in their work, but Dusk knew enough that he was honoured to even meet them. They mostly asked questions about what it was like to discover that he was the Seventh Element and how he was now central to the debates held concerning the subject of Fore Sight. He answered as best he could, though he was stammering for the most part.

Some other random things stuck out in his mind too. He saw Pinkie apologizing to a green-furred unicorn, something about destroying her store, while she seemed completely bewildered. The cross-eyed Pegasus who had almost injured him with falling objects came up and apologized for that, offering a muffin as recompense. Twilight was talking to a grey unicorn stallion about constellations and the stars, Dusk holding back a twinge of jealousy. He was comforted by the fact they kept a respectable distance.

The oddest thing was when he accidentally bumped into a tanned-brown earth pony, with a darker coloured mane and an hourglass as his cutie mark. Before Dusk could even say he was sorry, the stallion asked, with a completely straight face, if he had seen any statues of pegasi moving around unchecked. Dusk blinked and responded unsurely that he'd hadn't, rather confused about the question.

"That's a shame, I suppose they're not at full power yet, so they might not be a threat yet…" He trailed off and suddenly grinned at Dusk like a mad pony. "Anyway, sorry for wasting your time, better get back to it."

"Right… no trouble at all." Dusk cleared his throat. "I'll keep an eye out anyway. What are they, lost ornaments?"

"Something a little worse than that, more like malevolent time eating beings from the dawn of time that want to establish dominance over the entire universe. But it's nothing you need to worry about," he added.

"Okay… are you feeling well, sir?" he asked unsurely.

"Perfectly fine, right gotta dash, things to do. Have fun." With a quick pace, he set off again.

"Wait! Aren't you staying for the party?" Dusk asked, a little intrigued by his behaviour.

"Kind of you to ask, but no, far too busy." He flashed his grin again. "Besides, I've already been three times. Allons-y!"

He sprinted off before Dusk could say anything else. What in the world was that pony talking about? All he really knew that the strange conversation he had with him convinced him that he probably needed some fresh air. Once again calling on his previous talent of moving about unnoticed, he sidled out of the clamour and noise of the hall and out into the gardens, bathed in the glow of the setting sun, just below the horizon.

Though he had been partially blinded, he recalled the path that he wanted to take, for he knew exactly where to go first. Soon enough, he was surrounded by the statues of the sculpture garden, no moving pegasi statues thankfully and no sign of that stallion either. What he definitely found was back in its rightful place and state. This time though, Discord wasn't in a singing pose, but he was holding his hands up in fright, an expression of utter horror on his face, which Dusk could make out if he squinted.

When he'd first seen this statue and learned of what it truly was, he at first felt pity for the lord of chaos. Even if he had been evil, he had just been doing what was in his nature and had become imprisoned for it. He felt that he didn't really deserve such a fate. Now though, having experienced and suffered at his expense, Dusk was left under now doubt that he deserved to be stuck in stone and remain that way until he crumbled into dust.

He blinked in surprise again. That thought was a little unlike him, but he still felt that way and he wasn't going to change his opinion. He stayed for a few minutes, savouring this part of his victory before rounding away from the former ruler of Equestria and heading back out, thinking of a place he would go that would put him in a better mood and give him more pleasant thoughts to reflect upon. Soon enough, he knew just the place.

He retraced his steps from when he first took them. First, out of the hall, on the path to the gardens, off the path when he reached a certain clearing in the trees and stopping in that specific spot in the clearing. It was just out of the way to be concealed, but standing out enough that he knew how to find it, as he had done a year ago, though not with a clear head.

Dusk stopped in the middle, closing his eyes and feeling the breeze on his face, listening to the rustling of the leaves. His hooves felt the soft grass beneath them, as he slowly took a seat on it, gazing up at the sky which was just beginning to darken, the first lights of the stars twinkling up in the sky and the light of the moon shining down. It had been dark on night too, when he had run to this spot a year ago, on the day his life had changed forever…

He couldn't help but laugh a little, idly tracing a few colour patterns across the sky as he had done on that night. How different he had been back then. A time when his opinion was about as much worth as a single grain of sand on a beach, when his presence counted for little more than just another space to be filled. When the only pony he thought he would ever have a friend in was another social recluse like himself and even then, the hope was slim. He'd even kept his magic hidden for fear of retribution from his peers, not that any existed. Only good for studying and remembering past events, not much else.

Now though… he had helped to save all of Equestria, had become a part of the very pages of history that he strived to study, his special talent had now become his true attribute and not something he kept hidden, he had a whole circle of wonderful friends that he wouldn't give up for anything in the world. And that one social recluse that he had the only hope of being friends with… the hope had for her had gone beyond friendship. Though he still had his doubts, he still believed in the impossible. After all, look where he was now.

Subtly, he became aware that he was no longer alone in the clearing. Somepony was watching him and he had a good idea as to whom.

"Hello Miss Sparkle," he said without turning around. "You don't have to stay in the shadows you know. That's my job."

He heard the sound of hooves, followed by her sweet voice. "I know, but I didn't want to disturb you."

"Thank you, but you could never disturb me." He turned around to behold her, her beauty still stunning despite his lack of vision.

"Thanks…" She gazed at him thoughtfully for a moment. "What are you doing out here anyway?"

Dusk shrugged. "Just reminiscing a bit… old memories of a bleaker time. How did you know where to find me?"

"Princess Celestia told me you might be here and told me how to find it," she informed. "Looks like she was right."

"Apparently so…" Dusk felt the surprise register. So, she still remembered too… "What's going on back in there?"

"Well, the party's still going, everypony's really enjoying themselves," she reported in her studious way. "Given all that's happened, I think this is just what we need."

"I agree. How is everypony?"

"Well, let's see… the Crusaders are trying to get marks in serving tables, I don't really need to tell you how that's going." They both chuckled at the idea. "Pinkie's the life and soul, as always, Rainbow Dash is talking with some Wonderbolts, Applejack's seeing some of her relatives, Fluttershy's gone off to a different part of the gardens, Rarity's mixing in with some upper class ponies, Zecora is recommending her medical remedies to some doctors, Spike's got his head buried in some ice cream and I think Strongheart's still surprised to even be here."

"I don't blame her, this is a little more than she's probably used to," he said lightly. "What about you?"

"I've been going around, catching up with some students from the school, talking to some high ranking academics, you know. I had a really fascinating conversation with this astrology student just before, he apparently has an observatory outside town. He was telling me about how Jupiter's apparently rotated to an alignment that ascertains maximum visibility for viewing purposes through reflective lenses."

"Um…" Dusk thought about what she'd said. "This is the best time that you can see it through a telescope?"

"Exactly, doesn't that sound great?" He smiled at how enthusiastic she sounded about it. "I'm going to see if I can find it before I can go to bed. I wanted to talk to you about it, but I couldn't find you anywhere."

"Then the princess told you where I would be?"

"And here we are," she remarked. I heard you went off on your own and I came to find you, see if you needed any company." She took another step closer. "I didn't want you to be on your own."

"Well… that's very thoughtful of you. You always… seem to think of me, don't you?"

"Of course. You're my best friend," she said, with all warmth and sincerity.

Dusk looked at Twilight and, despite his blurred vision, she looked more beautiful, sounded as wonderful more than she ever had done when they first met. His nerves rose to a new point in that moment and he knew that now, after months of advice, preparation and waiting, now was the time to tell her. He didn't know if she truly felt the same way he did, but he had to try, or else how would he know unless he didn't?

Twilight, perceptive as she was, seemed to pick up that something was on his mind. "Is there something you want to talk about Dusk?"

"Actually… there is…" he murmured. "Something very important…"

"What is it?" she asked with concern.

"It's um… kind of hard to… put into words."

"Well, take your time then, I'm not in a hurry." She still watched him with concern, obviously thinking something was wrong.

Summing up all of his courage, Dusk began. "Twilight… you and I… we're good friends, aren't we?"

"Of course we are!" She appeared confused by the question. "More than that, I'd say we're the best of friends."

"Right… well, I agree with you." He paused and started again. "You and me, we share a lot of interests, a lot of things in common and… I like to think we're close, you know? I mean, ever since I first saw you, I've wanted to be your friend. Now that I am, I've realised that my feelings for you are… stronger than I first thought. That you mean a lot more to me than… just my friend. Wow, this is hard…"

He trailed off and looked at the ground, his mind as blurry as his eyesight, at a complete blank as to what to say. Had he come on too strong? Was he being too vague, too forward? He had no idea, he didn't know how to talk to a mare like this. Especially not Twilight Sparkle, who held this kind of thing in a critical eye anyway.

She, however, wasn't discouraged. "Dusk… what exactly are you trying to say?"

"Okay…" He sucked in more air and took up his words again. "What I'm saying is… and I know what your views on this are and how you feel about it but… well…" This was it. He looked right at her, straight into her violet eyes. "How would you feel… about us being… more than… than… friends…?"

His last word tailed off in a whisper and he couldn't hold her gaze anymore, staring right back at the ground again. Complete silence fell between them. All he could hear from Twilight was her breathing, he didn't dare look up at her. He'd said it, his feelings were now completely open to her and her judgement. Would she reject him, say she didn't feel that way for him? Of course she would, what had he been thinking?

One of her hooves entered his field of vision. "Dusk." Her soft voice was enough to make him raise his head. She was smiling, that was a good sign. "I understand how you feel and you're right, about what I think of… well, romance. It is great but, for me at least, I just see it as a waste of time and energy, something else that would distract me from my studies."

"Oh… right…" His heart sunk like a stone at her words and already he could feel the tears well up in his eyes. All of it… it had been for nothing. She didn't feel the same way, that was what was going through his head.

"But…" Until her hoof gently touched his chin and she realised how close she was. "I also used to think the same way about friendship and… look what happened. For a long time, I've been trying to figure out just… what I should do, concerning it. And now… well…"

"Yes…?" Dusk could hear the desperate hope in his voice.

"Well… for you, Dusk, I… I'm willing to… to give it a try." Her hoof found his and he felt her warm touch and his skin against hers. "In answer to your question… I want… us to be more too."

"You… you're serious?" Dusk just couldn't contain the grin when she nodded. "Wow… I mean well… really?"

"Yes!" Now she was smiling too. "I mean, I'll try… I don't really know anything about relationships."

"Neither do I."

"I've barely considered what might happen if I might have a coltfriend."

"I've never even dreamed of having a marefriend."

"So… neither of us know what we're doing?"

"It seems that way. But… we're going to give it a try?"

"Of course." She drew even closer, both her hooves on his. "I'm willing to, if you are."

"Oh I am, believe me." Dusk's tears now flowed down his cheeks at his success. He'd done it! He and Twilight Sparkle… they were a couple!

They both knew what was coming next. Neither of them knew anything about relationships, were ignorant of most of the procedures and hadn't even considered the possibility of even being in a romantic attachment with a pony, but even they knew what they had to do next. He could see it in her eyes… the sparkle.

"Twilight?" he breathed.

"Yes, Dusk?" Her voice was equally quiet, her face inches away from his.

"Would... would it be okay if I... I...?" Dusk couldn't even finish, for the very idea seemed extraordinary.

Twilight seemed to read his mind. "I... I'm fine with that... it's just... I've never actually... you know..."

"Neither have I." He leaned in closer. He could count every lash around her sparkling eyes. "This all... well it's just..."

"I feel the same. I mean, I don't... I've never read on anything... like this."

"Same here." She gave a nervous giggle. "I mean I haven't... ever... well..."

"I know. Let's call it a new learning experience... for both of us."

"That sounds... good."

Slowly, they closed the distance between them, time slowing down all around them. Just when Dusk thought she was having second thoughts and was about to pull away, their lips finally met in their first, beautiful kiss.

Dusk closed his eyes in ecstasy, enjoying the moment to his fullest. It was more wonderful than he could have ever imagined... Twilight too was just as surprised as he was, but she didn't stop, wrapping her forelegs around his neck. Nervously, but also relaxing into it, Dusk wrapped his own around her, holding her as tenderly and gently as he could. Both were unsure still, but it soon just came to them and they just expressed all they felt for each other in that simple, yet powerful gesture.

Like she had said, they were both novices when it came to romance. Dusk had only read from romantic elements in stories and seen a few films and Twilight had stayed away from them almost entirely. But in that instant, they knew this wasn't something that couldn't be read about in any book. This was something that only they could experience together... and what an experience it was.

Like when they had danced at the Gala, time became a blur, everything else around them faded away. It all didn't matter in that moment, for it was just him and Twilight Sparkle, together on this night. Who knew how long they were like that. A minute, a day, a month, a year, what did it matter? She was all that mattered to him in that moment. Just her.

They finally stopped after what seemed an age, breathing like they'd just run a marathon. Dusk was still grinning, as was Twilight.

"Wow… that was… wow," she breathed.

"I know… I've... never kissed anypony before…" he admitted.

"Neither have I?" A hopeful glint came to her eyes. "Did you… like it?"

"I did," he replied. "What about me? Was I… okay?"

"Dusk, you were great." Her lips brushed against his again and she nuzzled her head into his neck. "I think… I'm going to enjoy learning about this."

"Me too." He was vaguely aware of the lights from the palace. "Do you… want to go back inside?"

"You know what? I think I'm just fine here." She glanced up at him. "Besides, you and me still need to do a bit of stargazing together, remember?"

"I do and… I'm okay with that." Dusk smiled down at her and placed his leg around her, holding her close and feeling the heat from her body against his.

Sure he had some things he needed to sort out and issues he had to face, new challenges looming overhead in the future, but right now, Dusk knew they could wait. Because being here now, under the stars, with Twilight's head rested on his shoulder as she pointed out constellations and planets, this was all that mattered, this was where he wanted to be.

Let the future worry about itself, he thought happily. Right now, the present was what counted. And, with that at least, he was just fine.

Author's Note:

And there we have it! I will start posting Book 4 very soon. Hope you all liked this one. Until then, adieu to you!

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Comments ( 17 )

The conversation at the end is just too adorable :heart:

SO. FLIPPING. CUUUUTE! :pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy:

I can't handle it right now, I am literally spinning on my chair as I'm typing this! Thank you thank you thank you for not spoiling their moment again! AGGHHH! MY HEART JUST EXPLODED!!!

On a side note, loved the cameo by the Doctor. :twilightsmile:


Yes! I have just finished Book 3 and man, oh man was it great! I absolutely look forward to Book 4 and I will begin to read it soon. Until my next post, see ya later! :pinkiehappy:

~ Super-Brony12

I read 371,759 words in 30 hours. Woot.

Well well congratulations. This story was really good and thought out but it kind of irks me that the 7th element was unity. It's just my opinion but Unity just sounds a little weird to me but it does work properly and you explained it well that unity is not necessary but strengthens the bond. I am now going to read the rest of your stories. Dusk had become one of my favorite OCs so far.

LOVED IT yet one thing. You said he knew about time lords so shurely he would have known about weeping angels right? RIGHT?!

BEST STORY EVAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Slowly, they closed the distance between them, time slowing down all around them. Just when Dusk thought she was having second thoughts and was about to pull away, their lips finally met in their first, beautiful kiss.

*A tent starts to pitch itself*

DAMNIT! why must you betray me like this?!

5104101 I know that most people saw him as like Stephen or whatever they call him, but I prefer the name Reginald. There's a certain sense of class about that name I think suits him.

Heh, I wasn't complaining, it's just that the river serpent (whatever you want to call him) wasn't portrayed as a very likable character in Diaries of a Madman, whereas a different character, named Reginald (a dragon, also living in the Everfree), was actually a very likable character.

I found the contrast brought about by you naming the river serpent Reginald quite amusing.

Loving this story btw, and if I can say...
ITS ABOUT BLOODY TIME THOSE TWO GOT TOGETHER!! It was REALLY frustrating for me to read all that romantic tension and go "WHY?! NO DUSK! You turn THE HELL AROUND and get YO SHIZ-NIZ TOGETHER! And ask that girl OUT!" Instead I was left, pulling my hair out bit by bit. But good on ya Dusk, finally got the girl.
Only just read from story 1 to story 3 in two days with 4-5 hour breaks in between (I've got exams).

Though that did mean a lot of new responsibilities and expectations, plus the possibility of a little more attention than he was used to, that last one made Dusk smile all the more.

Oh Dusk, you're a protagonist. get used to it.

YES, my favorite ship of all time has finally set sail!
Plus, the Doctor will be making an appearance again...
Not soon, but eventually...

While the cight against Discord took quite a long time and felt like it dragged on. The romance was appropriately paced and approached with the correct mindset.

Thanks for responding to my 3 year old comment XD

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